my sister abused my employee discount, the word “boss,” and more

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

1. My sister abused my employee discount

I get a discount at a popular amusement park because I work for its parent company. There are no explicit policies regarding the use of the discount, and it’s not uncommon for employees to let their family visit the park without the employee actually being present. A few weekends ago, I offered to let my sister, her husband, and her three kids come visit me and use my employee discount at the park for the weekend.

However, the next week at work, my boss called me into his office and berated me for letting 25 people use my discount over the weekend. I told him I hadn’t and he showed me proof that there had been 25 weekend passes purchased under my discount! I checked with my sister over my lunch break and she’d apparently decided to invite her parents-in-law and all of her brother’s siblings, their spouses, and their kids along for the trip and let all of them use the discount not only at admissions but also at a couple of restaurants and gift stores around the park, a total of almost $2,000 in savings over the weekend. She and her kids/husband never mentioned the extended family being there while they were staying at my apartment and the only pictures I saw from the trip only had the five of them in it, not this busload of people, so they were either actively lying to me or lying by omission.

I apologized to my boss that there had been more guests visiting than I thought, but he wasn’t impressed and revoked my discount privileges. Is there anything I can do to smooth this over with him? I didn’t explain the particulars of the situation to him because I didn’t want to sound like I was making excuses or pushing the blame onto my sister, but maybe I should have? I look like a total idiot, either for lying to him about the amount of people or for being taken advantage of like this.

Oh my goodness, you should have told him what happened! You don’t want to get into a long saga about it — just a brief “I’m so sorry — I’d given my sister and her husband and two kids permission to use the discount. She apparently gave it to others without my consent. I never would have okayed that, and I’m mortified that it happened.” That’s not making excuses — you’re not saying what happened is okay — just giving him context so that he knows you didn’t just hand out the discount to 25 random people.

It’s not too late now to go back and say something like, “I talked to my sister to figure out what happened, and I wanted to come back and fill you in. I’m really mortified about this; I’ve always tried to be conscientious about the discount, and I’m furious that my sister took advantage of it like this.”

2. Trainer doesn’t want us to say “boss”

This is not so much a question as something I wanted your take on.

I have recently come into a leadership position in a national service organization. My main training for this role was a mandatory conference for all leaders starting around the same time I did. And it was awful.

Some gems included frequent talk of our authentic selves and unironic usage of the phrase “inner child.” And that’s not even the worst of it. It got so granola that when relating events to my best friend, she in all seriousness asked if I had accidentally joined a cult.

But the real highlight I wanted to tell you about was when one of the main trainers told us all she hates the term “boss” and never wants it to be used. It’s too authoritarian and stifling, apparently. She doesn’t even like the term “supervisor” but will grudgingly allow it to be used. She prefers the term “coach,” since our higher-ups should be like coaches to us.

Oh jeez. That’s eye-roll-inducing.

“Boss” is not a dirty word. And if someone feels stifled by their manager, it’s because of a much bigger issue than the term being used to describe them.

But: Speak up! Now that you’re in a leadership position in this organization, you could use your standing to push back against training new leaders this way.

3. I want to back out of a commitment to the manager who re-hired me

I have been back in my current role at my company for three months after having left for another job for about six months (total amount of time in my current role is 5+ years). When I left my current company last year, I left on great terms and, thus, when I found that the new job was not really great working out (my manager there made me miserable) I connected back with my previous (now current) boss to see if there were any possibility of me returning. She responded affirmatively.

However, in that conversation she made it clear to me that her expectations were that, although she knew that I would not stay long-term, I would stick around for at least a year and a half. When I agreed to come back, I was coming from a not-so-great experience and thought this was a good deal.

Now though, I’m in a pickle. Being back in this role reminds me of why I left (this job does not fall in line with my desired career path) and potentially having to stay for a year and a half seems like a waste of time. I really don’t want to let potential great opportunities slip by (I have been turning down some opportunities from recruiters, for example) while I wait out my time.

I know that if I were to leave it would put me right in the “burning bridge” threat-level, but if I frame it correctly (e.g., I was not looking and this great opportunity was dropped in my lap) I think I could leave on okay terms. Am I right to worry? Should I stick around for the full year and a half to avoid any potential negative effects? Are the bad parts of sticking around worth it?

Yeah, this isn’t going to be seen as an okay thing to do. It doesn’t matter if something fell in your lap or not; your boss told you that to take you back, she’d need you to commit to staying for a year and a half. She re-hired you based on that agreement. The only way to get out of this with your reputation and the relationship (and the reference) intact would be if you had to leave because of a health issue or a family emergency.

You’re really supposed to think this kind of agreement through before you make it. She was relying on your word and your integrity. What you’re saying here is that you agreed to her terms when she was offering you an easy escape route, but now that you don’t need it anymore, you want to renege on a commitment she accepted in good faith. It’s not a good way to operate.

That doesn’t mean you still can’t leave early if you decide to, but realize that you’re going to blowing up the bridge.

4. How can I get my coworkers to stop using my computer and desk?

I work as an office manager, and in my department, I’m the only one who sits at my desk all day working. All of my coworkers are always moving throughout the building, and while they each have their own space to keep their personal belongings, they don’t have their own laptops/computers, but they do have tablets designated to them for work use. In the office there are 10 computers available for them to use as well (excluding mine). 85% of my work requires a computer, and I spend most of my day at my desk.

Increasingly often, I’ll come in in the morning and someone is at my desk using my laptop. This means I can do nothing but wait until they are finished to get started with my day. I cannot access my email or work documents from other computers. I’ve tried to say, “Hey, let me know when you’re done so I can get started,” but they’re still sitting there upwards of an hour. Sometimes an hour and a half. This messes up my entire day, and I spend it trying to catch up.

I’m not sure how to address that I need my computer and desk to be off-limits unless I say it’s okay. There are times I just have to run down the hallway, and when I return somebody is on my computer and says “Well you weren’t here using it.” I understand that they all clamor over each other to get to them, but how can I express that I need mine off-limits? My biggest hurdle is that one senior staff member moved a laptop to her designated “spot” and will cause a big commotion if someone uses it; they all resent her and make fun of her about it. I’m not sure how to express this to them, and I wonder if I’m just being petty and sensitive or if it’s them being a bit dismissive of the work I need to do to make their work go more smoothly.

I’m also not sure if I’m being dramatic by taking it as a sign of disrespect, but it gets me frustrated. I’m the most junior of my department because of my position and my age, so I’m often not taken seriously in my department. I’m not sure how to get the message across and be taken seriously. Also, we have no manager at the moment.

No, you’re not being petty. That’s your computer and it sounds like it’s your only option for being able to do your work.

But you haven’t been direct enough with people. “Let me know when you’re done” means … let me know when you’re done. It doesn’t mean “I need the computer right now.” So start being more direct: “Hey, this is my permanent computer; it’s not one of the up-for-grabs ones, so I need you to move to a different one.” If they resist, then say: “Sorry, I really need to get started so I need you to move right now.”

I get that you don’t want to get the same mockery as your colleague, but it’s a different situation — it sounds like she reserved one of the computers that’s supposed to be for everyone, whereas you’ll be explaining yours isn’t a shared machine.

Also, send an email to your department explaining your computer isn’t up-for-grabs, so people know the situation. And can you or your IT people set it up so that there’s no guest log-in, it’s password-protected, and only you can get on there?

5. Telling a colleague her tag is sticking out

The recent question about whether to tell an interviewee about lipstick stuck in her teeth reminded me of this dilemma: Should a man tell a female colleague that the label of an undergarment is sticking up out of the back of her dress?

Sure. You don’t need to be all “Your bra is exposed”; it’s fine to just say, “By the way, you might have a tag sticking out there.”

{ 491 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT*

    #4 Is there somewhere you can lock the laptop up when you’re not using it, like a drawer or a filing cabinet?

      1. (Different) Rebecca*

        But maybe also heavy. Some of them, particularly non-Apple products, are practically like a sack of bricks when wandering around with them.

