coworker is never in the office, job postings for “energetic” candidates, and more

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

1. My coworker is never in the office and people ask me about her

I started working at a new company on a small team of close-knit colleagues a few months ago. Everyone has known each other and worked with each other for over a decade (me being the only exception). None of my colleagues seem to have a strict schedule. They show up when they can, and they leave when they choose, within the ballpark of an eight-hour workday. This presents issues for me. I show up when the office opens and leave when it closes, and do not deviate unless traffic is unusually awful or I have an appointment and have cleared it with them ahead of time.

The coworker who I am working with directly, and who knows everyone and everything relating to my job, generally shows up anywhere between an hour to three hours of when the office opens. She thens take lunch for as long as she feels like, and sometimes leaves for an appointment in the afternoon or for personal reasons.

Oftentimes, due to this, I am alone in the office. And being the new person, I do not know all the ropes. When a customer asks when this coworker will be back, I have to tell them that I do not know when she will be back, but “I can’t imagine it will be too long.” When they ask what time she will be in the next day, I tell them that she is usually in by two hours after the office opens.

If it is an issue I can even begin to help the customer with, I will. But this puts me in an awkward situation when people keep repeatedly showing up looking for this one specific coworker, and I feel as if everyone’s time is being wasted. This coworker rarely responds to emails in a timely manner, either, so telling the customers to email her is relatively fruitless.

Usually I would bring this up to my boss, but considering how good of friends everyone is, I do not know how well that would go over, and I am up for review in a few months. Should I suck it up and continue with what I’ve been doing? Or is there something I can do to try to break this coworkers habit?

You don’t really have standing to try to change her schedule habits. She’s apparently allowed to be this flexible with her schedule (which isn’t unusual for exempt employees in some types of roles).

The thing you need is clarification on what she’d like you to tell customers who are looking for her, so just ask her that. Say this: “When you’re not in the office and a customer is asking when you’ll be back and I’m not sure of your schedule, what’s the best thing for me to tell them?”

2. When job postings are looking for “energetic” candidates

I have seen several job listings that use the word “energetic” to describe the person they’re looking for. Many of the jobs are basically desk jobs so I’m wary — do they mean “young” (I’m not young) or do they mean “prepared to be overworked” or something else?

Most commonly they mean that they’re looking for someone who will take initiative and act with a reasonable sense of urgency. If you’ve ever had a coworker who was sluggish and had to be given explicit directions before doing more than the bare minimum, they’re talking about the opposite of that person.

It’s pretty rare for job ads to signal things like “prepare to be overworked.” If that’s what they meant, they might write something like “able to juggle a high volume of work,” but they wouldn’t typically be as subtle as using “energetic” to signal that. (And really, even “able to juggle a high volume of work” doesn’t necessarily indicate that there’s a problem without overwork. It could, but it’s not conclusive.)

Job seekers have a tendency to think that employers are communicating in code, but employers hardly ever are.

3. Can I go to my wife’s work function even though they said spouses aren’t invited?

So my wife has a work function three hours away that will involve drinking, between 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. It’s supposed to be a manager celebration at an arcade. Since it’s so far and casual, she assumed spouses were invited. When she asked her boss, he said spouses are not. Now we’re both pissed because, as it is, my spouse works close to 60 hours every week and I never see her. This seems like the one time the company could extend an olive branch to neglected spouses and balance work and life a tiny bit, but no. Can she bring me anyway? I don’t want her to get in trouble, but can she even? She is being forced to go but is at least getting paid to do so.

No, she absolutely cannot bring you if she already asked and was told that spouses aren’t invited. It would come across as weirdly aggressive or rude to bring you after she’s been told that.

It’s pretty normal for companies to have daytime functions like this (for morale / celebration / team-building purposes) that spouses aren’t invited to.

4. Overly personal sales pitches

I am a marketing manager with my name and title in a variety of places across the internet, and as a result I get a lot of vendors contacting me to try and sell various services. Harmless enough and easy to ignore, but there’s one vendor who I feel really put off by.

Keep in mind, I have never spoken to anyone at this firm or expressed any interest in their services. I received a sales pitch email that started with the following: “I noticed you went to DePaul and you currently live in Chicago. Are you from Chicago and more importantly are you a White Sox or Cubs fan? My family is from Woodstock, IL and I grew up a die hard Cubs fan; this is our year (knock on wood).”

Weird, right? I assume this person looked up my LinkedIn, which is public, but I still felt weirded out. This guy then started calling my office repeatedly, though I never responded to any of his attempts. When I finally answered and explained we were not in need of his services, he then emailed me again trying to probe for questions about our current service provider and agreement, which I ignored.

Fast forward a few months, and I just received another sales pitch email from someone else at the same company which started with “I saw you volunteer at Make-A-Wish. Thank you! My little cousin had his wish granted years ago—to go to a Pacers game and meet the team.” And then included a family photo of her cousin. Again, this info is on my LinkedIn but I started to feel super creeped out.

I’m guessing it’s not worth it to reply back and say anything to these people, but this sales approach makes me super uncomfortable and I imagine they’re doing this to countless others. What are your thoughts on companies who operate this way and would you recommend I say anything in response?

Ick, yeah, it seems like this is their thing, since two people from the same company have now done it. I don’t think it’s creepy exactly, if all of that is available on your LinkedIn (although it would be creepier if they’d had to do more in-depth research to assemble the info), but it’s definitely overly familiar and inappropriate for that reason.

You’re right that it’s unlikely to be worth saying anything, but just for the principle of it, I’d be tempted to reply and let them know that the fake familiarity is off-putting.

5. Raising money for charity when there’s a power dynamic

I have a question about seeking charitable contributions at the office. I’m an attorney at a large company, and my department has about a dozen other lawyers and a large number of paralegals and assistants who work with the lawyers. I do not directly manage the paralegals and assistants, but I theoretically outrank them when we work together, and I am asked to provide feedback to their managers prior to their annual reviews.

My company is the principal sponsor of a marathon held in our city. Company employees are able to run this race, but are required to raise a certain amount of money for charitable organizations in order to run. I recently joined this company, and will be running this race for the first time. In order to meet my fundraising goal, I have been soliciting my friends and family, but will also just shoot around an email at work in case anyone would like to donate. I feel comfortable reaching out to the other attorneys in my group, but I do have a bit of discomfort in soliciting donations from the paralegals and assistants. First, I assume I make more money than they do, and it seems somewhat inappropriate to seek donations from people who earn far less than I do. Second, while they are not directly subordinate to me, there is certainly a power differential and I worry that people will feel obligated to donate. On the other hand, I’m far behind on my fundraising and my company matches charitable donations from employees, so even a small donation from these individuals could get me much closer to my goal. Should I feel not too guilty in sending an email out to everyone in my group seeking donations, as long as it makes clear that it’s completely voluntary and I don’t follow up again if people don’t donate?

Yeah, I don’t think you should solicit donations from people who make less than you do and/or who you have professional authority over. No matter what disclaimer you include about it being purely voluntary, there’s just too much risk of people thinking that you’ll notice if they do or don’t donate (and that’s especially true since you’re new and they don’t know you well yet and so don’t have the context cues from the relationship that they might otherwise have).

{ 458 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, it sounds like you’re really frustrated with your spouse’s work schedule/demands. The frustration over not being able to attend a daytime event that includes drinking seems really disproportionate to being told that the event is not open to spouses. It’s very common to have these kinds of events and to not include spouses/SOs (the assumption being that spouses often have jobs that aren’t going to let them leave for a 4-hour party in the middle of the work day), and so I wonder if it might help to dig a little deeper into why this triggered your feelings of frustration and indignation. Basically, I think there’s a bigger dynamic at play, and this is just another straw on the camel’s back.

    1. Jeanne*

      I’m hoping that whatever drinking happens is minimal if this is a non-optional work event. It sort of sounds like that would be your excuse for showing up uninvited “so she doesn’t drive home drunk.” 60 hr weeks are fine for some people, not for others. Stay at your work that day and plan time together another day.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I thought the problem was also going to be the driving bit. But maybe the company is renting a party bus.

    2. Willis*

      Not that this changes the answer, but the OP doesn’t say the event is during the week. I could see thinking a weekend event at an arcade would be open to spouses/SOs, like company picnics or similar events often are. And it does stink to have a 10-hour work event (6 hours of travel and a 4-hour party) over the weekend after a 60-hour work week. BUT, it would still be super inappropriate and weird to tag along just because the two of you are annoyed by it.

      1. Uzumaki Naruto*

        Yeah, I was wondering that. If it’s on a weekend it helps explain the LW’s annoyance a lot more — although I agree it would be a terrible idea to tag along anyway!

        1. Anonymoose*

          Yup. I already hate my own morale boosters – why would I want to attend someone elses?! Bleck.

    3. The spouse*

      What I’m truly annoyed by is the fact that my wife has to drive 3 hours to go to a forced party with alcohol being served when she has gotten into legal trouble over driving impaired in the past. So excuse me if I seemed triggered by anything other than the obvious reason that if they’re not paying for transport or a hotel (and we don’t have the funds for that either), no one should be drinking anything and driving back anywhere. Which is why we assumed that a plus one of any kind was allowed. Now, obviously she will be showing some self restraint if she does decide to drink anything but she also doesn’t drive long distances which means either she’ll need to buck up and drive it herself or tag along with someone else who may not be as responsible. Understand, lots of things are going on here and if anyone here has a spouse who works 60+ hours a week, you can understand our other frustration and why work/life balance is difficult and important to us. Spouses don’t get to choose the others work and sadly, sometimes, even you don’t get to choose the line of work you end up in.

      1. Myrin*

        Well, this comment highlights very different things than what your original letter did – in the OP, there’s one sentence about the drinking and the timing with the rest being about how upset you are about spouses not being able to attend, and there’s no mention at all about your wife’s employer not providing transportation or shelter – so you can’t really blame Princess CBH for gleaning from it what she did (I got the very same feeling from just reading your letter, btw, and I reckon many others did, as well). With this additional information, I can imagine reactions being a bit different, although the original answer of “don’t attend anyway” still stands.

      2. "Computer Science"*

        There’s obviously some extra context that we aren’t privy to from your letter alone. I feel as though you’re coming off a bit combatative towards people who are responding to the limited information you provided.

        You’ve raised some very valid concerns that need to be addressed, but your wife and her coworkers need to be the folks to raise these objections. Alison has some great responses for how to professionally push back, so please refer your wife that way.

        1. The spouse*

          Then why promote it? Her company made sure to tell everyone to bring ID’s and all of her coworkers are talking about how wasted they’re going to get… peer pressure doesn’t stop existing in the workforce. And in her line of work alcoholism is prevalent. Don’t get me wrong, I understand what you are saying but anyone can have a bit too much to drink and not realize it. Which is why I am always the DD. A DUI is expensive.

          1. Anonymous*

            A DUI is not only expensive, it’s morally repugnant. If she plans to drive herself home, there is no reason whatsoever for her to drink

            That said, the company has a responsibility not to leave its employees three hours away with no means to get home. That should be the main area of pushback. At a minimum they should be providing a bus to and from the event.

              1. The spouse*

                Seriously? Chill with the morally repugnant line. A DUI could literally happen to anyone. It’s quite easy to blow over the limit.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  That’s really not true. It doesn’t happen to people who don’t drink before they drive. Seeing a DUI as a moral issue is a pretty common position, given that it can kill people.

                  You’re getting adversarial with commenters here. Please don’t do that. These are people who are trying to help you.

                2. Myrin*

                  I agree with Alison. I don’t drink, so a DUI could literally not happen to me unless someone slipped me something alcoholic without my realising it, which I hope is not a scenario that can realistically happen at your wife’s company.

                3. Zombii*

                  Well… that reply gives me basically all the context you left out of your letter re: why the concern about your wife drinking if she knew she would have to drive herself home.

                  Good luck, and I hope everything works out okay. (Sincerely, no sarcasm: good luck.)

                4. Mirax*

                  Given that you mentioned in a thread below that you don’t drink, I’m wondering if you think it’s easy to blow over the limit because that’s how your wife justified her own DUI to you.

                5. Sas*

                  I am not defending if adversarial was a part of this. However, it is somewhat true. And, your comment about “It doesn’t happen to people who don’t drink before they drive.” Define that Allison. ALso, it can happen to not drinking people. Some people have other issues/ really poorly trained people that stop them and assume that they have. The way that things happen in this country on that regard is not as simple as you would like to think. Before you jump on the back of saying that it only happens to those that deserve it, I would ask you to consider what deserve it means. This is not to disagree or also be adversarial. But, it DOES NOT take much. Before you say, well, the people that didn’t drink won’t get the ticket (after they have spent a fortune defending themselves from people who had no business accusing someone or making something up.)

                6. Recruit-o-Rama*

                  Nesting won’t allow me to post under the last comment, but DUIs don’t “just happen” it doesn’t matter is you are “accused” wrongly or not, if you drink alcohol and then drive a car and get caught blowing over the legal limit, you deserve whatever punishment the state throws at you. Drunk driving kills a lot of innocent people and it is selfish and morally reprehensible. That’s not offensive, it’s true.

                7. Natalie*

                  @sas, it’s extremely clear that the letter writer is talking about someone driving after drinking, rather than the rare/nonexistent case of someone with diabetes or whatever failing a Breathalyzer and somehow not being able to request a blood test.

                8. Myrin*

                  @Sas, I’m not 1oo% sure I’m following. The only situations I can think of where someone would be accused of DUI although they didn’t actually drink – which excludes my example from above about someone slipping you alcohol without your noticing – are:

                  1. People with medical problems or who take medication which can fool detectors.
                  2. The cop who stops you wants to frame you for something you didn’t do.

                  For 1, I believe it’s only breath tests which can have this happen and a blood sample would clear it up. And even if that’s not true – I fully admit it’s more hearsay than anything substantial for me -, if you have such an issue you can probably prove it.

                  As for 2, which it seems to me you’re alluding to, well, I’m not doubting that this can happen but I really don’t think it’s common enough that it wouldn’t allow Alison to still say that a DUI doesn’t happen to people who don’t drink.

                  I think we can safely say that, all things going normally, you will not be arrested for drunk driving if you haven’t drunk anything beforehand.

                  All that aside, Alison was probably reacting to this line by the OP: “It’s quite easy to blow over the limit.”, which means drinking has happened but there was too much of it and now you’re over the legal limit. And to that the only answer really is to not drink at all then, because then you don’t run the risk of accidentally drinking too much.

                9. sstabeler*

                  To be honest, considering my mother’s been hit twice, IIRC, by sober drivers that just weren’t paying attention, I have limited sympathy for drunk drivers.
                  1) it’s not- as a rule- really safe to drive if you’ve been drinking alcohol no matter how much
                  2) depending on when and where the event is, is it possible for you to drive her to the event, go and do something in the area, and then pick her up? the problem is specifically you attending the work event ( though one caveat- if the event is somewhere like a paintball field, then if they haven’t booked the whole place, don’t turn up as an ordinary member of the public, even if you do like paintball. It’s a transparent attempt to insert yourself into the event.)

                  Also, while I’m trying to avoid causing a debate- since Alison doesn’t usually like the more political debates in the comments- it could be argued the moral issue is with not taking steps to avoid drinking and driving, since it is almost always possible to make some form of arrangement so that nobody has to drive while drunk ( for example, designated drivers)

                10. Anon for this*

                  A DUI will not happen to me because I do not drink. Or to most people I know, who know when to stop before driving. It’s quite easy to not blow over the limit.

                11. Jesmlet*

                  It’s not actually that easy to blow over the limit if you don’t want to. With that said, maybe morally repugnant is a bit far. The first time it happens I would call it seriously bad judgment but after that we’re crossing over the morally repugnant line… but if you’re really determined not to drink and drive, it’s pretty simple. You either don’t drink, or you pick a drink with a fixed serving (such as 12 ounces of beer), nurse it and don’t drive until several hours after you’ve finished. I sympathize with the peer pressure bit but this isn’t high school where you’re too young to be counted on to exercise good judgment. I’m curious if your spouse is as concerned as you are, and if not, maybe that’s another source of your frustration.

                12. Artemesia*

                  a DUI is a potential killer; it is morally repugnant and it is not that easy to ‘blow across the line’ if you don’t drink or have only one drink if you are going to drive. A DUI is not an inconvenience to you — it is potentially ruining someone else’s life — like the orphaned kid whose parents the drunk kills.

                13. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  It’s absolutely morally repugnant, and a DUI does not simply “happen to anyone.”

                  Regardless of peer pressure, if this is a real problem for her, she has to be a grownup and say no. I’m in a profession where drinking (especially heavy drinking) is practically a requirement, and I don’t drink if I know I have to drive myself home from an event. I know it’s not fun and can make a person feel like the odd one out (especially once everyone gets super drunk and annoying), but your wife still has some agency in this situation.

                14. AD*

                  I lost sympathy (and interest) in the OP when he said DUIs “just happen”. As others have statesd, this is a lie and sounds like an attempt to minimize the real dangers of driving while intoxicated.

                15. Anonymoose*

                  As a diabetic, I also wake up in the morning and a smell totally hammered. And I don’t drink….so there are TONS of ways to get a DUI, even legal medication. I would ask everyone to cool it down, with a very weird anecdote:

                  I lived in Vegas for a whopping 8 months (it was enough to never visit again, trust). I was really surprised when a colleague got a DUI until her manager laughed (he was male, not sure if this matters??) and said that getting a DUI while working in Vegas was a ‘rite of passage’. So, cultural too, folks.

                  Note: I personally find DUIs to completely jump over the line of common courtesy and personal responsibility. I am sympathetic, however, because I do know that it can be difficult to realize whether one drink or two impairs you.

                16. Recruit-o-Rama*

                  Anonymoose, it would be terrible if someone were mistakenly accused of being drunk because of a medical condition, but that’s not what we’ re talking about here. Knowingly driving under the influence is selfish and irresponsible and frequently deadly to totally innocent people and is in no way a little mistake that can “just happen” to anyone.

                  Secondly, my adult step kids live in Las Vegas and it is NOT a rite of passage to get a DUI while living there and I fail to see why the story is even relevant. Just because some people think it’s no big deal doesn’t make it culturally ok, if that’s what you were getting at. It’s never ok, ever, people die. I don’t think people need to cool it down.

