employee asked for a 30% raise right after a serious performance conversation, coworker is hours late every day, and more

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

1. My coworker is hours late every day

I work a miserable shift. It’s 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Waking up is hard, but I’m in an industry where shift work is the norm so I don’t complain and I get in here no later than 5:10 a.m. I have a coworker who is on a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. We do the same exact work, were hired at the same time and are equal in every way in the office. The thing is she comes in at 8:30 or even 9:30 every day. No one says anything.

I deeply resent that she doesn’t wake up and get her butt to work on time like the rest of us do, but no one seems to say anything about this. I feel like it’s meaningless for me to wake up at 3 a.m. because I could just show up whenever I wanted if I was a waste like this person. It’s really getting me down. Can I report this inconsistency to my boss? I feel like I’m going to scream every time she walks in the office.

The typical advice on this kind of thing is to leave it alone if it doesn’t actually impact your work … but of course it’s a morale issue when you’re dragging yourself out of bed pre-dawn to be on time and you see someone else regularly arriving hours late. However, if she’s coming in that late every day, there’s a really good chance that she negotiated a late start to her shift for some reason (it could be a medical accommodation, or care-giving she needs to do, or a dislike of traffic — who knows, but if she negotiated it, then it’s legitimate).

If it weren’t likely to be the case, then I would give you this secret way to raise it without looking like you’re complaining about something that doesn’t impact you: frame it as asking for better guidance on your own situation. You’d say something like this: “I wanted to check with you about how rigid you want us to be about time of arrival. I’ve always assumed we need to be right on time for our shifts, but I’ve noticed others are more loose about arrival time and I wondered if it would be okay for me to sometimes be more flexible about it too.” Or, if your coworker’s lateness was impacting your own work, there’s the old “With Jane coming in so late most days, how do you want me to handle (work issue X) before she gets here?”

In this case, though, someone who’s 90-150 minutes late every single day probably has something else going on.

2. Employee asked for a 30% raise the week after a serious performance conversation

One of my employees has handed me a letter asking for a promotion and a 30% pay rise, detailing their new job title, new job description, and effective-from date! This letter has shocked me, to say the least, as this current person is underperforming in his current role and only last week we agreed that we would give it six months for performance to improve and to get this employee back on track.

I believe that this employee is feeling hard done by as we have advertised for a more senior position for the past two months with a new appointment being made. This employee did not express any interest in applying for this more senior position and has not taken any responsibility for his own development. Are you able to offer any advice as to how to deal with this situation without upsetting the employee?

Wow, that’s … nervy. Say this: “Right now, we’re focused on getting your performance where it needs to be for your current job, as we talked about last week. I’d need to see you meet the bar we laid out last week and sustain your performance at that level for a sustained period before we could consider increasing your pay or promoting you.”

You probably should also add, “This has me concerned that I wasn’t clear enough when we met last week. Right now, you’re in danger of losing your current job because of the performance issues we discussed. This request makes me think you may not fully realize that.” (And this is a flag for you to make sure that you were very clear in the meeting last week and that you explicitly said that his job is in jeopardy, that the issues are serious ones, etc.)

Also, your main goal here cannot be to avoid upsetting him. The main goal needs to be ensuring that he understands the severity of his performance issues and what he needs to do to fix them. You can’t allow a worry that he’ll be upset to get in the way of you doing your job as his manager (and really, the clearer and more direct you are, the kinder you are being to him in the long-run — especially since this sounds like someone who Does Not Get It so far).

3. Do I need an online portfolio of my work?

I’ve been a technical writer for 18 years and am currently seeking employment. A recruiter who seemed very knowledgeable and personable asked me for the link to my online portfolio and implied that most people have one these days. It’s true that a large part of my hireability rests on my work samples – I have samples of procedure documents, PowerPoint presentations, course materials, Visio flowcharts, Captivate presentations, a Dreamweaver website I created when teaching myself Dreamweaver, assorted templates especially using advanced Word, complicated forms I created in Word, hardware maintenance manuals, etc.

I have well-organized binders of my work samples for bringing to interviews (there’s a lot of material, I surprised myself), but what is your opinion? Should I have an online portfolio showcasing my work product over the years? When I was teaching myself Dreamweaver, it was for the express purpose of uploading this material. I had to stop because of the costs involved in having my own website, but the website is still workable and I could probably massage (I’d rather not have to but it’s an option) it and put it up again somewhere I could afford (I am out of work). Or I could pick a hosting website and hope I pick a good one.

Yes, if employers are interested in seeing that type of sample of your work, you should have an online portfolio. To be clear, most people don’t need these at all, but in your field it’s helpful to have. You could pick one of the many free places to host it though.

Bringing your samples to the interview isn’t a great option, unless it’s specifically requested. Most interviewers have other plans for how they want to use your interview time and won’t want to take the time to do the sort of scrutiny of your samples that they can do more more easily on their own time without you sitting there watching them.

4. College students keep addressing me as “Mrs.”

I work with college students, and often I receive emails that say “Dear Mrs. BlahBlah.” However, I’m unmarried. I know it’s not a big deal, and the students are trying to show respect by using a title, but it irks me. Is there any kind way to instruct them to call me Ms. BlahBlah or just use my first name? Or should I just let it go?

Please do correct them! This irks a lot of people, and if they send out letters to, say, hiring managers that way, they’re going to irk a lot of hiring managers. You can say it nicely, but do explain to them that this is weird to do when they don’t know what title someone uses.

Say it this way: “By the way, in business correspondence, you should default to Ms. for women unless you know someone uses Miss or Mrs. (Mrs. is flat-out incorrect for single women, and even among married women, many prefer Ms.)”

5. Company set up an auto-reply for my email after laying me off

I was notified last week that I was laid off along with 30% of the team. I immediately lost access to my email address and company log-in.

Although I didn’t announce the layoff to everyone, I received messages from vendors and partners outside of company asking me if I was okay. I felt strange so asked how they got the news. They told me that my work email bounced back. So I tried sending an email to my work email, and got this auto reply: “X is no longer with Y company. Please contact Z for any needs at Z@Ycom. This an automated reply. For your convenience, this email has been automatically forwarded to Z.”

Is this common practice these days? If I quit a job, can company do a similar thing? It has a negative impact on me because the business partnership I developed and nurtured can be ruined. People may think I’m fired; I may not be able to establish trust and relationship again in my next new job. Also Z is put as a point of contact, but Z should not be the reference for me. What I can do to change the situation?

This is very normal for companies to do. It makes sense, because they have an interest in making sure that people emailing your old address don’t slip through the cracks, that those inquiries get handled, and that they’re alerted that they should use a different contact at the company going forward. It’s your old company’s prerogative to decide how to handle stuff that comes in for you after you’re gone, and doing it this way is really common.

This isn’t going to result in Z being a reference for you though; reference-checkers wouldn’t be emailing your old company address anyway.

{ 490 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, all I can say is WOW. Does it make sense keep this employee on for six months if they’re this out of sync with your feedback? Of course, you should follow Alison’s suggestion, first, but responding to a negative performance conversation with a request for a massive raise and promotion sounds bizarre.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Unless it is a union position with contract rules. Unbelievably, I had exactly this situation a few years ago. I was gobsmacked. The PIP was a year and a half. Documentation was a part time job.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        I was getting from the syntax of the post that the poster is from the UK — if so, doesn’t it take a great deal longer to fire someone there than here?

      3. Annonymouse*

        Perhaps OP you haven’t been as clear (blunt) as you need to be.

        If you framed it as giving feedback on what can be improved on instead of “you need to do this or your ass is fired.” I could see why letter writer might not get it.

        That said you (as in an employee) don’t get to dictate your title, role or salary.

        You can apply and negotiate when both parties agree to move you to a more senior position but trying to do that by yourself when it’s clear that (at the very least) your boss thinks you could be doing a better job is just bizarre and a total misread on the situation or how valuable you think you are.

    1. Purple Dragon*

      It sounds like the person is extremely out of touch with their performance, even with the feedback given. I think it’s time to be really blunt. I’m with the OP though, I’d be sitting there saying “huh” (but a lot more spicy) and would be totally speechless if I received this letter.

      Also – is a letter a normal way to do this ? I thought requests for promotions and pay increases started with a conversation.

        1. Bibliovore*

          yet. at my place of employ. This was the appropriate course of action. The employee handed me a written document that requested a promotion to the next level including the job description and duties. While on PIP for not completing the most basic tasks of her present position in an accurate and timely manner.

          I should have taken up to my supervisor (as I was in my first six months in position) but I was so shocked, I just handed it back to her and said, we will revisit this after your performance review in May. I found out later with HR as I was going through my documentation during the PIP process that as a supervisor, I cannot refuse this request for promotion. (I don’t have to give the promotion but there is protocol to evaluating and returning it)

          1. Michele*

            I have noticed where I work that there is really no training for supervising people. I think that before someone is given responsibility over someone else’s career they should have company training about policies like what to do if someone asks for a promotion, what are the procedures for putting someone on a PIP, and other things along that line.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Funny you should mention – my HR team has been working on rolling out a “Management 101” seminar that covers everything from managerial philosophy (how to balance individual contributions with supervision activities, how to coach an employee, appropriate professional boundaries between managers and direct reports) to how raises and promotions work at our org to how to interview and hire someone to the disciplinary processes we use, specifically because we saw there was a lack of that kind of training for new managers.

            2. Jeanne*

              In my dreams, those promoted to management would get actual training. I’ve never been anywhere they trained or taught.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Yeah. I see very little training going on. I saw an article yesterday that police are looking to press charges against a manager who bullied an employee. The employee ( a teen) committed suicide.

                I don’t understand why companies think that training and monitoring their managers is optional. While we could talk about the particulars of this police case forever, the bottom line is that managers do impact people’s lives and impact the quality of their lives.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            That’s so weird. It sounds like it might be your company’s policy (or perhaps you’re based outside the U.S.)?

            Maybe this is a standard approach for people on PIPs who are getting bad internet advice and are clueless about how close to termination they truly are? Because this is truly not normal otherwise.

      1. Eleanora*

        Seems to me that if anyone would be confirming a promotion by letter, it would be the employer, not the employee… The mind boggles.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          I know. If I were OP it would take all of my self-control not to send a letter back whose entire text was “LOL.”

          1. ancolie*

            Yes! Complete with header info, etc.

            123 Teapots Lane
            Chocoville XZ 748592

            February 2 2017

            Mr. Fergus Wordsworthiton
            Junior Teapotter
            Chocolate Teapots, Inc.

            Dear Mr. Wordsworthiton,

            Subject: Your request of a promotion to Senior Teapotter


            Valentina Warbleworth
            Your Boss

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I love that letter. I love all the snarky lawyer letters (like defense counsel’s motion to be referred to as “Defender of Justice” when the prosecution wanted to ban the use of “the government” during trial).

              2. sstabeler*

                even funnier is the lawyer who received it actually liked the response. ( which actually makes sense- it makes the recipient think about the content of the letter, and gives a graceful way to back down without looking like an idiot)

      2. Joseph*

        Yeah, I was wondering about the letter too. Even if the employee had no performance issues and was a candidate for promotion, I feel like the employee giving their employer a letter detailing salary (?), title (??) and proposed effective date (???) is really odd-ball. I mean, these are all things you can discuss with your employer in the “I’d like to transition to a more senior role” conversation, but do you really get to give a specific suggestion, particularly on salary?

        1. Lance*

          I’d say, most certainly not. Ultimately, any promotions and raises are on the employer’s terms, not the employee’s; I doubt any employee anywhere gets to just declare to their boss that they should receive X% raise and promotion, especially in this totally out of the blue (and out of touch, given the documented performance issues) manner.

        2. Koko*

          Yeah, this has a whiff of misguided career center advice or something to it. Reminds me of the LWs who think they need to write a long resignation letter explaining their reasons for leaving. Someone out there is pushing a lot of advice to write formal letters instead of having conversations.

          I *could* see an employee submitting a letter like this *by her manager’s request* and *after a conversation.* As in, employee suggests they could advance to the next job band if there were a position available at that level, and then manager asks for a more formal proposal of what duties the employee would take on at the next level that she can share with her own bosses/HR to discuss creating a new position. But not just totally unprompted out of nowhere!

          1. eplawyer*

            It shows gumption. You don’t ask your boss what job you want, you tell them. Lay it all out so they have no choice but to give you the job.

            1. Aglaia761*

              I hearby motion to remove the words gumption and spunk from the dictionary.
              All in favor say Aye.
              All opposed say Nay

              1. ancolie*

                In favor, as long as we can keep the word “moxie”.

                :: fond memories of a philosophy prof jabbing his finger towards me and saying in a strong Noo Yawk accent, “I like you! You got moxie, kid!”. I felt like I was in a movie or something ::

              2. So Very Anonymous*

                Because I just ordered the first season of the Mary Tyler Moore show. “I HATE spunk!”

                1. Zombii*

                  And that’s why it’s so unintentionally hilarious every time someone mentions it as a positive quality, that will be helpful to your advancement in business—and in life. :D

                  PS—I’m in my 30’s but I’m still basically 14, and I refuse to get any older.

            2. MillersSpring*

              It shows delusion. As a manager, I’d think this person was ridiculously unaware of the gravity of their situation and boldly obnoxious about their demands. Seriously. Many WTFs would be exclaimed behind closed doors.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              That sounds exactly like the bad advice they must be receiving ;)

              (I hope I’m reading your comment correctly—I truly don’t mean to attack!)

          2. Newby*

            I could really only see it if you want to put into writing what was already agreed on. It is still weird for the employee to be doing it, but at least it isn’t presumptuous.

          3. Rusty Shackelford*

            I agree. It makes me think of someone who was told “Don’t just say I want a promotion. Tell them exactly what you want!”

      3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        No, this is not the way it’s generally done – particularly with an “effective from” date, as if he gets to make that call!

        1. Jadelyn*

          Right? Of all the parts, I think that’s what shocked me most. I get requesting specific title, duties, or salary (or at least, requesting a whatever % increase), but to set your own effective date? Trololol no.

          There’s a mean, petty little part of me that says the manager should respond with “That sounds great! Unfortunately, we can’t accommodate that effective date, so I’m going to have to reject your proposal, and you will instead continue at the same title, duties, and pay rate as current.”

    2. Patrick*

      Honestly this might be a leap but the whole thing made me think the employee was angling to get let go, presumably to be set up to collect unemployment.

      However based on the language in OP #2’s letter it sounds like she’s British (or from a country that takes cues from British English) so not sure how unemployment works outside the US.

      1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

        I don’t think there’s the same context of needing to get fired to collect Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) which is what it is in the UK. You have to jump through various hoops and prove that you are jobhunting (sending in X applications a week, etc), but I don’t think it specifically makes any difference if you quit or are fired.

        I think he’s probably just dense.

        The UK does have significantly tighter laws around terminating employees and a procedure must be followed, with time given for the employee to improve their performance. It’s been a while since I had to set a PIP or brushed up on my employment law, so I can’t remember what time frame needs to be given.

        1. UK law bloke*

          They can (and in the current climate probably will) force you to wait up to 26 weeks before signing on after resigning from your job.

          And there’s no set procedure to follow before dismissing someone. The dismissal must be “reasonable” and “fair”, but there’s no requirement for an employer to follow any procedure or give the employee time to improve performance. Of course, an employment tribunal is more likely to find a dismissal to be not reasonable or fair if the performance issues are minor or easily correctable, so it is best practice for an employer to follow a procedure. But it’s not the law.

          And of course, absent any illegal discrimination, an employee with less than 2 years service wouldn’t have any recourse anyway, and most people can’t afford the tribunal fees anyway.

          1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

            Thanks for the clarification! I tended to assume that the performance management procedures set out were to some extent mandated by law, because they are pretty much universal, but I guess it makes sense that they are a general response to a rather unspecific law.

        2. Patrick*

          Thank you for the background! Sounds fairly equivalent to US unemployment, however here you (generally) can’t collect benefits if you quit a job.

      2. Marmalade*

        Not sure about other English speaking countries but in the U.K. it doesn’t matter why you’re out of work as long as you’re actively job hunting you can claim Job Seekers Allowance.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          It does, though – you can’t leave a job and sign on, straight away, you have to wait. If a short-term contract ends, or you’re fired, or made redundant, that’s different, but you can’t walk out of a job onto JSA.

      3. NM*

        Hello! Yes I am in the UK and yes the situation is bizarre but this employee has been with me for a long time and the performance issues are recent , and i thought a 6 month time frame would be long enough for them to turn it around as I know they can and have been a good employee.

        I’m going to go with Alison’s approach of having a frank discussion with the employee and will also put in place a clear 6 month performance plan and reiterate the severity of what will happen if standards aren’t met. We do have tight laws in the UK in order to manage employees out of a business so I must make sure the correct procedures are followed!

        Thanks a lot for this useful insight

        1. Engineer Woman*

          Since the employee has been with you a long time, has he/she done something so…odd…before? I mean, even if someone gets a good and positive review, they don’t turn around with a letter detailing a pay raise, a new title / promotion, new job responsibilities, and the effective date for said promotion to take place. I’ve never heard of this.

          It might (stereotype of course) make more sense from some newbie employee, who doesn’t understand workplace etiquette, but it seems all the more strange to me from someone who by OP#2’s account has done good before and has been working for OP#2 for some time. I might also want to mentor said employee that such a letter is not appropriate even if employee is doing stellar work.

        2. hbc*

          Hmm, long time employee, recent performance issues, and a recent internal position that would have been a step up? It sounds like they misjudged how that process was supposed to work–that they thought that you not directly coming to them and asking them to apply was as good as saying “I don’t want you in this new position.” Which to me is totally in line with personalities who take no responsibility for their own development.

          So they finally hit their limit in terms of passively waiting to be recognized as awesome (whether or not they’re actually awesome is irrelevant), their performance started slipping due to resentment, and they’re totally uncalibrated as to how and when to take action in their own careers.

          There’s a small chance of rescuing this if 1) they’re realistic as to their abilities, 2) can grok that they need to occupy the middle ground between waiting for promotion and creating a job description, and 3) you can credibly lay out how they would advance *after* performance improves. But otherwise, improved performance or not, I’d bet good money they’re gone within a year.

          1. RVA Cat*

            Sounds like the performance feedback was a blow to this gentleman’s ego, and rather than take an honest look at his behavior he has doubled down on his awesomeness and your wrongness.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, I was thinking along those lines. This could be a person who’s angry and resentful, and either s/he needs to pull out of the spin or it really might be better for both sides if the employee found a position elsewhere.

              1. RVA Cat*

                This. Plus it’s probably best for him to move on if he is this unhappy. He wants advancement but it sounds like there is not a clear path for him with his current position and skill set.

          2. NM*

            HBC you have it spot on and have summed this situation up exactly how it is. I would not be surprised if this employee does leave within a year… in fact when he handed me the letter I did think is he handing in his notice! I think the main thing for me now is to try and engage this employee as best I can (if at all possible) for the next 6 months at least as at the end of the day I have a business to run and jobs need to finish! Really appreciating all the comments, it makes for such interesting reading.

            1. AD*

              I’m not clear on how you’re planning to proceed. It’s not your responsibility to “engage” an employee with performance issues and who also had the temerity to request a substantial bonus and in writing.