        1. Sadsack*

          Still, maybe she could lock it up. I mean, why not if it isn’t meant to be a group laptop? I would probably be talked to about leaving my laptop out on my desk when I leave, but we have no group laptops either.

        2. Geoffrey B*

          And even if she is allowed to take it, she’d want to check who’s liable if it’s stolen/broken/etc. while in her keeping.

      2. CoveredInBees*

        Seems like a lot of amount of effort when you’re grabbing something off the printer or going to the bathroom.

        1. An Inspector of Gadgets*

          it is, but there are a lot of places where the employees are expected to lock the computer screen at any time they’re away from desk–annoying but doable.

          1. Riddikulus*

            Locking the screen is one thing, what’s suggested in this thread is physically locking the laptop up in a drawer or cabinet, which is a much bigger effort.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Not as big an effort as having her desk and laptop taken over and waiting an hour to get it back.

            2. Sadsack*

              In my comment, I meant locking it up overnight, not every time you leave your desk. Locking the screen when you step away for a minute is a good idea, too.

              1. OhBehave*

                When she’s gone for the day does not seem to be the problem. Therefore, no reason to lock it up for the night or whenever she isn’t there for a prolonged period of time.
                They need more walk-up computer stations. It almost sounds like people are just waiting for her to leave! Probably not the case, but?
                I would definitely have IT make it so only she and perhaps her supervisor only have logins.

                1. Snorks*

                  People are using it in the morning when she comes to work, so overnight is still a problem.
                  But yes, more computers!

        2. E*

          It’s two keys, the “Windows” key + “L”. My office requires us to lock our computers, due to government contract work.

              1. Oryx*

                Ctrl + Alt + Del asks if you want to lock it, Windows + L automatically locks it! It’s pretty great.

          1. Damn it, Hardison!*

            My colleague used the phrase “Windows L or you’ll catch hell” as a reminder to lock her computer before walking away from her computer.

            1. Mabel*

              At my company, IT security sometimes walks around and puts a bright orange sticker with a message that we need to lock our laptops every time we step away from them. The laptops all lock automatically if not used for 15 minutes, but a lot of damage can be done in 15 minutes.

              1. agatha*

                I’m sort-of-kind-of in an office manager position (not official but I’ve got ~7 years seniority over anyone else and I’m the only full timer), so when I catch a co-worker leaving their desktop unlocked – which I explained to them *right* at the beginning is absolutely not okay – I adjust at least one setting. Mouse click speed, inverted mouse buttons, rotated screen (for those who don’t know, you can actually set the monitor display to be upside down or even sideways), a wallpaper of my choosing… something that lets them know they’ve been caught slacking on security and gives them a little trouble ‘fixing’ what I’ve done as a reminder to lock it next time and save themselves the hassle!

                1. Lora*

                  I have had some playful entry level employees who enjoyed this sort of thing. Fortunately it was usually something like changing my screensaver to a cute dog, but I learned quickly to lock my computer.

                2. Jadelyn*

                  I…have to say, this is one of those that sounds funny but actually comes off passive-aggressive the more you think about it. At least it does for me. Just remind me, don’t mess with my computer to “teach me a lesson”.

                3. copy run start*

                  This is fairly common in most offices I’ve worked in. Of course, you must choose your victim wisely. Some people think it’s all fun and games, some people strongly dislike it.

                4. The Milk Is Not User Friendly*

                  We used to put a screensaver of the Hoff on the computers that weren’t locked!

                5. LizM*

                  This would result in some kind of discipline in my office. Yes, we are supposed to lock our computers when we are not at our desk, but it’s also a violation of our IT security policies to use a computer someone else is logged in to.

            1. nonegiven*

              You can disable the guest login. She needs to have one account on it, password protected and ctrl+L, if she’s going to turn her back on it for a minute.

  2. Greg M.*

    maybe you can’t for some reason with your setup but #4 can you put a password on your computer?

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This was my thought, too. Although if OP’s comp is like mine, people are still able to log onto their account or a guest account when I’ve screen-locked the desktop.

      That said, OP needs to be more direct with her coworkers (e.g. “But you weren’t using it” // “But I need to now.”). Subtle isn’t working, in part because saying “let me know when you’re done” indicates that you’re ok with people hijacking your workstation for 1+ (!) hours. And worrying about backlash is rational but not really fair/reasonable. OP *needs* her computer to accomplish her core job functions, whereas her coworkers clearly don’t. I think it’s worth reminding people of that, if they grumble.

      1. Uyulala*

        Well, if the coworkers are fighting to get an open computer and working for over an hour at a time, I don’t think we can say they don’t need them. More like OP’s company is skimping on supplies and OP is feeling the impact since she needs to use those supplies. The senior co-worker already set the precedent for guarding needed supplies, I would be following suit. Yes, they are getting made fun of…but it sounds like the territorial claim is being respected.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          It sounds like everyone has a means of working – the LW said they all have tablets because they’re wandering all over the building all day. I suspect many of them simply prefer a laptop to their tablet (for at least some things), so they jump at the chance to use one… the problem being one of them isn’t up for grabs and they don’t seem to realize that.

          OP… I’ve been in a similar situation, where my work PC had specific programs that were only available on a handful of PCs in the entire building (each of the others belonging to employees who did not desk-share, so mine was my only option). If I came in to work and found someone at my desk, I asked them to move (in the ‘by the time I’m back from going to the bathroom/getting my coffee, you need to be gone’ sense of ‘asked’).

          You need to stand up for your desk and your laptop, OP. Whether that’s getting permission to take it home with you so nobody can get to it before you, or getting IT to set you as the sole user so nobody else can log into it, OR just telling people to find another laptop (Susan, if there are no other laptops available, you have a tablet. I don’t; I only have this specific laptop. Please log out of my laptop immediately so that I can do my job.).

          1. Observer*

            Well, not really. Tablets without keyboards are really bad tools for many types of jobs. The reality is that if they are “hogging” the computer for an hour, even though they are supposed to be mobile, it means that they need to get something done that’s just not realistic to do on the tablets.

            The company needs to either provide docks for the tablets or more laptops.

        2. AdAgencyChick*

          Agree, I think it sounds like this setup isn’t working well for a lot of people.

          1. RVA Cat*

            Exactly. If they won’t spring for the mobile employees to have laptops, could they at least get them keyboards for their tablets?

            1. TootsNYC*

              My thought as well. Heck, I would probably buy my own keyboard then I could use it with whatever tablet I ended up with.

              I want a keyboard for my smartphone, just to enter addresses in the Contacts app! (Not bad enough to buy one, but I still think about it. I edit items on our company’s website, and I’ve been meaning to ask if I could access it via phone–but I’d want a keyboard then.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                I have an Anker BT keyboard that works with everything that has BT, and bonus, the key size, shape, and layout is EXACTLY like my MacBook Pro. I think it’s the same hardware keyboard, just in an ultralight portable case and with different labels. The only reason I don’t use it much now is because I got a keyboard cover for my Surface Pro, so I can usually use that instead of my phone when I’m not at home or at my desk.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            Yeah. I would HATE working on a tablet. It sounds like the company is cheaping out on equipment and people are fighting over the scraps.

            1. LCL*

              I’m trying to decide when I should retire. If I was asked to use a tablet instead of a laptop I would go.

        3. Michele*

          I am bothered by the “no manager” thing. Someone has to be supervising at some level, and that person needs to know that there is not enough equipment for everyone to do their job. It sounds like even a couple of workstations with desktop computers would help everyone out.

    2. Aeryn Sun*

      It might require IT setup (I’m fairly computer savvy and I still have to ask IT to change almost everything – drives me nuts) but that’s not a bad plan.

