drunk boss got angry I couldn’t drive him, emailing thank-you’s for routine office stuff, and more

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

1. My boss got drunk and was angry that I couldn’t drive him back to the office

I have been working at my job (a Fortune 500 company) for nine months, after I graduated college last year.

My boss and I went to a business lunch and he drank a lot. He was upset that I couldn’t drive us back to the office because I don’t have a driver’s license. He assumed I did. He didn’t tell me to drive until we were in the parking lot. I have epilepsy that makes me have seizures in my sleep. I have never had one when I an awake, but because it’s still epilepsy, I am not allowed to drive by law. I live in a large city with buses, cabs, and a subway, so I get along just fine if none of my family or friends can drive me.

I refused even though he insisted, and we had to take a cab back to the office and my boss had to take a cab back to get his company car the next day. Instead of expensing it, my boss and his boss want me to pay both cab fares. My boss said I should have told him I can’t drive. I work a desk job with no driving component and it was not mentioned in the requirements for my job. The cab fares totaled over $100 and I don’t think I should have to pay because my boss decided to get falling down drunk while he was on the clock. And even if I did have a license I wouldn’t have driven a company car without permission from someone higher than my manager. Is it okay to go to HR with something like this or is it expected I would have to pay?

You should absolutely go to HR about this! Under no circumstances should you have to pay this.

What’s weirdest here is that your boss’s boss is on board with trying to get you to pay this. One loon is not terribly unusual, as I’ve learned from nearly 10 years of writing this site, but two who are loony in precisely the same bizarre way is pretty surprising.

Anyway, yes, please talk to HR and explain that your boss got drunk at a business lunch, tried to pressure you to drive illegally despite your medical condition, and now is trying to force you to pay his cab expenses. Ask, too, that they handle this in a way where you’re protected from retaliation by your boss.

Read updates to this letter here and here.

2. Are you supposed to send email thank-you’s for routine office stuff?

I see a lot of answers on your site about thank-you’s as they relate to interviews, but I’m wondering about day-to-day stuff.

I often send short inquiries to clients/other professionals — stuff like “hi, do you have a copy of this report?”or “hi, what level of detail analysis would we need to do to write this teapot assessment?” When I get the response and I don’t have a follow-up question, the loop is effectively closed. Is it professional to respond to the email with a thank-you, or is that just cluttering up our already overtaxed in-boxes?

There’s no one right answer to this: some people will say a thank-you is polite or even expected (because it assures them that you got what you needed), some people will say it’s just in-box clutter, and some people don’t care either way.

I tend to send back a “thanks!” in most situations because I’d rather err on the side of cluttery but polite. However, sometimes I don’t if it’s someone who I already have a high level of email traffic with or if the requests are soooo routine that I know they won’t even register it.

But really, you can do this either way.

3. Going to a party in the evening after staying home sick

I have been sick all week and took off Thursday and Friday and I have had two days off. On Friday evening, I have a friends’ engagement party, which is 10 minutes from home. Would it be ethical to attend still, even though I had Friday off?

If you feel well enough to go, there’s nothing wrong with going. Sometimes you’re too sick to go to work, but perfectly capable of sitting in a friend’s living room for a couple of hours in the evening.

Of course, if the friends having the party are friends with any of your coworkers, you run the risk of looking like you were faking, in which case you might be better off sitting it out. But generally speaking, as long as you’re not abusing your sick leave, you’re entitled to decide what you are and aren’t well enough to do at any given time.

4. How long should I wait to hear back from a candidate after I call with a job offer?

I’m new to being a manager, and last week interviewed candidates for a part-time entry-level position. Monday I called to offer one of the candidates the job and got her voicemail. I left a voicemail along the lines of “I’d love to talk to you more about this position, please give me a call.” It felt weird to offer her the position in a voicemail. As of Wednesday, I still hadn’t heard back from her, I called her back Wednesday morning and left another voicemail, this time offering her the position, and I followed that up with an email in case I somehow have her phone number wrong.

How long do I wait to hear back from her before I move on to another candidate? I made it clear in the interviews that we were looking to get someone to start ASAP.

I think you’re in the clear to move onto other candidates now. I’d send her an email letting her know that since you haven’t heard back from her, you’re assuming she’s no longer interested in the position and you’re going to offer it to another candidate.

In the future, when you leave that second voicemail, I’d add something like, “Please let me know by Thursday if you’re interested in discussing the offer, since we’re holding off on getting back to other candidates until we hear from you.”

5. Boss never replies to emails/texts about being sick

My boss has a bad habit of never replying back to his team whenever​ someone messages him (either by text or email, or in some cases by both) to let him know that they won’t be in the office due to illness. Once, he acted like someone on our team no called, no showed (he sent an email to the team saying “I guess Joan won’t be here today?” when they had proof they had contacted him. He then gave Joan the cold shoulder for days after (saying hi to me and not her when she was next to me, etc.) Recently, I got very sick and contacted him to tell him I’d be out. Nothing. Yesterday I emailed him to say I needed to leave early, because I threw up at my desk, and asked if I could work from home (he was working off site). Nothing. However, he’s replied to others.

Is there a way I can approach this? It feels super unprofessional and makes me and others on the team feel like we can’t be sick or call out without him acting like a child about it. It’s causing resentment.

My guess is that he’s not consistent about checking emails and texts and genuinely doesn’t know people have contacted him (or who knows, maybe some of these emails are going to his spam folder). Regardless, he’s not doing his job here. If he has a problem with something someone is doing, he needs to talk to them and tell them what he wants them to do differently, not just sulk about it.

I’d say this to him: “I’m really diligent about emailing you if I’m going to be out sick, but I’m worried you don’t always see those messages. I wonder if they could be going to your spam folder? I’d never take sick time without alerting you, and I’ve gotten the sense you might be concerned that I am. Can we figure out what’s happening to the messages I’ve sent?” If nothing else, that will at least put him on notice that the next time he’s thinking you’re AWOL, you’re likely not — and that he will get pushback from you if he keeps doing this.

And if you hear him implying this about someone else, you could say, “Jane is so conscientious, it seems weird that she wouldn’t have sent a message if she was going to be out. Could it be in your spam folder or a text you haven’t seen yet?”

{ 757 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I don’t know if I agree about OP#5—if he’s giving people the cold shoulder, and he’s consistently only missing texts/emails about having to take sick leave, that’s an awful lot of very specific emails to miss (or find their way to a spam folder).

    I agree that it’s better to assume good intent when speaking to him. But if OP brings this up as suggested and it turns out Boss is in fact being petulant, this might be one of those times when it makes sense for the next step to include several employees banding together to give him feedback.

    1. Marzipan*

      I would also be tempted, in that situation, to loop in a reliable person in the office if I were calling in sick, as a backup. So, cc someone into the email (“Jane, I’m just copying you in in case Fergus isn’t available this morning, so people will know where I am” or whatever).
      (That said, my workplace would frown upon anything other than a phone call, so maybe that’s the other option – call and actually speak to him.)

        1. OP5*

          The one time I called it went to voicemail, so I left one. I got the sense, based off interactions I’ve had with him unrelated to sick time off, that he doesn’t make it a priority to listen to his voicemails right away either.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I think Alison is referring to the “looping in a reliable person as a backup” suggestion by cc’ing others. :)

            1. Gadfly*

              My OldJob required that we speak to our supervisor or leave a voicemail on her office number if after/before hours (and if we were nice, send her a text because she did like to know everything as early as possible), and that we leave a voicemail, email or text with one of our peers so they could start covering for us right away (supervisor came in later and stayed LATE), and that we do the same for the general floor manager in first. It was annoying, but things got covered appropriately

              1. Gadfly*

                By the way–I saw the birth of that policy, and it came from similar situations. And often there were time sensitive issues that did need to be addressed before Supervisor came in. So making sure the people would be dealing with any of that knew first thing was very useful.

                1. Noobtastic*

                  Yeah, in my old job, we each knew who would be covering for us for what, and in addition to calling/emailing/texting the supervisor, we were expected to contact the people who would be covering for us, as well. In fact, it was preferred that we actually talk to them (so either calling them early if we knew they were early-birds, or else calling them at the start of businesses) and speaking to them directly, so that we could say “X needs to be done, and Y can wait, and Z is a special case, so there are notes in the Z folder, but please call me if you have questions.”). Once you got that information out there, you were free to zone out, because most people would check the Z folder immediately, while on the phone with you, and get their questions done right then, so you could relax.

                  Also, we had a boss who liked us to use our sick leave and keep our germs and stupid “medicine-head” decisions at home.

                  So even on those days when the boss missed our sick-leave notices, the coverage was still done.

                  My cover partner (we were fully cross-trained, and covered for each other), and I even shared passwords (we were allowed), so that we could do the work, and we would go into the voice mail and email, and set up out-of-office messages, to cut down on the clutter and frustration for other people. This won’t work for a lot of people, but if you are allowed to share passwords and access each others’ voicemail and email, it is really very useful. We would also have a list of people to alert when we were out, so we could say, “Sally, please alert the team,” and the team would get an email, saying, “Noobtastic is out today. I’m covering for her.” It only took a few minutes in the morning, but it cut down SO MUCH on wasted time later in the day.

                  Another thing we did at that job was have a out-of-office calendar on the network that everyone could view (but only the admins could actually edit), and whenever anyone was scheduled to be out, they’d schedule it on the calendar, and when they had an unscheduled absence, they would alert that admin to update the calendar, so that if someone said, “Where is Fergus today?” they could first check the calendar to see if they were out of the office. If they were not on the calendar, then it was a question of checking their Outlook calendar to see if they were in meetings, or something. But everyone got trained quickly to check the out-of-office calendar first.

                  Clear lines of communication are wonderful.

              2. Just Another Techie*

                At my work it’s customary to email the whole team, so if boss is in a meeting or offsite, the most senior person in the office can get started on delegating the sick person’s work.

                1. AMPG*

                  This was the custom at my previous job, as well, and I think it’s a really good practice. Even now when I don’t have a “team” per se, I always notify both my boss and my direct report when I’m out.

                2. Honeybee*

                  This is the custom at my job, too. It’s also just in case others needed to contact you during the day – they’re alerted to the fact that you’re gone.

                3. Jadelyn*

                  My team usually does this as well, just to keep everyone looped in so no matter who is or isn’t in the office at a given time we all know who to expect and what to cover ourselves.

                4. Bea*

                  We do this where I’m at now. Then when the boss is like “oh is Billy out today?” Any of us can safely say “Yes, he sent an email this morning that he’s sick.”. It’s great.

          2. WheelsontheBus*

            Well that throws my theory out the window, that he was passive-aggressively hinting that he wanted a call, not a text or email.

            I support the other suggestions here, about copying in other staff/supervisors just so that someone knows – possibly even asking to the boss’s face who these messages are better directed to, since he seems to be too busy to keep track of them himself? (Though I’m sure someone else can word it better than that)

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              I think he’s passive aggressively hinting he doesn’t like it when people are out.

          3. LQ*

            I work at a place where the official policy is you call and you call until you reach a person, you start with your supervisor and then work through the rest of the supervisors in the place. I’d check your official policies and see if you have something like this in place. If you do and your supervisor is super passively aggressively “pushing” you to follow it you may want to actually follow it. By calling…over and over and over and over and over.

            (My boss does not do this WOOO!)

            1. Nan*

              That’s our official policy, too, and I hate it. I tell my team to text me, and if I don’t respond in an hour, text me again. I don’t think I’ve ever taken more than 5 minutes to respond. That’s how my supervisor and I do it, too. With a bunch of us all starting early in the day, and the rule that we are supposed to call at least an hour beforehand (barring emergencies) the odds of reaching someone at 6am are pretty nil. Send me a text.

            2. Lily Rowan*

              Yeah, I’ve worked under that policy, too, and think it’s generally silly in the world of smart phones. If I’m sick, I’d much rather email my boss when I realize I can’t come in, whether that’s 10 the night before or 6 that morning, because she will then see it before she even gets to the office. I’m probably going to want to be back asleep at 8:30, when people start getting into the office.

              I realize this does not apply to all kinds of jobs.

              1. Joan Callamezzo*

                The invention of smartphones was a godsend for this reason alone. I don’t want direct reports calling me at 6 AM to tell me they’ve been up vomiting all night and won’t be in at 8:30, and I don’t want to wake my VP for the same reason. Now I can send an email to everyone who needs to know (department admin, coworkers, boss), pass out, and wake up whenever I wake up.

                1. Sunshine*

                  Right. Ten years ago I felt like texting was inappropriate for this. Now, I fully support it as the best (and safest) way to communicate with me before coffee.

                2. Noobtastic*

                  Yes. I generally am not a text-person, but for this sort of thing, I love texts. I think this is why the Good Lord created smart phones. Other than that, I can take or leave them.

                  However, there are those, still, who have phones that do not allow texts. I am, currently, text-less, for personal reasons. It behooves you to know who in your team does not have texts, and either call them directly during working hours, or else enlist the aid of a reliable co-worker to contact them once the working day starts. There are not very many such people these days, so it should not be a real hardship, especially if you establish a good relationship with your coworkers, so they are willing to take that extra step for you (and you for them!) in the mornings.

                3. Caity*

                  Actually, I don’t think the onus is on anybody to know that you don’t have texting. As you said, it’s very unusual and I in fact did not even know that was a possibility with current phone plans.

      1. I Herd the Cats*

        Yeah, maybe it depends on the office setup, but at our office, if you’re out sick, you’re probably sending a notification to a group (the rest of accounting, or your program team) plus me, the office manager, so I know how to respond if someone’s looking for you. When I’m out unexpectedly, the CEO and senior team get the email, along with other support people.

        1. Dweali*

          It also probably depends how high up the career ladder OP5 is. For me (and the coworkers at my level) we call our supervisor if they don’t answer that’s when we call our manager (unfortunately texts/voicemails/emails are all unacceptable so we get to keep calling until they answer) so we only ever speak with one person and not have to loop in several people.

        2. Jessesgirl72*

          Yes, me too. I don’t just email my manager. I email the group, so that they know not to look for me.

      2. Anon today...and tomorrow*

        I do this! My boss is notorious for not filling in the rest of the team when someone takes a sick day. She doesn’t do it maliciously (as it seems #5’s boss is doing) but due to her high volume of work, it just gets forgotten. I’ve gotten in the habit of including both of the team leads (not management but they are directly under my boss and slightly above my position) in my email. They’re usually the ones who divvy up the work when someone is ill anyway so it just makes things easier. I felt weird about it at first but the leads both came to me and thanked me for including them and my boss has said that she doesn’t mind so…it’s worked. :)

      3. ThatGirl*

        I agree with the cc, even though my manager at my last job was very reliable, when I was sick I generally would CC the department head and a different manager I worked closely with just in case someone was out or something went awry.

      4. paul*

        That’s exactly what we all do in our team. That way if our boss has a morning meeting the information still gets out so our coworkers know.

      5. blushingflower*

        At my workplace, when we are going to be out sick, we usually email our staff manager as well as the staff we work with daily. For example, I work on two different contracts, so I email the Project Director for both of those (one of whom is my staff manager) as well as any other members of my team that I work with closely on a daily basis. That way my boss knows but so do the people who would actually be affected by my absence.

      6. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, CC-ing someone else is exactly what I was going to suggest. If there are any other collegues that you see regularly who would notice your absence, include them on the email. That way someone else has a record that you definitely sent that email! And if the boss says “I guess Jane isn’t showing up today,” then that person could say “I think Jane emailed us to say she was sick.”

        I have on a couple of occasions emailed my boss about things like this, and I copied another manager that isn’t my boss directly is someone I work with somewhat often and was working with on a project at that time.

        I also think it could be good practice to call first, and if you get the voicemail then leave a message and note that you did so in the email which you could phrase as just a sort of followup.

      7. Workaholic*

        I was just about top post this same thing. At my office most of us arrive before the boss, and sometimes he’s in meetings all day. Most of us leave him an email or voicemail but also let somebody else on the team know, who then notifies the entire team “Suzy won’t make it in till 10 / won’t make it in at all”. My employer (or at least the managers I’ve worked for) have been really big on “we’re all adults. I don’t need details. You say you’re sick and can’t make it in: we believe you.” Of course I’ve heard rumors of other type managers that get nasty about call ins regardless of how legit and serious.

      8. Kit Kendrick*

        It depends a bit on your job, but I will usually cc the one or two people who work most closely with me, so they can adjust accordingly.

        Another thing to consider is to use very clear subject lines, such as “Jane Doe out sick today April-01”. That means that someone who only skims their inbox will know the key information even if they don’t open the email. Including your name and date in the subject means there won’t be confusion about the source if anyone does a reply-all with a get well message, or with any previous out of office note you may have sent. It also makes it easier to find the message later if you need to prove it exists.

    2. Banana Sandwich*

      I’d love to be able to have the positive mind set Alison does.

      My boss also does this and I recently learned second hand that it “infuriates” her when anyone’s schedule changes unexpectedly, so she just doesn’t respond in the hopes that will prevent it from happening.

      I am so not looking forward to having to take intermittent FMLA leave in the next couple of months for the adoption of my son. :(

      1. Noobtastic*

        “so she just doesn’t respond in the hopes that will prevent it from happening.”

        What magic thinking is this?

        “And how’s that working out for you?”

      2. V.V.*

        Or worse than that, the boss that “forgets” to excuse your absence, then when your performance review happens months down the road, you discover from HR you are on probation due “no call, no shows” on your record that they don’t want to remove, no matter what evidence you have to show you phoned in.

        And since you generally trust your boss to handle this kind of thing, you may not have much evidence to make your case.

        This happened to me once. Luckily I had a copy of my sick note faxed and thereby time stamped from the Dr.’s office from the previous afternoon, and my call the next morning was still on my phone log.

        Suddenly one “NCNS absence” was “no big deal”, no need to correct it since I would not be disciplined.

        I said “if it’s no big deal than remove it please.”

        I heard: “Oh the system isn’t set up that way; it’s alot of trouble; it’s only the first time, and you are allowed three before you are fired!”

        They hemmed and hawed until I threatened to call the Union. I fear the results had I not had this recourse.

        After enough similar things happened to coworkers who were let go for NCNS they never knew they had (and denied unemployment) pattern emerged and people got wise.

        Once the 3rd strike happened it was no longer the manager’s discretion whether or not to keep you. You were let go for job abandonment. It was an easy way for the boss to get rid of you since it wasn’t just NCNS, 3 unexcused tardies (that they could just mark down without ever telling you about) = 1 NCNS.

        Even though some strongly worded exchanges with the Union eventually put a stop to most of this, the damage was done for many of the affected workers.

        Now, I have learned to keep scrupulous records of my attendance regardless of where I am working or the job.

        If something like what is happening w/ OP 5, kept up I would really be concerned.

    3. NJ Anon*

      Start using read receipts on your emails to him. I have to do that with my boss because she only responds to emails about 50% of the time.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That’s not a guarantee though. Some people turn off the setting to send them back. There is one person in my organization who requests them on every single email and I checked the setting on my inbox not to send them because of that.

        1. LQ*

          Same. I’ve absolutely shut read receipts off. That doesn’t mean I haven’t read them, it just means you’re bugging me with every single email demanding a read receipt like you think you’re the only person ever who knows how to do their job and you don’t know how it works because you assume everyone’s email box is as full as yours and as unorganized because you keep all your read receipts and act like they are messages you need to act on in your in box so you can complain about how busy you are and how many emails you get because you once heard a director say that so you think if you do it too you’ll seem as busy and special as the director.

          Whew. I agree about the ccing coworkers being a stronger tool than read receipts though.

      2. Marzipan*

        I hate read receipts so much that I always say no when my email tells me the person requested one. (I do immediately email them back, though).

      3. Solidus Pilcrow*

        Read receipts won’t work if the boss doesn’t actually read the email…

        I mean, it may be a bit of a CYA if he *does* read the emails and then makes a habit of ‘forgetting’ he read them and making snarky comments (or dinging the performance eval), but that’s not really the case here. Looks like the boss just doesn’t read/listen to messages and then makes assumptions.

    4. Queen of the File*

      I agree that the read on this situation might have been a bit optimistic. To me it seems like even if the boss is genuinely missing messages he’s so defensive about it that he’s publicly blaming the other person–it seems unlikely to me that a helpful chat will work.
      I am likely biased though, having been in a similar situation (insecure boss trying to discredit people he thought were outshining him by making it look like they were AWOL). Things in our situation did improve quite a bit when we started ccing others on our ‘away’ notifications as Marzipan suggests below.

      1. blushingflower*

        But sometimes the “helpful chat” is actually a passive-aggressive way of saying “I see what you’re doing and I’m not going to let you get away with it”.

    5. Mazzy*

      My bosss doesn’t respond to these. I think it’s because there isn’t really much to say besides a “get better” and he knows I’m going to either come in the next day or email again.

      1. JustaTech*

        My boss generally doesn’t respond either, but I wish he would, mostly so I have some confirmation that I actually sent that email at 3am from the bathroom. Although the last time it happened (and I needed him to do some time-sensitive lab work) it turned out he caught the same thing I had, so he wasn’t thinking great.

        1. Noobtastic*

          My old boss just replied “OK.” Not much more to say, but it assured that the message was received.

    6. Lily in NYC*

      Yes, I have to disagree with Alison on this one! My boss never takes a day off and is very annoyed when people call in sick (and then she gets mad when you show up sick to work – ha). She never, ever responds if I email in sick (that’s our office’s preferred method, not a call). I once got a curt “ok” when I had really bad vertigo and fainted at the office the day before. She has one favorite that she emails back when she’s sick to tell her to get better soon. No one else gets a response. The boss before this one was even worse – he would always accuse people of faking if they called in sick and would text them all day long with work questions just to be a jerk (he got fired for accusing his assistant of FMLA fraud when she had to have a hysterectomy. He gossiped about it with everyone and three separate people turned him into HR).
      I have seen this time and time again and I don’t think it’s just someone who is too busy to read emails. In my experience, it’s a passive aggressive way to show annoyance without actually saying anything.

      1. Noobtastic*

        I’m glad he got fired, because I do believe he was breaking the law, there.

        Good for your company’s HR.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I have nothing to add to Alison’s advice except to say that I’m livid on your behalf, and I think your Boss and Grandboss are being ridiculous. Was Grand Boss aware of what happened? Or did your Boss complain to your Grand Boss, thus offering his (skewed) perspective of events? I’m hoping it’s the latter, because otherwise these two really deserve each other.

    This story is a close second to the story about the Boss who woke up his report in the late late evening to demand a ride from the airport and then disciplined her for being dressed “inappropriately.”

    1. Artemesia*

      The OP doesn’t have a driver’s license. She may not actually know how to drive. This is the absolutely most ridiculous story I have ever read — This is one that should go all the way to the CEO if necessary.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Absolutely agreed. Not only doesn’t have a driver’s license but is medically barred from even obtaining a license!

      2. MR*

        I completely agree, however my one piece of advice to the OP, would be to learn how to drive in the event of an emergency.

        You never know when you may need to take the wheel if something happens to the driver, or you need to move a vehicle in a dangerous situation. At least develop the skills needed to do so…

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          But OP#1 stated, “I am not allowed to drive by law.” I don’t think this is a situation where we should advise OP to learn how to drive.

          1. MR*

            This is not an emergency situation, so I’m not talking about this scenario.

            But it’s a skill the OP should have, should an actual emergency arise…

            1. Robm*

              How would you suggest that someone who cannot legally operate a motor vehicle go about obtaining instruction on doing something they cannot legally do, when it’s something they need to do in order to learn how to do it?

              You can’t exactly learn to drive from behind a desk in a classroom.

              1. tink*

                It’d literally only be doable if they lived remotely enough (or knew someone that did) so that they could practice on private land. I personally feel the risks outweigh the possible use.

                1. Mags*

                  We all knew how to drive as soon as we could reach the peddles (certainly by age 8 for me). Farm kid, and it would be entirely plausible for us to have been with a parent who was severely injured while being half a mile (even in the field right beside our house) to several miles away from a phone or other assistance. So I completely agree with MR.

                2. tink*

                  (Replying to Mags, since we’ve hit the nesting limit.)
                  The problem is that not everyone has that access–OP has public transit including subway, so they’re in a metro area (assuming they’re in the US) and may not know anyone that lives rurally enough or with enough private land for them to learn. And since they can’t legally obtain a license, they also can’t gain a learner’s permit, which means they can’t take any of the courses offered in metro areas to teach adult learners to drive. If OP (and the person(s) teaching them) got caught, there could be serious, expensive consequences. OP could have a seizure while driving and wreck, injuring themselves or others. The risks massively outweigh the potential use and telling them they need to learn “for emergencies” is bad advice that completely ignores what is actually going on in OP’s letter.

                3. Natalie*

                  If the OP perhaps ever moves to a farm, this will become relevant. I sort of doubt that will happen though, since they don’t drive.

                4. the gold digger*

                  We all knew how to drive as soon as we could reach the peddles (certainly by age 8 for me). Farm kid…

                  My mom was out working with her dad when she was ten. She had to go home to get to a birthday party, so he told her to drive the tractor home. It turned out OK, but man – a ten year old? Driving a tractor? I guess it was done in 1953, but it sure doesn’t seem like a good idea!

                5. LiveAndLetDie*

                  Even if they lived remotely enough to practice on private land it would still run up against the part where they are not legally allowed to operate a motor vehicle because of their condition.

                6. Bea*


                  Country kids still drive tractors today, I promise you thats no outdated practice.

                7. LiveAndLetDie*

                  I honestly cannot believe that people here are advocating that someone with a legitimate medical reason they cannot get a license or drive a motor vehicle should be getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, regardless of whether laws cover private roads or not.

              2. Lee*

                My dad taught me in a parking lot when I was 13. There are ways to learn but its totally a moot point. Cars will be automated soon I believe…

                1. Jadelyn*

                  I learned on the back roads at my local community college campus when I was 12, and used to practice when we went camping, by driving our SUV on dirt roads in the back of beyond. There are definitely ways, but this really probably isn’t a fruitful line of discussion since the OP hasn’t indicated any interest in learning anyway.

                  But they can pry my manual control over my car out of my cold dead hands, frankly. My grandboss bought a car recently that is “smart” enough to detect when you’re drifting over a line, and if you don’t have your turn signal on, it will nudge the wheel to keep you in your lane/wake you up and let you know you’re drifting because it assumes you didn’t mean to be changing lanes or whatever. I don’t know how he stands it!! My car isn’t supposed to tell me what to do, I’m supposed to tell it what to do.

                2. Not A Morning Person*

                  I understand the impulse to say “just in case” but it doesn’t seem like a case that is likely enough to expect OP to do something she’s legally prevented from doing. And even if the OP would choose to purchase a self-driving car, there still will most likely be a licensed driver required who is conscious and not having a seizure while in the car. At least for the foreseeable future. Can we stop telling her to do something she’s legally prevented from doing, just in case?

                3. Talvi*

                  In Alberta, you can get your learner’s license as young as 14, so learning to drive in a parking lot at 13 doesn’t seem excessively outrageous to me…

              3. JKP*

                Well, that 8 year old kid who made headlines this week for driving his 4 year old sister to McDonalds after their parents had fallen asleep, he told police that he learned to drive from YouTube. And witnesses all said he drove very well, obeying all laws and speed limits.

                1. Evan Þ*

                  If he’s anything like me when I first started driving, of course he observed speed limits; he probably went well under them too.

                  (Just don’t talk to that bush I crashed into at a sedate 5 mph. No damage to the car, fortunately; I was able to stop well before hitting anything solid.)

              4. Noobtastic*

                There might, MIGHT be some sort of closed-course driving school. Maybe.

                You certainly can’t get real-road experience, and even driving around an empty parking lot is risky, should a curious cop stop you.

                You can learn the technicalities from behind a desk in a classroom. Some drivers ed classes actually have simulators. But these high-tech classes are not easy to find.

                It’s a good thought, and I agree in preparation for a variety of emergencies. Heck, I encourage everyone to take full CPR/AED training, and fire extinguisher training, and any other safety training on offer. However, it is not always possible or practicable.

                It’s worth looking into, but OP, don’t fret if you can’t manage it. If you live in a city with good public transport, the odds are very small that you will be the only human being around needed to drive. You’re surrounded by people all the time, and taxis (and taxi drivers) abound.

              5. ZuKeeper*

                Pretty sure I just saw a news story about a 7 year old who learned how to drive from watching videos on YouTube. So, technically, you could learn it behind a desk. Still not legal, but…

            2. Oh my word*

              I gasped out loud. Please no, don’t try to talk someone behaving sensibly and legally into breaking the law for the sake of imaginary scenarios. They aren’t permitted behind the wheel, full stop

              1. Kyrielle*

                This. The OP is in a major metro area – and is not legally allowed to drive. The odds that they will be in an emergency scenario where driving a car is necessary and there is a car available for them to drive, are tiny. The odds – given that the seizures occur only in their sleep – that they will *cause* an emergency by driving are also tiny, but non-zero. There is no reason for this. OP is unlikely to ever be far from someone else who can drive (cab driver, another person who can move a car, emergency services) given the life they have set up for themselves. Note that OP and boss had no trouble getting back to the office; the boss merely objects to the cost, and probably to feeling silly since he didn’t make sure the OP *could* drive him back before getting drunk.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  Being in a major metro area also means that there is not a ton of open farmland owned by friends (even in the country, you might not be assigned lots of friends who have hugs plots of land covered in private roads) so that she can practice driving without using actual roads.

                  (My oldest learned to drive in large part at Grandma’s, which is a) deep in the country; b) an airplane ride away. The practical advice there is ‘have a relative you visit often who lives on a big spread deep in the country.’)

