manager wants the top 10 reasons I’d quit my job, boss is being snarky about me being out sick, and more

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

1. Manager wants the top 10 reasons I’d quit my job

I’ve worked at my job as a contractor for more than a decade. There’s a lot of turnover, for a number of reasons, but chief amongst them is that the manager is really annoying. Part of our job is copyediting, and her emails are riddled with errors and LOLs, which is a death of a thousand cuts to those of us attuned to finding and fixing errors in text. Every request for help is punctuated with GIFs and exclamation points. Seeing her name in my inbox makes me internally cringe.

Yesterday, she IMed me this: “Can I ask your input on something? Just between you and me? What are the top 10 reasons you world work somewhere other than with us? When you have a minute, thanks LOL!”

I know I’m valued by my employer, but I’m hoping to leave in the next few months for a job with benefits and paid vacation and more income stability. I’ll need a good reference from my manager, and I need to feed my family whether the job I’m aiming for works out or not.

I can tell my manager the things she already knows that are out of the company’s control, which are valid reasons for people to leave. Telling her that her unprofessional communication is annoying seems like a really bad idea. Should I let it go? Tell her after I’ve lined something else up?

I wouldn’t tell her at all, unless she has proved herself to be unusually open to hearing feedback and criticism of herself. Her emails do sound annoying (and I don’t understand why there’s a LOL in the one you quoted at all), but “your emails are error ridden and annoying” is a very difficult message to deliver as an underling. If you happen to have really good rapport with her, you could maybe bring it up outside of this exchange, but raising it as one of your “top 10 reasons” you’d work somewhere else isn’t likely to land well.

Stick with pay and benefits, which in this case sound like really good reasons to move on.

Also — top 10 reasons? How many reasons does she think you might have?!

2. My boss is being snarky about me being out sick

Approximately a month ago, I had severe abdominal swelling and constipation/diarrhea. Because of this bizarre combination, a doctor prescribed me laxatives to flush my system and signed me unfit to work for one week. I gave my boss the sick note. Every day I emailed her in the morning to express that I wouldn’t be in. I chose to email rather than phone as I felt this was more courteous; she receives it earlier and has more time to organize what is going to happen for the day.

Every day I received rude or blunt emails as replies like “Shame” or “We shall have to cancel *insert something important*.” I brushed it off.

However, everyone at work is now suffering with a cough. I have it, my throat is raw, and as a result I’ve totally lost my voice. My job is working with children and I can’t imagine I’d be much use. I emailed her again to let her know, and received a reply that was once again rude, blunt, and disrespectful and she demanded to speak to me on the phone. She told me she had it too, took a cold pill, and feels fine. When she called, it sounded like she was speaking with a very sarcastic and patronizing tone. I guess I’ll find out when I’m back in. She also CC’d me into an email to other staff members saying all of the things that had to be cancelled because of me. What do I do? Is this acceptable behavior?

No, it’s rude and insulting behavior. Is this manager otherwise a reasonable and respectful person? I’m guessing not — and that there are bigger problems dealing with her than just this sick leave issue.

But for this, I’d ask her about it directly when you return to work, because people like this often back down when their behavior is named and questioned in a calm, professional way. Say something like, “When I was out sick, I got the sense that you thought I really should have been at work. I take my job very seriously, and I don’t call out unless I really am too ill too work. What happened there that made you question my illness?”

3. I don’t want to nominate my coworker for an award

I have a colleague who works on a different team but we are both in the same department and were recently put on a project together. He has applied for a promotion within his team. Our department has an internal awards program to recognize individual and team performers. This person has asked me to nominate him and his team for one of the internal awards – believing this recognition could help support his case for promotion. I do not believe this person is qualified for the promotion, and I don’t think his team has done anything beyond deliver the results they are supposed to. But now I have this very awkward situation where I have to continue working with the person on our project, even though I want to reject his request to create an “endorsement” for him and his team.

Ooof, yeah, that’s awkward. You could just be honest and say, “I thought the project was solid, but not something I could make a strong enough case for an award for.” Or if you want to be a little vaguer (and if theoretically you weren’t in a position to evaluate the work as a whole), you could say, “I don’t think I’m in a position to supply the sort of endorsement they’re looking for with those awards.”

4. Can’t leave early if we’re not going to the holiday party

My company’s holiday party is on a Friday at 7 p.m. Normal business hours are 8:30-5:30. Historically, the company will close the office early and allow employees to leave a few hours early to prepare for the holiday party. I was told today that I would not be able to leave early because I was not going to the holiday party because early departure was reserved only for those who plan to attend the party. This appears to be a departmental and managerial discretion, as other departments allow all their employees to leave early regardless of their participation in the event.

Isn’t this unfair treatment to those whom don’t want to participate in a work-sponsored function held after hours?

It’s actually pretty common to say “if you’re not attending the party, you can’t leave work early just to go home for the hell of it.” They’re not offering people an early closing to do whatever they want with; they want to facilitate people attending an employee event. If you’re choosing not to attend, there’s no reason for them to have you end your work day early.

(I do think the whole “take a few hours to prepare” is a little funny, but maybe people require time to make their hair sensational and so forth.)

5. Always asked to go first on conference calls

My boss always asks me to go first on conference calls, almost every time. Why is this?

I don’t know! It could be that she’s just in a routine, or you’re the most senior, or you’re the most junior, or your work is the most interesting to her or requires the most discussion, or all sorts of other reasons.

Normally with questions about why a boss is doing something a certain way, when the answer could be all sorts of different things, I suggest just asking your boss. With this one, though, unless there’s some work-related reason that you’d rather not always go first, I’d just assume it’s something like one of the above and let it go. (Although if you have a good rapport with your boss, you could just say, “Hey, I’m always first — can we switch it up unless there’s a reason you want to keep it that way?”)

{ 378 comments… read them below }

  1. Turtle Candle*

    For #2, the “Shame” thing made my eyes go wide. With my current boss, with whom I have great rapport, we might send each other “dogs in the Cone of Shame” memes as a joke over minor gaffes. But otherwise? It would feel like being treated like a four-year-old. Or, well, a dog.

    LW, you may have to put up with this for the time being depending on your job situation–but no, it’s not normal, nor reasonable.

    1. Jilly*

      I interpreted that email as an insincere “it’s a shame that you’re sick” vs an aggressive “shame on you for being unwell”

      1. Shazbot*

        If it was just “Shame”, then it was likely meant as “Shame on you” with the plausible deniability of “but but but I didn’t say that, I meant it’s a shame you were sick.” That’s the sort of thing passive-aggressive emailers do.

      2. Koko*

        It reminded me of my old boss, who was one of these sort of aggressively well-adjusted people you find in the DC area – they’re super Type A demanding high achievers but they go to yoga and meditate every day like it’s their job to try to be at peace.

        Whenever I emailed her something she didn’t like, like that I couldn’t come in, her response was, “Bummer.” Like you could maybe interpret it as she was sympathizing with me for my illness, but more likely what she really felt was that it was an inconvenience to her but she wouldn’t come right out and say it.

        Now I have a boss who says, “Rest and feel better! We’ll see you tomorrow.”

        1. Blue Anne*

          > super Type A demanding high achievers but they go to yoga and meditate every day like it’s their job to try to be at peace.

          Holy crap. This is the best description I’ve ever come across for these guys. They’re are all over Princeton and NYC too, which is why I don’t live in either of those places any more.

          1. Elise*

            They’re all over the place. Maybe not in the numbers of those locales, but in my city (a larger coastal city) you get the manager/leader types who are also surfers who must prove that, even though they are now “the man,” they are still chill dudes.

        2. ToxicWaste*

          “aggressively well-adjusted people… they’re super Type A demanding high achievers”- Omg, YES! I worked in an office full of them. They often sympathized with each other, but had nothing but contempt for people considered “beneath” them. Absolutely horrible.

      3. INFJ*

        Anyone else picture a woman in religious garb yelling “shame” and ringing a bell?

        Anyway, additional advice I have for OP going forward is to not give details about sickness when calling out in the future. (It’s not clear from the letter if that has been happening or not.) You can’t control your boss’s rude and nasty comments about calling out, but you can protect yourself by not giving the boss any reason to escalate it. “I’m sick”, “I feel awful”, “I really shouldn’t come to work sick” are all go-to statements.

        I used to have a boss who would only accept calls to call out sick because he “wanted to hear if (we were) faking it” (because all illnesses can be heard over the phone *snark*). Whenever I called in sick and he would press me to come in anyway, I would repeat those lines. He once escalated a coworker’s call out to HR because he didn’t think her reason for calling out sick was valid. It sounds like your boss is equally unreasonable, so please CYA from here on out.

        1. designbot*

          yes, that’s all I could picture and it took me a good five minutes to realize they might just mean “it’s a shame you’re out sick!”

      4. Turtle Candle*

        Oh! I didn’t even think of that. Where I live, it pretty much has to be a sentence (“That’s a shame” or similar) to be sympathy.

    2. He who walks behind the rows*

      Where I’m from, “shame” would be an expression of sympathy.
      “I broke my toe.” “Awww, shame.”
      “My cat died.” “Awww, shame. ”
      and so on

        1. Emi.*

          Where I’m from, it depends on the tone, but an admonishment would more likely be “for shame” or “shame on you,” and most likely come from a parent.

          1. SophieChotek*

            Me too. But you’d need to hear the tone of voice to know which “shame” — in email, I’d write it all out, to ensure it was clear.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I’m kind of thrilled that Game of Thrones has given us the idea of shame + bell emoji for when we are shaming someone.

              That is probably not suitable for work communication, but good for friends!

      1. Mellllz*

        I have had the stomach swelling/constipation/diahrrea thing for several years and I can tell you it does not take 5 days to clean out using laxatives. I didn’t get but one day off for a whole colonoscopy. It’s obvious why this boss is mad. The employee didn’t need to be out for a whole week. like I said- not even a colonoscopy requires that much time off!!

        1. Katherine*

          That’s unfair, everyone responds differently to illness, and even though you had similar symptoms, you don’t know the details of why the OP was ill. Give her the benefit of the doubt.

          1. Seal*

            Exactly. I’ve dragged myself in to work with colds or bad cases of bronchitis and toughed it out, but anything digestive tract-related? I stay home for the duration. Besides, the OP had a note from her doctor stating she was unfit to work for a week. That alone should have shut her boss’s snarky comments down.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          We try to take the letter writers at their word and give them helpful advice here. If you want to point out that the boss’s passive-aggressive attitude might have come from feeling like the OP was taking more time than was absolutely necessary, then that might be helpful. But if the boss doesn’t trust their employee’s word about what is necessary and what isn’t, then something is already horribly broken, because without that trust you wind up with a lot of authoritarian micromanaging.

          The bottom line is that we don’t know the details of the OP’s medical issue, so we should take her at her word that she needed that time off.

          1. Candi*

            Besides, same symptoms =/= same condition. Diarrhea/constipation alone can have at least half a dozen causes.

            On the cold thing, I’ve lost track of the number of times a bug flattens one of my kids and barely bothers the other. And they share a lot of genetics. Boss was out of line.