                17. Visualized Tacos*

                  Easy way to fake your way through a boozy party with pushy people if you really just can’t say “Nope, I’m not drinking”: get a glass of soda water with a lime in it from the bartender. People will assume it’s a vodka tonic or a gin and tonic or some other drink with clear alcohol. You can also ask for soda water or lemon-lime soda with a bit of grenadine in it – people will assume it’s a pink lady.

                  If people offer you shots, tell them you already have drink and don’t want to mix. If anyone offers you a drink, tell them you’re sticking with what you have. If you know they’re the pushy type, you can tell the bartender ahead of time and she’ll keep mixing mocktails for you whenever your coworkers buy a round.

                  If your wife can’t avoid drinking and driving, that’s another issue altogether. Have her check out AA.

            1. Anon for this*

              +1, particularly to the second paragraph. Or OP’s SO should be able to opt out without any trouble.

          2. Zombii*

            Is this party going to be at Dave & Busters (or a Dave & Busters-style location)? Is it 3 hours away because that’s where the closest boozey arcade is or is the location legitimately closer for most people/some people/the CEO/whatever? This all seems kind of weird, which is not to say that I doubt a word of what you’ve said.

            If I were an employee in this situation, I would be tempted to skip it, just based on the 6 hours round-trip travel (wtfsrsly) due to no accommodations (lodging, rides home, etc) provided by the company to counterbalance the enabling—do they have a plan for people getting home safe? If not, that’s incredibly concerning, especially with a drink-y culture.

            (To clarify my position: Drinks with coworkers after work–okay. Coworkers saying “I’ma get sooo wasted at this company function where we can’t bring a designated driver unless they also work for the company and then we all have to get ourselves home,”–less okay.)

            1. always in email jail*

              Good point with the “skip it” comment. I, too, would be tempted. If she really can’t handle going and not drinking, is there a reason she can’t use leave that day?

            2. sstabeler*

              for that matter, if it’s a mandatory work function- and I’m not a lawyer, so do consult with one before taking legal action- and it is in fact impossible to bring a designated driver along, I SUSPECT the company MIGHT be liable for any damage done by anybody driving home drunk. ( specifically, because they set it up so employees more-or-less have little choice.)

            3. Rachael*

              I would skip it too, it my work had a function that far away. I live in Seattle and that would be the same as my company saying “We are going to Portland! (Oregon)”. Everyone here would think that is outrageous. And I can guarantee that few would attend.

              1. SignalLost*

                I’ve been wondering if the 3 hr one way is her normal commute plus distance to an event. Like, I live in West Seattle, worked at one time in Belltown, and we had a company event at a place in North Seattle (near Northgate I think, though it’s been 12 years since). Obviously, my commute was further than that of the people who live closer to work or north of work. But I can’t make sense of a company that would plan an event 3 hrs from the office, then encourage drinking, then not plan on shelter or transportation for that 3 hrs back, because that wastes a LOT of the work day, to say nothing of the legal/moral issues. I guess I wonder, to continue with the NW geography, if OP lives in Shelton, wife works in Seattle, event is in Bellevue. With traffic, that’s AT LEAST a 3 hr drive one way, but it also may explain why the company isn’t thinking about providing transport or shelter – OP’s wife is the statistical outlier when most of the company’s employees live closer. (Which, drinking and driving should never be encouraged, but other people may regularly commute by bus or be able to use preplanned carpools, etc.)

                1. Rachael*

                  True. That would be a three hour commute. Right now I live in West Seattle, too (hello neighbor!) and work in Renton. The traffic around here is so bad that a trip up North is always hellish.

                  When I worked downtown my job had a yearly company picnick up North at one of the golf courses and hardly anyone showed up. Being caught in traffic just doesn’t appeal to people, I guess….lol

            4. Anonymoose*

              I agree. Who plans an event three hours away and doesn’t at the very least try to organize hotel space for employees locally? In fact, I don’t think I would ever drive 3 hours for a work party unless there was a hotel because who wants to drive 3 hours home after A WORK PARTY? Ew, no thanks.

          3. Lablizard*

            Would your wife feel comfortable pitching the idea of the company renting a bus that picks up/drops off at office? It sounds like she might not be the only one at risk of driving after drinking and unable to bring a DD, so it would be best for everyone if the company provided transport

            1. hayling*

              I think that’s a great idea. 3 hours is a long way to drive, regardless of the alcohol factor.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Seriously – even if we weren’t drinking, I’d be pretty pissed at being expected to drive 3 hours each way for a freaking PARTY. 3 hours of driving is anywhere from 150-200 miles (depending on speed limits and the individual driver). Say your car gets 25 mpg, which is pretty decent and most cars will get at least that, that’s 6-8 gallons of gas at, let’s say $2.25 (based on a nationwide gas prices map), you’re talking about $30ish in just the damn fuel costs for that party! Plus if you live in an area that has tolls of any kind (road or bridge), add that on. Are they reimbursing transportation costs at all?

                Seriously, spouse-exclusion aside, this is really terrible planning and deeply inconsiderate on the company’s part.

                1. Emac*

                  I feel like I saw the OP say somewhere that they weren’t reimbursing mileage, which I agree sucks. And I wonder, depending on the state, if that’s something they are actually required to reimburse? For example, from what I’ve read here, it seems like the employer would be required to reimburse for this in CA, since it’s a required business expense?

                2. Anonymoose*

                  They’re not even reimbursing mileage?! What is this company, so that I never work for them. They sound awful.

          4. Temperance*

            Not just “expensive”. A habitual drunk loser killed my aunt and her best friend. It’s dangerous and unethical.

            Other people drinking doesn’t mean you have to.

            1. Camellia*

              I too know people who have been killed by drunk drivers. If someone proposed a change in the law to allow the person getting caught while DUI be charged with attempted murder, I would vote for that!

            2. tigerStripes*

              I was trying to say something about DUI’s, but Temperance, you said it much better than I could.

            3. Visualized Tacos*

              This. My cousin hit by a drunk driver. She was in the hospital for weeks. Her best friend died.

              Drinking is a choice. Driving while drinking is a choice. The end.

          5. Alton*

            I agree it’s pretty stupid to have a mandatory work event three hours away where people will be drinking without providing transportation. That could lead to liability issues, and it’s just not fun for the attendees.

            But DUIs don’t just “happen” to people. It’s easy to find yourself in a position where you have to get yourself home safely after drinking, but it’s within most people’s ability to either not drink or make alternative arrangements to get home.

            I think if you’re concerned about your wife being able to exercise that restraint, that may be a bigger, separate issue.

          6. Amtelope*

            Having “a bit too much to drink” and then driving isn’t, actually, something that happens to most people. If your wife can’t refrain from drinking at this event, or have one drink and then stop, regardless of what others are doing, that’s a serious problem. If you don’t trust that she can or will do this, I suggest arriving to pick her up and drive her home once the event is over. But understand, this isn’t a normal relationship with alcohol — most people do not have difficulty limiting themselves to drinking an amount that makes it safe for them to drive home.

          7. Case of the Mondays*

            If you feel that strongly, you could drive her to the event but not attend. You could go to a movie, explore a local mall, walk around a park, read at a coffee shop or library, whatever. Then when she is done, you can drive her home.

            1. eplawyer*

              This is the solution. Regardless of your personal feelings on the subject, the company said “no spouses.” that means no spouses. If you show up anyway, you will be causing trouble for her at her job. That will not be helpful. It is not your place to dictate her job’s policies.

              Whatever is going on between you and your wife regarding time spent together or anything else is between the two of you. Leave her employer out of it.

            2. Temperance*

              Maybe I’m just a curmudgeon, but I can entertain myself just about anywhere with access to a car and a book. There’s always new places to explore, thrift shops, parks, beaches if you’re lucky … and barring all that, there’s always a coffee shop and always a book.

                1. Temperance*

                  While I was in law school and on a break before classes, I tagged along on a business trip with Booth and spent 5 glorious days and nights exploring VA Beach. I ate cupcakes, sat in a pool, went to the movies, read, went thrift shopping, sat on the beach … it was heavenly. I’m weirdly okay being alone, though, and am great at keeping myself busy.

                2. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  Wow, Temperance, that sounds like a perfect 5 days.

                  Being able to be alone for *any* amount of time s heaven for me (but I’m an introvert with way more children than is reasonable to have, so alone time is rare and AWESOME when it happens).

                3. Kimberlee, Esq*

                  Yes! These times always seem too short to me. Literally give me the Internet and maybe some good people watching and I could chill in the same place all day long.

                4. chomps*

                  “Me too! I love open time with no required activities!”

                  I do too, but I prefer to spend that time at home. :-) So I can see why it might be annoying to the OP.

              1. Jadelyn*

                I’m the same way. My partner has a recurring appointment that makes him super nervous and he doesn’t like to go alone, so I go with him and just chill in the car with my tablet and/or phone for an hour and a half, then we drive home together. I could move myself to a cafe and hang out there, but tbh I’m fine sitting in the car so I just do that.

              2. Honeybee*

                Me too. Truth be told, that’s what I was thinking when I read this – I would drive with my spouse and blissfully read a book for 3 hours until they were ready to come home.

            3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

              Was going to post this. You don’t need to tag along to be there and assist if she’s in over her head.

            4. CeeCee*

              I agree with this. I’ve done things like this on occasions when friends or family need back and forth transportation to all sorts of things. I usually drop them off and stay in the car with a book, or plan something local that I can stop whenever and tell them to call me when they’re ready to go.

              It’s a simple solution without putting your wife in an awkward position with her employer.

            5. BeautifulVoid*

              As eplawyer said, this is the solution. Or at least the easiest one for right now while you all sort out various other issues.

            6. tigerStripes*

              I agree with Case of the Mondays – it might be kind of fun to explore the area too, and this way you can drive her home.

          8. NotAnotherManager!*

            Peer pressure? We are talking about adults, right? The problem with peer pressure and kids/teenagers is that they have not yet fully developed the part of their brain that inhibits risky behavior. Grown-ups should be able to resist the but-everybody’s-doing-it! pressure.

            I do believe that the organization has not thought this through and should be, at minimum, providing DDs if not a place to stay. They are exposing themselves to risk, if this is a mandatory event. But your spouse has to take some responsibility for knowing her limit and, in the absence of that, faking it with a mocktail for the evening. If your spouse is unable to curb her drinking or fake it for the evening and there is truly no way to decline attending, then you guys need to decide whether you are going to take the financial hit on you DDing having a nice meal during their party or springing for a hotel room. I’d imagine the cost of a DUI, plus the license points, plus the insurance increase, plus, you know, actually endangering other people, is a lot higher.

            And, if your concern with a DUI is how expensive for you it is and not how dangerous it is for others, then, wow.

          9. Sunflower*

            Hmm are you sure it’s the company that is pressuring them to drink or is it just her coworkers? At my company, it’s always the same few coworkers who drink way too much at company functions and it’s always them who is pressuring people to drink more. It’s not a company wide issue but these people also happen to sit right next to me at work so I always hear them talking about it.

            Also I’m not sure telling everyone to bring their ID’s is promoting them to get drunk. I’ve been to a few places where they will not serve you/let you into the bar without an ID even if you are clearly over the age of 21. I went to Penn State and I knew lots of people who’s parents were not allowed into bars because they didn’t have their ID’s with them. It was a liability to the bar and they didn’t care if you were 80- you weren’t getting in without one.

            1. Buffy*

              I still live in State College – it’s the same! People who visit me are astounded when they get ID’ed at every bar, even 30-something’s. (its even policy at restaurants if someone orders a drink, all the adults need to be ID’d)

              1. Honeybee*

                I lived in State College for a year and definitely didn’t get ID’d at all the bars. Most of them did card, especially on weekend nights. But particularly if we were popping in for after-work drinks…they often did not.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          The last celebration we had at work that “served alcohol” involved a modest glass of champagne per person, more or less (some didn’t drink any so a few had two). And there was food. It wasn’t a cocktail bash.

          If this is during work hours, then it’s not actually adding to the 60+ hours a week and that particular complaint is not valid. If work-life balance is not working out the way you want, in general, then maybe the entire career situation needs to be reevaluated, apart from this particular event.

      3. hbc*

        You really need to separate out your issues here.

        If this is a weekday event from 11-3, then this has nothing to do with her work/life balance. She’s having a regular workday doing something different. She’s not being taken away from you any more than usual. So cut that whole part of your argument aside.

        If your wife doesn’t drive long distances for a reason other than “ehh, I don’t really like long drives”, then that’s something she can bring up at work. Whether that solution is a carpool, convincing the company to rent a bus, or getting a medical out, I don’t know.

        If the concern is boozy driving, she can make that argument at work as well. Maybe they’re going to shut down alcohol at a certain point, maybe they’ll have designated drivers, maybe someone will realize that offering hotel rooms is a good idea (which puts you back at work/life balance, but still.)

        Right now, you’re using “I need to be there” as your solution to everything, but the only thing it might solve is your wife having a 60 hour a week job, because her taking you along would be seriously, seriously problematic.

        1. BRR*

          Yeah I’d pursue other options than the spouse needs to be there. I’ve noticed in my work life how people tend to fixate on one solution but need to take a step back and identify what the problem is again.

        2. Lora*


          -Working long long hours is part of this job, apparently. Married or not, we all have things (including watching Netflix with the cats) that we would rather be doing than work, and if we don’t like it, there’s other jobs in the world. While my mother was undergoing cancer treatment and I was still wrangling some personal issues, I had a job close to home that didn’t pay as well and it wasn’t an awesome job I loved, it was just a thing people paid me to do – but it gave me loads of flexibility. Mom got better, the personal crud was wrangled, I got a better job which is more demanding and has a 1.5 hour commute, but I love the work. Been there. It’s a choice, not an inevitability.

          -One can also drink juice/soda/water. Have worked many many MANY places that were very booze-oriented, with colleagues who had alcohol/substance problems in the past – they drank a lot of Sprite and coffee with those of us who prefer whiskey. Perhaps your wife can suggest a bus/shuttle or organize a designated driver to the bosses? I’ve worked plenty of places that went “oh yeah, good idea” when someone mentioned “perhaps we should get an Uber pool?” And it was fine. It was more of a “yeah good point” thing. Even folks who drink heavily (not judging, you will pry my Barolo collection out of my cold dead hands) don’t want to drive 3 hours afterwards. Heck, I don’t want to drive three hours cold sober…

          What you don’t get to do is crash the party. If I didn’t know for a fact that my ex has not remarried, I’d wonder if you were him – he was quite put out whenever I had a work function to attend that was employees-only. Don’t ask me why, I never got a real reason, but the one time I took him to the company holiday party he acted like a jerk, so I never took him again. Bringing people who are uninvited to a work thing is Not Done, and it will cause your wife’s colleagues to question her judgment and think, “wow, I hope this weirdness in her personal life doesn’t spill over into work…any more than it has already…”

          1. Joseph*

            One can also drink juice/soda/water. Have worked many many MANY places that were very booze-oriented, with colleagues who had alcohol/substance problems in the past – they drank a lot of Sprite and coffee with those of us who prefer whiskey.
            This is actually a really good practical suggestion to handle it. I’ve found the best way to control your alcohol intake is to keep a (non-alcoholic) drink in your hand at all times. Sprite, ginger ale, Coca-Cola, whatever – this keeps you from standing out like a sore thumb while also preventing people from politely offering you a drink.
            If it’s a one-time thing as this party appears to be, you can go with “I’m not drinking tonight” (implying that you would drink on a different day) or make an excuse about being under the weather and taking some OTC medication or some other invented justification that nobody could reasonably argue with*.

            1. Newby*

              If you don’t want to explain why you are not drinking, just ask the bartender to make it look like a mixed drink. They do it all the time.

              1. Anonish*

                Yup, my coworker did this at our holiday party when she didn’t want to tell anyone that she was pregnant yet. A gin and tonic looks exactly like a plain tonic water with lime.

              2. Marillenbaum*

                Seriously. Back when I didn’t drink for religious reasons, I had a frat-bro friend who taught me about how to get drinks that looked alcoholic but weren’t, so no one would pressure me unduly.

              3. CeeCee*

                I’m just not a big drinker, not for any moral or religious reasons, and this is what I do to avoid the pressure of everyone trying to get me to drink with them. Cranberry and Club soda is my go too. And it’s out of the norm of what I normally drink, so it feels like a treat even without alcohol in it.

                1. Natalie*

                  @ Artemesia, fellow tonic lover! I’ve just discovered how much I like it on its own or with a little lime or bitters doing Dry January, and now my refrigerator is full of fancy tonic water.

                2. Newby*

                  Another strategy I found is to get a beer and only take a few sips. It basically became my prop to avoid questions about why I wasn’t drinking. It works well at events that only have wine and beer or water.

                3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Yup, this is what I do—it gets people to back off of the peer pressure, and it doesn’t look like I’m conspicuously “not drinking.”

                4. Parenthetically*

                  Tonic and lime or tonic and grapefruit are so delicious! I enjoy a drink or two, but it’s really easy to just have a freaking ginger ale with a lime in it to throw off the peer pressurers.

              4. Noah*

                Yes, stick a lime on a Sprite and no one will know it isn’t a gin and tonic unless they taste it. Most bartenders will even give it to you for free. This is my tactic when out with friends that drink way more than I do.

        3. designbot*

          Agreed, and I might add that if “I need to be there” is your solution to everything, you risk coming off as overly controlling. I get that you have legitimate reasons why you’re concerned, but you’re wife’s an adult and can navigate those without your presence.

      4. Colette*

        There are 168 hours in a week. If we subtract 10 hours a day for sleeping/showering/ travel and 60 hours for working, that still leaves 38 hours for you to spend together. If that’s not possible due to opposing schedules, you can decide together that one of you will change jobs, what you can’t do is decide to spend time together at her job.

        Don’t get me wrong, working 60+ hours a week is a lot, and I’d hate having to drive for hours for a mandatory work fun event – but those are her problems, not yours, and if she’s not ok with them, she can make changes.

        1. LBK*

          I agree – this is honing in on one particular event when it sounds like the real issue is her schedule as a whole. If neither of you are happy about how much time you’re spending apart due to work, getting 4 hours together at an office party isn’t the fix. You need something more long-term.

      5. Temperance*

        My husband works long hours. I work long hours. We deal.

        If your wife had a habit of driving drunk, she needs to stay sober at this event. Still not a reason for you to crash the event.