                2. BeautifulVoid*


                  This has less to do with whether or not the OP can drive and more to do with the boss being an ass. (Or nothing to do with whether or not the OP can drive and everything to do with the boss being an ass, if you ask me.) I realize this is a stretch, but what if there was just some temporary, invisible reason preventing the OP from driving (minor fracture in the right foot, new medication, I don’t know), and the boss just incorrectly assumed she’d be able to drive him back to the office. The answer is still the same. And you know the old saying about making assumptions….

                3. Noobtastic*

                  Actually, a lot of city people, those born and bred in the city, don’t even bother to get their drivers’ license, regardless of legal restrictions, because it’s too expensive to even own and garage a car, and with the public transportation, it’s not necessary, and they have other things they’d rather do with their time.

                  I’m not advocating for this, but neither am I judging. The odds of not having anyone nearby who can drive for you are really slim.

                  Of course, if such a city person should move to a less urban area, or even a major urban area with lousy public transportation (I’m talking to YOU DFW!), then they certainly should learn to drive at that point. But not if they’re not legally allowed to.

                  The OP should not do anything they’re not legally allowed to do, so unless they can actually find a high-tech/closed-course driving school that will allow them this emergency training on simulators, then they just have to hope that the odds will continue in their favor.

              2. Bea*

                And I’m shocked people think if a crazy scenario popped up the OP wouldnt figure a car out. Most of learning to drive is practical and learning the laws of the road. I know too many who don’t have licenses or training and can start one up if they stumble across a ridiculous situation that the only option is to drive or die.

            3. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

              If OP can’t legally drive, then OP can’t qualify for a learner’s permit, so there isn’t a way for them to even legally learn. I didn’t learn to drive until I was in my 30s because of an eye problem that is thankfully well-controlled now, but when I was younger my vision wasn’t good enough to safely drive. I did take driver’s ed in my mid-20s at a time when I was in between disease flares, but then I wasn’t able to even practice driving again until years later. I basically remembered nothing that I learned, because I wasn’t able to consistently practice it. I don’t even feel that I got good at driving until after I got my license and was having to do it on my own for a while. So I doubt how useful learning to drive and then never doing it would even be in an emergency, aside from the legality issue. I can’t really think of an emergency situation where having an inexperienced and unsafe driver would be very helpful.

              1. Alton*

                I agree. I’m in a similar position–I actually just had my first lesson after not driving at all in years (and having very little experience, period), and I was a little disappointed to find that it felt like starting from scratch.

                1. Lily Rowan*

                  Oh, that’s a bummer. I also haven’t driven in years, but kind of assumed in the back of my head that I would be able to take the wheel in an emergency!

            4. Lablizard*

              The OP has epilepsy. An emergency won’t suddenly make it safe for her to drive and trying to drive could make a bad situation worse. It is a nice skill to have, assuming it is safe for you to operate a motor vehicle, but not a necessary one

              1. Solidus Pilcrow*

                Agreed. Each person is different, but it’s generally known that stress tends to increase or induce seizures. An emergency is probably the worst time for someone with epilepsy to try to take the wheel.

            5. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Are you serious? OP#1 has a medical condition that prohibits them from driving. You’re advocating that they break the law.

              Plenty of people get along just fine without driving.

            6. aebhel*

              No, it really isn’t. It’s illegal for people with epilepsy to drive because they can potentially pose a danger to other people on the road. OP has a medical condition that prevents her from driving. Do you also advise legally blind people to learn to drive ‘just in case’?

              1. JessaB*

                This depends on the jurisdiction and on how well controlled the epilepsy is. In some places if you’re seizure free for anywhere over 6 mos to over a year or more by statute you can drive. Heck some states don’t even bother to make law about it.

                That doesn’t mean you SHOULD or that your doctor would think it’s a good idea. Just because something might not be illegal where you live, doesn’t mean you should do it. NB the boss getting drunk off their heads during business hours. Not illegal (unless you drive a truck or something,) but still not something you should do.

                1. Newby*

                  I have epilepsy too and stopped driving because of it. I have had friends advise me that I should keep driving anyway at least occasionally to “just in case”. I have pointed out that there is literally no reasonable scenario where me driving would be the best option. Medical emergency: call an ambulance. Driver got drunk: call a cab or an uber or even just sleep in the car. Cell phone not working: use a phone in whatever building I was leaving.

                  Having another person who can drive may make planning for some outings easier, but it is never the only option. The risk that I would get into an accident and then be liable for all the damages due to either lying to get my licence or driving without a licence makes it really not worth it.

              2. Falling Diphthong*

                This was a great episode of Mythbusters, actually. But they had the use of an abandoned town.

            7. Jessesgirl72*

              An emergency situation of high stress would be the worst time for an epileptic to get behind the wheel of a car.

              In an emergency, call an ambulance.

            8. fposte*

              Yeah, it’s a perfectly fine skill not to have even if you *could* legally drive. If you can’t, there’s no gain in safety by having you learn it. This is like people who believe everybody should be able to change their own tires, code their own UNIX, etc., which is mostly prioritizing a skill the speaker has as something that should be universal, despite the fact that a lot of people’s time is better spent prioritizing other precautions.

              1. Natalie*

                Indeed, I was just thinking about that. There are tons of things it would be useful to know how to do “for emergencies” – give the Heimlich maneuver properly, tie a tourniquet, start a fire, orient yourself using the stars, I could probably think of more. For some reason the topic of driving is the only place I see people absolutely flabbergasted that someone hasn’t learned because you might need to in an emergency!

                As an urban person, I’ve never needed to drive unexpectedly because of an emergency, nor do I know anyone who has. But I’ve needed the Heimlich maneuver more than once.

                1. fposte*

                  And from a safety precaution standpoint, installing and testing the batteries in a smoke detector would probably outrank it too.

                  But cars are a big U.S. deal and learning to drive is the main official rite of passage, so I can see that that one looms large.

                2. GH in SOCal*

                  Mine get tested about twice a week when I forget to close the kitchen door while broiling.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                Yep. I was standing at a bus stop in London one evening when a bus abruptly stopped in traffic. A car hit the back of it, and another car hit the first car (low speed in peak traffic; no one was hurt). A woman with two kids was waiting near me and we were like, “OMG did you see that?” Then we started chatting and she said she’d lived in the city her entire life and had never driven a car or learned to drive because she quite literally didn’t have to. Even with two children in tow, there are plenty of ways to get around.

                Of course there are skills everyone should have, and if you drive long distances and you’re physically capable of changing a tire, you should know how so you don’t have to ask the next Ted Bundy to do it for you. But OP cannot do this, and she shouldn’t have to.

              3. Tau*

                Agreed. I’m a European who’s lived in urban environments all their life and doesn’t have a license, and I honestly couldn’t think of an emergency where my (lack of) ability to drive would be the critical issue. (On the other hand, I do really need to check the batteries in my smoke detector!)

                1. nonegiven*

                  If you’ve seen people drive and you are a front seat passenger when the driver has a medical emergency and goes unconscious, you can probably grab the wheel and keep it straight while you grab the gear shift a put it in Park. Don’t need a license for that or they would require a license for front seat passengers

              4. LadyL*

                Kind of an extreme example, but along those lines, similar to the people who insist we’d all be safer if we all carried guns. Because I’m interested in teaching as a career the yahoos who insist I need to carry a weapon in the classroom scare the shit out of me. I have anxiety, poor hand eye coordination, I’m very jumpy, and I have depression and have engaged in self-harm in the past. Me owning a gun would never in a million years make anyone “safer”. Not all humans need to have *all* the skills “just in case”. We’re better off working as a team in an emergency.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  “We’re better off working as a team in an emergency.” THIS THIS THIS. That’s how humans have gotten this far, by being social animals who specialize and then share specialized skills among their community so everyone benefits from all the skills without having to know everything.

              5. Lissa*

                Yup. I am also not supposed to drive (vision issues in my case) and have people tell me all the time that I should learn anyway, get around it somehow, etc. I just really don’t see why. It seems highly unlikely that I’m ever going to be in a situation where I’m going to need to know to drive — I live in a city, 911 is a thing, public transit is a thing. Sure, it is hypothetically possible, but it’s also hypothetically possible I’d need to do various other skills in an emergency situation — but nobody ever tells me I need to learn those ones! All these stories about people learning on farms as children are great but not really relevant to a lot of people’s lives.

                1. Noobtastic*

                  Yeah, if you do go on a country outing, far out in the boonies, with no cell phone coverage (and thus no ability to call for emergency aid), don’t go alone, and make sure at least one of your travel partner(s) know how to drive. This is good planning.

                  I advise against people going mountain climbing, swimming, or any other outdoorsy activity that carries a large element of risk, all by themselves. That’s how we end up with movies about people cutting their own arm off to survive, because they were foolish enough to go do these things by themselves.

                  But as long as you’re in your normal habitat (city with public transportation with which you are so familiar you don’t even need a time-table to get around), then you’re already prepared for whatever emergencies might hit you in that habitat. All the desert survival techniques won’t be of any value to you in a temperate urban area.

              6. Noobtastic*

                I am short. My father taught me how to change a tire, but he could not make me grow tall enough to actually REACH the darned thing in the trunk. Yes, in order for me to get the spare, I have to physically climb into the trunk of the car and wrestle it out, and it just. does. not. work.

                So basically, my knowledge is theoretical, and practically useless, because if I have someone big enough to help me get the spare out of the trunk (and the old one into it!), they are just as physically able to turn the lug nuts as I am, so it’s not likely they’ll hand the wrench over to me at that point, anyway.

                It’s perfectly alright not to do every single thing yourself. In fact, specialization, so that you’re really good at those things you do choose to learn, is a good thing. Unless you’re a complete loner, you’re likely to be part of a group, circle of friends, neighborhood, community, that includes other people who have various specialties, and cover all the bases.

            9. LadyL*

              Should an actual emergency arise OP should call 911, a friend, a cab, an uber, or any number of legal and safe solutions. The law has determined that it is *unsafe* for OP to drive, in case of a seizure. Unless something changes, OP should not ever be behind the wheel, because they could be a danger to themselves and others (they could cause the emergency). It is very reckless advice to suggest they should flout the law and just learn.

              Also, being able to drive at all times is not required for safety. Americans have a very skewed perspective about cars (I say this as a Michigander born and raised). I was just reading a comment thread on a different website where someone was arguing that any parent who imbibes anything that impairs driving is a horrible negligent parent, like if you have kids you are no longer allowed to ever have a few drinks in the evening because what if an emergency happened and you couldn’t drive? I know lots of people who live in big cities and never learn to drive at all, and it’s never a problem for them. In many other countries driving is not considered an essential skill. There are many other options out there, and (IMHO) we’d be much better off as a country if fewer people owned cars and more people took the bus (if only my state would bother to invest in public transit).

            10. Liane*

              Even in an **actual emergency** it is illegal for OP to drive, whether she knows how or not. This would be true even if OP was an ex-racing or stunt driver who had held a license for 20 years pre-diagnosis.

            11. MacAilbert*

              People always tell me that, and I don’t get it. What the hell kind of emergency is addressed by trying to drive twenty years after a week of lessons? I did driver’s ed behind the wheel only a few years ago, and I couldn’t drive now. Trying to drive in an emergency just sounds like throwing fuel on the fire, and I can’t even imagine what that emergency would be.

            12. Q*

              Uh, OP not driving is a case of not causing emergencies: if they drive, it could cause an emergency where someone needs to take the wheel.

        2. Manders*

          At least in the US, the law is very strict when it comes to epilepsy. You cannot be behind the wheel at all within a certain period of time (6 months, I think?) after having a seizure, and when an ongoing condition like OP’s is involved you cannot drive, period. No driving school or responsible friend would allow her to practice driving in a real motor vehicle, period.

          It does suck to be barred from driving, but I work in a field where I sometimes see the aftermath of what happens when people with conditions like OP’s have a medical event while driving. It can get very dangerous very fast and totally without warning.

          1. Jeanne*

            6 months is correct but the wheels turn slowly. The year I had a seizure I had it in April. The state contacted me in August to turn in my license. I did. My doctor gave me permission in Oct to drive again and I got my license back. I hadn’t been driving in those months but government can be awfully inefficient.

            1. JamieS*

              Sorry if I missed something but if you had a seizure in April and got your license back in October then wasn’t the government running right on schedule since there’s a 6 months driving ban? Or were you referring to them taking away your license?

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I think Jeanne is saying she had a seizure in April, the State didn’t contact her until August to suspend her license, and by October it was reinstated. I.e., it took nearly 4 (of the 6) months for the State to even follow up.

              1. MacAilbert*

                *Cuts funding to essential public services*

                *Public services now function very slowly and the staff are stressed out and angry at everybody all the time*

                “See, government is inefficient. We shouldn’t trust them with stuff.”

            2. Salyan*

              Ha – sounds about right. My dad has epilepsy, and didn’t drive for most of my childhood. Because of all the bother of losing license/reapplying for license, he actually just had an agreement with his doctor where he promised not to drive for a year after a seizure, and his doctor wouldn’t bother pulling his license. It may have been informal, but it worked for them.

          2. Mr McGregor's Gardener*

            Did anyone hear about the Glasgow bin lorry crash in 2014? A driver with a history of blacking out, due to sudden drops in blood pressure, who’d lied about his condition to get a heavy goods vehicle license, fainted behind the wheel of a bin lorry while driving down a busy high street, and killed 6 people, including 3 members of the same family. He somehow avoided prosecution, and was caught driving again in 2015.

            1. neverjaunty*

              In my state (and in much of the US), you could also get sued into oblivion.

              The OP is being responsible.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  Yep. But for some reason people are often more worried about lawsuits than criminal charges for harming others.

                2. Aveline*

                  Not murder, but manslaughter. There’s legally a difference.

                  Most people conflate the two. Normally, I wouldn’t be so pedantic about it, but we are talking about this from a legal perspective.

                  I’m not pointing this out to criticize you, as I’m sure you meant murder in the large, all encompassing, sense.

                3. Aveline*

                  No, but you could get charged with manslaughter.

                  No state would treat this as “murder.” That requires either intent to kill or killing in commission of another felony (and not just any felony, but specifically enumerated ones).

                  This isn’t my area of law, but we spent quite a bit of time on it and law school.

                  Lay people off and use “murder” quote for any type of killing. In this case, since were talking about legal issues, we should use the term manslaughter.

                  Or just use the term “killing”.

                4. Bookworm*

                  I don’t know about other states, but at least within the state of California, they can formally charge people with 2nd-degree murder (as opposed to vehicular manslaughter) under certain circumstances.

                  I’m under the impression this is reserved for pretty egregious DUI offenses, however. Like if someone had multiple DUIs already and then drove drunk and killed someone, that sort of thing.

                5. Noobtastic*

                  Replying to Aveline

                  In my state, it can be murder. There was a man who went to my church who was sent to prison for a decade or so for vehicular homicide for killing his wife (passenger seat) while driving drunk.

                  Not even manslaughter. It was flat-out murder charge.

                  I think a lot depends on the municipality and local laws. Your laws do not apply everywhere.

                6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Knowingly driving with a legally-disqualifying medical condition can give rise to murder charges, depending on the state.

                  The common law definitions of manslaughter and murder aren’t used in states that have adopted the model penal code definitions (murder / manslaughter / negligent homicide), and in states with definitions that simply depart from common law. For example, California uses “second-degree murder” as a catch-all that includes things like DUI vehicular homicides and shooting a gun off in a crowded room, which the common law would usually define as manslaughter.

                  But I’m not sure if debating over terminology really helps address OP’s problem. All that matters is that the boss’s behavior was/is audacious and indefensible.

                7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  @Bookworm, in California a DUI-involved homicide is second-degree murder if: (1) the defendant has a prior DUI conviction, and (2) they are drunk and cause an accident that kills someone.

                  So it doesn’t have to be that egregious, but you do have to have been convicted of a DUI prior to the accident in which you drunkenly kill someone for it to escalate from manslaughter to murder-2.

        3. Casuan*

          MR, your suggestion is good theory although not in practicality. Besides the legality due to the OP’s medical condition, even if she learned to drive without getting a licence… because of how Boss & GrandBoss are reacting to the current situation, I’m guessing they’d be just as unreasonable if there was an emergency & OP drove, especially without a licence.
          The skill could be used in an emergency with friends, however it really isn’t worth the risk.

          1. krysb*

            One of my older brother’s friends was in a horrific car wreck when he was a kid. A diabetic lady went into a sugar crash and passed out at the wheel, causing it to wreck into the car he was riding in. He was in the backseat, so he lived, but broke his leg in three places (leaving him with a bad limp for the rest of his life). However, it killed his mom and his siblings. It was unforeseen and tragic episode, but one has to wonder if the lady driving the other car had a history of sudden crashes like that.

            1. MommyMD*

              It’s actually a foreseen tragedy if she was a non compliant diabetic. Those get turned into the DMV by their doctors all the time.

              1. Anon for this (a different one)*

                F*cking what? On what planet are doctors calling a third party to inform about their patients’ health and treatment (also who defines “non-compliant”)? Okay, just Googled it and all I’m finding applies to the EU and UK, and most is about reversing the bans because reasonable people are realizing the bans are potentially discriminatory.

                (This idea is reminding me of that scene in Requiem For A Dream where the guy gets an infection in the needle site of his shooting arm and instead of treating him, the ER docs call the cops.)

                1. Candi*

                  Because people with medical conditions that make it impossible for them to safely drive a half-ton hunk of metal and plastic at any speed are a danger to everyone else on the road. As stories already mentioned in this extended comment thread show.

                  If the person refuses to comply with treatment that reduces or potentially eliminates that danger, other people and the government have to step in to keep everyone else safe.

            2. Mazzy*

              Wow I thought this might be a worst case scenario but I never heard of it actually happening how sad

        4. Cedrus Libani*

          It’s reasonable for someone who doesn’t drive by choice to learn the basics, for emergency purposes. But the OP actually can’t drive, for legal reasons. And if OP is in an urban area where you can get a taxi, it’s probably not a good place for the novice (or extremely rusty) driver.

          I’m a non-driver myself – I’m a one-eyed former narcoleptic, so I just never learned, and I live in cities so I don’t really need to. I do have a driver’s license, but never took a road test. I did a few laps around a deserted parking lot when I was 17, and could drive in an absolute emergency, but I haven’t touched a steering wheel in over a decade. Trust me, you do not want me to be your chauffeur. I would have done the same thing as the OP.

          1. Lori*

            The only place I can see this as valuable would be in a place when driver is having a medical condition themselves and is passed out at the wheel. It would be helpful for the OP to know where the brake is, etc. (similar to some children that have saved their parents or school bus driver by pulling over to the side of the road in an emergency).

            This would be only in a true emergency happening while already on the road. Boss being drunk and wants her to drive does not qualify.

            1. Renee*

              My teen daughter isn’t old enough to drive, but I’ve pointed out the brake and told her some of the basics for this reason. I’ve never put her behind the wheel and don’t expect her to learn how to drive until she’s legally able, but I wanted her to at least know how to steer and stop the car if something were to happen to the driver. There’s no reason to force anyone to drive if they’re not physically or mentally able to (I had a driving phobia for many years that I’ve overcome, but I managed well enough without driving and expect that others do as well).

              The boss in this scenario is entirely unreasonable, and I hope that HR isn’t more of the same bad culture.

        5. Katie the Fed*

          MR – that’s well beyond the scope of this question though.

          People don’t drive for all kinds of reasons. That’s their business, not yours.

          1. L*

            Totally agree! I have a driver’s license but would not drive someone else’s car if my boss (or anyone) asked me to. I ride my bike and use public transportation (and have for the past 7 or so years), so I don’t have car insurance. An accident could bankrupt me (in addition to potentially causing injury/death/etc.)! If driving is not part of your job, you should not be expected to drive, period.

            1. JKP*

              If I let someone drive my car, my car insurance covers them, so it doesn’t matter if they have insurance or not. But probably not if they don’t have a driver’s license.

            2. Turtle Candle*

              I don’t drive because I don’t feel like I’m safe behind the wheel. I have bad eyesight, no depth perception, and am both clumsy and have an overdeveloped startle reflex. I did learn to drive, and for some years I did drive regularly out of necessity, but the best I ever got was ‘mediocre’ during the day and ‘poor’ at night. So I considered it the responsible thing to do to put myself in a situation where I do not have to endanger people by being on the road; I now live in an area where I can get around perfectly well sans car.

              Thing is, despite considering myself too dangerous to drive, I still have a license. I got it in a state where the driving instructor–as in, the person you were paying to teach you to drive–could administer the driving test. And of course it was bad for their business if word got out that they tended to fail people, so you could pretty much get a license as long as you didn’t actually run someone over during the test or something. Once I had that license, even when I moved to states with much stricter driving test requirements (Washington, California) I could just trade in my license for the new state’s license, no test required. So I am legally allowed to drive. I just don’t think it’s responsible or safe for me to do so, so I haven’t for over five years now.

              Once in a blue moon someone will try to push me to drive for sake of convenience–and for those who don’t drop it after a “I don’t drive” and a “Yes, I do technically have a valid license, but I don’t consider myself safe to drive” get a very frank “I don’t drive because I’m a very bad driver, and I assume you do not want me running your car into a lightpole–or worse.” That usually ends it, I think because people are pretty startled to hear anyone self-describe as a bad driver.

              1. Starbuck*

                Your last point is absolutely right- I think it’s because almost everyone who drives considers themselves an above-average driver!

          2. V.V.*

            Katie the Fed – I am sure you posted this well before the massive multi – comment pile up above, so this isn’t entirely directed at you. If I may say my piece however…

            Some people are treating MR like they told a 5 – year old to play with a table saw and handed them the step stool to reach it.

            Not that they tried to pursuade an adult person to consider educating themselves about the operation of a motor vehicle should such knowledge be a benefit to them one day.

            Apparently an adult who lacks the ability to choose which advice to follow, in whole or in part, and which advice to nod politely at but ignore.

            It was 1 comment and I sincerely doubt was ill intentioned in the first place. I don’t see the purpose for this prolonged chastisement.

            Alison, please consider removing/relocating this whole thread (my comment included), so I can get to the part where we all agree that there is a special place in Heck for bosses such as these.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              As you can see from this entire thread, if you don’t drive and admit this in public, approximately 80% of the population of the US will be very eager to educate you as to to the benefits of learning to drive, no matter why you don’t currently have a license or how often you tell them you have already looked into it. Trust me, THE OP HAS HEARD THIS BEFORE.

              1. V.V.*

                I didn’t say OP hadn’t heard it before.

                I just said the nastiness directed toward MR is unwarranted.

                Way too many people jumped this person over one comment.

                They probably learned their lesson!

                It has been days now and I still haven’t been able to muddle through to the part where we are righteously indignant over what actually happened to the OP.

                For that I am disappointed.

            2. Kate*

              Recommending someone do something illegal that has the potential to kill other people deserves a little chastisement in my opinion.

        6. I Herd the Cats*

          I think driving as a skill is pretty situational, as demonstrated by these comments. I’m older, and I know plenty of people who never learned how to drive. They live in cities with public transportation. So it’s not a new concept, although I agree that people who live in remote areas probably pick up this skill. But that’s a chicken-or-egg situation. People who can’t/won’t drive choose to live in places with public transportation. I’ll add that among millenials I know, many are choosing to live carless (although they may have a license so they can rent Zip Cars) but a lot of them don’t even get a license. It’s interesting to me; having a license and a car is not the automatic thing it was when I was growing up. Cars are expensive, and the digital/mobile phone age has made it easier to connect, shop, etc. without actually having to go anywhere.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            This is something I wonder about. How good at driving are people who don’t own a car or drive regularly? Should they drive a Zip car? Are they safe?

            I grew up in the burbs and got my learner’s permit on my 14th birthday. I have driven a car nearly every day for 25 years. I’m not sure what it would be like to only get behind the wheel every few months (or whatever frequency).

            1. Another Lawyer*

              I’m one of these people – I have a license, but I’ve driven maybe once in the last 5 years. I’m a terrible driver and I try my best to avoid it at all costs.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                My friend lives in a very large metro area in TX and doesn’t drive (she doesn’t have a car). She does have a license and rents a Zipcar for certain occasions. It works for her because she can’t afford a car and doesn’t have to pay for parking, etc.

            2. TGIF*

              A few years ago, I spent 3-4 months not driving because I was living in another country where you mainly got around by tiny motorized taxicabs. When I came back and got behind the wheel of my own car, it felt really odd. I drove around my neighborhood for a few minutes before I felt safe to get on a main road. It snapped back really quickly but I was amused about how out of practice I felt after only a few months.

            3. non-driving anon*

              I learned to drive when I was 16, and drove regularly until I was in my mid-20s. I stopped once I moved to a large metro area with good public transportation where driving was a pain in the ass, and owning a car even moreso. When I lived near family, I would occasionally borrow a car, or get pressed into driving someone to the airport, maybe a few times a year. These days, it’s unusual for me to drive more than once a year, if that–only when visiting family over the holidays, or very occasionally needing to rent a van, that kind of thing. I’ve gone at least as long as two full years without driving.

              Whenever I have to drive after not having done it for several months or more, the first time I get behind the wheel, I’m nervous as hell, every time. Hyper-alert, hands firmly gripping the wheel at 10-and-2, eyes glued to the road; won’t fiddle with the radio even if it’s set to some station I hate. But if I drive for a bit, then stop the car, get out, and get back in again, it’s instantly as if I never stopped driving and I do it every day. It doesn’t matter how long between the first and second times I get behind the wheel–the phenomenon is the same whether I drove a hundred miles on the highway, or ten blocks to the grocery store. It also doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s been months or years since I last drove. The act of driving, then stopping, getting out, and getting back in again makes my brain switch into driver mode or something.

              I don’t know if it would be that easy if I didn’t have a solid decade of driving under my belt, but in my experience, first getting behind the wheel after not driving for a long time is nerve-wracking, but safe (I’ve never done anything stupid/dangerous when first driving after a long hiatus, I’m just uncomfortable), and it’s pretty easy to fall back into a mental mode where driving is something comfortable and routine. I don’t know how long I’d have to go before I genuinely lost the skill I mastered and exercised for years. Longer than 2 years, at least.

              I think infrequent drivers are safe to do things like renting Zip Cars for special occasions, assuming they were good drivers in the first place. (If you were never a good driver, not driving isn’t going to do much to improve that.)

            4. Natalie*

              For whatever it’s worth, I used a car sharing service like this for years when I didn’t own a car, and I think I drove way more safely in the car share car. When we got car2go, which had more cars that could be used for shorter trips, familiarity with the vehicles led me to pay a little less attention, more like someone in their own car.

              There are definitely groups of people who don’t drive often because they are bad drivers and they’re aware of it, but that doesn’t mean their bad driving is caused by not driving as often. Comparing two otherwise good drivers, in my experience, the person who drives more often will be more likely to be inattentive. And that’s a pretty substantial factor in crashes these days.

            5. AMPG*

              I had a several-year period where I only drove a handful of times a year (big city with public transportation). I was fine for highway driving but definitely found city driving stressful because I was so out of practice. I loved it, though. Now I have to drive every day again, and while my driving skills are better, I hate it. I really miss not needing to rely on a car.

            6. seejay*

              I had my license since I was 16 and never went without a car until about 8 years ago when I moved to a major metro city and realized I didn’t need one (so nearly 25 years with nearly fully access to a car). In 8 years without a car, I’ve kept my license active and a ZipCar membership active and I drive every few months with it. So far, it still feels natural to me. I don’t “zen” with the car the way I used to (I used to love driving, it was a way to relax for me, but it was only in my own cars that I loved, with music and on the highways) but I have no problems navigating around in urban settings, highways and whatnot. The only sticky points I run into tends to be familiarity with the blind spots and mirrors since it’s always a different car that I get each time.

            7. blushingflower*

              I got my license on my first try within 6 months of during 16. (almost 20 years ago). I haven’t had regular access to a car in over 15 years. I drive a couple times a year, usually – rentals or the cars of people I’m visiting when I travel, or a ZipCar/Car2Go to get around the city. I like to think that I am an excellent driver. I have a perfect driving record and when I visit my parents they often prefer to let me drive since my eyesight is better and my reflexes are faster.
              In my experience, it really is just like riding a bike – if you get enough practice when you first learn that it becomes something you can do without thinking about it, you don’t forget easily. (As opposed to driving stick shift, which is a thing I have successfully done but which I don’t have enough practice doing for me to feel comfortable doing it)

              There are people who drive every day and who are TERRIBLE drivers, there are also people who drive rarely but are very good (and of course there are people who drive rarely because they are terrible at it – I have a few friends who fall into that category)

            8. Hibiscus*

              In 2014 I went to LA to see Lil Bub, and realized as I was in line to pick up my rental car that I hadn’t driven in 3 years. I do not recommend driving from AZ to CA roundtrip in 24 hours. It turns out there are little muscles in your right leg you use to drive that you can through out of whack with overuse.

              Have driven since then, but not much and as long as it’s a short distance I don’t have trouble.

          2. JessaB*

            I know that Mr B, having lived in Boston all his life, never even bothered to get a licence til he moved to Florida with me. Up til then he never needed it. Now he knew how to drive, I think he took drivers ed or had a learner’s permit at one point, but still. Never needed it, so never got it.

        7. The Optimizer*

          There’s a reason people who have seizures are barred from driving. A woman where I live had seizures repeatedly but did not report them. She had a seizure while driving, flipped her vehicle, which landed on another, and killed and entire family (mom, dad &a kids) in an instant.

        8. Sensual Shirt Cuff*

          A friend of mine has seizures similar to the OPs. They are unpredictable, disorientating and extremely frequent. He has to double-check something as simple as crossing a road.