              Are you strapped for help or understaffed? Are you not eager to resume the hiring process? I understand that this person is a long-time employee…but you have other options and being stuck with an under-performing employee doesn’t need to be one of them. Six months is a long time if you’re not seeing any improvements.

              1. NM*

                Yes understaffed currently but at the start of the recruitment process… Yes I take on board the comments about the 6 month time frame, on reflection is is pretty lenghty!

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Dear lord, this is a nightmare. Although I understand what hbc has laid out, it’s really inappropriate for your employee to be taking out his frustration on his job.

              If he wants to leave—which it sounds like he does—would it make sense to open a conversation on his transition out? It’s really not acceptable for him to continue to perform at a subpar level because he’s unhappy with his lot at your company. But a negotiated break would give him time to job hunt, and it would give you time to advertise for his position. Unfortunately, there’s always a business to run with jobs to finish, and without a clear plan forward, you both may be spinning your wheels and not getting what you need from your employment relationship.

        3. Bonky*

          Also in the UK. I feel your pain.

          We can be a bit too eager to put the blame on employment laws in this country; it’s really not as hard to fire somebody as legend has it. See https://www.gov.uk/dismiss-staff/overview if you need something canonical to refer to! Just make sure he’s aware of the issue and that his job is at risk, put that in writing, document the PIP (and I wouldn’t take it to the full six months in this case, given what you describe here), and you’re done.

          In my experience, the people we’ve worried about taking a dismissal as far as tribunal never, ever have. You need a certain amount of self-motivation to do that, and frankly, terrible self-motivation has almost always been part of the package that’s led to us ending someone’s contract. That or gross misconduct – and that’s even easier to deal with.

          1. NM*

            Thanks a lot for your feedback. We are a small business and never had to deal with this type of behavior before so that link to the .gov website is really handy, thank you!

        4. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          I think you do, however, need to make sure that he understands this request is bonkers. “Fergus, right now, you’re under an improvement plan because your performance is currently deficient and we need it to improve. I’m concerned that you don’t understand that, because asking for a promotion suggests you think your performance is exemplary and can take on additional responsibility. Not to put to fine a point on it, but at this point we’re evaluating whether you can remain employed here, not whether you’re a rock star.”

        5. Anon Anon Anon*

          Do you think there is a trigger for the performance issues?

          And I have worked with people who believe that promotions are based on tenure not performance, and then their performance slips when they see others rewarded. I had one co-worker who was a good performer for about five year and then when she wasn’t promoted when she thought she needed to be she completely gave up. She ended up leaving the organization about a year later, and she was pretty bitter. Her performance never did improve radically.

        6. Akcipitrokulo*

          With performance issues being recent – is there possibly an underlying issue outside work? Sudden changes in behaviour start to raise some flags for me; are you able to suggest a check-up or GP visit?

  2. bryeny*

    #3, the tech writer asking about an online portfolio: Another tech writer here. Alison’s right that an online portfolio would likely help you, but if the Dreamweaver piece is a pain, you can probably omit it — I haven’t heard of anyone using Dreamweaver in years. It’s cool that you learned it on your own, though, so that’s worth mentioning on your resume, or in cover letters. But don’t throw away the binders; some hiring managers still like hardcopy. Good luck!

    Aside to Alison: you leave the writing sample binder behind — you don’t sit there and watch them read it. Typically they return it, but you’re careful never to include your only copy of any sample, so if you never get the binder back it’s no big deal.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ah, leaving it is fine, if they want it … although these days it’s pretty common for people to prefer to get it online anyway (and then they don’t need to deal with returning it).

      I’ve had some awkward interviews where the candidate presented me with a binder and expected me to go through it on the spot, which is no bueno.

      1. bryeny*

        Oy, that’s exasperating. If you’re using a binder, it’s beneficial to point out one or two samples that you’re especially proud of, or that seem relevant to the job you’re applying for. Ideally you’d flag them with post-its beforehand and just point out the post-its during the interview. But if you start getting into detail about the samples you’re highlighting instead of saying “I’ll leave the binder with you,” your expectations might not be clear to the interviewer. (It sounds like your candidates didn’t have much of a clue, though.)

        One of the benefits of an online portfolio (which I agree is the best way to go) is that it’s easy to annotate your samples, or to present the ones you want to highlight using separate links in an email so you can introduce each one (e.g. “This video is similar to what I understand you’re planning for the Meereen project; notice how it interleaves new concepts with lively case studies .”)

      2. CEMgr*

        I did an interview withing the last year where the tech writer with 20 years experience brought, not just 1 binder, but a stack of about 10 binders with him to the interview. Each binder was several inches thick; he had a roving litigator style cart to haul them.

        Nobody asked him to bring any such materials. His doing so gave the impression of cluelessness and also unawareness of the digital revolution which permits providing such material electronically.

        This was in Silicon Valley and he did not get the job.

    2. esra (also a Canadian)*

      I still use code view for light editing, but I’m a graphic designer.

      Honestly I don’t think a tech writer needs to have any from scratch elements on their online portfolio. Find a nice theme at themeforest, grab some cheap hosting and a domain from 1&1, install wordpress and go to town.

    3. Someone*

      Up to now, I’ve mostly emailed PDFs and other electronic formats for samples, although I have seen online portfolios from other tech writers. One concern I would have is you are in a bit of a gray area with copyright — technically any documentation you have written is the property of the company you created it for, and usually although I get permission from my immediate boss, that doesn’t mean the legal department of parent company has signed off on it. Not all documentation is publicly available — sometimes it’s behind a paywall, or, for example, I had a document I could use but not for a direct competitor. How do people work around that with a website, which is theoretically open to anybody, as opposed to emailed samples, where you can control the audience?

      1. Jen RO*

        When I had to send samples, I edited them – replaced the actual product name by Product, and so on. In addition, as a way to get around this problem, I also started writing original content – in my case, training materials for the Adobe tools we use.

    4. ceiswyn*

      I’m also a technical writer. I’ll provide a zip of my portfolio to hiring managers if they request it in advance of the interview; otherwise I bring the files on a USB stick. I’ve generally had pretty positive responses to this approach, especially if I don’t mind too much about getting the stick back :)

    5. Purest Green*

      I use Dreamweaver for the WYSIWYG, but it honestly isn’t that important to me. I’m not a technical writer but do smilar-ish work and use Amazon S3 for my portfolio.

    6. Misquoted*

      Another tech writer here. After many years at the same company, I recently embarked on a job search. Two contracts later, I’m at a permanent position. I was never asked for an online portfolio of my writing samples, though I was asked for emailed samples. I had several publicly available docs to choose from, so I was lucky, but if I hadn’t, I would have redacted any proprietary information.

      For my current position, I was asked to do some technical writing test tasks — revise instructions, explain my process for creating a new document, write up a procedure for X, etc. It was timed, and I didn’t finish it, but it gave the hiring manager and team a good idea of what I could accomplish in an hour.

    7. Spondee*

      I’ve always emailed 3-4 samples and used the binder to illustrate “tell me about a time when…” questions.
      Sometimes that leads to me watching them read, but not usually (and more often if I’m interviewing in a corporate job, where you might be interviewing with people who aren’t used to seeing the binders in an interview.)

      As an interviewer, I’d say it’s a toss-up whether or not people have their samples online. Some people can’t post samples on their websites because of confidentiality. As long as you can email samples, I don’t think it will be a problem. (Of course, if a few recruiters ask you for your website, you probably need a website)

    8. turquoisecow*

      For what it’s worth (which may be nothing), I’m currently studying in a graduate program for technical communications, and one of the major projects we had to do last semester, which I think spans the entire program, is create an online portfolio. I’m glad to see it’s a thing that’s done in the real world!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I didn’t get that far in the writing program I was in, so I’ve no idea if it was part of the requirement. I’m guessing it was, since a couple of the projects were client-based (actual clients), and we were encouraged to ask for documents we could use in a portfolio.

        I finally made one recently but it’s hilariously tiny. Almost everything I did at Exjob was confidential. :P

    9. M-C*

      Oh #3 please, please don’t use dreamweaver! Or emphasize it in your resume. It’s obsolete Microsoft – bound crapware, it hasn’t been really used in 20 years! Fortunately you’re being judged on your writing, not your technical skills, but you shouldn’t be obviously mired in the past like this. This is the equivalent of sending out your resume in Wordperfect.

      The current standard would be WordPress, and you can easily find a pleasant (free) portfolio – oriented template to present your work with. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy a website can be . And easier to maintain. And… Stop me, but pleeeease no Dreamweaver.. And yes, you would be much better off with an online portfolio.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      “Mrs ExceptionToTheRule was my mother. And they’ve been divorced for 30 years…” has worked for me in the past. Usually paired best with a smile & invitation to use my first name.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think that works if you just want to say “use my first name” — but with college students, it’s worth explaining to them that it’s not about being overly formal or making you sound old; it’s that it’s weird to title someone Mrs. when you don’t know whether she’s married or whether she uses that title at all. And it’s helpful to explain to them that Ms. is the female equivalent of Mr. — works for everyone regardless of marital status — because some of them genuinely don’t understand all this.

        1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

          Yes exactly. I literally am Mrs lastname in that I’m married to Mr lastname and took his name. However, you’re not mailing me an invite to a cotillion, you’re addressing me professionally. Use Ms.

        2. Kora*

          I once worked with a young colleague who firmly believed that ‘Ms’ was only for divorced women. For a term first proposed in 1901 there’s still an awful lot of misunderstanding of what it’s for and how to use it.

          1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

            Ha, that reminds me of the many arguments I have had with my mother to try and persuade her to stop addressing everything she sends to me as Mrs Husbandsfirstinitial Nova. Apparently if she addressed things to Mrs S Nova that would be a terrible insult to me, as it would imply I am divorced.

            I have given up.

            1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

              (I go by Ms in my professional life and in general anyway, but I’m not even starting THAT conversation with my mother.)

              1. bryeny*

                I have a soft spot for those who cling to the old ways, and my foremothers who taught them to me would be pleased to know that your mom’s still clinging. (Though they wouldn’t agree with the first initial thing; unless your husband doesn’t use his first name, they’d say you’re properly Mrs Husbandsfirstname Nova.) But these are the waspy old ways; when I went to a Quaker college, I was introduced to another old way I like better: dispense with honorifics altogether and address people by their full names, be the letter or occasion ever so formal. So Dear Mrs Husbandsfirstname Nova becomes Dear Sarah Nova in formal correspondence (and remains Dear Hankie to her friends). Quakers believe your unadorned name is all the honor you need.

                1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

                  I’m on board with that :)

                  I just wish I could make some headway with my mother with the argument of “I know you were taught this way, but even more pertinently than the fact that conventions have changed, I, actual human being, your daughter, am telling you I hate it and would really rather you didn’t eradicate my name”. But heigh ho!

                2. Rusty Shackelford*

                  I, actual human being, your daughter, am telling you I hate it

                  “Hey, Mom, I’m glad following an outdated etiquette convention is more important than respecting my wishes. Emily Post and Miss Manners both insist that the true purpose of etiquette is to make people on the other end of it feel bad,* and you’re doing a swell job.”

                  (*not true)

                3. Lora*

                  I love this! In my field it’s sort of a signifier whether someone insists on a title or not:

                  Lora Internet == a down to earth person who lacks pretension and is secure in her own self
                  Dr. Lora Internet, PhD, MBA == a self-important a-hole who is probably also quite social and looooooves to waste your time and drinks a lot.
                  Lora Internet, MSc == just kinda pathetic
                  Dr Lora Internet, MD PhD == pompous and will Splain at you all evening if you let them. Will be surprised to find out that anyone else is actually smart.
                  Dr Lora Internet == tends to be a bit short tempered, but decisive

                4. Roslin*


                  I find that fascinating and have often thought about the use of titles and “letters” on business correspondence when it doesn’t matter at all (not in an academic setting). I have colleagues that use the Dr. Name, PhD. PMP ALL THE LETTERS and others (including me) who are simply FirstName LastName despite having letters we could add as well. Your guide above seems to align really well with my experience.

            2. Gaia*

              And she never considered that it is kind of a terrible insult to assume when you got married you lost your own identity?


              1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

                She’s old school; it’s just How It Was Done in the past, and she has a case of I Am Your Mother Of Course I Know Better. I’ve decided it’s not a hill worth dying on.

                1. Person of Interest*

                  Agreed – even when my late grandmother would send my BIRTHDAY CARD! to Mrs. HusbandsFirstName Interest, it’s not worth being offended over.

                2. Anna*

                  Yeah, my husband’s 101 year old grandmother sends stuff to Husband and Anna Husbandslastname even though I didn’t change my name when we married, but whatever. She’s been around for most of one century and a chunk of another. Not worth it.

                1. Temperance*

                  My mother and my FIL both send things to Mr. and Mrs. Seeley Booth. I never changed my name. It is offensive and misogynist, IMO.

                2. SarahTheEntwife*

                  Yesss. I would be fine with it in certain contexts (if, say, I’m a +1 at my spouse’s company party or something) if he could properly be addressed as Mr. Myfirstname Mylastname in the same type of situation. But nobody does that.

                3. NonProfit Nancy*

                  My mother very proud of her honored status as a Properly Married Woman and has Strong Opinions about being Mrs. Seeley Booth (as an example name). I addressed a letter to my sister and Mrs. Herfirstname Hermarriedlastname and my mother was horrified – “but that looks like she’s married to *herself*, it’s ridiculous!” But I think it’s gross to call someone Mrs. Husband’s name. I understand the convention, I just don’t like it.

                4. Kai*

                  I have a cousin who knows how much I hate being called “Mrs. Husband’s FirstName LastName,” so her Christmas card to us every year is addressed to “Mr & Mrs Wife’s FirstName LastName.” I love her so much for it.

                5. Marcela*

                  I come from a culture where changing names for marriages is not done, so when I started watching old movies (from 1930 to 1950), oh, I was soo grossed out that wives didn’t even have a right to have a name! I would see red. And once I got to the purple end of the rage when my MIL, from my same culture, sent a Christmas card to Mr. X and Marcela Lastname. I was so tempted to send something back calling her Ms. Lastname, which has never been her lastname, it’s impossible that she would use that as a lastname, and lastly, she is divorced from my FIL. I haven’t forgiven her.

                6. Anon Because I do like my MIL*

                  My mother-in-law – who is a lovely woman, in general – addresses letters to me as “Mrs. (My First Name) (His Last Name)”. Which is really bizarre because *I didn’t change my name*. So shouldn’t it either be his first name (old-fashioned) or my last name (modern?).

                  On the other hand, it is habit, it is unlikely to change, and I am unwilling to make us both more uncomfortable about it. It’s not harming me, in this case, it’s just quirky and strange. (It took me a while to acknowledge that it wasn’t going to change, and to give up on it, but at this point I am just going to be glad she is in my life however she addresses envelopes!)

                7. MegaMoose, Esq*

                  Here here! My grandparents-in-law write letters to “Mr. and Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast.” I’m not sure they even know or acknowledge that I didn’t change my last name, although we were announced at the wedding as “Hisfirst Hislast and Herfirst Herlast.” Not worth the argument, though, especially since we hardly ever interact with them. Pretty much everyone else is chill with it, even stuffy old law partners – I think female attorneys are a bit ahead of the curve on not changing our names.

              2. the gold digger*

                Same with my mom until I got really firm – she kept writing “Mr and Mrs Primo LastName” or “Goldie Primo’sLastName” even though once I married, I continued to use my maiden name in every context except my drivers license and even though I did legally change back to my maiden name after we had been married a few years.

                She finally surrendered, but my husband’s parents, who prided themselves on being being very liberal, always addressed letters to me to “Mr and Mrs Primo LastName” or “Goldie PrimoLastName.” Primo informed me that they were very offended when I changed my name back to my maiden name.

                (Which was so easy, thanks to Stephanie’s suggestion that I take my passport, which was still in my maiden name, to the SS office for a new SS card, which I then used for a new DL. No court! Almost no hassle!)

                1. Gadget Hackwrench*

                  My MiL never took my FiL’s last name, so they have never given me any trouble at all about not taking DH’s name. MY parents had to be reminded of this fact multiple times, because they were very concerned that it would be an affront to his family if I did not. Now that everyone’s clear that this is normal things are good. Our stuff comes mailed to “Mr. Husband Lastname and Ms. Gadget Hackwrench” and that suits me just fine.

              3. bohtie*

                when I was married, neither of us changed our names, and my husband used to regularly get mail addressed to “Mr. Brian Bohtie.” I *never* got anything addressed to me but with his last name. It cracked me up.

                1. AnonAnalyst*

                  I’m not married, but I’ve lived with my partner for a long time and apparently that’s enough for people sending us junk mail to decide that my name must be wrong in their records. I pretty regularly get mail addressed to me with his last name. It completely infuriates me and ensures that I will never do business with any company that sends it (if we ever do get married I won’t be changing my name, so I’m probably more sensitive to it than most).

                  For awhile, I tried to mark all of those as “return to sender” since, technically, no one by that name lives at our address, but they would always get redelivered so I gave up.

                  We never get mail addressed to him with my last name!

                2. Serin*

                  I didn’t change my name. My last name is at the start of the alphabet, and the spouse’s is towards the end.

                  In the olden days of landlines, we would get four calls from each telemarketer — first for Serin Mylastname, then for Spouse Mylastname, then for Serin Hislastname, and finally for Spouse Hislastname. If we didn’t pick up after the first call, we could be sure to get three hangups on our answering machine.

                3. many bells down*

                  I think I’ve mentioned before I have a couple of friends who often get mail addressed to “Dr. and Mrs. Smith.” Her last name isn’t Smith, AND her husband isn’t the one who’s a doctor.

              4. Mookie*

                Yeah, I’d just immediately start calling my mom Mookie’sMaternalGrandmother’s Daughter (or throw in a Ní or a Nic there), and see how she likes it. Family do not own you, damnit, and they don’t get to sell you off to another family, either.

              5. ancolie*

                My more-like-a-second-mother grandma, who was the baby of her family and the only one born here instead of back in Czechoslovakia, who jokingly cackled that my husband “is now the boss of [me]” when we got married…*

                still adapted just fine to the fact I kept my maiden name and addressed everything to me the same as before I got married. She was much better with it than my mom, actually (paternal grandma).

                She just died a few weeks ago at 93 and I miss her so much.

                * part of it really was an ingrained expectation from when she grew up, but she and my grandpa fought like George Costanza’s parents, so she wasn’t a doormat!

            3. Lindrine*

              I have one better. My mom used to address all letters to me as “Mrs Lindrine Bear-Catform” even though she knew damn well I kept my given name “Lindrine Bear” since I had had it for 27 years and did not see the point of taking my husbands name. And this is a usually very egalitarian woman. And cat form is actually an easily mispronounced name which is another reason I don’t go by it. But my kid’s teachers and the pediatrician admins still contort themselves trying to call me Mrs. Keetfirm or Mrs. Katefoom, etc. *shrugs*.

            4. SimonTheGreyWarden*

              Or widowed. My grandmothers both used Mrs. Husbandsname Marriedlastname after my grandfathers died even though prior to then, one only wanted cards to her to be addressed to her name.

