my coworker keeps telling me he’s praying for me, my workplace contacted people I haven’t seen in years while I was hospitalized, and more

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

1. My coworker keeps telling me he’s praying for me

My coworker is of a different denomination than I am. He constantly is telling me that my lunch is sinful (heaven save us all from a ham sandwich!) and that by not belonging to a church (in the form of a building not of a faith), I am not going to heaven. He constantly needs time off on Sundays for church happenings, and while we are suppose to alternate holidays such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, and more, he tells my boss he has to get off to do something for his church.

I believe in God too but he has actually told others that I am not a “real” Christian. I just don’t want to get into what I believe or the things I do to worship or pray. He is constantly telling me that he is praying for me. I don’t know what to do?

Ick. Your workplace actually has a legal obligation to prevent this guy from harassing you about religion, if you report it. So do two things — first, if you haven’t already, tell him clearly to stop. As in, “Fergus, I don’t want to discuss religion with you. Please don’t continue to raise it with me.” Then, if it continues after that, tell your manager (or HR) immediately, and use the words “Fergus is harassing me because of my religious beliefs and has continued after I’ve told him to stop. Can you please ensure that I’m not subjected to further religious harassment?”

2. While I was hospitalized, my workplace contacted people I haven’t seen in years

I work in a small, close-knit office and was recently hospitalized for a mental health issue. The hospitalization itself was traumatic and unhelpful, and I’m still struggling. I let my bosses know I was dealing with a health issue and texted my manager the day it happened to let her know I was going to be hospitalized, but wasn’t able to communicate with them beyond that.

Now that I’m out, I’m finding that my bosses contacted friends of mine in the state where I used to live, in the art scene where I used to work, saying that they hadn’t heard from me (even though they had!). I’m now fielding concerned messages from that community and I’m incredibly embarrassed — it’s already hard to deal with my day-to-day life, and now I feel like there’s been an announcement that I’m crazy and unstable. That arts community means a lot to me and I don’t know what repercussions this will have.

Weirdly, I know there wasn’t a miscommunication — the manager I texted apparently later showed up at my apartment with the police (?!), and she definitely knew I was going to be in the hospital. The office is small enough (I am one of three managers and there are eight staff) that all information gets shared. I guess maybe they thought my text was a lie and I was going to commit suicide (I haven’t mentioned that at work, but everybody knows I’m stressed out and I suffered some personal blows recently), so they kind of lost their heads. But I’m still completely weirded out that this was the reaction — it wouldn’t have helped even if that was the case.

The job is stressful and multiple people involved in my care had already advised me to leave, but this feels like a huge privacy violation. Any advice for talking to my bosses about it? Or places I can get mental-health-sensitive career counseling in NYC?

What the hell?! At first I assumed there must have been a miscommunication — like that one of them didn’t realize the company had heard from you and was genuinely worried — but if that’s not the case, then this is inexplicable.

If you feel up to it, I would say this to your boss: “I’m really confused about why you showed up at my apartment with police, and why you contacted friends of mine in (state). This seems like a real privacy violation — and one that was unwarranted since you knew I was getting medical care — and I’m wondering what I’m missing here.”

If you get anything other than an abject apology and an acknowledgement that she terribly mishandled this, I’d consider escalating it to someone above her (if there is someone above her, which in a small organization I realize there may not be).

3. My boss wants me to wait to tell people I’m resigning

I have decided to leave the company I’ve worked for for eight years and told my manager yesterday. He would like to wait at least a week to tell the rest of the organization. How much time is reasonable for him to wait? I am leaving in six weeks and would like to let my team of reports knows as soon as I can so we can prepare together for the transition.

Waiting one week out of a six-week notice period isn’t unreasonable; he may want time to figure out a transition plan so that when you do tell your staff, you or he is able to simultaneously tell them how things will be managed during the transition period, in order to minimize anxiety and unanswered questions. But any longer than a week is getting into unreasonable territory.

4. How can I avoid a boorish coworker on my bus route?

I share the same bus route with a coworker for roughly an hour long journey in. We used to work in the same department, though I now work in a different area of the company. I don’t like this person, though he is entirely unaware of this. I find him extremely boorish: he mansplains, constantly turns the conversation onto himself, and feels compelling to offer unsolicited career advice that is either dubious or incredibly obvious. Conversation with him is a chore, and I like my commutes to be spent alone, listening to music and either reading or playing a handheld video game. When I’m not able to do this, it starts my day off with on a sour note.

This is complicated though by the fact that we share a circle of friends who like him for some reason, so I’m not able to freeze him out without making things very awkward elsewhere. I’ve tried shifting my commute times around, sometimes significantly, but like a bad penny, he always reappears. Is there any reasonably polite way to rebuff him and take back my alone time? Or should I just grin and bear it?

No, don’t grin and bear it! It’s perfectly reasonable to simply explain that you prefer to use your commute time for other things. You just need to be willing to be assertive about saying, “I’m going to read this” or “I’ve started listening to podcasts on my way in so can’t chat” or “I like to zone out/decompress on my commute, so I’ll see you at work!”

5. I want my department’s monthly public praise

I work on a team of about 30 people. At our monthly meeting, the director awards a special acknowledgement to an employee who has done something outstanding or work on a project has warrants a call-out. The person gets a small figurine to keep and a large flag to hang outside their cubicle for the month. I’ve been working here over two years and have never been acknowledged with these awards.

The person selected each month is usually someone whose work has been elevated through the department and reaches the director’s radar. Or they can be nominated by a manager. I have two managers, and both have expressed appreciation for my work. I’ve been working on several difficult projects, and my work on them has been vital to keeping the projects afloat and continuing towards completion, which my managers have acknowledged. But no one has suggested my name for the award yet, and I’m feeling like my work is not appreciated as much as implied.

Nearly everyone in the group has received one of these awards. Some people have multiple awards. I enjoy seeing my colleagues get praised for their work. I guess I’m feeling left out—I think my work has been worthy of the award but no one else seems to feel the same way, or at least strongly enough to nominate me.

I didn’t think this would bother me as much as it does. I’m that person who cringes and looks at the floor when getting publicly praised. I would feel super weird about going to my manager about this though since it’s merit-based. (Maybe I’m overvaluing my work?) I don’t want to seem like I’m demanding that I get an award because I’ve worked really hard for the last two years and I should get one. Except that I do think that I’ve earned it. What should I do/say? Am I putting too much importance on this?

No, I think it’s pretty normal to wonder why you’re not getting the same recognition as others. Two possible explanations: You say you cringe during public praise — it is possible that your bosses have noticed that and concluded that you’d prefer being praised in private? Also, it’s a monthly award, there are 30 of you, and you’ve been there ~24 months, so it might just be about the math.

However, I think you could totally ask your manager without it seeming like you’re demanding the award. You could say it this way: “I’d love to be considered for the Monthly Rice Sculpture Award at some point, as recognition that my work is contributing at a high level. Is there anything I could work on that would help bring me up to that level?”

{ 398 comments… read them below }

  1. Searching*

    #1 – yuck yuck yuck! I would add to Alison’s script “… and don’t talk to others about my religious beliefs.” I had a coworker once tell my direct reports “well, no wonder Searching does such-and-such, she’s an atheist!” I was incensed! I immediately told her if I ever heard her say something like that again, I would report her to HR for creating a hostile work environment. She never pulled that one again.

    1. Beezus*

      I had a manager once who would ask me about things I thought/did, and then an hour later have a conversation with another employee in my hearing, about how people who thought/did the thing we had just discussed were so sinful, made her uncomfortable, didn’t know how people could stand to be that way, etc. Worst boss ever. I was very new to the work force and a lot less sure of myself back then…I wound up quitting for other reasons, but mentioned it to HR about it in my exit interview. They were really concerned, but I never heard how it played out.

    2. BananaPants*

      I have a very religious colleague who adds coworkers to their church’s prayer list without telling anyone about it or asking if it’s OK. She does it by first name and last initial, but it’s often with enough detail that the person could be identified. It also includes details like “gravely ill with cancer” or “suffering greatly with a stomach condition” or “recently bereaved of their spouse”.

      When I was pregnant and outed myself at work, I was immediately published in their church bulletin’s prayer list as “BananaPants and the child to be born of her” every week until the baby was delivered. I’m Christian myself but it creeped me out that random strangers were praying for me merely because I was pregnant, and I had *no* idea that this was happening, nor did I consent to being added to this published list.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I just had a flashback to church youth groups in my teens–prayer requests were such an arena for gossip, and for the 90s equivalent of vaguebooking.

      2. Venus Supreme*

        That’s so bizarre. When I went to church we had a verbal prayer list where congregation members would raise their hand and say, “Pray for Sue, she’s recently lost her mom etc.” and we’d pray in one giant prayer as part of church services. Nothing in writing… which strikes me as odd in some way.

        1. Anna*

          That’s how my churches worked, and if it was for someone the congregation didn’t know, the description of the person was vague and slightly more detail given for the prayer. “I’d like to pray for my coworker, who has recently lost their mom.”

          Prayer can be weaponized. Who knew?

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Oh, yes, it can be offline vaguebooking, gossip, and “bless their heart” all rolled into one.

        2. TootsNYC*

          we put it in the bulletin on the idea that you pray for them at home.

          It’s interesting–we often have people’s relatives or coworkers on their. I never really thought about their perspective.

          A couple of times I’ve added my family members, but I’m very confident they would find it a comfort.

      3. Marillenbaum*

        My mom used to put me on the temple prayer roll, and they way they did it was: you wrote down the first name of the person, and it went in the box. Then, they’d pray for “the people whose names are included in this box” with “whatever they stand in need of”. Nobody knew anything about who those people were or what their needs were, which felt way less creepy than randos getting all up in my business with the Almighty on my behalf.

        1. Mander*

          That’s a great system. Sometimes those prayer requests, while well-meant, can reveal a lot more information than someone wanted to be public. At least in the various Protestant churches I’ve attended there are sometimes whole paragraphs about so-and-so and their problems.

        2. DragoCucina*

          My DH has been pushing to change to this at our parish. We currently have a prayer book and people have little concept of confidentially. They will write, “Pray for Wakeen Teapots that he stops drinking.” Uh, no.

          I used to be part of an active prayer chain. We often just added Mary Sue or a friend of DragoCucina and a special intention. It was a lifting up in prayer rather than needing to know details.

        3. SimontheGreyWarden*

          Yeah, as a Catholic, we have a ‘for all the intentions we hold in our hearts’ line that the priest says and a few moments of silence, but I was at a different church once where the pastor asked for prayer intentions and throughout the church people just started calling things out. “For Mary Sue, who got herself in trouble.” “For Grandpa Dan’s ostomy infection.” “For Jeb’s skin condition.” I thought it was really uncomfortable.

          1. Library Director*

            Yep, it’s one reason I’m Catholic instead of the fundamentalist denomination I attended as a teen. I can joke about the confessional box, but there’s a lot to be said to not standing in front of a congregation and being expected to publicly admit my sins. There’s actually canon law that prohibits being given any penance that would draw public attention to the offence. And the pubic prayer list in Mass only comes from direct relatives or the person. Then it’s still “the sick, Wakeen, Drago…”, not for “Wakeen in rehab.”

      4. Damn it Hardison!*

        Oh, that takes me back to my college days where a person would be prayed for during the weekly Baptist Student Union meeting. Full name and transgression included. Ugh.

    3. WorkingMom*

      And while we’re at it… with the ICK reaction… if we’re labeling who are “real” christians and not… I’d say the individual casting judgement on someone else deserves the label. Just sayin’

      1. catsAreCool*

        You would think if the coworker knew much about Christianity, he’d remember the bit about not casting stones or about the log in your own eye.

    4. many bells down*

      My boss once mentioned that I was of a dramatically different faith than most of my co-workers, in a department head meeting. She knew it was a mistake the moment she did it. The next day she called me into her office to explain what happened and to apologize.

      There were repercussions. Another department head, one that I had no contact with whatsoever, tried to have me fired over it. And I got some … interesting letters from other employees about how I needed to change my wicked ways so that “we can party together in heaven.”

      1. Charlotte, not NC*

        I needed to change my wicked ways so that “we can party together in heaven.”

        O_O

        Is this Christian negging? Insult non-believers, pick up chicks in the afterlife?

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          A friend of mine found religion again after being away from it for a long time and she has said similar things. While I understand she’s trying to be “nice” and views such a statement as a compliment, it does make me uncomfortable because I do not believe in the same things she does. However, I also don’t try to change her beliefs either, which is the more upsetting part. Fortunately, she doesn’t do it all that often.

        2. many bells down*

          They actually asked my boss to give me the letter first. Because they were “concerned.” My boss, who is a staunch Catholic herself, said “That is completely inappropriate.” So they got someone else to slip it into my mailbox while Boss was out of the office. I kind of wish I’d saved it now – at the time it was so cringey that I couldn’t even really read it. I mostly skimmed.

      2. Vicki*

        so that “we can party together in heaven.”

        Hmmm… Heaven for climate, Hell for companionship.

  2. Purple Dragon*

    # 2 – I’m speechless ! Do you work in a group that is usually riding high on the Drama Lama ? Because that’s the only way I can wrap my head around this. I’m so sorry that you’re having to deal with this on top of everything else. I honestly have no advice, just thought I’d chime in and second that this is completely over the top. Good luck.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      That’s exactly what I came to post – OP’s manager is a drama queen. There was no reason for her to respond the way she did. None. If OP hadn’t shown up to work for days and had been acting erratically prior, then maybe I could see showing up to her apartment with police (!). But when your employee tells you straight up they’re in the hospital, you know where they are and what’s going on, so calling everyone they’ve ever met asking about employee is over the top invasive and dramatic.

      1. starsaphire*

        This, exactly.

        As several people below have stated, a welfare check with police is appropriate *if* there’s been a no-show/no-call for a couple of days, *and* the emergency numbers aren’t valid or can’t give any info.

        And calling random people — calling *any* people that are not on your emergency contact list — is over-the-top and completely bizarre.

        OP, please get out of that office. Wishing you all the best, and hoping you find help/services that will work for you.

