my friend got the job I’ve been acting in, former employer sent me an abusive text, and more

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

1. My friend applied for and got the job I’ve been acting in

I am currently acting in a position (it’s level 3, while my regular job is level 2). The job was advertised as permanent, and I applied. My close friend, who works in a different agency, applied for it but didn’t say anything to me until interview appointments were sent out. (She knew I was applying because I told her.) Her reasons were pretty poor, e.g. if I got the job, my regular position would be open and they would use the interview process to fill it.

She ended up winning the position. I congratulated her on getting it and suggested we go out for dinner to celebrate (trying to be reasonable here). She agreed and said that she was worried I would be angry at her because it’s awkward when friends apply for the same job and at least we could work together. I said that I did feel awkward about it and we should probably talk about it and hug it out. We planned a dinner, but at the last minute she invited another work colleague. I’ve tried not to act any differently, but she has been super awkward. I found out that she invited a bunch of people out for coffee and I wasn’t invited (when I usually would be). To make it worse, I learned that I had to train her in my position, which has been a hard pill to swallow.

I feel a little hurt that she doesn’t care enough about the relationship to sort it out. But I’m also angry that she even applied, because I was already acting and applying for it. Was it wrong of her to apply? Should I even be upset about it? I’m determined to do the right thing, and some objective advice would be great thank you.

I normally don’t think that friends can really call “dibs” on a job … but in this case, when she applied for the job you were already acting in and knew that you were hoping to get hired into permanently? I think it’s pretty crappy of her. And no wonder she feels awkward — she should feel awkward about doing that.

Ultimately I think this comes down to what else you know about her. Is she normally loyal and trustworthy and this is an aberration? Or has she run roughshod over your interests in the past? I’d weigh those types of factors heavily in deciding how you feel about this. And if you’re comfortable asking her point-blank what’s going on with her weirdness now, that might lead to a fruitful discussion.

2. My former employer sent me an abusive text

I recently went to work for a franchise that runs video game parties for events and birthdays. The job relied heavily on (but didn’t require) having a vehicle and cell phone, I don’t have a car currently and my phone had been shut off, hence my applying for work. Needless to say, time went on and the car and phone situation became more important and I had caused a party to be a little (five minutes) late. So I let them know it wasn’t working out, and that I was quitting.

It took about a week and a half of email tag trying to find out about my final pay and instructions regarding a shirt I was loaned as a uniform. I’m finally told to get in touch with the owner of the franchise in the area to discuss what to do. I explain that I can’t call him because of my phone situation but that instead I can email. He proceeds to ignore me for a few days, so I washed the shirt and dropped it off at the front door (the business is run out of someone’s house so the shirt would not get stolen). I get home and text him exactly what I had done, hoping I’d get at least a tiny “okay” or something.

Instead, I get this text directly from the owner without any kind of provocation, hostility, or name-calling of any sort to cause it: “You’re unbelievable. Truly a worthless individual of biblical proportions. Thanks for wasting our time, space and money. I promise I’ll do my very best to make sure you don’t get a job anywhere where I happen to know the owners. Sarah will mail you your check. Coward.”

I’ve never met this person or even spoken over the phone with him. I was shocked and seconds away from sharing just his text to their Yelp. But I stopped and asked my parents’ advice, and they said that I should really just let it go unless he tries to say something again or withhold my pay. I guess I’m curious how other people would handle this situation, especially someone who’s been on both ends of the professional spectrum. Would you be up in arms? Would you get legal advice or just let it go like my parents said?

Yeah, I agree with your parents to just let it go unless there’s any issue with your pay. This guy sounds out of his gourd, and there’s little to be gained from engaging with someone like that. Even if you’d done something wrong (and it doesn’t sound like you did, but even if you had), there’s no justification for him sending you that kind of message. Blasting you like that is the action of someone with some grave issues. It’s better to leave him to stew in his own hostility and move on with your life.

3. Navigating wars for private offices — and my wife is involved

I’m a branch manager in a successful global company and am responsible for all local aspects of the operation. Recently we have won a large contract which will move us to number one spot in the local market. To service this account we’ll be relocating to a larger site with a much bigger footprint in the warehouse and slightly expanded office space. All great news.

The issue I have is my national manager’s insistence following the move, actual offices are limited to two or three individuals and everyone else joins the open plan operations team to remove barriers to better communication. I’m now being attacked on all sides by my management team of sales, finance, HR and operations management because they all feel entitled to continue having an office and it’s on me to make the final allocation decisions. Just to make matters more complicated, my wife works for this company but reports to our global management team. My branch is her base of operations, but she does not report to me or my national management team in any capacity. She does, however, want an office and has some “friends in very high places” who are getting ready to push this through.

I’m obviously between a rock and a hard place, and I know I’m going to have to disappoint some people. The easiest solution for me is to tell my wife she can’t get an office and give it to one of my team. However, I know that her role does need one and it sets up a very high level confrontation between my management and hers. She is sympathetic to my concerns, but as you can imagine is fighting her corner and not willing to back down.

Do I give her the office at the expense of one of my team? Do I stand my ground, let the higher-ups sort it out, and potentially suffer the consequences at home? If I wasn’t the only person who is actually expected to have an office myself given my role as site manager, I’d give it to someone else and work from the boardroom, but that doesn’t exactly set a good example either.

How would you handle it if the person in your wife’s job wasn’t your wife? Figure that out first. If the answer is that you wouldn’t assign her an office, then you really, really can’t do it just because you’re married to her; it would be unethical and it will create huge trust and credibility issues with your team. If the answer is that you actually would give her the office if she weren’t your spouse, then it probably makes sense to do it here — except that the optics are going to be bad since you’re married. Because of that, if you do believe she should get the office, ideally you’d recuse yourself so that the decision is coming from someone else.

But it also sounds like you need to talk to your wife about the need for serious boundaries at work. She can’t take advantage of her access to you or your relationship — or appear to be taking advantage of those things — or it will seriously harm both of your reputations (as well as just being wrong).

4. Managing a struggling new manager

I manage a newish manager, Topaz, who has a team of four. Her team includes Rose and Cassandra, newly joined from elsewhere in the company but experienced in their role. In fact, they have more experience than either me or Topaz of this particular role.

Both Rose and Cassandra have performance problems. Topaz has been addressing these. But I’ve discovered that they are ignoring direct instructions, and Topazhaving lengthy circular discussions trying to convince them to do as instructed. They are at a level where they work very independently and it would be appropriate for them to push back a little on managerial suggestions if they have good reason to, but this is clearly going too far. What can I do to address this without undermining Topaz?

I have been clear to Topaz that this behaviour is not acceptable and justifies a formal performance improvement plan, and suggested that she make it clear to them that a PIP is in their very near futures if this continues. She is very supportive of her team, and really wants to find a way to make it all work, but I worry that she is spending too much of her time on them and they’re not going to repay the effort.

It sounds like you’re going to need to be very hands-on in coaching Topaz through how to handle this. As a new manager, she’s not likely to have the skills or instincts to do this on her own, which means that you should play a very active role in guiding her through it. That should include coaching her in what to say when Rose and Cassandra ignore direct instructions, and walking her through the process of getting them on performance plans.

And you need to make it clear to her that while you want to give her some leeway in managing the situation, there are certain things that are non-negotiables, like that she actually can’t allow a pattern of insubordination from them, and that she’s ultimately accountable for the performance and culture of her team, which means that she does need to take action on this stuff and get it resolved. Managing effectively is one of her job responsibilities — as much as anything else she’s responsible for doing well — and one of yours is holding her accountable for that.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Asking in an interview how unlimited vacation time really works

I am a finalist for an interview at a tech startup, and one of the benefits they tout is unlimited PTO. I know that this type of policy does not always work out – the employee doesn’t feel comfortable taking vacation, the manager doesn’t approve the requests, etc. Time off is extremely important to me and I’m lucky to have worked at companies with fairly good policies both in the U.S. and Europe. I would have no problem taking the days and have in mind working towards a 25 days vacation amount.

What is the best way to feel out how the company actually works with this unlimited policy? I’d like to know if people are fine taking 1-2 week vacations annually, and of course days here and there but don’t want to turn them off and think PTO is the only thing I’m there for. I am interviewing with my would-be manager, peer, and office president, is one better to ask than the other? Or, is it something I should ask about after an offer, instead of the interview? The company’s HQ is in Europe so my fingers are crossed this is a positive policy.

I’d wait until you have the job offer and ask at that point. You could word it this way: “So that I can get a better feel for how your benefits work, can you tell me how people typically use the unlimited PTO? Is there an average amount of time most people take?”

{ 233 comments… read them below }

  1. Stellaaaaa*

    OP2: Sounds like a dysfuctional small business being run by someone who had an idea but has no business acumen. I wouldn’t worry, and I wouldn’t even list this on your resume.

    1. Nea*

      +1. OP, even if he does try to bad mouth you to others, he’s going to be talking to people who are well aware of *his* personality. Forget about him and move on.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This – they will either consider the source, or they’re just like him and you’r dodging a bullet.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Ack, you’re.
          (Though in light of the current mood in the US maybe we should let go of certain figures of speech right now?)

          1. Shazbot*

            If you’re referring to “dodged a bullet” that’s a little like considering a poptart gnawed into a gun shape the same as a handgun, and that way lies idiocy.

    2. Case of the Mondays*

      There is no excuse for his vitriol. The coward comment though give me a little insight behind his train of thought. He is probably upset that you wouldn’t speak to him either over the phone or in person. While I sympathize that your phone was turned off, your eventual text shows it was turned back on. Further, you could have used a friend’s phone to call him. You managed to find transportation to drop off the shirt. You could have rang the bell and given it to him in person rather than leaving it there.

      I understand why it is easier to avoid confrontational personalities and given this guys response, you probably did the right thing. I also work with people though that get very annoyed at others that can’t just pick up the phone or meet in person. There are some people that try to avoid such interactions at all costs and do everything through text and email. That can unfortunately come across negatively to others. I’m guilty of it too. I much prefer email over a call.

