can I promote my jewelry at work, my boss is bad at email, and more

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

1. Can I promote my jewelry at work?

I am the executive assistant for four executives at a private company. I also just became a part-time rep for a direct sales business selling beautiful, reasonably priced, stylish jewelry.

From time to time, my bosses (all men) have asked for my suggestion for gifts for their wives and daughters, as I believe they trust my taste. Is it out of line to suggest they purchase my jewelry and send them links to my direct sales website? They will be able to see my name up on top and know that I am pushing my own jewelry on them, so I think I could just say it up front “I actually became a sales rep for X recently, I bet your wife/daughter/mother may like something in there, check it out, here’s the link… or let me know if you want me to suggest something!” Is that completely out of line?

Also, what is the etiquette to selling to my coworkers? I work with a lot of women – there are at least five other admins and many other ladies at all levels within the organization who could possibly appreciate what I’m selling. We work in a kind of informal environment and I sit in a spot where people often stop to chat about the most various non-work related things. Is it wrong to tell them about it and send them links to my website?

I wouldn’t.

With your bosses, it’s possible that they’d be grateful — but it’s also possible that they’d feel awkward about telling you they don’t like the pieces or otherwise feel uncomfortable about you pushing stuff on them that will lead to a profit for you. The most I think you could do would be to suggest something that isn’t one of the pieces you rep and then add as an aside, “Alternately, I’m also now a jewelry sales rep for X — if you’re interested, you can see those pieces at this link.” In other words, make it really, really easy for them to opt out or even ignore it altogether, and don’t make it the only option you’re offering to them.

With coworkers, I’d leave it out of the office altogether. There’s too much potential for people to feel annoyed or pressured or just awkward about having to fend off a sales pitch, and you want to be known as “Jane who does great work,” not “Jane who asked me to buy things from her.”

2. My boss is bad at email

My boss is pretty bad at time management when it comes to email, and will sometimes take one to two weeks to respond to client questions. The area we work in is known for achingly slow response times, and often our clients are as swamped as us, so he gets away with it.

Something I’ve noticed that sets my teeth on edge: When my boss gets around to answering long overdue emails, he typically starts off with a chirpy little “sorry about the delay, things have been really busy around here!” followed by a link to the calendar of events page on our website. This strikes me as a really flippant way to address our paying clients, who absolutely do not give a hoot about the events we are hosting and attending. These are paying clients who just want their questions answered in a timely fashion! It also feels very “look, I have evidence, I’m not lying!”, which just seems kinda skeezy.

There are some other issues with the way he comes off in email that I’ve tried to (very gently) bring to his attention. He’s a bit older, and does some odd things (using “text speak” inappropriately in professional emails, sending novella length emails to simple questions) that I think are a result of him not really understanding how to communicate with technology. I’m really anxious about appearing to criticize him, but I think it’s important that I bring up this problem of linking to our calendar of events page in emails where it just does not make sense. Am I correct in seeing this as something that should stop, or am I overreacting?

I’d let it go.

Your clients are probably interpreting the link to your events calendar as mild self-promotion (“here’s what we’ve got going on if you’re interested”) rather than an attempt to prove that your boss isn’t lying. It’s actually not terribly unusual for people to do that kind of thing to spread the word about their events. And while it’s not necessarily useful or interesting information to the recipient, it’s unlikely to cause offense.

About his use of email more broadly: Is he getting good results in his work? Are people reading and responding to his emails? If so, I wouldn’t worry too much about his email style. Some people use text speak in emails or write ridiculously lengthy messages and are still respected and effective in their fields. On the other hand, if the answers to those questions are no, you could possibly bring it up if you’re able to tie it directly to those things, but otherwise, I’d let that stuff go too.

3. Should I let my team know that I’ll be out for breast reduction surgery?

I am an executive over a team of about 30. I am an overly well-endowed woman, which causes neck/back problems I’ve reached my limit in dealing with, along with a variety of other problems. I am now awaiting insurance approval for breast reduction surgery. If I have the procedure, I will be on medical leave for two weeks and will need to limit my activity for several more weeks, although as I have a desk job this shouldn’t be an issue at work.

I am puzzling over how to handle this with my team. As someone who hasn’t even taken a sick day in two years, if I suddenly go out on medical leave without some explanation they would likely be very worried, and of course people’s imaginations will fill in any communication gaps with something worse than reality. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable making announcements about my boobs. The other major factor is the result of the surgery will be obvious when I come back, so everyone will know in the end anyway.

To me, this is a medical issue I am choosing to deal with through surgery, and I am not at all uncomfortable talking about it; I just don’t want to weird anyone out. For context, company culture is very supportive of work/life balance, I have worked hard to establish a positive and supportive team culture, and I have good relationships with my team members. So what do you think — is it TMI to explain the reason for the medical leave, or will not explaining generate more drama?

Yep, it’s TMI. Just say something like, “I’ll be out for a minor surgical procedure; it’s nothing to worry about.” As long as you include that last part, people aren’t likely to do much worrying, since there are lots of minor surgical procedures that aren’t signs of anything terrible.

People may or may not figure it out when you return, but there’s no reason to get into boob talk with people. (And who knows, you might be surprised — I’ve heard a bunch of people say that after breast reduction people just thought they’d lost weight or couldn’t quite figure out what was different.)

For what it’s worth, it’s not a bad idea for your team to occasionally see you take some sick leave anyway. You want them to use theirs when they need to, and it’s good to model behavior that shows that it’s no big deal.

4. Skipping an evening social event in a new job

I’m a single mom in a pretty new job. I really like it here and want to make a good impression, but I’m very stressed about an upcoming social event where we are meant to go snowshoeing at night.

I’ve never hired a babysitter before and I hate the idea of being up on a mountain where I possibly couldn’t be reached and definitely couldn’t get home quickly if something happened. Should I talk to my manager about it? I don’t want to seem like a complainer.

It’s perfectly reasonable to say to your boss, “I’m a single parent and can’t be in a situation that evening where I might not be able to be reached or get home quickly if there’s an emergency. Okay if I sit this one out?”

Your boss should be okay with this, as snowshoeing is not typically a critical event for people to be at. That said, some bosses are unreasonable about this kind of thing, so it’s possible that you’ll get the sense that he frowns on you not being able to make it. If you get that sense, at that point you’d need to decide if you’re willing to compromise on this to appease an unreasonable boss … but know that asking to skip it is not complainy of you.

5. Handling a very long layoff notice period

My company has decided to close several offices during 2017, and mine is one of them. I’m an IT manager, and half of my team is at the home office, and half is here in the closing office. My job will be eliminated when the office closes later this year, and so will my team members’ jobs. (Some will move to the home office location, but not all of us.)

We’ve been offered severance, and some folks have been offered retention bonuses to stay until the bitter end… but it’s hard to get my head around this. On one hand, I want to stick around and help my team deal with this change and transition their projects smoothly to the home office folks; on the other hand, why stick around in a company where I have no future after this fall?

The last time I was laid off, we were walked out the door after meeting with HR, so I’m having a tough time reconciling the conflicting messages of “we really want you to stay!” vs. “but only until the office closes down.” How on earth do I motivate my staff (and myself) to keep doing a good job if I stay? I’m not terribly concerned about my ability to find a new job, either now or at the end of the year, and financially we’d be OK if I’m out of work for a while. I’m just not sure if I’m thinking clearly enough to make the right call – any recommendations on what to do?

The layoff isn’t about you or your performance; it’s about a business decision to close your location. So the way you reconcile “stay and help us” with “but only until the office closes” is by being really clear-eyed about that.

Think of this the way you’d think of any short-term contract job: They need your services for a particular period of time but not indefinitely. That’s not personal, not any more than it’s personal to, say, not need to hire day care for your kids forever. Some business arrangements have a natural end.

And the way you motivate yourself to keep doing a good job is by remembering that your professional reputation is a hugely valuable asset, and that letting your performance slip will hurt you, not your employer. You do good work because you want to be known as someone who does good work, even if you’re no longer particularly invested in this job (and tell your staff the same thing). If you find yourself at a point where you can’t do that, though, then you’re better off finding another job and leaving sooner rather than sticking it out until the end.

{ 465 comments… read them below }

  1. Bend & Snap*

    #1 on behalf of your coworkers, please don’t.

    #4 I’m a single mom and I unapologetically turn down night events on the regular due to childcare challenges for my toddler. Nobody has ever given me a hard time about it. Just be visible during the day and make sure to chat with everyone about it afterward.

    1. Artemesia*

      #1 +1000 I would be enraged if my husband were guilted into buying me a bunch of costume jewelry I don’t like because his employee pushed it on him. Jewelry is such a personal thing and one person’s dream is another’s tacky. There should be a bright line between your professional job and your sales job and particularly your boss should never be involved as a customer.

      for co-workers, I actually think it is less obnoxious. ‘I left a catalogue in the break room; let me know if you want to get anything ‘ is like the cookie sign up sheet or the avon catalogue — As long as there is no personal ‘selling’ I think it is okay. But pushing a boss to buy stuff, especially something so taste specific — really bad choice (and if you annoy his wife, worse) Of course she could love the gift and it could be a win — but it is risky.

      1. Annonymouse*

        I think it’s ok to mention it if a boss is asking for a recommendation PROVIDED that it’s not the only thing you recommend.

        Again, with Alison’s recommendation that you make it easy to turn down the sales part.

        I’d phrase it as such:
        “If you think they’d like some of the jewellery I wear I do sell some of the pieces. Otherwise have you considered (choose 2 or 3 appropriate items from following list)

        *Bottle of her favourite (or favourite celebrity for teens) perfume
        *Newest book by favourite author
        *Tickets to a well rated show or play
        *Voucher or package at a day spa
        *Something relating to hobby – a high end version of common item or handy item not many people have
        *If teen traveling- high end light weight stylish luggage and language/travel guides (I’d assume wife would already have that)
        *Fancy accessory- cashmere scarf or sweater in neutral or easy to coordinate colour, burburry anything, designer everyday handbag etc
        * upgraded electronic item – newest phone if they still have an iPhone 4/5/galaxy earlier model etc, faster laptop or iPad.

        1. Artemesia*

          Mentioning you sell jewelry to the boss when he asks advice on a gift is IMHO NEVER EVER appropriate. It IS pressure and if the recipient of the gift doesn’t like it and finds out the employee pushed her husband in to buying it she is likely to let him know what she thinks of this. Just as managers have trouble giving negative feedback to employees many will have problems rejecting the employees suggestion of their jewelry line not wanting to ‘hurt their feelings.’ Bad move. Always.

          1. Annonymouse*

            Hence the 3 other suggestions of stuff they DON’T make a profit on.

            By suggesting multiple things – most of which you don’t sell – the implication becomes

            “Let’s find the right gift for this person. I’m happy if you use ANY of my suggestions.”

            But if you only suggest the jewellery or suggest other things and keep coming back to it then yes, I can see that pressure to buy even if the boss doesn’t really want to.

      2. Annie Moose*

        Yeah, leaving a catalogue around (and mentioning it once) is fine, to me–at my old job, we had a nice little stack of catalogues in the women’s bathroom if you felt like browsing the Avon or Thirty One products while you were in there! But nobody actively pushed it or (heaven forbid) chased you down with an order form. It was just there if you wanted it.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          That strikes me as the most appropriate way to do it. At my old job, we had several people with school-aged children who had sales of wrapping paper or popcorn or whatever, and the protocol was just to leave the catalogue in the break room. It’s the most low-key way to do it.

          1. NonProfit Nancy*

            Yeah, at my current job (sigh) a senior manager brings his kids in, asks for everybody’s attention, and then has the kids pitch the cookies they’re selling. It’s pretty high pressure and I think that’s unfair. Especially for his direct reports. But I’m sure he thinks it’s worth it to teach his daughters to be assertive salespeople.

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              Ugh. I mean, I might forgive that for Girl Scout cookies, but…no, not really. Not cool to use the power dynamic that way.

            2. Bend & Snap*

              My dad made me do this with raffle tickets at his office, where he was the owner. I remain mortified today.

              “It’s $1 a ticket and $5 for a book of tickets”

              *nudge from dad*

              Sigh. “How many books would you like to buy?”

            3. Formica Dinette*

              When I was a kid, my dad refused to let us sell Girl Scout cookies for sale at his job because he was *the* boss. I didn’t love it back then, but once I started working I realized he was right. (Don’t tell him I said that!)

              1. Ginger*

                My dad was in the same position. He never brought our school fundraising catalogs to his workplace, but bought copious amounts from his employees. Girl scout cookies GALORE. Yussss.

              2. Ted Mosby*

                My father solved this issue by personally buying and consuming an entire office’s worth of Samoas and Thin Mints.

        2. Joan Callamezzo*

          A stack on the counter in the bathroom might be okay. But a manager from another department at my workplace used to leave Avon catalogues hanging from the hook inside all the bathroom stalls–with her name and phone number prominently stamped all over them–so we were effectively getting a sales pitch every time we went to the bathroom! I got very annoyed and started throwing them out; when they kept reappearing, I complained to HR and they assured me they’d take care of it. After a couple of weeks the catalogues started reappearing in the bathroom stalls. I complained to HR again and this time they stopped for good.

          On the other hand, a colleague once casually dropped a catalogue on my desk and said, “A friend of mine sells this jewelry and I thought you might like it. Let me know if you’re interested,” and that was it. No follow-up or anything to make me feel pressured. And the coworkers whose kids sold Girl Scout cookies would generally just announce it to the group once, which no one minded.

          I got pressured into a couple of those candle parties before I smartened up, though. Ugh.

          1. Rater Z*

            I wouldn’t mind being at a candle party, at least once. My wife is so sensitive to scents and odors that I seem to be in trouble over everything, even someone smoking in a car three lanes over with the windows closed. The best part of visiting the mall is visiting all the candle shops and smelling the different candles. A quick mention abut my wife to the clerks and they just tell me to enjoy myself. They know I won’t be buying anything. (Yes, it would have changed everything had I known it before getting married.)

        3. Amber T*

          Yep, a coworker is an Avon lady, and usually once a quarter, a new catalog is put on the cork board in the lunch room.

          I sell homemade fudge and truffles on the side (not related to a third party seller, just from my own kitchen), and it usually takes one or two mentions of “I’m selling fudge for the holidays…” and a get a few orders lined up.

          1. Elemeno P.*

            I think selling your own stuff is different than an MLM, even when you’re doing the mention-it-and-don’t-push method for both- maybe it’s the lack of pressure from higher up? I had a coworker who made cakes with her mom as a side business, and occasionally she brought in things she’d been working on to try out new flavors on us or just make sure some accidentally ugly cupcakes didn’t go to waste. We all loved it, of course, and a bunch of people hired her for outside events after trying a “mistake” or two.

            1. Morning Glory*

              I strongly agree this is different. MLMers make half+ their income from recruiting other salespeople.

              There is always a risk if you try to be nice and buy something that the person will then harass you for the next month to join as a salesperson ‘since you already like the products.’

              1. TrainerGirl*

                Absolutely. I used to sell cookies for the holidays, and after I brought them in for my coworkers to try once or twice, folks started asking for order forms in November. When people asked when I would bring in more cookies, I let them know that I was selling them and they could placed an order if they wanted to. I took the orders from the people who wanted to buy and never said a word to anyone else. I think that makes all the difference.

            2. Natalie*

              Definitely agree a craft or hobby is way different than an MLM. For one thing, the fact that you make cupcakes or jewelry or dog sweaters is the kind of fact about oneself that has probably come up naturally in the workplace any number of times before someone needed a cupcake or earrings or dog sweater. You’re never going to have testers or leftovers with an MLM, like your co-worker did.

              There’s also just something terribly bland and boring, I guess, about MLMs. Any product I want from them can be found online, frequently at a deep discount from someone quitting and liquidating their stock. It’s like offering to buy things from Target for my co-workers, but at a markup.

              1. EmilyAnn*

                I have a strong deep hatred for the pushing of MLM as a small business. You’re an independent rep for a large corporation with none of the benefits of being an actual employee and none of the freedom from being an independent businessperson. MLMs are uniformly horrible. Very few people make a real income doing it, while annoying every acquaintance they’ve ever had in the process with pushy sales tactics.

        4. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, I’m fine with this. However, I’ve had so many people message me on Facebook about Arbonne and Jamberry and blah blah blah that I’ve gotten really good at saying “No thank you; I’m not interested.” If someone were to just tell me in an informative manner that they were selling Mary Kay or Avon (I actually really like Avon products), and they only said it once so I knew who to come to, I’d be all right with that as well.

          Obviously the risk you run with suggesting a gift purchase vs. a coworker or boss picking something out for themselves is that the recipient will hate it and the giver will then blame you, consciously or not.

          1. TrainerGirl*


            Because the OP is describing her jewelry and “beautiful and stylish”, it seems she’s already got a bit of the hard sell going. Jewelry preference is so subjective, and I would worry about a coworker or manager purchasing something and then regretting it, and that could cause a lot of awkwardness and bad feelings.

            1. Drago Cucina*

              It is subjective. My husband likes to by me jewelry, but hates shopping for it. He gets snarky when the clerks say, “your wife will love this.” He responds, “how do you know? Do you know her?”

              1. Ted Mosby*

                HA! I love your husband for that. It’s a tad dickish but IMO totally deserved. I hate pushy sales people so freaking much.

                1. Ted Mosby*

                  I mean be obnoxious and try to pressure someone into spending money and ya get what ya get. Someone should stand up to all kinds of bullies.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Not to mention, Op should be sure her bosses are ok with her having a second job. Some places frown upon that.

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      For #1 some places may have a policy in place against that for just the reasons mentioned. A casual mention over the water cooler or coffee is usually ok. Had a friend who did one of the out of home sales chains and these were the rules they had to play by.

      1. NCKat*

        Yes, this. My company has a “No Solicitation” policy on the books which forbids this sort of thing. OP 1 needs to check the company policy manual before starting any selling on company property.

      2. Lablizard*

        True. My work doesn’t allow this at all. So you have to hunt around for the person who has a Girl Scout to get cookies. Small price to pay to not get hit up for every MLM and school fundraiser

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Cookie sales are now online. ;) The internet will lead you to them.

          Or just head to the grocery store when they come in and try to avoid tables of cookies outside the store. LOL

    3. Lionheart26*

      #1 I don’t have a problem with MLM in theory; I think it CAN be done politely and without a hard sell. I have had coworkers email out catalogues to all staff with a polite FYI and no further contact, which I personally think is ok. But anything beyond that gets really icky. A few months ago one coworker contacted a small group of us to invite us to a sales party. All of us made excuses (mine was legitimate, others were quite obviously desperate attempts to get out of it). The coworker then tried multiple times to reschedule and then badgered us – “I can’t understand why you wouldn’t jump at this opportunity, when this company can do so much for you”. I’m still not quite sure why she thought that bullying us into going to a party would generate sales for her. The whole situation was awkward to say the least.

