I’m embarrassed that my employee paid cash at a business lunch, we all get the same raises, and more

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

1. I’m embarrassed that my employee paid cash at a business lunch

One of my employees embarrassed me at a business lunch. When it came time to pay, everyone took out either their own credit or debit cards or their company one. My employee paid with cash with exact change and also left a cash tip. When I spoke to her about it, she didn’t see what she did wrong. There were four other people from different companies at this lunch. My employee said she doesn’t have a debit or credit card and uses cash exclusively. I explained this is not acceptable for business meals and events, but she says she will continue using cash only.

She is different, she is under 25 and does not have social media or any internet presence and when her name is searched for nothing comes up. She has a landline and no mobile phone and she doesn’t own a TV or any kind of streaming service, and when she isn’t job searching she only checks her email once or twice a week. But she doesn’t see why using cash a business meal or event is a faux pas or misstep. As her supervisor, am I able to mandate her to use an electronic payment? She has refused all attempts so far and says she won’t change.

What?! I am baffled by why you think it’s not okay for her to pay in cash. It’s perfectly fine for her to pay in cash, it’s not unprofessional or a misstep, and it’s super weird that you’re telling her that it is. Let her pay in cash if she wants to, and leave her alone.

And stop judging her for her all the other stuff in your second paragraph too — none of this is a problem.

2. We all get the same raises because my manager doesn’t like hard conversations

For the past two years, I have been rated as “Exceeds Expectations” on my annual reviews. I work hard and am very good at what I do. My question regards annual raises. My supervisor gets a “bucket” of funds available to distribute to his team as he sees fit. Since he would run a mile rather than have a confrontation with anyone, he gives everyone the exact same raise — even those who are rated “Below Expectations.”

Am I crazy for thinking my raise should be higher than people who aren’t performing up to expectations? When I asked him about it, he said he was giving everyone the same pay increase because he “didn’t want to make anyone feel bad.” Not surprisingly, I feel bad!!

You’re not crazy. He’s a crap manager who is refusing to do his job, and you’re suffering financially for it.

3. Inviting annoying coworkers to baby’s first birthday party

I have been working at the same medium-sized nonprofit for the past seven years and, as such, consider a number of my coworkers to be good friends. With my daughter turning 1 in June, a couple have already asked about the party. I would love to extend an invitation to my friends (I have no qualms about a big party – the more, the merrier) but am concerned about the possible can of worms it would open…

I work in a team of five people. One (Marla) is very close and I consider her to be an honorary aunt. My boss (Julie) is newer, but she has been a great source of support and guidance as I navigate being a new parent and balance my work and family life. I would gladly invite them both, but I dread the thought of inviting the other two members of the team. One (Bruce) is a constant mansplainer who has made his fair share of sexist remarks about me as a working mother. The other (Frank) has coasted through his job for years with me picking up his slack AND has a not-so-secret drinking problem.

If I invite Marla and Julie, along with two other colleagues from other departments, must I invite Bruce and Frank?

You wouldn’t have to, but you’d potentially be feeding into a kind of cliquey dynamic that you’re better off avoiding in a small department. Or maybe you wouldn’t be — coworkers who you’re not close to probably aren’t going to be terribly sad at not being invited to a child’s birthday party.

In general, it’s not a great move to invite half your department and not the other half, but this might be an exception to that general rule since (a) toddler birthday parties are not usually a hot invitation that people will feel burned not to get, and (b) you could position it as just inviting the people who have taken a particular interest in your daughter, which makes perfect sense.

4. Should another coworker get the byline on an article I wrote?

My supervisor asked me to write an article for our company’s website. For the record, we are a large corporation. My job title is secretary. It just so happens that writing is a strongpoint for me. It is not a job requirement for my position.

Along comes the request to submit an article for publication on our company homepage. I wrote it and shared it with local management; they didn’t change a thing, and rubber stamped it. Others from various parts of our organization were also asked to submit a piece, and I began to notice a pattern emerging. When published, the articles all said “submitted by” the same name, the name of a person charged with updating the portal. I brought the matter up and was told that my article is the company’s intellectual property. I disagree. I believe that argument would require no name rather than someone other than the author. Am I being too sensitive?

Yeah, a little. It sounds like your website system is set up to automatically show the author as the person who fed the content into it (similar to how you can see “by Alison Green” at the top of every post here — I don’t put that in each time, it just displays automatically). So I doubt the person is deliberately trying to claim authorship; you just have a system that’s making it appear that way.

More generally, it is indeed true that when you write something for work, they own it and they can list any author they want or none at all (with the exception of a small number of fields where authorship is a really big deal and that would not be done). Lots of writers’ work routinely ends up published as being “from” their CEO, for example.

In this case, it’s reasonable to say, “Hey, I’d really like credit for the piece I wrote, and I bet others would too — is it possible to list bylines?” But if you’re told no, I wouldn’t spend more capital on it.

5. Should my cover letter mention the employee who told me about the job and met me to discuss it?

I’m currently in the process of applying for what could potentially be my dream job. I’ve been out of school for about two years now and have yet to land a role in my desired field. I moved to a new state and job market and have spent the last five months networking, taking workshops and classes, and beefing up my portfolio (while working two jobs — phew!).

A job was posted in one of my networks and I ended up getting coffee with the poster. She works on a very small team within a large corporation and is a member of the hiring committee. She gave great insight into what qualities and skills they want for this role, none of which are actually listed on the very broad job posting. Do I reference our meeting in my cover letter? Or mention that this woman introduced me to the role through our organization? I don’t want to come off as a name dropper and she already referred me internally. Also, the group we are part of is a respectable education and networking org for women in our very male-dominated field. I’m proud of my involvement and this is where I found out about the position.

This is a remarkable opportunity and I want to be sure to play this as best as I possibly can. I’m still relatively new to the working world with somewhat scattered professional history. My cover letter here is crucial.

It’s not name dropping to say that you spoke with a member of the hiring committee about the job! You could just say something like, “I learned about the job from Ada Bumbridge, and my interest was deepened after speaking with her about what you’re looking for.” Don’t spend much more time describing the meeting or anything like that, but a quick mention like this makes sense.

{ 1,045 comments… read them below }

  1. Looby*

    no. 1 I’m actually super intrigued as to why you think cash at a business meal is a faux pas. Is this a regional thing? I have honestly never given a moments thought as to how my colleagues have paid when we go out for a meal and are paying our own way.

    No. 3 maybe it’s just me but I feel compelled to gift to a child if I’m invited to a kids party whether I attend or not so if you do invite co-workers while hoping they don’t attend please make it clear that gifts are not needed.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m totally baffled by OP#1’s idea that cash is somehow unprofessional. I would love to hear more to get a better sense of where this is coming from. I have never heard of this norm in my life.

      1. H.C.*

        The only way I can imagine cash raising some eyebrows is if she paid in lots of small change or had some messily crumbled up bills (wow, just had a flashback to that Pretty Woman scene), but I doubt either is the case for her.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          I’m not sure that people are expending much thought on others’ payment methods at all. I recently tried to pay for a work lunch with an expired library card in someone else’s name (other half and I have the same coloured wallets and there was an inadvertent swap, and I just handed over the top card). While the server was confused, I don’t think anyone else was even paying attention.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            I tried to pay for lunch recently with my AARP card. The jokes just write themselves, I tell you.

            And OP, if your employee is going to take clients or vendors for meals, and you feel strongly that she should whip out the plastic, give her a company card. But if a group of teammates go for lunch, or she’s at a professional/industry event without catering and a bunch of attendees grab lunch together, or suchlike, you don’t have a say in how she pays for her own meal. Cash or credit, it’s her choice.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I removed a very long thread of off-topic replies here. Y’all, please keep it on-topic; it takes me a long time to have to clean up long off-topic threads like that. (Not directed at you, Cambridge Comma, but at the 25+ replies.)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              …. And now I see there are a bunch more off-topic threads on the page as well, so I’m giving up on cleaning up this post. But consider this a plea to please stop long off-topic threads.

              1. ob*

                Related to this, it would be a super awesome feature to be able to collapse the comments of sub-threads (like reddit). I don’t know how implementable this is though!

        2. Stephanie*

          That was my guess…but even then, eh? I imagine paying with rolls of quarters at Per Se would be odd, but it’s currency. Only time I’ve noticed people’s payment method is if they have the same card (I’m with a military-affiliated bank, so sometimes it’ll be like “Oh, who was in the military?”)

          1. sstabeler*

            it’s considered fairly rude because the cashier/server has to count the number of quarters to ensure the customer actually paid the full amount, which wastes time- particularly if they are loose, not in rolls.

            1. PatPat*

              I wouldn’t consider it rude to pay with coins. It’s probably not ideal. It’s definitely slower and you should use bills if you have them but coins are legal currency and it’s fine to use pay with them.

              Rude is a guy I knew years ago who was angry at the store he wanted to purchase a TV from so he went to the bank and got $200 in coins to pay with. Then as he handed the coins over to the cashier he broke the rolls and dumped the coins out on the counter for the cashier to count. That’s rude. Strangely, this guy wanted to date me and he was telling me this story to show me how…cool? tough? he was. It had the opposite effect and I refused to go out with him and told him I wouldn’t date someone who treated a cashier like that.

              1. Bea*

                There are places that will refuse that kind of purchase because cash drop is hell with an over abundance of coins. Someone paid with a bag of coins at an upscale restaurant I used to keep books at. I told my brother about it and he told me they’d accept them exactly once and the person would be 86ed for being a douchebag. It’s one thing to pay for your morning coffee or a hamburger with change but going into a massive change jar to stick it to any server or cashier is a garbage move.

              2. Collarbone High*

                I hate hate hate “amusing” news stories where a person is angry about some tax or policy so they protest by paying with a wheelbarrow of change and the story is framed as “they’re sticking it to the man!”

                No, they’re sticking it to an underpaid employee who has no control over the situation and is forced to waste time counting the money.

                1. Lissa*

                  Same here. Nobody who made the policy is going to care that you inconvenienced a worker, and all you’ve done is made yourself look like the jerk. People who think they’re being “tough” by making workers miserable are one of my biggest peeves.

                2. Zombii*

                  Seriously. A douchebag ex-coworker showed everyone a video on Facebook where some guy who must have been a pained child dumped a big ol’ bag o’ pennies on a DMV worker’s desk to pay a parking ticket. The “funniest” part (apparently) was how the DMV worker kept saying “No no no wait no!” though the whole thing, and the guy not listening to her at all.

                  (I said “Christ. What an asshole,” and was forever excluded from all future conversations with anyone at that company. Thank god.)

                3. Noobtastic*

                  Yeah, paying with a bunch of change is only permissible when you had to go sofa-diving to get enough money to pay for the thing, and it the transaction is accompanied by massive apologies for wasting the clerk’s time, but you had no choice, because it was the only way you could get enough money together to do/buy the thing.

                  As for the OP1 – There is nothing wrong with paying in cash. In fact, the server probably appreciated it, especially the cash tip, because frequently enough that it is a known thing, managers will skim off the tips on credit/debit card receipts, and so the servers wind up getting less!

                  Also, your employee eschewing TV, internet, etc. when off the clock is not your business, in any way, shape or form. Your only concern is how well that employee does the job.

                4. Push off*

                  You will hopefully enjoy this story then: I work for an organization that does not take cash/in person payments at all, so when a guy rolled up to pay his debt with a wheelbarrow full of coins the office staff just sent him away with them. Then it was his problem to work out what to do with them all. :)

            2. Thumper*

              When I was in high school a group of my friends (I wasn’t there) went to Applebee’s for dinner. For reasons unknown, the server started ranting and raving to these 16 year olds about how he hates serving young people because “they always want to pay with change”. So guess what they did?

                1. Thumper*

                  Hah, I meant according to them the rant seemed to come out of nowhere. It was within minutes of them being seated.

              1. nonegiven*

                I’m 60. I’ve been to Applebees in 4 different cities. I have never once gotten even adequate service.

            3. Dankar*

              My partner and all his coworkers were way happier with cash tips when he was working as a server. It was easier to cash out and you could swap for whatever bills you wanted . He took home most of the change since a) we have a large coin jar for our vacation fund and b) no one wanted to count it all. He usually took home $5-10 more than others because they couldn’t be bothered to split it up.

            4. WS*

              Actually when I worked in a restaurant paying in rolls was equally annoying because you had to unroll everything to confirm that the rolls were all the same coin. (Some people will fill a dime roll with pennies and then put dimes at each end, so if you just check the ends it looks legit but you open it and the rest are pennies.)

              Maybe not as time-consuming as paying with loose change, but still very very annoying to deal with on busy shifts.

            5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I agree with this—it’s considered pretty rude from the server’s perspective and is an absolute nightmare for cash drop. Of course, paying with bills and exact (coin) change is usually fine.

              The only time I’ve seen folks be flexible on letting a “coins-only change” customer continue to come back was if they were elderly or possibly low-income and were a regular… and it was a diner… and it was in a small town with few other restaurants.

        3. Solidus Pilcrow*

          “The only way I can imagine cash raising some eyebrows is if she paid in lots of small change or had some messily crumbled up bills”

          Or possibly if the employee made a big production rooting around in her purse for 5 minutes and counting out loud while gathering the 83 pennies to make the exact change and basically holding up the process for everyone else; all the while doing a running commentary about how people with cards are such sheep to the banking industry and cash is the only way to go. That type of behavior *would* be unprofessional. However, the OP made no mention of that.

          Out of curiosity, I did a little googling about “paying cash unprofessional” and related terms. This post is the top result. :) Pretty much all other results were about issues with the *employer* paying cash and the tax issues with it. NOTHING about it being unprofessional for an employee to use cash in a business setting.

            1. Zombii*

              If your point is that it actually is unprofessional, cite your sources because I’m very curious about this. Even taking how The All-Knowing Google works into account, that shouldn’t skew all the results to be nothing after a previously-visited site.

              Also, I tried that search in an incognito window, after clearing cookies, and got the same thing. :)

        4. Rich G*

          In college I was a cashier in a supermarket. People would pull out money from undergarments and shoes. If she took the money out of a purse or wallet, then you are good to go.

          1. Gadget Hackwrench*

            I remember seeing a sign once at a convenience store that said “Due to heat wave we will not be accepting any sock or boob money today.” Lol.

      2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Same. In fact, lots of restaurants are not too happy about splitting a check between six different credit cards, so someone having cash is often a good thing. Unless she paid handfuls of loose change, or pulled a crumpled bill out of her shoe or something, I don’t see anything unprofessional about cash.

          1. Preppy6917*

            Former server of 10 years here. Running a stack of credit cards is much easier than making change for cash.

                1. JoJo*

                  That’s a possibility. And it’s usually the person who had the appetizers, expensive entree, drinks and dessert who wants to split evenly with the person who ordered a salad. Then they complain about how cheap the salad eater is for not wanting to subsidize someone else’s meal.

                2. Hlyssande*

                  Oooh, yeah. That could’ve been the case. I only do that with friends, and only then when we’ve ordered things that are roughly the same in cost… or I make up the difference to them in cash.

                3. fishy*

                  I think if that were the case, the OP probably would have alluded to it here. It sounds like their issue was more so that they believed the employee was coming across as old fashioned and weird. Which I don’t understand.

                4. SpaceySteph*

                  Yeah, I’m ok with splitting evenly sometimes just to make things go easily, especially if everyone has cards and nobody wants to do math.
                  But it really should be up to the person whose order was the cheapest. Also in a business case, it’s not cool for a person higher on the totem pole (presumably with higher salary to match) to pressure their underlings into splitting lunch when they’d rather just pay for their own, even if everyone ordered comparable priced items there’s bound to be some variability.

            1. Morning Glory*

              It really depends on the restaurant’s system. When I was a server, multiple cards required manager authorization, which meant running around trying to find the often-absent manager. Also, if people listed different amounts for each card, that required manual entry.

              I would have preferred cash over multiple credit cards any day.

              1. Trig*

                Yeesh. Yet another reason I’m glad it’s the norm in my country to default to separate bills. If you want separate bills, they’ll bring you all separate bills and you take turns using the terminal. There’s usually no fuss whatsoever about splitting items between bills either, and it’s always pretty easy to say “we’re together, and they’re together, but the remaining three are separate.”

                I guess we just generally have good restaurant software here?

            2. Jessesgirl72*

              I have been to several restaurants who point blank refused to split the check more than 2 ways. (Printed on the menu, as so!)

              What actually is slightly embarrassing is being invited to lunch last minute, and needing to borrow cash from your boss because he picked a restaurant with that policy and didn’t warn you so you could stop at the ATM on the way…

              1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

                Our favorite Thai restaurant is like that. They won’t split the check and won’t run more than 2 cards. Whenever we have a decent size group going there are rounds of “don’t forget CASH!!!” texts

                1. Bill Splitter*

                  Wow. I’m pretty low-key when going out – not demanding or needy of servers/staff, very polite – but I find this totally unacceptable and probably wouldn’t return to a place that did this – printing it on the menu is especially irksome for some reason. To me, taking payment from the customer in a way that is convenient to them (within limits, of course) is one of the very basic functions of a service establishment.

              2. Gadget Hackwrench*

                I’ve never had a problem splitting the bill as many ways as needed, as long as you tell the server at the START of the meal that it’s going to be separate checks. It’s not fair to make them sort it out afterward. That’s balls.

                1. Natalie*

                  I mean, that doesn’t actually matter. It’s a common misconception, but business are not required to accept cash at all, or to accept all bills and coins.

                2. Koko*

                  You know, Natalie’s comment has got me wondering if restaurant bills would be an exception to the rule, because the meal has already been consumed when the bill comes.

                  Someone to whom you owe a debt is required to accept any legal tender to clear the debt. But a business is not required to accept any legal tender to proceed with a sale.

                  So if you’ve already eaten the meal, the business can’t simply cancel the transaction the way the gas station can put your Coke back in the fridge and refuse to sell it to you. By eating the meal in advance of paying, you now owe the restaurant a debt, and they would have to accept any legal tender to clear it.

                3. Partly Cloudy*

                  @Natalie, yes, I know that all businesses aren’t required to accept all forms of payment. My comment was made assuming that the customer was attempting to pay with a knowingly acceptable payment method, even if it’s not preferred.

                4. Rich G*

                  This is an odd area. American currency says “for all debts public and privet” on it. Some say that this means that people should be able to pay a public or privet debt with cash. Others say nope. This seems to be a sour point when paying via cash is more expensive than not paying via cash. The Illinois Tollway does this, and it drives my brother-in-law nuts.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          And waitstaff often prefer it, as well. It’s easier to divvy up and bank, and you don’t have to worry about a portion of your tip being eaten up by transaction fees or by an unscrupulous manager redirecting tips away from employees.

          1. Rabbit*

            I worked as a server all through high school and college and yes, I sang the praises of those people who tipped in cash.

            It’s been a good long while since I worked in a restaurant but I still make an effort to always have a couple of bills in my wallet for tipping.

            1. Koko*

              Yep, after waitressing and delivering food for a few years when I was younger, I always try to tip cash, even if I’m paying the rest by card.

              1. FormerLibrarian*

                I’ve noticed that if you use a debit card sometimes the tip doesn’t go through. So yes, on the rare occasions we get to eat out these days we try to have cash for the tip, or make sure to use the credit card not the debit.

                But it sounds like OP#1 might think cash is unprofessional because it’s not “modern”? There seem to be some other issues with the idea of a younger employee who isn’t constantly plugged in.

                But at least s/he didn’t yell at the employee about not having a credit card (I hope!). Having been unemployed for quite a while and had some problems with debt (spouse was military, we’d ended up moving and couldn’t rent or sell the house for two years while living 500 miles away, and had two small kids at the time), after I got a good job and we started clearing stuff up, I didn’t use credit cards. (I still don’t unless I have to. Thank heavens for debit cards for when only plastic will do!) So when I had to go to an annual conference which previous supervisor had always put on the corporate card, the new one actually yelled at me as to why I didn’t have a credit card with a minimum of $600 clear on it. Had I maxed out all my cards?

                Sadly, I wasn’t quick enough to think to respond that having a credit card with that much available on it at all times hadn’t been listed as a job requirement or even to simply point out how inappropriate that question was. Instead I just said that I didn’t like credit cards so I only had one for real emergencies and the limit wasn’t enough to cover the conference.

                I spent the next few years avoiding my boss except for the annual reviews where he’d ding me for not completing something which couldn’t be done until another department did their bit, or because VIP X couldn’t find me at 7:30 although I wasn’t scheduled to start until 8 or all the other stuff which makes one take a mental health day to spend more time brushing up the resume.

                I don’t miss that place at all, just the paycheck.

            2. Landshark*

              On a related note, a tip (no pun intended) for card transactions with cash tips: I’ve been told a few times by people in the service industry to be sure to draw a line through the tip section or make sure that it is otherwise covered up (like with several zeroes or a “No”) if you’re either not tipping for some reason or tipping with a different payment method. It’s not common and, in fact, is fraud, but I’ve heard from some servers that it’s still a possibility, albeit a rare one, that an unscrupulous member of the wait staff or the business itself could doctor the tip line to skim a bit of money off the top. If you ever catch someone doing that, report it immediately, of course, but I have been told that’s one of the best ways to keep the unscrupulous and fraudulent from preying on you.

              1. Cary*

                Wait staff skimming off funds via the tip does happen. I have friends who do auditing who say they watch for this when working with restaurants.’

          2. Anxa*

            I prefer cash tips as it makes it easier to tip out bus/bar/expo, but I actually think it’s easier to run all credit cards if a bill is being split.

            1. Mookie*

              Yep. The tip issue is huge. I feel as strongly about cash tips as the LW feels, apparently, about not paying in cash. In my circle, it’s definitely a political faux pas (one might even say politically incorrect!!1!) to use a card for tips. To the degree that I can control it (including deciding where and where I will not dine according to their policies on the distribution of tips to other staff), I want cash-money in my server(s)’s hands at the end of the visit. And I am not pleased when the people I’m dining with behave insensitively on this matter.

              1. Blue*

                Ouch. I’ve been a sever several places and an appalled there could be a move toward shaming diners from tipping on cards as politically incorrect. People tend to not carry much cash these days, I’ve always gotten the tip immediately, just, this is bad news.

                1. Mookie*

                  I don’t think of it as “news” or a novel convention so much as a continuum, practiced in my own experience and throughout my life by working-class people (in or formerly in service themselves). To clear up any misapprehension: there’s no shaming, overt or otherwise, involved.

                2. LJL*

                  Knowing several people who have been servers, I tip in cash whenever I can as I’ve heard of unscrupulous owners who keep all/most of the tips. If I tip, it’s for the server to keep or to divide among other staff as that server sees fit.

                3. Natalie*

                  Yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s new at all, more of an old thing that some people are keeping alive. My grandmother was insistent on paying tips in cash based on her time waiting tables back in the 50ss.

                4. Natalie*

                  Oh, and I should add since no one has mentioned this aspect of it – grandma explicitly said part of the reason she did that is so they wouldn’t have to report it on their taxes. In her opinion waitresses got paid so little and treated so poorly that this was acceptable. Under-reporting is incredibly common with cash transactions of all kinds.

                5. anonderella*


                  Yes, exactly this.
                  I was always been advised to underreport tips, even by bosses at certain places I worked. The only time I didn’t was when I worked in a touristy area in FL, and didn’t need to underreport because I made so much. It’s an honor system.. in a dishonorable system : )

              2. Morning Glory*

                I used to waitress, and grew up with my mother waiting tables, and I find the extremity of your point of view surprising.

                As long as 25% or more of customers paid cash tips, there was no real problem to me if the other customers tipped plastic. In fact, I preferred some tips to be via credit card because they consolidated so that, at the end of the night, I had some larger bills and wouldn’t have to the bank with a stack of 50 $1 bills.

                1. Dizzy Steinway*

                  In the UK you keep more of the tip if it’s cash so tipping on card is not ideal.

                2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

                  I thought you didn’t tip in the UK? I’m in the US and I thought we were the only ones with the tipping culture? (Serious question)

                3. Morning Glory*

                  Oh that’s interesting – what causes that difference?

                  In the U.S. servers don’t always claim their tips on taxes if they are paid cash, but they have to claim them if it’s recorded by credit card receipt.

                  But no server would claim zero tips because that would be an obvious lie, it would usually never be under by more than 25% – which is where I got that number from.

                4. Gen*

                  There’s been a few issues in the UK (where tipping isn’t really customary) that tips given using the card machines go to the company and only a small percentage ever gets back to the waitstaff. Cash is supposed to be treated the same at those companies but it seems the managers at each location are more reasonable. After a public outcry at least one company offered to let their staff actually receive the tips but I don’t know if it actually made a difference.

                5. Emi.*

                  @Band Name, other countries tip too, but sometimes they do it differently. E.g. in German bars, if you buy a 3-euro beer, you hand the waitress a 5-euro note and say “Four,” meaning “Give me change as if I had given you four euros,” so she gives you one euro and keeps one as a tip. (All numbers made up on the spot for convenience–I don’t know how much you should actually tip in Germany. I just know my father accidentally stiffed a waitress because he thought he was supposed to tip later and went through an anxious rigamarole trying to flag her down so he could order another beer and tip her properly.)

              3. aebhel*


                I use a card exclusively, and I tip well on the rare occasions that I eat out, but I’m not going to carry cash around (especially multiple small bills) because I will lose it. I’m baffled as to how tipping with a card is ‘behaving insensitively’.

                1. aebhel*

                  (Also, in case it needs to be made clear, most of my adult life up to the past couple of years has been spent working in the service industry, and I’ve never even heard of this convention. I don’t think this is a widespread working-class thing).

                2. Health Insurance Nerd*

                  Same. I almost never have cash. Tipping with a card is incredibly commonplace, and is not in any way “behaving insensitively”.

                3. paul*

                  agreed. And I’ve worked in restaurants!

                  People are weird. Tip reasonably, cash or card, doesn’t matter unless a manager is doing illegal things (and even cash tips are subject to shenanigans in that case).

                4. Myrin*

                  I’m so fascinated by this – I had no idea you even can tip using a card! When you use a card here – a normal bank card, though, not a credit card so maybe that’s the difference? – I’m pretty sure there is no way to transfer more than the price of the thing. Interesting!

                5. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

                  Myrin – I’m fascinated by this. Every restaurant here (US) has a total, then a line to write in the tip amount, and then another line to write the new total. This includes IME fast food places where tipping isn’t customary. Well, assuming the fast food place actually has you sign a receipt. Most of those just run the card and hand you a receipt now, no signature required.

                6. aebhel*

                  @Myrin, I use a debit card, not credit, but yeah–you get a receipt where you can write in the amount of the tip and add it to the total before they actually charge your card, so they’re still only charging the amount you authorize.

                7. LBK*

                  Yeah, they run an authorization for just the amount of your check to make sure you can actually pay the bill, then after that’s approved you sign and add your tip, and that’s the final amount they charge you.

                8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I don’t think it’s insensitive, but it can be easier for the house/owner/manager to skim their servers’ tips when you tip on card. That said, it’s perfectly fine to do it—you should just know that they might receive slightly less than the amount you’ve designated because of ancillary costs like card transaction fees.

                9. CC*

                  Myrin: also, there are payment terminals set up with a step to ask for a tip, by amount or % of total.

                  So they show you the amount, then ask if you want to tip by % or $, then ask the number for that, then show the final amount you’re authorizing. It makes it really easy to tip an appropriate percentage without needing to do math.

                10. Normally A Lurker*

                  I was also a server for years. It depends on the place – a couple of the places I worked cashed out out for all your tips at the end of each shift but some of them put your CC tips on your weekly paycheck and cash went out the door that night.

                  Honestly, it didn’t matter to me which way you tipped, as long as you tipped.

                  The last place I worked was a tip split house, so you didn’t get your tip split till your next shift anyway. (And CC tips went on your paycheck). But, the tip split house, tips were only ever touched by the server and everyone got a write out of what tips they should have for each shift, and you could check your pay stub to make sure you go it. (And we did check, there was only one prob once the whole 2 years I was there, and it was bc she had forgotten to clock in for the shift period so it didn’t show up that she was part of the tip pool that day).

                  Also, the last place I worked was a no coin restaurant (upscale place). Under 80 cents, the restaurant ate it, over 80 cents, the customer did – unless they complained and then we did.

                  So like a bill of 21.75 was 21 dollars in cash, but 21.85 was 22 in cash. All tips in coin went to the waiter that got them and not into the tip pool. (To be fair, we never once had a problem with this issue bc we were such an upscale place that a) ppl rarely paid in cash – and b) if they did, they generally didn’t care about pennies.)

                11. Salyan*

                  Myrin – In Canada, the debit/card machines will often have a tip section to navigate before finalizing the transaction.

              4. Jessesgirl72*

                I come from a long line of restaurant workers, and your opinion here is… misguided.

                Credit card tipping assures that the restaurant can keep track of tips and make up the difference, as required, for those making less than minimum wage and in the states where tips legally are shared with all the waitstaff, it’s easier to split them. It also ensures that everyone has to report the tips on their taxes.

                Many times, I see paying in cash touted so the waitperson doesn’t have to pay taxes.

                So do what you’d like, but stop judging others for tipping via credit!

                1. baseballfan*

                  “Many times, I see paying in cash touted so the waitperson doesn’t have to pay taxes.”