        1. Allypopx*

          Same. My SO and I schedule time for each other like we schedule everything else. We’d love more time, but we have commitments. Life is messy.

          But also agreed not driving drunk is the driver’s responsibility not the event thrower’s.

          1. Whats In A Name*

            Right? We live and die by our outlook calendars – even for movies and date nights. We make it work – sometimes he has work events I can go to, sometimes he doesn’t. Same for me. It’s not alwasys easy, but it’s part of the package.

            1. Temperance*

              We just keep each other in the loop and then occasionally have a weekend where we decide that we need to prioritize “us” time, and we clear our schedule. Admittedly easier since we are childless and both pretty flexible wrt work commitments.

              My husband doesn’t really come to any of my work events, with the exception of the occasional lunar new year party. It works for us, though.

      6. Jessesgirl72*

        Your wife’s ability to refrain from drinking and driving is solely her responsibility. No, these details don’t change it for me at all. In fact, it shows me that she’s not taking responsibility for her bad choice, and you also are blaming outside sources, and not her.

      7. Czhorat*

        If transportation home is an issue, there’s always the option of not drinking. At business functions I’ll grab a glass of club soda with a twist of lime, ginger-ale, or similar. It looks as if you’re drinking for appearances sake, but you don’t risk making a drunken idiot out of yourself or getting arrested en route home.

      8. paul*

        I’m going to have to disagree.

        There are *many* adults who can have *a* drink or two over a multi hour event and be fine to drive.

        She can still choose to abstain from alcohol.

        1. Koko*

          Yes, I’m a petite female and even I would be able to have 2 drinks over the course of 4 hours and blow well under the legal limit (BAC calculator suggests I would never at any point in the 4 hours be over the limit).

          I would tell myself I could have one drink when I arrived and another drink 2 hours in, and drink water/soda/whatever in between the drinks and after I finished the second one. For my biochemistry that’s enough to get some of the desirable social lubrication effects without getting drunk.

          I have family members with alcohol issues and I know for some of them, once they’ve had the first drink they can’t stop themselves. One of them once made a remark during dinner about my half-empty wine glass that I’d been sipping throughout dinner, saying she’d never in her life consumed alcohol without rapidly drinking it and pouring more and it was in a way mind-boggling to her that I would be sitting there with wine in the glass that I wasn’t actively drinking. If your wife is one of these people then the only responsible option for her, like my relative, is to not drink despite what everyone else is doing.

      9. Bonky*

        Well, that adds a lot of context that the original letter would have benefitted from! I think Alison’s advice is still absolutely correct – and you’re coming across as weirdly aggressive, given that it’s clear from what you say that Princess Consuela Banana Hammock was absolutely correct in one dimension: your gripe here isn’t really about whether spouses are invited at all.

        People responding to your letter can only go on the information you provide. It’s pointless to get angry with them when they do exactly that.

      10. Liz2*

        You can’t be her babysitter. If she has an issue with alcohol and making good choices, she should get professional help and maintain treatment for such.

        You could also offer to be her driver and just go see a movie during the event time itself.

      11. thebluecastle*

        Hi. Given the additional context that you’ve provided I understand why you would be concerned. I’m still not understanding if this is a weekend event or during a business day (sorry if I missed that in one of your replies). Would it be possible for you to drive your wife, hang out in a coffee shop/mall/bookstore/elsewhere during the event and then pick her up afterwards? I know this would be a big inconvenience but it might be a possible workaround :/ I wish you both the best.

      12. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Ok, this is so helpful, OP—your letter sounded like your concerns were not about her drinking/driving, but rather, about not having time together.

        I agree with you that it’s totally unreasonable to make her travel so far to a quasi-mandatory event, and adding alcohol to the mix is another layer of awful. Option #1 would be to skip the event if possible, and to have your wife say that she can’t afford to stay overnight or the cost of a taxi/DD on return. If that wouldn’t work, I’d have her ask them if they’re making any plans to coordinate carpools or designated drivers. And if they say no, I would say, again, that she can’t attend without that accommodation. Option #3 would be to accompany her but then hang out somewhere other than the event while she attends, which is not ideal, but seems better than having her have to go alone.

        What they’re doing is inconsiderate and irresponsible, and I don’t blame you for being frustrated/upset.

      13. HR U of Me*

        If she has an issue with alcohol, she can try AA and you can try Al-Anon.

        Someone, including your wife, can pitch that a rented bus could be less expensive than paying all that mileage and someone can do a team-building exercise en route.

        If this is a state-wide meetup and you are on the far end of the commute for this gathering, I’m sorry. What is likely is your spouse has learned from the DUI and will make decisions that support her success and well-being, which will extend as a benefit to you.

    4. Sas*

      I didn’t see this in the letter really. I think the spouse was trying to say something about it being the whole day on a weekend?! “It’s very common to have these kinds of events and to not include spouses/SOs (the assumption being that spouses often have jobs that aren’t going to let them leave for a 4-hour party in the middle of the work day)” It wasn’t during the work day. And, I think your comment is rude. Not everyone needs to dig deeper for something that could bother a lot of people. The straw could be what things the writer indicate in the letter.

      1. Natalie*

        There’s literally nothing in the letter or subsequent comments indicating it’s on the weekend.

      2. hbc*

        I think you’re making a big assumption that it’s on a weekend. (Is it because you can’t imagine being upset that spouses aren’t included in a workday event?) OP lists the reasons they assumed spouses would be invited: distance and casualness.

        If you’re right and this is the straw, people *should* dig deeper before making a big stand about a straw. It never helps to make the flip out about the straw–it makes you look unreasonable to be complaining about such a little thing. You have to point to the giant pile of straw.

      3. always in email jail*

        Even if it IS a weekend- it’s paid work time. So either wife is an exempt employee, and is lucky to be getting paid for this, or wife is not an exempt employee and is getting overtime. OR it’s not on the weekend and is part of a normal workday so the work-life balance thing is irrelevant.

    5. HR U of Me*

      Agreed. OP#3 sounds like they need to look at the big picture. Is she successful at work? Are long days the norm for her level of profession in the industry? If that’s the case, you need to figure out what is triggering you, especially if your wife is a successfully professional and is paid for the inconvenience of long hours.

      Does OP have some bias that s/he should be “taken care of” – as that could be read as being childish or the relationship having some dysfunction with OP’s desire to insist, control, or interfere with outside relationships that would likely damage the spouse. OP sounds like a candidate for therapy as a positive step for themselves.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, please do not solicit contributions from the paralegals and assistants. It’s not ok to do, and a disclaimer can’t get you around the power inequality. It’s also possible that some of those folks are participating in the marathon, also, and they shouldn’t be made to feel like they have to contribute to your race as well as their own.

    I would refocus on what your goal for the fundraiser entails. Right now you’re looking at “fundraise as much money as possible to max out the company match.” Given that you’re new to this company (and maybe new to the area?), focus instead on being super supportive and enthusiastic and putting in a good effort at the race, itself. I worry that you’re thinking that your fundraising contribution will impress others at work by showing them you’re a team player, but hitting up your coworkers is not going to help you achieve that goal.

    1. neverjaunty*

      This. If you aren’t meeting your fundraising goal, write the marathon a check out of your own pocket. It’s not “somewhat inappropriate” to reach into the pockets of people who depend on your input for their job success, it’s completely inappropriate.

      Also, I promise you that you really don’t want to get on the bad side of all the paralegals and staff like this, whether or not you outrank them. Rank does not insure that a paralegal will go the extra mile for you. It doesn’t prompt an assistant to give you a heads up on important information that would keep you from annoying one of your bosses. If you get a reputation as one of those attorneys, your life at that firm is going to be a lot harder than it otherwise would.

        1. Newby*

          I agree. If the issue is meeting the fundraising goal, donate yourself. Never solicit donations from someone you supervise or give performance feedback for.

    2. New Bee*

      I read it as the OP has to fundraise an “entry fee” (e.g., each participant needs $1000 in sponsorship) to participate, not that she set her own monetary goal to impress. Since she mentions being far behind, I’m guessing the amount is too much for her to cover herself (and does the company match count towards the goal?). My cousin did something similar for a jumprope tournament, and if you didn’t raise the money, you couldn’t take part.

      1. New Bee*

        All that to say, if my interpretation is correct I can understand why she’s desperate for more sponsors, but asking the folks under her is still a no-go.

      2. Lucy Honeychurch*

        Yeah, I work for a charity that has marathon runners, and if they don’t raise $7,500 each, we’ll charge their credit card for the rest.

        1. The IT Manager*

          Holy cow! I assume pretty much only rich people participate because that’s a lot of money to fundraise and “we’ll charge their card” seems like a threat.

          I did something recently where the minimum was $200 and expected to cover much of it myself. I’m not a salesman and I just put it out there without any pressure or direct one-on-one donation requests.

          1. Anonymous*

            “We’ll charge their card” is not so much a threat as the only way we have to confirm that we’ll actually get that money–we’ve budgeted for it, and the company that organizes the marathon won’t have us back as a charity next year if we don’t raise a lot, so it’s really important to us to hit our goal.

            I don’t think we’ve charged more than $500 or so to the runner’s card in the last few years, so they’ve been doing pretty well!

            1. Crazy Dog Lady*

              I think this is completely fair. I ran a marathon with a charity a couple of years ago, knowing that if I didn’t raise enough money to cover my fee I would write a check myself. Those spots were competitive, so they have to make sure the organization benefits!

      3. Whats In A Name*

        I read it the same, but sometimes those minimums can be pretty high – like thousands of dollars! But since it’s company wide I am not a fan of soliciting at work period. Because others at the company will also be running and potentially asking co-workers as well. I just think they need to figure out a way to make it work outside of the office.

        1. Newby*

          In general, it seems like a bad idea to sign up for a charity marathon without knowing that you will be able to cover the minimum if fund raising doesn’t go well. Otherwise you risk putting friends and family in an awkward position if you need to get aggressive about fund raising.

      4. neverjaunty*

        If so, that actually makes it worse, because then she’s not just asking for donations; she signed up for something she can’t pay for and is wondering if people she outranks can make up the gap.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’ve seen that happen, often (I have a few friends who run the NYC Marathon, which requires volunteering/participating in a certain number of road races per year, or a pretty substantial “entry fee”). But I agree that it’s still not ok to ask folks with comparatively less power to donate for your race; you’ve got to find the money elsewhere or pay it out of pocket.

      6. lauraxe*

        For what it’s worth, I’m guessing that this person works at John Hancock in Boston. The expected fundraising minimum for those bibs is $5k – if you don’t meet it you can still run, but there’s no way you’ll ever get a bib again. There’s pretty significant pressure to meet the minimum. I could definitely see this person not being able to cover several thousand dollars by themselves, but I agree they should not solicit donations from subordinates. That’s what family and friends are for!

    3. John B Public*

      If I were an employee here and would have donated *anyway*, I’d be pretty irritated at finding out I could have had the company match my gift but I wasn’t told.

      OP I think you *should* let people know what you’re doing and that it’s company matched, I just think it has to be so soft-sold that you’re best off talking to a staffer you trust to handle this with tact to do the actual communication.

      1. John B Public*

        Basically here’s the differences:
        1. You: “Come with me to the pub and we’ll have drinks.”
        2. You: “Want to join me at the pub for drinks?”
        3. You: “I’m headed to the pub for drinks if anyone wants to join me.”
        4. Senior staffer: “OP is going to the pub, if anyone wanted to get a drink he’ll be there too.”

        You want 4 unless you can pull 3 off. The staffer needs to be someone able to tell you ‘no’ comfortably.

    4. HR U of Me*

      My partner was in this position – fundraising a decent amount for participation. He shared that he was participating with our faith community, which helped. Nowadays, using social media connections can help find people who support your cause without being overbearing.

  3. Jeanne*

    I would tell the sales person that these hard sell tactics with the over personalization are never going to work on you. It sounds really kind of creepy to me too. You’re not friends.

    1. Stan*

      The thing that got me was the pictures of the cousin’s family Make-a-Wish experience. Does her aunt/uncle/cousin know that she’s exploiting their experience for personal gain? I would be pissed if I found out my relative was sharing my kid’s picture with random strangers in hopes of making a sale!

    2. Whats In A Name*

      I agree it’s worth saying, if just for your peace of mind. I had an aggressive sales person calling, emailing and texting – TEXTING me. From a mattress store of all places. After the 3rd time asking them to stop contact they replied “but we like to build relationships with our customers” to which I replied “Well, you are definitely building a relationship but I don’t think it’s the kind you are likely trying to build. I will never purchase anything from your store.” I haven’t heard from them since. They probably didn’t care but at least it stopped the calls/emails/texts. Maybe just to slow their roll you need to do something similar.

      1. KBH*

        I have had to do the same thing and inevitably the salesperson attempts to explain that their actions (which I have just clarified as annoying/disruptive/etc.) are in my best interest. I can understand someone saying ‘that was not my intention’ but they go so far as to try to convince me that I’m wrong in being affected negatively by their actions.

        That’s when I call their supervisor. Almost without fail, the supervisor will provide the same explanation and try to convince me that keeping me abreast of their company’s products and services is actually something I need in spite of the fact that I am 100% positive that I do not.

        At this point, I lay it on the line and I do not mince words when explaining that our company has a set of values that govern our business practices and that extends to vendor selection. If a vendor exhibits behavior that clearly violates our core values (the one about effective communication, in this case), I have no option but to add that vendor to the list of companies that I cannot consider as an option.

        Most companies will heed that and stop calling. In cases where that doesn’t work, I explicitly request to have our company (not just my name or department, but the entire company) off of their calling list. They can’t say no and they can’t insist on speaking to someone else (although I have had them tell me differently).

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          I registered for one jiu jitsu tournament, and they put me on some list to text me about every tournament in Texas, forever. Not just once per tournament, either. Near-daily texts about “time is running out to register for Roll&Win in a city 500 miles from where you live!!!” It took multiple phone calls to get off the stupid list. I’m not sure what is supposed to be accomplished by making it hard to get off the list.

          1. Amy G. Golly*

            See, and salespeople/retail workers look at me like I’m a weirdo when I tell that no, I would not like to save 10% on this or future purchases if it means giving them my phone number and allowing them to text me! I like my peaceful, silent phone that only makes noise when someone I know is trying to get in touch with me. (Well…usually!)

            My hard-line for pushy vendors is: 1. I do not accept unsolicited sales calls. Ever. Period. 2. You may feel free to send me an email and I will reply to your email if and when I am interested in your product/service. Emailing/calling repeatedly to ask whether I’ve received your emails and when you can expect a response will get your address blocked. (That last bit I do quietly without informing them.)

      2. Jadelyn*

        At my last retail job before moving into office jobs, the company had just decided that associates needed to “build a catalog” of customers to stay in touch with. We were given little notebooks and told to get names and contact info for our customers, then use that to keep in touch with them regularly to “build the relationship”. So this may well have been a corporate initiative that the salesperson was told “do it or else”.

    3. Josie Prescott*

      If I took a sales call, and the call was pleasant, it would be OK to bring up a shared interest from linked in. I’m thinking someone saying, “Before I let you go, I noticed on your linkedin that you volunteer with makeawish. My nephew was granted a wish and it meant a great deal to my family, so I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for supporting them.”

      That would feel like someone wanting to make a genuine connection. Leading with it feels oh so manipulative.

      1. Michele*

        So many sales techniques feel manipulative to me, and they make me freeze up and not want to have anything to do with the person.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Same. I do have sales people with whom I have a good rapport and have worked for years, and it’s been on the basis of their delivering on their promises/good service/competitive pricing. There are a number that hit me up on alumni connections or other things clearly listed on my public profiles, but rarely do those have an impact on my doing business with them and often they come across as forced.

    4. tigerStripes*

      I’ve blocked e-mails of people who are trying to sell me stuff I don’t want and don’t have the authority to order anyway.l

  4. Willis*

    #4 – Agreeing with Alison’s suggestion that you tell them the fake-friendly sales pitches are a turn off and to remove you from their marketing list. Who knows, maybe it’ll make them rethink their approach. Plus, it might make you feel better to address the creepiness!

    1. Gene*

      Give them one chance to remove your name from their list. Then, if necessary, set up an email rule to send anything from their domain straight to the trash.

      1. 2 Cents*

        Or spam. I have a few “hard sell” vendors who just don’t get the hint that I will never be using their services — and considering how much they’ve annoyed me, any slight chance is now gone. I set up a rule to mark as spam and trash.

  5. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. Yeti co-worker. There might be any of a number of reasons why they are not in the office, but having been the on the receiving end of an interrogation as to where somebody is, and only being to reply with “Erm, not sure when they will be back” I would suggest checking how Yeti co-worker prefers to handle this.

    1. Al Lo*

      I’m often that person, with a flexible schedule and no particular set time that I’m always in. During regular business hours, I don’t mind if my coworkers text (preferably) or call me with questions. I do try to make sure anyone who I know will be calling me at work also has my cell number, because I’d rather just talk to them from home than have them try to chase me down.

      I know a lot of people prefer not to be available outside of the office, but for me it’s a trade-off that allows me to have the flexibility in my schedule.

      1. Raine*

        This. And I actually disagree with AAM that this setup isn’t unusual for exempt employees — the deal is generally that exempt employees have flexibility because they get the work done (sounds questionable here, especially if the worker doesn’t timely respond to emails to the point it is fruitless to direct customers she’s responsible for her way) and generally work beyond 40 hours a week (also highly questionable here).

        1. Liane*

          The OP also mentions she’s new and it reads like Flexible Co-Worker is usually the one who has information OP needs to do at least part of her job.

          1. 2 Cents*

            Sounds OP needs to talk with her boss without being accusatory: “Since Yeti has such a flexible schedule, I’m a bit behind on learning about THIS IMPORTANT THING. What would you like me to do so I can get up to speed?” It might be that your boss (who, I’m assuming here, is also Yeti’s boss) may not realize you’re not further along in training. The reply might be to have a scheduled weekly (or whatever) meeting with Yeti or that boss will handle your training or whatever. You’re not throwing Yeti under the bus, just saying you’re not where you think you should be on THIS.

        2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Yeah, I’m inclined to believe the coworker is abusing that flexibility; it doesn’t sound like she could possibly be working 40 hours a week, and it sounds like there’s an expectation of availability and responsiveness that’s not being met.