      1. sstabeler*

        yeah, if you aren’t doing more than making a catalogue available, that’s not a problem- I’d probably take a quick look through the catalogue myself just to see if there was anything I needed for that matter- but I wouldn’t do anything that could be interpreted as specifically pushing the stuff you sell. (this applies even outside the office, by the way: if anyone I knew started badgering me to buy from their MLM “business” (in quotes as it’s debateable how much it’s THEIR business- as I understand it, MLM schemes are closer to a sales rep who has to pay the company for their inventory before selling it.) then I would be rapidly reassessing if the friendship is worth it.

        To be fair, though, I can see why someone might be desperate- it’s basically impossible to earn a decent amount from a MLM company without having a significant downline.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        Ugh, that sounds so awkward!
        More than 99% of people LOSE money (as in, go into debt) after joining an MLM. The only way to make money is to be one of the very first people in the pyramid and to recruit other sellers. This is one of my interests and I’ve done tons and tons of research on the subject. OP, please visit and do some reading there – it’s geared towards Mary Kay, but there is tons of general info and research and the site owner is a fraud investigator. The math breakdowns (about the impossibility of making money) are fascinating.

        1. Anon13*

          Thanks for letting us know about! I’ve always resisted my friends’ efforts to get me involved in their MLM businesses and many of the practices seem pretty obviously shady to me, but it’s interesting to see it all spelled out.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            You are very welcome! I spent hours perusing the site when I first stumbled upon it – I’ve never even come close to joining an MLM but I find the subject to be incredibly interesting.

            1. Artemesia*

              I’ve told the story before, but I was once in a cabin at a state park with my book club when we heard a group being trained to recruit ‘downlines’ on the terrace of the next cabin down the lake. The first pitch sounded really casual and genuine ‘my boss told me to think about the sharpest most together friend I have for this opportunity and of course I thought of you yadda yadda’ Then there was a painful turn taking in which each recruit practiced this spontaneous and casual pitch in halting excruciating slow lurching detail. It was kind of hilarious. These MLM programs are predatory and very well organized to con people into thinking they are businesspeople. A lot of them blur it with patriotism and religion. It is all pretty awful.

              1. seejay*

                Amway mixed it up with religion and FAMILY. It was all about making enough money to stay home and spend time with your kids and that was the ultimate goal! Who could say no to spending more time with your loved ones!?

                But if you listened closely, there was this horrid underlying current of “traditional family of mom stays home and manages the product, does makeup shows and entertains the other wives while also making kids while dad goes out and promotes the business. Oh and wife also *air quotes* keeps dad encouraged and happy *air quotes* so he’ll go out and sell the business”. *wink wink nudge nudge*. I wish I was kidding when I say that “traditional family” was pushed and strong-armed encouraged. Like, they were all about “oh, it doesn’t have to *be* that way, to it however you want!” and my mom and I were encouraged to be partnered up the way we were, but then… it was clear that other “couples” had more support if they were obviously man/woman and married with kids (or planning on kids) and there were even some outwardly blatant things said in meetings and groups and conferences. As a young 20-something woman who wasn’t religious at all, I was pretty off-put by a lot of it from the beginning, but desperately trying to hang on because I was so hung up on the rest of the success part. :/

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  My parents did the Amway thing back in the day. They got tired of the bullsh!t pretty quick. We did have Amway products around the house for quite a while afterward, until they got used up.

              2. Lily in NYC*

                Oh wow, they really all sound alike! Mary Kay’s motto is something like “God first, family second, Mary Kay third” or something similarly cheesy. The meetings are full of platitudes and lame sayings instead of actually training people to learn how to sell properly.

            2. Anon13*

              It’s a slow day at work for me today, and I just spent a few hours perusing it, too! I’ve thought once or twice about joining just to get a friend off my back about it, but I’m starting to get the strong impression that there would be significantly more pressure after I joined (to sell, to recruit others, etc.).

        2. seejay*

          My mom and I were sucked into Amway 20 years ago and it was horrid. Between the cult-like thinking, overly religious implications (which I’ll refrain from assigning to any specific religion to avoid insulting anyone), the ingrained misogyny, high-pressure tactics and the money we sunk into it, it was insane. We managed to get out without destroying ourselves too much.

          Then maybe 12 years later, she got back in because she was lonely and met someone that made her feel appreciated and included. My sister and I were cautious because at least it gave her something to do, but we put down some barriers. We both totally blew fits when she wanted to recruit us under her, but “she’d pay for our membership fees” because she wanted to meet her monthly quota… in essence, just pay herself out of her own pocket to pad her numbers to meet her goal. After a huge fight, she never mentioned it to us again and I think it slowly just disappeared from her life.

          If she ever brought it up again, it’d be a solid “NEVER DISCUSS THIS OR GET INVOLVED WITH THIS AGAIN.”

          1. Marisol*

            If people want to go into business for themselves I wish they’d just…go into business for themselves. Shoestring businesses are a wonderful thing. It can bring profit and satisfaction, and if it doesn’t, then you abandon it without too big of a loss. It’s odd to me that people feel they have to be under the auspices of some big company in order to “be your own boss,” especially since the business model of MLMs (as I understand it) is to recruit and sell from your personal network of friends and family. Why not just do that with your own product, that you offer because you think it’s a wonderful thing?

          2. Lily in NYC*

            You make such a good point – so many people join MLMs because they want to feel appreciated – which is why there are so many cheap trinket “prizes” for meeting goals. And signing you and your sister up to meet quotas is a very common practice. It’s so shady and it becomes completely normalized out of desperation to meet impossible goals.

            1. Artemesia*

              I have seen something similar with investment and insurance companies which recruit young people and push them to sell this crap to their family and friends and of course when they run through these, they stop bringing in business and are let go. Now they have pissed off their friends and family, left them with crummy products and still don’t have a job. It is a vicious business model.

        3. TrainerGirl*

          Agreed. And all of the people I know that got involved with MLM’s became insufferable while they were doing it. I’ve unfriended people on FB and LinkedIn because of it.

      3. AndersonDarling*

        I also feel like it is about more than selling a product, it really gets down to the awkwardness of money. The OP may believe that the jewelry is reasonably priced, but that still doesn’t mean that her co-workers can afford it. And it could get really weird if someone thought they could get on the good side of the executives by buying lots of jewelry from their assistant- people can make weird connections.
        But I agree that leaving a catalog in the breakroom is fine- especially if there is a website+seller ID that they can order through directly.

        1. Artemesia*

          Oh good point. The assistant to the boss often has a lot of real power in the workplace so when she is pushing a personal business to employees they may feel rightly or wrongly that this is a way to buy influence or assure they are not retaliated against. Bad news all the way.

    4. MuseumChick*

      LW 1, please don’t do this t your co-workers. As an EA you have a good amount of power in your office and people will find it very awkward to turn you down.

      1. Tucson*

        #1- One suggestion. How about wearing the pieces to work? If someone notices and compliments them, you have a perfect chance to mention the business and your involvement. Other than that, I wouldn’t bring it up in the office.

        1. Mike C.*

          No, you’re just setting a trap with an ulterior motive. Most people complement each other on things like that as a matter of normal small talk. Don’t use that as an excuse to give a sales pitch.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            But if someone says “That’s so pretty; where did you get it?” (which DOES happen) there’s nothing wrong with saying “I ordered it from X, and I actually sell their jewelry. Let me know if you’d ever like to see a catalog.” As long as you drop it after that.

            1. Karo*

              Even if I’m not explicitly asked, I still say where I got it mostly because I don’t know what else to say to compliments about my wardrobe. (I didn’t make it so just saying thanks feels weird to me.) It normally happens like: “That’s so pretty!” “Thanks, I got it from Target!”

              1. Myrin*

                Oh god, yeah. If I didn’t say where I got the thing from, I would say something like “Thanks!… Thank you so much!… Heh… Heehee…” *vanishes into the nearest closet or other convenient entrance-to-something*

                1. Myrin*

                  @Alison, I love 1 and 3 (2 is the convenient thing I use anyway if it is true), thanks for that! You really are a well of wisdom in all matters of life! :D

            2. Mike C.*

              I know it does happen, that’s why I called it “setting a trap”. The whole point of wearing it is to get someone to ask the question in the first place, then deliver the unwelcome sales pitch. It’s nothing more than a cheap sales trick.

              1. MommaTRex*

                I think the main point of wearing the jewelry is because the person likes wearing the jewelry. Which helped in their motivation to start selling it. That someone might use the opportunity of compliment to mention that they sell it is probably secondary. Not always. Some people are really pushy. But most women I know are not. They would wear the jewelry even in they weren’t selling it! *shocking…not*

                1. Rachel*

                  Agreed. I would have no problem with someone wearing pieces of the jewelry she sells because she likes the jewelry and mentioning that she sells it if I ask where she got it (and dropping it after that). There is a HUGE difference between that and a Mary Kay consultant purposely wearing her Mary Kay pin upside down so people can tell her it’s upside down.(and she can then “offer the free makeover to thank them for being nice enough to mention it to her.” Really, Mary Kay consultants are trained to do this.) That is setting a trap and that would not be OK, especially in a workplace.

            3. Jadelyn*

              That’s basically what I do. I’m not in an MLM, but I make chainmaille jewelry and sell it through my little Etsy shop and on Tumblr, and because I like the pieces I make I often wear them until I sell them – and of course I have some OOAK pieces I made explicitly for myself and wouldn’t sell them for anything. So when people compliment me on my jewelry, I thank them and add offhandedly “I made it, actually” – most of the time the response is “Oh wow, I didn’t know you made jewelry!” but sometimes people ask “Do you sell your jewelry?” and then I can give them my card and offer to bring samples to work for them to see if they want something custom based on my existing pieces. My team went in together on one of my pieces as a gift for our boss (yes, I know, gifting up, but we genuinely are all friends as well so it’s not as icky as it would be if it were more of an obligation), one of my coworkers bought two bracelets for herself at different times, another one bought a piece as a gift for her daughter – but the key is, I never *sell* at work. I wear jewelry, and I’m honest about where it came from, and if people want to pursue it past that it’s up to them. That’s not setting a trap, it’s just letting data be out there and letting people do with it what they will.

              1. justsomeone*

                This is what my mom does. It’s never a trap, it’s just basic human interaction. She makes copper and silver jewelry. She started just making stuff for herself but people kept literally buying the pieces off of her body, so she started a small business. She makes just enough to keep buying metal and tools. If people say they like her stuff she just goes “oh, I made it, thank you!” and leaves it at that. If people push and say “Oh, really, do you sell?” she goes into it and gives them a card or tells them pricing, but if they don’t she leaves it alone. Some of her coworkers (at a school) are really engaged with her FB page and IG presence and make orders from her regularly.

          2. hermit crab*

            Eh, saying where you got a thing is a pretty normal response to a compliment about the thing (at least, at my job and in my social circles); I can definitely see this approach not being obnoxious, if done casually, one time. There’s not a huge difference between “Hey, I like your jacket!”/”Thanks, I got it on deep discount at Store!” and “Hey, I like your necklace!”/”Thanks, I actually sell jewelry for Company if you’re ever interested!” I think it’s the verbal equivalent of putting the catalog in the break room.

            1. Bend & Snap*

              I would feel so frigging awkward if someone turned a compliment into a sales push. Which even that small comment is. Just noooooo

              1. Jadelyn*

                It’s literally just saying “I do this thing, let me know if you’re interested.” That’s not a sales push. That’s a statement of fact. “I actually sell this jewelry, let’s set up a time to go over the catalog!” would be a sales push. “I actually sell this jewelry, would you like to buy some?” would be a sales push. “I actually sell this jewelry, let me know if you’re interested” is just leaving the information out there and then stepping back from it (assuming it’s not followed up by an actual sales push).

                1. Ted Mosby*

                  I disagree. What am I supposed to say to “let me know if you’re interested?”

                  I don’t want to say “I will,” because if you say that to someone in in MLM they usually follow up.
                  Anything neutral like “cool” or “fun” I would be afraid you would interpret as interest.
                  I could say “I’m not, but thanks.” But if that’s my only option to turn you down, isn’t what you said the exact same as directly asking if I want to buy something?

                  There’s no verbal equivalent to not talking to someone about something. You need to take the entire context into account. MLMs are known for being very aggressive and sales-y. Maybe you are that way; maybe you’re not. Say you say “feel free to swing by my desk if you want to see a catalog.” What if I need to swing by for a paper, or to ask if you want to go to lunch. I might suddenly second guess approaching you, because now any unplanned trip to your desk you’re going to risk being handed a catalog you don’t want… this isn’t going to be everyone and a lot of people are good at saying no in low pressure situations. The problem is, a lot of people aren’t. There will be people who will feel awkward about it. Even if you wanted it to be really easy for them to say no, you’re now an MLM person who people are afraid is going to bring up MLM stuff. People tend to reallllly not like that. It’s slightly annoying and more than anything absolutely not worth putting your reputation on the line.

          3. Newby*

            It depends on how it’s done. If you tell them that you recently started selling them without actually asking if they would like to buy anything or giving the website address then it is still small talk. Then they can ask how to buy it if they are really interested. You would just need to be ready to move the conversation along to another topic to avoid any awkward pauses.

            1. Mike C.*

              It doesn’t depend on “how it’s done” because the whole purpose of wearing it was to trick someone into a sales pitch they didn’t ask for.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Unless the person, idk, maybe actually likes and owns some of the jewelry? I wear the jewelry I make all the time, because I like the stuff – that’s why I make it – and it’s so bizarre to me that you see “person wearing their own jewelry that they also sell” as “tricking someone into a sales pitch”. Do you expect that someone will never ever buy any of the jewelry for themselves, or are they just never allowed to wear it anywhere?

              2. Marisol*

                Well presumably the OP likes the jewelry she is selling, so wearing it wouldn’t be as disingenuous as that.

                1. BeautifulVoid*

                  +1 This “the OP is only wearing the jewelry she sells to get more people to buy it” argument seems really off, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I mean, god forbid if wearing something pretty and sparkly makes her feel good about herself at work.

                  There’s a special kind of hair clip I like and bought a ton of, and the company does have an option for becoming an MLM rep. (I just buy right through the website as I don’t know any reps.) I admit I’ve toyed with the idea, just as a super casual side thing since I like the product and have recommended it to other people, but I don’t need another obligation in my life right now. However, if I did become a rep, I don’t think it would be fair to say that I was wearing the clips just to “set a trap” for someone and force them to listen to a sales pitch. I wear them to keep my hair up and/or out of my face. (And while some of them are plain, some of them are pretty and sparkly. So sue me.)

          4. Marisol*

            Nope, women always ask where they purchased something or they volunteer it as a matter of small talk. It’s so common that I think it could be gracefully included into a conversation, something like:

            “I love that necklace!”
            “Thanks, I’m actually selling these pieces! Stop by my desk later if you want a business card with the website info.”
            “Ok great!”

            Now the person is free to ignore the offer, or feign interest and take a card but not follow up, if they really aren’t interested. So long as the OP drops the matter after mentioning it I think it’s fine.

                1. 42*

                  Nope, I agree with Mike C. in this example.

                  In Marisol’s imaginary scenario above, if she’s wearing the jewelry that she sells *simply because she personally likes it*, the conversation should go like this

                  “I love that necklace!”

                  Anything after ‘thanks is an unwanted sales pitch.

              1. Marisol*

                Mike, I’m wondering if there is a gender difference at play here (at the risk of going down that rabbit hole.) I have a feeling more women than men would be ok with negotiating a conversation like this, whereas men might be inclined to see it as pushy. You seem to have a strong negative reaction to this idea, whereas the female (I think they are female) commenters are saying, “mmm, it’s cool.” Just an idea that occurred to me. Maybe this is something the OP can take into account.

                1. Artemesia*

                  I am a woman and this sort of thing when influence (being the assistant to the CEO) is at play really pushes a hot button for me.

                2. Sprinkled with Snark*

                  What about something other than jewelry? What if the person brought in cupcakes on treat day:
                  Mary: I brought cupcakes.
                  Sue: These are delicious!
                  Mary: Thank you! I made them from an old family recipe. Actually, I have a home baking business I just started.
                  Sue: You do?
                  Mary: Yes, I make all kinds of baked goods. I’d be happy to give you a card if you’re ever interested in something.

                  Maybe men might consider this to be some kind of disingenuous sales pitch, but this is truly the way women share information about ourselves, especially to new friends or colleagues. It’s how we say, “This is who I am and what I like to do, I make jewelry. I bake cupcakes. I sew little stuffed bears. Why WOULDN’T we bring these things to the office with us and mention that to people who are interested? Half the time, people will say something like, “You should SELL these cupcakes, necklaces, or bears.” Sharing our talents is like sharing ourselves, especially if they are items created by us. It’s modern day folk art.

                3. So Very Anonymous*

                  Woman here. My job already involves lots of emotional labor. I really, really, really don’t want this kind of thing added into the mix.

                4. Marisol*

                  Artemesia – fair enough, I certainly don’t speak for all women, but I did want to point out that I don’t think the OP assists the CEO; at least she didn’t say she did in her original letter.

              2. Tomato Frog*

                Sure, I would recommend leaving off after “Thanks, I actually sell it,” and only provide more info if asked…. But minus the “Come by later for more info” this is basically the conversation I’ve had with my coworker who wears jewelry that her friend made, and a convo I’ve had with people when I wear jewelry my aunt made. It would not strike me as a “trap”.

                1. Lissa*

                  Yeah, I wouldn’t say “come by for more information” but I think “I actually sell it!” is totally fine. And I hate sales pushes/ploys. :)

            1. Ted Mosby*

              Then I don’t want to stop by your desk later in case you try to give me a business card.

              The fact that this is controversial at all means you shouldn’t do it. Maybe your coworker feels how Marisol and Jadelyn do, maybe they feel how Mike and 42 do. Neither opinion is uncommon, which means there’s a good chance you’ll annoy some people. Sure not everyone. But is that really something you want to risk to sell janky knick nacks at your job?

        2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          My comments have never felt more relevant!

          A friend and I have our own jewelry business. It isn’t an MLM, it is all handmade and we take a lot of pride in what we do. We sell at conventions, not direct sales. I often wear our pieces to work or just out in general. My coworkers know about it from casual mention and from Facebook, since we do post about events we go to and my personal FB has a lot about the business on it. I have in the past had students (I teach at a community college) comment on pieces and I have told them I made them, and even given the FB link to students who explicitly asked to see more, but I have never even encouraged anyone at work to Like my business page, much less to buy anything from me. Wearing pieces = good advertising; pushing pieces = crummy tactic which feels cheap.

      2. Oryx*

        Yes. Our EA brought in a friend of hers who sold one of the jewelry lines and I knew I wouldn’t buy anything so I planned on not going to the party (held in the office during our lunch hour). But then I was expected to go so when co-workers asked what I planned on buying and I said nothing and they were HORRIFIED. “How can you go to the party if you won’t buy anything?” Um, because our EA is making us go?

        Look, you can voluntold me to sit through some stupid presentation but you cannot tell me how to spend my money.

        1. Andrea*

          Please tell me that you just made up the word “voluntold” right now and it’s not something that I missed, because:
          1. That is genius
          2. I’m incorporating it into my work vocabulary.