        3. PK*

          Frankly, you aren’t her doctor. If her doctor said she needed a week, then she needed a week. Simple as that.

          1. JW*

            And the letter writer said she works around children – as parent of school/daycare aged kids I would be thankful for their teachers to take time off when ill. My kids bring home enough germs and disease just being kids, no additional exposure is needed.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              Plus you can’t just duck out and run to the bathroom as needed if you’re in charge of small children! If I have to run out in the middle of what I’m doing due to a bathroom emergency it is merely awkward, not child endangerment.

        4. Katie the Fed*

          Bosses in general shouldn’t put themselves in the position of deciding if someone’s medical excuse is valid. If the employee says she needs the time off, then trust her. If it’s affecting her performance, deal with that.

          This is frankly really, really unhelpful. I get sick frequently. I work with people who never take a sick day. Bully for them! I’m taking mine.

          1. Is it Friday Yet?*

            My current boss said it best last week. I work for a small company, and he said one of our newer employees had asked what our sick-leave policy is. He asked me if I knew to which I said “no.” He said, “When you’re sick, you leave.”

        5. animaniactoo*

          Except that’s what *your* doctor decided was the best treatment for you.

          OP’s doctor decided something different – based on his medical knowledge in general and the medical history she brought to him.

          You said this was something that has happened to you several times. OP has only stated one occasion.

          Off the top of my head and *not being a doctor*, I can actually think of a solid reason why he might have gone the laxative route. Her insurance plan might require him to try a lower cost, non-surgical/non-invasive route before approving a colonoscopy as necessary to resolve the issue.

          Many times, we can have some experience in something and think that we know all about it – but we really don’t. We know how it is for us and our situation. It pays to be super-aware of this and give other people (including the doctor who prescribed this method) the benefit of the doubt when there are differences from what we’re familiar with.

        6. Dust Bunny*

          My guess is that the laxatives were a first step, since these can also be symptoms of several things that are a lot more serious than just some irregularity (several chronic GI disorders, GI or reproductive cancers, etc.).

          But I’m pretty sure that the doctor is qualified to make the call on that, so everybody whose guts are not acting up can kindly mind their own business.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Or even those whose guts _are_ acting up. Mine are, laxatives were never involved, I had the colonoscopy, and…I would take OP’s doctor at his word, instantly, because OP’s doctor has OP’s medical history and specific symptoms. My doctor was reacting to _my_ history and specific symptoms. I wouldn’t want to be treated for someone else’s, so nor should they be treated for mine.

            Some people have ongoing sinus issues and just need an antihistamine. Me? I need surgery (but it can be put off, however, not indefinitely I suspect). And yep, that’ll mean a week off when it happens. At least, assuming a normal recovery.

        7. Critical Reader*

          Your intestines are not everyone’s intestines, and your history does not determine other people’s medical needs. Her doctor signed her off for the week. Let’s let the medical professionals do the diagnosing, OK?

        8. RobM*

          We all react to illnesses differently – this includes how we feel after minor procedures, how bad certain problems make us feel, etc. I suspect you’re no more a doctor than I am, because if you were you’d be aware of that, or at least certainly know that you can’t really diagnose someone over the Internet.

          1. GigglyPuff*

            When I got Lasik, I felt like my brain was being jackhammered my headache was so severe afterwards, and at the next day check-in I could still barely keep my eyes open. While next to me was someone else who’d gotten the day before also and was asking if they could drive yet.

            Plus we never know what other medical issues someone’s got going on. I have a chronic illness, and many minor issues screw the chronic illness up also, making everything a little more serious than it would be to some.

        9. Scotty Smalls*

          In addition to everyone else’s excellent posts, I don’t even believe the boss needed to know the exact nature of OP’s illness and whether a week was appropriate. OP needed a week off and had a note, that should be sufficient.

          My doctor wrote me a note for my surgery and nowhere did it say what the procedure was. Because it wasn’t my employer’s business to know.

        10. Thomas E*

          If her doctor signed her off it is because a medical expert who has examined her has decided in her professional opinion that it is necessary for her to have time off work.

          Are you qualified to disagree with her professional opinion?

        11. animaniactoo*

          I know I added to it myself, but I think this is getting into the kind of sideline/pile-on that AAM has asked us to avoid and said that she’ll delete if it gets too bogged down. I think the point has been thoroughly made, so we should move on and not add anything more to this lest the whole thing be deleted.

        12. Adonday Veeah*

          Can we please dispense with the “this is the way it happened for me, so there’s something wrong with you if your experience was different” comments?

          Thank you.

    3. Nico m*

      #1. Isnt it best to shut down this sort of crap? ” gee, i dunno, ten reasons? Er, just the usual i guess, pay and benefits and stuff” if your push back is pushed back then chop pay and benefits into bits. With a gif for each.

        1. Alter_ego*

          I bet there’s a buzzfeed writer out there with a sense of humor who’d be willing to write a gif filled listicle that she could forward her boss

    4. Scotty Smalls*

      If I were the OP, I would take the whole week off as I already had the Doctor’s note. Unless the OP left off that it was the boss’ preference to have OP tell her every single day she couldn’t come in. This situation seems weird because OP had already turned in her Doctor note that she would be out all week. No need for the boss to email on Wednesday saying, oh we have to cancel today’s meeting because OP is sick. I guess it could have been worse if boss let everyone know how OP was sick. I know it was the latter situation that bothered you, but it was the first situation that bothered me. It makes the boss sound like she can’t allow her employees to be sick even with a sick note.

      1. Is it Friday Yet?*

        When reading it, I wasn’t exactly clear on WHEN OP gave her boss the doctor’s note. If she gave it to her Manager before needing the week off, I really don’t see why she would need to email her every day. If she gave it to her after the fact, this makes a little more sense.

    5. Christine*

      Our PTO & sick leave are part of our compensation package. Supposed to use it when needed. Years ago while working in banking we got 6 paid & 6 unpaid sick days. But if you used it, points were deducted from your evaluation/raise. You also had to take the entire day off, you were not allowed to take 2 – 3 hours off instead. I was so angry when they wouldn’t let me leave 2 – 3 hours early one day to get estimated on a car repair from an accident I had. My insurance required 3. So I called in sick. At the same employer, different office we had to come into the office, be seen to be sick before being allowed to take a sick day. Two of us came in sick once and it became a contest of who got to be home. I was running into the back throwing up between customers and she wasn’t so I got to go home. They stopped that practice after customers complained. This was a small branch and the customers could smell it.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        This is so gross/disgusting. I am constantly floored by how self-destructive employers are around leave, especially medical/sick leave. Making you come in, or penalizing you for taking time off (wtf, how is that not unlawful?), puts you, your coworkers, and your customers at risk. I see this all the time in food-chain jobs and retail, and it blows my mind in all the worst ways.

        1. Fire*

          In food chains and retail, at least, Coverage Is King. Can’t find a cover? You’re SOL. At one of my employers, calling out is technically supposed to get you points (and if you get enough points within a certain time period you’re fired). In reality, if the manager knows you’re someone who normally doesn’t slack off/sucks it up, they’ll let it slide, but they’re going against policy.

          Even then, even when people do call out and don’t get penalized for it it’s horrible for the rest of the people in the store because there’s not enough coverage and we’re all scrambling and customers are yelling about how long it’s taking three people to make 70+ delivery orders and three people to deliver them all….. Terrible situation all around.

          1. Candi*

            I am of the opinion that points are a sloppy way to address attendance and performance problems. Managers are penalized for evaluating their employees rather then filling in a box.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            This was my experience in food-chain and retail work, and I still thought it was bad planning on the part of employers and bad public policy from a public health perspective :) But I also think point systems are bad, so clearly I have biases against the entire framework of how these jobs are organized.

      2. Gaia*

        Years ago I worked at a terrible company that gave us 10 days PTO. No holidays. No sick leave. But the real catch? You only got 10 days your first year. The next year, it was based on the number of hours worked the previous year, with a max of 10 days. PTO did not count as hours worked. So, if you took PTO in year 1 you got less PTO in year 2.

    6. not so super-visor*

      Did anyone wonder if the boss was just annoyed at receiving an email rather than a phone call? I know that I wondered about it. I guess it depends on your office’s culture and whether that’s a normal thing. Typically, we ask that people call unless they’re physically unable to and can leave a voicemail if necessary. I still get emails, and it’s always the same people. I guess that I just internally roll my eyes when I get an email instead of a call. I do agree that the manager shouldn’t send a snarky reply. I usually just limit my responses to “OK” or “Thanks for letting me know.

        1. RobM*

          I think its reasonable to be annoyed at getting emails rather than call. We have a requirement where I work to get people to call in rather than email, but we also have a requirement to say so and not be jerks to our staff.

          If that’s the issue they should have said so. Also, it seems weird that they’d want you to contact them on a daily basis once your doctor signed you off for a period of time. If a member of my team was “signed off” for a week, I wouldn’t want them to use up their time or mine telling me that every day once I knew – I don’t see how having to phone me up all the time would improve their recovery time or my daily planning.

          1. Emi.*

            I also thought that was odd. Maybe it seemed grouchy to email every day, like “I bet you forgot about my pre-planned sick leave”?

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I was a little confused about that part of the story, but I assumed there was some kind of policy that required OP#2 to report each day that she was out in addition to providing the doctor’s note saying she’s out for the week. Some employers do that because the manager on duty will change every day. It doesn’t sound like OP’s MOD changes, but I assumed writing in was more “company policy” than “annoying reminder.” If it were annoying/superfluous, the boss could easily have said, “hey, no worries about reporting each day—I know you’re out for the week.”

            1. Tax anon*

              When my mother in law was on FMLA leave, her workplace required her to call in every day for the entire 12 weeks. My educated guess is that they were looking for a reason to fire her.

        2. not so super-visor*

          I agree on that 100%. I don’t think that it was ok for the manager to be rude. I’m just throwing out a possibility. Perhaps, when OP speaks with the manager, OP should confirm the best method for conveying an absence.

      1. Future Analyst*

        Mind elaborating on this? I’m loathe using the phone, and I’m a die-hard fan of email, since there’s always a trail (I use my email religiously to track what I spent my time on, so an email saying I’ll be out sick is useful to help me remember what was going on that day.) I’m always genuinely curious about supervisors/managers who prefer that people call, rather than email, when they won’t be in… can you enlighten me as to why you (and others like you) prefer a call? :)

        1. Is it Friday Yet?*

          I’m curious as well. I don’t use sick days often, but when I need them I like to give my manager as much notice as possible. Sometimes that means I wake up at 6am and KNOW I won’t be making it into the office. However, a 6am phone call seems inappropriate because it is pretty early. Usually in this scenario, I will send a text message.

        2. Anna*

          I don’t think it matters, really. I mean, I text my boss to let her know when I’m going to be out. But that’s all right with her. If she told me she prefers a message on her work phone, that’s what I would do. Same with an email.