          He says it’s like suddenly blacking out and waking up – in the space of a second or two. Ever been woken up suddenly? Now imagine you suddenly wake up with a start but you’re drinving a car. See the problem?

          He legally can’t be doing something as simple as driving around a car park. If he has a microseizure, he will forget for a second where he is, what’s happening, and what he was doing. Even going at 5mph, he could slip his foot onto the accelerator and crash into a person.

          If you think people with these frequent seizures should be allowed to drive, please reconsider.

        9. LQ*

          I don’t drive much anymore. I know how. But it is actually a skill that atrophies over time. A lot. Even if the op learned to drive in a situation which someone lives in a large enough scale urban area where there are subways and public transit that it would be a better situation for the OP to drive than literally any other option (hey stranger walking by please help drive!) the OP would be fine with the “I watched movies ever” driving skills of one of these pedals goes down and I swerve the wheel back and forth. Because another other situation the OP (heck me if I’m not paying 1000% attention, and I do it occasionally for the only reason to keep the skill up) is likely to get into an accident and cause more damage to the emergency person and other people than just waiting for the damn ambulance.

        10. anoooon*

          You know, I always hear this advice from people who drive to people who don’t drive and it’s condescending and unsolicited. Not everyone can learn to drive and if someone has always lived in a city with public transit, they’re unlikely to even need to know how to drive even in an emergency.

          Driving is not a life skill people need to learn to take care of themselves. And in the OP’s case, they can’t medically drive, so this is doubly insulting.

        11. SometimesALurker*

          The OP didn’t say whether they know how to drive. I know several people who cannot drive due to medical reasons who learned to drive before they were diagnosed.

        1. Justme*

          I was wondering about the corporate culture there where the fact that a boss got drunk on lunch was completely glossed over by the higher-ups.

          1. JessaB*

            Yeh I had the same thought. Cab fare notwithstanding, why is grandboss all about “pay for the cab,” and not “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot why did you get so drunk?”

            1. Liane*

              Yeah, I was wondering the same thing, plus what another poster (I think it was Princess CBH?) brought up above–did boss lie to Grand-boss, probably with a story that made the cab All OP’s Fault.
              Who do these loons think they are–extras on Mad Men?

            2. BeautifulVoid*

              Yeah, I would not be surprised at all if GrandBoss is missing some key parts of this story….

          2. Jadelyn*

            Same, how did he apparently get away with having gotten falling-down unable-to-drive drunk at a business lunch with a subordinate???

        2. Creag an Tuire*

          I suspect the reason JerkBoss doesn’t want to expense the cab is because he’s worried about the consequences if the company finds out why he needed the cab. That could also explain GrandBoss’s reaction (assuming it’s not just bad information), if GrandBoss is trying to “protect” JerkBoss for some reason.

        3. Erin*

          Not fired, but definitely written up and out the $100. Drunkeness is voluntary, seizures are not. I think epilepsy falls under some sort of legal protections. I wonder if his or her boss knew about her condition before this incident. My ex fiancé had epilepsy and he told his boss about it and what to do if he has a seizure while at work.

      3. Karyn*

        This has probably already been mentioned elsewhere, but if she’s driving a company car on company time, the employer could be liable if she has a crash, too. And obviously she wouldn’t have personal car insurance. This is insane on all levels.

    2. Sherm*

      I thought of Airport Boss, too. Could they be the same person? After all, Airport Boss was “looking for new opportunities.”

      Anyway, yeah I’d believe it that Grandboss got a skewed or extremely abbreviated version of events. (Did Boss really tell Grandboss that he got drunk while on the job?) And/Or, if OP1 didn’t hear from Grandboss personally, Boss is big time skewing what Grandboss said to him about who pays for the cab.

      1. Robm*

        The only way the action of the bosses boss makes any sense at all (and even then, not very much sense) is if the boss misrepresented the situation completely.

        In either case both of them are being ridiculous and need the proverbial ‘interview without coffee’ with HR as soon as possible.

        1. Gadfly*

          The only other thing I can think of is that Grandboss has been covering long enough they now will also be at fault for not taking care of this. And that paying for the cab might tip someone off. So now they are scrambling and making stupid choices (OP will just pay this and then HR will never know…) to cover their trail….

          1. TamiToo*

            Um..he could have just paid for it out of his own pocket, and not tried to expense it, and no one would have ever known, and not been an ass about it.

            1. Solidus Pilcrow*

              And like airport boss, they’re making a big deal out of such a small thing that it’s turning into a big thing. Just pay the 100 bucks already! (I mean, the boss should pay, not the OP.)

            2. Amber T*

              I’d guess he doesn’t have the $100 to cover it himself… getting fall-down drunk at a business lunch is a poor decision, trying to pressure your subordinate who can’t legally drive is a poor decision… I don’t think it would be a stretch to assume he probably makes poor money decisions. Either that or it’s a really horrible power play – “you inconvenienced me by refusing to drive, so as your boss I’m going to force you to pay for it!”

              Gadfly’s explanation is the only explanation I can think of why Grandboss would actually be involved. What I’m hoping is the case (OP didn’t make it clear) is that dumb boss is just telling her Grandboss is on his side.

              1. Erin*

                I’m a manager and I’d be pissed if any of my employees got drunk at a work lunch while representing the company.

        2. Not A Morning Person*

          Another way the boss’s boss might have agreed with boss…the boss lied to the OP about even mentioning it to his/her boss. Maybe boss’s boss doesn’t even know! Maybe it’s just the boss’s way of trying to get the OP to pay for the cab and get her to think it really is her fault. Gas light?

      2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        All I’ve been able to come up (and this would still be a lot of dysfunction) is that Boss said “OP saw me drinking too much to drive and never told me she couldn’t drive. She had to know that I was going to have her drive back.” And somehow GrandBoss thought this was a reasonable argument to make OP pay for the cab? But like I said, still super dysfunctional, but it’s all I can come up with how the “fault” could possibly be on the OP. But seriously, who gets that drunk during a business lunch??

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, I was going to say that the *only* way this could be even slightly OP’s fault would be if the someone explicitly said to OP “You are going along with boss to be the designated driver back to the office” and OP didn’t tell them then that OP couldn’t legally drive. Or I guess maybe if OP was the one buying the boss drinks, pouring him more wine or roofied the boss, that would also be OP’s fault – but that seems unlikely.

          This is totally not your fault OP, and you should not have to pay this.

      3. eplawyer*

        I know right. What is it with Boss’ screwing up then blaming their subordinates. The Boss did have an option. But I guess he didn’t want to admit the reason he needed a cab was because he was drunk as a skunk. So he made up a story to put the blame on OP1.

        1. Not A Morning Person*

          Yes, maybe Boss lied to OP about the bigger boss agreeing. Does OP have first hand knowledge of bigger boss telling her it’s her responsibility to pay? Hmm. The plot thickens…

      4. Laura*

        I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this happened at my last job. Party Girl manager hired intern just like her and groomed her to take her place when she was promoted. All departmental meetings were just the two of them after work at the bar across the street. So I totally see Grandboss hiring someone just like him.

      5. Greg*

        I thought of Airport Boss as well as the employee who was accused of trying to “poison” a coworker who stole her spicy food out of the office fridge. In both of those cases, the behavior was so unnecessary, and so over the top, that it almost begged you to assume something bigger was going on. (IIRC, in the poison case the coworker and HR rep were having an affair; when I first read OP #1’s account, without knowing the gender/sexuality of Grandboss, I found myself wondering the same thing).

        And yes, the weirdest thing about this is that if Boss had just sucked it up and paid the cab fare, most likely the whole thing would have been swept under the rug. But by dragging OP into it, he guarantees that HR/senior management will find out he was drunk on company time, not to mention that he bullied a subordinate. What could he possibly have to gain by forcing OP to pay?

    3. Matt*

      I wonder why everyone is so about the medical condition – the point is that OP#1 doesn’t have a licence and therefore cannot drive, period. One wouldn’t require even a perfectly healthy person to drive without a licence …

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Not sure if we’re reading the same comments? Except for MR’s detour, all of the comments note that the request was objectively unreasonable, and most cite OP’s lack of license as the basis for why this situation is ridiculous (or they make no comment re: medical condition).

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          Definitely in a protected class. I have a friend who needed to pursue it, and epilepsy definitely is one of the recognized things under the ADA (and I was shocked it was even a question)

      2. Allie*

        When I was 17, I had a shift manager at my summer job freak out at me because I couldn’t drive and couldn’t drive her to the bank to do deposits. Apparently her car broke down (her boyfriend dropped her off) and she just assumed I drove to work and we could use my car (I biked, my parents didn’t want me to get my license until I was 18 for insurance cost purposes). Fortunately the store manager thought that was ridiculous and didn’t blame me.

        This situation is far less extreme than LW’s. Boss and grand boss are nuts.

      3. Katie the Fed*

        The medical condition is an important aspect because the boss is now essentially harassing her because her medical condition makes it impossible for her to drive. That raises a whole host of disability discrimination issues.

        It would still be wrong if she didn’t drive because she just didn’t want to. But this gives it an extra ladle of effed-up gravy.

    4. Blue*

      Unless the boss explicitly said something like, “I’m going to have a drink; you can drive us back,” and OP didn’t correct him, I don’t get his reaction at all. Maybe more context would make it less bizarre, but I kind of doubt it…

      1. TamiToo*

        He was falling down drunk. Alcohol probably exaggerated his reaction. However, after he was sober, he could have….and should have done a mea culpa.

        1. blushingflower*

          It doesn’t say he was “falling down” drunk.
          “A lot to drink” is subjective.
          I know people who won’t drive if they’ve had any alcohol at all that day. I don’t think that this is the case here, I think the boss probably had 3+ drinks with lunch and just assumed that the LW could drive them back. He was probably over the legal limit but that doesn’t mean he was “falling down drunk”.
          It’s incredibly unprofessional of him to do what he did, and it’s also incredibly rude. One of you is going to have to drive back; to assume that your subordinate will remain sober and drive you while you proceed to consume alcohol violates my sense of hospitality.

      2. sssssssssss*

        I find OP1’s letter interesting, as well was downright awful for her, since a similar thing happened to a friend of mine.

        Her team went out for a team lunch with the bonus treat of being able to go home early once lunch was done. My friend takes the bus to work but does drive and has a driver’s license. During lunch, her boss looks at her, asks if she has a license, she replies in the affirmative, and then he proceeds to down five martinis. At least he asked first! But once that was done, not realizing that she had obtained a ride to the restaurant and had no car with her, asked her to drive him home. She had never driven a keyless car before so she was flustered and he was exasperated by her reaction.

        When she had driven him home, he then woke up his elderly father from his nap to drive my friend to her mother’s house, which happened to be nearby and then her mother drove her home.

        My friend thought it was funny. I thought it was inappropriate…and then I read this story. Makes you wonder if some bosses have a hive mind.

        The boss was mad this plan could not be executed as he wanted it to. Being drunk leads to irrational and stupid behaviour already but the immature reaction overall speaks volumes of what this boss is like. I do hope HR supports her but she is better off (a) transferring departments if possible and (b) when the timing is right, moving on to a better job.

        1. Jayn*

          Ugh. I have a keyless car and while it’s hardly difficult to drive I would expect it to throw anyone driving my car for the first time (the gear shift is also a bit wonky).

          1. Allie*

            I had a friend who had her license but wasn’t experienced and she usesaid to have me start her dad’s car for her because it took some coaxing.

          2. SJ*

            ExBoss used to make me go with him to the airport when he was going on business trips because I “probably wasn’t doing anything important” during the work day. The first time I went, he drove his own car to the airport and then made me drive his car back to his house and park it in his driveway. (He lived walking distance from work so I could just walk back after.) He had a keyless car, and it was a REALLY nice car because he’s a millionaire, and when I asked him how to turn the car on and off he acted like I was dumber than a bag of rocks. Sorry, I still drive a 2006 Camry that uses a good ol’ key!

            I thought that whole setup was incredibly stupid, though (compounded by the fact that he was a terrible driver and I hated being a passenger in his car), so every other time I drove him to the airport, I said I was taking him in my car or I wasn’t taking him. He huffed and puffed a lot but dealt with it… with petulant comments, of course. (Two seconds after it stopped raining: “Why do you still have the windshield wipers on? It’s not raining anymore.”)

            1. NotTheSecretary*

              Ha! I had a boss get absolutely horrified once when she insisted I drive her somewhere in my car. I had a 15 year old truck. No AC (in August in the Southern US), big dent in the side, and significant interior wear. She actually gasped when she saw it. She asked me when I planned to get the air conditioning fixed and was stunned when I told her it had been out for years and I wasn’t planning to put that kind of money into the ancient thing. She then asked if I was planning on getting a new car soon. Nope. It was paid for and I didn’t make much money at the time.

              She never asked me for a ride again.

              1. JustaTech*

                I had a boss once insist on giving me a ride back from a meeting in his bazillion-year-old truck. Like, so old it didn’t have seatbelts. Not even a lap belt.
                After that I would find any excuse to not go back with him, even if it meant walking in the rain (it was only half a mile).

              2. Jadelyn*

                Honestly, how do some people think stuff like that is any of their business? I work for you, sure, but you don’t own me, and you don’t get a say in my major purchase decisions kthx.

                1. NotTheSecretary*

                  I think she was really out of touch with the idea of “making do with what you have”. She had a lot of money and was clearly accustomed to having the best of things. She really didn’t seem to understand that I was driving a 15+ year old vehicle because it fulfilled my needs and was paid off. She also thought it was really strange that I painted my own nails instead of going to a salon and that my husband and I didn’t exchange lavish gifts on holidays.

                2. MacAilbert*

                  My Dad’s company made him buy a car, because they were going to promote him to Assistant Manager and Assistant Managers are apparently required to drive to work because they may need to do certain tasks that require a car and the company doesn’t want to spring for company cars. Then they decided not to promote him after he bought one. He wants to quit and some other shit, but he’s a convicted felon, so most places automatically ignore his applications.

            2. Minister of Snark*

              This is what I would worry about! Damaging my boss’s car! I would never be able to drive because of the nerves.

          3. Rebecca in Dallas*

            One of my coworkers had a bad dizzy spell at work, so I drove her home. Her car was keyless and I was so confused about why it wouldn’t start! I knew it was keyless because I’d been in it before, but I was sitting there for like 10 minutes trying to figure out why pushing the “start” button wasn’t doing anything. My poor dizzy coworker was sitting at the building entrance with our boss waiting for me (we had a big parking lot). Finally she told my boss, “She probably doesn’t have her foot on the brake.” So my boss texted me to tell me to put my foot on the brake. LOL I felt so dumb but my coworker was very understanding about it.

            (FYI, she was having a dizzy spell because of what turned out to be an ear infection, not anything that would prevent her from having a license in general like OP.)

            1. NotTheSecretary*

              I drove my sister’s keyless car once and had that same issue! I finally called her and told her something was wrong with the car. She answered, “Um, NotTheSecretary? You do know that you have to push the brake to get a keyless car to start, right?”

              Nope, dear sister. I did not know that.

                1. NotTheSecretary*

                  Right! My sister is the type who never, ever wants to insult anyone so she was trying so hard to tell me without making it seem like it was the obvious answer.

              1. BeautifulVoid*

                My car is keyless, and I love that if you don’t start it right the first time, a message comes up on the dashboard with instructions. It’s two years old at this point, so I don’t know if that’s standard or not now, but it’s a good idea!

                1. Jayn*

                  Mine just turns on the radio and other interior electronics, like turning a key halfway. I’ve been known to forget the brake and get confused because the car isn’t quite on. I’ve had it long enough that I hate rentals though. “Aww, I actually have to put the key in the ignition?”

              2. Noobtastic*

                My mother was delayed, once, and asked me to do her a favor and take her car out to get some gas, so she’d be ready to go once I brought it back.

                Turned out she’d have been better off not sending me, because she had the weirdest set-up I had ever seen to get the gas in the car.

                There’s a lever inside the car, under the driver’s seat, that has to be flipped, on order to open the lid to the gas tank. It took me a very long time at the gas station, with all the other people pointing and laughing, before someone kindly told me to check inside for a lever.

                Mom was so used to it, though, that she had totally forgotten that I would not know about it, so she had not thought to tell me.

                Oddly enough, she did not ask me to drive that car again.

                1. Rabbit*

                  Huh, that’s been the standard on every car I’ve driven since 1997, but it would never have occurred to me to point and laugh at someone who didn’t know that!

                  (It’s a measure to prevent gasoline theft, for the record.)

            2. Jessesgirl72*

              We got our first keyless car in December, and my husband still sometimes forgets. I mean, not like “why won’t the car start” but he’ll push the button, get nothing, and then be “oh yeah. ” LOL

            3. Jadelyn*

              I…am kind of confused. Is it not instinctual to put your foot on the brake before you start the car regardless of what kind of starting mechanism it uses? I’m always brake and clutch to the floor and shifter into neutral before I even take off the parking brake, much less turn the car on.

              Or is this one of those things, like always using the parking brake, that is instinctual to owners/drivers of manual-transmission cars bc you actually *have* to do it, but isn’t instinctual to people who own/drive automatics bc “it’s in park, it’s not going to roll anywhere”? Genuine question, not trying to be snarky here. (My boyfriend and I have this conversation often – he never uses his parking brake because we live on a level flat area, so if I borrow his car I set the parking brake out of habit when I re-park it, and then he gets in and has a moment of confusion when he puts it in reverse and it doesn’t move.)

              1. blushingflower*

                I think it depends on who taught you. I learned on an automatic and I think I always have my foot on the brake just in case, and also because I’m going to shift soon anyway, but I know people who start the car and then take a few minutes to adjust things and what not and don’t leave their foot on the brake the whole time.

                1. Natalie*

                  Fun fact, leaving the brake pedal depressed for long periods of time can warp the rotors. So if you’re idling for a while and in park, probably don’t keep your foot on the brake. Set the parking brake if you’re super concerned.

              2. Becky*

                I once upon a time learned how to drive a manual vehicle, but I have only ever owned automatics. I don’t put my foot on the break when I turn on the car and I only set the parking break when I’m on a steep grade.

              3. ancolie*

                I think it’s exactly that (the manual/automatic difference).

                But even if you have an automatic, it’s a good idea to use your parking brake regularly, especially if you live in an area where rust is an issue (snow, etc). The parking brake cables run under the car and if they’re never used, they can rust into place. So if you suddenly need to use them in an emergency, they either stick in place or literally snap apart.

                1. ArtsNerd*

                  I use my parking brake but never heard about it being a good idea to put your foot on the brake while turning the ignition. So TIL how to start a keyless car! (And yes, I agree it’s the automatic / manual distinction that’s most likely relevant here)

              4. CDM*

                You are probably young enough to have never driven a carburated engine? Only fuel injection?

                Having learned to drive on finicky carburated vehicles, I always start cars with my right foot free to either give a little gas or to pump the gas pedal all the way to the floor to close the auto choke if the engine doesn’t turn over. Manual or auto transmission.

                Haven’t needed to close an auto choke in twenty-ish years, but it’s ingrained. Much like my habit of letting out imaginary clutches in turns.

                1. nonyme*

                  This. My first car was from the 1970. Until 2005 all I drove were manual vehicles. Because of that, I have some interesting habits, including always setting the parking brake and trying to step on that imaginary clutch at certain times.

                  It’s amazing how those old skills come back, too — we have an ancient manual diesel tractors and I had zero trouble hopping on, coaxing it to start (it’s quite cranky — early 1980s beast of a machine), and driving it after ten years of never touching a clutch.

                  Likewise, giving a carburated ATV the exact right amount of gas and revving to get it running smooth on a cold morning is … instinct? You just listen for the sound the engine’s making and rev accordingly until it’s warmed up. I never really thought about it as an acquired skill until I watched a twenty-something relative who had never driven anything but modern cars struggle with getting one going,finally flooding the engine and then not even realizing it was flooded even though you could smell the gas.

              5. Noobtastic*

                Even in my own car, whenever I had to use the emergency brake, I would forget about it, EVERY TIME I started it up again. Every. single. time.

                I drove an automatic, and parking gear was good enough for me, so I do think that had something to do with it. I only used the hand brake when I was parked on a slope.

              6. oldbiddy*

                I drive an automatic transmission and don’t always put my foot on the brake when I start it. I once got a rental car with the keyless ignition and had to go ask how to start it – I was sleep deprived and spacy after a long flight and my mind apparently didn’t make the connection that I needed to put my foot on the brake.

              7. Rebecca in Dallas*

                I’ve only ever driven automatic transmissions, I usually don’t press the brake until I’m ready to put it into drive/reverse.

                My husband and I are the reverse of you and your boyfriend! He always sets the parking brake on my car and I don’t unless I’m parked on a slope.

                Funny story time. Once he actually set the parking brake and turned off the car without putting it in park. I went out to my car the next morning and it wouldn’t start (because it wasn’t in park). I could not for the life of me figure out what was wrong, except that it wasn’t a dead battery because the radio and dashboard lights turned on but the ignition wouldn’t start. Never occurred to me to look at what gear it was in (why would it be in anything but park?). I went back inside, asked my husband to come out and look, he couldn’t figure out what was wrong either. So he drove me to work and said he’d work on the car again once he got back home or get it towed to the shop (he was off work that day I think). Anyway, he called me later in the morning like, “Honey, we are so dumb.”

    5. Dweali*

      Aside from a skewed story I wonder if Grandboss actually said this to OP or did boss just tell OP that Grandboss agrees with me.

      1. Construction Safety*

        That’s what I was thinking. Boss has already shown dubious judgement, why not include this.

    6. Isabelle*

      Grand Boss might have been given a completely different story along the lines of OP had promised to drive Boss back from a business lunch but let him down at the last minute.

      This is where I would start if I was OP: I would request a meeting alone with Grand Boss to compare the versions of events (assuming OP feels comfortable and safe doing so). And go to HR afterwards anyway to protect yourself from retaliation.

      1. Amber T*

        If that’s the case (and I sincerely hope that Grand boss doesn’t know the whole story), I really wonder what boss gave as his reason for not being able to drive back.

    7. CBH*

      +1 PCBH

      What gets to me is a medical condition aside OP lives in an area where it is not necessary to have a driver’s license. Even though a license is very common to have, to assume one has a license is a bit overstepping. It sounds like driving was never even in the job description.

      Secondly even after telling the boss she had a medical issue he (?) still insisted! The boss wanted her to break the law?!!!!!!!!! Bossman needs to be responsible. Getting drunk on company time was his problem. What happens if they were pulled over – I guarantee bossman was not going to cover OP’s legal costs if something happened.

      Lastly insisting that OP pay the cab fare? Why?! This scenario had nothing to do with OP, OP acted responsible in all aspects of this BUSINESS lunch. Wow just wow.

      PCBH said it best that this is a close follow up to the story of the boss demanding an airport ride in the middle of the night.

      OP keep us posted. Stand up right even in the extreme if HR doesn’t help – look for another job!

      1. CBH*

        Just a thought to throw out there…. if bossman was so drunk he could not drive home, should he really have been going back to the office to make decisions on business matters. OP I’m disgusted for you!

        1. Jadelyn*

          I’d been wondering about that too – was he planning on going back to the office and, what, working while hammered? Really?

          1. Alli525*

            I’ve done that ONCE (brutal day–>liquid lunch of 4 shots with a coworker … hey I was young and dumb) and I found it difficult to do RECEPTION DUTIES. I managed, because I had been a champion drinker in college, but oof. Making boss-level decisions would have been an absolute no-go.

    8. L Dub*

      Part of me wonders if the boss is lying about the grand boss’ response in an effort to cover up the whole thing. But, I’m also pretty cynical and there’s clearly no proof of that. It’s just a gut feeling.

    9. Chalupa Batman*

      This letter left me seething. Boss was so, so inappropriate. I agree with you and Sherm that Grandboss likely got a version of events more like “I had a drink or two, and OP completely unreasonably refused to drive. I’M a stand-up person who would never drive a company car after having a drink, so I had to call a cab to save the day because OP is a big baby.” That’s the only rationale I can possibly think of that would have two bosses blaming OP for this, and it’s sketchy at best. I wonder who they’d be asking to pay the check if OP had done it and this was the one time they had a daytime seizure. Kudos to OP for sticking to your guns, don’t pay this bill, and seriously consider your options for getting out from under this boss. Poor judgement abounds with this one.

      1. Amber T*

        Is having a drink or two at a business lunch common? I’ve been to plenty of after work dinners or other events where alcohol was served (though thankfully, everyone has been mostly responsible). I don’t go to business lunches really – the one that I went to was department wide to welcome a new colleague, but no one ordered alcohol.

        1. designbot*

          This varies widely by company. I’d never drink at lunch at my current company (well okay I’m sober now but still), whereas one previous job it’d be normal to drink on a Friday or anytime clients were around.

        2. Koko*

          In some places/industries, yes.

          Washington DC where I live is pretty infamous for the amount of alcohol consumed by all the lawyers and lobbyists and investment bankers in this town at all hours of the day.

        3. k*

          I’m sure it varies by industry and office culture, but I’m sure there are times when having one drink at a business lunch wouldn’t be an issue. I know of some businesses that bring drinks for an in office “happy hour” on Friday afternoons, so I’m thinking along those lines. But I can’t imagine any situations in which getting drunk on the clock would be acceptable.

        4. NotTheSecretary*

          In my industry (construction management), it is definitely not common to have drinks during lunch but very, very common for subcontractors or clients and my coworkers to have drinks after hours together. A drink before returning to the job site would be a major misstep as it is a huge safety issue.

          I personally don’t drink with coworkers or business contacts even after hours. I’m the only woman in my office and often perceived as particularly young. I don’t ever do anything that could undermine my position as a capable professional. But my coworkers often have drinks as a way to build relationships with subcontractors or with clients.

        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s relatively normal in my field, but we’re talking one drink at lunch (like a beer or wine, rarely hard liquor). Two max, and that presumes you’re not getting fall-down drunk—I have a low tolerance, and two drinks would set me over the “drunk” line.

        6. CMart*

          I used to work at a restaurant near several business parks and yes, drinking a bit during a business lunch was not at all uncommon, especially if it was a “taking the client out” sort of situation. I one had a regular lunch patron (usually 1-2 drinks) consume 5 martinis during a 3 hour lunch with a client who then got very, very angry when we dared cut him off and try to get them a cab…back to the office?

          But it was also not at all uncommon for people to react with a swift “oh no no no no. No. We’re at work. No. Never.” I currently work for one of these types of businesses, as I discovered when my manager took me out for lunch and reacted in exactly this way when the server asked if we’d like to look at the wine list.

        7. Jadelyn*

          My team *might*, on rare occasions, if we’re at a restaurant with a nice bar or a good wine list or something, but not often, and it always has to be charged separately to your own credit card because the company won’t pay for alcohol.

          My mom’s team, on the other hand, has a favorite bar they go to for lunch at least once a week.

        8. V*

          At the law firms I have worked at, it was very normal to have a glass or two of wine or beer at lunch with most clients. With some other clients, the lunch was essentially an early start to happy hour and you would plan to go for the long haul (although that planning included not going back to the office and arranging for transportation in advance because everyone (ie us and the clients) would need a safe way home.)

          Note – there was no real pressure to drink alcohol at these things. Most of us would alternate with water/club soda/etc between beers and no one paid attention to who was drinking what when. Antibiotics, Lent, Whole30, pregnancy, hangover from yesterday, etc were all tossed around freely as reasons why someone may be opting not to drink at all and no one ever thought twice about it. The point that was being there and developing the client relationship.

        9. Sarah*

          I wouldn’t hesitate to order one drink at a business lunch w/ my current job (especially if I knew I didn’t have anything super important going on in the afternoon), but that’s really different from being very drunk/unable to drive a car level of drinking.

      2. Ramblin' Ma'am*

        Yes in my industry, but we’re in Boston, so no driving–and even then it’s usually just one drink.

    10. kittymommy*

      This is completely asinine. Being upset that you can’t drive him because he drank too much (with a subordinate!), being all pissy about it, involving his boss, both of them being jerks, and then wanting you to pay the cab fare??!! Hell to effing no! Run to HR.

    11. Stranger than fiction*

      Yeah I have strong feeling they’re covering for each other and HR will be very surprised (or am I silly to think a fortune 500 wouldn’t let employees get away with such things?)

    12. Bunny*

      OP 1: I am an epileptic. I can drive, thank God (I would not have my career if I couldn’t) but I have to repeatedly push back on schedules and other stupid things. Exhaustion is a seizure trigger for me and I am militant about not being overworked.

      Being pissed at YOU here is a violation of the ADA.

      I am incredibly angry on your behalf. If HR does not respond well, use an attorney. I had to.

  3. Jessen*

    If it becomes necessary, I might throw around words like “felt retaliated against because of my disability” on the first one. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that if driving is not at all a part of your established job duties, retaliating against you for not being able to drive due to a medical condition when they had never asked could plausibly be seen as disability discrimination.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Probably not disability discrimination because Drunk Boss doesn’t seem to have been aware of, or perceived OP to have, a disability before making his drunken nonsense demands. But it could become retaliatory if OP discloses to HR and the Boss continues to try to retaliate.

      Regardless, this behavior is so ludicrous that OP should be able to invoke the Law of Common Freaking Sense and the Doctrine of Don’t Be An Asshole against their Boss and Grand Boss’s batshit demands.

      1. Jessen*

        I was thinking less for the demands to be driven and more for trying to push OP to pay the cab fare, especially if OP told them that he wasn’t medically able to drive. Or as you said, if Boss tries to retaliate further.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        For a legal approach, I think it’s not from a disability discrimination point of view, but rather that the boss tried to pressure the OP into doing something that was illegal, and when she refused, is now trying to retaliate by making her pay the cab fare.