          1. Prismatic Professional*

            I use this phrase all the time. I picked it up from friends who were in the military! It’s super useful. I also like seeing how the usage has spread! :-)

        2. Big10Professor*

          If it’s the company I think it is, “reasonably priced” is a real stretch. I typically see things on the website for $75 that I could get at H&M for $10.

          1. Sprinkled with Snark*

            Yeah, “reasonably priced” is always a red flag. Reasonable for who? A manager with a big salary, a double income, extra income to spend on herself for luxury items?
            Is it “reasonably priced” for a single woman just out of grad school, in a new city, trying to keep her expenses down, trying to find affordable outfits to wear to work?

            That was my first job in a new city, and most of the women I worked with were married to husbands with great jobs, lived in their own homes, had plenty of family nearby, and they would hit me with a personal sales pitch for everything from candles to avon to skincare to jewelry to tupperware parties, and I would just have to make constant excuses and politely decline. Then they would say, “You can afford it! The stuff is only $50! ” THAT is a sales pitch. Telling me they make painted pottery chia pets they sell is definitely a conversation.

    5. bohtie*

      sheeeeet, I regularly turn down night events at work because I have an old sick dog who I don’t feel comfortable leaving for more than a regular work day (and I feel bad about THAT sometimes), and nobody has ever given me crap about that. Not that dogs and babies are exactly similar; rather, my dog would probably be considered less of a priority than a baby to most people, so if people are sympathetic to me, I would hope they would be for OP.

      1. Karen K*

        I do the same thing because of a diabetic cat who needs medication twice a day at the inconvenient time of 6 am/6 pm. Even before the cat became diabetic, I had a bit of a reputation for avoiding evening events. I have also made it clear to my employer that I can not do any overnight trips at all for the same reason.

        There may come a time where this may impact my career, but I’m not too fussed about it.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          One of my cats gets insulin at the same times. Thank goodness my work does not have events at night, but my mom sure throws me attitude about it sometimes.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Same here when I had Pig–she didn’t need meds, but because she was an outside cat, I couldn’t leave food out for her. Every other cat in the neighborhood would have eaten it instead. I had to actually feed her breakfast and dinner. My neighbor would help out if I had to be gone, and I paid a pet sitter when I went on holiday. But it was my responsibility to care for her. Luckily for me (and her), I didn’t have to stay over at work often.

    6. MashaKasha*

      One OldJob had several sales reps for the same jewelry company, that I was on friendly terms with. I admit to buying at least one piece out of guilt, because I knew the person was short on money. It wasn’t good jewelry and I’m afraid that selling it in the office did make the sellers look unprofessional. When I became head of a one-income family after my divorce and had to budget a lot more strictly than I had used to before, I suddenly found it very easy to say no to sales brochures, invites to sales parties (yes I’ve gotten and accepted those…) and eventually people stopped asking me. Meaning that before, when I was buying it or looking into buying it, I was doing it for reasons other than wanting to buy that particular jewelry: a misguided desire to maintain a good relationship with the seller coworkers, wanting to help them out financially etc. None of these things are how I want to be seen/treated by my colleagues in a professional setting – as someone selling low-end merchandise to coworkers because she needs cash, the poor thing. So, no. Don’t do it.

    7. Backroads*

      Every job I’ve had included at least one person with a side selling gig. I’ve never dealt with anything more pressuring than catalogs. They’re safe.

    8. Anomnittynom*

      I know this is unpleasant and I don’t mean to be rude, but it has to be said: If you push your MLM products in the workplace, you risk losing the respect of the people who work with you, and not just because people feel pressured or awkward about money around you. You will slide from “Fergustina who’s good at her job” to “Fergustina who fell for an obvious scheme,” and I think people will start to think of you differently. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that, particularly after the John Oliver piece on MLMs and all of the coverage lately, that’s what people are likely to think (heck, look at the opinions of people on here for evidence). I wouldn’t risk tainting your work reputation.

      That said, looking back at the original letter, I’m not entirely clear on whether or not it IS an MLM. If it’s more like standard sales, then I actually think that might actually be slightly more acceptable.

      1. Marisol*

        This is a really good point. Aside from the issue of whether or not to sell, or how to sell, there is the opinion people might have of the company you’re affiliated with. If it’s an MLM the OP should be extra cautious.

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah, regardless of how you personally or anyone personally feels about MLMs, the reality is they do not have a good reputation and many people are going to think of things like, yeah, the John Oliver bit. So no matter how different you might feel yours is personally it’s not going to matter to the people who hear about it.

    9. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      #4 – you don’t have to be a single mom to be affected by this. Some years ago – I was the “old man” (39, married, and a family) and our boss (she was in her late 20s) and the others on staff (all 20-somethings, all single) … our boss felt that Sunday morning breakfasts at a restaurant would be a wonderful morale-builder.

      Well, maybe for the younger set. I finally had to explain that Sundays were our family day – our daughter was in Sunday school – and we did attend church as a family (shields up!) and this was a definite INTRUSION.

      Finally the manager called me in when I declined for “Sunday breakfast” – because I have other things going on. She said that she was doing these for my benefit — “HUH?” …. “yeah, trying to get the others to socialize with you more…”

      I replied emphatically – “WE WORK TOGETHER! and work well together! But I am pushing 40 and have a family, and a home, and an extended family, and did she ever stop to think that I have a life outside of work already?” … In other words, my work is not my total life.

      1. Ted Mosby*

        ew ew ew. I would like to speak on behalf of good 20 something childless unmarried people: we do not want to pressure our coworkers into seeing us on weekends. that is not normal behavior. I spend all day sunday actively trying to block out the fact that I have a job.

        I do have several close girlfriends from work and I love seeing them any day or time, and we do welcome or casually invite anyone else we think might come (other people on our level, who are mostly our age) but I cannot imagine pushing anything even remotely close to “this is team bonding we should all be there” on a WEEKEND. Seems insane. Do not need to see most people 6 days a week, TBH.

        1. Ted Mosby*

          (we do this to not be cliquey and bc this is a hard city to meet new people in, but it’s entirely voluntary/social and phrase it as basically “you probably have plans we assume you have plans everyone is so busy time to yourself is important, but if you want to get out of the house for the game… brunch?”)

  2. SusanIvanova*

    #5 Whatever you do, don’t lie to your employees. If they have a job that’s not really going to be transitioned, they’ll figure it out and resent the lies far more than they resent getting stuck with pointless make-work – though that’ll factor in too. Be supportive if some of them do the math on the retention bonus and decide they can live without it. Do that math yourself if another job comes along!

    1. LW#5*

      OP5 here – appreciate your comment. Thankfully, the company has been VERY clear about who is able to move, and who’s been given an end-date. Since all of our work will eventually transition over to the home office team, I have been very clear that those of us who are staying need to continue to provide top-notch work so our clients and co-workers aren’t left in the lurch when this office closes. I know we’ll lose some folks right away, but it seems like quite a few are willing to hang on.

      1. J*

        We recently had a similar situation at my workplace. Thankfully, as the changes progressed, other opportunities became available and many people who were originally set to be let go found other positions within the company as people not involved with the changes began to feel uneasy and were leaving. While this may not be a possibility at all companies, it is worth waiting to see if anything opens up. Should other opportunities become available, insuring you’ve continued your work as normal may assist in securing a different position.

      2. Lora*

        Worked at a company that had several months of layoffs and people usually knew at least 3 months in advance if they were on The List. Mostly they used the time to job hunt and train other people to do their jobs, but nobody thought any worse of them if they took an hour in a conference room to have a phone interview, or took a day off suddenly for an in-person interview. It was honestly better than people getting walked out suddenly; it was good for them to be able to line up references and it was easier for them to job hunt while they were still employed.

        It sucks and yes, morale takes a huge hit, but that’s the consequences of a layoff no matter what.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Is it normal/acceptable/expected in this situation to spend part of the time while still employed job-searching? I was just told my contract is ending one month earlier. No severance offered, and since it is non-profit, I did not ask.

          1. Natalie*

            In my experience it’s totally normal and expected in the case of a layoff, but not in a position that was always structured as temporary/contract.

        2. TrainerGirl*

          I’ve been relatively lucky. I got laid off 3x in 13 months between 2012-13. Each time, I had at least 3 weeks notice. The first time I got laid off, I had 3 1/2 months, and ended up finding a new job and still collected my severance, so that was the best possible outcome. During the last layoff, my manager let us switch to 1/2 time (20 hours/week) to hold on to our insurance and have more time to look without being completely unemployed. I was able to find a contract position about 10 days after my layoff date. I know it’s not for everyone, but I definitely appreciate having a lengthy notice time.

      3. SusanIvanova*

        That’s good. I’d have felt a lot better about the work if I’d had any reason to believe anyone would use it. It’s been nearly a year now and it’s obvious that isn’t happening. I documented the basics, but there were some bells and whistles that I just didn’t bother with.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      So true. When one place I used to work at decided to close its east coast office, only two people were offered transfer/relocation, but they told everyone at the home office ‘everyone’ was offered the opportunity. (I guess so it didn’t look as bad?) I later found out the truthfrom someone I was close with from that office. And not only that, the two who were offered a transfer were two who they knew full well would never uproot their families and move to the opposite coast. Its like it was all for show. Then, some of them were flown out here to train their replacements only to find out how much more money they were making.

    3. OP #1*

      OP #1 here. It looks like the unanimous response to my question is that it’s a bad idea so I’m really glad I haven’t opened my mouth to anyone at work about it … ! Except that right before I came here to read Alison’s response and all the comments, a funny thing happened… I was wearing one of the necklaces I sell and another admin commented she thought it was beautiful. I said ‘thanks, it’s X, I’m actually a rep for them now – let me know if you want to see the catalog!”. To which she answered: “Thanks – I sell Mary Kay products if you ever need anything from them”. That was the end of our conversation, she didn’t ask to see the catalog and I didn’t push it on her. I’m also not interested in Mary Kay products and I’m sure she picked on that. I’ve worked with this person for months, I consider her very put together and professional, and she never offered me Mary Kay before, so that was a good real life example of how to behave on the work place for me.
      Thank you all for speaking your minds and help me spare my professional reputation.

      1. Ted Mosby*

        Props to you AND your coworker for being very low key. We know not every MLM person is “like that,” so I really hope this doesn’t seem like a huge pile on. I think the danger is someone like yourself who is clearly reasonable and well meaning being lumped in with “those” MLM people. That might be the biggest risk.

        Great letter, hope the answers weren’t overwhelming, and good luck!

  3. Punkin*

    OP5 – I feel your pain. When HugeGlobal Paper Company decided to outsource our department halfway around the world, they told us 18 MONTHS in advance. It killed morale. We had to train our replacements, who were 12 hours ahead of us. People jumped ship like crazy, retention or severance be damned. TBTB were floored.

    I stayed until the bitter end, did my job & wished them well. My heart broke for my HR rep. She was a wonderful person, who had to help people (for whom she cared) navigate a very rough time.

    Alison is right – you do your job well, protect your reputation & encourage your team to do the same. You give a day’s work for a day’s pay. It will go a long way to ensure that you leave a solid reputation with the company.

    1. Punkin*

      Not to infer that you need to stick it out to the end. Obviously, you will make that decision based on all the relevant factors. Just do your best while you are there.

      1. Punkin*

        TPTB – sorry – can’t type.

        TPTB had to stop internal transfers (from the affected department) due the numbers. If it had kept going at the rate it was the first 4 months after the announcement, there would not be enough staff left to wind it down & transfer operations overseas. Then people left for other companies. TPTB were actually shocked that the retention/severance $ was not enough to make most people stay.

        As it were, one of their key programmer/analysts left 5 months before the end. I was eating lunch with her the day she got the job offer call with the new company. Old job begged her to stay – super enhanced the severance/retention package, offered telecommuting, and goodness knows what else. She declined. Six months after the final cutover, she contracted with old job to do 20-30 hours a week to fix the mess the overseas crew had made. (Not to bash overseas resources – it was just not a well thought out plan.) Of course she also was working the new job during the day.

        She paid her farm – and a bunch of other bills – off with that contract $.

        I am all for transparency, but it pretty much turned into an 18 month funeral. It was so gloomy around there.

        1. LW#5*

          OP5 here – I appreciate your comments, and totally agree with Alison’s guidance. I’m pretty likely to stay, as my dad is terminally ill and I could use some job stability/predictability for the next 6 months. It does help to think of this as a contract placement – I’m still invested in the team’s success, but I sure don’t need to do 60 hour weeks anymore.

          I think that our Powers That Be will be similarly floored when they find that only 5-10% of the folks who’ve been offered a chance to move to the home office will actually pack up and go. These are fairly specialized jobs and it takes 3-6 months to really, truly get trained and productive… so if we see 50-80% of the team leave before the true end date, our current clients are going to suffer (as will the remaining staff). I hope we can hold on to them as long as possible while they search.

          1. Helena*

            Sorry to hear about your dad.

            Please remember that, in many cases, severance and retention bonuses can be negotiated. When my dad’s company was sold, his company was so desperate to keep him to the end of the transition that he managed to negotiate a retention bonus equivalent to nearly three *years* worth of salary (not a typo, three years.) If things start to fail because too many people are leaving early, you may want to go back to your boss or corporate on behalf of your team to see if compensation could be adjusted.

          2. Ted Mosby*

            Sending you and your father so many well wishes and good thoughts. I think your attitude is 100% on this. NO need for 60 hour weeks. Spend your time wisely. Take care of what’s important. <3

        2. Candi*

          I’ve seen your story a couple times in the archives (a good thing!) and every time I find it:

          1) aggravating they didn’t have a better plan -I hate to see (attempted?) savings going to waste because of crappy planning;

          2) sad for everyone who had to deal with and live through that;

          3) completely hysterical and incredibly awesome what your friend did.

          Go all of you!

    2. bohtie*

      And this sort of poor planning leads to the opposite effect in other places – my company refuses to announce restructuring or layoffs in advance unless they have absolutely no choice (like there’s a ton of logistics involved) and even then they’ll delay it as soon as possible. I found out my whole department was being transferred maybe a week in advance and even then, I was out on medical leave so administration almost didn’t tell me at all except my boss made them. If you get laid off here, you get zero notice – you come in, and right before lunch they pull you aside and tell you “get your stuff, we called you a cab,” which is a morale shitstorm when you’re talking about a company where people typically spend their entire careers. (Our last round of layoffs included people who had been there for 25+ years apiece and I’m still not over it.)

      1. LW#5*

        Yeah, that’s what it was like at my last company where I was walked out the door by my manager. Zero notice, and several more rounds of layoffs in the months following mine… my colleagues who stayed were absolutely gutted. This situation was shocking, but not as bad as it could have been!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same here at OldExjob–I came back from lunch and my colleague was leaving. Then my phone rang and it was my turn. I would have been happy to have even a couple month’s notice. :P

      2. Mabel*

        Depending on the circumstances, the amount of notice and any severance, etc. can be very different.

        My friend was laid off with 1 day’s notice because the company went out of business. In that case, they had nothing to lose by being asshats and not giving more notice so people could look for new jobs. And of course there was no severance. :(

        Another friend was laid off due to an entire department being eliminated, but her experience was completely different. She got almost a year’s worth of severance (she had been there 12 years, so that might be part of the reason), and she was able to keep her health insurance for almost a year after the lay-off. I’m pretty sure this was true for everyone else who was laid off at the same time.

    3. Annie Moose*

      I got laid off earlier this year as part of a massive takeover–I got two months warning and had a hard time maintaining my productivity for just sixty days, but some of my coworkers were informed they’d be laid off in TWO YEARS… and wouldn’t receive severance unless they stayed all the way to the bitter end.

      I have to admit to wondering if in some of these cases, they actually are hoping people will leave early, so they don’t have to pay severance…

        1. Annie Moose*

          Not sure yet–this is an ongoing thing, so the two-year people won’t be up for another eighteen months.

          (for what it’s worth, I’m sure they will–they paid my severance with no complaining. Just the whole situation has been kind of crazy.)

          1. LW#5*

            OP5 here – sorry to hear about your layoff, Annie. In some ways, getting walked out on the day of my last layoff was easier to take. (It was part of a merger, so we knew it was possibly coming but didn’t know when or who would be affected.)

            It has definitely occurred to me that they won’t have to pay severance for the vast majority of the staff – I think most will start looking for other work soon.

      1. Ted Mosby*

        …who the heck would stay all two years? either you’re right or they need some serious management training.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          If I’d found a job during the severance period, I’m pretty sure I could’ve said “I’ll walk away from $X if I leave now” and gotten a good signing bonus to make up for it.

  4. BadPlanning*

    On OP1, earlier in my career, I invited coworkers to a friend’s MLM party that I hosted and now I regret it. I think it did lightly damage a couple work relationships.

    I have also been on the awkward end of being sold MLM jewelry at work.

    I think it can work with some people in some offices, but you would want to be cautious.

    1. Naptime Enthusiast*

      +1 There’s someone in my department that has what she described as a “side business” as a makeup artist, and offered to host a makeup tutorial fundraiser benefitting our Relay for Life team during lunchtime. None of us felt good about it (the message and its feasibility as a fundraiser), but since she was a cancer survivor we did not want to turn down her offer. The fundraiser turned into a sales pitch for her products and services, so many attendees left within minutes because they felt lied to and it damaged our team’s credibility.

  5. Delyssia*

    #1, maybe I’m weird on this one, but I disagree with Alison a tiny bit. In general, I agree that you shouldn’t try to sell to your coworkers, but in my mind that means you never, ever directly bring it up with them. So what does that leave? If there’s a kitchen or other common area where it’s generally acceptable to post non-work-related things, you could post a flyer or leave materials (brochures, catalogs, business cards, etc.) for people to take. If someone asks you about it, you should still refrain from a hard sell (maybe they’re just being polite!), but you can certainly answer questions and offer to share more info.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Oh, please don’t do this. Or at a minimum, check with your employer to see if this is ok. Some employers, like the federal government or hospitals, don’t let you use their resources (including their office space, kitchen, bulletin board) for your private commercial activities.

    2. tink*

      Yeah, I agree with leaving a flyer or something in a general area, if that’s a thing at your work place. We had someone that did that, so if you wanted something you got your info/payment to her by the cutoff date, and then she’d ask if you wanted to just have a booklet dropped at your desk once there was a new one. Letting people come to you is a lot less invasive and negative, imo.

    3. Anon Mice*

      I had a colleague who sold jewelry and I discovered it when I admired a piece she was wearing. I have bought several pieces from her over the years after I’ve seen her wearing them. She didn’t really push anything, just wore them. I never really found it awkward.

      1. always in email jail*

        ^This is what I was going to say. Wear the jewelry to work. If someone compliments it and asked where you got it, you can say you sell it and give them a card with the link to check it out. But don’t follow up with “did you have a chance to check out my jewelry website?” or anything, that’s just awkward.

        1. Kelly L.*

          And for heaven’s sake, don’t wear the jewelry “wrong” (like a pin upside down) just to “start conversation.” That tactic was old in the sixties.

      2. Oryx*

        Yes, this is the best way to go about it. For years I had an Etsy shop selling handmade jewelry and wearing my own pieces and letting that speak for itself was one of the best marketing tools.