    2. seejay*

      Yeah, we had an employee that the managers wound up quietly having to make some inquiries about when he disappeared and then wound up checking into a hospital for a mental breakdown but the circumstances were really different: he randomly quit one day and did so with no explanation and by telling two people who weren’t even directly related to our team; he was the lead on a bunch of projects that left us scrambling to pick them up and figure out what to do; he was renting an apartment from someone else in the company so rumors started to spread *there*; and while he did do it relatively quietly, it wasn’t that quiet so stuff did start to leak and get out. No one made a big deal out of it but people were worried and two managers did take it upon themselves to find out what was going on and if he was coming back or if we needed to look into replacing him. When the mystery was eventually unravelled, it was kept very quiet and low-key and no one said much and he was given his job back when he did return (only for him to quit again when they wouldn’t give him all the projects back until he proved his reliability).

      There’s ways to handle sensitive situations when it’s called for, and poor LW#2’s situation did not need her workplace stepping in to make a big mess out of it all. I can understand if they were concerned and worried but blowing up a big drama bomb isn’t how you show it. :(

      1. Doodle*

        I was once in a department that had to send the police to see if someone was okay — in that case, though, a long-time employee who lived alone no-called/no-showed for a week (VERY out-of-character) and her emergency contact couldn’t reach her either. That’s the ONLY circumstance where I can imagine that type of response not being wildly inappropriate.

            1. Doodle*

              Sorry for the cliff-hanger! Yes, she was after treatment. As it turned out, she’d had a flare up of a previously un-diagnosed mental health issue. She’s fine now, but did need to take some time off to get it resolved. She wasn’t thrilled to have the police stop in at that moment, but thanked everyone later.

        1. Gaia*

          We had to call the police to do a safety check on an employee once. They didn’t show up to work one day and no one could reach them. When we tried to contact their emergency contact we realized it hadn’t been updated after the sudden death (in a freak accident) of her new husband. She’d just returned after bereavement leave and had been acting as one would expect.

          It turned out she was okay, but it was a scary moment. She is doing better now and we made sure she has the support she needs from professionals. This is really the only time I think I could justify sending police to someone’s home.

        2. Artemesia*

          I have known of two such checks in both cases the people were dead, one was a 33 year old man with a heart condition; the other was a 55 year old man in apparent good health.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          We reach out to emergency contacts and sometimes to the police (if we can’t get any of their contacts on file) for no-show/no-calls. Twice (that I’m aware of), the reason for the no-call/no-show was that the employee had passed away. A few others were medical emergencies that had sent someone to the hospital and, obviously, in that circumstance, calling work was about the last thing on anyone’s mind.

          OP#2 contacted her manager, though, and I cannot see why they would have showed up at her house with the police, much less contacted former coworkers in another state. That just seems really bizarre and unnecessary to me.

          1. seejay*

            Yeah I totally agree that this scenario with the LW#2 is waaaay too off the wall and bizarre and unnecessary. They contacted and updated them as to what was going on, that should have been more than enough to just be full-stop, done.

            Coworkers/manager getting involved should *only* happen in situations where there’s been no warning, no contact, and people are at least close enough or involved enough to warrant reaching out, and in a manner that equals the situation accordingly. Showing up with cops, even if the LW hadn’t called and updated, went from 0 to 150 when it was *way* unnecessary. Emergency contacts, friends, family… that’s where someone should start if they have to reach out at least.

    3. LBK*

      I can *sort of* understand if they thought the OP was suicidal, because sometimes that can be an all-hands-on-deck moment, and I don’t even think it would be that out of line to reach as far into the OP’s network as they can get to see if anyone has heard from her. I know the OP says them showing up at her apartment with the cops wouldn’t have been helpful…but if could have potentially saved her life if she were trying to commit suicide. That being said, if their explanation is anything other than that, it’s definitely a huge overreaction and overreach.

      1. Sunflower*

        Maybe I read this wrong but OP told manager he was going to be hospitalized AKA getting help? Why would they need to show up at OP’s house?

        1. OhNo*

          I think you read it right. The boss had a text directly from the OP saying they were going into the hospital.

          Frankly, even if the boss did legitimately think that the OP were planning to commit suicide, they shouldn’t have been there with the police. That’s the part that stuck out to me as obvious evidence of a drama queen – it’s one thing to call and ask the police to do a welfare check because you suspect self-harm, it’s a completely other thing to show up there while they are doing the check. There was no good reason for the boss to do that.

          1. Lance*

            As to your latter point… I’m not sure. Sure, the police are there to step in if anything’s happening, but I don’t see it as wrong for the boss to be there to at least provide a familiar face on the scene as a possible point of comfort, if it comes to it. That’s my take on it, at least; though considering they heard from LW beforehand, it seems like a drastic step regardless.

            1. OhNo*

              This is personal experience talking, but if I were in a mental health crisis literally the last person I would want to see was my boss, familiar face or no. Similarly, if I was in the boss’ shoes, I can’t imagine wanting to get that deeply involved in my employee’s personal life, and I can’t imagine that seeing my employee in that state would be good for our relationship.

              1. Sunflower*

                This is where I’m at. I get being concerned but I know people who would be upset if their close friend or family got this intrusive so imagine it being your boss

              2. AnonAnalyst*

                This is where I’m at. I had a friend in a similar situation to the OP’s, and she was really embarrassed when the police showed up since a few of her neighbors were around and saw what was going on. I think having anyone there who wasn’t an extremely close family member or friend would just make that situation worse.

        2. LBK*

          I guess if they didn’t believe her? All I’m saying is that I would try as best as possible to read their reaction as genuine (if misplaced) concern rather than intentional invasiveness. Also remember that not a lot of people have experience or training on how to handle those situations; I think the AAM commentariat is probably a bit more in tune with how to address mental health crises than the average manager, so I think people should take that into account when judging the reaction here. It’s not as obvious how to handle the situation as some of the comments are making it sound.

          1. eplawyer*

            Except the LW told manager they were going to the hospital. THat means not at home. Even a well meaning manager should be able to parse that idea.

            LW, the people involved in your care have told you to leave the job. I know it’s not that easy, but you need to listen to them. THis over the top act should convince you that they are not helping your situation but exacerbating it. For your sake, find another job. In the meantime, since you said NYC, contact the City Health Department about financial resources for those needing a little help, so you don’t worry about money while you get away from this toxic work environment.

            1. LBK*

              Except the LW told manager they were going to the hospital. THat means not at home. Even a well meaning manager should be able to parse that idea.

              Not if they didn’t believe her, which is what I said.

              1. Anna*

                That seems like a bit of a stretch, though. Why wouldn’t the boss believe the OP? It seems from the OP’s letter, they didn’t tell the boss they were having a mental health crisis, just that they were dealing with a “health issue” and have checked in to the hospital. That could have covered everything from appendicitis to nervous breakdown and still would not be a reason to disbelieve and bring in the police.

                In short, it was bizarre and over-the-top.

                1. LBK*

                  I inferred that she divulged the nature of the health issue based on the reaction – otherwise I agree that it would be totally bizarre to try to hunt someone down like that just because they said they had a medical emergency and had to be hospitalized.

                2. DArcy*

                  The problem with your interference is that you’re stretching the “benefit of the doubt” to grossly implausible levels in order to concoct a scenario in which the boss isn’t at fault. Yes, it could have gone down that way; it’s also “possible” that the employee was kidnapped by foreign secret agents.

                3. LBK*

                  I…really don’t think I’m stretching anything at all, nor am I trying to say the boss isn’t at fault. But okay.

      2. Scott M*

        I think it depends on the level of detail in the text. I know people who send very short texts, thinking that everything left unsaid is completely obvious. Perhaps the boss only got a text “I’m going to the hospital” but not “I’m checking into XYZ hospital, I won’t be into work for a while, possibly a few days. So sorry, I will try to contact you later.”

        1. DArcy*

          Except, “I’m going to the hospital” is both sufficient notice that the employee is calling in sick *and* sufficient reassurance that the employee is in the hands of healthcare professionals.

          I cannot imagine why any reasonable person would feel any need to take action beyond making schedule adjustments for said employee not being at work on that day. You would not be justified in bothering their emergency contact for that, much less hunting down their acquaintances and calling the police!

      3. Tuxedo Cat*

        I think reaching out to someone’s network is out of line, unless you’re friends with the person. For me, there are places I’ve worked where former bosses and coworkers I want to be left in the past. Besides, the letter writer said that she was in the hospital so the manager didn’t need further involvement.

        1. Anon For This*

          About seven or eight years ago I got a call completely out of the blue from a person who was friends with an acquaintance worried because they hadn’t heard from her in a long time and wanted to check on her. I was involved in a fairly close knit organization with the acquaintance. So I started asking around, too, and a lot of us realized we hadn’t heard from acquaintance. Turns out acquaintance had committed suicide the week before the person called me. Now, here are the things to note: 1. The person who called me knew the acquaintance suffered severe mental health disease and had attempted suicide before. 2. It wasn’t acquaintance’s boss calling me; it was a friend trying desperately to get information. 3. No police were involved. 4. Most importantly, it was a friend and not a coworker or boss who called me. And probably called as a last resort because she knew I might have information.

        2. LBK*

          In my limited knowledge of how to handle people who seem to be suicidal, my understanding is that it is fairly common to reach out to someone’s network if they go silent to ensure that someone is still in communication with them. I don’t think a health emergency like that follows the typical rules of “don’t contact former employers/coworkers” if you think there’s a chance one of them might still be in contact.

      4. SusanIvanova*

        But if they’re doing their own research to find people to call, they might well find someone who’d make the problem worse – I’d bet that even in the best case scenario it doesn’t take too many Facebook connections to hit a relative that someone isn’t on speaking terms with. I wouldn’t want anyone calling my mom for an emergency because she’d bring the stepdad and I’d have to throw him out again.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Yes, this – it doesn’t sound like the boss knows OP’s network at all – she’s just asking random people that OP links with via networks – ridiculous.

    4. Belle di Vedremo*

      No help on handling your workplace, but I’m on team leave-this-job. This can’t be the only example of wildly inappropriate behavior. Your stress and exhaustion confirm that piece.

      If you have a friend in the out of state community that manager reached out to who’s good at spreading news, could you be in touch asking that s/he
      * pass the word that you had an unexpected hospitalization and are on the mend
      * you’re recovering, but it’s a bit messy and will take a while (nb: this summer a friend was fine in the morning and having emergency surgery that afternoon. 2 months later she’s still recovering. It happens.)
      * let them know that you’d told her you were heading to the hospital and apologize for her contacting them in such an inappropriate way (insofar as one can apologize for someone else’ behavior)? Your perspective and reasonableness will go some way to countering the impression she shared.

      Take care of yourself.

  3. Sam_A*

    To #5, it took me over 2.5 years to get “recognition” from my boss in the form of a private email that wasn’t announced anywhere else. I have never gotten any public commendations in the team meeting or larger division meetings, unlike all of my coworkers on my team. Oh and I’m on a team of four people.

    1. Amber*

      Similar too for me. Every month people who go above and beyond get called out and recognized at the company meeting and there were several months where I know I really did that and should have been called out. Two people left the company and I took over their work without missing a beat, I know I kicked ass but he ignored it.

      So a few months later I suggested some names from my team for him to call out because they did a great job and he said something like “I like that, I prefer to get organic suggestions for call outs like that rather than asking for them from all the team leads, it’s always the same people they want called out…personA, personB, you”

      And I’m thinking “why the hell haven’t you ever called me out then or even just said ‘good job’? I assumed you hated my work.” Ugh.

      1. Gadfly*

        Wait! You sound like my former boss! I am going to assume it just is really commonplace for certain people to get overlooked or be so reliable people stop caring. Which is depressing. But it was one of the (many) reasons I left: the more our team (and she) did the more was expected. Other people got standing ovations every time they sneezed (and rewarded for it.) That is hard on morale. Especially if you don’t see any way to move up. I stopped caring and then at the end when I was just shy of career suicide people started asking why I was no longer good and telling me they had appreciated all I did. But before that, it was rare. It was everybody nominate their buddy. Or so it appeared.

        So, my Amber or not, if that sounds like your team/situation, I am going to tell you you deserve a call out and more than a call out for going above and beyond so repeatedly they forget that that is you shining and not just being day to day.

        1. Chaordic one*

          “Other people got standing ovations every time they sneezed”

          You are so diplomatic with how you said that.

      2. Vicki*

        “you”?
        He actually said that?
        “it’s always the same people so I always ignore them.”

        Arrrgh.

    2. JM in England*

      At OldJob, we had an awards system called “Performer of the Quarter” which, like the OP’s employer, was for recognising above-&-beyond work. Saw the accolade go at least twice to people I knew weren’t giving even half the effort that I was. This confirmed, in my mind, that the scheme was political in nature and thus a glorified popularity contest………….

      1. MK*

        I agree that they can be political, but, no offence, effort adn performance are n’t always analogous.

      2. Independent Thinker*

        Yeah, JM in England, I agree with MK. It could be that there was politics in place, but the way you describe it, it’s not clear. Awards are typically offered for results, not effort, and you’re comparing your effort to the effort of the people who got the award.

        In my last company, we also had performer of the quarter award, and it usually went to the person who generated the highest revenue through sales, or received the most compliments in customer success, etc. It had nothing to do with the amount of effort or hours worked.

      3. DoDah*

        At OldJob, the Employee of the Quarter was based on who the CEO “liked.” I would bring her the names of staff members who went above and beyond and she would inevitably nominate “Jane.” When enough managers complained she stopped the awards scheme altogether.

        Message: You only get a recognized if I like you.

      4. Whats In A Name*

        We had something similar. I was ineligible because I was sole HR person and and “in charge” of ordering and presenting the award. Not in charge of choosing the person (managers & peers nominated and chose by process I was not involved in).
        My manager even said once “it’s ashame you can’t even be recognized for your efforts”. All part of the game of Life I suppose.

      5. Sam_A*

        I’m pretty sure my boss picks out whoever he likes the most or who has saved him from getting into hot water. I saw the public accolade go to a person who deliberately was sabotaging a deal for me so he could get the opportunity, and this was after I let my boss know. He’s also given the bonus to people who are expecting children soon and therefore “won’t be getting as much work so it will even out for you.” It’s a very discriminatory system that occasionally borders on retaliation.

      1. Sam_A*

        The recognition is based on “oh we have extra money in the bonus pot this year to distribute to higher-performing employees, the managers will decide who gets it.” The problem is that my manager tends to play favorites or discrimination with the rewards. He has given it to someone who deliberately was sabotaging/stealing one of my deals so he could get the commission because “he’s having kids soon so there will be more work for you and it will all even out.” I only got this particular award because I filled in last minute for someone else who decided they couldn’t do a big opportunity.

