I’m in trouble for what I wore when when my boss made me pick him up for the airport in the middle of the night

A reader writes:

I am working at my first job since I graduated university and I have learned a lot from reading your blog. I had a job while I was in high school and in university but it was part-time and in retail and things were different there.

I was wondering what advice you would give for my situation. I have been working at my job for almost 18 months, and this is the first time I have had an issue. On Thursday, shortly after midnight, my boss phoned me. He was at the airport with two other supervisors and their transportation had fallen through. He wanted me to come get them and drive them all home. I didn’t even know his schedule and it’s not my job to pick people up at the airport. I didn’t want to do it, but at the same time he is my boss and I didn’t want to leave a bad impression because he implied I didn’t have a choice. I got up, picked the three of them up at the airport, and drove them each home. I had previously booked the day off for an appointment, so when I got home I slept for a few more hours because I didn’t have to work that day.

When I got to work on Friday morning, I was called into my boss’s office. He said I was being written up for my lack of following the dress code, and he lectured me on dressing professionally. I wear a skirt suit to work every day and have never had an issue, but he told me he was talking about when I picked them up at the airport. Since it was the middle of the night and it was an unexpected request, I had worn a knee-length t-shirt, leggings, running shoes, and a bench fleece jacket. I had brushed my hair and my teeth and my clothes were clean. He wouldn’t let me explain myself, and in addition to being formally written up he suspended me for a day without pay (so tomorrow I am serving my suspension).

I didn’t see this coming. It was after midnight when he called me and told me to come pick them up and he knew he was calling me out of bed. Doing this is not part of my job description in any way and no one who knows about this has ever heard about such a request being made before, even for assistants (I am not an assistant but a junior underwriter). I had to drive for over an hour to get them, do another hour and three separate stops to drop them off, and then drive another hour home. I was not reimbursed for mileage or gas, and it was my personal car and not a company one. Only the other two managers thanked me and my boss never did. They all have company credit cards, but none of them used one to get transportation home. Also, when he called me he didn’t mention anything about me needing to dress up in my work clothes to do it. My clothes were clean and not ripped or anything like that.

I am shocked about my suspension and formal write-up. My boss lectured me for half an hour on being professional and he called me an embarrassment. If we didn’t have two big project meetings, I am certain he would have made my suspension for Friday. I am being honest with you when I say that I have never had any issue or been disciplined at work before and my one year review was positive. Did I really do something wrong by not wearing a full suit when I went to pick them up? I am wondering if it is something common I should have known about.

No, you did not. Your craptastic boss is the one who’s in the wrong here.

First of all, calling you after midnight for anything short of a dire emergency is Not Okay (and even then, it would generally only be okay if your job includes dealing with emergencies). And then asking you to do something that would keep you out for hours — until around 4 a.m. or later, it sounds like? Not Okay.

And then on top of it, suspending you for wearing the clothes one would expect you to be wearing if called out of the nowhere for a middle-of-the-night airport run? Even a stern talking-to would be inappropriate for that. Suspending you takes it to a whole new level of WTF.

This is, frankly, beyond the pale. Your boss is a jerk on multiple levels here.

Is this the first time you’ve seen him being ridiculously unreasonable? It’s hard to imagine that he’s seemed like a reasonable person up until now, so I’m curious about what the rest of your experience with him has been.

In any case, if your company has decent HR people, you might consider approaching them about this, framing it as “I’m really unclear how doing this rather large favor has led to an unpaid suspension.”

And in the future, know that you have zero obligation to answer your phone if your boss calls you late at night (again, unless you’re in a job where that’s explicitly part of the package). If you’re asked about it later, you were sleeping and didn’t hear the phone. And if you are unlucky enough to answer the phone and you’re faced with an unreasonable request like “drive around for hours in the middle of the night,” your car is unfortunately in the shop and you’re unable to help out.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 838 comments… read them below }

  1. Jubilance*

    OMG. This might win as worst manager of the year.

    OP, your manager is way out of bounds here. If you haven’t talked to HR already, I would definitely explain the situation to them. I completely agree with AAM – you don’t have a duty to answer your phone in the middle of the night, or be a taxi service for your manager. What’s next, he’s going to force you to start running his errands and driving his kids around?

            1. Anonymoose*

              +1 I would love to have an update.

              Also: interrobang. I learn something new every day here and I love it!

      1. Tequila Mockingbird*

        Liver-donor boss is definitely the #1 worst manager of this year and every year… but this guy is a close #2!

        1. Ellen N.*

          I’m not sure this one doesn’t beat liver donor boss. Of course, it is unspeakably unreasonable to ask employees to donate organs, but desperate people do desperate things. I had a client who sent out an email asking everyone she knew to donate a kidney to her friend. I also had a client who needed regular blood donations and our boss really pressured all the employees to donate. On the other hand, a boss calling an employee for a ride home from the airport. Hasn’t he heard of Uber?

          1. anon for this*

            At least blood donation is a fairly innocuous thing. Blood donation lasts 1 hour and replenishes itself fully in 8 weeks. A liver/kidney is a major life choice. (I donate blood/plasma regularly myself)

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I always feel horrible when people pressure me to donate blood because I physically cannot. I’ve tried — including trying to donate for my own mother, so I was highly motivated! But I just have terrible veins. They can barely get enough blood out of them for a cholesterol test. My veins collapse, or roll away when they try to stick in the needle, or vanish somewhere into my elbow joint. I regularly have diagnostic blood draws from the backs of my hands.

              I do contribute in ways I can, but I’ve quit wasting the blood donation people’s time trying to get anything out of me. I am apparently the proverbial turnip you cannot get blood from.

              1. JustaTech*

                I don’t even try any more because I have great veins (big, stay put, easy to find) but part of my brain is *very* invested in making sure that all my blood stays on the inside. More than the standard doctor’s office draw and I either faint or throw up (with force). I was part of a scientific study when I discovered this and they were a little annoyed at how little blood they could get from me. (But they were coworkers and also had plenty of sympathy.)

                1. ALICE*

                  This is so interesting to me whenever I hear stories like this. Does NOT LOOKING AT ALL help at all or is just knowing or feeling the poke enough to do you in? I have no problems watching pokes or watching my blood being given. I feel dissociated from it if anything? Idk.


                2. Anonymoose*

                  Me too!!! I can give ONE tube of blood for testing but anything other than that, and my eyes go totally white and then……boom. On the ground. It’s really quite pathetic.

                  I am ‘supposed to’ be giving myself oxytocin shots in my stomach (natural pain reliever/blood flow-er for those with rheumy type issues) and I still can’t, 3 years later. I pretty much have to take a xannie and wait for my husband to get home to do it.

            2. GeekyDuck*

              Eh, if you’re able to donate then it’s not a big deal, but if you can’t then it can present an issue if you’re pressured at work. I can’t donate because I had a transfusion in the 80s, a friend of mine is gay but not out at work, and another has iron levels so low that she’s disqualified. None of that has anything to do with our jobs, and I (and my gay friend at least) have no desire to explain why there will be no blood donation from this corner.

              1. Annonymouse*

                The boss in question fired people who didn’t get tested even for clear medical reasons:
                Recovering from cancer and Immuno compromised? Fired.
                Pregnant and this will kill your unborn child? Fired.
                Had a liver disease and only have half a liver? Fired.

              2. Julia*

                This. I am 99% I would be barred from donating, but I really don’t want to explain that to my Boss. (Plus, I just got over my phobia of needles in the crook of my arm thanks to regular Check-ups that require blood draws, I don’t need a giant one in there every second month.)

                1. john*

                  last time i had blood drawn the nurse slipped when she went to pull the needle out and shoved it all the way into my arm

          2. Lissa*

            For the record I had a more visceral rage-out reaction to this letter than to liver-donor. But that might be because liver-donor was just so outrageous, whereas this is the sort of the infuriating awfulness I can actually picture more easily.

                1. Megan Schafer*

                  And why the Trunchbull got away with her behavior for so long – make it sound so crazy that no one would believe it.

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                Yep. And liver-donor guy was a case where this doesn’t make it in any way ok, but you can understand how someone could lose track of reality that badly due to desperation. This is just…entitled and baffling. For no reason.

        2. Jayn*

          I think “you have to work during your graduation ceremony” is #2 (with bonus points for being the LW). This guy might make the top ten.

            1. CognitiveManager*

              Where’s the link to that one??

              I think this guy, liver donor, and college donor are tied for top 3 to me, though I may change my mind once I read that one

          1. Fafaflunkie*

            How about the boss who interrupted the funeral of their subordinate’s grandparent because they needed to know where some file was? So many choices…

      2. Annie Moose*

        Agreed, they still have my vote.

        I almost wish Alison will do a second place vote, because of how bad the liver donor boss was!!

        1. Ruffingit*

          Agreed. I feel like liver donor boss is the Simone Biles of bad bosses in that he’s always going to be #1 so we have to just do a second place vote. And don’t get me wrong by the way, I ADORE Simone, I’m just making the comparison that she will always beat everyone so we need a #2 spot for sure.

      3. Rubbery Dubbery Smiles*

        Except, possibly, the one who kept barging in on his employee during chemotherapy. They are both pretty bad.

    1. Hermione*

      2016 has been off the rails all over the place, and it seems the Worst Manager category here is no exception. I’m not saying Bowie was holding the world together, but darn if it doesn’t feel like his death opened Pandora’s Box of WTFery.

        1. Troutwaxer*

          In our family the joke went something like this: “We have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that David Bowie is always making love to everyone. The bad news? So is William Shatner.”

              1. Troutwaxer*

                Sigh. It’s about the total contrast in hawt-ness between David Bowie and William Shatner. David Bowie is always making love to you in some ill-defined spiritual sense? That’s kind of cool, because Bowie is amazing and totally hawt! William Shatner is always making love to you? Oh God NOOOOOOOO!!!

                (Yes, my family has a weird sense of humor.)

    2. Imaginary Number*

      It’s certainly a close runner-up.

      Here’s my pure speculation as to what happened: boss is the one who messed up the transportation and, rather than fessing up to it, volunteered you to pick them all up. When you showed up not wearing work clothes it made him look really bad because it was apparent that you’d been called up last-minute to do this as a personal favor and hadn’t been tasked to do it as part of your job. They pointed this out to him (that making you pick them up in the middle of the night was a pretty shitty thing to do) and he’s trying to deflect his embarrassment.

      1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

        You know what, I think you might have nailed it. It makes perfect sense why he would be so incredibly angry about “non-office dress” if LW was meant to be unwittingly covering up the fact that Boss screwed up.

        1. AW*

          This is off topic but, OMG your username is awesome!

          I also agree with Imaginary Number (who also has a cool name).

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        I can buy the explanation. I can’t understand how he has gotten away with suspending her for it, however- except that she hasn’t reported it to anyone!

        If I were the OP, I’d be sprucing up my resume and actively searching for a new job, as I escalated this as far up the chain as it’s possible to escalate it! There has to be some kind of process for appealing disciplinary action, right? This manager is seriously bat guano crazy!

      3. Turtle Candle*

        That sounds quite plausible. If the others thanked her and he didn’t, it’s entirely possible that one or both of them went “whoa, holy shit, did you really drag her out of her house at midnight to ferry us around for three hours?” And rather than focusing on the important part–that he should have called an effing cab and not called you out of your house to ferry them around for three hours!–he’s focusing on the fact that since you weren’t ~dressed for work~ that’s how they knew this wasn’t actually your job.

        I’d say “what a jackass” but that feels unfair to donkeys.

        1. JessaB*

          Add “and not even pay for her gas money? and maybe brekky?” to that and you’ve got probably exactly what they said. No gas, not even an offer of drive through Maccas for a wake up drink of coffee, tea or pop, and then you take away a day’s pay on top of that instead of “Take the day off we just killed 3 hours of your work day anyway.”

        2. Ruffingit*

          And the fact that he b!tched at her about this makes me wonder if he is setting her up to be called out again at all hours of the night. Because this way he can be assured that she will be dressed “appropriately” (as in dressed for work so his cover of messing up transport isn’t blown) should he ever have to do this again. He’s a scum sucking miscreant and I really hope he gets hit by an Uber.

          1. Imaginary Number*

            That’s why I like AAM’s suggestion. There are times when I feel white lies are totally acceptable. Although if her boss is really a jerk he might check up on the “in the shop” excuse. I prefer:

            “My cousin is borrowing my car for the night and I won’t get it back until 6 am.” It’s simpler, because you don’t have to explain what was wrong with your car or why you had it the next morning even though it was in the shop.

            “I took Nyquil” can work too. It’s simple and doesn’t require much of a story to back it up.

            The other option is to agree to the late-night pickup, but make it really inconvenient. “No problem, boss. Just letting you know I’m actually 2 1/2 hours away at a friend’s house, so I’ll be there around 4 AM. Probably more like 5 AM because I need to go home to change first.”

            1. Annie*

              I have another plausible excuse, especially for multi-hour trips like this one was: “My vehicle is low on gas, and all the stations near me are closed right now.” Given how much fuel (at least half the tank in most cars) a four-hour trip consumes, the car is highly likely to not have enough fuel for one unless you refueled the day before or you have a short commute. However, this one might not be useful if you have a nearby gas station open 24/7.

          2. halpful*

            Oh…. oh, ick. This is reminding me of when Darth Ex was mad at me for mentioning he wasn’t doing a thing – somehow it was my fault people were pissed off at him for not telling them. His plan seemed to be finding someone to cover for him (shittily) and not mentioning it until the last minute, instead of letting them know early so they could be prepared. He had me almost convinced I should have known not to mention it… and it feels really icky to remember that now, knowing so much more about boundaries and reasonable behaviour and big red flags for abuse…

      4. Honeybee*

        The thing is, even if you had asked me to do this as part of my job and it was pre-arranged, I wouldn’t have expected that I needed to don a skirt suit at midnight just to drive you all home from the airport!

        But I think you’re right – he’s embarrassed and taking it out on the OP.

      5. Faith2014*

        But even so, I find nothing wrong with what she was wearing. I travel nearly 10% for work, and I’m frequently dressed casually. If it’s a Sunday evening travel, I’m in jeans or shorts (depending on the weather). Even our bosses are usually dressed down.

        So if I was expected to give a ride after working hours, you better believe I would be in my non-work clothes.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Also, since when does the work dress code apply to the middle of the night?? Is she supposed to be in a skirt all the time, or just when she’s in public?? :P

          1. Vicki*

            Obviously, she’s expected to sleep in it.

            I once had an interview with a small company whose CEO stated, in the interview, that he expected our every working thought to be “owned” by the company. How is dress code different?

            (I did not take the job.)

      6. MillersSpring*

        This guess seems likely!
        #1 The OP definitely should submit an expense report for the mileage.
        #2 If the OP is non-exempt she should submit the hours on her time sheet.
        #3 I use the settings on my phone to have a nightly Do Not Disturb between 10:30 and 7:30.
        #4 The OP should go straight to HR to complain!

      7. Nea*

        You’ve got a good point. I had a boss who bragged about how early I always got in the the board — and when one one them came to see, I wasn’t in yet because I really did have car trouble. Boss yelled at me later that I should have lost a day’s work (come to work, drop off car afterwards, losing car for the night) rather than make her “lose face in front of the board” by dropping off my car before work and picking it up afterwards so that I could work uninterrupted all week.

    3. AMG*

      I am still waiting for the day when one of these jerk bosses sees him/her self at AAM and replies back. Since we can’t mail them a trophy with a golden poo as the trophy topper. :(

      1. Oh no, not again*

        Lol, like the trophy idea. I’m sure if they recognized themselves here, they still wouldn’t recognize their bad behavior.

      2. General Ginger*

        I don’t know, I think I’d be kind of sad to learn that any of these jerks read AAM — and… I guess, go, “well, not me, I don’t do any of this jerky stuff!”

        1. JessaB*

          Yeh because why in heck would they read AAM if they don’t want to take her advice? What’s the point?

          1. Imaginary Number*

            There have been several letter-writers who clearly got a different answer than they were expecting. Just because someone reads AAM doesn’t mean they are good at internalizing the advice.

    4. ThinkAboutIt*

      And might I add DEMAND to be compensated for your hours that were apparently ON THE CLOCK if you are a non-exempt employee. I would seriously quit my job if this happened to me.

      1. Oh no, not again*

        And if exempt and after telling HR everything, ask for reimbursement for chauffeuring around everyone.

        1. Hallway Feline*

          Definitely do this! That’s wear and tear on your car and gas usage! And if you aren’t authorized to drive your personal vehicle for work purposes, your boss is going to be in even more trouble for asking you to do this!

        2. rudster*

          Boss is probably just stupendously cheap. Disregarding any payment for OP’s time, even with mileage it’s likely that it was still cheaper to haul OP out of bed than get a cab or car service, assuming that OP lives nears the riders’ destinations We are about 75 miles away from our major airport, and one-way car service runs about 99$ for one outfit that runs Priuses, and about 125-150 for a town car and 150-175 for limo. Round trip mileage would be about 75$. I assume that a metered cab would run at least as much as a town car.

          All my sporadic business travel was in the pre-Uber days, so I can’t bring them into the compario. Once when bad weather delayed my return home by 10 hours, and I got in at 1 am, missing the last airport bus until the next morning. I had my wife pick me up and submitted an expense report, only to have my boss question me about whether I was sure I had researched all the options and picked the cheapest one. Apparently making my to way to the remote rental car terminal and finding one that was open and would provide a one-way rental the next day might have been cheaper by a few bucks.

          1. Kit Kendrick*

            When my father had a fair amount of travel, my brother was doing odd jobs as he worked from home, and had a nice professional looking all-purpose invoice template for anyone who needed a paper trail. If one of us drove Pop to the airport, we just used the invoice and charged half what any the local limo services did. That way he had something to put in his expense report, we weren’t out gas money, and the company paid less. The only time anyone commented was to ask how he was getting such low prices, and he just said “family discount”. It’s amazing what a difference having a logo makes.

      2. Brett*

        Even if she is exempt, she did all of this on a scheduled day off and should be paid for that day or given the PTO time back (whichever is appropriate).

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Yeah, she’s at least owed mileage. And if there’s nothing in the company manual about atire during this sort of thing, I’d call BS on the whole write up.

    5. CrabbyPants*

      Agree. Worst boss of the year right here. First of all, submit your time and gas money in an expense report pronto. Secondly, as AAM said, check caller ID before answering your phone while off duty unless your job requires you to be on-call. Last, document this and submit to HR and your manager’s boss. This behavior should be exposed and called out. And be sure to list this in your eventual exit interview as a reason for seeking employment elsewhere.

    6. Whats In A Name*

      I don’t understand how a one-day suspension was approved without HR getting involved. When I was an HR Consultant something like this had to go through HR since it usually affected pay. Is that not always the case?

      1. Boop*

        Depends on how her pay is handled, perhaps. If she’s on a time sheet, maybe they just won’t fill anything in for the “suspension” day. If she’s salaried or paid a base amount, it’s possible the manager misrepresented the case to HR to get it approved – as an HR person, I can confirm that does happen, unfortunately. Like, “she was dressed inappropriately and in violation of our dress code!” and forgot to mention it was at 2 AM.

        1. Amber T*

          Now granted, my place of work is *fairly* casual, at least for a corporate finance firm. When it was deemed that wearing leggings with a long shirt and boots was inappropriate, it went through multiple channels before it finally reached us ladies (yes, multiple of us) about it.

          Let’s assume an otherwise top performer showed up to work in jeans one day (where business or business casual attire is the norm). Are there non-crazy places that would legit jump to a one day unpaid suspension for something like this? That seems unreasonable.

          (And OP, your boss is an ass. No good deed goes unpunished.)

          1. Boop*

            It depends on how inappropriate the clothes were, maybe. Jeans? Probably just a verbal reminder to wear business attire. See-through shirt and two-inch skirt (which I have seen…)? Maybe a suspension. MAYBE.

            However, I think we can assume this work place is pretty dysfunctional. After all, they employee this guy as a manager.

          2. Kristin D*

            That’s what I was thinking, too. Even if there was a dress code violation, a suspension is too high of a level of discipline for a first offense.

      2. Payroll Lady*

        Unfortunately, not all managers go through HR for things like this. I wear both hats right now, and many times I find out about a suspension when I am trying to finalize payroll and an employee is missing time for a day or 2. At that point, I make sure the manager or foreman writes up the paperwork and I take it to upper management for approval. (Luckily I have a very good team of foremen, managers, and Supers so I have yet to have to over rule them on a suspension!) Just have to chase for the paperwork.. but hey that’s the job!!!

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Really depends on the organization and its size. At my last job, managers could easily get away with doing this (this meaning one-day unpaid suspension) without oversight.

