4 updates from letter-writers

Here are four updates from people who had their letters answered here this year.

1. My coworker is threatening to lie to get our manager in trouble

Just wanted to thank you for posting my letter and your answer. It really helped, as well as did the wonderful and helpful comments. I did meet with one of our HR people, and I’m glad I did. I feel good about having done it, and even if it never goes anywhere, I feel a sense of relief for having gotten it off my chest.

The HR person was so nice about it, and told me that they do a very thorough job of investigating if anyone makes any allegation, so I shouldn’t fear that one of my managers would get fired because “Anne” told a lie. I found out something interesting — when I mentioned that I’d heard “Anne” went to HR about manager #1 (the male manager) a few months ago (which my friend had told me “Anne” told her), the HR person looked surprised. She told me “I’ll tell you this, and no more, but “Anne” came to us over a year ago and hasn’t made any other complaints since.” That makes me feel more and more like “Anne” is just a big talker and wouldn’t actually do anything. Before I left her office, she made sure to ask me if I had any questions or any further concerns besides this one, and even gave me some advice (consider breaking away from our lunch group OR bring up the idea of making our lunch break a work-talk free zone, ie “we are all stressed out by our work, let’s talk about more pleasant things during lunch so we can all decompress for a half hour”).

Anyway, I hope it helps you to know that you and your other readers helped me pull together the courage I needed to talk to HR about this, and has relieved a lot of anxiety for me.

2. How do I tell a laid-off coworker that her old job is open but she shouldn’t apply?

My initial worry that Padmé would ask me about the job was for naught. But although she never contacted me, I was so relieved to have the suggested phrasing from you and your readers for how I should respond.

Padmé did apply for her old job, but it went to Rey who is excelling at it and makes a wonderful fit. When the HR rep mentioned to the hiring supervisor that Padmé might apply for Rey’s old job, the hiring supervisor said he would be willing to interview her. I was in the room with them, but I refrained from saying anything like “don’t interview her just to be kind if you have no intention of hiring her.” In a different situation, I might have said something; in this case, I just zipped it. We ended up hiring a new person, Jyn, for that vacancy, and she is fantastic.

Padmé probably made things worse for herself after not getting her old job back; the head of our section told me that she received a weird, scathing letter from Padmé, accusing her of not giving her a fair chance. As much as I was curious to know the contents of that letter (and would have loved to share the juicy bits with the readers), I again zipped my mouth and didn’t ask for further details.

No more meddling from me in these situations! My heart was in the right place but now my nose is, too. Thank-you all.

3. Starting work after being a stay-at-home parent

An update to my post about returning to the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent for five years. It has been good and bad. The job I originally wrote you about was a five-month contract, and in the end I didn’t get pulled on full-time which was disappointing, but in the long run it wasn’t a good fit for me anyway. After that contract ended I looked for work for about two to three months and settled into the full-time job I have now. I was originally hired at $1 less an hour than I had made at my job before I became a parent, which was fairly demoralizing, but I needed a job and the benefits and other perks made it worth it. I’ve been there over a year now and have been promoted and am now making $1/hour more than I made previous to staying at home.

The transition has been hard and not hard. I definitely don’t have any “mom brain” and while I am older than a lot of my team (I’m about 10 years older than the majority of my colleagues), I have a lot of experience not just in the work we do but in life in general and I was pretty easily fast tracked for my promotion. I feel 100% confident in my abilities in my job and I love having a non-kid space in my life. I feel good paying our rent and having a better control of our finances. On this minus side, I miss a lot of stuff at home — I missed my son’s first day of preschool, I can’t go to meetings for the kids or take them to appointments, I rarely see my parent friends that I was close to. All together though, I like working more than not working and I’m happy that I made the transition. Thanks!

4. Job-searching advice for a teenager on the autism spectrum

So, I did the interview for the retail store on Saturday. I arrived at the store in plenty of time, and I walked over to Guest Services and told them who I was and that I was there for my interview. This guy, we’ll call him “Tom,” told me, “Okay, go sit on the bench over there and your interviewer will be with you shortly to take you back to the office.” I did as Tom told me.