    2. Mookie*

      Yes. As Alison and Chocolate Teapot reiterate, ask. It’s really that simple. Ask her how she wants you to handle this, and don’t concern yourself with “breaking the habit” of a member of a “close-knit group” of colleagues who seem to be functioning just fine and have done for years, apparently. If keeping your schedule identical to the office’s hours bothers you, that’s a separate issue; as the last hired, you may be obliged to do so or you are possibly assuming that you must do so. It sounds like a few conversations are in order, because you absolutely shouldn’t feel hesitant to ask your manager questions about scheduling and coverage when colleagues are out. You are not going to be given a bad review for seeking clarification about the minutiae of office policies (although this isn’t really minutiae; it’s important and you’re right to be concerned about getting a handle on it) as a new hire, so please ask.

    3. Kj*

      I’m a Yeti co-worker in my office! I work in the community, so I am in the office for less than 3 hours/day, although I work 10 hour days. People in my office know to email me though-and I respond through out the day, from where ever I am. I think the problem here is not that the co-worker is out much of the day but that she doesn’t respond to email/phone calls about issues she needs to address.

    4. Lora*

      I am trying not to cackle at my desk. Yeti co-worker! The Loch Ness Co-worker. Chupacabra co-worker. Wendigo co-worker…

      1. Liane*

        Off-topic, but Friday we should come up with memorable past letters to fit those types.
        Wendigo co-worker = guy who stole an OP’s super-spicy lunch, got sick, & his HR-girlfriend fired the OP.

      2. Kate*

        I’m probably showing my age and nationality to say that I keep thinking of that kind of person as a “polka-roo” coworker.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            As you are lolling hammockwise. It contemplates you stomachwise.
            You loll, It contemplates, It lollops.
            The rest is merely gulps and gollops.

  6. Gene*

    A (mandatory?) company sponsored event 3 hours away that will involve drinking… The company is setting themselves up for problems unless they are providing transportation.

    Here’s an idea for the LW; make a hotel reservation for that night in the city where the event is. Don’t go to the event, but amuse yourself some way that keeps you far away from the event and be waiting for her in the room when the event is over. If it’s mid week, she can schedule a day off the day after. You will have a relaxing time that evening, just the two of you, away from home and work worries. And you don’t need to worry about drinking and driving. Win-win!

    1. The spouse*

      Gene, my first question was, whose going to drive everyone to and from if alcohol will be served? There is no transportation set up for anyone and I honestly believe it’s a hell of a liability for a company to have a day party with alcohol, hours away, with no means of safe transportation. Additionally, we do not have money for a hotel and the mileage isn’t paid for either.

      1. Sherm*

        Could you still make a day trip out of it, though? Maybe drop her off at 11, do something in town that she wouldn’t really miss, pick her up at 3, and then spend a few hours together before driving home.

        1. The spouse*

          I possibly could but I’m not familiar with the area either. I would have to find something to occupy me for that time, alone. Doable but extremely boring and we’d basically have to leave as soon as she finished so we could let our dog out. I’ve thought of different scenarios to kind of make it work and it’s honestly pointless. I was originally just going to go and play games on my own because the business will be open to the public as well but now I just feel weird after the response we got from the supervisor. Like, no others are wanted here kind of thing and I don’t want them to find out I went and then she gets in trouble for something so dumb.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            This just seems fairly simple to me: Your wife goes if she wants to or judges that she needs to, and doesn’t drink. And if she wants to, she pushes back with her company about (a) a distant event being mandatory, (b) the transportation issue, and/or (c) the apparent drinking culture at her company. It really doesn’t have to be a bigger deal than that, and I get the sense that you’re worked up enough about it that you’ve maybe lost sight of that.

            It’s also very much your wife’s issue to deal with rather than yours. The issue about not having enough time to spend together is a separate thing between the two of you and which I think is muddying the waters here.

            1. Triangle Pose*

              Completely agree. I’m having a hard time with all of the OP’s subsequent comments because they seem either irrelevant to the original problem or a lack of comprehension of the original advice/actual workplace issue presented by the employer’s party.

          2. Colette*

            What’s more important to you – that she be able to drink (and thus that you’re there to drive her home) or that you have ready entertainment? Most places have libraries or shopping malls that you can hang out in for a few hours.

            I really don’t understand why her not drinking is apparently not an option, and that makes me wonder about her (and your) relationship with alcohol in general.

            1. Allypopx*

              I’m with Colette, I’m also having some trouble wrapping my head around that. In general, it’s not egregious for the company to assume that adults can monitor their own consumption, right? Just because alcohol is available doesn’t mean everyone has to overindulge, or people can’t carpool and have a work-DD, or any number of other options? Can’t “bring your ID” have something to do with the venue or maybe there’s an expectation that everyone will have a glass of wine (or a couple, over the 4-hour event) but not get trashed, since it’s a work event? I feel like there’s a bit of a pearl-clutching tone over the alcohol aspect and it makes me feel like I’m missing something important.

              Note: My company has a really casual alcohol environment. There’s always alcohol available at events (we even have a monthly drinking friday thing) but everyone goes their own speed. So my perspective might be skewed.

              1. Whats In A Name*

                I was wondering the same about the I.D. I mean, it sounds like OP knows that alcohol is going to be open but could they need it for something else – if it’s an arcade type place maybe they have laser tag or something else that they’ll need everyone’s ID and they’ll sign a waiver. It really could be anything. And depending on the city it might be an adults only place where they check ID’s at the door, even if the person is 50 years old.

                1. LBK*

                  It could also just be that the venue has a standing policy to check everyone’s IDs when there’s a large party regardless of age or whether you’re drinking or not – I know the place we had our holiday event had that policy (although I always wonder how many people actually leave the house without an ID on a regular basis).

                2. Ann*

                  At age 26, I was refused entry at a Dave & Buster’s in Chicago, because I didn’t have a valid ID (I had a work ID, etc. but not something that proved my age). Children were being allowed in with their parents, but because I was with friends, I was not allowed in the front door (including the restaurant and arcade, not just the bar). So, it was not an adults only establishment, and I was not trying to order a drink, but was refused entry. Sounds like this might be the case for asking everyone to bring IDs.

              2. SignalLost*

                And it’s not reasonable to assume a company will cater to one person’s drinking preference. I would be a GREAT alcoholic; it’s definitely something I could really get behind! Which means … I stopped drinking for the most part (an occasional beer). I don’t expect my employer to make every event dry for me, because again, I’m an adult and I have to accept that alcohol is a thing in the universe. I control me, not the universe.

                I am very hung up on the idea that the solution to this poster’s problem is not “my wife won’t be drinking.”

              3. Koko*

                I think OP’s wife can still choose not to drink, but he does mention in his letter that heavy drinking is common in the wife’s industry. That’s a real thing that happens, especially with 60 hour a week jobs. It’s definitely possible that her coworkers ARE planning to get really drunk and either have worked out their own plans for a DD or hotel, or are terrible people planning to drive drunk.

            2. Kalamet*

              I don’t understand this either. If I was OP’s wife, I would go to the event and abstain from alcohol. My immediate bosses wouldn’t try to do something like this, but I work at a huge corporation where it could happen.

              For example, we have a “mandatory” conference coming up that they scheduled across the city from our offices (we’re talking two hour commutes for most of us, traffic is bad here) that goes from 7:45 to 4:30 PM. That’s going to be a rough day. I’ve considered getting a hotel room the night before to make it easier. I also have a spouse who works an opposite schedule to me (I’m days, he’s nights), so I totally understand how events like these can cut into already slim quality time.

              The alcohol thing is a whole other dimension. Some office cultures are heavily into drinking and partying. While I agree that the event OP describes is a potential liability issue, I personally think that managing one’s alcohol intake is a personal responsibility. If OP’s wife wants to be sure and avoid a DUI, she should either a) not drink or b) find other travel arrangements if possible. If anyone at the event asks, she should politely say “I’m just having soda / tea / water, thanks, I have to drive home.” Decent people will respect this. I understand wanting to fit in to office culture, but I don’t think drinking and driving are worth it.

            3. OckerLocke*

              If alcohol affects her in a bad way, but she still needs to attend the party and drink, is it possible to give her some weed, meth or something else she can take to offset the effects of the alcohol?

                1. anonderella*

                  @ LBK – haha guess so. I was also staring at it for a full five minutes trying to figure out why no one had called this out as inappropriate, yet.. let alone trying to ascertain whether it was a joke or not.
                  and then there’s, as someone pointed out below, the fact that some people do *not* react well to those combinations… let alone those substances at all…
                  I just.. didn’t know where to start, except for pointing at it.

                1. esra (also a Canadian)*

                  Not sure I’ve ever seen meth suggested as a more reasonable alternative to either not drinking, or having your spouse read in the car for a few hours and then drive you home.

              1. Allypopx*

                On the benefit of the doubt that this is a serious suggestion, neither of these options would make it safe to drive and the combination of weed and alcohol makes that intoxicated feeling worse in a majority of people.

                1. OckerLocke*

                  Thanks for the comments…I’m not a physician or a drinker/drug user so I don’t really know how all these things affect people, so perhaps my suggestion was off base.

                2. LBK*

                  I don’t think you have to be a meth user to be familiar with its catastrophic effects on people…I mean, Breaking Bad? DARE? Reading the news? Surely you’re aware it’s not just like a strong cup of coffee.

                3. OckerLocke*

                  I’m not really aware of the specfic effects or potency of each different type of I said i’m not a doctor or scientist so I don’t have that background. But thanks, I may look into those resources you mention

          3. always in email jail*

            It seems like you’re throwing up barriers to every solution presented, here. If you’re determined to be upset about this situation, there’s not much that can help with that.

            However, I think if you’re that upset about not being able to DD for your wife, you should consider the suggestion to spend the day somewhere else. I highly doubt a dave & busters is the only thing in this 3-hour-away place. Drop her off, go to the mall, grab some lunch, walk around, pick her up, go home. Assuming, of course, this won’t interfere with your own work day. And yes, trust your instinct about it being weird if you go and play games in another area. That would be a bit awkward and off-putting.

            However, it does seem much easier if she just doesn’t drink…

            1. Spoonie*

              I was having the same thought about barriers to every solution.

              Go see a movie you know your wife doesn’t want to see (win/win there). Find a driving range. Putz around a used bookstore. Then pick her up and drive back home. You’ll get 6 hours of undivided time with her in the car.

              Conversely, I have a self-imposed two drink limit in public places — especially at work functions. Over the course of four hours, your wife should have enough time to sober up to drive home, especially if she drinks plenty of water and eats while at the party.

              1. JohnJ*

                Ditto on the two drink limit and I often stop after one. After that I switch to soft drinks, juice (any full bar has cranberry & orange juice available), or water.

                And I apply that limit across the board: home, out with friends, work/professional events all get the same treatment. I’ve never actually been drunk (though it was close a couple of times before I put the limit in place).

                1. Kj*

                  Me too! I never have more than 2 drinks. I am 30, but have never been drunk. Even when I go to Oktoberfest and drink wonderful beer, I don’t drink enough to get drunk. And I’m on the small side and like nice strong beers, so it isn’t like I have a high tolerance. I just know my limits and stop when I’m close to them so I don’t go over.

                  I’m always confused on why this is hard for many folks- I guess I lack the alcoholism gene?

            2. LBK*

              Agreed – it feels like the OP has already decided how the situation will be handled and is being deliberately contrary to one of the many possible solutions. If you came here for validation instead of advice, I’m afraid you wrote in to the wrong website.

            3. Temperance*

              The suburban D&B near me is in a complex with a movie theater, bookstore, mall, and many restaurants. There is also one in the city, which, well it’s Philly, if you’re bored here, you’re boring.

            4. Koko*

              Even if it’s Office Park Town, USA, or OP doesn’t want to spend money, you can find a library or bookstore or coffee shop and watch movies on your laptop or tablet with headphones and be out no more than perhaps the cost of two cups of coffee.

            5. seejay*

              Yep, I’m reading tonnes of excuses and reasons why none of the suggestions will work and essentially the LW just looking for validation as to why the whole situation sucks.

              Sorry, your wife is an adult, she should be able to attend a work function that has alcohol and either arrange for transportation of some sort (either carpooling or you going to pick her up) if she’s drinking (and NO, DUIs are *not* normal occasional slip ups that happen!), or she doesn’t drink at the party (always a choice someone can make), or she chooses to not attend. You can make up reasons and excuses until the cows come home as to why any of these options won’t work, but they’re pretty much the *only* options and trying to argue why they won’t work just makes you look combative and aggressive and that there’s clearly way more serious issues going on. The solutions aren’t that complicated and you’re making it way more difficult than it has to be.

              1. Triangle Pose*

                “the LW just looking for validation as to why the whole situation sucks”

                Thank you! This is what had me puzzling over all of OP’s subsequent comments. The tone of all of them really is just looking for validation, not a solution for OP or OP’s wife.

                OP, yes, it sucks that your wife works a lot and has a mandatory party. You still cannot attend when spouses are not invited.

          4. smokey*

            You’d get to hang out together for 6 hours in the car, though, so that’d be some good alone time.

          5. Sadsack*

            Can your wife get a ride to the party with a coworker and then you take the afternoon to drive to pick her up? Then you aren’t sitting there all day.

          6. Marcela*

            I don’t understand. You were willing to go to the event, i.e. stay there, so for your dog the issue would be exactly the same as if you spend the time napping inside your car in a parking lot. It makes it seem to me as if the real issue goes beyond the actual trip and possibly driving under the influence, and that you just want to assist to the meeting, expecting us to tell you that’s ok.

            1. LBK*

              Great point – if you attending was your initial solution, how is you coming on the trip but not attending the event not viable?

              Honestly, it feels to me like you’re worried about your wife’s alcohol consumption at the party and want to be there to watch her. Otherwise I can’t see what the difference is between you being in the building with her and you sitting in the car reading a book for a few hours.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Yep, I missed that until Marcela pointed it out, but the dog is not the issue if the OP is arguing they should get to go to the event.

          7. Liz2*

            *I’m not familiar with the area either* *but extremely boring*

            Most places have local town and event calendars and webpages you can find things. But you aren’t coming across as the adventurous sort. You’re not going to have her company no matter where you end up being.

            *we could let our dog out.*

            No friends or neighbors could do you a favor for once?

            My partner and I only get one full day together most weeks and if that day gets taken away by work that’s understandably grouchy. But it is a normal work thing to happen and I don’t have a fear of bad choices turning an undesireable situation into a miserable one.

          8. MillersSpring*

            You say that going along and finding something to do while she’s at the arcade would be “honestly pointless.” But it has a point–a very important point–to be able to drive her home safely if she can’t control her drinking and the company won’t provide transportation.

          9. Toward Sanity*

            If your spouse is in treatment for the alcohol issue, the people that she is working with will help her support her sobriety. Some of this comes off as controlling behavior and yes, that is often the safest reaction for the family or close friends of someone who has a problem and is not addressing it. HOWEVER, once this is identified as problem behavior, it is her problem to solve. You can discern what is acceptable for you if there is too much crazy going on due to alcohol. Look up Al-Anon online and find some people who know this journey.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Assuming it’s during the week, the weird timing sounds like it is designed to keep it more or less within a standard work day. My old job did wacky things like this — OK, not entirely THIS wacky, because they did get a van to drive us and there wasn’t drinking at lunchtime — but they would take us hours out of town to a place we could spend a couple of hours of “fun” before turning around and coming back.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That’s what the non-profit job did–they had a team event lunch at a venue thirty minutes from here, and they rented a charter bus. We rode down, ate and watched a show, and then rode back. All during a work day.

          2. Jadelyn*

            We’ve done something similar before – my team did a team-building where we took the ferry across to the city, went to the Exploratorium, had lunch, and took the ferry back – all of it within work hours, so while we lost a day of working time, nobody had any intrusion onto their personal time.

      2. SignalLost*

        Alcohol being served is not the same as alcohol must be consumed. It sounds like what you’re really saying is you don’t trust your wife not to drink and you’re coming up with 300 other reasons you object to this that are “better” than saying you don’t trust your wife. Which makes me think your wife trusts herself not to drink and you don’t so the problem is aaaaaaallll yours. If she doesn’t want to do the drive, you’ve been given ideas to handle that – but you’re still focusing on the idea that the attendees at this event will be strapped to gurneys and forcibly intoxicated, then told to drive home.

      3. Observer*

        Sure, it’s a huge liability for the company, and they are really stupid for doing this. But, that’s really not relevant to your question.

        If you can’t pick her up, she needs to not drink. Although she COULD try what others suggested, which is to suggest that transportation be provided, because of company liability.

      4. Stranger than fiction*

        Doesn’t help you with the immediate problem, but is your wife in an industry where party hardy is the norm or is it just this company? If just this company, sounds like she may want to look elsewhere for a better culture fit.

    2. Not Karen*

      “involve drinking” =/= getting drunk

      The event is four hours long. Most people can have a couple drinks at the top of the event and be perfectly fine by the end of it.

  7. Lord of the Ringbinders*

    #3 Sorry but you’ve already been given the answer. I hear that you don’t LIKE the answer but that doesn’t change it.

    It might be worth looking at the meaning you’re making from this – to you it’s become “the one time” the company could do x. That’s how you feel about it but that doesn’t mean it’s objectively the case. Try to remember that.

    #5 You ask if it’s okay because you’re behind on your funding. That’s not relevant – it’s either okay or it’s not (and the answer is it’s not). When assessing an etiquette situation it’s always a good idea to put aside *why* you want to do whatever it is and just consider the *what*.

    As your company is the sponsor I did wonder if there’s a policy on this. If not, maybe there should be!

    1. FrequentLurker*

      Oh I love this!
      “When assessing an etiquette situation it’s always a good idea to put aside *why* you want to do whatever it is and just consider the *what*.”

      Thank you so much for that insight! It will be very useful in future dilemmas.

      1. halpful*

        Me too! :) It’s also relevant for when my brain talks me into staying on the internet past my bedtime… ;) it always has Reasons that sound reasonable at the time, but in hindsight are 99% BS.

  8. Lori*

    #3 —

    Why do you feel entitled to crash someone else’s party as an uninvited guest? The invitations went out as for the employee only and that should have been the answer. However, you said you went and asked otherwise and it was confirmed that you were not invited. Please, for your wife’s career and work relationship, do not just show up anyway. This will be taken as disobeying the manager’s direct orders. If so you feel inclined, you can drive together to give your wife a ride to and from the event. However, please find something else to do while the event is going on (suggestions: Go shopping, go to a dinner and movie, go bowling, call a friend and meet up with them.).