    7. INTP*

      Totally agree that HR should be spoken to. I’m not normally an advocate of going to HR just because your boss is an ass, because I don’t think there’s usually something concrete to gain from this and people are often looking for emotional validation that isn’t HR’s job to give, but in this case it’s appropriate. They need to know that a manager is going around suspending people without pay for silly things, which could create a massive legal headache for them if it continues unchecked. Plus, it would be appropriate imo to ask for reimbursement for that suspension. Suspension without pay should be reserved for things that are obvious and egregious, not for manager hissy fits.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Agreed, not to mention the possible liability for the company in having an employee driving around her boss and other supervisors.

      2. Nea*

        I just had a horrible thought — speak to HR to make sure they know your woe of the story, because a manager this unreasonable might tell the OP not to come in due to suspension and tell HR that they just flaked coming in that day.

    8. HRish Dude*

      Liver donor boss and “Should I call my employee who I wouldn’t let go to her graduation and give her a piece of my mind” boss are pretty up there. I think the boss that showed up at chemo was also this year.

  2. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

    Wow, what an ass!

    Is your company so broke they can’t afford to take a freaking cab or Uber? If he wants someone in a suit he should book a limo.

    Frankly, it’s beyond the pale that he expected you to play chaffeur to them at midnight with no warning, but to do this on top of that? No way. Time to freshen up your resume and get a new job. I wouldn’t work for this ass one second longer than I had to!

    1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

      Also, there’s something a little bit creeptastic about this that I can’t quite put my finger on. Did he call any male assistants? Is it the fact that you weren’t in a skirt? There’s something fundamentally gross here.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yeah, this is patently ridiculous. I’m curious what type of job this is, because the only thing I can think of is a talent agent trainee who has to be constantly on the go and dressed, but from the OP’s description, it doesn’t sound like this type of running around at a moment’s notice is the norm.

        Ugh. This guy sucks.

        1. Thornus67*

          She said she’s an underwriter. So definitely not the type of industry requiring a talent agent trainee.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Well, I’m not always the greatest at reading while flabbergasted. :) Thanks! Makes this worse.

      2. Boo*

        Yeah it feels a little like the boss was trying to show off and was irritated that the assistant hadn’t dressed for the occasion she didn’t know he was having in his head.

        1. Temperance*

          Hmmm I think you’re right. Like he wanted to show off to his bros that he could get his assistant to do ANYTHING for him, and he was pissed when she didn’t wear a suit to drive them around.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Exactly. Everyone keeps saying she is, but it’s even so much worse that she is not. She’s just a junior underwriter!

              1. Jadelyn*

                Frankly, I don’t think that should be a mitigating factor (if she were his assistant it would be less worse) – unless we’re specifically talking about a personal assistant, which most people don’t have anymore. More likely, she’d have been an admin assistant, which absolutely DOES NOT include impromptu midnight airport runs, and which it would have been every bit as inappropriate to demand from an admin as from anyone else.

                1. sstabeler*

                  it’s more a case of “if she was his assistant, it might simply be a misunderstanding over her duties, but this boss doesn’t even have that excuse”

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          That’s what I was thinking. His ego was bruised that she didn’t make him look the part that he was picturing in his little Mad Men fantasy.

        3. BTownGirl*

          Cosign! What was he expecting, Britney’s chauffeur outfit from the Womanizer video?

          I have so many questions.

        4. Turtle Candle*

          Yeah, I think he had some fantasy in his head of showing off his Girl Friday (gag) and is punishing her for not a) reading his mind, and b) playing into his bizarre entitled little daydream.

        5. KAM*

          It’s a clear dereliction of duty that she didn’t whip out her chauffeur’s cap and pantsuit for the midnight run. Professional norms have gone by the wayside!

        6. kb*

          I’m confused what even would have been an appropriate outfit for this occassion? She’s not a professional driver so she wouldn’t have a uniform. It was well after work hours, so it would have been weirder had she greeted them in a full suit. She would be driving for over three hours, so comfort would be a must (eliminating pencils skirts and most jeans). People agonize over what is considered business casual for normal occassions, so it just seems bizarre for a boss to expect an unexpectedly awakened employee to quickly discern what is airport cabbie professional.

          1. Chalupa Batman*

            Glad I’m not the only one who thought that a full suit would be a weird outfit for a midnight airport pickup. Like the OP, this expectation is so bizarre it had me questioning whether I’m the one who doesn’t understand business norms.

            1. kb*

              I feel like that may be what allows unhinged bosses to get away with shenanigans for so long. They invent crazy scenarios that nobody knows how to handle professionally so workers are too confused to counter.

      3. the_scientist*

        Also, the fact that the boss called her “an embarrassment” is so over-the-top, cruel, and frankly reeks of projection. He’s the embarrassment, not her. OP, has your boss always been nutty, or is the first time you’ve seen his bad side?

        1. Morning Glory*

          I was interested in this as well – 18 months is a long enough period to get a general sense of the boss. Although the fact that the OP didn’t feel comfortable saying no to this crazy request is a sign that this probably is not completely out of the blue.

          1. the_scientist*

            Agreed. Also, the OP mentions that the boss “implied she had no choice”, which suggests a degree of…..forcefulness…..not consistent with reasonable boss behaviour.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              This is also the sort of thing that’s so out of the norm that especially if I were woken up in the middle of the night and my brain wasn’t booted up properly yet, I could see myself agreeing to just because “do what boss says” is a script my brain knows how to handle and this is outside the scope of the “sorry, boss, I think this report is going to take longer than that” sort of scripts.

        2. Amber T*

          Here’s my (admittedly bad, passive aggressive, please don’t do this) advice – reach out to the other two executives and “apologize.” Say “I’m so sorry if I left a bad impression when I picked you up from the airport from the way I was dressed. I wasn’t expecting a call from Boss then and I was just in such a rush! Boss mentioned that he was embarrassed by my casual dress so I wanted to make sure you knew I always try to be my most professional.” If those execs have two brain cells to rub together, they’ll get the confirmation that your boss called you unexpectedly in the middle of the night and that your boss had the audacity to criticize you over the way you dressed.

          Again, please don’t do this, but feel free to fantasize those two other execs reaming out your boss for being an asshat while you follow the actual good advice other commentators left.

          1. Jamey*

            To be honest, if the other execs are people you know and have some degree of contact with, I don’t see any reason not to do this. I kind of love this. Apologizing after getting in trouble for something seems like a reasonable thing to do, as long as you actually manage to deliver it graciously. I definitely think you could get the point across of how ridiculous this was without it coming off as bad.

            1. Jadelyn*

              I could absolutely see this if she has any level of contact with said execs – what’s he going to do, discipline her for apologizing after he scolded her? At that point, you break out the Confused Face and say “But boss, after our talk I was sure I was in terrible trouble, since you suspended me without pay for a day over it. Can you please help me understand why it wasn’t appropriate to apologize for something it had been made extremely clear to me I was in the wrong over?” Watch him try to wiggle his way out of that.

          2. Zombii*

            No, definitely do this. Just remember to CC Boss on the email, so he’ll know how seriously you take all of this and how important it is to be a professional adult who can admit when they’ve egregiously misjudged a situation.

          3. Amber T*

            Lol I was imagining this much more snotty and passive aggressive, but if you can legit do this innocently then go for it!

      4. Barney Barnaby*

        Of course there is – the boss is mad and suspended her without pay when he couldn’t look at her legs at midnight.

        My advice is to get this in writing to HR. It’s not going to be the only time this guy acts entirely inappropriately. She might not go wrong to ask if there’s a sexism issue at play. I would also take a look at state employment laws, because suspending an employee without pay for a day might not be entirely at the discretion of the manager.

      5. RVA Cat*

        My thought exactly. Something about a dude expecting to pay for a woman in a certain outfit at midnight….
        Also, if you had taken the time to dress professionally, wouldn’t that just make you late picking him up and he would attack you for the delay?

      6. INTP*

        My guess is that he never told the other supervisors that the transportation had fallen through, and they had no idea that she had just gotten out of bed to drive them around. (They probably would have used their credit cards to book Ubers had they known, at least, I want to think most people are that decent.) He expected her to just know that she was to show up in professional clothing as though she were the planned driver all along so that he could save face and not be caught for arranging unreliable transportation.

        I definitely think there’s a gender component here, because she’s not even an assistant. I don’t know that it’s creepy in a sexual sense though, so much as he is just a jerk who thinks his employees exist to make him look infallible.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Certainly they’d have booked Ubers rather than wait the hour+ for her to get to the airport. I certainly would have.

        2. eplawyer*

          I think he never even booked the transportation, then got caught out. Because why not say “oh darn our transportation fell through, maybe we should take a cab?” He probably said “Our driver is late, she’ll be here in a minute.” That way he could put the hour (plus time for her to dress and get out to her car) blame on her for “being late” instead of admitting he never booked the transport in the first place. Her not being dressed in a suit put paid to that lie. So he got mad that he got caught out looking incompetent and a liar.

          Notice she was wearing a long shirt with her leggings. So not even the “leggings aren’t pants” argument here.

      7. Lanon*

        There are multiple levels of creep:

        – Calling your employee in the middle of the night with totally unreasonable demands of driving them around for hours
        – Taking even notice in what clothes the employee is (What did they expect she walks around in in the middle of the night?!)
        – The idea that they could write her up for it. (WTF?!)

      8. cobweb collector*

        I came here to say that too.

        Older boss (I’m guessing since the LW is 18 months out of college), calls young girl in the middle of the night to come pick him up at the airport. Seems abusive at the least, creepy at the most. I’m thinking he wanted to “show off” his power to his fellow managers.

    2. Marisol*

      Unless they were in the middle of nowhere, it would have been easier and faster for them to call a cab or Uber. So he went out of his way to be a bully. Totally outrageous.

      1. michelenyc*

        On top of that most airports even at that time have at least a few cabs waiting. There are many airports that Uber is not allowed to make a pick-up so that is not always an option.

        1. CapitalR*

          She says she had to drive over an hour to get them! There are almost always cabs waiting at the airport for people who need them, this is such a gross power trip from her boss that it boggles my mind.

            1. Koko*

              And if he’s that cheap, there’s also Super Shuttle in most major cities. But I’m sure he didn’t want to use such a low-class service, which makes him the maddening combination of both cheap AND entitled.

        2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

          I’ve had delayed flights get in at 1 am and have still been able to get a cab at my podunk regional airport.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule*

            Me too – there’s a little box where you can call the cab company to notify them that a flight has arrived late and they dispatch a bunch of cabs.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              Seriously, airports and taxi companies KNOW that people frequently need transport from the airport. This has been sorted out. Does OP’s boss think he’s too good for the taxi rank? (I know I hate airport taxis, in my city they’re usually old and smelly and the drivers like to pretend they can’t take credit cards after they told you they could, but needs must!)

          2. Jessesgirl72*

            I used to be a regular cab taker in my small hometown, and whenever a plane came in to the regional airport, whichever driver was free would rush there, just in case.

          3. Marillenbaum*

            Same–middling regional NC airport, and a delayed flight meant I got in at 1:30 AM. Still got a cab home.

        3. Joseph*

          “On top of that most airports even at that time have at least a few cabs waiting.”
          I have done night construction work at several airports in the southeast and I can assure you that at any decent-sized airport, there will always be at least half a dozen cabs waiting for pickups no matter what time it is. Even if the airport itself has no flights scheduled, there will still be a couple cabbies sleeping in their cab in the “taxi pickup” lane just so they can be the absolute first in line when the first incoming flight comes in at 5 am.
          This has nothing to do with the availability of cabs or even the cost of cabs. This is all about a “Because I Can” power play.

      2. I'm Not Phyllis*

        At the airport it’s likely that there would have been a line of taxis waiting (even at smaller airports). It’s more likely that he had to go out of his way to call OP (then wait an hour for her to drive to the airport) – it would have been easier, probably, to take a taxi.

      3. Wwr*

        Yeah, this is craziest part to me. If I was one of his colleagues at the airport I would have gotten a cab on my own dime rather than waiting an hour for someone to show up.

        1. SouthernLadybug*

          Me too. I keep wondering what he said to them – especially as I think he called her to cover his own mistake in not arranging transportation.

          1. INTP*

            I agree, I think he was covering his own mistake – he probably said the transportation was “just a little late” to keep them waiting, or acted like she was already on her way so they would have felt like jerks to just leave and make her turn around. When she showed up having clearly rolled out of bed and not planned for the occasion, it made his little ruse obvious (which I would NOT have been amused by if I were the manager that waited an hour in the middle of the night), and he lashed out at OP instead of admitting fault to himself.

        2. nonymous*

          I was scheduled to share a ride with a coworker (flying in from different cities) and my flight got delayed at departure by 30min. He got a friend to drive 45min one way (1 1/2 hrs rt) to pick him up rather than wait the extra 30 min. to go to the hotel – not even stopping for dinner or some fun in the process.

          some people.

      4. INTP*

        Yep. I’m guessing he either arranged some transportation that fell through, or failed to arrange transportation at all, and still wanted to look like some bigwig with fancy transportation choices, so he never told the other managers what had happened and pretended the planned transportation was just a bit late. She ruined his little ruse when she showed up looking like someone that just got out of bed (which was appropriate given that she HAD just gotten out of bed) and he was embarrassed about it and lashed out like a child.

  3. hayling*

    Holy moly.

    OP, you’re also entitled to mileage reimbursement, although since your boss’s norms are so out of whack I imagine that he is not going to be thrilled if you request it.

    1. designbot*

      Not only that, put these hours on your timecard. If you’re not getting paid for a day based on what you wore to this ridiculous charade, you’d at least better get paid for the half day it took to do in the first place.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        IANAL, but if you’re exempt, you can’t be suspended without pay for a day. If you’re non-exempt, you need to be reimbursed for the hours you were driving your boss around. Either way, you should get paid.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            Yeah sorry. I meant can’t be suspended without pay for a day at the whim of a manager. Thanks for correcting that.

  4. Helena*

    OP, are you non-exempt? If so, your conversation with HR should include a request to be paid for your time doing the airport run.

    1. AMG*

      Yes, definitely. I really hope you go to HR with this as well as the expense report. I also hope you will give us an update!

      1. Christine*

        OP — please go to HR, file an expense report & add the time to your time card. Please do this, because if he feels that he can treat you this way and get by with it, it will continue or get worse. If he refuses to sign your time card, take it up with HR & Payroll, and the labor board if necessary.

        It could be he’s also embarrassed at how he handled it and is taking it out on you totally. Or just a horses rump two times over. Would you please let us know how you have handled it? If there is any fall out? etc.?

    2. BRR*

      I was thinking this as well. If the LW can legally be suspended without pay I believe they are non-exempt which means they need to be paid for this.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        This. Either they got paid (and therefore were at work) or they didn’t get paid. If they weren’t paid AND they never entered the campus then they weren’t at work. Therefore they couldn’t be suspended for not keeping the dress code. You can’t have it both ways.
        You need to go to HR, because what boss is doing may be illegal.

      2. Engineer Woman*

        Completely agree on this point. OP can only be written up if she was officially working which means she should be paid the hours she spent (starting from when she received the call in my opinion) as well as mileage reimbursement.

        However, I just can’t imagine the write-up: OP had unprofessional attire when picking me and other senior colleagues from the airport in the middle of the night? I would contest the write up. Managers can’t just write up (make up) anything – doesn’t the employee need to acknowledge the problem?

    3. Grey*

      Definitely do this. Dare your boss to claim, “It was a personal favor, not a job”. He can’t write you up if you weren’t on the job. But if you were on the job, he has to pay you. He can’t have it both ways.

      1. Emmie*

        Very good point.
        And to the OP: Your manager’s request is well beyond office norms. I echo the comments about how to approach HR. I am sorry that you were written up. Barring any circumstances of which I am not aware of, you went above the call of duty here and deserve nothing but thanks for your assistance. If your HR team does not handle this well, I would pursue work at another organization.

      2. MC*

        That is a great point. You were either working (get paid) or you weren’t (no pay, but no suspension).

        You really do need to address this with HR – this suspension is on your record with the company now. How, if at all, will that impact your future promotions? Will this disqualify you outright? How do you demonstrate that you’ve taken the right steps to correct this issue? By never answering your phone at night again?

        This manager is a tool.

        1. Christine*

          Also — your travel time to the airport, and back to your home from dropping each of them off, would count as hours worked. Do not forget that.

      3. eplawyer*

        Can you imagine if she had an accident (heaven forbid) while doing this little errand for the company in her personal vehicle outside of normal working hours? Nightmare.

        Which is another reason HR needs to be alerted. To protect the company from future liability.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Really great point, OP, you may not be covered to use your car for work purposes like that. Something to check into, I think.

    4. LQ*

      Yes! If you aren’t exempt that’s potentially a whole lot of overtime pay. They can’t just decide to not pay for that time if that was time doing your job. (I’m really surprised that this wasn’t mentioned in the answer, so I’m worried I’m missing something.)

  5. Mustache Cat*

    This might win as worst manager of the year.

    Don’t SAY that! Everytime we say it, a worse one appears!

    1. Naomi*

      In another year this might win, but I don’t know if it meets the bar set by “manager showed up at my chemo treatments”, “manager is pressuring us to donate an organ”, or “manager neglected to tell me that my horse was dying”. I feel like this year we need a Top 10 for the worst bosses.

      1. Kate*

        I think the manger who neglected to tell his employee that her horse was dying is an automatic win for worst manager of the year.

        1. Marche*

          Someone also mentioned in a Friday Free for all a boss who interrupted a wedding to ask a work question. This year is a disaster zone of bad bosses.

          1. Thornus67*

            My current boss attempted to contact me back in February during my uncle’s funeral, which she knew I was absent for. I didn’t see it and didn’t respond to it once I saw it (partially because of the hour I saw it at and partially because, no, I’m not answering a work question when I get no PTO and am docked a day’s pay for attending my uncle’s FUNERAL). I knew it could be answered the next business day because it wasn’t time sensitive. When I walked in, I was immediately greeted with a “So does your phone not receive text messages or something? Because I sent a message you didn’t respond to.” My response that I was at a funeral and didn’t see it until well after business hours mostly shut her up, but she needed to have the last word with a “Oh, well, just be sure you check your text messages.”

            1. Emac*

              If you have no PTO and get docked pay for not being there, does that mean you’re non-exempt? Because if so, I think you get to have the last word of, “if you want me to check messages outside of work hours, you need to pay me for that. I’ll start keeping track.”

              1. Thornus67*

                It’s… complicated.

                I’m an associate attorney who has been misclassified as an independent contractor (but have a determination letter saying that I should be classified as an employee). So they try justifying it as being an IC who doesn’t get paid when he doesn’t work (due to either taking time off or them closing the office). But as an employee, my reading of the law, specifically 29 CFR 541.304, is that as an attorney I am exempt from all of the FLSA salary requirements.

            2. Moonsaults*

              Who checks their phone when they’re at a funeral? I’d slap the phone out of someone’s hand >_>

          2. Whats In A Name*

            This year is a disaster zone and I am just going to say it: technology has made us too available and too many “I need it now” bosses are taking advantage of it.

            1. Cafe au Lait*

              If you must must must email an employee (sometimes I write emails for questions I need to ask, but don’t need an immediate answer), use the delay function. It’s not hard to draft an email that says “Sue, can you update me on the status of Project Y?” and then set the ‘send’ function to 8am, next day.

              1. Ellen N.*

                I love that feature that lets you write an email and delay sending it. However, at my last office job this feature was disabled. When I asked the IT person to install it he said that I should write myself notes about when to write emails.

                1. Talvi*

                  My previous university’s email had that feature. I loved it – it helped me avoid the inherent awkwardness of “yes, I did send that email at 4am” by scheduling it to send at 8am… while I was sleeping!

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                And if you don’t have that function (but use Google as a platform for email), get Boomerang! It has changed my life.

          3. Moonsaults*

            LOL oh my goodness, that beats out the jerk who texted me fifteen minutes before my scheduled surgery to ask where something was in the office.

            1. Ellen N.*

              My husband is a Special Education teacher. Once he (for some inexplicable reason) answered his phone when he on a gurney being wheeled in for hernia surgery. It was a parent of one of his students. He explained where he was. She didn’t skip a beat, just went on to ask what was needed for her son to pass a particular class.

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                0.o I’m suddenly less annoyed that hospitals have generally taken away all my stuff and put it in the big green patient-belongings bag by that point when I’ve had surgery.

          4. CM*

            I remember that one! My mental picture is of the boss running down the aisle: “ELAINE! ELAINE!… Which folder did you file the TPS report in?”

          5. Blue Anne*

            I had a boss for about 3 months this year who was a real piece of work. In addition to telling me to lie to clients all the time and pressuring me to do illegal things with credit card info (and putting client’s CC info in emails!) he would leave in the middle of you talking to him, called a black client he didn’t like “ghetto”, gave the salespeople a 3% commission and then encouraged them to “tip” the warehouse manager out of their pay instead of giving the warehouse manager the raise he deserved, etc. I quit with nothing lined up and made it clear to him that I was quitting because working for him and his illegal practices would jeopardize my CPA eligibility. I made it very clear to him that I was uncomfortable with any kind of lying or bending the law (which he’d had me do constantly), to the point of quitting with no other job lined up.