        3. not so super-visor*

          I think that it’s all about your office culture and your manager’s communication style. Where I work, we have a large number of very entry-level employees mixed with temp-to-hire. We also have a high call-in rate at certain times of the year. Call-ins typically mean that we have to convince other employees to work extra to provide coverage. I absolutely understand sending an email if you are physically unable to have a conversation, but the majority of the email “call-ins” that I get tend to not be of this nature. It just gives a very non-confrontational vibe when I get an email that says “I forgot that I had a doctor’s appointment and can’t be in until noon.” To me, it kind of says “I can’t be bothered to have a conversation with you about this” or “I am afraid of what you will say if I call in.”
          For the record, I have NEVER told someone that they can’t call in or told them that they absolutely must come in. Part of my issue is combating this thought pattern since past supervisors have been less than understanding (As in “take an aspirin and be in the office in an hour” not understanding).

          1. not so super-visor*

            Oh, I should also mention that our spam/quarantine filters at work are crazy sensitive and extremely delayed. Pretty much anything that comes from an email address that doesn’t look like an actual name will go into it and be delayed for hours. I’ve spent a whole day thinking that someone no-called/no showed only to find an email at at 4:30 PM that was supposed to get to me that morning. So, in some cases, sending an email is truly not more efficient than just calling.

            1. Is it Friday Yet?*

              That could be a good reason for mandating a phone call unless they are physically unable =/

        4. Pennalynn Lott*

          All the places I’ve worked where a phone call was required, it was because it was one of those “authoritarian micromanagement” places. The managers would decide, based on how you sounded, if you were faking or not, and then make your life hell if they decided you didn’t sound bad enough. (I never could figure out how diarrhea or a sprained ankle were supposed to change my voice, tho).

          Oh, and those places wouldn’t accept a voice mail, either. You had to actually speak to your manager, even back in the days before cell phones were ubiquitous (and cheap to use). So there you are, sick as a dog, just wanting to crawl back into bed and get needed rest, but no, you had to call and call and call and call until your manager picked up their desk phone. Big fun.

          1. Parenthetically*

            My mother had a notoriously terrible boss who required a call-in, and then used said call-in as a way to guilt-trip the person into coming in anyway. She told her employees regularly that if they were well enough to MAKE IT TO THE PHONE, they were well enough to come to work.

        5. Amy G. Golly*

          In my workplaces where I’ve been required to call, it was often a coverage issue, and about making sure that the message got to whomever was there that morning. For context, I work in a public library: we’re open more than 8 hours a day, more than 5 days a week, and staff have staggered shifts to provide coverage for all those hours. If I email just my supervisor and she’s not in that morning, the folks who ARE there don’t get the message until she comes in. So the protocol was to leave a message on the public desk phone, and part of the opening procedure is to check that phone for messages.

          I imagine other workplaces might have similar reasons: the idea is that people other than your direct supervisor might need to know you won’t be in, and leaving a phone message is the best way to let those people know. (Granted, you could send a mass email, but 1. folks might not be inclined to check their email first thing when they get in and 2. if the list of people who might need to know you won’t be in is large and constantly changing, that mass email list could be annoying and unwieldy.)

          1. Michele*

            We have something similar. We have a dedicated phone number for attendance (large department) that the admins and a couple other people can check. If I email my boss and he isn’t there to get the email, that would be an unexcused absence.

      2. j*

        In this case, OP gave the boss the doctors note ahead of time. I assumed that OP was checking in by email just to confirm, like in case they were feeling better early. I feel that email is appropriate to confirm something quickly, where a phone call would be better if they were calling off without prior notice.

        1. The Rat-Catcher*

          This makes sense to me. The reasons given above sound logical for people who don’t have pre-planned leave, but seem silly for sick time that has already been established. Do people have to call every day on their vacations too? “Yeah, just to let you know, I won’t be at work because I’m still in Aruba. Bye!”

      3. NW Mossy*

        I get emails and it doesn’t bother me, largely because I’d do the same if I was going to be home ill. In fact, I prefer it when the absent employee then also cc’s their backups so that I don’t have to send out the “Gertrude is sick today” email to the larger team. My philosophy is “let me know in some fashion and then go back to bed.”

    7. Allison*

      I used to date someone who, whenever he wanted to hang out and I couldn’t, would go “hmm, shame.” As in, shame we can’t spend time together, but it always had this weird, passive aggressive vibe to it and I could hear him saying it in a singsong voice even if it was over text, and it often made me feel guilty for not being able to see him. It’s . . . tough to explain, but it’s like, they’re meaning to say “that’s a shame” but being just weird about it to make you feel like you’re not making the right decision.

      1. The dark trick*

        Yes that guy, by where he says that the word the other guy is using does not mean what he thinks it means. I’m bad at movie quotes.

        1. SaraV*

          “…Inconceivable!” – Fezzini
          “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo

          I am a fount of movie quotes.

          Even if the manager pulled the infamous “Mom” claim, (“Oh! I thought ‘LOL’ meant ‘Lots of love!’.”) it would still obviously be inappropriate for a manager to use in a work email.

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            Ha. My mom used to think that until I gently corrected her. There were no major text/email gaffes on her part beforehand, though!

    1. nofelix*

      Pretty sure LOL in this case means “I’m worried this request will upset you so I’m tacking this on to make it seem light-hearted”.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        Or she could be like my aunt who ends every communication with LOL (E.g. A text: “are you coming to uncle reg’s funeral LOL”). She thinks it means lots of love, although she has been told otherwise.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Well, it used to mean that. And maybe she figures that you all know what she means so why not keep using it, not realizing how jarring it is to the recipient

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              I’m 41. In junior high and high school, my closest female friends and I signed our notes to each other that way (we were soooo cheesy in a way that only high schoolers can be). It wasn’t new then. I had some older relatives then who would sign cards that way, so it wasn’t something my generation came up with.

          1. Lissa*

            I read this as attached to the comment above, so “Lucifer our Lord” “Why would she think that’s appropriate to an employee?” Good question!

      2. Joseph*

        Using LOL here is probably just a way to make it seem like “haha, this is just a minor thing, don’t worry” rather than the incredibly unusual question (with serious related issues) that it actually is.

      3. Turtlewings*

        Yeah, I know some people use LOL mainly to signal “this message is intended to be non-hostile.”

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think you’re right, even though it makes her sound insane. I’ve also found this is not generational. My 55-year-old aunt’s emails are so riddled with text speak that my dad literally refuses to write back to her (he may have told her to write in intelligible English, which of course did not help).

        I have seen Boomers mistakenly use it for “lots of love,” as SaraV, ManicPixieHRGirl, CambridgeComma and JB noted, but I had no idea that that was an actual abbreviation/thing.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          They aren’t “mistakenly” using it to mean that, though, technically. It does mean that to them, and it’s an abbreviation that’s been around for a long time. The problem is only when they don’t realize it has another meaning, or if the person they’re sending it to doesn’t realize the “lots of love” meaning.

          This possible confusion is my second reason for wishing this particular abbreviation would die out from use (the first is just my irrational, based on nothing dislike of it–other text abbreviations don’t bother me at all).

  2. LydiaWolf*

    OP 1 do you work for BuzzFeed?
    Click here for TOP 10 reasons I am going to quit my job! You will NOT believe what number 3 is.

    1. OP1*

      I bet Buzzfeed pays better.

      I like your approach, though. If I have to write a listicle to tell my boss why I’d leave the company, I might as well make it click bait.

      1. BRR, ,*

        I might also reply “anybody who has 10 reasons to quit has already left.” This might work as a deflector. Or you could interpret the lol as she wanted a David letterman type list.

        1. Fafaflunkie*

          I was just about to suggest this! If OP would only come across a huge sum of money, she can hire David Letterman to give the list to her: “(drumroll) and the number one reason why I would quit this job? You’re an annoying, grammatically challenged idiot! LOL!!” (Cue Paul Schaefer’s band playing “Take This Job And Shove It.”)

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        Can you attach adds to it too? That would be awesome! (sarcastic, of course, but it would be awesome, in an “if only”, way!)

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I’m sure Cosmo of Buzzfeed already has that article somewhere, Perhaps the OP could respond with the link.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      1. Aliens invade; I must quit to join the resistance.
      2. I won the lottery and want to take a 2-year vacation around the world.
      3. Kidnapped by feral kangaroos.
      4. Scouted and cast in the musical theater adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
      5. My home state secedes from the union, making the tax situation untenable.
      6. I have to leave to become a full-time carer for my disabled cat.
      7. My future self visits me using a miniaturized time machine and tells me I must leave my job to for the future of humanity.
      8. I am visited by a mysterious stranger who offers me 2 million dollars only if I abandon my job immediately.
      9. I finally decide to pursue my true passion, octopus husbandry.
      10. No one here has gotten a raise in the last five years.

  3. TheLazyB*

    #5 I have that too. In my case it’s because everyone goes in alphabetical order and both my first name and surname are first in our team. Drives me crackers!! Every so often I say ‘can someone else go first today’ but ours are just team catch up calls which it’s fine to do that in.

    Tldr: it might be because you’re first alphabetically. Whatever the reason, I feel your pain.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      I thought about alphabetical order, too.

      Although, in my team meeting, I always go first simply because a few months ago when we decided to get more organized about our meeting, my boss drafted a quickie agenda template that we’re still using, and my project is listed first. It’s possible you’re just first in her notes. (I don’t mind either way, though; if someone else were on a tight schedule and needed to go first, I wouldn’t care.)

      1. Security SemiPro*

        First in her notes was my bet. I just shuffled my meeting agenda order and I’m going to try to do it more than once in 2017.

        1. QAT Contractor*

          Routine. Like Security SemiPro said you are likely the first one in the notes so she always starts there and it never changes. Of course this might not be the case if everyone else is always in a different order after you.

          Typically I change things up from time to time, but my team is currently just me and one other person so there isn’t much variance to work with. But you could just ask why you are always first and whether she would be open to changing it up (provided there isn’t some specific reason for you going first of course).

          Otherwise, is there a reason you don’t want to go first, other than it being slightly annoying?

          1. Koko*

            Yeah, as a manager I’m not sure it would have even occurred to me that someone wanted the order to change. I’m such a creature of habit and I don’t just have routines, I have grooves, particular ways of doing things that I glide easily through doing the same way every time. If it went well the first time I did it I’ll probably just keep doing it that way. I don’t usually introduce variation or randomness into my life unless I’m asked to.

      2. Naomi*

        Yes, I think something like this is likely. My team ends our weekly meetings by going around the group for a quick summary of what each person is working on this week. If we were physically sitting in a conference room, we’d probably go around the table, but since we work remotely, I have a list written down and call on people in turn. So the guy who happened to go first when we wrote the list ends up going first.

        The good news, OP5, is that if this is the situation and you just happen to be at the top of the list, your boss will probably have no objection to shuffling the order once you point it out.

      3. hbc*

        Yep, for me, it’s as simple as reading the minutes from last week from top to bottom. Sometimes I go from bottom to top to change it up, but there isn’t any hidden meaning.

        Okay, maybe the people I put last are the people who are likely to be late or are better at keeping to their allotted time if the end of the meeting is near, but even then it’s not an Important Signal.