  3. Kj*

    #3, you should stay. A year and a half isn’t long, career-wise, so unless you are grossly underpaid or in a toxic workplace, you need to stop shopping around and focus on where you are. What skills can you learn here that will be useful in the future? What can you do right now to cement a good reputation? I get the impression from your letter than you may be a ‘grass is greener’ person who is always on the lookout for a better situation. I’d encourage you to think of this year and a half as a chance to slow your roll and decide what you really need and want.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah, OP#3 is not in the same position as Ariel, the rehired employee from last week’s post. Burning a bridge is leaving a job with little notice even though you know you were probably expected to stay. Leaving a job early after verbally committing to staying for at least 1.5 years, absent any other significant changes at OldEmployer, really undermines your credibility and trustworthiness. That changes your behavior from “not a great thing to do but part of the cost of doing business” to a character flaw. You’re napalming the bridge, throwing in a little nuclear waste, and then sailing off into the sunset. So no, there’s no amount of re-framing that would transform the situation into leaving on ok terms.

      I know there are folks who will bring up that the employer makes no commitment to an employee, that this was a verbal promise and not a binding contract, etc. All that may be true, but this situation implicates OP’s integrity (your word is your bond, etc.). And what happens if the next job is also a mismatch? Now you’ve less than zero fall-back options because you’ve also destroyed the only recent and decent reference you have.

      OP, try to stick out the 1.5 years. Identify what you need to be happy in your next job (because it seems like a lack of reflection on that issue is engendering the impulsivity around job jumping). Take up meditation and yoga or whatever you need to manage the things that bother you in your current job with OldEmployer. Keep networking, build your skills, pay attention to job postings in your desired industry, and start applying to new gigs at the one year mark. But unless your employer is super toxic, don’t try to bail, now, after committing not to.

      1. Shay*

        This. Plus, while there is the adage that the employer makes no commitment to the employee, here’s a situation where the employer has now twice hired in good faith the employee — I don’t know what a good parallel would be, but it would sort of be like the employer, who has been a great employer twice, suddenly decreasing pay by half and who knows what else that wasn’t part of the verbal agreement to the OP coming back.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        And an employer *can* do things like this, after making a commitment, but it also hurts their reputation too. It always did through word of mouth, but now in the days of Glass Door and other crowdsourcing and social media, word spreads faster and more reliably! A person who breaks their word is going to limit themselves and not get hired for the best jobs. A company that does it limits itself from getting the top candidates in the field. There are consequences on both sides.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          It’s not just social media, it’s current employees as well. If my boss reneged a verbal commitment like this to another employee, I’d be looking for a new job ASAP.

          I wouldn’t say it’s personal or a character flaw. It’s business and not personal. But your word and reputation still carry a lot of weight in business. If you’re going to sacrifice those, you better be sure you’re get a fair value in return.

      3. OP #3*

        Thanks for the advice, Princess. I really appreciate and have come to the conclusion that, yes, I’ll have to ride it out.

        I think part of my frustration here was that the new job I was at for 6 months was great in every way (and was what I wanted to do career-wise) but my manager there was very toxic. Like another commenter said though, I think I have to view this as a sort of gift given to me that I’ll have to repay back. And I do genuinely owe it to my boss who probably saved me from a potential mental breakdown.

        Thank you again!

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Or think of the year and a half as paying for something you’ve already been given. Your boss gave you a chance at getting out of a bad situation and the ability to leave a bad job without a period of unemployment, the agreed on payment was that you would stay at the job for a year and a half. Nothing has changed on your job’s side- the job is exactly what you expected when you went back to it, you’re not being treated badly, it’s just not your ideal job. So you need to pay up, rather than trying to figure out ways to justify reneging on the agreement.

      And I seriously doubt you can leave on good terms, no matter how you spin it – there’s not just the fact that you went back on the agreement, but also a very high probability that your boss will feel like you used them, and take it personally. So if you do leave, I would count on not being able to use your manager as a reference, and a good chance that any prospective employer who contacts them would be told that your word can’t be trusted.

      1. Karen D*

        Or think of the year and a half as paying for something you’ve already been given.

        This is a great way to look at it.

        It doesn’t need to be time spent in durance vile either. Take this time to develop skills, pick up new certifications, or maybe find ways to leave the company in better shape than it was before ….

      2. k*

        It sounds like if OP can stick it out, they would be a very good reference. The fact that they liked her enough to re-hire speaks well. That makes it seem like a bridge you especially wouldn’t want to burn. One really bad reference can outweigh a three good references.

        1. Ms_Morlowe*

          Plus, OP has been there for 5+ years, and it sounds like this is their most recent employer: losing them as a reference would seriously harm their future job applications, even if their current position there isn’t exactly the direction they want their career to go.

      3. OP #3*

        Excellent, excellent advice. Spot on and thank you! Thinking about it from my boss’s side really puts it into perspective so I’ll keep this in mind.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      I had the same thought about the grass being greener. OP, it sounds like you maybe expected things to feel different this time when it’s the exact same job. Is there a middle path you could explore where you stay in the job but try to find some learning and development opportunities (at work or on your own time) that help you on the path to your preferred career – are there stepping stones between the two?

      1. OP #3*

        Hi Ramona,

        There aren’t really stepping stones in the job itself, but I am going to use any off-time to further develop the skills I need in the career that I want using outside developmental skills (and some provided by the company itself). Thanks for making me consider this!

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      +1. Yes, a year and a half feels long if you’re in the wrong job. But OP should have thought about whether the old job was one she could really be happy in for a year and a half before making an agreement with her boss.

      There is no way that leaving before that will not poison this reference — and that means poisoning five years’ worth of work history, not just the last few months since returning. OP also likely won’t have a good reference from the six-month job either.

      1. Susie Cruisie*

        And really, if there are that many “great opportunities” being thrown at you, why didn’t you stay at the bad job until the right one came along?

        1. AdAgencyChick*


          If I were going to quit a job after only six months — I’d be damn sure I was going somewhere I could stay awhile next.

        2. OP #3*

          Hi Susie,

          I was in an environment where my boss seemingly made it her mission to confuse and undermine me at every opportunity, so I wasn’t really in a mindset to wait it out. Otherwise, yes, I definitely would have done that but I also would not have jumped back to my previous gig if it was not that bad.

          Thanks for your comment!

      2. OP #3*

        You’re right, AdAgencyChick. As I stated in another comment, my mistake here was making this agreement while working in a toxic environment which made it tough for me to realistically consider the choice that I was making. However, that doesn’t excuse the fact that I agreed to it so that’s that. Thank you for your comment!

    5. OP #3*

      Thank you for your comment, Kj.

      I wouldn’t put myself in the category of “grass is greener” as I’ve been in this job for 5+ years and naturally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t what I wanted long term. When I decided to leave I took it very seriously, but unfortunately, although my new job was exactly what I wanted to do, my manager there made me miserable (panic attacks, etc.) so I had to get out.

      I agree with you, though. I don’t think I can come out of this unscathed if I left so I’ll ride it out and try to focus on skills that would make me a better candidate down the line.

      Thanks again.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      Yeah, at least don’t start looking again til the year mark or so. A couple months early plus “opportunity of a lifetime ” is much more understandable.
      Also curious if Op put the three months away on the resume, if so that looks even worse to hop again (but may be mor normal in their industry).

      1. OP #3*

        Thanks for your comment, Stranger.

        By “three months”, are you referring to the six months I was at my previous job for before coming back to my current one? If so, I haven’t really made the decision yet as to whether I should keep that six month stint on my resume at all, especially depending on how long I stay in my current position.

        Thanks again!

  4. Kalkin*

    #4, can you take your laptop home at night? Hopefully, you can indeed also password-protect it and get the word out that it’s not available for general use. But in the meantime, if you’re allowed to bring it home, that at least would mean you didn’t come in, find someone using it in the morning, and start the day behind.

    What a weirdly annoying situation.

    1. Artemesia*

      Unless it an be locked up or locked down this will be an ongoing annoyance. The LW needs her own boss to back her up and whatever security measures can be put in place to make use of her computer impossible. Because it is a habit, words won’t be enough; the machine needs to be literally unavailable.

      1. krysb*

        This. If the laptop is for OP’s exclusive use, then the boss needs to back her up it.

    2. Important Moi*

      The boss may need to back OP up, but the boss may not be doing that.

      I agree OP should take her laptop home, if s/he can. Upon not seeing the computer there, the co-workers will figure out something.