        1. VintageLydia*

          Makes me wish my brother would get on the ball about his own jewelry. His stuff is about the only stuff I wear since detailed without being huge, and I get compliments ALL THE TIME on it, especially the earrings (which I know he can get a pair done in 10ish minutes depending on the design.)

          Brother dear, I want to send you people who will pay you money! Get. On. That!

          1. Marisol*

            Can you take a sales commission and sell for him?? Lots of artists (most?) hate marketing their own work.

            1. bohtie*

              Ooo, now I want to side hustle other people’s wares (not in a MLM way). I’m a librarian and I freaking love cataloging and writing descriptions and stuff. Making etsy listings for other people’s jewelry sounds like my weird definition of fun.

      3. Lana Kane*

        Exactly this. I come from a culture where it’s very common to sell things on the side (that’s what a terrible economy gets you). Some people are super open about it and no one really feels pressured, but the way the more discreet people do it is just to wear the pieces. Someone is bound to ask about it, and at that point you can offer up that you sell them. Word will definitely get around – and the only people you deal with are the ones that have expressed interest first.

    4. fposte*

      While I agree that in some workplaces it’s okay to leave a flyer, I’m scratching my head a little at “What does that leave?” It seems to me that it leaves the knowledge that you can’t use work as a sales platform, which seems fair and reasonable to me. If it means people can’t succeed at their side businesses that’s just the way it goes.

      (Definitely forbidden at my workplace, FWIW.)

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yes, this.

        A different business is not the place to do your own business, period.

        That’s not to say I’m a huge curmudgeon and object to, like, just a catalog left out or something, but as soon as it moves from passive selling from active selling, it doesn’t belong at a whole other business. Same goes for people talking around in Target trying to sell to passersby.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yep. I have no problem with my coworkers leaving brochures/catalogs on a break room table for the stuff they sell. As long as it doesn’t get to overwhelming, in normal circumstances, a reasonable person shouldn’t feel pressure to buy from the mere presence of the catalog. And sometimes it’s stuff I actually would be interested in. But work policies forbidding that kind of thing are *completely* reasonable.

      3. Anomnittynom*

        Strong +1 to this.

        Your side hustle doesn’t belong at your 9-to-5. In fact, the last person at my company to be fired was let go because she worked on her side job at work. Dangerous waters to tread in.

    5. Tuesday*

      I had a coworker once who posted the brochures and catalog for her direct sales business on her outer cubicle wall. People walking by could see it and stop and chat with her or look through the catalog if they wanted to, but they would have to initiate the conversation if they were interested. She didn’t actively approach people to sell them stuff, and since it was her own cubicle wall it wasn’t invading common areas. This wouldn’t work in all office set ups, but I think it did work for her location in that cube farm.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        One thing to consider with that set-up is what message you’re sending to your manager. If I saw an employee doing that, it would read a lot to me like “I’ll take my focus off of my work here to discuss my side business any time you want,” and that’s not a great impression to give.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes! Maybe I’m weird about this, but it seems like commandeering company resources for an unrelated job/scheme (I don’t mean scheme in a dastardly way), the same way stealing office supplies for personal use is not a great practice. It’s not the absolute worst, but it sends bad signals out to coworkers and supervisors.

    6. Jen RO*

      I also wanted to say this. My coworker who sells Avon just leaves the catalog on her desk and whoever wants to order something leaves her a post-it note. She isn’t rolling in the dough from our orders, but we appreciate being able to buy affordable cosmetics without making the effort to go out.

      1. Spoonie*

        This is how one of my coworkers did it. If we needed/wanted anything from Avon, we just let her know and she combined it all into her next order. She never actively recruited.

        Conversely, at a previous contract job, I met MLM girl quite awkwardly as she came by and introduced herself and let me know she was selling Product. That’s the only interaction I ever had with her, minus running into her in the restroom. And it was a product line I don’t believe I would ever purchase. Quite awkward.

    7. Unofficial Front of the House Manager*

      I have no tolerance or patience for MLMs because I’ve seen too many people get suckered in by them. Not only would I think that bring up your involvement with one shows a lack of understanding re: workplace norms, but I’d think long and hard about trusting that employee’s judgment. OP #1, please keep it to yourself and get out of it as quickly as you can.

      1. MV*

        This is where I am as well. I just don’t purchase from these “direct sales” businesses at all. When I learn someone is involved in one is does lower my opinion of the person and their judgement. Take a good look at your own work place before you put up a flyer or a brochure. Do other people do that sort of thing?

    8. Mike C.*

      No. Absolutely not. Most of those programs are thinly veiled scams to begin with. Don’t drag everyone else into that mess.

    9. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I posted something for sale on our intranet’s bulletin board, and that kind of buy/sell post is what it’s set aside for. I did email (BCC) a bunch of people with whom I’m friendly and include a link to that posting, because 1) the bulletin board is in a small corner of the intranet, and 2) lots of people don’t check the intranet at all. But it was an “FYI, if you know anyone that wants a widget, please forward the info!” post, and did not require or even request a response.

      I think that, unless that’s prohibited by policy, what you describe might be OK, Delyssia. The main thing I would worry about is whether the materials are a mess for someone else to recycle, or if they’re taking up a breakroom table, or whatever. One small item would be the limit, I would think, and even that could be a problem unless maybe there’s an area set aside for reading material. This is why I was glad we had a place on the website for that sort of thing.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We had a table in the break room on our floor where people left catalogs, samples of candles / boxes of chocolate bars for school fundraisers, etc., and food they were sharing. Nobody ate in that break room much, so that was the unofficial table for products and food. You could totally ignore it if you liked. No pressure. It worked well.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, please don’t do this. I have had coworkers at three different jobs do this, and it always came across badly and introduced awkwardness, even when I liked the jewelry they were selling. Also, depending on your workplace, it might actually be against company policy for you to promote your side-gig at work (or to allocate resources towards it—e.g., your time when you’re still on the clock at Main Job or while using Main Job’s office space).

    OP#3, I think it’s totally ok to be vague (as Alison suggested) without getting into the specifics of your procedure or medical need. It will also set norms for how your team is supposed to communicate about private health information, so modeling what that looks like can be helpful to your folks.

    OP#4, is there by any chance a land line at the site? I don’t want to push you to incur extra costs (babysitter) or to feel worried, but if you could be reached by POTS-phone, would you be willing/able to participate without it being a significant financial/emotional burden?

  7. Engineer Girl*

    #3 – Just tell them you are having some corrective surgery done. If they do notice (and as Alison said, they might not) then they’ll know the reason.
    The two people I know that had it done were thrilled afterward. One became a runner – something that was far too painful before.

    1. tink*

      I loved having mine done. Being able to sleep without feeling like you’re suffocating is the best. And I just told friends I was having minor surgery and would have to be very careful about lifting/being touched once classes started back up.

    2. Bend & Snap*

      I think augmentation seems to be more noticeable than reduction but people definitely won’t comment on it!

      1. KarenT*

        Agreed. I had a reduction in 2012 and no one said anything to me (though of course that doesn’t mean no one noticed!). I just said I was having minor surgery and it was no big deal. A few people pressed, but most didn’t. I also don’t think it was obvious right away–there was swelling and bandages so by the time it was more obvious, there had been quite a bit of distance from the time I took off work so I expect people probably thought I did just lose weight.

    3. MadGrad*

      If you even want to be a bit less vague, tell the truth and say it’s a preventative procedure for some back pain issues. It’s not a lie, you’re just not getting into the gory details. If they notice they notice, and I imagine they’ll be smart enough to put two and two together on their own.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I wouldn’t — you risk someone with back pain issues of their own asking for details out a genuine desire to commiserate or get advice. It’s totally fine to just say “minor surgical procedure” and leave it at that (and it’s good modeling for employees to show that you don’t need to disclose personal details).

        1. blackcat*

          I wouldn’t say “minor” though. To me, “minor” is like getting wisdom teeth out, dealing with an ingrown toenail kinda thing. I interpret “minor surgical procedure” to mean recovery is on the scale of days, not weeks and that you’re not fully put under. Heck, even having an IUD placed counts as a “minor surgical procedure.” I have two friends who have had reduction surgery, and it was definitely not “minor.” It was 100% worth it for them, but it was a significant surgery.

          1. Meredith*

            I think minor in this case is to help ward off concerned questions about the nature of the surgery.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Right — the point is to make it clear there’s nothing to worry about, not to give a perfectly accurate answer, which people aren’t entitled to in this situation.

            2. paul*

              Yep. I had to have routine surgery (vasectomy) and initially that was *all* I said.

              Unfortunately the stitches didn’t hold until they dissolved (infection, popped a stitch, blood and gunk all over my pants) and I wound up having to leave work early a few days later and some details came out then…

          2. Doodle*

            I did wonder about coupling “minor” with “out for two weeks.” I imagine there are some minor surgeries that require that recovery time, but perhaps “routine” is better at preventing worries?

            1. blackcat*

              Yeah, “routine” seems a bit better. I just think I’d be taken aback by a coworker having restrictions on lifting for 6-8 weeks after a “minor surgical procedure.” I’d be worried and more likely to wonder what was up (though I wouldn’t ask).

              Saying “It’s a routine surgery. I’ll be out for two weeks, it’ll impact my ability to lift things for a while, so I might need to ask help with moving boxes.” would seem less odd to me.

              I have also had good luck at worth with waving off concern about a minor procedure that I scheduled a full day off for, “It’s just gross medical stuff. I’ll be fine, though, thanks for asking!”

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                I think people are quibbling too much over wording. When I had my sinus surgery, I described it as minor–it really wasn’t that big of a deal. It was over very quickly, and it was low risk. But I was out of the office for over a week and had lifting restrictions for 6-8 weeks as well. If your coworker describes a surgery as minor, you should just take them at their word that it’s minor and not worry about them, even if they will have lifting restrictions. Based on my limited knowledge from my surgeries and those of people I’ve known, that is quite common after even minor surgeries.

                1. Karen K*

                  I agree. To me, having “minor” surgery translates into “I don’t want to actually tell you what I’m having done, but it’s nothing life-threatening, so don’t worry!”

                2. MegaMoose, Esq*

                  Agreed with both JB and Karen K. – I have a hard time imagining anyone coming back and complaining that you took too much time off for a “minor” surgery. Unless there’s a scientific definition I’m missing, minor is in the eye of the beholder, anyhow.

              2. Observer*

                Actually, lifting restrictions are quite common for minor and outpatient procedures. That’s because even a small, non complicated incisions still needs to heal. So, eg, a hernia repair, which is often done on an outpatient basis, will have weeks of lifting restrictions. Otherwise, you’re going to “break” the repair by stressing the wound before it’s healed.

            2. Bwmn*

              I’m with you on the phrase routine.

              As someone who has had “minor” surgery recently – in one case I was able to go to work in the morning, have the procedure in the afternoon (local anesthesia), and was back at work the next day. And the other case was where I had the procedure (with full anesthesia) on a Thursday and was back to work on Monday with no restrictions. For either procedure, two weeks would have seemed like a lifetime.

              I’m stealing this from somewhere, but I’ve heard before this notion that “minor surgery is surgery that happens to someone else, and major surgery is what happens to you”. Something about calling the procedure minor serves to overly diminish what’s happening in a way that I don’t think is good for gossip. Lots of surgery happens without underlying illness – but still isn’t minor. Something like knee replacement surgery comes to mind as having major recovery time issues though not being related to any life threatening illness. Similarly, my afternoon in and out local anesthesia surgery was for the removal of a melanoma that could have been part of a far more serious medical issue.

              I understand the desire to minimize how serious this overall issue is – but I think that doing that too much will likely just open more doors to gossip.

              1. zora*

                I think the line is less clear than that. I had something that is considered minor surgery, it was even endoscopic so I literally had no incisions anywhere, outside or inside. And yes, many people probably could have gone back to work the next day. But because I am very sensitive to anesthesia, I was out for a couple of days before I felt up to going to work. And because of the nature of the medical issue that was the reason for the surgery, I had to take it easy for a couple of weeks. But it is definitely considered minor surgery. I think using the word minor is fine, even with a couple of weeks of lifting restrictions. Because minor and routine can both encompass a large range of different medical procedures.

            3. bohtie*

              sometimes it happens depending on your sick leave policy, too. Ours is super weird about not letting you go back to work until you’ve been cleared by a doctor, and typically that definition means “after you’ve had your final followup” (as opposed to “when you feel ready to work again”). So, like, when I had fairly minor kidney surgery earlier this year, I was feeling fine and ready to come back within a few days but they actually had me wait until a week and a half later when I had my followup with my surgeon, so that a medical professional could vouch that I wasn’t going to keel over at my desk.

              I’ve gotten around it in the past because frankly I get really bored being at home, but I wouldn’t do that again – it was way too much trouble and understandably CYA paperwork.

    4. Amy the Rev*

      Yay OP3! Getting a reduction was the best thing I’ve ever done! The pain was never worse than a bad sunburn (as long as I took extra strength tylenol), and the recovery was relatively easy. Just remember that even if you feel like you have energy, your body needs to use that energy to heal so don’t overdo it!

      As for how to reference it at work, when I had my surgery done I just said that I was having minor surgery and left it at that. I was working as a lifeguard at the time, aka my uniform was a 2 piece bathing suit, and only one co-worker noticed exactly what was different about me when I came back (or maybe others noticed, but only one was daring enough to say something, and even then it was a very supportive comment, and we were all teenagers- I doubt that any adults would *ever* bring it up, even if they did notice). When I was clothed, most people just thought I had lost weight, and since *technically* that was true, I didn’t bother to correct them.

      I do think that calling it a ‘routine’ surgery is better than ‘minor’, since it wouldn’t confuse folks about your recovery period/accommodations, but also wouldn’t invite too many ‘oh no are you ok/whats wrong/what are you having done’ type questions.

      I’m very excited for you- my sister and a few friends have also gotten reductions and it’s been nothing short of life-changing.

      1. azvlr*

        Congrats on your future new you!
        Echoing all the comments above:
        Best thing I ever did for myself
        Routine vs minor is a better word choice
        Take your pain meds on schedule – it will help with the healing process. Take a stool softener early and often, though. (Now that’s TMI)

        Be prepared to sleep on your back for a while and not move your hands over your head for a bit, too. I honestly don’t recall any real pain, mostly discomfort as my incisions healed.

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      This may or may not work, but a friend if mine who had this done and was also a manager used some wardrobe tricks so it wouldn’t be as obvious. At first she wore baggier tops and her old bras “stuffed” and gradually stuffed less and went down in bra sizes a couple times.

  8. Mimi*

    Snowshoeing? At night? I wouldn’t do that during the day much less at night. Who comes up with these ideas?

    That being said, I would just explain that you have commitments at home that you have to cover. Hopefully your boss will understand. If one of my employees came to me with that, I would totally be okay with that. Hell, I don’t have any kids and I’d pass on that.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I agree it’s a bad idea. I scratched my cornea during a moonlight cross country ski when I skied under some low lying tree branches. I never saw them until they hit my face.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        The night skiing (downhill and cross country) and snowshoeing trails around here are all very well lit – you’d have to be going out of bounds to run into any more danger than you’d encounter during daytime skiing. Which isn’t to say that everyone will love it, but in lots of places it’s not inherently any more dangerous than going at any other time.

        1. Candi*

          Daytime lighting isn’t necessarily a protection where eye injuries from the local flora are concerned. All it takes is a moment and a whippy branch. Like the one that put an infinitesimally tiny thorn into my dad’s right eye a few years ago. That landed him in surgery.

          On the plus side, they caught some cataracts that were forming, and checked the other eye as well.

    2. Chaordic One*

      You certainly have every right to politely say, “no” to this. At my former workplace we several injuries, broken legs, torn knee ligaments and things like that from similar “team-building” activities like mountain climbing and cross-country skiing. One time someone managed to slide off of a stone-covered path and fell down the side of a hill. I’m really not big on these kinds of things.

      1. Jeanne*

        It’s not team building unless it’s dangerous. (rolls eyes) The example on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me was really awful this past weekend.

        1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

          I must have missed that one. I haven’t had time for podcasts lately. But wowwww…….

        2. paul*

          I’m on record as saying it’s not really fun if it can’t kill me if I screw up, but to try that as a work related thing…naaaah

        1. caryatis*

          Some of us would rather do something fun and healthy, rather than sit around eating mediocre food.

              1. N.J.*

                I agree with you that food and group activities should be optional as well, but I think RVA cat was reacting to the tone of caryatis’ post, as she was implying that sports activities are the gold standard because they are “fun and healthy.” That does exclude large swaths of people that are physically disabled due to life circumstance or age and feeds into the idea that everyone should be in a health/sports mindset (which can oftentimes encourage unhealthy preoccupations with weight, body shaming and judgemental attitudes, overcompetitiveness etc.). These are all issues that we have discussed in-depth on other posts on this blog about how forced physical activity is generally a can of worms, so I think caryatis’ comment was appropriate in reminding RVA cat as to the dangers of that view point, and that she wasn’t necessarily discounting the fact that even a potluck or catered luck shouldn’t be forced.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              As is “healthy,” since I would surely injure myself if I attempted nighttime (or daytime) snowshoeing.

            1. Chocolate Teapot*

              For some reason, if anyone tells me something is “Going to be lots of fun”, I always know I am in for a rotten time.

              Being the person at school who was always the last to be picked for team games is one of those feelings which never quite leaves you.

    3. Meredith*

      We went snowshoeing in northern Wisconsin last weekend. We were on a frozen lake covered in about 12 inches of snow, not on a groomed trail, but snowshoeing is a workout! I’m sure I would have been able to go farther on a trail, but on that unbroken snow about 1/3 mile was my limit!

      1. GrandBargain*

        I remember from my younger days that snow is an excellent insulator and even a relatively thin layer of snow can trap heat underneath it — enough to weaken ice on a frozen lake surface. That may not be the problem in Wisconsin (brrrr!) that it was in the northern mid-Atlantic, but I would still be wary.

        How cold was it??

    4. caryatis*

      With all of these “weird” ideas, some people are going to hate them, some people are going to love them. As long as the haters can opt out, I’d rather have an interesting and novel activity, rather than defaulting to the boring lowest common denominator option. No one’s going to have a strong objection to doughnuts or pizza. No one is actually excited about them either. (Not to mention the health problems with a workplace that revolves around eating sugar and carbs).

      1. N.J.*

        You are right that the workplace should not reinforce unhealthy dietary habits. I would like to challenge you to really examine why work place’s do choose the lowest common denominator activities though and to read my comment further up this thread as to the issues that have been discussed on this blog regarding physicist activity and work group bonding. The people who object to such activities as snow shoeing shouldn’t be labeled as haters-some are, some actually have a physical disability, some, such as the OP have family obligations. So while a lowest common denominator activity may be boring, a responsible workplace chooses something that most people can participate in or makes it truly optional, which includes not judging those who can’t or don’t want to participate. Framing folks who don’t participate as being “haters” or more interested in being unhealthy than healthy (which is the logical end for how you are framing your commentary) ignores some very real issues associated with sports/physical activities and workplace/team bonding activities.