      1. Liane*

        Also as I think someone else pointed out elsewhere in the comments, with many prepaid phone plans, it is possible to text when you are out of call time minutes. You only have to service days left and be under the maximum number of texts.

        (Maybe it is Subject That Must Not Be Posted About, but it seems like there’s another upswing in Blame The Poster comments lately. Or maybe it is just me)

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          I’m a regular respectful commenter here. I assume that when people write it, they are asking how to handle the situation at hand as well as to prevent it in the future. I assume that every person writing in would like to know if there was something they could have done differently.

          I appreciate that you corrected my assumption on the text issue. I just personally have been criticized at work for relying too heavily on text/email and avoiding conversations. I’m suggesting that in the future, this employee try to find a way to speak to an employer that has requested to do so. I specifically added “there is no excuse for the vitriol.” I’m not blaming the poster – just giving him advice going forward.

          When a poster has written in that has done things that are not done (had someone call out sick for them for example) we usually will inform them – hey, it’s not normally done like that. Maybe I’m showing my age but the people I work with would except to talk to someone who is resigning, not just get a note or a package dropped off after hours.

          If I was the employer, I’d be very concerned about what bad thing had happened where my employee felt they couldn’t come and talk with me.

          1. Ellie H.*

            Wanted to add, I guess what I disagree with is that from the letter we have zero indication, at all, that the owner in any way indicated to the LW that he even wanted to speak to her on the phone or in person in the first place. If I had emailed someone about arrangements for returning my uniform and didn’t hear back, I’d 100% assume the guy was just ignoring his email or slacking on getting back to me, rather than that he had any kind of strong preference for a phone call – seems like a logical assumption to me. We don’t even KNOW what he meant by calling her a coward, the most logical assumption may be that she didn’t make a greater effort to move heaven and earth to somehow interact in person with this unresponsive dude she’d never previously had dealings with, but it’s kind of a jump to deduce anything.

            1. Case of the Mondays*

              Ah. When I read “I explained I can’t call him” I assumed he was requesting a call. You are right that there was no indication a call was actually requested, just that OP preemptively said he/she couldn’t call.

      2. Ellie H.*

        Who cares? Why do you need to speak on the phone with someone you’ve never met before to tell him you are returning a shirt?

      3. The Strand*

        These are good points, but she also made the comment that there was considerable “email tag” trying to get answers, and that he ignored several of her emails.

    3. Kathy*

      I am being petty; but if I was the OP, I would write a summarized version of your experience on Glassdoor. Other people should be warned about what they’re about to work with. That was a lousy, classless response to someone. Since this is a franchise, I am sure the head corporation would want to hear how an owner is treating people.

  2. TootsNYC*

    #4: I might, after coaching Topaz, actually sit behind her while she has these conversations. I wouldn’t do it on her first convo w/ them, but she’s had those, and they’re pushing back.
    So after I had my coaching session, I might sit in silently just so they realize that I have Topaz’s back, and that she’s not alone in saying these things or in watching to see what happens.

    I did this once at my underling manager’s request; it was effective. I didn’t talk at all–my underling manager did all the talking; I just nodded firmly. A lot.

    1. OP 4*

      I like this – I’d been really worried about appearing to step in and take over. Keeping my mouth shut is not my natural style but I’m sure I can manage.

      I’ll offer Topaz the option of me doing this after the coaching. Thanks!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Sometimes big bosses have to do this. There is no shame to it, if an employee is just running amok, that intervention is almost required.

        My big boss hired a subordinate. This employee was someone my big boss knew. For me, he was just another employee. Time went on and I was able to see a pattern (3 times) of his refusal to follow my instructions. I did not have any problems like this with anyone else in my group. The group started complaining to me that he was saying stuff like, “I don’t have to do what SHE says, she’s not my boss.” I went to my big boss and he told the employee, “Surprise! She IS your boss and you DO have to follow her instructions.”
        Things quieted down after that. Since he was seasonal, he eventually left and he was never rehired.

        I had to chuckle, though. He was the only one in the group who had a major issue with me and he made himself stand out like a sore thumb.

        But underlings get their authority from their bosses. If one or more people are running their own program and doing as they wish, then it is probably time for the big boss to step in and redirect that behavior.

      2. Rat Racer*

        Can I just say that Topaz is so lucky to have a manager like you who is able and willing to coach her in the art and science of management? Managing people – especially low performers – is so incredibly challenging, and most of us are left at sea to figure it out on our own. I’ve made some decisions as a new manager that I ended up regretting, and really wish I’d had access to a manager/mentor in my earlier days.

        1. OP 4*

          Well thank you!

          Though I’d say any manager who wouldn’t, wouldn’t be doing their job right. Sadly I’m sure there are plenty that don’t.

      3. outoftheblue*

        OP 4, did you pick the fake names for your co workers? Because if you did I love them! I Capture the Castle is one of my favorite books and I started geeking out as soon as I saw the names :)

    2. Chaordic One*

      I like this too. Rose and Cassandra appear to have some issues with Topaz being their supervisor (perhaps because they have more work experience than Topaz) and they don’t seem to respect her or take her seriously as their leader. Your being present would indeed signal that you have Topaz’s back and that she is acting on your behalf.

      I hope Topaz will appreciate your support and not misinterpret it as your thinking she is not up to the job. (I don’t think she would, but it is a possibility.)

  3. Dan*


    AAM, if the TPTB hired a lesser known candidate instead of a person already acting in that role, then there have to be some serious reservations about the acting person’s job performance.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the friends boss divulged some less than flattering information about the OP.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Certainly could have been serious concerns about the acting person’s performance, but they also might have just thought the other person was stronger. Some places will default to hiring the acting person if they’re doing an okay job, but plenty of places will look for the strongest candidate regardless.

      1. Dan*

        If the person they hired is indeed stronger, why does the acting person have “dibs” in this scenario?

        At the end of the day, OP is a known quantity. When you hire an unknown person over a known person, then 1) You’re less than absolutely thrilled with who you have, and 2) You’re guessing that an unknown person will do quite a bit better.

        What I really want to know is why you think a person acting in a role has dibs for that role during open competition when they otherwise wouldn’t. I don’t think this should be any different.

        I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a government job, and if it is, I’d argue that the taxpayers deserve the person available.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          She doesn’t have “dibs” in the sense that her company can’t hire someone else. It’s only relevant in terms of it being crappy to be apply for a job that your close friend is currently acting in and hopes to stay in.

          I’m a big believer in hiring the best candidate, regardless of whether there’s someone internal in the running and regardless of whether that person is acting in the role temporarily. So we agree on that. But that doesn’t mean the acting person was bad or had serious issues; it just means someone else was better.

          1. Gaara*

            Why does she have dibs here from a friendship perspective, but not in the other scenario? Is it just because of the perceived leg up from being the Acting XYZ?

            These situations and their variants strike me as a very difficult position to be placed in as a friend, on either side.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Alison isn’t talking about from the company’s perspective. Their job is to hire the best possible candidate.

              However, it’s still crappy to do that to someone you allegedly consider a friend. That is someone who isn’t good friend material. Which the friend acknowledged to the OP, by saying she was afraid the OP would be mad, and then by excluding her to the group outing.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s not all that different from a situation where your friend has to reapply for her job in order to keep it, and you send in an application. It’s not quite as bad, but it’s a similar principle.

              1. Gaara*

                Thanks! I don’t work in an industry where “acting” (or “interim” etc.) positions are common, so I wasn’t sure if I understood the norms and expectations around that — the explanation is helpful.

                1. Annonymouse*

                  I think it’s less “dibs” but more the friend isn’t acting like a friend and is doing everything she can to make this awkward.

                  1) Doesn’t give friend heads up that she applied.
                  2) When discovered she applied gave a weak reason
                  3) Got the job and asked OP about it being awkward. OP admitted it was a little but wanted to go to dinner and celebrate and work out the awkwardness.
                  4) Friend brings another person to this dinner to avoid the awkward conversation
                  5) Friend doesn’t invite OP to coffee with rest of the team
                  6) OP now has to train friend on new job when friend refuses to act in a way that allows them to be work professionals.

                  I can see OPs reasoning of “If she hadn’t applied then none of this would be happening.”

                  But that isn’t the right reasoning to have.

                  The best course of action/reasoning is this.

                  “My new coworker/manager feels awkward around me. I will be at my most professional and helpful dealing with them so that
                  A) they see we can work together
                  B) my coworkers and managers see that my work and work ethic are strong and are impressed
                  C) I build a stronger reputation this way.

                  These are all things that will help me more in the long run. And hey if I still feel resentful I can take up boxing or something similar and let it out there.”

                2. Vicki*

                  Anonymouse writes: The best course of action/reasoning is this.
                  “My new coworker/manager feels awkward around me. ”

                  But that’s not the case either. It’s “my new co-worker who used to be a friend is awkward around me and the friendship is in danger of imploding and I might quit over this, especially because I’ve been acting in that job and now it’s gone s I’ve effectively been demoted.”

          2. Pari*

            On the other hand if hiring the best person has always meant hiring external candidates with more senior experience it might be time to rethink what “the best person” should mean. There are too many managers that default to hiring the person with the most impressive resume while leaving their own junior employees with no path to progress. these employees should be “the best person” on occasion. These are the people who are frequently easier to mold and bring a perspective that is often far different from the norm.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Well, sure. (In some cases, at least. Some jobs actually do require experience and expertise that’s different from what the internal junior people will have.)

        2. Christine*

          It could just be dollars and cents. The person “acting” in the position may require a salary bump with the promotion that they are not willing to pay. Many state jobs have anywhere from 4 – 10% increases from your current salary. If an individual is going from a pay band 2 to 3; the increase could be the minimum for the higher pay band. It could also be an issue of vacation. You will find someone interviewing for a position that gets 4 – 6 weeks vacation, but the new person gets only two. Those items play a role.