    1. The spouse*

      I do not feel “entitled” in any way. My wife wanted me to go and only happened to ask before hand (can you imagine the awkwardness had I not told her to ask)! The answer was upsetting for a bunch of different reasons. My main concern was the drinking and driving such long distances and that no transportation or hotel accommodations are being made by the company. We both find it strange that such a brief and casual event is so far and that spouses are not invited. The entire situation is beyond strange to both of us.

      1. Lori*

        Sorry if I sounded snarky on that but I was just wondering why spouses in general automatically feel like they are invited to functions like this. And in cases when they have to pay for tickets, they assume that the second one is free or discounted. It means that 1) the spouse is going to a function that usually they do not know anyone and feel awkward, 2) the single people ends up subsidizing the food, drink, etc. for the extra person at the free or discounted cost.

        1. The spouse*

          There’s no tickets of any kind for this. In fact the company is quite cheap, we doubt they’ll even provide an actual entree. I want nothing free either. It’s not even a private event, the arcade will be open to the public and I don’t even drink! Lol We both thought there was a plus one, it was not a strictly spouses thing… I just happen to be “the spouse.” I posted some additional info on other threads but basically safety was our number one with the alcohol (I am ALWAYS the DD) we were consequently pissed with the way the answer was given by the supervisor. Only so much info I can put in the question I submitted. His answer was quite curt and didn’t sit well with us. Basically, the whole thing comes off like the company doesn’t give one $&@? about spouses or any work life balance.

          1. Katie Bear*

            Why can you give only so much info? More info means a more tailored answer to help you with your problem.

            1. The spouse*

              The directions for the question submission said to be brief or she might not be able to answer, so I was brief. In the heat of the moment, I may have been too brief.

              1. Katie Bear*

                It’s always good to hear more in the comments. Than you for sticking around, to the best of my knowledge it’s part of the culture here.

                1. Liane*

                  Spouse you did the right thing coming here. What’s got people concerned is that the question does read as All About Spouse and then you mention the event’s alcohol issues that both you and your wife presumably share: lots of drinking may be expected, no transport in spite of that, her own alcohol problem.
                  But now that you told us, take a few deep breaths and then read the good advice that’s been given, talk with your wife and see what will work best.

          2. NJ Anon*

            I understand how you feel. I, too, am always the DD. This entire situation sucks. I think your wife and ger co-workers should push back on this. I don’t drink or work 60 hour weeks but I’d be pissed if I were forced to go to something like this with or without a plus 1.

          3. TL -*

            But the thing is, your wife can DD. She can not drink. That is an option. Heck, she can even carpool with another DD and trade off driving if there’s someone she trusts.

          4. always in email jail*

            If she’s getting paid to go, it’s on work time. It’s no different than you being pissed you’re not allowed to show up and sit in her office on a normal work day. If it was unpaid, I could see the frustration. But seeing as it’s paid, aka on work time, it makes sense that it’s employees only.

            Also I’ll second what everyone else said. There’s an easy answer here, it’s for her to not drink.

            1. Sans*

              One suggestion. Besides having her not drink at all, if she is still uncomfortable with driving, is it possible you could drive her there, find something else to do for three hours nearby, and then be available to drive her back? If she is really unhappy about driving, that might be the best solution. What’s nearby? A mall, a library, a movie theatre? There’s probably lots of ways to spend three hours.

          5. Sadsack*

            You keep mentioning needing to be a DD, but I don’t think you have remarked on the fact that your wife can opt out of the drinking part. Why is that?

            1. Sadsack*

              Also, I don’t see how this party is part of the work life balance issue. It is during the day and she should be home at a reasonable time in the evening even if she stays for the entire event. She probably could get away with leaving a bit earlier, too. It seems like you dislike your wife’s hours in general and are letting that influence your thinking on this specific issue. Your wife doesn’t have to drink at this event and can still be home by dinner time. Has she said she intends to drink? Do you trust her not to drink? If not, the issue is your wife’s drinking and not this party.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                Yes, the OP’s other comments make it apparent that the issue with this particular event isn’t really about work/life balance.

            2. Amtelope*

              Alcoholism is one big reason why LW might not trust their spouse to do this. If LW knows that their spouse will drink, whether or not they have a safe ride home, the question becomes how to arrange a safe ride home (without crashing the work party, which I agree would be inappropriate).

              1. Sadsack*

                Yes, the spouse has options that I haven’t seen him comment on. Can the wife get a ride to the party with a coworker and then the spouse can pick her up? That seems like the simplest solution, though it sounds like the spouse would have to take the afternoon off from work. If the wife can’t be trusted not to drink, then they’ll have to plan something like this.

          6. BRR*

            I think there’s two separate issues going on. There’s this event, which we all agree with you that it’s highly problematic that alcohol will be served (with what sounds like no self control from your wife’s coworkers or company) with no transportation provided and that it’s so far away.

            Then there’s your wife’s work-life balance, which this event is a part of but you won’t be able to fix the balance by addressing this one event.

            And echoing Katie Bear, thanks for following up.

          7. BPT*

            But it’s not really the workplace’s job to care about spousal feelings about their employees work. Work/life balance is something that is the company’s business, but only if actual employees bring it up, not their spouses. There are plenty of jobs where working 60 hour weeks are the norm.

            Also, I don’t understand how this impacts work/life balance if this is during a workday while she’d be at work anyway.

          8. NW Mossy*

            You may not want to hear this, but you’re right that the spouses of employees are not much of a priority of any company – it would be exceptional and unusual for that to be the case.

            The company is operating under the assumption that your relationship with your wife is between the two of you, and that as two married adults, you work out solutions when there are conflicting priorities. The company doesn’t know the two of you well enough to be able to prevent these conflicts, and even if they did, it would be incredibly intrusive to have them in your private life in that way.

            The only way you’re going to come to a resolution on this is to talk to your wife. The right accommodation for the situation is an agreement between you and her, and blaming the company for creating the situation in the first place is a dodge. If it wasn’t this, it would be something else. Please, talk to her. You guys owe each other that much.

          9. Liz2*

            Were you there? Because if not you only got the answer from your wife and her interpretation. Your wife is at a place where she knows she has to work long hours on the regular, an occasional other time event is a normal thing for a lot of people (heck they just finalized a 3 day 2 night in the mountain retreat during the week for a team at my place).

            If you don’t like the corporate culture your wife has chosen to be a part of, you can talk to her and see what she wants her options to be. But there’s still nothing the company has done inappropriately or even terribly surprising.

          10. Jeanne*

            Unfortunately, many companies do not care about work/life balance. However, we are not slaves. Does she want to work there or not work there? She has options. She even has options if she continues to work there. I’m getting the idea she doesn’t object to these things as much as you do. So that all turns into a marriage issue.

            On this work event, if she really can’t control her drinking, drive her there and wait. Wait at a restaurant or in your car or whatever. Life does not owe you excitement and if you’re bored than you’re bored. Which do you care about most: her safety or your boredom? None of us here will tell you it’s ok to be at the event after you were told you’re not invited, no matter how many details you add. Have some respect for your wife. How will they think of her at work after you show up? They’ll think she has no idea of professional norms or they will think you are abusive and have to spy on her.

      2. MillersSpring*

        Is this a cultural thing in the UK that a plus-one would be automatic/assumed for a work event? Or is it that the event is at an arcade, or that it’s three hours away, that plus-ones are typical at previous jobs you or your wife have held?

        In the US, a typical office worker would have very few work events (if any) over the course of a year where spouses/SOs were welcome, and it typically would include an express invitation clearly indicating such.

        1. Huddled over tea*

          Definitely not a UK thing. I’ve actually never had a company party where plus ones were invited!

  9. Andy*

    Re: #5. I think it can work, I’m in a rather large workplace that prides itself on its charity drives, and has no issue with people asking colleagues for donations for charity projects that they’re doing outside of work. Having said that, it’s not like people are going around in person asking for money, it’s usually a poster in a common area, or a single mass-email with the details.

    It could be a cultural thing though: I’m in Australia and I’m guessing the majority of readers here are American.

    1. Andy*

      I missed the part where it’s soliciting money to be able to take part in a company-sponsored charity. It does get a bit more icky rather than just a regular fundraising thing.

    2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      The fact that she’s an attorney asking for money from support staff I think is more important than country. That’s Just. Not. Done. She will make the support staff feel awkward and will make the other attorneys think much less of her. She’d probably get a very stern talking to as well. You treat your support staff like gold and hitting them up for cash doesn’t fall into that category.

      She should write the check herself.

    3. shep*

      I’m American, and I also work at an office that has a very active charity committee. It functions very similarly to what you describe–one or two mass emails to the office (send by the committee chair), and signs/more information in common areas.

      I would definitely not like to be solicited directly, though, and one co-worker in particular got particularly overzealous in trying to solicit donations to a bake drive at one point. She went door-to-door to people who hadn’t volunteered to bake or bring something, and I, being VERY new and wanting to make a good impression, said I supposed I could bring cookies.

      I forgot, which is why I never volunteer for these things and serves her right for trying to bully everyone into participating. On top of that, she was pushy enough to where I believe others complained to our management, and she never did anything like that again.

  10. Freya UK*

    Wish I worked where OP1 works! I fantasise about having that kind of control over my working hours every day.

    OP2; I suspect Alison is right, but I find words like ‘energetic’ and ‘dynamic’ in job ads completely off-putting too. It makes me think that a) I’m going to be overworked and b) I’m going to be surrounded by incredibly annoying people.

      1. Freya UK*

        Oh god, “motivated” – motivated to do what?! I’m motivated to get paid, isn’t that enough? Hahaha.

      2. Czhorat*

        To me, these are words that don’t actually say anything. There’s no objective measure of what “energetic” or “motivated” actually means. To me, it feels like language inserted to assure higher-level stakeholders in the hiring company that they’re looking for a high-quality candidate. “See? We’re getting someone *energetic* and *motivated* for you.

        1. Artemesia*

          It means ‘young’ to me. Like ‘cozy’ in a real estate ad means ‘tiny’ and ‘rustic’ means ‘shabby dump’, ‘energetic’ is meant to signal young.

            1. Jamie*

              I totally get wanting to read the tea leaves, but I laugh when I think of how impossible it seems for so many companies to even place adequate ads which describe anything in clear language. Thinking some of the people writing job ads can master secret codes is really giving bad writers way too much credit.

              I would never use the word energetic in an ad because it’s unclear but the image it conjured up for me is when I’ve worked with people who, to quote an old coworker, “wouldn’t jump if they were stung by a bee” energetic would be the opposite of people with zero sense of urgency. But that’s just how I read it.

              Motivated is just as bad, imo, because it’s filler.

              1. Freya UK*

                I think that’s part of the problem – job ads can be so vague that you have to try and work out what’s on offer, so every word becomes loaded. Then unclear ad + buzzwords = suspicion.

              2. Koko*

                Yes, I would wager the odds that the job description is just copied and pasted without thought are probably higher than the odds that they’re using secret code words to telegraph hidden intent.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I just feel like they’re filler words sometimes too. The one that bugs me is “passionate.” No, I don’t have to be a raging fangirl about my job to actually do it well and care about outcomes.

          1. Jamie*

            THIS! Passionate irks me to no end. Another pet peeve of mine is asking for a guru or rockstar, you see it a lot in tech. The trying too hard to be hip thing is like chewing tin foil to me and I’d always pass on those.

            1. EA*

              I did see one local band that was looking for a new bassist … I think that may be the only time I’ve ever seen “rock star” be a worthwhile addition to a job description.

              1. Mookie*

                Yeah, but the “star” is a bit presumptuous. There are musicians and then there are “stars.”

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Passionate, to me, conjures a vision of a place where everyone yelling and screaming is normal.

            1. Freya UK*

              “Welcome to Teapots Inc. – the tenth level of hell! Please collect a pitchfork on your way in”

      3. Kelly L.*

        I don’t even like it in my bath products. “Energizing citrus body wash? DON’T TELL ME HOW TO FEEL, BODY WASH! YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!”

        1. Jamie*

          Idk, I’m using a new body wash called serenity and I instantly obeyed and became very zen-like.

          I wish I had known it wasn’t the boss of me before I showered this morning. :)

          (this cracked me up, Kelly.)

        2. Mookie*

          YES. Click bait-y headlines, too. Don’t tell me to “check” this thing out, headline. I’ll check what I want when I’m damn good and ready.

      1. Freya UK*

        Yes, this too! Who goes looking for a job that has to describe itself as fast-paced? It’s like a warning, “don’t work for us unless you like never finishing anything, crying in the toilet and burning out after three months!”.

        1. Allypopx*

          That’s EXACTLY what I picture when I see a job described as fast-paced. It’s an automatic “nope!” for me.

          1. Freya UK*

            Same – I guess the bottom line is that they feel… exploitative? Like they’re looking for someone inexperienced and desperate. You don’t need buzzwords to sell a genuinely good job/company, and it’s the kind of language that might appeal more those who are very young, like an eighteen year old who ends up in a ‘sales’ job cold-calling people.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Y’all are reading WAY too much into this stuff. Lots of perfectly good employers put “fast-paced” in the ad because they’re just trying to convey that they’re not a culture where people sit around doing nothing. You can dislike it, but it’s just not true that it’s a red flag.

            1. Allypopx*

              Oh absolutely – for me it’s a psychological reaction based on my work experiences I know it’s not rational. I wouldn’t pass up a legitimately great looking job opportunity over it but it happens to be a personal turn off.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              But would ANY workplace say “We just sit around here doing nothing”? I mean, I’m going to assume I have work to do and will be expected to do it at any job. Fast-paced may not be the best choice to describe that. It sounds like things go–well, fast.

              “Busy” is better, I think. You can be busy without getting slammed.

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                My workplace is nearly always at a steady burn, and you do need to be able to move pretty rapidly. If you like to take a lot of time to ruminate about and triple-check your work, it’s not where you want to be. We run in the busy-to-slammed range, and it’s not a job for people that aren’t comfortable with a very rapid pace, nor is it a situation that gets slower by throwing more bodies at it. I feel pretty comfortable calling it “fast-paced”, and the people who do the best are those who like being busy and thrive under pressure. Truly, it is not for everyone, and I prefer to disclose in the job description/interview rather than find out 3 months into a new hire.

            3. drago cucina*

              Exactly AAM. I’ve used it to indicate that working at the library doesn’t mean sitting and reading all day. It means you will have to deal with 5 different “customers” all demanding your attention at the same time–with a smile. Then it’s on to the next task.

          3. Koko*

            I wouldn’t strike them from consideration so soon. I work in what I would described as a fast-paced environment, but I have a flexible schedule, superb work-life balance, excellent benefits, pleasant coworkers, honestly nothing I could even find to complain about except for maybe that we have too many meetings that I find unnecessary. But even that my boss is usually cool with me skipping any meeting that I don’t think is a good use of my time.

            When we put fast-paced in our job ads, it means that if Big News happens today, we’re going to respond to it today. It means whatever we had planned to go out tomorrow is getting scrapped or kicked down the road and we’re going to produce something entirely new in response to the Big News. About half of my projects are on very short timelines – the request comes up on Monday or Tuesday and is completed by Friday. That’s what we mean by fast-paced. We are trying to screen out people who are uncomfortable with plans that frequently change on short notice (because some personality types find all the changes stressful). It does not mean anyone is overworked or burnt out.

            I would urge you to wait til the interview to make those sort of judgments.

            1. MillersSpring*

              +1000 This is exactly how I define fast-paced.

              I guess in some workplaces it could mean that every day is a fire drill, but for most places I’ve worked, fast-paced means that urgent deadlines can come up, and everyone needs to be able to be flexible and respond quickly. It does not mean that we are overworked or frazzled.

              People who prefer a slow steady pace, with any change well mapped out and planned, may not be a good fit for “fast-paced” environments.

        2. MashaKasha*

          I dunno, I find fast-paced appealing. Better than “we’re so slow you’ll be losing your mind, but no worries, we’ll fill your 40 hours with all kinds of team meetings so you’re not bored”.

          To me, a red flag goes up when numbers come into play. E.g, an interviewer asked me if I was okay with occasionally working long hours. Which is an odd question in IT to begin with, because occasional long hours are part of the job. I asked him how many hours we were talking and he took a pause before telling me “oh, 45 on average”. Now 45 is not that big of a deal, but he sounded like he was lowering the actual number by a lot.

      2. Lily Rowan*

        What’s funny to me is different people’s interpretations of “fast-paced.” I had a job once that was described to me as fast-paced, high-pressure, all that good stuff. Well, 90% of the time it was way more relaxed than my previous job had been! And everyone worked 9-5.

        1. Freya UK*

          Yes it’s funny how these things vary – I came from a very busy (but good-vibes) customer service office to this job, and I was shocked to find what these people think is busy – I finish all my work really fast because that’s the rate I became accustomed to and they’re always so grumpy because they “have so much to do”.

      3. Emac*

        I always see fast-paced as meaning it required a consistently high level of energy, instead of someplace where there are busy times and slow times. That type of environment might not be for everyone, but I don’t think it’s inherently bad.

      1. Freya UK*

        “Shows initiative” – read “we’re so understaffed we won’t have time to train you.”

          1. Temperance*

            For me, it reads like “you’re going to be cleaning up after people and doing a lot of unpleasant, low-level tasks, and I don’t want to have to ask you to do these things”.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq*

          Eh, there are definitely some jobs where this is a real thing. Some places have a culture where you are expected to run your idea by 8 different people and get 3 levels of approval before you fix the typo on page 3 of the annual report. Some places are the opposite; you’re expected to have ideas and run with them, and to had a bias toward action. Some places _think_ they’re the latter, but are actually the former. Whatever the case, if you are a person who thrives in Place A, they are trying to indicate that they are looking for a person who thrives in Place B. It’s a real difference.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              I know, I’m starting to wonder how I get candidates to apply for my jobs. :)

              And I pride myself on being clear and direct on job duties/requirements!