        1. RVA Cat*

          Yes, and as mentioned above people are responding to tone – calling anybody who doesn’t want to snowshoe etc. as “haters” comes across as a youngish person mocking anybody who may not be up to strenuous exercise anymore. (Speaking as an out-of-shape Gen-Xer, you will be that person sooner than you think….)

        2. Emi.*

          Or maybe I’m training for my third marathon and don’t want to risk injuring myself on a snowshoe trip! #healthierthanthou

        3. Lissa*

          I think you probably meant physical but I got a giggle out of doing physicist activity for a team bonding thing! Now that could lead to problems…

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        There’s a whole wide world between night time athletic activities and “defaulting to the boring lowest common denominator option” and “a workplace that revolves around eating sugar and carbs.”

        1. Anon13*

          Yep, why not do something “different,” but also not physically strenuous, like an escape room (preferably during work hours)?

          To be clear, I have no problem with the usual lunch, either, but if a workplace really wants to focus on doing something a little different, there are options that don’t exclude people.

        1. Marisol*

          Yeah, I’d change “no one is actually excited about them” to *everyone* is excited about them…

        2. Anon13*

          Yep, I rarely eat junk food, but will almost always eat some when we’re having it at work, so I’m almost always excited when we do!

          Alternately, though I know every workplace can’t afford this and it won’t always work for larger workplaces from a logistics standpoint, there’s always the option of going out to lunch, preferably to a restaurant with a wide range of options, so those who would like to eat more healthily can do so and others can choose a less healthy option if they’d like.

    5. LCL*

      Outdoor snow recreation, at night, for novices? This is a very bad idea. People that don’t do cold weather outdoor recreation usually won’t have the right clothing for it. Cold weather can exacerbate some medical conditions, which a person might not know about if they don’t do cold weather exercise. And what can be the most dangerous, is getting to the area where the recreation is. There are places I won’t go skiing in the daytime because of the condition of the access roads. And, snowshoeing, while easy to learn, can be really strenuous.
      I ski and have all the right clothes, and I wouldn’t go on this.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Or there’s just extremely uncoordinated people like me. My family calls me an extreme doplic. I fall ‘up’ the stairs regularly for example.

    6. Marisol*

      I had the same reaction. I was born and raised in Southern California and I had no idea that was even a thing that existed. It sounds dreadful to me.

    7. paul*

      yeah the former outdoorsman in me sees all sorts of risk taking inexperienced people snowshoeing, on a mountain, at night. Are they trying to reduce headcount?

    8. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Moonlight snowshoeing sounds beautiful and peaceful to me, and I’d love to do it with friends – but it seems an odd office activity since there’s likely to be people who aren’t into that kind of thing but feel pressured to do it.

  9. jesicka309*

    Op#5 – my brother in law was in a similar situation, and I want to echo Alison’s advice to continue working hard.
    His company (and industry, really) is slowly shutting up shop in our country. It’s been in the new for ages, factory workers getting laid off, etc.
    He’s an engineer, and was asked by his company to stay to the end (as a highly valued employee). However he let morale got him down, he got a bit of a bad attitude, pretty told them where to go as they refused to give him severance (as he was one of the ones handpicked to stay until the end) and decided to quit.

    The new job he got ended up being a terrible fit, and his old company won a contract that allowed them to stay in business (albeit in a much smaller capacity than they were). He reapplied for a job they had open and was refused an interview – his old boss told him he’d have to grovel to TPTB, and they didn’t want to talk to him at all. Bridge burnt.

    You never know what might happen, so whether you decide to stay or take a severance and leave, try to keep it in good faith. People remember who kept it positive and tried their hardest in the circumstances vs. those who gave up & showed their true slacker/negative colours (because that’s how they’ll remember you).

    1. Jeanne*

      You are right about burning bridges. It’s easy in this type of situation to want to give them the finger and stomp out. But it’s better in the long run to stay professional. You don’t owe loyalty and can certainly leave if you find a job.

    2. SarahKay*

      I was in a company that shut down, and I was one of the group that stayed to the end. It was tough, but we managed to keep a ‘We’re all in it together, let’s keep each other’s spirits’ up’ mentality and I think we did a pretty good job. This not only got me a good reference from my last manager there, but also left me feeling very positive about myself. I *know* I did a great job under tough circumstances, which is a lovely thing to remember when I’m having a lousy day at work. Not to mention being a positive talking point in interviews.

    3. LW#5*

      OP5 here – great comments! I kind of have a reputation as one of the company cheerleaders, so they really, really want me to stay and encourage the remaining staff to stay and keep their chins up and do good work… I save my complaining for my therapist. :-) SarahKay and Jeanne, I agree that it might be satisfying to give in to anger and stomp away, but as the “old lady” at this office, I do have a professional reputation to uphold! (I’m pushing 50, while the rest of the team is in their 20s & early 30s)

      We did have one guy leave last week who sent around a multi-page manifesto to EVERYONE as a parting shot. Dude. So unprofessional. His bridges are ASH right now, and it’s too bad – he was a fantastic resource.

      1. Colorado*

        With this attitude OP#5, you will do well in life (and apparently already have). People will flock to you and soak up your attitude. And when this job comes to an end, there will be something even better on the horizon. Keep up the good work, people will always remember that you were the bright star in the dismal outcome.

  10. Edith*

    #1. Please no. Going by the headline I thought you were making jewelry to sell, in which case I would say it’s a nice thought, but not appropriate at work. But saying you’re “a part-time rep for a direct sales business” makes me think this is an MLM, in which case no no no no no please don’t hawk your MLM wares to your coworkers. It sounds like the business you work for isn’t tiny, so chances are there are other MLM reps in your midst. I would take the fact that nobody else is selling things at work as a sign that it’s not part of your company culture. It may even be against policy, so you might want to double check the employee handbook.

    This isn’t the time or place to go into the relative merits of MLM businesses, but I’ll be frank: I lose a little respect for acquaintances when I find out they’ve signed on to be sales reps for these kinds of businesses. And turning down requests to flip through a catalog or check out a sales website makes me feel so uncomfortable. I go to work to do my job, not to buy jewelry.

    1. Unofficial Front of the House Manager*


      I, however, do not have a problem giving someone a flat no with a stern enough look on my face that they know not to push it with me. But I think most people know that I have a lot of strong opinions on a lot of subjects, so they know they’ll get an earful if they get aggressive with me. :)

    2. Ally*

      I actually remove people from social media (unless they are a very close friend) if they approach me about MLM stuff or start posting about it all the time. MLM participants are often told by the seller companies to be absurdly aggressive and I find it very off putting to be approached like that, especially by someone I haven’t spoken to in a while.

      1. shep*

        I’ve done the same thing. One was a distant cousin who kept inviting me to virtual “product parties” and the other was a girl I’d gone to graduate school with. I unfollowed both of them and I want to say I blocked invites from them as well. I could kind of understand my cousin selling MLM products for several reasons, but my friendly acquaintance from grad school mystified me. I thought she’d know better than to think aggressive sales tactics were going to work on her Facebook friends/people in general, and that she’d stay away from any venture that required such buy-in and tactics. Apparently not. And as a result, as Edith also said, I lost a touch of respect for her.

      2. Landshark*


        My stepsister does Arbonne, which has decent products (I’ve gotten plenty as gifts) but is super expensive and MLM-y. She got really aggressive about trying to get me to sign on for a while, especially while I was job hunting two years ago. I had to be incredibly firm that no, this was not a career option I would prefer to take. I’ve gotten people hawking their side hustle at work before, but man is it awkward to get hustled at family gatherings. I understand why MLMs encourage aggressive selling, but I hate overly pushy salespeople in any business.

        So, OP1, please either abstain or be incredibly quiet and noninvasive (like leaving a catalog on your desk if it’s allowed, as some commenters have suggested). Everyone has heard far too many overly aggressive pitches by now.

        1. Sas*

          That one is one of the worst, though. So salesy and pushy

          But that one is really one of the worst. So salesy and pushy

      3. Cautionary tail*

        Yes yes yes. I have removed family relatives from my social media because they were pushing MLM. I don’t need that cr*p in my life. Also a dear family member wound up with a house full of vitamins* because he was required to buy a certain anount on a schedule and none of us would buy from him no matter what. A family friend wound up with a garage full of toothpaste for the same reasons. No matter what, these two kept saying “It’s not MLM, it’s direct marketing.” Yeah whatever, the company screwed you out of thousands of dollars of product that you can’t grt rid of.

        * Eventually he had to rent a storage unit to hold all the vitamins he couldn’t sell. Then he abandoned MLM (yeah!) and abandoned the storage unit with all the vitamins inside.

        1. BadPlanning*

          I hope he survived the monetary loss — but I have to say, the idea of vitamins spilling out everywhere like some sort of horror movie did give me an amusing image.

          1. Emi.*

            Like the bloody elevator? I’m picturing Clarice Starling breaking in the middle of the night and crawling under the door to find a corpse asking her to buy fish oil capsules.

          2. Cath in Canada*

            Should have opened all the containers and turned the storage locker into a ball pit, with the vitamins as the teeny tiny balls. I’d be more likely to pay for that experience than for vitamins.

      4. Annie Moose*

        Ugh, I had a friend contact me on Facebook and be all “we haven’t talked in forever! Let’s catch up!” We used to be closer but fell out of touch in recent years, so I was actually pretty excited, and was in the process of happily writing back to her whennnn… her second message came through, and it was just “BUY MY MLM STUFF”. Needless to say, I didn’t write her back and unfriended her not all that long later.

        It was just so disappointing because I legitimately would’ve been happy to reconnect with her, but it was just so transparently obvious she was only contacting me to try to push products. Really made me think less of her. :/

        1. bohtie*

          I hate that! When you get a message from someone you like but never talk to, and then it turns out to be an invitation to their jewelry/makeup/sex toy party. ugh.

        2. Anon13*

          The same thing happened to me. I had just moved back to the area where I grew up to help a family member and I had very few friends in the area, so I was really excited when a friend from college contacted me.

          It turns out, she just wanted to sell me It Works stuff. Ugh.

      5. B*

        Same here! Social media is annoying but at least I can unfollow/delete them. In the office, forget about it I don’t even want to do deal with that. We have someone here who has a side job and every now and then she receives the side eye when it is mentioned.

      6. SomethingPithy*

        I’ve had to do this too. Awhile back my husband (a store manager) had an employee that was a casual acquaintance (a FB “friend” but not someone I have ever been exceptionally friendly with) of mine from high school.

        Any time I was at my the store to pick someone up, this person would corner me asking me to buy “True Romance” adult intimacy products or to become a rep. Then she would “follow up with me” constantly on social media to see if I’d “thought about taking advantage of this awesome opportunity!” I had only two thoughts:

        1. Asking your boss’s wife to buy sex toys from you requires a special level of cluelessness.

        2. The only thing MORE tone deaf than trying to get your boss’s wife to buy a dildo from you is asking your boss’s wife to SELL DILDOS FOR YOU SO THAT YOU CAN MAKE A COMISSION!

        She was fairly quickly deleted from my Facebook, and after responding to her sales pitches with, “no” and a blank stare she stopped bothering me in person too.

        1. Mookie*

          asking your boss’s wife to SELL DILDOS FOR YOU SO THAT YOU CAN MAKE A COMISSION!

          “Dear Penthouse, I never thought it would happen to me…”

    3. Susan*

      Yeah, I think it’s pretty tacky to go to work at a job you’re getting paid to do, and use it as a forum to promote your side business. The small amount of money you might make by selling at work is not worth damaging your professional reputation.

  11. So Very Anonymous*

    OP #1, agreeing with those who say, don’t. I got a bit of a sales vibe from your letter, and for me it would be uncomfortable to have to navigate work conversations if I were always wondering if a pitch was coming. Maybe leave out a catalog if that’s OK in your office, but don’t push.

    1. Is it Performance Art*

      This would be weird for me, too. In all honesty, after the first pitch, I’d probably start avoiding the coworker trying to sell me her jewelry. I’d also worry that saying no to the sales pitch would negatively affect our interactions. Regarding other women in the office who you don’t work with regularly, I wouldn’t be happy if Jane who I’ve only met once or twice introduced herself to me to let me know she’s now selling jewelry and would I like to buy anything.
      With your bosses, I would suggest treading very carefully. MLMs are not exactly known for selling high-quality products and recommending something jewelry that’s of poor quality could negatively affect your relationship with your bosses. If I asked my assistant to help me pick something out and they suggested I buy something from their direct sales website, I’d be seriously weirded out. Honestly, I’d be concerned about professional boundaries. If you do decide to recommend some pieces to your bosses, think about whether you would recommend these pieces to them even if you weren’t selling them. And if the answer is yes, suggest a few specific pieces upfront rather than just sending them to the website, because that’s more “here are some pieces that they may like” while the other “here’s stuff I’m selling” and they don’t have to spend time wading through all the items on the website.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      I think there’s a way to do this tactfully, but it all depends on the office culture and the co-workers, and handling everything with a delicate touch. At my first job out of college, my boss’s boss invited me to a Mary Kay party, since she’d started selling it, and I felt obligated to go, so I did. And of course felt obligated to buy something, which I of course never used and ended up tossing.

      Years later a pretty close work friend invited me to a Thirty-One party, so I went. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but then of course I got there and thought, “OMG all these bags are so cute! I need some!” and ended up with a cute thermal lunch bag with “Nom Nom Nom” embroidered on the side.

      It’s all about being low-key. Leaving a couple catalogs in the break room with your card stapled inside, and that’s it. Never be the one to bring it up, but if someone opens the door, elaborate if you think they’re receptive. If someone compliments you on the jewelry you’re wearing, say, “Oh thank you! It’s from Silpada. I love their stuff so much that I actually started selling it. I have catalog in the break room if you ever want to take a look.” I think that’s even better than keeping it at your desk; people can peruse it at their leisure and not feel like you’re hovering. Or maybe even throw in something like, “If you feel weird buying stuff from someone you work with, I totally get it…I know another rep and I can send you the link for her website.”

      Some companies are real laid-back about this stuff, and others have very strict rules about what is and is not acceptable, up to the rule being nothing is allowed at all. It’s important to make sure you have a good feel for the office culture before doing anything.

      1. Trig*

        AH thank you for naming the company. Now I know that the not-really-my-taste-but-my-taste-adjacent earrings my mom gave me the past few Christmases are MLM-product. Sigh.

        (Thankfully my mom is never going to fall into selling that stuff. She’s a sympathetic person, so I can see her feeling bad for other women in her demographic who want to make a little money and buying from them, not really realising she’s supporting a money-losing proposition. In her small town there are probably a lot of high-school educated empty nester stay-at-home moms in uncertain economic straights.)

  12. Stellaaaaa*

    OP1: Soooooo many people have taken to social media to promote their MLM stuff that it automatically makes other people shut down when the subject comes up. As for jewelry, some friends of mine recently went to a Stella and Dot party and felt pressured to buy trinkets. When some of the pieces broke, it only took cursory googling to find the exact items for sale at other retailers at half the price. Stella and Dot is apparently buying up stock from other manufacturers, doubling the prices, and not doing a good job of covering it up. You really don’t want something like that happening to your coworkers and boss. Good working relationships aren’t something you risk just so you can make $20 or whatever. I don’t want to get into a pile-on over MLM schemes because you’ve clearly already made your decision but I thought you should be aware of some of the stories that are circulating about a company that sounds a lot like the one you’re promoting. People are pretty hip to the sales pitch and they’re going to know exactly what kind of company you’re selling for.

    Don’t sell anything to coworkers unless it’s girl scout cookies.

    1. krysb*

      I think less of people who do direct sales. The cost versus the benefit isn’t worthwhile, in my opinion, and people usually end up losing money instead of making money, overall.

      1. Stellaaaaa*

        MLM situations disproportionately target women. It’s just not a vibe I’m interested in supporting or perpetuating.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I share your distaste for them, but I want to keep this helpful to the OP — so let’s keep the focus on the question she’s asking as opposed to general opinions on MLMs. Thanks!

      2. Observer*

        That’s your opinion, but it’s not universal. And some people actually do do well with this stuff. Which is to say that your particular opinion of direct sales it not really relevant, even though it’s a common thought.

        What’s more important to the OP is the issue of working relationships that can get burnt by a sales pitch, even for the best of products, and possibly rules in the workplace that may forbid this.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Heads-up that I removed a long thread about Girl Scout cookies here because it got us way off-topic. I’ll again remind everyone of the rule in the commenting rules about not going off-topic, particularly because some people skip reading the comments altogether when they see an unwieldy number of comments already there.

        1. bohtie*

          Apologies, I meant to simply acknowledge what I thought was a funny one-liner. (slightly related aside: I totally 100% understand why the comments here are structured the way they are but I wish we had upvotes! I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but in my wide world of internet experience it cuts down on off-topic comments because people can just acknowledge something funny or relevant rather than feeling obligated to respond and physically say it.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Oh, no, that wasn’t directed at you in particular — just was the most logical place for me to put the note.

            I do welcome input about how I’m managing this stuff since I’m being more aggressive about it than I used to be. The Friday open thread is a good place for it if anyone wants to discuss, give feedback, etc.

        2. Michele*

          I apologize. I didn’t read this before I posted down thread that we couldn’t get GS cookies at work anymore because there was so much MLM marketing. I wasn’t trying to sneak anything in.

    2. AnitaJ*

      “Good working relationships aren’t something you risk just so you can make $20 or whatever.”

      I like this point! Solid relationships in the workplace are extremely valuable, and it’s always good to remind ourselves of that every once in a while. When I get grumpy or short with people, I try and stop to remember that being pleasant and polite is actually a part of my job, even if it’s not explicitly stated in the job description. Nobody wants to work with Mr. Magoo.

  13. Mike*

    Re #5: I was in a situation where they did one round of layoffs in July and then the rest in October, keeping just a few of us until Feb and then me a couple more months before going to a part-time/on-call position for the rest of the year. Honestly, it was a really interesting position. Maintaining the servers and software and slowly tuning them down was a unique experience that gave me some perspective I didn’t have before. So take it as a chance to experience something different.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      That’s a good point. There’s plenty to be learned during a shut down. It’s interesting to see what gets archived because you realize that’s the important stuff.
      You’ll also get to see a lot of high level stuff that you’d never have access to in your day job.

    2. LW#5*

      OP5 here – interesting perspective! Since all of our work is transitioning to the home office, I don’t think I’ll be privvy to anything I’m not already aware of… but this sure is revealing some interesting personality traits that I hadn’t expected to see in my coworkers.

  14. The Bimmer Guy*

    Re #3: I don’t think you are specifically required to mention that the surgery is a breast reduction to your coworkers. You could do what Alison said and just mention that it’s a minor surgery or procedure, if you want. Upon your return, people will probably figure out what it is, and hopefully, they won’t be uncouth enough to actually comment on it…but will just silently file the observation away and go on about their business.

    1. Chaordic One*

      One of my best friends had the procedure done. She had talked about it with me before hand and I fully supported her in the decision and accompanied her to the hospital. She had suffered from back pain because of the weight of her breasts for many years and it made the procedure a “no brainer.” If she had decided against the surgery and backed out at the last minute, I would have supported that.