        1. Jessen*

          I’m not sure if pressuring an employee to do something illegal is actually illegal though, unless it’s something specifically covered by a regulation.

          1. sap*

            Refusing to operate motor vehicles when it would be unsafe is, in fact, covered by a federal anti-retaliation provision. I doubt it’s cut and dry that this would be covered because the provision was meant to cover stuff like the VEHICLE is unsafe, but I don’t think a sane HR department wants to find out with these facts.

          2. Amber T*

            Just asking her to drive, and maybe even pouting about it, isn’t illegal (I don’t think). But trying to force her to pick up the cab fare is essentially saying “because of your disability, this cost was incurred and you need to cover it.”

            1. SebbyGrrl*


              He wasn’t just asking OP to drive illegally he was asking/trying to force OP to operate a company car with out a license/illegally.

              That needs to be a significant focus when OP speaks to HR.

              Most companies that have company cars have a whole other set of rules and restrictions for using company cars because of the liability if company car is in an accident with the public.

              So OP was right for multiple, legal and liability issues – boss was insisting OP flout as well as the discrimination for a medical condition.

              In other words – boss and now by extension grandboss were insisting OP commit a grand slam of breaking laws and company policies.

              OP it would be a good idea to review/research all applicable company policies, as well as state laws before you go to HR.Write this up like a case study for how one makes a proper decision in this instance. i.e. not like your boss.

              Good luck, please give us a follow up!

              1. Annonymouse*

                Also what kind of boss thinks it’s ok to get blind drunk on a business lunch?

                Also (from my understanding of the letter) it’s the Boss saying grand boss is on board with this – grand boss hasn’t said anything about this directly. Or if he has he sure as Schmitt hasn’t heard the whole story.

                Drunk Jerk Boss: OP and I went to lunch with clients, I wasn’t able to drive back and OP refused to drive us back even though their able to. I think they should pay this cab fare!

                Grand boss: that seems fair.

                Does the grand boss seem reasonable? I’d talk to them if they do and explain how you aren’t legally able to drive, this isn’t a part of your job and the expectation wasn’t communicated to you until you were in the car park.

                If they seem unreasonable/ you don’t know them well enough to know how they’ll react go straight to HR.

              2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

                Noobtastic –

                Yes, in Luxembourg you can cross the border into France, Belgium, and Germany.

                But I don’t know what the passport has to do with it – you don’t need it to cross a border within the European Union.

                Been there, done that.

        2. fposte*

          As PCBH notes, the boss has to know that a disability is involved first. It’s not clear if the boss knows this even now. (Sucks that the OP would be forced to disclose if she didn’t want to, too.)

      3. Violet Fox*

        The thing that also strikes me weird about this is that it not at all uncommon for people who live in big cities with good public transit to not drive.

        1. Violet Fox*

          Weird in the sense that why would anyone living in a city with good public transit just assume that other people have drivers licenses and drive, in case that was not clear.

          1. Allison*

            In Boston, many people don’t have cars, and it would be tone deaf to assume someone had one. However, it’s generally assumed you at least have a license, since it’s the most common form of identification, and since most people aren’t that far out from the last time they either owned a car or shared one with someone they lived with (parents, roommates, significant other, etc.). But I agree, we shouldn’t assume that everyone can drive.

            1. Tuxedo Cat*

              With cities, I think it is common for people to have a license because so many people come from all (and from places where a license is a necessity). The only people I think of not having driver’s licenses are people who were born and raised in NYC.

              With that said, I know so many people who live in cities with good transit and say that they can’t drive (I guess they forget?) yet still have a license because it’s an ID.

              1. Koko*

                Yes, I live and work in DC. Virtually all of my friends have licenses and can drive. Only maybe 25% of them own cars. Everyone learned when they were a teenager and has kept their license renewed ever since, but a whole bunch of them went through financial lean times in their mid-to-late 20s/the Great Recession era and sold their cars in order to slim their budget. A few others learned how to drive in the suburbs or country and found they never adjusted to city driving and found driving too stressful, and also sold their cars. For the rare occasions they need to go to IKEA or want to take a beach trip, they do a ZipCar or traditional car rental because it’s still cheaper to do that once in a while than to maintain a car in the city.

                I drive a manual though so I usually default to assuming nobody will be able to drive it but me. It’s a pleasant surprise when someone can. What a lost art that’s become in America.

                1. Phyllis B*

                  I’m with you, Koko (on the driving a manual is a lost art.) I drove a stick for years, and only moved to an automatic when we had our third child because we needed a bigger vehicle. My husband kept a manual truck for years, and I would drive it every couple of weeks so I wouldn’t forget how. I insisted my oldest daughter learn on that truck, because I feel like everyone should know how to drive a manual. By the time the two younger ones came along, he had gotten rid of it, so they didn’t learn. My youngest daughter learned from her husband. My son somehow got left out of the loop. (And of course his girlfriend drives a stick.)
                  It’s been nearly twenty years since I drove a manual, and I would hate to see all the jerking and stalling that would happen if I did try it again.

              2. Chinook*

                “I know so many people who live in cities with good transit and say that they can’t drive (I guess they forget?) yet still have a license because it’s an ID.”

                Don’t U.S. states have a non-driver’s id card? I know we have one in Canada because my grandmother, who never learned to drive, applied for one so she could cash her retirement cheques. They look similar to a driver’s licence except they don’t mention your driver classification.

                1. fposte*

                  They do, but it usually costs the same, so there’s no reason to change if you can legally drive.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  They do. Most of my NYC-bred friends had state ID cards instead of driver’s licenses because they don’t know how to drive and never needed to. But if you do qualify for a license, it seems silly to pay for an ID card until you reach the point where you have to come back in for the written test to renew.

                3. tigerlily*

                  fposte, I don’t know about anywhere else but when I got my state ID in CA it cost less than renewing my license would have. Not a ton less but enough for me who didn’t have a car and wouldn’t be driving to choose to save that extra cash by just getting an ID rather than a new license. This was about five years ago.

                4. Turtle Candle*

                  I still have a driver’s license that I regularly renew, even though I don’t drive, simply because it’s the same cost here and slightly easier to just keep renewing it than to get a new type of ID. Inertia.

                5. CDM*

                  If you let your license lapse and get a non-driver ID, if you do need to start driving again, you will likely need to take the written and road test again.

                  In my state, if your license has lapsed more than six months, you need to take the written exam and get a permit (which requires a physical exam within the previous six months) and then have to come back at another time to take the road test. Scheduling road tests takes six weeks on average, so you could only drive in that gap with a licensed driver in the car.

                  Not worth it to save a few $ if you may need the license again later.

              3. Chell*

                It may not be forgetting so much as being really uncomfortable due to lack of practice. I have a license and can drive perfectly well (I drove daily for 12+ years), but since I moved to a city and sold my car 4 years ago, I drive once, maybe twice a year. I’m so out of practice, I get super stressed out every time I’m behind the wheel of a (compact) car. If you put me in a large vehicle like my sister’s suburban after 12 months without driving, I will absolutely tell you I can’t drive it.

              4. Bibliovore*

                non-driving id. it looks like a license. you can get on a plane with one. I got my first license at fifty-four. Yep, took my written test with 30 sixteen-year-olds..

            2. Ramblin' Ma'am*

              I’m in Boston and at least 5 or 6 people in my office don’t have a license, including me. We all have non-driver ID cards from the state, which work the same as a license for ID purposes, boarding a plane, etc.

            3. Natalie*

              You don’t need to have a drivers license to have a state ID. It may not be obvious at a glance because they often look quite similar, but as far as I know every state issues some form of identification that is not also a license to operate a vehicle.

              1. Allison*

                I know you don’t, I know what a state ID is, lots of people know that, but not everyone does. When I get asked for an ID at CVS for my energy drinks, they don’t ask for an ID, they ask for a drivers license because it’s that ingrained that that’s the most common form of IS.

                1. Jessesgirl72*

                  And I get blank stares now most of the time, because once the State Department started offering Passport cards, I use that as my ID instead of the hassle of getting a new State ID.

                  Every time I use it, no one has seen one before.

                2. Natalie*

                  Ah, I misunderstood you and thought you were saying people obtain a drivers license they don’t want so they can use it as an ID. But you are actually saying people keep renewing a license they don’t use anymore since it functions as an ID.

                3. Allison*

                  Oh yeah, getting a license just to have an ID is madness! You have to learn to parallel park and take a test and it’s not fun, and not worth it if you just wanna buy age-restricted items. It’s probably easier to get a passport than a driver’s license.

                4. Noobtastic*

                  I once used a passport for ID at the grocery store, and the clerk didn’t think it was real. I had to get the manager involved.

                  Passports are rare among US citizens, for some reason, while drivers’ licenses are so ubiquitous that the non-driving ID cards the state issues have to look just like drivers’ licenses, to avoid the same trouble (“that’s not a real ID!”) that you get with a passport.

                  And if you have a passport, you still have to get a state-issued ID.

                  It’s a mess. Now, if we lived in Luxembourg, which is so small you can walk from one border to the opposite in five or ten minutes, then I think everyone just goes straight for the passport, and doesn’t bother with a non-driver ID. I’m not even sure non-driver ID is offered, because who would not have a passport in such a small country that you cross the border every weekend, when you want to go to that bar across the road?

            4. Observer*

              It’s still a pretty bad assumption to make. Most common does NOT equal universal. And, in New York, at least, the DMV issues IDs that look just like drivers licenses, except that they are clearly marked as non-drivers ID rather than a license. I know a LOT of people who don’t have licenses. I don’t either, and wouldn’t know what to do in a car if someone pressured me (and I did take lessons years ago.)

        2. Blue Anne*

          Yeah. I’m from NYC, 28 years old and just got my license a couple months ago because I moved to Ohio. There are whole families in NYC where no one for generations has a license, because why would you need it unless you’re driving professionally?

          1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

            Yeah, but NYC is really an outlier. Car culture is really strong in the US, even in big cities with reasonably good public transportation. I can’t find it right now, but I’m sure I saw a chart once showing that after NYC the percentage of people in cities without licenses drops precipitously.

              1. MegaMoose, Esq*

                Ah ha, it was car ownership by household I was thinking of! According to Wikipedia 56% of households in NYC don’t own a car, dropping to 38% with Washington D.C. at number two. This wouldn’t account for people who own cars but use public transportation to commute, or own licenses but not cars. I think the point stands that NYC is an outlier for the United States, though.

          2. Chalupa Batman*

            Almost my entire understanding of NYC comes from Friends (with a sprinkle of 30 Rock), and even they mention that not all of the characters have drivers licences, and only two of the six own cars, both of which were gifts.

            1. Natalie*

              That is sort of amusing on its own, since the big expense with owning a car in NYC (especially Manhattan) isn’t the cost of the car – it’s parking the damn thing. I hope those gift cars also came with a gift of permanent garage space.

          3. Amber T*

            My friend grew up in suburbia and learned to drive at 16, but moved to NYC after college and has been there for a few years. She and her friends were planning a long weekend upstate, and when trying to figure out how to get there, they all realized only two of them (the two born outside of NYC) knew how to drive. It was one of those “Huh… weird!” moments for them.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Ha, this is my life. I have a license but have not driven a car for over 15 years. If I had to drive in NYC I would be petrified. And there’s no way in hell I could parallel park.

          4. Mabel*

            I called my insurance company for some information about my renter’s insurance, and when the representative looked up my information, she was surprised (and almost shocked) to see that I didn’t own a car. Then she said, “Oh, you live in New York City.”

            1. Alli525*

              Ha! Yup. I get those spam/robocalls about car insurance, so if i’m not doing anything and feeling cantankerous, i’ll wait to speak to someone and tell them “I live in NYC, I haven’t had a car in seven years, take me off your list FOREVER.”

            2. Alli525*

              To be clear, the calls say spammy things like “Your insurance is about to lapse!” … not an innocent salesperson who genuinely thinks I have a car.

            3. Lore*

              I called my bank about fraudulent credit card charges, which all happened to be gas purchases. The CSR kept asking “Are you sure you didn’t buy gas there?” until I said “I live in New York City. I haven’t owned a car in 15 years.”

        3. neverjaunty*

          While true, you’re also not an obnoxious drunk trying to force a subordinate to cover for your poor decisions. It’s not that Boss makes any sense; it’s that he’s an unreasonable jerk and he was falling down drunk.

      4. Gadfly*

        It does mean that they cannot ask them to preform this additional duty not previously mentioned. As has been discussed previously, accommodations can be applied retroactively.

        It is BS without the disability, but I would think that this would cross some boundaries regarding accommodation and retaliation.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          I don’t think it’s really helpful or necessary to go down the discrimination rabbit hole here. What the boss did (trying to get someone to drive who is legally barred from doing so) and is doing (trying the get the LW to pay cab fare) is objectively absurd and the first step is taking this to HR.

          1. Jessen*

            The reason for the discrimination rabbit hole is not everyone works for a sane company – and if this is going on there’s a good chance OP doesn’t. “My boss is being a jerk” isn’t legally covered, but “my boss is being a jerk because I can’t do something due to disability” is. If HR wants to cover for the boss, then the latter might make them sit up and take notice that they’re exposing themselves to legal liability.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Yeah, except that people are quite often wrong about how discrimination law works, so while I understand the good intentions behind the suggestions, it’s not helpful for the LW to get a bunch of inaccurate information. Alison is generally quite good about letting LWs know when they might want to consult an attorney. And honestly, I don’t think encouraging people to wave around the lawsuit card is as helpful as people think it is.

            2. fposte*

              I think MegaMoose’s point is that the discrimination rabbit hole is dependent on some detailed legalities that most of us non-lawyers aren’t really going to be on top of, so we can’t really offer solid opinions beyond “probably worth mentioning to HR.”

              1. MegaMoose, Esq*

                Right – it’s been a few years since I worked on an ADA case and that was in a somewhat limited capacity, but I know enough to know that the facts here don’t offer a slam-dunk case, and even slam dunk cases lose all the time! I don’t mean to jump on people who are trying to be helpful because like I said, I think it’s generally meant with good intentions. I just feel that extended speculation without understanding even the basic legal requirements is unhelpful to letter writers and could even cause more damage if they decide to follow well-meaning but inaccurate advice.

            3. Observer*

              In addition, there are other ways to push HR without the discrimination piece – ones that are far more useful to the OP.

              For one, if there are company policies about driving a company car, that would be a great place to start. For another, pointing out that the liability (and potential PR hit) if it got out in any way that the OP was driving a company car without a license might work. And, in this case the OP can very easily make it clear that they are NOT making even an *implied* threat, because they have every reason to not want such a thing to come out. But, not everything is on the OP’s controll, of course, so “we” have a potential problem here.

              For this to work, you don’t even need to show that the company would lose the case – just that the PR would be awful (duh) and that the likelihood of an expensive lawsuit is high.

      5. Jessesgirl72*

        I’m certainly no expert, but during the mess that was the bird phobia letter, it was stated over and over without being disputed, that you don’t have to disclose your condition ahead of time.

        So asking her wasn’t discrimination, but then telling her she had to personally pay for the cab fares, might be.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          I’m not an expert but I know more than the average layperson, and the timing issues of disclosure and requests for accommodation are complicated. Alison has a good track record of bringing up discrimination and getting employment lawyers to chime in when it’s a good road to pursue.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            I’m not suggesting it is the best course- at least not at this point, until there is more problems stemming from the incident. I just think it might be viable, if only technically.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Yeah, I just know enough to know that the statement that you don’t have to disclose your condition ahead of time to be covered by the ADA isn’t 100% accurate depending on what stage of things you’re talking about. I missed the beginning of the bird letter and then avoided it like the black death once I saw where it was going. If I had to guess, I would think those comments were noting that you do not have to disclose your disability at the time of being hired in order to request accommodations later, but I’m not going to dive back in to check. If you have not explicitly requested accommodations, however, you are limited in your ability to recover for your employer not accommodating your disability. It seems like that might be a limiting factor in this particular fact pattern.

              1. fposte*

                In the bird letter, an outlier person or two was suggesting that an employee should be required to disclose when hiring any disability that affected him so severely. The pushback on that was because you’re absolutely not obligated to disclose, but it wasn’t a statement about ADA protection in the event you didn’t disclose.

            2. AMPG*

              Right – if both Boss and GrandBoss are this nuts, it’s possible the office as a whole is nuts and HR won’t back the OP up, at which point it’s nice to have the ADA in your back pocket.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I’m with MegaMoose on this one!

          Assuming OP disclosed their epilepsy, I do think OP is likely in a different situation for the “everything that happened after” than for “everything that happened during.”

          But again, OP shouldn’t have to invoke the ADA for HR to look at this situation, be appalled, and take quick action to protect OP.

      6. Anon today...and tomorrow*

        Can we get the powers that be to make this: Law of Common Freaking Sense and the Doctrine of Don’t Be An Asshole a real thing????

  4. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. Your boss sounds like a real peach (sarcasm). I have another medical condition that also means I can’t drive by law and I’ve found telling people that can sometimes result in having people ask why you haven’t learned, or go on about it, unless you tell them the reason which is of course extremely personal.

    And you are right about all of this. Right that you didn’t have to mention this for a job where driving isn’t essential (unless it was to ask for accommodations at work). Right that you should not have to pay, or be hassled to. This is really, really nasty. It’s not clear from your letter whether you’ve told your boss why you don’t drive. Not that you should have to. I’m just wondering whether, if you have, this could constitute a hostile work environment (though I know how often the term gets bandied about).

    I do wonder if his boss’s boss has been told the true story or something made-up.

    Please let us know how things go.

    1. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

      Yes to all of this. I also have a medical condition that made me unable to drive in the past (and I’m very grateful that I’m able to drive now), and I totally second that you did nothing wrong here, and I hope that this is resolved soon.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        I’m commenting solely because I am SO FREAKING GLAD there’s another “Drop Dead Gorgeous” fan around here–such a good movie!

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      This was my first thought too. OP, have you been told by your boss’s boss that you have to pay the cab fare, or just been told this second hand by your boss?

      I’d email the grand-boss and explain what happened. And for good measure I’d call or return to the restaurant to see if there’s anyone there who remembers your boss getting tanked, and if so, then mention that there are witnesses who will corroborate your version of events.

      1. Lablizard*

        It was a business lunch, so I bet the other people there would be able to confirm the drinking

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          True, but they might not be willing to speak up for fear of getting into trouble. Someone outside the situation would be more reliable.

      2. Forrest*

        She doesn’t need to do that – whether the boss was drunk or he just decided he wanted to play President and be driven around, both the boss and the grand boss acknowledge that the boss choose to not drive. The only reason the Letter Writer would possibly need witnesses is if the boss decided to drive drunk and the Letter Writer decided to take a cab.

        Frankly, I’m not sure what kind of story the boss could have told the Grand Boss that would have resulted in the Grand Boss backing up the “you need to pay the cab fee” line without question.

        1. A Plain-Dealing Villain*

          This is what I don’t get: it’s either 1. Boss knows OP takes public transit, in which case it’s not reasonable to assume they drive, or 2. Boss thought OP drove, in which case someone was going to have to take a cab back to their car. The attitude seems to be “my employee didn’t stop me from drinking too much” which is, ick.

          1. Natalie*

            Boss knows OP takes public transit, in which case it’s not reasonable to assume they drive

            This really doesn’t follow in most areas, although it might in yours. There are plenty of cities or parts of cities (central business districts) where lots of people take public transit even though they own cars and know how to drive. I commuted by transit for years and most of my fellow commuters were drivers.

        2. fposte*

          Yeah, getting drunk at lunch isn’t necessarily a cardinal sin–that’s an organization-specific call. Making it an employee’s fault that he can’t get back from lunch–that’s a cardinal sin.

        3. Ann Furthermore*

          Well, that’s kind of my point. Who knows what the boss might have said to his boss to agree that the OP had to pay for the cab fares? Or did the boss not say anything to his boss at all, and just told the OP that s/he had to pay, saying that his boss agreed with him so the OP would feel too intimidated to say anything?

          A good way to find that out would be for the OP to request a meeting with her boss and the grand-boss, and ask to discuss the situation and understand what train of thought led them to the conclusion that she was responsible for these expenses. If the boss is talking out of his a$$, that will come to light pretty quickly.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              No, she doesn’t have to, but if the boss knows that she’s got people who will corroborate her version of events, he’ll probably back way the hell off if he’s lying about his boss agreeing about her having to pay the cab fares. I might even be worth it to see the look on his face, and to send that message that she won’t be pushed around.

              1. Forrest*

                But why would she need to corroborate her version of events? Do you think the boss is claiming she took the cab herself and then randomly returned to the restaurant the next day?

                1. Ann Furthermore*

                  I don’t know what he’s claiming. It’s just so outrageous that his boss would agree that she had to pay that I think that he lied about it — either to his boss about what happened, or to the OP that his boss agreed with him. One way to find out is to ask the grand boss directly what he or she was told, if anything. Then, the OP can say, “Actually, here’s what really happened, and I’ve got a few people who will confirm that what I’m saying is true.”

                  The grand boss will either say, “This is the first I’m hearing about this, and why did you tell OP that I agreed with you without speaking to me first?” or “That’s a different version of events than what you relayed to me. Explain yourself.” Either way, he will be caught in his lie, and then have to back down. And he’ll know that the OP won’t put up with crap like this.

                2. Forrest*

                  But she doesn’t need witnesses is my point – she would only need them if he drove drunk and she had no choice but to take a cab. She has a medical reason and she doesn’t have a driver’s license. That’s the end of it.

                  I’m not sure why it has to be more dramatic then it needs to be or she has to waste time on something that’s not needed. Ask what the boss is saying, then say “whelp, I legally can’t drive so what are you going to do?”

                  Plus, there has to be receipts in order to claim the cost was $100 altogether – say “why would I need to return the next day if I took a cab back to work?”

                  He’s caught in a lie without the extra work or drama and throwing down the ADA is enough to show she won’t put up with this crap.

                  It doesn’t need to be needlessly complicated and I’m not sure why you’re insisting it needs to be.

                  But agree to disagree I guess.

                3. Ann Furthermore*

                  Well, maybe you’re right that it’s not necessary. If it’s a matter of the boss’s words against the OP’s, it would be helpful to have some backup. That was my thinking.

                  I did think of one thing the boss could have told his boss — maybe he said the OP took his car keys and flushed them down the toilet. I was trying to think of what could possibly get the grand boss on the boss’s side, and that’s all I could come up with.

                4. Noobtastic*

                  Besides, the reason the boss chose not to drive is not the point. The point is that she is not legally able to drive, which she can easily prove by showing her NON-driver state-issued ID. She is legally unable to drive (for whatever reason), therefore it would be illegal for her to drive, and the boss should not have tried to get her to break the law.

                  Whether he chose not to drive because he was drunk, ill, or just feeling like he wanted to be chauffeured around, is not the OP’s issue. I agree that he should not be getting drunk on the clock, but apparently, there are some jobs where that is acceptable. I’m amazed at that, but I never worked in such an industry. So, if he’s not going to get in trouble for getting drunk on the clock, that’s not the OP’s business or trouble. The trouble is that the boss made the decision which led to the cab ride, which means the cab fare is his responsibility. His decision = his responsibility.

                  Therefore, as long as OP can prove it was his decision, and that OP legally cannot drive, I do not see how any reasonable person, at all, would require witnesses as to the boss’s state at the lunch.

        1. dappertea*

          Yeah, I’m really curious about that too. I wonder what story the Grand Boss heard, if they really heard anything.

          1. DArcy*

            Most likely a simple lie of omission: OP was insubordinate and refused to drive on a whim, forcing me to call a cab and then take another one back the next day to retrieve the company car.

    3. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      It is almost certainly not a hostile work environment. It is, however, a real d-ck move.

    4. sitting too much, but still no good alternatives*

      ” Your boss sounds like a real peach (sarcasm). ”

      Yeah he’s a peach. A peach of shit.

      (sorry for cursing – had to pass on this gem of commiseration I heard from a coworker recently.)

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        This made me laugh out loud (think a loud, “ha!”), so I appreciate it :)

    5. Noobtastic*

      Without disclosing details, you can say, “I am legally unable to drive because I am physically unable to drive. Full stop.” And then move on from there.

      As in, “I was not aware that the boss wanted me to drive until we reached the parking lot and he tole me to drive, at which point I informed him that I cannot drive. I am legally unable to drive because I am physically unable to drive. We were forced to take a cab.” Note, at this point the reason the boss does not drive them back to the office is unstated, and unnecessary. He could be drunk, or ill, or just feeling snooty. The point is, he is choosing not to drive them back to the office. “The boss made the decision leading to the cab ride. Therefore, the cab fare is his responsibility.”

      1. DArcy*

        “I can’t legally drive because I don’t have a driver’s license.” is perfectly sufficient; there’s no need to harp on “physically unable to drive”.

        1. Annonymouse*

          I think its worth it so you can pull a harassment complaint later.

          If they push it I mean. “I have a condition (is it covered by the ADA?) that means I cannot legally drive. By making me pay for cab fare it is punishing me for a task I could not perform, that is not part of my job description, due to a medical condition I have.”

          If you want to be snarky add “I’m sure HR/who would deal with this in your state would be interested in the reason I’m being punished for having a medical condition that doesn’t impact my job.”

    1. Jeanne*

      I have to wonder though if HR can truly do anything about retaliation here. The boss is obviously pissed. Then if boss lied to big boss he will be further embarrassed.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Why wouldn’t HR be able to do something? Suspension, warning, etc.—they have the same range of tools that managers have to discipline errant staff.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think Jeanne means that retaliation can be subtle. HR can stop the manager from, say, firing her, but it’s harder to stop more subtle retaliation, like a chill on the relationship that plays out in a bunch of smaller ways.

          I do think that employers can stop that type of retaliation too, though — it just takes real commitment to doing it, and the willingness to preemptively make it really, really clear to the manager that that kind of thing won’t be tolerated.

          1. Geek*

            My first thought was OP #1 needs to find a different company for precisely this reason. When the craziness goes up two levels, I can’t imagine the long term prospects being golden.

            1. Lora*

              That’s why I’m less surprised, I think, than Alison that the awfulness goes up two levels: the answer to “why does this loon still have a job?” is often, “because the grandboss is a loon too, and birds of a feather…”

              Was just explaining this yesterday to one of my employees who asked why loons keep their jobs (she didn’t mean me, thank god). I said, there are a number of reasons: nepotism, senior management feels that their technical skills outweigh their behavior, and it’s really hard to fire someone just because they are a jerk.

            2. Jessesgirl72*

              I would need more information before I’d be convinced the craziness actually goes up two levels.

              It’s also possible that the boss told the Grandboss a story that is completely unrelated to the truth (maybe the OP was the one who drove and was drunk in the boss’s story….) .

              And it’s possible that the Boss never actually went to the Grandboss, and is just telling the OP that the Grandboss agrees with him.

              If I had a dime for every time I heard “Fergus said X” when Fergus didn’t actually say it, or wouldn’t have if he knew the whole story, I wouldn’t ever need to work for Fergus again! ;)

              1. RVA Cat*

                This. Not only did he get drunk on the clock, if this was a business lunch – did he put the alcohol on the company card? That would make his demands that OP pay for the cab fares hypocritical AF.

                I wonder if maybe the OP could approach this with HR as concerns that the boss has an alcohol problem (so sort of as a question rather than a complaint). Plus the fact he got hammered at work probably violates the substance abuse policy. How did he behave after they returned to the office?

            3. Former Retail Manager*

              My thoughts as well. Even with a diligent HR dept, I don’t foresee this ending well. Boss and Grandboss have shown their true colors.

          2. Tuxedo Cat*

            I’d say that it also takes real commitment for the employee to document any subtle retaliation against them because there are so many subtle things that can happen throughout the day.

          3. Shadow*

            Near impossible to stop it I think. When every perceived slight can become “retaliation” it’s hard to separate what’s real from perceived. I’m thinking things like “she didn’t say hi/she was laughing about me/she knew I wanted that assignment. Those are the kinds of things that are near impossible to pin down.

          4. Jeanne*

            Yes. There are so many ways retaliation can happen. Most are indirect and you can’t have perfect proof it is happening.

          5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I meant to post this earlier, but thank you for the additional clarification! And I apologize for being so obtuse, Jeanne.

        2. paul*

          It also depends (in addition to what Allison noted) on how influential the boss/grandboss are if the grandboss is taking the boss’ side. I mean if he’s a C level type, he may have enough clout that HR can’t convince the CEO/ED to reign him in.

      2. Gadfly*

        And I should know better, but this is the sort of thing where you wonder how does he keep his job? He was having other people drive his company car, he tried to have someone who legally cannot drive drive his car–insurance nightmares for the whole company. He was getting drunk during working hours with a subordinate and tried to pressure that subordinate to do something illegal. Now he is retaliating against someone for not breaking the law and for having a disability?

        And the answer is probably that grandboss is supporting him. Which makes me hope OP1 here is low enough level that there are great grandboss and great great grandboss who might see this as the completely fubar situation it is and come down on boss and grandboss like a ton of bricks.

        1. Lablizard*

          Even worse. He’s getting very drunk at a business lunch, so other colleagues or clients are seeing him get wasted on the clock. That is worse than just getting drunk with a subordinate

        2. RVA Cat*

          I have to say, is anyone else here picturing Boss as Don Draper and Grandboss as Roger Sterling? Because that’s the only way this is making any kind of sense.

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Haha I immediately thought of the episode when Roger threw up his oyster and martini lunch!

          2. Suz*

            I am. This situation reminds me of the episode when Don crashed his car when he was drunk and called Peggy to pick him up at the police station.