      4. PK*

        I am the same boat; The person who created the agenda originally listed me first and the same format has been followed every meeting.

      5. Mallory Janis Ian*

        That’s what I thought; the boss is using an agenda template and only making minimal necessary changes to it for each meeting.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      I had a science teacher in high school (ended up with him 3 years in a row) who, to combat gender bias in asking for class participation, would call on us using a system that was our name in alphabetical order and the date. So he’d first call on Amy Adams, and if it was the 13th, count down 13 people from Amy Adams to call on Cary Mullins next, and then count another 13 people- obviously wrapping back around, etc, until everyone had been called on. He’d start the next day from where he’d left off, if he didn’t call on everyone.

      I’d probably simplify his system, but if I’d do something similar instead of asking Amy Adams to go first every single meeting.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It could also be in program order. I once worked at a highly dysfunctional nonprofit where our biweekly “all staff” meetings were intended to provide briefings on the status of different program areas/projects. They wouldn’t change the program order because one attorney could not be bothered to join the call at 10:30 a.m. (because she wasn’t even at work yet), so despite the fact that call attendance was mandatory for all staff, her program reported second-to-last because she routinely skipped the first 30-45 minutes of a 1-hour call.

      tl;dr: Sometimes bosses organize the agenda by program/project report, forgetting that this means the same employee is always up first.

    4. Dave O'H*

      I often got asked to go first because I was prepared best (so the persons running the conference calls said). I had notes, I had questions ready to go (if needed), all that sort of stuff. I also made sure that I had at least one good thing to present, even if vanishingly small (“One good thing, though: I managed not to blow up any hardware this week.”).

      As well, I had been doing technical writing and training, and that in combination with intensive speech therapy as a child left me with a very “professional” sounding phone voice. One particular product line manager explained that they thought that everybody tried to come up to my level; gosh, all you need is a 40% stutter as a kid.

  4. TheLazyB*

    #1: ‘ask your input on something’ sounds like someone’s asked her to write a report on why the company is leaking contractors and she wants to get your opinion or something. The ‘just between you and me’ thing would make her rather dishonest if that’s so though.

    Can you claim the GIFs are filling your inbox too quickly and ask her to stop?? I have no idea whether a gif would be attached or an embedded link though* so maybe not.

    *Because I would NEVER think sending a gif was appropriate for work email omg!!!!!

    1. HMM*

      Our office loves gifs – – appropriate ones, of course. I’m sure there are some who don’t like it, but we try to use them humorously to spice up the routine emails HR sends.

      1. seejay*

        My team sends gifs and cat memes and other silly things to each other, but… we keep those internally, to each other, and outside of anything related to, you know, actual work. Unless it’s something like “You did a great job delivering FOO to client!” *happy kitten picture inserted here*

        If we actually sent a happy kitten picture to a client, I think our manager would have our heads on a tent peg.

        1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          I send my coworkers pictures of happy baby animals. Because I can. But only for internal staff emails. And sometimes nurse cat when someone is ill.

        2. Elemeno P.*

          My team also loves gifs and memes. I attach them to assignments for my interns (“Can you take pictures of X?” + cute animal with a camera, etc.), and we send them to each other on our chat client when it’s lunch time or something like that. I also put cute animal pictures in meeting requests for team lunches and such. We’re technical writers so it makes things a bit more fun, since all of our emails to people outside the team are very dry.

        3. RKB*

          When I send out shift coverage emails I include gifs to at least make people laugh. We get 100+ shift coverage emails a day, so it adds a little levity.

          1. Fire*

            At one of my workplaces, the schedule and shift coverage requests are currently in a secret Facebook group (migrating soon), and people will post those stickers all the time! We find it hilarious, but it’s also a tiny restaurant filled with a bunch of big weirdos.

        4. Mints*

          My old office loved memes & gifs & emojis too and it was almost always in “Thank you!” “Hooray!” “You’re the best!” context.

          My last day I sent a the most questionable meme I had done which was “Gangsters don’t say goodbye / we just leave.” Which I thought was hilarious

        5. Elizabeth West*

          Same–I would send them to coworkers sometimes, just for fun. My old boss once sent me a picture at the end of an email thread about something annoying. It was a mockup of a kid’s book cover with an angry train and the title, “The Little Engine That Said ‘F*ck It’. I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair!

          OMG I loved that boss so muuuuuuuch. I will never ever find another one like her. :(

    2. Elliot*

      I think she said she was a contractor? I do contract writing work and a broker I have a contract with sends emails just like this minus the GIFs. I’d imagine she doesn’t do the same with the clients, whom are paying her for well-written work.

      It doesn’t bother me. She needs specific material to be written, I need things to write. Now that she’s seen plenty of my work and I’ve seen plenty of her pay, we’re beyond trying to impress each other with arbitrary things like email formalities. After several hours of quality writing, I’m not too into laying out a well written email, either. A lot of routine but casual writing agreements are very impersonal, and they lack many of the formalities of a boss/employee relationship.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think that’s quite sensible, and I do think the sloppy writing in internal emails is something you just deal with when it’s your boss … but I could see the constant LOLs and GIFs being pretty irritating. Not “I’m going to quit over this” irritating, but irritating.

        1. seejay*

          It would make me feel like I’m dealing with a 16 year old or a parent who just discovered the interweb thingie that all the cool kids are doing and wants to fit in. :|

        2. Artemesia*

          It is the modern equivalent of using different colored ink and dotting ‘i’s with little hearts. Just feels juvenile. Sandy with the giant D in the middle.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Totally agreed, although I think it’s worse than dotting i’s with hearts!

          I’m also not anti LOL, but I’m definitely anti LOL when it makes no sense or seems totally inappropriate (which was the case in the email OP#1 provided).

        4. TootsNYC*

          but you know what? The OP has work because the boss has bad grammar and spelling.

          I’m a copyeditor–other people aren’t. And I get work BECAUSE they aren’t.

          And, people are annoying. We all are. This boss is annoying bcs of her emails.

        5. Chaordic One*

          If it’s just in emails, which are hurriedly typed, I would certainly overlook it. I know sometimes, just commenting here, I’ve made some silly typos, which I hope did not detract too much from the point that I was trying to make.

          OTOH, if it were business letters and/or reports that would really drive me up the wall.

    3. CMT*

      I very occasionally send relevant, work appropriate gifs or memes to coworkers who will appreciate them. I don’t think they’re *always* unprofessional, but you definitely need to know your audience.

      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        Illustrating your emails is a lot of fun if you know your audience. I have a “Happy Monday” thing going with a few people I have to email every Monday morning and I try to find the worst, most utterly cheerful, cherubic like “Happy Monday!” .jpgs on the internet. (Just google “happy monday”, check google images and see the amazing array from which I can choose.)

        Fun gets us through the day but it’s only funny if everybody’s laughing (at the joke! not you for sending it!).

        1. JW*

          Yes – if used very sparingly and in the right context it can actually make someone smile. The other day I sent a coworker a batch of fairly benign data she needed with the email here is your stuff work your magic and then added a pic of a magic hat. She laughed at my email and responded back that it made her smile.

        2. Beezus*

          I use them to express frustration in a lighthearted way, sometimes. When the 47th thing goes wrong with an order that has to be absolutely perfect, a gif of a cartoon bunny headdesking is worth a thousand words.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Right?! I’ve done smiley faces, for sure … but usually only if I have an established relationship and I know the recipient well enough that the intention is properly received. GIFs are reserved for text messages to my work bestie.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        It really depends on the team and their relationship. There’s nothing inherently unprofessional about it depending on how they are used.

        Does anyone know if it’s possible to send .gifs with Outlook (within the email; not as an attachment)?

        1. Koko*

          They don’t animate if you put GIFs in-line, you just see the first frame. My team uses Outlook so we do memes over email but we save the GIFs for Slack.

          Slack has a Giphy integration where you can type /giphy and it will randomly serve up a gif that would have come up in a search of that keyword or phrase on their site. The same keyword will bring up a different gif every time.

          Sometimes they are really on-point and sometimes they are hilariously wrong. Occasionally they are NSFW and are quickly deleted.

        2. Kimberlee, Esq*

          This. I would personally feel stifled in a professional environment that didn’t welcome gifs and emoji and LOLs. We’re all just people, you know? I don’t need to work somewhere that pretends that people are better than other people because they capitalize all the right letters and wear suits and whatnot. :)

    4. the gold digger*

      I wrote a three-page memo to my VP when I was the 15th person of a 15-person department to quit in a year. He wanted to know why people didn’t want to work for him.

      I gave him my honest opinion. Once he read the memo, he never spoke to me again, not even to say goodbye.

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m with you, LazyB. Our office will sometimes do .gifs when chatting over our internal network (so literally a chat window, not email), but if anyone sent .gifs, even internally, people would be so irritated that they’d lose their minds.

  5. KarenT*

    #3 This is totally the cowards way out, but I was in a similar situation and just said I couldn’t nominate Bob’s team because I’d already nominated Sheila’s team and thought they deserved to win. This allowed me to avoid saying anything negative about Bob’s team. I did of course subsequently nominate Sheila’s team.

    1. Garrett*

      See, it’s not clear to me from the letter how the program is set up. At my company, the awards program isn’t limited to one “winner”. It’s more of a recognition program and you nominate people who get an award (points to go buy things at this online store). Anyone can be nominated and anyone can win if they get approval. So, for me, this wouldn’t work but it is a good way if that’s how your program is set up.

      1. KarenT*

        At my company we do quarterly recognition awards, and there’s one winner per category (innovation, team, etc).

  6. Lena*

    With #1, I’m confused as to how you could be employed somewhere with a boss and yet also be a contractor to them?

    1. MK*

      You seem to think that contractors cannot have bosses? I would say that most contractors think of the person who supervises their work and can end/not extend their contract as a boss.

    2. anoncmntr*

      I’m not sure about the specific semantics, but the LW only mentions a “manager”, not a “boss”.

      Myself, I’m a contractor and most definitely have a boss (= manager = supervisor, for me anyway).

    3. Mabel*

      I’m a contractor at a client site. I have a client manager, and I also have a manager from the company that is my actual employer (I’m not an independent contractor). Maybe the OP has a similar situation.

    4. Hi.*

      I was a contractor for a major tech company (you all use our product!) for a year. I was an employee in every way but payroll/benefits. I was fully immersed in the team, traveled a bit, attended all company meetings and events, and did the exact same work as all of the full time members of my team. I made an hourly rate (which was over 6 figures annually which was more than market rate for my role) plus overtime, and had limited medical and sick leave benefits through the agency that did my payroll (no PTO or holiday pay). At the year mark, a permanent employee from my team left and a spot opened for me – I converted and lost about 17k in my paycheck but gained a great benefits package, stock options, 401k matching, unlimited PTO, etc. otherwise nothing changed about my job.

      Some companies hire contractors as a big part of their workforce. Ultimately you pay less for a short term contract with options to extend or convert than you do investing in a full time employee. we probably have 10k contractors at my company currently. They’re not treated any differently than perms.