Sure enough, my interviewer, who we’ll call “Curtis,” showed up promptly. Curtis took me to a back room, and there were pens and markers and highlighters that were all the store’s main color (which happens to be my favorite color, for another reason). I looked at them, but I resisted the strong urge to use them to doodle all over my arms. Self-control, right? Well, Curtis asked me some questions about my strengths, some “tell me about a time when…” stuff, etc. I answered them politely, with enthusiasm, and exactly how I’d rehearsed them. He absolutely adored me!

Then, a second interviewer came along. We’ll call her “Jessie.” She asked me what my weaknesses are, and some more “tell me about a time when…” stuff, and stuff like that. And I answered her well. She absolutely adored me!

Then, something really cool happened. Like, for me, this would be like having rainbows flow out of my arms when I run. It was that cool. Jessie told me that she was going to go get the HR director (let’s call her “Patsi”), and that Patsi was going to MAKE AN OFFER!!!


So I said, “Okay! Alright! That works!”

So then Patsi comes in and asks me, “We’d be paying you $10.00 an hour, does that work?” And

I said, “YES!”


{ 98 comments… read them below }

  1. motherofdragons*

    These are all wonderful updates, but I was particularly delighted to hear from #4. “…this would be like having rainbows flow out of my arms when I run” is an awesome description. Congratulations to all!

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I was just coming to write the same thing! What a fantastic visual. It made me happy to read it (and great update as well!!!).

    2. snarkarina*

      Yes, number 4 has me sooooooo very happy. I can’t even explain (well I could, but it’s not relevant), but it’s exactly the type of thing I needed to read today.

    3. k*

      I also loved that line, it is such an accurate way to describe a feeling of joy and excitement!

      Congrats on your new job OP4! I hope you enjoy working their and gain valuable work experience!

    4. MoinMoin*

      I was going to quote that part too, I love this update! The next time I’m really happy I’m going to imagine myself running with rainbows flowing out of my arms.

    5. Windchime*

      Congratulations, Updater #4! Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was so excited about getting a new job? I know you will do great with your upbeat and enthusiastic attitude. :)

    6. Emmie*

      I am clapping and celebrating with you, OP #4! My congratulations for you are so big that giant rainbows, unicorns, and puppies are radiating from this message!!!! Big congrats!!

      1. Emmie*

        To the other OPs: Cupcakes are shooting out of my message for y’all too. The HR advice was excellent; the quote about hearts being in the right place, and now noses is going into my journal; and kudos to the inspiring former stay at home parent.

    7. Green*

      Loved this update. I know anxiety about how autism may impact their social relationships at work or how others interpret their behavior or statements can be added stress, so it is really awesome to not only have a job but have people understand and enjoy you. :)

      Congrats. You both sound fun and now have a job!

    8. Bonky*

      #4’s update has left me grinning all over my face. Thanks for updating us, OP, and thanks Alison for saving it for the end of this post!

    9. JessaB*

      I love “rainbows flowing out of my arms” this is so awesome. I’m so stealing it. :-)

      Also, congrats on getting the job. Let us know how it goes. Yay you.

  2. Marisol*

    #4 your enthusiasm is charming and I applaud your good judgment in realizing that doodling all over your arms would be poor interview etiquette. I am sure you will continue to learn and develop as an employee and be an asset to any company you work for.

    1. sunny-dee*

      On the downside, now he’s put the idea in my head, and all I want to do is draw daisies on my arms! :)

      1. SouthernLadybug*

        My son came home with green marker all over his face yesterday. He clearly was celebrating for #4 :)

      2. halpful*

        me too! I’d forgotten about how I used to do that… I don’t even remember what grade I was in, but gel pens were new and shiny and looked really good on skin; I had vines all over my hands for quite a while. I wish I’d been able to take photos. :)

    2. PaperFiend*

      I know something of what it takes to resist doodling on your arms, especially when all the writing implements are one’s favorite color anyway. Great job navigating the interview and congrats on the job, #4!

  3. Dawn*

    Such wonderful updates! #3 and #4 are so great to hear!!!! I think they’re great examples to uphold of how things can turn out really, really well even if we don’t initially expect them to!!

    Also LW#4 I hope you get the employee discount so you can get some of that store swag in your favorite color, so you can do whatever you want with it during your free time!