                  This is why I *don’t* prefer to tip in cash.

                2. k*

                  I’m glad to hear that this isn’t the thinking of all restaurant workers because I almost always tip with a card. I can probably count on my hands the number of times I’ve had cash in my wallet in the last year, it’s so rare for me.

                3. Kinsley M.*

                  Yea, as someone who was a server for many years and who now works for a restaurant in a corporate capacity, I can vouch for your statement’s accuracy. Cash tips are rarely ever claimed for tax purposes. Which is really too bad. The servers are only hurting themselves. In my state, overtime is determined based on both the minimum server wage ($3.85) plus their tips. Basically it figures out what their hourly wage was for the week then multiples that by 1.5. So if they don’t claim their cash tips, they’re getting a lower overtime wage.

                4. Koko*

                  Hardly any servers are working overtime, though. The vast majority of people in that field struggle just to get full-time hours, let alone overtime. Especially franchise restaurants where the managers generally have to stay under a target labor as % of sales, they are constantly sending people home to keep labor costs down and trying to keep a bunch of people with no benefits at 25 hours a week instead of fewer people with benefits working 35-40 hours, let alone more than 40. Getting 33% more out of a customer’s tip because you didn’t have to give 25% of it to the IRS is going to pay off more unless you’re working a lot of regular overtime.

                5. Jessesgirl72*

                  @Mookie, then don’t tell me other people are being “insensitive” when you are the one assuming the servers want to work illegally and that you are somehow “protecting” the poor working class people.

                  I find your attitude insulting on multiple levels, and would go into it further if I could do so without breaking the rules of the comments.

              5. caryatis*

                Interesting. Even if I have cash, I rarely have the exact dollar amount I want to tip, though. Credit card tipping is much easier for the customer (and fights tax fraud).

            1. Normally A Lurker*

              I genuinely don’t understand why that’s a grrr? (And understand I say this as a former server for manymany years). In most industries you don’t get paid every night, but on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. For me, getting my CC tips on my paycheck was the same as getting the paycheck I now get every week from my office job. I worked time and made money, they sent me a check at a designated time. I’m genuinely curious as to your feelings on this.

                1. anonderella*

                  Plus, the longer it’s in MY hands, the longer I have the chance to gain interest on it, as opposed to my company or the government, per say.

                2. rudster*


                  The amount of bank interest on that amount over the period is literally pennies.

                3. Zombii*

                  @rudster | Pennies is overselling it. I was ecstatic when I found a savings account that gives 1% interest.

        2. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

          I almost always pay with cash and it’s handy.

          Last night at a small political gathering, one of the participants picked up the first round drink check (on his card) as we moved tables, for ease of process. I said please, let me give you the server tip, and whipped out a cash tip for him to add.

          That would have been practically impossible if I’d been planning to pay via card since the whole reason he was grabbing the check was for us to move quickly.

          What’s wrong with cash??? O.o

        3. Zahra*

          But, but… restaurants can’t split the table bill into “people” bill before bringing them to you? It’s standard in most restaurants in Quebec and has been for over 15 years. As soon as you have 2 people (or more), it’ pretty much guaranteed that you’ll hear “How many bills?”, usually when first ordering. Heck, even restaurants without electronic billing will do it!

          1. Christine D*

            It depends. I live in the Southeast U.S. and splitting checks is pretty much a given here. Two or more people dining and the first words out a server’s mouth are “how many checks?”

            However, I grew up in the Northeast and splitting checks is just not really done there. It’s up to your party to divy up your bill and hope everyone has enough cash to cover their part and tip. You CAN ask for a check to be split, but more often than not you’ll get an attitude from the server for doing so.

            It’s dumb in the Northeast.

            1. Morning Glory*

              Hah, I’m from the Northeast, and we were trained not to offer to split the bill. We would only do it if requested – and only about 10% of parties asked for it. It was so obnoxious because they normally didn’t request it until the end, which meant going back through the order, trying to remember who ordered which entree with which dessert. And explaining that if they’d shared something, it could not be split on the bill.

              I wasn’t a fan of running multiple cards, but it was better than splitting the check :) As a customer, today, I vastly prefer split checks and think it was weird my restaurant trained us that way.

              1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

                I’m from the Northeast and the daughter of a single mom who waitressed as her sole means of support for her family. That was a big pet peeve of hers…the parties that waited until it was time to pay before announcing they needed separate checks.

                I recently ate a chain restaurant that now offers one of those self serve on-table devices for games, ordering and bill pay. As I was paying I noticed that the device gives you the option to split the bill multiple ways (equally, by item or not at all). I thought that was genius.

                LW, I like cash! I pay in cash whenever possible. It keeps me more accountable for all of my purchases. Something about handing over cash for a $40 item makes me questions its worth a whole lot more than handing over a plastic card for the same purchase.

                1. Zahra*

                  Yeah, but if it had been customary to ask if people wanted separate checks at the onset, she wouldn’t have had that peeve, right?

                  Anyway, I suspect we’re veering off topic.

                2. Jess*

                  I waited tables in the NE for a long time and almost all the restaurants where I worked would not let us split the bill more than 2 ways on a CC. So a party could pay with two CCs and then the rest in cash but not 3 cards. I think it might be partially due to more restaurants in the NE are independent, non-chain restaurants and running all those cards costs them money so they try to discourage it. The POS I worked with at at least two of the restaurants was a total pain in the butt when it came to splitting checks by item. No easy way to do it while ordering so you had to do it at the end, which obviously was hard because you had to remember who had what. Math is not that hard to do to figure out how much you owe, especially with calculators on everyone’s phones these days!

                  I’m also on team tip with cash when you can. At one of the restaurants, I was expected to tip out the bar, buss boy, etc with cash at the end of the night but only got my cc tips in my check the following week. Some days I went home with no cash and the restaurant did it so they could pay the busboys under the table and not have to pay taxes on their wages/tips.

                3. BananaPants*

                  I’m in the Northeast and have never had issues splitting the check as many ways as we needed to, including at higher-end, non-chain establishments. That said, we typically call ahead to make sure that’s OK for the restaurant and we tell the wait staff up-front that we need separate checks.

              2. Normally A Lurker*

                Having worked with multiple computer service programs, I think some of it depends on what POS you use (if you use one at all). Most of the big ones (Aloha is the one I remember the name of right now, but it is not the only one I used) require that you put the order in by seat number, so it never mattered for us bc everything was already split out by the end of the meal.

                1. Misc*

                  This whole thread is so weird, the software thing is the only thing that makes sense about it to me :D Here in NZ, most places just ‘tick off’ the items you want to pay for until everyone has paid for their food. They usually just track the table, not individual orders, and it’s quite normal for people to pay separately, or split the bill evenly, or whatever they like. The only places that don’t do it on the computer just do the same thing by hand.

                  It’s really just a matter of whether they need to manually calculate the total you need to pay, or whether the computer lets them do it automatically – either way, they still have to enter a number into the EFTPOS machine for you to pay (and also paying with cash, or cash + card, is also totally normal here).

            2. Bethlam*

              I don’t know about that (it being dumb in the Northeast). I’m from the Northeast, worked in several restaurants, from truck stop to family restaurant, to upscale chain, with both handwritten checks and electronic systems, and in all of them we were able to and expected to provide the bills however the customers wanted them.

              1. Kms1025*

                Ditto and if it’s so cumbersome to split the check after ordering how about remembering to ask your customers while they are ordering how many checks they need?

              2. Amber T*

                Yeah, Northeasterner here. If it’s a large group of us we usually just divide the bill evenly and hand in 4, 6, however many credit cards. We’re often asked if we want to split the bill too before we order. We usually just say whatever’s easiest for our waiter.

              3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                This is my experience, although I didn’t work at the same variety of restaurants in the northeast. Check-splitting was fine, although many limit how many cards you can use—but any limits are imposed by restaurants (not by etiquette or cultural norms). If you ask for separate checks at the beginning of the meal, it makes it much easier for the waitstaff to divvy up because our POS required a manager-override in order to split the check on more than 2 cards. All that said, we provided the bill however you wanted it.

            3. Another Lawyer*

              Yes!!!! I grew up in the South and it was always the first question – how many checks? and then you’d reply with the number and who was on each one.

              Asking a server to split a check in the Northeast, where I live now, is like pulling teeth. Venmo has demonstrably improved my life because now 1 person puts it on their card and we all Venmo instead of writing out how much everyone is paying and/or bugging the server to split the check up.

            4. Dankar*

              Oh my gosh, is that what it is? I didn’t realize it was a regional thing! I come from the Southeast and got in a number of tiffs with waitresses in New England about splitting the check when I moved up there. It took me months to just let the whole thing go.

              Just one of the many, many reasons why the Northeast was a bad cultural fit for me, I guess.

          2. LBK*

            I’m surprised to see so many people saying you don’t split checks in the Northeast…I eat out frequently up here and have never had an issue. Maybe because I’m mostly in cities? Is it tougher in the suburbs where they might not be used to large parties who all want to pay separately?

            1. turquoisecow*

              I live in suburban New Jersey. I often eat out and split checks. Sometimes it’s more complicated than it needs to be, but I’ve never had a restaurant tell me they *couldn’t* do it, or give us any issue about it.

            2. Humble Schoolmarm*

              In Eastern Canada, “…and will this be all on one bill…” is a standard question at everything from chain to relatively upscale.

              1. ArtsNerd*

                Just want to say I’ve learned SO MUCH from this thread.

                I guess the best thing to do is to ask the server at the beginning of the meal what’s easiest for them given their POS and specific policies?

              2. wealhtheow*

                And bringing the debit/credit machine to the table and passing it around so everyone can pay their share is also pretty standard IME. (As is everyone putting in cash, or a mixture.)

        4. k*

          Usually when I go out with a group I’m sure to bring cash with and feel bad if we all pay with cards. Its so much easier to had over the total cash and say we need $x back, than to hand over 5 cards and instruct how much goes on each.

        5. Abby*

          And still, it isn’t unprofessional or embarrassing to her manager that she paid with cash even if servers prefer cards. And OP said she paid with exact change so the server didn’t have to make change. But exact change doesn’t suggest that she used an excessive amount of coins, just that if the bill was $10.37, the employee left $10.37 plus a tip. Nothing wrong with that.

          And, while I agree that some people are jerks by paying for a TV with coins or something, there is nothing to suggest that the employee did this to be a jerk or difficult. She doesn’t use cards (which frankly, more people could probably learn a lesson here) and left the correct change.

          1. doreen*

            Yes, exact change doesn’t have to involve any coins at all- it could be that the bill was $13 including the tip,and she left a ten and three singles rather than wanting $2 back from a ten and a five.

      3. Tau*

        I’m glad that other people are confused, because I was worried there was some US or US/UK cultural norm about paying in cash being incredibly rude which I’d missed. I’m from Germany, which is or at least used to be a lot more cash-focused than those countries, so that seemed pretty plausible.

        1. Myrin*

          Ha, same! I was actually going to make a standalone comment but can now piggyback here on how glad I was to read Alison’s answer because while reading the letter, I was wondering if I’d missed something huge – I knew from reading this and other sites that Americans are much more into cards than Germany is but I hadn’t yet encountered the disdain displayed in this letter.

          1. Amber T*

            I’m that person who hates cash – I pay for everything by card. I discovered that, if I have cash, I will spend it without thinking, but I can usually stick to my budget if I pay with card (the opposite of most normal people, I know). But I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at someone paying in cash. I’m usually made fun of for never having cash on me!

            1. AnonAnalyst*

              This is my issue. Cash disappears and I have no idea what I’ve spent it on. But I am much better at tracking and managing my spending with my card.

            2. Anonygoose*

              YES! I know that people say that cash is “real money” so they think more about what they spend it on, but in my mind my “real money” is what I have in my bank account, and paying for something by debit makes me think twice.

              I think maybe it stems from always getting cash as gifts when I was growing up, so cash was always my “fun money” and my bank account was always my “serious money”? But I don’t know. I also am treated like a PITA sometimes because I don’t carry cash… but I definitely wouldn’t think anything of someone spending it at a business lunch.

            3. Here we go again*

              Ditto! I also hate the thought of losing out on cash back and reward points. I feel like I am throwing extra money away.

            4. CC*

              I can’t track cash. Anything paid on plastic is recorded for me, so I can know what I’m doing with my money. Cash though? I have an emergency stash that I carry with me, but it’s not something I really use. I actually forget I have it most days, probably because it’s stored with my micro first aid kit and other emergency stuff, not with my ID and payment methods.

              1. Koko*

                My general policy is to always have $60 cash on me, which number I calculated as being enough to get me out of trouble/to safety in the event of an emergency where I couldn’t use my card, without carrying so much cash that it feels risky. It won’t pay for a new tire or a bus trip across the country, but it’s plenty enough for a tank of gas, a hot meal, or a cab to a safe place with a phone, and while it sucks to lose any amount of money, I can absorb a $60 loss without it wrecking my monthly budget.

            5. MacAilbert*

              I’m the same way. To me, cash doesn’t feel like real money, because it’s not reflected in my bank account balance, and that’s what I use to budget. So, if I have cash, I spend it fast, because I feel like I can.

        2. xyz*

          I’m from NZ where paying by debit card (or EFTPOS, as we call it) is huge and has been virtually my whole life (i.e. since the 80s). I looked it up, because I’m weird, and found that 70% of all retail transactions in 2006 were with EFTPOS. I can only imagine it’s even higher now – it’s totally normal there to pay in small stores and small purchases with a debit card.

          That said, I have never come across any notion that paying cash for a business lunch would be strange and unprofessional. Only if you had 5 people each needing change and getting confused with the maths or arguing about how much they owed and so on, but a) that wasn’t the case here, and b) is a separate issue.

          1. Bethlam*

            Retail transactions by plastic must be getting to be the norm. I was in a pharmacy, got up to the cashier and, before I even had my wallet out, she asked, “Debit or Credit?” I replied, “Is cash still allowed?” She looked flummoxed and then said, “Yes, of course” but I certainly got the impression that cash payments were pretty rare.

            1. ZuKeeper*

              Last time I was at the pharmacy the guy in front of me had a total of well of over $1000, so I can understand why they would assume that it would be paid for with a card. But my total (thank you, generics!) was only $10, and she was actually waiting for me to give her cash, haha. But I can’t carry cash, or I spend it waaay too quickly.

              1. TootsNYC*

                and to provide a counterpoint, there are studies that have shown that a significant percentage of people will spend less if they have to do it in cash.

                They see the supply dwindling, and they’re less likely to just pick up another thing when they stop to get shampoo, etc.

                My son was frustrated that I made him get a debit card to take to college, because he doesn’t want to fritter his money away. I pointed out that he could take out $20 or whatever at the beginning of the week as his spending money, and then put his card in the dresser, but I had no other way to make sure he could access his money.

                1. AMPG*

                  It’s possible to just get an ATM card that’s not a debit card; you just have to ask the bank for it. That’s what I have. I use a rewards credit card for small purchases and I pay it off at the end of every month, so I still have to budget, but there are no serious consequences if the card gets stolen or the number swiped.

            2. Arjay*

              Yes, I went to a walk-in clinic and paid my copay on a card, but then had another $15 expense at the end of the visit. I felt silly, but I actually asked them if cash was ok for that.

            3. Erin*

              I work in retail and it’s getting less frequent to use cash. Sometimes I’m lucky and no one has used cash all day and I don’t have to count both registers and a deposit, I also don’t have to drive to the bank in the morning to deposit it. Paying with change I think is sometimes okay, like I use my change to buy a coffee at 7-11 on my way to work. But for a large purpose I won’t do it. I also only pay cash at a restaurant, I won’t get carried away with appetizers and drinks and dessert.
              It says on all bills for legal tender all debts private and public.

            4. turquoisecow*

              My mom was a (grocery store) cashier in the late 60s, and I was in the late 90s/early 2000s. We were talking about things that were different and the same in the job, and one of the things was the amount of cash you had on hand. When my mom was a cashier, management would come around and pick up cash (we called them “pickups”) about once an hour, because it was generally bad policy to have more than about $1,000 in your drawer. Fast forward to when I worked, and even in the busiest times of day, we wouldn’t need to do a pickup more than once during a 4-6 hour shift (and to make it easier, we’d often just do it while the cashier was on break).

              When you add in rising food prices, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. In Mom’s day, a person who spent $100 on food was buying a LOT of food. Now, it’s more likely for the same type of shopper (let’s say mother of 4, for example) to spend $300, easy. However, she’s also more likely to use a card. I was joking with my husband the other day that burglary is a far less lucrative business nowadays – most retail shops or restaurants probably don’t have a lot of cash, and if someone stuck a gun at the cashier and said “empty the register,” he’d get a lot of credit/debit receipts.

        3. Sparky*

          I live in the U.S. and I read the letter the same way; wondering how I’d missed out on this bit of information. Cash is rare these days, but I was relieved to read Alison’s response.

      4. Lablizard*

        I’m just hoping that OP1 has never dealt with any clients or business stakeholders from places where cards are not the norm.

        OP 1, the only thing strange in this situation is your reaction. You should probably figure out a way to apologize to your employee for getting up her nose about paying cash.

        1. Sadsack*

          Yes, I can just imagine what the employee is thinking. Wow. OP, you really should consider telling your employee that you are sorry for what you told her and that you have since been made to realize that how she pays for her meal is really of no significance whatsoever.

        2. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

          I am not trying to pile on OP 1 here, but not only is s/he overly judgey towards the employee for paying for lunch in cash (actual faux pas would be assuming lunch is always taken care of and never offering, imho), but to back that up with all the ways in which employee is “different.”

          As I am a new devotee of Dave Ramsey in trying to put my financial life in order, the cash-only method immediately struck me. The employee sounds like she has cut corners wherever she can, *as she is entitled to with her life and money.* Please, OP 1, be happy that your employee has personal standards and follow-through to defend the details in looking at the big picture. This is a valuable character asset for someone who works with you and represents your institution.

          1. SignalLost*

            I particularly liked that she doesn’t have a streaming service. I don’t either, as I do not watch television – the last time I watched an actual tv show was two years ago – and, while I have a tv, it’s not even compatible with hi-def, let alone streaming.

            I am a unicorn!

            1. Noobtastic*

              DVDs and VHS (yes, I’m that old) are awesome! And no waiting for the darned thing to buffer, either.

              Plus, DVDs often have bonus features that streaming does not offer, as well. Most streaming offers subtitles now, and sometimes you can even choose different languages, but what about commentary? Deleted scenes? Making-of featurettes?

              I love my DVDs.

              1. Meddling Little Belgian*

                I have some streaming services, but I love borrowing VHS tapes and DVDs from the library, too! It is lovely to watch from beginning to end with no advertisements and no buffering interruptions, plus I’m much less likely to binge-watch for hours on end.

          2. C Average*

            This. Although I’m diametrically opposed to him politically, Dave Ramsey’s advice helped me get out of debt, and his method is based on a cash-only approach to day-to-day finances. Following a strict budget brought me up against a surprising number of social norms at work. “No, I can’t do drinks after work tonight–it’s not in my budget.” “Sorry, you’ll have to count me out for your kiddo’s Girl Scout cookie order–not in my budget.” “I’ll have a side salad and water, please.” “No, I can’t put that airline ticket on my credit card. I don’t have a credit card. I’ll need the department to cover that cost up-front, because it’s not in my budget.”

            It is much, much easier to go along and get along in these situations, but being debt-free feels SO GOOD and proved to be worth every bit of awkwardness along the way.

            1. Noobtastic*

              And with the advent of Visa gift cards, you CAN purchase, with cash, a pieced of plastic to use when only plastic will do, such as an online purchase.

              Some people do better with cash, because it’s so visual. Others do better with plastic, because their mind just goes to the number on the bank account, instead of the cash in pocket. Whatever works for you is best for you. The important thing is to be responsible about your spending, keep track of it however you can, and stay out/get out of debt.

          3. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

            SignalLost, embrace your unicornity! :)
            C Average, yes, I bristle at him a lot especially when he expresses such disdain for the government (it’s more than DC!), but listening to him reminds me that I can separate the wheat from the chaff and we can find common ground with many people we don’t think we could! I envy your debt-freeness and can’t wait to get there!
            finman, thanks for the tip!!

          4. Amber T*

            It sounded like the OP is questioning (I use that lightly) why her employee is so off the grid, and commenting/criticizing her use of cash would maybe force the employee to answer some questions about it, but frankly, it’s none of the OP’s business.

            1. Noobtastic*

              I was off the grid for a long time, because my father was paranoid, and would not allow internet in the house.

              The funny thing is that he was paranoid because he worked with all that high-tech stuff at his job, and knew just how invasive it could be, and how easy it is to hack a private citizen. “You think you can just trust your secrets to McAfee? Get real!” “Tape a piece of paper over that webcam when you’re not actively using it!” “Muffle that microphone!”

              However, I have long since decided that no security is the price of being online, and that we simply have to hope for the best. But, goodness, I won’t judge anyone else for being security conscious and wanting to stay off the grid. That fear is not irrational. It’s entirely rational. And if you’re willing to pay the price (mostly inconvenience, but now and then you have some real hoops to jump through when you have to do something that is not set up for cash or other low-tech means), then more power to you. Stay safe!

          5. OxfordComma*

            Dave Ramsey is awesome when it comes to personal finance advice! I spent years paying off credit card debt and part of the deal I made was that I did not use credit cards for five years. Even now I am super careful with how and when I use them. Also, unlike in Canada where they bring the credit card reader to the table, in the US, if you hand over your credit/debit card, you are trusting that the server isn’t going to be doing something fishy with your card.

            As others have said, unless the employee was paying in coins, why is this so strange? She had exact change and enough to cover the tip.

            And lastly, I’m mystified about the relevancy of the employee having a landline, but no TV or a streaming service. I can see that it might be thought odd, but I don’t get why it should matter to an employer unless it impacts her job duties.

          6. Lianne*

            I feel like OP #1 sounds a lot like me (I’m young, I don’t have a TV, I spend little personal time online, etc.) and these comments are helping me to feel a lot less weird about being detached from some of the social norms around the office! I come from a blue collar background and navigating white collar norms can be difficult for me. So these comments resolve a little of my worry–I was starting to wonder if I should begin regretting times I’ve paid with exact cash + cash tip during work social outings. I’m on a tighter budget than a lot of my colleagues and I want to be able to develop relationships with them outside of the office when I can. It’s a lot easier for me to spend responsibly with cash and for me, it’s a lot easier to say “no” to another round of drinks if the cash I have on hand is the limit I’ve set for myself.

            TL;DR: These comments are so relieving.

      5. Akcipitrokulo*

        With us the norm is cash – a couple of people may have cards but what’s the deal?

        1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          Same here. I’m always the odd one with a card. My coworkers always have cash.

          1. A Plain-Dealing Villain*

            Yes, and in restaurants whose POS systems can’t handle splitting a check, I have been the one to put the whole bill on my card and been reimbursed in cash. I’m one of those people that can’t keep cash in my wallet: if I have it, I spend it.

      6. AnotherAlison*

        The only thing I could possibly come up with was that everyone paid with corporate credit cards, and then the employee paid cash. I could see how someone might be embarrassed to let all the other people see how cheap their company was that they wouldn’t even pay for a networking meal. (But not really, it’s just the only time I can think MAYBE paying cash sends a signal that the OP didn’t want to send.)

        However, I don’t think that’s the case. I think the OP thinks the employee is an embarrassing Luddite.

        1. Fiennes*

          Also, if that’s the case, OP is being doubly difficult by wanting the employee to conceal the company’s failure to give her a card.

          I don’t think that’s it, though. This sounds like a peculiar prejudice against cash.

          1. Mpls*

            If everyone had corporate cards, than OP should have been paying for their employee, not making the employee pay with cash.

            1. Van Wilder*

              Yeah I’m trying to figure it out. My company has a policy that expenses need to be purchased on the corporate card but that doesn’t sound like the case here.

              I’m one of those people that never has cash on them. At my old job, a bunch of us frequently went out to lunch together and we would all split it on cards except one guy always had cash. We would all groan and make fun of him for not conforming but never found it embarrassing.

            2. Normally A Lurker*

              That was my thought. If you have a problem with her paying in cash in front of clients, than the response would be for you to pay for her meal and let you pay her back in private. (Also, this was just an overall weird thing to care about)

      7. cvmurrieta*

        This is how business lunches would be paid for in Japan although other arrangements might be made ahead of time to avoid the awkwardness of getting a bill at a business meal. Good thing I am working for a Japanese company.

        As can be inferred, I am on the side of the cash-paying employee.

      8. TootsNYC*

        I wonder if it comes from the idea of a credit card as a status marker.

        And if you don’t have one, you look poor, and “not cool.” Or unsophisticated.

        And the idea that people who pay with cash (especially if they count out exact change) look cheap and scrooge-y. Penny-pinching.

        And if he cares so much, then he can get her a company credit card to use for professional lunches, and he can have the company pay the bill.

        1. anonderella*

          “And if you don’t have one, you look poor, and “not cool.” Or unsophisticated.”

          I think this could be applied to a lot in the OP’s paragraph about how ‘different’ her employee is; so I think you’ve hit the nail on the head on that one.

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          Maybe you’re short of cash. I’ve been in situations where I’ve known *exactly* what I’ve bought to ensure I can pay the bill – even in semi-business situations (social events that I probably should go to).

        3. Dorothy Mantooth*

          That was my impression after reading it too, as if by paying in exact cash/change, she must not have a lot of money and that reflects back on the him and the company? Because if she was paid enough she wouldn’t need to worry about using exact change. Not that it makes any sense to me but that’s all I can imagine.

      9. Observer*

        I’m even more baffled that the OP is SOOO entrenched in the idea, that she doesn’t even see that someone might not see it that way.

      10. HR Gal*

        I’m equally as flabbergasted by the notion that cash is inherently somehow unacceptable. That said, I’m trying hard to see where OP #1 might be coming from.

        Would it be somehow odd if at a business lunch with clients, when it came time to pay the bill, everyone pulled out their card and put it on the table, while this one employee searched through her purse for a few minutes looking for exact change down to the cent? I could *maybe* see that being a bit awkward if everyone else is just waiting for her/watching her search for change.

        Would you see this as awkward? If so, what are your thoughts on handling it? I don’t think it’s awkward enough to warrant a conversation with the employee, but I could see how it might make some, like OP, slightly uncomfortable – especially if there’s a significant difference in pay grade between the employee and most others at the lunch.

        1. BookishMiss*

          I can see that, but if she always pays cash, she likely has a neatly sorted wallet. The OP would also likely have mentioned her rooting around or having crumpled money, rather than listing all the ways this employee differs from her.

          I really think the OP should consider why the employee’s differences make her so uncomfortable, then stop pushing the issue.

        2. Chickaletta*

          The only way I can see it being unprofessional is if she was pulling out a large stack of bills in front of everyone. When I was dating my husband years ago, he had a job where he made most of his income from tips and therefore paid for almost everything with cash. He wasn’t so discreet about it though, and I remember more than one slightly embarrassing situation where it would come time to pay for dinner and he’d sift through a stack of tens and twenties in plain view of everyone in the restaurant like they were playing cards… But, paying in cash itself isn’t a problem.

      11. Stranger than fiction*

        Me too. It brought back memories of when I went through a rough spot about ten years ago and had to file bankruptcy. For several years afterward, I steered clear of opening any credit lines and used cash as much as possible. I did have a bank debit card, but tried using cash whenever possible because it was easier for me to keep track.

      12. Dedicated Batchelor*

        There’s a very simple solution to OP’s dilemma. Provide her employees with a corporate credit card.

    2. Gadfly*

      On OP3, while making clear presents are not needed, also don’t be bothered if they come with them anyway. Some people feel compelled, and that is valid. Some people are just present happy and just like excuses to give presents. Especially for kids–kids can be very fun to get presents for.

          1. Emi.*

            My life’s work is make sure my best childhood books are passed on to the next generation. If they grow up without Alfie and Annie Rose and Lon Poh Poh and Tar Beach, I will never forgive myself.

            1. Kj*

              I always give Tacky the Penguin and Legend of the Bluebonnet, plus a stack of board books. Then every birthday/Christmas, they get more books. Books are the best! I don’t care what people say about technology, while I still stand, the paper book will survive!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I hate most shopping but ‘presents for a one year old’ would be a treat. (I remember assembling a Sesame Street race car set for my toddler daughter one Christmas, and all her much older cousins staying up to ‘make sure it worked okay’ long after she went to bed.)

        1. LavaLamp*

          Reminds me when I got a past boyfriend’s niece an excellent play dough set for her 3rd birthday. Her mom might still not be pleased about that, but hey, it wasn’t going to kill the kid, and I think it ended up being her favorite gift. I never grew up and love excuses to go to the toy store, so kids birthday parties are an excellent excuse. And they have cake.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      OP#3, it’s ok to invite only the coworkers you’re close with, but as Alison noted, it’s going to feed a cliquey dynamic whether or not that’s your intention. I think you’re much safer not inviting anyone, and frankly, if you invite everyone I’d be shocked if the coworkers you dislike even attended. But if I were in your shoes, I’d lean towards a non-invite.