            He pulled me into a meeting and kept me there for three hours pressuring me to stay. Among other things, he told me about colleague’s criminal backgrounds, asked if I’d faked my marriage to a British citizen to get a visa, and strongly implied that I’d be responsible if anything went wrong in his pregnant wife/co-owner’s impending delivery (because she had come to rely on me so much in 3 months and would be stressed out). I walked out the next day, and when I came back a week later to pick up my final check, my former colleagues said he’d told them I quit because I had a mental breakdown.

            Some people…

              1. MillersSpring*

                Have a lawyer send him and the company a letter stating that you are preparing to sue him and it for slander. Give them/him the option to ameliorate his misdeed by communicating clearly to all of the employees that you absolutely did not quit due to any mental issues, with a cc to you and the lawyer.

                I’m not a lawyer, but sending a threatening letter often can spur action faster and cheaper than filing suit.

              1. Candi*

                3/8th or 5/8 hollow? :p

                (I also just read about someone who tried to sharpen their skates with a rotary tool…)

        2. Hibiscus*

          But that did have a satisfying ending. I think ones where bad management do not have hellfire rained down upon them by higher ups have a 50% worse penalty in the rankings, if we wanted to quantify it.

        3. AW*

          As bad as the other ones are, none directly resulted in someone dying. (At least, none that I remember.)

          I remember having this exact argument during the Worst Company in America tournament at the Consumerist the year that dog food company sold tainted product. (IIRC, there was at least one other company that sold something that had to get recalled too.)

      2. Grey*

        Don’t forget the boss who wouldn’t let her employee attend her own college graduation ceremony.

        There are so many this year, they almost need to be categorized.

          1. Liane*

            Yes. Somebody please link it because then no one will have to imagine what an email from one of AAM’s Worst/Runner-up Bosses would read like.
            Hint, the template is:
            “I am a Great Boss. I did/said ——– to Employee. Employee quit/reported me to HR/got me a Chewing-out from my boss/all of the above. My actions were totally reasonable and within my authority (& legal!). I can’t even! Why would ANY employee be so disrespectful/unreasonable/toxic?”

        1. Bonky*

          Oh good grief – that was this year too?

          Why is the hammer of the gods coming down on people like Alan Rickman and David Bowie when there are so many terrible bosses just asking for a divine purge?

          1. CM*

            That was the worst part! Wasn’t the question something like, “How can I make this employee apologize for arguing with me that I wouldn’t let her attend her graduation”?

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              “How can I let her know that she behaved very unprofessionally when I gave time off to a coworker to go to a concert but wouldn’t give her time—after she never missed work and covered others’ shifts for 3 years and came from a home with no socioeconomic or personal support—to go to her college graduation?”

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Also, didn’t she only ask for 4 hours’ leave or somesuch (not even the full day)?

          1. Fafaflunkie*

            That sure brought the ire of everyone with a modicum of compassion for the employee against the OP of that one. That, like this OP’s boss, is such an inconsciencable act, it’s sickening.

      3. Trout 'Waver*

        It was in the comments on the topic of Resting Bitch Face, but one of the commenters wrote that she had been written up for RBF. That’s my nominee for worst of the year.

        1. Lissa*

          I had a customer try to get me in trouble because I had an annoying voice! Luckily my manager was sane so I did not get in trouble …

        1. Hope*

          To be fair, the horse was already dying–the boss didn’t murder the horse. The boss is the reason why the poor horse suffered needlessly for several extra hours because the employee didn’t know to call in and give the vet the okay to end its pain. Which is not much better, but it’s not the same as murdering the horse.

            1. ScholarlyCactus*

              I think actually LW wrote in later and it was a really nasty cause of the colic (tumor wrapped around the internal organs) and it would have been better to not go with the surgery and just put the horse down?

              (Do correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s what I thought that was.)

              1. Tiger Snake*

                But nobody knew the cause until an autopsy was done. Until then it could have been thought that it was equally as possible surgery could save the horse – the big problem is that the LW will _never know_. She wasn’t informed in time to contact the vet, get the information, and make a decision based on all the information available at the time (what the vet could see, the LW’s knowledge about any previous issues with the horse, etc).

                There were a lot of factors that the LW could have used to consider her options and make the best decision for her and her pet, if she’d only been given the opporunity. By not telling her, her boss denied her even that autonomy.

  6. FDCA in Canada*

    Please, please, please do not feel like it would be a “bad impression” to not do crazy-insane things for your boss! No sane, normal boss would expect you to do things so far out of the scope of your job and then discipline you for a perfectly normal response. Your boss is an ass. This is not something common. This is well into batshit land. Do not turn back, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, speak to HR if possible, and look for a new job where they will not ask insane favours of you.

    1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

      I’m a boss. I feel weird enough if someone is running out for coffee and asks me if I want anything and I hand then $10 to cover both our drinks – that’s as far as I would ever go.

    2. Bonky*

      I am a boss. I’m pregnant at the moment and I had to ask someone to move boxes from under my desk when we were reorganising the office rather than doing it myself. And I KNOW I had a good reason, but I still felt like a creep.

          1. Bibliovore*

            I actually thought for sure that she had been in flannel bottoms and a jacket. This is beyond ridiculous.

            1. Whats In A Name*

              Yup, my mind went to flannel pants and flip flops immediately. Her leggings and long tee were probably more appropriate than what I would have shown up in.

        1. kac*

          Yeah, there’s no way I would have answered the phone, and if I did I’d politely say “hell no” to this request. But if for some reason I decided to do this? I’d absolutely be in leggings and a sweater/sweatshirt/fleece.

        2. designbot*

          yeah, that’s what “Do Not Disturb” mode is for. Set that up to automatically stop you from even knowing a call is coming in at that hour.

        3. Honeybee*

          I would’ve answered the phone, but that’s because if my manager was calling me at midnight I would have assumed that it was a dire, dire emergency.

          1. YawningDodo*

            Same. The only time I’ve been called outside of my normal work hours by my current employer was when I got a legitimate emergency call at 9:00 one night. I don’t consider “emergency response” to be a major part of my job duties, but it’s technically in there and I did show up to help.

            If I worked for someone who abused my trust by calling me after hours for non-emergencies, yeah, I’d stop answering the phone. Until then I work off the assumption that I’m working for reasonable people, because so far it’s been true.

          2. Jadelyn*

            That’s fair – at this job, I probably would answer, but that’s because my bosses are sane and rational people and if they called me in the middle of the night I’d assume a catastrophe was in progress and they legitimately needed me for something that couldn’t wait til 6AM. If they didn’t have that three-year track record of being sane and rational about when they contact me outside of work (rarely and only when it’s really necessary), hell no.

          3. BananaPants*

            If my manager is calling me outside of work hours I would seriously assume it was because our product was involved in a fatality. That’s about the only reason he would have for ever calling me that late at night.

            I keep my cell phone on “do not disturb” between 9 PM and 6 AM, so I wouldn’t even know it rang.

        4. Emmie*

          I probably would have answered my phone. In my mind, my work is calling at that hour because the building has caught on fire.

          1. MsCHX*

            Are you a firefighter? No? They can leave a voicemail and you’ll wake up and find out the building caught fire.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              Yeah, there is pretty much no emergency that can happen at my workplace at 4 in the morning that I am actually qualified to fix.

            2. Luke*

              This. I even feel this way about times my office phone rings one minute past quitting time on Friday.
              1. If it’s “good news”, it’ll still be good news on Monday morning.
              2. Who are we kidding- Friday at quitting time? It’s NEVER “good news”.
              3. If they honestly don’t think it can wait until Monday , someone will contact my boss (who already left 45 minutes ago), who can decide whether it’s a true emergency.

          2. Rdb*

            I worked for a boss who called me at 10:30 pm on New Year’s Day because her tickets to the Mayor’s Jan. 2 inauguration – which I’d mailed to her home before Christmas, at her request – never arrived. I lay awake the entire night worrying over it, then got online at 6 am and started emailing the Mayor’s office. Fortunately, someone saw my emails and was able to solve the problem.

            This was the culmination of non-stop abusive behavior, 24/7 phone calls and texts, and occasional tantrums. I worked for her only five months. I quit the day I had a panic attack because I had to go to work.

          3. babblemouth*

            I’m with you. if the phone rings after 9pm, I automatically assume it must be something really bad and we have an “all hands on deck” situation.
            I’m way more likely to ignore the phone if it rings between 6pm and 9pm. THAT’s workaholic o’clock and as a former member of that club, I’ve learned my lessons.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yeah. When I read the title I was thinking “You know, I probably would’ve gone in my sweatpants, and I can see some bosses mentioning that to me later.”

        And then it was actually way more insane than that.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      I actually thought she was going to say she was in pyjamas when I started reading the letter. Instead it seemed like she was just in casual clothes which, at you know – midnight?!?, is to be expected. I would have been in my pyjamas.

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Leggings and t-shirt are casual clothes as well as pajamas for me, so I can see why the boss may have read it as “she came and picked us up in her pajamas.” I can almost, if I squint and tilt my head, understand why he thought that deserved a discussion. But a lecture, a write up, and SUSPENSION? No, I cannot understand that.

        1. Alleyne*

          When you ask an employee to come pick you up at the airport an hour away from your home at midnight, you don’t get to be sad that they showed up in pajamas.

          1. yasmara*

            Same here – I thought she was going to say she picked them up in a robe & slippers or something. This is outrageous. She should be paid, reimbursed for mileage, and thanked profusely, not suspended without pay.

            1. Biff*

              I would have been rocking the flannel robe. And they would have met me outside of baggage claim. I would have also been blasting heavy metal to stay awake. This boss was beyond lucky that she was as presentable as she was.

      2. General Ginger*

        I would have almost certainly been in my pajamas with a fleece on top — IF I’d answered the phone, which is a big if.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        When I was robbed, I called my father to come get me. He showed up. His pjs were sticking out at the bottom of his pants and at the top of his coat around his neck. That image STILL makes me smile.

  7. JMegan*

    Ouch. Yes, I would escalate this if you can. I’m not normally a big fan of “this isn’t in my job description” in response to reasonable requests, but if midnight pickups at the airport really aren’t in your job description, it’s not a reasonable request from your manager. And then his response when you got back in the office is beyond unreasonable, and well into “absolutely ridiculous.”

    And whether you escalate this or not, I would start looking for a new job in any case. Good luck!

    1. Troutwaxer*

      You might drop a hint with the boss’s manager friends who you also picked up. It starts out, “Hey, I’ve got a funny story for you…” and ends with “…next time, take a cab.”

    2. INTP*

      Agreed. Being asked to do things outside your job description is to be expected to some extent, and not something to reflexively call HR about. I wouldn’t even have escalated the airport request if it had ended there, though I think it was inappropriate. But to ask someone to do something outside their job description and normal working hours and then SUSPEND THEM WITHOUT PAY for not doing it to your imagined specifications is insane. HR absolutely needs to know that a manager is doing this. Imagine the legal headache when people start to realize that all their unpaid suspensions were not actually warranted.

      1. JessaB*

        The only time this might have worked is if this weirdness had happened when I was working at a Japanese importer and was emergency getting the big bosses from a flight from Japan (mind the company had a damned good car service, but anyway,) However in that case the boss would have warned me, look this is a huge favour and Boss So-and-so-san is here, take time and look presentable. AND I would have been told not to come in the next day with pay, and probably when I did get back there’d be flowers and chocolate and cookys on my desk with a “OMG thank you thank you” note. And the bookkeeper would have cut a gas and mileage cheque for me.

        But that’s how you do it if you want that kind of favour at no notice.

        But then this is the company that when I had to go down on my lunch hour to do something for Uni registration, had waiting for me a gift envelope with a 50 dollar bill with “Good for you continuing your education!”

  8. Alton*

    Wow, this is terrible.

    I would definitely be going to HR over this, because of the official aspect. If he’d just been a jerk about it, I’d probably just file that away for now and resolve to be on guard and avoid future late-night calls. But an official write-up and suspension? No, that’s completely wrong.

    Also, it might not be a bad idea to keep an eye out for other jobs. This is not a reasonable man.

    1. Emi.*

      Agreed–it’s more important to bring HR in when your boss’s whackadoodleness starts affecting your record.

  9. Anna*

    This is one of those situations where it might be good to talk to HR. This is so over the top even they should be willing to step in.

    1. kac*

      Honestly, if you don’t have an HR department or a reliable one I’d go to your boss’s boss.

      Or if neither of those are an option, I’d go to those other bosses that were in the car that night? You can frame it as “trying to gather feedback because I was reprimanded” and don’t have to expressly throw your *horrendous, awful* boss under the bus.

      Everything about this story is wildly unacceptable before you even go to the part where you were lectured for 30 minutes and docked a day’s pay! I can’t even imagine what universe your boss is living in. Report this, stand up for yourself, and also hopefully get a new job.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        I really like the idea of talking to the other colleagues – you know the ones that said “yes” in a way that doesn’t say “boss is a jerk I need you on my side” but “I need to use this as a growth experience, can I get your feedback on why I might have gotten a suspension”…citing violation of dress code combined with early in career opens the door easily for “Hey, I was written up for not wearing business attire when I came to pick you up; can you guys help me understand when we are considered to be ‘representing the company’ and should follow dress code norms? I would really appreciate it.”

        1. Whats In A Name*

          I meant to say – you know the ones that said “thanks”…which is what normal people do whether driving an hour at midnight is in your job description or not.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Me neither! It’ll be so cathartic when I need a reminder that other peoples’ workplaces are worse than mine!

        1. JessaB*

          When you’re having one of those days when everything is awful you can go read it and realise that no it’s really not. These people are really out there.

  10. Mike C.*

    Seriously OP, your car no longer runs after midnight. It just stops working. No one knows why. No one will ever know why. It just doesn’t.

      1. John B Public*

        HAHAHA that’s awesome!

        +1 for getting me out of my negative vibe. This boss really needs to be pulled up short, and I’m frustrated I can’t be the instrument of his comeuppance.

        1. Augusta Sugarbean*

          “Instrument of his comeuppance” is my new favorite phrase. (And totally what I’d play if I were in a band.)

          1. John B Public*

            I *think* I made that up on the fly, but I can’t guarantee I hadn’t read it before and subconsciously tucked it away.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          My phone goes on airplane at 8:30. I need my downtime and my kids don’t drive yet. For some crazy reason my parents both got second shift jobs at 55 (bless them) and they think nothing of sending me a random text at all hours. I learned real quick to shut that phone down.

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          Yep I love DND. My husband and our parents are the only ones who can get through, and I don’t have to remember to turn it on.

        3. Windchime*

          Mine also goes on DND at bedtime. The only people who will ring through are my (adult) children and my elderly parents. Anyone else will just have to wait until I wake up.

      1. calonkat*

        Oh THANK YOU for this. I will no longer be woken up by a text message or phone call from some stupid “do not call list” ignorer.

      2. Lemon Zinger*

        I have an iPhone and once I started my job and realized that my boss works around the clock, I set DND up from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. It’s wonderful, though I do check my phone constantly. Regardless, I will never respond to my boss after 7 p.m. unless I’ve been working a late event. Even then, she can wait until the morning to ask me how it went.

      3. Honeybee*

        Mine does too. I have my iPhone set to automatically bounce calls and texts from everyone between 11 pm and 7 am. (The calls will go through if the same person calls me 3 times in a row, so it has a failsafe for emergencies.)

      4. Whats In A Name*

        All you people with your DND that starts at 10:00 – 11:00 p.m. Mine starts at 8 and goes until 6:30 a.m.

      5. eplawyer*

        wait, what? My cellphone is my office phone (there’s reasons okay), and I do get clients calling with non-emergency at 1 in the morning or texting at 5 in the morning when they wake up. I am not awake at 5 a.m. because I was probably awake at 1 but not answering the phone from a number I don’t recognize. But I want a phone call from my family/friends who are responsible people about contacting (well my mother insists on calling just to talk during the working day, but I ignore that).

        The things I learn on this site.

        1. a different Vicki*

          The iPhone version of this lets me set Do Not Disturb to block everyone except “Favorites.” I have defined that to include three people, none of whom is going to call me late at night without a good reason. As far as I can tell, your “favorites” could include a couple of dozen people, if you wanted.

      6. BananaPants*

        Yup, my phone is set to Do Not Disturb between 9 PM and 6 AM, with the exception of my husband’s cell, my parents and in-laws, and my brother. Otherwise anyone who REALLY needs to get in through with me can look up my landline number.

        1. LBK*

          Given how this situation played out, I’m skeptical that saying “I’ve drank too much tonight to drive” would’ve gone over much better. I’m sure he would’ve reprimanded her for not being sober 24/7 in case an “emergency” like this arose.

        2. MyFakeNameIsLaura*

          I just want to say that if anyone ever started a local AAM Discussion Club or whatever I’d definitely hope you were in attendance. (at least, I think we’re local to each other? Seattle area?)

      1. BritCred*

        I was going to say “or you had a glass or two of wine with dinner… But this boss would have made that a reason for a suspension too…

      2. designbot*

        Oh, I didn’t realize you would need help tonight! I’ve just taken my migraine medicine and it’s a doozy. I’m surprised I even heard the phone ring…

    1. MashaKasha*

      I’ve started taking my phone out of my bedroom for the night. Admittedly my two sons are living with me now, so I figure, if there’s a family emergency (which only has a high probability of happening because my mom is almost 80), then whoever’s calling will get hold of one of them. And I am not on call for work, so no one’s going to call me with a production emergency at midnight. Everything else can wait until morning. Maybe OP could start doing the same? “ah sorry boss, totally missed your call, my phone was in the living room and was set on mute/DnD. Hope you didn’t get stranded at the airport with no one but taxi drivers and uber drivers and your own family members to help you, that would be horrible!”

      1. Christine*

        I used the nighttime feature on my phone. It’s muted from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. except for a couple of contacts that I have set up to ring through. I highly recommend that to everyone.

    2. Biff*

      I wonder how it would have worked out if this poor employee drove a beater with a heater, or even just a small coupe, or god-forbid, was one of those people who drive a pigpen. The one time I picked a boss up at an airport, it was planned and my car was IMMACULATE, but if you call me in the event of an emergency, there is liable to be dog hair everywhere. If my sibling picks someone up, they are lucky if whatever roadtrip sckunge present gets shoved off the passenger seat for them.

      This boss, if he was in fact trying to pull a Mad-Men moment, was playing a very risky hand.

  11. LBK*

    Whoa. I’m sure part of this was just the shock and not being able to comprehend what was going on in the moment, but I would have been livid if my boss did this to me. I honestly don’t know if I’d even be able to keep working somewhere that did this to me. This entire situation is unconscionable – just asking that insane favor in the first place would merit a serious conversation, but then reprimanding you for how you handled it? This guy is a grade-A pile of garbage. Get out of there, and if you can afford to deal with the consequences, rip him a new one on your way out. This isn’t how you treat a person in general, never mind an employee.

    1. Is it Friday Yet?*

      I’m pretty sure I would quit on the spot or the next day and not even give 2 weeks notice.

    2. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I’m with you. My response would have been a very loud go F yourself and an immediate desk cleaning out with a lovely middle finger flag out the door (and I would have put in a retro expense report)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My husband got suspended from his job for Stupid Reason for a week. His immediate supervisor said to the boss, “What did you do that for? Now he has a week to job hunt!”

      My husband returned from suspension and gave two weeks notice. TA-DA!

  12. the_scientist*

    So, they all have company credit cards, but couldn’t possibly expense a cab or an uber? WTF? I don’t have words for how bizarre this is. I would 110% be escalating this to HR. Honestly, this is SO strange, I can’t imagine what the boss is (or isn’t) thinking.

    1. FDCA in Canada*

      Seriously. Like….they have company cards! It’s not even their money! Is that not what they’re for? Paying for work-related expenses? Like, say…transportation home from business travel if other plans fall through? I used to work for an absolute loon of a boss, and traveled for work, and even he (the most Penny-Pinching Man In Canada) wouldn’t blink an eye if we said “there were issues with my ride home, so I had to expense a shuttle/cab/whatever.” Just take the damn receipt and expense it. Lord.

      1. the_scientist*

        I know, that’s really the most baffling thing. Well, it’s all pretty baffling, but there were THREE company cards in one place, and not one of them could be used? Did they all max out their cards (on like, strippers and blow?) and didn’t have enough credit for the cab? Also, I know taxi rides from the airport can be expensive-ish, but one of three managers should be able to float the cost on a personal card and submit a receipt for reimbursement.

        It almost seems like the boss was trying to make a point, either to the OP, to himself, or to the other managers, that he has people at his beck and call at all hours. Except the OP isn’t a servant, she’s an employee, and not even his assistant.

            1. Construction Safety*

              Not really, I’m on a forum where one of the reoccurring sub-themes is “hookers & blow”

        1. Kelly L.*

          You might be on to something–I can imagine the boss wanting to impress the other people with his “personal entourage,” and by showing up looking like who and what she was–an off-duty employee–OP belied the image he was trying to project.