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It could be that when OP#1 says contractor, you’re thinking “independent contractor.” In this case, it sounds like OP is a contractor in the service order/vendor/definite-term-hire sense (as opposed to an open-ended “at will” employee). But I am also assuming OP is in the U.S.

        1. Jennifer's Hardworking Thneed*

          Yeah, contractor doesn’t really mean “freelancer”, at least not in my geographical area (SF Bay Area). It really comes down to who bills the company for your work. If you do, then you’re an independent contractor or a freelancer — you work for yourself. But if you work for an agency, then they bill for your work and you’re an employee of that agency (and they’re the ones paying taxes and what-not).

    6. zora*

      Yeah, my dad works as a government contractor. Which means he is employed by the company that contracts workers to government agencies for specific contracts. He is often on one contract for several years, so he will have a ‘manager’ who is basically the lead of their team, who could either be another contractor, or a direct employee of the government agency, that decides his workload and he reports to on a daily basis. Plus he often has a boss at the contractor company who is responsible for signing off on his hours, etc, but not much else.

      1. zora*

        Just to say there are a few different kinds of arrangements that are all referred to as ‘contractors’ as a general term.

  7. She*

    Oh Alison, I love this thing you’re doing now: “I don’t know!” With the exclamation point and everything. I mean, yes of course, in response to that which is basically unknowable, it’s so cheerful, and much nicer than “Got me!” or “What am I, Kreskin?”

    Just makes me smile. ;)

  8. NutellaNutterson*

    #4- Alison, I’m surprised you didn’t think of why others might want “a few hours.” I suppose some might spend it on hairdos, but employees with children will likely be doing the pickup/drop off routine in that brief window.

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      A previous job’s Christmas bunfight was in a location 30 minutes drive from the office. Since transport was being provided, we all had to hang around until 7.00pm. Add to that the dress code was “chic”, it ended up with people dragging around suit bags, arms full of cosmetics and squabbles about taking too long in front of the mirror.

      Then transport afterwards was only at a fixed hour and we all had to wait for it, when the evening had progressed to a natural end. (As work bunfights tend to)

          1. Lily in NYC*

            But I don’t understand the connotation! I know what it means, but I don’t think I “get it”.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Does it mean that the tea-party participants are likely to fight over the proffered refreshments?

              1. Lily in NYC*

                I don’t know! I found this online:
                If you hear the term “bun fight” and you think of people whipping pastries around, this isn’t far from the idea. Originally, the term appears to have arisen in reference to formal teas and dinners given by high ranking members of Victorian society, and it was meant to be tongue in cheek, as of course no food would be thrown at these events. Over time, a bun fight, or bunfight, came more generally to mean any kind of formal event, often with an implication of very stiff, formal behavior.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I thought it was a fight between women wearing their hair in buns (I’m only partially joking—I, too, had to google it).

                  It sounds like it’s just a fancy shindig? Chocolate Teapot noted that the event was “chic,” which I assume is code for “fancier than normal after-work cocktails, but not quite black-tie formal.” Unless it does mean black-tie formal, in which case I am angry that a company holiday party is gala-level in formality.

      1. paul*

        ….I’m really afraid to google bunfight at work. Is that a specific type of party or a catchall term?

        1. Tempest*

          I googled. It’s very tame. It means a tea party, ironcially used to mean an offical party, or finally a heated arguement personal in nature to those having it but not to anyone else.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Glad to hear I have introduced another new term here!

            I tend to use “Bunfight” to refer to chaotic situations as well as for parties. For example, the stampede to get a seat, or trying to buy everything on your Christmas shopping list with what feels like the entire country in the shop, would be a bunfight.

            The formal connotation may be from Oxford/Cambridge universities where there are still formal meals which might degenerate into food fights (I think the term is “High Jinks”).

    2. MK*

      Even if you don’t have children, and even if the event is not fancy, is it really mind-boggling that people should not be expected to work till 5:30pm, then (since probably 1 1\2 hours might not enough for most people to go home aand back) hang around the workplace or somewhere till 7:00pm, then attend an event that will last at least a couple of hours, and finally return home maybe a full 16 hours after leaving in the morning? If you are not doing the “come to the break room to have a drink” kind of holiday party, surely it makes sense to allow people time to go home and freshen up a bit? If for no other reason, so that they won’t spent the evening exhausted and slumped on their seats.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Me, too. I thought, “either this is a *really* fancy party, or people *really* don’t wan to go, and they need a few hours to mentally prepare for the evening.”

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            I agree with what everyone has said about having to drop of kids/pickup spouse, go home and change clothes/etc. It was just the use of the word “prepare” that struck me as funny at first.

        2. NW Mossy*

          Perhaps this particularly in-touch company recognizes that a significant number of employees need time to steel themselves before participating in a work party.

        3. Alice*

          I need a few hours to prepare for my office holiday party. It is pretty fancy with a semi formal attire and always held at a country club. I need time to go home and redo my hair and makeup, get dressed and get my spouse that always comes with me.

        4. aj*

          My previous company did this. party was on a thursday night and in addition to the afternoon off to ‘prepare’ they also gave you the following Friday off. But – everyone took the time away from work – not just the people attending the party.

          The last year I went to it, I recall most people ‘pregamed’ and were pretty drunk by the time they got there. And, some people joked it was like prom because of the level of dressed up people got. Ladies actually did make hair appointments in the afternoon before the party.

        5. Not A Morning Person*

          The phrasing is a little unusual, but I do have another reason it might take a few hours: Factory or manufacturing work can be dirty and most people would want to shower before changing into something clean to go to a party. I’ve worked at an office building with a manufacturing facility attached and that’s how our organization did it when they had an after work party. The facility shut down a little early for people to have time to get cleaned up, changed, and attend the party with their guest/spouse. Every employee got a plus one. It was actually nicely done.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I was thinking drive home, drop off work stuff, maybe shower and change, collect spouse, and head back to the office. It’s actually a nice touch – you don’t have to go straight from the office, lugging a laptop bag and wearing your work clothes, and by leaving work early, it keeps the dinner from going too late.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Yup, that was my thought as well. Also, walk/feed the dog (if you have one).

        Though, I imagine, is it any different to allow anyone going to the party to leave early, even if some people live 10 min away and don’t need the extra couple hours for logistics, but not let someone not going to the party leave early? Sounds like coverage isn’t an issue – if everyone was going, the office would essentially be closed, and they obviously plan for that contingency. While it’s completely there prerogative, seems a little bit punitive.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          The dog, man. That furbeast has killed my after-hours socializing on work nights. Scientists need to make a dog that can pee once a day :)

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Katie, have you tried Wag? It has been a lifesaver on days when work goes overlong!

            1. NPOQueen*

              I can also vouch for Wag! Especially when I think I’m getting out of work on time, only to be given a surprise project at 4pm on a Friday. It’s always 4pm on a Friday…

    4. Elliot*

      My company party isn’t formal, but we still shut down an hour early so that people can have an hour to get home. I always thought it was etiquette. When employees are coming back to do something with work people, even if it’s fun and not work related, they should have a little bit of time at some point in the day to tend to the responsibilities in their lives that aren’t work or work people.

      1. Judy*

        Our party (this Friday night) has “no denim” as the dress code. Last year they sent out an email to let us leave at what will give us 2.5 hours before the party. I had to drive 30 minutes home, gather kids from after school care (10 minutes), change, do something with my hair, make sure the kids are packed up, then spouse & I drove the 25 minutes to my parents’ house with kids & overnight stuff, then another 25 minutes or so drive to the event location. A bit more time would have made that not so frantic. It would have been impossible to do at my normal leaving time, which is 1.5 hours before the party.

        This year the party is a week later, so my husband will be home on Friday grading (all the finals will be done), so he’ll probably handle the kids, we might want to just have them ride the bus to the house instead of after care that day. He might even be able to drop them to the grandparents before I get home, which will mean the drive from house to event will be about 35 minutes. It will be a lot less frantic.

    5. copy run start*

      Our company party started a half hour after the work day ended, but the location was only 10 minutes away. The first hour was officially a socializing hour as people trickled in, which worked nicely. I know a few folks who left a bit early in order to run errands/switch cars/pick up their +1/deal with kids who came towards the later half of that mixing hour with no impact on the fun. But it also made it okay if you just went straight there — the venue was still ready to go with cocktails and they had a few games for you to work on while people arrived.

    6. Hi.*

      Or to go home and pick up their spouses. With traffic I have a 90-120 min commute home. Partner isn’t coming to work with me for the day, nor do we want to drive 2 cars home that far at midnight when the party ends. It means I have to go home and get the spouse then turn around and drive back to the city. (Who am I kidding I’m totally working from home on party day. Otherwise I’d literally be in the car 6-8 hours that day IN ADDITION to work and party. So dumb.)

    7. QAT Contractor*

      We are lucky that our company party is on a Saturday, though some people might not like that I suppose.

      As for shutting down early on a Friday, many others have already covered the main points (significant others, children, needing to shower, needing to dress up) but one other could be if they have pets. I have a dog and would need to go home to take her out to potty and get fed supper. She is usually at home for about 9-10 hours during the day with no chance to go out so she’s ready to go when I get back. And if I don’t feed her she will get sick and throw up an empty stomach all over the house.

  9. MK*

    OP1, do people really leave because of annoying e-mails? I realise it’s tempting to say something about a peeve when you are specifically asked for feedback, but you weren’t asked about how to make the workplace more productive or the communication more efficient, you were asked why in your opinion people leave the company. Apart from anything else, the e-mails think sounds irrelevant to me; unless people do actually leave because they are frustrated by the e-mails, instead of just being glad to get rid of them as a fringe benefit of leaving.

    1. copy run start*

      I could see the emails being the icing on a cake of things that are frustrating/need improvement… but I feel emails alone wouldn’t be enough to drive someone out of an organization.

      1. Jeanne*

        I assumed the emails were a way of saying “My manager isn’t competent enough to do my job and it shows in the emails.” And also the emails are one thing in a line of irritations. I could be wrong.

        1. animaniactoo*

          You mean like when the head of digital marketing was told to put something out on our tweeter account by her supervisor (in charge of marketing/creative depts)? Or when the same guy asked for a file to be e-mailed to him and was told that the file size was “several mb” e-mailed back to say “what does that mean”?

        2. TootsNYC*

          but your manager doesn’t need to be competent enough to do YOUR job.
          She needs to be competent enough to do HER job.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      If you need to list ten reasons why you’d leave, I can see it showing up near the bottom:

      1) salary
      2) income stability
      3) health care plan
      4) paid vacation
      5) paid sick-leave
      6) retirement plan
      7) promotion in title/responsibilities
      8) length of commute
      9) prospect of a private office
      10) not having to read those $#*@ gif- and error-laden emails

      1. Hornswoggler*

        You missed out ‘to pursue my dream of becoming a best-selling novelist/film star/award-winning photographer/President of the United States.

    3. Michele*

      If the emails are just the most visible sign of an incompetent or irritating boss, it would be like nails on a chalkboard.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I don’t know why, Serin, but this literally made me LOL. I’m just glad I had swallowed my coffee.