      1. Thlayli*

        I disagree. If one coworker is so close to the baby that she is like an aunt then it’s really unfair to prevent her from seeing her “nibling” just because OP has a bizarre belief that a grown man might be offended by not being invited to a baby’s birthday party. its the baby’s party not the OPs, she should be inviting people the baby enjoys spending time with.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I’m not sure that we disagree? I said it’s fine to invite the closer coworkers but that I probably wouldn’t do it if I were in her shoes. I think it’s good to be aware of all the possible permutations, even if you decide that you’re going to go forward with your first choice (invite select coworkers) because it helps clarify the pros/cons.

          1. Thlayli*

            I meant I disagree about it being “safer” to invite no-one. If one coworker is so invested in the baby that she has come to be an honorary aunt then not inviting her would definitely not be a safe option. She would be much more offended at being left out of her honorary nieces party than either of the guys would be at being left out of a group invitation.

        2. Colette*

          Unless the coworkers spend a lot of time with the baby, the baby doesn’t care. I’m not sure what the honorary aunt status means to the OP, but it’s possible she likes hearing about the baby but hasn’t seen her often.

          1. Thlayli*

            Good point! I guess OP might mean something totally different by “honorary aunt” than I would. However since that coworker has already asked about the baby party and has presumably been told she’s thought of like an aunt, she’s still going to be gutted if she is left out just to save mansplainer’s feelings. Especially since mansplainer is very unlikely to even want to go to a baby party in the first place!

            1. OP#3*

              By “Honorary aunt” I meant she is like an aunt to me. She is older and semi-retired (she works there part time).

      2. xyz*

        I’m not feeling a warm fuzzy dynamic towards the “constant mansplainer” and “not-so-secret drinker” anyway, I doubt this would change much. Plus I’d personally rather gnaw off my own arm than go to a 1 year old’s birthday party with colleagues I wasn’t close to, so I doubt they would care, if they even heard about it.

        1. the gold digger*

          I would be so grateful not to be invited, partly because it’s a child’s party but also because I hate leaving my house when I don’t have to. Having to be at work is quite enough interaction with other human beings, thank you very much.

          My sister and her friends went to Las Vegas last year. It happened to be over my birthday. She sent me a text: “My birthday present for you is that I did not invite you to Las Vegas.” It was a lovely present.

          1. C Average*

            This is awesome. I, too, would be delighted not to be invited on a trip to Las Vegas.

            (I’ve never been there, but I am pretty sure I’d hate it. My husband and I maintain a list we call our “fuck-it list,” and it contains things we hope to never do. “Visit Las Vegas” and “go on a cruise” are both near the top.)

            1. Cafe au Lait*

              Strip Vegas–horrible. 10 out of 10 would not go again. Downtown Vegas is delightful. My husband and I had a date night at the Container Park, and it was easily the favorite part of our trip.

        2. OP#3*

          Honestly, I agree. I wouldn’t want to go to any of their functions and, quite frankly, would be wonderign why the hell I was invited in the first place.

      3. sstabeler*

        I disagree. Avoiding a cliquey dynamic doesn’t mean treating everyone 100% the same no matter the situation, and a kid’s birthday party is considered a personal matter.

        That, and she has very good reason not to want the other two members of the team there. Neither are likely to be a good influence on kids, and it is utterly ridiculous to consider the work relationship grounds to force access to kids. Bruce and Frank needing to be invited smacks of the stories you occasionally hear of schools mandating that if invitations to a kid’s birthday party are given out at school, everyone in the class must be invited under the “logic” that it’s unfair on the kids not invited.

        1. Colette*

          Personal activities can cause hurt feelings and end up affecting work, so it is reasonable to think about that when making decisions. When you invite most of the team but leave out a couple of people, you’re basically saying “I don’t like you specifically “. Very few people will react well to that.

          I’m inclined to say she should invite the one coworker she is close to and not the other three.

          1. Kj*

            I think she should invite whoever she likes and omit those she doesn’t like. Honestly, it is a birthday for a child. Most adults aren’t going to care about being invited unless they love kids/are close to the child in question. I’d assume that the OP talks to the coworkers she’s close to more than the others and that alone should make it A-OK to just invite the ones she socializes with on the regular. Plus, if I read correctly, the co-workers that are not close friends are men and I find that generally men don’t have as much interest in kids that aren’t theirs and I suspect the OP would know if any of her co-workers are “kid people.” Invite ones that will care.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Small children’s schools make rules against that precisely because it fuels a dynamic based on marking who’s in and whose out. If you want to invite people to a party, it’s not too extreme to require that you use everyone’s outside contact info to do that–Very Special Decorated Envelopes poking out of 12 of the 15 cubbies are not the way to go.

          The rule at some schools, beyond where invitations can be issued, is that less than half the class or everyone. And I think that’s the dynamic scaled up to the workplace or other grown-up venues–you can invite the three people you’re close to from a group of 60 without raising an eyebrow; from a group of 5 it feels cliquish.

          1. Czhorat*

            I do not think adults in a workplace are the same as grade school children. I’d more expect an adult to be able to shrug off lack of an invitation.

            1. C Average*

              In the past, if presented with this hypothetical, I’d have agreed with you. But having found myself on the wrong side of a work clique a couple years ago, I’ve come to see the situation differently. With the manager in the mix, it’s not just about socializing; it’s about power differentials and influence. When your colleague hangs out with half the team plus the manager outside of work and you don’t (even if it’s by preference, not exclusion), it can create a very unbalanced dynamic. To use the grade-school analogy, it would be like a kid inviting half the class plus the teacher, and leaving out the rest.

          2. Allison*

            I’m not sure if any of my schools had rules about this, but I was always told that handing out invitations at school was rude. I mailed mine out until somewhere in middle school when we all got AOL accounts and could use e-mail. And until I was 10 or so, my mom had me invite all the girls in my class.

          3. not really a lurker anymore*

            Once my kids started asking for friend parties, my rule was/is “we invite all kids of the same gender” as I’m not up to dealing with 20+ kids. 10-12 I can manage. And I’m open with the teachers about it, which they seem to appreciate. I actually heard one teacher answer “because you’re not a girl” to a boy asking about my daughter’s invites being passed around last year.

            Plus I hated dealing with tears from my daughter when she wasn’t invited to a friend party.

            1. Kj*

              That is not a bad method. Although one year I was one of two girls in the grade, so it would have been a lonely birthday had my parents followed that rule!

              As kids get older, I think slumber parties for 2-3 friends are the way to go. They are festive, easy, cheaper, and allow the birthday kid to hang out with the friends she/he actually likes as opposed to tons of kids. My parents always set us up with games, toys and sleeping bags, feed us a few snacks after dinner and let us play.

            2. Talvi*

              The rule when I was growing up was that I could invite as many kids as the age I was turning. Turning 6? I could invite 6 kids. 10th birthday party? I could invite 10 kids. By the time I was about 12, I wasn’t interested in inviting more than 4 or 5 of my closer friends anyway.

              1. Honoria Glossop*

                I like this rule! We use a similar rule about our children’s birthday presents. Right now, all our children are under 5, so it’s not much of a burden. I’m sure teenage years will require an amendment.

          4. Honoria Glossop*

            The rule at schools seems logical to me. If you invite someone to a party, you must be close enough to them to have a personal relationship with them. This seems to apply well in OP#3’s situation as well. She is quite close with the “Aunt”, but not close to Bruce and Frank. She should invite Auntie as an extension of their personal relationship, and not bother Bruce and Frank as they have a professional relationship. Miss Manners would be pleased.

        3. TootsNYC*

          Avoiding a cliquey dynamic doesn’t mean treating everyone 100% the same no matter the situation,

          I agree.

          And here, our OP#3 can invite her close friend who happens to be a coworker, and perhaps she can invite her boss.

          Though to be honest, I wouldn’t invite my boss, even in the situation the OP describes.

          And if I were the boss, I’d want cute stories (short) about the baby every other day, but I wouldn’t want to go to the baby’s party. I could see me even giving a gift spontaneously–but I still wouldn’t want to be invited to the party.

          I generally suggest people invite those with whom they have a relationship outside of work.
          The “honorary aunty” colleague sounds like she qualifies, but the helpful and friendly boss doesn’t.

      4. Purest Green*

        I’d be shocked if the coworkers you dislike even attended.

        Or the coworkers you do like. I’ve been invited to children’s birthday parties for coworkers I’m close with, and I still do not attend.

        1. BananaPants*

          Me too. I have kids and have been invited to exactly one birthday party for a coworker’s kid. I RSVPed no, because, well, I’m not making older kid miss a sports clinic and dropping $20 on a present to haul my children 45 minutes away to attend a party for a kid who is younger than my children, and where I barely know the parent.

          The parent invited everyone in the department, even those without kids. I think they seriously over-estimated the interest that near-strangers without young children would have in spending a Saturday afternoon at their kid’s 2nd birthday party.

    4. Mephyle*

      No. 3 – if you have a relationship outside the workplace with the two coworkers you could invite, and you don’t have a personal relationship with the others, why would the non-invitees even find out about the party? Assuming the invitees understand the rule about not mentioning a social event in front of people who weren’t invited.
      If all goes as it should, there shouldn’t be a cliquey dynamic coming out of this. It’s not as though you’re going to be going around putting invitation envelopes on only the favoured friends’ desks, and later discussing the party at work where the others can hear.

      1. Kj*

        I agree, although if they do find out, what is the harm? I seriously doubt they’d care. A co-worker who got married a few years back invited just a couple of people from the office to the wedding. No feelings were hurt when I realized I wasn’t invited. Since she had a full catholic mass for a wedding, I was secretly grateful NOT to be invited (I sat through enough of those as a kid).

        I have two co-workers at my office who I’m closer to that the others. I get lunch with one from time to time and have co-worker and family over for dinner. The other I see every other week for an activity at my home. Both are friends AND co-workers. Other people are just co-workers, although I like them (mostly). People know I am closer with those two co-workers. It is ok; others are close to other people. People are going to more drawn (or repelled) from others for reasons only they know in an office. Adults should know this and be ok with it.

        1. Kj*

          Adding that if you are repelled by someone, you should do your best to hide it as it can get rude otherwise. But you don’t have to invite the person who repels you to out of work functions.

    5. MK*

      The only conceivable way I relate to #1 is that I was taught it is gauche to emphasise the amount of the check, when you were the one paying. Cards make this easy, you hand the card and no one hears what you paid; in pre-degital times, people would get up from the table to settle the bill, or hand the waiter folded bills as discreetly as possible.

    6. TheLazyB*

      I work in the North and regularly visit my team in London. Usually when i go for meals everyone pays cash. When i went to lunch with my team in London, i only noticed that about half​ of them paid with cards because it took​ SOOOO LONG for everyone to pay.

    7. Gen*

      I was surprised by this (mostly because I’ve never been to a “business” meal where staff paid at all) but apparently it’s against the corporate policy at my husband’s company to use cash for business expenses because it hasn’t been tracked, but again that’s on the assumption that the staff wouldn’t really be paying for it. So you could get in trouble for it but it wouldn’t be embarrassing.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That is the ONLY reason I can see for a card-only policy. That would make sense to me. I once worked in a huge corporation that didn’t like to deal with receipts. We were expected to use our cards whenever possible, but if we used cash for anything above $10, we had to submit the receipt and it was a giant pain. If the OP had cited a policy like that, I’m sure we wouldn’t be scratching our heads over here.

    8. Christine D*

      I was actually pretty appalled by the attitude of the OP #1 about his employee using cash. Maybe there are some cultural things at play here, but I think the OP just has it in their head (for whatever reason) that cash in restaurants is bad and is imposing that belief on his employee.

      What chaps me even more though is his description of the employee. It’s very possible that this girl is an odd bird. Honestly, I don’t know a single 25 year old on earth who doesn’t have a mobile phone, TV, or use social media. But there may be good reasons for that. Maybe she’s drowning in student loan debt and is subscribing to the Dave Ramsey method of money management, using cash for purchases and ridding herself of all nonessential things until she’s built up savings. Maybe she just doesn’t like being “plugged in” (I know a few people like that who are perfectly normal, although they tend to be older and not so ingrained in technology anyway). Unless her work is subpar, why should her boss care at all about her using a landline or not using Facebook? I’m sensing some weird control issues from OP#1 for sure.

      1. Lance*

        Yeah, it’s really confusing. The lack of a mobile phone I can get, to some degree; after all, it’s a matter of accessibility at that point. But lack of social media, or really any online presence? Who cares? Unless she goes to work in a field that deals with that stuff, it’s not likely to mean anything; even then, it may not mean all that much.

        1. Natalie*

          And really, just because he can’t find her doesn’t mean she isn’t online. People can use other names on Facebook.

          1. Joan Callamezzo*

            This. I’m fairly active on social media (Twitter, Tumblr, various discussion forums) but always under different pseudonyms, precisely because I don’t think nosy coworkers or family need to be privy to my political activities, hobbies etc. Facebook is literally my *only* SM account under my real name, and I haven’t logged on there in years.

          2. turquoisecow*

            Ooh, good point. Aside from FB, I try to be anonymous on social media. (And on FB, I try to be as discrete as possible, and only share what I’d be okay with my boss seeing)

          3. BananaPants*

            Several friends are public school teachers and 2/3 use a name other than their full first and last names on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They don’t want students or parents trying to friend them on social media.

        2. Uzumaki Naruto*

          And if he Ned’s her to be reachable by mobile he can give her one, or require her to get one. He didn’t even mention anything like that, so I’m sure it’s a weird judgment thing rather than a real business need.

      2. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Or she’s had a very bad experience with a stalker/abusive partner and needs an anonymous fresh start.

        1. Naomi*

          Oh, I didn’t even think of that! My thought was that the employee has strong views about digital privacy and is avoiding social media/ credit cards on principle.

        2. AnonAnalyst*

          This was what I thought of with the lack of social media presence, although that’s probably colored my own experience. But I have very little social media presence due to having a stalker when I was younger, so it always irritates me when I hear people mention that like it’s a signal that the person isn’t “normal” or “with the times.”

        3. JessaB*

          Or she’s a member of a religious background that is unplugged, and even if she’s out of the area they usually live, she still keeps up being unplugged.

        4. Franzia Spritzer*

          This was my very first thought.

          My second thought was maybe she’s been victim to identity theft a few too many times and is weary of banks (personal experience). Third, there’s absolutely nothing weird about not having a TV or streaming service, there’s plenty of free media available to gaze upon at ones fingertips should they care to look for it.

      3. ZnZ*

        Agreed, my issue isn’t just the cash problem but the entire attitude regarding this woman. TBH I’m 29, I don’t have any active social media presence (there does exist a facebook I haven’t been active on in 9+ years), and it took me years to bother to not only have a cell phone but remember to bring it with me places.

        Also for those of us who aren’t making bank and have to live on a budget, things like cell phones cost money, where landlines you practically get paid to have. It’s a recommended practice and a common trend to take out the cash you need for the week determined by your budget, and that’s all you get to spend that week. It prevents you from overspending. (And as a server, I never cared about cash or credit as long as your tipping decently.)

        I do agree with others she may have presence elsewhere under a different name. Anyone who’s halfway paranoid (or internet savvy) makes sure at least you’re not googleable so that everyone can read the fanfiction you wrote when you were young…

      4. Cash User*

        OP#1, please don’t make a big deal about this to your employee. I also use cash often (though not exclusively). It makes me so uncomfortable when people act like I’m doing something wrong by using cash.

        There is one specific cashier at my local grocery store who questions why pay cash and don’t use a card every single time I check out. Every single time. Why does she care? I literally cringe when I see that she is the next cashier (there is one line for multiple lanes, so no choosing your cashier). I feel very much like I’m being judged, especially because of some of her follow up questions about where I get my cash (the bank) and why I use it (I prefer cash) and why I don’t have credit cards (I have them) and if I know how they work (um, yeah, I get the concept)

        You don’t want your employee to cringe when she has a business lunch or has to pay for anything around you. As long as she is covering her tab, let it go!

        1. WorldTraveler*

          Hey just a tip! I use to have the same problem (although not at a grocery store) and I just let the person behind me go in front. They are grateful and you get a different Cashier.

        2. Sadsack*

          Have you ever asked her why she keeps asking you? Asking in a surprised and friendly way might get her to tell you why and then quit asking.

        3. ginger ale for all*

          If she asks again, mention that she has asked it of you many times and request that she stop.

          1. Joan Callamezzo*

            And if she persists, report it to her manager. If you don’t feel comfortable having the conversation in person, call or email the store. You’re a regular customer, you’re not doing anything wrong, and she is requiring you to justify your method of payment every time she rings you up. That’s not okay.

        4. anonderella*

          “I literally cringe when I see that she is the next cashier”

          so.. this is going to sound mean, but I don’t mean for it to – I mean it in the best way possible for you to have some self-care when you start feeling anxious.
          But, she’s a clerk at a grocery store – doesn’t sound like she’s your friend or that you guys run in the same circles. Wave that nonsense off – who knows what her deal is? It’s part of her job to take your money and give you change; whatever else is her problem is not your problem.
          I am an incredibly nice person to strangers, part of my personality and part of my job (receptionist), but I can become a bulldog when I think it’s appropriate, like standing up for myself or someone else. The fact that this clerk treats you like this repeatedly makes me concerned she thinks it’s ok to bully you. Whatever the factors involved there, a person acting on common sense would drop the card thing and accept your paying with cash as part of her job after enough times of greeting you.
          (another thought; boycott her line. Certainly her managers would notice that. Maybe remark about how the other cashier is just your “favorite” when you greet the other cashier. But I’m petty like that. It’s not about making MeanGirlClerk feel bad; it’s about her mean-girl actions having repercussions on her job.
          Regardless of your approach, as long as you don’t let her get to you and make that clear, I think she’ll back off.)

          Fwiw, I’ve learned the magic words to getting out of those horrid conversations in checkout lines about “are you part of our rewards program?” or “do you have our store credit card?”. Just say “No, that’s ok.” They will inevitably say something back, so just repeat yourself. “No. That’s ok.” – and no more words, as it will only “validate” your point, giving them something to argue against (to “invalidate”). If you have to repeat yourself enough, you’ll start to look annoyed even before you realize you are, and that may rub off on the clerk before you have to shut her down further. I’m sure she doesn’t want to be seen making a fuss with a customer – especially if she’s the one that keeps at it and you’re just being a regular customer trying to pay and leave. Remember, you don’t owe her anything (except the money – harhar).
          *for this last bit, I do realize these people are only pushing this stuff because they’re made to do so by their companies, so it’s not exactly the same as the credit card thing; I mean it toward overly-pushy/disrespectful cashiers/salespeople. The “No, that’s ok.” thing still applies here or with MeanGirlClerk.*

          1. MillersSpring*

            I like your answer. I also say, “I need to use cash/my debit card/this card today.” Implies that I might have their store card but I have personal reasons not to use it. Started saying this many years ago when it was the truth for a couple of department store cards, and it still works like a charm every time.

        5. MassMatt*

          Not to veer off topic but something’s very wrong if you are a customer and afraid to go to the cashier because of her questioning your method of payment. This is a service job, she is supposed to be serving/helping you. If she keeps asking you why do you pay with _____ I would tell her it’s none of her business (because it isn’t!). Or perhaps say “you know, you always ask me that, what is the problem?” And if it persists take it up with store management.

        6. The Strand*

          At this point, I would have said something to the manager of the store. It’s inappropriate for someone to be questioning you every time you see her. I’m sure this isn’t the only nosy, inappropriate question she’s making of customers.

      5. Allison*

        It may also have to do with her background. If she came from a low income family, she may not have used those forms of technology and is just used to it, or maybe she came from a very conservative, Duggar-esque family that doesn’t believe in credit cards.

        1. Sylvia*

          Or she’s too used to all of these things and has cut back to keep herself accountable, or really any number of reasons. Some people use only cash when they’re trying to get out of credit card debt, for example.

          Not having a cell phone is strange because it’s a bit of an accessibility issue and they’re just so handy in emergencies, but the other things just don’t matter at all.

          1. Natalie*

            She may well have one for emergencies but doesn’t use it and decided to just say she doesn’t have one rather than give out the number. My parents loathe cell phones and put off getting them for years, but they finally had to cave and get a couple of prepaid cells to keep in the car. If you asked them, though, they’d give you their home number.

            1. turquoisecow*

              Also possible. I think I’ve claimed not to have a cell phone when asked by an employer, because I was afraid it would result in “emergency” calls at all times. Maybe she has a phone that she keeps turned off during work hours so she won’t get distracted by personal things.

              My mom has a cell phone, but half the time she leaves it at home when she leaves the house. Only recently has she gotten in the habit of taking it to the store, because sometimes there is an emergency. But she used to regularly go to my grandparents’ house for several hours (2 doors over) and not bring her cell phone.

      6. AKJ*

        I’m hoping OP #1 pops in on this comment thread so we can find out why she thinks it’s so embarrassing to pay with cash? I’ve never heard of such a thing.

      7. Elizabeth West*

        Seems really judgey to me. And what if she’s trying to avoid a stalker or something like that by not being online? I haven’t read all the way down yet (gah, 500+ comments already) and I don’t want to pile on, but if my boss said any of this Regina George crap, I’d be side-eyeing her/him and probably start looking around for another job.

        And I do have a friend in her twenties who has no Facebook or other social media–she does come in our chat room, and that’s the extent of her online presence. She doesn’t want pictures of herself online either.

        1. Dzhymm, BfD*

          Indeed, it sounds like he’s really judgey about her in general and just happened to jump on this one thing that day.

      8. Mira*

        It’s also possible that she IS on social media, but has her profiles on total privacy lockdown, so that she isn’t findable. I’ve done that in the past when I didn’t want random people finding me on Facebook, and I made sure my Instagram and Twitter weren’t reflecting my real name and face. And I often told people I wasn’t on any of those sites, especially if they were inclined to be nosy, like OP#1 here. Because of the precautions I’d taken, it wasn’t possible for anyone to find me unless I wanted to be found.

        So yeah, she might be online, but secretly. And possibly very glad about having taken those precautions, at this point.

      9. Mira*

        Also, I’m in my 20s, and I don’t have a Netflix or Hotstar or any streaming service account. It’s not so unusual. xD Maybe she prefers cable, or maybe she just prefers reading/gaming/whatever hobby to watching stuff.

    9. Rmric0*

      Maybe if she makes a big show of it, or tries to be the person that organizes the check? Or is that person who tries to like audit everyone at the table.

      But just for paying cash? Seems like LW just noticed the employee’s quirks and is searching for a pre-text to “fix” her.

    10. Nan*

      That’s what I thought, too. Unless she’s pulling a wad of singles out of her brassiere or her sock, let her pay in cash.

      1. Cash User*

        Even singles themselves should be fine! (From a wallet, of course!) I recently paid with several fives I had accumulated after breaking larger bills. The cashier who always has a comment about cash made a comment about what I do to get such good tips. I was like, um, break twenties and forget to use the smaller bills?

        1. Emi.*

          Haha one time I asked for cash back in singles at HEB, and the cashier looked sort of irked, and I blurted out “I promise it’s not for strippers! It’s for the collection at church!” and she just stared at me like I had two heads.

        2. paul*

          if she does this every time, call her on it.

          I worked long enough in the service industry (all high school and college and a year after) that I’m sympathetic but I’m also not going to put up with people that do stuff that’s *really* not OK from a service standpoint.

          Occasional faux pas, sure we all make, god knows I do, but constantly haranguing me about my method of payment or how much fruit we go through (had this happen, I death glared the woman).

    11. snuck*

      I get the feeling that this is a bigger issue about your employee and her use of technology.

      If you want her to pay by card then issue her a company card, with clear instructions for it’s use. Or pay for her meal yourself on your company card? Why is an employee paying for their own lunch at a company event entertaining clients?

      If you want her to use more technology… then I’d ask why? Is she performing the tasks she was employed to do well? Is she capable and confident in her role? Does she have the personality and drive level needed for her specific role?

      If these things are fine… then is it more the enigma of her being different, and that htis is grinding on you a little? Is she a different religion or lifestyle and it’s not feeling like a good fit with your own? It IS unusual for a younger person to be so disconnected, but she might well have good reasons for it. Religious? Has/is being stalked by someone? Hiding from someone? To get a cell/mobile phone, to open a bank account etc generally requires a large amount of ID. And these things can also cost a lot of money… she might be supporting family with her paycheck and not have the spare to pay for these things. If she’s working well, performing well… then is this a personal interest story you want to ask about and get into? If it is… chat with her over a coffee and ask her about it all… if it isn’t? Leave well enough alone – you’ve probably got a lovely, loyal, determined, dedicated employee on your hands.

      1. Construction Safety*

        All of that and maybe she got burned by a previous employer who knew no boundaries concerning after hours email, texts/ and calls,( Nah that NEVER happens) and she’s declined to provide that information to the new employer.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I was also wondering why the employee was paying for her meal out of pocket while everyone else was using a corporate card and expensing the meal. If I was a manager, that is the part that would embarrass me. In similar situations, my manager pays for his team and submits the expense.
        The faux pas is the OP not taking care of her direct report at a business lunch.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Actually, I think it’s policy at my company that if it’s an expense-able meal, the senior person is supposed to cover everybody and then submit it.

          1. Koko*

            Yep. Not officially required at my company, but encouraged – makes things easier for finance to process just one reimbursement for the meal instead of 5.

          2. BananaPants*

            Same, although it’s not policy, it’s what’s typically done. At a business dinner to host a visiting supplier or to celebrate a major milestone, it’s customary for the senior person present to pay the bill. If traveling with coworkers and dining together, we usually take turns picking up the bill for the group (fewer receipts to keep track of!).

            We even have it set up in SAP so that when submitting the expense report you just enter the names of other employees who dined on the same receipt.

      3. Nan*

        This. It seems more about the employee’s overall lifestyle than cash at lunch. Cable, netflix, cell phones, iDoodads, they are all expensive. Maybe she’s just trying to save some money. Cutting the cords will save her a couple hundred bucks a month.

        1. RVA Cat*

          The whole “embarrassment” thing makes me think the employee is from a working-class background and her boss is just being a snob. OP, how about you look at how much you’re paying her to see if she could reasonably afford the latest iPhone, etc. before you get so “embarrassed”? I’m getting the vibe from how personally the OP is taking this that it’s triggering shame from something in their own life that has nothing whatsoever to do with the employee.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I wonder if the OP is actually from a more working-class background with not a lot of business lunches in the background. I think someone who was used to credit cards wouldn’t think of them as quite such a status marker.

            1. Kristine*

              As someone from a working-class background, it would never occur to me to complain as to how someone else “pulled her own weight.” I think the OP is in a class by herself on this one.

      4. Kittymommy*

        This! As someone who always pays by card (seriously, I’ve paid for a $1 hotdog with a card), the idea that cash is a social or work faux pas is ridiculous. There’s something else going on here. The fact that the op knows, much less cares, that the employee doesn’t have a tv…why is that relevant?

    12. Allison*

      I can see two reasons why someone would think cash is “unprofessional”

      – They equate credit card usage with adulthood and responsibility. In their mind, why wouldn’t you opt for something that lets you build credit and accumulate reward points or cash back? Do you not have a credit card yet? Why not? Maybe they think opting for cash is something only teenagers do.

      It also could be more of an appearance thing than anything else.

      – Employee is supposed to gt reimbursed, and that’s (possibly) harder to do when cash is used.

    13. Spooky*

      I’ve definitely been judged for using cash before as well – I’m a Southerner, and my acquaintances from up north (specifically New York) openly snickered at me for using cash. I think the feeling there was that you should just have enough money to not even look at the bill, just toss you card over and know that you’ve got plenty in the bank to cover it. By using cash, you have to count out a specific amount and…I don’t know, I guess it seems like you’re more worried about it? I’m not sure, but I definitely learned not to use cash around judge-y people again (especially Northerners, as so far they are the only ones I have experienced this with).

      As a side note, it’s worth pointing out that more and more places are no longer accepting cash. When I was in college nearly a decade ago, there were several places on campus that only accepted credit/debit cards, and would not accept cash. It was always a shock to visiting parents, but the students (myself included) almost never carried cash. I still don’t most of the time, tbh.

      1. The Anonymous One*

        Please don’t judge people based on geographic region. Just because a small group of people who lived in New York left you with a bad experience does not mean all “Northerners” are judgey.

        1. Koko*

          There are definitely cultural differences, though, even if not every single person in the region adheres to them. I used to travel around the country seeing live music at general admission shows, and there came a point where I stopped trying to be near the front when I was in New England because people were just meaner up there. There is noticeably more pushing and shoving, if you leave your spot for a drink you will not be allowed to return and will be shot dirty looks if you attempt it. Seeing the exact same band at a comparable venue in the south or on the west coast or in the midwest, there’s breathing room, and you can leave and come back.

          Are all New Englanders mean? Of course not. But the overall impression of the culture is that it’s mean, because you’re less interested in whether every person in a room is being mean to you than you are in whether anyone is being mean to you in a room.

          1. turquoisecow*

            Maybe it’s more the people who are going to live general admission shows in NE, not necessarily New Englanders themselves.

            I mean, you’re narrowing the field here waaay more than region. You’re not interacting with all of the people in a given region, you’re interacting with people who go to live music shows in that region. It might be more of a narrow viewpoint than you’re giving it.

            Similarly, it might be not all New Yorkers are judgmental of cash purchases (I haven’t met ALL NYers, but it seems unlikely to me, as a New Jerseyan who interacts with a lot of them), but maybe a subset of Spooky’s friends. Maybe it’s NYers who work for a specific company, or in a specific industry.