          1. LBK*

            I could maybe see that if they were VIP clients or something, but it seems really weird to try to impress coworkers like that.

            1. designbot*

              Also if you’re using an underling to impress higher-ups, you typically TELL the underling to ensure they’re on their best behavior, presentation, etc.

              1. JessaB*

                Exactly and if you have an underling that’s used to being used to impress people they already know this is part of the job. You don’t spring this on people.

        2. Anon Again*

          I think your last paragraph is probably what it was about. It was showing off to the other managers, that his people will come whenever he needs them to. The fact that it was probably clear from the OP’s state of dress (which was beyond fine) that she wasn’t sitting around waiting for her boss’s call is probably what pissed him off. Because he was the one who came off looking ridiculous.

          I’d definitely go to HR on this one, if they are any good. Because this may not be a one time occurrence.

          1. Anna*

            I have heard that dealers are getting a bit more modern and are using Square. I have only heard of this in passing, but it doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

              1. Candi*

                They charge it as something else. Read about one nightclub a while back that was charging it as ‘drinks’.

                Tip: when the strippers know about the drug dealing, it’s a really bad idea to go bad manager on them. Especially where money is concerned.

      2. BananaPants*

        Years ago I was on a business trip and a snowstorm caused my puddle-jumper flight home from Toronto to be cancelled, with Air Canada projecting it would be 3-4 days before they could get me rebooked – so I marched to Avis and did a one way car rental, opting to drive the 8-9 hours home rather than staying in Toronto for 3-4 days. The only car they had for me was an SUV so it was even more expensive than a normal rental. My boss at the time was a real penny pincher, and when I called to let him know of the change in travel plans his only comment was, “Drive safely.”

        It’s the company’s money, not the boss’. This is what corporate cards are for!

      1. the_scientist*

        I just have a hard time believing that even the most podunk airport does not have some kind of transportation available if they are accepting incoming flights. I have personally flown to Kelowna, Revelstoke, Hamilton, St. John’s, Halifax and Thunder Bay (some small regional airports, and some smaller-scale international) and have never had issues getting transportation to and from the airport, regardless of the time.

        1. FDCA in Canada*

          I live in a tiny, rural town where the only form of mass transit is the Greyhound bus. And guess what? We still have cabs! Available any hour of the day or night! You may need to wait 20 minutes for the cabbie to get to you, but you can 100% get a cab.

        2. OlympiasEpiriot*

          In that particular town, there really aren’t any cabs that would be hanging out at what is essentially a municipal airstrip. Very occasionally a small commercial flight has been redirected there. But, if someone landed in an unusual situation there, ime, staff or even the local constable or state troopers would probably be up for driving them to someplace sensible before letting the passenger(s) call people to drive for an hour.

        3. Whats In A Name*

          OK, so there is an airport out there that doesn’t have a taxi service or a shuttle or allow uber. None of these 3 had a girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/hubby/partner/significant other/best friend that they could have called? I mean, COME ON. Not that it’s appropriate to call anyone but I can bet you the house that I’m calling my s/o before I’m calling a co-worker to drive an hour to come get me for no pay and a suspension.

      2. NewNameToday*

        Ha! I once had to pick someone up there in exactly this circumstance… and then discovered that there actually was (one) cab.

      3. I'm Not Phyllis*

        I would think that even if there were no cabs at the actual airport (which would likely only happen in tiny airports), there most likely would have been cabs that could have gotten to them faster. OP said it took her over an hour to get to the airport … surely a taxi could have gotten there faster.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          It is the closest airport to some land I own in VT. When people ask for directions, that’s what I first tell them…want them to understand that it’s rural.

          Later, once they get that, I actually explain about flying into West Leb or Burlington (but not Berlin).

      4. KR*

        I live in NH and I didn’t even realize there was a functioning airport in Grafton. And honestly, I think you could probably find an Uber willing to drive from Manchester or Concord for the right price.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          It is an airstrip. Tiny. Not what normal people would consider a ‘functioning airport’. In downtown North Haverhill (a village within Haverhill which has pop. 4,700 +/-) , turn east onto County Road 116 to the Dean Memorial Airport. Very occasionally a commercial flight goes there for reasons of need. There is also West Lebanon (a “real” airport), the Franconia Airport and some others, all in Grafton County.

          1. BenAdminGeek*

            I’ve lived in NH almost all my life and just learned about this. Even the Moultonboro Airport would be better than Grafton County’s!

          2. General Ginger*

            Oh, North Haverhill. This brings back horrifying memories of when my 1991 Chevy with over 300K miles on it broke down a few miles out of town in mid December!

              1. General Ginger*

                Thanks :) To be fair, I was 19, it was my first car, and I should have absolutely most certainly known better than to drive it anywhere other than to class!

      5. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        HA! I took a cab out of the Grafton County airport, me and a donor cornea on the way to DHMC. I assume the cab was there for the donation, but cabbie was cool with me riding to Hanover after the drop off. Charged me a flat rate.

  13. Hermione*

    Please please please go to HR. This is so beyond the pale we’re in white walker territory. Even if you go to HR, I would suggest brushing up your resume and getting out – your boss is unreasonable and I doubt that will change.

  14. Mental Health Day*

    Normally, I wouldn’t recommend looking for another job just because of one incident. But, sometimes, an incident is so insane that there’s no reasonable indication that you can expect anything but more insanity in the future. This guy isn’t even living on Mars. He is off on Pluto at this point.

    Save yourself. Save your sanity. Get the heck out of there.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      Yep. This is so out there, so untethered from reality as far as what’s reasonable in the workplace, that I cannot imagine there isn’t more coming down the line. There’s no way for the OP to meet expectations at her job because the expectations are totally unpredictable and will change randomly.

    2. k*

      Very much agree. I can’t imagine being able to face this idiot everyday after this incident. I would be in constant state of fury.

      OP, you say this is one of your first jobs, so please please please do not let this experience shape your expectations. THIS. IS. NOT. NORMAL. Not one single part of it. This man sounds like a bully, not a boss. I suspect there are other abuses of power or oddities going on with him that you may not have seen as out of line because you have nothing to compare him to.

    3. Honeybee*

      Oh yeah, that was my first thought. No matter what happened with HR, I’d be looking for another job ASAP.

  15. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

    I clearly have much to say on this. I think one of the most valuable skills young women can learn in the workplace is setting boundaries. It took me years to unlearn my people-pleasing habits and stop agreeing to every damn thing.

    1. Manders*

      Yes! This is something I’m struggling with personally. I was astonished the first time I saw a coworker turn down an “assignment” to bring food for a company potluck. It genuinely didn’t occur to me that I could say no to this sort of thing and keep my job.

      1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

        My “aha!” moment came when my boss found out I was interviewing elsewhere. He was really surprised and wanted to know why, and I said I couldn’t continue working all the extra hours and weekends – I was worn out, but he always expected me to take on extra. He was equally surprised – he assumed if I hadn’t wanted to I would have said so. It had never even occurred to me.

      2. Emi.*

        My mother once told me of an office in which the women were assigned to bring food to the potluck, but the men weren’t. The women inquired why on earth the men couldn’t also bring some kind of dish, and were told “Oh, they can’t–all their wives work.”

        1. Manders*

          I really wish this work potluck trend would stop. My current office has suddenly become much pushier about having everyone participate in potlucks. I don’t have the standing to push back, but I wish I could–I have a hard time carrying enough food for everyone from my apartment on foot, and honestly, I am not great at cooking potluck-friendly foods.

          1. Artemesia*

            Bring the cheapest available deli salad e.g. grocery store coleslaw or some such. Or be the person who brings the giant bag of chips.

          2. Temperance*

            Do they mean every person, or do they just focus on women?

            The first time that I stood up for myself in this regard was by refusing to participate in an office bake sale for the United Way. They asked women only, and younger/perceived-lower ranking women at that.

            I also had to point out to someone that it wasn’t inclusive to host a group event to serve dinner at a local nonprofit, and to ask the secretarial staff to bake cookies/cupcakes to include. In their mind, it was very inclusive and making sure that the secretaries could be part of the in-demand event, instead of exclusive and worse than not including them at all.

          3. nonymous*

            my hubby’s workplace had a potluck for Thanksgiving and everyone brought store-made food. It probably would have been weird/excessive if he made anything.

            Also, when I’ve gone to large group potlucks the recommendation is usually that each attendee brings “enough for 4 people” – the idea is that you’re covering enough volume for yourself to have seconds (assuming normal sized portions of 4-6 oz) as well as same for that person who “forgot”. Ideally, everybody takes a smaller portion so that they can try more foods. (not always the case – I went to a catered event where people skipped the last talk to attack the guac early. 50 portions eaten by 5 people!)

          4. Mookie*

            It’s kind of awful on every level. Long-term catering contracts aren’t terribly expensive, and caterers can, well, cater to food allergies and intolerances and so-called “specialized” diets much better than the laycook, and are trained in preparing, transporting, and serving food safely. Not everyone has the time, expertise, tools, or inclination to cook for themselves, much less others. Many people’s home lives are not conducive to long stretches of unpaid cooking for co-workers. The cost and time is borne unevenly amongst potluckers: the people who spend longer doing scratch-cooking (likely because they can’t afford the bulk store-bought stuff) don’t generally get “compensated” with extra left-overs they can use to feed themselves and theirs. It’s just a crap, complex situation, mitigated by cultural and class issues, that seems, on the surface, very simple and kumbaya. No to office potlucks. Vote for me (or The Meteor).

            1. Overeducated*

              To be fair, in us government workplaces it is not allowed to spend tax payer funds feeding staff, so parties and events are either potluck, pooled money, or rotation. They don’t have to be frequent but I would rather have a couple potlucks a year than nothing.

              1. Mookie*

                Ah, makes sense. I’d opt for the pool, for the reasons above, but I wouldn’t want anyone to starve and sometimes it’s cheaper and more plentiful to cook, I should think.

            2. Lanon*

              Forget all that, a potluck is ridiculous because its my money and my time that goes into making this food. How about no, I already spend a majority of my life there working for a wage. What specifically makes employers think they’re entitled to my off time.

          5. Overeducated*

            I went to a work potluck last year where my supervisor and I cooked, and the rest of the staff pooled money and ordered pizzas. They looked kind of sheepish when I came in with home made food because they all assumed someone had filled me in on the plan, but it had just been my day off (we were open 7 days) and nobody had.

            1. designbot*

              well yeah, the conversation this would’ve led to was, “wait, I thought you were married to a dude?” “I am, and he works so is unable to help with things like this, just like the other guys’ wives.”

              1. John B Public*

                I always want to witness these types of conversations and never get to. It’s like a car crash where no one is medically hurt but you still have a massive collision.

        2. Artemesia*

          This one is lovely on so many levels — don’t the women in the office ‘work’ too? And the idea that even the most inebt man cannot pick up a bucket of KFC chicken for a potluck is laughable.

    2. Master Bean Counter*


      I think every young professional woman should have a more experience woman to call and ask, “is it okay to say no?” And if the situation calls for it, “Is it okay to dig in and not give in?”

    3. Temperance*

      I always counsel my female interns to avoid taking on pink collar tasks in the workplace. It took me so damn long to realize that helping to plan parties and do charity drives was not advancing my career, but stunting it.

      1. I'm Not Phyllis*

        This so much. I’ve always been the one doing this kind of stuff and it dawned on me as I was about to organize a potluck for this holiday – why? It’s usually way more of a headache than it’s worth. Not to mention that I’m no longer the lower person on the totem pole and it’s probably doing my career more harm than good too.

      2. AW*

        Also: Infuriating that doing in office charity work, which companies claim they want their employees doing, *hurts* your career.

      3. Liz2*

        And as an admin who enjoys and knows how to do those things blindfolded, it drives me bonkers because I can see it as a waste of time and energy and would love to have more chance to show off my skills! SO many events I have seen people struggle and make honest newbie mistakes, but I can’t force them to let me take over.

      4. Artemesia*

        I avoided this for the most part and it wasn’t that hard. If you act like a professional, people will yield to you as a professional. It may take a refusal or two ‘oh I’d love to help but I need to focus on meeting that grant proposal deadline (am prepping for the Grinwald case, have a chapter to finish, am working on my keynote speech — something professional that is taking your focus and time).” Make it clear you are a professional and don’t let them pull you into baking cookies or doing Mom jobs (or serving on diversity committees that will suck up time but go nowhere).

      5. Lanon*

        I never got this entire pink collar thing. It all seems to utterly unnecessary. Like, I’m here to do a job and not to do godknowswhat and lord knows the employer isn’t entitled to my off time, so what gives.

    4. MC*

      I always council new employees to be aware of their boundaries and not let the job take more than you’re willing to give, but I always stress this to the young women a bit more because women really do have a hard time saying “no”, at least more than their male peers.

      1. Anon Millennial*

        All of this. I’m a young woman working in a male dominated office and after some physical boundary issues I stopped having a problem with asserting myself.

  16. LawCat*

    Your boss is a cotton headed ninny muggins! Unbelievable!

    On your phone, check if it has a setting for “quiet hours.” I have a setting on my phone where it will not make any sounds for incoming calls or texts during certain hours unless from specified people (e.g., my mom, who would only call at a late hour in a true emergency).

    I would be looking for a new job after something like this. When putting in my notice, I would tell HR that I was leaving because after doing a huge favor for my boss at midnight at his request and at my personal time and expense, I was punished by being written up and having my pay docked (because really, that’s what it translates to.) An organization that operates this way is not a good fit.

    I said, “Good day, sir!”

      1. Mimmy*

        Is that where the “cotton headed ninny muggins” line came from? (Yes, I’ve seen the movie). That is now my new favorite line!

        1. LawCat*

          Yes, it’s from “Elf” :-)

          Buddy uses it as pejorative to put himself down when he isn’t meeting performance standards in Santa’s workshop. The elf supervisor assures Buddy that he is not a cotton headed ninny muggins and the job is just not a good fit for his talents.

          But OP’s boss is definitely a cotton headed ninny muggins!

    1. many bells down*

      Yes, mine has a “do not disturb” setting that goes on at 10pm and off at 7am and only the people on my “favorite” contact list can get through. There’s also a setting that will allow it to ring if the same number calls more than 3 times in 10 minutes, but that’s optional.

    2. AMG*

      Yeah, it’s really hard to see where you would be given a fair shake at this company, or could expect to be treated reasonably under this manager. I wonder if you could switch to another manager/team? If it’s tolerable enough perhaps you could wait until another position opens in another department. Maybe HR could help you with this, depending on how appalled they are with this manager.

      In any case, I would be a one-woman PR show, taking every opportunity to present myself as the Best Employee Ever in my effort to land a new position in that company or any other.

  17. AdAgencyChick*

    OP, I want to drop-kick your boss out a twelfth-story window for you. I hope you’re able to work for someone else soon.

  18. ReadItWithSpanishAccent*

    I think we have the winner of the 2016 jerk boss contest

    He didn’t know how to call a taxi or what?

  19. Thomas E*

    I wouldn’t necessarily go to HR. I’d just tell *everyone* I met in the company for the next month exactly what happened.

    I’d make sure *everybody* knew.


      1. Boo*

        Not every place is the same though. I’m in HR and I can assure you I absolutely would give a damn about this. Several.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I am trying to envision what HR at any of my previous companies would do. “Be content with it and authorize the suspension” is not coming to mind in any case. I suspect “struggle not to blow a gasket and to keep it coolly professional” is closer to the mark.

          1. Jess*

            Oh yes. I once complained to HR about a boss doing something totally beyond the pale like this. They flipped out, gave me what would have been my suspension day as a bonus paid day off as an apology, reamed my boss, made her tell me she was sorry, sent her to remedial management training, and worked with her boss to reassign her to a position where nobody reported to her and she only had low-stakes work because she was a vengeful loon with no boundaries. Sometimes HR does do the right thing. The person they hired to replace my terrible boss was AMAZING. I loved working for her. Having a great boss turned my whole quality of life around.

              1. Jess*

                It was really crappy. I was six months pregnant and fell down two flights of stairs at work. I had to rush to the hospital and spend the day hooked up to monitors to see whether I was going to lose my baby.

                On my way out the door my boss told me I was expected to work from my hospital bed, call into that day’s conference calls and meetings, and be available over email: “Just because you’re suddenly taking a sick day doesn’t mean it’s fair for you to not work when everyone else is.” It was our slowest time of year. Nothing I had to do that day was crucial. No looming deadlines or emergencies or due dates. Just me, all alone in a hospital room in pain, waiting to see if I was going to miscarry at six months, trying to keep my husband updated, struggling to be brave and not cry, and I had to call into our routine weekly staff meeting so I could listen my coworkers make small talk for an hour about what they’d done that weekend. When my boss told me to put my phone on mute because the hospital sounds were annoying her I just hung up, which is what she tried to suspend me for when I went back to work. She said hanging up was insubordinate.

                My baby was okay, which was a relief. HR was horrified, which was also a relief.

                1. Aurion*

                  I…what?! Dumpster fire of a human being does not begin to describe your ex-boss. I think your ex-boss got off too easily for what she did.

                  (I’m sure the reaming by HR and your ex-boss’s boss was pretty spectacular, though…)

                2. KB*

                  I just cannot believe a human would lack this much empathy. I am horrified. I’m so happy your baby is okay and that your HR dept is sane!

                3. Jess*

                  Aurion, the whole outcome was tremendously satisfying. And she was so insulted and embarrassed by being demoted (everyone knew why too, I mentioned the story a gossipy coworker in another department and it was all over in no time) that she left soon after. So that worked out. But none of it would’ve happened if I hadn’t spoken up. I’d have had to eat that day’s lost pay, insubordination would’ve been in my file, she wouldn’t have been reassigned and I’d have had to keep working for her, and I wouldn’t have gotten to work for my amazing boss. Standing up to a jerk can certainly pay off.

                4. Mookie*

                  The hospital sounds were annoying her. I want to wish her into hospital, permanently, like I’m wishing her into the cornfield.

                5. Not So NewReader*

                  Dang, looks like ANOTHER worst boss of the year.

                  Employee:”My unborn child might be injured or worse!”
                  Boss-For-Not-Much-Longer: “We have actual important things going on here…”

                  I am so happy to hear that everyone else DID make the correct choices.

                6. Zombii*

                  It was insubordination, no question. That’s why insubordination is a bullshit term to use in the workplace: absent any other violations, insubordination just means “I disagree with what you said/did and I since I’m your superior I can punish you for that.”

            1. TheCupcakeCounter*

              I love your HR! They key part was reassigning her to a no underling role. I can totally see the boss going ballistic on OP for reporting this to HR so she should be prepared to leave (and most definitely file for unemployment if he fires her)

        2. kiki*

          At my current job, it just wouldn’t happen. At my last job, HR would shrug and the managers would add it to the concerns in my annual review, “not a true team player”.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That’s so dysfunctional though that it’s not something the OP really needs to worry about unless she already has evidence that her HR people are horrid. You don’t want to let outlier situations like that color your expectations of other companies, or it can lead you to make decisions that don’t work in healthier environments.

            1. kiki*

              While it’s great to have a strong HR, in my experience it’s limited to larger companies/sites or government employers. The site I’m referring to was a satellite site within a larger private engineering company. We had a secretary who did HR part-time. She reported to the site’s VP, which dramatically impacted how much she could actually enforce. I was once handed a plane ticket for a 10 am flight upon arrival at work at 7am. Turned out to be 3 months in upstate NY (where I learned it can be a bit chilly! What is “snow emergency?”). Our local H&S officer also reported to the VP, so injuries just didn’t get reported or dealt with in any real way.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It definitely varies more in smaller companies — and in really small companies, there may be no HR at all — but I’ve seen plenty of ~60-person organizations with good HR, at least good enough to intervene in something like this.

              2. thehighercommonsense*

                Government employee here, our HR refused to follow up on a sexual harassment complaint because “harassment is defined by everyone’s experience, and we have to respect that, but [Harassing Person] might not have known better.” Don’t even get me started on our equal employment opportunity training, [i] /which included a PowerPoint full of slides of racial and ethnic stereotypes./[i]

                I’m not sure that the quality of HR is necessarily related to size of the org–more like the available talent pool, good hiring practices, and the tone at the top.

                1. Candi*

                  … I’d love to see this fly in Katie the SW Fed’s realm. Talk about pushback.

                  And the various types of harassment have specific legal definitions, from federal down to city ordinances. So whoever said that was dodging responsibility, enforcing old boys’ club, and/or a dingbat.

        3. sunny-dee*

          You are a rarity (at least in my experience). My current HR would say that it’s really my job to try to get along with my manager, and I should have done what it took to make him not write me up.

          1. Candi*

            Then your HR is one or more of 1) badly trained; 2) lazy; 3) in fluffy cloud land; 4) handicapped in their job duties by unrealistic higherups.

            Protecting good employees protects the company.