  4. Meagain*

    #1. Ick. I worked for the state and requesting holidays for religious reasons is allowed, but doesn’t have to accommodated. The manager has to reasonably try and find someone to cover. Reasonably. But if they can’t you still have to work.

    Ick.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        In theory it sounds great. I would personally be concerned if my manager said, “Oh, too bad, I tried” without really trying and I had to work on a holiday that is key to my religion and not a national holiday. Yom Kippur starts tomorrow night, and that’s a biggie for me and most Jewish people, and if a day off couldn’t be accommodated, that would be a pretty rough situation.

        1. TJ*

          Yeah, for some people that would be an “okay, well, I’m quitting so the shift won’t be covered anyway” kind of situation.

          1. Chinook*

            I agree. There are no jobs that I have had that I would stay with if they couldn’t accommodate a holy day of obligation. And if I had to stay for financial reasons, you better believe I would be looking for another one.

            I should add that there are exceptions to these obligations if you are in job that saves lives, etc.

      2. KellyK*

        I think the “icks” were for the situation in the OP letter. Because “I need every holiday ever” is usually not a reasonable accommodation for employers who need holiday coverage.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            Yes, especially since some of those listed aren’t actually religious holidays. They are just holidays that many people have started celebrating as part of their religious services. (In fact, Easter Sunday is the Big One for Christians – Christmas didn’t even used to be that big a deal. Blame Dickens…)

              1. TeaLady*

                In the UK, Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday) falls sometime in Lent. One theory is that is was a time for those away from their home parish (eg away in service) to go home to their “mother” church. Even in my lifetime, it used to be more of a thing celebrated by churches than by card and gift retailers…

    1. Temperance*

      Most of the holidays listed in the letter aren’t even religious in nature. Not knowing the nature of their job, I can’t tell whether this jerk is taking off days before/after holidays or the actual day.

      I think a fair compromise is for him to get off explicitly religious holidays, and work all the others.

      1. Hush42*

        This is what I was thinking. I’m a Christian and when I worked at a job that required Holiday coverage I worked Thanksgiving and took Christmas off. I love Thanksgiving but it isn’t a religious holiday and it wouldn’t have been fair for me to demand that and Christmas off. The only two holidays listed that I would need to take off for religious reasons would be Christmas and Easter. However since that’s important to me I specifically looked for a job with a typical Mon-Friday Schedule so I can have the days I need off without burdening my co-workers.

        1. Temperance*

          This is completely fair and reasonable. I’m an atheist, and I’d be happy to cover you for religious holidays. :)

        2. EmmaLou*

          I think many would disagree that Thanksgiving isn’t religious for them, but would agree that it’s not one that you absolutely have to have off work. It’s nice to have off, but it’s nice for everyone to have off! Christmas and Easter … and even Christmas you can often wiggle around depending on the faith. I mean, midnight services or early morning services, Christmas eve or Christmas day. I’m surprised that Good Friday didn’t make his list if he’s pulling holidays out. And, yes, he better be willing to cover everyone else’s holy days. If he’s in pageants, etc., he’d need to get those approved as “vacation” time usually.

          Alison, would a religious accommodation cover just being in a church play? My husband got to grow a beard while working in a grocery store for an Easter play and had to argue that it was a “historical” event because those were covered as exceptions to facial hair. His manager was kind of a jerk. “What’s historical about Easter? The bunny?” “Umm the death and crucifixion of Jesus? I think you’ll find that most historians agree that the event did happen. What happened next is the thing up for debate.” “Whatever.” I don’t think there were religious accommodations then (late 80s) but I was wondering about now.

          1. Chinook*

            I admit to not knowing how other religions work, but I would think it would be obvious that Thanksgiving isn’t a religious holiday since it involves things like fall harvest and pilgrims (in the U.S., which I still don’t understand) and it definitely isn’t in the same sub-group of holidays as Easter and Christmas which focus on Jesus. If you flag those two as religious holidays, I would think you don’t get to include Thanksgiving in the same group, which would mean you can cover those for people who are required to cover for the religious holidays..

            1. Hotstreak*

              It’s definitely not a religious holiday. Many people celebrate it similar to religious holidays though, with family, large meal, churches putting on special services etc., so I can see why they could be confused.

          2. TootsNYC*

            Thanksgiving is religious for me–I thank God, specifically–but it’s not related to the doctrine of my Christian church.

            And it’s not a Holy Day of Obligation in the Roman Catholic Church.

            It’s not linked to any events mentioned in the Bible.

            1. Batshua*

              According to the narrative I learned in school, it is probably related to Sukkot, the fall harvest festival. However, I do not know that this narrative is factually correct, given that, for example, there was no turkey at the first Thankgiving. (The main dish was fish, apparently.)

          3. SimontheGreyWarden*

            I’m Catholic and I worked many an Easter Sunday when I was in retail. My immediate family – once there were no young kids around – preferred going to the Saturday vigil since the Sunday mass was full of kids who couldn’t sit still. So I would request Easter Saturday off, and usually Holy Thursday and Good Friday I would request early shifts so I could make the masses for those, and in return I would work on Easter because it was a bigger deal to coworkers who were religious and/or who had young grandkids or kids.

            My favorite was the woman who commented to me that it was shameful I had to work on the day celebrating our Lord’s resurrection. She didn’t know me; there was no reason for her to assume I was religious. I replied that since people wanted to come out and buy a coffee and newspaper, someone had to work (she was buying only a coffee and a newspaper). I waited a beat and then told her that my family celebrated on Saturday. A few weeks later that same woman told me that I had made her think about her practice of bemoaning the ‘poor people’ who had to work on Sundays, even though she would still go out to restaurants and so forth. She actually thanked me for it. I don’t know that it changed any of her behavior, but maybe?

            1. catsAreCool*

              She seems to have a double standard – if she thinks people shouldn’t have to work that day, why is she doing things (buying coffee, etc.) that require someone to work that day?

      2. fposte*

        Though it’s an explicitly religious holiday if the employee says it is, legally speaking. There’s no “But I’m Catholic and there’s no Saint Britney!” possibility.

        1. doreen*

          But only if the employee is sincere – you can’t just say “there’s no St Britney” , but you can question the employee’s sincerity if in five years of employment she’s never asked for St Britney’s day off and she never mentioned it this time until after her request for time off for a secular reason was denied.

    2. Xarcady*

      From the OP, “while we are suppose to alternate holidays such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, and more, he tells my boss he has to get off to do something for his church.

      Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Thanksgiving aren’t religious holidays, although many churches do have special services for them. But just because you want to do something at your church on those days does not make them religious holidays that require accommodation.

      I really do think the boss could just say no to the requests for time off for the non-religious holidays, even if the employee would like to be doing something for his church on those days.

      1. Mabel*

        And the employee could get a M-F job if it’s that important to him to have Sundays off. It really irks me when people want special treatment because they are religious. Being religious (or of a specific religion) does not make you better or more important than everyone else. (obviously this really pushes my buttons)

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Also, is he covering for the staff who need off for the High Holidays this month? Or people who need Saturdays off for religious or other reasons?

        2. doreen*

          Being religious (or of a specific religion) doesn’t make you better or more important than anybody else , but getting a M-F job only works for certain religions. It’s not so easy to find a job where everyone works Sunday- Thursday, or one that closes on Jewish or Muslim holidays. The guy in the OP seems to be a jerk, but I don’t see why my Jewish coworkers shouldn’t get priority over me for being off on the Jewish holidays- not because their reason is better than mine, but because it is less flexible. They can only observe the holiday on the day of the holiday , while whatever reason I have for wanting the day off could probably have been moved to Thursday or last week or this week.

        3. Apollo Warbucks*

          You might be irked by it but reasonable accommodation for religious purposes is protected by law.

        4. SMT*

          I’ve been trying to find a M-F job (I’m open to Saturdays and occasional Sundays – seriously, I’m willing to negotiate!) for over a year and a half now. My search has definitely intensified this year when I was transferred to a unit where 2 out of the 5 supervisors do not work on Sundays due to religious accommodation. My husband works nights M-F, so Sunday is the one ‘normal’ day off together we can possibly have.

          I’m curious to see what winter holidays they request since Christmas is on a Sunday this year…

  5. Combinatorialist*

    #4 I find headphones work wonderfully even if there is nothing playing in them. I would plug them into your phone, or something, (because having the cord dangle would be an obvious give away), stick them in your ears. Feel free to bob your head some if your coworker looks your way and if he asks you about it just say something like “I really like to use my commute to decompress before/after the work day”. I have used this trick to escape talking to creepy guys on airplanes and in waiting rooms before stressful events so I don’t get caught up in the negative energy

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I’ve used the headphones trick too. It’s the international sign for “I don’t want to talk to anyone.” But I would just be honest and say that y like to have some time to yourself on the way to and from work.

      Years ago I shared a house with 2 friends. I lived in the basement, they lived upstairs. Every day when I got home from work, my one roommate would follow me downstairs and hang out, often all evening. I didn’t usually mind, because at the time he was a good friend. But it drove me nuts to not have any time to decompress after work. I finally asked him to let me have half an hour to myself when I got home before coming downstairs. He was nice about it and respected my request. After that I got braver, and when I wasn’t in the mood to hang out, I would tell him.

      It feels like you’re being rude when you ask people to leave you alone, but it’s not if you’re nice about it. It feels good to speak up to people! And once you do it, it’s easier to do it the next time.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’ve used the headphones trick too. It’s the international sign for “I don’t want to talk to anyone.”

        You would think so, but the recent “how to talk to a woman wearing headphones” hubub indicates otherwise.

        1. Mabel*

          I’m not aware of this hubub, but the other day I was talking on my phone with the phone held to my ear, and a woman tried to strike up a conversation with me. Granted, I had my dogs with me, and they are quite an attraction for some people, but I was so obviously on the phone! This happens a lot when I’m using my Bluetooth earpiece because my hair covers it, but I completely understand in that case.

        2. Blue Anne*

          Well, most of the hubbub was tons of people saying what a total idiot the one guy who wrote that article was.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            And anecdotes of how annoying it is when someone does it to you. Which means people are, sadly, out there doing it.

    2. Whats In A Name*

      Oh I use this trick on airplanes all. the. time. I have those big noise cancelling ones, they scream “In my zone, not yours. Thanks”

      Good advice.

    3. LBK*

      Yeah, I would say at least 50% of the time when I have my headphones in, I’m not listening to anything. I just want to visually signal that I don’t want to talk to anyone.

      1. Graciosa*

        That’s how I have always interpreted it – but every so often, there is a thread about listening to music while working and there are a lot of posts about how people are not trying to avoid talking to people, and it’s just a generational misinterpretation. Apparently everyone not in my generation understands that headphones do *not* mean that the wearer is not instantly ready willing and able to be of service.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, I think that people who want to be left alone should be, barring emergencies. (“Good morning, how are you?” – no. “Excuse me, the bus is on fire!” – yes.)

          On the other, I want to be able to listen to my music at work without annoying everyone else, and without having them decide I don’t want to be interrupted!

          1. Kelly L.*

            And I think context matters–at work, presumably we’re all there to work, and so we want people to assume we’re willing to work. On the bus, we don’t owe anything to anyone–not work, not conversation, etc.

            1. AnonEMoose*

              I agree with this – context matters. In public, if I’m wearing headphones, it means: “Unless it’s an emergency, don’t talk to me.”

              At work, it just means “I’m listening to music because it helps me stay focused, but let me know if you need me.” I’ve asked my coworkers to say my name, knock on the desk or edge of my cube, or wave a hand in my peripheral vision (not right near my face, though!) if they need me. It works well.

              1. Mabel*

                Or IM/text you. I think this came up a while ago in another comments section about getting the attention of someone wearing headphones at work.

                1. AnonEMoose*

                  IM is an option, and some people do use that. But I don’t give my personal cell number to coworkers, and don’t have a work one, so texting isn’t an option.

                  Still, people seem to find me when they need me, and that’s what matters!

          2. One of the Sarahs*

            For the second scenario, I used to use a single earphone, hidden by my hair, when I wanted to signal I was ok to be interrupted, both headphones, head-down, for full-on concentration.

          3. A grad student*

            I have earbuds that I like for this purpose at work- both in means “trying to concentrate, please don’t interrupt unless you really need me”, while one in is listening to music without bothering everyone else. I find it works well :)

        2. LBK*

          I think it’s just about context – to me, headphones indicate that you’re not interested in social chatter, but if you’re wearing them at your desk you are obviously still available for work-related conversation. If I went up to one of my coworkers to ask a question about work and saw they had headphones in, I would expect them to remove them and talk to me; I would not read that as a sign that they were unavailable.

      2. OP #4*

        Hi, thanks for the feedback. I actually do come onto the bus wearing headphones – and they are huge headphones. But I usually end up with him giving me a loud ‘hello’. He doesn’t seem to have respect for the headphone rule. Since by the time I get on the bus, most of the seats are taken up, I usually end up having to sit next to him as well.

        I’m guessing my plan of attack should be to sit where I can, and if it’s next to him, to just say outright that I need to decompress. I’m not particularly good with anything with the barest hint of conflict, but I think I need to stake my place here.

        Fortunately he’s on leave for the next two weeks, so I don’t have to worry about this for a little while!

        1. OhNo*

          If you don’t want to be direct (or he doesn’t respect your request to be left alone), you could also try the discouragement tactic: make it so hard for him to have a conversation with you that it is no longer worth the effort.

          Especially if you usually have headphones on, try the loud, “What?” or “Can’t hear you, sorry” without actually taking your headphones off. Or just shake your head and point at your headphones. If he continues trying to talking to you anyway, let him build up a head of steam and then interrupt with, “Were you saying something? Sorry, I can’t hear you over my music.” Again, without taking your headphones off. Even the most tenacious of talkers will get irritated after a few rounds of being interrupted/repeating themselves/trying to have a conversation at top volume.

          1. LBK*

            God, how I wish this technique had a 100% success rate. I’ve been using it on the coworker that sits next to me for over a year and he still hasn’t taken the hint, although he has at least reduced the amount of inane questions and attempts at starting conversation to a manageable level.