            In any case, as The Anonymous One said, please be careful about generalizing ALL of [x group], as it’s rather mean. I’m sure no one knows ALL of [x group], so implying that ALL of them are X is silly and ignorant.

            1. Koko*

              But that’s my point – it’s not implying that everyone behaves a certain way in order to describe features of a culture. There are whole texts written about how to behave politely when traveling overseas and explaining the differences between different cultures. Take the conversation here the other day about cheek-kissing. Saying that cheek-kissing is common in Montreal doesn’t require every person in Montreal to be a cheek-kisser. Saying that music audiences are rougher and ruder in New England doesn’t mean every person in every audience has to be rough and rude. Not everyone in a given overseas culture will find the same things rude or polite, and not everyone will be polite or care about politeness. But the differences exist at the cultural level without having to be present in every individual. It’s the difference between the individual view and the macro view. We experience environments as gestalt sums of their parts.

      2. OhNo*

        That sounds less like a regional thing and more like a your-acquaintances-are-judgey thing. I’ve been in the north half of the US most of my life, and never run into that particular quirk.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes, this. I don’t mean to be rude, but your acquaintances seem kind of rude/judgmental/unkind. I spent six years in the northeast and have never seen or heard anyone snicker or ridicule someone for using cash. In fact, they’d get a pretty cold look if they did. And if someone behaved that meanly in the mid-Atlantic or Rust Belt? It would not fly.

      3. Van Wilder*

        Judgey New Yorker here. I just posted a story above about how we used to tease a coworker for always being the one guy who paid in cash. In his case, we never questioned that he had plenty of money, he just seemed to be some kind of Jersey mafioso who liked to keep things off the books? Maybe our local mafia history makes New Yorkers more likely to side-eye cash? Lol. He’s still a good friend of mine, btw, and actually referred me to my current job.

        Anyway, I apologize on behalf of New York. I would hate it if we actually made anyone feel bad who was just trying to responsibly manage their finances. These days, nobody ever has cash so it’s actually refreshing when someone does (maybe I can take it and cover theirs with my card, and finally have cash for once.)

        1. Robin*

          My in-laws live in New Jersey, and it was so jarring to me when my (at that) point boyfriend’s mother pulled out a fat wad of cash to pay for the very nice dinner we had the first time I met them. I definitely mentioned it to him later, in the “are your parents mobsters?” sense.

        2. Anon for current purposes*

          Is this more of an NYC thing though? In upstate NY, I have never seen anyone use credit cards for anything, always cash. I still feel kinda weird only using my card for stuff.

      4. kb*

        I think it may just be an obnoxious person thing more than a regional thing. I encountered this with a dude from Illinois. He always wanted to play a “game” called credit card roulette where everyone gives their credit card to the server and he or she picks one and puts the whole tab on it. The game was intentionally played when there’s a large group (like 8+) and usually at an expensive restaurant. Idk, it seemed like the whole point of the game was to make the less wealthy people panic or make someone feel bad about paying cash. It was especially obnoxious because we were all very young, so nobody at the table was personally wealthy, some of them just had wealthy parents. Jerks from all regions, is my point, I guess.

        1. Tim*

          Credit card roulette can work well for a group of friends/colleagues in a similar financial position who hang out a lot socially. It’s best played when you’re making a night of it and going to multiple venues, or if the same group of you go to the same place for lunch every day. It doesn’t work so well for one-off events.

          We generally play it if we’re meeting for a meal and then hitting a few bars afterwards. The “loser” is taken out of the running for the rest of the night – so there will be 5 cards in the pot for the pre-meal drinks, 4 for the meal, 3 in the first bar afterwards, etc. Sometimes we’ll make it interesting by going to one less bar than we have people, so somebody gets a free night out. That person is then obligated to buy the office donuts the next day.

          1. kb*

            I can see how it would play better when mutually agreed upon in advance and the players are close.
            When credit card roulette was introduced to me, it was in the context of us being cohort of unpaid interns at a birthday dinner, so the prospect of dropping $300 was horrifying to a lot of people at the table.

      5. Friday Night*

        Huh, that’s odd, we must be hanging out with different New Yorkers.

        When I moved to NY a few years ago, I was exclusively plastic only, now I always carry cash around because so many of the fun local businesses (and the street carts, and the fruit stands, and, and, and) are cash only.

        1. Elizabeth*

          Brooklynite here, I was thinking the same thing! It’s odd to me when people here DON’T have cash because it’s necessary so often.

    14. Princess Carolyn*

      There is some perception out there that cash is for poor people because it suggests you might not have a “proper” checking account, as many poor people do not. Obviously life without a checking account can be kind of inconvenient for that person, but it doesn’t say anything about them except that they are (or might be) poor. So the stigma attached is purely that of poverty. A lot of markers of poverty/class are thought to be “unprofessional” in some circles: certain types of nail or hair styles, eating junk food, driving an older car (or not driving at all).

      So, to be kinder to the OP: You’re not crazy for thinking some people might perceive this badly. You’re just wrong to give it any credence at all, because it’s a classist and overall icky line of thought.

      1. LBK*

        I’m surprised I had to scroll down this far to find someone making this comment. There’s definitely classist associations with paying in cash; it carries the implication that maybe your money comes from shady sources so you don’t want to put it in a bank, or that you have trouble managing money so you have to budget with cash, or that you have bad credit so you can’t get a credit card.

        If you think about this like the business card scene in American Psycho where everything is a status symbol and people are casually throwing down plastic, someone pulling out cash would be like showing off a business card you scrawled in crayon on a Post-It. In that context, all the rest of the OP’s letter makes sense as well, because it could even reflect poorly on her status if she has an employee who’s signaling poverty. What, like the OP can’t even pay her well? How gauche.

        OP, unless you’re on the Upper East Side or in Beverly Hills and/or your industry is lifestyle coaching for rich people, I’d let all of this go. No one needs any specific set of items or to follow any set of social rules in order to be a happy, successful person. Make sure you’re paying her well for the work she does; how she chooses to spend that money, whether in cash or on a card, and what she chooses to spend it on is none of your business.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          If it makes you feel better, there’s a comment downthread (made last night) on this topic, too :) It’s just buried under the responses to the first comment.

        2. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I made a similar point down-thread but it got lost in all the discussion about the pros and cons of streaming services. For my part, I would be curious to know if the OP *personally* has lived in poverty before and thus is exhibiting internalized classicism. As I noted below, my spouse (who was raised quite poor) actually agreed with the OP that paying with cash was tacky because it signals poverty, and even had me search Google to try and back up his point. When I couldn’t find anything, he conceded that he strongly associates paying with cash with being poor because of his own background, and was probably projecting it onto others.

          I have no idea what the OP’s circumstances are, but considering 800+ comments and no one but my spouse seemed to understand where the OP was coming from, I would be deeply curious if that was the case.

      2. TootsNYC*

        . A lot of markers of poverty/class are thought to be “unprofessional” in some circles:

        Bad teeth.
        Or crooked teeth.

        This is becoming an even stronger marker of economic class and poverty now that dental insurance has gotten a _little_ more common, and orthodontia isn’t quite the phenomenally expensive thing it used to be (in comparison to family income).

      3. The Strand*

        The irony in this is that my husband works with several older, very affluent professionals (60+, make 100K +) who carry wads of cash at all times, and assume that others should too. They think he’s a weirdo for constantly using plastic.

    15. No Name Steaks*

      A younger employee paying in real money, not plastic, is actually very impressive.

      1. kb*

        I don’t think paying with cash is really better (or worse) than a card, but yeah! My dad always chides me for not carrying enough cash (I do for my lifestyle, however he thinks I should always have $300 cash in a money belt in addition to what’s in my wallet).

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah, I was going to say I almost have had the opposite comments – I live in hippieville in Canada though, so who knows. But basically not having cards, not having Facebook, not having a cellphone etc. are seen as cool and praiseworthy and would get comments like “Oh, I should really give that up too!” And you’ll often hear complaints about people being too attached to their tech etc.

        2. Marillenbaum*

          It sounds like your dad and my mom went to the same money school. She’s routinely pleading with me to keep more cash on hand.

      2. CheeryO*

        Why, though? Because it implies that they’re budgeting more carefully? I never carry cash, but I pay my credit card bill off in full every month and track everything meticulously in Mint. Why pay in cash when I can get points from my card for the same purchase and build good credit at the same time?

    16. finman*

      Many of the things OP1 discusses as being strange can cost a substantial amount depending on how much her employee is making. Maybe she went to an expensive college without help and is thus trying to pay down large student loan balances. It doesn’t make sense to buy an expensive phone/plan if you are trying to pay hundreds a month in student loan bills.

      1. Abby*

        And really it is no one’s business. She could be extraordinarily thrifty or paying off massive debt. Doesn’t matter.

      2. kb*

        Yeah, this stuff does end up costing a lot of money. I was reading one of those guides about how to retire really early, and it recommended nearly all the stuff the employee is doing. Ultimately it doesn’t actually matter why the employee is doing it because it’s not really the OP’s place to judge. Though I can understand how it may make it harder to make small talk, because television is one of my go-to topics.

    17. OP#3*

      Because I have such a large family and don’t want to be overwhelmed with gifts, we’ve decided to put “No gifts, please” on the invitations. I don’t want people to feel pressured to buy something.

      1. Noobtastic*

        Please do not put this on the invitations! 1) It’s incorrect, according to all the etiquette mavens, and 2) (and what I think is the real clincher), someone, sometime, decided that it is code for “give me cash, instead,” and has spread it around, and now a whole lot of people think that “no gifts please,” is actually a money-grab, and will think less of you for it. They’ll write in to etiquette websites, and get all snarky about you.

        Your best bet, then, is to issue the invitations without any mention of gifts, just as usual, and then TALK to people, about how you are hoping that people just come and enjoy the party, and don’t drag you down with a lot of gifts and checks for you to try to keep track of, when you’re busy chasing a toddler. You just want to enjoy the day, and not have to spend the next week dealing with a lot of stuff. Talk about simplifying your life. But don’t mention it on the invitations, please. It’s much better to just talk with the people. You can even say directly to them, “PLEASE don’t bring anything for little Missy. I don’t want gifts, or cash or charitable donations in her name, or any of that stuff. I just want to enjoy the party.”

        Saying it out loud is fine, and no one will think you’re a cash-grabber, but for some reason, putting “no gifts, please” on a written invitation just gets piled on by the etiquette haters. I don’t understand it, but it is a real thing.

    18. Artemesia*

      #1 The thing that jumped out at me is why isn’t the boss picking this up on his credit card if it is a ‘business meal’? And it is beyond weird to think paying cash for a meal is a faux pas. I have never heard of such a thing. Insisting this is important is a lot more likely to get the OP gossiped about than someone paying cash. Kudos to the employee for not living on credit no matter how they manage that.

      #3. I can’t think of an event that it is less appropriate to invite co-workers too than a one year olds birthday party. This is a mandatory gift event and very few people who are not close friends or relatives of the baby are going to enjoy such an event. A co-workers may feel awkward about refusing or be compelled to send a gift if they ‘have other commitments that day’ as I assume most would. I would with a small group like this ONLY invite the one employee who was literally an honorary aunt i.e. actually interacts with the baby and family and I would do it outside of work and not be talking about the event at work. Keep highly personal social life (and a baby’s birthday is at the top of the list) separate from professional life.

    19. Responsible party*

      Maybe the OP is from the island that uses the six-foot round stones with a hole in the middle for cash?

    20. Student*

      It exposes the fact that the OP and her company is not paying for something everyone else at the table treats as a business expense. Makes the company and OP look like they’re either taking advantage of this worker by sticking her personally with a business expense, or they’re unfamiliar with business norms, or they’re too weak (politically or financially) to afford the meal on the company dime.

      OP probably got a pointed remark or was the butt of a “joke” about it when it happened. Instead of taking the embarrassment as a cue to adjust the corporate policy on buying meals, the OP is trying to save face. This suggests the OP is not able to change the policy – politically or financially in a weak position to do so – and is lashing out to try to cover up her own weakness, looking for a way to look down her nose at the employee to build her mental image of herself back up and convince herself that someone else is to blame instead of addressing the actual problem.

    21. Milton Waddams*

      #1: As far as I’m aware, it’s a social class thing. Emily Post type stuff; flashing actual money is considered gauche in certain deep-pocketed circles. It’s the same reason certain categories of restaurants have menus with no prices. A silly custom, but adherence to silly customs is important when trying to cement business deals; that’s why books on international business etiquette are so popular. :-)

      1. Marisol*

        Except that it isn’t, at least not in a business context. Even if cash is gauche in some circles, if you’re having a business lunch, then you’re clearly not part of the jet-set idle rich crowd that would have such a taboo. To me this sounds like a misconception someone coming from a lower socioeconomic bracket would have about those in an higher socioeconomic bracket.

        1. Noobtastic*

          The dangers of reading Emily Post and watching Downton Abbey. You come from a lower class, and watch/read about the upper class and think that doing things that way will somehow make you upper class, too. Only later to find out that it’s not about following the etiquette rules, but about your birth, breeding, and fortune. New Money is looked down upon, even with impeccable manners, but Old Money can get away with being rude, silly twits.

          Mind you, impeccable manners are valuable, in their own right, and regardless of class, and I encourage them. But manners, alone, will not raise your socio-economic status, no matter how much you dream.

    22. Why is cash embarrassing?*

      I’m so confused about this.

      Alison, please follow up to get details!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I had to go and check today wasn’t April first. The letter make no sense to me at all.

      1. THE Liz*

        Me too. But the OP seems to have an issue with this person, very judgy list of other items they ran down that had nothing to do with cash payment.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I suspect that the OP is sooo judgy about the employee’s life circumstances that she thinks that the employee’s paying in cash makes those circumstances obvious to everyone at the table: as in, ” Oh, god, everyone’s going to see that my employee is a crunchy granola, tree-hugging, cash-paying hippy wingnut” (or whatever weirdness she’s thinking about her poor employee).

          1. Emi.*

            I was thinking they’re worried that the employee is trying to stay under the radar because they’re on the run from the CIA or something.

              1. Karyn*

                This was literally my first thought when I read about the employee’s lack of online presence. I’ve had to “go dark” before, when I had a guy who didn’t take no for an answer, so to speak. If she’s had an abusive partner or someone stalking her, this would be an explanation – not that the OP is owed one in the first place, of course.

                Also, I know there has been some talk about cash being more difficult for the server than credit cards – but the OP doesn’t say that they are worried about the server’s convenience. They say that they told the employee it was “unprofessional” to use cash at a business lunch. The fact that the OP specified “business lunch” means that they aren’t really concerned about the server having to deal with cash (if they were, wouldn’t it be inappropriate in ALL settings, not just a business setting?). They’re concerned about how their company might look because of said use of cash. I’m not quite sure WHY they’re concerned, but regardless, OP, there’s nothing wrong with using cash unless it’s sweaty and/or she’s pulled it from her bra (I work retail. This is a thing.)

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Yeah, my first thoughts were: (1) really prefers internet privacy; (2) [with respect to cash, only] does not want to support big banks and card companies; and (3) evading DV/stalking.

              3. Noobtastic*

                Doesn’t even have to be abusive.

                I once went dark for a while to get rid of an over-eager teenage wannabe mentee. No, I do not want to be your mentor, kid, because you don’t actually listen to what I have to say, and argue with me, too much, and frankly, annoy the heck out of me, so leave me alone! It was an online-only “relationship,” and I was very glad I had posted under a pseudonym. I just stopped posting under that pseudonym, and chose a new pseudonym, and pretended to be dead.

                Mind you, it was just a couple of forums and a chat group, but the point is, there are a number of reasons, including non-violent/criminal reasons that a person may want to go offline for a while.

                Also, those crime shows – don’t be paranoid, but do understand that there is enough real crime out there to take those precautions seriously. I don’t think you’re watching too many crime shows, simply because you acknowledge the possibility of an abusive ex/stalker. Now, if you had declared that to be the only possibility, I’d say you were watching too many crime shows.

              1. JessaB*

                Not Witness Protection, they’d make sure that you at least had a bank account, because while paying with cash is not usual, but it is accepted, Witsec would NOT want the person to stand out that way. And the best way to wash the trail your former identity had is to have a full trail on the new one.

                1. Noobtastic*

                  That’s an excellent point! And if the person in WitSec really wanted to limit their credit transactions, and go “cash only,” they would have set up a debit card and/or encouraged the use of pre-paid gift cards, and the like. Pre-paid gift cards can be used just like credit cards, and when you use it up, you toss it, so you still have the same “I can’t spend more than this” that you have with cash.

                  Visually, however, it’s the same as a regular credit card, so no one will think twice about seeing you use it. And even if they do notice it is a gift card, they’ll just think, “Oh, that person got a gift card for Christmas.” No big deal, at all, and won’t stand out.

          2. Artemesia*

            The biggest cash advocate I am aware of who councils against credit card use and living within your means is an evangelical Christian right winger — Dave Ramsey. This employee is following his advice exactly. He would be amused to see this characterized as crunch granola hippy.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Ha. I’m just trying to figure out why the OP finds the employee’s behavior embarrassing, and the judgy people in my small southern town find hippy stuff embarrassing. :-)

            2. Alex "Barney" Barnaby*

              That was my thought!

              The employee might have heavy student loans, medical bills, or just wants to be able to continue to save up and get ahead in life. There’s nothing wrong with that.

        2. Allison*

          I swear, some people just like to judge. They like to feel superior, they want reasons to butt in and mold people to their specifications, or they’re grasping for legitimate reasons to dislike someone they’re jealous of.

          It’s also not uncommon for older women to be jealous of their younger, female coworkers . . .

          1. Another*

            Yesterday my boss and another older female colleague were watching people out the window come and go from lunch and openly and loudly picking apart the outfits of younger female employees. I know it’s a thing but I respect my boss even less than I did before.

            1. Allison*

              Knowing how judgmental older women can be has been one of the main causes of my anxiety post-college. Seeing all those women on the train, just sitting there throwing dirty looks at me or whoever else for . . . god only knows what reason . . . Awful.

              Then again, some of my younger colleagues did this at my first job. Shortly before I left I actually heard the phrase “oh my god, did you see what she was wearing?” followed by “oh my god, I knoooow right??”

              1. C Average*

                My mom delivers a running commentary on the appearance and dress of almost everyone she encounters. I thought it was normal growing up, and although I didn’t tend to comment on other people, I often had judgy thoughts about others and was openly critical of my own appearance. It took having a stepdaughter with an eating disorder and other body image-related issues to get me to turn off the voice in my head and quit judging everyone, most especially myself. Now I’m hyperconscious of how common this kind of judgment is, and I find it almost unendurable to be around my mom when she is in What Not To Wear mode.

                1. Allison*

                  While my mom wasn’t necessarily the same way, I think she too was very aware of how often women judged other women, because she made me aware of it too, because she’d tell me how people would perceive me if I wore certain things, although she would usually mention it wasn’t fair but that’s how things were.

                2. BananaPants*

                  I thought it was only my mother who does this. She doesn’t do it in front of the people she criticizes, but after social events there’s a constant stream-of-consciousness rundown of various people’s apparel, drink choice, conversation topic, perceived “class”, you name it.

                  I’ve called her Hyacinth Bucket on more than one occasion (she doesn’t get it).

              2. Artemesia*

                Are you sure you aren’t judging these ‘older women’ for the fact that gravity has given them all somewhat dour faces. They are almost certainly not thinking about you at all.

              3. Noobtastic*

                Oh, please. It’s not about age. The mean girls were doing that in junior high, at least.

          2. JB (not in Houston)*

            Your second sentence is a stereotype, and you have nothing in the letter to assume that’s going on. As for your first sentence, it’s a little bit harsh. Please be kinder to the OP.

            1. Another*

              I agree there is nothing in the letter to suggest that is what is happening here, but it’s not just a stereotype, it’s a very real thing I’ve personally witnessed in the workplace for the past 20 years. It’s usually only a few people who act like that, thankfully.

              1. LBK*

                If you can say it’s only a few people who act like that, then how can you say it’s not a stereotype? Stereotype means you’re taking the behavior of a select few and applying it across a whole demographic…which is exactly what you’re doing by saying it’s A Thing that older women get jealous of younger women.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Saying it’s a stereotype doesn’t mean “it never happens.” It means a person is taking their experience with a handful of people and then imposing their belief about “people of X type do this” to the entire demographic being described—in Allison’s comment, all “older” women.

                JB is right that there are literally hundreds of “older” women who do not do this and don’t even think about this when they see younger women. And as LBK notes and you’ve noted, if only a minority of people do this, then by definition that contradicts the stereotype.

                Your boss’s awful behavior is awful, full stop, but it’s not because “all older women are jealous of their younger, female coworkers.”

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Very much agreed with JB. The second comment is unkind, unhelpful, untrue for most contexts and women, and certainly doesn’t seem relevant to OP’s letter.

            3. The Strand*

              It’s true that stereotypes (all x people do this) are not great. But she said it wasn’t uncommon, not that all the older women she knows are jealous of younger female coworkers.

              There are definitely situations and environments in which people of the same gender are encouraged to monitor each other’s behavior, masculinity or femininity, etc., very gendered bullying. People also treat each other like crap based on age. Younger against older, older against younger. I’m not a millenial or a boomer but I find myself sometimes defending them.

              I have witnessed my boss and another high-ranked woman insult another woman’s clothing and hair at the beginning of an all-hands meeting,and I definitely lost respect for them over it. It’s so much easier to compliment when someone looks good, or suggest something they would look nice in.

              Recently, an older female colleague of mine recently corrected me on the way I pushed an elevator button, telling me I needed to use my knuckle to push it, not my finger. (Patronizing to the point of hilarity). One of my friends in her 60s just interviewed a younger woman who referred to “geriatric boomers”, clearly not realizing she had just insulted her interviewers.

              And as for Artemesia’s comment about dour faces, I’ve been watching “Feud”, and I must say, Susan Sarandon is old enough to be my mother (as is Kathy Bates), and I thought throughout the whole thing how great they looked. Their skin’s only thinner physically – metaphorically, a lot of older women have wonderful confidence I’d love to borrow.

          3. N.J.*

            Your response, while possibly true, seems a bit unkind. A more constructive way to make your point may have been to ask the OP to engage in a bit of self reflection related to whether she is feeling some sort of professional or personal rivalry or jealousy towards her employee and assure her that we have all felt jealous at some point in our lives, with a reminder of the responsibility that a manager has to set aside biases and judgements based on personality or lifestyle and to monitor herself.

            As we have been warned to try to be kind(er) to OPs here just thought I’d chime in. We also have no clue as to the age or gender of the OP. The point you raised is interesting and valid to consider as a possible motivation here, it just seemed a bit more harsh than necessary.

      2. Lily in NYC*

        Crap! I pranked my houseguest this morning because I thought it was April 1 (she won’t know it until she wakes up and goes to make her morning poached egg – I put hard-boiled eggs in the carton). She is not going to let me live this down.

          1. Noobtastic*

            The best prank I ever saw was when the well-known creative prankster type told someone that she was going to get them, and then watched as they were paranoid all. day. long, waiting for the prank to happen, knowing it was coming, knowing it could be ANYTHING, and not trusting anyone or anything at all, and being extremely uncomfortable as they dodged this and that, and even spent some time flat-out hiding.

            It was just too cool.

            And then, for them to say, “HAH! I don’t know what you had planned, but I managed to avoid it all! You didn’t get me!” and the prankster to just smile *that* smile, and quirk their eyebrow.

            Oh, it was glorious.

            Of course, without the reputation for creative pranks, in the first place, it would not have worked. But, and here’s the kicker, the person was able to create the reputation for creative pranks not by actually playing the creative pranks, but by talking about playing creative pranks. All that water-cooler chatter about this prank and that prank, and the proper way to go about them, was enough.

            Psychology. Gotta love it.

        1. Trig*

          Ha, we often have the opposite problem: thinking it’s a hard-boiled egg and discovering too late that it’s not. Luckily it’s only happened to me once in public… on a hot day eating lunch outside with coworkers. Sigh.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            This is cracking me up (no pun intended). I would pay to witness this happen to someone.

    2. K.*

      Basically my reaction. I was like “Huh? Cash is unprofessional now?!”

      The second paragraph says a lot – sounds like the OP doesn’t see her employee as tech-savvy and judges her for it, and the cash thing is a part of that.

      1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

        I read it that way too. It’s interesting because I’m currently working on personal debt reduction and saving and what I thought of the employee was “How fantastic that she’s so young and already has a handle on money.”

        I know, I know. There’s nothing in the letter to indicate that she has her money stuff handled, but since paying cash is one of the best ways to avoid overspending (can’t spend what you don’t physically have on you) I saw her in a much better financial position than I was at her age.

      2. RVA Cat*

        I think OP#1 has reached BEC with this employee for some reason. The cash (and the no tv, etc.) is the same as eating crackers – meaningless, but it becomes offensive to the OP because of the personal dislike.

        This is something the OP needs to get over in order to be a good manager.

        1. Butch Cassidy*

          I was just thinking that – this looks so much like a “bitch eating crackers” situation

    3. MMDD*

      Right? Unless things have changed drastically since I was a server, cash is king. How paying with cash is unprofessional is beyond me, unless the employee pulled it out of her bra. And to chastise her demand she uses a card? I wouldn’t be shocked if Alison gets an email this week titled “My boss claims I embarrassed the organization by paying cash at a business lunch”. I am truly bewildered and would love for LW to follow up if it’s a regional thing or what.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Ha! I don’t think that employee would be likely to write in, given her aversion to technology. But I have heard from servers I’ve known that cash tips are preferred over credit card tips, and since CC companies take a cut of every payment, cash is likely preferred by most restaurants for bill payment too.

        OP1, where are you coming from that cash is unprofessional?

  2. LydiaWolf*

    OP 1 – do you work for a credit card company or were you the marketing team for citibank’s touch pay advertisement (lol)

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Ha! Most of the folks I worked with at card processing OldJob became way more mindful about tipping in cash once they dug into the industry.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Because we were actually seeing the fees our smaller merchants paid, and dealing with the unethical ones who wanted to, for example, deduct the entire transaction fee from the tip amount.

  3. PollyQ*

    OP #1: I would love to get some context fromyou on this–what’s your industry/location/culture? Because I’m 100% with Alison that there’s nothing at all unprofessional, or even remarkable, about paying with cash.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Not only that, it’s a proven, reliable budgeting technique. You can’t spend more than you have if you pay with cash! And studies have proven that, even given the same income and the same buying habits, people spend more when using credit cards than when using cash.

      And in addition to the reasons given in the above threads, I always pay cash at small, independent businesses rather than eat into their profits with credit card fees.

      1. JanetM*

        The Cosmic Avenger: Aha! This crystallized a thought: I wonder if LW1 thinks it’s unprofessional to pay with cash because it *implies* that the person paying is on a budget — which might then reflect negatively on the company’s pay scales? Or maybe I’m just making stuff up in my head.

        1. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

          When I worked in consulting, I worked with a lot of guys who *loved* to throw down their credit cards because they often had fancy ones with a lot of implied status.

          We just to joke that it was their way of “putting it all out on the table to measure”

      2. Fiennes*

        Yes — many thriftiness blogs/credit counselors/etc advocate paying cash at all times possible, because you stay far more aware of what you spend, what you spend it on, etc. (Honestly OP’s description of the employee’s habits made me wonder if she isn’t into serious thrift.)

        As a former waiter–cards were easier to run, but there was never anything wrong with cash.

  4. Sarah*

    I cannot fathom why anyone would think paying with cash was a faux pas or embarrassing. I feel terrible for the employee, that she got chastised by her boss about this. She’s owed an apology, so she knows she won’t be penalized for this. Kudos to her for living her life in a non-traditional manner and for standing up to her boss. I can’t imagine a boss trying to make an employee sign up for a debit or credit card. That’s totally bizarre to me. The only person who committed a faux pas here is the boss.

    1. Lablizard*

      Agreed. I think OP1 should figure out a way to apologize because of I were her employee I would be confused and more than a little angry

    2. xyz*

      Kind of love that not having social media or streaming services can now be described as ‘non-traditional’ ;)

      1. aebhel*

        Yeah, I’ve been slowly deleting my social media accounts, because they were taking over my life (also, ‘no social media presence her boss can find’ doesn’t mean ‘no social media presence’. Most of my active accounts are under usernames that bear no relation to my real identity, since I don’t need my employer discovering my Star Trek fanfiction). I’m 31. That’s not that weird, really.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          A-yup. I’ve got my carefully curated social media linked to my real name, but most of my presence has no link whatsoever and you’ll never find it by searching for me.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Yup. I recently changed my FB name to First Middle because I realized that blasting my loudmouth political opinions all over the internet under First Last name might be unwise for professional reasons.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I thought about that but decided that I don’t care. I’m like, fight me LOL. If someone doesn’t want to hire me because I’m a snowflake, then it’s their loss and I’ve dodged a bullet. (I do try to be reasonable about it, but I’m not going to pretend I like certain people or what they’re doing.)

              1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                Well, in my case, I help maintain our company FB page (so I have a separate, non-political account for that) and we have to present a non-political image.