    4. MoinMoin*

      I imagine it’s sort of a B**** Eating Crackers situation- once you’re already thinking about leaving, all the obnoxious stuff becomes more so. I’m imagining my own annoying “Sounds like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays” cube mate that was fine when I was in a good mood, but from whom I immediately needed distance on those tougher days.

  10. Resident Martian*

    #4- as far as taking hours to get ready for the holiday party, anyone with a physical job who works up a sweat on a daily basis needs time to go home and take a shower before getting ready. It’s especially annoying when they keep scheduling the holiday party on the opposite side of the city from where everyone lives and works.

  11. Mookie*

    and I don’t understand why there’s a LOL in the one you quoted at all

    I feel like there’s a rule somewhere where the vast majority of work-based LOLs are utterly inappropriate or humorous only in the darkest, bleakest way. I’m a rawfle-lah-mao kind of person, myself.

    1. Mookie*

      Also, are we sure LW1 doesn’t work at Buzzfeed? Because between the gifs, the gallows LOLs, and the top tens, it sure sounds like it.

      /honestly not speculating about where the LW works

  12. UK Nerd*

    Top 10 reasons I’d quite my job:
    1. Boss wants me to donate my liver.
    2. Boss crashed my wedding.
    3. Boss interrupts my medical appointments to ask work questions.
    4. Secret office duck club.
    5. Low performers required to wear dunce caps.
    6. Boss steals my lunch.
    7. Office unexpectedly full of dogs.
    8. Company doesn’t want to pay employees any more.
    9. Boss poops in my lunch and sets off pipe bombs.
    10. Hannukah balls

    1. Sammmmyq*

      I’m concerned that “poops in my lunch” is number 9!! :) What a great yet horrifying round up. I’m looking forward to the “worst boss” thread (later this week? next week?)

    2. WhichSister*

      honorable mention to being written up and suspended without pay for a day for picking my boss up at the airport in the dead of night at the last minute in “unprofessional” clothing.

      1. RVA Cat*

        I know, right?

        Of course we’re assuming this is a normal employee, so there’s no “Co-workers refuse to call my SO ‘master’….”

    3. Manic Pixie HR Girl*


      Though, for me, #7 would be a reason to stay despite other insanity … but I am a Crazy Dog Lady (TM) and I realize most people aren’t nuts like I am.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        Even being a fan of dogs, #7 would have some qualifiers in order to be a positive. An office with well trained and well behaved, mostly quiet dogs would be a very different experience from an office where there the dogs were… not those things.

    4. Tableau Wizard*

      Is secret duck club a reason to quit? or a reason to stay? ;)

      haha, i’m cracking myself up. definitely a reason to quit. but probably not as bad as boss pooping in my lunch or pipe bombs.

    5. Candi*

      Also in the gunning. That update on the 13th about the coworker who answers “your mom” and insults the letter writer. I think a boss who lets things escalate to blatant sexual harassment and legal hostile workplace, calls them “squabbling children”, and insults LW’s MOTHER has earned her place on the candidate list.

  13. Murphy*

    For #4, time to prepare for the party could also be run home and let the dogs out, get the kids situated with the babysitter, etc. Not necessarily just primping (though there’s nothing wrong with that either).

  14. Faith*

    “Take a few hours to prepare” in my city would mean “leave early in order to avoid being stuck in traffic for an hour and a half on the way home and being late to the party”.

  15. Dubby*

    For #4, I completely respect leaving early to get ready and/or kids ready. This isn’t just a matter of throwing clean clothing onto small humans.

    Leave at 5:30, get to car around 5:45 (campus parking joys), get to day care about 6:00, get home about 6:30 (pickup, bundling, and loading takes time, then add in transit). Presuming that my coworkers would very much like to not have a hysterical child at their fun party, I should feed baby first, then dress them in the nice clothing, then pack up, bundle, and load. Presuming baby is super compliant and doesn’t also need a bath, we’re looking at getting on the road about 7:15 and I’m already late to the party and still haven’t done anything with my hair.

    Some people also need time to go home and walk their dogs or other pet things (meds, for example) before they can get ready and go to an event, so this isn’t just about kids. 1.5 hours might be sufficient to return home and deal with that stuff, presuming you’re in a smaller town where most people aren’t taking long trains home.

    Besides, if you want me to enjoy attending a holiday party, making me rush and stress over timing isn’t an inviting scenario. So 1.5 hours might be fine for some, but the absolute minimum amount of time for several common life scenarios.

    So just to spell it out in case there are some nonbelievers that 1.5 hours isn’t enough time to acquire a child and transform that child into a happy, compliant, non-hysterical, non-sticky/boogery/food-covered, nicely dressed creature and at the holiday party on time. I’m sure there are some scenarios where this could totally work, but I’d guess not the majority.

    1. Tuckerman*

      I was thinking that as well. Where I work, most people commute by train, which takes about an hour each way (and depends on the train schedule for that line). The company probably figures if people don’t have enough time to prep, they will feel rushed and skip the party.

      1. Dubby*

        Yup, old office’s holiday parties were meant as a chance for people to bring their families and kids. So not an “office party” but a semi-formal holiday party in the evening with catering, etc. Depends on the office culture.

        If I’m going to spend money on a babysitter for an evening off it won’t be to attend the office holiday party.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        My office’s Christmas party is a dinner in the private-parties area of a fairly casual restaurant, and yeah, children are expressly invited. It’s a ‘bring the whole family!’ kind of event, and begins fairly early in the evening to accommodate that. There are even small token gifts for the children (kids get a small coloring book or similar, adults get tickets for the raffle).

        It is clear from the invite that that’s the case, so for people who don’t want to do a ‘family party’ type thing don’t have to come. Seems to work out fairly well, actually.

      3. sarah*

        I think this is really dependent on the office. At my old office, there were tons of kids running around at the holiday party and everyone who had a baby brought him/her. At my new office, it’s definitely an adults thing with everyone getting a “plus one” that is clearly meant for another adult.

    1. CM*

      This actually did make me LOL.

      How about just not responding, and then if she asks about it, say, “Oh, I thought you were joking because you said LOL at the end. I guess people are leaving for the usual reasons, better salary and benefits.”

  16. Trout 'Waver*

    In regards to #5, is it a group or just you and your boss? It’s a common leadership technique to have the boss talk last. Some people won’t offer their true opinions after the boss has weighed in. I can’t tell from the letter if that’s what’s going on or not.

  17. Trout 'Waver*

    OP #3: Could you nominate someone else that you find deserving? Then you could honestly tell the other guy that you’ve already nominated someone and can’t nominate anyone else.

  18. Roscoe*

    #3 I get the feeling you don’t like this person too much, and this is playing into it. It just seems to me there is no harm in nominating someone. You really don’t have to go all out and say they were amazing or anything. But you could do a very mediocre nomination and leave it at that. If the selection committee (or person) doesn’t select them, its not on you. You did what they asked by nominating, and you didn’t lie about their qualifications. Its like the Academy awards. Anyone can submit themselves for it, but that doesn’t mean they have a good chance of winning. If its not personal, why not help the guy out as a professional courtesy.

    #4 Yeah, I don’t see a problem with it. Maybe they need to change clothes because its a nicer place. Maybe they want people to have a little bit of time to recharge before the party. But I don’t see why you should need to leave early just because.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I disagree. Nominating someone, especially in work contexts, is basically vouching for someone. You’re putting up your reputation to back someone you believe in. If you don’t believe in or admire that person or think they’re deserving, then you shouldn’t feel obligated to nominate them.

      1. Roscoe*

        I guess to me there are 2 things. The nomination and the promotion. It sounds like this person did fine on the project, maybe not outstanding, but not bad either. So you don’t have to be lying by saying they did well on this project, because it sounds like they did. But it sounds like the main concern is they don’t want someone to get a promotion. I can think someone is great in their role, and does well, without thinking they deserve a promotion. But I shouldn’t hold back complimenting the current role because of those feelings. I guess it depends on how much the nomination and promotion are actually linked to each other.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Ohhh, gotcha. My impression was that the person did their job adequately, which doesn’t really merit an award (I would call this the “what you want, a cookie?!” response). But you’re right that it would be helpful for OP to detangle which feels are related to the project, which are related to the award, and which belong to the promotion, because right now they’re a feelingsball.

    2. SD*

      A mediocre nomination might be one way out, but if the awards program is somewhat ‘elite’ there may not be m any nominations being made and therefore raises the odds of them winning. Winning it or not is only part of the issue — its the expectation that it signals an endorsement to lead into a potential promotion.

  19. NarrowDoorways*

    #4 People def need time to prepare for a party, and, you know, eat dinner/walk the dog/pick up children/change clothes/travel to the venue. I went to a holiday party this past Friday that started at 7. I left at 3:30 and there was basically no time to get fully ready. I was in a crazy rush.

    I think it would be a nice gesture to close the office altogether, but the closing is primarily to give people time to be ready for it. If you’re not going, then you don’t need the time. I’d be a bit unhappy to be alone in the office, but that’s the trade off, I suppose.

  20. Christine*

    1. Manager wants the top 10 reasons I’d quit my job

    OP – does your manager know what LOL means? Maybe she thinks it means lots of love? She may not know e-mail etiquette.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        It doesn’t??? Maybe this is why my boss seems to be avoiding me. Should I not send him emails saying that “The D needs to be extended”?

            1. Creag an Tuire*

              If it doesn’t get some immediate stimulus, the D could spiral into irrecoverable decline.

              (I’ll show myself out.)

    1. i want a pony*

      If the LOL bothers you so much, then why not ask why it was included and have a blank face while you are doing it. Look at her in the face and say “Excuse me, I don’t understand why you want to laugh out loud about reasons people quit jobs. Could you explain that”. If the person has any sense at all, they will be more thoughtful about putting in a LOL when e-mailing people.

  21. Emelle*

    #2, I have worked 15+ years with kids and I am currently in a job working with kids. This is the first manager I have had that realizes people get sick/life happens outside of work. It makes me absolutely nutty when employees are not held to the same attendance rules as the kids. I called in with strep once and was informed if I had taken at least one round of antibiotics I was expected to be at work. My current job has a back up plan- a retired woman that is available and willing to come in and help out most days. Perhaps suggesting a sub or two for your kids would help?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      It’s totally dumb that people who work with kids get flak for calling in. Kids pick up enough germs from other kids–they don’t need them from the staff, too.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      I am in education and it’s horrible about teachers taking time off for illness (or anything, for that matter.) Sadly, I found #2 situation totally believable – it’s been part of the culture in every school in which I have worked. Coverage is tough, it can be hard to get subs, and it just seems to be something that seeps into the culture. I’m sorry you are dealing with this, OP. Hanging in there!

    3. Valor*

      When I was teaching in another country, I got a viral head cold of some kind (which developed into bronchitis, b/c of course it did) and when I showed up to work, my supervisor was horrified that I had come in, and made me go home right away. Later, my doctor straight-up quarantined me when he found out I worked with kids. He told me not to leave my house for a week.
      And you know what? None of my students got that cold. Nor did their parents or any of the other teachers. Teachers, food service providers, letter carriers, and anyone else who interacts with a bunch of people everyday should always stay home and not be disease vectors! I don’t understand why people don’t get it. A flu can take huge chunks of the student body out for weeks if people don’t stay home when they start showing symptoms.