          2. Marzipan*

            The UK criminal records check system used to hold a similar belief. They took six months once to process my form because their systems couldn’t deal with my title being ‘Ms’ if I’d never been married. (Our phone conversation on the subject went something like:
            “Are you married?”
            “Have you ever been married?”
            “Then you should be ‘Miss’.”
            “Well, I’m not.”
            “Well then it’s going to take longer.”

            I think it’s a bit better now.

            1. Gaia*

              That is insane. I have never heard of an adult woman being referred to as “Miss” and, frankly, it would kind of irritate me. To me, it is what you call a child.

              1. Allypopx*

                I typically go by “Miss” outside of professional correspondence, where I prefer Ms. It’s not super uncommon. But preferences should certainly be respected.

              2. eplawyer*

                I have a lot of foreign born clients. They call me “Miss Eplawyer” out of respect. I prefer just going by Eplawyer outside the courtroom because my last name is rather hard to pronounce. But I let the clients call me Miss because I know where they are coming from. One was so grateful she call me Dr. Eplawyer to show true respect for my profession. Turns out “I’m just a person like you, I put my pants on one leg at a time” does not translate well.

                As for my mother — I can’t get her to use my legal first name. Changed it almost 30 years ago, longer than I had the original name. Yet she still calls me by the name on my birth certificate. Says its hard to change from one name to another after so long. SMH.

                1. Lucky*

                  I regularly correspond with colleagues in Montreal for work, and they always address me (in English – they’re bilingual and I am not) as “Mrs.” I assume that is the correct translation of the formal “Madame” but I can’t bring myself to use “Mrs.” in response.

                2. Julia*

                  @ Lucky: I actually just posted a comment about this a week or two ago. The thing is, the English Mrs. automatically corresponds to the French Madame (or German Frau), but the opposite is not true. A lot of native French or German speakers will nonetheless insist that because they call adult women Madame* or Frau, they MUST be Mrs. in English – mostly because the word Ms. isn’t widely taught in school and both French and German have almost done away with the equivalents for Miss, Mademoiselle and Fräulein, and are using Madame and Frau to refer to any adult woman regardless of her state of matrimony. So a lot of French and Germans grow up with the wrong impression of Mrs. being the equivalent to Madame/Frau when it isn’t.

                  I have corrected people on this numerous times, with “Mrs. XY is my mother and she’s not on this company’s payroll” or “Mrs. is a social title; women here at work use Ms regardless of their marital status” and it just won’t stick. Heck, our British-born electrician called me Mrs. XY until I sent him a “not yet married hahah” PS under one email – and then he started calling me Miss XY instead.

                  This is an uphill and frankly losing battle, it seems. :(

                  (* I asked my French teacher why I was getting called Madame in stores when people usually mistake me for a teenager, and she explained to me that they call you Madame just to be safe in case you’re actually an adult, and call you Mademoiselle when you definitely look old enough without a doubt to be a Madame simply to flatter you.)

                3. Jen*

                  You’re correct in your translation – Madame = Mrs. Mademoiselle = Miss. French doesn’t have a Ms. version that I’m aware of (at least not that I’ve heard in Canadian French).

                  I didn’t take my husband’s name when we got married, so I get confused about whether or not the Mrs. would be correct for me, since I’m not Mrs. Myname and I’m not Mrs. Hisname. Fortunately it doesn’t come up often, but I will correct people if they call me Mrs. Myname (in part because it’s hard to pronounce and I get tired of coaching people how to pronounce it when I know they’re just going to mangle it again in two seconds).

                  When we get telemarketers asking for Mrs. Hisname I’ll tell them there’s no one there by that name. :D But the sneaky ones will ask if I’m the homeowner/decision marker/his spouse and get around it. :(

                4. Jools*

                  @ Jen – I learned Madelle as an equivalent to Ms. in French immersion, but I don’t think I’ve ever run across it in the wild. For reference, most of the immersion teachers at my school were from Quebec, but this was in BC some time around the early to mid-90s.

              3. Marzipan*

                That’s exactly why I stopped being ‘Miss’ many, many years ago, and why it really hacks me off if people address me as it. I’m not 12!

            2. Fraunch*

              When I got married I hyphenated my last name with my husband’s. Computer systems cannot handle it. It’s 2017, you’d think the doctor’s office would understand a hyphenated last name.

              1. Allypopx*

                I could scream. I’ve had a hyphenated last name since I was 6 and my mother got married and it’s SUCH a pain. I’m looking forward to getting married just to change my last name and simplify everything. (I know I could do it now but it’s a pain.)

                1. Allypopx*

                  Actually, correction, my last name isn’t hyphenated, it’s two words with a space, but try telling THAT to a computer. I usually just hyphenate it.

                2. Jayn*

                  It’s amazing the assumptions that go into coding systems like that, that you don’t notice until you run into them. I had a similar issue with my mothers maiden name to get my marriage license–the apostrophe didn’t cause a huge hang up but the system wanted to capitalize the first letter, which is lower-case.

                3. Lison*

                  I’m Irish and a lot of people have names that have an O’ (O’Connor as an example) even when in English format and always have in the Irish form and so many computer systems just can’t cope. There were ructions when a company was using one and advising customers who were having issues to anglicise their last names.

                4. Michele*

                  We run into problems at work because our username is the first letter of our first name followed by our last name. And the username has to be at least 5 letters long for some of the software that we use. However, we have a lot of Chinese employees who have last names that are two letters long, so they can’t log into certain things. My boss is one of those people, so whenever I have to have things authorized, we have a convoluted system where I officially report to someone else for just those functions, even though I don’t really work with him and he runs everything by my boss first.

              2. Lora*

                Or the airlines. Or the TSA, for crying out loud you’d think they’d have seen every name on earth and all its permutations, but they can’t deal with the hyphen either.

                Every conversation I’ve ever had with a service provider on the internets:
                “Your userID is your first initial of your first name, and your last name.”
                I understand that, but which last name have you used?
                “I can’t give you your userID, it’s a security risk, it’s just your first initial of your first name and your last name.”
                Yes, well, after trying LInternet, LCommenter and LInternet-Commenter and LInternetCommenter the system told me I was locked out because I had tried too many wrong logins. So I’m out of ideas.
                “Oh. Um. Let me ask my supervisor… I’ll have to call you back…”

                1. Marcela*

                  Well, I can’t create the online account in my bank, because I don’t know how they wrote my lastname, two words with space and accent. Once I went to their offices and asked them about it, and explicitly asked “do you see my lastname in your screen, right? Two words, a letter not in the English alphabet. So how should I use it in the online form?”. They said no accent, but the two words. I spend half an hour trying all the possible combinations, and no, I could not create the account. At the end we used DH’s names and got at least one account.

              3. Meredith*

                My mom hyphenated her maiden name with my dad’s last name in the 1970s, and I have seen so many combos of her name it’d make your head spin. Looking her up in computer systems always requires testing a few different combinations.

              4. Kimberlee, Esq*

                Oh, man. I have a friend with a hyphenated first name. Think “Charles-James Juan Booth” as a full name. There are _so many_ computer systems that can’t even with his name.

              5. Jen*

                It’s even worse if you have an apostrophe. A friend of mine took her husband’s last name, which included an apostrophe; I think she broke computer systems everywhere for a while.

          3. MoinMoin*

            That’s how I’ve always known it- Miss Unmarried, Mrs. Married, Ms. No Longer Married. I don’t often have cause to know the difference, but I guess I’ll look up the actual rules before I use them.

            1. Koko*

              Interesting – I had known that Ms. was associated with “man-hating feminists” in many people’s minds because it was embraced by feminists in the 70s (Gloria Steinem founded Ms. magazine!), and I’m sure married women as a group probably resisted switching to Ms the most compared to single and divorced women as groups, but I didn’t realize it was so much more strongly associated with divorced than single. This all happened before my time. I was born in the 80s and taught in school that Ms. was the female equivalent of Mr. – I remember a first grade teacher who said something like, a woman has a right to choose whether to tell someone she is married or not, rather than to have the information broadcast automatically.

              1. Koko*

                In fact, looking back through my memories, I think I also remember something about married women not wanting to use Ms. for fear that someone would think (gasp, horror!) that she was single or divorced (the worst things a woman could be, obviously).

              2. Rusty Shackelford*

                I was born 20 years earlier, and to me, Ms has always been the choice for women who didn’t want to be known by their marital status. (Just like Mr, as you say.)

              3. MoinMoin*

                We’re the same cohort, then, and yet totally different experiences with the title. So interesting, especially as I was raised by feminists in a pretty diverse environment and you’d think we’d have similar exposure to the various meanings. Thanks for the lesson!

              4. Teclatrans*

                I was born around 1979, and I absolutely was taught that Miss was for unmarried, Mrs. for married, and Ms. for divorced. But Ms. was also used by women who didn’t want to be called Miss or Mrs. (I think in the 70s divorce was not entirely divorced from “women’s lib” in the popular consciousness).

            2. Mookie*

              It’s probably a better bet to ask and abide by individual preferences than to use a rulebook that no longer applies to everyone (and never did).

            3. Zombii*

              Whelp. Now I’m slightly less confused as to why, back when I was working phones at Toxic ExJob, I would address a client as “Ms” at the beginning of a call to avoid making assumptions, and would occasionally get screamed at by women of a certain age, “I AM MRS LASTNAME!”

              Good to know.

          4. No Name Yet*

            Ha. My wife (we’re in our late 30s) thought it was only for divorced or unmarried women, so she was uncomfortable when I kept using it for both of us after we got married. After we had the conversation that it’s supposed to be the equivalent of Mr and doesn’t imply any marital status, she was fine with it. (Obviously if she had wanted to use Mrs for herself, that would be her choice.) But very interesting how those perceptions can stick.

          5. Recent Grad*

            I recently finished undergrad and was always amazed at the number of my peers who had no idea that “Ms.” existed, or that “Mrs.” is not, in fact, the default mode of address for adult women. Definitely take the opportunity to set young colleagues straight!

        3. blackcat*

          Right. I teach a class for first generation college students every summer. On day 1, I talk about how titles work in academia/the workplace and why the two are different. It’s nice to explain when to use Mr/Ms./Mrs./Dr./Professor/etc.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Just a good idea. I need to start doing this with my high school kids, especially because we’re on the border of the South, and Miss Firstname is such a ubiquitous construction for kids to use toward an adult of any marital status that their confusion about when to use Miss/Ms/Mrs is very understandable.

            1. TK*

              Yeah, I came here to make this point. For the college students in OP’s question, I’d bet that the issue is simply they don’t know the difference between these titles or how to use them. I’m also from the borderlands of the South, though not somewhere where Miss Firstname is common. But probably 80% of people I went to school with (we’re talking in the past 25 years here) called every female teacher Miss Firstname, whether they went by Mrs. or Miss or Ms. in writing. E.g., I had one high school teacher who was always Mrs. Smith, and then one summer she got divorced and began going by Ms. Smith the next year. Almost all my classmates called her Miss Smith throughout. I don’t think they realized there’s a pronunciation difference between the three at all, or a historical difference in how they’re used. Heck, I even had two teachers in who went by Ms. in writing but Miss in speech, which drove me crazy, but I guess it’s their preference. (Neither had ever been married.)

              1. Parenthetically*

                Yep. I’m Miz Parenthetically, even though I’m married, and before I was married, I was Miz Brackets.

            2. AthenaC*

              I first encountered the Miss Firstname convention …. in Alaska, when I became friendly with a family from South Carolina. Since then, I’ve continued to hear it wherever I’ve been, primarily with daycare providers, and sometimes other parents will introduce themselves to small children this way.

              I like that convention a lot! It’s that nice mix of respect and familiarity that I think works really well for small children.

              1. Temperance*

                It’s fairly common in the black community near me. So when I meet an elder black woman, I call her “Miss FirstName”. I write it as “Ms. FirstName”. It’s a respect thing here, and I will happily do that.

              2. Anonymous 40*

                I may be the only one in the world, but I hate it. Hate it with a passion. I’m from Texas and live in a southern state, so it’s not that it’s new to me. It may just be that I’m, as my stepdad would say, “West Texas Irish,” but I grew up calling every adult by their first name. Aunts, family friends, etc. Teachers were Title Lastname, of course. It wasn’t a matter of lacking respect – I just addressed adults respectfully by their names.

                Today it makes me very uncomfortable for kids to call me Mister Anonymous. I both teach kids’ sunday school and work with the youth in our church. With the younger kids I just grit my teeth and bear it, but I’ve told the teenagers to call me by my first name. Totally creeps me out for someone almost enough to drive to address me like a preschool teacher.

                As a parent, too, I’ve never encouraged my son to address every adult that way. I don’t *want* him to be automatically deferential to every adult he meets. We’ve taught him to address people they want to be addressed, so if Miss/Mr Firstname is important to someone, that’s what he uses. In practice, most people don’t bat an eye at him calling them by their first names.

                1. Lison*

                  My Grandmother taught me (a child of the 70’s) that once someone addressed me by my first name only that I should address them by their first name. I am as worthy of respect as they are whatever my age. Which lead to a memorable occasion when a someone insisted on me calling them Mrs Lastname when I was 15 with me responding “Fine, but you then you will call me Ms MyLastname, not Lison”

                2. Michele*

                  I hate it, too. I used to live in the south, and it was frequently used to try to establish hierarchies and put people in their place. If you want to be formal, be formal. That is fine. If you want to be informal, be informal. But don’t do that weird hybrid thing, especially if you don’t return it.

                3. Parenthetically*

                  ? Michele, it’s not a mix of formal and informal, it’s a mix of respectful and affectionate.

          2. 14 years*

            In college, my friend once headed a paper with Mrs. LastName, and the professor wrote back, “I’m not married, but I do have a PhD.” My friend’s next paper was headed Professor LastName.

            1. blackcat*

              Yeah, many, many female academics get called Mrs. LastName instead of Dr. LastName, and it is also common for students to call male professors Dr. LastName while calling female professors Mrs. LastName. It’s sexist, but often unconscious on the part of students. Some students are real assholes about it, though, and about half of female academics I know have had a student continue to refer to them as Mrs. despite begin corrected repeatedly.

              I am very clear with students: Never, ever call a female instructor “Mrs.” unless that is what you have been explicitly told. Always, always start with Dr or Professor. At worst, you have given someone an undeserved promotion, and they will tell you to use something different.

              (I use as an examples from the people they interact with daily. I prefer that they all me FirstName, though I also respond to Ms. LastName. Dr. LastName is incorrect, as I am still working on my PhD. The lecturer that works with me is a Dr., since he completed his PhD–though he also prefers first name. “Professor” is technically incorrect for him, since he is a lecturer and not on the tenure track. The advisor for the program is Professor LastName. I note that individual faculty on the tenure track have different preferences for Dr. vs Professor, and that they should use whatever the professor uses. This is complicated! Students deserve to have someone explain it to them!)

        4. Mona Lisa*

          Thank you for the sample script on this! I have a student who uses my first name in person but addresses all e-mails to Mrs. LastName. I am married, but my husband and I each kept our last names so it’s inaccurate. I’d been trying to think of a nice way to let her know over e-mail, and this script is perfect.

        5. synchrojo*

          I had a high school teacher who began the first day of class with “I am **Ms.** Lastname, because Mrs. means “mistress of.” I’m married, but my name is still Ellen. I am not the mistress of my husband or of Ellen.” That definitely made an impression that lasted with all of us.

        6. Sarah*

          Although, in an academic context you are seriously in danger of pissing off professors if you call them “Ms.” :) (Most female profs I know are very sensitive about this — I try to let it go because I realize students often don’t know any better, but…it is still obnoxious!) I think it is useful to clue students into this, but I wouldn’t recommend saying “Use Ms. for all women!” — the advice is: Use a person’s correct title in an email — for many people, that will be “Mr.” or “Ms.”, but for a professor or dean you should use “Professor” or “Dr.”

          1. Elizabeth West*

            All my professors at the school where I actually graduated went by their first names. But many were adjunct. So if we had a question, it would be, “Jack, how does X apply to Y?” I’m struggling to think of any who didn’t introduce themselves that way. Maybe some of the other departments had professors who liked their titles; I don’t know.

            At music school, it was a bit more formal. It was Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones, if they had that designation. But my voice instructor, Margaret Thunemann (RIP), went by Miss T. All her students called her that.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Colleges are interesting in this regard. I went to one college where you HAD to use Dr. or Professor. You would look out of touch if you did not.

              The next place I went the profs mostly used their first names. You did not fit in if you said Dr. or Professor.

              In an odd twist, the first school was nicer and I learned a lot more. The first name profs were into pointing out that Dr. or Professor titles were snooty. I then learned you can drop the title and still be… snooty.

          2. Dr. KMnO4*

            I am a female prof and I do tend to let it go when my students call me Ms. KMnO4 instead of Dr. KMnO4. Having taught high school I can usually tell when a student’s doing it to be a jerk vs. doing it because they aren’t thinking. In my classroom the key is respect – are they being respectful towards me and each other. If they are I let the title slide. YMMV. Your advice is good, and I hope more people spread it.

      2. hermit crab*

        Mrs Crab isn’t even my mother (who never changed her name either); she’s my 90-year-old paternal grandmother!

        Weirdly, though, I’m married but still I find that more people call me Miss (which I don’t like either) than Mrs in business/official correspondence. For example, the customer service person at my credit union always emails me as “Miss Crab,” which just seems so odd to me.

      3. Tequila Mockingbird*

        I wonder where the impulse to automatically address adult women as “Mrs.” comes from. Perhaps from our grade school days, when most/all of our female teachers (and our moms’ friends, and the ladies at church) were “Mrs. So-and-so”?

        In any event, when my younger brother was in college, I caught him writing a cover letter to a female hiring manager and saw him addressing her as “Mrs. X.” I pounced on him fast and hard for that – “NEVER address a woman you don’t know as Mrs. if you don’t know her marital status! And even if she IS married, don’t call her Mrs. unless you know for a fact she wants to be called that!” Bro had no idea he was committing a potentially offensive faux pas.

        Also, I am married and if someone called me “Mrs,” I’d slap the ish out of them.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Even within my parents’ lifetime being an unmarried adult woman was considered something of an embarrassment – my mom grew up in the 50s and was teased because her last name sounded like “Spinster.” Even if that mindset is dying out there are still going to be many adults who were taught to assume any woman over a certain age is married.

          1. blackcat*

            This is also regional within the US. My cousin moved with her pastor husband to a very rural area. She was informed it was rude to use Ms. with women over ~25 or with women with children, since it would be considered doubting their marital status. Since not being married after a certain age is looked down upon there, implying that a woman might not be married is rude.

    2. JM in England*

      When I’ve been applying for jobs and the contact name is female with no title, I use “Ms.”, which I believe to be neutral and safe.

    3. Mazzy*

      I would be extra polite about this. The words are so close and I’ve definitely heard people misuse them and not even realize it. I’m not sure it’s a grammar or etiquette thing, just the two words being almost exactly the same and not as the focus of what most people are going to be saying

      1. Mookie*

        That’s true, and I must say that the exaggerated buzzing bee of the final consonant, as used aloud by some people, to be annoyingly grating and camp. I’ve also had it used both sardonically and condescendingly at me and that was no fun, either.