  4. Aurion*

    Yay for great updates, but OP #4 in particular made me smile. It’s pouring here where I am, but OP #4, you’ve added a bit of rainbow to my day. :)

  5. Jessesgirl72*

    OP1, I know (from your updates in the comments) you were feeling stupid when you heard that Anne had already complained about the other manager, but it sounds like your HR rep was able to put you at ease. I would have been 75% sure Anne was just talking out her rear, but I still would have alerted HR myself, just in case. This was too serious of a threat to let go.

    And I hope you can distance yourself from Anne and the lunch group. She doesn’t sound like the sort of person an honest and hard worker like yourself should be associated with.

    1. Sas*


      OP1, I would have thought she was making that up also. Not sure I would have gone to HR. You encounter different people in working. You can’t really “have it your way” all the time at work in the sense of impacting people who are very different from you. In the future, making decisions without going to HR necessarily might be good.?

  6. Marisol*

    #1 – “Anne” is an idiot. It seems to me she does not understand how to negotiate power in the office, but thinks that she does. Congrats OP for successfully navigating a work challenge.

  7. Lady Montworth (née Janice in Accounting)*

    I am grinning like a doofus at my desk. So happy for you, #4. :)

  8. Kyrielle*

    All of these are awesome. Love the turns of phrase in #4 and also in #2, that’s the perfect way of putting that. :)

    1. Nobody Here By That Name*

      Agreed! I was going to say I loved both the rainbows in #4 and the “and now my nose is too” in #2. Great turns of phrase and great updates. =)

        1. OP#2*

          Yes, feel free to steal it! It just sort of came out naturally as I was writing. I wanted to express about how I really wanted to do the right thing, but sometimes the best thing is nothing.

    2. OP#2*

      Thanks! :D

      I am thrilled that my update was included with all these great ones, especially #4! My son is on the spectrum, so found that update to be particularly uplifting.

  9. Imaginary Number*

    “I resisted the strong urge to use them to doodle all over my arms.”

    I’m pretty sure everyone can relate to that feeling.

  10. HR Caligula*

    There are only two instances sheer beauty has teared me up.
    Listening to Pearl Jam
    Update from OP # 4

  11. Brand new*

    Anyone else having an issue with redirects to a random Facebook page ad? I’m scrolling to read the comments and it suddenly redirects me

    1. Belle*

      I sent in the ad report already but I am also having this issue on my mobile phone. It redirects to skyweekly and starts trying to install stuff. I am only using my desktop computer for a while though to be safe now.

  12. Observer*

    OP1, good for you on handling the situation so well, and congratulations for working with a company that has a decent HR department.

    Your HR person was right about breaking away from that group. Anne is really bad news. She’s both an idiot and a pathological liar. That’s a pretty scary combination. Sure, there is more hot air there than action, but you don’t know when she’ll take it into her head to lie about you or your work. You can’t even think in terms of how it would benefit her to lie, since she’s too stupid to think that through, apparently. I mean most people lie in ways to make themselves look good or to get something. Here, she lied in a way that won’t do anything to get her what she wants, but it WILL make her look bad to anyone who is paying attention.

    1. Annonymouse*

      reminds me of one of my sisters.
      She lies all the time. About everything. Never thinks it through or how it’s going to impact her or others.

      She’s mad at me because I donated a fridge she was supposed to pick up. Which we donated because she lied and said she didn’t need it.

      But of course it’s my fault not hers. (:/)

      OP make a clean break if you can or don’t talk work with them.

  13. Isben Takes Tea*

    I LOVE the phrase “My heart was in the right place but now my nose is, too.” It’s so hard to curb curiosity! Well done. :-)

    1. OP#2*

      I had considered putting a rubber band around my wrist to snap whenever I got the urge to butt in, but it turned out that just thinking about how much I like my coworkers and manager and how I don’t want to upset them was enough incentive.

  14. Tracy*

    Letter writer #4, I love your enthusiasm and your descriptive writing! Congratulations on your new job!

  15. Atrocious Pink*


    Alison, this kind of thing must make you feel so awesome, and it should.

    1. OP#2*

      And Jyn came in at the right time…

      Oh, that’s also a reminder that this scenario proves to me that our hiring practices seem to be spot on. We keep replacing employees with even better employees. Hooray for good HR people and hiring practices!

  16. TL17*

    #4 I want rainbows to flow out of my arms when I run. This is the best description ever! This is such a happy update!

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