      Also, here’s a situation that happened to me here at Teapot Inc. We have a breakroom that has a refrigerator, microwave, and toaster oven. This set up allows for great flexibility for those of us who bring lunch. I also, provided for myself, utensils, disposable plates, etc. People started asking for plates, etc. never replacing it. When I “ran out” I stopped replacing them. After a few inquiries people figured out not to ask. Also, eventually, I started providing them again and no one asks anymore.

  5. Former Computer Professional*

    #4, yes, as others (and Alison) said, it needs to be password protected so it can be locked. It takes a while to get into the habit of locking it, and depending on what type of operating system it is, it can also be set to auto-lock if it’s not used for so many minutes.

    #2 — I’m sorry if this is out of bounds, but my first thought was “Well, at least nobody’s being asked to be called ‘master’!” :-)

  6. nnn*

    #4: In terms of messaging, it might be helpful to include that your laptop is your only device, i.e. you don’t have a tablet, you can’t access your email except through this particular laptop, and if someone else is using it you literally can’t do any of your work and are just sitting there stuck.

    That would address any concerns that you’re being petty or being bizarrely possessive of that one laptop – unlike everyone else, you have literally no other options.

    1. Hey Nonnie*

      Also, where’s the department manager in all this? She should be setting / clarifying the computer use policy, since it seems like no one really knows which computers are available to use by whom and when. Or they’re ignoring a policy they’re aware of, which is its own problem.

      1. Riddikulus*

        OP said they don’t have a manager at present, which might explain a lot of this.

      2. Perse's Mom*

        The tail end of the OP’s letter:
        “I’m not sure how to get the message across and be taken seriously. Also, we have no manager at the moment.”

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Exactly. The hot desks should be marked in some way at the very least and Ops desk marked with his or her name.

    2. LizB*

      I think that’s essential messaging to include. I bet folks don’t know that, and are wondering why you’re hovering over their shoulder when there are X other computers you could be using. You could even have that message come from IT, if you want, or say “I’ve checked with IT and they can’t change the system.”

  7. Mollyg*

    #2 I also don’t like the word “boss”, but for other reasons. I believe the terms “supervisor” or “manager” conveys the type of positive working relationship that should exist between a worker and their management.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      What about “boss” bothers you?

      (I admit that I prefer supervisor, but I definitely refer to old bosses as… well… former bosses. Calling everyone a “coach” is just ridiculous and in many jasmine inappropriate.)

      1. Indoor Cat*

        Not sure if other people feel this way, but “boss” seems to have a bit of a negative connotation to me. Probably because of words like “bossy,” or that song “BOSS” by Fifth Harmony, which has lyrics like, “Working for my money / ‘Cause that’s what my momma taught me /So yo *ss betta show me some respect / Boss Michelle Obama /Purse so heavy gettin’ Oprah dollas.”

        And, I mean, it’s a fun, catchy song! And it’s in favor of high self-esteem, which is great. But, er, because of it, boss to me sounds sort of like someone who is arrogant, or who thinks they’re better than other people. And the word “bossy” suggests controlling micromanagement, or an unearned sense of entitlement.

        So, that’s probably why, even though manager, supervisor, and boss are all technically synonyms, “boss” sounds more negative to me, while the others sound more neutral. “_______ leader” (like “team leader” or “project leader”) sound most positive to me.

        1. FiveWheels*

          I don’t think manager, supervisor and boss are synonyms

          A supervisor has day to day responsibilities for, well, supervising. A manager has higher responsibilities for controlling your workflow, assigning work, giving rewards and discipline. A boss is in overall charge, hires and fires, and is in charge of the company.

          I’ve worked places where all three are the same person, but IMO they’re still different roles.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It’s very common for them to be used interchangeably and not to have separate definitions like that. I do think that supervisor implies lower level supervision, but that’s more connotation than definition. Manager and boss are typically used as synonyms. (I have sometimes heard people make the distinctions you’re making so it’s not just you … but those aren’t formal, widely accepted definitions.)

            1. FiveWheels*

              I find it tough to get my head around this. When I was a supervisor in a law firm, it was up to me to make check that similarly-qualified but lower qualified fee earners were doing their work properly (team leader?) but had no authority to discipline. So I could red pen things but not order someone to stay late to fix it.

              The manager was the head of department attorney who had actual control. And the boss was any equity partner.

              I’m currently in a smaller firm where all three roles but to me they’re still different – red penning is totally different from assigning cases which is different from firing.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Sure, those are different areas of responsibility — but it’s very common and normal for them all to live within one role (or to be divided differently than you’ve divided them here).

              2. LBK*

                The supervisor/manager split is pretty common, but having an explicit difference between manager and boss is pretty unusual in my experience. I’ve always heard them used interchangeably.

                1. FiveWheels*

                  Is it a company size thing?

                  How would you distinguish between the person who is in charge of you and the person who is in charge of the whole company or whole site?

                  I’ve only worked in one really big company, and my manager definitely wasn’t the boss.

                  Hmm, I think to me a boss isn’t just “boss of me” or the department – she’s only the boss if she is in charge of something much wider, either the whole company or in a big company the whole site.

                2. LBK*

                  You can usually just tell from context, although there’s rarely ever a reason for me to talk about any of the C-suites since they’re so much higher above me in the hierarchy. My work never intersects with them, so they only come up in more casual conversation where I’d just refer to them by name (eg a recent conversation about our president retiring was just “Did you see that Joe Smith is leaving?”).

                  I honestly haven’t ever encountered any confusion over using the terms interchangeably and I’m struggling to understand a case where it would. How often are you conversing with people to whom you need to make a clear distinction about where someone falls in a hierarchy but that wouldn’t know those people by name? It’s just not really an issue.

                3. Jesmlet*

                  I think for me it’s that all of my managers are bosses, but not all bosses are managers. A boss is anyone who can make me do stuff at work – that ranges from my general manager all the way up to the owner of the company – but I would never refer to the owner as a manager.

                4. Allypopx*

                  It’s also context dependent. My boss is the department head but is generally referred to as my Supervisor, in context of me. His boss is the ED but is also his supervisor.

                  My formal title is manager and I have titled supervisors who report to me, but in conversation I’m their supervisor or boss, generally. Conversationally it’s all interchangeable.

                5. Katelyn*

                  Out of nesting, but in response to “How would you distinguish between the person who is in charge of you and the person who is in charge of the whole company or whole site?”

                  You’ll sometimes see on this site (and I have used in real-life as well) boss and grand-boss (to indicate the boss’ boss). In very large corporations there’s the distinction of VP, Executive VP, Director, Managing/Regional Director, etc. up until you hit the CEO or Owner level.

                  I’ve always called my direct manager my boss. While I’m sure to fire me they’d have to take it to their boss for approval (can’t just up and do it on their own), their opinion will carry the most weight in that decision even if they have to go through the formal hoops (HR, Legal) to get there by the book.

                6. FiveWheels*

                  Nesting is dying but it looks like I use boss differently from a lot of people here in that my boss couldn’t have a boss (unless it was a huge company). “The boss” to me is head of the whole organisation (or division /site if the organisation is huge) and never somewhere lower down the chain. I don’t know if this is a US – UK thing, a very regional thing to me, or a Five Has Strange Friends thing, but I can’t really think of anyone I know in RL using “boss” for someone in the middle of the hierarchy.


                7. JHunz*

                  Re “How would you distinguish between the person who is in charge of you and the person who is in charge of the whole company or whole site?”: That’s the difference between “my boss” and “the boss”.

              3. Jaguar*

                Have you ever heard someone complain about having twenty bosses? (If not, I can do it for you right now). Usually, what they mean is, twenty (or whatever the number is) people above them who dictate their work.

          2. Misquoted*

            I agree that they aren’t synonyms. In my world (software development), they all mean different things. Manager and supervisor might be parts of job titles. Or they might describe roles that someone has has part of their job. Boss signifies a relationship, though manager and supervisor can as well. Coach means something different. A boss/manager/director/supervisor may very well coach an employee, but that is not their primary role/relationship. I’ve never been anyone’s boss but I’ve managed or supervised things/people (projects, events, temps).