        1. JMegan*

          We have to be very careful with the pronunciation at my children’s school, because there are two teachers with the same last name. The kindergarten teacher is Mrs C, and the gym teacher is Ms C. You can sometimes tell by the context, but most often it’s the exaggerated Miss-ez or Mizz that tells them apart.

    4. OP #4*

      OP #4 here–

      Thanks for all the helpful suggestions and opinions about this! I think part of this issue for me is that I live in a very conservative area where most people get married quite young (18-22yo is the norm), so it’s very unusual that I am a single professional woman, and students automatically default to “Mrs.” When I first moved here and started at this position, I had three different faculty members ask me what my “maiden name” was when I introduced myself as Viola Blahblah, and it was awkward to tell them that my maiden name was (and still is) Blahblah.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        Ugh, that makes my skin crawl. Why does it even matter what your name was before you’d changed it? Or why should they assume you changed it at all? What a weird question.

        1. The Not Mad But Sometimes Irritable Scientist*

          Because nosiness is the norm in a lot of the South and rural Midwest. I lived in Texas for three years and the degree to which people felt comfortable inquiring about irrelevant particulars of your personal life drove me nuts.

      2. Temperance*

        The phrase “maiden name” makes me want to hork. I am married, and I still fake confusion when people ask me what my “maiden name” was. Sorry, Temperance Brennan just IS my name.

        1. Tequila Mockingbird*

          An excellent response to the question “Is Brennan your maiden name or your married name?” is to say, “It’s both.” And then watch the look of confusion contort their face like Winona Ryder at the SAG Awards.

        2. 14 years*

          “Well, my maiden name was 14 years, but when I lost my maidenhood, my name was still 14 years. My married name is Mrs. MarriedName.”

        3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

          My husband took my name when we married, and I absolutely 100% insist on calling his previous name his “maiden name” in casual conversation. If they would have done it for me, they can do it for him, dammit!

          1. Zombii*

            I wish this was more widely practiced in the States (and everywhere, but we’re slower about it in the States than a lot of other places). My ex used to say that if we got married, he wanted to take my last name, because my last name was more unique and interesting than his.

  3. Chaordic One*

    OP#5, Even though it is common to set up an auto-reply for emails to people who have been let go or resigned, it is not as common as it should be. Setting up an auto-reply for emails is infinitely preferable to not doing anything.

    I’ve been in situations where people would quit or be let go and I kept emailing them and not getting any response at all. I ended up having to email supervisors who would then tell me, X is not longer working for us, and who was taking over X’s job duties.

    1. Purple Dragon*

      For some bizarre reason my company just cancels the email address so then whoever is emailing a person just gets a bounce back. An auto reply would be so handy.

      I’ve received plenty of these types of emails from vendors and customers and I’ve never thought that it was a negative against the person. Also if there were lots of layoffs then that will get around and people will assume that, rather than the OP being fired or something.

      1. Erica*

        I don’t think they’ll assume anything… an auto-responder is so common, I’d just figure the person had resigned to take another job, if I thought about it at all. Mostly I’d just be grateful to know who I should be talking to now.

        I was recently handling email for someone who left the company for another job. No one responded to me like they thought it was weird or something was amiss; they just thanked me for letting them know and requested to be put in touch with her replacement once she was hired.

        1. Koko*

          Yes, me too. I see autoreplies like this from time to time with vendors and colleagues at other places, and I never assume anything about why they’re gone. If anything I might become intrigued wondering what happened and might ask around to see if any mutual contacts know the story. But I would never jump right to assuming “fired for incompetence” when there are so many other things it could be – laid off, fired for political reasons, got a better job, quit in a rage, quit to deal with medical or family issue. From the language OP provided there is nothing in the autoreply that would lead me to assume any particular reason. It’s just factual and informative: the person you’re trying to reach isn’t here, take your request to this other person instead.

      2. bohtie*

        My company does this too, and it’s a HUGE company so I’m always wondering if the person left or if I just can’t spell their name correctly, and THEN I have to work out who I should contact instead to try & figure out what’s going on. So frustrating.

    2. k*

      Everywhere I’ve worked has handled email accounts of former employees this way. To me it’s the standard way of doing things so I would never think anything negative about the person if I got that auto reply.

    3. Elizabeth H.*

      I guess I’m in the minority but I find this kind of autoresponse aversive. It makes me feel like the company is trying to indicate that the employee left under duress. I completely agree with having an auto-response, I just feel like employees should be able to write their own response if the situation wasn’t animose – I do understand in a layoff situation that sometimes it has to be like that. The place I work says explicitly that they understand people will often use email for personal purposes as well (MANY people who work where I work use their work email address for everything, I do), just to be reasonable and mindful that it belongs to the organization and is not guaranteed confidential, and excessive personal use that interferes with work in that it overburdens the network is against the policy. They also have instructions for downloading anything you want to save for personal reasons when you leave your job, stuff like that – it’s very tolerant.

      1. LBK*

        I’m not sure how you’re imagining the auto-reply would read differently, though; it would be pretty weird to set one up that explicitly says the person was laid off. FWIW when I get a “no longer with the company” auto-reply, I usually assume they left, not that they got fired, but maybe I’m in the minority. I don’t expect an auto-reply to contain full context, just who I can email instead.

        1. H.C.*

          Agreed with LBK that I treat those auto-replies neutrally.

          That being said, when I resign I usually set up my own “no longer here” auto-replies – with my manager’s and IT’s blessing – and I think the first-person & less formal wording of that message does help convey that the split was an amicable one.

    4. LBK*

      Yeah, I’m surprised at the OP’s take on this – if anything, I would think having your emails disappear into a void until such time as the email is closed would look worse if you’re concerned about your reputation with clients. To me, that situation reads “Jane got lazy, stopped answering emails and eventually got fired,” as opposed to instantly switching to an auto-reply, which just reads as “Jane left” (a completely normal thing for people to do).

      They’re certainly not going to let you continue to answer emails. I could maybe see at most sending a notice out to the clients you worked most closely with to inform them of the transition pre-emptively rather than them finding out via the auto-reply, but all in all, I don’t think this is a weird way to handle the situation. Much better than immediately shutting the email off, and then clients have no idea where to even go when they get a bounce back message.

    5. Fafaflunkie*

      This. I certainly would prefer to have an auto reply telling me “Fergus is no longer with Acme Teapots Inc. Please direct further correspondence to Jane (jane@acmeteapots.com).” At least I know my new contact and not have to go through the process (hell) of figuring out who will take care of me, especially if Acme Teapots Inc. Is a huge firm. I’ve been here and done that way too many times trying to contact clients.

  4. AstroDeco*

    OP1: Before you talk with your boss about your colleague’s tardiness you should resolve if arriving at 5:10am for a 5am shift is okay. Probably it is or your boss would have addressed this with you, however your own tardiness was a yellow flag to me so I wanted to mention this to you.

    1. Purple Dragon*

      I noticed that too – but I guess it depends on the company/requirements.

      If the co-worker is getting in significantly late every day I’m wondering if it’s something like Alison suggested and it’s been organised and approved by the manager. If the manager is onsite and is in a position to see that the co-worker is always late then I’d leave it alone. If the manager is in a different area and doesn’t see the situation then I’d use Alison’s suggestions.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Yes, I thought too that the co-worker has a special arrangement to arrive later (and is perhaps 80% part time?)

      2. KAZ2Y5*

        You know, if the manager has ok’d the co-worker to get there 1 1/2 to 2 hours late every day and hasn’t told anyone else then they are a really bad manager. Anyone who works shifts is very aware of when people come and go and especially if they are not sticking to the schedule. And not to be nosy, but to be able to do their job. If you have a job where you work shifts, there has to be so much coverage at a certain time and usually you are dependent on your co-workers to a certain extent to be able to do your job.
        Every place I have worked shifts, we all were notified when someone would be late/leave early/be gone for the day. We weren’t told why, but we needed to know so we could adjust what we were doing and cover what would otherwise be missed. If the manager has approved a change in hours for the co-worker, that should be reflected on the schedule so everyone can plan accordingly.
        You know, the OP is the only one who knows if their manager would be receptive to anything they say but I would be really tempted to approach the manager with one of Alison’s suggestions.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Hmm, I don’t know that that’s true. I’ve had work where I’ve been notified if someone was going to be late and it was an unusual occurrence, but if it were a normal schedule adjustment, no one has made any sort of an announcement. That just becomes that coworker’s new shift.

          1. Allypopx*

            OP says it’s still written as 7-3 on the schedule though. I can see how that would cause confusion.

          2. Kj*

            I also think shift work is different- usually shift work is all about coverage and in some jobs, you can’t leave until your relief arrives. I worked a shift work job in the medical field where my co-worker on the next shift was always 20-30 minutes late. I couldn’t leave work until she arrived (I would have been in serious legal trouble had I left without her being there) and I had to get a class after work, so it was a huge deal. I spoke to my co-worker and, when that failed, to my manager and she made sure the lateness stopped (I had taken the job with the clear understanding that I had to get to class after work, so this was a condition of the job from day 1).
            While this co-worker is not preventing the OP from leaving, she might be stopping another worker from leaving if there are coverage issues. Or, I wonder if she is supposed to come at 7 because the work picks up at that time of day. If that is so, she is inconveniencing her team.

            1. Allison*

              In college I worked an overnight security job. My shift would end at 7AM, and the expectation was that you had to get to your station early to use the bathroom so that your butt was at the desk at the time of your shift, but every now and then, I’d need to stay at the desk for ten or fifteen extra minutes, only to see my relief leisurely walk into the lobby with fresh coffee in their hand. I know coffee is important if you’re working an early shift, but it was hard to have sympathy when I’d been working all night and wanted nothing more than to crawl into bed as soon as possible.

        2. Raine*

          Yes but the fact that this is shift work is precisely what makes me think this 1.5 hour to 2.5 hour difference in arrival time is known and approved. Generally, shift work scenarios tend to be fairly rigid in term of tardiness immediately counting against the employee, with a set number of occurrences leading directly to termination. This type of work also tends to have if not actual punch in time clocks then high-tech equivalents that track literally every second of an employee’s time on the clock.

      3. Soon to be ex-LSCO*

        Huh, I saw it the other way – I assumed that a manager wasn’t onsite (or arrived later in the day) which is why the co-worker is able to arrive so late so frequently without it being raised. I think if an employee has been told they can arrive 1.5 – 2 hours later than scheduled, then the manager should at least make others aware of that fact, if only to prevent rumours & morale issues surfacing.

        1. OP1*

          Hey there, unless she comes in after 9, she gets in before any management is here. She is listed as 7-3 on all schedules, so if she has an arrangement it really isn’t public, though I hadn’t considered that as a reason. As far as I know, I’m the reason she comes in late, honestly. A few months ago, I left a bit early because I backloaded by “break” to let me get out 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Late coworker didn’t know we could do this and immediately said she’d be frontloading her “break” to come in at 7:30. Thing is, I’ve NEVER seen her come in at 7:30. It’s really frustrating.

          As for my own tardiness, it’s infrequent and I’m mortified about it, but I did want to acknowledge that a few minutes here or there are not a huge issue at my work.

          1. CBH*

            OP #1 Does your employer have tracking system as to when people arrive – a timesheet, a sign in, security badge, security camera? Perhaps using Alison’s script of questioning if there is flexability will cause the manager to take a look at everyone’s arrival time. I can’t imagine the occasional lateness would be an issue, especially if you are making up the time. However, I’d be frustrated if the scenario is that this person is getting paid for hours they are not there.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Not sure what state you are in, OP, but in NY that is illegal and she could probably be fired, if she is not taking her breaks. If she is taking her breaks then she is stealing (the unworked “front time”) from the company. Either way it would not go well for her.

        2. Teapot librarian*

          This is how I saw it too–the 7-3 employee thinks she can get away with being late because the manager isn’t there. Also, for a workplace that has staggered shifts like this, I would not assume that the 90-120 minute late arrival is an accommodation. The accommodation would seem to me to be “you can’t get to work by 7 because X but you can get here by 9? Great, let’s change your shift to 9-5.”

          1. SophieChotek*

            So I assume, despite mention of “shifts” that there is no punch-in or something, otherwise I would think it would be obvious from the time cards the OP’s coworker is late — and hence, probably no need to write to AAM. Still so frustrating!

            1. Raine*

              Right — I had just posted this above before seeing OP had come into the comments section, because merciless time tracking often is a huge thing in shift work.

            2. SignalLost*

              I can edit my punch-ins from my own computer, and can just “miss a punch” then correct it later. So it may be that if they’re using punch-ins, they have some other system in place. And at my workplace, there’s no way of knowing, if you edit your punch, whether you really got there at 7:37 or 8:37. The system expects you at 7:30 so will fill in your time with a time-off option, until you punch out for lunch.

              1. OP1*

                To clarify: Shifts are hard set and important but timesheets are lax. The computer system knows your regular hours and you mostly check “attendance” at the end of the week. It’s not exactly a strict punch in, punch out for lunch, punch in, etc. system.

                1. Elizabeth H.*

                  Out of curiosity, is she working fewer than the hours she’s supposed to be or is she just coming in later than she is scheduled for and staying later correspondingly?

          2. Kj*

            Yeah, if she thinks she is “getting away” with it because management isn’t there, that is a problem. My managers in the place I work are rarely on site and some co-workers take advantage of that. It is really frustrating to me. Of course, I sometimes start my day off-site, but that is arranged and known- my co-workers do not work off-site and still roll in at 10 and knock off at 5. Since our managers are rarely in the office, it is possible for them to get away with it. It is a morale killer for sure.

    2. Panda Bandit*

      The way I read that is that the OP is mostly on time but if they are late it’s never by more than 10 minutes, versus the coworker who is always late by 90 minutes or more.

  5. JobSeeker017*

    Question #5–Auto reply for laid off employee’s email

    First, please accept my sympathies for the loss of your job. I hope you received adequate notice of the lay off and are in the process of starting your next professional chapter.

    With regards to the situation with your email account with your most recent employer, I believe your best course of action would be to email the HR department and explain your concerns with the wording of the automated message. If you believe it incorrectly insinuates that you were terminated, not laid off, perhaps a call to HR would lead to a collaboration with the IT department to finesse the language about your departure.

    I wish you much success as you move forward.

    1. Patrick*

      Dissenting opinion – I think this is going to come off as unnecessarily combative and somewhat petty, like OP is using this as the avenue to voice their unhappiness at being let go.

      My company had a round of layoffs last week so I definitely feel for the OP here; unfortunately this just feels like OP is taking it way too personally. Totally understandable why that is, but it’s more than likely making a mountain out of a molehill.

    2. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

      I’ve got to be honest, I think that would come off as overly precious. These emails are standard, and the text of the one the OP reproduced seems boilerplate. I just assume that the person has left for a new role whenever I get one of those. It won’t hurt her employment prospects – people will check references as normal.

      I think OP#5 would be better off simply emailing anyone she might want to stay in contact with from that job herself and letting them know that she has been laid off, but is moving forward in [way] and can be contacted at [details].

      1. JobSeeker017*

        Hankie Enlightenment, we have different ideas about where the responsibility of the laid off employee and the employer fall in this particular situation.

        Thanks for taking time to share your perspective.

    3. hbc*

      If they had anything actively misleading in the email, I would agree, but the text quoted is as bland and neutral as you can get: “X is no longer with Y company.” That’s true if she quit, was fired, was laid-off, retired, or died, and isn’t code for any particular one of those.

    4. Observer*

      I would strongly suggest against this – it’s a good way to flag yourself as a “special snowflake”, which is not a good thing even after you’ve left. It’s not like it’s going to cause them to change the autoresponse.

      1. JobSeeker017*

        Observer, thanks for sharing your perspective on this matter.

        From further down the thread, you can read that the OP opted not to engage with HR about it.

        Again, I appreciate your time and comment.

        1. Bette*

          You really don’t need to respond to and thank everyone who posted under you. It comes off as oddly formal, and frankly, for a minute or two it made me think you were the one who wrote in about this issue, it’s so proprietorial.

  6. Dot Warner*

    Re: #1, if the coworker is the 7 AM – 3 PM shift and she’s *never* able to arrive before 8:30, does it really make sense for her to be in that role? If one person is stuck doing the work of two people for half their day, every day, that doesn’t seem sustainable. I work in an industry where shift work is common too, and I have a hard time understanding why a boss would be fine with someone routinely arriving 1.5-2.5 hours late every single day. If 7 AM is truly that much a hardship for this person, maybe they should be on a later shift.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      It wouldn’t be the OP’s problem to resolve, though. If the management wants to move the others employee they can, but the OP can’t.

      (For that matter, OP, are you sure that your coworker is still 7-3? Could it be that she’s now 9-5 or something? If your shift ends at 1, you may not know when your coworker leaves.)

      1. doreen*

        I was wondering about that as well – it doesn’t seem that this is the sort of shift work where there are three shifts per day and each shift has to wait for the next one to show up before they can leave. It seems to be more a situation where people have different starting and ending times based on anticipated needs – and if the needs change, and it makes more sense for the 7-3 person to switch to 8-4 or 9-5, I don’t know that the 5-1 person would always be informed of the change.

      2. OP1*

        Hey there, I know it’s not my issue to resolve it’s just a MAJOR morale issue which is why I caved and wrote in. She’s still listed as 7-3 on every schedule. Unless she comes in after 9, she gets in before any management is here. And, well, part of it is that I’m the reason she comes in late. A few months ago, I left a bit early because I backloaded by “break” to let me get out 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Late coworker didn’t know we could do this and immediately said she’d be frontloading her “break” to come in at 7:30. Thing is, I’ve NEVER seen her come in at 7:30. It’s really frustrating.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Ooh, that does contextualize it differently. If she’s made an open statement that “well, if you can do that [once], I’m going to do it [constantly]!” that becomes a whole other game.

          Now, is the backloading/frontloading breaks thing generally considered acceptable procedure where you work? That would make a huge difference in terms of how you approach this. Everywhere I’ve worked, it’s been considered unacceptable — local labor laws or company policy require that workers not be required to go more than X hours without an unpaid break, and holding off on a meal break for an entire 8-hour shift would be a violation.

          1. OP1*

            Totally acceptable, usually on the backloading end. We need constant coverage at my work but also have a strict union contract. It’s not uncommon for people to leave vs fighting for managerial approval for overtime for working through lunch. The shifts are staggered in such a way that people come in 1 hour before the earlier shift leaves, so there’s definitely wiggle room

            1. ExceptionToTheRule*

              This backloading of unpaid breaks if relatively common at my workplace as well. Based on your comments, I’m guessing you’re hourly employees and I’m going to guess you don’t have a time card to punch to reflect your actual arrival/departure times.

              I lean towards figuring out how to subtly find out if management is aware, because if she’s coming in at 8:30 every day, but writing down 7:00 then she could be committing wage fraud by lying on her time card.

            2. Rusty Shackelford*

              But it looks like she’s *not* coming in an hour before the earlier shift. Is that causing problems? If so, that’s the way to report it. Not “it’s unfair for Jane to come in late,” but “since Jane doesn’t get here until after shift change, it means we can’t do X, so how should X be handled?”

        2. Purest Green*

          I know you leave earlier, but do you know if she’s staying the extra 1-2 hours to compensate?