            2. EmmaLou*

              Do you really find it bizarre? When he was fired and off steady work for over a year, we found employer after employer who just flat out lied in their ads and in person. Because of my medical stuff, he doesn’t want to be gone overnight. Two different jobs assured him they don’t do overnights. Until the final interview, “You’ll be away from home one night a week.” ‘Competitive Rates’? With who? Not other people in the field and not his last job. ‘Great benefits’? Not so much. We became very cynical of the wording of ads.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes, I find it bizarre. It’s similar to how job seekers over-read innocuous things that interviewers say like “we’re talking to a lot of people but we’ll be in touch soon” or “you have good experience.” I can understand how job searching can make you anxious and cynical, but at some point you have to realize that that’s not how most people operate. That doesn’t mean people don’t make mistakes or that there aren’t crappy companies around — of course they do and there are. But it’s rarely done with the kind of intent that I see people assuming here.

                1. EmmaLou*

                  I wasn’t trying to question your honesty! Really! It was just so clear to us at the time that ads could never be trusted, nor could phone interviews, that I wondered that since you’d not had to look for a job in a long while because you actually get offered them instead(!) and work for yourself, that maybe you’d just not experienced the … underhandedness.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It’s true that I haven’t job searched in a long time, but (a) I work with organizations on hiring and do some of that hiring myself and (b) I talk to zillions of job seekers all the time because of this blog, so I know both sides reasonably well. There’s really not the intent that people here sometimes assume. There just isn’t, although I know it’s easy to start seeing it that way when you’re in the midst of a frustrating search.

                3. halpful*

                  I suspect it’s not so much assuming intent as it is guessing at what the words say about the people using them. like, someone who thinks “energetic” is a good word for a job ad might not appreciate quietly-getting-things-done.

                  it’s still overzealous pattern-matching, but it’s based on a skill that’s useful in other contexts.

              2. Mookie*

                As halpful says (great ‘nym!), vocabulary sometimes roughly correlates to mindset and temperament and useful for gauging the expectations of the hiring manager.

            3. Julie Noted*

              I’ll say. My workplace provides plenty of training, clear directions and well thought out processes. I’ve had problems with more than a few highly educated, highly paid staff who can’t or won’t do anything unless and until they are explicitly told the steps in great detail. Won’t Google or ask a colleague to find an answer to the simplest problem. Won’t suggest ideas. Seem to view every damn thing seems to be a challenge to find an excuse not to do their job. I want people with energy and initiative. All the people rushing to embrace cynicism at the drop of a hat – if they see these words as red flags, that works for me. I don’t have the time, energy or inclination to deal with crappy attitudes. If you take pride in defaulting to cynicism, you’ve got your own red flags. I’ll pass.

            4. Mookie*

              I think a lot of the pushback is the formulaic, euphemistic, jargon-y nature of some job postings when you just know the same employer would regard a similarly-worded cover letter as an automatic fail. It’s a two-way street. Concision, without weaseling or omission, is an art everyone should work at cultivating.

              1. Mental Mouse*

                Someone sending a cover letter isn’t being charged by the word. Someone posting a job ad, may well be.

          1. Koko*

            Yes, this. I work with multiple people who created their own job because they saw a need going unmet, thought they could meet it, and pitched the idea to their supervisor. It’s one of the things I always make sure to bring up in interviews: we are looking for people who look for ways to fix or improve things that are broken or missing, and one of the things I love most about my job is that I work with colleagues who care enough to look for said opportunities and a management who empowers us to implement said changes. I don’t really want to work with someone who just accepts that things are broken and keeps going through the motions–even though I also recognize that there are many workplaces where that is a survival skill, and many people who prefer it that way.

    1. Bartlet for President*

      Or even worse – they’ll make us go mountain climbing and bunjee jumping for the mandatory company “retreat” every three months.

    2. Lauren*

      I see these words as ways to exclude introverts. They are basically telling you that introverts need not apply. When the language talks to enthusiasm – that usually means that extroverts will thrive – be promoted, get raises, get good work, be seen as valuable. Introverts that do not fake it, will get the ‘you lack confidence’, ‘not a team player’ stuff in their reviews – limiting raises, promotions, more interesting work.

      1. LBK*

        I don’t think that’s the case – I’m as introverted as they come but I don’t think I lack confidence or enthusiasm. I just tend to stay more to myself at work when it’s not for something work-related, but I compensate for it by throwing myself into my work and making sure I’m collaborative and helpful in that way. I just don’t participate in the purely social aspects of the office as much because that’s what really drains my energy.

        1. Jamie*

          Agree. This is the old misinterpretation of introverts as quiet recluses at all times despite it just being about how people recharge.

          I am very good at the collaborative parts of my job and working with teams, etc. And I’m genuinely enthusiastic about parts of my job and that helps me get buy in …energetic, motivated, fast paced…I wouldn’t self screen out of any of that.

          Method – the soap company – asking you about your inner weirdness and loving candidates who show that during interviews with impromptu sing-a-longs…that I’m self screening out of but more power to them for putting it out there so they get the right fit applying.

          1. fposte*

            And who knows, maybe they’d like it if you pulled a Rory Gilmore and busted out a book out to read during the interview.

        1. Kate*


          I think some of the commenters here are reacting this way because they have encountered companies that are using a “secret code” kind of thing in ads. I have too. Of course we know that isn’t the mainstream, but we also can’t know that this particular company isn’t using a secret code. You gave the mainstream definition in your answer above, now I think commenters are trying to give their experiences of the “secret code” definition to help prepare the OP for warning signs if they decide to interview.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            The thing is, it’s not a secret code if the majority of the time it’s used in a perfectly reasonable way. You just can’t reliably interpret it the way people are here, because the vast majority of the time, it’s not what it means.

            Are there lots of mismanaged companies out there? Yes. Will some of them have used language like this in their ads? Yes, because of companies of all types do. That doesn’t mean there’s correlation between the two things (I would venture like 99% of the time that’s not why they’re using that language).

            1. Recruit-o-Rama*

              Having personally cobbled together more than my fair share of job ads, I can attest to the difficulty of writing a good ad. I work in HR, I am college educated and I think I write reasonable well, but I will not be writing any best selling novels anytime soon. Rather than a “code” this kind of language (fast paced environment, energetic, passionate) are just ad writers attempts at writing something that is not too dry. Maybe it’s misguided, maybe it’s not the right strategy, maybe it doesn’t convey the right message, but it’s not a code.

              If a hiring manager told me they wanted a young person for their open position and to put that in the ad, my response to then would be “that’s illegal, let’s use the word energetic”. My response would be “that’s illegal” full stop. Most companies, HR departments and hiring managers are acting in good faith.

              1. Chaordic One*

                Maybe it’s misguide, maybe it’s not the right strategy, maybe it doesn’t convey the right message…

                Maybe they should stop it and just go back to being dry.

                Terse or Worse.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  There are other problems with being terse — namely, that dry ads easily become jargony and boring and turn off good candidates.

                  Regardless, the question here for job seekers is whether to read much into these words, and the answer is that they shouldn’t.

      2. Kimberlee, Esq*

        As an introvert who has excellent internal and external customer service, I have to wholeheartedly disagree.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        If that is the intent, they’re doing it badly. I’d describe at least 50% of my staff as introverted, and they still manage to be proactive, motivated, whatever the hated word-du-jour is. The requirements of the job are that you seek out work, play nicely with your team, and volunteer to do what needs doing. If your preference is to hang out in your office and avoid people at all times, introverted or not, it’s not the right job for you. I’m not excluding introverts; I’m excluding people who are unlikely to succeed at the job or unwilling to do what it requires.

        There is nothing wrong with being introverted. I am one — in the upper 90th percentile on the introversion spectrum consistently for about 2 decades now. I also manage a team of around 30 people, have been promoted repeatedly over the course of my career, and still manage to carve out significant “me time” to recharge (even with a spouse and kids). Someone thinks I’m valuable, and I’m not playing the part of an extrovert at work (and, to the contrary of lacking confidence, I have been told the opposite — that I’m arrogant because I don’t feel obligated to caucus and gain consensus for every little decision).

    3. Franzia Spritzer*

      I’m so glad someone else mentioned “passionate” in job descriptions, this seems to be plunked into every job post in the Greater Seattle Area and it makes me nuts.

      Alison, thanks for the clarification. I have indeed become too cynical about job ads. Here’s hoping that I can resist the urge to read between the lines!

    4. TheBeetsMotel*

      #2 See, to me “energetic” would signify “sense of urgency”. The number of coworkers, at multiple jobs, I’ve had over the years who were significantly younger than me but would spend their time shuuuuuuuffling arooooound from one place to the other, or whose working speed never increased when we were clearly, obviously busy… yeah. That opposite of that, is what I think of when I see “energetic”.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        I think that’s a good interpretation. I work in an industry with a lot of very time-sensitive tasks (fast-paced, one might say :), and I need people to hop to it. I do not believe my job postings say “energetic”, but it’s a word I hear a lot in evaluations for people who are positive and willing to pitch in and help.

    5. Feo Takahari*

      The one that worries me is “sense of humor.” “Humor” at my current workplace generally means “casual racism.”

      1. slick ric flair*

        That’s a real leap, though – in almost every case a job ad is not signalling ‘open to racism!’ when they say ‘sense of humour’. It’s much more likely to the be the company trying to say they want someone personable.

  11. Trying to Troubleshoot*

    Please remove if this isn’t appropriate.

    Does anyone else have trouble with the ads on this site when accessing it using an Android Chrome browser? This only happens occasionally, but sometimes when visiting this site on my phone I get a nasty pop up that sets up a redirect and to get rid of it I have to delete app data or sometimes reinstall the browser. For instance, when I tried to access today’s letters in my phone, i got a redirect loop from a site calling itself and had to totally reinstall the app to make it stop. This only happens on my phone and only ever when accessing this site. I have emailed Alison before but she says no one else has reported it. I have run multiple spyware and virus checks on my phone.

    I would be convinced there is something wrong with my phone except it only ever happens when I am visiting this exact site and I have run malware checks. If I avoid this site on my phone, no problem.

    Please note this is not meant as an attack on the site, I am more trying to gather data for Alison. If no one else has this issue, I will be convinced it is just me.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I doubt it’s something you’re doing; it sounds like the site is doing it to you. It’s just that my ad network can’t troubleshoot it if they can’t recreate it. (But there’s been a rash of bad ads on mobile in the past few weeks, and I don’t doubt this is part of it.)

      I want to keep ad discussions out of the comments, but if anyone else has experienced this, I’d appreciate it if you’d send me details using the ad report form linked just above the comment box. Thanks!

  12. Em too*

    #3 I’m seeing some concern about the plan that your wife goes and doesn’t drink, but not sure what it is. If you think the company would have a negative reaction to her not drinking then, well, that’s pretty terrible from the company: “You must endanger your life! For bonding!”. Otherwise, why not have her volunteer to be DD for a car full of co-workers, and at least end up with a few colleagues owing her a favour. Hopefully at least some other co-workers feel the same and they can soberly bond with each other while the others drink away.

    May help to frame it not as ‘fun event without spouse’ but ‘long and particularly annoying work day for which I am being paid’?

    1. Lablizard*

      I wonder if she could offer to organize a DD sign up sheet? It is hard to imagine her company objecting to her helping to keep her co-workers safe and legal

    2. Lex*

      Does the company know she has a drinking problem and if not, would it be safe to tell them? The company I work for makes sure that everyone that they know of who is a problem drinker gets an automatic out if desired from events that feature alcohol.

    3. Michele*

      People shouldn’t drink enough at company events to change their behavior, so I don’t understand why it is so important that she drink. Also, I have never been at a company event where people give someone a hard time for not drinking. At our department’s holiday party, for example, alcohol was provided. I had one drink then stopped. When people asked why I didn’t have another, I just explained that I have a very low tolerance and wouldn’t feel safe driving. A couple other people weren’t drinking at all. It was all acceptable.

      If the wife feels that she needs alcohol to relax in a social situation (I understand because I tend to get anxious at things like that), it might help to do what I do. My Google-fu is failing me, but there was an Oscar Wilde quote about the English needing to be more like the Irish (meaning they need to speak more) and the Irish needing to be more like the English (meaning they need to listen more). I am like the English, so when I go to social functions, I try to be more like the Irish. When we were in Ireland, strangers were very out-going and friendly, and would strike up conversations with anyone by asking them questions, so for a few hours, I emulate them.

    4. Artemesia*

      She could however nurse a single drink and then switch to tonic and lime or ginger ale. I am not much of a drinker and have never had trouble at drinking events holding something that looks like an alcoholic drink but isn’t.

    5. Crazy Dog Lady*

      The vibe on my team is very much, “Let’s all get drunk and stay out all night!” Because our team building/mandatory fun events take place on weeknights and I have no interest in getting trashed on a Tuesday or working hungover the next day, I abstain from drinking.

      I’ve found that if I don’t make a big deal out of it, nobody else really cares – and in the past two years, a few other people have stopped drinking at these events too. Sometimes, someone just has to start the trend. On the off chance that someone makes a comment about whether or not I’m drinking, I shrug and change the subject. It’s only as weird as I make it.

      (I should note that the couple of times that I did drink – ultimately too much – at these events, it was never worth it. I never had to drive home, nor would I ever get behind the wheel while drinking, but I always felt like a jackass the next day. OP, your wife may feel better in more ways than one if she stays sober at this event).

  13. AdAgencyChick*

    Perhaps #1 could also bring her boss into the loop by asking nonspecifically what she should do when a customer asks for a specific person and she doesn’t know when that person will be back from a break?

    Hopefully in addition to answering the question, the boss will think to say, “Oh, is this happening a lot?”

  14. Recruit-o-Rama*

    After reading the comments about letter #3, the solution seems rather simple. The OPs wife should simply not drink at the event. She will be home around 6 PM, which seems like a relatively normal time to arrive home. It’s annoying for the company to hold an event like this three hours away, but it’s not an unforgivable sin, it’s just annoying. I don’t think this event is evidence that the company doesn’t care about neglected spouses. I think it’s evidence that they haven’t thought through their team building strategy, but they have no obligation to make sure spouses are not being neglected.

    1. Gigglewater*

      I’ve saw someone say this above but I think it bears repeating. OP may know that spouse has poor impulse control, trouble avoiding peer pressure, or have a dependency on alcohol. If in the past even after setting out to not drink spouse does drink, than OP to some degree is thinking of the very possible ramifications of that happening . Planning for something you know is likely to happen isn’t wrong. I think the question veers deep into other issues (spouse maybe works in an environment that is not good for her overall well being, spouse’s job is causing problems within their relationship, etc.) but the point around needing to confirm that spouse gets home safely is very valid. However OP can’t control the conversation it sounds like spouse needs to have with her company, that this is a heavy burden for a required work event and if transportation or lodging can’t be arranged then she will take PTO on that day. I can appreciate OPs frustration but would advise OP to step back, put the other issues to the side and to focus on the fact that OP and spouse should work to ensure she is safe.

      1. Recruit-o-Rama*

        Yes, I understand all this; my point is that the letter writer has framed the question incorrectly, there is no evidence that the company doesn’t care about neglected spouses or that there is anything inherently wrong with this event. There is no evidence that company is even aware that she (may) have a drinking problem so they are not acting in bad faith. The problem the OP has is entirely their own to solve with his or her wife and has nothing to do with this event that the company is holding or their overall strategy for work/life balance. If the event is 3 hours away, they are asking their team to work from 8 AM to 6 PM, commute included, which is in no way unreasonable or uncommon.

        1. Gigglewater*

          I definitely did not get this point when I read your post above, this explanation though I definitely agree with. I was responding to this specific part of your post, “the solution seems rather simple. The OPs wife should simply not drink at the event.” Which, having witnessed it not be an actual solution for people is the reason I said something.

  15. AthenaC*

    #4 –

    At the risk of re-igniting the “How did you get this email?!!” debate, I think at the moment the world we live in is such that you should assume other people know things about you that are on the internet and easily findable. But I think we should set some additional etiquette in this area, such as – “Outside of a few very specific circumstances (ex. job candidate background checks), pretend you don’t know what you found on the internet until that person tells you in conversation.” If you can’t remember whether you know something from conversation or from your Google-fu? Well – gee, that’s a tough spot. Maybe you should have had more self-control.

    I once interviewed a lady who, during that “What questions do you have for me?” portion, opened with, “Athena, I saw on your LinkedIn that ….” A rather normal place to look to learn about your interviewer, and she even opened with where she found it, so it wasn’t a surprise. It was still a little disorienting, though, so I understand the feeling of discomfort.

    1. Allypopx*

      The “How did you get this email?!” debate was already a little overwhelming by the time I got to it so forgive me if I’m repeating the kind of things you’re trying to avoid there, but I think there is a general understanding of etiquette around this, but there’s also this new reincarnation of the “gumption” mindset where people think their Google-fu shows initiative and just don’t understand it comes off as creepy or intrusive. After all – it’s on the internet! Just because it took me half an hour to dig the depths of five year old social media to find it…

      I like it when people open with “I saw it through this channel” I think that’s polite and saves that creep factor.

      1. AthenaC*

        I don’t know how much a “general understanding of etiquette” can be presumed. Etiquette advice columns answering very basic questions are still alive and kicking, after all! Or maybe I just run with very socially awkward coworkers / friends.

        I definitely do agree, though, about the new reincarnation of “gumption,” possibly from desperation to do something different to achieve results.

        1. Allypopx*

          Very good point! I guess I meant more we don’t need to establish it, it’s there, we just need to educate. (My socially awkward friends might be skewing my perspective as well, but we tend to the side of overpreparing in anticipation of doing something wrong)

      2. Marillenbaum*

        It definitely makes me think of the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song “Research Me Obsessively”: “It’s not stalking because the information is all technically public!”

  16. AthenaC*

    #5 –

    What if you enlisted someone at the same level as your subordinates to collect their donations? That way they wouldn’t be interacting with you and there would be no need for them to worry about your perceptions of them if they did / didn’t donate.

    This would only work if collecting donations would take a negligible amount of time; otherwise you risk strong-arming a subordinate inappropriately.

    I can tell you that if I were in their shoes, I would be happy to be given the opportunity to contribute to a cause that I was passionate about.

    1. Mirax*

      This solution would make me feel pretty weird from either side–as the subordinate asked to help collect, or as someone asked for donations by a peer on behalf of a superior. I’d wonder if there wasn’t some kind of favoritism going on, or if the subordinate would be able to call in this favor later.