            My boss is my department director. She manages/supervises (to some extent) me and most other writers. We also have a department manager but she’s not my boss — though she’s the boss of others in the department. She manages and supervises them. A more senior coworker trained me and acted as mentor. He’s not my boss, nor a manager, but he acted as my supervisor — for a while he supervised/approved my writing before it could be released . Only the director (my boss) can make hiring/firing decisions, assign work, approve PTO if necessary (though the department manager can probably do these things for those she is the boss of).

          3. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

            At my previous job, supervisor and manager were separate levels. I was a Teapot Coordinator and my supervisor was the Senior Teapot Coordinator. She was in charge of all the day-to-day stuff, assigning work as needed, and was the first point of contact if I needed help. She was the one I contacted if I called in sick. We both ultimately reported to the Teapot Manager. She was the one who did our annual reviews, implemented any disciplinary measures other than warnings, assigned coordinators to teams, had hiring and firing authority, managed the department budget, and other higher-level management duties.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Actually I’ve been really interested by my reaction to this. Because I initially thought: huh, they’re just words, does it matter?

          But I’ve realised I’m pretty attached to the word boss, because the person I think of as my boss – namely my grandboss who is head of my department – needs to be someone who I feel has Got This. He’s not a coach or a supervisor, he is the person paid to carry the buck, to worry about big picture stuff, to make decisions above mine and my manager’s pay grade, to be in charge and make me feel supported and resourced in my job. I need to know that the people with responsibility can be trusted to do the things they are responsible for and I don’t have to worry that they aren’t. Boss works for me.

          My manager is not just a coach or a project leader. People can do that and not be my manager. This is really interesting, it turns out I hate the idea of calling her anything else too.

          1. FiveWheels*

            And coach, for me, is a more influential relationship than any work relationships.

            My coach can tell me where to be and when, what I can and can’t eat or drink, in some circumstances what to wear and how to behave in my free time. He can order things live press ups as discipline, he can “fire” or “promote” me, he will be the single biggest factor in my satisfaction on a team. He will work to make me better so I can work to win him games. The only thing he can’t do is pay me, because I’m an amateur.

            Well all of this is past tense now that I’ve retired… But to me coach is a much more senior and influential position than boss. I wouldn’t call my boss coach any more than I’d call him Mr Wheels!

            1. Karen D*

              And someone who is acting as a coach has different priorities – employee-centered rather than corporate-centered.That’s not to say a good boss can’t incorporate something of a coach’s role – most of the best ones do, especially when it’s appropriate and in the best interests of the company as well. (There are also times when a good boss’s best quality is to know when to get out of her employees’ way — not all employees NEED coaching.)

              But when it comes right down to it, most bosses’ first responsibility is to the company — hit the targets, make the trains run on time. don’t go over budget. Sometimes that means saying no to additional training, putting an employee in a role they are not best suited for, or worse.

              1. FiveWheels*

                My best coaches haven’t been employee centred at all. Their job was to win games and trophies – making the players better was usually a step on the way, but certainly not a goal. Much like how a workplace boss can be centred on the bottom line, and a more effective workforce boosts that bottom line.

            2. Stranger than fiction*

              Yeah, to me coach is a mentor or explicitly in charge of training (and I get that training may be a part of my boss’s role but certainly not all of it, so I wouldn’t walk in their office and say “can you help me with this coach? unless I worked for a sports team’s coach)

            3. nonegiven*

              I see a coach as someone I can fire.

              A trainer is someone paid by the company to supervise my training, only they can fire her.

        3. Mary*

          I used to call a previous manager “boss” because I really wanted him to make decisions and be a boss in our work. He hated it and asked that I stop, which I did. But other than that I would never use the term “boss” I would always use the more formal term manager. I don’t see why your trainer did not offer the term manager as being acceptable.

        4. HR Hopeful*

          I have never had an issue with the word boss personally. The only time that word was used in a way that I felt was inappropriate is when a new manager decided to tell someone that she was the boss of them and that they had to do whatever she said (yes this happened on the floor of a call center no less). Needless to say that manager got in trouble for yelling on the floor and basically sounding like a child.

      2. Shay*

        And “coach” in the workplace these days is now often used as a verb for situations where you are doing your job wrong and need to be corrected (and is increasingly word associated with you being at risk of losing your job).

        1. Liane*

          “Coaching” is the Official Term for ALL disciplinary actions short of firing at my previous company, (in)Famous Retailer.
          Perhaps OP can use this if she takes Alison’s advice to suggest changes in training? “Because the word is used so often for discipline in workplaces, calling management “coaches” is going to give the exact opposite impression, not one of supportive, collaborative, open leadership. ” Or whatever positives your organization is looking for.

        2. Gaia*

          Oh yea, my company does this too. If you are being “coached” you need to be aware. Because you are about to lose your job. Coaching is not really about making you better it is about managing you out. I hate that and I refuse to partake in it but I see it in so many teams here.

        3. Lora*

          Yeah, coaching is very much for people who are in over their heads in a manager or office politics way where I work. If it was merely advice, we’d call it Mentoring. Coaching is sort of what happens before you get sent to outside training against your will for soft skills issues. If you’re still an a-hole after that, they put you on a PIP to act like a person within howevermany days or get out.

          I immediately think of Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky when I think of a coach. Or Bobby Knight. Someone I really do not want in my life if I can possibly avoid it. That, and I know a handful of colleagues and acquaintances who got these flaky Life Coach people to tell them to do life better, and it never seemed to help – if anything, they became more miserable and annoying to be around. There was a lot of “bad things happen if you think bad thoughts because you send out bad vibes into the universe” type of philosophy involved.

          Also, I feel like coaching is a thing that happens in real time, whereas mentoring is someone you meet up with for beer / coffee once in a while.

      3. Gaia*

        How funny because I hate supervisor because, in my mind, it is someone who is “watching over” every little thing (probably because every person I’ve worked for with that title was an overbearing micromanager who monitored my every movement). I prefer manager (which seems more “high level” management of the team not your every move). Boss doesn’t bother me but isn’t really in my vocab unless I’m being a bit snippy.

        Someone did call me boss lady once and got an earful as to why I hate that particular variation of “boss”

      4. JulieBulie*

        “Boss” reminds me of Boss Hogg. I can see where that might turn some people off (or be fun nostalgia for others). But I still like the term to refer to whoever I report to, whether that’s a supervisor or a manager.

      1. Bibliovore*

        At old job , we called our supervisor Boss in an NCIS affectionate tone. In my new job, I was called Boss by a report whose tone made it seem that every request or comment was an imposition or affront… yes, Boss. Now I hate it.

    2. Sunshine*

      I get stuck with this occasionally. I think “boss” does sound more… casual(?) than manager or supervisor. But my direct boss is actually an SVP. So if I’m talking to a customer, and trying to explain to them that I need to discuss something with my boss, I always get awkward about it. If I say I need to talk to my boss, it sounds bad. But he’s not a manager or supervisor. I’m sure I’m overthinking, and it’s a rare occurrence, but just one of those little things that bugs me.

      1. Gaia*

        My direct manager has a really fancy sounding title but makes customers think she is an executive, but she isn’t. I’ve found that it works best when I just say “Hmm, you know, let me research this. I just want to see what our options are and I’ll get back to you by X” works well without involving my boss’ title.

      2. Elsajeni*

        I think it’s reasonable to say “my manager,” though, regardless of his title — he does manage you, so he’s your manager. Lots of positions that involve managing people don’t have “manager” or “supervisor” as part of their title.

    3. LW2*

      To me it was “coach” part that just sealed the ridiculousness. I mean the whole training was filled with moments like that. If she had just said she didn’t like the word boss that would be kinda odd but not a big deal. It was the coach thing plus all the other over the top hippie dippie-ness that made it into a thing for me.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I only ever use the term “boss” when I am specifically referring to her authority over me.

      I’ve used it to address her when I was in a situation in which she was hired to come in from the outside over my head, when I’d been doing her job in the interim (or similar “maybe I might be thought to chafe at you having authority over me” situation)–it was a deliberate tactic to let her know that I ceded authority to her.