          2. Karo*

            Or my patented startled-look-tight-smile-distracted-wave technique. Don’t ever remove your headphones, just sort of jump when he says something super loud, give a small smile or wave to acknowledge his existence and then go back to what you’re doing.

            Because you want (grudgingly) want to maintain some sort of relationship with him, I would use the decompress/me time language first, though.

        2. LBK*

          Would you be more comfortable saying something like “I know this is weird since we see each other on the bus all the time, but do you mind if I just listen to my music instead of chatting? Morning is my ‘me time’ and I’m not really a big talker this early.” Basically, something that throws it back on you as the weird one (even though you’re making a totally normal and acceptable request, but softening it a little might make it easier to say if you’re conflict-averse).

            1. MillersSpring*

              I would try to use as few words as possible to reduce the chance he’ll see it as the opening to a conversation. Taking from others’ suggestions, maybe point to the headphones or book and say, “Sorry, I use my commute as personal time.”

          1. Ayla K*

            I would just replace “do you mind if I just” with “I’m going to just” – you don’t need his permission. Otherwise, this wording is great.

        3. Lance*

          If anything, I don’t see a simple ‘hello’ as any issue; only natural to greet someone familiar, right? But if he starts to go further than that, then yeah, as suggested above, let him know (preferably gently, so he won’t take it the wrong way) that it’s your relaxation time, and you don’t want anything more than a ‘hello’ before you get to work.

        4. Anna*

          “HELLO”
          Point to headphones, mouth “I can’t hear you” turn away.

          I’m kidding. A little bit. It probably wouldn’t stop him from just shouting so you could hear him.

    4. Not Karen*

      Really? I find they don’t work wonderfully. Multiple times strangers (e.g. on an airplane) have started and continued conversations with me even though I clearly have headphones in.

      1. Karo*

        I think for it to work you have to get super duper obnoxious headphones – and even then, somehow sometimes people still don’t see them. (I genuinely don’t understand this – I got the brightest over-the-ear headphones I could find so that they’d contrast with my hair so people would notice them, and people still talk to me and then get miffed that I don’t seem to hear them. I’ve started just ignoring people on the rare occasion that I do hear them, so that they don’t think it’s okay to just randomly start talking.)

    5. Blue_eyes*

      I do that too! Sometimes on the street I put in my headphones to keep people from talking to me, but I don’t listen to anything so that I can still hear what’s going on around me. Then when I get on the subway I’ll turn on a podcast.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I might suggest #4 just state what she is going to *do.*

      If the guy is already on the bus, just go sit somewhere else. Nod absently and keep on going.
      If he comes to join you, say, “I’m going to tune you out; this is my ‘me’ time.” If necessary, get up and say, “I’m going to move back here–see you at work tomorrow.” and do it without other explanation.

  6. Retail4life*

    #2 I reread this multiple times and it feels like there is something missing from the description.

    While I agree calling old friends and coworkers is not the right way to go, if an employee of mine shows suicidal tendencies and then doesn’t come to work after simply texting in I don’t think a police welfare check is out of line at all. It’s not creating drama to show concern for an employee! Welfare checks are there to protect people, they didn’t call the police to get anyone in trouble.

    It also seems like there was miscommunication at least in the explanation- there are 8 people in the office but the letter writer has multiple bosses (how many?! but who got a text and who was supposed to know through the grapevine?!

    While the bosses in this situation did not do everything right by any means, I don’t think they should be dismissed as failures or drama seekers. It’s very hard for people to be supportive of mental health issues and we all need to get better at it.

    1. TheLazyB*

      “I let my managers know I was dealing with a health issue AND texted in”

      Doesn’t sound like it was only one text to me?

      I think the interpretation of the OP not having seen these people for years might be off, she clearly doesn’t work with them any more but it reads to me like she’s in regular touch with them, if not seeing them all the time.

      OP I’d be very upset in your shoes. I hope this doesn’t interfere too much with your recovery.

    2. JessaB*

      You don’t do a well person check on someone who has already let you know they’re going to hospital.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          This to me is the part that really makes it seem like the OP’s coworkers are weirdly nosy and overly dramatic. I could maybe understand if you were the only person who had a spare key and wanted to help the police access the OP’s home more easily, but I doubt that is the case here based on the rest of the letter.

          1. OhNo*

            I got the same read off of that bit. Asking for a welfare check is one thing. Tagging along with the police while they do the check is way over the top.

    3. ZVA*

      I think it’s a bit of a stretch to assume LW “showed suicidal tendencies”—and they told their bosses they were going to the hospital! Why do a welfare check after that?

      I think your giving LW’s bosses way too much credit.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        I’m not even sure if the letter writer told the boss it was for mental health. What if it were an emergency appendix surgery?

    4. AnonAnalyst*

      I struggle with this because I see both sides. As a manager, if I received a call or text from an employee saying they were in serious distress and were about to check into a hospital, I would be pretty alarmed. I don’t think I would call the police to go to check on the employee if she had indicated that she was going to seek help, but if something seemed off and I had any doubts…maybe? (I certainly wouldn’t be going with the police, though.)

      But…having the police show up at your house is not helpful if you are in this situation and are already planning to check yourself into the hospital. Something almost exactly like this happened to a friend of mine earlier this year, and it made the situation worse and set her back in her recovery. She doesn’t fault her employer for calling for the welfare check, but in her case it was more detrimental than helpful. Fortunately, her employer just called the police and didn’t accompany the officers to her home; I imagine that would have made the whole ordeal even more embarrassing for her.

      1. Natalie*

        But it doesn’t sound like the OP specifically said if was a mental health issue, just that they were being hospitalized. It could have been a car accident or a serious allergic reaction or any number of other things for which calling the police would be inappropriate.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          You’re right — I assumed she had said something about it being a mental health issue, but that is not what is in the letter. So, unless there was something else going on that had given them concern in the days leading up to this, calling for a welfare check if the OP just said she was being hospitalized was probably an overstep.

    5. Paula, with Two Kids*

      I agree with this. Nowhere in the description does it say she said how long she would be hospitalized (maybe she did?). If I got such a text, I would assume out 2 or 3 days, and start freaking out if my employee didn’t recontact me. The idea of a lengthy hospital stay for a healthy employee wouldn’t enter my mind.

      1. Allison*

        I’m inclined to agree. If I contacted someone to let them know I’d be in the hospital, and then went dark on them, I’d imagine they’d freak out unless I clarified that I wouldn’t be able to follow up, respond to questions, or update people on my status while in the hospital, but I’d be sure to let them know when all is well. But it’s probably better to either find a way to keep in touch with people, or appoint someone who can relay important information to people who need it.

        And any time you’re out of work, it’s expected you’ll let people know if/how they can contact you, and how responsive you plan on being, if at all.

    6. MCR*

      I think what could have happened is that the boss thought that “I’m going to be hospitalized” was actually a threat of self-harm; i.e., she was about to hurt herself and anticipated going to the hospital. I don’t think that’s necessarily a rational assumption, but it’s the only reason I can think of for the boss to have called the police and gone to her apartment.

    7. Anna*

      The thing is, from the OP’s letter they weren’t showing or at least verbalizing suicidal tendencies (although maybe they were at work…?) and the description of going to the hospital was for “health issues” and not “mental health crisis”, which says to me the boss either made some assumption or didn’t and is still way out of line.

  7. Observer*

    #2 Wow. That’s just incredible. And, NOT in a good way! I can see why you want to find something else.

    311 is a good place to start. You can call or go on line. If you want to go online, google it, because 311 dot com is a music band. You are probably better off with the phone. Ask them for resrouces for job counseling and or job training. Also, 211. There is some overlap, but they are not the same.

    1. Natalie*

      Just FYI, in some cities 311 is just city services, so if you google 311 and live in that city your results will probably not include any kind of support services. (Unless you have a trash pickup issue, I guess.)

      1. Observer*

        In NYC it’s mostly city services, but there are also city some city funded services, and that does include job help, so the OP might be able to find some help there. But, definitely also look at 211 which has other services as well.

  8. Daisy*

    Just out of interest, which Christian denomination doesn’t eat ham? I’ve never heard of that before.

            1. Retail HR Guy*

              Interestingly, I have read that some historians attribute ham being so prominent in Spanish culture to the Reconquista. Once Christians were back in control of certain regions, there was no better way to advertise to your neighbors that you were not a secret Muslim than to chow down on some pork in public.

    1. Computer Man*

      There is the odd sect that follows Hebrew law as best they can (down to taking the Sabbath as literally as Jewish customs). I have met the odd Christian who does this of their own accord, too (but are associated with an otherwise mainstream denomination).

      Personally I think bacon is proof that God loves us.

      1. You see that?! - They throwing cars! How can I not?!*

        Why do they have to be labeled odd though? Seems unnecessary.

        1. Lissa*

          “Odd” is used to mean “occasional out of a big group”, and I read it that way. Like “I sometimes take off the odd Friday for a personal day” or “I mostly only like cats, but sometimes the odd hamster will catch my eye.” (sorry for the horrible examples, blaming cold medicine…)

        2. Computer Man*

          It was odd as in different and unusual (as in against the grain of the mainstream). Not necessarily weird.

    2. Holly*

      There are also Christians who adhere to Old Testament laws so their lives are as close to Jesus’s as possible.

    3. Kathlynn*

      Some 7th day Adventists are vegetarian due to religious beliefs. But they also celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday, not Sunday.

      1. Agile Phalanges*

        I grew up Seventh-day Adventist. They obey [some of] the same laws in Leviticus that Jews do, especially the dietary ones about not eating certain types of seafood and certain mammals. MANY (but not all, and it’s not required of the faith) also follow teachings of Ellen G. White (she’s considered a prophet of a kind, but not the end-all-be-all that the bible is, so her recommendations are optional), such as being vegetarian, abstaining from caffeine, etc. So yeah, that’s where my mind went when I saw the thing about pork, but then they talked about church on Sunday, which as you point out, is NOT an Adventist thing, so unless the LW was making it a bit more anonymous, it’s not them…

    4. Bluebell*

      My grandmother was 7th day Adventist and she did not eat or serve ham because her religion said pigs were unclean. But she ate other meat.

    5. ThatGirl*

      United Church of God is another one – what would probably fall under the “odd sect” Computer Man mentions. They celebrate high holy days, not Christmas, follow kosher dietary law, that sort of thing. I knew a guy in college who took time off every fall for the high holy days, despite being Christian.

      (Though like I said, they don’t make a big thing of Christmas…)

  9. Daisy*

    Re: 4, I think most people wouldn’t want to spend an hour before work talking to even a delightful coworker, so I wouldn’t worry it’ll be obvious you don’t like him.

    1. The Wall of Creativity*

      That even applies in the lift from the lobby to your desk.

      You know, the best thing for me about Star Trek is that when they’re all standing on those discs in the transporter room, they don’t have someone asking “So…… What’s keeping you busy?”

    2. LBK*

      Yeah, I have a few close friends that live and work near me so we run into each other on our commutes fairly often, and there is a general understanding that the morning commute is not friendly chat time, it is silent headphone listening time.

      1. OP #4*

        I love Star Trek! Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to believe in silent headphone time, so my huge headphones haven’t been a good deterrent. He very much wants to engage in a bit of chat. I think maybe I need to just say hello, and then keep on listening, with the explanation that I need to decompress.

        1. Independent Thinker*

          OP#4, perhaps if you say that you decided to use this time to study listening to audiobooks or podcasts the message will be more effective. This guy seems to be pretty clueless, and I worry that by hearing that you want to decompress he might insist on chatting more about non-work topics to “help” you with this goal of decompressing…

  10. Biscuit*

    #3 – I had the same experience with my last job I left (unfortunately right before I started reading this blog and learned better). I gave my two weeks and my manager asked me not to say anything to my coworkers or clients until he could inform them. Thankfully, I informed my direct report, so I could start training him on things he would need to do once I was gone. My boss never informed anyone I was leaving and when I went back to get my final check, I found out I was basically regarded as having quit with no notice and sneaking off like a thief in the night. My boss apparently didn’t say anything even after I left to correct people’s assumptions.

    1. Memyselfandi*

      In my last job I gave almost 6 weeks notice and my boss (the division director) wouldn’t allow me to say anything for 3 weeks. It was one of the worst experiences ever. There were community groups I met with for the last time that I was unable to say goodbye to. Mentally, I couldn’t move on and packing for my move out of state. I made a decision recently that I would let her know to never do thus again if I ever get the chance.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      At my last job, I gave two weeks, and except for the handful of people involved in transitioning my work, they didn’t announce it to the other 100+ staff (all of whom knew me due to my role) until my last day. And they did it via voicemail broadcast, so I’m sure there were people who didn’t find out until I was gone. I actually brought it up in my exit interview that I thought it was really poorly handled.

    3. EddieSherbert*

      I had the same situation at a previous job. I told the people directly affected right away (even though I was told not to). And then I just sent an email out to everyone I worked directly with, and was friends with, on my second to last day.

      (What were they going to do? Fire me?)

    4. Anon for this*

      Something similar happened at my office. A woman who’d worked there for decades retired and management didn’t tell anyone until after her last day — by which point we all knew because she’d gone around and said goodbye to everyone.

      It upset quite a lot of people that we had no official word that she was leaving beforehand, and the official word the day after, once she was gone, was essentially, “Hey, Elizabeth Swan isn’t here anymore. Jack Sparrow will be taking over her duties in the interim while we search for a replacement.” Everyone was ??? ??? about the total lack of acknowledgment that we had personal relationships with Miss Swan, or that quite a lot of people’s desks were going to be affected by her sudden absence.

      Usually when someone retires they hold a retirement party with a cake or something, at least!

      1. CMT*

        Where I work they advertise people’s retirement parties for I swear, months in advance. And often it’s for people in completely different divisions, so I’ve never met them, never will meet them, and their absence will not affect my work at all.

  11. H.C.*

    #1: I’d also inquire with manager and/or HR about the appropriateness of him constantly requesting Sundays/holidays off too (presumably at the expense of his colleagues having to stay & cover his shifts.) I get that some reasonable accommodations have to be made for religious observances, but for the more secular holidays like Thanksgiving/Mother’s & Father’s Days?! Please.

    Crossing fingers AAM can weigh in on the time off aspect of #1’s query.

    1. Magda*

      Yes, I wondered why Alison did not address that. It’s just as annoying an issue, and trickier to handle. Any tips?