  22. Tuckerman*

    OP #2: I found this was pretty common when I worked with kids because staffing was so tight. The center had an assistant director who could fill in when necessary, and two floating staff (who could sub in any classroom), but classrooms must have a certain ratio of teachers to toddlers. If not, the center’s license could be in jeopardy (if a parent reported it or the state came by announced).
    It’s super aggravating to be dealing with illness and and an obnoxious boss who thinks you should come in when sick. I remember being told I would just have to come in even if I was sick. I think it’s kind of an industry norm.

    1. Knitchic*

      It really is. My last job was at a day care (asst. director) and trying to balance people being out sick abs having proper coverage for all the classrooms was crazy making. I was on loan to a sister center once because so many people were getting sick. Guess who was sick next.

    2. Merida May*

      + 1 Definitely agree with this. In my experience the places that get emotional about call-ins are the ones that have bare bones staffing arrangements to begin with. I used to work in a kitchen and absolutely dreaded going in the day after I had been out sick, because I knew someone was either called in on their day off or wound up pulling a double to cover.

  23. INTP*

    #2: I wonder what the parents would think if they knew that the people working with their children were being shamed into coming in while sick. Not suggesting you inform them, but it would be tempting.

    I can’t stand people that act like functioning normally while sick is some badge of honor when it’s purely about their own egos. You just spread the illness around and ultimately the productivity loss is many times what it would be from a couple of people taking a sick day.

    1. Michele*

      Where I work, the norm is to take a sick day if you need one. However, we are in layoffs now, so everyone is making a show of all of the work they do, including coming into work while sick. Normally, illness will completely pass through our department in a week. Now it is endless because there are so many sick people coming in.

    2. Dust Bunny*


      My mother hated the kids who got perfect attendance awards at school: She’d say that just meant they’d been bringing germs when they should have stayed home. Childcare is exactly the situation where they need to have enough staff that people don’t need to come in when they’re sick.

    3. Roscoe*

      I think there is a lot more to it than that, which I bring up a lot when sick discussions come up. Sometimes you sound really bad, but really don’t feel terrible, or its possible you aren’t even contagious. Also, some jobs are commission based. Which means you literally are making less money by not being there. Yes if you are salaried, it may not make sense. But if your money depends on it, I won’t fault someone for going to work a bit sick.

      1. INTP*

        I understand that and I’ve done it myself – I had a year when I was sick at least once a month and I had 5 sick days that I needed for doctor’s appointments, so I was at work with every cold. But in this case the boss is shaming other people into coming to work while sick, and bragging about how she does it as part of that shaming. Either the business is so poorly managed they can’t handle absences (and she’s handling it terribly, with manipulation and shaming), or she does have a weird belief about working while sick being some sign of a good work ethic and she’s trying to force it on other people.

    4. Tuckerman*

      Parents are sympathetic (when I worked in daycare) but the bottom line is, if there is not enough staff to operate according to state licensing requirements (e.g., 1 adult for every 7 two-year olds, the daycare has to close). Parents definitely don’t want that. If you have two full time subs (or “floaters”) and 5 staff are out sick, you can’t operate. One solution may be to hire additional floaters, but hiring extra staff makes it harder to stay competitive in terms of pricing.

      1. Tuckerman*

        Sorry, that should be “if there is not enough staff to operate according to state licensing requirements (e.g., 1 adult for every 7 two-year olds), the daycare has to close.”

  24. Michele*

    #5–I wouldn’t read anything into it. My boss’s boss likes to go first on conference calls because he likes to make introductions and give an overview. My direct supervisor is uncomfortable with those things, so he likes me to go first. There are benefits to both. With the big boss, sometimes what is expected out of the meeting gets lost or confused before the information gets to me. With him starting, I can adjust what I am going to say to suit him. My direct supervisor and I have better communication. When I take the lead, I can guide the call the way that I want it to go.

  25. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    #1 – Tread carefully. Either tell her nothing or tell her that you would like employment with paid vacation, benefits and income stability, instead of contracting. Her question wasn’t professional, and should not have been asked. You should treat it as a company inquiry not a personal private exchange, and give a professional answer that you would be very comfortable sending to anyone at that company. Say nothing about her personally.

  26. DCompliance*

    #2- I am little bit confused. You stated your doctor signed you unfit to work for a week, but you emailed your boss every day? Is there a company policy that you have to call/email every day instead of just saying you have a note for the whole? While she should not be snarky with you, I wonder if she was annoyed that everyday you were contacting her instead of just letting her know, you’d be out for the week. Again, not saying this justifies her behavior, but it would have been more convenient to just let her know the doctor put you out for the whole week rather then piece mailing it one day at a time.

    1. aelle*

      This struck me as strange as well. Maybe the manager ran out of different ways to respond to the same absence email, and that’s why some of them sound bizarre? Although of course she simply should have told OP if she didn’t need the daily updates.

    2. Justme*

      My former job required notification each day you would be out even if there was a doctor’s note for a certain period of time. That was so much fun when my kid had the flu and I still had to call in for a week even though I had scanned and emailed the doctor’s note stating she was out for the week.

    3. Triangle Pose*

      Agreed. I’m a bit surprised that Alison didn’t address this in her answer. OP #2, did you make it clear to your boss on the first day that your doctor dais you were unfit to work for the entire week? Because I could see how calling in every day in the morning to say you would be out for the day because of constipation/diarrhea would come across oddly to the boss – you would have kept information from her that would have been helpful to her in covering your sick leave. No excuse for her response, but could help us understand her perspective.

      Not sure if this is nitpicking words or one of those situations where we should be giving OP benefit of the doubt, but just seems like missing info int he letter. I don’t think it changes Alison’s advice for what to do, but if OP in fact did not tell her boss she would be out the whole week, I would tack on “My doctor did say that I would be unfit for work the entire week, and I apologize if I didn’t communicate that to you clearly so you could plan effectively for my sick leave.”

    4. Robert Bobby*

      I was just about to make the same comment! I don’t understand why she was emailing her boss every day when the doctor’s note required her to stay home the entire week. Unless, she had told her boss something like, “I have been told by my doctor to stay home all week, but I’ll email you every morning to let you know if I feel up to coming in or not.” Or maybe it is part of their sick leave policy to at least check-in on a daily basis.

  27. Lora*

    2. Ugh. CVS is currently running an ad campaign at the subway stations in my city that encourages people to take NyQuil/DayQuil so they can work while sick in case they get cooties from the train. As a 2X cancer survivor who lived through many years of immunocompromise from thyroid disorder, and the daughter of someone who currently is dealing with chemo for Stage III cancer and will end up with pneumonia if she catches a sniffle, I find this disrespectful to me personally and also to the entire field of public health. Even worse, my state requires employers to provide a week of paid sick time per year, and encouraging people to not make full use of their labor rights and entitlements as a human person is some oppressive fascist propaganda bullshit which can fuck itself right off.

    Additionally, this is why god made VPNs, so you can work from home in your kleenex-snot and dirty teacup germ-zone.

    If any horrible self-absorbed Chicago School of Economics individual would like to Businesssplain at me about why mandatory paid sick days will be the end of Small Bizness, I will be happy to tell them ALL about how they can save money and improve productivity by purchasing Sick Day Insurance and VPNs by which means they can give their employees unlimited sick days and lose less money to illness and have more productive people.

    1. Emi.*

      Ugh, is that “NO SICK DAYS” campaign? I’ve been seeing that in magazines. It’s gross from a PH perspective, and also has a terrible Let’s All Glorify Overexertion vibe. >:-|

    2. burnout*

      Amen. My boss refuses to let us work remotely. Says he can’t be sure we are actually working and he doesn’t pay someone for playing around on the computer at home making it LOOK like work when really you are watching Ellen and eating a sandwich.

      I have 2 interviews today! fingers crossed

    3. JKP*

      I’m a small business owner. I’ve never heard of Sick Day insurance and am intrigued. Do you have a link?

    4. Candi*

      …I sincerely wonder if this had any influence on my insurance carrier dropping their pharmacy out of network.

      (I have to go four whole blocks over to the Safeway starting 1/1! Oh no! /humor) :p

  28. JB (not in Houston)*

    #5 I used to have a boss who would do this, but it was because she was never, ever prepared. She wanted me to go first so she’d know what we were supposed to be talking about, the background, etc. I think if that’s what was happening with your boss, you’d probably know.

  29. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    #2 – some places have official policies that when you “call in”, you not only have to call, but you have to *speak with a person*, preferably a manager (if not your manager, someone else). The policies are there for a reason (typically to dissuade time abusers, though I don’t think it’s that effective … time abusers will abuse, no matter what), but in practice they are often not practical, for the reason you stated.

    For example: I once got a wretched stomach bug that had me up all night. I finally got myself “relaxed” enough to pass out, and it was about 7am. It made so much more sense for me to shoot an email to my boss and tell him I’d check in later when I woke up, if necessary. (He called and left me a message, beginning with, “I hope your ringer is off, and thank you for not bringing that here.” He just prefers phones, but was absolutely cool with an email.)

    My direct reports all have my cell and my email, and they all know that a text or an email is fine with me. But some bosses are sticklers. So it could just be that. I would talk to her, as Alison suggested, and also find out if she has a preferred way for you to contact her in cases like these.

    1. MWKate*

      My boss is one of the “we have to have a phone conversation” if calling in types. She then asks for details about the illness. “So, is it like a head cold, stomach ache?” Which seems unnecessary to me. When my reports call in to me (or text as I tell them to do) I just tell them to feel better. I’m not a doctor, neither can I diagnose if you are sick over the phone.

      1. Seal*

        I’d be sorely tempted to go into great detail, as in “I’ve had explosive diarrhea and been projectile vomiting all night…hold on, here comes another round!” and then not put the phone on mute. I mean, if she wants details…

      2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        I think some of it comes from a shaming for calling in. Like, “Are you REALLY sick enough to stay home?” Which is nuts. If someone is abusing their time, deal with that, but otherwise things happen, people get sick, people have different thresholds for what they can do/what they can tolerate on how sick they are, and far be it from me to impose my own personal standards on someone else.

        1. MWKate*

          Exactly my position. If you feel you are sick enough to stay home – that is the threshold for staying home. Frankly I would rather people err on the side of caution. I’d rather cover their work for a day or two than the whole office gets laid out with it and we’re all scrambling for weeks as people go down like dominoes.

        1. Michele*

          There are health details that I would never want to share with my boss, and I am sure he wouldn’t want to share with me. That is a big invasion of privacy.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That is so disgusting and so inappropriate of her. She’s not a doctor, and even if she were, since when do you have to share your symptoms with your employer in order to “merit” taking leave that you’re already entitled to? I see employers do this all the time, and it makes me livid. If your employee has attendance problems, talk to them about that when they return to the office. But stop interrogating people who take leave just because you’re [boss] paranoid that people are lying about their leave.