          1. OP1*

            I assume she is, since otherwise she’d be paid for unworked time. I’ve heard her talk about it and she take a “as long as I work 7.5 hours” stance. Which is accurate but like… two hours late is so late!

            1. KAZ2Y5*

              Let me tell you a story about a place I used to work at. I would have the 7-3:30 shift every 4 weeks. The tech who worked 7-3:30 worked that shift full-time. During my week she would routinely be late 3-4 days out of the 5 she was scheduled. I finally just asked her to text me and let me know what time she thought she would be in if she was running late. That way I could adjust my workload to cover. Well, 3-4 months later the assistant manager was talking to me about the AM tech and something she had done. He then said “Well, at least she is always on time”. I just looked at him in surprise and said “No she isn’t!” After a few “yes she is/no she isn’t” I finally said that I could prove it. I pulled out my phone and showed him the texts.

              He wrote down the dates from the texts and went to talk to the manager. I found out later (the assistant manager liked to talk a lot) that the tech had been saying she forgot her badge and couldn’t clock in and was emailing her hours to the manager to enter for her. Amazingly enough, she wasn’t fired for that. But she did have to clock in with her badge every day!

              Moral of this story is not to assume anything. I really would talk to someone higher up. Especially if you can frame it as this affecting your work someway and is there some way to get that coverage back again? Not to gripe about her but just to let them know that it is affecting your work not to have the coverage. Good luck, OP1. I know this is a pain!

        3. Not So NewReader*

          You may not need to go to the boss. Maybe you can go to your union rep. She’s probably violating union contract and the rep would be interested in knowing that.

  7. AudreyH*

    OP #5 – A similar thing happened to me and it was very frustrating because I was in the middle of half a dozen different big projects working with many people outside of my company. I also worried that people would think I’d been fired or that I was being irresponsible and left suddenly without handing off or wrapping up projects (when in actuality I wasn’t given a chance to do so). In addition, I wasn’t sure who would be responding to messages and whether they’d do it promptly – and so I also worried my clients might think I still was there but wasn’t doing my job.

    It doesn’t seem like you’re going to have a lot of control over how the company handles this. If you’re able to contact people directly (it sounds like people have connected with you through channels outside the company), you might want to reach out to as many as you can just to give them a heads-up. You could just tell them you’re no longer there or mention the circumstances, though I’d keep this brief, general, and neutral (so say it without sounding angry or resentful about the layoff and the way your email is being handled).

    I feel for you. It really sucks, especially in jobs where you have a lot of independent relationships outside of the company. Although this is standard practice, it really just solely benefits the company with no concern for how it might affect your relationships in the future.

    1. AthenaC*

      Yes, I agree this is probably the best you’re going to do.

      I get that auto-replies for terminated people are standard, and can even be seen as a “good” thing so people don’t fall through the cracks, but that’s still a really cold way to handle it. As evidenced by multiple people reaching out to OP to ask if she’s okay. If the company had handled this appropriately, no one would have felt the need to worry about her.

      What about a simple automatic redirect instead of an auto-reply? That solves the problem of email getting lost in subspace but also allows the company to control the messaging and manage the relationships in a way that makes sense – for example, calling people as they reach out rather than having the overwhelming task of calling EVERYONE right away.

    2. op #5*

      Yeah It sucks and it’s cold. I used to think that emails would just bounced after they left like most of ex-coworkers’ did. But seems most people here agree that it’s a normal procedure, I won’t be bothered then. I wouldn’t follow up with HR cause they mostly don’t care about this.

      1. Newby*

        Can you contact any people that you want/need to maintain a relationship with to avoid any wrong assumptions?

      2. Emi.*

        But if these are people you want to stay in contact with, and they’re used to contacting you at your old work address, shouldn’t you contact them anyway to say, “Just so you know, I’ve moved on from Old Company; here’s a current email address,” along with whatever social niceties and spin you want to add?

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Don’t know if this is helpful/applicable to your setting: My financial adviser sent me a nice card. It was very professional looking and it basically said, “I am now at XYZ and I am still available to assist you when need be. Here is my contact information: blah, blah blah.I look forward to hearing from you.”

  8. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

    #4. Oh this is my absolute pet peeve. I am very chill about most things and don’t care if you spell my name wrong or assume the wrong gender. But don’t fucking call me Mrs. in a professional context. I can’t stand that shit.

    A woman’s marital status is NOT RELEVANT to anything in her career. Don’t use Mrs.

    Especially don’t use Mrs if the only reason you know I’m married is because we’ve met in person and you’ve seen my wedding ring and so switched from Ms to Mrs in written correspondence. I had a word with someone’s supervisor for doing that to me.

    And I’m saying this as someone who married pretty young and who changed her name and has always used her married name professionally. Where my surname came from is as irrelevant in a professional setting as anything else that personal. Use Ms.

    Yes, yes obviously if she personally tells you differently then go by that.

    1. anonintheuk*

      Yes. Stop writing to me as Mrs. There is a title for women whose marital status you don’t know, and it isn’t Mrs. If you are trying to flatter me, I will be Dr or Dame or something.

      1. Newby*

        I genrally default to Ms. for a woman I don’t know, but sometimes I still have to spend a long time figuring out if I should be using Dr. instead. Yet another title to throw into the mix!

    2. Myrin*

      I find it extremely strange that, given the strong reaction I see by women everywhere whenever this topic comes up, this is not something people in non-English-speaking countries learn at school (I mean, maybe they do today, but they absolutely didn’t when I learned about addressing people in English fifteen years ago). Even by the time I graduated and was basically fluent in English already, I had never heard of “Ms” before, and the only reason I ever learned about it is this very website (I believe; I might have heard it somewhere else before but it was definitely because of the internet). I mean, yeah, even the “new” English books used in school are pretty old by now but the teachers aren’t! One would think that this was something you could specifically mention (especially when you’re from a country where distinction in addressing someone by marital status isn’t done anyway, so it isn’t even bound to be ~shocking~ or something for teachers and students alike) without following a book.

      1. bryeny*

        This is fascinating — you were being taught to call women Mrs and Miss fifteen years ago, when Ms had been in wide use for decades? At least it had in the US. Where did you learn English?

        1. De*

          I had the same experience, 20 years ago in Germany.

          To be fair, though, I hear people in other countries being taught German also get to learn that we still use “Fräulein” (Miss). No, we don’t. At all. All German women have the same title.

          1. Susan C.*

            Co-signing ALL of this, adjusted a couple years forward – I graduated [high school equivalent] in ’08.

            I think I made it most of the way through college before I figured it out, and it’s been haunting me ever since because differentiating the /s/ sounds at the end of Miss and Ms. is REALLY HARD. I’m serious. It’s, phonetically, so un-german that I usually can’t even hear the difference – I’m just intensely grateful that my anglophone business contacts tend to switch to first names quickly enough that I don’t embarrass myself…

            1. J*

              Hm… It should be a similar distinction between the final sounds of “bus” vs. “buzz”. However, I acknowledge that they are very close phenomes and context can usually help one sort “bus” from “buzz” in conversation whereas you receive no contextual help at all in this instance.

              It may soon become more complicated is “Mx” becomes a standard title for transgender folks. (That norm is being worked out now.)

              1. Susan C.*

                In theory, I know that – I don’t get to use my linguistics degree often, but I still do a decent IPA transcription, and can even identify the exact parts of your mouth where the difference ‘happens’ ;)

                The problem in practice, though, is that this particular difference (voiced vs. unvoiced) is pretty much universally collapsed in end-of-syllable sounds in German. So yeah, it *also* takes a very careful bit of articulation for me to make buzz not sound like bus (it helps when the next word starts on a vowel and I can kind of slur them together, but otherwise, whew)

                (And just for the record, yay gender neutral titles and pronouns)

                1. Julia*

                  Yeah, Germans don’t particularly care about soft and sharp s pronunications in English. In general, pronunciation was pretty far down the list of things we were taught in most English classes I took.

              2. Myrin*

                Co-signed Susan C. I know linguistics and how “bus” and “buzz” are different but in reality, they sound basically the same to me.

              3. bohtie*

                Mx. is not “a standard title for transgender folks.” Mx. is a gender-neutral honorific that is sometimes used in the very specific context of nonbinary transgender people who wish to have it used (kinda like married women preferring Ms. over Mrs.). Unless they explicitly asked you to, you would NOT use Mx. to address, for example, a trans woman, because (a) they are a woman, and (b) it often relies on an assumption that you “know” whether or not someone is trans, which you probably don’t unless they tell you and even then, still a woman.

                Apologies for being fussy about this, but referring to a binary trans person using gender-neutral terms when they do in fact have a gender can be really microaggressive and othering.

                (Most of us nonbinary folks would rather just be referred to with no honorific at all, but unfortunately in certain contexts that’s very hard to avoid.)

                1. Susan C.*

                  Well said. I’m sorry I tend to get caught up in my own preference for trying to do away with gendered language entirely :/

                2. Ihmmy*

                  Despite being a cis person I honestly would rather students called me Mx. than Ms. or Mrs or Mr or whatever. It’s so weird to me to presume someones gender identity and I like that Mx. doesn’t specify in any particular direction. I don’t want to thieve it from NB folk though and undermine that.

                  I dunno. Language is weird, and the ways it’s been changing is particularly in flux around NB terms lately it seems.

              4. Zip Silver*

                Native English speaker here, although I’m a southerner.

                I pronounce the miss in Ms (miss) and Mrs (Missus) exactly the same, just like you’d pronounce Mississippi, or hiss.

                1. Nan*

                  But Miss and Ms and Mrs are different. Miss is a young lady (don’t call me Miss!), Ms (Mizz) is a lady who is an adult, but marital status is unknown or single, Mrs (Missus) is a married woman, regardless of age. If you don’t know my marital status, then I’m Ms. to you.

                  I always coach my team that females are Ms unless they tell you otherwise. I had one who just didn’t get it, until an unmarried lady who he called Mrs chewed him out. I thought it was kinda funny, and he learned the lesson.

                2. Amadeo*

                  Yeah, that’s kind of how we do it where I grew up too. Not in the south, but almost as far south as you can get in IL without being in Kentucky. All the honorifics we use for women are pretty much just reduced to ‘miss’ in sound. Writing it is a different story, but nobody I know goes through the linguistic trouble of differentiating the sounds.

                3. Emi.*

                  Nan, in some places and times older unmarried women were also called “Miss,” like my friends the Miss Boyds. It’s kind of outdated in most contexts now (though I know teachers who go by “Miss”), but it’s not like it’s coming out of nowhere.

                4. Kelly L.*

                  Yep, also in southern Illinois, and Ms. is pretty commonly used but we don’t pronounce it all that differently from Miss. We don’t really enunciate either one all that well, lol. It’s like “m’sJONES.” Mrs. even sometimes gets the same treatment.

              5. Solidus Pilcrow*

                Ok, now I’m wondering how do you pronounce “Mx”. I’m hearing it as “mix” in my head.

                I find myself liking the Quaker standard of Firstname Lastname (mentioned upthread) more and more. Simple and easy to remember, it fits every gender, identity, age, social status, and marital status.

            2. commensally*

              In my dialect of American, Mrs., Ms. and Miss are all basically pronounced the same these days (sort of in-between Ms. and Miss.) You *can* say “Missus” for Mrs. or really emphasize the Miss/Mzz difference but it would sound distinctly formal to do that instead of just slurring them all into Misz. Or maybe it’s just that everyone uses Ms. in speech, I don’t know, I just know I call all female adults that needed a title M/s/ pretty much always and never get pushback., and if you asked me whether somebody I’d only heard the title of was a Miss or a Ms. I would have no idea.

              However, getting it wrong in writing is still an issue, and there are women who get called M/s/ all day who will get upset if addressed in writing with the wrong one of the three.

              So basically I would say don’t stress over the pronunciation– most Americans I know don’t bother with a verbal distinction and even if the people you speak with do, they’re probably interacting with native speakers who don’t – just make sure it’s correct in writing.

            3. Kj*

              I would totally excuse someone who couldn’t hear the difference. Or, honestly, if someone didn’t grow up in an english speaking country, I’d excuse it as well, as I know that it is norm that may be very different depending on where you are from.

              But otherwise, don’t call some on Mrs. or Miss- assume Ms. unless told otherwise. Of course, especially don’t do what a girl at my high school did to a teacher with a doctorate- refuse to call the teacher Dr. because she was a woman. Ugh. That still makes me mad.

              1. Serin*

                Well, also, my experience is that you won’t have to say it out loud all that often, because most Americans will immediately correct you — “Oh, call me Hepzibah. You’ll make me feel old.”

              2. Julia*

                I don’t know. If you conduct business in English, would it be so hard to get a couple of hours of business English classes, cultural norms etc.? I feel like most business offers this for “exotic” places like China, but when it comes to English-speaking countries, at least Germans always feel like they already know English so well they don’t need any classes, and this things like Mrs. or other mis(s)understandings happen.

          2. anonintheuk*

            My impression was that Madame and Frau were for all adult women.

            That does mean I get things from native speakers of French/German addressing me as Mrs, despite the fact that (as above) Mrs is not a title for all adult women.

            1. Myrin*

              “Frau” is indeed for all adult women, however, we specifically learned that “Mrs” is only for married women, so if anything, one would expect people to think that “Miss” is for all adult women.

            2. Nan*

              Frau just makes me think Blucher! and hear horses whinnying, at which point all reasonable conversation goes out the window :)

          3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Yeah, I got taught the same thing in Spanish — happily, I went to Spain and got corrected before I managed to make an idiot of myself.

        2. hbc*

          I find that language classes tend to lean heavily towards the formal and/or archaic side. For example, I’ve taken two unrelated languages where they teach early on that the plural “you” is also the formal “you” which should be used with strangers, colleagues, and basically anyone who’s not a buddy or family member. And every time I put them into practice, I’d get a weird look or some nicer version of “Uh, I’m not multiple people or royalty.”

          1. Judy*

            Also, even though the business world generally uses Ms for all adult women unless there is a preference, in primary and secondary schools, they still use Miss & Mrs. Ms is only used for divorced teachers, at least here in my midwestern city.

            Yes, there are 50-60 year old teachers that are called Miss Jones by their students at my kids’ schools. It seems the only way around it is for them to get their PhD. ;)

          2. Emi.*

            I was taught to say “Excuse me, what is your honorable surname?” in Chinese, and my international-student tutor laughed in my face.

          3. Red Rose*

            I’m in my first year as a (volunteer) ESL teacher and I find the curriculum that this program uses is a bit outdated in similar ways. We actually went over the Miss/Ms./Mrs. thing a couple of months ago and the book implied that Miss/Mrs. were the preferred choices. I told my students to use Ms. as a default. I personally don’t care if I’m called Ms. or Mrs. (or occasionally Miss although given my age I find that a bit odd), but I definitely wouldn’t get upset at a non-native speaker who mixed it up.

          4. turquoisecow*

            I took Japanese for several years where we learned all the formal usage before beginning to learn the casual usage. I haven’t been to Japan or been bold enough to try to use my knowledge with any natives, but I’ve discovered simply in listening to Japanese videos, music, or overhearing random conversations from strangers that they don’t really use the formal usage AT ALL, and as a result I had almost no idea what they were talking about.

            Recently my husband asked me how to say something in Japanese – he has Japanese clients and would like to be able to say small things. I gave my guess (I’m not at all fluent) in rather casual speech, and then he ran it through Google Translate to see what that said. Google gave the more formal version. I’m guessing nobody would have mocked him for using the formal speech, but it’s also not something I think natives would actually say.

            1. Julia*

              What? Formal Japanese is EVERYWHERE. Sure, in music, which is generally addressed to one’s lover or similar, you won’t hear it (I mean, there are a thousand English songs addressed to Michelle, Julia, Jolene etc., but only a handful that speak to the Mrs. Robinsons), but in business and even in schools when talking to students older than yourself, you have to use formal Japanese. The higher the other’s person status is compared to yours (your senior in school or work, your teacher, your boss, a customer), the more formal you get. Heck, I use super formal Japanese with my fiancé’s parents, and they’re practically my family.

              Please don’t let anyone tell you that formal Japanese is not in use anymore. Especially for your husband’s business clients, the more formal the better. I’m guessing those Japanese people you did talk to just let your informal Japanese slide because most of them think foreigners can never learn Japanese anyway.

              1. turquoisecow*

                Admittedly, my attempts to learn Japanese outside of class were mostly watching anime. While students speak to their teacher/parents in a formal manner, the main characters spoke to one another in fairly casual speech. There was a lot of that I didn’t understand, and the same in music coming from the same genre. Like I said, I haven’t actually been to Japan, so I suppose I would have a different experience there.

                Thanks for the input. :)

                1. Julia*

                  Yeah, anime is terrible for learning actual Japanese. I can always tell the people who did by the way they speak. If you learn well from TV input, try their normal, real people shows. They tend to be ridiculous – but then again, so does anime – but they’re fairly close to daily life and you tend to pick up more useful vocabulary than in anime.

                  Most students speak to their teachers in a formal manner, but many are also fairly casual with teachers they find cool. I almost never hear anyone who talks to their parents or siblings in a formal way. Maybe more distant relatives they almost never meet.

                  Business Japanese really is everywhere, and yet at the same time even Japanese have problems getting it all correct, Personally, I like it – as a German, different formality levels and grammar come much more easily to me than their writing system, ugh.

          5. College Career Counselor*

            +1 I took German in high school in the early 1980s. My teacher learned it in the 1950s (from someone who grew up in the 30s, probably) and taught us the exact same German, down to the letter/cultural norms she was taught (trust me on this). She rarely if ever updated any vocabulary or honorific choices. As a result, we all came across to native German speakers as sounding like teenage grandparents.

            TL;DR: language/social/cultural norms evolve. Except in language class where you’re just trying to hammer home the basics.

        3. PepperAndPale*

          I distinctly remember there being a lot of talk about the use of ‘Ms’ around fifteen years ago in the UK, so perhaps it really is newer here?

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            I dunno, my mum’s been Ms since she divorced, over 30 years ago, so I was always Ms. But we were in London, so YMMV

        4. Allypopx*

          I learned English in the U.S., took tons of extra English courses, and am currently studying communications, and no one has ever formally taught me this. It’s something I picked up and apparently researched to clarify. (I think I might have actually learned it from Emily Gilmore, originally…)

          1. Julia*

            Emily Gilmore is great for learning proper English! I picked up the difference between “congratulations” and “best wishes” from her. Although nowadays I’d feel weird using the latter.

        5. Myrin*

          Yes indeed. And, like the two people who answered directly below you, I’m in Germany. Maybe it’s something specific to here?

          1. Meredith*

            As an American who studied in Germany (over a decade ago at this point), I noticed that German etiquette in my Bavarian town and university had the convention of addressing everyone as “herr” or “frau” as a baseline. Not among the students, who were way less formal, but that was the convention between student/prof and business relationships. Americans tend to be way less formal across the board. Frau covers both the Mrs and Ms forms of address in this type of address, and “fräulein” (miss) is old fashioned from what I can remember. So you get the situation where German etiquette and cultural convention demands formal address, and most Germans have learned that the English word for Frau (which does not necessarily denote marital status) is Mrs.