      1. Joseph*

        Well, first off, let’s separate out the issues here. Not being able to work on a certain shift (Sundays in his case) is very common. In every coverage job I’ve ever worked, there are always a few people who have set shifts that they absolutely cannot work – Andy takes classes on Thursdays, Bob has kids and can’t work evenings because he has to watch them, Charlie works two jobs and thus can’t do mornings, etc. So as long as management is aware of this while making the schedule, this is just part of the deal with being a manager. That said, if you DO see resentment among the staff about Sundays (since it’s technically a weekend), maybe you tell him that he cannot have the full day off, but can take the morning off and work a half-day, then he always works another undesirable shift (Saturday? Friday evening?) to compensate.
        The holidays thing, however, is more problematic because they’re highly desired days. Here, I think you just need to lay the policy down clearly.
        1.) Require that all employees work X number of major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Easter, etc). X is defined based on needs of course, taking into account that your business may be slower or busier than usual. As a side note, pay particular attention to spreading out Thanksgiving and the December holidays as much as possible since they are so close together – people will absolutely notice and remember if Johnny got both Christmas and New Year’s off when everybody else was working.
        2.) The holidays are rotated on an annual basis. So if you got Christmas off this year, you’re working it next year.
        3.) You can trade holidays with other employees if desired.

        1. Natalie*

          Assuming the restaurant has enough employees for the Civil Rights Act to apply, this policy doesn’t put them in the clear. If the employee claims a sincerely held religious belief that he not work on his Sabbath or on religious holidays, he needs to be accommodated. It’s pretty unlikely this kind of scheduling issue would be considered an undue hardship for most businesses.

          The non-religious holidays and his behavior in general is another matter entirely, of course. But IMO management will have the best results stamping down that behavior if they are scrupulous about providing the accommodations they’re required to.

        2. Newby*

          I don’t think it is possible to separate out the religion aspect from scheduling so easily. For example, working on Sunday may be totally unacceptable to him for religious reasons since he seems to be very old school christian (you DO NOT work on the Sabbath). It does seem fair to have him always work on Saturday in exchange for always having Sunday off, or some other undesirable shift. Holidays can also be problematic. He may be completely unable to work on Christmas and Easter due to his religious beliefs. I’m not saying that means he should automatically get them off, but it may be more fair to see if he will agree to always work Thanksgiving if he can get Christmas off or some other similar trade that will prevent his coworkers from having an unreasonable burden to accommodate him.

          1. Evan Þ*

            “He may be completely unable to work on Christmas and Easter due to his religious beliefs. I’m not saying that means he should automatically get them off…”

            Nope. If there are enough employees for the Civil Rights Act to apply, and if there isn’t any special need for all employees to be present on those specific days, it absolutely does mean he automatically gets them off.

            1. Lissa*

              What happens if there’s a situation where too many employees can claim religious need for a specific day off? Would the business just have to close, or would the, say, 2 employees who are different religions have to be super overworked? (not American so curious)

              I could imagine this comes up with religious accommodations for holidays because some religions are way more numerous than others, so it might not be hard to get a day covered if there was only a few employees of that religion, but then others would have a hard time? I’ve never really heard of this, and live in a pretty non-religious area, so I’m curious.

              1. Chinook*

                My experience is that, if there are too many employees for a given place to stay open due to religious accommodations, then the place closes for the day because the majority of the general population also aren’t going to be working that day. An example of that is Remembrance Day – it is a stat holiday only in some places in Canada but most people expect businesses to be closed and don’t expect service to be available and aren’t angry if the business is closed (and are surprised if they are open). It is just a given and you work around it because it is just one day.

                Now, that one union leader who made a point of coming to me and telling me I could work that day because it isn’t a stat holiday and went as far as to say it was a pointless holiday (despite the National Ceremony taking place a block away)? Him, and that organization, I remember because I have never before or since felt pressured to hide my status a a military spouse.

                1. smthing*

                  The business does not have to close; that’s not the “reasonable accommodation” the law requires. They can require employees to work a religious holiday if it can’t be reasonably accommodated through other means, like the shift swapping others have mentioned. Losing an entire day of revenue, or not having coverage of emergency systems is not a reasonable accommodation.

              2. smthing*

                Sorry if it seems like I’m hammering this (although I guess I am), but here’s the relevant text from the EEOC

                “An employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer. An accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.”

              3. DragoCucina*

                This is common in some parts of the US. Hospitals would have to close Sunday’s if we were legally required to give everyone off. It’s impossible for me to accommodate everyone who wants Holy Thursday off. When we discussed having the library open for 4 hours on a Sunday the plan was to have a rotation so everyone took turns. You would have thought I stole baby Jesus from a manger scene. Ultimately the public voted for hours on other days.

            2. smthing*

              No, it doesn’t mean they automatically get the day off. The law requires reasonable accommodation. If the holiday can’t be reasonably accommodated, then the employer is not required to give time off.

              The employer can also require the employee to take unpaid leave for the requested religious observance. That’s at the federal level. States may have stronger requirements for accommodation.

    2. Computer Man*

      Depends on what he’s asking. Both my wife and brother ask their workplaces for Sundays off for Church (or at least a shift that means they can still attend a service). That’s not necessarily unreasonable if he and his coworkers are otherwise flexible (especially if he happily takes up any other shift in return).

      Holidays, regardless, he should probably suck up and work (my wife had to work Easter and Good Friday this year).

      But this guy sounds like the legalistic type who thinks God will punish him for missing any services.

      1. addlady*

        To me it sounds more like he feels like his volunteer commitments to his church trump paid commitments to his work, and it’seems not really a religious thing per se. Religions with this belief often have accommodations — Catholics have that belief, but they are offered a Saturday evening service for this sort of thing.

        1. Joseph*

          That’s how I interpreted it too – he has volunteer commitments at the church and is putting those first. Which is his choice, but it doesn’t seem like something this company can accommodate since it requires coverage on holidays and Sundays.

          1. Temperance*

            It seems incredibly problematic to me that they actually ARE accommodating his wishes at the expense of LW.

            1. Natalie*

              It wouldn’t surprise me if the managers, the bosses, or both misunderstand their respective obligations and rights under the law. The employee thinks “religious” accommodation” means he gets time off whenever he feels like doing a church thing, and the managers don’t know enough to know that’s not true and are (understandably) afraid to risk a claim.

        2. Mona Lisa*

          Saturday mass actually doesn’t have to do with religious accommodation; it’s because the Sabbath starts at sundown Saturday evening. It’s similar to how the Jewish Sabbath is Saturday, but there is the Shabbat meal on Friday evening.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              Also, since *technically* you’re supposed to go to Confession on Saturday but not eat anything between then and partaking of the Eucharist, the Saturday evening mass has some other advantages. (This is very old school, and you won’t find many Catholics under 70 who see it this way – at least in the US.)

              But it is true that vigil masses count for the following day. This is why so many people go to midnight mass for Christmas (which is pretty beautiful) or the Easter vigils.

              Also, Lent used to work more similarly to Ramadan in that you had no solid food during daylight hours and ate only when the sun was down. And you were supposed to avoid all meat and often eggs and dairy. I believe that Coptic Christians still do Lent more similarly to the way that Catholics did in the Middle Ages.

              1. Mona Lisa*

                Lots of good information here.

                Also Easter Vigil is one of my favorite services of the year. My family started going when I was young to get around the C&E crowds on Easter morning, and it’s such a beautiful mass that we’ve turned it into a tradition.

      2. WhichSister*

        When I managed a department for a large department store, I had an employee who did not like to miss church. This was a big part of her community and I understood the importance to her. We had it worked out that she worked 2 Sundays a month. On one of those Sundays she had to come in regular shift (coming in before the store opened) and she would miss Church. One the other Sunday, she could come in at store opening which meant she could attend services but not luncheon. This was something she and I worked out which accommodated her needs but did not put an undue burden on her coworkers. She was thrilled with the arrangement.

        1. Anna*

          I love it. Your employee and you both understood the importance of being flexible and fair to as many people as possible and accommodating the employee. Accommodation isn’t a cudgel, people!

        2. SimontheGreyWarden*

          My first job opened at noon on Sundays. Since I still went to mass with my parents at that time, I was allowed to be 15 minutes late (I would go to 11am mass, then after communion go straight to work) and I would work the whole shift 3 Sundays a month. I did that to have my Friday nights free so I could hang out (I was about 16). It meant other coworkers could have most Sundays off, and since the manager had to be there early anyway there wasn’t a lack of coverage (the manager was not religious and chose Sundays so she could have a different full day off).

    3. Pari*

      him asking for holidays off isn’t the issue. If you dont think the amount of holidays you’re getting off is fair then that’s a reasonable issue. But keep the issue on your needs not his

      1. H.C.*

        But it is an issue if it looks like management is playing favorites if Bob keeps getting days off approved because he cites his church and is getting the time off that he otherwise wouldn’t have because of it (esp for those non-religious holidays).

        I am all for keeping my time off my own business, but I’d be pretty peeved when someone constantly trumps the established alternating-holiday-off policy with “a church thing” (again, moreso for secular holidays)

  12. Don't Miss Bliss*

    No. 5, I once worked for an organization that gave Employee of the Week Awards (can’t even recall what the award was) in an effort to raise morale. The awards were given out by the head of one department and his assistant, a young woman with whom he was having an illicit affair. Awardees were chosen at random. Needless to say, the whole thing was viewed as a farce. But if you didn’t drop what you were doing and pay attention during the award ceremony, you’re were reported to management. The whole thing interfered with productivity.

    Silliest thing I’ve seen in a workplace, but at least no one was forced to parade around in a dunce cap.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      OP5, have you noticed a pattern in who gets recognized? My old company used to do this (employee of the month for a large team, not the entire company), and it was very obvious that the people who got it were the ones staying late all the time, regardless of whether their work product was any good. I decided if that’s what it took to get employee of the month, I didn’t want employee of the month.

      Anyway, I’d pay attention to who’s getting recognized and what is said about them when they’re being praised to see what that reveals about what management thinks is a good employee.

      1. OP5*

        Most of them have been people whose work is related to the director’s regular day-to-day. I cant vouch for the level of work, but I’m sure they’re dedicating a lot of time and energy. WhaT frustrates me to a degree is that the people getting the recognition are by and large part of her immediate team and people she sees almost daily. I don’t see her very often, and work directly her even less so. The others who haven’t been “awarded” are in a similar place- don’t work directly with her or have projects that require her oversight. Most of the time, it feels like gladhanding her immediate team rather than the accolades of the group.

  13. JustTeaForMeThanks*

    #2 I am sorry this has happened to you! Your manager seems way out of line and creating extra stress for you. Please take good care of yourself! You are the most important, so do put yourself first. This is not your fault at all. I don’t have any advise really, just wanted to let you know that you have every right to feel the way you do and please focus on what’s best for you.

  14. Same*

    We have “core values” awards which are supposed to reward people for going above and beyond. Then came the day a staffer was awarded for doing their job–a job that at least three additional people assisted with and received no recognition. The awards now mean nothing.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I worked a job with similar rewards – the running joke was that you got them for going “above and beyond” cleaning up messes you’d created in the past.

      Not on purpose – there was no accusation of deliberate setup, and I don’t think it existed – but it just seemed like someone would do something hastily, and therefore not to top quality. Then when that thing (out of 5-10 things they’d done hastily) blew up, they’d get an award for going above and beyond to fix it in addition to their normal workload.

    2. Tuxedo Cat*

      In grad school, two teaching assistants received the best teaching assistant award. The rub? One of them maybe worked half the days she was assigned because was always taking off to see her boyfriend. The rest of us had to fill in for her. The other one told the students factually wrong answers (this was a science course and really factual things), blaming the other TAs when the students got things wrong, and basically didn’t care that her students knew so little.

    3. ANON4NOW*

      My last job
      The awards which included a Visa gift card and a certificate went to friends/buddies of the department managers or friends of friends of the managers that went above and beyond by performing tasks like: mopping the production area floor!
      One of the reasons I left that company!

  15. Myrin*

    Ugh, #4 is my nightmare because for some reason, I never encounter situations like that with reasonable people. If someone I rode the bus with told me they’d rather be left alone during the ride, I’d say something like “Sorry” or “No problem!” and maybe, if it had been going on for quite some time and I’d suspect that maybe this person was annoyed by me all along and never wanted to ride with me in the first place, I’d even be embarrassed about it. However, when I’m the one others approach it’s always people who basically throw a fit even to the most polite “I’m sorry but I’d really like to have that time to myself” I could ever muster. Why does that happen to me? :|

    1. Cat steals keyboard*

      I know a few people who get the same bus. There’s an unspoken rule that they say hi then sit separately!

  16. Lance*

    Re: #5: this is one reason why ’employee of the month’ type things (especially ones that are so blatantly obvious as a flag on the employees cubicle) are tacky and ineffectual, in my opinion. Sure, it can be a motivator for a lot of people, but ultimately, there’s only one slot per month; people are going to be left out of it, possibly even for arbitrary reasons. And the way you’re feeling (i.e. underappreciated) is exactly the issue with things like this, because I’d be willing to bet you’re not the only one in your workplace who feels that way.

    The best advice I can offer is try not to worry about it; do the work you’re doing, do it well, and take that appreciation in whenever your managers praise your work over some ultimately rather meaningless award!

    1. OP5*

      Thank you for this. I initially thought it was ridiculous when I first started working here, such pomp over a small figurine that she bought from those bulk toy catalogs. But obviously I’ve begun to put more importance into this thing. My managers are seeing my work and acknowledging my efforts– I can just buy myself an ice cream from the corner store across the street if I need to “award” myself with something. Tastes better too.

      1. Lance*

        That’s the thing, isn’t it: because it’s there, and it’s a plainly-viewed symbol of recognition, it’s only natural that most people are going to want it. But then, because it’s only awarded to one person, it can quickly become more trouble than it’s worth; far better to focus on doing your work efficiently and not worrying about it. I’m glad I could be of any help, and your work seems to be going well; and yeah, nothing at all wrong with treating yourself when you feel the need (in moderation, of course).