        3. Noobtastic*

          I always thought that drinking during working hours was a big no-no, but apparently (from upthread), drinking at business lunches in a thing in certain industries. Therefore, assuming that the boss works in such an industry, the issue of him getting drunk is not going to lead to him being in hot water.

          That would then lead to him being easily forgiven for making a ridiculous request in the moment (get the unlicensed driver to drive company car).

          However, even if all that were true, the stuff the boss does AFTER he’s sobered up (making a big deal about it all, and demanding the OP pay for the cab fare) is a decision he makes while he’s not under the influence, and cannot be hand-waved away as “Well, he was in his cups, and that’s OK because reasons/industry standards.” Nope. That ludicrous demand is the heart and soul of OP’s problem, and that is what really needs to be addressed with HR and Grand boss and Great-grand boss, and all the way up, as necessary. For the good of the entire company.

  5. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 Interesting question. I think this depends on so many things, including individual norms in your office and the relationship (and level of hierarchy) between you and the other person. Thinking about it, I’m particularly likely to thank people who are either more or less senior than me (as I’d feel particularly awkward about not doing so). I’d usually thank peers if they answered a question or favour I specifically directed to them. In the examples you gave, I would say thanks unless it’s the other person who does my job as we send each other stuff all the time and either don’t bother or say it in conversation instead. But this is definitely a case of ‘know your office’.

    Also, I don’t send thank yous to shared mailboxes as the people manning those have enough emails to get through. And I consider the loop closed when I respond to things from ours, whether we get a thank you back or not.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      PS Forget you mentioned clients. Definitely say thank you in that case.

      I’ve been in the position of being a client, not getting a thank you/acknowledgement and not knowing if the information I sent was received. It felt rude. YMMV!

      1. Amber T*

        I think a quick “thanks” is important just for the sake of acknowledging you received whatever the other person was sending. Every time I get a “thanks!” email, I never think “oh that person appreciates what I did” (even though I’m sure they do), it’s “ok good, they got what I sent.” If it’s beyond something that takes 2 minutes (like, putting together a list of teapots instead of reminding them where it is), a “thanks for putting this together so quickly!” is nice. But I’m all for acknowledging something was received.

    2. Rat Racer*

      Writing a note to say “thanks” is fine in my book – not just to show appreciation, but to show that you received what you were asking for. Some people write back with “you’re welcome.” This, I think, is overkill.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I agree. I send “Thanks” emails frequently (although I did have one boss who told me he preferred not to receive superfluous emails, which included “thanks” emails). But the “you’re welcome” emails seem a little too much to me. I don’t know why the distinction makes a difference to me, but it does.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Because the thank you acknowledges something beyond the mere sending of an email, and you’re welcome doesn’t?

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Oooo, this is a good distinction, and I think you’re right that this is why I perceive both kinds of emails differently. Ramona Flowers, ftw!

      2. Alton*

        I agree–it’s nice to have a confirmation that someone has seen the email. I work with some people who sometimes miss things, and if I don’t get any sort of response, I’m left wondering when (if at all) I need to follow up.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          Ditto for me. I appreciate a thanks just as an acknowledgement. I have searched my outbox for original emails date stamps too many times for one of our departments. Because their culture is “don’t bug us but we aren’t going to confirm receipt of anything either”. Even directly asking “what can I do to make sure this doesn’t happen again?” I’m answered with a curt “not a thing”

      3. Jessesgirl72*

        Exactly. I say Thanks and appreciate the Thanks emails for precisely that reason: to know my message was received. I never respond You’re Welcome to those emails and anyone who does to me gets an eye roll.

      4. Venus Supreme*

        Yup, I e-mail a “thanks!” to show confirmation on my end that I received what I needed. I’ve been on the other end of the communication relationship where I sent documents, didn’t hear back, and wondered if they got what they needed.

        Alternatively, I have a coworker in my department who’s on the same level as me who always verbally thanks me. It almost sounds like excessive praise. “Venus, thank you SO much. I absolutely appreciate it. It means so much.” And I’m like, “Chill, I reloaded the printer paper because I was the last one to use it…”

      5. Alex the Alchemist*

        I’ll respond with “you’re welcome” over Gchat or IM, but never over email.

    3. Casuan*

      I tend to say thank you. To me, saying thank you is also a confirmation that the requested infos were received.
      Absolutely clients should be thanked.
      The above said, I don’t have strong thoughts either way.

    4. misspiggy*

      In an office with heavy and mostly-urgent email traffic, emails just saying Thank you! used to drive me nuts. If I’d needed to know whether my info was received, I could have used read receipts. Putting thank you in the subject line is fine in that type of setting though – anyone can just scan it quickly.

      We were also advised to write (quick subject line message) EOM, for end of message, no need to open the email. But most people promptly forgot the acronym, and would send another email asking what you meant…

      1. Noobtastic*

        I think that in general, it’s good to say a quick Thanks, but as most things, it does have a certain “Know your audience” facet to it.

        My boss tried to get us to use the EOM thing, as well, but we all got tired of constantly having to remind each other what EOM meant, and it didn’t last longer than a month.

        I think “End.” would work just as well, if not better. It’s much more obvious, although someone will be bound to ask what it’s an abbreviation for. But one reply of “It’s the actual word, end, meaning this is the end of the message,” would probably be more likely to stick int he brain than an explanation of an acronym. Also, same number of characters, so that’s good, too.

    5. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      Routine task “thanks” clutter is a pet peeve, I don’t like it. I get many requests throughout the day that I’d prefer not to have a “thanks” back on but how can you gripe about people being nice? So I don’t, I just delete as quickly as the notification preview comes through. :-)

      For other “thanks”, I think it’s nice to throw a few extra words in to make it worth sending/opening and entire email. I usually say “thanks! you just saved me an hour!” or “thanks, you’re the best. Love working with you guys” or some such. I’ll usually send that if people have had to put some time into doing something for me or otherwise saved my bacon.

      Just “thanks” seems like a waste of paper. :-)

      1. fposte*

        You’ll pry my routine “thanks” from my cold dead keyboard.

        “Thanks” is the polite person’s “I have received your request; it did not get accidentally sent to the wrong email, it did not get buried in my inbox, nor can I claim later that it did.” See how much more efficient it is :-)?

        1. MoinMoin*

          Yep. It’s an easy, nice way to bring closure to the conversation thread. A lot of the questions I get and ask other people are information gathering to find out if something went wrong, so if someone asks me if I reported something to a client already, my answer can be met with “good” or “oh no we just realized it wasn’t correct” or “oh no we hoped you had because they’re waiting for it” or any other variation. Replying thanks lets everyone know that the matter is resolved and you don’t have to worry about why they’re asking.

        2. LBK*

          Yep, that’s why I send it. It’s more just an acknowledgment than a true expression of gratitude.

        3. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

          My hands are full clutching my oxford comma, so no prying from me .

          In my world, it goes to volume and routine-ness of request/reply, I think. Request: “Please merge accounts AB1234 and XY4631” Reply: DONE! Reply of “thanks”, unnecessary and annoying because I’m onto my next thing.

          1. Meg Murry*

            I think in your case, replying “DONE!” serves the purpose of loop closing, and I agree that the “thanks!” email isn’t necessary. I worked with someone that never sent that “done!” email and was weeks behind, so I never knew if something was still on her to-do list but she just hadn’t gotten to it yet, or if she had blown us off – it drove me crazy.

            But when it’s “please send me these 27 attachments and my request isn’t totally clear” then getting back “thanks!” or “got it, thanks” lets me know that I appear to have sent what they wanted and this loop is closed.

            1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

              Yep. The context of closing the loop, vs superfluous junk mail, makes perfect sense to me.

      2. NewManager*

        I’m of the same mindset – I actually sent an email to my team this week asking to cut back on thank you emails for routine tasks, especially within our department, and especially as reply alls! It’s been bugging me for awhile and I had a hard time not feeling like a grinch while writing the email, but I tried to pose it as, let’s assume the thank you is implied and we’re all grateful for each other’s work.

        That’s mostly for internal emails though, and specifically routine tasks. I’m all for thanking people who have gone above and beyond or done something really quickly to help out. And I think it’s ok for external emails to clients to both acknowledge receipt of something and as a courtesy to building a polite relationship.

        1. Noobtastic*

          If this is an issue, may I recommend that you institute a group-wide policy of having true gratitude expressed in a separate medium (phone call, note card, public recognition), and limited to actual “extra mile” events, and continue that assumption that we are all grateful for each other’s standard work.

          At the same time, if the people there feel a need to acknowledge that the information was received, the job was done, the loop was closed, you could, instead, send “Complete” or “Done” as the email. Best would be to put “Complete” or “Done” at the end of the subject line, so that people can search for that subject line, and see “Complete” in the list, and know that it’s all done, and they don’t even have to open the email because there is nothing new there.

          For those issues where a notification of completion is not necessary, because they really are that routine, or the completion is blatantly obvious, they just don’t send such a notification, and go about their business with as little e-clutter as possible.

          Tweak the policy to find out what works best for your office and for the work you do.

    6. NotoriousMCG*

      This may be just me, because I work with A TON of people who are external and need hand-holding, but I am always sure to give them a quick ‘Thanks!’ Or ‘Thanks so much!’ whenever I receive something from them so that they A. Know I received it and B. Know that everything was exactly as I needed it and no further adjustments were required

      1. Blue*

        Yes, same. For my direct coworkers, I am less likely to send a follow up “thanks!” Personally, I use the preview on outlook to delete thank you emails pretty quickly, but I don’t mind receiving them.

    7. Solidus Pilcrow*

      “I’d usually thank peers if they answered a question or favour I specifically directed to them. In the examples you gave, I would say thanks unless it’s the other person who does my job as we send each other stuff all the time and either don’t bother or say it in conversation instead. ”

      This is similar to what I do. If I ask the TPS Report compiler to do their job and compile the TPS Reports, that’s them doing their job. However, if I need the last 18 months of reports pulled and data analyzed and put into a pretty powerpoint in one day for a meeting with the big boss, that is definitely something to thank them for.

    8. INFJ*

      There is definitely an element of office norms to this. OP can look to see what others are doing in similar situations.

      All the email etiquette articles I’ve ever read pounded into me that emails that just said “thanks” were a waste of space. So, when I started my current job, I took a minimalist approach to emailing. For example, someone ends an email with: “If you have any issues with these dates, let me know”- If I didn’t have an issue, I didn’t respond. I soon learned that a response was required regardless of if they asked for it.

      Same thing with emails just saying “thanks”: people at my office tend to dole them out, so I figure it’s expected and follow that.

    9. Mike C.*

      I don’t know about you guys, but I always send a thank you email, then call the recipient to make sure it’s been received.


        1. Noobtastic*

          And send a fax, with an accompanying text message, to alert the person to check the fax machine?

    10. Blinx*

      All the little Thanks emails drove me crazy when I started my current job, but I soon realized that it was the culture of the place. I do it too, now, but I don’t Reply All, I’ll just reply to the sender.

    11. Jenny Next*

      I totally agree that I prefer to receive a quick “thanks” as an acknowledgement that the e-mail was received and the transaction is — for the moment — closed.

      But also, not receiving thanks makes me feel that the person is just using me as a utility. I work as a professional staff member in academia, where there is no actual reward for good performance or being engaged in your job, so the psychological payback of feeling appreciated is very important to me. It doesn’t have to be gushy, it just has to exist.

      1. Noobtastic*

        I think that so much of this depends on the particular work the people are doing, and the office culture.

        If you work in an office where people routinely reward good performance, both officially and unofficially with a spoken, “Thanks!” for basic stuff and an “I owe you one” for extra-mile stuff, then you’re going to say Thanks, and accept thanks.

        If you work in an office where nobody wants to be bothered, either with thanking others, or with seeing that thanks fills their inboxes, then you learn to do without the recognition.

        I think, though, that a good, functional workplace, can strike a balance. You don’t have to thank someone every time they perform the basic functions of their job, but it’s important to thank them for doing extra stuff, and even sometimes, if that basic function turned out to be REALLY helpful for you, a thank you is good for morale. Meanwhile, thanks emails flying left, right and center, can become overwhelming, and even make a real display of appreciation lose its power.

        I love getting appreciation, but it’s kind of a toss-up to me whether I’d prefer a “Thanks,” for when I do my job or a “Good job,” at the end of the day. I guess it depends on the pace of the office, and the nature of the tasks. Days filled with nothing but routine tasks = “Good job” at the end of the day. Days filled with fewer, but more complicated tasks, especially tasks that directly affect other people = “Thanks” for each one, although these thanks do not need to be effusive to be effective to me.

        Know Your Audience is a motto that really applies to this, and what you need to do will vary with each workplace.

    12. D.A.R.N.*

      What I do is say thank you in person if we share an office. For people out of the office, maybe say thank you in an e-mail half the time and over the phone for the other half?

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    #3 Just make sure you don’t wind up being photographed and publically tagged on social media.

    1. Gen*

      I was just going to say that. I’d also check your social media settings for what might be shared publicly in the event someone still tags you. Though given my past experiences with sick leave and social events I just wouldn’t risk it

  7. DArcy*

    Regarding #5 — this is exactly why my company doesn’t allow people to call out via text or e-mail. You’re required to call the on-duty supervisor line, which is manned 24-7; that way there’s no possibility of “well, I texted the supervisor and/or the communications officer, but I guess they didn’t see it”.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      I wonder if OP could try calling in, then sending a mail to the whole team including boss saying ‘As I’ve just called Fergus to say, I’m out sick today, please tell any callers I will get back to them as soon as I can etc.” Just to take away boss’ ability to act like she’s a no call no show.
      The cold shoulder part is probably boss’ warped attitude to people being off sick and likely isn’t changeable.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Someone else mentioned a similar idea upthread and I think it’s really smart. Whatever OP needs to do — cc another supervisor or two, cc HR or grandboss, cc the whole dang office — because the boss sounds like a butthead.

    2. Matt*

      If the line is 24-7, it sounds OK (except that you have no voice with certain illnesses) – however this policy gets real difficult when it says that you have to talk to a live person, but cannot easily get hold of one – at my place you have to call in sick by 9 a.m. which is also the start of mandatory time in our flex time policy – many people including some bosses don’t start any minute earlier than 9 a.m. so it’s impossible to reach them by phone “in time” to call in sick …

      1. Liane*

        OldJob had an “Attendance Hotline” that was automated, but would then transfer you to the store to “talk to a manager.” Of course, my store was one where it was unlikely you’d speak to a manager because too early/late, no one picked up the phone, or managers were busy. Fortunately, our managers weren’t sticklers for actually talking to them.
        At least the Hotline part worked very well. You could call up the day/night before your shift, you got a reference number to show you had called, and managers could check the call log on the intranet. So no having to stay awake to call in the morning or “confusion” as to whether/when someone had called.

      2. DArcy*

        The supervisor line is manned 24/7 because our business is open and operating 24/7. There will always be a live person of supervisor rank or above on that line — if we’re short supervisors during the day, the operations manager or one of the two company owners will fill in for the supervisory role, while at night a senior field officer will typically fill in as acting supervisor with the ops manager (who’s exempt salaried) on-call to back them up.

        We’re strict on attendance because if someone calls out, we need to know before their shift starts so we can have someone else fill in. We can’t just let shifts go unfilled unless we have absolutely no options, and even then management needs to know about it immediately so they can compensate the client.

        1. DArcy*

          The supervisor line is a company cell phone, so it *can* be texted; you’re just not supposed to call out via text because then there’s no guarantee that the on-duty supervisor actually saw it. They’ll generally let it slide if you text and explain you have a medical issue affecting your voice, though.

  8. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 It’s always possible there’s been some sort of emergency or accident/illness and also if she could be on vacation and not have mentioned this (though you surely would). I suppose this depends on whether you have other candidates you’d be equally happy to go with or are willing to wait – and also how fast things move where you work. In your case you need someone ASAP and it’s understandable to prioritise your business needs.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah, I tend to wait about 3–5 business days (depending on need) before moving on. I’ve only had one incident where the candidate was out of country on vacation—in other cases, candidates let me know they’d be off-the-grid at the end of the interview when we wrap up logistics.

      If I can’t get ahold by voicemail, I send an email the next day asking the candidate to call me. I usually don’t have to fill positions rapidly, so a one-week delay for my second-choice candidate seems ok/reasonable to me.

      1. Liane*

        Last month, we had a vacation coming up, so at my interviews I brought this up myself when the interviewer mentioned hiring timelines, especially one good employer I know moves very quickly for positions at my level. (Usually 2-3 weeks from closing date to hiring decision.) I told them the dates, that I would be checking my voicemail so I could get back with them, but there might be a slight delay in response if I happened to be driving when they called.

    2. Casuan*

      Agree. Presumably if the candidate is job searching then she would have set up a procedure for monitoring potential communications whilst on holiday, even if only an auto-reply— of course for illness or an emergency not so much.

      OP, if you do move on to other candidates take a moment to think of how you’ll reply if this particular candidate ever does respond to your offer. It can help to know what to say if the candidate is upset at missing the deadline or thrilled to still be in the running.

      In the future, avoid ambiguity by doing as Alison suggested about giving a deadline. It’s best to give the day & date for the deadline because to some the phrase “next Monday” means the very next Monday & to others it means “the Monday a week after the very next Monday.

    3. Caro in the UK*

      I feel for this candidate if they have had an emergency come up, say they’ve been an accident and have been stuck in hospital without access to phone or email. For this reason, I’d give them one more call, and if you can’t get through, leave a voicemail saying that unfortunately you’re going to go with another candidate (or give them a deadline for calling back, whatever works best for your situation).

      It’ll still suck for the candidate, but at least when they do pick up their messages, they’ll know that they’ve missed the window; rather than calling you back, possibly expecting the job still to be open and then finding that it’s not.

    4. Marcy Marketer*

      I’ve been on vacation twice while in the job interview process. The first time (2009) I was in a remote location without cell service, so I would go to a place with service and check my voicemails once a day and return calls at that time. The second time (2017) I told the recruiter up front that I would be out of the country for 14 days and slow to respond by email. I put up an auto responder on my email, as well, and checked email every day. I just don’t feel that being on vacation is a good excuse for being unresponsive.

      1. TL -*

        There are people who go on vacations that don’t have any service – an auto response should be used but there are still places where you can’t check anything.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          Although this is true, there are certainly ways to alert a potential employer before you leave that you will be unavailable for x days. I’m all for being considerate to the applicant, but they’ve got some responsibility here too.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

            The timing on this letter is especially ironic for me given that I am currently NOT on vacation in Europe with several friends because of a potential job offer that didn’t happen last fall. I haven’t scheduled a vacation in the spring for five dang years because of trying to get this job. I may be pretty cheesed at this point.

          2. KellyK*

            Yeah, I would agree with that. Definitely for a potential employer you’ve already interviewed with, for exactly this reason—you don’t want them to move onto the next candidate because they can’t get a hold of you.

            It’s certainly possible to think you’ll have email access and then not, but an auto-response and a heads up that you’ll be out of town from X until Y date seems helpful.

    5. worldtraveler*

      I was going to comment something similar – the hiring process during my last job search dragged on through HR waiting for paperwork for 2.5 months. I was on vacation in a remote area out of the country for the last two weeks of it – no cell service. While I had notified my hiring contact / future manager before leaving that I would be unavailable by phone for the next few weeks, the message apparently never got over to the HR worker handling the offer. About a week and a half in, I definitely received an awkward e-mail being like “uhh, so do you still want this position? Because we haven’t heard back from our messages…”

      I think if you try to contact the candidate in multiple ways over the course of a week or so, then you’re in the clear to move on. But trying them in the same medium (e.g., phone call) multiple times just means that the same exact issue could be impacting your ability to reach them and heightens the chance they just never got the message.

    6. OP #4*

      I was worried about some sort of emergency as well, or even she lost her phone and it was taking a few days to replace, that’s part of why I wrote Alison. I just had no idea how long was normal to wait, and I wanted to be fair but I also do need to bring someone on board quickly.

      I ended up leaving another voicemail and sending an email that both said, “if we don’t hear back from you by X date we’ll be moving on with another candidate.” She responded to that email and said that she had accepted another offer. My gut feeling is that she was probably negotiating/waiting for the other job offer and didn’t know how to relay that to me, so just wasn’t responding.

      Luckily I have another candidate I am just as happy about. Again, part time, entry level position, there were lots of good candidates.

  9. t*

    #2 – I generally don’t want an email that just says thanks, but I don’t get too worked up about it. EXCEPT when it’s a reply all to 50 people. That drives me batty! 50 people do not need to be witness to one person thanking another. At least take everyone else off the string if you’re going to do it.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Oh yes. Reply-all and thank you are mutually exclusive. Unless you’re the most senior person in the email.

    2. Allie*

      Yeah, I don’t want it but it takes ten seconds to delete. Inane mass email chains drive me nuts (yes x system is down. We don’t need 12 mass emails complaining about it.)

    3. Amber T*

      Another for the reply-all hate. Especially when all 5, 10, 50 people feel the need to respond with “thanks!”

      I was just recently the go-between between a vendor and several of our partners, who all had the same question. I sent an email to our vendor asking said question, ccing all of the partners on the email. Person A at vendor responded with the answer, great. Person B at the vendor replied all asking me about something information I owe him. So cue three different emails directly to me from our partners – “what’s this information? Do we owe anything? Why didn’t we know about this?” Ugh.

      Think very, very carefully when replying all.

    4. Jadelyn*

      Our IT dept had to set up the all-staff email address to pop up a warning in Outlook reminding people to use BCC when sending all-staff emails, because we had developed an epidemic of “thanks!” threads going to 250 people. So annoying!

    5. Thinking Outside the Boss*

      I completely hate the reply all, except once when a problem employee sent an all office email announcing his departure, and we all got a reply all that read: “Bye Felicia!”

      1. BookishMiss*

        That’s a thing of beauty.

        Otherwise, no reply all, please. It’s semi-mandatory in my office if there’s a group email (even for silly stuff), but I refuse to use it as much as I can.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Oy. Dealing with this with child’s sports team–“I can host the dinner” should be sent Reply All. “Thanks for hosting the dinner!!!” should not.

      1. V (a different one)*

        We have this on our neighborhood email list. “The gas company will be repairing lines on X dates” = useful, the 4+ reply all responses saying “thanks” and “ok” drive me batty! Fortunately, gmail lets you mute conversations temporarily.

    7. Dr. Ruthless*

      I “reply all” thanks when I’ve asked a number of people for a document, and then one of them sends it to me (especially if they send it to me directly, not reply-all). I single-replied “thanks” a few times, but that always resulted in other people on the email chain, not realizing that I’d gotten the thing from someone else.

      So it’s less a real thanks than a “I got the thing and now no one need worry about it.”

      (Preemptively: these are usually smallish email chains–half a dozen people at most–and no particular point person on who might be the best/most capable person to respond to the request, so I can’t just ask one person directly).

      1. Noobtastic*

        And here is where “Complete” or “Done” in the subject line comes in really useful.

        Anyone who replies all to an email with “Complete” or “Done” in the subject line is a… really annoying person (Yes, I did edit that three times. I’m trying not to swear.)

    8. Cath in Canada*

      A few weeks ago, I emailed one of the profs I work with plus several collaborators to let them know that I’d submitted their grant application. The prof replied all but accidentally typed “Thank Cath” instead of “Thanks Cath”, and everyone dutifully started replying “Thank you Cath!” It was adorable and hilarious, and therefore an exception to this general rule :D

  10. Geoffrey B*

    #2 – at my work it’s not uncommon to reply with subject line “Thanks! (n/t)” (for “no text”). That way people can receive the thank-you but know they don’t need to open the email.

    1. Jessica*

      A similar shorthand I’m familiar with is a subject line that ends with “nfm” — stands for No Further Message. So you know that “thanks” or whatever short thing was in the subject line is the whole communication, and you don’t need to open the email.

      1. Nic*

        The only concern I’d have with this is that it sounds like a whole new email would be created for that “thanks”, and I have gotten over 30 “thanks!” emails in a day (appropriate for the work type/workload). I loved getting them for the “I got it” aspect, but having that many blank emails show up with “thanks” in the subject line would not be helpful for knowing what had been received.

        Adding it to the end of the subject line, though, is a brilliant idea.

        1. Noobtastic*

          OH, yes, this. I used to have a job as an admin, where I helped a whole lot of people on a whole lot of little things, all day, every day.

          Now, I personally, love getting the acknowledgement, so getting a “thanks” email from all of them would be a dream come true (I say this as someone who did NOT get thanks from all of them, and so it would probably reach nightmare status, if it were to actually happen 100%, every day).

          But what really annoyed me is when someone would say “Thanks” to me, and I’d have absolutely no idea why. “Ummm, you’re welcome? What did I do?” Then I’d waste time trying to think why this person was thanking me.

          So, adding Thanks at the end of the subject line, or in the body of the email is great. Sending a brand-new email with “Thanks” with nothing in the subject line is just confusing. You might as well be emailing me random words, like “Basketball!” or “Fiddlesticks!” for all the good it does me.

          1. Geoffrey B*

            Whoops, yeah, that’s what I meant – the subject line would be “Thanks (n/t) Re: new teapots ordered” or whatever.

  11. Casuan*

    OP3, I love Alison’s reply. Definitely it’s a different energy level to be at a friend’s house as opposed to being at work.
    Ramona Flowers’ caution about social media is also sound advice, although one doesn’t usually have a choice as to what’s posted online, tagged or not. If the party does get a bit rowdy, as a precaution stay low-key.
    Enjoy the party!!

    1. Lioness*

      One might not have a choice as to what gets posted, but you can always untag yourself. Also, you can limit what audience gets added if you’re tagged in something. But this may not be necessary.

      Being stuck at home isn’t a requirement for sick days. Sometimes you need a break from being cooped up.

      1. Karen K*

        Yes, I agree. We’re not in school anymore, where our parents said if we’re too sick to go to school, we’re too sick to go outside and play!

        1. Amber T*

          Lol I’m still in the school mind – my mom made it very clear that if I stayed home sick from work, I had to stay home from any after school activities. I think staying home sick from work then going to a party rates a “meh” on the ethical scale (maybe it’s not the most ethical thing) but at the same time, I think it also rates very low on the Big Deal scale.

        2. Noobtastic*

          Ah, but are we too sick to go outside and sit in the sunshine and get some vitamin D and fresh air? Hahaha! Argue with THAT one, Mother!

          Seriously, though, you can be sick as a dog, and still go sit somewhere else, and even benefit from it.

          If you’re worried about being tagged on social media, I would recommend either showing up really looking as sick as a dog, to “make an appearance” at the friend’s party, so they feel loved, or else call them, and tell them you took a sick day today, and you won’t be out at all, except to go to the pharmacy or fast-food drive-through, and you wish them well.

          My chronic issue doesn’t really show up, so I’d have to go the second route, but if you are actually green, and your hair is stringy, and your eyes are bloodshot, and you look like you are about to barf at any moment, go ahead and let them tag you.

          Although, you might be branded as a black-out sick drunk, or possibly as an inconsiderate @$$ who doesn’t keep your germs to yourself.

          The safest route is to stay home, but you might actually be better for going out. You’ll just have to weigh the pros and cons for that day, I suppose.

    2. NotoriousMCG*

      I dunno, guys. I had a fake ID in college in the height of everything-on-Facebook-all-the-time and yet not one picture of underage me at the bars with my friends exists. As soon as I’d see a camera I’d nope right out of the line of sight.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Who uses a camera anymore, and you might as well stay home if you’re going to have to disappear every time someone has a phone in their hand!

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Right, after 2 days of rest it seems perfectly reasonable to go to make an appearance at a party.

    4. Sierra*

      Assuming she is using sick days and isn’t leaving others in the lurch on a project, does it even really matter if they see pictures of her at a party? I’m off the mindset that if they’re your sick days it’s up to you on how to use them! But my sick days and vacation days are all lumped together which may skew my perception on that.

  12. Rat Racer*

    #3 – I have never understood the rules around sick days and “faking it.” At my company PTO = PTO and I see it as part of my employees’ compensation. If someone on my team wants to take even a mental health day from time to time, and spend it shopping at the mall, taking a yoga class, or partying like it’s 1999, that is totally fine with me, so long as they are meeting deadlines and using their accrued PTO.

    Is that unusual? The whole “doctor’s note” and “prove you were actually sick” thing makes absolutely zero sense to me.

    1. Matt*

      It makes a bit of sense (although not too much ;-) in environments where there is a bank of “vacation” PTO and “sick time”. I’m in Europe, and in my country there is a bank of five weeks of “vacation” a year plus a basically unlimited amount of “sick time”, the latter under rather strict policies (doctor’s notes are required usually from three days upward, and you are not allowed to do anything that might “prevent recovery” (so you shouldn’t be seen at a party if you’re on sick time because of the flu).

      The whole doctor’s note thing is just as ridiculous here as it would be in the US, since you are required to seek medical attention when it wouldn’t be necessary (and you are required to sit in a waiting room full of other sick patients and their germs …) – however it’s justified a bit by our social security / health insurance system – in longer cases (a few weeks) of being off sick, health insurance would jump in to pay your salary up to a certain amount, so you don’t just have to “call off sick” to your employer, but this also has to be checked in to health insurance (which is done by the doctor).

      1. Tau*

        Also in Europe under a similar system, and I agree. Doctor’s notes for short illnesses are infantilising, a waste of time and medically dangerous, yes, and the company shouldn’t be policing what you do on your sick days, but I do not consider sick days part of my PTO allowance. In the years where I don’t get ill, I take 0 sick days and my reward for that is not having been ill. Since we have a generous PTO allowance compared to the US, I think it’s fair to expect people to only take sick days if they genuinely feel they shouldn’t be working for medical reasons.

        1. Em too*

          UK with much the same system (think in theory we get up to six months sick pay) and we still don’t need a doctor’s note for the first week.