          1. Government Employee*

            OP 1
            I cannot believe I disagree with AAM but here it goes…
            Acting Employee is just that acting. Acting with the knowledge that the position was open and advertised with no promise of getting it.
            Acting employee may be doing an okay job but higher ups were looking for other qualifications. Was friend already a level 3? Does she bring other experience to the role.

            Acting Employee may have stepped up, doing a reasonable job but not demonstrated the qualifications for promotion.

            If it wasn’t her friend, would it have been someone else?
            She is not “training” the new hire. She is orienting them to the job norms. There is a difference.
            The friend should have a private lunch or coffee. Acting Employee should initiate.
            Talking points…
            Expressing disappointment, not blame.
            How can we be a successful team.
            Friend should be professional and perhaps explain distance, now that she is in a managerial role so as not to exhibit favoritism.

            Acting Employee should strive for excellence and helpfulness AND apply for other level 3 positions.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              The friend is coming from a different agency, and her excuse was that if she didn’t get the Level 3 job, she’d get the OP’s level 2 job. That means she wasn’t just making a lateral move. She is a new hire to both the agency and the position, and the OP is, in fact, training her.

              And the OP already tried to initiate this conversation. The “friend” brought along another coworker, to avoid the conversation.

            2. LBK*

              It doesn’t sound to me like the OP is just generally upset that she didn’t get the role – it sounds to me like her main issue is the friend doing this behind her back, not how it played out.

                1. Maris Von Scharis*

                  That s the impression I get, too. In fact, OP’s so-called friend doesn’t sound like a fiend at all. Am I the only one who suspects she’s actually an enemy?

            3. Liane*

              The question was NOT “How come Friend got the job **I** had dibs on when I was obviously *Better*?”
              The actual question was about where to go from here with a “Friend” who couldn’t even be bothered to let her know she applied and now won’t make ANY effort so that they can have a professional relationship. If “Friend” won’t make the effort and is trying to avoid all the OP’s efforts so far, OP becoming Employee of the Century is not going to help.

        3. JMegan*

          If you’re right about it being a government job, then they’re required to go with the “best” candidate, as defined by the person who gave the most correct answers to their interview questions. Governments are not allowed to assess candidates on the basis of “fit,” or whether one person is a known quantity versus another one.

          So it could even be something like they wanted to hire OP, but she scored 95% on the interview questions, and the other candidate scored 96%. It’s not a reflection on either person’s ability to do the job, but a reflection on their ability to answer interview questions.

          1. just another librarian*

            Governments are allowed to assess “fit,” absolutely. Some of them operate in the way you are describing, but not all, and probably not even most.

            1. Marian the Librarian*

              I agree with this–“fit” absolutely factors into whether or not someone is a good candidate even in government jobs.

              1. The Alarmed Otter*

                Agreed. I work for the government and we’ve rejected candidate for ‘fit’ reasons. Several of them, in fact. Fitting into our office culture and the existing team is just as important here as anywhere else.

        4. TootsNYC*

          It may also be that the person filling in is doing fine, but that they want some different strength, or more experience at that level.

    2. Cat steals keyboard*

      Not true – but way to make OP paranoid. I know someone who just got beaten by another candidate for a position they were acting in. The other candidate had demonstrably better experience while the person acting up didn’t meet the job spec on paper (but was doing it very well). They had to hire the person who was deemed the best candidate from the interview process.

    3. Sophie Winston*

      The key is that it’s not crappy that the friend applied or that she was hired – what’s crappy is the way she handled it. She didn’t talk to her friend when she applied – “I know you want this job, but I do too, and I’d kick myself if I didn’t apply and then they hired someone else from the outside. Are you OK with me applying?” This helps both of them, because who wants a job that comes with a resentful former friend?

      And then friend agreed they had feelings to work out, but is avoiding the conversation. This does not bode well for how she will behave in the office once she starts the new job. The LW is trying very hard to handle this professionally, and friend is not holding up her side of the relationship.

      1. Pari*

        I disagree that the friend should have asked if op was okay with her applying. She should have simply given her a heads up out of respect for her friendship.

        1. Sophie Winston*

          I think we’re saying the same thing. I’m not implying she ask for permission, I’m saying you should ask your friend about their feelings so you can work through any negative ones.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        Agreed. I’m currently “acting” in a job I don’t expect to get permanently. I would be pissed if my friend got the job without ever talking to me about it! Even if I knew they were a better fit and I was 100% comfortable with them coming in to be my boss.

    4. LBK*

      That doesn’t make any sense, why does her performance either have to be so good that she gets the job or so bad that they’d have “serious reservations”? She could’ve just been adequate while the other candidate came off as stellar. Capability isn’t a binary measurement.

      The only way I can see this making sense is if you start from the premise that they wouldn’t have let the OP cover the position temporarily if they didn’t think she was good enough to do the job permanently, which is a fallacious assumption. The bar is lower and the pool is smaller when you’re choosing an interim replacement. I would have much higher standards and a much broader scope when looking to hire someone permanent.

  4. Down With Open Offices!*

    OP#3, IMO in this case you have to recuse yourself from the decision entirely and tell your managers that you are doing so to avoid even the hint of favoritism. If your wife gets an office, you want to be able to tell everyone else that you had no input into that decision (and if she doesn’t, you want to be able to tell HER the same thing).

    (I’ll omit the tangent about how, too often, open offices foment dissension and strife rather than the unfettered collaboration bad managers think they foster, and I certainly won’t bitch about managers who set up active open offices right outside their own private office spaces and then get annoyed when the team actually IS collaborative and communicative because “they shouldn’t be talking so much.” Uh, except, I guess I didn’t omit it at all. And now I’m going anon for this post.)

    1. DeskBird*

      Yea – I agree with you that open office spaces are such a bad idea. The thing that worries me about the letter is “everyone else joins the open plan operations team to remove barriers to better communication” That makes it sound like they are having fantasies about lots of collaboration and teamwork – not that there are actually limits to available space. Would it be possible to build more smaller offices in the space? Or maybe have tall cube walls to offer more privacy? Is it a directive from higher up that there needs to be an open space – or is that your call? Is it something you can push back on?

      1. AMT*

        You hit the nail on the head. If they’re not collaborating now, being in a big room with each other is going to make it much, much worse.

      2. Joseph*

        “everyone else joins the open plan operations team to remove barriers to better communication”
        I always like imagining these sorts of discussions. Your team isn’t communicating well – important information is being dropped, work is getting duplicated and/or ignored, people don’t realize how communication is causing issues down the lines, individual employees think that it’s someone else’s problem. And your chosen solution is…to have fewer walls in the office.
        Which raises the interesting question: If they *didn’t* have to move for space reasons, would the management team have grabbed a few reciprocating saws/hammers/etc and started busting down walls?

        1. Marty*

          As in all the recent research about how ineffective open offices often are, and you really wonder what people were thinking. (You might want to see what.boss has to say about that research.)

      3. Vicki*

        …“everyone else joins the open plan operations team to remove barriers to better communication” That makes it sound like they are having fantasies about lots of collaboration and teamwork…

        This reminds me of a favorite answer from Miss Manners long ago:
        “The sweetly misguided notion that no problems exist among different people except communication problems, and that we would all love one another if only we knew one another better, does seem to Miss Manners to have been exposed with time.”

    2. Purest Green*

      New rule. Those who participate in the most team-building activities (including potlucks, trust falls, hikes, sports, pool events, etc.) get the private offices.

    3. ginger ale for all*

      Op, is there any way that you nigh request some cubicle walls to at least soften the blow? Maybe poise it to management that you want to section of a break room, reception area, etc? Just anything to give a soft break between loud areas for workers who perform better in a quieter environment.

    4. Noah*

      Here’s the thing with open plan offices, you can’t just throw a bunch of desks into a room and have it work. You actually have to think it through and make sure there is enough common space, conference rooms, meeting rooms, etc.. I love the open plan office I work in but it was designed that way from the start. Also, no one here, not even the CEO of the airline, has their own office. Everyone has the same 3′ x 6′ desk.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq*

        Yeah, I’m personally a big fan of our open office design. In my department’s half of the office, there are some 60 people working in an open plan, and if anything, it’s STILL much quieter than many seem to want. Lots of people wear headphones, but many have to take calls at their desk and this is still fine. It’s so quiet, that while they bought hanging panels that could go between sections to dampen sounds, they haven’t had them installed, because there’s just no need.

        Biggest piece of advice: white noise machines up by the ceiling. Our office has a couple up there, and while they had to adjust it a few times, it dampens SO much of the sound, and I don’t hear them at all. It’s remarkably effective.

  5. Drew*

    OP#1, I confess that I would have a really hard time working for someone who did that to me. Actually, I’d be reconsidering the friendship entirely. Perhaps that’s a bit too reactionary, though.

      1. LBK*

        Agreed. If she’d let the OP know ahead of time and acknowledged the awkwardness but emphasized that she’d thought about it a lot and just really couldn’t pass up the opportunity, I think that would have softened the blow. The way she’s dodged the conversation leads me to believe that she didn’t have a particular passion for the role and she doesn’t want to have to tell the OP to her face that she was ready to throw away their friendship in such a cavalier way.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      It sounds to me like the friend was possibly already trying to ease out of the friendship, or perhaps felt that getting the job was worth sacrificing the friendship. I 100% sympathize with the OP of course, but I also have a hard time with the idea that you should pass up a job you want for any reason. I don’t buy without further explanation that her reasoning was “poor”; it doesn’t sound illogical or unreasonable on the surface for the friend to submit an application under the assumption that she might end up interviewing for OP’s level-2 position, which sounds like the job she was really after.

      1. MK*

        I have to say that the reasoning makes absolutely no sense to me. I mean, the company might or might not use the interview process to fill another the OP’s position,if she had given the job, but the friend had no way of knowing that would happen. And it still doesn’t explain why she kept this from the OP.