        4. Bonky*

          I wonder what JerkBoss told HR his reasons for suspending her were? I can’t imagine an HR department signing off on the reason he gave the poor letter writer.

    1. KR*

      Heck, go to HR and do this. Don’t let your boss get away with this. “Susannah, why weren’t you in work Friday? Take some vacation?” “No, I embarrassed Fergus by not wearing a suit when I did him a favor and picked him up from the airport in the middle of the night on my own time in my own car. Silly me!”

    2. I'm Not Phyllis*

      If it weren’t for the write-up and suspension I’d agree with you. However there’s no way this should remain on OP’s record. It’s completely unreasonable. If it were just the ride and the inconvenience – I agree, HR probably wouldn’t care much. But the suspension without pay? The write-up? Just. no. This is now in the employee’s file and HR would have to step in to change that (or at least that’s how it is at my workplace).

    3. neverjaunty*

      “Everybody” has to include HR.

      Otherwise, what happens when the OP doesn’t come into work on her “suspended” day and it turns out her boss never made it official?

  20. Bee Eye LL*

    Since it was an after hours call, I’d start the clock ticking from the minute he called until the minute you got back home. Make sure he pays for every bit of time, overtime or comp time, or deducts it from the PTO you planned to use the following day. On top of that, present him with a bill for mileage.

    I’d be looking for a new job as well.

  21. EJ*

    How is any of this even legal?

    Side note: Unless it’s in your job description, always ignore work calls after 10pm. :)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s not illegal to be a jerk, nor is it illegal to suspend people, even for reasons we think are crazy. The only legal thing that factors in here (as far as I can tell) is if the OP is non-exempt, in which case she needs to be paid for the airport run.

      1. VintageLydia*

        Or if she’s exempt, the day of lost pay would be illegal (though he could take away a day of PTO instead.)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You actually can do an unpaid suspension for an exempt employees if it’s a penalty imposed in good faith for violations of workplace conduct rules, but I’m not sure this would qualify.

          1. Natalie*

            And in that case the conduct rules have to be written policies that apply to all employees. I suppose it’s possible the dress code says it applies even during midnight airport runs, but I sort of doubt it.

          2. BananaPants*

            Yup. In my workplace an exempt employee who violates specific safety rule(s) can be suspended without pay.

            Our OP’s scenario wouldn’t come even remotely close to meeting that criterion.

      2. SarahTheEntwife*

        Could there be liability issues with her using her personal car, or is it different since she’s ferrying other employees rather than clients?

    2. Wwr*

      No way am I answering calls after midnight from anybody but close friends and family. NO WAY. If I’m up, I’ll listen to the voicemail and decide what to do about it. If not, well, too bad. I silence my phone when I’m sleeping. I’m not an on-call medical specialist, I’m not anyone’s emergency contact, and I don’t have nuclear launch codes. It can wait until morning.

  22. GlamNonprofitSquirrel*

    There’s pretty much no excuse for this jerkwad. I’d give HR one chance to fix things (i.e. reimburse you for your mileage, vacate your “suspension”, give you an extra day off with pay for pain and suffering and JerkBoss has to issue a formal, written apology in which he admits to all of the wrongdoings committed), I’d elevate this to whomever is over JerkBoss. Concurrently, brush up the resume and send out your applications STAT. Any organization that puts up with JerkBoss (and the other supervisors you fetched from the airport in the middle of the night) isn’t one that values you and your work.

  23. Victoria, Please*

    We are obviously all speechless at how wrong this was! OP, he should be giving you a (non-creepy) flower arrangement and a thank you note! Not a suspension and a scolding! WTFFFFF?????

  24. Crazy Canuck*

    18 months is a good stint for a first full-time job. Polish up that resume, and start looking for a new gig.

    1. BTW*

      This. I would only do it if HR wasn’t any help but you bet your ass I’d “lawyer up.” This is ridiculous!

    2. Leatherwings*

      I mean, they haven’t clearly broken any laws here (maybe the docking the pay thing but it’s not that clear cut). It’s absurd, ridiculous and unfair but I don’t think a labor attorney would do anything useful.

      1. neverjaunty*

        You are looking at this backward. The attorney isn’t to force Boss to apologize; it’s to advise OP on getting out of that job in one piece (professionally speaking).

        1. Mae*

          Yeah, I mean… it’s not so much about outlining a clear-cut violation of the law now, is it? It can’t hurt to get some legal advice as ^ mentioned.

  25. AyBeeCee*

    So, when (not if but when) OP is interviewing for her next job to get her out of this hellhole, when they ask why she’s leaving her current position, what is the sanitized, politically-correct response?

    And, for fun, what’s the fantasy answer you’d love to give instead?

    1. Barney Barnaby*

      The answer is to, without any exaggeration whatsoever, succinctly explain the situation. Do not try to explain why he did what he did, why she did anything; just a slightly shorter version of what she said here. Wrap it up with “I want to work in a healthy environment” or “I feel like I was being punished for going above and beyond.” If you hedge, they’ll wonder if you’re leaving out stuff that makes you look bad.

      1. Just Another Techie*

        What would a script for that look like though? I’m totally failing to come up with anything more succinct than half a page.

        1. Aurion*

          “My boss called me to pick up him and his colleagues at the airport with no notice after midnight. I drove a total of 3 hours to drop them all off, on my vacation time, as I had that day booked off. I received no thanks for compensation for mileage. When I next came in he wrote me up and suspended me without pay for not being in full business clothes at that hour, despite it not being my job and not giving me any advanced notice. I feel like I was punished for going above and beyond.”

        2. Barney Barnaby*

          “I think that part of any job is to adjust to what is going on and do what needs to be done. But what happened in November really made me understand that I need a new job. Around midnight, my boss called me from the airport and asked me to pick him and a few of his colleagues up and drive them home. I brushed my teeth, pulled my hair into a neat ponytail [or whatever she did], put on a knee-length tee, leggings, and sneakers, and went to the airport to drive everyone home. When I was next in the office, my boss called me in for a meeting wherein he said my clothing was inappropriate and unprofessional. I received a one-day, unpaid suspension from work and was written up for my clothing. Again, I’m happy to do work that needs to be done to help the company, and I want to be open to feedback, but I just can’t work in that situation.”

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Too many details! There’s no benefit to getting into that level of detail in an interview. They don’t need to know all that, and it just introduces drama. I’d go with something like I have below.

        4. hbc*

          “My boss called at midnight on a day I had already booked to be off, and had me do a 3 hour airport run for him and two colleagues. He suspended me without pay because I didn’t know he wanted me in a full business suit. As you can imagine, it got me thinking about the bigger picture, and I realized I had learned the basics of underwriting pretty well. I’m ready to tackle new challenges in a new environment, and this job posting was intriguing because of X and Y.”

          As much as everyone will understand why OP is running away, she should also be clear that she’s also running *to* this particular job.

          1. TheBeetsMotel*

            A very good point; as crazy as this situation is, you don’t want to give a potential future employer the slightest idea that you run away the second you’re asked to do something the tiniest bit outside your job description. To be clear, what happened is IN NO WAY okay, but you want to emphasize the experience and value that you DID get fro, the king while you were there, not just the batshittery that prompted you to leave.

        5. LBK*

          Agreed – my initial instinct was the same as Barney’s, but as I started trying to write out the script, I couldn’t come up with anything that wouldn’t be way too much detail to say in an interview. I think delving into the details of any disciplinary action always comes across as a he said/she said situation even when it’s 100% legit. Short of a situation that ended up with a legal resolution you can point to as clear evidence that you were in the right, I can almost guarantee that the interviewer’s first thought is going to be wondering what the other side of the story is.

          I also think that as unfortunate and unfair as it is, any time you talk about being involved in a situation like this is creates an air of drama around you that will turn potential employers off.

        6. Barney Barnaby*

          I’ve “been there, done that,” and found that saying things about the hours, workload, expectations, etc., only made people think I didn’t want to work long or hard (which, given that I’m a borderline workaholic, is anything but the truth). A few quick anecdotes about the situation, followed it up with “I stayed on the job through the end of super-big project and then gave three weeks notice,” and I found it much easier to get callbacks and, finally, a job. I never got past the screening interview stage when I said things about growth, workload, etc.

          Other people might have better luck with trying the hours/workload/growth route, but I personally did not. (In fact, I had better luck in an interview in which I literally broke down crying on the phone than when I tried to say things about growth and workload.)

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      I believe this is a situation where the truth is so bizarre nobody would question it.

      “Why am I looking to leave my current position? Because my boss called me to pick him up at the airport at midnight and then he wrote me up the next day for a dress code violation because I didn’t wear a suit.”
      Said in an even and flat tone.

      1. LBK*

        Eh, I don’t think that’s really true in an interview context. Hiring managers know you’re trying to present yourself in the best light possible, so any time a disciplinary action comes up in an interview, the interviewer is going to assume they’re getting a one-sided, sanitized version (especially if it’s one like this where to hear the candidate’s version, they were completely in the right and the employer was completely in the wrong).

        We here at AAM are of course no stranger to completely batshit managers, and we also have a standard of always believing the LW, so there isn’t really any question of authenticity from our perspective. I don’t think the same is true when you’re in an interview. A story like this sounds exactly like the version of a story someone would tell if they did actually screw up and are trying to downplay their mistake and pin the blame back on management for being unreasonable (I’m sure the employee I fired for stealing cash out of the register doesn’t tell the story just like).

    3. Karo*

      I think I’d go with the “ready for new opportunity,” or “looking for a place to grow,” non-answers . There’s never a good way to say your boss was a crazypants without you seeming a little crazypants too.

      The most dispassionate way I can think of to say it would be something like “I performed a favor for my boss in the middle of the night, but because I wasn’t dressed in work attire I was written up and severely reprimanded. The disconnect between his expectations and mine was large enough that I feel now is the time to move on.” But even that seems to beg a lot of questions. What was the favor? Should you have been dressed in work attire? Was the write-up warranted? OTOH, if you go into too many details then you’ll seem almost too passionate about the situation, which could lead to the interviewer wondering if you’re maybe a little crazy too.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know that anyone benefits when you start discussing crazy bosses in an interview, no matter how right you are. I’d instead go with something like, “The job ended up having hours I wasn’t expecting and I’d sometimes get calls at midnight to help with things like airport runs.”

      1. Aurion*

        I see your point that it’s too much information, and I’m admittedly being blinded by outrage here, but should the OP add in anything to emphasize how utterly outrageous her boss is being? Like, “I’d sometimes get calls past midnight for things like airport runs, without compensation?”

        Maybe that’s still introducing drama, but this boss is such a glassbowl.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s already an understandable reason for looking for a new job without including “without compensation.” Her goal isn’t to make it as outrageous as the facts support, but just to explain why she’s leaving and then move the conversation on. Drama just never helps in an interview, even if you’re the victim of it. The interviewer doesn’t need to understand the full extent of the boss’s outrageousness, just enough to check the “reasonable explanation for moving on” box.

          1. Aurion*

            Okay, fair enough. I’m guessing if the interviewers ask for more information (because they’re human, and really, who asks junior underwriters for midnight airport runs anyway??), OP should just breezily change the topic? Because I can totally imagine the interviewers going “…but why didn’t they just call a taxi?” and then OP will have to choose between divulging the details of lunacy or avoid a question they’ve been asked.

            1. Adam V*

              You shrug, smile, and say “your guess is as good as mine” and they’ll get the hint – it’s not like you’ve got any more insight into their nuttiness than they do, so they’ll go back to asking you questions you *can* answer.

            2. LBK*

              I think you have to gauge the tone of the interview at that point. If it’s a bit more laid back, you’ve established a rapport and the interviewer seems to genuinely be asking you out of human curiosity and not because they’re trying to dig around and evaluate the truth of the situation, then I think you can answer it honestly. Otherwise I’d say something like “I certainly had a lot of questions about the situation, too! But overall, it mostly served as a signal to me that it was time to move on to a new role, so that’s what I’m looking to do now.”

            3. k*

              If they asked something like that, OP can just say “I don’t know” or “That’s a good question, I couldn’t tell you their thinking”. Something simple, which subtly implies to the interviewer that it was an odd situation, but doesn’t make OP come off like a gossipy tattle-tale.

          2. Jessie*

            That makes sense, but how do you handle references? This boss is unreasonably crazy but he is her current manager, and most interviewers want to be able to contact your current manager for a reference towards the end of the process. I don’t think it is paranoid of me to worry this boss will not give an appropriate reference when it gets to that point; if OP shouldn’t mention any specifics, the company won’t know the boss is Crazy and Not Reliable – is there a way to prep the company about how that reference might go, so that the boss doesn’t sabotage her opportunity?

            1. LBK*

              Reasonable interviewers won’t ask to contact your current manager given that most people don’t make their job hunts public, and it’s generally fairly easy to push back on interviewers that do ask for your current manager’s info by saying as such (“I haven’t made it known at my current workplace that I’m looking for a new job, so I’d prefer if possible to not have my current manager contacted; I’m happy to provide these other references who can speak to my job performance”).

              1. Jessie*

                I haven’t changed jobs too much – and my interviewers have asked for references but then do not actually contact them, so I’m fairly ignorant of the actual process, when it happens – but I was under the impression that job offers are often made contingent on a final reference check from current boss (not before then, of course). If that’s wrong, then OP has no problem!

            2. Barney Barnaby*

              Ask at least three of her other colleagues for references. Provide those references in lieu of her current manager.

          3. j-nonymous*

            Right – it sometimes seems we err on the side of providing all the crazy shenanigans that tie in to wanting to leave the current job, as if we’re hoping our interviewers agree & validate us that we’re right to leave.

            We are, by and large, free to come and go from our jobs at will. We get to (and should be adept at) setting boundaries for ourselves in our jobs – and the interview for the next job is no place to seek that level of validation.

        2. k*

          I think that any interviewer, having OPs resume and knowing she wasn’t an assistant or errand boy, hearing about unexpected “midnight calls for airport runs” would imply that there was some crazy stuff going on there. By keeping it brief OP won’t look like she’s trying to badmouth anyone, showcasing her professionalism. The old “if you don’t have anything nice to say” thing.

      2. Imaginary Number*

        I like Allison’s answer. If the interviewer really cares, they might ask for more details at that point and you can try to read them at that point to see if they’d be particularly moved by the whole, ridiculous truth.

      3. neverjaunty*

        Might it be better to frame it as the job having different hours than what was agreed on, rather than in terms of the OP’s expectations? In other words, to avoid the implication that the problem was a misunderstanding by the OP.

    5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      18 months at a first job is probably long enough to have one of the more generic answers about wanting more challenge sound believable. I wouldn’t bring this up in an interview. (On the other hand, I WOULD tell this story over drinks for decades. My grandchildren would get tired of hearing this story.)

    6. Office Plant*

      I think the most polite way to explain it is also the most compelling – state the facts without expressing any judgment. “This position involves impromptu after hours commitments such as meeting executives at the airport in business attire at midnight without prior notification. The challenge has been exhilerating, but my personal preference is for a standard, pre-planned schedule. What is the schedule like for this role? Does your company’s culture favor standard or non-standard work hours?”

  26. Chriama*

    OP, are you exempt? If not, mileage reimbursement is the least of your problems. But to be frank, your boss sounds like an asshole and I hope HR is more reasonable.

    1. Chriama*

      Also, I saw other people mention if he called any male assistants. OP, are you the only employee under your boss? If not, could the fact that he singled you out for midnight call-out and then punished you for it possibly be discrimination? If so, you might want to hint at that to HR as well.

  27. LCL*

    Boss is a total ass who is drunk on his power. To some people, leggings and a long shirt look half dressed and uncomfortably sexual. (And yes, I am aware that combo is in fashion now. ) Sounds like boss couldn’t handle his desires so is punishing employee. Classic woman blaming response. This is worth going to HR over, if they aren’t creepy like boss.

    1. KR*

      Her shirt was knee-length. That’s pretty much a dress. So she’s wearing the equivalent of a dress, leggings, sneakers and a fleece. What a creep.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yep, I’m not a fan of the leggings-as-pants look (a topic that’s already been well-covered on this blog), but even I would say that when you call someone in the middle of the night to drive an hour to pick you up, unless they’re wearing nothing but underwear, you get what you get and you don’t get upset. But in this case, her shirt was a dress for all practical purposes. If somebody saw that as “uncomfortably sexual,” I don’t think there’s anything she could wear that wouldn’t be seen that way.

        1. I'm Not Phyllis*


          I don’t see anything in the letter indicating that this had anything to do with any level of sexual attraction or discomfort for that reason. I just read this as the boss was expecting her in work attire (which is idiotic at that hour) and she wasn’t.

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, I’m not sure I see that angle either. Absent any kind of history of sexually charged behavior on his part, I don’t think there’s good reason to read that into the situation here. If sexism applies, I think it’s more likely in thinking of her instead of any of her male colleagues as an appropriate person to come pick him up, and that would be based on cultural assumptions about women doing admin-type work even when it’s not their job, not necessarily anything sexual.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Totally agree. It’s quite possible that sexism factored into in exactly the way that LBK mentioned, but we do not have anything in the letter to even assume it’s along those lines, much less anything sexual going on.

    2. Friday*

      I hope when OP gets to give notice after finding a much better job, she wears the offending outfit that day and similar ones for whatever notice period she decides to give them.

  28. Allie*

    This is just beyond absurd. I also suspect if LW had taken the time to dress up, he would have chewed her out for taking time to get dressed and taking longer to pick him up. Please go to HR and please update us, LW.

    I also agree that you should consider looking for another job. Calling you after midnight is one strike, expecting you to pick him up is another, not reimbursing you is a third, but then on top of that lecturing you for not dressing up for this thing? It is beyond absurd. This whole episode is just one boundary violation after another.

  29. Sue Wilson*

    Obligatory wild speculation:

    Something’s up with your bosses not using their company cards for what was presumably travel for work. It’s weird to call one of the junior underwriters (are you the newest one?) for a ride, period, let alone at midnight It’s unreasonable to write-up and suspend without pay (!!!!!) for one dress code violation even at work, so honestly, this sounds like your boss is trying to cloud the perception of what happened by making it seem like you did something wrong. Gauge how helpful your HR has been so far, but I think being open about what happened to them is probably the best way to figure out if your boss is just unreasonable, or seriously shady.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I think I was wondering the same thing Sue Wilson was — this is so unreasonable and ridiculous that I wondered if the boss was trying to set the OP up for a PIP or firing. Or even just set them up to be demoralized so they don’t start asking for a raise or recognition.

        1. The Kurgen*

          Yep yep yep! Exactly this. He wants OP out of there. I have a feeling that this won’t be his only attempt. Sad and scary.

    1. some1*

      “this sounds like your boss is trying to cloud the perception of what happened by making it seem like you did something wrong.”

      This is what I think. He wrote her up before the LW had a chance to complain about this totally reasonable request.

      1. k*

        This is what I am thinking. I’m guessing this boss regularly abuses his power, taking advantage of the the fact that OP is new to the workforce. He finally went to far with this one and now he’s gotta cover his tracks.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I tend to agree.

      Either the boss is incredibly stupid OR he is using OP to cover up some mistake he made. I am leaning toward, there is more to this story. But I could be mistaken, he could just be incredibly stupid.

    1. Venus Supreme*

      Yup, we definitely need an update. I need some sort of closure after this massive “WTF?!” moment.

  30. Long time listener, First time caller*

    And, what about if she’d been in an accident driving out of her usual ‘waking hours’? This boss needs to be put in check somehow. OP beware if HR decides to put it back on you for not dressing “appropriately”. It could happen. Time to sharpen your resume and call a “headhunter” to help with a job search.

  31. Master Bean Counter*

    Your boss has turned what was a favor into a work event. I know you are early in your career but this is something you should absolutely push back on. He’s taken advantage of the fact that he’s has power over you. First by calling you at midnight to pick him up, then by getting anal about what you were wearing. Trust me when I say you looked much nicer than many of us would in the same situation.
    What I would do is explain to your boss that since that was a work event you are owed payment for your time and a reduction in the time off you had the following day. You also expect to be reimbursed for mileage at $.054 a mile. If he balks against any of it, then ask whether it was a work event or not. If it wasn’t, if it was just a favor, he owes you a days worth of pay and the write-up should disappear.
    If you are uncomfortable talking to him directly, take this to HR or his boss.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      $.054 I think you mean $0.54. (Just for clarity in case the OP doesn’t know where to find standard IRS business mileage rates.)

    2. Anon in NOVA*

      Either it was a work assignment, which you should be compensated for (flex time and mileage at least!) or it was not, meaning the write up should disappear.

    3. AD*

      From OP’s language, I’m assuming she’s in the UK (so whatever conversion would apply there). I’m assuming mileage reimbursements are a universal thing?

      1. Bonky*

        I’m in the UK – there are several uses of language there that mark her out as not being from round these parts. What was it you picked up on? (Mileage reimbursements are a thing here, but I really don’t think she’s British.)

      2. GingerHR*

        Not from what she’s said. Suspension without pay would be illegal, and we have warnings, not write-ups. We do have mileage reimbursement though!