          1. Discordia Angel Jones*

            I believe in the UK we need to self-certify after 3/4 days, as well. Which is just an NHS form.

    2. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

      Yeah, it makes sense to ask for a doctor’s note if someone has had an extended illness – but more to make sure that they are well enough to go back to work or to communicate about any work restrictions they might have or for return to work planning. But not for a one or two day thing. I’m a doctor and if someone comes in and asks for a note for work because they are sick, I’m going to give them one. Even if I think they are faking (which is pretty rare), I can’t actually tell their employer that because of confidentiality. All I can really is say is that PersonX was seen in my clinic today and please excuse them from work. And if it’s not a super obvious illness, like if they say they’re throwing up or having diarrhea but they look well (which often is the case with mild gastroenteritis – but they still shouldn’t be working because it’s contagious), I’m going to believe them and all I’m going to do is make sure they aren’t so sick that they need emergency care. I’m not going to make them sit there until they puke so I can confirm what they told me.

      So I really don’t see how having them see me for a note gives employers any more useful information than they would get from trusting that adults can decide when they are sick enough to stay home. All it does is make sick people leave the house when they should be resting and expose other people to whatever they have and spread it around – and also take up appointment times that could be used by people who actually need medical care.

        1. Zombii*

          Using FMLA means more paperwork than getting a doctor’s note, not less, unless you already have paperwork on file for intermittent FMLA. Plus, I don’t know how standard it is for doctors to fill out FMLA paperwork for sick-enough-to-stay-home-but-I-wouldn’t-go-to-a-doctor-if-work-wasn’t-making-me conditions.

        2. Annonymouse*

          In Australia you get minimum 4 weeks holiday leave and 2 weeks sick leave.

          Most places I’ve worked require a Drs certificate if:
          1) It’s two days off together
          2) either side of a weekend or public holiday.

          The idea being sick leave is for when your sick not fun (not including mental health days) or to be used when you need it.

    3. hbc*

      Even with PTO, there’s the notification aspect. In a lot of positions, there’s some planning that goes into someone being out. It’s expected that we’ll have to scramble for illnesses because you can’t plan them, but just deciding you want a three-day weekend on Friday morning isn’t cool.

      If you have actual designated sick days, then it should be more rigid. Not to the point of doctor’s notes, but that you should expect some blowback if you’ve got pictures of you at Six Flags on a sick day.

      1. Roscoe*

        I don’t know, I think they are your sick days to use how you want. I get the coverage aspect, and to a point, I guess it depends on how much your absence really does affect others (in my job, its close to nothing). but still, they are your days. I think the problem is calling them “sick” days vs. just unplanned days. I’ve had to take sick days because a plumber came, or because I lost my wallet and had to get stuff. People take sick days because their kids are sick, even if they are fine. So just because you take a sick day, doesn’t mean you actually have to be ill for it to be ok. Aside from that though, even if you just want a 3 day weekend, why do people care so much. Let people use their time as they want, and if it becomes an ongoing issue, discuss it with them

        1. Tau*

          I’ve had to take sick days because a plumber came, or because I lost my wallet and had to get stuff. People take sick days because their kids are sick, even if they are fine. So just because you take a sick day, doesn’t mean you actually have to be ill for it to be ok.

          For comparison, I am 99.9% sure none of these examples would fly at my current company, and about 95% sure that’s pretty standard for Europe. I also can’t use sick leave for medical appointments, and I don’t dare think about mental health days.

          I bring this up as when I first started reading, I came away with what I’m pretty sure are wrong assumptions about how sick leave works here from this blog because I didn’t realise that American norms are different. I’m lucky I didn’t land myself in serious hot water, honestly.

        2. Noobtastic*

          Oooooh, wouldn’t it be nice to work for a company that had a bank of “Planned” time off and a bank of “Unplanned” time off, and you could use them for whatever you want, no questions asked?

          Sick days for mental health, sick kids, urgent errands, relatives just showed up on your doorstep? Fine, just don’t call them “sick” days, and don’t call up coughing and sniffling and lying to me, please. Just say, “I need to take an unplanned absence, and here is the information you need to know to cover for me.”

          I think just having this basic semantic change would make a huge difference in how people use the time, (as in actually staying home when they are ill, rather than show how tough they are and infecting everyone else) as well as how we judge others on that use of time. As long as you don’t go over your allotted bank, and you do what you can not to leave people in the lurch for unplanned times (cross-training, excellent notes, and accessibility to answer questions), then it’s nobody’s business but your own.

          I do believe that the people who take such pride in never taking a “sick” day, because they are tough and power through it, may be more likely to go ahead and take the time off, if it does not have that “sick” label attached to it. Because they think that Sick = weak, but Unplanned is just unplanned. And considering that the “power-through” it people aren’t really all that concerned about inconveniencing their co-workers with their germs, I doubt that they’d be that concerned about the inconvenience of an unplanned day off for any other reason, so they’d be more likely to take it, just without the label.

          Add into this an official policy of “If you knowingly come to work sick, you will be sent home and get a ding on your performance review because you made me take time off from my work to deal with your (insert swear word here, because it really ticks me off). If you become sick at work, and tell me “I’m leaving,” you will not be dinged on your performance review, because you pro-actively took your germs away from the rest of us,” and I think you’ll be golden.

      2. KHB*

        Thanks – this is my viewpoint too. Maybe there are some positions where your day-to-day work is really so independent that you really can get all your work for the week done by Thursday and be confident that you can take a “mental health day” on Friday without messing things up for anyone else. But more often, I think, you don’t necessarily know whether someone else is going to be counting on you to be there on Friday to collaborate or to help them with something. If you’re actually sick, that’s one thing, and people can deal. But if you just decide at the last minute that you want a day off, that’s different.

        I also agree that requiring doctor’s notes is ridiculous. I’m in favor of having a clear policy about the appropriate use of sick leave (i.e., sick days are for when you’re sick – they’re not extra vacation) and trusting people to follow it.

        1. Rat Racer*

          Yes – if someone was regularly taking every other Friday or Monday as an unexpected sick day, I would definitely be irritated and wonder if they were abusing the privilege.

          On the small team that I manage:
          – All of us are virtual and spread across the country
          – We work upwards of 50 hours a week
          – Often have business travel

          So these factors create an environment where someone taking an occasional mental health day at the beach wouldn’t cause me to bat an eye. If I was back at the job I had in my late 20s, when I worked in a medical practice and a single absence could cause the entire house of cards to fall, it would be a different story. Still, a one-time unplanned day off just because you need a break from the circus is different from a pattern of 3-day weekends in the guise of sick days.

          1. Noobtastic*

            There is a big difference between someone working hard Monday through Thursday so that they can take Friday off, and someone having an “I just cannot deal” day on Friday.

            In the first case, you are literally planning for it, and it should not come from your sick days, but from your planned PTO.

            In the second, you never know when you’ll have an “I can’t deal” day. They can hit any time, for just about any reason. I’m “lucky” in that my “I just can’t deal right now” days also ALWAYS come with a splitting headache, so that’s valid sick. yay me.

            A really good manager will provide cross-training, and demand that his workers have files or binders with excellent notes on all their processes, so that someone can cover for them with minimal day-to-day instructions. Also, on any given day that a person calls in “sick,” they can say, “This is what you need to know for this day, in particular, and the rest is in my SOP binder.” They’ll also ensure they have enough manpower to take the occasional hit and still keep going.

            I once worked with an old-timer who had so much accrued PTO that he literally scheduled every Friday off for the last half of the year. I thought it was awesome. And, of course, he was so good at his job, and at proper planning, that he did get it all done during Monday through Thursday. January through June with this guy was interesting. He’d still work at his same pace, and then Fridays would be so. very. relaxed. Of all my co-workers in that department, I think he was the one with the least stress. Nothing ever seemed to really bother him, except when they ran out of coffee in the break room, and that was only because he had to deal with all the other people who did not have access to coffee to fuel their “I have so much work to doooooo1!!!!!eleventy!” lives. Mind you, this guy had plenty of work, too. He was senior because he was that good. He was also just really efficient. And he knew how to say “no.” and to delegate. And to make people want to work with him and take delegation from him. His team was always on track and cool, while others were often scrambling and panicking. Great manager, IMO.

            Awesome guy also asked me to perform an off-the-clock task for him, because he knew it was my hobby, and without any prompting from me, he offered payment for it, as well as paying for all the supplies. Because he knew my time was valuable.

            In other words, he never had a “mental health, cannot deal” day because he managed his mental health all along.

        2. Lemon Zinger*

          Good points!

          One of my coworkers has a tendency to take sick days after a rough day at work. Last week she made a serious, avoidable error and was reprimanded for it after I alerted our boss to her mistake. The next day she was out sick, leaving me to scramble things in my schedule to cover for her. That evening, another coworker hosted a party and she was there! I don’t think most of the staff at the party knew what happened, but she had been out sick, so they were all somewhat surprised to see her there.

          For the record, we can often get ahead of work and take a day off without consequences. I occasionally take mental health days. But I don’t take them when I have things scheduled, and I certainly would not appear at a get-together later, perfectly healthy.

      3. paul*

        yeah, I have to agree. An occasional mental health day is one thing–we’ve been told as much–but in general we want advance notice if possible and if you’re calling in sick for the love of god actually *be* sick. We’ve got clients, calls to answer, community outreach, etc. We can generally shift stuff around but it is a burden to all of our coworkers when someone calls in at the last minute. We’re A-OK with people doing so–emergencies happen, people get sick–but if you call in sick and I run into you at the bar later I may be a bit grumpy about it. Particularly if it isn’t the first time

    4. BioPharma*

      Well… at my company, we get a limited number of PTO, but unlimited sick days (which are paid).

    5. Sierra*

      I just commented the same thing above. I can’t imagine anyone at my agency caring at all if there’s a tagged Facebook photo of me drinking a glass of wine that night. Assuming that she’s not at the party during work hours but even so! If it’s your sick time it’s up to you on how to use it!

  13. JC Denton*

    More on the substance of #1. Why are writers these days sharing their company’s Fortune rankings? It certainly doesn’t make the boss’s behavior any more or less acceptable. Bad bosses seem to be found no matter what size the company is. Either way, OP #1, go to HR as Alison suggests and keep on the eye for retaliation from either boss.

    #3, I’m always wary of being out in public on a sick day. Just apply a simple litmus test. If a neutral coworker saw you at the party, what would they say/do? Amusing sick time abuse anecdote: we had a guy who left work feeling ill because he thought he was having a “heart attack.” His wife took him to the ER vs. someone calling 911. Later that Friday night, our boss and two coworkers saw him at the same movie premiere. Amazing recovery for someone who was supposedly having a heart attack. So the severity of your illness might play a factor here.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I read it (the Fortune 500 thing) as a way of conveying “this is a big, established company, not some mom-and-pop shop where you might expect them not to know how to run things.”

      1. MoinMoin*

        The size or type of a company would also give more context for the possible avenues to resolve the issue, i.e. a well developed HR department vs just an owner vs the office manager who is also the de facto HR person, etc.

        1. Is it Friday Yet?*

          Yep. In a small company without an HR department, the OP’s options would be really limited.

    2. Ange*

      Except that could have been a panic attack, for example. Or something else that turned out to not be serious. Doesn’t mean he was faking.

      1. doreen*

        It’s possible that I could think I’m having a heart attack and actually have something less serious – but I think the part that makes it look like he was faking is that he apparently waits for his wife to get there to take him to the ER rather than calling 911.

        1. Roscoe*

          But why do you care? I mean seriously? If he preferred to wait for his wife to take him to the ER, that’s his business. What does it matter?

          1. Doreen*

            I didn’t say I would care – only that that was the part that probably led JC Denton to conclude he was faking.

        2. Collie*

          Ambulance rides can be extremely expensive. Even in life-or-death situations, some people have to consider the financial costs associated with their decisions.

          1. Karen K*

            Except, that in cases of possible heart attack, experts strongly discourage either driving oneself or having someone else drive you to the hospital. Go by ambulance only, so that the paramedics/EMTs can deal if your condition worsens.

            I drove my husband to the hospital when he thought he was having some type of cardiac event. Although he did end up requiring bypass surgery, he was not having a heart attack. He almost gave himself one crabbing at me for not driving faster, though. Kept asking me if I was trying to kill him.

            Never again.

          2. Noobtastic*

            If you are in a car accident, and need an ambulance, never, ever, EVER give the ambulance people your auto insurance information. You give them your health insurance information, NOT your car insurance information.

            I used to handle personal injury cases for a lawyer, and learned this. The ambulance billing your car insurance will eat up your injury settlement, paying full prices, whereas the health insurance pays a set rate, determined by your health insurance, which may be much less, and may be fully covered, depending on your health insurance.

            If you don’t have health insurance, and you can get someone to drive you, and you don’t need actual medical care on the way to the hospital, yeah, get someone to drive you, especially if it will cut down on the travel time (ambulances have to get to you before they get you to the hospital, whereas someone on scene driving you there only has to go one way). It’s really situational.

            Also, someone who is having a very mild heart attack, and has had experience with it, and knows to take his nitro-glycerin pills may very well check in at the emergency room, make sure it is as mild as he thought it was, and feel up to going to the movie premier he had been planning for, with advance tickets and special dinner reservations, and all that jazz. With the proper medication, people can manage their heart conditions much better these days than they used to, so “having a heart attack” can have several levels of meaning, nowadays. Add in the prospect of a panic attack, and a simple sedative can solve the issue, in the short run, and a movie premier might very well serve as stress reduction treatment.

            1. JC Denton*

              I’ll add some more context. From our prospective, he was leaving under the premise of having a serious medical problem. We’re all sitting, hoping he’s okay, and getting ready to close out the shift and close up shop for the weekend. No calls, no texts, no emails. Nothing. We didn’t know whether to assume the best or worst. When word spread that he was at the movies, people were very distrustful of him afterwards.

              Right or wrong, it would have been nice to get an update saying that he was okay.

        3. INFJ*

          Not necessarily. When my dad was having chest pain (which ended up being a heart attack), he called me at 11pm and asked me to drive from an hour away to take him to the ER. None of my pleading for him to just call an ambulance worked.

          1. Noobtastic*

            You have one of those relatives, too?

            That is one reason my father moved out of state.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          In many places, it’s faster (and perhaps more prudent) to get someone to get you in a car and drive. If he had been experiencing a heart attack, the delay for waiting for an ambulance could be the difference between life and death.

          My grandfather had a stroke about 5 years ago, and he lives in a semi-rural city where ambulance services are very slow. If he thinks he’s having a stroke, we put him in a car and drive like mad while someone calls ahead to the ER (not through 911) to let them know we’re coming in and another family member notifies the non-emergency police line so that they’re not alarmed if they get phone calls about whoever’s driving.

          Regardless, I think it’s always better to take people at their word re: medical trauma unless proven otherwise. Although JC’s anecdote sounds stark, my first response would be “maybe he had a panic attack?” instead of “he faked a heart attack.”

          1. Aveline*

            Thank you, there’s always presumption that people live in urban or suburban areas.

            Where my mother lives, she has to pay a monthly fee so that a helicopter will come get her if her heart stops. If she had to call an ambulance, it would take three hours minimum to get her to a proper cardiac care emergency room.

            20 years ago, that meant death. Because dad left her reasonably well off and there is now a state wide network of life flight helicopters, she can subscribe and have a chance at surviving.

            There are plenty of people in her condition who cannot afford to pay for the helicopter it would run the risk of driving their loved one to the ER. It would shave off half the time. In many cases, it would make the difference.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yes—most of the folks I work with are literally hours from an adequate ER. I think the farthest distance I’ve had is 2 hours out, but my clients up in the Sierras are 3ish hours from an ER. If a helicopter can’t get there quickly because of weather, distance, whatever, you either put someone in a car and drive to the nearest clinic (not a hospital because they don’t exist there), or you drive to wherever there may be a medi-copter.

              And emergency-medical-transport delays are a common problem in many cities, also. I grew up in a “traditionally urban,” economically depressed city with high rates of gun violence. There were plenty of trauma hospitals within a 10-minute radius. But there are multiple zip codes where you can’t get an ambulance, even today. If you call 911, no one’s coming. And if an ambulance comes, it’s going to be in 20 minutes.

              1. Noobtastic*

                My sister lives in a city, but she actually had to be care-flighted to a different city, because the hospital in her city was not prepared to deal with her particular issue.

                And then, by the time the helicopter landed in the other city, the situation had actually resolved itself.

          2. Noobtastic*

            Yeah, emergency service calls really are situational. In some place, calling 911 will actually mean a longer wait, depending on the resources in that community. In other places, they have so few calls that the whole emergency services division jump right on every one, if only to break the boredom. Small towns with good funding are rare, but interesting.

            Also, some people with heart conditions have experience with minor heart attacks, and actually can tell the difference between “I’m gonna die!” and “time to pop a pill and check in with Dr. so-and-so to see if we need to schedule another surgery.”

            I am of the “trust the person with the body about their body’s actual experiences” school of thought.

        5. Elizabeth West*

          Uh, people do that all the time–and they die because they don’t want to call an ambulance (too expensive) or they don’t want to admit it might actually BE a heart attack. And it really depends on where you live–the car ride, while dangerous because the person driving can’t provide life support if needed, might be faster in some rural areas.

          Plus plenty of ailments can mimic cardiac symptoms, and a lot of folks aren’t too well-versed on what those are anyway. I get esophageal spasms sometimes and they do feel like they could be heart pain.

          1. Noobtastic*

            Yeah, if it is your first time having this sort of situation, go with the full-on medical care. however, if you have a chronic condition and recognize the situation as mild, then it’s OK to treat it as mild.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      Because with a company that size, it’s safe to assume:

      – They should have a clue
      – They have an HR department

    4. BRR*

      I’ve felt like there has been an uptick as well but I think it’s just used to convey size. I imagine Alison’s answer would be different if this was a six-person company where the boss’ boss was the owner and there was no HR.

      1. INFJ*

        That’s true. On the other hand, there are plenty of OPs who start with, “I work at a company with xxxxx employees” to convey that information.

        1. Kindling*

          Well, it can be easier to just put ‘Fortune 500’ rather than try to estimate your company size. I mean, something like ‘500+ employees’ probably gets the point across, but if you’re thinking ‘well, it’s maybe more like 1,000+’, writing down ‘Fortune 500’ seems easier.

    5. Alton*

      I don’t think it’s fair to assume he was faking. There are all sorts of symptoms that can indicate a heart attack but also be caused by something else that isn’t as serious (like a panic attack or bad indigestion). And sometimes diagnosing heart issues involves a lot of testing that results in “Eh, you seem fine, so you’re free to go.” My mom used to get major chest pains that would come and go unexpectedly, for example. I think she went to the ER once or twice, and she went to doctors. Was never admitted to the hospital, and they could never identify the problem.

      1. Old Admin*

        “My mom used to get major chest pains that would come and go unexpectedly, for example. I think she went to the ER once or twice, and she went to doctors. Was never admitted to the hospital, and they could never identify the problem.”

        Off topic, but I wanted to mention two common sources of non infarction (heart attack) chest pains:
        – heartburn (the name says it all)
        – intercostal neuralgia: a fancy name for having pinched or irritated the small nerves between your ribs. Frequently responds to stretching in different directions, btw.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Argh, I had that intercostal thing a few years ago after changing my workout routine and went to ER in a panic. The doctor poked me in the rib, I said “OW!”, and he said “not a heart attack”. A bit embarrassing…

          1. Bookworm*

            I actually just had an Easter dinner chat with my cousin (a surgeon) who said she loves those cases because she gets to deliver good news! And that they would rather check and be sure than have someone assume it’s harmless and then come in later with a much more severe condition.

            So maybe you can save your embarrassment? But I get the feeling. I went to the doctor with a chronic cough that was starting to scare me, and it just turned out to be heartburn…

      2. GG*

        Seconding this. I have now on two separate occasions gone to the emergency room with chest pain. Each time, I was out of there within 4 hours. (Two completely unrelated minor diagnoses.)

        1. Allison*

          Yup, same here! Happened twice in college, I’d never had chest discomfort before and it scared me, knowing that a) my birth control raised my risk and b) female heart attacks have weird, vague flu-like symptoms. So I went to the ER, and felt very silly when they found nothing wrong with my heart. But each time, I was there pretty much all night.

          But nowadays, I still have to remind myself that heartburn, an anxiety attack, or even being drunk can feel like a heart attack sometimes. Yup, sometimes alcohol can do that, it’s weird.

    6. Tuckerman*

      #3 Sick time is used for doctor’s appointments as well. If I have an hour long test, and the drive to the specialty hospital is 1.5 hrs each way, I’m going to go and take the whole day off.

    7. LQ*

      This attitude is hard, I have to pass work to walk to the drug store. The day I had my wisdom teeth out I had to walk down to the drug store to get …drugs and then back home. Someone from work saw me, with blood on my shirt because it was a ROUGH extraction, and apparently went back and told my boss I wasn’t sick because I was walking around. My boss luckily thought it was hilarious and told me about it, in a are you ok and now let me tell you a funny story way when I got back. This person didn’t even know if I had a scheduled day off. That’s a whole lot of nosy. People.

    8. A Plain-Dealing Villain*

      So that we can get out of the mindset on this blog that all of the crazy happens at non-profits. :)
      The context does help the OPs get more appropriate advice for their specific situations.

  14. MommyMD*

    It’s highly likely both bosses are alcoholics and feel entitled to this boorish behavior. I’m very sorry you have to deal with this. It’s wrong.

    Doubtful ignoring call off boss is legit not seeing these texts and emails. He’s mad at the sick calls and giving the cold shoulder as punishment.

    1. Gadfly*

      I suspect that or else that Grandboss has been covering for boss long enough that s/he now will be in trouble for allowing this to get to this point (new of the problem previously and didn’t address it)

      OP1–please update us, especially if you find out why Grandboss is going along with this.

      1. Sadsack*

        If grandboss had told boss to pay his fares himself, no one else would know about this incident.

    2. Rewind*

      Yeah I know Alison’s surprised there’s two of them (and glad she is), but I’m not. I’ve noticed one bad boss breeds five more. My old company had a lot of high level turnover last year. A VP known for screaming in manager’s faces was let go. His area director protege left after that. We had no idea they were the ones constantly putting obstacles in our way, not corporate. My friends still there are amazed at the culture change. The general and assistant managers they mentored and trained in their 15-20 years? They’re having trouble adjusting to the new norm because following labor laws and treating employees civilly with respect doesn’t come naturally to them. I doubt any of them set out to be that person. I think none of them had anything to compare it to and took the word of their former bosses it would be the same or worse everywhere else.

    3. AD*

      It’s highly likely both bosses are alcoholics

      Can we please stop with comments like these? The tendency to speculate or embellish people’s behavior isn’t doing anyone any favors, especially letter writers, and it’s really increasing on this site lately.

      We can say the boss here acted like a jerk, but there’s absolutely no evidence (or justification) to label him or his boss as alcoholics. Alcoholism is not something to throw around lightly.

      1. neeko*

        It also perpetuates the stigma that alcoholics are bad people. As a person in recovery, it’s not a fun thing to see.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          Congrats on your recovery! Addiction is awful, and this internet stranger is super proud of you for working on it.

      2. Aveline*

        Thank you. There’s been a lot of speculation and moralizing lately. Not just on this site. It’s everywhere I go

      3. Noobtastic*

        Yeah. A lot of people seem to think that getting blind drunk even once in your life makes you an alcoholic. That’s not the way alcoholism works.

        In fact, a lot of alcoholics don’t ever get blind drunk. Just a more constant low-level drunk.

        And besides, lots of people have posited that Grandboss doesn’t even know about boss’s drinking, because Boss controlled the story-line.

    4. LBK*

      Yikes, that seems like a big stretch. A non-alcoholic can just as easily get too rowdy on a work lunch, and there’s company cultures where that wouldn’t be particularly frowned upon either. There’s far from enough information to assert that even the boss is an alcoholic, nevermind the boss’s boss about whom we have one tiny speck of info.

  15. MommyMD*

    I would not show up at a party that had any chance of coworkers attending if I called off that day. It looks very bad imo.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Meh. As a boss, I really wouldn’t care. If someone called out sick and showed up at a party that night, I’d probably just think they were feeling better.

      But I already realize my GAF factor on sick leave is really, really low.

      1. Matt*

        Probably a cultural / regional thing – over here in Europe, in the world of doctor’s notes and social security sick pay, people are regularly being fired over this. Not even from physically being seen at a party, but from posting pics on facebook.

      2. Alton*

        I might assume that the person felt that the party was a really big deal due to their friend’s wedding. There are times when personal things can be a higher priority than a routine work day, so I could understand if someone didn’t feel up to coming in to work or wanted the time to rest up for an important personal event. I wouldn’t immediately think they weren’t sick at all, especially if the party was in the evening and they worked during the day.

        1. Whats In A Name*

          Yes, I agree the type of party is a big distinction here as well as the closeness of the friendship. My best friend is having an engagement party (or birthday party, or kids birthday party), I will probably go even if I have to wear a medical mask. Just a night out with friends? I wouldn’t risk it.

          Same if it was an engagement party for a casual friend – probably wouldn’t risk it.

        2. Mona Lisa*

          Also, I could see someone feeling better after getting an additional 8 hours of rest and rallying to support a close friend for 2 hours at a party in the evening before going home and putting the sweatpants back on.

      3. MommyMD*

        In my job it definitely would not fly. If someone calls off the community suffers. Employer is extremely tolerate of sick days but to show up to a party later would be very unprofessional.

        1. annnnon*

          well then i’d probably argue that your employer is not “extremely tolerate” of sick days, then.

      4. MoinMoin*

        Especially after being out a few days, it’s fair to assume they’re over being contagious and starting to recover enough to leave the house. Their presence at a party wouldn’t make me think they were faking, though how they acted might give me pause (energy levels, how much they’re drinking…).

        1. Noobtastic*

          Unfortunately, people on the internet can’t judge energy levels and how much they’re drinking from pictures on Facebook. Especially if they were taken and tagged by someone else.

    2. Kyrielle*

      For me, it would depend on why I called off. If I could explain it? I would go.

      But then, I have IBS. Bad flares are likely to take out my morning, or worse, take out my night and morning, so that I didn’t get enough sleep. In which case, I could sleep all afternoon and then be ready for the party in the evening – and IBS is not potentially contagious.

  16. Not Australian*

    I had an experience slightly similar to that of #OP1. I was working in a very small and crowded office where my boss wanted to do one-on-one staff appraisals off-site. When it came to my turn, without checking in advance, he just assumed I was going to drive him to some nearby pub or cafe where we could sit down for half an hour; everybody else had, after all.

    Couple of things wrong with that. 1) I didn’t have a car 2) I didn’t have a driving license. (I had a few lessons some years ago, but was never very confident and eventually gave up. I’ve never regretted that.) In fact I lived within walking distance of the site, and we ended up having our business meeting at my house.

    Flash forward a few months, and it turned out that the boss – who had represented himself as unable to drive so that he could get our organisation to pay for taxis everywhere – actually could and did drive, he just didn’t want to; he wanted other people to run around and accommodate him instead.

    I was glad to get out of there, I assure you.

        1. ZucchiniBikini*

          Funnily enough, the best performance review of my life was when my then-boss came to my house to do it. For context, I was a part-time employee who worked at home around small children, and while I had been scheduled to come to the office for the review, I had to call in late the day before to try to reschedule due to a childcare failure. My boss, who was GREAT, offered to come to my place during my baby’s afternoon nap, if I was comfortable with it. I said yes with great gratitude and even baked fresh scones for the meeting. He came, we did the review, it was super constructive and useful, we ate scones and drank tea, and the baby slept unaware through it all. I got a great rating and a promotion that year too!

    1. Temperance*

      Just so I understand – did he think that he was especially important and deserved a driver?

    2. nnn*

      That’s just such a weird sense of entitlement (and the same weird sense of entitlement as OP#1’s boss) – that they don’t have to think about logistics at all and someone else will obviously think about logistics.

      I just can’t imagine not having a plan for where you’re going to go or how you’re going to get there, and then just staring expectantly at the other person as though they’re supposed to make that happen. Makes me wonder how a person gets to a position of authority in the first place if they don’t automatically think about stuff like this.

      Reminds me of the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey who literally doesn’t know how to take the train without her lady’s maid.

    3. nonegiven*

      No, I don’t drive, either. If you want to go to a pub, I guess you’ll have to get us a cab.

  17. JamieS*

    Obviously OP #1’s boss is being ridiculous​ but I’m a little confused on how OP not being able to drive wasn’t brought up prior to going to the parking lot. Was OP given the impression the boss had arranged a ride for them? Were there other co-workers there OP assumed would drive them? Did OP not know/realize the boss was drunk prior to being asked to drive? I’m assuming (hoping) OP wasn’t planning to get in a car with a drunk driver.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Some people just assume everyone can drive. It sounds like the boss drove them there and OP either didn’t fully realise the problem in time to realise they’d need to arrange a ride, or very reasonably assumed that boss, having been drinking, intended to call a cab.

      OP is obviously junior to their boss and might not have felt able to say: “can I just check you’re arranging a ride back?”

      Also if your boss drives you somewhere and then drinks I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume they’re planning to get a cab because that is the adult, responsible thing to do.

        1. Chalupa Batman*

          Yes, very true. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 30. I can’t count on both hands the number of times I had to explain to someone that their assumed plan wouldn’t work because I didn’t drive. And telling people you don’t drive after about age 20 is almost always met with 1) a shocked declaration of surprise, 2) a demand to know why (“crippling anxiety” wasn’t exactly what I wanted people who barely knew me to remember about me), and 3) an offer to teach me to drive that I had to awkwardly decline. When I was ready, I learned. I think it’s perfectly reasonable that OP thought that the person who got them to the lunch had a plan to safely get them back, but it was not reasonable for the boss to assume that OP knew they were part of that plan.