  17. abracadabra*

    No. 5. I think you need to talk to your manager but realize that there may be no satisfying answer. One year I headed and worked my tail off for an organization. A close friend also worked diligently for the organization but objectively focused more efforts a professional organization, not as a representative of my organization but solely for her own advancement. Long story short at organization’s end of the year award, which were voted for by the members, she received all three of the awards given out, even though at least one was to be based solely on achievements and efforts within the organization. As i sat fuming, the individual in charge told me that i had as many votes but ultimately she had to make the judgment call and decided to award them all to my friend. Afterwards a few people came up to me expressed to me that they felt the awards were handled terribly and felt i was entitled to at least one. Long story short, you may deserve the award, everyone may recognize your contributions but that doesn’t mean you are going to get the award. I would ignore the award itself and focus whether professional advancement, be it a promotion or a raise are going to be handled fairly based on merit. If not, i think you need to start looking for another job.

  18. GigglyPuff*

    #2 I’m sorry that happened, it sounds awful.
    One possible resource to start with is NAMI, they might have resources to help you.

  19. brightstar*

    I once had to deal with a situation similar to the first letter. I was telling a co-worker that I had cut my leg when taking out the trash, because a broken beer bottle was in the bag. Someone not involved with the conversation butted in to say :”Maybe that’s God’s way of telling you not to drink.” I responded that my relationship with God is only of concern to me and to God. I think he got the point.

    1. Mike C.*

      Why do people say things like this?!

      “Maybe keying your car is God’s way of telling you not to be so judgemental”

      1. Kelly L.*

        And what would the Message(tm) be if it had been a broken pickle jar or something? Sometimes crap just happens.

    2. Daisy*

      Isn’t ‘Maybe that’s God’s way of telling you…’ just a figure of speech though? I’ve said it, and I’m the biggest heathen who’s ever lived. It’s not necessarily literally channeling God’s disapproval. (Though the remark about your drinking is still pretty rude from someone you don’t know well…)

      1. Kelly L.*

        I don’t think I’ve heard it without real disapproval behind it–unless, maybe, it was joking.

        (I do sometimes use the “And that’s why God made xyz” figure of speech jokingly, usually about something God has no reason to care about, and about something obviously made by people. Like “Bagels are boring! But that’s why God made honey nut cream cheese.”)

      2. Isben Takes Tea*

        It’s a figure of speech that can be delivered two ways: in camaraderie with someone, or judgmentally at someone.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          This. If the speaker had been a friend, or friendly coworker who didn’t disapprove of drinking, the comment would have been a joke. But in this context, it doesn’t sound like it was.

      3. Whats In A Name*

        I think lots of “God” comments can be.

        Example: Despite making horrible choices in fantasy yesterday I managed to win both leagues by sheer luck of my opponents players recording epic anomalies. When I woke up this morning my first spoken words were “The football Gods must love me”

      4. Elsajeni*

        It can be, but I think you hit on it with your last sentence — if you make a “haha, God is judging you”-type remark as a joke, you’ve got to be careful about the subject matter, because if it’s not obviously absurd, a lot of people are going to hear it as “sincerely judgmental but passing it off as a joke”.

    3. catsAreCool*

      Since Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine, He probably isn’t totally against alcohol.

  20. Allison*

    The comments on #4 are super helpful and just what I need to hear! I don’t take public transit to work, but I have been in situations, sometimes on public transit and sometimes in, say, the lobby of a dance studio before class, where I want to keep to myself and just read a book or something, but I feel like a jerk not being social in those situations, maybe because it seems like greeting someone needs to lead to a conversation. I also worry that if I tell someone I’d prefer to be left alone they’ll assume something is wrong, and I must need to talk about it, so they’ll keep asking what’s wrong until I open up about it (because people are totally willing to open up about their problems to anyone who appears concerned, right?).

    Now I’m realizing it’s totally fine to say “hello,” and then simply resume my book or pop my earbuds back in.

  21. crazy8s*

    #2-this is one where I really wish we could hear from the manager, because I think there are probably two sides to this story. We don’t really know how OP was presenting in the workplace, what else had been communicated, how long it was from the text to the manager calling people, did the OP just drop off the face of the earth, and if so for how long, etc. Though the OP says she communicated with the manager, IMHO a text from someone that may have been exhibiting severe mental distress, followed by complete radio silence, would be concerning to me. It’s an odd way to communicate with an employer about being out for an extended period of time. I wish I knew more about the whole story. It sounds like the workplace was sincerely worried about her. I had an experience where a worker “texted” in, followed by no more contact for several days, and then we found out she was dead. I wish we had followed up with a welfare check. I personally would prefer for her to be mad at us for invading her privacy–but alive–than what actually happened.

    1. Alton*

      I think I agree with this. The OP may not know how concerning their behavior was leading up to their absence.

      Also, even if there was no indication of mental health concerns, if someone told me they were going to the hospital, didn’t give me any indication that it was routine/expected, and then couldn’t be reached, I would get concerned after a day or two. It does happen sometimes where people go to the ER because of sudden symptoms and end up either dying or becoming incapacitated for days/weeks/months. Or people are discharged, go home, and end up dying because the doctors missed something serious.

      There’s definitely a fine line between showing concern and prying, and it sounds like the OP’s workplace could handled things better. But their intentions may have been good.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I would think the person to contact would be whoever OP listed as an emergency contact, though, right? Rather than people from the town where she used to live?

        1. Temperance*

          If LW is pretty private, or is single/doesn’t have a lot of family around, they may not have known who else to reach out to.

          1. Observer*

            You STILL don’t show up with the police to the person’s apartment. Also, calling multiple people is way over the top, especially the out of state people.

            1. Temperance*

              I think my take on this is different because I had a medical crisis earlier this year and was sedated, so my husband had to be my contact with my work. If I didn’t have him, I don’t know who would have been able to keep them apprised of the situation. I can see my boss trying to reach out to my friends.

              1. Observer*

                There is a huge difference between calling the police for a well check and accompanying them, and between calling some current, local friends, and people in another state.

                We work with a vulnerable population, so dealing with someone falling off the face of the earth happens a lot, and the results of the well check are not always so cheerful. But, I can’t think of ONCE case where the approach taken by the boss here would have helped.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  Yup.

                  Everywhere I’ve ever worked, they’ve wanted me to have an emergency contact on file. At various times in my life, this might have been my mom or my partner or a friend. But whoever that is, that’s who LW’s work should have called. I’m guessing this must be kind of an incestuous field, where everybody knows everybody, because I don’t think my bosses would even know how to contact my friends from my previous town, at least not without a lot of Facebook digging.

                  I doubt this rises to the level of a legal privacy violation, but I do think it’s kind of an ethical privacy violation to go to random people who vaguely know the OP and say “OP is in the hospital! Do you know anything about it?”

                  And I also agree that they didn’t need to go along on the welfare check.

            2. Case of the Mondays*

              Actually, the police are the appropriate people to call. Given the current media, a lot of people are afraid of the police right now, some with good reason of course. However, most police, in most towns also have a social work aspect to their job. They are not at your door because you are in trouble. They are just there to say “hey, are you okay?” The boss shouldn’t have gone with them and shouldn’t have called random other acquaintances.

              But, in most jobs, you need to do more than send a text message to take a medical leave. That is extra unfortunate because who feels up to jumping through hoops when they are sick, mentally or otherwise? You usually need to request forms and have them certified by your doctor and turn them back into HR. If you can’t do that, you usually have to at least call and talk to someone about it so they can start the process for you and pick up where they left off when you are medically able. Or appoint a friend or family member to do it for you.

  22. Frumpy*

    #2: I think a dramatic perspective is being given when looking at this – there is an attitude of how day they go to your home to check on you (with police) and contact your acquaintances. For a manager to show up at your apartment with the police isn’t a thing that they thought you were lying, it was that they were THAT concerned about your wellbeing.

    I know OP says that there was no miscommunication but my interpretation is that he sent a single text to his manager (and similar communications to others) that probably did not clearly explain the situation for them and then abruptly cut contact and couldn’t be reached.

    It would be easy to send a confusing text – while you know you are okay and going to the hospital, no one else knows that for sure. Even when someone says they are going to the hospital – you morally follow up to make sure this actually happened. You have no idea the weight that is on someones shoulder when they are aware you could be suicidal and have cut off contact.

    We had a coworker once who was a cutter and called in sick – she went on about how she was in a really dark place and had to take the day off to get some help. Sounded simple enough and we all went on with our day… but the next day we got the call from her parents saying that she had killed herself shortly after she had called into work. She had even called someone to bring her to the hospital but slit her wrists before her friend could come and get her.

    I can easily see my manager taking steps like OPs manager should something like that happen again. My manager blamed herself for just letting it go because we all knew she was hospitalized for being suicidal in the past. My manager knew that she should’ve called the girls parents to make sure that they were aware her daughter needed help.

    I get that it can be embarrassing for some old friends to find out that your boss was concerned about you – it is simple enough to just tell people ‘I called in sick and my boss overreacted’ and then talk to your boss about who is an appropriate emergency contact should they be genuinely concerned about your well being.

    I just can’t stress enough that I do not think this was a drama thing from your work – it is easy enough to be dramatic by calling people up or messaging all of your Facebook friend with concern, but it is very serious for them to feel it important enough to accompany police to your apartment.

    1. DArcy*

      The coworker accompanying the police is exactly *why* most of us have concluded that this is a grossly inappropriate act of workplace drama rather than any legitimate concern. There is absolutely no valid reason to accompany the police unless you’re a close friend or family member; all you’re doing is getting in the way and interfering with their ability to actually conduct a welfare check. I’m actually very surprised that the police allowed her to do so, unless she lied to them and pretended to be a close friend.

  23. DCompliance*

    #5- I have been there.

    If everything else is going great at the job, I would try not to worry about. Are you getting high profile work? Do you feel like your career is going in the right path? Are you getting raises and bonuses? If so, just brush this off. If not, I think you should have a conversation with management, but not just about your award.

    Also, you mention that you cringe when you get public praise. Are you also feeling embarrassed that you are not getting praise? If so, like I said, I have been there and I know it is hard. Try to remember that other people probably are not noticing as much you are. Easier said then done, but it is true.

  24. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

    #1 – Something similar happened to me during a hospitalization a few years ago. One of the nurses kept wanting to pray with me, pray for me, preach, etc. I started off being polite and noncommittal. And then she told me that perhaps I was in the hospital because God thought I needed a rest from my busy life, and then I got really uncomfortable, so I asked that she not be sent to my room anymore.

    I would definitely complain about this at work after you give him one chance to stop. That’s so unnecessary and uncomfortable.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, and OP needs to use the word harassment when she does report it because that’s what it is (and it will make them take it more seriously, unless they’re complete idiots).

      1. Salyan*

        Eh… people are allowed to talk about what they want to – and religious speech is still free too, as far as I know. It’s only harassment if they don’t stop after being asked.

    2. Batshua*

      When I was in college, I had a late-night shuttle driver ask me about my major. It was anthropology, and this led to him asking me if I believed in evolution. About two minutes later, I was getting a VERY uncomfortable lecture about Jesus.

      … Did I mention I was at a secular school? And I’m Jewish? I went to the dean of diversity and we gently told the head of public safety that my shuttle driver had crossed a line hardcore.

  25. Whats In A Name*

    #4: Who gets on the bus first – you or co-worker?

    *If you get on first, is there a way you can be absorbed in reading or already have headphones in when he gets on as some other had suggested.

    *If he gets on first, is there anyway you can just smile, say good morning then choose a seat somewhere else on the bus; preferably next to someone so he can’t move and take over their seat.

    *If you get on at the same stop maybe the next time you are waiting to get on the bus you can start searching your bag for something and say “go ahead, I might have to stay behind and run back home”. Then “find” what you were looking for and get on, doing suggestion #2 above?

    1. OP #4*

      Hi, coworker is on the bus first. Unfortunately there’s not many seats left, so it’s usually a choice between sitting with him or with a stranger. I’m always concerned that I’ll seem rude if I plonk down next to a stranger instead of him, especially when he’s saying hello rather loudly. Is there a decent way to get around this?

      On the odd occasion when I’m on first, I do get absorbed in a book/music, plus put my bag on the vacant seat. However usually he’ll stand by for me to move my bag off of the seat rather than finding another seat.

      1. Myrin*

        Oooh, that should be pretty easy then, actually (in fact, the other person being on first is the only situation where I’ve ever managed to get it my way from the start) – just smile and wave in a friendly manner and then sit down somewhere else. (A little tip for that: close your eyes as soon as you sit down, as if you’re deeply enjoying your music or trying to nap. It’s super effective!) If he does say something about it, 1. he’s making it awkward seriously get a hint already and 2. say something like “I’ve found that I really need the time on the bus to just relax and be by myself” or something to that extent, all while being very positive and smile-y. It’s entirely possible that he’d sulk about it but that’s really not your problem and rather immature on his part – and maybe he’d even react more positively than you’d think and be totally understanding!

      2. Alton*

        He *might* see it as rude, if that’s his personality, but he might not. I find that, for one thing, a lot of people have their preferred spots to sit. Or they grab whatever’s easily available.

        I have a coworker who rides the same bus as me sometimes. She almost never sits next to me, and I just figure she probably 1) is grabbing whatever seat is most convenient for her, 2) doesn’t see me, or 3) doesn’t want to feel like she needs to chat. Any combination of those factors are reasonable to me, but then, I’m also someone who likes to relax during my commute.

        I do think it’s trickier if you’ve made a habit of sitting next to this guy. Suddenly changing might be noticeable. But you can probably phase it out over time, or sit near him but have a book or podcast at the ready.

      3. eplawyer*

        Stop worrying about seeming to be rude to this rude person. Sit next to the stranger. If he makes a big deal out of it, look at him with really wide eyes and ask “Why is it a problem where I sit?” That pushes it right back on him.

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          Yes! Don’t worry about seeming rude, because you can’t control how he perceives you. No matter how he feels, You. Are. Not. Being. Rude. For. Not. Sitting. Next. To. Him. Do what works best for you in this situation!

      4. kapers*

        Oh man. Sit elsewhere if you have that option! Keep those headphones on, greet him if you want, close your eyes or get absorbed in your book or device.

        I think this is one of those cases where you are just going to have to be okay with possibly seeming rude in the eyes of someone whose opinion should truly not matter all that much. I know as a woman it’s hard, but he’ll live. (Actually, he seems so socially tone-deaf and has such a high estimation of his own company that he probably will think nothing of it.)