        Look, I agree that no one has an obligation to not apply for a job out of friendship (though realistically one shouldn’t expect the friendship to remain unaffected). But this person behaved pretty crappily. What she should have done is tell the OP upfront that they had applied for the job, I which case I think the OP should have accepted whatever outcome with good grace. Maybe the friendship would have cooled due to this and the new work relationship, maybe they would have been fine.

        But what she did is not tell the OP about applying, and so they were blindsided. Then, instead of either apologising for not being upfront or saying the job was fair game and she didn’t do anything wrong, she offers some irrelevant explanation, basically trying to make it seem that she didn’t really apply for the same job as the OP, she applied just in case the OP got the job? I would be upset about this too, because she is denying responsibility for her action in applying, almost saying that she happened to be around and the hiring manager happened to love her.

        And then she behaves oddly to avoid confronting the OP. I mean, I don’t actually agree that “hugging it out” is a good idea; but she could have just said so, instead of agreeing and then deflecting. Frankly she handled this so poorly I question whether they can have a good work relationship, let alone be friends.

        1. Stellaaaaa*

          It really depends. I can see why the friend might not have mentioned applying; this outcome was such a long shot. I don’t put out an alert every time I submit a halfhearted job application. I get why it sucks when you’re replaced by a friend, but it seems that OP was going to be replaced anyway. OP’s feelings were going to be bruised no matter what.

          1. Mirax*

            I don’t put out an alert when I submit job applications, but if that position was one that a friend was already acting in, I’d feel the need to give them a courtesy heads-up.

          2. MK*

            Well, no, it doesn’t sound as if the OP resents not getting the job or that she thought she had it in the bag; she is upset that her friend hid this from her and then bahaved weirdly.

            Also, come on. Of course you don’t sent a meno every time you apply for a job, but when you apply for a job at your friend’s company, that she has aslo applied for and is currently doing? Even if it’s a long shot (and I don’t see anything in the letter to suggest that), you give the friend a heads-up.

          3. LBK*

            If she was only half-hearted about applying in the first place, that makes it even worse – she was willing to throw their friendship in the trash for a job she didn’t even really want?

          4. neverjaunty*

            There’s a difference between being bummed that a friend got something you would also have liked to have, and being bummed that a friend acted in a very un-friend-like manner.

        2. Mookie*

          Third and fourth paragraphs are crucial here, for me. Between the caginess, the pisspoor excuse, and the reconciliatory dinner being crashed by someone else, the friend is behaving as if they are either intimidated by the OP or want to give the impression that they are scared the OP might be “mad” at them or feeling vengeful (hence the witness at dinner and the coffee among common friends the OP is conspicuously not invited to). Based on how the OP has described the situation — in fair, objective terms — and what her primary goal is — doing the right thing in spite of hurt feelings — I’d say this friend is a bad friend and, as you say, that the OP would be well-served by using the distance the friend has created to extricate herself from all but a temporary professional acquaintance. But the training needs to be done in a way that makes the OP look diligent and impartial, provided the OP is confident enough that the friend won’t sabotage it in order to make the OP look bad*.

          *it’s not a universal phenomenon, but people who behave unethically and are caught in public doing so are often the first to deflect blame for discord elsewhere or distract observers by highlighting someone else’s bad behavior, real or imagined

            1. neverjaunty*

              Eh, that just gives her an opportunity to feel martyred. She isn’t going to break down sobbing and admit she’s a backstabber. Better to limit interactions with her to those required by work, and only those.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yep, I think the OP is probably better off without this “friend.” At the very least, this is how the friend handles conflict between them–hiding things, giving, unbelievable excuses, and avoiding any discussion of the problem–and that’s not good for a long-term relationship. And like Mookie said, OP seems like she’s trying to do the right thing and be fair, so it seems unlikely that it’s because the OP is impossible to talk to.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I think this would have played out better if the friend had been more upfront about it.

          But, honestly, you have to know the unspoken standards of the people you hang out with. For some people this is a huge breach of trust. It is kind of short-sided to apply for a friend’s job and expect the relationship to go on as normal. Not all friends are willing/capable/interested in continuing on. Because these standards are unspoken, it is important to bring things up BEFORE they happen, not after.

          In this case, it appears that the friend has more interest in her work than she does in her friendship with you, OP.

          Honestly, OP, the old me would have been totally PO’ed here. Some of that anger would have come from scraping by for so long and why doesn’t my friend understand that I need to do more than scrape by? Now my give-a-darn is broken and I just would not care.

          So I think you handled the situation well. Your friend will have to live with herself. Don’t carry her emotions for her. Focus on doing a good job at all times. This means do a good job training her. Your take-away here will be that YOU used the high road. People will notice you taking the high road but this takes time to play out.

          As far as the friendship, you may want to take time to think about it. You can consider the friendship separately from the work relationship. Get the work relationship on an even keel so that not only do you keep your job but you build/maintain your own sterling reputation.

          Last thought. It could be a long shot, but if management had a bigger plan for you, you do not want to misstep now and lose that opportunity. It might be that management felt you are needed some where else and it will take time to get that set up for you.

          1. Lissa*

            Good point about unspoken standards. I think this is kind of similar to the “can you date your friend’s ex” question. You can, nobody has dibs on another person or a job, but some people might be too hurt to continue the friendship, and it’s better to be upfront. OP’s friend was weird about the whole thing, but I don’t personally think she was inherently wrong to apply for the job. But not being inherently wrong doesn’t mean somebody else isn’t going to be hurt and disappointed, possibly enough to end a friendship.

        4. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Yes, it sounds like the OP’s (former?) friend handled it very poorly, but aside from the interpersonal part, there’s nothing wrong with what they did on a purely professional level. They just should have been more up front with the OP. But sometimes people don’t know how to handle an awkward situation, and so they shut down or miscommunicate and make it worse. Unless the friend was independently wealthy and only worked as a lark, I don’t see how just applying for the job on its own is an issue.

          This was more a question for Carolyn Hax than Alison, IMO. From hearing the OP’s side of the story, it sounds like the friend was a bad friend, but the OP could still ask to talk to them privately, one-on-one.

          1. MK*

            I agree that up the point of getting the job, the problem is personal. But I would argue that the friend’s later behavior is, if not unprofessional, then showing bad judgement. I mean, you have a friend who will soon be your coworker (I am not clear on the power structure, but if you are goin to be management, it’s worse); you know this friend wanted the job you got, that they are upset you didn’t tell them beforehand and they want to talk it out. So, either you talk it out and put it behind you, or, if you really feel you did nothing wrong and don’t think there is anything to discuss, you say so kindly. Pulling these “I invited a coworker to our private dinner” “I didn’t invite you to a private coffee date” stunts is introducing drama into your new workplace before you even start working there.

            Now that I see it in black-and-white, it occurs to me that the friend might be trying to move the relationship from personal to professional (avoiding personal socialising, turning what was supposed to be a personal to a coworkers’ meeting). But she is being very bad at it.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              That’s true, the poor handling of it after the fact is a serious issue professionally as well as personally.

            2. LBK*

              This is a great point – even if the friendship is dead now, the friend-turned-coworker has a professional obligation to do what she can to fix up their relationship.

          2. CM*

            I agree, I think the normal “no dibs on jobs” rules applies here and the friend was within their rights, but didn’t handle it well by hiding it from the OP and acting weird later. I think this could be salvaged if the OP wants to try again to talk it out with the friend. But it’s possible that MK is right and the friend is purposely trying to change the relationship to a less personal one, or something else is going on.

    2. Chaordic One*

      I agree with you, Drew, and I don’t think you’re being a bit too reactionary. It’s not just the friendship that I would reconsider, but also the work situation. If I were the OP I’d start looking for a new job.

      It’s awfully hard to work under someone who is not trustworthy. Someone who is not a good friend is probably also not a good boss.

  6. Cat steals keyboard*

    #1 I think she shouldn’t have invited someone else along – that feels pretty crappy to me. It sounds like she’s trying to avoid talking to you about it and as a result that’s exacerbating your feelings. I can’t say I blame you for feeling pissed really.

    1. Fish Microwaver*

      Yeah, it comes across to me as a ploy to avoid speaking one on one with the OP. I think OP has behaved maturely and reasonably, graciously even, but the friend seems a tad guilty to me.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Seems to me that while Friend’s actions may have been acceptable from a professional perspective, Friend is very aware that they weren’t acceptable from a social perspective. And rather than try to make up for it by accepting the overtures of continued friendship that OP1 is offering, she’s decided to avoid the situation entirely–which isn’t a good way to handle relationships as an adult.

        If I were being charitable to Friend, I’d say she probably just doesn’t know how to go about fixing the relationship. But at least OP1 is trying, while Friend is not, even though OP1 is the wronged party here.

        1. nonymous*

          > which isn’t a good way to handle relationships as an adult.

          That is very true, however not all adults are this emotionally mature. I’m thinking about my parents who in the OP’s situation would be horrified at the idea of bringing up the issue with so-called friend. They would be concerned that job was now in jeopardy and advocate whatever words and actions to make sure that the friend’s feelings aren’t hurt (with a healthy dose of avoiding the elephant). I’ve even heard my Dad use the phrase “most loyal employee” to describe his view of the appropriate response. All this with the tacit acknowledgment that whatever sacrifices are made to reassure Friend, crap treatment will be the result and one should suck it up.

          This doesn’t make the behavior right, it’s just an example of where OP’s friend may be coming from. That the workplace is dog-eat-dog and either you win or suck it up as part of life. I highly doubt that my parents perspective is/was unique.

    2. Grits McGee*

      I can slightly sympathize with the friend- when my best friend and I have gotten angry with each other in the past, we always found it beneficial to give each other space to be hurt through no-contact for a couple days before we can get back together as friends. But that was a mutual (though unspoken) coping technique that only works because we happen to have very similar personalities.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Submitted before I finished my thought! But as the offending party and your future boss, it is on Friend to do the emotional work (within reason) that OP1 needs to get over this.