      1. Gen*

        I don’t drive and I’d just assume we were going outside to get a taxi. I can’t imagine anyone just walking up to their own car and expecting someone else to drive it. Especially when they just got themselves drunk! Particularly since it was a company car (rather than maybe a pool car being used for that one trip). But I guess insurance is very different there to the UK.

        1. Gadfly*

          I don’t know. This is the sort of thing that could result in the company car insurance canceling all of their policies. Both for letting people not on the policy drive and for having someone not legally able to drive, drive.

          Is that different?

          1. Gen*

            Having someone who legally cannot ever drive in control of the vehicle would always be an insurance nightmare but I meant at the point where the boss still assumed OP could drive.

            Here you can have an element of your insurance that permits you to drive any car with the owner’s permission and be covered by your own policy (but it’s a company car, so I don’t know if the boss would count as ‘owner’ for that) . But it’s not standard so you’d expect to at least ask instead of assuming the other person had this most expensive kind of insurance (it’s rare for under 25s to have it for example).

            Just turning round and giving someone else the keys to your company without communicating with them before hand is just baffling to me.

            1. Gadfly*

              Me too! A lot of personal policies tend to have things like that, but not always. And sometimes they cover loaning the car and sometimes they don’t. But cars being used for business are covered differently and usually more strictly.

        2. Judy (since 2010)*

          At the companies I’ve worked at that had company cars, it was normal for everyone to use them. The managers had cars, and you’d go up to a manager with your drivers license and say that you needed to drive to the plant on the other side of town. The company cars had reserved places at their home location and a specific section for visiting company cars at all the locations. You didn’t have to move your car or find distant parking at the other plant. Corporate insurance said that anyone with a license who was an employee could drive it.

          Also, most rental cars used for business travel allow use by anyone with a valid driver’s license who is an employee of the company. When I would travel to distant locations, if we went out to lunch, usually a local would drive the car, they knew where things were. The same happened if someone was visiting my location.

          I’ve never driven a co-worker’s personal vehicle.

        3. Jessesgirl72*

          No, insurance isn’t that different in the U.S. The OP even alludes to that -in order to drive the company car, she’d have had to be approved by higher ups first! That translates to “and get put on the insurance” even if she, as a non-driver, didn’t realize it

          It was just one more piece of evidence of the boss’s incredibly bad judgement.

      2. Allie*

        I would have just assumed we would get public transport or a taxi/appcar. Unless we were parked in a meter spot, I wouldn’t think it a big deal to leave a car in, say, a garage. I live in a big city though, and garage is default because street parking can be very tough to find on weekdays.

        1. mreasy*

          Exactly – because this is what normal reasonable people do when they have too much to drink and have cars! They leave theirs and get a cab back, or take public transit, which we know exists in the area, because that’s how OP gets around.

        2. JamieS*

          I would’ve assumed that we were getting a cab too since I wouldn’t expect to be allowed to drive a company car despite being an excellent driver. That isn’t what I found odd. I found it odd no mention of ride arrangements were made prior to going to the parking lot.

          Maybe it’s because of my detail oriented personality but it’s​ unfathomable to me this wasn’t brought up by someone prior to leaving the restaurant.

          Is it common to have cabs hanging out in parking lots in some cities? This would make more sense if they did.

    2. Pearl*

      I can’t drive, although it’s not due to a medical condition. I find that if you tell some people that they suddenly need every detail about every reason. Some people are really pushy and rude about it. As a result never bring it up unless I’m forced to explain why I can’t drive to someone who is asking me to. So at work, only a few people know that I can’t drive.

      If I had been in that situation, I would have assumed the boss hadn’t planned on getting that drunk and that we were walking to a bus stop or to hail a cab. It would never occur to me that someone would hand keys to a car I don’t have clearance to drive in the first place and say, “Hey, you take care of it.”

      1. Allie*

        I can drive I just don’t a lot of the time because I like walking and not spending the money on parking ($3 for the bus is a lot less that $18 to park). Even that is seen as super weird.

        1. Pearl*

          Yeah, I’ve definitely met people who think spending $50 on a cab makes more sense than using my monthly pass to get on the train, which makes no sense to me. My monthly transportation cost is less than $90 unless I have an unusual event and need to take a cab! That usually only happens a few times a year though.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            I used to take a cab back and forth to work, as there was no public transit. And it was still cheaper than a monthly car and insurance payment would have been, but I was always being told how I was wasting my money.

        2. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          I’m in a similar boat. I would hate the idea of driving someone else’s car with no notice while they were in the passenger seat.

        3. Rebecca in Dallas*

          I used to live within walking distance to work, people thought that it was *so weird* that I walked to work! I actually enjoyed it, it was a nice way to start my day and unwind at the end of it, plus I got some exercise and fresh air! (I did drive if it was really hot or raining.) People that I worked with were constantly pulling over and asking me if I wanted a ride.

          1. Michelle*

            I live in a very pedestrian unfriendly city. I do drive, but when I walk to the store on the corner by my neighborhood (a mere quarter mile from my house), I’ve had complete strangers stop to ask if I’m OK.

            Another example is when my kids sometimes walk up to local church. It’s a two-minute walk through a field (owned by the church, with a nice gravel path) that runs behind our neighborhood. It literally takes longer to drive, because you have to go all the way around. But every time, some concerned adult wants to drive them home. Because walking places is Just Not Done around here.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        Hopefully this thread is a head’s up to readers who will stop hounding people about it.

        I’m there too, and it gets so.bleeping.tedious.

        I had a coworker who was obsessed with finding out the “story” behind why I don’t drive, and eventually made up his own story! about how I’d killed a family of four in an accident, and new people actually believed him!

        I never mention it unless I absolutely have to.

        1. Pearl*

          !!! I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. There would be literal flames on the side of my face.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            It’s not even the most egregiously inappropriate thing this particular coworker did! At some point in our working lives, I think everyone runs up against that one clueless jerk, and this was mine.

            It got so my default response to why I don’t drive, after “I just don’t” didn’t work- which reasonable people take the hint about- is that since I’m not asking them for a ride, I don’t really see why they need to know.

            1. Aveline*

              This is right up with the people who make up stories as to why you don’t have children if you are a woman in your 40s!

              Why can’t people just let everybody with their own damn lives!

              (funny, AutoCorrect tried to make this live their own salmon limes!)

        2. IrishEm*

          My answer to the “so why don’t you drive” accusation (and it always sounds like people are accusing me of something by not driving, for some reason) is a deeply sarcastic “there are these magic things called buses nowadays.” Or a simple “the luas is five minutes from my door,” if I need to be diplomatic about it. Nobody needs to know that my chronic pain and anxiety prevent me from getting behind the wheel.

          Nobody needs to know why OP1 doesn’t get behind the wheel, although I figure bossman is going to push for it >:(

          1. Chinook*

            My grandmother, who never drove even though she was in places without public transit and a widow for 15 years, gave the flat response of “I never learned” whenever she was asked why and just repeated that answer because no other explanation is necessary. She relied on taxis and insisted on paying for gas when family or friends offered to drive her.

            1. Izzy*

              Neither of my grandmothers drove, nor my great grandmothers – they apparently grew up when “ladies didn’t drive.” Even though by the 1950’s, a lot of them did.

          2. Noobtastic*

            Chronic pain makes it unsafe for me to drive, as well. I’m comforted that I’m not the only one with that explanation.

            I mean, if you’re in traffic, the last thing you want to do is deal with muscle spasms that make you jerk, or muscle spasms that make you freeze in position. It’s just not safe.

            I used to drive, and still have my license, because it hasn’t come up for renewal, yet, but if I can’t get the chronic pain under control by renewal date, I’ll probably just change to a non-driver ID. I don’t know if it’s cheaper, but “I legally can’t drive, so don’t ask me to,” is a bit more convenient than having to explain that “yes, I CAN drive, but I don’t because reasons I don’t want to get into right now, and no it is not your business, and no, it does not matter that it’s only five minutes away, and you’re starting to upset me, and I’m getting tense and SPASMS!!!!!!” Yeah. I think being legally obliged to just avoid the steering wheel would be a good thing.

            Although, I am personally in a situation now where everyone with whom I currently deal already knows that I don’t drive, so it’s not an issue, but new people? Nope. Don’t want to go there.

            As to “So why don’t you drive?” I find “Because reasons,” accompanied by a bland smile works well on most folks. I don’t know what person on the internet came up with “Because reasons,” but I just LOVE it.

            1. Zombii*

              Heads up: If you decide to go the “I legally can’t drive” route, be aware of any location-dependent context that may have. (‘Round here, it means they took your licence away for too many DUI’s.)

        3. Gazebo Slayer*

          My God. If a coworker said that about me, I would go to HR. And I’m not usually the “I’m gonna sue for slander!!1” type, but… in that case I would coldly inform him that what he was doing fit that legal definition.

          (If I could work up the courage to. I don’t blame you for not doing so.)

        4. Noobtastic*

          Did you tell them that he was a liar who lied about you, or let them discover it for themselves?

          If it were me, I’d appreciate the warning.

      3. LQ*

        I don’t drive often, don’t own a car. But when people ask about it (which they do) I always say it’s so I can always drink when I go out. Even though this isn’t the reason, and at this point isn’t really true much at all (90% of the time when I’m drinking at all it’s at home, or at a bar in walking distance anyway) but for some reason it always works to get people to laugh and stop talking about it. Even if I quit drinking completely I’d still say it because it works….

        1. Pearl*

          Ha, I might have to use that. Right now I’ve been giving a really big, casual sigh with a wide smile and saying, “Just don’t” in my most Southern accent (I’m in the NE now).

      4. Tuxedo Cat*

        Same with me. I can’t drive either, and people treat it like a moral failing in life or a sign that I’m not a real adult. I don’t like to tell people that no one would teach me as a teen, and I didn’t have the money to pay for lessons, insurance, and an automobile up until very recently.

        1. Pearl*

          They really do act like it’s a moral failing. I also had no one to teach me and no money! It’s not something I like explaining to people I’m not close to. Now I could afford lessons, but I don’t want a car (my transit pass is less than $90 monthly, and there’s no parking either at home or work, so why bother?) so I haven’t gotten around it.

          1. Noobtastic*

            When I was a teen, I had people who were willing to teach me, but I lived in a place where the driving age was older, so it was not legal. Then, I moved to a place where the driving age was 16, but had no car, nor access to drivers ed or personal teachers.

            So there I was, already been voting age for quite some time and finally learning to drive from my parents. Yeah, I remember that side-eye. It’s such a cultural thing, though. Had I lived in NYC at that point, I probably still would not have bothered learning how to drive, and no one would have though much of it. But I lived in a place with exactly three buses, none of them came within five miles of my house. So much side-eye for a 20-year-old who can’t drive.

            Back in the day, I explained it all to everyone, to avoid the side-eye. Nowadays, I don’t give a hoot. If I could put my current brain in my then body… I’d get even more side-eye. Actually, that would be good, because it weeds out all the twits for me, so I don’t have to bother discovering it the hard way, after investing my time and energy into the relationship. I have learned to actually love it when jerks display who they really are, because it saves me so much time and trouble, now that I have learned to believe them and not hand-wave the gas lighting.

  18. Gadfly*

    If they are attaching links or files, I like to check that they work and send a thanks saying that I received them and they look okay. My experience has been that sending the thanks reminds me to check them and if I don’t check it as soon as reasonable after receiving it, the link will prove to be broken or the file corrupt or something and I’ll find out at the worst possible moment.

    1. ampg*

      I agree. And as the sender I always appreciate getting the “Thanks” so that I know that they received the correct material and I don’t find myself thinking 2 hours later “I wonder if Jane got everything she needed”

  19. sap*

    OP2: At my employer, we have a department that will send you an angry email if you reply “thanks” and that periodically sends out company reminders not to thank them for work. But my secretary really appreciates it when I thank her for doing tasks for me. So it can vary widely even within a company.

    1. Audiophile*

      Who doesn’t want to be thanked? I can understand if it gets excessive, like reply all messages can, but I can’t imagine doing much with a “thanks” email beyond reading and then deleting it.

      1. Allie*

        I kind of understand because I have been on assignment where you more or less use your email as a ticket system for your work. It isn’t hard to delete them, but if you gauge your work by emails it gives you an uneven sense of work and makes it more likely for you to filter out an email you need.

      2. GiantPanda*

        I know one company where emails to the IT support account will automatically open a ticket. If you get an email from them and reply it will open another (and another… ) This is probably a major hassle for that IT team and not thanking them might be a bit of a workaround until they can get this fixed.

        1. EA*

          Most IT ticket systems I’ve used will recognize the subject line, and add it to the existing ticket, rather than creating a new one for each email.

        2. Noobtastic*

          In that case, a stack of note-cards at your desk (or even Post-It notes!) and some inter-office envelopes would be useful. You get to express appreciation, especially if they had to do something more than just routine work, and they don’t get swamped with meaningless tickets.

          Although, if that were the case, I think actually explaining that in the “please don’t send us thanks emails” notice would have been a really good idea.

    2. Natalie*

      Yeesh. I will never understand people who get that worked up about small things that are easily handled by deleting the damn email.

      1. Bookworm*

        Right? That seems like a waste of perfectly good righteous anger.

        But really, the amount of payoff you’ll get (fewer emails) versus the potential damage to your reputation does not seem worth it in that case.

    3. Unlucky Bear*

      Our IT department moved to a ticketing system last year and has to periodically remind people that once they send the “your problem is fixed” email, the ticket is considered closed, so us replying with a thank you will automatically re-open it. I have to say, it’s been HARD to train myself not to do that. It just feels so ungrateful!

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        It would be more reliable if they just didn’t close the ticket until they’d gotten the thanks or X amount of time had passed.

        1. Someone*

          I think it’s more that, when you close a ticket, the system autosends an email. And the workers want to close ASAP, both so they don’t forget to close, and also because of performance metrics.

      2. Noobtastic*

        Ah, but they explained WHY, which makes a big difference in perception and compliance.

        And I’ll bet they do get the odd note in the interoffice mail, when they do a bang-up job.

  20. Em too*

    OP3 -People can get much better quite quickly (and if you’re waiting out an infectious period then when it’s done it’s done). So going along if you start feeling better on Friday afternoon seems fine, though perhaps chatting with a soft drink is wiser than getting drunk and dancing on the table.

    It would be different if you were going to the party on Thursday evening and then still on sick leave on Friday.

    1. Allison*

      And it’s an engagement party so I doubt it’d be that wild. Not that I’ve ever been to one, but aren’t parents and other family members of the couple usually present?

    2. Turanga Leela*

      Agreed. Something I’ve done in similar situations, which is not necessary but can make you feel more comfortable: If someone asks how you’ve been doing, mention that you’ve been ill. Don’t be dramatic, but say something like, “I’m glad to be out; I’m just coming off a sinus infection.” That way, if you run into your coworkers or mutual friends, you’ll seem like you are recovering rather than faking.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      It is, but for a number of reasons this is unlikely to be an ADA issue. It is, however, a common sense issue – the boss was completely in the wrong here.

  21. Confused Teapot Maker*

    It almost sounds like #2 and #5 have a similar problem – not knowing when emails have been read/how to signal they have been read. I get 300+ emails a day but am still in the ‘would prefer a quick thanks’ camp. It’s a) polite but b) more importantly, let’s me know you’ve seen it and are not hanging around waiting on me for something. That being said, I know people who absolutely hate getting thanks emails. If it were me, I would send them until somebody says otherwise – but that could be me just thinking that other people tend to think like me….

    As for #5, I agree with the above suggestion of looping somebody else in. That way, you can be pretty sure SOMEBODY has seen it and knows where you are.

    Or, relationship with boss dependent as I know this really winds some people up, you could explicitly ask for a response, like “Please would you drop me a quick email to let me know that you have read this”.

    I think OP5 has now mentioned above that calling boss isn’t a great option as he’s not great with voicemail/getting to the phone but, as a personal aside, I do think if you have urgent, time sensitive information, it’s worth calling it in rather than emailing it in. If you call, and you get another human being, you at least know the message has got to them.

  22. Roscoe*

    #3 I’d say you are fine either way. Unless the people from work (who may or may not be there) are busy bodies, its perfectly ok to feel sick Thursday and Friday morning, then be a lot better by Friday night. I mean I’ve taken off a morning and by afternoon felt a lot better just by staying in bed 4 hours longer. Anyone who wants to judge you for that is looking to start drama. If you took off Friday, does that mean you’d have to stay in the house all weekend too?

    1. LBK*

      Agreed – I’m a bad sleeper so sometimes I’m “sick” because I only got a half hour of sleep and can’t muster up the composure to go into the office, but after going back to bed for another 6 hours I’m in working order.

  23. Agree, and...*

    Agree, and would like to add:

    It’s not just the law. I too have epilepsy. It’s been a while since I’ve had a seizure, so I’m technically qualified to apply for a license.

    I chose not to. The risk of blacking out while on the wheel far, far outweighs the inconvenience of public transport. Yeah, it’s a tiny risk, but it unnecessarily endangers not just me but also other people.

      1. EA*

        I hardly think that killing is an appropriate response to a mis-threaded comment :) Maybe lightly tossing a squishy ball in mock indignation, but even that might be overdoing it.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I have a panic disorder. I had a panic attack behind the wheel more than 15 years ago and have elected not to drive since then. Technically, it’s not illegal for me to get my license, but I feel like it’s safer for me and everyone else if I don’t drive.

      1. Ellen Fremedon*

        Yep. I’ve had panic attacks as a passenger in cars since I was three. These days I’m much better–though not infallible–at recognizing that I’m heading into one and staving them off, but the techniques that work for that are really bad for situational awareness; and you’re not always going to be someplace it’s safe to pull over and wait it out by the side of the road. So I don’t drive.

        (I passed driver’s ed in high school but only because the teacher would have had me again the next semester if he’d failed me and he’d already given up; I was in no way prepared to drive. I kept practicing until I left for college but never reached a point where I’d have had any hope of passing a driving test.)

  24. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

    #3 – I have to wonder if you were raised like I was. If you are sick on a Friday, you stay home all weekend! (My mom’s way of being sure that I didn’t skip school on Fridays.) It took me a LONG time to realize that I didn’t have to follow that rule as an adult.

    1. Allie*

      I had parents who would send you to school unless you were throwing up or had a fever. It took a while for me to get over it too.

      1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

        Mine too! (And they were high school teachers so they knew all the tricks!) My mom’s rule was if I was too sick to go to school, I was too sick to go out and about (unless it was somewhere medically necessary, like a doctor’s appointment or to pick up a prescription.) Even now, I feel kind of guilty if I go out somewhere on a day I’ve called in sick!

        1. JanetM*

          Years ago, I was in a serious car accident and was out of work for about a month (broken ribs, whiplash, concussion, and various side effects thereof). During the first two weeks, I was pretty much homebound except for a couple of doctor visits. By the third week, I could manage slightly longer outings, like dinner at a restaurant, but I too felt pretty strange about being “out and about” while I was out sick from work.

          1. Grapey*

            I disagree if it comes with a lifetime of guilt esp. if “throwing up” or “fever” are the only bars that can be passed.

          2. KellyK*

            You can be sick enough to be completely useless at work or school without throwing up or having a fever.

            It might be a good general baseline with a kid who you already know tries to get out of school, but as a one-size-fits-all rule it’s awful.

            1. Epsilon Delta*

              If the parents are digging into their PTO bank every time their kid(s) are sick, I don’t think it’s wrong to have a measurable metric (vomiting/fever/rash, etc) rather than relying on the kid to self-assess. Heck, even if the parents do not need to take PTO I still think it’s reasonable. It is one of the many priviledges of adulthood that you can decide when you are too sick to go to work/school. And stemming from that, it’s also a priviledge of adulthood to decide you are too sick to go to work but well enough to go socialize with your friends for a few hours.

              1. Observer*

                Seriously? As a parent who had to dig into my sick days bank, I really don’t find it a reasonable rule at all. I do understand that parents sometimes get stuck because of limited sick time etc. But that doesn’t make the rule reasonable – it just means that parents are pushed into doing the least unreasonable thing.

                Have you ever had a really bad head ache? Or tooth ache? Or stomach ache? None of these things necessarily come with fever or vomiting, but they all can be severe enough to make it inappropriate to go to school. Been there, done that as a child. That heavens my parents had enough sense to recognize that you can be genuinely ill without having fever.

                1. Noobtastic*

                  As a person who grew up with chronic pain that frequently made it impossible to function, even without any visible symptoms, I am also really super grateful that my parents did not have that rule. Although they did have a “if you’re sick enough to stay home, you’re sick enough to stay inside” rule.

                  I’m not sure how old I was by the time they learned to look at my face and judge between “yeah, that’s real pain,” and “Yeah, she doesn’t want to take a quiz” today. Probably about the time I started bringing home straight As, even as the principal gave the OK for me to take more than the maximum number of days the school allowed. Ah, the benefit of a well-timed contagious disease. My mom brought me to school that day, because I had already been off for the maximum number of days (a bout with the communicable disease keeping me off for a week, got the doctor’s note to go back in, had a relapse within three hours at school, got another doctor’s note, went back on the third week, coughing, gagging, vomiting and looking like Jonah after the whale spit him out, and running straight into the principal, who told me I was too sick to go to school, and my Mom explaining that if I did, I would fail for the whole year, and I was top of my class, on the honor roll, and never behind in my work, because I did my assignments at home, and the rule was X many days off meant you had to repeat, no matter what, and I’d used almost all of them just that month, alone, and he gave me a special waiver. Which meant I could once more take days off just for pain. yay.

                  I guess, if you have a kid who doesn’t really try hard at school, and is more likely to fake it to get out of a test, you’re more likely to feel the need for such a rule. But if you have a go-getter which physical problems, you’re more likely to trust the child to know whether or not they can deal that day.

      2. Temperance*

        Me too! I still cringe thinking about all of the times I went to school with severe sinus infections and bronchitis. Even now, as an adult, I fight the urge to go in when I’m sick.

        1. Allie*

          My brother was once sent to school with scarlet fever. The hilarious icing on the cake is that my dad is a pediatrician.

      3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        Oh, yes. That too! My mom’s favorite line was, just go to school and if you are too sick to be there they will send you home. I do have to admit that I was rarely sent home. But that was probably because I figured if my mom didn’t think I was sick that no one else would either so I just didn’t say anything to anyone at school.

        1. Noobtastic*

          Yeah, and I had a few teachers who wouldn’t even let me go to the nurse when I threw up at my desk. “Just clean it up as quickly and quietly as you can. You’re disturbing the class, and wasting our time.”

          Ninth grade English teacher, and science teacher both seemed to believe that were were all floating brains, without any actual physical needs, at all. Golly, but I disliked them so much.

          My tenth grade English teacher would send me home, but the ninth? NOPE. Seriously. Vomit. On a carpet. “Just get some paper towels from the restroom and clean it up.” On a carpet. That room stank for WEEKS. All the other students were struggling not to vomit, in sympathy or from the fumes. I was sobbing. “just clean it up.”

          Some adults just don’t have a clue about the children in their care.

          1. Observer*

            Some teachers shouldn’t be in a classroom. But, what you are describing is not necessarily about kids – we’ve seen enough crazy stories of bosses who won’t accept anything but being in a coma as sufficient reason for being out sick.

      4. Allison*

        That’s because school handbooks have guidelines for that. You have to stay home within 24 hours of a fever or vomiting, and 12 hours of diarrhea. But a lot of schools discourage coming in with colds, or stomach aches with nothing “coming out,” because it’s tough to catch up on schoolwork.

    2. CheeryO*

      Yeah, that was my first thought too! My parents’ motto was, “If you’re too sick to go to school, you’re to sick to [insert mildly fun activity here].” I took a sick day on a Friday recently because I was feeling pretty run down, and I felt a lot better after getting 12+ hours of sleep. I had to talk myself out of feeling guilty for going about business as usual for the rest of the weekend.

    3. Rookie Manager*

      Yep, me too; “if you’re too sick for school you’re too sick to play”! I vomitted on the bus to school at least 3 times (once immediately after sitting down) because “if you are sick enough the school will send you home”.

      As an adult I now realise there is more nuance than my parents let on and sometimes going out somewhere is part of the recovery. I’d rather find out that my stamina is shot through a trip round the supermarket than heading into work for the day and coming home early.

      With the OP I would say as long as you aren’t drinking like a fish and photographed/filmed going crazy you’ll be fine. This type of event is one you can rally for a couple of hours.

  25. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-My mom developed epilepsy (tonic seizures version) when I was a freshman in college. Luckily I was attending college where she works (because free) and living at home and became her driver for the next 4 years. I totally get your situation. It’s not that you don’t have a license because you never got around to getting one or lived in a super sheltered home where you weren’t allowed to get a license (I hope). You don’t have a license because you LEGALLY cannot drive. I would go armed with paperwork from your doctor. This is bizarro land. At the first mention of epilepsy everyone should’ve said, oh of course. Not that you should’ve had to pay for it anyway. The entirety of the fault lies with your boss for getting smashed at lunch.

    I would advocate saying “It’s not that I don’t know how to drive but I’m not legally allowed to drive due to my medical condition. (hands paperwork).”

    I think everyone should know how to drive because emergencies happen but if you live in a city with a solid mass transit system there is no reason to own a car and be forced to drive and thus necessarily have a license. I would say though that this isn’t about the license but about your medical condition.

    1. Naomi*

      The medical condition is a red herring here, though. It’s not about whether OP could drive in the future; she was asked in the moment to drive, and couldn’t because she didn’t have a license. She would have been equally unable to drive boss back to the office if she didn’t have a license because [personal preference/ never needed one/ some other reason where OP doesn’t drive but could legally learn]. And it would have been equally ridiculous in that scenario to make her pay the cab fare.

      1. Noobtastic*

        Even “didn’t have her license with her, at the time,” would be a valid reason not to drive someone else’s car.

    2. Tuxedo Cat*

      Does it honestly matter the reason? What if the car were stick shift and OP #1 only knew how to drive automatic? Or the OP had drank just enough that she didn’t feel comfortable driving? I think the medical condition would make HR more sympathetic, but at the end of the day, it really shouldn’t matter why the OP doesn’t have a license or didn’t want to drive the car if she did have a license. If driving isn’t part of the job, then it shouldn’t be an issue.

      I think everyone should know how to sew a button on clothes, but I’m not going to hold my hypothetical assistant accountable if they don’t know how to do that and I’m too busy to repair my own outfit.

    3. Aveline*

      When you say “everyone “would you also include blind people? People with degenerative muscle conditions?

      I ask this because I think you really need to reflect on the fact that you’re not taking their medical condition into account. If the letter writer tells us that they cannot drive, we should take them at their word!

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        YES. At this point, some commenters’ insistence that *everyone* needs to drive in the face of people here on this thread and the LW herself saying they cannot because of a medical issue is condescending and insulting.

        How about we try believing that the LW, and people on this thread, know what is best for them to learn to do more than random strangers on the internet?

      2. Mimmy*

        Thank you. I am visually impaired and cannot drive. I’m *thisclose* to the legal limit, but do not trust myself to even attempt driving.

    4. Noobtastic*

      I’d avoid the medical paperwork. They have no legal reason to need it. All they really need to know is that you legally cannot drive (non-driver license state-issued ID). They don’t need to know if it’s for medical reasons, because it was revoked or because you never learned in the first place.

      Also, this: “You don’t have a license because you LEGALLY cannot drive. ” Nope. “You legally cannot drive because you don’t have a license” is more accurate, and covers all the bases, and is really all that matters. It does not matter why OP doesn’t have a license. She doesn’t have one. That’s all.

      The only reason why the medical issue could become a problem is in the case of retaliation for her not driving, and then, she has some extra clout for an EEOC claim, because of being in a protected medical class. But that’s only if retaliation comes up.

  26. WhirlwindMonk*

    #3, I’ve had times where I’ve felt sick enough in the evening to know I won’t be good to go to work in the morning, so I’ve sent in an email or text, turned off my alarm. The next day, I’ll wake up about noon not feeling 100%, but still much better. And even if I’m feeling well enough to head in to work, by the time I get showered, dressed, each lunch, and drive to work, the day will be mostly gone anyway. Personally, I would not see it as at all weird or unreasonable for someone to have been too sick to spend 8+ hours at work during the day, especially if they start early morning and/or have to get dressed up for work, and then for them to attend a party for a couple hours in the evening.

    1. Allison*

      Especially when it’s stomach stuff. You could be barfing your brains out at 7AM but feel totally fine by 7PM. Going to a party doesn’t necessarily mean drinking to excess, and dancing until 3AM going “WOOOOOOO!” It could just mean being there, chatting with friends, and eating crackers.

  27. Cheesehead*

    And one other thing about #1….I was wondering it might be a good idea to mention to HR that not only is the boss pressuring you in this way, but it also concerns you because your boss, and by extension your company, wasn’t doing an adequate job of providing for your safety during this work function. What I mean is that your boss provided you with a way TO the venue, but didn’t ensure your safety in planning ahead to provide you with a safe means of returning FROM the venue. (And yes, he eventually got the cab, but that was only after his “plans” (in his own head) for OP to be a DD went out the window.) He initially failed in his responsibility to provide a safe way back to the office for his employee, and now is trying to put that burden on her by trying to make her pay. What if OP actually had a license, but wasn’t comfortable driving on unfamiliar streets or heavy traffic and got in an accident on the return trip? Safety aspect.