      I say it to others outside work when it’s again an authority situation (“I’ll as my boss if I can be out that day”). Or at review time.

      I don’t consider it a negative situation, for my boss to “be the boss of me,” not at all, but I can understand why people might not be comfortable with the connotation.

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      Maybe it’s the association with the verb. Nobody likes being bossed around. (Even though at work that’s essentially what your boss does, but hopefully in a nice way and not a bark orders kind of way)

  8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, wow. The gift shop and food discounts are really next level, and I’m hoping your sister did what she did out of naïveté (which is more forgivable). I know this isn’t purely job-related, but did you speak to your sister? I was pretty shocked when I read what she had done, and it doesn’t sound like she noticed what a crappy position she put you in.

    But also tell your manager what happened. It doesn’t make you look stupid to have assumed that a limited invitation would remain limited to the people you’d invited to participate (as opposed to their 20 other friends/fam). If I told my sister she could stay at my apartment, and she converted it into a B&B for Coachella and started letting dozens of people stay there, I would be livid. But I don’t think I would feel stupid for her obliviousness regarding basic social norms. Unless she has a history of doing thing like this, you could not have known or prevented her from doing what she did.

    1. Caledonia*

      I agree that you need to talk to your sister. And never loan her a discount again, ever.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        Unfortunately, OP#1 doesn’t have that discount anymore. So, at least for now, that problem is solved…

        1. Gen*

          I’d make it absolutely clear that the discount has been revoked just in case the sister makes a second attempt and causes a scene at the ticket office. The fact that the 20 extra people were omitted from photos makes me suspicious that this is something might keep doing without permission. And the sister needs to know the consequences of what she did. Poor OP :(

          1. Shay*

            Yes, I actually wondered if there was reselling/scalping going on or still is (depending on whether the weekend passes had a set weekend date to be used). That’s because I don’t know the sister or her husband — but neither does the OP’s boss.

          2. CBH*

            +1 Well said.

            Naive or not, the sister was misleading and overstepped a generous gift. I could see this causing a rift between the sisters. While OP’s reputation will recover it was tarnished and Sister’s actions have caused OP from using OP’s earned work perk in the future

    2. bridget*

      Agreed. I’m appalled that the sister didn’t “get” that this was definitely Not Cool, and I think there’s a chance that the boss might have assumed the OP also doesn’t really get this (not unreasonable, if your employee’s discount number was flagged with this level of discount use). So OP’s move should be to set him straight – she does get that this was Not Cool and never would have okayed it. It might not get the discount back, but at least the boss doesn’t view OP like we all view the sister.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Unfortunately people can really take the proverbial when you have a staff discount. If I had a penny for everyone who said: “Oh, you got a job at store? I’ll look forward to abusing your discount” when I worked retail as a student…

        1. Karyn*

          Oh yeah, same. I work at a Fancy Makeup Store that starts with an S, and you would not believe the number of people who think they are entitled to my discount.

          We have a specific “friends and family” event once a year where I can give out codes for people to effectively get the same discount I get, but it’s a violation of company policy for me to buy things for other people if I’m getting reimbursed. They consider it an immediate dismissal, and I’m not willing to risk losing that job – even though it’s just a second job – so that other people can get for free what I work for.

          The other thing that I find happens a lot is that I give away my “gratis” products (stuff I get for free from vendors and the company) because that is permitted, so long as people don’t try to return it for cash/store credit. I give away a lot because I have one face and can only use so much moisturizer/eye cream/mascara. But a lot of people have come to actually expect it, and every month they ask me, “So what are you giving me this month?”

          OP1, I suggest that you immediately tell your boss what happened, and that you had NO idea. It may not do anything, but it certainly can’t hurt. And I would also have a serious talk with your sister, because it’s my suspicion that she knew this was wrong and did it anyway. Uncool.

          1. Beezus*

            My company doesn’t allow us to share our discount, but I can buy for friends and family members using my discount if I’m gifting it to them and not being reimbursed. I broke my in-laws of asking to use my discount by explaining the policy to them and offering to buy something on the cheapo end of the price scale for them, as a Christmas gift. It sets the right tone for me – it stops them from asking more than once a year, asking for discounts on high dollar items, and asking for discounts for their friends – and if they take me up on it, I don’t have to figure out what to buy them for a gift.

          2. Karen D*

            A niece worked at Sephora and the tales she tells of the gimme-gimme claws are epic, especially when there’s a Hot New Thing that the beauty blogs are frothing about. She’s gotten attitude because she’s kept things that she needed to learn how to use … which was, I believe, the entire point of giving it to her in the first place. She misses the free stuff but not the naked greed (and yes, pun intended :D)

            1. Karyn*

              Yeah, the point of gratis is to try the product so you can personally speak to it and learn how to use it. The company is fine with you giving it away because they realize sometimes you just CANNOT use that shade of lipstick or the face product doesn’t suit your skin. My own caveat is that I give someone something, they need to write me a paragraph review of it so that I can pass that knowledge on. It seems to have diminished the problem somewhat.

              1. Nobby Nobbs*

                I like that! It frames it as an exchange of favors between friends rather than something they’re entitled to.

              2. Mobuy*

                This is a great idea! If they have to “pay” for it (with homework no less. My inner teacher salutes you!) they won’t consider getting free stuff a right.

          3. Mina*

            I’ve worked in stores in the past. If someone felt entitled to my discount, I’d just tell them that the store had a strict policy and I wasn’t allowed to share the discount with them. It’s a shame that some people feel entitled to your discount or perks just because you work for a certain company. It’s not worth getting in trouble at work over a friend or family member who is either clueless or deliberately takes advantage. I agree that OP should talk to her boss again and then cut her sister off from any future discounts (if her discount is reinstated).

          4. Turquoise Cow*

            I’ve worked in retail, or in the corporate office for retail stores basically my entire working life. “Do you get a discount?” Is the first thing I hear when I tell people that. Often, I’ve lied or downplayed it. There’s no good way to tell my husband’s greedy stepmother that I’m not giving her my discount. It’s technically for household members only. I did let my mom use it, even once I’d moved outbecause a small percentage off was decent repayment for years of living with her and other monetary support, but passing it on to my inlaws was a bit overboard. I think she asked me the first time I met her.

            And I also have occasionally gotten samples – never of anything amazing – but even handing out these samples was met with comments like “oh, couldn’t you have gotten (other flavor)?” Or “don’t you have any more?”

          5. nonegiven*

            I’d tell the boss that I don’t expect to get the discount back, but I didn’t want him to think less of me so I wanted to explain that I did not authorize my sister to invite extra people to use the discount.

        2. Mona Lisa*

          Ugh, same. I used to abuse my discount a little at a major retail chain by letting my sister-in-law pay me back for the clothes I bought for her and my nephew. At some point a couple of years in, she started pressuring me to purchase clothes for her daycare provider and the daycare provider’s infant daughter, and I told her I wouldn’t be able to help her out anymore. It’s become much easier to cut people off and just buy them gifts around holidays or their birthdays instead of getting into the grey areas of acceptable discount usage.

          (And there are grey areas. Our employee handbook specifically forbids buying clothes and allowing others to pay you back, but when I asked a manager what would happen if I purchased clothes for myself and re-sold them on-line, he said the company wouldn’t be able to take action. It doesn’t matter how new the clothes are or how often I’ve worn them so theoretically, I could purchase a brand new dress for 50% and re-sell it on-line as long as I originally had planned to wear it at some point–even if I never did.)

            1. Mona Lisa*

              Oh, no, I have no intention of it! I had that discussion with my manager as a thought experiment and out of genuine curiosity. Bringing it up in this discussion was to show another example where there’s a company-wide loophole/contradictory policy/ambiguity. If an employee wanted to, she could theoretically buy a ton of branded merchandise and go to town on-line re-selling it in a similar way that technically OP1’s company has a rule that doesn’t prevent 25 people from walking up to the ticket counter and buying admission with an employee number. It’s a policy loophole that should be closed because there exist people who will abuse it.