        1. Jean*

          tl;dr: OP#1, Cut your losses, take the high road, don’t throw any more good emotion after bad–and to beat Friend(?)/New Boss at her own game by training her with both superb professional poise and obvious professional witnesses. (Details in 2A and 2B below.) AND take comfort because people _do_ notice when someone acts graceful in a difficult situation.

          Longer version: Both this sub-thread and the one immediately above say that OP#1 and Friend(?)/New Boss need to let their emotions cool down so that they can coexist professionally. People differ as to which party started the problem and/or should start the solution. I say it doesn’t matter. Friend(?)/New Boss is clearly acting in her own best interest, so OP1 should do the same.
          1) OP, quietly and privately, accept that the friendship has cooled for the foreseeable future and perhaps for forever.
          2) Once you’ve regained your cool (which may mean taking screaming breaks at home, or scrubbing the heck out of the kitchen floor, or whatever else it takes to release your emotions away from work):
          A) Be super-poised and super-professional in all interactions with Friend(?)/New Boss, including training.
          B) Line up your witnesses, to prevent Friend(?)/New Boss from causing trouble later by badmouthing OP1’s training:
          a) Email your department colleagues saying “Attached is my outline training. You guys have been so helpful while I was Acting in the position–now please advise if I’ve overlooked anything.”
          b) Get public verbal approval from all colleagues, and write it down in a Memo to File to be shared with GrandBoss or whomever else has asked you to train your replacement.

          As Maya Angelou put it,
          – “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
          – “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
          – “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
          – “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

          I’m sure Ms. Angelou didn’t expect her words to be applied to AAM, but they fit really well.

  7. Mostly Sarcasm*

    #3 In addition to AAM’s advice, can you present the upper management with some research on open office plans and how everyone hates them, and how it doesn’t do what they think it will do? I would suggest pushing back on this if possible. They need to go in with open eyes about how much resentment this setup will create.

    You could also try and create some criteria on how you are evaluating who gets an office and who doesn’t, that way the process will be as transparent as possible and you can present it in a spreadsheet to anyone who inquires.
    For example:
    – Manages employees (+x points)
    – Has private documents that need to be secured ( + y points)
    – Seniority ( + z points)
    – and so on

    1. Purple Dragon*

      I’d also put HR and HR-type roles in an office. A while back I had the Safety person sitting in the open plan near me. She regularly had to make phone calls about people’s medical stuff (certificates/physicals / compensation etc) and those were not conversations that should have been in an open area. But according to some twit that position didn’t need an office. One of the senior execs must have overheard something and she now shares an office with the HR manager.

      So I’d strongly suggest that any position that needs to discuss sensitive information on a regular basis be shortlisted for an office.

      1. babblemouth aka One Of The Greatest Minds Of The 21st Century*

        Yes, “having regular confidential conversations” could be getting points too – defending on how regular these are, they may or may not be able to get a closed meeting room for them.

      2. Triangle Pose*

        Yes! I’m a bit surprised Alison didn’t address this – how can HR need to fight for a private office? It’s HR! HR folks have so many confidential conversations that an open office should be a non-starter.

        1. Allison*

          I work in my company’s HR department and we’re in the open plan with everyone else. When a conversation about something confidential takes place, they either find a conference room or have a very hushed, whispered conversation. Which is irritating. The director of HR has her own office, I’ll bet a lot of the super secret talks happen in there.

      3. Chaordic One*

        You know, we had a similar thing happen with one of our HR people. The rep from our company’s health insurance company came in for a regular visit (every couple of months or so) and while waiting to speak with the head of HR, she overheard a cubicle dwelling admin discussing something of a personal health-related issue on the phone.

        The Insurance rep thew a fit and the HR admin got an office.

    2. Anonhippopotamus*

      This is a good idea in theory, but we all know that you could tweak this grading system to the advantage of those that you want to favour, so it doesn’t absolve the OP of any potential backlash if there are disagreements with the final decision

    3. College Career Counselor*

      I suspect (without any data, mind you) that a lot of “open floor” offices are actually just popular with management because they are easier and CHEAPER than finding private office space for everyone. And they get presented as “collaborative” no-barriers-to-communication work spaces to make people who grumble about it look like they’re not team players.

      1. Jean*

        I’ll cheerfully co-sign your suspicions–but this may just be one of many ideas that cycle through the business world rather than an evil management plot. Think of the historical photos of various workplaces: newspapers; the Johnson Wax building (open plan office designed by some famous architect); government workers in Washington, DC during WWII; telephone operators; etc.

        Now back to the job hunt, which, considering current trends, may well land me in an open office. Heh.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          I think it’s a combination of the two.

          The start ups likely were only doing it because it was cheaper. But then as the “start up” as a movement had gained ground, businesses want everyone to think they are cool/trendy/modern too, so what was a cost saving measure is now what businesses think they need to have to compete for clients and the best candidates to hire.

          It’s like when my husband’s former employer, a very stodgy, old school aerospace company, suddenly spent thousands of dollars to put Foosball and pool tables in the break rooms, after they lost one too many good candidate to Google. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t fool anyone being hired into thinking they were cool and hip, either.

      2. Gaia*

        I always find this funny because I currently work in an open office – in fact all of our sites are open office and even our CEO doesn’t have a private office (we have about 2,000 employees globally). In our case, it really did benefit us when we switched to open offices. In fact, it regularly comes out as a positive in our employee surveys.

      3. NW Mossy*

        Expense is certainly a motivator for many companies. You can achieve much higher employee density when you don’t have offices, which reduces your overall square footage requirements. My company’s going through this open-plan, no-offices-unless-you’re-an-exec remodel that’s at least in part meant to consolidate all our employees into buildings the company owns, rather than leasing additional space.

        1. Chaordic One*

          OTOH, you can lose a fair amount of productivity when employees are so over-stimulated and/or distracted by all of the activity going on around them that they can’t get as much done. We’ve actually had customers who phoned in complain because of all the noise going on in the background. Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd., responded by more heavily promoting online chat instead of phone calls.

    4. nonymous*

      What my org is moving to is a pod structure. Staff with similar job functions share an open area but different groups are still separated. So teapot makers can’t overhear HR stuff, but all the HR people are open to each other.

  8. GrumpySmurf*

    #2- So you say you can only email the franchise owner because you dont have a phone, but you proceed to text him when you drop the shirt off? From a phone?

    His reaction was way off base and uncool, but what you did made you look like a liar to him.

    I also dont understand why you didnt knock on the door when you dropped the shirt off, especially if the business was run out of it. It seems like it would’ve taken 2 minutes tops and you would’ve been finished. I am not saying you deserved the text in any way. It just seems like stuff isnt adding up for you to randomly get that level of a reaction to “just” dropping off a shirt on a porch.

    1. FTW*

      The OP has taken responsibility for what could have gone differently; it doesn’t seem right to make assumptions that pile on… especially since the question was in regard to how to deal with the owner’s response. There may be some reasonable assumptions around OP’s actions.

      – just because a business is run out of the home doesn’t mean that the owner/staff are working 9-5 at the home. Knocking on the door rubs the risk of involving the owner’s family members, which may or may not be a good thing to do.
      -certain phone plans might have unlimited texting, but limited talk; OP may be able to text through WhatsApp using wifi, instead of a phone plan.

      1. S*

        It also doesn’t say that the OP *didn’t* knock. Maybe they knocked and nobody answered so they left the shirt there.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Let’s take the letter-writer at his word about what happened.

      And yes, as FTW says, you can use texting programs over wifi but still not have phone service.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Google Voice, too. If you don’t have phone service for it to ring through to, people can only leave a voicemail, but texting to and from that number still works.

      2. Annie Moose*

        Not a lot of people know this, but you can actually send texts through email as well. You have to check with your carrier to see what the email address format is, but for example, for Verizon, if you send an email to [10-digit phone number], it will come through as a text message.

    3. caryatis*

      Yeah…I have a feeling there’s a whole backstory we’re not getting with OP#2. You let your phone be shut off? And you take a job without being able to get to the job? Sounds pretty irresponsible. The manager probably thought you were trying to avoid him (showing up at the house but not knocking, texting but not calling–really, you couldn’t find a phone to borrow anytime during a week and a half?) I would be frustrated too.

      1. Morning Glory*

        I get the impression that the letter writer is relatively young, and that this is a pretty low-level job.

        If the person was honest in the interview about the car/phone situation, the company should have known whether it was a deal-breaker, or something they could reasonably accommodate. I wouldn’t blame the OP for that.

      2. Beezus*

        You’re translating poverty into a character problem, and that’s pretty unfair to struggling and underprivileged people. Not everyone is privileged with enough income to protect themselves from financial difficulty that might lead to being phoneless or carless, or with jobs that pay a living wage within walking distance that don’t require transportation. Solving money problems generally requires money. OP2 tried something they thought would work, it didn’t work, they recognized that it wasn’t working, and quit.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yes, exactly. Many people don’t “let” their phone be shut off, it happens because they simply don’t have the money for it. And when you’re desperate for work, you take a job and hope you can figure out how to get there. In the US, outside of major cities, public transportation is not all that great, and the city or suburb or rural area you live in is hard to get around in without a car. But you have to have enough money to have a car, and to put gas in it, and to make repairs. So if you need a job, and you do, you do what you can and cross your fingers you’ll be able to make it work. Sometimes you can. Sometimes you can’t. But it’s not a character flaw to try and have a job when you’re poor.

          1. Annie Moose*

            > “But it’s not a character flaw to try and have a job when you’re poor.”

            Exactly! Does caryatis expect a new car is going to float out of the sky and suddenly OP will have a consistent method of transportation? Or that if OP doesn’t have a steady income, that their phone bill will magically disappear? The only way for OP to fix their phone and transportation problems is through money, and they can’t get that without a job!