        And I want to be clear– it’s not rude. If anyone is rude here, it’s him. To encroach on your time like that, especially when you are in headphones, is rude. People pretty universally aren’t chatty in the AM and people in headphones are pretty universally signalling they aren’t up for interacting. One of my coworkers (who I like) is sometimes on the same subway car and we greet each other and sometimes sit next to each other, but no way am I taking out my earbuds and putting on my social face for 45 minutes when I haven’t had coffee yet, and he had no problem grasping that even though I never specifically communicated it. Is he disappointed we don’t talk? Does he think I’m rude or weird? I don’t care.

  26. Mike C.*

    I absolutely despise when I hear one member of a religion tell me that someone else isn’t a “real” member of another religion. First off, do you not know the history of your own religion and the numerous schisms that have occurred over the years? How can you be so ignorant?

    I have family members who are Mormon, and I hear this garbage about them all the time. It’s gross, it’s ignorant and frankly the people making these comments believe in some pretty odd things, so maybe don’t judge others.

    1. Bexx*

      +10000
      Growing up in the “buckle” of the Bible Belt, I’ve always felt this way. My own family includes Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews, Quakers- you name it! I consider religion to be personal and wish people would treat it as such.
      I’m pretty much an atheist and feel a little offended by people saying they will pray for me. I know a lot of it comes from a good place, like if I’m having a family crisis. But sometimes these people will actually say “I know you’re not religious but…”
      That really gets to me because you’re openly admitting to disregarding my personal beliefs. If I were religious I’d be equally offended by this co-workers statements. If he truly wanted the OP to become more involved with a church he would extend an invitation to services.
      I’ve found that telling people to their faces that religion is an inappropriate work place topic usually shuts it down. I’ve even gone back later to say I’m not anti religion, but I am opposed to making everyone uncomfortable.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        Is it offensive to *ask* if someone can pray for you? I’m a progressive, queer Christian, so I know not to force my beliefs on others. But, I want to help, or at least let the person know I care. So, I ask, and if no, I tell the person I will still think of them and to please let me know what I can do to help.

        1. BTW*

          I’m not sure why you would ask someone’s permission to pray for them? It just seems odd to me. I’ve had people say, “I’ll pray for you” when they know I’m facing something or I will come right out and say, “Will you pray for me?” But I would never ask someone if it would be okay for me to pray for them. They aren’t going to know the difference either way so why bring it up?

          1. KellyK*

            Because saying “I’ll pray for you” is a little like “Bless your heart.” It can be sincere and well-meaning, or it can be sarcastic and condescending. And a lot of people who want to convert others use “I’ll pray for you,” more negatively. So it’s meant to give someone an easy out if they really don’t want to hear about your prayers at all.

            It might be kind of awkward, because what you’re really asking is not so much “Can I pray for you?” but “Do you want me to tell you I’m praying for you?” Because, like you said, if you just pray, they won’t know either way. But if they say “no,” you’ve implicitly agreed that you won’t pray for them privately, which seems like giving them more say in your inner religious life than is really appropriate.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            I’ve had someone ask, and I thought it was very thoughtful. Though now that I think about it, it would have been awkward to say “I’d rather you didn’t, thanks.” I guess it’s a way of saying “I care what happens to you but I don’t want to do anything that makes you uncomfortable.” But, as you say, I wouldn’t have been uncomfortable because I wouldn’t have known.

        2. Bexx*

          I don’t think asking is offensive at all! I actually appreciate it when someone asks.
          I realize that the slight feeling of being offended is on me, especially when it comes from people that don’t know me well. I wouldn’t say “Don’t waste your prayer!” because I know that prayer is important to many people.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Why don’t you just say “I’ll be thinking of you and please let me know what I can do to help”? That’s a very nice thing to say, and you can still pray for them privately if you want to. :)

          1. Bexx*

            That’s what I tell people because I don’t usually know peoples beliefs, but I want them to know I really do care.

        4. J.B.*

          I tend to say something about sending positive thoughts, rather than prayer. I have asked specifically for prayers at church, but otherwise am private and don’t want to have my beliefs presumed. Asking would probably be all right, but those who don’t observe the dominant religion probably feel weird about it.

        5. Athenian*

          I wouldn’t say it’s offensive, but it makes me REALLY uncomfortable to have someone ask that. It feel rude to say no to such a request, but I am really not keen on someone praying for me.

          Personally, I prefer someone to ask “how can I help?” or just say they’re thinking of me rather than make it about religion. Then they can do that in whatever way suits them best, and I don’t have to feel icky about it.

          1. Lissa*

            Yup, same. I feel really rude for feeling this way, but I don’t like it! But I wouldn’t want to say no…it’s awkward. I think you should only ask/say anything about prayers if you know the other person’s religious beliefs on it.

            I know that to some people talk of prayer doesn’t feel overtly religious but just in the same vein as “I’m thinking of you” but to me it definitely would feel that way.

          2. Ellie H.*

            Same, I’d actually describe myself as moderately religious (Christian) but this also would make me uncomfortable because I’m not from a background that includes it.

        6. Temperance*

          I really think that it is offensive. If you know me well enough to know about my life, you know that I’m an atheist, so asking if you could pray for me is just affirming that you don’t think my beliefs are valid.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yes; if someone knows you well enough to know your religious beliefs, I agree that it’s offensive. But sometimes people who don’t know you well will still find out that something is going on in your life (like the bystander who saw you get hit by a car), so I don’t think it’s fair to paint everyone with the same brush.

          2. ThursdaysGeek*

            Now I’ll need to ask my friend if I did offend him. I said something about how I knew he was atheist, and I was christian; he had a serious medical issue; and I asked if he would be offended if I prayed for him. He said he considered it just good thoughts on my part, and he was not opposed to good thoughts from anyone. It seemed to me like we were respecting each other’s beliefs.

            1. Brogrammer*

              If he said you didn’t offend him, take his words at face value. Asking first was a good thing.

              1. ThursdaysGeek*

                And I did ask in such a way that I think he could have said no if he wanted. Something like — ‘I’m asking and it’s fine if the answer is no.’

        7. BananaPants*

          I only say I’ll pray for someone if they ask for it or if I know they share my general religious beliefs – otherwise if I’m unsure or know that they’re a different faith or atheist, I’ll say that the person is in my thoughts.

        8. kapers*

          I don’t think it’s offensive to ask but it can be awkward and put the person who is struggling in the position of managing this for you and then THEY have to worry about not offending YOU. Why announce/ask at all? I think it’s far nicer to include someone in prayer without making it known.

          “I’ll be thinking of you/let me know what I can do” always works and it doesn’t mean you’re not praying for them.

        9. Sarita*

          It’s not offensive, but it puts the person you’re asking in a bind, because they’ll look kinda rude if they say no, won’t they?

          If someone asked me if they could pray for me, my instinct would be to say, “Well, I don’t really care, but I can’t stop you, so go for it, I guess.”

          Which sounds super sarcastic and rude, so I would never say it! Even though it’s literally true, I just don’t care. And saying no is unnecessarily combative – meaning ultimately I’ll say yes just to avoid rocking the boat. So someone who asks if they can pray for me isn’t actually getting my permission or a genuine go-ahead. It’s functionally equivalent to saying they’re going to pray for me, only it also requires me to do the mental work of figuring out how impolite I want to be when answering the question.

          Both asking and telling seem rooted in a desire to let someone know that you want to pray for them, and whether you convey that information in the form of a statement or a question, you accomplish the same thing either way. I prefer the suggestions above to say something about wishing them well or thinking good thoughts, instead, which don’t require the person receiving your well-wishes to engage with your religion one way or another.

        10. HannahS*

          As a non-Christian, I don’t like it. Polite as you might be, it feels super pushy. It makes me feel like the person asking is insisting that I validate their beliefs by agreeing–what can I say, “no, I don’t think your prayers will be useful”? It makes me feel like I’m supposed to be grateful that the other person is having a conversation with their god on my behalf because I won’t be talking to their god, because I’m not a Christian. That’s totally different from someone saying, “I’m really sorry about your suffering. I’ll be thinking about you.” The other thing is, as progressive as *you* might be, most of the times in my life that a Christian has told me they’re praying for me, they’re praying that I’ll abandon my ways and become a Christian. So no matter how nice RandomKindChristian is, the overtones of “Can I pray for you” is very uncomfortable. I’d say unless you know that the other person shares your beliefs, don’t ask.

        11. a different Vicki*

          This atheist would rather be asked something “would you like me to pray for you?” than “can I pray for you?” because “would you like me to?” feels like it has more room for me to say no without getting into an argument. I’d also be more comfortable saying “I’d rather not, but since you want to help, could you [do some small practical thing for me]” in the latter case.

          I knew of someone, many years ago, who was ill and specifically asked for prayers from people who shared his beliefs, and also asked that people who didn’t (which included many Christians and all non-Christians) not pray for him.

      2. Jax*

        My mom was going to have surgery and in her last meeting with the surgeon before the surgery he told he that he was praying for her. We are both atheists and were immediately horrified and convinced that her chance of survival was going to be close to zero. If the SURGEON doesn’t have confidence that he can help without calling in the big guns, what does that mean?! What it means is that he is a Christian man and was trying to say something that he thought would comfort us because that would comfort him. He didn’t know we are atheists because that just doesn’t occur to us to talk about.

        1. Bexx*

          I can see where you and your mom are coming from. But my grandmother was a nurse, that believed in science, and considered herself a life long Christian. I can’t see her volunteering that information at work, but I’m sure she would have participated in prayer at a patients request.
          Some people just assume- and you know how that goes!

        2. BTW*

          That means that you don’t understand Christianity. At all. I’m actually shocked that just because he said he was praying for her, it somehow meant that he wasn’t a good surgeon, didn’t believe in his abilities, and had to call on a higher power to “help” him. You defined him solely by his faith when he said that and personally, I feel there’s a lot wrong with that. This had zero to do with his confidence.

          1. Bexx*

            But it has everything to do with the patient’s confidence. I’m not saying what he did is wrong. But you have to consider the audience.

          2. Jax*

            In the moment when he said it we were horrified because we knew there was a good chance (greater that 50% but not near 100%) that she would die because of the surgery. When we were less emotional, it was easier to parse what he meant. What he said would have given believers great comfort-I truly believed he meant it as a comfort to us. But he he assumed that we were religious and we’re not. He is a great surgeon and a great man. I just wanted to point out that giving unsolicited prayers isn’t always going to work out how you want them to.

            1. Lissa*

              Yes, thank you! Criticizing their emotional reaction on the eve of a dangerous surgery seems really inappropriate to me. They didn’t berate the surgeon, and I understood the story as just explaining *why* to non-religious people, “I’ll pray for you” is not neutral/helpful.

          3. Temperance*

            No, actually, it means that HE doesn’t understand that there are non-Christians in the world. I see nothing wrong with defining a person by their faith when they make it my business.

          4. Charlotte, not NC*

            I am doing a “confused bird head tilt” over the idea that Jax is supposed to parse out a stranger’s religious beliefs and intentions while waiting for his/her mother to have a life-threatening medical procedure. Give me a break.

        3. Temperance*

          That would have really rubbed me the wrong way, and would have honestly made me doubt the surgeon’s skill level, too.

          I find it offensive that people just assume Christianity is default, but I think I’m in the minority on that one.

          1. Rookie Biz Chick*

            Oh, Temperance, you are not! It wears me out constantly! I can barely hold my tongue these days.

        4. fairyfreak*

          Heh, I had a similar thought in college when I went to their medical office and the doctor said a prayer for me. Now, granted, it was a private religious college, although not my religion. But still, I had good poisoning, did he really need to call out for help? Since it wasn’t a critical medical situation, I was more amused than anything, but I can understand your reaction.

      3. Gene*

        Just wait until they are having a similar crisis and tell them the you’ll “ask Bel-Shamharoth to intercede on their behalf.”

    2. Chickaletta*

      “First off, do you not know the history of your own religion and the numerous schisms that have occurred over the years? How can you be so ignorant?”

      Ah, as a former “evangelical”, I’ll can explain how they get to this thinking: they’re told that all previous versions of Christianity were the ones who were ignorant.

      They also believe that they are the only ones who actually follow what the Bible says (although there’s a lot of cherry-picking: they’ll read books like Acts, Ephesians, and Romans ad-infinitum, but the only time they crack open Leviticus is when they do one of those “read-the-whole-Bible-in-a-year” projects).

      The leadership also controls outside influences very effectively by referring to them as sinful. For example, if someone questions the church’s teachings, they’re told that’s the work of the devil trying to get them to stray from God. Or, if they don’t go to church for awhile or drop out of Bible study, they’re told that they’re straying from their walk with God and that they should come back in order to have a relationship with God.

      Sometimes they’re told that people who think that one could find God via other religions, or who have friends who are atheist or of other religions, are too “worldly”, meaning that they’re more concerned with things of this world than of heaven so therefore they aren’t putting God first.

      So, there’s a lot of psychological manipulation and brainwashing that goes on. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the OP’s coworker is willing to sacrifice his job over this. In his view, getting people to convert to his view of God is the most important thing in the world – more important than his job, his friendships, everything.

  27. Roscoe*

    #5 This does suck, but I also don’t know that going to the boss about it is the best either. It just seems tacky, for lack of a better word. Do you think the people who have gotten it don’t deserve it, like its just favorites? Because on a team that big, you can’t realistically have insight on what everyone else is doing. So you may think that your August was amazing because of this great thing that you did. But Jane’s August may be just a bit better, or more important to the company. Also, as Alison said, it is just numbers. You’ve been there 24 months and there are 30 people. Even if it just went to a different person every month, you still may not necessarily get it for another 6 months.

    I think you should try your best to let it go

    1. JM in England*

      This takes me back to an episode of The Simpsons where everyone employed of the nuclear plant except Homer had an “Employee of the Month” medal around their necks………………

  28. LBK*

    #5 – Are you generally a top employee? I can’t quite tell from your letter, but if you’re one of the best employees in the department, that can actually work against you for awards like this. I’ve found that they tend to go to people who are typically average and then do one thing above and beyond their job descrption (or just have one good month). It stands out more when the C student pulls out some A+ work than when the A student does it. Which is frustrating, but hopefully you’re rewarded for your efforts in other ways that serve you better in the long run (bigger raises, shots at promotions that others don’t get, good projects, etc.).