            2. PizzaDog*

              There’s someone in my city with my exact first and last name – we’re about the same age too, give or take a few months. So if ever I’m asked about anything I’m saying online, I can always blame the OTHER PizzaDog. (I’m mostly joking.)

        2. Fiennes*

          My fanfic from the 90s had my real name on it (in a couple of places, anyway), which was really embarrassing once the internet went mainstream. But then someone with my identical name became famous, burying all name-only searches for me down deep. WHEW.

    3. Kyrielle*

      I did see a boss at a former job encourage one of my coworkers to get a credit card when he didn’t have one. However, we travel for work and the boss’s main reason was that the hotel wouldn’t hold a reservation without a card…so my boss was having to put this person’s travel on his card and get reimbursed.

      Which to my mind is an argument for a company-issued card for only those moments, maybe, but nothing more.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Our department offers two options: Either you can apply for a corporate travel card (which shows up on your credit report, etc., but the University pays); or you can appoint one admin to be the “travel reservations” person, and that person uses a special purchasing card that’s not associated with any one person to place your hotel reservations, etc.

    4. Hey Nonnie*

      Seriously — a boss trying to dictate how an employee should manage HER PERSONAL FINANCES is such a HUGE, invasive overstep. That is so much not any of boss’s business. At all.

  5. L.*

    #1 – WUT. WUUUUUUUUUUT. So here’s my guess, I think OP 1 just doesn’t like this employee to start with, and so everything she does is “unprofessional” and “embarrassing.” Second paragraph picking at her private life supports that theory. It’s what social media calls the “b**tch eating crackers” phenomenon. Someone you don’t like could be doing something innocuous like eating crackers, and one still says, “Psh, LOOK at that b***ch eating crackers like she’s such a big deal. How embarrassing for her.”

    1. Shannon*

      I don’t know if it’s that bad – OP 1 may genuinely not know how to relate to someone who lives so far outside of what the OP perceives to be the norm.

      1. Kj*

        Maybe. But OP needs to learn. Frankly, judging your employee for silly things is pretty bad for a manager to do. Judge her on her work, not on if you approve or agree with her lifestyle choices.

    2. Sadie Catie*

      You are being a bit unkind to the OP here. Yes, they may have been misguided, but let’s not be so short with them.

      1. Jeanne*

        We don’t need to be short. But I do get the idea that the credit card isn’t the core problem. I suspect none of the info we were given is the core problem.

      2. seejay*

        I’m a little baffled at how unkind the OP is being towards their employee personally, even outside of the credit card / cash issue. :( They’re extremely judgemental about their employee’s lifestyle choice which really isn’t something they should be concerned about.

    3. Kate*

      My only thought was that the OP has a status attachment to corporate cards. If this was a business lunch that is being expensed and you’re so concerned about your employee not having a card to pay with, then by all means, get her a corporate card for business expenses. She can lock it in a drawer at the office and only pull it out for the times that it’s required, and you won’t need to worry about her paying in cash when it’s a business related expense.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Or OP could just pay for the employee with OP’s card! If this is a business expense issue (in which case OP’s company needs to cover these things, not the employee), there are quick solutions that don’t require the employee to completely change her financial habits to suit OP.

    4. Another*

      Not to pile on OP 1 – But the OP should probably stop and separate out what his or her real issues are with the employee and if they are work related / impact the actual work being done or personal. Because the way it’s written, it’s sounding more personal, and the focus needs to be on the work.

      1. AD*

        I’d go even further, and say that nothing in OP#1’s letter sounds remotely work performance-related, and rather the OP is criticizing the personal life choices or their employee.

        1. Hey Nonnie*

          Yeah, and the fact that OP has been internet searching for the employee quite extensively (deep enough to know she has “no social media or internet presence” — which implies digging through much more than one page of search results) is kind of stalker-y. I’m a bit creeped out by the tone of the entire letter. That’s… a LOT of exceptionally personal stuff for OP to care so deeply about, especially when it’s entirely irrelevant to their relationship.

          1. SignalLost*

            Not really. It’s a common occurrence (whether warranted or advisable is a different matter) to connect with colleagues on Facebook and LinkedIn. OP may have asked/offered to connect and been told the employee doesn’t have a social media presence. I’m not excusing the judgement going on by OP, but finding this out does not at all have to be creepy.

    5. Chaordic One*

      I can’t really tell for sure, but I kind of suspect that the employee is probably just a classic introvert who has trouble being “on” all the time and who needs to concentrate to do her work.

  6. H.C.*

    OP4: Yep, work you produce for the employer is generally their property in exchange for your compensation – and they choose to assign byline as they see fit. However, that doesn’t prevent you from showcasing that work on your portfolio, with the note that you (ghost)wrote it but that company policy mandated the byline has to X or Y. I wouldn’t blink an eye at that, especially if you have a reference that can vouch for your writing on behalf of others.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed, and I think many readers will realize that the person who “posts” all the updates is not necessarily the author (at least not if they read more than one post). I don’t think this is analogous to writing news or analytic/opinion columns or articles, where your “byline” matters. These sound like pieces that are part of your company’s external/public relations, in which case the only author that matters is your company—not the individual staff member who wrote it. I’d recalibrate expectations.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I agree. I’d only be concerned if other posts were going out with bylines and OP’s was the only one which didn’t.

        I have the opposite situation with our website – I write nearly all of the content but it goes online with a ‘byline’ of someone in the relevant department. (The person whose name I use gets to see and fact-check it before it is posted, and make changes if they want)

    2. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Agreed. Had something similar happen to me. What I wrote at work belonged to my employer and they had the right to hand it off to someone else to publish under their name. Yes I considered it unfair and said so to management but ultimately it wasn’t a hill worth dying on.

      In my case it ended up hurting the credibility of the person who took credit for it as me being the real author was a well known fact and most folks at work took this to mean the person had to take credit for my work to appear competent. Their contract was not renewed when it expired. While I never got an apology and didn’t expect one anyways, I did get an admission that management had erred by hiring that person in the first place.

    3. Graciosa*

      It doesn’t prevent you from showcasing that work on your portfolio with the company’s permission.

      Fortunately, most company’s are willing to give it, but it is the company’s property and can’t be used otherwise in most jurisdictions.

      1. Graciosa*

        Should be “most companies” are willing to give it – apparently I shouldn’t comment without a proofreader until I’ve had a bit more caffeine.

      2. Natalie*

        I don’t know that copyright would prevent you from putting something in your portfolio. That’s not the same as publishing it in some revenue-generating manner.

        1. Graciosa*

          In most jurisdictions, it does. There are no exceptions to copyright law that cover this type of use – again, in most jurisdictions.

          A few jurisdictions have special provisions for moral rights, which is basically a right to tell people you are the creator – however those can be given up as well, and it is part of boilerplate on-boarding documentation for most companies that deal with these issues. Statutory damages can also come into play in the absence of revenue generation in some cases.

          That was probably more information than you wanted, but the safest course is always going to be to just ask for permission. This is unlikely to be an area where a company goes after an employee in the absence of other factors, but it’s still better to protect yourself.

          1. Natalie*

            That just seems so odd that it wouldn’t be fair use. Not an online portfolio, necessarily, but a paper portfolio doesn’t seem much different than pointing to a billboard and telling them you designed it.

            Anywhoo, not the topic of the letter so I’ll live it there.

    4. TootsNYC*

      OP #4, if there isn’t a separate field at the top that can say “By Name Here,” or if they don’t want more boilerplate at the top, ask if they’ll put what we in the biz call a “tagline” at the bottom.

      Or, use an “author bio” format.

      Taglines are those little italic names with dashes in front of them that go at the end of the story and indicate that this person wrote it. They’re less obtrusive and are often used for short pieces that aren’t large or weight enough to qualify for a byline.

      For an “author bio” format, they’d put a line space after the text and then (usually) switch to italic, and then put a sentence or whatever. For a true author bio, which is paired with a true byline (up at the top) they’d write “Susie OP#4 is an executive assistant at Our Company” or “John Smith is an industry analyst and winner of the 2016 Employee of the Year award.” If this is NOT paired w/ a byline up top, then the wording would include “written by” and either just the name, or with additional biographical information.

      Written by TootsNYC

      1. calonkat*

        TootsNYC, this is an excellent suggestion.

        My suggestion would be that they simply remove the byline entirely, since the person listed is just the “uploader”. As the person who uploads everything for my team, I do NOT want everyone thinking I am the person responsible for the content! Or asking me questions!

        1. zora*

          In our intranet, the “Posted By” is locked in and automatically shows the name of the person who actually uploads the post, which is usulaly not the person who wrote it.

          So they always put one line at the top of the body of text that says “Submitted by Anne Shirley, Halifax” bc we have abig company and not everyone knows everyone else in the company by name.

      2. ArtsNerd*

        This is a good solution on the company side.

        I agree wholeheartedly that OP can and should take credit for it in a portfolio, resume, etc. regardless of what happens in terms of bylines on the web site. Ghostwriting is incredibly common in most fields and few people would bat an eye at the lack of OP credit on the web site.

        I also agree that if it were my name cropping up on every published post, I would do my best to put an end to that immediately.

  7. Accidental Analyst*

    #2 could you ask your boss if he’d prefer the good performers or the bad performers to feel bad? He may currently be thinking everyone gets the same bonus, so it’s fair, so no one feels bad without realising that his top performers feel bad.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I hate when bosses do this—I worked at a place where an employee was committing wage theft and instead of being fired, he received the across-the-board bonus that everyone received.

      I know OP’s situation is not that stark, but if someone is performing “below expectations” and receiving an equivalent increase, then bonuses/raises mean nothing—these are just global adjustments to everyone’s base pay. I know it’s not a good idea to go over one’s boss’s head, but I would be so curious to know how HR/grandbosses would react to hearing that even failing employees are receiving non-performance-based raises.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Would an inquiry to HR be inappropriate? “What is company procedure regarding performance based raises and bonuses” for example.

        The morale of great employees must be terrible.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          That’s kind of what I’d be tempted to do, but I don’t want to put OP in a delicate/risky position (just because I don’t know the dynamics/politics of her employer). But I’d be mighty tempted to ask HR if they could refresh my memory on how performance relates to raises.

          1. OP#2*

            Unfortunately, going above my boss’s head would be a bad move – my company has a reputation for retaliation, and it’s not worth it for an extra 1% raise!!

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Ugh, I’m sorry OP. It sounds like your options are limited, then—either deal with a manager who doesn’t want to manage, or move on.

              I’ve left an employer over a manager like this. She was so conflict averse, and yet passive-aggressive, that really heinous things would fester, and people who should have been fired were not (as noted above, they received generous bonuses because everyone got the same bonus). I realized all I could change was my reaction to the dysfunction, and when things became seriously out of hand in ways that materially affected my ability to do my work, I left.

            2. Annonymouse*

              Have you tried telling your boss when everyone gets the same raise/bonus no matter how they perform that the incentive to do a good job disappears?

              That good performers would rather leave to find somewhere more fair in terms of compensation?

              That the current system rewards bad employees and punishes good ones?

              Because they’re going to have hard conversations when either a bunch of you leave and the bad ones remain or you good ones start putting in the bare minimum.

                1. Noobtastic*

                  This reminds me of something I read in a Dilbert book, once. He called it giving yourself a “stealth-raise.” Basically, you get paid the same, but since you’re trading your misery for your pay, if you are able to feel less misery while being paid the same, you’re getting more bang for your buck, as it were. If you look at is as a function of misery per dollar, then less misery per dollar equates to more dollar per unit of misery.

                  So… If you tart slacking off, you’re getting a stealth raise. Except in this case, it’s not even stealth. Just a blatantly-obvious raise in your misery/dollar and work/dollar quotients.

    2. Accidental Analyst*

      Oops missed that it was raises not bonuses which makes it worse as that compounds the bad feeling each year.

      Also the boss may end up with a situation where the poor performers won’t leave as they won’t get the same income in other places. Not to mention the high performers leaving for better incomes.

  8. Kheldarson*

    OP #2, I feel ya. That was my retail raise all the time. Except our reviews were always finagled to be “meets expectations” (seriously, my last review at that store had commentary about how we don’t communicate as a team. I asked my manager what he was planning on doing about the guy who refused to talk to me then. Manager just hemmed and hawed. Don’t ding me for your inability to manage, dingbat! But I digress.) And the guy who caused the most issues and made us do extra work because he couldn’t do his job in a timely fashion? A job I handled on my own while pregnant? Also “meets expectations”. Morale sank among the full-timers on our team with that. 3% raise for busting butt and the deadweight still gets by? Forget that.

    1. Simonthegreywarden*

      Back when I worked retail, that was one of the catch phrases; “whatever you do, you’ll get the same raise as Jose.” Jose was the dude who would stare out the windows or read a book while at the registers and was never in his assigned zone. Huge morale killer.

    2. OP#2*

      Frankly, I’m surprised that he gave ANYONE “Does not meet expectations” given his general level of spinelessness! (He didn’t tell me he did, BTW – I heard a couple of people on my team complaining about their rating.)

  9. Shannon*

    OP #1:

    Why are any of these things issues? Can you please explain how any of these things impact the work being done?

    I’m really baffled that you think that paying for something with cash is unprofessional. Can you please elaborate on that?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Or why the OP is embarrassed. If something embarrassing happened, shouldn’t the employee be embarrassed and not the manager? I mean, we aren’t talking about a mom being embarrassed because their kid had a tantrum on the grocery store floor. This is a manager-direct report relationship.

  10. Tess*

    Regarding question #1: why is this boss so concerned and judgmental of how this employee lives?! That’s what strikes me as odd about this. I wouldn’t want to work for someone so critical and harsh. And how is her preferred currency rude or a faux pas just because the boss is weirdly fixated? We need further deets here!

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      OP1 might still be a great boss, though. I think many of us have a couple of complete misconceptions about how the world works.

      1. Lablizard*

        I’m not sure a great boss would reprimand an employee for using cash. To me, a great boss would have found out of cash was a faux pas first before taking to their employee

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think it’s just one of those things you ‘know’ and never thought about. I remember an apology for an author after having their (super genius) character claim that polar bears are not true bears, but a species of mink–it was one of those things that he had always ‘known’ without it ever pinging ‘huh, I should cross check that before I use it to establish my character’s breadth of knowledge.’

          To cite Rumsfeld, the known unknowns are okay because you recognize that you need to research an answer. It’s the unknown unknowns–the things you take for granted and didn’t realize need to be double checked–that trip you up.

      2. paul*

        I kind of doubt it. I mean he reprimanded her for using cash and is judgy about her lack of online presence. It’s odd. And complaining about her cell phone; if you don’t provide one, don’t require her to have one!

      3. Alli525*

        Describing an employee negatively as “different” (especially when followed by a laundry list of what makes her so strange) is not the sign of a good boss.

  11. Gadfly*

    Trying to imagine if OP1’s employee wrote in. That much interest in how an employee lives her life outside of work just is all sorts of warning flags for boundary crossing.

    I can see the phone/email thing being an issue if the job is such that the phone/email issue would apply. But that should have been brought up before hiring her that it would be needed.

    Being curious, I went looking for any mention of it being unprofessional to pay at a business dinner with cash, but all I could find were business etiquette guides that just said things like “put your card or cash in the folder so the waitstaff can see it” and nothing that said it was a faux pas

    1. Gen*

      The only thing I can think of is paying a cash tip where others can see how much you paid rather than using the card machine where perhaps they can’t? But I’m in the UK where tipping in restaurants is a bit different anyway

      1. LilyPearl*

        I sometimes pay by card then add a cash tip, as then I feel more confident the waiting staff will actually get the tip (given some news stories​ here (UK) about restaurant chains not passing on tips to their employees).

        1. GingerHR*

          For the same reason, I’ll always do a cash tip (unless the amount of cash I have on me is embarassing).
          Really struggling with the embarassment piece. If we are at a business meal, our expenses policy means we all have to claim our own, managers can’t put it all on their card and claim it back. Annoying, but people pay how they want to- there’s no good or bad way to do it!

          1. Graciosa*

            That’s an interesting comment about your expense policy. Ours requires that the highest ranking person at the event to pay the whole check and submit for it.

            The thinking is that this prevents situations where a manager is either concealing the amount of spend from his boss (by approving $100 per subordinate for a 40 person team instead of submitting a $4000 expense report to his manager) or just enjoying a single lavish meal that he directs a subordinate to expense for his own approval.

            I get the thinking, but it was kind of a pain for me personally when I had a boss who routinely forgot his corporate credit card (which we were required to use). I covered the check on mine, but couldn’t submit it to my boss because he was present at the event; the system did not make it easy to make the required change in approvers to his boss.

            1. TootsNYC*

              My company has a similar policy (more of a request, actually); it’s partly so that they know meals are authorized, but I think it’s mostly so that there are fewer expense reports to wade through. And I get the impression that it’s also that they think the higher ranking person ought to be the one to fork out the money and go through the expense-report hassle; that it’s unkind to make a lower-ranking person do that.

        2. MashaKasha*

          That’s what I heard, too – that, for the server, it’s best if you leave a cash tip, even if you paid by card. In addition to what you said, I also heard that, when tips are paid by card, the server gets the tip amount minus the credit card company’s fee; whereas with the cash tip they receive the whole amount. Came to this thread to verify this.

          1. Natalie*

            It’s not universal that CC fees are deducted from tips. In some jurisdictions it likely wouldn’t be allowed, for one. But even when it’s allowed it’s terribly unpopular – in my city a large restaurant group reversed course on that kind of policy because it generated so much negative publicity.

          2. TootsNYC*

            I try to tip cash, because here in NYC there have been multiple news reports about restaurants keeping the tips.

            Also, if the amount of the tip is recorded on the receipt, the server has to pay taxes on the full amount. But I’m like someone’s grandma (upstream): I think the payment procedures, etc., are crappy, and I’m happy to tip in cash, esp if I want to tip big, so that the server can shield some of it from taxes.

            I have actually put a small-side-of-normal tip on the card and then left cash as well, sometimes pointing out, “The tip is on the card, and this is for you.” She’d done a tremendous job.

          3. Kinsley M.*

            I have never worked anywhere where CC fees were deducted from my tips. And quite frankly, I would have never worked somewhere where they were. In the US, I can’t imagine there’s many places where that would be legal either. There are rather strict rules about what can and cannot be deducted from a person’s pay.

            1. Hey Nonnie*

              As far as I am aware, it’s illegal to deduct transaction fees from tips in most/all places. Not that this ever stops anyone — it was done to me all the time when I waited tables.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I imaging the employee’s letter would read, “I was a server for years before I came to my current office job. When we go to a business lunch, I pay in cash because I know that is the most convenient method for the server to process. But my boss thinks it is plebeian to use cash. She says that I am embarrassing her by using cash. What do I do?”

  12. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, it’s totally ok—and often good practice—to mention people related to your employer with whom you spoke. It shows you did your due diligence and expressed greater than passing interest. That said, consider asking the employee if she’s ok/comfortable with you mentioning that you spoke to her. Some folks are happy to talk to you but prefer not to be mentioned/listed in the cover letter.

    1. OP5*

      I opted to mention her – I really never would have heard about this position without her and our involvement in our organization and it felt strange saying, “I heard about this through Ladies Who Teapot” without a nod to her. She gave me a lot of info that wasn’t in the posting and I discussed it in the cover letter, and it felt necessary to let the reader know where I got that intel.

    2. TootsNYC*

      As long as you didn’t imply that she recommended you in some way, or that she is endorsing you, when that is not the case. It’s always best that any opinion like that come from the person supposedly having the opinion.

      But saying that she mentioned it at the organization, and you spoke with her a bit more about it, is fine. Factual.

  13. jordanjay29*


    As long as OP#1’s employee keeps records of the cash transactions she makes on behalf of the business, I don’t see the issue. And this didn’t even sound like the case here.


    The workplace is not high school. You don’t have to give the whole class Valentines anymore, or invites to your party.

  14. Charlotte*

    #1 is just another example of the absolute overreach employers like to have into their employees lives these days. Why on earth are you so concerned with how she manages her money? Why are you so bothered by the fact she doesn’t use social media? Why does her lack of interest in Netflix bother you?

    1. hbc*

      At the risk of derailing, I’d say it’s not so much a “these days” thing as a constant that *some* people in charge are overly invested in what those under them do. It’s just that there are always new and exciting ways to do it, and we get a chance to hear about it more easily.

      1. LJL*

        YES! I had supervisor who was upset that I got married without telling her. WE told very few people…not even the ones who introduced us!

  15. Anonymous Educator*

    #1 If your employee paying with a credit card is so important to you, can you provide her with a company-issued credit card?

      1. Interviewer*

        This is what I wanted to say. If this is a business meeting over lunch, as her supervisor you should be covering the expense for her. If it’s a social event, then it’s fine to pay, but if you’re going to be so embarrassed in front of your colleagues by her paying in cash, then invite her to go and pay her bill for her.

        Paying in cash for lunch is not rude or unprofessional. Berating her for paying in cash, however, is both.

    1. Oscar Madisoy*

      “#1 If your employee paying with a credit card is so important to you, can you provide her with a company-issued credit card?”

      Agree 99%. The missing 1% is because I would say it this way:

      If your employee paying with a credit card is so important to you, then you provide her with a company-issued credit card.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      But it sounds like the employee doesn’t want a credit card in her name, period—not even a company card. Her access to the account would show up on her credit report, etc., and it sounds like she prefers to remain off-the-grid.

      I honestly believe that it’s unreasonable for OP#1 to be making such a big deal of this or trying to order the employee to use any debit/credit card listed in her name. But I’m also often wrong, so I’m really curious to hear if there’s something niche or unusual that we’re missing from the letter.

      1. Foxtrot*

        This is an exception to the rule, but I’ve worked with non profits and government organizations where you HAD to use the company card in your name. Because of tax legalese, which I don’t know the details, certain purchases were tax exempt, but only on the company card. Five dollars here or there over a bunch of employees over a whole year really does add up and eat into other things. I’m pretty sure that would be spelled out early on in the job, though. But I can also see how not wanting even a company card in your name could be a deal breaker for the job. That doesn’t sound like this situation.

        1. paul*

          yeah, I’m figuring if that was the case they’d issue her one.

          Only directors or higher get company cards where I’m at, and I don’t that that’s *too* atypical–maybe not the exact level, but I think most places don’t give a company card to everyone.

        2. Kat A.*

          But the OP didn’t say this was required for legal or nonprofit reasons. She said this was a faux pas, so the OP just thinks this is poor business etiquette. But it’s not, in my experience.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s possible she is staying off the grid (e.g. to avoid a stalker) but also that she is cautious about managing expenses, maybe after watching a relative get in trouble with credit cards.

      3. Kate*

        I don’t know if it showing up on a credit report is true. In Canada the card is in the company’s name, allocated to the employee, with the employee’s name on the card. The employee is responsible for any non-approved transactions through an agreement signed with their employer, not the credit company.

        None of my corporate cards have ever shown up on my credit report, but this may be a country-specific thing.

        1. JB*

          This is how it works in the US with corporate accounts. The card has the user’s name on it, but the account is in the company name and will not appear on the user’s credit report.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Oh that’s interesting. My corporate card shows up on my credit report because I have an open “account,” and that’s been the situation for my prior 3 corporate cards. And they also ran a credit check before authorizing my card. So maybe I just work at places that have weird ways of handling credit cards?

    3. PollyQ*

      I bet the employee either wouldn’t or couldn’t get one. I’m not sure, but I believe you need to pass a credit check even for a corporate card, and it seems likely that she doesn’t have any kind of credit history. And given how strictly she’s keeping herself off the grid, I’d be surprised if she even agreed to it.

      1. Zeldalaw*

        It depends on the company. Fortunately, at my company, credit cards are not based on staff credit at all. The credit card company has my name, but not my Social Security number or any other identifying information. I travel a lot and I am eternally grateful for that since my credit score is hovering somewhere just very slightly above zero (don’t judge – it’s a long story!).

        1. N.J.*

          Just another solidarity post. I’m moving back up into the fair range, but it took over seven years…

      2. Spoonie*

        There’s nothing to say that the employee doesn’t already have a credit card and, for whatever personal reasons of her own, doesn’t want to use it.

        The jobs I have worked have not issued company cards but have reimbursed expenses that employees place on their personal cards. So if OP’s company operates in the same manner and this employee was wanting to avoid interest charges…cash or debit make sense. There’s nothing worse than putting it on your credit card and not getting reimbursed before you get charged interest.

    4. LaurenB*

      My guess is that OP#1 associates credit cards with professionalism because they have a mental image of businesspeople handing over corporate credit cards. Guess what? They’re doing that because their employers are paying! It’s nothing to do with the credit card itself being a necessary accoutrement of a successful professional.

  16. Dienna Howard*

    #1 – I’m baffled at how your employee’s behavior and habits affect you professionally and personally. It comes off as condescending to me.

    #3 – You are not obliged to invite these people to the birthday party. You’re throwing the party and are allowed to invite who you want.

    #4 – Could the company be seeing this as a ghostwriting situation? In some jobs assistants and secretaries act as ghostwriters for higher ups. I’d follow Alison’s advice and clarify what the deal is with the online articles.

  17. Engineer Girl*

    I’m like the employee in question #1. I don’t have a TV either. I have a life instead.
    I just don’t get the animosity toward the behavior. It’s outrageously judgemental and controlling to the point of being abusive. It’s not like she paid in pennies!

    1. Marisol*

      I haven’t had a tv since 2007, I have a crappy pay-as-you-go cell phone instead of a smartphone, and I try to have as minimal online presence as I can. I am kind of a technology/social media refusnik. Not only can I relate to the OP’s employee, but I am mightily impressed by someone in their twenties who can go without these things. I’m in my forties and didn’t have all that stuff growing up, so it’s not a difficult mental adjustment to make (except for television, but I don’t miss it). Someone who has never known a world without those things, and still opts out–such a person sounds very intriguing to me.

      1. Stitch*

        In some ways, TV or similar is a way of having a shared experience with someone who isn’t there. My best friend and I live on opposite sides of the country, but we will sometimes watch something deliberately coordinated at the same time and (depending on the type of show), discuss it in real time over messenger or call each other afterwards. It’s a way to share an activity when you aren’t physically together.

        1. EngineerInNL*

          Me and my best friend always used to have movie dates when we were living in different provinces! We’d call each other up press play at the same time and then spend the next two hours talking about (and over) the movie :) It definitely helps make someone you miss feel closer.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This reminds me of high school (in a good way). My friends and I loved shows that played after curfew, so we’d watch together while on the phone. I think it was probably the pinnacle of “teenage girls always be on the phone even when they’re not talking.” :)

        3. PizzaDog*

          One of my favourite pastimes! I love using rabb.it to get a group of friends from all over to watch something together.

          1. Blue Anne*

            You have just improved the lives of myself and my long-distance fiance immensely. Thank you.

      2. Gadfly*

        Some people can handle both, some people have to choose one or the other.

        I think I’m going to have to make a choice between a life and having e-readers soon… Who thought “instant delivery of fresh novels” was a good idea? Sure, maybe a great business model. But knowing I can order the next book in the series at 3am is just cruel…

        1. VintageLydia*

          Gods, I buy so many more books now. The Kindle is the best and worst thing to happen to me.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            My mother pretty much forced one into my hands to try and break me of the “carry at least two books everywhere” habit — now I can carry 200+! But at least she won’t be fretting about me hurting my back.

          2. Sylvia*

            See if your local library uses Overdrive! I read tons of ebooks, but they are all borrowed from the library.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yes, this! My favorite thing about my library is that it has ebooks. Although that doesn’t solve the “go out and hang out with humans” / “have a life” conundrum (but humans are overrated ;) ).

            2. Gadfly*

              I DO! But it often has only part of a series. Libraries often buy big batches of e-books and don’t bother filling in the missing books. So I am stuck deciding to buy, or seeing if I can check out the hard copy. And when they do have the books I want, I still have the 3am starting a new book problem. (I’m a fast reader, so I am able to con myself with the “you only have 15 more minutes to the end of the section/book/etc” or “just the first chapter, it won’t take long” sorts of excuses :/ I have read many a trilogy in a single sitting… It is a problem…)

      3. paul*

        yep. I’ve lived with and without TVs and there’s snark and judgement either way.

        But the hell with it, I like football and Disney movies and some westerns (Gary Cooper is awesome).

        1. General Ginger*

          Oh, man, I wish it were feasible to get TV (and only the relevant channels) just for football season and then ruthlessly cut the cord, but unfortunately, there’s no way to make that cost effective in my area.

          1. paul*

            I only get the ones on OTA channels. No ESPN for me, but I’m not paying another 60 or 70 a month for the 4 months of football.

          2. Noobtastic*

            Yeah, I really miss rabbit ears. You don’t pay for the use of rabbit ears. You plug in the TV and adjust the antenna when there’s something you actually want to see, and when the TV is off, it’s not drawing electricity (especially if you unplug it, to save on that bare little trickle people say it has, even while turned off). You know what else I miss? Buttons and dials on the actual television, so you don’t have to spend money buying batteries for the remote control! YES, old school worked and actually had some advantages!

            Once, I lived in a sort of dip, where all but the local broadcast station just went right over our heads. Anyone without actual cable could get only one channel on their TVs. Sure, I missed a lot of TV shows, and the pop culture round the water cooler. But you know what? When the pop culture popped up, I listened, instead of talked, and was just as involved as anyone else round the water cooler, because they could talk to me, and I would react. Meanwhile, there was one show I actually did care about, on my local station, and the rest of the time, I did other stuff.