      The surgery went fine with no complications and minimal surgical scars. When she finally came back to work, several people asked her if she had lost weight. She answered, “Yes, I have.”

  15. Jeanne*

    Two weeks to respond to client email seems egregious. Do these emails really need to be directed to/answered by the boss? Or would it be better to have clients assigned so that all emails from Client A go to you and all from Client B to your coworker? It would solve his use of emails. But if he’s writing them, it’s hard to say “Boss, you suck at email.”

  16. cncx*

    re OP 1: i had a coworker who sold avon and i think she handled it quite well. she mentioned in passing (like a coffee break) that she did that and that the latest catalog was always on her desk, and then dropped it. in the office we knew that we could go to her for avon but she never asked- she just kept the door open for us to go to her.

    It worked quite well, usually we made a group order once a month or so. But she was super non-confrontational and non-pitchy. the vibe was more “if you are into avon i am here and we can work something out as a team so no one loses on shipping or whatever” rather than “this is the new stuff avon has wanna buy it.”

  17. beetrootqueen*

    OP1 ask if you can put up a flyer or leave a catalogue lying around but leave it at that honestly

  18. Hannah*

    OP #4: Snow shoeing at night sounds crazy, but in case the next work event isn’t so remote, would it make sense to build a relationship with a couple of babysitters that you and your kids are comfortable with? It might make the next event less stressful if you aren’t leaving your kids with someone new. This is assuming that you want to be able to participate in other events.

    1. Emi.*

      This is a good idea! And it can be good to have a babysitter list to call on for other occasions, too, especially if you don’t have family in the area who can swoop in in emergencies.

    2. K*

      Thanks! This situation did motivate me to hire a babysitter, and I’m happy and relieved to have found someone. The snowshoeing was postponed because of weather so I’m lucky– I didn’t have to cancel or attend :)

      1. Emi.*

        Yay! I’m glad it turned out fine. But if it comes up again, nighttime snowshoeing is so off-the-wall (in most workplaces) that no one should look at you cross-eyed for sitting it out.

        1. Trig*

          I’m a bit surprised at the shocked reaction, actually… but it might just be geographic. My area is effing cold in the winter, but there’s lots of easy, flat trails for skiing or walking all around the city. Snowshoeing is one of the most low-key outdoor activities you can do, and if you stick to the well-trodden trails, there’s basically zero danger and it’s hardly more difficult than walking in regular shoes. Anyone who ever leaves the house in our city has decent winter clothing because otherwise you’d literally have to hibernate.

          So while my workplace, a big stuffy corporation, wouldn’t do this kind of thing simply because we don’t do activities at all, and I can see how it would be inconsiderate to people with mobility issues, I didn’t expect the AW HELL NO reaction!

      2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        My friend with a 2-year-old recently found a sitter she likes and is making a point of going out every few weeks so her daughter maintains a trusting/fun relationship with this sitter – trying to make sitter nights something the kid looks forward to instead of “mommy leaves me and I have to have this scary stranger!”

        OTOH sitters are not cheap so it’s a trade off.

  19. VioletEMT*

    OP1: NOPE. As a wife, I would be pissed if husband came home with a gaudy piece of MLM costume jewelry. In general, I want him picking out my gifts on his own. But immediately pivoting to your side hustle when your boss asks you about jewelry is not goi g to earn you any credibility.

    I also wouldn’t advertise to coworkers. Even mentioning you sell MLM stuff can cause people to stop taking you seriously. I’ve seen too many of my friends suckered in and ruined by those “businesses.” If one of them signs up for one, I question their judgement.

    The absolute most I would do is put a catalogue or flyer on your desk, and then only if your company doesn’t have a nonsolicitation policy. But I would advise mostly that you stick to soliciting people outside of work.

  20. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    #1 Do not become the office “Avon Lady”, it’s not a good label and will stick with you throughout your career there.
    #3 I had breast reduction surgery years ago, 1.5 lbs off each one and NO ONE noticed or if they did notice, not a word was said to me.

    1. paul*

      I’d love to say that no one would be dumb enough to talk about a woman’s cup size but some of the letters written in make me question that. Still, you’d *hope*!

    2. Bookworm*

      One of my friends in college had a breast reduction surgery over the summer. I *knew* she was planning on getting it, but I guess I forgot and when I saw her again in the fall, my only thought was that she had lost weight.

  21. Wacky*

    OP#1-I used to be badgered by a Sr. Director selling for her daughter-in-law. it’s a never ending cycle. You will have “wonderful”sales every month or every other month and this side job will ooze in to your primary job to the point that you are blasting your colleagues constantly through emails or selling everytime they ask a daily work question. They WILL hate you. Sorry, but that’s the reality.

    1. Life is Good*

      I agree. I had a boss who sold (cheesy) home decorating stuff and if you didn’t buy from her, you were sure to be treated as not one of her favored employees. One boss allowed his daughter to bring in her trunk of jewelry and set it up in the conference room. We were called down under the guise of a meeting only to be ushered into the room and cornered with the sales pitch…ugh! It is so uncomfortable to feel required to buy something. I have purchased (in a weak moment) and felt resentful and used afterwards, and I have resisted buying anything and still felt awkward because of the dynamics of the whole thing. Just don’t do it, please.

      1. always in email jail*

        ^Yes! Such a lose-lose. I either feel awkward and guilty for not buying anything (even though I know I shouldn’t), or I feel taken advantage of/poorer

  22. Joseph*

    #5: No offense, but I think you’re thinking of this a bit wrong. Telling you months in advance of a layoff is actually a notable *benefit* to you and your team compared to the usual “you’re laid off, the door’s over there” way that companies handle it. Why?
    Because you know exactly when your current job is ending. So you can plan for it financially, figure out your options, start casually talking to contacts now, start interviewing as the date gets closer, and really take your time to pick among jobs. It has all the benefits of conducting a job search while still employed – with the added perks that you don’t have to worry about your boss finding out and the ability to use your current company as a reference.

    1. Colette*

      Yeah, I once worked for a company that sold off a line of business. The deal was that the purchaser would keep the employees for at least two years. One of my colleagues (who did not move) was complaining how unfair that was, and another colleague pointed out that that was two years longer than we were guaranteed jobs.

      Knowing you’ll lose your job in 18 months gives you time to bump up your savings, avoid costly purchases like houses and cars, and start looking for a new job.

    2. Liane*

      TL;DR: Take others’ advice to not let your work or attitude slip, but be prepared for your company to compress the timelime.

      This long notice CAN be a benefit, but only if the company keeps to the notice period. Companies have closed way before the announced date. My husband had this happen to him in 1996. In 1995, his company division was bought by another company (both were & are household names), with sale finalized in late fall/early winter and all (AFAIK) OldCo employees hired by NewCo.
      Around February, NewCo, possibly because of rumors, announced that they had “no plans to close this plant.” Come summer, they announced the plant would be completely closed with most laid off in Aug-September, and everyone else, except for the 2 0r 3 employees they were transferring, in October. Surprise, sucks to be all of you!

    3. Nolan*

      This is definitely the best way to look at it. I had a similar situation, we got 4 months notice, but anyone who didn’t see it coming wasn’t paying attention, we all knew the end was near before the announcement. We were subcontractors working in a retail chain, the stores stayed open but our contract wasn’t renewed so we were the only thing leaving. There were options to apply with the retail company for other positions, or you could stay on until the end and get a severance package. Most of us stuck it out until the end, a few made the move to the other positions, and a couple burned bridges. On my team I think everyone stayed except one guy who wasn’t very good at his job and hadn’t been around long enough to get severance. I think he just peaced out one day and never returned.

      For me it was great. I was already planning on leaving anyway, but the layoff and severance meant I had more time to look, and was even able to enjoy some me time between jobs. It was actually a great thing for me, I definitely agree that extended notice is a great thing, and so are retention packages!

    4. LW#5*

      OP5 here – Joseph, no offense taken, I knew that my thinking was pretty emotionally influenced when I wrote in. :-) I didn’t say it in my original letter, but my dad is terminally ill and I have pretty much made up my mind to stay here as long as they need me, just so I’ll continue to have the goodwill and flexibility to drop everything if I need to get to Dad quickly. My leadership team knows about that, and are very supportive. I definitely didn’t plan to be job-hunting while he’s getting ready for hospice…

      Colette and Nolan, I’m certainly starting to see this long notice period in a more positive light now, thanks. Management is very appreciative of my work and results, so keeping that good-will alive is important… and a chunk of severance pay at the end of the year wouldn’t be bad at all.

      Liane, I’m having my attorney review the separation agreement to be sure that if they move up the end date, they’ll still pay the severance/bonus. Since the office is closing in Q3 and all operations are moving to the home office, I assume they might let me go at the end of Q3 instead of Q4… that’d be OK with me.

    5. Agile Phalanges*

      Depending on how the company handles it, I definitely agree it’s a huge benefit. I was laid off with six months notice, along with my entire office of ~40 people. The company handled it as well as they could, considering–provided resume help to everyone, severance for everyone based on years of service, stay bonus to those who were able to stay on to the very end, tons of flexibility for job-searching while on the clock, including using company printers, internet. Plus the benefit of being able to use your current manager as a reference. And as I posted below, they were very flexible with me when I still had a few loose ends to tie up at the old job, but needed to start RIGHTNOW at the new job due to circumstances they were dealing with (they fired the employee I was replacing on the spot when they discovered embezzling, the CPA firm was able to handle a few critical duties, but THAT person was going on a vacation shortly that would leave her completely unreachable, so she trained me on payroll my first week, and I ran payroll completely independently based on the copious notes I took the very next week–crazy!) and they granted the flexibility to float between the two for a few days…

      Obviously the best case scenarios is to be able to continue on in a job you like indefinitely, but if a job has to end, having it end with generous notice is actually quite beneficial. The morale issue DOES suck, but the attitudes of those around you can help–we all kind of had a “this sucks but we’re in it together” attitude which wouldn’t be possible if a department was laid off but the rest of the office was continuing on.

      1. LW#5*

        Thanks, AP… great story, and I really agree with your final paragraph. We’re trying to get to the “in it together” point. :-)

  23. Not doing that again*

    OP4: You don’t owe an apology. just don’t go. I’ve learned women need to act like men in the workplace. what would a guy do?, He’d say “Can’t make it, I’ll be watching the kiddo.” no apologies, no guilt, and boss and co-workers will take their cue from that. Then he would not think anymore about it. Those who came after facing the same issue will have an easier time. people treat us the way we train them to. If you work hard and are pleasant during working hours, no one cares about your participation in weird evening activities.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Eh, I get plenty of letters from men who are worried about how to get out of work events. I don’t think we need to make it gendered. Other than that, though, I agree she’ll get better results if she’s matter-of-fact about it.

  24. Automotive Engineer*

    Re: OP3
    Not advice but good for you on the breast reduction. I had the surgery almost 6 years ago and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m not sure if anyone noticed because nobody I hadn’t told commented on it. The awesome bonus will be how much easier it will be to find work clothes that are flattering post-surgery.

  25. Trout 'Waver*

    #1, Just don’t. Direct-sale MLMs are so shady that I would think less of someone for being involved. They take advantage of the salesperson’s personal connections to hawk things at 2-3x the price you can find for them online.

    And honestly, no matter what it is, your side business has no place at your day job.

  26. always in email jail*

    #4 Been there, completely understand. I DO want to add, though, that if you work in a field or profession where you may occasionally be expected to work outside of regular work hours, it might be beneficial to add something like “I try to budget my extra childcare costs for potential work emergencies, I won’t be able to make it this time but thanks!”. Only if you feel the need to communicate that you ARE available when it’s NEEDED, just not to snowshoe at night (which, I can’t believe is a thing).

    I do recommend building some babysitter relationships before you need them, though. Just while you get a haircut or something. At some point, something WILL come up when you need one, and it’s better to have worked with them under less stressful circumstances.

    1. Observer*

      I second the recommendation. Life happens, and it’s better for kids to see a baby sitter as a relatively routine, even if annoying thing, rather than a sign of SOMETHING IS WRONG.

  27. Landshark*

    #1 I’d say it’s fine to tell your coworkers if someone specifically comments on a piece and asks where you got it, but otherwise, yeah, please don’t. I’ve been approached by direct sales reps for everything under the sun as a teacher (because, sadly, sometimes we need the extra money) and it is dreadfully annoying to face pressure from a coworker you really like to buy a product you really don’t care about.

  28. Lontra Canadensis*

    I have a small business making and selling cozies for chocolate teapots. Most, if not all, of my co-workers know about it, but only because its come up naturally in conversation, ie: “Any plans for the long weekend?” “Lunch with my aunt on Sunday, and a pile of cozies to finish, I think I’ll do an X-Files marathon while I work on them.”

  29. HC*

    LW #3 I had BR surgery several years ago and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I would use Allison’s response that you’ll be out for surgery but it’s nothing to worry about. I was self-conscious about the change and at the suggestion of a friend got a noticeable haircut before surgery. When someone would remark that something was different about me I could say “Oh yeah, I got a haircut”. Also, the first six weeks post surgery are pretty rough but once you get past them you will feel better physically and emotionally. If you haven’t already, check out which is an excellent resource

      1. VioletEMT*

        Yes, the haircut idea is totally brilliant!

        Also: Check with the surgeon’s office beforehand, and if they will allow toenail polish the day of surgery, treat yourself to a pedicure beforehand. (Fingernail polish is always a no-no because it messes with the monitoring equipment, but toenail polish is often okay). That way, when you feel down in the dumps post-op – because, let’s face it, it happens – you can glance down at your toes, which you will now be able to see better, and they will be pretty!

        1. BTownGirl*

          No nail polish on surgery day, sadly! They need to know if your nailbeds are turning blue from lack of oxygen and I’m not sure the little monitor clamped to the finger can read through polish. Anesthesia is a real drag on the beauty routine ;)

    1. Amy the Rev*

      I second that recommendation- BreastHealthOnline was my pre/post surgery BIBLE! Got so much great advice and reassurance from the women there. Great advice about the haircut!

  30. Workfromhome*

    #5 Some good advice given. Treat it like a contract job with a specified end date. Start your job search now. If something comes up before the end of the current job then that can become part of the negotiation with the new job. “Yes if you want me to start in n2 weeks I will forgo XXX$ in a retention bonus. Can you pay me a signing bonus to offset it”
    If you were even considering ever changing jobs this is a very good scenario. You are being forced to confront the reality you will need a new job so you will start a job search rather than just consider it. You will still have a job while you search which is a huge advantage in many ways. Its easier to get a job when you have one, you can be picker and you have an income and benefits. If the right job comes along you can give your notice and shouldn’t feel any obligation to stay till the bitter end.

    As for staying motivated that is tough. If you treat it like a contract and focus on accomplishing the tasks in the contract then you may feel better about letting other things go. Be realistic with yourself. Accept a certain amount of slippage as long as you remain professional. If you used to work till 9 PM to get something done and now feel like going home at 5 don’t beat yourself up. As long as you give your best effort from 9-5 that’s all you should expect of yourself.

    1. LW#5*

      OP5 here – thanks for weighing in. I am already starting to enjoy leaving the office by 5 instead of 6-ish… still doing a solid job, but not putting in lot of extra hours. :-)

  31. ZVA*

    LW3, I agree with Alison’s advice. My mom had breast reduction surgery for the same reasons, and though she wasn’t working at the time, I’m pretty sure she told (non-close) friends & anyone who might need to know she was out of commission for a while that she was having surgery on her shoulder… (She’s had shoulder issues so this was plausible for her & she preferred it to going into details.) I don’t think anyone noticed the change; as far as I know no one ever commented on it. If you don’t want to lie about the nature of the surgery, Alison’s “minor surgical procedure” language is great, and if anyone pries you can just deflect with “nothing to worry about” or “not a big deal” or “I’d rather not go into the details” or whatever you want.

  32. Rusty Shackelford*

    #1, absolutely don’t suggest your jewelry to your bosses unless they specifically ask about something you’re wearing (“that’s a nice necklace, I think my wife would like it, where did you get it?”). For coworkers, there are some places where it’s accepted that you can leave a catalog in the break room, or email everyone that you’re a rep for X company. If you work in one of those type of places, you should already know that. If you haven’t seen anyone else doing it, chances are, it’s not done.

  33. Lucky Duck*

    OP1#, I am a wife of a husband who regularly asks for people’s advice on what to buy for me, and also gets sucked into the sales pitch. For some reasn, he thought I might like Tupperware for Christmas (his work place held a party for a friend of a friend I believe). Anyway, take the asking for advice as a compliment – it means they value your opinion, but could also mean that they are actually really stumped at what to buy, but it doesn’t give license to turn it into a sales pitch.

    I love costume jewellery and have heaps of it, but that might not be what’s right for them. The best advertising is probably just wearing your jewellery and putting your catalgue in a netural place or within your own space at work.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Yeah, my husband buys me jewelry from MLM vendors that are in his networking group. The current version is S&D. I like it, but I don’t really wear jewelry. I wear my wedding ring, an anniversary band, a watch, and I prefer a pair of diamond stud earrings (which I broke and haven’t gotten fixed). I’m not sure why my husband thinks I would like multiple long beaded necklaces or large hoop earrings. Again, it looks nice, but it’s uncomfortable for me to wear.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Tupperware? Ugh. Our rule is to never gift each other anything too practical (kitchen/shop stuff) for a gift unless they’ve specifically asked for it, and if we do, we give something else a little more frivolous (restaurant/spa gift card, video game) also.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I like practical gifts, but I usually have asked for them. I’ve gotten a shop vac, a vacuum cleaner, a computer, a monitor, multiple cameras, etc. : ) I have a spa gift card from my hubby that I’ve had almost 2 years and haven’t used (no expiration date).


        1. ThatGirl*

          Yep, my husband gets razzed sometimes for buying me kitchen stuff but … I love to cook! I also love “frivolous” gifts sometimes too, though.

          To tie it back in with the MLM, my mom gave me a pair of Lia Sophia earrings once because my cousin’s wife was selling it; I actually liked them but one of the little gemstones fell out and when I inquired about having them replaced it turned into a whole big thing and eventually I just tossed the stupid things.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            My husband got me this food chopper thing from Oprah’s Favorite Things list for Christmas, and I LOVE it. So much more convenient that the food processor and the mandolin. It’s really fantastic. And he also got me an Instant Pot, and now that I’ve conquered my fear of blowing up my kitchen, I’m in pressure cooking heaven.

        2. Alton*

          My mom’s favorite Christmas present was a Dremel power tool with a bunch of attachments. My dad never wanted much, so we usually got him pens and pistachios. You really have to know the person!

        3. Pebbles*

          Ha! This is so true! My dad gave my mom an extendible feather duster one year for Christmas and she just said “Really? You thought I would like to do more cleaning?”

          OTOH, besides books and movies, I ask for practical gifts like snow tires and a remote start for my car (I live in the Midwest), or gift cards to PetSmart/PetCo for the furbabies.