    I speak from personal experience since this happened to me – constant praise from every manager in the department but I never won our quarterly employee award. Ironically, every person I nominated did win it based on my nomination, to the point that my manager started joking that I should just nominate myself next time.

  29. Person of Interest*

    #5 – In my experience sometimes this happens because the manager/boss thinks the recognition program itself is silly or meaningless, so because they don’t take it seriously, they don’t think of nominating their staff for it.

  30. Anonmoose*

    Ew, ew, ew, with OP #2.

    This does seem more like drama than concern, especially if OP was already going to the hospital.

    It’s people like that that make me worry at work. I used to self-harm years ago, but due to the nature of it and my refusal to seek any medical care if it was bad (stitches or whatever- often if someone goes to an ER for such injuries, they’re put to the back of the waiting line, spoken to unkindly, treated like a waste of time, or even denied local anesthetic for stitches, so I never went), the scarring is still pretty bad.

    I’ve only recently, due to my office being too hot, started to wear anything other than full sleeves. People have been OK so far. But, it would only take a drama llama like #2’s manager, to make me feel really uncomfortable again.

    Unless you can do something real and concrete to help, don’t involve yourself in something like this without the person’s consent. And even then it’s fraught.

        1. Anonmoose*

          Apparently, it can happen if you get a jerk doctor. I think the idea is that you wanted to hurt, so why waste the drugs?

          1. TL -*

            I think technically that’s a case for a malpractice suit.

            I work with a fair number of doctors and I would think that would be a rare exception.

            1. Anonmoose*

              You’re probably right- but in order to fight it, you’d have to explain HOW you got the injuries. Do you really think someone wants to admit to that in open court? It’s usually something people feel really ashamed of. Honestly, in an ER situation, I think the person would be so humiliated/anxious that they would likely not advocate for themselves.

              If you know someone with these issues, please go WITH them in an emergency, and watch out for jerks.

  31. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Letter #1 is clear religious based harassment. Also, he insults your lunch? What the heck?

    My best childhood friend is Muslim. And although if we wanted pizza together, I couldn’t order sausage, she never insulted what I chose to eat, pork or not. And when she would have breakfast with me, it would either be bagels, or, plain eggs in a separate pan. My family already made plain eggs in their own pan for our dog when we would have a full breakfast (because the fat in eggs helped improve her coat, and she would bark for food when we cooked, but sausage gave her the runs), so no one had to do anything extra.

    Understandably, though, our dog never seemed to like my friend. :D

  32. Smiling*

    #5 – I know how you feel. I recently celebrated a milestone anniversary at work (think several decades). I am the longest running employee here so only accounting and top management would actually have the information to realize that I’ve hit this milestones.

    I didn’t want a big to do, but hoped for some sort of acknowledgement. Almost 2 months have gone by and I didn’t even get so much as a “Happy Anniversary” from anyone. (Unless you count all the people on Linkedin, who I don’t know, but who wished me happy anniversary.)

    I’ve kept my mouth shut on this one, because although I hope for the acknowledgement, I’m not the type to ever demand it. Just my personality, but I felt that bringing it up would also be demanding it in this situation.

    I think Alison’s advice is spot-on for you, if you really want this, ask your manager about it.

  33. BTW*

    #1 – As a Christian as well, I’m terribly sorry that you have to deal with someone like that. It’s people like them who give the rest of us a bad name. Personally, I would shut it down very bluntly and then take it to HR if it continued. Faith and religion looks different to everyone and this person is being terribly rude and judgmental. Shame on them.

    1. Rachael*

      I agree. I’m athiest and I believe that the guy isn’t a Christian who is harrassing the OP. He is a jerk using his religion to harrass the OP. There are jerks everywhere and he doesn’t not represent Christianity – just jerks. (Did I say “jerk” enough?)

      1. Temperance*

        Actually, he is a Christian. To say otherwise gives credence to the idea that jerks using Christianity to further their jerk agenda are not “real” Christians, and gives mainstream Christianity a pass on shit behavior.

        1. Rachael*

          I understand your view on Mainstream christianity, but I try not to penalize the Christians I interact with on a daily basis by the jerks who use Christianity to further their own agendas.

          1. an anon*

            “I don’t want to penalize all Christians for this one Christian’s jerk behavior” is vastly different from “this jerk isn’t really a Christian.”

            1. Rachael*

              I think that my sentence is reading differently than what I am meaning to say. I am not saying that he isn’t a Christian. I’m saying that he is not “a Christian who is harassing the OP” and that he is a jerk using Christianity to harass him.

              I work at a Catholic Hospital and it is not my experience that Christians are lurking around the corner to harrass people about their faith. Meaning – that jerks are everywhere harassing people and this particular person is using Christianity and his idea of what Christianity is to harass someone. If he didn’t have his faith I’m sure that he would harrass people a different way because he is a jerk.

        2. Cat steals keyboard*

          So as a Christian who doesn’t act like a jerk I have to take ownership of people who do?

  34. Tiny_Tiger*

    OP #1: UGH UGH and double UGH! Go straight to a manager and tell them what’s going on. This guy should not have to be told that you do not bring up someone else’s religious affiliations while at work. I’m very much a “leave it at the door” type about that stuff unless it comes up in relevant conversation. It opens up way too many doors for judgement and borderline harassment opportunities like what you’re experiencing.

    OP #2: I’m so sorry that you’re having such a difficult time and have to deal with such fallout thanks to your manager. Whether this was a case of genuine concern or just drama-mongering, they went way overboard with it, especially considering that you gave them a heads up as to why you wouldn’t be in the office. Even if they had good intentions, they have now created a completely unnecessary and overly stressful situation that YOU now have to handle. I would definitely ask them why they felt it necessary to not only call the police, but accompany them to your apartment, and proceed to rile up your old friends and make them worry.

  35. Not Karen*

    The hospitalization itself was traumatic and unhelpful

    Take note, everyone who thinks that involuntary imprisonment is going to help someone who is already stressed.

    *gets off soapbox*

    1. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

      +infinity

      I’ve been in a situation like this. My boss, who’d hired me a week and a half before and spent my short stint expecting me to mind-read and literally criticizing everything down to the way I walked, fired me from the first “perm” job I’d had in years. I was devastated and said something to the effect of “now I’m just a burden on my family.” He decided this meant he should call the cops to my apartment as soon as I got home and tell them to take me to the hospital because I was suicidal.

      I was uninsured. I managed to bully the ambulance company out of charging me because it was involuntary, but the emergency room bill was $900.

      Maybe he told himself he was doing the right thing, but it actually was kicking me when I was down and making things worse. I seriously considered sending him the $900 bill, but chickened out.

      Being involuntarily hospitalized is a horrible, traumatic, humiliating experience – I could go on at length about another experience where they denied me a change of underwear for a week and a half and humiliated me in front of the whole ward staff, but I won’t. It’s also a huge financial burden, especially to someone uninsured.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        OMG! This is a horrifying story. I’m sorry that happened to you – your former boss was an ass, and you should have sent him that bill, the jerk.

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        Yes, this is exactly what my friend is dealing with now. Her insurance is terrible, so she owes about $2K for an (unnecessary) ambulance ride to the hospital and a day in the ER. Fortunately, they released her after about 8 hours after determining she did not need to be hospitalized. But she’s now trying to figure out how to pay those bills since she isn’t exactly making great money at her current job.

        Add to that the embarrassment of her neighbors seeing the police show up at her apartment and forcing her to leave in an ambulance, and then the trauma of being locked up in a glass room in the ER where they took all of her clothes and everything on her person away while they were evaluating her, including one psychiatrist yelling at her for “lying” about the (truthful) answers she was giving, and it all rounds out to an experience that actually was a set back to her mental health.

    2. Crazy Canuck*

      I once had gall stones. They hurt so badly I could barely breathe. Less than two days after I was admitted to the hospital, they surgically removed my gall bladder, as I was developing pancreatitis and I would have died. It was not a fun experience. Being involuntarily committed due to mental health issues was worse. Far, far, far worse. Even now, years later, I still shake when I think about it.

      Unless a person is a clear and present danger to themselves, I advise against calling the police. Sadly, the police are far more likely to harm the person than help them. 40% of all of the police shootings of civilians in Toronto between 2004 and 2014 were people who were suffering from a mental health crisis.

  36. NotAnotherManager!*

    I get not putting people up for public recognition. I once had an exceptional employee who was mortified by public praise, and manager training after manager training encourages us to find what motivates a specific employee and do that. With this person, I tried to push more for compensation-related rewards because I knew publicly making a fuss over their accomplishments would make them want to go hide in a bathroom until it was over.

    We had annual recognition awards for which you could nominate your staff, and the committee picked two people organization-wide to receive monetary awards to be accepted at a public ceremony. This employee had an exemplary year that was the definition of “above and beyond”, and there was no way they wouldn’t win, if nominated. After agonizing over it, I figured they could tolerate five minutes of public attention for the cash. I also went and spoke with them after the ceremony and let them know that I wasn’t completely disregarding their dislike of the spotlight but that I really felt they deserved the monetary bonus.

    I would check in with the boss to make sure that they know that public recognition is okay with you and, if that’s not the reason you’ve not been recognized, what your performance would need to look like to gain the recognition.

  37. Scott M*

    on #2, without seeing the language of the text, I could see how this might have unintentionally gone wrong. If it was a short text with no further explanation, I could see how the manager and coworkers would be worried that the OP was in trouble or danger. Without any emergency contact to call, they might be concerned about the OP’s welfare and start contacting people or showing up at her home.

    It could just be the difference between a text that says “I’m being hospitalized” and then no more contact, or a little more explanation, such as “I’m being hospitalized and won’t be into work, possibly for a week. I’ll contact you if I can.”

  38. Joe Jobseeker*

    Oh my, #4, I feel your pain about the bus. Been there. My co worker tells inappropriate jokes. In a loud voice. Two things. I observed over time my co-worker never heads to the back of the bus so now I always head there. Also, I agree you will need to be kind but firm. “I have some work I have to do this morning so excuse me.” Or “I really need this time to __ so forgive me for not chatting.” (Or the like.) Good luck!

  39. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    In our office, there’s a little “collaboration area” with a few chairs and a whiteboard right by the elevators, where everyone coming to our half of the floor will pass by to get to their seats. Someone keeps writing “inspirational” Christian quotes on the whiteboard (stuff like “Every day with Jesus is a good day!”).

    Luckily, they haven’t yet thought to hide the eraser.

      1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

        I’m torn between Nachos (which I love) and Margaritas (which I would find a delicious contrast to the original sentence).

  40. Rachael*

    OP#1: You should definitely follow Alison’s advice and treat it like any other harrassment issue. Tell them to stop and then go to management/HR if they don’t . I am an athiest and I believe that there are different meanings of “I’ll pray for you”. There is the genuine prayer that Christians do to aid in the positive vibe that the person needs (I’ve had Christian friends pray for me when I need support and I do not mind at all since it is their way of thinking of someone) OR you have the “I’ll pray for you” that is inappropriate and implies that they are pretending to care about your soul but really telling you that they think you are living their life wrong.

    It sounds like your coworker fits into the second bucket and needs to be told to stop. It is not his job to “save” you and he should only be concerend about his own salvation. He is using his faith as a way to “other” you and make you feel “less than”. Not all Christians do this, only the jerks. (There are jerks everywhere and just like anything else, there are Christian jerks who ruin it for everyone).

    Nip it in the bud or you just might find him leaving pamphlets on your desk (true story) or telling you about a great band only to find out that it is gospel music. (which I actually like, but it was so inappropriate). I had to tell my harrasser to knock it off or I was going to HR and it stopped.

  41. #2 LW here*

    (As a side note, I’m a “he,” not a “she.”)

    Hi Alison and commenters — thanks for your wise advice and support. I did what Alison suggested and did get a sincere apology for the behavior and the repercussions it’s had; I also really appreciate the suggestions about some other places I might get some help.

    As a lot of people have suggested, it was because they were very worried about me, but I don’t believe (and they now understand) that worry justifies those specific invasions of privacy. I can understand calling the police under these circumstances, but absolutely not coming to my apartment or contacting people they don’t know who live in a different state.

    For those people who think I should have followed up more concretely that week: that would have been great, but I was in a strictly controlled, traumatizing hospital setting and did not have access to my phone or a quiet place to use a public one. I had an awful lot to deal with already, and other things had to come first.

    For today, I am going to order a bunch of spring rolls and try to rebuild. Wish me luck.

    1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      Good luck. I hope you have found/soon find mental health professionals who actually help you.

    2. lfi*

      nothing really to add but just I’m sending you lots of good thoughts! Hope the spring rolls do the trick.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      *hugs* Good luck and good vibes. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      As I said on the weekend thread, they are self-replenishing vibes so they never run out. :)

    4. Tiny_Tiger*

      *sends cyber hugs* Hope you feel better and can get some actual help. My mom checked herself into a hospital when I was a kid and she wasn’t allowed access to her phone or even a hair drier while she was there, so I know what you mean about controlling your access. I honestly don’t know if being there helped her at all.

    5. Knitchic79*

      Good luck! My husband went through this and the rebuild is rough but he’s come to feel that ultimately hospitalization was the best choice he could have made.
      Take care of you, be gentle with yourself for a while. *hugs*

    6. TheLazyB*

      Glad things with your work seem to have worked out ok. Take care. Enjoy the spring rolls. Good luck!

  42. Anne (with an "e")*

    #5 In my experience awards at work only lead to resentment. At OldJob absolutely everyone went above and beyond in numerous ways. Then, when a new manager was hired she decided to start giving out awards to people she felt were top performers and to those who went “above and beyond.” The problem was, imo, that nearly everyone should have been rewarded. And, they weren’t. In fact, the newest hires were constantly being recognized, while the employees who had been with the organization for years were constantly overlooked. Believe me, it did not take very long until people started to feel resentment. This award system actually lowered morale in the long run.

  43. memoryisram*

    Re: #2, Did your boss text you back when you said you would be out? Because if she did, that makes the whole thing even weirder.

  44. Cat steals keyboard*

    #2 I think it’s concerning that they contacted people without knowing if that was okay with you. What if your relationship wasn’t good? I think if they contacted anyone it should only have been specified emergency contacts.

    I’m sorry you’ve been through such a tough time.

    #4 I NEED my commute to myself and would go completely bananas in your shoes. I think I would be direct: “Sorry, I’m no good at conversation on the bus.”

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