      1. Allypopx*

        I think it could work if the person doing the soliciting had already shown enthusiastic interest in helping with the charity and it could be framed as “thanks for your interest! why don’t you ask around and see if there’s any interest among your peers?” and not a “you’re an extension of me for the purpose of putting company pressure on colleagues and you are now in a very uncomfortable position.”

        Basically all aspects of this need to be voluntary and non-pressured.

        1. AthenaC*

          That’s another angle – at my old firm, me and one other person were the designated “charity” people. So for official “firm” charity drives, no matter who was drumming up enthusiasm, the designated “charity” people would collect. Also, as I noted below, our receptionist would also collect sometimes for out-of-cycle causes (we had a LOT of charitable giving going on throughout the year).

      2. AthenaC*

        Sure – that’s a possibility.

        I was thinking more of how my old firm worked – the receptionist was a neutral, jack-of-all-trades type person. If we had had a rank-conscious culture (we didn’t), I would have asked her to collect money. Now that I think of it, when we had partners in other locations solicit donations, the receptionist in our office was usually the point person to collect those donations.

    2. nofelix*

      It would likely be clear to everyone that the subordinate was collecting on your behalf, so make little to no difference.

        1. fposte*

          Not enough of one, IMHO, and you’ve still got somebody paid by the company collecting money for your personal benefit.

          1. AthenaC*

            Everyone’s thoughts here are pretty fair; I gathered from the letter that this is an official / semi-official work-sponsored thing such that collecting at work wouldn’t be out-of-bounds. I could be wrong though.

    3. Emilia Bedelia*

      I think this is even more inappropriate to use someone else as a go-between. I can’t envision how it could possibly be not-weird. I think as a new colleague, the OP needs to be really careful about how they come across here, and I think it’s unlikely that they have the level of social capital and good favor among their coworkers to do this kind of thing.

      If people are so excited about the cause, they can find out how to donate. It’s a company sponsored event. I’m sure they can figure it out. As someone who has personally been a fundraiser as a job, I really intensely disagree that people will be happy (?!??) to be solicited money from, even if they DO care about the cause.

      1. Arjay*

        We also have no idea how many other employees are participating in the fundraiser, meaning that this could end up being the fourth or fifth solicitation they’ve received. Even for a nominal donation, it starts to add up if you’re supporting multiple colleagues.

  17. Jessesgirl72*

    OP 1: It seems like the real underlying problem is your lack of training, rather than your coworker’s flexible schedule. If you were better able to answer customer’s questions, you wouldn’t need her. Go to your boss- and possibly your coworker- and ask for the training that would allow you to run the place and answer client’s needs without your coworker. If you can help the customers, they won’t need to ask for her (Some still will, naturally, but you can redirect them with real help.)

  18. Jessesgirl72*

    OP5: If your corporation sponsors the event, how many other people are running and collecting to try to make their minimum donation level? In my experience, the number is going to be pretty high. Honestly, I’d try to avoid asking at the office entirely, for that reason.

    1. Michele*

      Definitely. I have run into that here at work. The company was the banner sponsor for a charity bike ride. There were multiple people within our department soliciting for donations. As the highest ranking person who was doing the ride, I didn’t feel right about asking people at work for money, so I made the donation myself.

  19. AthenaC*

    #3 –

    At the risk of talking over the spouse, who has been very active in providing further detail (thank you, by the way), this letter could have been written by my husband. My employer will have events from time to time (no spouses of course), usually as a “thank you” for working our tails off and never being home for weeks at a time. So “the spouse,” I hear you.

    I also understand why the proposed “solution” of not drinking at the event is being received like a lead balloon. Being able to let loose and have a few drinks with coworkers (especially after a long, harrowing project), really is instrumental for morale and team camaraderie. Plus I am guessing the spouse doesn’t see a scenario in which his wife will go to this even and not enjoy a few drinks (am very aware I am projecting my own marriage onto this situation with that statement).

    The solution I have come up with for me is to have a few drinks at the very beginning of the event, enjoy the tipsy / slightly drunk feeling, then stop drinking and chug water the rest of the time. That way I still get to enjoy the alcohol, I’m sober by the time I try to drive anywhere, and I’m not hungover the next morning. My husband still doesn’t like it, but it’s a acceptable enough compromise that he doesn’t argue.

    Hope that helps!

    1. Amtelope*

      This spouse already has DUIs. Even if it is safe for her to drive after she’s sobered up, if she is even a tiny bit over the legal limit and gets stopped for any reason, another drunk driving citation could mean permanently losing her license or going to jail. I don’t think it’s safe for her to get “tipsy” before driving, even if a couple of hours pass before she has to drive, given her record. She needs to not drink, have one drink early in the party and then stop (but it sounds like she may have a drinking problem that limits her ability to do this), or arrange for her husband or another designated driver to pick her up.

    2. Marcela*

      No, alcoholic drinks are not instrumental for morale and camaraderie. I’ve been working for 20 years now and I do not drink (simply because I do not like the taste). I’ve never had any difficulty integrating myself in my teams and having great relationships with them.

      1. LBK*

        For people who don’t drink they obviously aren’t, but I think if you’re accustomed to blowing off steam over a couple drinks it can be uncomfortable to adjust to not having social lubricant. But if this is likely to be a concern for the OP’s wife again in the future, maybe she just needs to get used to it.

        1. AthenaC*

          Even with my DUI prevention strategy (detailed above), other people on my team notice that I’m only drinking water, and I frequently hear, “I felt so bad for you! We were all having so much fun and I’m sorry you were sober for it!” I just stick with reassuring them that I had a blast (because I did!) and that I drank exactly as much as I wanted to (an immaterial white lie).

    3. JMegan*

      @The Spouse, I’m an ex-military wife, so I hear you on the drinking culture at work. And my current spouse works retail, which means that not only does he work 60-hour weeks, but most of those hours are evenings and weekends. We basically never see each other. So you have my sympathies on both counts.

      I agree that you can’t go to the event, because you’ve been specifically told not to. And I also agree that your going wouldn’t solve most of the problems – yes, your wife would have a DD, but the underlying problems of drinking culture and the long hours wouldn’t change. (And your dog would still be waiting at home for you either way!) I don’t know how your wife feels about all this – does she really love her job, even with all the problems? It’s clear that there are aspects of it that are stressful for *you,* in any case – I hope you can find a productive way to talk to her about them, once the stress of this particular event is over. Good luck.

      1. Big mistake*

        I regret even submitting my question at all. I wanted an answer from the manager not a thousand assumptions about me, the wife, and being called “adversarial” when someone else was the one judging my wife for something that happened in her youth. Could’ve been spared the “I don’t drink therefore I would never get a DUI” holier than thou crowd. I think it’s hilarious that my comments are moderated and everyone else’s aren’t.

        1. AthenaC*

          At the very least, you have an answer, even if it’s not an appealing one: You can’t attend, and you can’t do anything to change the culture of your wife’s job. It’s actually quite rare for companies to even consider that employees have families and other relationships outside work.

        2. Amtelope*

          I think everyone here is telling you, as politely as possible, that:

          1) Your options are to pick your wife up after the event, or to trust her not to drink (or not to drink to an extent that would impair her driving); you can’t go to the event, as spouses are specifically not invited.
          2) The simplest solution would be for your wife not to drink, even if others are drinking.
          3) Getting a DUI is not an accident that could happen to anyone. Most people don’t make the serious and potentially deadly mistake of driving while intoxicated, ever. Minimizing the seriousness of someone having DUIs on their record isn’t helpful, even when you love that person.

          I would add personally that:

          4) DUIs in the past + being strongly tempted to drink at this event even though she might then have to drive home intoxicated = big red flags for a drinking problem. If she hasn’t discussed her drinking with her doctor or a therapist, that might be a good idea.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Your comments aren’t moderated, so I don’t know what that means (although they will be if this continues). I asked you to be polite to people here. If you don’t want to do that, please just skip reading the comments; no one is requiring you to read or interact here.

          1. ancolie*

            I *think* they’re referring to the fact you commented directly on their responses in the discussions as being adversarial, not saying you’ve edited/deleted their posts. So, more like an old school message board mod style that warns when a poster breaks a commenting rule (it’s still inaccurate, since you didn’t warn him or anything, but y’know).

        4. Trout 'Waver*

          You didn’t get those comments until you said that anyone can get a DUI, which is a ludicrous statement to make.

        5. Artemesia*

          Oh just go right ahead and bully your way into a work event you have been specifically told you are not invited to; this may help solve the 60 hour a week problem when your wife loses her job.

          Why ask if you only want strokes?

        6. TheBeetsMotel*

          Neither Alison, nor the commentariat, are here just to agree with you or give you the thumbs-up to feel angry and justified. Even if everyone agreed with you 100%, that wouldn’t help you in finding a solution, would it? We’re all trying to offer reasonable solutions. There are a host of thoughtful, useful suggestions in these comments, even if every one of them isn’t to your liking, or might not work for you.

          I’ve submitted questions before and not gotten the answers I wanted. I got the answers I needed instead.

    4. Jesmlet*

      I think anyone who already has one DUI may have issues with impulse control and therefore might not be able to stop after a couple drinks. If I’m overreaching, ignore me… but it seems the spouse has come here for a possible alternative solution because they know the easy one (just don’t drink) might not be as easy for their wife as it would for others whether it’s because of the coworkers, peer pressure, or an existing alcohol problem.

      I know people who need their significant others by their side at work events because the work culture is alcohol heavy and they just need the support and encouragement so they don’t slip back into old habits. Not saying that’s what this is here but I’d like to suggest that maybe it’s not as simple as “just don’t drink at all” or “just have a couple in the beginning”.

      1. AthenaC*

        That’s probably really the core of the issue. It can be frustrating if you depend on a spouse for support … but then you’re put in a situation where you’re forcibly deprived of that support.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Which is why treatment organizations all pretty much emphasize you have to manage yourself and not rely on others as a crutch.

          1. AthenaC*

            Crutch, managing predictable human frailty … tomato, tomahto.

            Not a crime to be aware of your limitations and coordinate your own support. No one is an island, after all.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Hey, I have my own spousal crutch for some decently moderate social anxiety too. I get it.

              The difference is that I acknowledge I can’t always have him around, and neither of us blame Work when that happens! And we both acknowledge it doesn’t really solve the root problem- it’s a bandaid. In fact, my husband would encourage me, in this case, to go without him as being good for me- and we’d work out how he could support me via text or something. He wouldn’t be railing about how dare my workplace expect me to conduct myself responsibly on my own!

              For all the OP is yelling about other people judging his wife harshly, he’s the one who is treating her like an untrustworthy child.

      2. Triangle Pose*

        I think is true. OP, for whatever reason, does not believe that OP’s wife not drinking or drinking safely is not possible. But OP is generally ignoring all of these suggestions so to the commentors it just looks like OP completely misunderstands that these are reasonable suggestions. If these options are not possible, OP can still drop OP’s wife off and pick her up. I really don’t understand OP’s combativeness towards the suggested alternatives!

  20. KRM*

    LW#4, I’ve experienced this with a recruiting company. They have gotten my info off LinkedIn, but always start with “I got your name from a colleague” (um, no all my colleagues know I’m not interested in a new job), and then proceed to call me over and over, acting all chummy in messages, like we just haven’t managed to connect. I’ve also been contacted by multiple recruiters from the same place and they use the same script. However, my strategy is just to ignore them. I do this because 1-they lie about how they got my name, and I hate that and 2-I did once ask them to stop calling me, and they didn’t…so I feel that ignoring them is what they deserve at this point.

  21. Will's mom*

    If I were your wife and did not want to go, I would consider having a really bad migraine or stomach virus that day.

      1. Michele*

        Yep. I didn’t see anything where OP said that his wife didn’t want to go. In everyone of his posts, he sounds upset, angry, and even belligerent. Those two have a few things they need to work out, and the work party has almost nothing to do with it.

      2. excel_fangrrrl*

        it really doesn’t sound like OP wants the wife to go at all and will not accept any solution offered that allows her to go. OP was clearly seeking validation rather than advice.

        IMHO “drive wife to event, amuse yourself in town for a few hours, and then be her DD home” is the best solution but the OP balks at the idea of having to amuse themselves for a few hours even though they are UP IN ARMS over the safety of spouse *eye roll* a grown-ass adult human can amuse themselves for a few hours if it means the difference between the life & death for their partner. OP only actually cares about keeping the wife home completely. no other solution will do.

  22. Delta Delta*

    #3 – maybe I’m missing something, but are people at Wife’s workplace not carpooling to this event? Seems silly for everyone who works there to drive 6 hours total. Maybe Wife can ride with someone else. Solves the problem.

    1. madge*

      I can’t wrap my brain around the idea that the company isn’t providing a party bus or something similar.

      If Spouse doesn’t care for the other suggestions here (Wife doesn’t drink or sets her phone to alert her to stop drinking at a certain time; Spouse drives her to and from, or picks her up), Wife should ask the “I’m going to get so wasted” co-worker to ride with his/her DD. Because there’s no way I’d let Waster Co-worker drive without alerting authorities.

      1. MillersSpring*

        I can’t wrap my brain around the company encouraging everybody to get bombed in the middle of the day. Even if it’s a weekend.

  23. writelhd*

    OP#1: My first year at my job was an internship where basically everybody walked down to our lonely end of the office to find my boss, and the biggest question I got was “Where’s Fergus?” for my first year. In his case he was often gone not because of flexible schedule, but because of being super involved in meetings, and in general such an awesome employee that people needed him all the time. I was pretty lonely and nervous my first few months, but it made a big difference that he gave me clear direction and ever-increasing responsibility on what I should be doing, what things people could start coming to ME for instead of him, and gave me dedicated time once a week to meet with me so we could discuss my tasks for the week and his schedule. It took a while for that to pay off, but it did. So I agree that getting yourself squared with this coworker and what she expects, what she can delegate to you to be yours to do, can be helpful.

    OP#4, I never got one *that* personal, but I do get repetitive notes from different people in the same company, sometimes with an escalating sense of offense that I haven’t responded, which only makes me less likely to respond. I have the advantage of a uniquely-spelled first name that people who don’t know me often pronounce wrong, which helps screen out calls by phone, but by email these days people are mostly getting that right because they indeed looked it up somewhere. I’ve learned that the ones who do the most shady/aggressive things are the ones least likely to take the message of “your tactics have put me off” well–or, at all. They know very well their tactics are shady, its the business model they’ve chosen, for better or for worse. I think they’re looking for any engagement at all, even a refusal, as grounds to push further.

  24. Michelle*

    OP #4- I’m an assistant and get these types of emails all. the. time. and usually just ignore them. However, there was one guy who went out of his way to contact me repeatedly, by email and phone. I had talked to him once when he first contacted me and and he really put me off, asking personal questions and wanting to know our yearly budget and how much of that was allocated for the items he was wanting to see us. I told him that we were not interested in changing providers at that time.

    After 15 emails and phone calls (voice mails because I recognized the number) in 1 one week, I replied back to tell him again that we did not need his services and we were not making a change. I also told him that harassing me with calls and emails was not going to change my mind. Then showed up at my job wanting a meeting. We are public tourist attraction so it’s easy to find out where we are. I had Security walk with me to front and told him again that we did not need his services and I was not going to have a meeting with him. He said “I guess you don’t want to save money by working with the largest supplier in the Southeast!” I replied “If it means working with rude, overly aggressive people like you, then no, I don’t”. I think he wanted to argue and cause a scene but by this time, several other Security personnel had arrived at the front and he decided to leave.

    The company lawyer ended up having a meeting with his company and told them that if he did not stop calling, emailing and showing up at my job, they would file a harassment claim and report the company to the BBB. That ended the calls and emails.

    1. NPO Queen*

      That is a lot more aggressive than any sales pitch I’ve fended off. I’ve had people turn up at my job and actually get into my actual office, which was disconcerting enough, but I can’t believe that guy thought being overly aggressive would get him business.

      OP4, I am almost positive I know who you’re talking about, as I also live in Chicago and have also received similar sales pitches. They’ll ask about the Blackhawks and the Cubs, because that’s on my Twitter, which is a bit much, but I let it go. They reach out once a quarter or so, and I find it easier to ignore the added details and say, “Sorry, we don’t need that right now!” Whatever you do, don’t turn them down by saying you have budget constraints, because then they’ll just send you proposals with low cost items.

      1. Michelle*

        I admit that I either had Security escort me to my car or I walked out with a group of coworkers for a few weeks after.

  25. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    You absolutely shouldn’t use a power dynamc to make employees donate, or even mix power and donations. It’s really icky, especially where people don’t make much money to begin with.

    I’m dealing with that non-monetarily now, as colleagues ask why I have not marched in the women’s marches or gone, as a lawyer, to assist those affected by the Muslim ban at airports.

    I absolutely believe in those things, but I have no background in immigration law and didn’t want to just be in the way, have severe asthma that means any police use of gas or pepper spray at protests could kill me, and need tthe save my energy and emotional labor now to help listen to my wife and deal with her mental health issues. We’ve donated to the ACLU instead. And I started a Twitter account to talk about current issues and spread information (and really, the username AngryQueerLawyer was pretty irresistible).

    1. Newby*

      It drives me crazy when people try to shame others into donating time and money. Everyone gets to decide for themselves how they want to use their resources and which causes they are able or willing to support. I’ll admit I can be mean when people try to do this to me. I ask them why they aren’t volunteering at the soup kitchen or that they should donate their coat to a clothing drive. They tend to back off.

    2. Temperance*

      I’m saying this as someone who rec’d over 125 emails this weekend from people wanting to help, but there are better ways for you to get involved, when you have time and are able. An ACLU donation is a big one.

      I had to miss the women’s march because of what is very likely pneumonia, so I get it. Part of me is glad that people care enough to march and encourage others, but that’s because my job is entirely built around helping others.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had to miss it because of my knee, which wasn’t up to standing so long and walking that day (and I’m sad I missed it). But as soon as I get a job, ACLU is getting money from me and PP will get more too.

    3. Michele*

      I joined Twitter because of all of this, too. I wish that I had as good and creative a username as you.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I’m just lucky it wasn’t taken! (Though I did have to spell it AngryQueerLawyr because of username length limits).

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, I dislike people guilting me into donating (ha, you cannot guilt me into anything and everybody who knows me is aware of that). And I especially don’t like it if it comes from my workplace. It’s my money and I will use it how I see fit–when I have some, I’ll donate it appropriately. The non-profit job forced us to donate to them once during our employment, which left a very bad taste in my mouth. We were buying an ice machine for our floor so I threw in some bucks for that, but every time I got ice from it, I resented it.