            Also, I got rid of my cell phone. I have a landline, and don’t need a cell phone, any more, so why pay monthly fees? If I want emergency contact, they make these pre-paid burner cells that never ring, because nobody knows your number, but you can call out on them, in an emergency, without the monthly bill and annoying telemarketer calls. Great!

            Also, I am not fond of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the others. I’ll read other people’s stuff, but have no intention of posting my own.

            I guess I am an embarrassing employee, who happens to know who to fill out an expense report for cash business expenses with receipts. How horrible.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Agreed–equating having a TV with not having a life is kind of snobby. Especially with streaming and on-demand, people can watch their shows when it’s convenient for them instead of having to be on hand when it airs.

    2. Tau*

      I’ve never had a TV, nor do I have Netflix or any kind of streaming service. The reason is that some rather strange side-effects from one of my disabilities mean that watching anything video-based is incredibly stressful and I can only do TV and movies with close friends who are genuinely not bothered by me regularly going into the fetal position, covering my ears and squeezing my eyes shut, rocking, etc.

      Which is not to argue that the employee must have Asperger’s, that would be bizarre. However, I do want to point out that a lot of the time, being part of a minority group in whatever way can result in doing certain things differently from the majority. That could be someone who’s had financial problems in the past eschewing credit cards, but also me on the spectrum not owning a TV, someone with anxiety having decided mobile phones are too stressful for them, even stuff like a woman not being into the video game with the notoriously sexist community that all her male coworkers love…

      Which means that judging people based on adherence to what you think is normal (for their age group or not) has a tendency to disproportionately target people who you are not, in fact, allowed to disproportionately target.

      OP1, I’m sure you mean well, but as far as your second paragraph goes it is really better to focus on the employee at work and work-related events and leave her private life be. Does she check her work e-mail regularly? Can you get in touch with her if you need to? If she’s sick, does she notify you in the way that’s appropriate? If so, the details of how she manages her private life aren’t really relevant to you and are not something you should be focusing on.

      1. Noobtastic*

        I never heard of that. How inconvenient in our video-driven culture. I’m glad you have understanding friends. Hopefully, you don’t have a lot of video training at work. My last job was really heavily into the video training. Not good when you’re in a big auditorium full of students, watching the video training, and you happen to be the person who notices a mistake in the training video, and laugh out loud. “They said WHAT?! AHAHAHAHAAAA… oops. Sorry. Ummm, is it possible to go back and edit this thing before the next training session? Oh, it was purchased from an outside vendor? You mean they’re saying that to all their customers? AHAHAHAHAAAA…” I imagine your condition would be just as disruptive. They started releasing the videos for us to watch at our desks, rather than having the group sessions.

        Videos just don’t work for everyone. Unfortunately, you can’t just do an effective workaround by looking away, because unlike radio dramas, where it is designed to be heard and not seen, way too much video media is designed to be seen, and not necessarily heard. Lots of visuals, without any audible clues at all. It’s great when it works for you, but my blind friend had a heck of a time trying to follow along. She did, for a while, have a boyfriend who would describe stuff for her, as it was on the screen, but then she missed the dialogue, when the action and dialogue happened to overlap, which was frequent.

        I miss radio theater. I used to be hooked on this one radio soap opera, back in the day… Only twenty years ago, in fact. It was on a college radio station, and they were doing this “retro” thing where they produced their own old-fashioned shows, and it was fantastic! I loved that soap opera! It was hilarious, because while they were doing it as an homage to the old shows, they were also doing it as a farce, really playing it up, complete with organ music every time the official villain came in, and commercials for products that don’t even exist. Man, I miss that show! I really understand what my parents were talking about when they said they used to “watch the radio” every Saturday night.

        How do you do with audio books? I think we are now living in a great age for audio books? It used to be, you could find the odd book on tape, but now, it’s becoming a bigger and bigger thing, thanks to digital players and earbuds, and people hiring actors to do dramatic readings, rather than just getting someone with a good voice to read the words aloud, for the blind, like it used to be.

        I’ve found a few audio books where they actually had multiple people playing the cast of characters, so you’d recognize this voice, or the other voice as the different characters, whenever there was dialogue, with another actor doing all the narration, and it was really neat!

        1. Susan C.*

          Not to get too far off topic here, but I strongly suspect podcasts might be for you. (Can’t recommend any particular ones, as I prefer the non-fiction variety, but I hear a lot of gushing about long-form storytelling in that medium)

          1. Zahra*

            Oh, my favorite actual play podcasts (all audio only) are:
            – One Shot Podcast
            – Campaign Podcast (that one is set in the Star Wars universe)

            What they got going for them:
            – Generally light-hearted though not overly goofy
            – Players are either seasoned (tabletop) RPG players or improv actors

    3. Perse's Mom*

      Wow, that’s not at all dismissive of the billions of people who have TVs and also have lives.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        It’s not dismissive of the people. It’s stating thar TV is a major time suck with nothing to show for it.

        1. Gadfly*

          Yeah, that doubles down on the judgmental and dismissive tone… (and I don’t own a TV, so I’m not taking it personally.)

        2. Mookie*

          It’s certainly dismissive of the people professionally engaged in producing television.

          In any case, art for art’s sake, leisure for leisure’s sake, entertaining trifle for entertaining trifle’s sake, edifying timesuck hobby for edifying timesuck’s hobby sake. Busying ourselves is what human animals do when we’re not fulfilling bodily functions or performing tasks that meet the needs that enable those bodily functions to continue apace.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Oh, so, so true, and thank you for that. I work in media. I worked in TV specifically for a loooong time. I studied it in graduate school. Every time someone hears about my career and then snorts, “TV is a time-sucking devil,” I fight the urge to turn on my heels and go talk to someone more polite. I have, at times, devoted energy to explaining why I think television content has merit and value– even to my own freaking family! “Um, you DO realize what I do for a living, don’t you?”– but it’s exhausting. And, wouldn’t you know, a time suck.

            1. Temperance*

              Thank you for what you do! Not being snarky, TV is a huge part of my self-care routine and part of what gives me the energy to keep doing my job/volunteering/etc. Anyone who would call it a time suck is a Helen Lovejoy with no room for happiness in their own heart. Of course, they wouldn’t get the reference because, eew, Helen is a character on the teevee.

              1. Koko*

                There’s a TV show I love as much for the fact that its fanbase is very active on social media. There are live threads during the episode and even if no one else you know watches the show, it feels like you’re watching with a hundred other die-hard fans instead of alone or with your one friend who only kinda likes the show and isn’t too enthusiastic about discussing it. We have a drinking game we play, we even have inside jokes about the show. I’m sure plenty of people could say nothing productive comes out of the time I spend watching that show but there are weeks sometimes, when it’s cold and gross out, and I’ve been swamped at work or I’ve been sick all week, when that hour is the highlight of my week.

            2. Kate*

              Thank you so much for your work. I watch TV to help deal with my anxiety and depression. I watch different shows, depending on my mood and what I “need” at that time, from shows to distract me, make me laugh, help me cry, or even specific episodes, like a character losing their job when I have just lost mine. TV is really a god send for me.

            3. Noobtastic*

              Some television shows are time-sucking devils that leave you feeling bereft afterwards. Some television shows are uplifting. Some are enlightening and educational. Some are just pleasurable means of relaxation and stress reduction.

              I value TV, GOOD TV, the way that I value books, radio, music and movies. You have to pick and choose which ones are right for you, and ignore the rest.

              Saying that all TV is this or that is like saying that all human beings are this or that. It’s not true, and it’s downright silly. One of my favorite quotes (and I wish I could tell you who said it) is this: “There are two kinds of people in this world: Those I’ve met and those I haven’t.” I want that on a T-shirt.

              But the same thing applies to TV. TV shows are just as individual as the people who create them.

          2. paul*

            Yeah. I don’t get people that act like most people don’t have fairly unproductive hobbies. some of my spare time is spent in self improvement, some is spent on basically braindead stuff and a lot of it is in between.

            The fact my recreation isn’t the same as yours isn’t the same as it being worse than yours.

            1. Pommette*

              Pretty much.

              I spent a happy decade without owning a TV. Although I now have one (my partner brought it along when we moved in together), it isn’t connected to cable or to the internet, and is only used for the occasional movie. So I don’t waste any time watching television!

              I do waste a lot of time on reading, crafting, and on the internet. All I have to show for it is a messy closet full of bad prints, paper cuts, and art supplies (that’s not a good thing!).

              No one can be productive all the time, and no one should be expected to be productive all the time. If watching TV helps you unwind after a long day, or helps you connect to people you care about, then watch TV. If it doesn’t, don’t. Your choice in this regard has no moral valence.

        3. Jozie*

          Well, not necessarily anything tangible…but watching TV isn’t really meant to produce a quantifiable return on investment. It’s still a great way to keep up with local and national news, learn something, and certainly, entertain yourself – this can be particularly cost effective compared to other sources of entertainment if you already own a TV, don’t have cable, don’t pay separately for utilities, etc. (as is the case for myself).

        4. TV free*

          Rude AND ignorant? Wow, really covering yourself in glory there. What a foolish, pathetic, ridiculous thing to say. This type of comment is what contributes to the view of those of us who choose not to have TVs as weird, because judgemental people like you make us all look bad.

          Thanks for nothing.

          1. Hrovitnir*

            Heh, reminds me of how people would always congratulate me as a teenager for reading a lot. Like, left to my own devices I would spend my entire waking hours reading fantasy novels; I hardly think that makes me superior to people who would rather spend that time socialising or *gasp* watching TV. O_o

            I haven’t watched TV for over a decade, but I spend most of my free time on the internet so…

            1. paul*

              exactly. I read a *lot* but it’s not like most of it is highbrow stuff. For every historical book or heavy literature book I read there’s probably a dozen Butcher, Clancy, King, Sanderson, etc style novels…

              1. The Tin Man*

                Butcher? Sanderson? You, my friend, have good taste.

                Not to diss Clancy and King but Dresden Files and Cosmere novels are my jam.

            2. AnonAnalyst*

              Ha, this is like my partner. He likes to remind me how he didn’t have a TV before he moved in with me and that he “doesn’t watch TV” (I’m quoting because he absolutely watches TV. A lot).

              Instead, he… spends most of his free time on the internet. With a lot of it devoted to watching things on YouTube. (This is independent of the TV-watching he does while I’m around.) So… yeah. Clearly a much more important hobby than TV.

              I like TV and movies. I grew up around the film industry and find a lot of the technical and artistic aspects of film interesting, so I enjoy seeing different techniques and approaches. I also like sports. If people don’t like TV, I can understand and I’m not annoyed that it’s not their thing. I don’t think it’s weird when people don’t have a TV, because I know that some people genuinely aren’t into it. But I’m over the holier-than-thou “I don’t watch TV” proclamations.

              1. Noobtastic*

                What gets me is the “I don’t watch TV; I only watch live theater” proclamations. Ummmm, so you’re still watching stuff, right? You’re still consuming an audio/visual media, created by people both in front and behind the scenes, involving actors, writers, directors, producers, grips, props, lights, sound, costumes, scenery and all the other sundry behind-the-scenes stuff. But because one is filmed and broadcast, that somehow makes it less worthy? I don’t think so, and I am a huge live-theater buff.

                In fact, if someone would put the productions of my local live theater troupe on the TV, so that a wider range of people could enjoy them (and record and re-watch them), I would be absolutely thrilled! But copyrights prevent it. Unfortunately.

                And these “I don’t watch TV” people would not look down on Shakespeare, now would they? But what do you think Shakespeare was but the Joss Whedon of his day?

        5. Czhorat*

          Why need it be a major time-suck? “Do nothing but watch TV for hours on end” and “No TV for me!” is a false dichotomy. One could, for example, watch a moderate amount of TV. So far as “nothing to show for it”, watching TV can be participation in a larger popular culture, forming a set of common experiences with others.

          One could just as easily argue, of course, that commenting on a career-advice column blog is a “major time suck with nothing to show for it”.

          1. None Of This Nonsense, Please*

            Personally, I like to have a TV on while I do stuff, especially things that are tedious and don’t take a lot of thought like sewing, knitting or even lots of cooking–stirring things for ten minutes does not take a lot of concentration! I don’t just watch TV unless it’s particularly gripping or requires attention to follow the storyline. So…even watching TV doesn’t necessarily have nothing to show for it.
            I agree with you about the commenting on a blog thing, though!

          1. Czhorat*

            This reminds me of a comment a coworker made when somebody said they didn’t drink alcohol: “but you do something, right?”

            We all have our vices. For some of us it might be alcohol or cigarettes. Maybe it’s TV. Maybe something else. Not everything in life needs to be carefully selected to be productive or good for you; sometimes the only good is in momentary pleasure and that’s OK.

            To take it back to topic, I feel that the LW is judging their employee in part for making different choices. They aren’t the choices I’d make (I see the good of being able to craft your identity as more than balancing the loss of privacy and see both the convenience and long-term credit benefits of responsible credit card use as worthwhile), but they aren’t harmful.

            If we’re to get along, we need to be tolerant of each other’s choices and even our quirks..

          2. Stitch*

            Some TV can be productive, depending on what you watch. Sometimes you understand a person’s true intent by watching an interview or you learn a lot by watching a documentary. Or just the fact that you are enjoying an art forms, one that can be just as complex as any other. Most of us will never have the opportunity to see, say, Anthony Hopkins perform live, but can watch his nuanced acting on Westworld, for instance.

            1. Stitch*

              I’ll add that there has been a long trend of the more “moral” art forms being the more expensive and least accessible. Plays often cost more than movies, for instance, or when printing became cheaper and novels first got popular, they were considered immoral or bad for you. Ask yourself if “having a life”, involves activities that are less accessible.

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


                I love opera, but going to see a Met Live production at the movie theatre is 2x the cost of going to see a regular movie at the movie theatre! Sure, opera is considered more “highbrow” than Explosions R’ Us, but at the end of the day, it’s sitting on my butt for some number of hours watching actors on a screen.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  One of my favorite trends is opera, ballet, symphonies and large playhouses live-streaming performances at movie theaters for folks who cannot afford to attend in-person (or who can’t travel to those performance venues). I wish people did it more often—it helps democratize “high art,” which increases its relevance and meaning to the masses.

              2. Sylvia*

                Yes. I was trying to find a way to ask if watching plays is an acceptable use of free time, and if so, why plays being in person versus on a screen makes a difference.

                1. Liz T*

                  I remember in the early aughts debating my trust-fund-anarchist roommate who maintained watching TV was inherently bad for you–not just that all TV shows happened to be bad art, but that TV was *incapable* of being good. (She spouted some BS about brain waves.) She had plenty of respect for film as a medium so I said something like, “What about watching a movie on TV? Like a VHS?” She had no answer to that.

                2. TootsNYC*

                  I got into an argument w/ a friend who watched a lot of TV (I didn’t watch much, bcs it makes me anxious for some reason) when I said, “Most TV is mediocre; some is phenomenal, and some is downright awful.”

                  I tried to point out that I wasn’t trashing TV; there’s a place for mediocre, or “only mildly amusing.” And, I pointed out, though I’m a very avid reader, my opinion on books is much the same. Most books are mediocre. Some are really, really awful; they belong in the garbage. And some books are transcendent. I think that’s true of most anything.

                  And I read mediocre books and watch mediocre TV.

              3. LBK*

                FWIW, theater doesn’t have giant studio budgets behind it, nor can you put on a play 15 times a day in hundreds of theatres across the country at once to recoup that budget in a week or even a weekend. When you only have maybe 24 performances worth of tickets you can sell in order to make back the entire cost of the production, simple math means the tickets have to be more expensive.

                (I say this as someone who sees an average of 5 plays per month, so I am acutely aware of how pricey tickets can be.)

              4. Noobtastic*

                This is very true. And it astounds me how much moral value we assign to things that have no morality to them, at all.

                I mean, food, itself, is often describes as good, bad, or even sinful. Just food. Sure, some food is healthier for you than others, but the odd treat is not some immoral sin that you’ll have to pay for with a year in purgatory. It’s just food.

                Entertainment is just entertainment. So long as no one, including animals, is hurt in the entertainment, I see entertainment, in general, as being without moral value, one way or another. Yes, some entertainment is a real upper and some is a real downer, and some is just pure escapism. TV is not like the old gladiators in the coliseum, or cockfighting. This isn’t Hunger Games. And if you don’t like this show or that one, because you feel it brings you down, then don’t watch it.

                But TV is not immoral, and opera is not more moral. I mean, come on, have you even seen Carmen? Beautiful music, but the story is not exactly uplifting, and the only actually moral person in the whole show gets the shaft. Opera is, however, more expensive, in general, and has the classism associated with it. Live theater, in general, is a step below opera on the classism scale, with musical theater one step below that. Somehow, movies and television wound up on the bottom run, with movies above television, and I believe it has more to do with price and general accessibility than any actual morals. If you have to actually leave your home, it’s “better” than TV. If you have to pay more, it’s better still, and if you have to dress up for it, then it’s the best. Add in the comic/drama dichotomy (drama is “better” than comedy, because apparently, the old high brow people were sticks in the mud), and musical/opera (less dialogue equals higher moral value? But soliloquies are A-OK.), and it becomes this weird tiered system that really makes no actual sense, whatsoever.

                I love it when I can get a good production of a play or opera on DVD to enjoy at home.

            2. shep*

              Exactly. I never watched much TV or movies before I met my partner. I certainly GAMED a lot, which I know lots of people disparage. I read a lot and I wrote (my MFA is in writing). TV and movies just didn’t interest me that much.

              Once he sat me down and we started watching things together, though, a whole new wellspring of storytelling and ideas opened up to me. I’d never truly appreciated film as art or story before, but he taught me how to do that, and it’s also made me a better writer. TV = not always a waste of time; not always yielder of zero.

              And of course I still mix up my pastimes, but TV is certainly not a vice I have to break.

              1. Noobtastic*

                And quite a few people take great pleasure in watching “Let’s Play” videos of other people playing the game. What do they get out of it? I can only see two things, but that’s because I don’t watch those things. 1) Tips on how to improve your own gaming style, or 2) enjoy the storyline of the game without going to all the effort of actually playing it (it’s just like watching a show with a user interface, at that point).

                And you know what? Both of those are valid reasons. We all need down time, and if this downtime works for you, then that’s all well and good.

                Let’s Play doesn’t work for me, because if I am actually interested in the game, I’ll have my own ideas about how to play it, and start reaching for the controls, to take over and do it my way. I’m not the only who is like that. But my sister just loves Let’s Play, and actually subscribes to at least one Let’s Play channel. And if you talk with her about the game, she’s full of tips she learned from other players. Talk with her about stories, and she’s full of ideas of situations and character traits she witnessed in various Let’s Play sessions, as well as TV, movie, and books. Because those plots and characters and even scenes seem to soak into our souls and come out in new forms in our own ideas. Something can truly be “inspired by” some other art form, or even the same form, but a different piece. I agree on getting the ideas from TV, as well as other forms of media.

        6. k*

          Judging people for having TVs and watching them (which you’re doing) is just as bad as judging someone for not watching or having a TV (as OP1 is doing). I 100% agree with your original comment – OP1 is clearly out of line and judgmental and controlling – but you’re going too far in the other direction.

        7. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          I can completely understand and respect if someone feels this way about TV. If that’s how you feel, it’s how you feel. And this is coming from someone who loves television. For me, television shows are energising, entertaining and connect me with other people. But social media? That exhausts me. Why? I don’t know. Going on Facebook etc made me so tired and used up all my time – just half an hour had a negative effect on my productivity. I hate having to update my LinkedIn because it’s so tiring – which is strange because it doesn’t take long. But if people love going on social media and derive joy from it, that’s cool! Have fun with it.

          1. Noobtastic*

            Seems like an electronic version of being an introvert.

            An introvert is someone who spends energy interacting with other people, while an extrovert is someone who is energized by interacting with other people.

            Note, I said interacting, not just being in their presence, although that can happen, too. However, there is very little interaction in watching TV (occasionally you may encounter a call-in situation, or watch TV as a group, which does change the dynamic). However, social media is all about interaction.

            It makes perfect sense, to me that one would energize you and the other suck the energy out of you.

        8. Dizzy Steinway*

          Nothing to show for it? Huh?

          Sometimes you can enjoy yourself and not need to have anything tangible to show for it!

        9. aebhel*

          You could say that of basically any form of entertainment, outside of maybe crafting. I don’t have anything to show for it when I finish a novel, either, but the experience is still enjoyable.

          (I don’t even watch that much TV, fwiw)

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            I usually watch TV *while* crafting! Though even there people get weirdly moralizing about it. “Oh, I could never have the patience to do that!” No, see, I don’t have the patience to sit in this waiting room and not be knitting.

            1. BadPlanning*

              Yes, I unabashedly love TV.

              I had a friend who like to announce they didn’t watch TV and people would be all amazed. The truth was, they watched oodles of movies and TV via DVD/Netflix etc. What they really meant is they didn’t watch live TV.

            2. Pommette*

              Plus, as someone who enjoys crafting but is no artist: I actually have A LOT to show for my time. A lot of bad prints that no one, myself included, particularly wants to look at.

              And that’s totally fine, since the goal was never to be productive.

              1. Noobtastic*

                I, too, have a lot of hand-made objects that I thoroughly enjoyed producing, but will never allow to see the light of day.

                When people start talking about “it’s the journey,” I say, “Talk to a crafter.”

          2. MashaKasha*

            At the end of the day, everything is a time suck with nothing to show for it. Growing food, cooking, and eating is a major time suck and all food ends up in the toilet anyway. Work is a major time suck, no matter what we do for a living, it will be of no importance and no one will remember it by the year 2050. Life is a major time suck with nothing to show for it, because in the end, we all die! I found that statement very odd and illogical, to be honest.

            1. General Ginger*

              This really reminds me of what my grandfather would say when my grandmother would question his addiction to crossword puzzles!

            2. TootsNYC*

              Vanity* of vanities, says the Preacher,
              vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
              What does man gain by all the toil
              at which he toils under the sun?

              *The Hebrew term hebel, translated “vanity” or “vain,” refers concretely to a “mist,” “vapor,” or “mere breath,” and metaphorically to something that is fleeting or elusive (with different nuances depending on the context).

              And by the way: Ecclesiastes is amazing. Reading it recently with modern philosophical and political divides in mind was sort of eye-opening. It’s far deeper than I’d ever realized.

        10. Jennifer M.*

          To me, that sentence is equivalent to saying that going to the museum for a whole day is a time suck with nothing to show for it. That hour watching TV gave me exactly what I wanted and needed – an hour of entertainment.

        11. Fiennes*

          I made some of my best friends through tv based fandoms–including people in other countries I’ve been able to visit around the world, and in one case someone who, many years and a career switch later, because a very valuable professional contact. A few months ago I had the realization that the single best thing I’d ever done for my career wasn’t professional school or networking events; it was turning on that show for the first time.

          Yes, tv can be a timesuck. I no longer have cable for this reason, but I watch shows online that I hear good things about. I even purchase some series, but getting everything I’m actually interested in for a year costs less than about a month and a half of cable. It’s possible to have a life, be selective about your free time, AND watch some tv.

          Also, if you’re missing out on “The Americans,” your loss.

          1. Noobtastic*

            Oh, my gosh! I want to see this as a professional development series.

            “Build up your professional network by enjoying hobbies.” I wonder how many professional contacts I can make in my favorite video game forum? Any Stardew Valley professionals out there? We could share our farms, and our time/resource management tips!

        12. MashaKasha*

          What do you mean “with nothing to show for it”? How is it different if I watch a quality movie or show as opposed to if I read a book? asking as someone who is 1) genuinely confused, 2) has streaming services, but only remembers to use them a handful of times per year; and even then, can only sit in front of the screen for an hour or so before my focus starts wandering. I usually watch a movie in two or three sittings if I’m watching by myself. So much for the time suck!

        13. LBK*

          So what are your hobbies, if apparently only things that result in a tangible end product are worthwhile?

          1. MashaKasha*

            Coal mining… oil drilling. Ya know, the useful stuff. None of that silly gardening, nature hikes, or, heaven forbid, petting cats and dogs, talk about a time suck!

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              This made me laugh out loud (just the image of going coal mining or oil drilling as a hobby is hilarious)—thanks, MK :)

        14. Ask a Manager* Post author

          @Engineer Girl, you could say that loads of activities are time sucks with nothing to show for it. Do you think going to the theater is a time suck with nothing to show for it? What about the opera? TV is considered lowbrow by some when comparable activities aren’t. I don’t get that mindset.

          1. Revi*

            Husband is on the board if a major art museum.

            They talk all the time about how most people come their for “entertainment” instead of edification.

            1. Noobtastic*

              To be fair, I was once edified by a piece of art that did not entertain me in the least. I do not find weeping for half an hour to be entertaining, but that was all I could do upon seeing that particular piece of art.

              Most of the time, though, when I go to an art museum, I look for 1) proportion and beauty and 2) pieces that speak to me. In that order. Guess I’m a philistine, because I care more about the visual aesthetics of artwork than the speaking part.

          2. Pescadero*

            Personally, I love TV… but,

            There are very definite health effects associated with TV watching that largely aren’t associated with other forms of recreation.

            From the Journal of the American Medical Association meta study:

            For every additional two hours of TV watching, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases by 20% and the risk of heart disease increases by 15%.

            For every additional 3 hours the risk of dying from any cause during the respective studies jumped 13%, on average.

            According to a cardiologist evaluating the meta-study the increased risk of disease tied to TV watching “is similar to what you see with high cholesterol or blood pressure or smoking”

        15. Agnodike*

          I am super happy for you that you are able to live a life with high energy requirements! People who live with chronic illness often don’t have that luxury. I can’t tell you how lovely it is sometimes to have something to do besides stare at the wall when too exhausted to go out and do things or even muster the mental energy necessary to read a book. Thanks in advance for considering people who are different than you in your future evaluations of the world.

        16. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

          I used to think that way… when I was a 15-year-old snob. Then I grew up and realized that other people having different interests from me doesn’t make them inferior. (I don’t have a TV now because I live in a really tiny apartment, but I watch some things online.)

          Seriously, it’s like those teenagers who think some other group of teenagers is automatically The Enemy because they listen to a different kind of music.

        17. Gadget Hackwrench*

          Rude much? It’s a storytelling medium. Do you also look down upon people who read fiction? Those who frequent live theater? I do all three, because I enjoy stories. I enjoy the work that others put into crafting words on a page, or acting on a stage or a screen. If a person goes to a museum to look at the paintings, is that also a time suck with nothing to show?

    4. Temperance*

      Your comment is just as judgemental towards those of us who watch TV. I like TV. I also GASP have a life.

    5. Alton*

      Consuming various fictional media is one of my hobbies. I’m also a writer who writes film and TV reviews and would like to write teleplays. TV is part of my life.

    6. Sometimes I watch tv :0*

      Pot, meet kettle. There’s nothing wrong with people who watch either a lot of TV or no TV at all.

    7. Jenn*

      I watch Netflix while I fold laundry for my family. (Or sometimes listen to podcasts.) I do occasionally have more nicely-folded clothes if there’s only 5 minutes left to go in a show and I only have a few more things to fold.

      That said, I completely agree that the animosity is baffling. OP #1 I think this is kind of a case of check your own thinking and privilege here. People use cash for all kinds of reasons — money management, dealing responsibly with past poor choices, issues with spouses. I think it might demonstrate someone who is highly responsible with money and able to exercise strong self-discipline under peer pressure. It might benefit you to think about why you feel the need to judge this person’s choices and help you take your management style to the next level where you can create an environment for all kinds of success.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I don’t personally care whether someone has a TV or not, but to me not having a TV/not watching any TV shows is like being a vegan – you can just do your thing quietly, or you can be obnoxious about it and make sure everyone knows your lifestyle choice and why it’s superior to theirs. This is the latter.

    8. VintageLydia*

      Considering how often I see this username on this website, you also have your time sucking hobbies. no judgement from me. I’m here, too. But you spend more time than most readers reading and thinking about this blog. I love Alison, and I learn things here. But this is also mostly entertainment as MOST questions aren’t applicable to most people.

    9. Engineer Woman*

      While there’s nothing wrong with not having a TV (someone was once shocked that I didn’t get a replacement TV several months after a move), I don’t think having one equals not having a life. And as for your comment below that TV is a major time suck with nothing to show for it — that’s not really true. What about watching the news? Or some documentary. In such a case, reading a book or newspaper is similarly a time suck with nothing to show for it.

      That said, I don’t feel paying with cash at a business lunch is unprofessional at all — assuming that your employee didn’t pull out a wad of crumpled $1 dollar or 1 Euro (or whatever local currency) bills and a ton of coins to pay for the meal. However, if it was meant to be a business expense and business expenses must be put on a company credit card, per company policy, that’s another issue. Although I would then question why OP, as the supervisor, couldn’t have just put the employee’s meal on his/her company card as well.

      If it was meant each lunch participant was to pay his/her own way, I hope that OP#1 apologizes to the employee for overstepping his/her professional relationship in discussing the method (credit card vs. cash) in which the lunch was paid for.