            1. Myrin*

              Oh, absolutely. With a recent thread on here about how to address hiring managers and switching to first names after one contact or just doing so in the first place (I don’t quite remember), my head about exploded because that’s completely unthinkable here. I personally learned that “Mrs” specifically means “married woman”, so that “Miss” is to be used for everyone else but I can totally buy that somewhere else, they were taught the complete opposite.

              (Slight addendum – “Fräulein” isn’t only old-fashioned but simply not used at all anymore and hasn’t been since the seventies. You might say it in a scolding tone to a misbehaving little girl or something like that and everyone knows it because of old books and movies, but “in real life”, it’s not a thing at all.)

              1. Meredith*

                I still do a decent amount of traveling in Germany in my work, and all of my correspondence with German hotel and restaurant owners follow the formal address etiquette conventions in email. It’s sometimes interesting, because I am often addressed over e-mail as Herr (Mr.), because Meredith (which is technically unisex but nowadays is almost always a woman’s name) is not a common name for Germans. In any case, this level of formality is utterly standard in Germany. You don’t drop this convention unless you’re friends or in the same peer group. Even then, if you’re colleagues you might not address each other by first name in some workplaces.

                And I know this isn’t necessarily relevant to the OP4, who may not be working with ESL college students. This is a cultural lesson about American conventions of business address that is valuable to know, whether the students are from other countries or not.

        6. Jen RO*

          I learned the same thing in Romania, about 20 years ago. I will try to ask an English teacher friend of mine if this is included in the curriculum, but I doubt it! I’ll try an ad-hoc survey tomorrow among my coworkers (we all work in a department where the main job duty is to write in English).

      2. Emi.*

        Not all women do react so strongly. You just only/mainly hear from the ones who do, so it’s hard to tell what proportion of the general population they make up, let alone what proportion of textbook authors and ESL teachers.

        1. Myrin*

          That’s a good point. I do think, however, that at least its existence should be mentioned so that people aren’t completely befuddled when they find out about it in their twenties and feel like their whole life has been a lie (I’m joking, of course, but it was a pretty big thing to find out without ever having heard of it).

          1. Emi.*

            Yeah, especially since some people apparently totally lose their minds when they get called Miss or Mrs..

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I really don’t think anyone is losing their mind over it. But to a lot of people, it comes across as a sexist relic, and of course that’s distasteful.

              1. Emi.*

                Okay, “lose their minds” was hyperbolic. Some people get very upset and assume that the speaker is being intentionally malicious or is habitually sexist. That’s not a position I’d want to be in as a foreigner, which is why I agree that it would be good to warn ESL students. I do think a lot of the reactions on here are disproportionate (excepting situations where someone is deliberately and blatantly blowing off a preference or request), especially given the amount of regional variation and foreign confusion that exists in this country. But I should have been straightforward about that, and I apologize for saying “lose their minds.”

    3. Elfie*

      I’m wondering if this is more specific to North America though. I grew up in Canada, and was really feminist as a teenager – aggressively so (maybe that’s because I was a teenager). I said I wouldn’t change my name, I’d go by Ms, etc, etc. Then I moved to the UK as an adult, and never did any of that stuff. In fact, I could count on the fingers of one hand the married women who didn’t change their name – and I don’t think I know anybody who goes by Ms. I’m not in London, but I’m far from provincial – but from my own (admittedly anecdata) experience, this isn’t something that women in the UK bother much about. So, taking into account the other posters’ experiences of learning English as a foreign language, maybe the English that is taught is British English norms, not American English norms.

      1. Hrovitnir*

        I can say I’m not really sure how it goes in the white collar world in NZ – while “Ms” was a thing growing up (I’m 31) it wasn’t super common. I think now it’s something that’s relatively common but not so common to have strong feelings about?

        Inputting new client details at the vet I would ask “are you Ms, Miss or Mrs?” for a long time, but eventually just started putting everyone in as Ms – unless they were older and there was a good chance they may strongly prefer to be Mrs, in which case I’d still ask. No one complained. *shrug*

        Personally, I wish Ms would just become a thing already. There really is no reason to have separate titles and the current “we’ll use all three” model is not a great improvement. For myself, I intensely dislike being labelled Miss – I am not a child, please ask me for my title. I have zero interest in getting married and even if I did would not be Mrs (or take my partners name, absolutely not – it’s not even something I see as an issue really; my mother kept her name, I had her name, it as never a drama. The fact it can invoke massive social pushback not to do so sounds not just awful but actually ridiculous to me). Frankly, a bonus to planning to get my doctorate is I can just be Dr when I really need to use a title. Bam, no gender OR marital status, ya’ll can bite me. (Not that I want to be addressed as Dr – call me by my first name, thanks!)

        Man, that was long. I’ll just be going… (I swear one day I will stop leaving drive-by comments and actually engage with people. /social anxiety has followed me to the internet.)

        1. Michele*

          I am snickering because as a 44 year old American, I relate so hard to what you wrote.

          Coincidentally, I have a Ph.D., but will tolerate Ms. (never Mrs.), and I just had an email pop up addressed to Mr. Lastname. No, you sexist ass, not all scientists are Mr. Grrr.

        2. Lena*

          I’m in NZ, and if I’m not sure I just do Ms by default. Some of my coworkers do Miss and I hate it haha. Our referral forms have boxes for Ms, Mrs, Miss (and Mr) but I don’t use Miss for anyone other than children. My bank and family doctor still have me as Miss since I’ve been with them since I was a child, but everywhere else I use Ms.

      2. Myrin*

        At least the English taught here (don’t know about other countries) is very explicitly British English (I distinctly remember how we first tackled the US in 8th grade, so, well into our fourth year of learning English at all), so that might have something to do with it!

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Me, too! If someone wants to show me respect/politeness, I have no problem with that. But I’m from the south, so maybe I’m just used to it. And since I’ve periodically been called ma’am since I was a child, as I got older, it was just a matter of scale (as in, I get called it way more often than I did when I was younger, but there’s never been a time in my life when I wasn’t at least sometimes referred to that way).

      1. Applesauced*

        A personal pet peeve of mine is when clipboard-bearing people on the sidewalk say “excuse me, Ma’am, do you have a moment for panda liberation?”
        I’m already not going to give you my credit card number on the street, but ma’am just earned you a dirty look on top.

      2. SarahTheEntwife*

        I really wish there were a generic gender-neutral title. If I have to pick I’d rather people call me ma’am than miss since at least they’re acknowledging that I’m an adult (sir would also be acceptable but a bit unexpected), but this tends to come up specifically in contexts where you can’t ask what the person prefers and there’s no safe neutral.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          This. If I notice a woman dropped her glove, I’m going to instinctively say “ma’am, you dropped your glove.” It’s just what comes out first. It would be nice to have something else to say.

          1. Serin*

            “Excuse me, friend, but you seem to have misplaced this …”
            “Pardon me, citizen, but …”

            Oddly enough, I think that for those who use it, ‘dude’ works this way. “Yo! Dude! Dropped something!”

            1. Emi.*

              If a stranger called me “friend” I’d be kind of weirded/creeped out, and if they called me “citizen” I’d worry I was about to get beheaded for my religion. :P

              I use “sir” and “ma’am” for things like this because in my experience, it does get people’s attention better than “hey, excuse me,” but I’ll give “dude” a whirl and see how it works.

            2. turquoisecow*

              Neither friend nor citizen seems to imply the person speaking is at all sane.

              Dude does seem to be gender neutral though. I’ll try that next time.

              1. Serin*

                > Neither friend nor citizen seems to imply the person speaking is at all sane.

                “I am being addressed by an oddball! I must respond accordingly!”

            3. Rusty Shackelford*

              I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling anyone “citizen” unless I were wearing tights and a cape.

            4. Regina 2*

              I personally agree “dude” is gender-neutral in usage today, but I remember a big argument in one of these comment threads within the past year or two where people were arguing it was sexist.

              *shrugs* Seems like you just can’t win.

          2. Pebbles*

            Yep, I do this too. And I think it’s because this is a stranger you’re trying to address. You don’t have a first name or last name to tack on to Miss/Ms/Mrs which is how I’ve always used those. They are a title and like an adjective, they describe the FirstName/LastName. So as a rule, it’s always Miss/Ms/Mrs [something]. Ma’am is for when you have nothing else to add and stands by itself.

            Likewise, I use sir because I don’t have the ending for Mr.

        2. AthenaC*

          Communist countries have a history of adopting “comrade” as a gender-neutral term of address … and then abandoning the “comrade” around the same time they abandon the Communism.

          At the very least, something like “comrade” is fairly useful as an all-purpose term.

          1. Jen RO*

            …unless said communist country’s grammar made it impossible for “comrade” to be gender-neutral. In Romania, a man was “tovarăș” and a woman was “tovarășă”.

            Today, we used “domn” and “doamna” and it’s identical to what Myrin was explaining for German. “Doamna” (Frau) is used for all adult women and “domnișoară” (Fraulein) is only used for girls. (Sometimes, people use “domnișoară” in a complimentary way for adult women – aka “you look very young” – but it’s mostly older men who do this.)

          2. Emi.*

            Yeah, in German, men would be “Genosse” and women would be “Genossin.” (And it’s only sort of all-purpose even after that–you have your “du-Genossen” and your “Sie-Genossen,” which is informal “you” and formal “you.”)

          3. AthenaC*

            @Jen RO and @Emi – Ah – I see. Good info – thank you.

            I was primarily thinking of the Russian “tovarish” and the Chinese “tongzhi.”

        3. Purest Green*

          I agree about needing a gender-neutral title. Or even if we could just pick Miss or whichever other honorific and use it universally for all women.

        4. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          Off topic but I never miss a chance to mention it – in one game series I prefer, the term Serah/Ser is used gender-neutral (it has to be since you can choose a male or female protagonist for your player character) and I wish that was a thing in English. I’d prefer to be Serah Simon or Serah GreyWarden rather than Mrs. Warden, even though I did add my husband’s name on to mine (I’d even take Ser Warden).

        5. HannahS*

          I so love “Friend” as a gender neutral. I hear “sir” used for men, but where I am (southern Ontario) no one under forty seems to use “ma’am.” We all just awkwardly go, “Excuse me…excuse me…excu–EXCUSE ME! You dropped your hat.”

        1. Amadeo*

          No kidding, right? I’ve also been spending the last year having ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ hammered into me between my TKD instructors (an older gentleman and the school owner, who is a woman just a little bit older than I am). They are my defaults at this point.

        1. Purest Green*

          I don’t know that I can articulate it well. Part of it is, as Nan stated below, that it seems to be used in the context of a younger person addressing an older one, but not always. I don’t go off on people or anything for using it, I just internally die a little and move on.

      3. Nan*

        I can’t stand ma’am. To me it’s a sign that you think I’m old or you’re frustrated with me. But, although I live in the midwest, I work with a lot of people from the south, so have learned to roll with it. Unless you say it with a condescending tone, then I’ll jump all over you.

      4. Marzipan*

        Ma’am isn’t really a think in the UK. (I don’t even quite know how I’d pronounce it. I know if it’s the Queen it’s ‘mam as in ham’, but I’m not sure if the rest of us are ‘marm as in arm’…) We get ‘Madam’, though, and I hate, hate, hate that. I always want to say “A madam is a woman who procures prostitutes!” when people call me it. (I do usually restrain myself.)

        1. Pebbles*

          I was always addressed as “love” from men and women older than me when I lived in the UK (my early 20’s). I personally loved it. (Ha! Wasn’t even trying to be punny there!)

          1. Marzipan*

            I did spend some years living in an area where the default was to call everyone ‘duck’. I had terrible trouble not just quacking at everyone.

            (There’s probably a duck club joke in there somewhere…)

      5. turquoisecow*

        Oh, yes. Never mind Mrs or Ms, most people trying to get your attention, or directing you to the next cashier or teller or something will use “miss” or “ma’am.” I’m not sure which I find more insulting – Miss because they’re insinuating I’m young, or Ma’am because they’re insinuating I’m old.

        I don’t have an alternative though.

    4. Princess Carolyn*

      In K-12 education, it’s still pretty standard to use Miss or Mrs. for teachers, so there may be an element of habit here. Of course, where I’m from, “missus” gets lazily shortened to “miss” in conversation anyway.

      I don’t have any problem with OP correcting her students, and I agree that Ms. is a better option for everyone, but I’m not convinced that getting it wrong is a grievous offense.

      1. mreasy*

        Well, it’s inherently sexist that married vs. unmarried women have different titles, while in practice, there is no difference for men. It’s common, and we’re used to it, so it may not seem like such a big deal, but by immediately differentiating “Miss” and “Mrs.” in speech or writing, you are identifying a woman first and foremost by her marital status. And while that may not be the intent – simply following social norms may be – it is the effect. Mrs./Miss is a relic of an era when women’s value was tied inextricably to their marital status, and that era is better left far in the past! (I’m married, and have been called Mrs, maybe twice, ever, and hope it stays that way.)

      2. OP #4*

        OP #4 here–

        Thanks to everyone for all the helpful suggestions and opinions about this! I think part of this issue for me is that I live in a very conservative area where most people get married quite young (18-22yo is the norm), so it’s very unusual that I am a single professional woman, and students automatically default to “Mrs.” When I first moved here and started at this position, I had three different faculty members ask me what my “maiden name” was when I introduced myself as Viola Blahblah, and it was awkward to tell them that my maiden name was (and still is) Blahblah.

        I agree that it’s not a grievous offense, but I think part of the reason it irks me is that I hear an implied “you should be married by now” undertone whenever someone calls me “Mrs.” This is probably a very regional thing, but in my area, it’s very common for mid-20’s/30’s women to hear variations of the “Don’t worry, you’ll find your man someday” refrain, so I might be a bit more sensitive than most women.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I had three different faculty members ask me what my “maiden name” was when I introduced myself as Viola Blahblah

          What an odd thing to ask. Unless you said something like “I used to live here before I got married,” I can’t imagine wondering what your maiden name was as soon as you introduced yourself!

          1. OP #4*

            I agree that it’s odd, but I think they are just curious if they might know any of my relatives. I know they don’t mean offense, but it was a little weird.

            1. Teclatrans*

              I was wondering if it might be abject nosiness, since you (presumably) aren’t wearing a wedding ring.

        2. mreasy*

          I bet you’re not misreading the implied judgment! It’s inappropriate for them to assume “Mrs.,” especially at the university level! (Sidebar: I never planned to get married, and did last year at 36 to the best guy around, and I will tell you that my judgment of character and my understanding of my own needs and desires is much better than it was in my 20s – for what it’s worth!) You seem tough and smart and great, and I bet you can eventually get folks used to “Ms.” – and maybe it will be easier for the next new single faculty woman who comes along as a result.

      3. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        Oh, I wouldn’t be offended if a child called me Mrs., or if it happened in a social setting. What pisses me off is when a lawyer (nearly always a man), calls me (also a lawyer) Mrs. in professional correspondence or orally addresses me as “Mrs. lastname” during oral argument. My marital status is 100% irrelevant in that context.

    5. regina phalange*

      See, I get VERY angry when people assume the wrong gender. I don’t know why. I recently made a hotel reservation and their customer service team emailed me as Mr. Phalange, so when I responded, I put MS. in bold caps to get the point across. I think it is because my actual real name (not regina phalange, obvs) is unique, so I have spent my entire life correcting people on spelling and pronunciation and when you throw gender into the mix as well…it’s exhausting.

  9. Lord of the Ringbinders*

    #1 I disagree with AAM’s first suggestion. At best it may sound like OP has a poor work ethic and it might come off as passive aggressive. Better to stick to the second option or personally I would do something else. OP I get that it’s a kick in the morale but you’re saying it means x about you (e.g. that it’s pointless showing up on time) when it doesn’t objectively mean that. And you don’t know if it’s been officially agreed.

    As for the something else I would do: I would ask if, as coworker always starts after x time, their shift could be listed from x time to avoid any confusion about when to expect them.

    #3 Why do you need Dreamweaver? Just make a simple site on WordPress (where I hosted my freelance portfolio for years before going back to full-time work). Keep it simple. No Flash or anything that won’t work easily on a mobile.

    When I was an editor I was reluctant to hire people who claimed to be writers but didn’t have online portfolios – and it was BEC-inducing when they were over-designed and didn’t work on my iPhone. Just keep it simple.

    1. Czhorat*

      This is – like so many other things – so much dependent on culture. In most offices, it would come across as petty to complain to the boss about what time a peer is arriving; it isn’t your job to police your coworkers’ schedules and there might be extenuating circumstances of which the boss is aware. If YOU haven an issue with YOUR hours, deal with that.

      1. OP1*

        You guys are both right and I’m very concerned about appearing petty. I suppose I should tend to my own garden. You never know what’s going on in someone else’s life even if it is infuriating ha

        1. Allypopx*

          If you can find an organic and subtle way to bring it up, like Alison suggests, you should. Morale issues can chip away at good employees, if I were your manager I’d want to know/clarify what was going on. I’d just try to find an opening to mention it as casually as possible and not make a big production out of it.

        2. Czhorat*

          Another perspective – I was never the guy who came in late, but I was, for a time, the one who left early. I had a two hour commute, and childcare was only available until a certain hour. So, I arranged with my manager that I’d leave when I needed to leave, every day. It’s not something I discussed much with my coworkers, but it wasn’t laziness, poor work-ethic, or anything of which management wouldn’t approve.

        3. JB (not in Houston)*

          The problem is that it’s really context-specific. If I were your manager, I wouldn’t mind at all you asking about it, especially since I know that this kind of thing really can be a morale issue. I would care if you reacted badly to hearing that your coworker had a special schedule, or if you made a lot of passive-aggressive comments from then on out. But bringing up wouldn’t bother me at all, and I wouldn’t think it’s petty.* So I think how you handle it depends on your managers and your relationship with them, which is not very instructive, unfortunately.

          *This might also be because I’m very much not a morning person, so unless my coworker had worked something different out, I know that I wouldn’t like it if *I* had to be up at 3 every morning, but the next shift person didn’t bother with being on time. So I would totally understand your morale issue.

          1. LBK*

            Yeah, I’m with this as a fellow night owl/anti-morning person. I think if you took Alison’s approach of positioning it as “seems like others work flexible hours – could I do that too?” I agree with JB that I wouldn’t mind being asked that or find it petty.

        4. CeeCee*

          This is similar to what I came here to say. I have a tendency to compare myself to others all the time. I usually have to take a step back and say: “You know what, CeeCee, you are not all knowing. There are conversations that happen without your knowledge and without all the facts, it’s not worth letting yourself get worked up about it.” In this case, maybe her boss does know and you just aren’t in the loop. He could be okay with it for a variety of reasons, none of which concern you or needed to be run past you.

          That said, if there’s tasks she is supposed to help you with when she comes in and her coming in late is impacting your work flow, then it makes sense to stand up and say something, otherwise, it’s her deal. If she gets in trouble for constantly coming in late, it’s between her and her boss.

        5. LBK*

          Eh, yes and no. I try to use that mantra when someone shoves past me on the train or otherwise exhibits annoying public behavior, but I think it’s different when it’s a stranger you’ll never see again than when it’s a coworker where it’s basically rubbed in your face every day. I think even the most patient among us would find that grating – especially if, like me, you’re not a morning person, so waking up at 3AM every day already puts you in a foul mood.