      3. SarahKay*

        I don’t think she’s in the UK as we don’t refer to gas here, we call it petrol. Unless OP or Allison edited it for general comprehension, perhaps? We do get mileage reimbursements though.
        Mind you, if OP is in the UK then driving your personal car, without business insurance, is illegal (basically, it’s treated as driving without insurance, which is 6-8 points on your licence, possible total ban, and GBP 5k fine!), which would be an excellent reason to give for why you couldn’t possibly pick up the boss.

      4. AD*

        My apologies, perhaps Canadian then?
        Americans would say “graduated college”, not university, and “I called” not phoned. Still, wherever this was, the manager’s behavior is reprehensible.

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah, I think she’s Canadian, from another Canadian. We have that “halfway between British English and US English” thing that makes both countries think we’re from the other place!

  32. Pearl*

    There are so many things wrong here. Why the boss decided to call in the first place. Why the other people in the group thought it was nice to sit around for over an hour in the middle of the night and wait for OP to show up. You know, instead of arranging for something like a random car that you could hire for an hour to take you home. Like Uber, but for… oh, wait.

    Also, I personally would not want to be driven around by a person who was just woken up in the middle of the night after maybe an hour of sleep. That’s not only an outrageous request to make of someone, but an unsafe one for the driver and the passengers. Literally everything about this situation is wrong.

  33. Noah*

    I would push back on the suspension and write-up. Also, if he is going to be an ass, then I would submit an expense report for mileage and also make sure the time goes on your timecard if you are an hourly employee.

    I’m not really one for quitting in a huff over one incident, but I likely would’ve walked straight out of my boss’ office and to HR to report what was going on. You did him a favor, and I would remind him of that. You didn’t show up in pajamas and you took a moment to make sure you looked presentable by brushing your teeth and hair.

    1. Noah*

      Also, I would make note of this and never answer your phone after hours again. He can leave a voicemail and if it is a true emergency you can always call back.

      1. many bells down*

        He’d probably write her up for not answering her phone. He’s clearly ok with claiming she has to do things not in her job description, so “not answering the phone even though you’re not on call and were asleep” would probably get the same response from him.

  34. Karyn*

    This is such an abuse of power I can’t even say anything comprehensible.

    I had a boss once who called me at 4am because her furnace wasn’t working and she wanted me to “get someone out there immediately.” She also once demanded I go into the office at midnight to send her a document she’d accidentally saved on her desktop rather than the server. I told her I had already taken my nighttime medicine, which makes me VERY drowsy, and she told me to take a cab.

    I didn’t last long there, and neither should you at your job. This guy is 100% nutterbutter.

    1. many bells down*

      I had a boss once tell me that if I was having car trouble, I needed to take a cab to work. My commute was 50 miles. My whole day’s paycheck would have gone to the cab fare. Also, I often needed to use my car during the day to go to different properties so … was I supposed to wait 40 minutes for a cab to show up each time?

    2. BritCred*

      I told off a boss once who rang me on the weekend (9-5 office) utterly out of the blue. Apparently he didnt want to disturb another boss (who was in charge of the IT) and the servers shut down due to power cuts… And he wanted to work on a file *now* so ringing me for the password was perfectly fine in his eyes.

      The bigger issue was that a family member worked for the same company so getting an urgent message left from a boss led my brain to think bad things had happened somehow. So a “you couldn’t have said that in your first message??” escaped my mind and got said out loud.

    3. swevupuw*

      I worked at a start-up that had a very underpowered UPS that would only last about ten to twenty minutes. Plus, once power was restored, someone had to push a button on the UPS in order for the servers to get power again. Management was well aware, but didn’t want to spend money on a replacement.

      One Friday or Saturday evening, there was an ice storm and my building lost power. Shortly afterwards my boss called and I told her I’d head into the office tomorrow morning or whenever power was restored. She wanted me to head in immediately. I said, “So you’re asking me to drive to the office in an ice storm, walk up six flights of stairs in the dark, sit in a dark computer room for an unknown period of time, and wait for the power to be restored?”. Fortunately, she realized how ridiculous the request was by the time I finished my question.

  35. TallTeapot*

    Your boss is an asshat. I don’t blame you one bit for picking him up once you’d answered the call, but definitely take this to HR. Please, LW, update us!

  36. PK*

    Wow…so crazy. Punished for doing your boss a nice thing (that they should have just handled on their own with their cards). I’d be livid. Go to HR but honestly, this would poison my relationship with my boss short of an extreme 180 on the bosses part. I’d be checking my options outside of the company.

  37. Anon Accountant*

    This is so absurd. OP good managers don’t behave like this. Please talk to HR about handling this. I don’t know what else to say but this is such absurd behavior.

  38. Pwyll*

    At a minimum I’d submit your timesheet for every minute from the start of the phone call to the time you got home, and the mileage. And I’d absolutely reach out to HR about this. Insanity.

  39. TotesMaGoats*

    OP. I’m so sorry that happened to you. Your boss is so, I’m not even sure I have the words to describe him. You did nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing wrong. I would’ve never asked an employee to do what you did but if you did, not only would I be more than thankful, I’d give you an extra day off because of it. I certainly wouldn’t write you up for wearing what I would’ve thrown on to go to the airport at midnight.

    1. Find a new job. This can’t be a singular instance. Seriously. No one is that crazy just once.
    2. Talk to HR. Because all the reasons.
    3. Tell your coworkers, the ones you trust. One because that’s good info to share for others to be aware and you also mind find a pattern of behavior with other people that they now feel comfortable sharing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, outlandish behaviors are part of a pattern/habit. This guy is just going to keep pulling crap.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Here’s another reason to talk to your coworkers – Since people here are suggesting not answering the phone, I bet there is a good chance he tried calling other coworkers first, and she was just the first he managed to get to comply with the outrageous request.

      I do so want an update to this one.

      1. kb*

        She mentions in the letter that nobody at the company who knows what went down has ever heard of such a request ever having been made before, even of assistants (and it still would have been an overstep to ask of an assistant, especially without notice or compensation). I’m also wondering if he tried anyone else/ why he picked the LW. I’m also curious what would have happened if she had answered the phone and not been able to make it because she was out and drinking or something of the like– would he have found it unprofessional to be drinking in one’s free time? What if she were sleeping over at a SO’s house and wouldn’t have been able to change without adding significant wait time? Calling a cab/uber/whatever would have just been so much simpler!

  40. Dust Bunny*

    I just spent the holiday weekend helping my neighbor put slightly-newer seats (from a junk yard) in his 30-year-old pickup. The one with the mismatched hood and doors, glasspacks, and metal band stickers on the back window.

    If you call me at midnight for a ride, my dry, quiet, multiple-seated crossover will be inexplicably parked in and I’ll have to borrow the Slayer truck. And a t-shirt to go with it if you’re not sufficiently apologetic on the phone. You and your be-business-suited cronies can ride home on damp upholstery with exhaust roaring in your ears. And whoever sits in the middle has to straddle the gearshift.

      1. Dust Bunny*


        I kind of want this to go down, now, too, but, alas, my boss isn’t a jerk and would just call a cab like a normal person.

  41. Sfigato*

    I would never call any of my friends or family after midnight to pick me up from the airport. In fact, I never expect anyone to pick me up from the airport – I almost always arrange a cab or shuttle. And unless they are in the middle of nowhere, there should have been a cab or shuttle available.

    Also, I have friends who are executive assistants, and their job entails arranging travel for VIPs. They do not run around in the middle of the night being taxis.

    You need a new job. This isn’t normal or acceptable.

    1. Artemesia*

      My husband and I don’t even usually pick each other up from the airport; we take the train into town and then walk or take a cab depending on the time of day and the weather. And we love each other, but that airport drive is horrendous and the train is easy and cheap. I sure as heck wouldn’t be doing it after midnight for the boss.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        When I fly cross country to visit my parents, they will usually pick me up at the airport if my flight arrives before evening rush hour traffic begins. After that, NOPE. And this is generally at like 9:30 PM their time (when I’m coming from the time zone 3 hours ahead so it feels like 12:30 to me). I don’t blame them one bit because the airport sucks and driving there sucks even more. And that is MY PARENTS. Who calls an employee for that?

        (They are nice enough to arrange other transportation for me since there are no public transit options that work to get me where I need to go. But it certainly isn’t their responsibility to do so!)

    2. (different) Rebecca*

      I had a flight the other night that got in four hours late. It was after the trains stopped running. I got an Uber, even though I have several friends in the area, and did not give it a second thought even though I’m perpetually broke and it was more than I wanted to spend. I was relating this to a work-friend, and she offered to get a zipcar and pick me up next time, and as I’m thanking her I’m also making mental notes to NOT do that, because as much as I like her I don’t want her to come get me, after midnight, because I’m, you know, most of the time a pretty decent human being. And it’s just an Uber, ffs. Like…what the what?? These guys’ priorities are all out of wack.

    3. KTB*

      Not only is it not normal, I’m wondering why nobody decided that they didn’t actually want to wait an HOUR for her to get to the airport? Once I found out that I’d be waiting an hour or more for a ride, I’d pull out my own credit card and peace out. FFS.

      Also, I’m a manager and my direct reports are the LAST people that I would call from the airport at midnight. Not because they’re not lovely, considerate, and competent (they totally are), but there are easily 20 options I could tap into before I would even remotely think of calling them. That boss is a complete lunatic.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Not only is it not normal, I’m wondering why nobody decided that they didn’t actually want to wait an HOUR for her to get to the airport? Once I found out that I’d be waiting an hour or more for a ride, I’d pull out my own credit card and peace out. FFS.

        Yeah, that’s weird to me, too. But since the OP had to drive an hour, I wonder if the airport was in a different city and a cab wouldn’t take them that far? Because honestly, I don’t know if a cab would be willing to take me from the closest airport (~ an hr drive) to the town I live in.

  42. silverquill*

    OP, your boss is the king of jerks. I’d start looking for another job, because this level of crazy can really jeopardize your health and your career. And yes, don’t ever answer the phone again if JerkBoss calls again after hours!

    And, you know… sometimes AAM gets letter about terrible bosses/coworkers, and while I can see what motivates their jerkiness most of the time, this time I can’t. Why would someone do this? Maybe this is a boss who needs to punish others to feel powerful and feed his ego? It blows my mind.

  43. Temperance*

    I just read this letter like 4 times because it’s so off the wall and then caught that LW wasn’t a personal assistant, but a junior underwriter. To be clear, it’s not that I think it would be fine to ask this of an assistant, but that I think it’s completely inappropriate to ask a female report to do an administrative task outside of her duties.

    I’m guessing that he wanted to show off to the dudes with him or something, but yeah … I’d be billing the company for mileage and time, at the very least.

    1. kb*

      It’s a bizarre request to ask of anyone besides a personal driver, to be honest. The only reason I could potentially even understand why a boss would call an employee out-of-the-blue to give them a ride is if there really were no other options, they had a realllllly good relationship (think Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon), and they knew that employee lived really close to the airport. And the LW clearly lived quite far from the airport. I don’t understand how there was no cab option more preferable than waiting an hour for an unprepared employee. I know my car would be such a mess the shock of seeing that would overwhelm whatever questionable outfit I would be wearing.

  44. Shazbot*

    Why do I get the distinct impression that the OP’s “mistake” was not appearing physically attractive to her boss and his associates when he wanted her to be?

    What a creephole.

    1. AMG*

      Makes you wonder…
      I mean, what possible plausible explanation could there be besides this? Clearly the guy is a jerk, but the logic behind this just baffles me.

    2. Emi.*

      I think it’s more likely to be about her not looking professional when he was trying to impress his brolleagues. Like, he wanted them to think he was cool because he routinely has his employees do stuff like this as part of work, so when her clothes made it obvious that it was NOT routine work, he got embarrassed and took it out on her.

        1. (different) Rebecca*

          As I would have, because after midnight you take what you can get when it comes to me. Even for friends, I’ll pick up the phone but expect long silences while my brain attempts to process whatever it was you thought was that effing important that it couldn’t wait until at least daybreak.

        1. Emi.*

          I’m on the fence about how to pronounce it though. Do I pick the “oh” from “bro” or the “aw” from “colleagues”? I’m leaning towards the second because it sounds like “brah.” What do you think?

          1. Marisol*

            I would think ‘bro’ because it’s more recognizable. Not as many people say brah as bro, I don’t think.

            Did you freaking make that portmanteau up just now? I am so impressed!!

      1. Shazbot*

        Although I still think it has less to do with looking unprofessional and more to do with trying to summon the junior employee in a skirt…and then not getting a skirt.

        1. Melissa B*

          Totally agree. I keep thinking that he was bragging about the hot chick who wears the skirt and decided to show her off to his colleagues. Unfortunately, now he can manipulate her into always wearing a skirt for fear that he’s going to call her wardrobe inappropriate and suspend her.

  45. Allison*


    First of all, he was out of line to even ask you. You’re an underwriter, airport pickups aren’t part of your job, they’re not even an implied part of your job. Even the argument that we should all be willing to help out with admin tasks doesn’t even apply here. You would have been 100% within your rights to tell him it was an inappropriate request,

    Second, what an ungrateful jerk! Picking someone up from the airport in general is no small favor. This isn’t a coffee run! This is something people do for significant others, family members, and close friends, and even then there’s generally an expectation of gratitude and dinner (or lunch, or beer, or whatever). IMO, he should be taking you to a nice steakhouse for lunch. Bare minimum, he should come to his senses and give you an extra vacation day to make up for the suspension.

    So he asked you to pick him up at the airport, in the middle of the night, at the last minute, and then had the gall to tell you you weren’t dressed appropriately?? I’ll bet if you had taken the extra time to put on work clothes, he would have been mad that you took too long to get there. In his mind, he’s probably thinking this was a work-related task, and you were meeting business associates (and since they were all at the airport together, from a work trip, still in suits, they might have felt like it was still “work time” for everyone involved), so you should have been dressed for that, but he really needs to take into account the context of your errand.

    1. some1*

      I’m an admin and I have never had to drive to or pick up any VIPs from the airport. I have called cabs for them but only during the workday.

        1. some1*

          Yeah, I have interviewed for PA jobs and and it was spelled out that right in the interview if that kind thing would be expected.

      1. Anon Again*

        A lot of this is work place dependent. I’ve gone to the airport to do VIP pick-ups in the past. As have other staff, but it’s always arranged in advance, it’s almost always during traditional business hours, everyone is reimbursed for mileage, and it’s usually something that is requested of only senior managers and above.

        And VIPs in my organization are never employee’s of the organization.

      2. Allie*

        I was a concert hall in college and once drove a VIP around and it was a pre-cleared issue. The list of all of us students who drove the VIP around had licenses checked and our names provided to insurance. It definitely wasn’t a middle of the night last second thing. It wasn’t in our job descriptions but was cleared weeks in advance.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve only had to give a boss a ride to the airport one time, during the workday. And that was because his daughter called unexpectedly from their home state while he was in our office to tell him she found her mother (his wife) dead.

        We got him booked on the next flight and out of there as fast as possible. :(

        1. Knitchic*

          Oh my goodness that poor man! Of course you’d drive someone to the airport then. You’d have to extraordinarily callous to not. (I’m guessing OP’s boss would have written you up for not renting him out a private jet to get him there faster)

    2. paul*

      I’ve done airport runs once or twice (and am not an admin or anything–database manager here). But only during working hours, on the clock, or near working hours, also on the clock.

      That didn’t bother me; something like this I’d tell them to pee up a rope

    1. JM in England*

      You beat me to it, violet!

      I think that the OP was essentially in a no-win situation and I have a feeling the boss would have written her up for refusing to pick him up from the airport………….

  46. Jo*

    What a complete jerk.
    OP, I think you should be paid for your time, mileage, petrol etc. Maybe you should add a call out charge on top.

  47. Dminor*

    This goes beyond “jerk” to pathological and disturbed. You don’t tell us much about your relationship with your boss specifically, only that you had a good review and no previous disciplinary action. It’s hard to imagine your boss could have been acting like a normal human for 18 months and then just flipped out this one time. OP, only you know whether this is completely out of character for your boss or an escalation of a behavior pattern. Either way, I think talking to HR is necessary, if you’re afraid of retaliation or don’t trust HR, you can frame it as an informational request “I was very surprised to have this action taken, as I thought I was going above and beyond by doing the airport pick-up and wanted to get more info on policy about dress code in situations like this”. How HR responds will tell you all you need to know about your company.

  48. Karen from Finance*

    What an ass! Get out as soon as you can, OP! Your boss is clearly on a power trip and probably counting on this being your first job out of college that you won’t push back on this. Eff that. He does not deserve an employee like you. If I were you, I would polish up my resume and cover letter(s) and start getting them out. Then schedule a meeting with HR. You did absolutely nothing wrong; in fact, you went above and beyond and did him a favor. Good luck and please give us an update!

  49. Another Day Another Dolla*

    OP, Your manager’s behavior was so far outside the boundaries of what’s normal. Calling you at midnight for a ride is not normal unless you were a chauffeur or someone whose job duties included that type of personal service, and in that case, he should have let you know when he could be coming in. Honestly, when I was a manager if I had ever dreamed of calling my staff to pick me up at the airport late at night, most of them would have laughed at me, hung up the phone and gone back to sleep. (The only exception I can think of who might have done it (reluctantly) was someone on the team who had trouble asserting herself)–not that I would ever have asked her!. In addition to HR, you might want to tell your story to a co-worker you trust to see what they have to say whether this is par for the course for your boss….

  50. Rebecca*

    At the very least, I would keep track of when this silly boss leaves town, and turn off my cell and landline from now on. What an ass.

    Better yet, auto forward his number to a cab company.

    Hope you can find a new job soon!

  51. animaniactoo*

    OP, at a minimum, I would be in HR asking “I thought I was doing this as a favor, boss seems to believe that it was a work request. I would like to be clear about whether this is something I can be asked to do as part of my work responsibilities.”

    i.e. Challenging the entire basis on whether or not he as your manager is allowed to call you for this kind of thing and if the answer is “no”, ask them to address that with him.

    However, I suspect that no matter what happens now, any form of standing up for yourself here is going to poison the relationship with this boss and you need to be prepared to get out as soon as you can. If there’s a transfer available to another department, fine. Otherwise – I’d be interviewing to get away from this. Because even if HR handles it, the likelihood is that he’s going to blame you and take it out on you in other ways.

    1. Manders*

      Your last paragraph sums up my thoughts perfectly. Even if OP has the world’s greatest HR department, it’s time to start coming up with a strategy for getting away from this boss.

  52. Mimmy*

    Wow. Just… wow.

    I know we say around here that we are not “tattling” when we take these issues over the boss’s head and go to HR / his boss – I know I would feel like I was tattling. But Alison’s advice is good here.

    Please, OP, keep us posted.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Think about it from the perspective of the boss’ boss – would you want to know, in their shoes? I definitely would in this case.

      (For that matter, that’s similar to the standard I use for students as a teacher. Telling me that Susie colored on her own fingers with the markers: tattling and not your business. Telling me that Lucy pushed you off the jungle gym: not tattling.)

  53. I'm Not Phyllis*

    Please add my name to the list of people who would be sprinting to HR. There is no world in which this is ok. Like I said above, it would actually have been easier for your boss and his people to take taxis home, considering they would have had to wait for you to get there when there were, presumably, taxis at the airport or at least closer to it than you would have been. And they had company cards. My jaw hit the floor when I read this. Your boss is an ass. Picking them up and driving them to their individual homes was WAY above and beyond the call of duty, and please don’t let anyone in that company try to convince you otherwise.

    1. Imaginary Number*

      I agree. If it were just the lecture I might have let it go. But the formal action and suspension without pay? That needs to be dealt with.

      I’m DYING to hear the update on this one. I hope it goes as well as the spicy-food one.

  54. Merida May*

    OP’s boss is rightfully getting all of the ire here, but shame on the other supervisors for allowing this. Even as a bystander, having a co-worker call up a clearly junior employee in the middle of the night to drive an hour to the airport to pick them all up is all kinds of not acceptable. I’d be extremely embarrassed in this situation just as a witness, and a simple ‘thank you’ at the end of the ride would not have been enough to make up for it. OP, you did a very kind thing where most people would not have. The ONLY acceptable response to that would have been gas money and ALL THE THANKS from your boss for getting him out of a tight spot – for starters. Go swiftly to HR, and consider polishing up your resume. A boss who is doing his best impression of Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada is not going to be one you’re going to want to work for long term.

      1. Merida May*

        Even if he insisted she was more than happy to help out, these are people in supervisory positions. I find the judgement of a manager who sees no issue with their co-worker calling up a direct report to drive everyone home in the middle of the night to be suspect. That is what the travel cards they were issued were for.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          But did they have no issue with it? I can see a scenario where Jerk Boss told them he had arranged for a ride from the airport but neglected to mention details. They may have been completely shocked when the OP showed up to pick them up. I guess they could have said, “no, we can’t have OP drive us home” and refused to go, but they also might have thought that this was something the OP volunteered for or were otherwise too stunned to say anything in the moment. Ideally, they would have said something to Jerk Boss or their managers/Jerk Boss’ manager after the fact, but we don’t know that they didn’t.