            It’s hardly “irresponsible” for someone to try to better their financial situation. I mean, maybe they could’ve been more up-front with the manager or whatever, but because not having guaranteed transportation is often such a deal-killer for people trying to find work, I don’t really blame OP.

            1. Beezus*

              Kind-hearted and well-meaning people can be guilty of saying thoughtless things. We’ve all been guilty.

            2. Tequila Mockingbird*

              No one is shaming OP2 for being poor, so raising that issue is a straw-man. And attacking caryatis for raising valid points is just as vile as criticizing someone for being poor.

          2. caryatis*

            >But it’s not a character flaw to try and have a job when you’re poor.

            Sure. But it’s an error of judgment to take a job without having some reliable means of getting to work (as I think OP admits). If OP can’t afford a car, they should find a job that doesn’t require a car. (And they should probably get a phone for any job–you don’t see email immediately unless you’re sitting in front of a computer or checking it on a smartphone, so email just isn’t a great substitute. You can get a dumb phone and minutes for less than $100.

            1. Beezus*

              Having a car was not a requirement for the job at first – please take a look at the letter again, I think you may have missed that part. The OP started the job with the understanding that a car was not required, and realized, after starting the job, that it was a practical requirement to do the job well. When the OP realized that, they quit.

              “You can get a dumb phone and minutes for less than $100.”
              You are incredibly fortunate to consider that a paltry amount of money. For some people, sparing that amount for a phone is not feasible, especially without a job, which the OP does not have. You’re essentially telling the OP that the best way to conquer their poverty is to stop being so poor.

              1. caryatis*

                It was about $40 the last time I had to buy a cheap phone and minutes. People manage to pay their phone bill by budgeting, spending less than they earn, and saving. That way, even when unemployment hits, you can keep paying for the basic necessities. Yes, even low-income people manage to save if they have the financial skills. I know that doesn’t help OP in this moment, but it’s something to keep in mind moving forward–and it’s better advice than just assuming that if you’re broke now you’re doomed to be poor forever. As other people in the thread have mentioned, OP could look into getting free phone service to deal with his/her immediate needs.

        2. caryatis*

          > OP2 tried something they thought would work, it didn’t work, they recognized that it wasn’t working, and quit.

          Well, yeah, I’m not saying OP is a bad person, everyone makes mistakes, etc. But they made a mistake and they need to get a phone and get some form of reliable transportation (car or not) in order to be a responsible employee at their next job.

            1. caryatis*

              I mean…you might be able to get a job without a phone, but it’s going to be harder, and you can’t hold a job if you can’t get to the job. As others have pointed out, free phone service like Lifeline or Google Voice could be an option. If that doesn’t work out, and if OP seriously doesn’t have $40 to spend on a cheap phone and a few minutes, I would consider borrowing to get one. And look for work that they can walk/bike/carpool/take transit to.

      3. KR*

        OP doesn’t have to provide us with a backstory. He took a job, it didn’t work out and the owner of the company was rude to him after he tried to make a good-faith effort to return company property. All he asked for was what he should do in reaction to the text, not for a trial on his actions.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Thank you.

          OP, I agree with the idea of just letting this all go. Perhaps the manager needs a little more face to face contact. Or maybe his dog just got hit by a car. Or maybe the guy is a registered JERK. We don’t know.

          You got away from the situation which is what you wanted the most. Hang on to the fact that you got the main thing and let go of the fact that there were parts that did not go well. Just vow to do things differently in the future, save the text for a while and then let go of the text also. In all likelihood he will do nothing, he is just letting off some steam and showing you that you made the right decision.

      4. Stellaaaaa*

        OP2 sounds young, and also like he was working for the type of business owner who doesn’t pay very much but also expects employees to utilize a lot of their own personal resources without being reimbursed. OP2 didn’t work on site and had so little face time with the boss that the uniform couldn’t just be handed back in person. I’ve seen businesses like this before…the bosses don’t want to pay adults legit wages for a respectable amount of hours so they schedule teenagers at minimum wage for four hours a week and then they (the bosses) wonder why nothing’s getting done and why the teens don’t have cars at their disposal.

        You’re approaching this question as if the job could have been salvageable. It’s a lousy company that’s trying to get away with not having office phones.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I agree here ,too.
          OP, for the next job you take look for a company that is a bit more stable and has more of its own resources.
          You read AAM, so you will learn plenty of helpful tips, I know I have. Keep reading here and don’t let one jerk wear you down.

    4. Tequila Mockingbird*

      I’m going to agree with you here, even though it appears we’re in the minority! (Don’t worry, after what happened on Nov 8, I’m getting used to the feeling!)

      Even in a low-level service job, it’s irresponsible and unprofessional to (a) quit a job without notice, particularly after screwing up a job for a client; (b) not have a working phone number when one is “relied heavily on” at his company (how will OP2 set up job interviews or function at his next job?); (c) not have reliable transportation; and (d) communicate via text and email when you’ve been specifically requested to call or have a face-to-face conversation. Not all of these things were OP2’s fault or within his control… but some of them were. And I’m guessing that’s where the owner’s anger came from.

      I am NOT condoning or justifying the owner’s abusive text… but I can’t help feeling there are lots of other details being left out that don’t make OP2 smell good. The owner’s rant seems to have come from the combination of OP2’s past behaviors (his wording “You’re unbelievable” suggests he’s heard stories from others), which, I’m sorry, DO come across as flaky and a bit passive-aggressive: As other commenters have noted, leaving the shirt on his doorstep smacks of avoiding confrontation – which is understandable, but it can come across negatively to others. And again, not all of these behaviors are caused by income.

      1. neverjaunty*

        his wording “You’re unbelievable” suggests he’s heard stories from others

        I’m struggling to see how. This sounds like a garden-variety insult.

        And if this is how the owner behaves when an employee gives notice, I can see why the OP left the shirt on the doorstep.

      2. Miss Displaced*

        Well, as this is “at will” employment there is nothing wrong with quitting a job with or without notice. Especially, if said job was actually costing OP money (which is what I suspect happened).

        OP took a job that required resources they didn’t have (that were not required at first apparently), realized it wasn’t working out, and made a reasonable effort (a week and a half!) to give notice and quit and return company property. OP also said they have never met or spoke with this person before. And threats to the fact of “I’ll make sure you never work again!” over it? So yeah, over the top crazy.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I take a lighter view. I have seen bosses be just as harsh for smaller situations. There are some really beauts out there.
        People don’t speak (or text) like this all of the sudden. It’s a pattern, it’s their way of speaking to people and thinking about people. That text didn’t come from a person who is ordinarily very nice to people. That text came from a person who thinks it is okay to talk to people like this. The point of his comments was not to draw OP back to the business but to threaten and intimidate OP. He has no interest in seeing OP come back, he was only interested in lashing out.

      1. Baker's dozen*

        Excellent choice of names. It’s a great book and Topaz did struggle rather to parent Rose and Cassandra.

  9. beetrootqueen*

    OP2 keep a copy of that text. Do not delete it. If this guy star6s anything else you want a trail that shows what he’s done before.
    By all means move on and don’t think about it but make sure you keep a copy of that text and the number he used. Take a screenshot print it and keep it in a folder at home. Better to be safe than sorry in these situations

      1. beetrootqueen*

        no not that he’d turn into a stalker but I was always told when something similar happened to me to keep copies. There are multiple reasons to do so. It could be that when OP2 applies for another job this guys tries to do something or does decide to spread malicious rumours. If he does so it could be beneficial to OP2 to keep a copy of this.
        Also keeping a copy is really good for your piece of mind. It’s more than likely this guy won’t do anything but having it on hand will just make you feel a bit safer. That way its not a mad scramble to find the text if something does happen.

      2. Allison*

        No one’s assuming he’s going to do anything, but it is possible this won’t be the last time OP hears from him, and he did threaten to interfere with OP’s ability to get a job. No one’s telling OP to go to the police and get a restraining order, just that this could escalate and it will be a good idea to have that text in case it does.

  10. Hannah*

    OP #5: I will say, 25 days of PTO seems like a really high target when you’re new. That’s 5 weeks a year, and I assume holidays don’t require the use of PTO.

    1. Anonhippopotamus*

      I disagree. New or not, the OP didn’t say how senior of a role it is or what the industry standard is. Some industries offer employees in certain roles 3+ weeks a year, plus people with more experience can negotiate more vacation time when they change companies, and finally not everybody works for a super cheap company that offers only 2 weeks of vacation a year as a baseline.

      People in tech start-ups might be expected to put in long hours. I’m not in tech but in my role, I sometimes have to work evenings and weekends for events, and I bank that time. My time in lieu combined with my annual leave means that I end up with about 5 weeks of vacation per year plus holidays. If I worked for a company that had unlimited leave, there would be no point in banking my time but I’d still expect to take about 5 weeks a year.

      1. Baker's dozen*

        25 days is a typical amount of annual leave for the UK so that seems like a perfectly reasonable target to me.

      2. CanCan*

        Agreeing with Anonhippopotamus.

        I have a family member in a large, global tech company; he’s located in Canada. He’s been there for 17 years, and is currently at 25 or 27 (not sure exactly) vacation days per year. The original system (in the local company that was bought up and merged into bigger and bigger entities over the years) was that you start with 3 weeks (that was during the hi-tech boom), and then after a certain number of years, you get one extra day per year, up to a maximum.

        This 25-27 days does not include public holidays. Neither does it include sick leave. (Not sure what the limit is on that; he hardly ever takes even a day.)

        If the OP is fairly senior, 25 days may not be excessive. Why would a person moving to a new company have to necessarily start from the low number of days newbies get?

    2. Random Lurker*

      +1 – 5 weeks at a new company seems an unrealistic expectation, unless you are a very senior individual. The policy may allow it, but it will depend on what the company has implemented as their upper limit. I work for a tech company with an open PTO policy. 25 days would be the absolute max someone would be allowed to take off. We’re encouraged to keep it closer to 20. As a manager, I hate having to be the bad guy with this policy. If the limit is 25, then say 5 weeks. If it’s 20, say 4 weeks. Every year, I have to deny a request that will put someone at 30-35 days.