    3. Kelly L.*

      I have heard of husbands being pressured into buying things like anti-aging creams for their wives, with the salesperson’s assurance that “she’ll love it!”, and the whole thing ending in tears.

      1. Nonprofit pro*

        I turn 30 next year and my MIL’s christmas gift to me was an estee lauder gift set that included all manner of wrinkle creams, anti-aging serums and other assorted products. Very disheartening.
        My sil also gave me skincare stuff, but I’m taking that less badly becuase she gave my husband the same products, so I’m thinking its just stuff she really likes.

        1. Kelly L.*


          And yes, there is skin care stuff I don’t mind, but I tell people about it, and it doesn’t specifically say “Yer Old Now Cream” on it, LOL. It’s more stuff for dry skin or stuff that just smells good.

          1. Julia*

            Or pimple cream. And once I got deodorant… (I don’t think I stink, it was one with fragrance so probably just a weird “what do I give Julia??” gift.)

        2. Ann Furthermore*

          On a side note….I haven’t done everything right, but I have taken really good care of my skin. I started using moisturizer and/or foundation with an SPF, and eye cream religiously when I was in my early 20’s. It’s important to get into a routine about that as I live in an extremely dry climate at a higher elevation, so the sun exposure is more intense here. I’ve advised my stepdaughter (who is 19) to do the same thing. A few months ago I was talking to a co-worker and mentioned in passing that I am going to be turning 50 this year, and she told me she thought I was in my late 30’s. It could be that she’s blind as a bat, or that she was trying to butter me up for something, but it was still the nicest compliment that I’d heard in quite awhile! :)

          It could be that your MIL’s intent with the gift was not “you’re starting to look pretty old” but more along the lines of “You look fabulous and here’s some stuff to help you keep looking fabulous.”

          1. Nonprofit pro*

            You have a very charitable view of things. :D Maybe if she had included an explanation like yours with it, instead of saying I could you could use this now, I would be feeling more generous of mind.
            I guess I just feel like skincare is such a personal thing, that I don’t understand getting it as a gift for someone, especially if that person doesn’t really care about such things.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              Heh. Point taken. Skin care is a personal thing…it takes awhile to find what you like. My mom used Estee Lauder stuff when I was growing up. She would keep an eye out for the promotional sales, and then hit every department store in town to stock up. She could make that stuff last…I think she even came up with a way to get every last drop of foundation out of one of those little tiny bottles by adding a few drops of water or something.

        3. Alton*

          I wish skincare and bath stuff wasn’t treated like a default gift so much. I want to use the stuff, but I’m allergic to some perfumes and even stuff that I’m not allergic to bothers me occasionally if my seasonal allergies are acting up.

  34. Cassandra*

    A candlelight snowshoe can be quite lovely (voice of experience here!), especially if the route is well-chosen, but in my head this is like any other after-hours work social — pretty much optional. Don’t worry unduly, just make your ordinary apologies and don’t go.

  35. shep*

    OP#3: I had a breast augmentation last year, which I know is a different procedure, but no one noticed. (Or if they did, they had the wherewithal to keep their observation to themselves!) I did disclose the nature of the leave to my boss, mainly because my surgeon was cutting into muscle and I was not going to be able to do any heavy lifting OR simply raise my arms more than a 45-degree angle for six to eight weeks. I work in an office environment, but it’s crazy how much we use our chest muscles/arms to open heavy doors, get supplies off of shelves, etc. I was pretty restricted mobility-wise so I was glad she knew.

    I also had to wear a relatively light but semi-visible compression band under my arms, and it was always partially visible through my clothes (i.e., the top of the band showing at my blouse neckline, the imprint through my shirts, etc.). I think I would’ve been fine with saying “minor medical procedure,” but I admit to having been concerned that being too vague would’ve engendered more questions rather than fewer.

    That said, I think Allison’s suggestion is spot on, and don’t worry that people will notice! As she said, many people say their coworkers just think they’ve changed their hair or lost weight if they notice anything at all.

  36. Turtlewings*

    #4, I’m totally with you about bowing out of the night snowshoeing (seriously???), but I’m a little concerned that you’re that freaked out about hiring a babysitter. You can’t be your children’s one and only caretaker all their lives, and it wouldn’t be good for them even if you could. Pick out and work with a babysitter now, before there’s some kind of emergency and you have nobody.

    1. Justme*

      Plus if she works, someone is caring for her child during the day. She’s not her child’s only caretaker.

      I wholeheartedly agree about finding a trusted babysitter now (or a few) so that you have backups in case an emergency arises.

    2. zora*

      I read it not that she was uncomfortable with any babysitter at all, but that she hadn’t used one yet, and didn’t want the first time with a new babysitter to be the time she was in a remote location and not able to get back quickly.

      I totally understand that, and if it was me, I would want the first time with a new babysitter to be when I was either still in the house, or very near by in case something didn’t work out. I would want to be really comfortable with someone before being out of reach, or far away.

  37. Jenbug*

    OP#3 – I had a breast reduction five years ago and it was the best decision I ever made! I was open with my team at work about what I was having done, but I wasn’t a manager and the office culture was very relaxed there. I ended up needing four weeks before I returned and it took a couple of months until I was back at my regular energy levels. My company at the time also liked moving desks frequently, so my manager needed to be aware of my lifting restrictions.

    Breast Health Online is an amazing resource and I highly recommend it. I’d also be more than happy to give you my email address and answer questions.

    1. Jean who seeks to be Ingenious*

      Now I’m visualizing people running up to surround a desk, and then hustling it to a new location. Funny.
      Glad your surgery went well medically and at work.

      1. Jenbug*

        Haha! No, they were of the belief that making us switch cubicles every couple of months kept things “fresh” and “exciting”. I think during my first 4 years there, I moved at least a dozen times. But we had to move our own computers (and I had two monitors) so there was definitely heavy lifting involved.

  38. eplawyer*

    #1 — just echoing all the don’ts. Your main job is not the place to promote your side gig. You are there to do your main job. I do like the suggestions of wear a piece of the jewelry and if someone asks you can respond. But don’t turn the question into a sales pitch. And if this is MLM, don’t try to pressure your co-workers into signing up under you.

    #4 – snowshoeing at night? Who comes up with these things. Snowshoing is not just strapping a couple of tennis rackets to your feet and walking. It is hard work and takes skills. You are going to have people falling all over the place. I honestly wonder what companies are thinking when they come up with a social event that is so physically strenuous. Not everyone wants to do that on their off hours.

      1. MsCHX*

        See that’s how I am too. I have, more often than not, loved my jobs and really liked my coworkers but I a) don’t want to be friends (the true sense of the word) with coworkers and b) don’t want to spend my free time with coworkers. I’m good for a happy hour every blue moon.

    1. VioletEMT*

      “I honestly wonder what companies are thinking when they come up with a social event that is so physically strenuous. Not everyone wants to do that on their off hours.”

      Not everyone wants to or can.

      I got crap for not wanting to do a low ropes course with my team last year. I don’t like heights or trust falls. Hell no. And I don’t have physical restrictions, but I know people on our team who do, and felt left out, particularly because they kept getting “Oh, you should really come! It’ll be so much fun!” from the organizers.

      Not my jam. Not at all.

      1. Michele*

        What is a low ropes course? That sounds awful. I am terrified of heights and do not need to have my coworkers see me crying and curled into a ball (which is what happened when I tried to go ziplining in an attempt to overcome my fear).

    1. Thumper*

      All I keep thinking about is that “team building exercise” episode of The Simpsons where Homer and Mr. Burns end up buried under an avalanche.

    2. Michele*

      That sounds like a lot of fun to me. But I am outdoorsy and love the snow. I would not expect everyone to share my interest, though.

  39. Kate*

    #3, congrats on the reduction! Getting a reduction was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    When I scheduled my surgery, I told my boss that I “needed surgery, but it’s not serious.” (Wish I’d had Alison’s more eloquent wording.) Closer to the date, I told my boss and a few coworkers who expressed concern that it was for a reduction, knowing that those coworkers would spread it. No regrets there. Everybody was supportive, and I believe it was discussed far less than if I’d been out for an unknown health reason. My boss in particular was so relieved I wished I’d told her earlier.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

  40. MsCHX*

    #1: Please don’t.

    #2: NYP (not your problem). Totally a grin and bear it situation.

    #3: I would totally preface the leave with “out for minor procedure, returning XX date”. If your job is primarily at a desk you don’t even need to discuss your restrictions when you get back. I also agree with AAM that you may be inadvertently sending the message that ‘we don’t take sick days’ even though you are saying you all are good at work/life balance. e.g. My manager works around the clock. He’s almost never unreachable. But he made it clear that he does NOT expect that from me. I am exempt so I don’t mind the (very) occasional ‘off duty’ calls, but I think a lot of people ‘follow the leader’ and use them as the expectation.

    #4: No worries. “I won’t be able make it…” and as mentioned up thread be sure to ask about it in the office the next day. As a single mom – FIND A RELIABLE SITTER! Please! Seriously. No, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be partying and using a baby sitter 5 times a week…but you will be relieved to know you have a backup plan WHEN (not if) you need it.

    #5: When the company I was working for was shuttering it’s doors, my manager (2 person dept) was on leave. I had to do a lot of the heavy lifting (I’m in HR). I was able to negotiate additional pay to stay on to help with the closure because 1) I’m going to be out of a job too! and 2) I’m doing part of the VPs work as a Generalist. I did end up working through the end but I was of course applying for other jobs. I would have totally given notice though if a great opportunity had presented itself. Major difference I see here though, we were on an 8-10 week timeline where yours sounds like months.

  41. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

    I didn’t tell anyone I was having a breast reduction. When pressed for details, I would say it was surgery to help with my neck pain/headaches but in retrospect I wouldn’t do that because it could make people ask more questions. I think Alison’s suggestion is perfect.

  42. Jessesgirl72*

    OP1: I and everyone I know has such a negative reaction to direct sales reps and their products that I can’t really say anything more and honor the rules of the comments.

    For the sake of your career, don’t.

    1. MuseumChick*

      Agree with this. I have a couple of people on FB who do the direct sales things and it always comes off very cringe-y. One person even put up a nice long rant about how people are willing to spend money at a big store but not support “working moms” it was pretty terrible. At another point she invited me to one of those parties where the reps try to sell their friends and family stuff, luckily I had a prior engagement and got out of it. But I would have felt so awkward if I had gone because I know I would not have bought anything.

      1. Temperance*

        I totally eyeroll at all of those “small business owners”. Sorry, but no, I’d rather go to Target or buy an MLM product that I want off of Ebay.

      2. Sabine the Very Mean*

        And the really good reps are really good! I was on my guard at a MK party. I wasn’t buying a damn thing, don’t wear such products, and just wanted to show up since it was hosted by a new boss (she wasn’t pushy). I made it known that I wasn’t buying, don’t sell it to me. But you know what she did do? Somehow talked me in circles before I realized she was trying to recruit me to sell under her. I didn’t know her innocent seeming questions were leading me. “Do you hate spending money on products?” Yes. “Do you wish you had more freedom in life?” Uh, yeah sure…? “So you’ll be my special guest at the event on Wednesday?” Wait, what?!?!?

      3. Marillenbaum*

        I hate, hate, HATE those rants! I know several women I went to school with who do MLM stuff, and have posted things like that, and it makes me see red. I can support someone without bankrolling them: bringing by a meal, watching their kids so they can go to a job interview, reminding them their kid won’t be ruined if Mom misses one soccer game. It doesn’t require me to buy cruddy leggings.

        1. MuseumChick*

          It just comes off as insulting to everyone who doesn’t want to support a pyramid selling scheme. She had already invited me to a party (that I declined) about a month before. So how was I and the other people who declined supposed to feel see that rant?

          If the EA for the Big Boss Chocolate Teapots Museum ever approached me in any kind of way about buying something from her I would be straight up scared to say no. Not because she is mean or intimidating or anything but because she is a long time employee who acts as the gate keeper to Big Boss. So in my head I’d be wondering that the subtle consequences of saying to to her would be. Side story here, my dad as a Big Boss at a company for years and never once brought mine or my sisters girl scout cookies in to sell. He didn’t want to put his employees in a weird position.

      4. animaniactoo*

        My problem – if you feel that entitled to have me spend my money “supporting you”, I do not want to work with you because you’ve already lost the “professional” aspect of your business and if there was ever a problem with something that I ordered through you, I would be wary of trying to deal with you to get it resolved.

        Sorry, I’m not going to add more damage to whatever our relationship is by taking that chance.

      5. Candi*

        I’m like, don’t even go there with me. May include a rant about my 6:30 am to 8 pm day when my kids were small if they really push a button.

        A way to support a working mom? One of a hundred tiny things that make her day just that bit easier. Helping to lift the stroller on the bus was always a good one for me.

    2. Lora*

      Yes, this.

      Do not. Especially jewelry, which is a very personal thing and one person’s gorgeous is someone else’s tacky. That goes double for anti-aging cream (had a close friend who did the skin cream thing. HAD, as in past tense).

      I feel like I was asked about various MLM products at previous jobs so many times that all the Amway/Quixstar, Avon, Herbalife, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, Tupperware, Primerica, Usana, Nerium etc. in any given metro area should all get together and rent a function hall for a weekend or two or something. That way if it is a thing people are interested in, they can go. Or not. I’d be interested to see how well that actually works.

      1. a different Vicki*

        For that matter, one person’s gorgeous is a third person’s “looks great, but I hate how it feels on my body.” My husband and I both have pierced ears, and I have a nice collection of dangly earrings (some made by a friend of ours). He agrees that they’re pretty, but he doesn’t like the weight of a dangling earring in his own ear, and only wears studs.

        That’s the relatively good case, where we do understand and are okay with each other’s tastes, rather than someone being sure that their partner would just love a purple tea cozy/opal ring/copper egg whisk, because they like purple, copper, and opals, and haven’t noticed that partner never wears purple, and has mentioned being superstitious about opal.

      2. Candi*

        I used to see Mary Kay at job fairs back in the early ’00s. Their application, at the bottom, had a ‘how much do you like (whatever the euphemism for MLM selling is today)?’ on a 1-10 scale. 5 was crossed out because they wanted ‘people who know what they want’.

        I never got called for some reason. Maybe it was all the questions I asked.

    3. SarahTheEntwife*

      Yes +eleventy If you make something yourself, that’s different, though still don’t be obnoxious about it at work. But MLM schemes just mean something I might otherwise be vaguely interested in now requires me to jump through weird social hoops (often with a considerable amount of interaction before I even find out whether I can afford the stuff) to buy mass-produced things I could get much more easily just by going to a store.

  43. Parenthetically*

    A coworker sells some kind of MLM jewelry but never talks about it unless it comes up naturally, so basically never unless someone compliments her earrings or something. It really is lovely stuff. Several folks here have bought pieces from her and it hasn’t been a big deal, because the only thing she does to “promote” is to have a catalog on hand for people to flip through if they ask. Which is perfectly fine, IMO. “My girlfriend would love those earrings!” could surely be followed up with, “I sell them!” without any concern?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Preach. Preying on your coworkers by recruiting them is especially awful. These companies thrive by targeting women, most of whom lose money.

  44. Jessesgirl72*

    OP5: I understand you’re upset with the imminent loss of the job, but it sounds like your company is trying to do the right thing here. Being given notice, severance, and options is generally considered preferable to being blindsided by a layoff and walked out the door immediately.

    Do the job they are paying you to do for as long as they continue to pay you. Good luck on your next job search.

    1. LW#5*

      Thanks for your comment! I’m already feeling better about my decision to stay as long as it makes sense for me… appreciate your perspective.

  45. KatieKatie*

    OP3–I had that surgery two years ago, and had a similar question. I ended up telling my immediate team, and as it turned out, two of them had had the surgery and gave me a ton of tips regarding recovery. So I think it depends!

  46. Rivakonneva*

    OP #1–please don’t do this. Stick to the full time job you are getting paid for and use your free time for your side gig. Your co-workers will like you much more this way.

  47. Dust Bunny*

    1. No. I’ve had coworkers who sold stuff on the side before . The annoying ones asked you if you wanted to sign up for their email lists, etc. The one who wasn’t annoying just left the catalog with her card stapled to it in the break room and you could contact her on your own time to order stuff.

    Single Mom: Not necessarily for work events, but maybe you should start looking for reliable babysitters just as a general thing, so you’ll have backup in case you need it. Not having *anybody*, apparently, with whom to leave your child seems a little precarious.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      Seconding the babysitter recommendation: I used to babysit for a couple of families, and didn’t mind being part of a rotation at all. One family in particular was a single dad who traveled for work, so sometimes I would pick up the daughter from school and watch her all evening. I preferred getting to know the families I worked for better–it was easier on the kids, and therefore easier on ME.

  48. Elise*

    #1 – A catalog in the break room is as far as I’d go, unless there doesn’t seem to be a precedent of others doing the same. A few years ago, several staff members and I all ran the same half-marathon. After another staff member saw the photo we all took together with our medals, she emailed us all to sell us Herbalife “to enhance our athletic ability.” She also recruited many of her coworkers (who were all in fairly low paying positions) to this company, and none of them saw any profit, just losses. It definitely hurt her credibility in my eyes, and one of the other runners was a manager so who knows if it hurt her chances of promotion.

    It’s certainly anyone’s prerogative to participate in MLM sales, but I absolutely hate being sold to (and recruited) everywhere I turn.

  49. Important Moi*

    OP2: While I understand your concern about being perceived I don’t think it falls under your purview to approach your boss’s how they respond to email, even if he is a bit older and does odd things. I lean towards respecting the chain of command. I’m not trying to be rude, but this is not something where your input would necessarily be appreciated by your boss – no matter how gentle you broach it. If I were you boss, I’d wonder why you thought your input was appropriate.

  50. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #3

    I’d go with whatever you feel comfortable saying.

    I’m in the same boat, as I’m having tummy tuck/lipo in February to remove excess skin from massive weight loss. I opted to tell my team what I was having done, as it would be pretty obvious afterwards. I will be out of work completely for at least two weeks, maybe three. Then I’ll work from home a bit and once I come back, I’ll likely be a bit hunched over until everything stretches out a bit. Plus, I’m just an open book that way and most other teams members are, too; we share a lot usually.

    My surgeon says that afterwards my breasts may actually look more prominent (fingers crossed!–massive weight loss really deflates the girls…). So, for those who don’t know what I’m having done, I’m thinking some people will think I had breast implants while others might think I just lost some more weight. If someone asks me I will likely tell them. I think most people won’t ask even if they suspect, but there’s always a few exceptions. But I totally understand that telling people you had a breast reduction isn’t exactly the same as saying you had a tummy tuck.

  51. PK*

    #5. Personally, I’d be looking and move on. Bonus or not. I’ve never been laid off though (knock on wood) but I’d rather not take the chance of miserably working until the end followed by possible long term unemployment.

    1. LW#5*

      OP5 here – thanks for your perspective. It’s not miserable (yet), but I’m certainly keeping my options open!