    Depending on HR’s response, I think that’s a valid point. Looking at it from a safety angle, he initially left her stranded because of his own questionable judgment and is now trying to put that burden back on the employee. OP has every right to demand (politely assert?) that her safety is going to be reasonably considered in all aspects of her job. This didn’t happen when her boss, who is in charge of her and controls her paycheck, got rip-roaring drunk when he was supposed to drive her somewhere, and now is trying to order her to pay for his mistake in executing his managerial duties.

    And yes, DEFINITELY bring up retaliation and ask how they will ensure that you’re not retaliated against, even slightly and subtley. Because if the boss 1) got falling down drunk on the job, 2) just expected the OP to drive without even asking first, 3) got mad at her when she refused to break the law, and 4) is ordering her to pay for his expenses that he incurred because of his own bad judgment, I would say that it’s a pretty sure bet that OP will be experiencing SOME form of retaliation.

    (And really, OP would even have this argument if he’d had just one or two drinks and then attempted to drive them back himself. He might be at least somewhat impaired, and OP shouldn’t be forced to ride with him in that case either.)

    1. fposte*

      I think the safe return thing is a bit tangential, and I don’t think HR would likely to get worked up about it on its own. Generally you’re not required to ensure your adult employees are safely conveyed around town, and leaving somebody to call a cab isn’t unsafe, just freaking obnoxious.

      1. Aveline*

        Actually, I’m sure the company has some policy that would prevent anyone other than the boss and otherwise authorized persons from driving the company car. Even if the letter writer had a license, she might’ve gotten into trouble for driving back

        1. fposte*

          I agree, but I’m not seeing the relevance to my statement. It’s still not making the employee unsafe in any significant or worrying way–she just needs to take the bus or call a cab.

  28. nnn*

    I’ve been thinking that email should have a “Thanks!” button, to politely acknowledge emails without adding to the inbox. A little thingy pops up on the email saying “Jane has thanked you for this email”, (like it does in some online forums) but it doesn’t appear as an extra item in your inbox.

    I don’t know if it could be done cross-platform, but it seems like something they could implement in Outlook (which, in my own work life in an office environment, is where I end up sending most of my “Thanks!” emails)

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Cross platform could be like customer service emails that have a button at the bottom for “Did this solve your problem?”

    2. CTCH*

      That’s a great idea! And those of us who don’t really like the “thanks” emails could add a filter to route them to a folder, so we don’t have to see them in our inbox (but could check up on them if needed).

  29. aebhel*

    Re: #1, I’m just baffled at the gall it takes to get smashed at a business lunch. I mean, good grief. Can’t he wait until he gets home? Or at least just keep a bottle of bourbon in his desk like any respectable functioning alcoholic? /sarcasm.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      I don’t feel great about going to one far down the road of ragging on the boss for getting drunk – that just seems to lead to too much irrelevant speculation and potential addiction issues and attitudes about drinking and so on. Even if the boss had been 100% sober his actions would be 100% not okay.

      1. aebhel*

        I will cop to treating the subject more lightly than I perhaps should have, but I do think that getting drunk at work is wildly inappropriate behavior even without the added WTF of how he treated the OP. And I disagree that his drinking is irrelevant; the entire reason this came up in the first place is that he drank to the point of impairment and then expected his employee to cover for him. If that’s something that has been going on for a while, it may have influenced why he and the grandboss reacted the way they did.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          I think it’s irrelevant because even if he’d had a 100% uncontroversial reason for not wanting to drive – say he’d come down with some severe vertigo all of the sudden – he still would have been out of line for pressuring his employee to drive after she told him she legally cannot, and out of line for insisting she cover the cost of their cab instead of comping the bill. The drinking certainly makes him look worse, and yes, it should not have happened during the work day.

          1. Aveline*

            If it is happening repeatedly, and he’s having other people drive the company car, there is a potential issue here. Most companies are very strict on who gets to drive a company car and under what circumstances.

            So if she goes to HR, there are two issues to point out aside from the drinking.

            1. Judy (since 2010)*

              That’s certainly not my experience for large corporations. Company cars are there to be driven by the employees of the company. I’ve worked for two companies that had 3-4 locations (plants or design offices) within a 30 minute drive. Managers had company cars with assigned spots near the doors. You took your drivers license and asked to borrow a car if you needed to go to another plant. The other locations had visitor spots for the company cars by the doors. You didn’t have to go to the hassle of expensing your mileage if you used those cars.

              Managers could drive the cars home, but were not supposed to use them for a family car, and other family members couldn’t drive them.

              1. Aveline*

                My experience is the opposite. Company cars were limited in who could drive them.

                In any event, anyone without a license or without insurance was not allowed.

        2. LBK*

          I think this is super industry-dependent. I work in finance and it’s definitely not unheard of for people to have a drink at lunch – maybe not to the point of getting smashed, but schmoozing and boozing isn’t particularly unusual.

          1. aebhel*

            I’m pretty sure this is industry-specific. I’m a librarian, and outside of conferences I’ve never drank with coworkers. I realize it’s common in some industries, but I still find it baffling that it could be considered normal to drink to the point of impairment in the middle of the work day. A drink with lunch, sure, but enough that you can’t safely drive? That, to me, is nuts.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              We’re getting a little far afield, now, but you don’t have to be falling down drunk to be unsafe to drive. I could absolutely see having a couple of drinks at a client lunch and not wanting to drive afterward. But getting back to the OP, that’s what taxis and car services are for, no coworkers!

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      I’m actually surprised you are that shocked by it. The higher up you go, in my experience, the more likely it is because they can get away with it more reliably.

      The boss has probably had people drive him back to the office multiple times.

      1. 2 Cents*

        I’m not surprised that the boss was drinking at a client meeting. In my line of work in advertising, drinking is kinda expected during a client lunch out or celebrating a new client. We have office happy hours, for goodness’ sake.

        1. Desdemona*

          Yeah, around the time I graduated from college, I was invited to a round robin style interview with an advertising agency and a group of candidates. Afterward, they took all of us out for dinner. I’d interviewed well, but never heard back. I’ve always wondered if it was because the interviewers all drank heavily, while I stuck to lemonade, knowing I’d have to drive myself home to another city when we parted ways. I think I must have come across as pretty stuffy by comparison. I don’t know how I’d do in a serious party environment (the folks I work with now do occasionally get drunk at company diners, but no one pressures me to drink more than I’m comfortable with), but I sometimes regret missing the opportunity to work with the advertisers, because their work was really creative. As a technical person, it’s fulfilling to work through the challenges of making something unexpected come together and watch it just work. It’s your work, even when the spark was someone else’s vision.

  30. Mike B.*

    #1 – I wouldn’t be surprised if Grandboss was in the dark about a few of the details here.

  31. Erin*

    #5 reminds me of an old job I had where the President of the board insisted I never emailed him something I in fact did email. I resent the previous email, showing it was there, and he said something to the effect of, “Don’t bother me with that.” Don’t bother him with proving he was wrong, heh.

    I like the above idea on CCing a reliable person. If your boss is still acting bizarrely after that I might try saying, “Bob we all typically text or email when we’re going to be late but I get the sense you’re not receiving them for some reason. Would you prefer we call, or how would you like that be handled?”

  32. Jubilance*

    #1 – I’ve worked at several Fortune 500 companies, and all of them had strict rules about drinking during the work day – not allowed if you plan to go back to the office, and violation is grounds for immediate firing. I wonder if the boss and boss’s boss know they are violating company policies but trying to cover it up? Either way I’d immediately go to HR – they would be very interested to hear your boss drank so much at lunch he was drunk, and then came back to the office. Let us know how it works out OP!

    1. Aveline*

      I’m also quite sure that if the letter writer had driven back, they could be fired for cause. They would have been operating a company vehicle without a license, thus subjecting Company to all sorts of legal problems in the event of an accident

    2. Desdemona*

      I work for a Fortune 500 company now, and expected that to be the case. I could be misremembering, but I think it was even in the company policies I signed when I was hired. In practice, it’s turned out team leaders have a lot of discretion about what their teams can do. Within a month of my starting, our secretary came back form lunch plastered, and I thought how awkward, everyone is going to know why she was fired. No, not really. When she came back, the team, and our boss, teased her a bit, and that was the end of it. Team lunches, team building, team dinners all involve drinking. And it’s not just my team. When our facility plans things in the cafeteria or auditorium, there’s always beer and usually wine. There’s water, of course, if you don’t drink, but that’s about it. They don’t figure there are enough teetotalers to be worth picking up soda or iced tea. But despite the atmosphere, people are adult about it, and work gets done, and no one gets dinged for not knowing in advance they’re the designated driver.

  33. ZVA*

    I am all for the “thanks” emails—I send them often, more to acknowledge receipt than to actually say thank you, and I’m always glad to receive them. It tells me the other person got my message, which “closes” the convo and lets me delete it/put it out of my mind… which is always a relief. They’re so quick & easy to read and delete that I don’t think of them as cluttering up my inbox; they’re gone almost as soon as I get them.

  34. Allison*

    #3 I’ve often worried about this too, because growing up my mom would say things like “if you’re too sick for school, you’re too sick for dance class,” or whatever else I might have had or wanted to do that evening. And my school had a rule that if you missed school, you couldn’t attend after school activities – it went so far that if you were in the school musical, you had to be in school the day of a performance or you couldn’t perform (I think there was some rule about when you had to be in, too, so you couldn’t come in around lunch and still perform because it counted as an absence or something), and if you were an athlete and had a game that night, you needed to be in school that day. So just like the idea that you couldn’t miss school for a cold carried over to our attitude towards sick days in the working world, we also feel weird about taking a sick day and then going out that night.

    However, most reasonable adults know that you can feel awful in the morning, crummy in the afternoon, and a little “off” but mostly okay to go out that night, if there’s something unmissable happening, like a friend’s engagement party. A regular house party you may want to skip just to be safe, but how often will your friend get engaged? Probably once! If you’re FB friends with coworkers, maybe proactively post a status like “Been feeling crummy all day, but with a little rest, I think I can suck it up to celebrate the lovely Jenny’s engagement party tonight! Just be careful around me, I don’t wanna make anyone sick!” in case you end up tagged in any pictures or statuses later.

    1. paul*

      So…this means that the OP gets the boss fired, and the grandboss becomes his mentor in the ways of middle management?

  35. LadyPhoenix*

    Op #1 Did grand boss actually TELL you to py up or did boss claim they did? You may want to explain your story to the grand boss if they have only heard what your boss told them. Chances are, Grand boss is not gonna appreciate a lying tyrant of a subordinate.

    If the Grand Boss still doesn’t budge, take it up to HR and the CEO and inform them that you are being punished for not performing an action that would be illegal and impossible with your disability. Then request protection and a transfer. That way you won’t have to worry about these scumbags fucking you over financially.

    1. Mike B.*

      That’s what I was thinking. “OP1 refused to drive us back from lunch!” sounds somewhat worse when the context of “no license” and “medical condition” are left out, and it can no doubt be made to sound worse still.

  36. Longtime Lurker*

    OP#1: My advice would be pay the $100 and call it a very expensive lesson learned – don’t get HR involved (unless you really, really are confident in their ability and willingness to do the right thing and you will be protected) and hopefully the matter will be put to bed. But please understand – I think your bosses are wrong and you are in the right.

    1. Natalie*

      I’m curious what exactly the lesson they learned actually is? And why you think they definitely shouldn’t go to HR.

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        To keep it brief, the lesson for me was that OP1 works for really unreasonable people who have expectations which may be difficult to impossible to anticipate (maybe OP1 knew this already) and should re-evaluate whether or not this is a situation in which they wish to continue. I’m also not convinced a person who Alison actually described as a “loon” would be reasonable in a situation when HR pushes back about something they feel really strongly about (especially when supported by their boss). Retribution may not be overt or in the short term, but it could happen.

        Also, I didn’t say OP1 definitely shouldn’t go to HR – but should be near certain that the HR Department is able and willing to offer the support and protection needed (again, because OP1 works for really unreasonable people). I wouldn’t based on my own experiences. If nothing else, OP1 should approach this cautiously and keep long-term career goals in mind.

        1. Mike B.*

          Wow. So much wrong.

          I *might* make an exception for an employee who is on seriously thin ice for unrelated reasons, or a boss who has a lot of power in the organization (like, C-suite). But it’s such a transparently unreasonable request–both in assigning blame and in the recompense–that it’s hard to imagine that it would survive any sort of challenge in most cases.

          1. Longtime Lurker*

            Yes. There is so much wrong. In many organizations, and HR departments.

            I don’t know how OPs HR will respond or if OP1s bosses will see the error in their ways. I’m just not going to assume that reason automatically wins the day – even though it does here at Ask a Manager (because Alison is awesome) and neither should OP1.

          2. Mike B.*

            It’s healthy to be a bit cynical, but this is just extreme. HR departments are neither that evil nor that stupid; OP would have an extremely solid complaint if she were actually punished for refusing to break a law / demanding accommodation for a medical condition that had yet to cause a problem in the scope of her work, and Fortune 100 companies don’t like being sued.

        2. Natalie*

          I can see why you’d be that skeptical if you’ve worked at some really dysfunctional places, but FWIW I don’t think most places are that dysfunctional, and right now the OP only knows that her boss is a loon. (It seems like OP hasn’t spoken to Boss’s Boss, so who knows if Boss if accurately relaying his opinion.)

        3. a different Vicki*

          If the “lesson” is “your boss is unreasonable and you should be job-hunting,” the OP doesn’t gain anything by surrendering the $100 before starting to look for work. That might be a reason not to go to HR, but I don’t think it’s a reason not to talk to her grandboss (who may or may not be aware of the whole situation), and it’s not a reason to hand over $100 rather than saying “I’m sorry, that’s not in my budget. Would you like a status report on the paisley teapot project?”

          After all, if she does pay, what her boss has learned is that here’s an employee who can be bullied into giving him money for no good reason; next time he might decide to stick her with the bar bill, or demand an expensive “gift” for his birthday.

    2. Is it Friday Yet?*

      What? OP#1 was being asked to do something that is illegal because s/he does not have a license, and not only that, it could have been very dangerous considering the OP’s medical condition. But beyond that, it’s totally inappropriate for your drunk boss to FORCE you to drive him anywhere unless you’ve been hired as his personal designated driver…

      1. Noobtastic*

        Not just the medical condition. I’m not sure from the letter how long this medical condition has been a thing, but I got the impressions that OP never actually got a license, in the first place, and would not know how to drive, at all, anyway.

        So, OP could say, “OK, Boss. I’ll take the keys. Now, what do I do first? Turn the key? Great. What next?” This is also not safe, especially with a falling-down drunk driving instructor.

        The whole thing is so wrong, on so many levels.

    3. Aveline*

      If they do this, they’ll be doing similar things for the duration of their employment.

      The boss will learn the lesson that they can bully LW1 into doing what they want.

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      As I said – if your bosses are TRULY stupid, they won’t pursue this.

      No – do NOT go to HR. Make your boss go to HR over this, if he wants his $100 out of you.

      He probably won’t. He’s probably not THAT stupid. Then again, after 45 years in the working world, I have met some unethical managers, and can tell too many crazy tales to mention here. So , I can’t warrant that a manager wouldn’t be that idiotic, just that it’s unlikely that he’d go that far.

  37. animaniactoo*

    OP1 – Outside of the issue of you not driving and it not being mentioned to you until that moment, I think it would be relevant to think about/discuss how you had planned to get back and what you thought the plan was based on the fact that you’d been driven there and there was going to be a car in the parking lot.

    This was a really uncomfortable situation to be in, and I recognize that you did not feel comfortable trying to get your boss to stop drinking. I recognize that you’re a newer employee both in the work-world sense and a company sense, and it limits how much you feel you can push. But for your own sake, when you see an out-of-line situation developing, it is often a good idea not to assume anything or stand back and let the chips fall where they may, but rather to attempt a heading off of potential dangers before the situation gets too far off the track. In your situation, that might have been something like watching boss order the 3rd drink and speaking up as quietly as possible and as friendly neutral if quietly isn’t possible “Hey Jack, just checking – are we taking a cab back to the office?”

    NOTE: I am not saying it is your responsibility to do this. The sum total of your responsibility is not driving the car, and making sure that he’s not driving it either once he’s had too much to drink. I’m only saying that this kind of navigating a situation can be beneficial to keeping the wreckage limited such that you don’t have to deal with ridiculous situations like this once they’ve progressed to this point. In part I say that because when I was young and oh so much dumber, I might have felt pressured to get in the car if he’d had 3 drinks and was insisting on driving because he felt sober enough to do it once he discovered I couldn’t. I’d have been completely in the wrong – but the earlier conversation would have killed his assumption before we got to that position, and might have changed his plans such that we never got to that point. So I’m putting this out there to make sure that beyond what you simply can’t do because you literally can’t (and it’s illegal), you feel comfortable taking care of yourself even when it’s not such a cut-and-dried issue.

    1. Is it Friday Yet?*

      I think “Hey Jack, just checking – are we taking a cab back to the office?” is along the lines of the LW yesterday that wrote in about the boss with body odor issues. It’s uncomfortable to point out that your boss has had too much to drink.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Uncomfortable yes, but with a lot more standing for the thing that has an immediate effect on you – the logistics of how you’re getting back to the office. That it’s uncomfortable doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, and it might have been a hell of a lot less uncomfortable than where the situation ended up, so that’s what I’m trying to get at here.

  38. Aveline*

    So this is totally off-topic but it’s so funny I have to run the risk of it getting deleted as the first writer made me think of it.

    My father told me when he was a kid there was a local farmer who would ride his horse in to town to the tavern nightly. The farmer would get totally blackout drunk. Everyone, including the county sheriff, just helped put the farmer back on the horse. The horse knew the routine. He would take the farmer home and dump him in the hay in the barn then go over to his own stall and wait for someone to take care of him the next morning.

    My father always used to say that that was a horse that was better to his owner than the owner deserved.

    1. MacAilbert*

      Funny part of that is, you can get a DUI on a horse in most states. Can get a DUI on a lot of stuff, really. It’s no more legal to ride a bicycle drunk than to drive drunk, even if enforcement is lower.

        1. Aveline*

          I’d think it would not be a DUI, but akin to operating an unsafe vehicle. You can’t drive a car without functioning brakes on a public roadway or operate a motorcycle that cant’ turn….

      1. Aveline*

        It is now, it wasn’t back then where my father lived. Those laws weren’t on the books at the time.

        I have a friend who practices near Lexington, Kentucky and has represented drunken horse riders. It’s not all that uncommon in horse territory when there are festivals.

      2. Hibiscus*

        As memorialized by Those Darlins in the song “DUI or Die” where the narrator gets a DUI, then nearly kills self drunken bike accident.

      3. Noobtastic*

        Yeah, the difference is, if your DUI while on a bike, you’re more likely to be the one killed than doing the killing.

        Although your’e also likely to cause accidents, swerving into oncoming traffic, or the like, and they may swerve to avoid you and crash into something else, but if they do actually hit you, you won’t walk away from it with a few bruises. You’ll have severe repercussions, naturally.

        With a car, the driver has all sorts of protections built into the vehicle, and so they have to enforce harder, in order to deter the behavior based on unnatural repercussions.

        I’m actually glad to know you can get a DUI on a horse in most states (presumably not the case in this story), because having a drunk owner is really, really bad for a horse! Unless they really prepared well before going out, int he first place, that poor horse needs to stand there all night, sweaty, and possibly cramping up, and maybe hungry and thirsty, and I’ve never even owned a horse, but I’m upset at the thought of it.

        1. Aveline*

          This occurred back in the 1900s–1940s, predates most DUI laws and before the local community had a lot of cars.

          The horse would not have stood all night, as it had it’s own stall. (And horses stand a LOT more than humans).

          Food and water would have always been available to it in it’s barn/stall. Typically, in the region where I grew up, water is always plentiful in streams and ponds, but you keep a “tank” in the barn accessible to all animals. Some form of food was always available (as is grass).

          So the only issue remaining would be that horse would be having to wear it’s saddle overnight. That presumes there was a saddle b/c a lot of poor people used to just put a blanket on it and go. It wouldn’t be a saddle as we know them today.

          Likely, the only issue for the horse was likely the stink of the rider.

          I’m glad you are upset for the horse, but it was likely just fine, if a bit annoyed.

  39. wickedtongue*

    That sucks for LW#1 and she obviously shouldn’t have to pay for her boss’s cab fares. But as someone with a very similar condition (seizures in my sleep, seemingly completely controlled by medication)…I’m kinda scared I’m breaking the law? My home state didn’t have any problems with me driving since it was controlled by medication, but it never occurred to me that that might not be the case in a different state. Now I’m worried that I didn’t disclose properly when I got my driver’s license and if I fill out the proper forms with my doctor now they’ll deny me…so that’s concerning.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      Oof. It seems like you’re conscientious so I wouldn’t stress too much about having ‘not properly disclosed’, especially before you actually look up the restrictions in your state!

      1. wickedtongue*

        My state’s restrictions say “no set period of time” and have a medical form to fill out…but apparently none of the questions on the DL test must have made me think I had a problem…I’m gonna ask my doc in a month.

    2. Alton*

      I think a lot of places have rules about being seizure-free for a certain amount of time in order to be able to drive. It’s possible that the OP isn’t seizure-free, or not for long enough. I would also hope that if you’re being treated by a doctor who prescribes your medication, they’d tell you about prohibitions that would affect you.

      It’s not a bad idea to double-check, though.

      1. wickedtongue*

        Yeah, I’m going to ask my doc if I should have done something different. She’s never mentioned it (I didn’t get my DL here until about 3 years in), but it’s also possible she’s not used to people asking for it.

    3. Sarah*

      I believe as long as it’s controlled by medication and you haven’t had a seizure for a certain amount of time, you are ok to drive in pretty much every state. It’s just the amount of time you might have to go seizure-free to qualify that is different between states.

  40. Rachael*

    OP#1: I can guess at two things (#1): Your boss didn’t tell his boss that you were medically barred from driving (#2) Your boss didn’t tell his boss about how much he drank. I’m sure that he spun it that he didn’t feel comfortable driving and then you REFUSED to drive and left out everything else.

    I agree with Allison. Go to HR. There is nobody who agrees with your bosses and we all think that this is ridiculous. Pay nothing.

  41. Jady*


    At my office when people are out for any reason, the email is usually sent to the entire team of people they work closely with. The emails are generally pretty un-descriptive: ‘out for an appointment’ or ‘not felling well’, etc. That way, should someone come ask “Where’s X”, anyone in the team can answer.

    I’d suggest considering something like this, as it would cut off the problem at the source. Boss asks again ‘I guess X won’t be here today?’, anyone then can respond ‘She emailed to all of us this morning she’s Y.”

  42. Snarky*

    #5 – if you haven’t had a direct conversation with your boss’s boss to confirm that they also want you to pay for the cab, treat it with a healthy level of skepticism. If your boss is so unreasonable to insist you drive and then to try and punish you for not doing so, it’s not unreasonable to think your boss made up the part about his boss backing him on the reimbursement as a means to further pressure you.

  43. Colorado*

    OP#1: I imagine grand boss did not get the whole story or is covering boss for some reason. I hope it is the former. Someone who gets “falling down drunk” at a work lunch where I’m assuming other non-coworker business associates attended, I would guess is not a one-time event. If in my wildest dreams this happened to me, I would be so mortified I would taxi myself home and tell my employee they also have the rest of the day off and apologize profusely. This is so out of line. Go to HR. Something is not right here.

  44. Employment Lawyer*

    Re: 1. My boss got drunk and was angry that I couldn’t drive him back to the office
    It’s probably wise to Officially Disclose your epilepsy, because doing so will start ADA protection. They can’t fire you for being an epileptic, and they can’t fire you for not driving *if* it stems from your disability.

    1. SideshowStarlet*

      I don’t know if disclosing epilepsy is the correct route for OP to take, as chauferring drunk bosses is by no stretch of the imagination a part of OP’s job duties and therefore would not require accommodation. The boss’s alcoholism on the other hand, does affect performance of the boss’s duties.

  45. Mimmy*

    #1 – It’s not clear from the letter: did the OP actually tell the boss that she actually does not have a drivers license and is legally not allowed to have one? Maybe I’m being too nice, but I wonder if it’s possible whether the boss thought it was simply a refusal and not a bona fide “I am not legally permitted to drive or even have a license”.

    1. Kyrielle*

      OP writes, “My boss said I should have told him I can’t drive.” I’m not sure from that whether OP said “I am not legally allowed to have one” but it seems pretty clear that OP did tell the boss that she couldn’t drive – and that, with or without a driver’s license, should be sufficient.

  46. SenatorMeathooks*

    For OP number one, I’ll bet you a million bucks that your boss left out the fact that he was drunk when he explained the situation to his boss. There’s no way he properly relayed the story.

  47. Noobtastic*

    OP#1 – I’m sure someone else mentioned this, but I haven’t read the comments, and I am going to say it anyway.

    WHAAAAT?! I can see your boss being so devoid of concern for public safety that he wants someone who can’t drive to drive him, because he can’t drive, but his own boss?

    As someone whose loved one was killed by a drunk driver, I have mixed emotions. I am glad that he recognized he was too drunk to drive, but at the same time, I am absolutely livid that he would insist that someone who CANNOT DRIVE should get behind the wheel, endangering both himself and everyone else on the road. And then insists that YOU pay for the taxi that HE made necessary, because he couldn’t control his desire for alcohol, while on the clock! I just cannot get past this. And his boss condones and agrees? Are they drinking buddies? Have they both gone over budget on their own cab bills, because both of them get slobbering drunk on a regular basis?

    Do NOT, under any circumstances, pay for his cabs. And if they try to retaliate, then report them to the EEOC. But do not fold, because if you do, it will set a precedent. They’ll continue to mistreat you, and they’ll mistreat others, as well.

    Hopefully, someone whom they actually respect (they clearly have no respect for you) will explain to them, in simple terms they can understand, that this is not how business, or indeed common courtesy, work.

    Also, regardless of the cab fare, that boss needs a serious slap on the wrist (both wrists and maybe the ankles, too), for getting drunk on the clock. If he’s too drunk to drive, he is too drunk to work, and will make costly mistakes, and he should have just gone home.

  48. Noobtastic*

    OP2 – I say err on the side of good manners, and send a basic “Thanks!” email. Seriously, just put “Thanks!” and leave it at that. It’s quick, yet conveys so much respect, as well as confirmation that you got everything you need, and that the loop is closed, and you won’t bother them again about the same thing.

    Most people will 1) appreciate being appreciated and 2) not see it as bothersome clutter. However, when you DO get someone who 1) doesn’t care about being appreciated and 2) does see it as bothersome clutter, they will probably tell you that you don’t have to thank them. When they do (and not before), make a note of that, and try to avoid not thanking them for every little thing. However, you should still thank them for the big things, and any time they had to go out of their way to help you, even if it was a small thing, but inconvenient for them. If they complain about that thanks, then just don’t thank them, anymore, because that’s the Platinum Rule “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”

  49. Noobtastic*

    OP3 – if you run the risk of seeing anyone from work at the party, then you may want to go, hand over a host gift (if that’s the norm in your area), and basically sit not he sidelines, looking blandly tired and uncontagiously ill, for an hour or so, and then say that you wanted to put in an appearance for your friends’ sake, but you’re afraid you have hit your limit, and have to leave, and go home.

    If you don’t run the risk of seeing anyone from work at the party, then do what you like, but please don’t overtire yourself, and get a relapse.

  50. Noobtastic*

    OP5 – I second Allison’s advice, and would only add that if this does not work (not just for you, but for your co-workers, as well), you should start copying his boss on all “I’m taking sick leave” notifications, and get your co-workers to do the same.

    Give him a chance to fix this insufficiency on his part, but if he doesn’t fix it, then go up the ladder, because he is not managing properly, and his own manager needs to know that.

    Now, it is possible that he is seeing the notices and simply forgetting about them. If he makes it a practice to confirm receipt of the notices, then when he asks where someone is, and is reminded that they are out, he can say, “Whoops. Oh, yeah, they told me and I forgot. I’m really focused on the chocolate teapots right now, and I guess that’s why I forgot. OK, can anyone else help me with the TPS report today?” People forget all the time, and especially when they are focused on an important project and/or deadline, and that is quite forgivable. Giving an innocent person the cold shoulder because you forgot is not.

  51. Contrarian Annie*

    #1 (Boss got drunk and got angry the OP couldn’t give them a lift) – Is it possible that the boss has an alcohol problem (are there any other signs of this e.g. comes in smelling of alcohol in the morning?) and that the boss and their “grand-boss” are covering this up from the powers that be rather than handling it properly?

    I’m fairly sure they want the $100 paid in cash rather than through payroll so it’s off the books, although that wasn’t explicitly stated.

  52. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 — unfortunately, you are between a rock and a hard place.

    Apparently, your boss is trying to cover his ass and his boss is standing behind him.

    The ideal solution would be that Boozin’ Boss #1 pick up the tab for the cabs and pay it out of his own pocket. In fact, that would be the most preferable route to go, but he’s asking YOU to pay the fares HE should have paid.

    This strikes me as a bit odd … if I got in such a predicament (as Boss #1) – I would do that and let the matter close. It’s rather weird that he’d try to involve you over $100 or so. That’s what makes no sense.

    That being said – if you go to HR over this a) you’ve got to prove things, b) it will harm your relationship with the boss going forward .

    $100 isn’t exactly a lot of money – I have a hard time understanding why a manager would do this. Should they put up a stink, tell THEM to go to HR with it and see what they do. I doubt they’d be THAT stupid.

  53. Printer's Devil*

    OP2: I tend to sign off request e-mails with “Thanks!” before my signature block- that way, it’s already part of the e-mail chain, but it doesn’t have to be a separate e-mail.

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