      Is your Twitter profile pic a kitty? I followed you. :)

    5. Emac*

      Another +1 here. I have been dealing with some health issues, so while I would love to go do everything I can to help, I have a very limited amount of energy most days. And first priority right now has to be work, so I can keep my health insurance. And just re-joined Twitter, to0!

  26. BBBizAnalyst*

    I get being annoyed but if you’re not invited, don’t go. It’s awkward when a coworker brings their spouse to a team building event and having to entertain them when that’s not the purpose of the day.

    1. Michele*

      Back when I was in school, I worked at a restaurant, and one of our servers was married to a man who would come in at the end of her shift every night and tell her what to do and try to tell everyone else what to do and watch to make sure that no one was flirting with her and just being horrible (until I kicked him out one night). Since then, whenever a spouse tries to insert themselves into a work environment when they have not been invited, I assume they are like him and are controlling, insecure jerks.

  27. Naomi*

    #2: Are any of these jobs public-facing? I’m wondering if “energetic” means that they want someone upbeat/ perky when interacting with clients or customers.

    1. seejay*

      I read the letter and it immediately reminded me of the sales girl in the makeup store I went to last weekend. She was bright, chipper, perky, and danced around me as she served me (no exaggeration). She took the products from me and proceeded to dance back towards the cash and even shook her hips while chirping away while she talked the entire time.

      She was a breath of fresh air, but damn, I’d get tired of that right quick if I worked around it all the time. I’m not a gloomy gus but I couldn’t be around that much perk every day. XD

      (I’m sure it works well for her, the type of store and retail was definitely more geared towards the more outgoing and perky sales girl style, and I can really see her fitting in well there, but it would grate on me like whoa.)

    2. Franzia Spritzer*

      This is what I’ve always been afraid of. I have a solid RBF, even when I think I’m smiling, smizing with all my might, I look stone cold shady. I’m super animated when I’m actively talking and laughing, but the rest of the time I look like I can shoot daggers. I can’t be “perky” to save my life.

  28. kristinyc*

    Re: #4 I had a vendor send me a hat from my university, and put my university’s logo on the letter they sent. The letter was for a CRM program, and didn’t make ANY reference to why they had stuff from my school. NOTHING. It was SO WEIRD. Don’t do this, vendors. I assumed they just looked me up on Linkedin, but it made no sense at all.

  29. Diane*

    LW #4: I’ve had the overly-personal sales pitch in the form of university alumni asking me to come to an alumni event aka give money. She got my info from my contribution to the annual newsletter but it was way, way, way too personal and it basically guaranteed I will never become a donor. I’m still salty about it. Don’t be creepy!

  30. AKJ*

    #5 – I have worked as support staff for attorneys both as a legal secretary and as a paralegal. I have worked at some firms where I would not have batted an eye at a fundraising email like that from an attorney and others where, in all honesty, I would have felt obligated and therefore really uncomfortable. I think it all depends on your relationship with your support staff. You say you’re at a large company, and in my experience, you’re probably unlikely to have the relationship with your support staff that would make it okay – at the larger, more formal firms I’ve worked at, I’ve never had that kind of relationship with the attorneys, especially the newer attorneys.
    On the other hand, today I got an invitation from one of the attorneys in our office to either participate in or donate to a 5k that’s being held nearby, and I didn’t think much of it, because 1) my current firm is very laid back, small and informal, and we all work closely together and 2) She wasn’t really asking us to donate to *her*, she’s just advertising the event itself. But even so, even if it had been a direct fundraising email, I don’t think it would have bothered me, simply because this is common in our office and we have the context cues from the relationship that Alison mentioned in her response.
    So, in your case, I’d agree with Alison and say don’t do it. Your support staff will appreciate it!

  31. Jane*

    #3 It seems like there are so many possible solutions here that don’t involve you being inconvenienced by having to drive 6 hours. She could (1) attend and not drink, (2) ask around to see if anyone else wants to be a designated driver, (3) ask the company to sponsor a group bus, (4) arrange her own ride and seek reimbursement, (5) not attend (and if necessary, make up an excuse like a doctor’s appointment that unfortunately cannot be moved – “unfortunately, I had to make a doctor’s appointment that day, no big deal, I am fine, but it’s something that could not be scheduled for any other time, unfortunately” made-up doctor is going on vacation or – true story in my case – moving to another state and I need to see him one last time before he moves so I actually cannot change my appointment because his other slots before he moves are all filled up.)

  32. J-nonymous*

    “Job seekers have a tendency to think that employers are communicating in code, but employers hardly ever are.”

    Yeah, most of the time we are just copying and pasting prior (or other companies’) job descriptions.

  33. Machiamellie*

    #2 – I am unfortunately struggling with this at my current position and it’s one of the reasons I’m looking elsewhere. In the past year, I’ve been diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder and have been experiencing chronic joint pain and fatigue every day. It’s not going to get any better, unfortunately. As a result, I know my tiredness is apparent to my workplace. I still do my best and am trying my hardest, but I’m not able to be high energy. My boss is type-A and go-go-go all the time, and I can tell it’s really bothering him. Add to that my Aspergers and the antidepressant that I take for it, which keeps my emotions very stable and keeps me from getting super excited about anything, and it’s not the right environment for me.

    And yes, as I’ve been looking for a new position, most job postings do seem to say they want someone “high energy” or “energetic.” It’s frustrating because I can’t help being tired, and I do good work, I am just not jumping up and down.

  34. Cobol*

    Re: #3
    There’s obviously some stuff not being told, so I’m not going to get involved with that.

    But while Allison’s answer is spot on, I think we’re discounting that some jobs just suck (or in part suck). In this case it sounds like spouse’s job expects people to “play hard” and not doing so would adversely affect your future there. Sometimes you do have to drink, or at least appear to drink.

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I don’t think that’s getting as much attention as it might. And while it’s not clear how the wife feels about this, it doesn’t mean she’s gung ho to go and the OP is trying to stop her, either.

      I think OP is getting a bit of a rough ride, tbh; he’s not the greatest communicator, but his wife actually is facing a work problem that we’d have a fair bit of sympathy for if she’d written in directly. (Admittedly, I think there is a pretty easy answer in “you drive and find something else to do while she’s at the party,” but this still has some layers going on.)

      1. AthenaC*

        “but his wife actually is facing a work problem that we’d have a fair bit of sympathy for if she’d written in directly.”


      2. LBK*

        I think the answers would be pretty similar if that were the case (don’t go; go and just stick to your guns about not drinking; go with a DD) but the OP’s follow up comments have been a little prickly and have shot down all of those options for vague or questionable reasons. I don’t think it’s the question that’s the issue so much as the seeming inability to hear anything but validation of his original solution. It’s reflected in the question itself, which is basically “We asked permission to do a thing and got told no; should we do it anyway?” I’m not sure what solution the OP wants to hear that he hasn’t already heard and rejected.

        1. Cobol*

          I don’t think it’s reasonable to say don’t go though. She’d be seen as not being a team player. It’s not right, and it’s not fair, but (in many cases) it is life.

          I’d recommend that the spouse fake being drunk. It seems unbelievably childish, but it might be the best b answer.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That seems a bit extreme! Even in offices with heavy drinking cultures, people can generally opt out because they’re driving, on medication, etc. — or just circulate with a glass of something with a lime in it. And usually in those cultures, it’s not drunkenness that’s rewarded, just hanging with a drink.

            Faking being drunk and recommendations for meth — this is a weird comment thread today.

            1. Cobol*

              I’m hoping the meth one is a joke, but I’ve worked in sales environments where it wasn’t acceptible to not drink and stay out until 2 am. It SUCKS, and now that I’m older I would leave, but it was real and people were marginalized/gaslighted (gaslit?) because they were outsiders.

        2. fposte*

          I think that most people here are really good communicators, and as a result, we tend to respond to people who aren’t as if they were good communicators making deliberate choices rather than people who don’t have an ear for nuance or an ability to organize thoughts in writing.

          If I’ve correctly combined my gleanings and guesswork about the OP’s situation, he:

          thinks the party is stupidly arranged
          thinks it’s arranged in a way where it wouldn’t be a big deal for him to attend
          thinks his wife is unlikely to be able to abstain completely due to company expectations, the tenor of the event, her own habits, or some combination of the three
          thinks his attending would solve all the above problems

          And I think he’s probably right on 1, 2, and 4 and is quite likely to be right on 3 as well. Yes, he’s not seeing 5, where his attending when told not to is a huge misstep that’s going to be a problem for his wife professionally and may get him kicked out. But I think we ended up wrong-footed by his opening to see him as a bad guy for 1-4, and I don’t think he is.

          1. Allypopx*

            I’m not sure I completely agree (note: I don’t think the spouse is an inherently bad guy!) but I can see how some of the adversarial nature of the comments could come from this kind of frustration. I think it’s an apt observation and an important point to bring up, so thank you.

          2. Jessie the First (or second)*

            He’s been really extraordinarily prickly in the comment section, and angry at what he sees as judgment without acknowledging that he gave us only partial information – we can only comment based on what we see in the letter. The prickliness gets my back up, frankly, because the comments here have been clearly aimed at helping. (And as someone who has had two friends killed by drunk drivers, his jab at people for being “holier than though” for not having DUI gets me REALLY prickly right back at him.)

            But all that said, I agree he likely right about all the things you mention. And if his wife has an alcohol problem, it may well be that he copes by attempting to control her environment and access to drinking – that is not an unusual reaction in a family member of a person with alcohol issues. It’s just that he can’t actually control what he and maybe wife feels he needs to control here – it’s been vetoed. So now he is flailing a bit because the company took their coping mechanism away. I can understand that. I think it is preventing him from seeing that there are still solutions, though.

            1. AD*

              I agree with Jessie the First/Second. I don’t think we should be minimizing the rudeness the OP has displayed toward commenters who have tried to give him thoughtful advice. I don’t see the benefit of downplaying rudeness on the (rare) occasions it happens at AAM.

              The DUI comments he made were extraordinarily insensitive and IMHO deserved to be called out.

          3. Cucumberzucchini*

            I think he has a massive chip on his shoulder and is being incredibly defensive and would benefit from chilling out a bit. Maybe he was hoping for everyone to only commiserate with his point of view and since that’s not what happens is overcorrecting?

            It’s not that complicated. The answer to his problem is so simple and has been pointed out by numerous commenters. Pick any of the following options:

            A) Wife has a “family emergency” that day and can’t make it. Husband and wife do something together

            B) Husband drives and brings the dog along and enjoys a several hour dog walk until wife is ready for pickup

            C) Wife carpools or doesn’t drink at the event

            There is no magical option D) Where husband gets exactly what he wants from this situation

            1. LBK*

              Exactly. People have provided a variety of solutions that address this is as a straightforward, legitimate work issue and they’ve all been shot down by the OP. I don’t know what he wants to hear at this point, aside from “Okay, you’re right, your only option is to attend the event even though they said not to.”

            2. fposte*

              Sure, I agree that there’s no magical option D. But it’s valid to be annoyed at the situation, and not everybody is good at unpicking the layers of that annoyance. People had a chip on their shoulders at him because he asked the question badly, so it went both ways.

              And A) and C) aren’t going to be good solutions if it’s a big-deal retreat that you’ve already indicated fussiness about, as the OP’s wife has, and people are drinking a lot–carpooling doesn’t help if your driver is drunk.

          4. LBK*

            I have no issue with him raising the question about the situation. I agree that it’s a totally legit question and I don’t have a problem with the way he wrote the letter. By default I try to give LWs the benefit of the doubt by nature of writing in at all, which indicates this is something they’re thinking about rather than just doing it without hesitation. It’s the follow up comments that are rubbing me the wrong way – mostly out of frustration, which happens any time the OP’s presented with a variety of options for their problem and they don’t even seem open to considering them. What’s the point in writing in if you seem to have already decided your way is the only viable way?

            1. fposte*

              That I get; I know what it’s like to feel stuck when you’re hoping there’s a secret answer, and I hope the OP realizes that his life will actually be happier if he shrugs and says “Okay, it’s stupid, but there’s a viable workaround and we can have a nice drive.”

              1. LBK*

                Agreed. I suppose I also get a little annoyed when an OP seems frustrated at the commenters for not having the secret answer rather than frustrated at the situation they’re asking about, which is what I was getting from some of the OP’s comments here.

          5. regina phalange*

            fposte you summed this up very well. I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. I’ve been reading through these comments and two things have jumped out at me:

            1) OP does seem to be angry/defensive and I think it is a bigger picture than this one event. I also can’t wrap my brain around a company scheduling an event that was a 3-hr drive away.

            2) He’s commented on our speculation but hasn’t actually addressed it either way. Sure, it might not be our business whether or not his wife has a drinking problem, but it has already been implied.

            I haven’t seen this suggested yet, but does the OPs area have Amtrak? That’s honestly the only way I’d go. Amtrak + Uber from the station. Because I hate driving long distances in general and will take Amtrak just so I don’t have to drive, even if alcohol is not involved. Yeah it is slightly less convenient because you are then beholden to the train schedule, but it alleviates the stress. Although now that I think about it more, Amtrak would have stops so a 3-hr drive could be 4+ hours on the train. So never mind.

        3. Cobol*

          And to your point, I think the answers should be bigger than the questions. OP is not doing himself any favors, but the directive is always don’t attack the letter writers.

          I can speculate on what is really happening (and I’d love to gossip on this one tbh), but it’s not how AAM works.

        4. AthenaC*

          The answers might be similar, but at least one commenter has uncharitably assumed that spouse (OP#3) is super controlling based on an experience they had with an employee’s spouse who WAS super-controlling.

      3. Alton*

        I agree it’s a valid work issue. Making people drive three hours each way to go to a mandatory party is annoying even without alcohol being involved.

        But it’s hard to get a sense of where the wife is in all this. Does she want to go? Does she feel comfortable and capable of limiting her drinking? I think if she’s uncomfortable, then it’s definitely a work issue. But if the problem is that she won’t limit her drinking or her husband doesn’t trust her to, that suggests a more complicated problem.

      4. AD*

        Hmm, I don’t think this “problem” is complex enough to justify hostility when presented with thoughtful input. She can just…I don’t know….not drink?

        Unless I missed it, I’m not seeing references to this company having a play hard/you must drink to socialize culture so is this a bit of speculation here?

        1. AthenaC*

          OP mentioned (above somewhere I believe) that the company is advertising the alcohol provided, and the conversation around the office is people looking forward to getting smashed … that sort of thing doesn’t really happen outside of a “play hard” type culture.

          1. AD*

            Well….that’s not exactly OP’s problem. Does his wife even want to attend this event? If so….can’t she be trusted to make her own decision about how much she drinks? (and if she can’t, this isn’t really the blog to address issues like that).

            And this is all kind of moot as the original question OP presented was “my wife’s company is hosting an event where spouses are not invited, and I want to go anyway because my wife works a ton and I never get to see her”.

  35. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    #1 – I think maybe you are already doing this, but customers ask for who they know, so be sure they actually need your coworker. It can take months, and sometimes years, to get people to start asking for the right people and maybe they just want something super simple that you can answer or they may even need a totally different person.

    #4 – This reminds me when I used to work at a bank that really pushed sales. My manager suggested that if someone came through the drive-thru in a new vehicle that we compliment the vehicle and then ask where they financed it! I told her flat out that I’d never, ever because if someone did that to me it would read as “how could YOU afford THAT”. It sounds like someone decided they were going to be “friendly” sales people and, yeah, it just comes off as creepy.

  36. Aphrodite*

    Am I the only one here who views the idea of donating through their company absolutely repulsive? It sounds like it. I work to get money to pay my bills and live my life and do what I want. If I want to donate, I will do so on my own time and to the organization in which I believe.

    I think work should be just that–work. If people want to hang out or party or donate or anything I don’t have a problem with it. I just do not want to be part of it for any reason.

    Color me grumpy (and maybe worse), I guess.

    1. Allypopx*

      I don’t have a personal taste for it but I don’t find it inherently repulsive, that seems strong. I think enough companies do it poorly or for the wrong reasons that I’d advise most of them against it, but I also think it’s often well-intentioned if not well-executed.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I don’t find donating through a company repulsive, in part because your company will oftentimes match or amplify donations. I do find it gauche, though, for companies to pressure their employees to donate only to the organizations the company likes, particularly if an employee has politely declined to participate (I mean active pressure, like asking someone why they haven’t donated yet—not the passive pressure of group email reminders or office flyers).

    3. designbot*

      It makes me pretty grumpy too. Worst case scenario, the company donates to people you totally disagree with and that either starts a discussion you don’t want to get into at work, you look like a scrooge, or you get pressured into supporting a cause you disagree with. Best case scenario happened to me this year when my company donated to people I agreed with so much that I already support them. So either I spend more than my planned budget for these things, or I look like I don’t support this really important cause that I totally DO support!

      I say let your employees do what they want with their money and don’t try to direct it in any way. If you want to be a charitable company, let that come from the profits of the company, not the salary your people have worked hard for.

  37. Dienna Howard*

    I always wondered about those who write in on behalf of their spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, etc., instead of the person who is affected directly by the situation. It makes no sense to me.

    1. Katie Bear*

      I completely understand your thoughts. It’s hard to get a feeling on the situation, and know what the factors are. We still don’t know a lot of information, and I’m hesitant to assume things based on Alison’s rules for believing the OP at face value, however much I want to make assumptions.

  38. Grrr... Argh!*

    #3: There’s nothing weird about the “employees only” rule for work functions. I’ve been to 1 work function where spouses/partners were welcome, but that was a special event (2 companies merged, so it was a Big Thing). You’re pissed? Don’t be. It’s completely normal.

    #4: It sounds like these sales people are trained to “make a personal connection” with the potential customer. Which is a bit icky. Reminds me of the telemarketer who called me the other day and asked “how are you!! Super enthusiastic! Yaaayy!! When I said “fine thanks” he laughed and said “Fine? Why not great?” Now that just pissed me off. I told him “dude, I’m not your little friend. I don’t know what you’re selling, and I don’t care.” Fake friendliness make me want to punch faces.

    And I can’t help but think the Make-A-Wish cousin doesn’t really exist.

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