    10. a different Vicki*

      Lucky you, I don’t have either.

      More seriously, TV doesn’t work well for me, so I don’t have one. It’s not a principled decision, I just noticed at some point that I wasn’t watching, so decided to reclaim the space in the living room (for another bookcase). But is doing sudoku and crossword puzzles or playing with the cat really “better” than television in any larger sense than “these are the things I prefer to do,” the exact same sense in which watching television is better for someone who finds my puzzles stressful?

    11. Triangle Pose*

      This is needlessly judgemental. I have a life. TV is part of it. I also work in the cable TV/media/telecomm industry and it’s an amazingly rewarding career and industry. We can agree that OP’s view of her employee using cash being unprofessional isn’t right but it does not call for a blanket statement that people who watch TV don’t have a life. Come on. We are better than that as a commentariat.

    12. PizzaDog*

      A life? What’s that like?

      I’m sure you wouldn’t appreciate any of us looking down our noses on whatever you like to do. What an unfair blanket assessment.

    13. kb*

      The Barefoot Contessa taught me how to LIVE. (This is a joke, but I do love her show and am so happy she’s getting another one)

    14. Cath in Canada*

      My decision to become a biologist began the first time I saw a David Attenborough programme. So, yeah, total waste of time.

      Anyway, TV is SO GOOD now. GoT, Westworld et al. are like getting a new movie every week. Life on Earth 2 has me hiding behind cushions and cheering on iguanas like I’m watching live sport. Drunk History is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Living in the golden age of television and craft beer makes me very happy :) And when my husband lapses into his “TV constantly on as background even if not watching anything specific” mode, I just do some writing, reading, or crossword/logic puzzles instead.

      1. Koko*

        It’s amazing to look back even just 5 years ago and see how far television has progressed as a medium. The Netflixes and the Hulus and Amazon Prime, with their subscription and binge model, can take more risks. They don’t have limited timeslots in which to try to make back their investment – they can run as many original shows against each other as they want so long as their subscriptions continue cover the cost of producing them. They aren’t vulnerable to advertiser concerns and network censors, so they can explore more niche areas and create more provocative content. They don’t get just one night a week to try to sell America on their new show – they can promote it for a few weeks in the feature carousel and see if their audience bites, wait for it to catch on and spread by word of mouth to people who can start bingeing as soon as they hear about the show (or whenever they want). It’s leading to such higher-quality television being produced.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          My husband’s worked on a couple of Netflix shows over the last year or so – Altered Carbon, and he’s now on A Series of Unfortunate Events. He says they make TV like most production companies make movies: everything is planned out further in advance and feels more coherent than other TV shows, because all episodes have to be ready in advance for simultaneous release. They can also spend more on making their content because they don’t have to worry about third-party distribution. He really likes it; he’s always preferred working on big feature films in the past, but is happy to switch to Netflix productions instead.

  18. chilleh*

    #3 I can only speak for myself here, of course, but twice at my job I have been the person not invited to the first year birthday party (two co-workers have both around a month apart). I was not at all offended because of a reason Allison gave: I wasn’t particularly close to them or their children.If I had been invited I know it would have been slightly awkward for the moms and myself, and might weird the baby it, so I probably would have politely declined. For a first year birthday party, making your child comfortable with familiar faces is probably one of the last offensive ways I could imagine being left out if I had asked why.

    1. chilleh*

      Responding to myself, but to be clear, even regarding what I said, you don’t owe them an explanation.

  19. Patches*

    #1 I have been a senior admin for all levels of management up to and including CXOs and I have NEVER heard say using cash was unprofessional. I have processed reimbursements for as many cash transactions as card transactions and it’s never been pointed out as weird or unprofessional. I would like to know why the OP thinks cash is wrong.

  20. DrAtos*

    I’m a millennial and in many ways it shows: I like to post on Facebook. I take photographs of my meals. I am on my iPhone for a large chunk of the day. However, there are many ways in which #1 would think that I am “odd”: I am only on Facebook and do not use Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. I’m not on LinkedIn. I have not owned a television in at least seven years. I only used a credit card once for about a ten month period to build credit in order to buy a home, and do not intend to use it regularly because I don’t like being in debt. I don’t drive even though all of my other colleagues do because I chose to put my money into buying a home rather than on a vehicle that will depreciate, and I like the exercise. Yes, I have been asked why I don’t have LinkedIn or Instagram or a car, but that doesn’t mean I’m a weirdo. I’m doing perfectly well, thank you. I have managed to get a good job, pay off my credit card and private student loan debt, and buy a home all without these “must-have” items. People today would benefit from being on their phones and social media less and not relying so heavily on credit cards to make purchases they can’t afford. This young woman just seems like someone who enjoys being off the grid, which is smart, because she doesn’t have to deal with people like #1 during her off time.

    1. Jamie*

      OT but what are you doing with the photographs of your food? Posting them on FB? While I’ve never understood the practice I thought food pics was an Instagram phenomenon.

      1. DrAtos*

        I post them on Facebook occasionally. I also have a friend who loves “food porn” so I’ll send him pics of food whenever I go to a nice restaurant.

      2. Recruit-o-Rama*

        I love seeing pictures of food, taking pictures of food, cooking food, eating food, watching other people cook food, etc… cooking and baking is a form of art (not always, but it definitely can be). It’s just a hobby like any other. To each their own!

    2. SarahKay*

      In the UK, at least, the benefit of paying by credit card is extra protection if something goes wrong with the sale. When I worked in retail, my company (a department store) went bust. Everyone who’d paid deposits for beds and furniture by credit card could claim it back from the credit card company. Those who’d paid cash / debit were not so lucky; they went on the list of creditors owed money by the store…and a long way down that list, too, I think.

      Also, a credit card doesn’t necessarily mean you’re buying goods you can’t afford. I use mine for most on-line and/or high value purchases, for precisely the reason I gave above, but I have a direct debit set to automatically pay off the whole amount each month.

      1. Mookie*

        Yep. Responsible bankers will encourage their customers to use credit — even when they’re not the issuing authority — for a large variety of goods and certain services precisely because making vulnerable accounts associated with debit cards and checks is a bad idea that may result in catastrophic consequences, even if only in the short-term. Temporarily losing a fortnight’s pay or having one’s savings drastically diminished through fraud when bills are due is a terrible place to visit and, speaking personally, I urge everyone to never make that trip. Go on holiday somewhere else.

      2. Bagpuss*

        Yes, but that wouldn’t apply for paying for a meal as the cost of the goods has to be over £100 for the protection to kick in.

        Although I agree with your main point that having a credit card doesn’t equal getting into debt or buying stuff you can’t afford.

        I got my first credit card when I was planning a holiday, specifically for the protection, but also so that I had another method of payment other than my debit card, while I was away, for emergencies.

        That was 18 years ago. I’ve never paid a penny in interest as I always pay in full evey month. I keep track of what I spend on the card to make sure that I am setting the mony aside to pay in full. And I get cashback on my card so I’m actually getting paid to borrow the money for 30 days!

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          That depends where you are! I used to work in credit card disputes, and believe me, I’ve seen disputes for as little as $0.08.

          1. Dizzy Steinway*

            Two different things. You can dispute any amount if you didn’t spend it, but you only get protection for faulty purchases over £100.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Nope, that wasn’t actually a fraud charge.

              Also, it’s still regional. I certainly handled Damaged/Not As Described cases for less than the amount you’re naming.

      3. The Cosmic Avenger*

        The US has very good credit card protections…I might say too good, in that vendors aren’t particularly vigilant about fraud, which is why we still haven’t adopted chip and PIN…but I digress.

        I also use our credit cards heavily, yet pay them off every month. I get anywhere from 1.5% to 6% back on purchases, and so I use them to our advantage…if I’m not buying from a small, independent local business, in which case I make sure to use cash.

        And thanks to Mookie’s reminder above, I’m going to try to be better about tipping in cash. I used to do that all the time after a stint waiting tables 25 odd years ago, but I had heard in the last 5-10 years that tipping out from a credit card receipt was not a big deal any longer, so I have been less vigilant about it of late.

      4. BronzeFire*

        I don’t have any credit cards, but my debit cards have all the same protections as credit cards. I can track purchase history, file fraud reports, temporarily freeze my account, and dispute charges. My cards all have a Visa logo on them, so they’re treated just like a Visa card, but without the risk of overspending. And if you save to pay cash (or debit) purchases, your credit score becomes virtually irrelevant.

        1. SarahKay*

          Bronze Fire, it may vary by country, which was my original comment specifically referenced the UK.

          In the UK Credit card purchases for items between GBP 100 and GBP 30,000 are legally protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. It means that the card provider has a legal requirement to refund you if your items aren’t delivered, or your purchase is faulty/damaged and you can’t get a refund or replacement, or if the company you were buying from goes into administration (basically, heading for bankrupt) before they’ve given you your purchase.

          Debit cards, however, are covered by the Chargeback scheme, so you *should* be able to reclaim your money in similar circumstances, but it’s not a legal right in the same way as for credit cards, so may take more fighting for. Again, this just refers to the UK.

          I do agree that everything else you listed is the same for both. Regarding credit scores, yes, if you never want credit then who cares, but a mortgage for buying a house would be the common (and big) exception.

  21. J bird*

    Like everyone else, I’m curious as to why OP1 finds paying cash to be a faux paus. My best guess is that it makes the amount of money being payed (as well as the tip) seem more “explicit”..? So the idea is that we’re on business and are going to pretend this isn’t costing money, so let’s all just discreetly swipe our cards? But idk; I’ve never heard of this purported norm either.

    My other guess is that I could see the OP worrying the cash makes it seem as though the employee doesn’t have a lot of money (and thus has to watch her cash carefully)? (Vs. again just swiping a card.) But plenty of people prefer cash to card, even people with a lot of discretionary income —and also, it’s not a “faux paus” to be poor.

    OP1, I super hope you explain!

    1. Troutwaxer*

      It sounds to me like the employee has a clear understanding of the risks to privacy and security inherent in things like owning a “smart” phone or using Facebook. She probably pays cash because she likes the privacy of not having her meal choices end up in some database.

    2. KWu*

      Those were the two guesses I was going to make too, like maybe OP1 considers using cash as a thing only poor/immature people do, so it makes OP1 look bad for not paying the employee enough?

      I could maaaaybe see some concern if this is like hundreds of dollars in cash that the employee is regularly carrying around but even then, it’s their prerogative.

      1. EngineerInNL*

        See I find even this reasoning kind of funny, it took years for me and my dad to convince my mom to start using her credit card for everything so she’d get cash back on it because for her credit cards were always something that a person used when you couldn’t afford something right away (and had a bit of a shameful stigma to it I think?). But then she used to pay for everything by cheque until debit cards became a big thing

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          See, in the States nowadays it’s more common for lower-income people to have trouble getting a credit card, and the “unbanked” (people who have no bank accounts) are generally the poorest, so it’s possible there was some classism in the OP’s aversion to cash. This is why check cashing businesses tend to operate in poor neighborhoods and charge exorbitant fees, along with offering short-term, sky-high interest payday loans.

          1. EngineerInNL*

            Ah ok that makes more sense (and makes me incredibly sad that there are businesses designed to poach on these people). Check cashing businesses aren’t as common in my neck of the woods (I can think of maybe one location in my entire City) and maybe it’s just the area (and/or class maybe?) that I grew up with but I’ve never heard of anyone without a bank account, our government will actually do direct deposit for a lot of unemployment/welfare now I think

        2. Cassie*

          My mom had the same mentality – she previously used credit cards for only large purchases and when necessary (e.g. online orders, plane tickets, etc). Using a card for minor purchases basically was a sign that you were bad at managing your finances and you *had* to use a card because you spent all your money already.

          Now that she has a credit card with cash back (higher % than her old cards), she’s been using it for everything. I sometimes discourage her from using the card for small purchases :)

    3. Anonophone*

      My guess was that it might have been about perceived seniority – senior people in most companies (here in Sydney at least) have company credit cards, ergo here you would be perceived as quite junior if you paid cash at a client function or business lunch.

      Of course the simple solution in this case (if this is the case) is to arrange a company card for her.

    4. Lablizard*

      If it is either reason, the OP might want to rethink, especially if their work is ever going to put her in contact with anyone who is from a place that prefers cash to cards. Some places it is not abnormal to only use cash even for large, corporate transactions. My friend frequently works for a Turkish construction company and has been handed suitcases full of cash more often than any other payment method when working in the Gulf, Central Asia, and certain parts of sub-Saharan and North Africa.

    5. Mookie*

      My best guess is that it makes the amount of money being payed (as well as the tip) seem more “explicit”..? So the idea is that we’re on business and are going to pretend this isn’t costing money, so let’s all just discreetly swipe our cards?

      I expect this might be the reason and I can even understand it, but I still do loathe the practice of treating the exchange of money for goods and services like doing so is morally indiscreet or somehow plebeian to openly acknowledge. In my experience, that attitude is a harmful, classist relic of a repressed and mostly bygone era.

    6. MashaKasha*

      Second your other guess! I had an ex who always paid cash because he was on a strict budget, and didn’t trust himself to keep track of his spending if he used credit. Now that I think of it, I have also read some budgeting advice to that effect – put X amount of money in your wallet and designate it as your budget for a specified time period. Once you run out of that cash, you cannot spend anymore in that time period.

      But you’re right that we’re all just guessing here. I am as mystified about OP1’s reasoning as you are. I also hope OP1 explains.

  22. Mike C.*

    I feel like from now on if someone is going to call something unprofessional, they should have to explain why. Social norms like politeness and professionalism are supposed to stem from a goal of treating others with respect and kindness. Yet I feel like there are times when those rules are rules simply because we were told so when the original intent has been long forgotten or changed.

    It’s like coming into a new job where you have a prepare reports a specific way. You ask why and you find out it’s so that the report can be faxed. Then you find out that all the fax machines were removed years ago. I have a feeling this may be the root cause of the first OP’s odd beliefs about paying for food.

    1. JustaTech*

      Yes, please! Also, I think it’s very helpful because different industries have different standards of professionalism. For example, in the sciences the dress code tends to be very casual (jeans) by the standards of, say, law or marketing or banking. So what’s totally professional in a lab would be unacceptably casual in a law office.

      So at least a quick note on *why* a behavior is unprofessional would be helpful.

  23. Stellaaaaa*

    OP1: Was it because she paid with exact change? I wouldn’t judge it (why would I? She’s making things easier for everyone else at the table) but it definitely looks different to pull out two $20 bills than it does to toss down a wad of singles plus the tax in the exact number of pennies. The only reason I can think of that it would actually reflect badly business-wise is that it indicates you don’t pay her adequately – she’s literally paying for her own business lunch with nickels and dimes. If you’re so embarrassed by spare change, pay for the next mandatory business lunch yourself. Why are the employees paying for themselves anyway? This is a business lunch during the workday.

    1. Canadian Accountant*

      I was surprised by that too. It must just be the field I am in, but I have never been to a business lunch where everyone pays for their own lunch. This assumes that a social gathering of peers would not count as a business lunch of course. My company has rules around who should pay – generally the most senior employee picks up the cheque for everyone.

      1. MyTwoCents*

        AH! You hit on the reason OP#1 was embarrassed – he/she should have paid for the employee and that she paid cash made it obvious that he/she didn’t!!

  24. Rio C*


    I’m not really sure why any of this is an issue? For what it’s worth, I’m under 25, don’t really use social media aside from checking Linkedin every now and then, and don’t have a streaming service/cable. Still get by fine keeping up with friends, news, and I have other ways to entertain myself besides TV shows and movies. Sure, she’s a bit of an outlier because she doesn’t do a lot of things most millenials would normally do and I’d even say I have a good idea of what direction she leans towards on certain topics, but none of this should raise any red flags. If anything, I can see why she’s job searching: she’s being judged for the choices she makes in her life that don’t really impact her ability to do her job.

  25. Newbie*

    OP#1 – Buh? Who cares if someone pays with cash or credit? It’s all money. Unless she’s handing over bills and coin that are covered in a noxious substance, this is not a faux pas.
    Yes, how the employee lives her life is perhaps different than many, but she’s doing what works for her. I admire that.

  26. uh*

    OP 1 – I don’t get easily upset but I would be asking your boss or HR why you need to harass me over my private life and/or financial habits.

  27. Kerr*

    #1 – Oof. As someone who regularly forgets to withdraw cash and therefore feels awkward when everyone else is pulling out cash to pay for their meal, I’m not sure why this is supposed to be a problem. Business professionals often use credit cards because it’s easier to expense things, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong or unprofessional about cash. Servers frequently prefer cash to splitting a check across multiple cards. Really, truly, not a problem.

    “She is different” – Everyone is different from everyone else. We like to think of ourselves as the gold standard of normal, but it really doesn’t work that way. Please don’t judge your employee so harshly for not fitting what you think “normal” is. For perspective, I don’t check my email all the time, and I try to make myself difficult for an employer to find online. I don’t have a TV. Many others in her/my age group do the same. It’s not actually strange. And having no cell, no TV, no streaming service and no credit card makes TONS of sense for someone who’s closely watching their budget (as a 25-year-old probably is).

    Ultimately, it is not your call as to how someone else lives their life. Even if you think it’s totally and completely bizarre (and for the record, this employee doesn’t sound that weird).

      1. TheLazyB*

        I like Ani DiFranco’s line:
        “You’re​ like the rest of the human race: you’re one of a kind”

        1. ThatGirl*

          Reminds me of Monty Python.

          “You’re all individuals!”
          “We are all individuals!”
          (small voice) “I’m not!”

    1. Stitch*

      You mention feeling awkward not having cash at a group lunch, and that’s how I have felt too. I don’t normally carry cash, but if I know I am going to be going out with a group at work, I often get a break cash so that doesn’t happen. It is just so weird because my experience has been so opposite to LW1.

      1. hermit crab*

        Me too! In my experience, when someone has cash in appropriate denominations, it kinda shows that they took the time to prepare for the situation.

        There is a popular lunch place near my office that does a “lunch box special,” where you can pick some combination of choices for a fixed price — and they set the price so that $20 covers it plus tax and a standard tip. I’ve been to plenty of business lunches where everyone whips out a $20 bill at the end, and we’re done. No waiting for change or credit card slips! I often have one or two $20’s but no smaller change, and I suspect I’m not alone among my clients/coworkers. It makes going out to this place SO easy and convenient.

          1. hermit crab*

            Haha, I know. It’s a foodie/craft-beer type place in an upscale neighborhood, so the cost isn’t too surprising. Plus one of the things you can get for $20 is a “personal” sized delicious pizza that lasts me at least two meals. :)

    2. JeanB*

      Your comment “the gold standard of normal” (which is a great phrase, by the way) reminds me of George Carlin’s bit: Everyone who is driving slower than you is an idiot, and everyone driving faster than you is an a**hole.

    3. Lora*

      I am really really struggling to wrap my brain around how it could possibly be rude to pay cash. My ex was a tattoo artist who often had several hundred $$ in his wallet, in cash, at any given time. Going to restaurants with him was glorious, because he paid cash and tipped ridiculously well no matter what the service. Everyone was always happy to see us again. If we went out to dinner with friends who brought their incredibly messy small children which resulted in an apparent explosion of Cheerios and peanut butter ground into the carpet at a nice restaurant, he would merely wave the giant wad of cash at the (understandably unhappy) server and everything was sunshine and roses again.

      I suppose if you paid in Czechoslovakian koruna? Maybe Vietnamese dong or Somali shillings? I’ve been known to accidentally pay in Euros or pesos or whatever if I’ve just come back from a trip and neither the server or I realize until they really look at it that it isn’t the right currency.

      I can’t really speak to the other stuff. I mean, my idea of a fun time is planting vegetables in the mud and knitting. I assume this is similarly unprofessional, although weirdly I’ve had some great team-build-y type conversations with colleagues outside my department based on “that’s pretty, what are you making?” and trading zucchini recipes. Today it turns out I have a big jump on a particular process improvement that another department is already starting to adopt and which my grandboss wants us to adopt – a woman in the other department is on the same train as me, noticed my knitting, and we both stop at the same place for our morning coffee. Never underestimate the power of hobbies, I tell you the truth: it’ll always turn out that the big client you are trying to impress or the grandboss or someone important shares what you thought was a quirky pastime. And then you bond over, like, green tomato recipes or something.

  28. Marisol*

    For #1, my best guess as to why cash would be viewed as unprofessional is that the others were expecting a 4-way split, irrespective of what was actually ordered, whereas the OP’s employee made an exact calculation which made her seem petty. I have been in social scenarios where such calculations got a little out-of-hand and it is awkward. I’m not sure that’s really the problem, but that’s the only way I can make sense of the OP’s objections.

    I have to be honest though, a business lunch where the check is split four ways doesn’t sound like a very elegant scenario to begin with. In my experience, usually the clients get treated, or occasionally the clients will want to treat their vendors, in either case the senior business associate being the one to put down the card, but rarely do business folks go “dutch.” That sounds more like a faux pas to me than the cash vs. credit issue.

    1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

      Good point!
      But then all the stuff about the employee’s lifestyle still doesn’t make sense.
      It’s just as possible to do a 4-way split with cash as it is with a card.

      1. Marisol*

        yeah, the logic isn’t tight. I’m grasping at straws trying to make sense of something.

    2. babblemouth*

      While also grasping at straws, I figured maybe OP is from a cultural background where talking about money is a big social faux-pas, and somehow this extends to seeing the money? In a way, the credit card takes the same place in this situation as the “I need to use the restroom” euphemism when we want to avoid talking about bodily functions.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Ah yes: When I lived overseas 25 years ago, you had to learn to specify ‘toilet’ because ‘bathroom’ was where you took a bath, and it was a separate room, and your perplexed host would guide you there if you asked.

        1. Noobtastic*

          Oh, yes, the perplexed host. “But… I don’t want you to use my bathtub. You’re only here for dinner, not staying the night.”

          Been there, seen that.

    3. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      That’s a good thought. They had to have passed the bill around, otherwise she wouldn’t have known her exact amount. If they wanted to do a four-way split, he should have indicated that before it was passed, and he’s probably embarrassed that he didn’t make that clear. Not her fault though if the communication wasn’t done.

  29. uh*

    OP 1 – Even thought I use credit cards for many things, I do not use them where they leave my sight (so would never give one to a waiter to walk away with). I don’t think this is horribly unusual, not that it would be any of your business if it was!

    1. Sami*

      Same here. I never use my credit cards in a restaurant because I don’t like it out of my sight.

    2. The RO-Cat*

      Now that’s odd for me. In the last few years I struggle to remember a restaurant that didn’t have wireless POS, and even then the wired device was placed in such a spot that you can walk to it and insert your PIN yourself. Then again, here we have the card-and-PIN system almost everywhere (and NFC-without-PIN is limited to a small amount, less than 25 euros) so your card almost never goes somewhere you can’t see it.

      1. Lablizard*

        The US doesn’t have point of service in most restaurants. It is a bit behind on this compared to other countries.

        1. Myrin*

          I have never even heard of this (and don’t quite get what it means, tbh) so while I don’t want to rule out it does exist here in some capacity, I’ve certainly never encountered it, not even in big cities.

          1. Gadfly*

            I’ve seen a few chains that have a tablet at the table that at the end you use to pay. (Confession, my Mom loves Olive Garden, I’m pretty sure that is where I saw it…) Is that similar?

            1. LilyPearl*

              Yes, they bring the portable card machine over to your table so you can enter your PIN. The card doesn’t leave your sight.

          2. blackcat*

            The only places I have seen these systems in the US are in the immediate vicinity (like <10 miles) of the Canadian boarder. It's standard in Canada, so that makes some sense.

            1. not really a lurker anymore*

              Chili’s has them on the table, along with games you play on it, for an additional charge. lol.

              And I’ve seen them in a couple of other restaurants in my area. I’m in the Midwest.

              1. SarahTheEntwife*

                Unos has that, too; I love not having to wait for/flag down a waiter when I’m in a hurry. I think a lot of the mid-range chain restaurants are getting them now.

            2. Allison*

              Yep, I used one at the Toronto airport. I thought it was great! And I liked the free games as well, they were a good way to pass the time while waiting for my food.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            Rather than the server taking your card away to run it, they bring a wireless device to the table and run it there. I just realized that that was the norm when we were in Montreal recently–the credit card machine always came to us.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            It exists in some restaurants—often cities—but is not the norm. Point of service just means being able to pay directly at your table instead of having the waiter take your credit card, go run it in the back or whatnot, then come back with it.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Part of the reason is that in the US, it’s a lot more common for merchants to buy their terminals, rather than renting them — therefore, the cost of upgrading is a lot more. When I was servicing Canadian merchants, it was as simple as “okay, you want to upgrade? Cool, pick your product and we’ll send it out to you pre-programmed.” For US merchants, it was way more complicated since they were usually buying from a third party and then having to separately get the terminal programmed to interact with our processing systems.

          1. not really a lurker anymore*

            Yeah, my mechanic broke her swiping machine when trying to upgrade to accept chipped cards sometime in early 2016. They’re a small shop and I’m not sure if it’s been fixed yet or not. They take my checks but they’ve been servicing my vehicles for over 20 years now so we have history.

        3. Trig*

          It blows. my. mind. that this is still not done in a lot of the US. It’s shocking to me in Canada when I encounter a place that doesn’t do it, and even then, they usually just have you walk up to the terminal yourself.

          I guess it’s expensive to replace POS systems, and chip cards are still not the norm; it’s cheaper for the credit card companies to pay for card fraud than to create the new systems.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Don’t discount simple stubbornness, either. When the switch happened in Canada, I was frontline customer service for a credit card processor, and we proactively sent all our merchants chip-enabled machines with instructions to set them up and send their non-chip terminals back to us.

            … for months after the changeover, we had people just refusing to do so. IIRC we finally forced the issue by sending a series of warnings and then deactivating the non-chip machines. It was such a pain in the *** getting merchants to change over, and a rise in disputes is bad for the processor as well as the merchant.

        4. kb*

          I’ve been seeing more restaurants offering table-side payment as iPads and tablets become commonplace. I was talking to a restaurant owner in New Orleans and she said she made the decision to offer it because 1) it wasn’t prohibitively expensive/difficult with an iPad 2) Most of her diners were people coming in groups with no designated payer (more friend groups, fewer families), so it made sense to change the system to fit most of her customer’s needs. It’ll be interesting to see how technology changes the industry.

    3. Bartlet for President*

      In some European countries, it’s against the law for the server to walk away with the card – they are legally obligated to process your transaction right in front of you. After a few years of that, it makes me antsy to hand over my card and see it disappear here in the US.

  30. Stephanie*

    #5: I think it’s fine. I’ve done it before. I’d guess as long as it flows with the rest of the letter and is like a segue into how you learned about the job or why you’re interested, it should be good.

    1. Audiophile*

      I’ve done it if I was specifically told about a position by a current employee. Or if I had a long-standing relationship with a former employee. I’ve never encountered any issues with just a short line in my cover letter.

  31. Geo*

    Hmm. “When it came time to pay, everyone took out either their own credit or debit cards or their company one.”

    “My employee paid with cash with exact change and also left a cash tip.”

    I… huh? Color me confused, but I don’t see any difference in paying with a debit card vs. paying with cash. I guess you save a step — physically withdrawing the money — with a debit card, but that distinction hardly seems worth noticing, let alone confronting her about. And personally, I think credit cards are great (cash back ftw!), but not everyone likes them for a variety of perfectly good reasons (not that anyone has to justify their spending media to a stranger on the Internet, of all people).

    I guess the real question here is, “Why is it an embarrassment?” There’s got to be some sort of context here. Did she take up a lot of time counting out exact change, preventing you all from getting back to work (even though paying cash is a great way to just drop your money and get out the door if you’re in a hurry)? Is it a status thing? Were these people from other companies prospective clients whom you were trying to woo, and cash wasn’t… flashy enough, for lack of a better term?

    I’m really at a loss. Is it an industry thing? Do you work in a field where perception and image are extremely important? Is not having Netflix a really big deal in some professional circles? I mean, I don’t pretend to know the norms of every industry on the planet, and it’s entirely possible that there’s a field where this is a problem, but this reaction seems bizarre without more context.

  32. Jeanne*

    #3, Have you considered not inviting anyone from work? Birthday paties for 1 yr olds can be incredibly tedious if you’re not part of the family. Young children can also be overwhelmed with too many people and eventually you have the over-tired breakdown. I think if your work friends truly enjoy spending time with your child, you could have them over for brunch sometime when they can actually play with your child.

    1. PollyQ*

      I don’t know if this applies to OP, but some cultures make a big deal out of a child’s 1st birthday. I believe it dates back to the time when many children didn’t survive that long, so hitting that milestone was worthy of a celebration, regardless of how much the child might enjoy the festivities.

      1. Minerva McGonagall*

        I’m also seeing a trend where the 1st birthday party isn’t really about the child, but rather clearly presented as the parents thanking the “village” that has helped them get through the first year. There’s cake, but presents are discouraged and the party is focused on being fun for the adults as opposed to just the kids.