      1. Blueberry*

        So it’s toted as an open pto policy but it’s really not. Gotta love how companies try to have it both ways. “We offer unlimited pto…but you can’t take more than 20”

        1. Gaara*

          I suspect it’s not just a false marketing gimmick, but it actually keeps PTO down. If you tell people they get 20 days they’re likely to take it. If you tell people their days off are up to them, in a competitive industry, a lot of people are likely to take less to avoid giving the impression of not being fully committed to their jobs.

            1. Arielle*

              Yup. My last job had “unlimited” PTO which no one was ever allowed to take, and if you did you’d get an email from the COO scolding you for taking too many days. (How can you take too many days from an unlimited number? Clearly that implies there’s a limit.) It’s 100% just a way for companies to get out of paying out vacation days as they’re required to here in Mass, and pretend it’s a benefit.

              My current job has really generous PTO (three weeks your first year going up to four in the second) and I absolutely love being able to actually track my time off. We also have unlimited sick time so you don’t have to take PTO for a doctor’s appointment or a sick day, so it’s the best of both worlds.

            2. neverjaunty*

              This is 100% what it is. In California, PTO days are paid days. This means that in a workplace where employees are discouraged from actually taking time off, somebody who quits is going to be receiving money from unused PTO. So those same sweatshops instead present themselves as having “unlimited PTO” – meaning you never know what’s OK to take, and if you quit without using it, you get nothing.

          1. Joseph*

            Another way it helps keep PTO down is because some (oddly large) proportion of employees will actually forget about it if they aren’t reminded. If you have the typical accumulation of PTO, you have that little nudge reminder every single week where you see that you have 147 unused PTO hours or whatever that causes you to suddenly realize “oh wow, yeah, it has been a while” and then start actually planning to take a few days.

      2. Amtelope*

        Then you don’t have an open PTO policy. You have 25 days of PTO a year, with no carryover from year to year, and “encouragement” to actually only use 20 days. That’s not remotely the same thing as “unlimited PTO.”

      3. LawCat*

        Do the employees know about this policy? In their offers, is it clear that they accrue 0 vacation hours, but may be allowed to take 20-25 days per year (not unlimited PTO)?

        I mean, if the stated policy to employees (or offerees) is that PTO is open and unlimited, but there are secret limitations, that seems like a real recipe for frustration and dissatisfaction.

    3. Punkin*

      I work in higher education (US). 25 days a year of annual leave and 12 days of sick leave are standard for exempt employees. Plus the 11 holidays (some of which go toward the week we are closed between Christmas and New Year’s). It is supposed to make up for the horrible salaries. I make about 60-70 percent of what I could make in private industry. Not sure if the annual leave will hold me there, but I have to consider it when comparing positions.

      1. Chocolate lover*

        I also work in higher ed and get 5 weeks, but it’s not universal, it’s based on the level of position. There are many people who get only 3 weeks.

        Vacation is not based on years of service for professional exempt positions (though it is for administrative and other non exempt positions) but it’s factored in to sick time calculations. I was recently flabbergasted to discover I had up to 66 sick days! There are some restrictions, like you can’t be out consecutively for more than a certain number of days without medical documentation, but still.

        1. Punkin*

          At our place, non-exempt (also called support staff) get less annual leave and sick time to start. The amounts they earn increase with their years of service.

          Exempt employees start off with the 25 days. The amount never increases. We can roll 2 months per fiscal year.

          If we are out sick more than 3 days , we have to submit FMLA. Sick time is not capped. I have about 6 weeks built up now, but have donated about the same amount to 3 coworkers in the past. I hope I never need it, but it’s nice to have it there if I do.

      2. BRR*

        My last job was in higher ed and I looked at a lot of jobs at a variety of types of universities and accruing two days a month was pretty common.

      3. ThatGirl*

        My husband works at a university and gets 5 weeks now, after 5 years — and like you said, it’s partly supposed to be an offset of crappy pay.

    4. Violet Fox*

      Five weeks a year is pretty normal in a lot of Europe. Given that the person worked in Europe and is working for a European company this really does not seem off-base at all to me.

      1. ciara amberlie*


        UK here, we get 25 days plus holidays. Then an extra 10 days (so 35 + holidays) after 5 years service. The extra 10 days is not super common, but 25 days is the minimum most large white collar jobs will be offered here.

    5. Murphy*

      Not necessarily true about holidays. My husband’s company has 25 days PTO (vacation and sick) and no holidays, so if you want Christmas or Thanksgiving off, you have to take a day.

    6. Tax Accountant*

      My first entry level job in public accounting had about 25 days vacation. Part of that was comp time, meant to sort of make up for the fact that for 6 months out of the year we were working 60-70 hours a week plus working on Saturdays was mandatory and Sundays strongly suggested, especially in the weeks leading up to deadlines. So it might be rare, but it does happen.

      1. nonymous*

        When I compare my position to those in companies with a drastically different work/life balance I try to evaluate compensation on an effective hourly rate. So effective rate = salary/(2080-PTO), and at minimum that rate should stay the same with a job change.

    7. Not Karen*

      We get 7 weeks (yes, even brand new employees) and holidays do require the use of PTO. Let’s try not to make assumptions.

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      I work in tech (not a startup) and we start with 4 weeks of vacation, even for entry-level employees. I don’t think 5 weeks is totally out of line.

    9. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

      In my industry (in the US – a large East Coast city) – 20 PTO is very normal. 25 might be a bit on the high side, but not in any way unheard of, especially for those of a certain level or years of experience. I think its very possible that 25 is a perfectly reasonable expectation. It’s just one of those things that varies by industry/location.

    10. krysb*

      I have unlimited vacation through my company. I agree with those who say to stick close to the local/industry standards. Personally, I will take two weeks – both weeks separately, but then I’ll take long weekends, too. I have to note, though, that my company’s attendance policy has always been loose. If you don’t want to go to work, it’s highly unlikely that you’d be penalized by calling out.

    11. Teapot project manager*

      My company starts out new hires at 20 PTO days a year and then adds a day a year. And yes, holidays are separate. So if a company tauts their unlimited PTO policy as a great benefit, I can see 25 days as reasonable

      1. OP5*

        I have 25 at my current role which I’d love to stay at, and I’m also thinking the same – if the unlimited PTO is a major perk of working there, I’d like a few extra days than what the norm may be!

  11. Monkey Puzzle*

    Boo on open plan. I think you’ll find that for the vast majority of jobs, open plan is actually counter-productive, and does not encourage the type of communication that mangers want. (Shouting across the room about those stupid umpires/referees in that game on the weekend isn’t productive.)
    I think you need a room per team, with a soft-maximum of about six to eight people per room (so if the team is bigger, split them into two rooms). These rooms don’t need proper hard walls, but they should be substantial enough to cut noise, and allow people to lean on them.
    As for who get’s offices? How about nobody. If open plan is good enough for the plebs, it should be good enough for the CEO.

    1. esra (also a Canadian)*

      You could say that about virtually any issue people write into this site about. I mean, I guess it would make AAM’s job easier, but isn’t really valuable.

      1. Sigrid*

        Besides, it’s often a false dichotomy. For many people, the choice is an open plan office or finding a new job without one.

      1. Joseph*

        I think you’re missing the fact that open plan offices actually tend to be just as bad for companies as for workers. Yes, it’s better than some jobs…but if you’re a company looking to maximize productivity, open plan offices are a pretty iffy idea.
        >As Monkey Puzzle mentioned, the communications often tend to be non work-related. Which is fine for the two people involved (morale is relevant to productivity!), but throws off everybody else who’s forced to overhear the ballgame or the movie or whatever.
        >Even if the conversations *are* all work-related, it’s still distracting. You may not be on the Alpha Project, but if you hear two people talking about it, you’re going to listen in even if it has no real relevance to your job.
        Also, your comparison to third-world workers is technically true, but misses the point. The real comparison here is with your competitor next door, Bob’s Consulting. Does your open office plan make your employees more productive, happier or more successful? Is it going to make your company better equipped to beat Bob for employees/clients/profits?

        1. Joseph*

          To clarify, my comment was in reference to the removed comment. I agree 100% with Monkey Puzzle on this one – open office plans sound great in theory, but tend to work really poorly in practice.

    2. Allison*

      Seriously, it’s hard to get anything done with my coworkers are gabbing away (loudly) about fantasy football while standing right behind me, or right next to my desk. It’s also counterproductive when some stands at my desk to talk over it to the person on the other side of the row, especially if they lean on the button that adjusts the height or they tap on my desk out of habit. All the while, the people who do need to talk to me usually do it via e-mail, whether they’re in another state or two desks away, so the open plan does diddly squat for me.

  12. Mookie*

    OP2, that sounds like a very unsettling text to receive, especially from a virtual stranger. My knee-jerk reaction to something like that would be to shoulder the blame for this person’s weird hostility and worry myself about how badly I badly I behaved that I’d deserve such treatment. I’m glad you’ve got this in perspective because you’ve done nothing wrong and have acted responsibly, rather than stick around knowing you can’t meet expectations (because of the car and phone situation), ghost the job altogether, or “steal” the shirt.

    Sounds like you have your parents’s common sense; move on and do your best not to let this mentally trip you up. This person — venting at you without provocation — does not have the power to sabotage your future, no matter what he threatens to do. You’re going to be fine. (I’d keep the text message until your final payment clears, and then exercise some self-care and erase it. Maybe even write down a brilliant, cutting response you never plan to send and give a dramatic reading of it to someone close to you so you can both laugh at how ridiculous this guy is.)

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Excellent advice! I recently had something similar happen to me and my therapist reminded me that this person doesn’t know the real me, they’re just going off (and making something small into a huge issue) on one incident. Get some positive feedback from those who really know you and the good person you are.