              1. nonegiven*

                Yeah, they should have had a pass waiting at the gate that specified the name on sister’s ID and total number of guests. That’s how you control that.

            1. Mona Lisa*

              There’s an honor system component to it. My bosses probably didn’t think much of me buying $70 worth of clothes for my nephew or SIL every few months, but I do know one person who got fired for it. She bought $400-500 worth of merchandise for her new boyfriend and his mother each day for a week (including purchasing larger items like leather jackets, which are always excluded from friends and family events) and made a big point of telling our managers what exactly she’d done and how they’d paid her back. Since she’d flaunted it so brazenly, they had to let her go for policy violation.

              1. sstabeler*

                probably because buying $70 worth of stuff every few months at a discount is a loss of what? $7 every few months which can easily enough be ignored, while buying at least $1400 of stuff is probably $140 lost, and since they were being blatant about it, the bosses could assume this would keep happening. Assuming full-time hours, it means for that week, she probably cost the company almost as much as half her wages. If it’s one of those stores that requires you to do less hours than qualifies you for benefits, it could be just over 75% of her wages.

        3. many bells down*

          I wouldn’t even use my daughter’s discount when she worked for Hancock Fabrics unless she was with me. And everyone knew me there because I buy a lot of sewing stuff.

          1. Jill*

            I used to work there and am so sad that they’re out of business.

            I’d have friends/family come up to me while I was on duty asking to use my discount. As if I could even pull that off? People are nervy!

      2. Government Worker*

        The photos are what make me think the sister knew that what she was doing was wrong. But I’m a bit surprised that people are coming down so hard on the sister instead of assuming naivete. I’ve never worked for a place where employee discounts are a thing, and neither has my spouse. I wouldn’t use a family member’s discount for additional people without asking for sure, but I can also understand someone not realizing that it’s tied back to a specific employee or that it’s not just like any other discount code. Think of how common it is to Google discount codes whenever you buy something online, and no one thinks twice – retailers have just built these discounts in as part of the cost of doing business. That’s especially true for something like an amusement park, where the marginal cost of additional visitors is probably pretty low (as opposed to merchandise or food that has a set cost to the company).

        Of course employee discounts are often steeper, and the sister was definitely out of line. But the company should also set clear rules for use of the employee discount. What if OP had wanted to use it for 2 siblings and their spouses and kids in one weekend? If there’s a family reunion in town and they want to go to the park, how many of them get to use the discount? Or if a local family member loves the park, is it okay for them to use the discount once a month?

        1. SignalLost*

          If the sister thought what she was doing was okay, the pictures would have shown the full group. It’s possible the sister accidentally let something slip to the extended family and it spiraled out of control, but if she thought what she did was on the up-and-up, the whole group would have been in at least some of the pictures. Curating the pictures OP sees to reflect non-reality is not the action of a naive innocent. At the most generous it’s the action of a spineless doormat, and I doubt that’s actually correct.

          1. Antilles*

            If the sister thought what she was doing was okay, the pictures would have shown the full group.
            This is true. Related point: The sister never mentioned it either before or afterwards. If I know you went to my amusement park, my natural question afterwards would be something like “did you enjoy the park today?” with associated follow-up discussion. After all, you’re spending a family fun day at an amusement park, one which I know well and also like.
            If you’re totally innocent, somewhere in that discussion, it would come up that “Jim’s family loved it too” or “the kids really liked seeing their cousins” or etc. The fact that the sister managed to have that discussion never once mentioning any of the extra 20 people is pretty obvious evidence that she knew it wasn’t really up-and-up.

        2. Ms_Morlowe*

          I’ve never gotten an explicit employee discount either, but even still, I can’t see anyone not recognising the difference between an employee discount and an online coupon code. I can’t see any way for the sister to not know that what she was doing was wrong, especially given that she didn’t take pictures of the whole group, or tell the OP that more than her immediate family would be going. At best, this is willful ignorance or a lack of consideration for the potential impact this would have on the OP. I’m looking at this the same way I would if the OP had invited her sister for lunch and she showed up with 20 other people and they each ordered a three course meal.

          I think the OP should tell their boss that their sister gave the discount code to others without their knowledge or permission, and that OP is horrified by her actions. I think they should then talk to their sister about how they feel as well as how this impacted her at work–both the concrete impact of losing the discount, and the abstract consequence of looking bad to their boss.

        3. nonegiven*

          If there was big family reunion, and they didn’t want that many people using the discount, maybe the employee could negotiate a smaller discount.

        4. tigerStripes*

          20 extra people, plus the sister didn’t show any of those people in the photos – those 2 things make me think the sister wasn’t just naive.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        One of my cousins worked at a popular amusement park, and when we visited (our last living grandparent lived nearby, and I had the only great grandchildren in the family, so this was every couple of years while he lived) they would take us, and we were so grateful. OP1, I am livid on your behalf, because I cannot imagine doing what your sister did.

        But while I get the instinct to be the bigger person who doesn’t complain, this is a case where honesty in both directions is called for because of the relationships going forward. To your boss, “I am so sorry. I invited my sister and her family, and I had absolutely no idea that she used the discount for anyone beyond her immediate family. I wouldn’t have given her permission to do this if she had asked; I had no idea; I am so sorry; it won’t happen again.”

        To your sister, who if I squint maybe thought it was a magic discount number that went into a magic accounting hole no one ever checked: “Sis, I just got called in and raked over the coals for the $2000 in discounts that 25 people racked up last weekend. That privilege has been taken away, and I look stupid or venal at work, neither of which is good for me.” She messed up in a way that seriously affected your job! That is not the time to try to keep everything smooth in the family–that’s the time to make it clear that what she thought was a little underhandedness was the equivalent of punching you in the nose at work.

        1. Newby*

          Yeah, I think the sister knew it wasn’t ok but didn’t think the employer would find out. If she thought it was ok, she would have mentioned it to her sister when talking about the trip to the amusement park or had at least some of the additional people in some of the pictures. It is too big an omission to be likely to be accidental.

    3. Annonymouse*

      OP I get that you don’t want to look naive to your boss but

      1) currently you look dishonest/complicit in what happened – which is far worse

      2) unless she mentioned that she was there for husbands family reunion at theme park and please could they ALL use the discount? Then there was no way you could have known this would happen.

      Go to your boss and explain that you intended just your sister and her immediate family (husband and kids) to use the discount on their visit to the park.

      You have since talked to her to find out what happened – all the Facebook status updates and pictures were of just her and her immediate family so you were genuinely puzzled at how 20+ extra people got access to your discount.

      What you didn’t know was she invited all her husbands family to come along as well and if you HAD known there is no way you would have let her or anyone use your discount.

      She acted wrong, you are mortified and outraged that she did that and you are no longer in contact with her. This is a VERY BIG DEAL and you get it. You don’t condone this.

      Also tell your sister that her little stunt/scam almost got you fired.

      Be sure to tell your parents as well so they don’t put unfair pressure on you to forgive and forget/ get her version of the truth (she said I could use the discount and because I got a few souvenirs and had a family meal she’s being nasty about it and saying I “overused” it. I thought we were family……)

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I actually think OP could say what was in the letter: that you didn’t explain sooner as you didn’t want to sound like you were making excuses, but you’ve realised you didn’t explain properly as a result.

        1. Zombii*

          Agreed. I’ve worked jobs where management didn’t understand the difference between “explaining what happened” and “making excuses,” and where not anticipating [Bad Thing That Happened] was the same as being complicit in [Bad Thing That Happened]. I get the sense that OP#1 has too. :(

          1. Shay*

            Oh you just gave me flashbacks. I had completely forgotten about a supervisor from my teens who treated any comment anyone made at all in response to anything as an “excuse.”

            1. FiveWheels*

              Oh boy. I once had one where an explanation was treated as an excuse, and an explanation that came even minutes later was either a fabrication or an ass-covering exercise.

              1. Karen D*

                Yeah, I’ve written before about a former ToxicBoss. With him, anything that went wrong was my fault. Any attempt to find out how things went wrong was an excuse.