        1. OP#3*

          We are trying to avoid presents. Really, this will just be a big open house where we’ll have food, drinks, and games. It’s not so much about the birthday but, as Minerva said, thanking the village. And also celebrating the fact that we made it a whole year without killing her! (j/k…sorta)

          1. General Ginger*

            Especially if you’re “thanking the village”, I think you’re fine not inviting the coworkers who probably already know they live outside village borders :)

  33. Some sort of Management Consultant*

    1 – cash is getting rarer and rarer in my country. I can’t even pay for a banana at my gym with cash.
    But I’m not embarrassed when anyone uses it.
    Why would I be?
    Reading OP1’s letter is… are they writing from some alternate reality we’re all not part of?

    (And the streaming device thing…? Why would you even know whether someone owns one or not???)

    1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

      I guess OP1 could be from a culture or country where this legitimately is embarrassing but I can’t think of one of the bat.

      1. London Calling*

        I’ve been working for years, have a personal Facebook, plus a Facebook Twitter and Tumblr page linked to a blog I co-write, and yet google me and nothing will come up – there are lots of people with my name and I’m not any of them, if you see what I mean. What’s so inherently wrong with having a) no internet presence and b) no streaming service? (I don’t have one of those, either). And as for the paying with cash – yes, it stands out in a corporate setting where most if not all people will have either personal or company cards, but heck, the bill got paid, didn’t it?

  34. Isben Takes Tea*

    OP 1, I’m really interested in why you said “my employee embarrassed me” instead of “my employee embarrassed herself” I mean, she didn’t pay cash at you, right? Did any of the other employees say something to you? Were the other employees higher-up than you? I don’t think any of that would make it a faux-pas, but I would understand more why you were embarrassed (as you thought it was unprofessional).

    I don’t think this means you are a bad manager, but it does sound like you are a little biased against this employee for her not being “normal” (and all of us are guilty of this at some time or other!). In the future, it might be a good idea to pause if anything else comes up with her and evaluate whether any if this bias might be at play.

    1. Some sort of Management Consultant*

      Yes, the phrasing is interesting.
      Maybe there is some cultural context we’re missing?

    2. Myrin*

      This is a really compassionate and kind response, Isben!

      (The phrasing also struck out to me, for what it’s worth. I understand that at a business lunch, you do to some degree represent your company, but the use of “me” in particular – as opposed to “her peers in the same role” or “our company” or something to that extent – makes me think that there is something more personal going on here.)

    3. calonkat*

      Or if it had been phrased as “I was embarrassed for my employee”?

      Still leaves us befuddled as to why, but she seems to be viewing this employee’s actions and life choices as some sort of extension of herself!

  35. MadGrad*

    For #1, on top of the completely strange view on paying cash, I feel the need to challenge your ideas about her other quirks.
    I’m a tad younger than her, as is my boyfriend, and neither of us are on social media to any significant degree – heck, I’m in a field where it gets used a lot! I also doubt you’d find her if she had accounts under pseudonyms. No one our age has land lines that we know of, and the only reason we have a tv is for streaming services or videogames (we don’t pay for cable). A laptop or iPad is enough for tons of young people. Emails, if you’re not working, also aren’t that important most of the time to plenty of people. Overall, she could very easily just be a bit nonplussed about technology and prefer outdoor activities or something.
    I hesitate to bring up these other possibilities, because I’m concerned you also might judge her for this, but I think it’s worth saying: do you realise she might be struggling financially? All of those things cost money, and she might have high bills or burdensome loans to pay off. This might even have hurt her credit score, which would explain cash. Worse, if she’s generally hard to contact, she might be dealing with a stalker or unpleasant family that she doesn’t want finding her. Or she may not come from a background with access to much technology (parents choice, religion, or financial situations are all possibilities) and just have never gotten into it. None of these necessarily make her weird.
    Please, please lay off judging her. You’re making a much bigger deal about these things than anyone needs you to, and you’ll both be better off if you can let unimportant stuff go.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is really thoughtful and adds important context—thank you for infusing our conversation with compassion!

    2. Tin Cormorant*

      I have a Facebook account under a pseudonym myself, because I like keeping my public and private lives separate. My friends all know the name I go by there, but employers wouldn’t because I don’t want them to. Makes perfect sense to me.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I think there tends to be a general impression that all young people have all the tech – that Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat/LinkedIn/Twitter, steaming services, being wired to a smart phone at all times, an active public social media presence and playing video games is universal, and that not doing this is bizarre and slightly suspect.

      But there is a quiet minority there who is either just not interested in all of the above, or is rebelling against cultural expectations, or has philosophical or practical reasons for keeping their life technologically simple, or who makes considered choices about what they want and don’t want.

      1. London Calling*

        I’m one of those (although old enough to be the OP’s mother, I suspect). I grew up without gizmos, know that I can do without them and can’t see the point of burdening my existence with all this *stuff* and have something flashy to wave around just to prove I’m up with the current zeitgeist. In an age when governments increasingly seem to see the public as their servants and not their masters and demand all sorts of knowledge about us that I for one don’t necessarily want to give, if that makes me a member of AcademiaNut’s quiet minority who’s not interested then I can live with that. Anyone who judges me for it is saying a lot about themselves and nothing about me.

    4. Trillian*

      She does not even have to have experienced critical debt, identity theft, internet harassment or stalking personally. Watching a friend or family member going it may have been enough. It’s an average of four years to recover from identity theft. I think she’s ahead of the curve rather than behind it. If you pay attention to how tech leaders behave, they keep a tight grip on their own privacy, knowing the law is not keeping pace.

    5. Trillian*

      The employee herself may not have been a victim, but she may have seen the effects close at hand. I think she’ll prove to be ahead of the curve, rather than behind. The tech leaders — the ones who know best what’s being done with the data and how security and lawmaking play out — are very careful with their own privacy.

    6. Purest Green*

      Great insight here. I wonder if OP would have written in if this employee were 50+. Because I suspect OP might be controlling her in a way that she wouldn’t with an older employee.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      She might not even be struggling so much — there was recently an article about a guy named Grant Sabatier (in case you want to Google it) who took a lot of side jobs and lived extremely frugally in order to become a millionaire by age 30. Or Mister Money Moustache, who lives very frugally in many ways and saves like crazy in order to not have to work to live.

      Not trying to contradict your point, just to point out that there are so many possible reasons that they might as well realize that it’s none of their concern how their employee conducts their personal and financial life.

    8. Purest Green*

      Great insight here. I wonder if OP would have a problem if the employee were 50+. Because I suspect OP might be controlling her in a way she wouldn’t an older employee.

    9. Chaordic One*

      I appreciate MadGrad’s mentioning that that the employee may have money problems and a difficult time just dealing with life. Even though cost of living isn’t usually an employer’s concern, especially when it comes to wages, bosses do need to be sensitive to the financial realities of lower-paid workers (who are often younger and just starting out in their careers). Often things that bosses take for granted are just a bit beyond the reach of the lower level employees.

  36. AstroDeco*

    OP, why do you think paying in cash in unacceptable?
    Please understand that this question is because I want to understand why you think this & I daresay anyone else here who is asking genuinely want to know so we can better understand where you’re coming from.
    If the employee was making a show (as others already mentioned) by sorting out crumpled bills or was laboriously counting out change, then you can address that. If this is the case, please do it kindly & be matter-of-fact. Not everyone was taught business etiquette & the good employees would want to be mentored in expected behaviour. In particular, I think dining etiquette is something others might think is inherent yet in reality etiquette must be learned.
    The more I think of it, I can’t help but think your employee was inadvertently conveying good messages: she was confident enough to not be embarrassed by paying cash, the restaurant needn’t pay the processing fees & the server got a cash tip (although the method of payment for the tip might not matter due to the restaurant policies).
    Often, if I’m in a restaurant paying cash, I’ll tell the server what change I want back. eg: if the meal was $30 & I want to give a $6 tip, I might give $50 & tell the server “I just need $14 change, thank you.”
    I was thinking about a company-issued card, as well. Or perhaps a prepaid card?
    However prepaid cards aren’t usually cost-effective because of usage fees & the cards might not give the image one might think because if the balance is less than the meal one would need to tell the server “this is the balance & I’ll pay the rest in cash”.
    Or you could have paid for the employee, as was already suggested.

    As for her personal life, her decisions are hers to make & she shouldn’t be judged on those.
    re emails: Is it correct to assume you only meant that she rarely checks her personal emails? If so, my above statement applies. If you did mean work emails & can access these through company provided devices yet she chooses not to do so, then you can address that situation.
    Paying by cash is no big deal!!

  37. Stephanie*

    #2: Sorry to hear that. I would start looking for another job, if you’re in a position to do so.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh, wonderful to hear! My first reaction was, this is the kind of manager who protects the poor performers and the problem children, and causes the good employees to flee. Because the good employees, like you, are the ones with choices!

        And you will have much better choices elsewhere. Good luck!

      2. ArtsNerd*

        Best of luck! Conflict avoidant managers are infuriating for reasons just like this. Fortunately, reputations of the highest and lowest performers have a way of spreading a bit further than you might expect.

        As Cosmic Avenger notes, you’ll have options and flee as soon as you can to a better team. Keep excelling; in the majority of cases it absolutely pays off in the long run.

  38. Long time lurker*

    Yes, and while Alison doesn’t want a pile on, I’m hoping that you’re able to take on board the number of responses telling you it really is NOT OK to judge employees for life choices OR circumstances that have zero impact on their work performance … Even if other people in your workplace have a similarly judgemental attitude, that is not the norm, and does you no favours in the wider world.

  39. AstroDeco*

    OP3: Just because we might work together & sometimes chat about non-business things doesn’t mean I’d expect to be invited to your child’s birthday party, especially not for the first birthday!
    In fact, I’d feel quite awkward about it. Even if no gifts were specified, I’d feel obliged to buy a gift because I’d think it might be required (“required” isn’t quite accurate although I can’t think of a better term).
    Without a closer relationship to you or your toddler, you’d spare me much angst by *not* inviting me because:
    -I don’t dislike children, however I’m not comfortable around kids under 8yo or so.
    -If I received an invite for a 1yo & the only reason for this invite was because I worked with the parent, I would think it kind yet odd.
    -I don’t want to spend several hours at this party wondering how it was I got inited & accepted & trying to think of witty things to say to the other adults, most whom I don’t even know. Is is time for Happy Hour yet?
    -Attending the party & buying a gift could be very difficult for me because of a medical issue I have. Also, unless the parent asks me for something specific (or provides a list) I have no idea what to give as a gift.
    -Most of all, I truly *do* want the Birthday Toddler, her family & invited guests to have a happy & fun celebration with those they love!!

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      I’m reminded of the bit in the second SATC movie where Samantha is trying to convince Charlotte to go on vacation with her. “I go to CHILDREN’S BIRTHDAY PARTIES for you.” Many adults view these events as massive chores.

    2. Alice*

      I wouldn’t enjoy a baby’s birthday party either… but I would just say thanks for the invite, write a card for the parents, and decline. Just because someone invites me doesn’t mean I have to say yes.

      1. AstroDeco*

        Agreed. My typo-riddled comment was meant to give the OP the POV of an invitee whose only connection was as colleagues. I would appreciate the invite, however if I wasn’t close to the parents or child I’d also think it odd. Nor would I feel compelled to attend. I’m okay with thanking for & declining the invitation.

  40. Julie Noted*

    OP1—can I suggest you use the opportunity provided by the strong reaction to your judgement on this issue to engage in some honest self-reflection? Nothing that you told us about this young woman’s behaviour is negative in the slightest, but you seem to have a strong reaction to the choices she’s made about how she wants to live her life. Coming to understand why you feel that way could help you in a much broader way than getting advice on dealing with one specific instance of what you saw as a faux pas—and please recognise that your reaction is about you, not her. You started your letter by saying that your employee embarrassed you. No, you’ve got the actor in the situation mixed up. You felt embarrassed. Why?

    All the examples you gave of how your employee is ‘different’ go against the (unfair) stereotype of young people being social media-obsessed, overly consumerist, and unable to exist disconnected from devices. If anything, her choices are laudable, not clear targets of condemnation. Why does this threaten you?

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      These are really good points and I hope the OP takes your suggestion to heart.

      Your comment also reminded of how women just can’t win. If we do so-called stereotypical things, we’re shallow and vain. If we don’t, there’s something wrong with us.

  41. Mira*

    OP #2: The system you’re describing is horribly unfair. Bonuses are supposed to be a reward of merit, and the system your boss has is so broken is may as well be nonexistent. Is there any way that you can take this to HR or someone higher up in the food chain? If you lay your case to them succinctly and without overtly criticising your boss, perhaps you may be able to affect a change?

    If, despite this, nothing changes, then I’d say you really ought to begin looking for a new job – and make sure you mention your reason for leaving in your exit interview feedback.

    1. OP#2*

      Unfortunately, the company culture does not encourage going above your boss’s head. HR is pretty useless. I am actively seeking another job, thanks!

      1. Mira*

        That sucks. :/ I wish you the best in your job search. Here’s hoping you find a great new job at a *sane* company with an effective manager, super soon!

  42. Lioness*

    OP #1;

    The only issue I could possibly see with the personal life was if the employee had been using it as some superiority aspect; like if the employee trying to get others to the same, but it doesn’t sound like this was an issue.

    If you had gotten that information through social conversation, or just searching around for the information, just let it be. It’s her life, and not something to be embarrassed about. Also, it’s not like certain behavior is seen in a certain age, it’s seen more in younger people because they have access to the tech that wasn’t there a decade or two ago. I’m under 25, and my mother acts more like the “stereotypical” teen; takings selfies, pictures of everything, facebook, instagram, etc. than me.

  43. alter_ego*

    I had a boss at an internship who would actually deliberately take clients to a restaurant nearby that was cash only as a power play. So few people carry cash anymore that he would be the only one with cash to cover the whole bill for everyone, putting him in a position of power. I can’t imagine seeing it as a business faux pas. It sounds like you’re filtering it through the lense of the employees other “off the grid” tendencies and lumping them all into one big ball of weird. But even if you’re going to suggest that all that other stuff is somehow too weird to be professional (which I would disagree with), the other people don’t know any of that stuff about her. To them, she just paid with cash, if they noticed at all, I’m sure they attributed it to one of 1000 reasons that people pay in any particular way.

    1. Gen*

      Yeah at the bank I worked at any kind of business meal was a chance for the upper management to pull out huge wads of cash and get into fights about who got to pay and show off most. Letting a client or subordinate pay for their own meal would have been the faux pas there

      1. Long time listener, First time caller*

        My DH used to be with a bank, and related a story about how an associate didn’t leave a large enough tip on a CC when paying for the whole table. The other associate got ripped a new one for it as it “embarassed” the bank. Maybe something like this is in play? A company culture thing? Baffles me. But, large corp’s.can be so weird. Having said that, this seems more in a personal front what with all the commentary about employees personal habits. Maybe Op#1 just finds this empl. embarassing, or, unlikeable and is looking for ‘something’ to be critical about.

    2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      I had a boss at an internship who would actually deliberately take clients to a restaurant nearby that was cash only as a power play. So few people carry cash anymore that he would be the only one with cash to cover the whole bill for everyone, putting him in a position of power.

      This is a far more embarrassing scenario than the one OP is describing!

      And yes to the rest of your comment.

    3. Allison*

      I mean . . . I once went on a date with a guy who paid for the whole meal in cash, which definitely struck me as not normal but I didn’t judge him for it. To each their own. Turns out he was married, and probably paying in cash to hide evidence of cheating-related outings (I’ll bet I wasn’t the first woman he tried to mess around with). I still wouldn’t assume that someone paying in cash is trying to cover something up though, because I know most people opting for cash are just trying to stay on budget. And even if they are trying not to leave a trail, they might have good reasons for it.

  44. that guy*

    #1 Dude, no
    #3 Think about it. Would you be offended if you weren’t invited to somebody’s baby’s first birthday party? I hope not. It won’t open a can of worms. If it does, these people need to grow up.

  45. DG*

    #1: I’m confused as to why the employee is expected to pay her own way at a business lunch in the first place. Isn’t that a business expense, especially for a subordinate of the OP? If you’re forcing someone to spend their own money while working, you can’t really complain about them using cash to do it.

    1. that guy*

      Good point. Where I work the policy says that the most senior person has to pay, using his/her company credit card.

    2. hbc*

      Yes, that to me is the most unprofessional thing about this whole deal. Whether or not the employee is getting reimbursed, I would expect that the boss would cover anyone under him/her.

      And if she’s not getting reimbursed, you’re kind of begging to be “embarrassed” by employees whose personal financial situation doesn’t allow them to easily drop extra money on lunch.

    3. Kelly L.*

      This feels like it might be the root of the embarrassment, actually! Like if OP thinks her using cash embarrasses the *company* because it (correctly) makes them look cheap. A personal card looks a lot like a corporate card and would give them plausible deniability.

      1. Hanna*

        I agree that would make sense if the OP was actually embarrassed about the employee inadvertently revealing the company’s cheapness, but I still don’t get what her phone and streaming services have to do with anything. It’s like the OP thought that would be helpful context, but it just makes the whole letter even weirder!

  46. Not Australian*

    OP#4 It’s probably correct that the copyright for what you wrote belongs to your organisation, but obviously whoever put out the call for submissions didn’t make that clear. Even if it turns out that you lost this one, it would probably be worth asking for the copyright position to be clarified and that information to be included when a similar call goes out in future. In a large organisation it’s not realistic to expect everyone to understand their situation vis-a-vis copyright from the outset, and I’m sure they probably want to avoid having this conversation over and over with different members of staff. If it was me, I’d be suggesting a ‘writing for us’ FAQ somewhere on the website – but then this sort of thing comes up frequently in my work and I like to try and head trouble off at the pass; it may be overkill where you work.

    1. Dizzy Steinway*

      Those sorts of FAQs would normally be for organisations that take external contributions. Copyright isn’t the issue here – OP is an employee, so the company owns that. Attribution and copyright don’t necessarily go hand in hand – for example in the UK if you write as a freelancer you retain copyright and only sell first British serial rights unless you sign something different but you don’t necessarily have ‘moral rights ‘ ie the right to a byline.

      OP will look silly if she starts talking about copyright when it’s her employer’s website. The issue is credit, not intellectual property.

  47. Ruth (UK)*

    1. I live in a small city where, unless you went to a chain restaurant, you’d probably be in trouble if you didn’t have cash. Even they take card, very few places would split a payment between cards so if people didn’t have cash, someone would need to cover it all at the time.

    Conversely, I recently visited London with another friend from my county (Norfolk) and we found everything is contactless and cash is useless on buses! He didn’t have contactless or an oyster card and couldn’t pay, prompting the London friend we were visiting to exclaim “oh you are so Norfolk!”

    So I wonder if this is something that varies by location. I also worked in food service / restaurant jobs for several years until 2014 and was never aware of any etiquette against paying in cash. (on the location thing, I’m also likely in a different country to the op as I’m in England)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      First, sigh… I love Norfolk. I went to UEA for a semester and I regret not seeing more of the county, though I have been back a few times. It’s changed a lot in nearly 20 years!

      Second, not that this is helpful, but oddly enough, I find WAY more cash-only places in New York than where I live now, in the southern US. Around here, everyone is set up to take cards, even food trucks. In NYC, some businesses don’t want to pay credit card fees, so they’re cash only. Which is a giant pain in the rear. Some only take cash or American Express. Also a pain. My credit card company issues an American Express-labeled card, which comes in very handy in situations like that.

      When I worked retail recently, the cash payments were confusing to me because I so rarely had to count change! But that didn’t make my customers wrong in any way, it just meant I’d let my skills lapse.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      In most US cities, you can purchase a monthly or yearly bus pass if you ride frequently or a ticket for the day. I don’t know about buses where I live (I’m in a mid-sized city in the US and I drive here), but most businesses, including food trucks, take cards. There are a couple of restaurants that are cash-only but I can count them on one hand. That said, I’ve never paid cash at any business and had it scrutinized or returned to me.

      And hah, I always tell people I know who are going to London for the first time that they should get an Oyster at a newsagent when they arrive but to keep some change on hand for the toilets!

  48. Kimberly*

    I have a slightly different take on letter #1.

    I do think the LW is completely out of line. How the employee pays for meals is none of his business. The name calling and judgmental attitude about her life is out of line.

    If I knew all this about a co-worker, I might be concerned about safety. Is she so off the grid because she is hiding from someone? I’m probably over sensitive to this type of thing. I’m a former teacher and lost 2 students brother and sister to a family annihilation murder suicide. Two co-workers and their kids were nearly killed by their husbands. A third lost here Mom and sister in a family annihilation attempt. The murder was on the loose for a while afterwards threatening to kill my co-worker’s family for taking in the sister’s kids. The last few years we have been put on partial lock down multiple times, because of threats from a parent against his/her family on social media. We did have students from multiple foster homes and a domestic violence shelter.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Oh wow, that’s horrific. I’m sorry all this has happened, it’s so wrong, this isn’t the world we should be living in.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I wondered if the employee might be avoiding a stalker, but that’s a bit of speculation. Still, it’s something that might be good for the OP to keep in the back of their mind as a possibility. The default should be to respect other peoples’ choices, especially when you don’t know their reasons.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      That’s awful. :(

      This could be Employee’s situation, or maybe her family emphasized off-grid life for some other reason (religion, survivalism) and this is just what she’s used to. Or maybe she’s trying to pay off student loans.

  49. TheVet*

    OP3, If Bruce or Frank asks why they weren’t invited you could say they never seemed like they were into that. It’s not a total lie when it comes to Bruce and could be partially true in Frank’s case. Alternatively, you could ask them the Monday before the party if you want to be “nice” about it and give them an out. “Hey, TheKid is turning 1 and you don’t seem like kids are your bag, so I completely understand if you say no, but I thought I’d ask if you’d like to come to the party Saturday. I won’t be hurt if you declined.”

  50. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    #4 – In case you plan to use your writing skills in future jobs, save a copy of everything you write and use it/select pieces in your portfolio. It’s quite common for people to write pieces for others, so it’s not going to look strange if you apply for jobs and your published texts don’t have your name on them.

    I definitely get how you feel, though! It’s always jarring to see someone else’s name on your work, and even more so if it’s not agreed upon beforehand. I hope you can get credit!

  51. Wow*

    OP #1 seems pretty overbearing to care this much about things that don’t make the slightest bit of difference. Who cares if your employee has TV or a credit card? Maybe just worry about work things instead of stuff that isn’t your business.

    1. yasmara*

      The only thing I could see caring about is the mobile phone and then only if there’s some business-related need to be able to contact the employee on off hours on a non-landline (like in a tech support role or client emergency). But it doesn’t sound like there’s a legitimate need for this employee to have a mobile phone so who cares?

  52. Hoorah*

    LW3: People generally do not want to attend a one year old birthday of a child they barely know, unless there is a close relationship with the parents. If Bruce/Frank received an invitation it’s likely they’ll wonder what polite excuse to give you to avoid attending, or attend out of obligation. It’s completely fine to not invite them. In fact, I bet they’ll really prefer if you didn’t.

    I don’t mean this in an offensive way; one year old birthdays are a big deal to parents. I just don’t think you should be worried about upsetting Bruce or Frank who probably don’t really care about this.

  53. Hoorah*

    Alison’s right in that it’s none of the boss’s business…but really? No debit/credit card, no social media, no TV, not even a mobile phone? And seriously- you get *nothing* from googling her name?

    I bet she’s Elvis. Or a mass murderer.

    1. Myrin*

      Hey now, plenty of people above have said that they live similarly. In fact, I do as well, and I’d like to think that I’m neither Elvis nor a mass murderer. I’m 26 and I don’t have a credit card (they’re not horribly common in my country and I have yet to encounter a scenario where I’d absolutely need one); I only have TV insofar as my family has one because I’m not too terribly interested in shows and those I am interested in, I watch on my computer; I do have a mobile phone, but it’s eight years old, not a smart phone, and has served me very well for my purposes so far (I will have to replace it soon, though; it’s finally starte dying); I don’t have social media aside from a tumblr that is not in my native language and not under my real name – the reason for that is twofold: I don’t want to broadcast my life online but much more importantly I just don’t care about it at all, I don’t see any appeal in it or I would be using it; and googling me doesn’t turn up anything, either, unless you combine it with my alma mater, then you might find the one project of my doctoral advisor’s that I co-authored. But, I mean, if you don’t have social media, you simply are not going to be found by googling unless you are someone in a position where articles are written about you.

    2. SarahKay*

      Google my real name and the only hit you get is from my great-great grandmother, on ancestry sites. Which is how I like it. I like my privacy.

      1. Gadfly*

        One of the best arguments for changing my name when I married is now I have muddied my trail. I was the only one with my name in the country as far as I can find, and now several people share my name. If I keep a low profile, they’ll never find me with a simple google search!

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I kinda hope you are joking, but if not maybe take a look at some of the other comments that offer some potential explanations for why the employee might not want or be able to have a credit card, TV or on-line presence.

    4. Dizzy Steinway*

      You’ll get nothing from my name except a LinkedIn page and a couple of pages on my employer’s website.

      I work in mental health and social care. I changed my name when I got married and have made sure my online profile stays clean because it’s so much better for my line of work if I don’t have lots of internet stuff out there.

    5. Karyn*

      If you Google my name, you might find me, or you might find another person with my name who was mildly famous and died not long ago. Likewise, just because someone doesn’t have a social media presence doesn’t mean they’re weird. It just means they opt out.

      I also know plenty of people who don’t have mobile phones or, if they do, have very pared-down flip phones. Not everyone has a need for a smartphone.

  54. Lablizard*

    I feel like people under 25 can’t win. Either they are digital media obsessed smartphone junkies who are judged for caring to much debt and eating time and money on ephemeral “junk”, or, as in the case of today’s letter, judged for unplugging, distancing themselves from pop culture and being special snowflakes by not having electronic payments, no social media, etc..

    And I say this as someone who is well over age 25. At least my generation only got judged for being slackers and underperforming to expectations

  55. Bomb Yogi*

    #1 – I’m 34. I have no social media accounts. I have not had a credit card in years, because I worked really hard to dig myself out of debt (i.e. credit card, student loans, car loan) and I like being debt-free. I pay cash for everything (except my house). I know I’m considered weird to some people, but frankly, I don’t care.

    1. Not Australian*

      Yes, that’s another good explanation. Having had money troubles in the past, my better half and I don’t use credit cards these days. We do, however, have *debit*
      cards, since paying for things in cash is becoming difficult in many cases.

    2. that guy*

      I only have a credit card to pay for stuff I order online, and things like plane tickets and car rental. Most airlines and car rental places in my country only accept credit cards.

  56. Mookie*

    LW1, your reaction to your employee’s seemingly ascetic lifestyle is interesting to me on a number of levels. I know and have known a goodly handful of people who live their lives in similar fashion — for a variety of reasons, including necessity, sensibility, culture, and/or upbringing — and they generally fall into two camps: those who find such living especially and notably virtuous and those who amble along without taking much interest in what other people think. It’s usually members of the former that think they are being provocative, and who, without much prompting, rail against strawmen with objections eerily similar to your own. For the life of me, I didn’t think such people actually exist, but it takes all kinds to make a world. The advice here about expanding your own worldview is sound. Parochialism, after all, takes many forms. Perhaps your embarrassment and discomfort will lessen over time now that you’ve heard from the commentariat that this professional convention regarding forms of payment you think is standard and universal is, in fact, neither.

    1. London Calling*

      *Parochialism, after all, takes many forms.*

      + lots. That is such a splendidly polite slapdown I’m going to have to remember it. In fact, the whole post is superb.

  57. Dizzy Steinway*

    #4 I’d actually expect company articles to have the bylines of company figureheads / thought leaders / key people in any case.

  58. IrishEm*

    OP1: Cash is legal tender. Unless you are embarrassed because you as her manager were supposed to pay for the business lunch and instead made her pay her own way, thus highlighting that she is paying for something you should be covering, there is no reason for you to feel embarrassment at someone else using legal tender.

    Just yesterday I heard someone proudly telling of paying for something with €80 worth of 50 cent coins that had to be accepted as they were legal tender. Why you are embarrassed by your employee’s use of legal tender (I’m saying legal tender a lot to make my point blindingly obvious) is beyond me.

    1. Czhorat*

      That it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. If the employee had paid with fistfuls of coins that would be awkward and the LW works have a point. If, as someone else said, or read crumpled bills on their pocket or a battered wallet held together with duck tape that would be inappropriate. If they pay with bills in reasonable denominations then I’m not sure what the issue is.

      1. fposte*

        I’m not even buying that it’s inappropriate to pay with a wallet held together with duck tape, though, and even the other stuff is just mildly “Huh.” There’s no reason for the OP to feel embarrassed by it.

        1. Czhorat*

          I’d find that inappropriate because it makes you look poorly put together, the same way you’d not wear a torn jacket, scuffed shoes, or stained shirt. Ones clothing and accessories should be neat, business-appropriate, and reasonably well-meant aimed.

          1. IrishEm*

            But the employee paid the appropriate amount, did not come up short – it was described as exact change, which makes me wonder if the employee has a history of paying for stuff and not getting reimbursed (from friends, family, whoever). That’s still not embarrassing, imo.

            If I have a €50 note that looks like it went through the washing machine, as long as it is still acceptable as cash, then there is literally no reason in the world for me not to use it to pay for my lunch. If my piggy bank/swear jar has €50 in €1 and €2 coins, there is no reason for me not to use that money to pay for something.

            If the employee kept her cash in her bra or something, then (and only then) would I have a problem with her paying cash. That