          I’d be pretty pissed if I were putting myself through that and someone else was casually flouncing into the office 2 hours late while I was chugging coffee trying to stay awake due to actually being on time.

      2. MoinMoin*

        I would assume if it’s shift work the duties of the job are at least somewhat presence-dependent, though. If part of your job is dealing with real time requests and the expectation is that OP shares that responsibility with someone else for 6/8 hours of her job, the late coworker could be impacting OP’s work.

        1. Dot Warner*

          Exactly. Chances are if they’ve arranged the shift so that one person comes in at 5 AM and the next person comes in at 7 AM, it’s because they need coverage at those hours. The coworker is leaving OP to do two jobs for at least 90 minutes every single day, and that shouldn’t be happening.

    2. Epsilon Delta*

      I like the suggestion of asking about the time listed on the coworker’s schedule. Even more so if you work directly with her and are impacted by her absence. When I worked in retail (grocery store), I would be swamped if the person who opened the bakery with me was late, but it wouldn’t really affect me if someone in the deli department didn’t show up on time.

      I would bring it up from a schedule-accuracy perspective. Either coworker has an accommodation to be late (and the schedule should note that), or else the coworker is taking advantage of managers not catching on to her arriving hours after her shift was scheduled to start.

  10. caledonia*

    When people (usually potential students) call me Mrs, I find it jarring and a little upsetting because to me, my mum who died many years ago now (2009) was Mrs (last name). (Despite the fact my dad has since remarried)

  11. Ruth (UK)*

    4. I prefer Ms and recently I’ve particularly had two work colleagues, one man and one woman, express confusion as they thought Ms was the term for a divorced woman. Ugh, why does everyone assume a woman needs to declare marital status along with their name and that that’s what all female titles do? It’s come up before when i said Ms should be used if we didn’t know and again someone told me that was the title for a divorced woman and the recipient might be insulted….

    1. NJ Anon*

      I had a coworker who insisted on using Mrs. if she knew the woman was married and used Ms. if she didn’t know. She thought people would be insulted if their marriage wasn’t “recognized.” I suggested not using titles and just addressing correspondence to firstname lastname. She was horrified by the idea.

        1. Mona Lisa*

          Yuck. I had someone ask me once in college if I was there for an MRS, and I was furious. Also, there was a time I went to dinner with some older donors at my husband’s grad program, and at least two of the women openly commented on/joked about getting MRS’s and asked me if that’s what I had done. Just…no.

      1. Ihmmy*

        historically we also used to die of a lot of things antibiotics now fix, used to now allow women to vote, used to.. well you get the point. “That’s the way it was done” isn’t always a great reason to continue doing something.

        1. Emi.*

          I’m not saying it’s a reason to continue doing it. I’m saying the answer to “Why do people assume that X social convention means Y?” is “Because, by social convention, it does/did.”

    2. Michele*

      Before today’s letters, I had never heard that Ms was to be used for divorced women, but you are not the first person to say that.

      1. Newby*

        I think a lot of that comes from the fact that divorced women were quick to adopt Ms because the usual titles were especially confusing (and inadequate) for them.

      2. NonProfit Nancy*

        As a single woman, I’d be quite taken aback to get an email addressed to “Miss Nancy,” which to me would sound hopelessly out of date, but I suppose this “divorced lady” logic would dictate that? Pass. I’m not a child or an ingenue.

    3. Teclatrans*

      As I think we have seen recently, there is still contention over the role of women in our society. It does not surprise me that this is region- and context-dependent; it was a battle that was fought and sometimes it won’t entirely, sometimes there were minor modifications to language, and sometimes/in some places the “traditional” approach won out so thoroughly that even the existence of the battle lines is unknown to younger generations.

  12. Eleanora*

    For #2, I’d also be very clear to the employee – in writing – that the proposal in his letter is not one you will be executing at present. The fact that he’s documented it, including an ‘effective from’ date, makes me wonder if he’s aiming to have it count as proof towards something. Asking for the raise would be plenty tone deaf after a conversation around underperformance, but writing a formal letter about it, including the new title and ‘effective from’ date makes me all kinds of wary.

    1. Someone Else*

      It makes me wonder if he’s angling for ‘constructive dismissal’ but if he is, it seems he’s really taking a massive outside chance on it working!
      I agree – document why you will not be moving forward with his ‘proposal’.

      OP2 – I’m also curious about how he’s worded it – whether he has truly worded it as a request or whether someone with limited or no first-hand knowledge of the situation could read it as though it’s a confirmation of a previous discussion? If it’s the latter, I’d be particularly wary about what’s going on behind the scenes that you don’t know about.

  13. galiana*

    Poster #3, why not get yourself a WordPress.com website? It’s completely free to create a WordPress.com account, and there are quite a number of free business-friendly templates you can customise to make a site that works well as a portfolio. You can even use your own domain name if you have one. (Buying a domain name is about $10 per year – do-able even if you’re currently out of work.)

    Dreamweaver isn’t widely used by web developers, so there’s no particular reason you need to showcase your own Dreamweaver site. (As a hiring manager in tech, it would make me worry that a potential employee was a bit behind the times, actually.)

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Questions… if a tech writer who wasn’t being hired to do websites had an online portfolio, would you actually check the code to see if it was done in Dreamweaver (or is there some other way you’d know), or were you referring to an applicant telling you about their Dreamweaver skills? And if you were hiring someone to do something other than build/maintain websites, would you still think they were behind the times for creating a personal site in Dreamweaver? (Caveat – I know many tech writers need and use HTML skills, but it doesn’t sound like this LW is looking for that kind of job.)

      1. galiana*

        I was referring to an applicant telling me about their Dreamweaver skills. My thinking: At best, they’re irrelevant (for a tech writer who won’t have any front-end development responsibilities), and at worst they show that the person may not know much about current industry practice. Whether the latter is a problem is totally a situational thing, but in either case I wouldn’t go out of my way to mention them like the LW did several times above.

        There are certainly ways to tell that a personal site was made in Dreamweaver (or WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, etc etc), but if the site did what it needed to do, I wouldn’t specifically hold it against anyone who wasn’t a developer or designer.

        In any case, if the LW just wants a cheap, easy-to-create site, it’s hard to go wrong with WordPress.

    2. IT_Guy*

      There are some places where you can get a domain for $0.99 a year. Just Google ‘Free Domain Names’

  14. Clint*

    OP #3 – Look into Google Sites and a cheap GoDaddy URL. I don’t think you can upload a ton of data there but for something like an online portfolio it should be fine.

    I currently use [Firstname][MiddleInitial][LastName].com mostly so that I have a professional email address for recruiters and whatnot but I also use google sites so that if someone goes to that address it just contains my resume (without my phone number/address/etc)

    1. IT_Guy*

      I was lucky enough to register my last name as a domain. So now I have an email that is firstname.lastname.us

  15. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    I find it strange that the OP is routinely coming in late and then complains about the other person’s lateness. Granted it’s only 10 minutes but I worked jobs were you were expected to be on time and ready to go at 5AM or whatever. It was considered unacceptable to stroll in at 5AM and then spend 10-15 minutes getting organized. Maybe it’s my work, food/hospitality but the clear expectation is that you were prepared to work as soon as your shift started.

    1. Chocolate lover*

      OP doesn’t say she was regularly late. When she is actually late, it’s not more than 10 minutes.

    2. JB (not in Houston)*

      There’s a huge difference between being 10 minutes late and being an hour and a half late. And as Chocolate lover said, there’s nothing in the letter about the OP being routinely late.

    3. LBK*

      I don’t think it’s uncommon for shift jobs to give a little leeway in start time; one place I worked had an official rule that gave us 5 minutes after the scheduled start of our shift before we were officially late. Nor does the OP say she’s arriving at 5:10″routinely,” just that she’s never any later than 5:10 – that might just be once or twice a month, which isn’t a big deal. Not to mention that 10 minutes is a far cry from 1.5-2 hours, which is 1/4 of your whole shift – I don’t think this is a “glass houses” situation.

  16. Britt*

    #5 – the same exact scenario happened to me when I was working for a company as an account manager. Not only was I laid off, but my boss AND my client director was, so they cut off access to email for all of us and then didn’t supply even an OOO/forwarding email for whoever was now responsible. I felt very strongly about how this was handled, especially because of the industry (healthcare) since in my city, everyone knows someone. I was afraid of it reflecting poorly on me so I actually sent the clients an email myself from my personal address stating I was no longer with company X, gave them a contact person who I knew would respond and at least get them to the correct person (who didn’t mind doing this) and wished them well on their future endeavors. Both replied and were very kind, they most likely understood what had happened. Needless to say, I think this is a sucky practice when you’re deeply involved with clients or vendors.

  17. AthenaC*

    #4 – One of my teams a few years back took to calling me “Captain.” I liked that much better than Mrs., Ms., or even my given name.

    1. Allypopx*

      Ha one of my employees last year started acknowledging every request from me and my co-manager with “Aye aye, Captain.” I loved it.

    2. Lora*

      That’s pretty good! I got Mom, as in Lab Mom (oh the Your Mom and “whatever, you’re not my real mom!” jokes) and Boss.

      Had a grad school advisor who liked to bark orders at people and had gotten her PhD in the time when women just did not do that sort of thing, thus went out of her way to be bossy. I used to call her Ma’am. “Your group needs to do the scale-up tissue cultures for the protein part of the project, Chris will be working on the polysaccharide part. You need to have results to me in two weeks!” Yes’m. Can we use this incubator over here? “No! Use the one across the hall!” Yes’m.

    3. bohtie*

      yes! My partner and I are both nonbinary and I refer to them as “Boss,” which is something that’s frequently used where I’m from as a sort of semi-endearment – like, you would say “Thanks, boss” to a coworker who did you a favor or whatever.

    4. Dr. Doll*

      My PhD advisor referred to himself as El Jefe. He was quite kind and had a very quirky sense of humor, so we all just grinned and called him Dr. Advisor to his face and El Jefe behind his back.

    5. Zip Silver*

      My (all South American) staff call me el presidente. Funny story behind that, stemming from v being pronounced as b in Spanish, so instead of calling me by my first name (Travis) it got mispronounced into Trouble, then about 6 months ago it got turned into Trump, and eventually el presidente. Kind of endearing, too be honest.

  18. Bonky*

    #3: I hire technical writers (as well as non-specialists), and other creatives. Generally, the only people I absolutely *expect* to have an online portfolio are designers, illustrators, photographers and videographers, but it’s helpful to me and my colleagues if a candidate for an editorial role does have an online portfolio. Absolutely not a deal-breaker, though; and most in your position will just bring in printed writing samples or send me links to published pieces online.

    I’m feeling the Dreamweaver bit’s maybe a bit of a red herring here. You’re not looking for web design work: you’re a technical writer. These days, most of us are looking for you to have some skills with the Adobe suite, but most places will have a web team in place to be doing the front-end stuff.

    1. 2 Cents*

      +1 I’d make it habit of including links or PDFs of your portfolio work to attach as samples. (And, hopefully, they won’t be scanned-in-crooked documents with handwriting on them.) No need to mess with Dreamweaver. WordPress is pretty quick to learn and malleable.

  19. OP1*

    Just wanted to say thanks for answering my question. Even just venting it makes me feel a bit better. There’s an added piece of the puzzle which is that late coworker and I are both contract workers with end dates coming up this spring. I think I have to just leave it alone but I appreciate the outside perspective. I didn’t realize she could have accommodations making it OK for her to be this late. I suppose I should judge a bit less.

    1. Allypopx*

      That does make a bit of a difference, disregard my reply above (though that would be my advice to anyone else!). I’m glad you feel better now!

    2. Temperance*

      FWIW, if it’s impacting your workload, I’m going to say that it’s fine to speak up (using Alison’s advice up top). Shift work is a different beast.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        Yes, especially if it impacts on you taking breaks, or having to do more of onerous tasks you’d usually share.

    3. Anony-mouse*

      If she has an end date that’s rapidly approaching, perhaps management is very aware of what is going on, and they are just waiting to finish out her contract and then *not* renew it. It might not be the best decision from a managerial or morale standpoint, but, it does frequently happen this way.

      Just a thought. I would be completely de-moralized by this as well OP.

    4. Emilia Bedelia*

      OP, you can also keep in mind that if she is just coming in late with no regard for her scheduled start time, surely her lack of conscientiousness will be noticed at some point- it’s likely that she’s not a super great performer in other areas as well. Take pride in the fact that you’re consistently on time for your shift- you may not think that it will be noticed, but it’s likely that people know that you constantly show up. You know you’re taking the high road, so try to be proud of that. It is definitely demoralizing to feel like your efforts aren’t recognized, and if your coworker really is slacking, she should absolutely face the consequences for that, but give yourself some recognition of your own for your consistency and responsibility and feel proud that you’re upholding your own high standards.

  20. Allypopx*

    #2 made me cringe because I have a struggling employee that I can completely imagine doing this. With him I think it would come from a place of frustration and “trying to stand out” but not making good choices about how to do that. We’ve had multiple talks, and letters are pretty outside my workplace norms, so I’d probably say something like “Given our recent conversations I’m pretty surprised by this letter. We’ve talked about things you have to work on to be successful in your current role, and those definitely need to be addressed before we talk about you moving forward. What’s going on?” and just see what he comes up with, but Alison’s wording probably makes more sense for your situation.

  21. Bad Candidate*

    #4 – I’m married and took my husband’s name. I think I liked Mrs for all of the first year and since then it just grates on my nerves. Marital status isn’t relevant to my name, I always use Ms. for me for other women, even if I know their marital status I default to Ms. And forget calling me Mrs. Husbandfirstname Lastname because that’s going over like a lead balloon with me. If mail comes addressed like that I make him open it or it doesn’t get opened.

    1. Libervermis*

      My mom returns mail addressed to Mrs. Hisfirst Hislast to sender with the note “this person does not exist”.

      1. Michele*

        I like that. Back when I had a landline and got sales calls non-stop, if anyone asked for Mrs. Myhusbandslastname, I would tell them they had the wrong number.

      2. Matilda*

        I love you mom! The worst is wedding invitations. I’m starting to reply Ms. & Mr. Myfirst Ourlast (at least for my family).

    2. Person of Interest*

      Eh, this isn’t a hill I want to die on. I live in a place with a very diverse population so I get called every version of honorific from Ms. Interest, Ms. Person, Mrs. Interest, whatever. My late grandmother used to send my BIRTHDAY CARD to me at Mrs. HusbandsFirstName Interest. You have to remember that it’s a reflection of how someone was raised to show respect, not a reflection of your value as a person.

      1. Temperance*

        I disagree with this. Your grandmother knows your name. Maybe she’s not doing it to be a jerk, but at the same time, I’ve had many unpleasant conversations with people who are insisting that I’m “Mrs. Booth” now, when no, I am not “Mrs.” anything. It’s amazing to me how many people who have known me since I was born seem to forget my last name, which is 4 letters long and quite easy to spell. I think it’s sexist and frankly pretty malicious.

        I’ve been trying to make it a thing to respond in kind by sending mail to the wrong name to them, like knowing that grandma likes Mrs. John Smith, sending it to Ms. Marie Jones. Then again, if your family is honestly not doing it maliciously, you may not want to be so aggressive. ;)

        1. Michele*

          I see it as generally malicious, too. Mainly because my in-laws refuse to acknowledge that I haven’t changed my last name. We have been married for 16 years, so if they haven’t bothered to learn my name, they are being jerks. If someone only know my husband (such as through work) then meets me and assumes we have the same last name, that is different and understandable. But if someone knows better and refuses to address someone by their name, it is blatantly disrespectful.

          1. Temperance*

            My last name is very short – 4 letters, very common, easy to spell. So when people feign confusion, what they’re actually doing is being a doucher.

            Booth introduces me as his wife, Dr. Temperance Brennan. I don’t mind when people who don’t know us well socially or just know him send stuff to Temperance and Seeley Booth, because they don’t know, but if you know me, it’s an attack.

          2. Serin*

            My mother-in-law started with Mrs. Hisfirstname Hislastname and gradually moved closer to my actual name over many years. In her case I think it was about half “These are the manners I was taught as a child” and half an absolute and unbending inability to imagine that anyone could possibly have preferences that differed from hers. (You should have seen me trying to explain to her that some people are introverts.)

      2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        Well I think you might be taking at cross purposes here. Getting addressed as Mrs in a social setting is totally different than in a professional one. Your marital status may be relevant in the former, but it is never ever relevant in the latter.

  22. HW*

    OP #1: Could you ask your co-worker about her schedule? I understand if you don’t get along or can’t bring it up without sounding accusatory but I worked in an office where two of the four of us had special schedules worked out with our Boss to come in later than our “very serious hard” start time because of getting their kids to school and our Boss never told any of us this about these accommodations so I would just ask the co-workers themselves what deal they’d worked out with our boss so I’d know when to check in on them. Then you can at least find out if this has been authorized or not and make yourself feel a little better?

    1. HW*

      And by “knew when to check in on them” because that sound a bit weird we had a company policy to call/text our co-workers if they were more than 15 minutes late to their start time to make sure they were okay/on their way/not in some gruesome accident. Ideally with them texting or calling us before then to let us know they were running late from their start time.

      1. OP1*

        I’ve considered this but coworker and I really don’t mesh well and have been off to a bad foot since day one two years ago. If it comes up naturally I’ll definitely try to work it in though!

  23. Rusty Shackelford*

    #2 – That’s… bizarre. Is there any chance you were too vague in this meeting? Is it possible the employee thinks he’s actually being given new tasks or standards, and believes he deserves a promotion to go along with them?

    1. Teclatrans*

      Ooh. That would actually make sense if this odd behavior. Still dense as concrete, but the timing would make more sense.

  24. AdAgencyChick*

    #3, your line of writing is related to mine, and I’d suggest either having a password-protected online portfolio or else making up a sample PDF of representative work that you can send to recruiters. The latter wouldn’t work if the actual functionality of your documents is important to someone judging your work, which it isn’t in my case, but if all they care about is the quality of your writing, that should be enough.

    Definitely password protect any of your work that you put online if you did it as work for hire or sold all the rights to your client. Depending on how zealous clients’ lawyers are in your field, they can turn up your work in a search and be very pissed off about it, as happened to someone at an agency I used to work at. He was fired immediately.

  25. The Moops*

    OP 4: Ditto to AAM’s advice. Students just don’t know the proper conventions, and their parents hardly ever explain this outright to them (or follow former conventions).

    There is so much variance in what profs want to be called that students have a hard time navigating it. Some put their preference in their syllabi and on the board on the first day of class.

    If you’re in an admin or a non-teaching role, maybe put a sign on your desk along the lines of “Students, I’m happy to help you. Please call Ms. Fergie or Ms. Smith.” And, even if it’s email correspondence, I think it’s fine to say “Oh, there’s no need to call me Mrs. X, please call me ….” when you reply.

    1. Emi.*

      I think “Oh, there’s no need to call me Mrs. X, please call me ….” works best if you’re asking them to call you by your first name. If you want “Ms. X,” just say “Oh, I prefer ‘Ms. X,'” otherwise it sounds like “Mrs.” is more formal that “Ms.,” which is misleading.