  52. AnitaJ*

    As an EA who works with a large team of EAs, it’s very difficult to continually refuse to buy things. Someone’s kid is selling Girl Scout cookies. Someone else’s kid is selling candles. One of my coworkers is selling Cabi. One of my other coworkers is selling Avon. There’s only so much refusing you can do before you start to feel rude. I just can’t afford it all, and I’m uncomfortable saying that to my peers, and I’m also uncomfortable coming up with lame-and-possibly-untrue excuses as to why I can’t/won’t buy their products.

    TL;DR – please don’t do this to your coworkers.

  53. OP3 here*

    OP3 here. Thanks for all the comments and website link. I’ve never had any surgery before and it’s intimidating, so it is nice to hear from all the people glad they did it.

    I do want to clarify, I am not a sick day martyr. I have not taken a sick day in 2 years because I have not needed any; I mentioned it in my letter only because of the contrast with going out on med leave for 2 weeks. Previously I spent four years with a chronic sinus infection (during which sick time was certainly taken, I might have used it all one year actually) so I am now quite conscientious about staying healthy. I would never drag into the office sick, and I strongly discourage my team from doing so. I encourage my team to put themselves first and take PTO as needed, which they do. We have a lot of flexibility to work from home as well as paid sick time, so it’s common for people to choose to work remotely if they are mildly sick, especially for my contractors who don’t have any PTO.

    1. MsCHX*

      Thanks for that clarification!

      Also, I’m considering the surgery in the next year or two. Congrats on getting it done!

    2. Jenbug*

      Be prepared that you may need longer than two weeks. I initially took 3 weeks off and ended up extending for a 4th. You also may want to plan some at home work days the first couple of weeks back because you will still be tired and sore. My coworkers and supervisor were all very supportive.

    3. Michele*

      I posted this down thread, but I had a breast reduction. A bit of doubt and fear is normal. And it definitely is intimidating. However, it is one of the best things that I have ever done for myself. Something that no one told me would happen was that my ribcage expanded by more than an inch after the surgery. I could literally breathe easier without the weight on my chest. FWIW, I went from an H to a D. There are limits to how small you can go without endangering the breast.

      Good luck, and quick healing.

  54. animaniactoo*

    OP1, I don’t think you can never bring it up at work – but I do think you have to be very very careful about how you bring it up at work. There are various methods, but the message always has to be “Hey, the opportunity is here if you want to pursue it, I’ll be over here not talking about it anymore* and if you’re interested come talk to me” and never ever EVER “Let me show you my product line”. Basic thought process – don’t put them in a position where they actually have to say the word “No” if they don’t want to learn more.

    *Because you’re not going to bring it up more than once unless it’s a *really* natural occurrence like “It’s from the line I sell!” when somebody compliments you on a piece you’re wearing. And even then, you drop it after that comment, you don’t follow it up with “Would you like to see my catalog?”

    1. animaniactoo*

      Oh, one more piece – however you make it work, DON’T introduce yourself to anyone for the purpose of letting them know you do this. They can come to you if they’ve heard and are interested, you can’t go to them.

  55. animaniactoo*

    OP4 – it really doesn’t have to do with whether or not you’ve hired a babysitter before in this situation. It’s entirely on the point of being out of range (physically) if you’re needed which is absolutely reasonable to be concerned about.

    On the babysitter front, however, I don’t know how old your kid(s) are, but having reliable child care coverage available if needed for weekends/evenings is something that I find is actually more important for single parents than couples. It prevents you from forcing yourself/your kids into situations that really aren’t appropriate for kids and creating a problem for the people who have to deal with your kids in that situation – who will be kids and not perfect little angels all the time, your kids who are likely to end up at various points of stressed/frustrated/tired/cranky with little control over their emotions yet, and you who have to deal with both ends of that. Yeah, there’s a lot of situations where you can just opt out of participating in whatever rather than do that, but a) it’s not always possible (you’ve always gotta spend an hour in a line somewhere) and b) limiting yourself like that can be really damaging to yourself/your kids longterm. Think of it as preventative maintenance.

    Babysitters can be expensive and totally understandable if you can’t make that your go-to. But you should still have a reliable one you can call on in time of need, so see about setting that up before you run up against the need in future. You can also go the time-honored route of trading “free” babysitting with other parents you know.

  56. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #5. Managers will try to “guilt” you into “fulfilling your obligation and staying till the completion of the outsource/offshore project.”

    Lemme clue you in. You have absolutely, positively, categorically NO obligation to complete a suicide mission.
    Training others – especially offshore others – to do your job and walking out quietly – IS a suicide mission.

    If a severance package is presented – it is worth considering. But , if say, it’s three-six months severance – and your layoff date is a year away – and someone offers you a job NOW – take the new opportunity. Severance be damned (unless it includes a pension).

    In my field, the first ones to jump are usually the ones who are counter-offered with a post-outsource opportunity to stay aboard.

    In my field, if you’re out of work it’s usually much more difficult to find work – and if you do, you have no negotiation leverage.

    And – remember the adage = Rats that jump a sinking ship have a much better chance of survival than those that stay aboard and choose to go down with it.

    1. LW#5*

      OP5 here – thanks for weighing in. I didn’t mention it in my original letter, but my dad is terminally ill and I’m not really up for a full job search right now… so I’m casually warming up my network and staying open to opportunities at this point. I agree with you that we don’t have an obligation to stick it out to the end, which will be helpful to remember if things really start going south. Appreciate your note!

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Do what works for YOU. That might involve staying until the end – or moving on to another job now. Again, it depends on the situation.

  57. Catabodua*

    Just sharing a MLM horror story to let others know if you plan to do this you will permanently damage your work reputation.

    A coworker started selling something and would try to “trap” people into coming to one of the parties by casually asking them if they had plans that weekend. If the person said no, they would say “GREAT! Now you can come to my party to buy this thing!”

    People were really angry at her and it affected her career there for the rest of her tenure.

    To add the icing to the cake – it was sex toys. She was selling sex toys. So, can you imagine you are already annoyed that she’s trying to trap you into going to a party, but to then find out the party is a MLM sex toy place?

    1. animaniactoo*

      I don’t think that you can point to that as an example of how selling MLM at your work can damage your reputation. I think that you can point to that as an example of how using those kinds of tactics to sell MLM at work (or really, anywhere else) can damage your reputation.

      I’m not an MLM proponent, but there are differences between simply being a rep and how you choose to be a rep.

      1. Catabodua*

        I have such a negative opinion of MLM in general that I do think less of people when I find out they are “reps” for those types of companies.

        But, being completely honest, I have a tiered system in my head. I don’t think badly of Avon reps at all, but if you are someone who’s trying to peddle crystallized super special it will cure your cancer mineral water I will think you are an idiot.

      2. ZVA*

        There are differences, sure, but I do think MLM has a (deservedly) abysmal reputation—enough so that mere association with it might damage your reputation as well… Not that it always will, but it certainly can. My family has a friend who’s been involved with one MLM after another over the years, and my experience with her has been enough to tarnish all MLM schemes in my mind forever.

    2. Kelly L.*

      NOPE NOPE NOPE that is not a kind of party I want to go to with co-workers! They do not need to know my tastes in adult toys!

      This is also one reason I started replying to “do you have plans” with “I’ll have to check” or “Why do you ask?” Because it’s so often a sneak-sales party or a sneak-chore. LOL.

        1. Catabodua*

          It’s bad enough I have a niece that reps for a sex toy company and I see her Facebook posts about people getting their orders in to her and giving reviews of new products.

          (I just want to see pictures of your kids and keep up with your life. Please set up a separate page to conduct your side business on! LOL)

          I would be horrified to have to have that kind of knowledge in my head about coworkers.

  58. Barney Barnaby*

    #1 – several thoughts.

    I’m guessing that the executives ask her for suggestions for the same reason that my male friends ask me for suggestions for presents for their wives or girlfriends: because I can provide some unbiased advice from a woman’s perspective. You aren’t unbiased – you stand to make money here – so don’t do it.

    Also, the return policies on direct sales can be incredibly restrictive and awkward. If your boss picks out something at Macy’s and his wife doesn’t like it, she can get something else at Macy’s that she likes. Whether or not you offer returns, they will likely pay additional shipping, it is awkward, and sometimes, the entire line is just not someone’s taste. The conversation that you never want to have with a boss is, “My wife doesn’t like this. How do I return it and get her something she likes?”

    In general, this reminds me of the “Should I tutor my boss’ child” thread, “should I room with my boss and her daughter” thread, and others. Keep your side job out of your main job.

    1. Emi.*

      [T]he executives ask her for suggestions for the same reason that my male friends ask me for suggestions for presents for their wives or girlfriends: because I can provide some unbiased advice from a woman’s perspective. You aren’t unbiased

      This is a really good point. They want disinterested advice!

  59. Courageous cat*

    #5 – I’m in the same exact position right now. My job is due to end by April because of our closure. Morale is a problem, but this is how it was explained to me by a coworker, and he’s right: we’re still getting our paychecks. We’re getting paid to do the same job we’ve always been paid to do, so morale really shouldn’t enter into it after a certain point. If we want to continue getting paid, then keep working, and if not, then find something else. I guess it means a certain amount of detachment from it all and just realizing that you are being paid to provide a service for an amount of time.

    Retention bonuses/severance definitely help with that, and is the main reason I’m considering staying till the end. Plus, I’d like to be able to say I shut it all down.

    1. LW#5*

      Thanks, and I’m sorry to hear about your impending layoff as well. There’s definitely a part of my brain that’s thinking “Nothing has changed, except I know when the end date is now.” In practice, though, I’m sorry that my future isn’t going to be here, in a company I’ve truly loved working for.

  60. Anon 12*

    #5 Many years ago I joined a company that was weeks away from a large acquisition. It was pending regulatory approval so everybody knew it was coming and there was lots of time to plan. One Friday I get told to pack a bag and be at the airport Monday to help the acquisition team. We get to the office we are acquiring and I get handed a folder with paperwork for all the people I am laying off (I was in a specialty area of HR and this is not something I had ever done nor was I forewarned). Some folks were kept, some were sent home that day and some received transition plans. It was uber organized and folks received colored name tags so we knew who was supposed to exit the building that day. Organization became the enemy of empathy and the workers all tore off their name tags in solidarity with their co-workers. By far the most pissed off were the transitioning folks who just wanted to go home and mourn vs providing life support to the dying patient for 90 days. My point is, as messy as it was there many not really have been an incrementally better way to do it (okay, the name badge thing was a bad call) and TPTB were not shocked at the reactions or people who were “hired” subsequently leaving. Business decisions have consequences and sometimes you cannot engineer things to solve every problem. So, while as painful as this is, you have the gift of being able to make a rational choice over time. Accept it, grieve but don’t aspire to some higher level of emotional engagement. If you do stick it out or if you exit gracefully when you are no longer done you’ll receive the gift of karma by handling this like a pro and it may pay you back in the future.

    1. LW#5*

      Ouch… sounds like a pretty rough time. I am really trying to help smooth this over with our staff, but it’s true – we can’t really talk them out of an emotional reaction, and all the explaining in the world won’t help them LIKE this decision. If they can think of it as a closed contract until the end of the year, then we’ll be happy to have them stay on the payroll; if not, well, go with my best wishes. :-)

  61. BTownGirl*

    #3 – My SO is a plastic surgeon, so I can tell you that you may still have some swelling when you’re back at work, so it may not be obvious at all! Also, Alison is right, a lot of times people just read it as weight loss and no one suspects a thing. One thing his office staff tells the patients about going back to work is to remember that it’s no one’s business and no one is “owed” an explanation or info about your body. The only other thing I’d add (and not to go off-topic here) is that going through your insurance company often requires a specific minimum volume to be removed, so be double sure you’re happy with how it will look. And don’t be afraid to ask your surgeon 10,000 and one questions, because that’s what they are there for. Good luck!! :)

    1. Michele*

      As someone who has had a breast reduction, I agree with everything you said.
      Also, some doubt might creep in, but it was one of the best things I have ever done. The quality of life is sooooo much better with mid-sized breasts.

      1. BTownGirl*

        So happy that it turned out awesome!! :) Couldn’t agree more that dug-in bra straps is no way to go through life!

      1. BTownGirl*

        Same! Some people though, which I’m sure will come as a surprise to no one (sigh), would make it a point to comment if they happened to notice.

  62. Michele*

    Please do not sell your jewelry at work. We had so many people pushing their MLM schemes for jewelry, candles, home décor, makeup…that a company wide policy was enacted to forbid any kind of sales like that. Now we can’t even get Girl Scout cookies.

  63. MommaTRex*

    #3 – Whatever you do, please do not offer to show before-and-after pictures. (And here I’ve been thinking that I never have weird office stories to share. I forgot about the auditor who wanted to show people pictures! Men and women! I kid you not!)

    A year ago, I had a minor surgical procedure (very minor, but life changing!). I’m very close to some of my coworkers and my two bosses, so I wasn’t really uncomfortable discussing endometrial ablations with them, but I might have with others. I took it as an opportunity to say nothing other than “minor surgical procedure” and test whether or not people would ask me for more info or not. To my surprise…nobody asked. Not even the most gossipy, nosy person. (I have a sneaking suspicion she had already been told to stop asking people about medical issues.)

  64. Jaybeetee*

    Email guy – is “being older” still a reason for not understanding email? I don’t mean to seem flippant, and I know some people just aren’t great with technology, but email has been around for over 20 years now (well, technically much longer than that, but y’all know what I mean), and commonplace for over 15 years. How many people are young enough to still be working and haven’t gotten the hang of this “new-fangled email stuff?”

    My father is 70 years old and taught himself how to use email around 15 years ago when he realized he was going to have to modernize his business. The man is technologically awful and will likely never send a text message (he told me a few months ago he’d learned how to “listen to records on the computer” – that is, play music on YouTube), but even he’s figured out email.

    1. MommaTRex*

      I agree that this isn’t about age and email. It’s about communication. Some people are not good at it. This is universal across human beings and it is not age related.

      1. Anon 12*

        yes to this. My 75 year old father works at a job that requires him to be overseas several times a year. He carries and keeps straight iphones for 4 countries, a MAC and a work issued PC. He can be a poor (offensive even) communicator on other than business matters but it’s not about technology at all and it’s not age related. He’s always been that way. I do think social norms around communication change (becoming more casual or it being less okay for men to be overbearing in some business situations) and to the extent that some people don’t change with them, that’s the age factor.

        1. MommaTRex*

          Truth. I’m finally getting over not typing two spaces after a period. It took me a while to accept and then adjust, but I want to follow the new normal, so I worked at it until it became my new habit. So my age was showing until I fixed it. Some people refuse to change no matter what, but it is easier when you haven’t lived with an old way for so long…

  65. Kristobel*

    #1. The only solicitation I encourage are Girl Scout cookies because COOKIES. Otherwise, please not at work. No jamberry, jewelry, diet drinks, nothing. Take that to FB (so I can unfollow you).
    #3. My coworker did this. She told some of us (women) because we’re pretty close, but everyone else she just said she was having surgery for her back. It WAS obvious when she came back, but most people are professional enough to just say “you look great, glad you’re back!” and leave it at that.

    1. Mazzy*

      +1 on #1. Jewelry is not a new or novel product that needs to be pedaled. People have multiple outlets to purchase jewelry already.

  66. Callie*

    please don’t sell any direct sales/MLM stuff at work. EVERYONE is doing it these days and it’s so tiresome. I personally might make an exception for something that you yourself produce/make, but please, NO with the MLM/direct sales/pyramid stuff. I do not need leggings, nail wraps, sex toys, kitchen gadgets, bags, or whatever. No.

  67. specialist*

    Regarding the breast reduction…..
    Trust me on this one. Change your hairstyle before you go back. People will focus on your hairstyle . You may hear that you look younger or that you lost weight. Other than that, you are out for a minor surgery.

    Breast reduction surgery is a reconstructive operation. It is very successful in reducing symptoms of back, neck, and shoulder pain. There is also a reduction in breast cancer risk as you are carrying less breast tissue.

  68. Not Rebee*

    OP 1 – I am going to go with the others who have said not to bring it up. However, since you are selling it you likely have several pieces of your own to wear around; I don’t see anything wrong with mentioning where it’s from (maybe not that you’re a rep, but the name of the company) if people happen to mention or compliment the jewelry. I certainly have had, and have heard enough conversations about clothes or shoes that have started with “I love your [clothing]” and has ended with “Thanks! I got it at [store]” that I think that would be normal. If they are unfamiliar with the company you rep for, you could always go into a little bit more detail, but at least by saying where it’s from you are opening the door to people asking about it if they truly enjoy the item. And of course you could put a flyer up and leave a catalog on your desk and all those other things too. But no, I would not directly do a full sales pitch just because someone is asking about jewelry.

  69. Stylish Entrepreneur*

    It’s actually rather ironic to me that number 1 is popping up here. For almost as long as he’s been employed, my father has had a casual snack shop at his work. He kept it in a room, and left a notebook. People wrote down what they took, and either left the money or he went around and collected on paydays. The bosses loved it for morale. Unfortunately, with the installation of a company handbook, he got replaced by a $7k vending machine that wouldn’t be soliciting money. The other guys he works with are pretty bummed about it. (Clearly the Entrepreneur is genetic.)

  70. Agile Phalanges*

    I’m just curious whether OP#5 is required to sign a contract that they WILL stay until the bitter end in order to get the stay bonus. My company laid me and ~40 others off when they closed the corporate office in order to combine it with a different location across the country. We were given six months notice, and were told that we would receive a stay bonus if we stayed until the announced closure date. A few people, mainly those who figured they’d retire anyway or didn’t mind a gap between jobs, didn’t job-hunt and based their plans on staying and being one of the few that were still answering phones, packing boxes, and training replacements at the bitter end. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few key employees who were offered even higher stay bonuses because them staying would be more critical, but of course I don’t know for sure. I don’t THINK anyone was contractually obligated to stay.

    Most people started looking within the first few weeks after the announcement, some people found jobs right away, others found jobs toward the end, and I think only one or two people were still looking by the end. I was fortunate enough to have the PERFECT timing. My job was mostly wrapped up, I was even helping out in the department I’d moved from, and I found a job who needed me to start RIGHTNOW. I negotiated with both bosses/companies that I would spend a couple weeks alternated between jobs every couple of days (train/run payroll at new company, return to soon-to-be-former company for critical hand-over meeting, and so forth) before finally having my actual final day of work at the old company. But with HR’s blessing (and possibly because they were being laid off, too), they kept me on payroll as an active employee, just with PTO being paid instead of regular hours, for the remaining couple of weeks until the final day, which made me eligible for the stay bonus. Best of both worlds! But of course I would’ve been happy to forfeit the stay bonus for job security, and in fact of the many employees who found other employment before the end date (and didn’t have the wealth of PTO built up that I did), not a single one expressed regret over not getting the stay bonus.

    Which is a really REALLY long way of saying that if you’re not contractually obligated to stay to the bitter end, definitely start looking ASAP and if you happen to still be unemployed when the end comes, at least the stay bonus will help tide you over and supplement unemployment, but if you’re fortunate enough to find a job first, I don’t think you’ll mind forfeiting the bonus.

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