    1. catsAreCool*

      Maybe they did say something to the boss, and maybe that’s why the boss gave the LW a suspension. Sometimes bullies get meaner when someone calls them out.

  55. Milla*

    “Knee length t-shirt, and leggings” could very well be interpreted as “pajamas” and, yes, I can see a boss being embarrassed and mad if they thought one of their employees had shown up half-dressed and in pajamas instead of bothering to put on real clothes. Many people use giant shirts as sleepwear, and the are-leggings-actually-pants-or-tights? debate is real.

    If he had given the lecture after you had shown up in a normal t-shirt and jeans instead of a full suit, then he’s an extra jerkwad for being persnickety while you were doing him a huge, out-of-scope favor. (Unless he was there with a big-time, head-honcho, like the corporate CEO there on a one-time trip, in which case it would have reflected well on you and your boss if you’d shown up looking polished in a suit; but it seems like the others were just regular, local middle-management who wouldn’t require such deferential forethought.)

    Regardless, definitely submit an expense report and include those hours on your time card.

    1. Jessie*

      “and the are-leggings-actually-pants-or-tights? debate is real.”

      If someone calls you at midnight unexpectedly, out of the blue, and demands that you drive an hour to pick them up at the airport right then, that person has no standing to debate leggings vs pants. Zero. I don’t care what side of the leggings vs pants debate you’re on – you do not get to be an ass about that or make an issue of it or have any feelings about it whatsoever in this context.

      1. Jessie*

        “you” meaning the person who calls for this crazy favor, not you the commenter. We get to have all sorts of feelings about it because we are anonymous internet commenters. :-)

      2. Karanda Baywood*

        PLUS, you’re sitting in the car, driving! You’re not standing up, on display…

        I can’t even.

        1. TootsNYC*

          well, you probably have to walk into the airport to find your passengers and lead them to your car. Because they’ve been sitting there for an hour, waiting for you.

          1. Allison*

            I don’t know if all airports let you leave the car in the pickup zone to go in and get people. You’d need to park in a garage if you wanna go in and get someone, otherwise you drive up and they get in. There might be some leniency in the middle of the night since it’s less busy, but still.

            But when I’ve picked people up at the pickup zone, I’ve gotten out to greet people.

          2. Whats In A Name*

            If you can use your cell phone to call me at midnight to drive an hour to pick up your ass you can answer your cell phone when I call you from the lot and walk out to meet me there. And please excuse the fact that I will NOT be getting out to hug you in greeting or load your luggage for you.

          3. MashaKasha*

            Nah, at least at our local airport, you don’t leave your car at the curb and wander off. You call your party, sit in the car, and wait for them to find you. There are plenty of people behind you waiting their turn, who would not be happy if you disappeared from your vehicle all of a sudden.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              At ours, you can’t sit outside the terminal, but there is a cell phone lot on the other side of the long-term parking lot. So you can stop there, call the person, and tell them to come out front. Then you zip up, they get in, and you zip away.

      3. KR*

        Even if it was the CEO, if he wanted OP to look polished he could have simply stepped away and told OP when he woke her up to please dress up since she was rescuing some VIPs. But he didn’t say anything. Maybe he just thinks OP sleeps in suits so she can always be at his beck and call.

        1. Allison*

          Maybe he thinks everyone wears Suitjamas like Barney Stinson. They do exist, I bought a set for someone about 4 years ago.

        2. catsAreCool*

          “Even if it was the CEO, if he wanted OP to look polished he could have simply stepped away and told OP when he woke her up to please dress up since she was rescuing some VIPs.” This!

        1. Mookie*

          Seriously. If it has two legs and you pull them on, they’re pants / trousers. Same as if men were wearing them. You can “debate,” under the correct circumstances, how work-appropriate certain clothes are, but leggings are not underwear any more than are some dude’s ratty, hole-riddled, salmon-colored, work-inappropriate khakis or those skinny jeans that hug and lovingly contour a person’s groinage area.

    2. Mimmy*

      I was kinda thinking the same thing. I probably would’ve at least put on a pair of comfortable pants and a top, but that’s just me.

      Regardless, this boss wildly over-reacted, no question.

    3. paul*

      I’m usually on the side that leggings are unprofessional as hell and shouldn’t be work attire, but in this case, he called someone to get there ASAP in the middle of the night. He doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    4. animaniactoo*

      I don’t care if I showed up in smiley face pajamas with bunny slippers on my feet.

      You called me in the middle of the night to come get you, you take me as I am*. The only words out of your mouth that are remotely appropriate are “Thank you, I know this is a huge imposition, I/we really appreciate it”.

      (*provided, of course, that I didn’t show up in my underwear – that would be inappropriate.)

    5. Not Karen*

      If you call someone in the middle of the night out of the blue, you should EXPECT them to show up in pajamas.

    6. Macedon*

      Sure, but for all the boss knew, OP wasn’t at home, but at her SO’s, parents’, whoever’s house, doing whatever that didn’t give her the option for a change of clothes before immediately jumping into the car and saving the day.

      I mean, when Superman rescues you from a skyscraper fall, you don’t exactly call the guy out on his neon spandex.

    7. SL #2*

      Showing up polished in a suit… at midnight at the airport? I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t think that was weird rather than a good impression.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Right? Also, suits take time to put on – I iron mine in the morning. It’s absurd to expect someone to quickly put on a readily-available suit *unexpectedly* at midnight. Like I cannot even comprehend why someone would think that would be an appropriate request.

        1. SL #2*

          I would be mortified if someone thought that they had to go through the effort of putting on a suit when they were picking me up unexpectedly at an airport, no matter what time of day it was. I just don’t… how did the boss’s associates not speak up!? Do they also think that this is a perfectly normal request to make???

    8. MashaKasha*

      Anyone who calls me at ass o’clock in the morning and demands that I drive an hour one way to pick them up right now, is going to see me in my PJs or sweatpants. Don’t care if it’s the Queen of England calling. Not up for debate.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          The Queen would also have made sure to have a backup transportation plan (though, in the Queen’s case I guess all backup plans are “travel with someone who will handle the backup plan.”)

    9. Imaginary Number*

      It depends on the t-shirt and it depends on the leggings. For example, if the t-shirt was a Little Mermaid t-shirt with a hole in the armpit and pink polka-dot leggings vs. an oversized patterned t-shirt with a pocket and black leggings (i.e. half of what you see people walking around the mall wearing.)

      But either way he should be happy she agreed to come at all, even if she was in PJ’s.

      1. The Strand*

        Disagree. If I’m coming to get you after midnight, on short notice, at our international airport that is more than an hour away and features take-your-life-in-your-hands traffic… you have no ground to complain if I’m in a Starfleet uniform with Vulcan ears, and inexplicably smell of bacon.

        1. Hrovitnir*

          Replies like this really do make awful things so much more fun to read about. “Inexplicably smell of bacon.” Amaze.

    10. Observer*

      You know, this comment is still bothering me. The idea that she had ANY obligation to “reflect well on her boss”, even with the CEO, or that it matters in any case whether she showed up in pajamas or not is simply unnerving to me. I mean, she was being called IN MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, to drive several hours, with NO warning, with some urgency and totally outside of the scope of her job, and she’s supposed to somehow magically be “properly dressed” to make the boss who fell down on the job “look good”? Really?! So much so that it’s OK to call her an embarrassment and unprofessional (for doing a job that is TOTALLY outside of her professional provide) and then to punish her by taking away a days pay!?

      In short, I agree with Jessie, but I would say it this way: If someone calls you at midnight unexpectedly, out of the blue, and demands that you drive an hour to pick them up at the airport right then, that person has no standing to have an opinion on what you wear, even pajamas. Zero.

  56. Erin*

    I know it’s difficult to decipher work norms when you haven’t been out there that long, or you’ve only been with one company for a long time. But if it’s not clear to you yet, this is *not normal and not okay.*

    Please escalate this to either HR or his boss. If those aren’t options for some reason, find someone higher up at your work you trust who you can go to about this and let them lead you in the right direction. This needs to be dealt with.

    I truly cannot fathom what he could have been thinking. He must be on a huge power trip, or secretly hates you or is out to get you, or otherwise has his own work norms skewed incredibly badly.

    My jaw pretty much hit the floor when I realized you aren’t actually near an airport and spent hours doing this in the middle of the night. This is insane on so many levels.

    Obviously, remain professional when you raise it and be calm and cool and collected, but dear God. Please raise it.

  57. AnneBananaCanada*

    I can’t even think of the correct words for the level of outrage I feel on behalf of the OP. I would be horrified to be called by a friend after midnight to go pick them up never mind someone from work.

    I travel pretty regularly and a standard business expense is getting home from the airport. If the 3 people shared one cab with 3 stops it’d likely have been cheaper than 3 separate taxi’s!

    Total douche.

      1. AnnaBananaCanada*

        If they asked before hand I’d be more than happy to go. I even drove a friend to Buffalo to the airport when I live in Toronto (about 1.5hrs away and had to cross the border with my passport). I would be pissed to be asked to do it off the cuff with no notice though.

      2. Elsajeni*

        I’d go, too, but I’d still be pretty ticked off about it (assuming we’re still talking about an out-of-the-blue call, not a pickup I knew about in advance and could plan around). And I’d expect the friend I was picking up to be apologetic, and if they weren’t, frankly, I’d be re-evaluating the friendship.

  58. Observer*

    If your HR is reasonably functional, please talk to them:

    1. Since this was a required work event according to your boss, you should be reimbursed for mileage
    2. Unpaid suspension are illegal in many cases. Generally, at least for non-exempt staff, suspensions are only ok for egregious violations of company policy or clear safety violations. Neither applies here.
    3. Oh, and by the way, since you are an UNDERWRITER, not an assistant AND all three had company issued credit cards, you are wondering whether he chose to call you out and demand something that is totally and completely out of the scope of normal underwriter duties because you are a female.

    Unless you get a really good response from HR, start looking for a new job. Your reason? “I realized that my opportunities there would be limited.” (by being a female working for a totally awful boss, but that doesn’t have to be mentioned.) And, in the meantime, turn your ringer off at night so you really do NOT hear the boss calling you.

    1. Observer*

      I left out an important one:

      Since your boss said that this was work time, you need to be paid for it – “our system can’t handle it” is not an acceptable answer.

  59. paul*

    As outrageous as the boss is, this is totally something to push back on. I don’t know if you have independent HR people or not, but this is the sort of thing you go to with them. Yes, it’ll probably poison your relationship with him, but frankly, at this point that’s OK, he’s toxic as a Superfund site anyway.

    Also, are you hourly or salary? Were you paid for that time if hourly?

  60. Tiny_Tiger*

    I think even in a sleep-deprived state I would have told my manager to suck an egg if he called me at midnight and told me I had to come and pick him and other bosses up at the airport. Not to mention, I don’t doubt all the managers make more money than OP so where are their credit cards at? Granted I have pretty firm footing in my job and am able to tell my boss off on occasion, but it sounds like this boss has been a bully for a while (maybe just in more subtle ways). But expecting you to be wearing work attire in the middle of the night and then reprimanding you for it? I would be livid.

    1. catsAreCool*

      I wonder if the boss has been up to something sneaky with his credit card and called the LW because he didn’t want the others to know.

  61. Susan*

    Wow. I am outraged on your behalf. This was a completely unreasonable favor for him to ask in the first place, but even if he somehow had no other options (because this was one of the airports that banned Uber, the cab drivers are all on strike, and none of the three managers had a single friend or family member willing and able to pick them up), his response should have been to thank you profusely, reimburse your mileage, and either give you overtime pay or a paid day off to compensate you for your time. Even if you had been wearing pajamas.

    I’m also a little concerned that there may be other unreasonable demands you may be accepting from your ass of a boss because you’re new to the workforce and have been misled into thinking it’s normal. I can’t imagine that someone who is normally a reasonable human being would do this, so I have to think he is horrible in the workplace, too. I know getting a new job is easier said than done, but working for a jerk like this can’t be a good situation for anyone.

  62. LQ*

    Your letter was super defensive (not in a bad way, in the oh, no…no..no.. way) about how you’ve been professional in other ways, and you thought you might be out of line. Please consider the rest of what is happening at your workplace and if that is normal. There was a great post a while ago (which I’ll try to dig up a link in the response for) about what is normal.

    This is your first job like this and you don’t want to set bad norms in your head. Every thing about this was wrong. Please, read this, read all the comments. Read the Is This Normal post. Ask questions. There are things you might not even know are very not normal.

    Good luck.

    1. k*

      Yes! Since this is OP’s first office job, I’d hate for her to think that whatever is going on there is normal. If he dared to pull this stunt, I can’t imagine what other nonsense he’s getting away with daily.

    2. Emac*

      That’s a good point. If she’s even a little unsure that this is totally inappropriate and horrible of her boss, who knows what else he’s been doing. It’s possible he’s been training her to get used to his crazy behavior the whole time. I wonder if he has other direct reports and how he acts with them? And if they’re all right out of college too?

    3. Cat steals keyboard*

      That’s the really sucky thing about this situation – OP is worried they have missed a work norm and feels they need to defend their performance. Totally understandable but OP I really hope the comments have reassured you that actually you’ve done nothing wrong. The very fact you wanted to check with AAM as you weren’t sure of the relevant norms shows you are super thoughtful and reflective. I’m really sorry you’ve been treated like this. You deserve better.

  63. NW Mossy*

    If OP’s JerkBoss is that hung up on what the person driving him around in the middle of the night is wearing, perhaps he needs to contact a livery service that will send a Town Car with a driver in a uniform. A cab driver or Uber/Lyft driver is likely to be dressed at approximately the same attire standard as the OP.

  64. Anon 12*

    Leave the job (or department if it’s a large company) as soon as you find another job, cite this as the reason you left in your exit interview and then call the local department of labor and file a claim for the unpaid driving hours and reimbursed mileage.

  65. shep*

    I once had a boss ask me pretty much on the fly to watch her cat for the weekend and drive her, her husband, and her little son to the airport. It was my first job out of undergrad, and while I knew it was odd, I also felt like I couldn’t say no. Of course, she tried to give me $300 to do this (which made me very uncomfortable because of the blurred work/friendship lines anyway), so I settled for MUCH less.

    In retrospect I wish I would’ve accepted at least a LITTLE more, because it was an imposition. But at least she was SUPER-nice about it and it wasn’t at midnight.

    That said, she “asked” me to watch her cat for a three-day weekend on another occasion, and I only found out when her husband came into my office with a key saying, “Thanks so much for doing this for us.”

    He at least had the decency to look mortified when he realized I had no idea what was going on.

    So I watched the cat, because I’m not going to let an animal starve. But did I ever get any sort of reimbursement this second time? No. Luckily I hadn’t planned anything for that weekend either, but if I had, oh my goodness I would’ve been even angrier.

    Which is to say that NONE of this comes close to being egregious like your situation, OP. I feel for you and hope karma is swift and everything rights itself for you soon!

  66. memyselfandi*

    I would argue that she was absolutely dressed appropriately for the job she was being asked to do. What cabbie wears a suit with a skirt and heels?

  67. Macedon*

    Think I broke my left eyebrow raising it at your boss right now, OP. We’re talking genuine strain here.

    This is your first job, so you might still be defining your standards for what you think is a fair/expected level of flexibility and commitment to your job. I would say you’ve gone above and beyond the call of your particular duties, in a way that would’ve justified at the very least gratitude, if not an outright material reward.

    Consult your HR department, see what they make of this entire mess. Doubt they’ll be thrilled to know young female employees are called out of their beds at midnight to play impromptu airport escort. Further doubt they’ll be keen on your boss’ next-day behaviour.

    Having said that, it’s generally not ideal when people in positions of power feel at ease abusing their privileges to this extent. If your boss has been a cool cat so far (somehow think it’s unlikely), okay, see how you feel after speaking to HR. But if this is just another humiliation in a long-term succession, give your resume a shine and see where it’ll next take you.

  68. Zona the Great*

    Please Please Please Update us! I once had to chase a bank courier all over town because I, as a young teller, had done a transaction incorrectly. Usually when that happened, we would simply get bad transaction back next day from processing. That time, my boss told me, “this is due to your incompetence” when I was 3 months in and had never seen a savings bond in my life. Never was reimbursed for that one. Brutal.

  69. Lauren*

    I can’t help but wonder if OP’s boss is trying to invent reasons to fire him/her. First, making an unreasonable request that they assume the OP will refuse, which would be grounds for the write-up, then focusing on the dress code when that didn’t work.

    1. FroggyHR*

      I thought that too. He was sure she would say no to his request for a ride, but when she said yes, he has to quickly come up with something else to nitpick.

  70. WhichSister*

    I can’t even imagine putting on a bra at that time of night (morning?). I am thinking I would be in leggings, an oversized men’s button down and a baseball hat. AT BEST. But yes, regardless of your status, you file for mileage reimbursement.

  71. FroggyHR*

    While this is clearly inappropriate on so many levels, I think the best conclusion is that this boss is a sexist ass and OP needs a new job stat.

    OP’s boss sounds like the type of dude who thinks women roll out of bed pretty and shiny, hair done and makeup aglow; who is disgusted when women burp or fart; who generally thinks that women exist to serve him. Don’t you think it’s interesting that he called you, a young female underwriter, versus a male underwriter?

    OP’s boss is a sexist creep, and the worst part is that men like this have now been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump as our president. Powerful men have been sent the message that being sexist, even overtly, does not hurt your career, and could in fact help it.

      1. FroggyHR*

        You don’t think there is blatant sexism in both 1) his reaction to her appearance and 2) the fact that he’s treating her as his personal on-call assistant in the first place?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s possible, but also possible that he’d do the exact same thing to a guy. It’s speculation and it doesn’t change what the OP should do, so I’ve asked above that we not get sidetracked by that.

        2. Allison*

          I’ve had a female colleague treat me like an admin when it suited her. And would often explain that she was stressed out, and needed help, and since I’d helped her with something else before, I was the first person to come to mind.

          There may be some sexism at play, and believe me I would believe it, but I wouldn’t assume it. Sometimes people just like the feeling of power that comes from making people do stuff for them.

          As for the wardrobe issue, he might have just been miffed she wasn’t in work clothes. He was, his associates were, and his associates saw his employee in non-work attire. He might have felt like some illusion was ruined.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            In my current job, the worst offender for treating me like an assistant (I’m not one) was female.

          1. Trudy*

            I’m wondering if it was because he knew she was on leave the next day so didn’t have to get up for work. Seems like the sort of logic that would fly for such an insane boss.

  72. HRish Dude*

    To play devil’s advocate here:

    I wouldn’t push back until after Christmas. In situations like this, there’s usually a visitation by three spirits and a fat Christmas goose if she holds on.

  73. Jules*

    Work etiquette 49272: You don’t have to do anything unreasonable requested by your boss.

    I learned it the hard way too (2 years into the job). With 18 months under your belt, you probably don’t have a lot of experience in dealing with out of the ordinary work norms. There are some really good book recommendations from a post a while ago when we were discussing about the white collar work rule for people who grew up with the blue collar parents. When your job description ends with “And any work assigned by management”, it means relevant work related to what you do. When I pushed back, my boss would point to the clause on my JD. So there I was, an R&D analyst, working on servers and migrating computers from old network to new network. Took me 3 years to finally said enough and left the organization. Don’t be me. You don’t have to find another job, but be prepared to say ‘No’ to other odd requests.

    1. FroggyHR*

      This! I think so many people, due to upbringing or cultural norms or just personality, struggle with boundaries and expectations at work. OP obviously didn’t do anything wrong here, and boss is a complete (sexist) asshat, but there is a lesson that I hope she takes away from this about trusting your gut and understanding that you don’t have to do literally everything your boss asks you to do.

    2. WhichSister*

      Yes! I do orientation and onboarding for our company and since we are in food service, we get a lot of kids starting their first job. I go into detail on what insubordination means and doesn’t mean. I have worked with too many power tripping people who abused that word. (“I called Joe on his day off and asked him to come in. He said no. That’s insubordination. I want him written up!” ) I also like to clarify that if its illegal, unethical or unsafe the expectation is they will politely refuse.

  74. KB*

    I would highly recommend the LW take this to HR or somebody they trust with some sort of power in the office. I doubt HR or whoever approves suspensions would have agreed that the event was suspension-worthy or even appropriate for the boss to have asked for at all. I would guess the boss totally mischaracterized the event to anyone he discussed it with. If HR seems hesitant to fix things after learning how the night really went down, I would say something along the lines of, “When I received the call from my boss during such a late hour, I believed I was doing an odd, but personal favor for my boss. Now that it has been deemed a work event, I need to be compensated and reimbursed accordingly.”

  75. Melissa*

    W O W.