      1. Newby*

        “No need” implies that is correct but overly formal. “Actually, it’s Ms” lets them know that they are wrong.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      Informing students is a really good idea — bonus points for informing them before you reach BEC stage and on the first day of class you bark, “My name is Dr. Doll and you WILL call me DR. Doll!”

      Eh…no, they’re going to call you something much less formal after that.

    3. Temperance*

      Ugh. My mother taught me to call everyone “Mrs.” unless they were divorced or never married. Calling a grown ass woman “Miss” is just strange.

  26. Just a Thought*

    #1 She probably does have another arrangement. However, I do have a co-worker who comes in 60-90 minutes late every day, and I know for a fact she doesn’t have a special arrangement. It doesn’t affect my job, so I let it go, but it does annoy the pants off of me…

    1. OP1*

      Thanks for this. Her lateness doesn’t affect my work too badly but it is SO infuriating. Just knowing other people get it helps. I feel like I’m insane when I’m the only one who seems to notice she’s almost three hours late!

      1. Michelle*

        We have people who do this, too. They roll in more than an hour late and then make sarcastic comments when others leave on time. Ex: “It must be nice to leave RIGHT AT 5”. Once it just hit me the wrong way and I replied back , loudly “If you would come to work ON TIME then you could leave ON TIME. It’s called being an adult and being reliable”. They never said anything to me again.

        I don’t know if the late people just don’t care or think people don’t notice or think they are special. If you make arrangements for a later start time I think letting coworkers know is actually the best thing to do. Technically it’s not anyone else’s business, but I think it helps to let people know that it’s not being ignored and it’s been arranged with management.

        1. BioPharma*

          Although it’s “impressive” to get into the office early, for some reason it appears even more “impressive” to stay late. i.e. Seeing the person still working late (even though s/he arrived late) is more impressive than the person who arrived early (and leaves early). It’s weird.

          1. Brogrammer*

            It’s all about optics. If you get in early, nobody’s there to see you, but when it’s time to go home after a full day of work, everyone sees you “leaving early.” For those who come in late, somebody will notice but anyone who doesn’t work closely with them will likely be too busy with their own work to notice, but everyone sees that those people are still “working late” when it comes time to leave.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        It doesn’t effect your work “too badly”- that means it is impacting your work.

        I think that gives you the right to bring it up, in a way that doesn’t make you petty. Let the Manager decide how much is too much.

  27. Jessesgirl72*

    OP2: I wonder if one of the things he was told was that he needed to take more initiative, and this was his extremely tone deaf and misguided way of doing that!

    I agree that he needs put on a formal PIP- in writing.

  28. Gadget Hackwrench*

    On the late co-worker, I’m pretty sure my co-workers have no idea that I have an arrangement with our boss, and probably think they know for a fact I don’t have an arrangement, because I still come in on time 3 to 4 times a week. They always look sideways at me, but I’m really not sure how to broach it since the arrangement isn’t so much a later starting time, as leniency when I can’t get in on time, as long as I stay to make up the time on the other end… which no one else is allowed to do, so they probably see me as breaking the rules, and my disability isn’t exactly one that anyone seems to understand. (Idiopathic Hypersomnia.) No one has SAID anything about it to me, so I haven’t really addressed it… but… #1, please do understand that some of us are medically incapable sometimes of getting in on time.

    1. OP1*

      This is so helpful to hear. I shouldn’t be harsh since there are lots of invisible disabilities out there. Thank you!

    1. op #5*

      It’s not that common as far as I know. Most common practice is that email bounces. Redirecting to a person sounds new to to hence the ask.

      1. Amadeo*

        While I left voluntarily from my last position, I did set up an autoreply and redirect on my own. I was working with prospective grad students and they needed to be directed to a resource since I wasn’t there. I suppose the difference being that I did it on my own.

      2. Observer*

        Well, it’s actually very common and not at all new. The fact that you’ve never come across it doesn’t really change that.

        Given that reality, you don’t have anything to worry about. Any employer who is going to take this as a sign of problems is probably one you would prefer not to work for. As for creating problems with vendor relationships, the reverse is probably true, to the extent that it makes any difference. No response reflects on you. A bounceback can be annoying, and that can taint you, even though it makes no sense. Not that people will directly think less of you because of it, just a free floating annoyance that may get linked to you. The responder avoides that, but doesn’t say anything that should raise any eyebrows.

        And, no, the person who is getting your emails is NOT the person any reasonable reference checker is going to assume should be your reference. Why would they?

      3. Miaw*

        I think your company was handling the ooo thing well… from the vendor’s perspective, it is nice to know who to contact after someone left the company. We are not sure what exactly your concern is. If your email simply bounced without ooo, people will eventually find out you left the company anyway.

      4. Bananistan*

        I find that really surprising. If I emailed someone at a business and the email bounced, I would be very frustrated and would not think highly of that business’s professionalism. What do you expect your contacts to do if they’re not told who they should contact now?

  29. Stacie Knasiak*

    I’m OP #3. Thank you everyone! I needed to hear this. I know this situation doesn’t impact a great percentage of readers and I really appreciate it being answered. I can see that Alison has valid points that I hadn’t considered, and that putting a link on my resume (which of course follows Alison’s recommendations) might be the icing that gets me the edge. I always wondered why interviewers weren’t terribly interested in seeing my hard-copy binders and now I know why. The comments are fantastic and very helpful, especially when specific sites or products are mentioned since I’m starting from scratch in finding online presentation resources. (I have seen Dreamweaver listed in “preferred skills” categories several times but I didn’t realize that it can be important to mention I’m self-taught, so I’ll definitely keep it.) I’ll check in later to make sure I don’t miss anything! Thanks again, I’m really very grateful.

  30. Karanda Baywood*

    #3 —
    As a marketing writer, I would suggest following the good advice the recruiter gave you: at the very least, create a Dropbox for 10-20 of your best/most relevant/most recent pieces (employers usually want to see up-to-date work). You don’t have to have a full-on website, necessarily, but a link to files they can peruse at their leisure is important. Give each file an explanatory name so they aren’t guessing at what’s inside.

    1. Bonky*

      As someone who recruits writers, I’d be more than happy with that. A Google Drive folder would be fine too.

  31. CBH*

    OP#1 situation… I’m just saying as a side note… I am assuming the management works 9-5. If management is insisting on varying shifts they should do something to make occasional check ups on the odd-hour shifts. It doesn’t have to be a surprise check in, but just something to touch base with the crew working while management is not there. I almost feel like OP should bring up the issue of flexibility if only to hint about the current situation and make sure management doesn’t forget about the other 16 hours a day they are not in the office. This whole scenario sounds like the coworker is taking advantage of minimal supervision during parts of their shift. As for OP I don’t think it would be petty to bring this up especially if the outcome ends up being a perk of flexibility exists but you are not aware of it.

    1. INFJ*

      Agreed on both points. OP should ask if schedule flexibility is an option, since it is a pain to have to be there at 5 if there really is some wiggle room in the schedule.

      I used to do shift work and can attest to how much of a difference it is for morale to have management on the “off” shifts, even if it just means someone comes in an hour or two earlier one day a week.

  32. I@W*

    #3 I’ve worked contract as in a similar field for ages (but the work is used internally–not customer-facing) and I always have signed confidentiality agreements with past clients. For this reason, I refuse to make this work available online so a potential client can go through the work at their leisure–which is what recruiters want me to do. I do offer to show recruiters and potential clients the work on my own laptop instead. Most clients do understand because they’ll want me to sign confidentiality agreements as well. Maybe I’ve turned off others, but I just don’t feel comfortable having it available publicly. And, I do get steady work.

  33. Not Karen*

    #2: Very rarely would I approve of laughing in someone’s face, but in this situation I think it an appropriate response.

  34. nnn*

    I wonder if the students’ reason for using “Mrs.” might be cultural. For example, in Canadian French, the default title for women is “Madame”, which translates directly to “Mrs.” “Madame” doesn’t seem to have connotations of being married as opposed being unmarried in modern business correspondence – at most, it has connotations of being a grownup as opposed to being a kid. So when French Canadians are emailing me in English, I get a lot of “Mrs. N.”

    Maybe these students are from a culture where titles work similarly, and their standard title for addressing women glosses directly to “Mrs.”?

    (Of course, even if it is cultural, you should still correct them so they know how to address people properly in the future. While I do let “Mrs. N” slide when coming from people kind enough to use their second language so I don’t have to, it literally isn’t my name.)

  35. Smiling*

    #1 – I know it’s tough when you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do (and sometimes more) and it feels like everyone else isn’t pulling their weight. From experience, please just ignore them and do your job. Otherwise, it just eats at you and doesn’t help the situation any.

  36. Hmm*

    For those saying that an online portfolio is the way to go, how would you handle this when 100% of the work you have done for your entire career is documentation that is either proprietary information or requires a government clearance, neither of which is (or ought to be) parked on a publicly accessible internet site?

    1. Bonky*

      Go with something password-protected, and talk to former employers about which parts they’d be happy for you to use in recruitment on the proviso that you’ll only be sharing with prospective employers, and that you’ll be putting the documents behind a password. This won’t be an outlandish suggestion for the people you’ve worked for before.

    2. Rocket Scientist*

      BTDT – Simply put, you don’t get to publish your work online. (Or anywhere else.)

      When you work someplace that requires a clearance, you know that upfront, though.

    3. Hmm*

      Yeah, I have no idea how to create a web site or password protect it anyway. And no way to test that it would work anyway. So that’s not happening.

      1. Observer*

        Well, if you are using something like Google Drive or DropBox, it’s all built in. And, it’s easy enough to test, too.

    4. seejay*

      You have to cleverly block out the stuff that’s not allowed to be seen by the public. My partner worked for a bank for 8 years as a designer so you can bet he has a *lot* of design stuff under his belt that he wants to be able to showcase for his portfolio but it belongs to the bank. He basically had to spend a lot of hours massaging it and updating it to not look like it comes from the bank anymore. He has bits of it up, thumbnails that show chunks but not the whole application, blurred out pieces, wireframes, etc, but enough that he can show enough of his work to get the point across without breaking any confidentiality. Potential employers that view his portfolio understand that there’s limitations because of what he’s worked on, but they’re happy because he’s showing at least some examples.

      You might need to find some people that are in your field that have online portfolios to see how they’ve worked around confidentiality issues and what they’ve blocked out and used and made public to get an idea of what you can do.

    5. CaliCali*

      If it’s proprietary or under any classification, you can’t share it with anyone, password-protected or not! I was in this situation too – I just explained that I couldn’t share due to those reasons, but I’d be happy to do a writing text or provide some of my non-work writing, and I could provide references from the job. (I got the new job, which then gave me some writing samples I could use :))

  37. yarnowl*

    As a technical writer who recently graduated I might be able to help OP #3 out a little!

    I have a small online portfolio of work I’ve done available for people to see; obviously my overall portfolio is much smaller than that of someone who’s been in the industry for 18 years, but I have a fair amount of work to show off. I basically have one or two example of each type of work I’ve done (e.g. a couple of forms I’ve created, a white paper, a couple of proposals, some more design-y stuff, etc.), and state, both on the website and whenever I talk to a prospective employer on the phone or through email, that I have more work I can show them.

    In my experience, this shows that I can do a lot of different types of work while not being overwhelming, and it allows me to tailor what I’m showing to people. So for example, when I applied for the job I have now, which is heavy on the writing and editing and includes almost none of the more design-centered work I can do, I was asked for more samples and was able to send them things that pertained to the work I’d be doing.

    I’m sure other tech writers have done it different and had success, but this is what I like to do!

  38. Ashlee*

    In response to the portfolio question:
    I also work in communications and agree that you have to have an online portfolio. People don’t really want to read through samples while you’re sitting there with them.
    It definitely doesn’t need to be a slick or expensive website though!
    I use the free WordPress feature for mine, which costs nothing except the initial few hours to set it all up. I have a really basic layout and include my resume, links to published articles, and then a subpage for designs and miscellaneous projects.
    If you don’t know WordPress, or don’t feel like learning it, you can also add “projects” (portfolio items) to your LinkedIn profile. I usually link to published articles or websites I helped build (anything that’s public access really). This one is free as well.

    1. H.C.*

      Agreed, I have a few samples posted on my LinkedIn profile; another option is using Dropbox / Google Drive.

  39. Matilda*

    #4, I’m with you. I prefer Ms. (mostly because I shouldn’t have to lead with people knowing whether I’m married or not and it should have no baring on my professional life). I also work with teen volunteers, who I really encourage to call me by my first name, but many insist on Mrs. SoandSo (and I know it is a respect thing, but it still irks me). Here’s to hoping Ms. becomes the norm and Miss and Mrs. get dropped all together.

  40. Miaw*

    Yes, it is very common to set out of office for employees that no longer work in the company. In fact, it would have been very unprofessional for the company to not do so. Think about this from the vendor’s perspective: the would be upset if their inquiries fall through the cracks and has to spend a lot of valuable time hunting down alternative contacts.

    About your reputation: I think you are overthinking this. The out of office message is very factual: “You no longer work there therefore people should contact x y z instead and the sender get a reaasurance that the mails had been forwarded”. It is set for the benefit of the vendors and clients and is not meant to purposely jeopardize your reputation. Most people would have assumed you resigned instead of fired.

  41. Crazy Canuck*

    #1 – Alison’s advice is really good, I would recommend following it. I know there is a sense that one shouldn’t “tattle” in the workplace, but at least in my case, I just have a hard time letting stuff like that go. I’m not as clever as Alison, so when I was in a similar situation, I just jokingly asked my manager if she was aware that co-worker was routinely over an hour late, as I too was interested in getting 8 hours pay for seven hours work. (We had the same hours, left at the same time, and couldn’t work from home, so I knew he wasn’t flexing his hours.)

    As it turned out, she wasn’t aware, and after she verified what I was saying, I got to watch co-worker get perp-walked out a few weeks later. It may be petty of me, but I enjoyed the hell out of that. I don’t know how things turned out after that, as lawyers got involved. Apparently the time-card fraud wasn’t the only bad thing that turned up during the investigation.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      I generally don’t think it’s WRONG to tell the truth about something that someone else did. Focus on the offending action, not others’ reactions to it, ya know? The question is whether it’s mature or socially acceptable to do so.

      I probably would have done what you did if I knew enough about the coworker’s job duties and life circumstances to feel sure that she really was acting scammy. Managers can’t know if employees are doing something wrong until someone tells them.

  42. Argh!*

    re: #4 I’ll have to c&p Allison’s advice for the next time I deal with this. (Who teaches kids to do this anyway??)

    My response is usually “Please refer to me as Ms. I am not married to my father.”

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      I guess there’s no need to be flippant, though, especially when people are trying to be polite.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think that’s especially flippant. There’s zero reason to give you a title that loads of people don’t use and which, for a lot of people (although certainly not everyone), feels loaded with a bunch of baggage.

        1. Emi.*

          But a title that loads of people don’t use and which, for a lot of people (although certainly not everyone), feels loaded with a bunch of baggage also applies to “Ms.” If there’s no reason to suspect bad intent *in a particular situation*, just say “Oh, it’s ‘Ms.'” or “Oh, I prefer ‘Ms.'” and have done with it.

    2. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      But in the professional context the problem isn’t getting your marital status *wrong,* it’s referring to your marital status at all. Whether or not a woman is married has no bearing on her professional life. Whenever I get addressed as Mrs. Lastname in my professional life, I feel like they might as well be calling me Mrs. Husband’sFirst Lastname. Just so inappropriate.

      Maybe this grates on me so much because it almost never happens to me on the first meeting / correspondence. I’m young, live in a city where people get married later in life, and have only ever used my married name professionally. So professional contacts assume that I’m not married, use Ms., then switch to Mrs. when they learn I’m married. Which means that you met me in person, saw my wedding ring, and deemed that to be pertinent information to use in a business setting.

  43. MassMatt*

    I worked in a call center taking calls from employees of multiple different employers, some of whose had strict rules that we could only give account information and make transactions for the employee. Many irate spouses. Once got a call for the account of John Smith, a woman started asking questions, I had to ask if she was John Smith, I can only give info to him. “I am MRS. John Smith!!!!” Was the indignant reply. Interesting attempt to get around the rule.

  44. Cerberus*

    #4 – PLEASE correct students. I work at a University, and while I am a Mrs, my email signature says Ms. That’s mainly because my first name is not gender specific and I wish to provide clarification. Additionally, I work with an ROTC unit and share the same common last name with one of my active duty officers, so I need to differentiate between the Major Smith and the civilian Ms Smith. In the military, all female civilians are addressed as Ms as a standard.

    1. Emi.*

      Huh, I didn’t know that. My ROTC instructor (I was a civilian sitting in on the class) called me “Miss Lastname,” or so I thought. Now I wonder if it was just how he pronounced/I heard “Ms.”

  45. Anonymouse*

    Even more jarring to me than being called Mrs. or Miss LastName is when someone calls me Miss FirstName. It literally just happened on the phone a second ago – in a professional setting! I understand that in some regions it’s a polite thing to call a woman, but to me it just sounds patronizing. My mom and grandma are the only people who can call me that without raising my hackles.

  46. TJ*

    OP#1. If this doesn’t affect your work, please let it go. I use intermittent FMLA and come in late a few times a week. Our team has a “busy body” that emails the manager on everyone! She documents what each team member is doing or not doing every day. Management has not asked her to do this. It’s irritating to rest of us & creates morale and issues between team. I have no reason to share with this busy body or anyone on my team about my FMLA.

  47. Stellaaaaa*

    OP1: You’re right to be frustrated if you’re supposed to be providing coverage until your coworker arrives; your solo (or minimally staffed) shift goes from 2 hours to 4. It’s perfectly reasonable to tell your manage that you’re struggling with coverage during the 2 hours that your coworker is supposed to be there but is absent. You know your situation better than we do. It’s not tattling if her tardiness really is placing a burden on you when your coworker has gotten used to not saying anything. However, it’s salty to “report” her if her work has no overlap with yours.

  48. Temis*

    I’ll be completely honest… Titles in English are really confusing to me, the only thing I can understand is that I should always call whatever the other person wants to call them.
    One thing I was really surprised though was that in English people only have their father’s last name.
    In my country it’s always First name, rarely middle name then Mother’s last name (one of her two names) and father’s last name. Sometimes you get more last names depending if there was a grandmother/grandfather last name that the parents wanted to preserve – I once knew a guy whose names all put together where five or six words, but it’s really uncommon to only have one surname at all.

  49. NikkiStowe*

    For LW#3: I didn’t read through all the comments so someone may have already mentioned this, but sites like Crevado and Wix are free and allow you to very easily (and quickly) put an online portfolio together. I needed one ASAP and a friend suggested Crevado. It’s basic but I was able to throw together a sharp looking portfolio in under an hour – you may want to check it out instead of building one from scratch and paying for your own domain!

  50. Hershele Ostropoler*

    There are any number of reasons not to use an honorific for a woman that incorporates her marital status, starting with the fact that we don’t even have that as an option for men. I’m reminded of William Safire begrudgingly accepting “Ms.” in 1984, since the Democrats nominated for VP someone who was not properly “Mr.” (for obvious reasons) nor “Miss” (because she was married) nor “Mrs.” (because she wasn’t married to Mr. Ferraro).

    (Conversely, “Miss Cripslock,” but Discworld feminism is different from ours.)

Comments are closed.