      4. anon for this*

        I can top that. Not only do we have to give symptoms when we call in, but the day we return to work we have to have a meeting with HR and go through:
        – how were we sick
        – why were we sick
        – do we expect the sickness to recur
        – is there anything we think we could have done to keep from getting sick (no, really)

        …there are things I like about my job, but the policies around calling in sick are absolutely bananas.

        1. MWKate*

          Wow. That is just beyond absurd and really, really inappropriate. I can’t imagine how they could justify this. They are legit nuts.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I suppose it would be inappropriate to tell them you had a case of the F-U and then flash double middle fingers as you back out the door.

        3. UK Nerd*

          My previous job required those forms. The answers to the question about how we could prevent it happening again tended to get a bit sarcastic.
          “Don’t order prawns at that restaurant again.”

      5. a*

        Both of my food service jobs did that too. I was never quite sure if they were asking because of food safety codes that if you had certain symptoms, you had to wait three days afterwards before returning to work, or if it was a “are you REALLY sick enough to call out?” thing.

    2. PK*

      We have the ‘must call and talk to someone’ policy. However, I don’t think it’s a result of management trying to judge whether it’s a worthy absence. They’ve never pushed for any sort of further information and always said “Hope you feel better”. It was explained to me that there had been an issue in the past where an employee had called and left a voicemail but the boss was out that day unexpectedly as well. Makes sense in a support center type environment.

      1. Michele*

        We have a dedicated phone line for absences. The admins and a couple other people can check the messages. That way, if your boss is also out, it is still captured. It works out pretty well.

  30. Merida May*

    To me #4 seems like a thoughtful incentive either way you slice it. If you’re going to an office party that is happening outside normal business hours it’s a nice touch to give people a block of time to take care of whatever arrangements they need to make before heading over to the venue. Or, if you’ve decided to work for the remainder of the day you have a nice, quiet office to work in. YMMV, but a ghost town that starts midway through the day and ends at my regular dismissal time sounds heavenly.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      For all the flaws of my current company, we are allowed really flexible schedules once you get to a certain level. So I’ll work 10 – 6 or 10:30 – 6:30 most days because 1. it means I miss the rush hour subway and 2; most people work 7 – 3 or 8 – 4 and those two to three hours of an almost empty office are my most productive times. It’s great.

  31. MWKate*

    My boss tends to punctuate emails with excessive exclamation points and ellipses, followed by the winky face ;)

    I wouldn’t say I would quit over it, but I do give every other email a generous eye roll when they come in.

    1. Junior Dev*

      I had a boss who 1) did not understand/care about the bounds of appropriate professional behavior (once showed me an x-rated meme as a “joke”) 2) liked to use emojis, including the winky face, in business messages.

      Obviously 1) is a much worse violation of decent-people norms than 2) but I think they’re now kind of linked in my mind.

      (This was a startup. There was no HR department.)

    2. Mints*

      Ellipses read so sarcastic. This is definitely a pet peeve in email.
      *I send an attachment*
      (Which can be “Here’s the thing!” or “Attached please find the thing”)
      Then I get a response:

      Seriously you don’t have to respond if it’s going to sound this tortured

      1. zora*

        I don’t know why this is, but I use ellipses to end texts all the time, because it feels more casual somehow. But I absolutely despise ellipses in emails. I think I’m just a crazyperson

  32. Brett*

    #5 For the various status report meetings I have to run, I started using the same order recently because it simply goes quicker that way. That said, I prefer employees who want to go first go first (I only have one of those, but it only takes one).
    I’ve seen the time for status report meetings cut in half since switching to a set order; I think because it is obvious who goes next and that makes it easier to cut someone off and jump to the next person.

  33. Erin*

    #4 – Yep, totally normal/common. And in my opinion, fair. I’m not attending my company’s holiday party and will be working the normal hours that day instead of leaving early.

    1. Lissa*

      Yeah, I agree. It’s taking time off for a specific work-related purpose — to be able to better set things up to have a happier/more relaxed work event.

    2. Toph*

      To me there’s a difference between “the office is closing early” and “those attending the event are dismissed early”. The OP was sort of ambiguous as to what was actually announced. If the office is actually closing early, that should be blanket. If they’re just letting people leave early to get ready for the event, then it’s reasonable that those not attending are not permitted to leave early.

  34. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – your boss sounds like a teenager who isn’t yet comfortable with her authority. I would just respond “I’m super busy with this project. Is there a reason you’re asking me this?

  35. NE715*

    #2 Ugh, OP I feel your pain. I have a boss that does this. A few months ago I had a bad fall and injured my leg. It was very swollen and pretty painful to sit in a desk chair all day because of the location of the injury. My doctor advised me to rest so I took one day off from work (I have 2 weeks of annual sick time that can’t be used for anything else). I would have been happy to work from home, as is our organization’s policy, but our manager will not let us access this benefit because he “doesn’t trust anyone to actually do any work”. A few weeks earlier a male employee injured himself while working out and took a week off without an issue, yet I received comments about how it was a “weird excuse” and “points for creativity” as if I was not telling the truth.

    When I returned to work the next day I discovered that he had discussed my reason for taking a day off, as well as his opinion about it, with the rest of my team. I’ve seen him do this with other employees too, gossiping about private medical information to the rest of the staff. In the future I will not be giving him any details as per our company policy he’s not allowed to ask for a reason unless we have been out for more than three days, but I’m not sure what approach I will take if I ever have a long term reason for being out, such as undergoing surgery.

    1. Michele*

      Do you have an HR department? Those questions, especially discussing it with the team, are really inappropriate. I am someone who is very private about my health, so that would really bother me. I might just be lucky here, but it is policy to never ask details about an employee’s health. If an extended leave is required (short-term disability kicks in after 5 days), people just give a note to HR from their doctor and let their boss know when they will return.

    2. PK*

      I’d be quite upset about this. Enough to say something actually. When it comes to medical issues, your boss should have some discretion about it.

  36. Woman In Black*

    I start asking for comments from most junior and work my way up. One of my first bosses ran her meetings that way, and explained that she wanted the junior people to feel able to say whatever they really thought without worrying about agreeing with the more senior people on the team.

  37. Greg M.*

    My list of top ten reasons to leave a job:
    1. having my time wasted with being made to do stupid crap like this
    2. having my time wasted with being made to do stupid crap like this
    3. having my time wasted with being made to do stupid crap like this
    4. having my time wasted with being made to do stupid crap like this
    5. having my time wasted with being made to do stupid crap like this
    6. having my time wasted with being made to do stupid crap like this
    7. having my time wasted with being made to do stupid crap like this
    8. having my time wasted with being made to do stupid crap like this
    9. having my time wasted with being made to do stupid crap like this
    10. having my time wasted with being made to do stupid crap like this

  38. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    #1 – Are the emails annoying because they are annoying (and even more so because of other issues), or because you see them as a symptom of the larger ill of her not being fit for the job? If they are just annoying, I wouldn’t say anything. But if it seems indicative of the manager not being able to perform basic job functions… that feels like a message for HR during the exit interview, perhaps not direct feedback to your manager.

    #2 – I am sorry your boss acts this way about sick time. I think talking to her about sick time expectations is best. Use AAM’s script, but also ask if she prefers you call rather than email – explain why you email (earlier notice) but see what her preference is. Some of this might stem from the email notification (though it sounds like mostly she doesn’t want people using sick days, which is unrealistic)

    #3 – Is it possible you could be nominated for the award? Is there a conflict of interest there you could claim?

    #4 – This is pretty common. It is kind of a bummer, but it makes sense.

    #5 – Without more context, can’t really help, but it is likely just a routine your manager is in.

  39. animaniactoo*

    OP1 – could you be more generic? “As a technical copyeditor, getting e-mails that seem to be written for social media which may include the following: mangled-to-death grammar, gifs, emoticons, and internet-standard abbreviations makes my head hurt.”

    And then you’re not calling her specifically out vs getting these kinds of e-mails in general – that they may come from more than just her, and it’s *your* “peeve” vs “unprofessional thing that nobody should do and YOU DO IT ALL THE TIME”.

    You’d have to carefully evaluate how you think she’d receive it if it comes from that angle, but would it have a decent shot of being accepted as a “ha ha, I do that all the time!” and then a modification to tone it down for you? Add a mad face emoticon at the end of it to indicate jest-in-truth possibly?

  40. DNDL*

    Ugh the sick leave thing hits close to home. Last week my manager tried to take away my lunch breaks because I had been out sick the week before. Note–she wanted me to work through the break, but still clock out. Luckily she made this proclamation in front of her boss, who quickly set her straight and I got my full unpaid lunch break.

    1. Candi*

      Positive out of her glassbowl demand: HER boss has a firm data point of how she’s nasty to staff and willing to break labor law. (That whole hourly wage earners have to be paid for all time they work thing.)

  41. Chickaletta*

    #1 – You might want to consider finding an alternative person at the company who can be a reference for you in your upcoming job search. Two reasons: one, so that you can start being more honest with your manager about how she can retain good employees and, two, if her reputation precedes her, a reference from her not be that valuable anyway.

  42. smokey*

    I hate those internal recognition awards, but maybe cause it seems to become a popularity contest.

    They finally quit doing them at my work.

  43. Jodi*

    I’m going to start requesting that I leave a bit early before work events so that I can make my hair sensational.

  44. Robert Bobby*

    #4, I would guess that the “few hours” are given to the employees not for preparation for the party (though the extra time may be used that way), but to make up for the “few hours” they will be spending at the party later that day. Technically, the office party is a work event and could be considered working hours. I think this policy makes complete sense. If you aren’t attending the party, you put in 8 hours at your desk. If you are attending the party, you put in 5 hours at your desk, and 3 hours at the party. It all balances out.

  45. Liz2*

    *(I do think the whole “take a few hours to prepare” is a little funny, but maybe people require time to make their hair sensational and so forth.)*

    As an admin the first time I saw this I thought it was weird too, but then I saw a ton of mid/upper level and other people basically scramble in that time to do their office co worker gift shopping which they had left to the very end- the party was used as the “time and place to give everything their gifts.”

  46. ProfessionalSloth*

    #1: Perhaps OP’s top answer should be “The fact that management is apparently aware that we all have enough reasons to leave that we can pick the top 10 and have several left over that don’t make the cut. LOL.” #DoYouWantThatListOrganizedByTaskCategoryPotentialLawsuitLiabilityOrIntensityOfRageMaking

  47. Jane D'oh!*

    LW2, this isn’t what you asked, but is your workplace old, not cleaned well, or being served by an outdated HVAC system? Your unusual symptoms combined with those of your coworkers makes me wonder if there might be an environmental issue, like mold.

  48. Candi*

    #2 -some bosses are ridiculous when it comes to time off. I would come in sick to my first three jobs, the first because the location in a mall court had no phone, and the other two because supervisor and manager were -less then professional about sick workers.

    (Bonus fun: my first job was operating a merry-go-round. Yep, with massive exposure to kids. And a skeleton staff!)

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