    Your boss is an asshole of the highest order. I’m honestly gobsmacked by his behaviour and applaud your restraint in dealing with this in a mature manner. Please follow the advice given and rest assured that you are not in the wrong here. Your reaction to this is both valid and reasonable. Your boss should be ashamed of himself.

  76. Cranky Pants*

    If my boss, who completely understands how travel and airports work and would never do such a thing, called me after midnight there is no way in hell I’d answer that call, awake or not. I’d check the message just to make sure it wasn’t a dire life or death (literally) emergency but not answer it. It’s not in my job description to assist him in this way and even if some really strange and extenuating circumstances came together to create a reasonable need for my help, I’d show up in my dog hair covered SUV wearing sweats, fully expecting to be apologized to and reimbursed for my time and mileage, which he would do without asking because he’s a decent human being and not a craptastic candidate for worst boss of 2016.

    1. Ama*

      I’ve had some boundary pushing bosses in my time and some of those bosses have thought our relationship was more personally friendly than I was really comfortable with, and I STILL can’t think of any circumstance under which even the worst of those bosses would call me out of the blue at midnight for ANY reason, much less to come get them from the airport. The most likely candidate didn’t even call me when our office alarm was regularly getting triggered in the middle of the night (which meant she got a call) and she knew I lived the closest to the office.

      1. Cranky Pants*

        Someone would literally have to be gravely injured or dying and I lived nearby so I could offer advice or assistance in some way for my boss to call me for anything after midnight. Or, in reality, anytime after 8p. He’s emailed me that late (because he sometimes works that late) but even then in no way does he expect a response until the next day. He’s texted me questions after hours in a work emergency situation but fully accepted my lack of help when I’ve told him I’m out with no access to whatever he needs me to find out.

  77. Cbh*

    Alison I’m just curious… have you ever had the person/ subject of letter write to you responding to a letter? In this case as an example, has the boss ever written to you saying my employee wrote you, here is my response, my side of the story. You keep letters pretty neutral and anonymous but I’m sure in some rare situations someone might figure the letter us about them.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      At least once! Someone contacted me and said the letter-writer had significantly misrepresented facts and it was causing a lot of drama in their small industry, and I ended up taking it down as a result.

      1. Lissa*

        I do think that’s a good thing for everyone to remember especially with some of the real jaw-dropper letters! I think it’s way more common for a letter to misrepresent facts than for an actual “troll letter”, whether it’s intentional or not…but I have had the unpleasant experience of hearing one side of a story and thinking someone was an absolute ass for months, then getting their side and being completely mortified I hadn’t looked into it more so now it’s almost impossible for me *not* to wonder what everyone else would say. (Nothing to do with this letter in specific, just a reply to this comment thread!)

      2. MW*

        How did they know it was about them? I guess the incident was specific enough. With a lot of the letters answered I’d have thought the details were vague enough that you couldn’t be sure it was about you, especially if you think it’s a “misrepresentation”, i.e. “Either they think I’m waaay more horrible than I am, or this is a very similar situation where someone’s being a bigger jerk.”

  78. Persephone*

    “When I got to work on Friday morning, I was called into my boss’s office. He said I was being written up for my lack of following the dress code, and he lectured me on dressing professionally . . . he told me he was talking about when I picked them up at the airport . . . [in] the middle of the night and it was an unexpected request . . . and in addition to being formally written up he suspended me for a day without pay (so tomorrow I am serving my suspension).

    . . . Also, when he called me he didn’t mention anything about me needing to dress up in my work clothes to do it. My clothes were clean and not ripped or anything like that. . . . I am shocked about my suspension and formal write-up. My boss lectured me for half an hour on being professional and he called me an embarrassment.”

    OP, I am as shocked as everyone else here but I also would like to know what the lecture to you encompassed–what does he think being professional means?–as well as what was in the formal write-up. Did you get a copy? Did your boss state the real reason, that despite he and two other managers (equally rotten ones, in my opinion, since they didn’t do anything either) on the write-up? Will HR get that? Did you have to sign it?

    1. Phouka*

      I’m just boggled by the “you were unprofessional” tack the boss is taking. What?

      No, the unprofessional one was boss and colleagues, who are adults with company credit cards, are executives who ostensibly travel occasionally, failed to make adequate arrangements to get home from the airport! That’s just idiotic — any sane person in that position has already made arrangements, or calls a cab or uber, and deals with it without calling a subordinate in the middle of the night. Normal people don’t do that. Professionals don’t do that. Boss is an ass of the highest order and I can only echo the posters here encouraging you to a) talk to HR and to boss’ boss immediatley and b) bill for ALL the time this took and c) never do it again.

  79. CBH*

    Alison – I’m just curious have you ever had the person/ subject of a letter write to you in response? In this case as an example, has the boss ever written to you said may employee wrote you, here is my response, my side of the story. You keep your posted letters pretty neutral and anonymous but I would think in a rare case someone might figure a letter is about them.

    1. Leatherwings*

      I think AAM has said in the past that it happened once, and she had to delete the original letter (if memory serves) because the perspective of the original LW was clearly off. Wish I could remember the details of the letter, sorry :(

  80. Volunteer Enforcer*

    My take on it is that the manager is blaming the OP to try to cover their own fault. There are people like that out there.

    1. Ama*

      It feels a little like that letter and follow up we had a few months back where the OP’s food was stolen, and the HR rep fired the OP when the person who stole it had a bad reaction — because as it turned out she was dating the thief and was trying to protect him by making it seem like the OP was at fault. (Thankfully in the follow up, the OP’s boss found out and fixed things.)

      I can’t figure out exactly what the OP’s boss is trying to cover up here — but it sure seems like he’s trying to embarrass the OP into staying quiet by making it seem like she did something wrong.

      1. Knitchic*

        If he was in charge of arranging airport pickup and dropped the ball I could see him needing to write up the OP to cover his ass. “She is such a flake! Shows up an hour late and barely dressed too. Tsk tsk I’m going to have to write her up, this is seriously unprofessional!”

  81. Christine*

    Question for Alison & other readers ….. when the economy seems to be in a slump, in my area we are going on a salary freeze & possible hiring one, does supervisor’s & employer’s treatment of their staff get worse? I know in my situation it’s a sense of entitlement because they have a master’s and above.

    1. KR*

      I feel like in a tough job market people might feel like they can offer the bare minimum to their employees because they can’t find work other places. You might get a better response in the Friday work-related open thread!

    2. Aly*

      So I know my organization has been hit with a hiring freeze a couple times even when the amount of our contracts/work has not decreased (without being too specific, part of a much larger organization). They’d rather keep the staff they have because they’re not allowed to replace lost staff and our “getting work done on time” metrics get hurt.

  82. E*

    Does your job description require that you answer your phone late at night? If not, I recommend never doing so ever again for calls from anyone other than family and friends (and those only if you want to answer them late at night). And hunt for a new job, your boss has ridiculous expectations of dress code for an middle of the night unscheduled request for taxi service.

  83. Anon for Now*

    I am flabbergasted. Your boss is so out of line. My family wouldn’t even ask me to do this with no notice at midnight!

    Just a tip from someone who had a boss who liked to call at inappropriate times for “emergencies” that were not emergencies at all (and unfortunately, I was a contract worker who couldn’t leave asap)

    Save any numbers they call from as: (boss’ name) DO NOT ANSWER!

    When woken by a ringing phone, I tend to assume an emergency and answer immediately. Seeing the DO NOT ANSWER reminder would snap me out of that!

    They can leave a message and you can decide if they need a call back immediately, or if it can wait until a decent hour.

  84. Chriama*

    After reading through a lot of the comments I agree that it seems like this boss is trying to cover something up. Maybe he was responsible for arranging transportation and it fell through and he looked bad for calling you out in the middle of the night. Maybe you’re non-exempt and he’s getting chewed out because the call-out put you in overtime, so suspending your pay for a day will balance his budget again. Maybe he wants to fire you for some other reason and is using this as an excuse to build up his case. Or maybe he’s just a jerk who expects people to be at his beck and call at all times and the fact that you showed up in casual wear irks him because it reminded him that you’re a real human and not a genie waiting to be summoned to meet his every need.

    No matter what though, he’s made it really serious by writing you up and suspending you without pay. Serious enough that you need to go to someone above him to make sure the story is being represented accurately. I hope everything works out for you OP! And I hope you come back and tell us about it.

  85. Menacia*

    I feel like your boss is a miserable SOB who wants to make your life as miserable as his. Otherwise he never would have 1. Called you at midnight to pick him up at the airport that was an hour away from you, 2. Not THANK YOU for doing so, 3. Demean you by lecturing you about the way you were dressed 4. Punish you by suspending you. I really have to ask, what in the world make you answer the phone at midnight? Has your boss ever called you after hours before? Does your boss have an admin asst or are you relegated to that role simply because of your age/sex? I am a female IT professional and the director of my department regularly tries to task me with setting up for meetings and cleaning up after them! Uh, HELL no.

  86. Ellen N.*

    It appears from the language used in the original post that this incident didn’t happen in the U.S. (university instead of college, etc.). It would be helpful to know what country the poster is in as many countries have stronger employee protections than the U.S.

    1. Zahra*

      I’m from Canada and never picked up on the differences. Maybe because it’s “normal” language for me? Or maybe because, although I’m pretty fluent in English, it’s not my maternal language nor is it the language I use everyday at work.

    2. Jean*

      I don’t think using the term “university” instead of “college” means anything. I’m in the US and I graduated from a university. I don’t see anything in the letter that makes it seem like it’s not coming from the US. And also, unless they specifically say they are in another country, I’ve seen Alison mention several times that her advice is aimed at US businesses.

      1. Not Karen*

        I went to grad school in Montreal, Canada, and there were people who thought I meant high school when I said “college.”

        You say “I graduated from a university” but would you say “I graduated from university” or “I graduated from college”?

        1. Jean*

          Well, I might say either. I might have read it a little differently though – my mom is actually Canadian so I might not have noticed differences.

      2. AD*

        Yes, it does. Americans would say “I went to college”, not “I went to university” (unless it’s in the school title, like “I went to Northwestern University”)

        1. Mookie*

          Born and raised in California, and I and mine say university to distinguish — in a non-snooty, just factual sense — from city and ag colleges.

    3. SarahKay*

      I was looking for obvious spelling markers (e.g. favor / favour) which might help, but alas I can’t see any. As a Brit, until U.S. people started saying it read as non-local, I had read it as U.S. based. Definitely doesn’t sound like the UK, though.

      1. Zahra*

        Technically, Canada uses the “favour” spelling, but I know I was taught the “favor” spelling in school (in Quebec, with English as the mandatory second language). Or if I was taught “favour”, the alternate spelling never caused anyone to lose points in an exam, so it was not really drilled into our heads.

        1. SarahKay*

          Ah, so it could be a Canadian with either spelling, I did not know that. Cool, I always like to learn something new :)

  87. Lana Kane*

    I feel that OP was in trouble from the minute her phone rang. Had she not answered, or answered and declined, he probably would have read her the same riot act.

    OP, as has been made abundantly clear, your boss was wrong. Was this the first time he has made an outrageous request? Or has he been maybe slowly building up to this, with random, strange requests that may have been smaller in scale and perhaps enough to raise an eyebrow but not enough to be a real problem? Because I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter is true – and if you’re in your first post-college job, it might have been easy to brush off small-scale weirdness.

    Rat his ass out to HR. And please update (hopefully to say he was canned immediately).

  88. Brett*

    Out of all the weirdness in this letter, I am still trying to wrap my head around how the boss could turn this into a half hour lecture.
    Just how much detail can you get into on “your clothes were not professional”, regardless of how off base that lecture might be? He must really like the sound of his own voice and throwing his power around to stretch what should take 2 minutes tops out into 30 minutes.

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

      Yeah, I didn’t even notice that.

      I had a boss – briefly – who criticized everything I did in detail down to how I walked. Literally. He framed it as “mentoring” and “for your own good” and future career. I’m wondering if this jackass justifies his outrageous expectations and half-hour harangues the same way.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If you have to use the F word for every other word, things tend to take longer. It’s a lot of F’s.

  89. Penelope Pitstop*

    W-O-W. Horrible boss, horrible person.

    Really just wanted to show OP some love and sing with the chorus that you did nothing wrong. There is no reason for anyone to treat another person that way.

    You sound like a lovely, conscientious person, truly, to do what you did for other people in the middle of the nice. It should never have been asked of you, but that he knew he could call upon you (although it was an out-of-scope, out-of-bounds ask) speaks highly of you in general.

    Like others have already said, the advice to go to HR is smart. The only part of the original advice I take small disagreement with is – if you’re ever asked something remotely close to this again – to say you can’t because of car trouble or the like. No excuse needed and I’d suggest you not pretend at one. Simply decline the ask with a simple ‘no, thanks.’

    Also, you deserve better. Find someone, somewhere that will appreciate you and your work ethic. This guy (and I suspect your employer given that’s a person in ‘management’ and it possibly speaks to their standards and judgment) isn’t worth additional investment.

  90. Charisma*

    “…their transportation had fallen through.”

    Because they live in the Land of No Taxis … or Uber.
    Unreal. Winner of Worst Manager of the Year!!!

  91. Mel Mel*

    About a year ago, I was working from home when my boss called me. She was meeting a VIP and the car sent to the airport to pick him up had gotten into a wreck (no one was seriously hurt). He had already been waiting at the airport for half an hour. I live just a few minutes away, so I rushed to pick him up.

    I was wearing torn jeans, a Dr.Who tee shirt, and a hoodie. My car, a 2006 Honda Civic is a complete beater with gunk from two kids all across the back seat. However, I was led to believe time was of the essence.

    I picked up a Fortune 1000 CEO and had to move elementary school art projects so he could sit down. I also had to move a car seat to fit his bag.

    Not only did I not get written up, the VIP thanked me profusely, and my boss took me to lunch and gave me a gift card ($50 Visa).

    Your boss sucks.

    1. kb*

      This whole thing makes no sense, but I was also wondering why the boss would assume the junior underwriter’s car would be in VIP-ready condition on the fly. If a professional higher-up called me needing a ride ASAP they would be greeted by 6 Costco boxes of tampons and inexplicable stickiness. I just… don’t understand why a taxi, uber, or lyft was not preferable. Late flights aren’t rare… transportation is available.

  92. Lady Phoenix*

    I hope we get an update for this, and FAST (just like the one where the OP’s manager essentially killed off their horse). I want this manager to be [metaphorically] slapped so hard, his head spins a dozen times. And of course, I want OP to get paid for this “job” she got dragged into.

    Seriously, 2016 is the year everyone turned into an asshole, it’s not even funny.

  93. BePositive*

    I’m seriously upset for you. This is way beyond what you needed to do. If I was your manager and you did this for me I would be over the moon on your dedication

  94. Joanne*

    If my boss ever called for me to pick him up at the office, he’d be surprised. Surprised that he’d forgotten I don’t have a car.

    1. Noobtastic*

      My old boss forgot that I was in a car accident that nearly killed me.

      I was a bit miffed at that.

      Note, OLD boss.

  95. Not So NewReader*

    “Boss, I have come to see the error of my ways. I really want to thank you for showing me.

    Going forward:
    1) I will no longer be answering my phone after hours, so you will need to call other people.
    2) I will no longer be working here as of now, so this really means you will need to call other people.”

    [Privately, to myself, “I can’t work for a dude who does not know how to get home from the airport on his own. YOU can’t possibly be leading people, when you cannot even lead yourself.”]

  96. Fafaflunkie*

    Dear Alison, I have a funny feeling you’re going to have to use a scaled voting system for Worst Boss of 2016. Give us the 10 worst of the bunch (and yes, I know there are a lot more than 10 from what I’ve read this year) and let us rank them from least worst (-1 point) to worst (-10.) Most negative points “earns” the title of the You Suck award. I’ll put in my share for a Golden Poo (like Consumerist did for the Worst Company in America at the time) and have it personally delivered to said boss (assuming that OP identifies said person.)

      1. AMG*

        I also would like to suggest that we could vote for the Most Satisfying Update of the year. They make my day!

        1. Troutwaxer*

          We could vote for Craziest Boss, Most Evil Boss, Stupidest Workplace Rule of 20__, Worst Intern, Most Dysfunctional Workplace, Worst Co-Worker, and just to keep things positive, Happiest Update, Best Comeuppance, and Funniest Response to Workplace Oppression. (And make Allison work twice as hard for a week or two – maybe not my best idea.

      2. Lanon*

        What is it anyways with this year and absolutely insane bosses. First the guy who came to the chemo clinic, then the liver donor guy, then the horse killer and now this?!

    1. MW*

      I really think the “awards” must be given in absentia. I would be horrified at the idea of identifying a terrible boss I’d had that I wrote into the site about- so much so that it’d give me trepidation about even writing in! The worst bosses are all crazy and have a poor grasp of boundaries. If you sent *this* boss a Golden Poo, he would look himself up on the site, figure out who wrote in about him, and then make their life miserable.

      1. Noobtastic*

        Either that, or make it dependent on the OP updating with “I moved on to new job/department and/or boss was fired.”

        Besides, with too many of these, I’m afraid we’d have a situation like in The IT Crowd, where the boss thinks it’s a swirly ice-cream, instead.

      2. Fafaflunkie*

        Hence the reason I added the caveat “assuming OP identifies said boss.” No way would I suggest jeopardizing a writer’s career by having bad boss’s identity revealed without consent. I’m sure we don’t need bad boss sicking a bunch of lawyers on Alison claiming libel.

  97. Noobtastic*

    Heck, if my boss called me at midnight, to ask me to drive an hour to the airport to pick him up, because he couldn’t be bothered to take a taxi (with drivers who have a regular schedule and are friggin’ AWAKE!), I would be tempted to take an extra five minutes to change INTO pajamas, a robe, fuzzy slippers, add a few curlers to my hair, and possibly a mud mask.

    And I’d have the music cranked up to eleven the whole ride, because how else am I supposed to stay awake after one hour’s sleep?

  98. LittleBlueDragon*

    I’m a relatively new reader, so I’m sorry if this has been covered previously and everyone just knows this, but why is no one saying put this in writing, for the purpose of a papertrail?
    You go to HR, say your bit, then give them a typed up version of what you just said for their records. Along the lines of “As per our conversation on __/__/__ , you either pay me for petrol and wear and tear to my car from point a-b-c, plus £x p/hour for the time spent, or you remove the write up and suspension from my record.” Signed and dated right before you give it to them.
    And then any conversations you then have, you write a letter back saying “To recap our conversation on __/__/__ in which you said blah blah blah…”
    Is that not done in the US? I’ve had to do it, and had it done to me, by several jobs in the UK

    1. Is it Friday Yet?*

      In the post above, Allison does recommend that the OP reach out to her HR department. The written part would really depend on what they decide to do.

    2. Willow Barks*

      That’s needlessly adversarial. First step is TALK to HR. If that doesn’t resolve it, writing it down isn’t going to add anything, and it doesn’t have any legal value.

      If HR is going to be helpful, they don’t need the paper copy (and if they do they’ll ask you to provide it). If they aren’t, haivng it won’t make any difference, except to probably to annoy them.

    3. nonegiven*

      Oh, no.

      Either, the 4 hours driving is paid as time at work or the suspension is paid back as it wasn’t work.

      The 4 hours of car use will be reimbursed at $0.54/mile, either way.

  99. Fluffer Nutter*

    Late to the party here but my fave tactic for these things (assuming you’re not too shocked and groggy) is to answer in a panicked voice, say “OMG, my ________ relative is in the hospital and I thought they were calling to tell me they passed away! ” Extra credit: “That’s the only person who I thought would call at this time.” Throw in a couple fake sobs, make your voice quaver, and even OP’s boss might be uncomfortable enough to just hang up.

  100. Tracy*

    This is off topic and will probably be deleted but I have to get it out there: I LOVE ALYSON (in a non-romantic, never actually met her but she gives incredible advice sort of way). Over the past couple of years, I have read so much great advice about the business world and she always has a good answer; often something I would have never considered. I’m proud, too, that I discovered this site awhile back before she became an Internet phenomenon. Ok, back to business now…

  101. Candi*

    To paraphrase a friend, this isn’t just crossing the line, this is waving at the line from waaaayyyyyyy over there.

    Whether it’s his ego, unrealistic expectations, whatever actually happened with the original transport, or just being on a fugbuck crazy power trip, your boss is wrong. Period.

    Go to HR. Go to your grandboss. Polish up your resume. Identify who’s hiring and write some killer cover letters.

    Guarantee you, the day you walk out, if he’s still there, your boss will be shocked -shocked!- that you want to leave.

    Shake the dust of that place off of your feet and don’t look back.

  102. Chris Hogg*

    I hope … I really, really, REALLY hope … that the OP can be convinced to follow up on this and let us know what happens.

  103. James*

    Blimey, it’s incredible reading what can happen in the good old US of A – thank fully this being able to fire one’s underlings within pause is not replicated in more advanced areas of the world.

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