    2. Miss Displaced*

      OP, here is the thing. Work in the USA is mostly “At-Will” meaning you can be fired or you can quit at any time.

      It sounds like you did try to contact them for a week and a half to give notice and return company property. So, you didn’t do anything wrong on that account. Perhaps you did avoid a bit… but you did make the effort.

      So, learn a lesson and move on. And don’t take a job like this that requires significant outlay of your own personal resources ever again! I’ve seen a few jobs of this type. They’re often home-based businesses that “require” the employee to provide their own car, gas, tools, phone, computer, utilities, etc., etc., upfront for very little pay or the promise of tips. Basically they are a scam.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Excellent advice in this thread, OP.

        Looking back on my jobs, no one has ever sabotaged me in a manner that has impacted my ability to get a job. And I had a couple people that kept me awake some nights.
        People like this tend not to follow up. There’s lots of reasons why they don’t follow up. But typically they find something else to be angry about five minutes later and they forget all about their anger with us. And as others have mentioned the people around them tend to know the individual is a hothead and not to be believed/listened to.

  13. Grits McGee*

    OP1, what a double whammy of bummers! :( I think at this point you’re going to have to decide how to proceed, under the assumption that you’re never going to have the conversation you want (especially once she’s your boss). Given that, what do _you_ want out of this relationship?

    Also keep in mind, once she’s your boss, even had this happened in the less hurtful circumstances, that would change the dynamic between the two of you regardless. Could you scale back your level of closeness and live with her as your manager, the way you would if the two of you didn’t have a preexisting friendship?

    1. Liane*

      This is the scond comment assuming the “friend” will be OP’s boss, which is not stated. The question only says the position is level 3 vs. OP’s level 2, nothing about one supervising the other.
      Either way, I think it might be time to look for a new job in a new company. Considering how “Friend” is acting on the personal side, I don’t see much chance she’ll work on the two of them having a decent professional relationship, which they would need even without the personal issues.

  14. Andy Newstrom*

    OP3: With this large discrepancy between the demand for private offices, the number available and the amount of politics about to happen so people get their way, there is only one solution:

    NOBODY gets a private office. You have 3 or 4 private meeting rooms that can be booked on the outlook calendar.

    Exceeding your booking, or hogging a room when you do not need the privacy is penalised by the loss of outlook booking rights. You could play tunes with the system, for instance by having a room that can only be used for 30 minutes, or have a room that is unbookable, but people are expected to vacate after 30 minutes (so that ad-hoc private telephone calls can be made, etc.). Anything left in any of the rooms is put in the trash at the end of the day.

    1. MapleTheory*

      I conduct workplace investigation meetings with a national client group (ranging from sexual harassment to theft) and lead termination meetings, suspension meetings and performance coaching meetings. I spend 75% of my job on the phone talking about confidential matters. Your idea doesn’t work.

    2. Sam*

      You could probably do this EXCEPT that people like HR still need a private office. But for most of the people requesting offices? It just might work.

  15. EA*

    OP3: Our company recently went to open floor plan and we do have offices but they are only for the office Managing Director, the Executive VP’s and HR managers and their offices are interior offices. The windows offices are for hoteling and no one can book the same office longer than a week and consecutively weeks. Everyone else is in the bullpen, there is alot of unhappy people who lost their office in the new design.

  16. mccoma*

    “actual offices are limited to two or three individuals and everyone else joins the open plan operations team to remove barriers to better communication.”

    I wish management was honest about this stuff. It does not foster better communication, they are doing it because its cheaper. Some professions are much less productive because of the noise (e.g. software developers) or because they cause noise (e.g. sales). Its done for cost not communication.

    1. Anonymous 40*

      This, times a thousand. Nobody in their right mind believes walls, whether cubicle or drywall, are literal barriers to communication. There are two reasons open plan is popular right now:

      1. The ability to pack more people into the same size space

      2. It lets office furniture and services companies push new product lines to replace the cubicles they sold to everyone for the last 20-30 years.

  17. Jo*

    OP2, if this happened to me I think I’d be feeling like you are now and be tempted to upload the text to Yelp or something, but I agree the best thing is to let it go. This guy doesn’t sound like he’s worth expending any thought or energy on, so by dwelling on it you’re giving him more time and consideration than he’s due. Laugh off his jumped up response, put it behind you and move on. Sure, if there’s anything you could have done differently, take that on board, but even if there was, it would have been more helpful of the guy to have told you that politely and professionally, or just not to say anything at all if he couldn’t manage that. So put this behind you -life is too short to send time stressing about crappy people.

  18. CoffeeLover*

    #2 It sounds like burning this bridge won’t irreparably damage your reputation forcing you to switch career paths so… if you want to have some fun, please text back “lol” and then disappear into the night (but come back to tell us how it goes). Rest assured these 3 letters will enrage the recipient to new levels. Because these 3 letters are saying the following: your threats mean nothing to me, this job means nothing to me, and most of all YOU mean nothing to me. There’s nothing more satisfying than bringing a mighty douchebag down to the level of a mere nobody.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      Oh and not saying this is a mature/responsible reaction… but sometimes the only way to battle an immature person is with your own brand of immaturity.

    2. Jo*

      Hahaha this made me lol….. Or in Catherine Tate style (not sure how big Catherine Tate would be in the US so don’t know if you’ll know what I mean) send back a pic of you grinning inanely with her catchphrase ‘Am I bovvered? Is this face bovvered?’

    3. Tequila Mockingbird*


      NEVER engage with another person’s hostility or immaturity. That sinks you to their level and makes you 100% as bad a person as they are.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. OP, *imagine* yourself texting back “lol”, smile at that image in your mind and let the rest go.

      2. Lissa*

        Disagree that it makes you 100% as bad to respond to somebody else’s hostility. It’s not the best response ever, but it’s a human and normal one, far different than aggressively starting hostility with another person.

        I don’t think the OP should do it (though it’s funny to think of) but I really don’t agree with the idea that it would make them anywhere near as hostile a person as the text sender was.

        1. Jo*

          Yeah I don’t think it makes you as bad as they are -it may not be the best or most mature response (and my suggestion was meant to be tongue in cheek by the way!) but I think like Lissa says, it would be a human response in reaction to over the top hostility.

  19. Anon Marketer*

    #5 I work at a place like this with flexible PTO. I asked how this worked and they replied “That is something you discuss case-by-case with your manager.” Usually, it wasn’t a big deal so long as your work got done. Recently though, either due a shifting environment, confusion, or hidden discontent, they recently released a rule saying this equals four weeks PTO (still a lot!!!) excluding office/government holidays. I, personally, don’t think there’s such a thing as unlimited PTO. There’s always a cap/breaking point somewhere.

  20. Newby*

    OP3: Could you ask the national (or global) office to deal with whether or not your wife gets an office? She is not a part of your team, so maybe they could add an additional office for her that is independent from the number you were given to distribute. Or they can decide that she does not need an office. Either way it should not be your decision due to the optics and that you need to look out for your team.

  21. cobweb collector*

    Letter #2

    You will need a phone number. If anything people like to be able to talk to you to set up job interviews and such. It does come off as unprofessional to not have a phone at all. The internet has provided several options for free phone calls though. I can personally recommend Google Voice. Sign up for a new phone number and it’s free. You can place calls from your PC via google hangouts, and from a smartphone using the hangouts app. It sounds like you have internet (email and texting) so it should incur no additional cost.

    1. Natalie*

      LW may also qualify for service through Lifeline, a government program paid for through a small tax on communications services that provides free or reduced-cost phone service to low income people. (Sometimes referred to as “Obama Phones”, inaccurately as this program has been in place for 30+ years.)

  22. LawCat*

    #5, I’d be more targeted in the question. Sure, ask what people do on average if that is helpful, but verify that will be acceptable to the company for you and your role. “Would me taking about 25 days of PTO per year be permissible?”

  23. A Nonny Mouse*

    OP 2: I had this happen to me with a former boss. I gave three weeks’ notice, then ended up leaving about two weeks into it because I had severe health issues (wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating, blood pressure through the roof all due to the job itself) and wanted to take a week off before the start date at my new employer. I emailed my boss the day I decided to leave, told her that unfortunately because of health issues I wouldn’t be able to continue working, and that I wished her well and was sorry for any inconvenience. I then emailed our payroll person to ask about my direct deposit, because it was supposed to have gone into my account and didn’t.

    I then got a series of nasty emails from said boss to my personal email address, telling me that I had betrayed her, that she had “protected me in ways of which I was unaware,” that she wanted to send me to law school (I’d already gotten my law degree…), that I had been treated with “unparalleled kindness and generosity,” and that I had also been unprofessional by comments I’d made about a former employer (my boss was a social acquaintance and asked me tons of questions about my work for this person, and I had told her some minor details of this person’s divorce, details which this person had freely told anyone who would listen). She continued to say that I had been “like a daughter” to her and that karma would get me in the end. She then withheld my already-past-due paycheck for nearly two weeks to “review it for accuracy.”

    I ended up asking my mother, an attorney, to get involved, because I didn’t want to engage, but I DID want my paycheck. She and my mother exchanged several emails and I ended up getting my paycheck a couple days later.

    It’s generally not worth engaging with these types of people. They are just looking for a fight and are personalizing their business, when it should be anything but.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      One boss tried to pull that “I have protected you” stuff with me. I said, “I did not realize I am such a lousy worker. How come I am just hearing this now and not as the problems occurred? Going forward we need to talk about each and every instance that you felt the need to protect me so I can remedy things.”

      She never said that to me again.

    1. AK*

      If you do put it on Glassdoor, you’d need to specify the territory/geographical location so that other franchisees don’t lose out on hiring great people on account of one weirdo.

  24. AK*

    OP2, if you really want to vent, I would take it to the franchisor instead of Yelp – they would CERTAINLY want to know!

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