                OP doesn’t mention anything like that, though, and I think if it’s approached with a clear, up-front statement that she is NOT asking for her discount back – and then using Allison’s excellent script – an additional explanation would be a good thing.

                I would, however, make ABSOLUTELY sure that the policy is not actually documented somewhere. It seems odd to me that a company would allow employees to give their credentials to non-employees … the theme parks discounts I’m familiar with (and I live at theme park Ground Zero, three different major national companies have parks nearby) don’t require the employee to stay with the group they’ve gotten in, but they do require the employee to be present whenever the discount is used. The one local park that has the kind of unlimited-use policy that OP describes, there’s no hard limit on the individual uses (a friend had a birthday party there with about 10 guests, nobody really batted an eye) but handing off the employee credentials would be a firing offense.

                In that case, bringing it up again would just underscore that OP missed a significant element of why she’s being punished, and in that case, I would keep quiet and pray that this eventually blows over.

                1. YawningDodo*

                  +1 to checking on the actual wording of the policy to make sure giving the discount code to a relative instead of making the purchases oneself was kosher. I worked at one of the major companies I suspect you’re referencing, and it was not acceptable for us to give our cards to a third party to make purchases — we could buy discounted tickets and hotel rooms and so on for other people, but we had to buy them ourselves (and had to be present at the gate with our guests to redeem the limited number of free passes we got each year).

                2. JS*

                  THIS! I feel like OP is ignorant of the policies they have in place for guest.

                  This sounds a lot like a certain theme park owned by a certain mouse I used to work for and if OP does too they are 110% in the wrong here on MULTIPLE levels. I worked corporate which had more lax privileges than the park/cast mate employees but rules were still pretty easily accessible but also easy to get confused since there are ways around them. For the completely comp passes, you have to not only show your employee park pass but your employee badge credentials to get in as well which depending on your access level could let you in to restricted park areas. For that reason its a rule you have to enter the park with your comp guests, so if OP didn’t go with the fam that’s strike one.

                  Strike two is OP sister using the discount to purchase passes since there is a limit for park employees and manger permission needed for corporate employees to buy bulk discount passes to ensure you aren’t trying to sell them off, there is also yearly limits for certain employee levels which 25 more than exceeds.

                  Strike three is using discounts at shops/restaurants which is actually the biggest one because you have to use the employee’s credit card (or just cash) to make purchases to receive the discount and show employee badge. Park cast members can get fired for not matching a badge to a credit card purchase. I even had a lady reprimand me for my friend giving me cash for the purchase in front of her when I used my discount for the friend. She threatened to call my manager (she assumed I worked in the park though, my corporate manager honestly wouldn’t have cared an encouraged me to use it for friends lol).

                  I would actually be suspicious that my sister just didn’t decide to make a quick buck and sell off the passes because 25 passes is ALOT of family to have come down for one trip and if were that substantive you think she would have knew about it beforehand/asked.

                3. sstabeler*

                  OP said it sin’t uncommon for friends and family to visit without the employee, so I don’t think it will be an issue regardless of the stated policy. I’m guessing that at worst, OP would be told off for giving out their discount code, but it’s not actually likely to incur additional consequences, particularly if the OP isn’t asking for the discount back.

                  If it was me, I would probably demand the sister repay the extra discounts, as well (partly because I imagine the company would be a little more accepting of the situation if I wasn’t asking them to eat the cost of the extra discounts)

            2. CoveredInBees*

              I had a boss (yes B-O-S-S, not “coach”) with whom you couldn’t win with this stuff.

              She’d berate you for something and say, “Why did you do/ not do this thing?!” If you responded immediately, she’d yell at you for “being defensive” and if you didn’t, she’d demand a response.

            3. Mike C.*

              I hate that so much. Then you get the accusations of “oh you sound so defensive” or my all time favorite, “boy, you have an answer for everything, don’t you!?”.

              1. BPT*

                As my mother always said, “if you don’t want to hear my answer, don’t ask me the question.”

              2. Home Teapot*

                *Boy, you have an answer for everything, don’t you!?*

                Omg. Years ago I worked for a very dysfunctional call center. (I realize that sounds redundant). It was a Well-Known-But-Nothing-You-Can-Do-About-It Thing that *every single time* it was getting toward performance reviews, suddenly the better performers who could go the rest of the year without incident would get one or two “customer complaints” in a row. It happened that I was out the week prior to my review (I gave away my shift on the trade board every day because I’d hurt my back and it kept not getting better). The person who changed the online schedules was out that weekend so until Monday afternoon it still looked like I’d worked over the weekend, and my supervisor hadn’t been there so she didn’t know I’d been out. She did my review on Monday and had a “customer complaint” ready to go that allegedly happened Saturday. I told her I’d been out sick and she said, “It could have happened earlier and they just didn’t call right away.” I pointed out that I’d been out all week (and hadn’t been scheduled the weekend prior) and she didn’t miss a beat: “You know, I’ve noticed that whenever I have to talk to you, you always have an answer.”

                How does one even respond to that? If “I wasn’t here on the date in question, the day after, nor the seven days prior” is “having an answer ready,” I guess the script was already written, wasn’t it?

            4. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

              Ah yes, my old manager back at Toxic Job thought that any time you tried to explain why something happened, you were being “defensive.”

          2. Queen of the File*

            Yep. I think as long as OP is not asking to have her discount reinstated during the explanation it should be pretty clear that the conversation is about salvaging her reputation.

            1. Newby*

              Yeah. She should actually say that she is not trying to get the discount back and understands (and agrees with) why it was taken away.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          That’s a good phrasing.

          OP, naive is better than a lot of other adjectives your boss might be trying out. You should get in front of this.

      2. Bolt*

        With my family no one would care. If I didn’t lose my job or have to reimburse the $2K, no one would bat an eyelash.

        It does make me wonder though how this could happen! You’d think security measures would be in place to limit the number of passes purchased with a specific discount and that some employee should’ve noticed the huge party with a staff discount!

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          This is really a hole in the company policy. I’ve used that kind of thing before- and we now can get the same benefit through my husband’s job in a different part of the country. In both cases, the employee didn’t have to be with the guests in the park, but he was the only one who could obtain the passes. If the OP’s company had that policy, the OP would have handed the 5 passes to her sister and that would have been the end of it.

          If the OP ever gets her discount privileges back, I suggest she handle it that way in the future- and never, ever, give it to her sister again.

          1. Noah*

            That’s how buddy passes work in the airline world too. I have to book them and then pass along the itinerary info to the friend/family member.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Yeah, it sounds like the company and the park need to tighten up how this works. My husband can get discount passes to an amusement park through his work, but not by just showing up at the park. He has to request them through the front office, and they’re only for immediate family. He could pass them off to someone else, but in our case, there’d only be four of them. We could convert them to a full-season pass during the visit dates on the passes, but still only for the number of passes we have, not for twenty extra people. The day passes come with free meal vouchers, too.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            It sounds like it’s a generous policy, like unlimited vacation, that you trust employees not to abuse. In which case we’re always saying that you shouldn’t spread punishment evenly, but deal with the one person abusing a generous policy.

            1. Brogrammer*

              The issue with unlimited vacation, though, is that it isn’t unlimited. Employees will often end up overcompensating (because they don’t want to end up in a situation analogous to OP1’s) and taking less vacation than they would if they had a generous but clear policy.

              It’s not a perfect comparison because you can’t share your vacation time with non-employees the way you can a discount code, but it’s a point in favor of clear limits not necessarily being a bad thing.

              1. tigerStripes*

                The main reason I don’t want unlimited vacation is that I’m afraid I’d take less vacation than I do now. Vacation is important to me.

            2. sstabeler*

              Not if done correctly- all it really needs to be is that employees buy the discounted tickets from the front office instead of adding a discount code to the normal ticket purchase process. To the employees, it would not really work any differently.

        3. BananaPants*

          We know a number of people who work for a large entertainment company that also has very popular/famous resort amusement parks. Employees get passes for themselves and their immediate family for the parks (non-transferable), and every year 4 transferable one day passes (I believe it’s 4).

          They get discounts in the resort hotels and restaurants but the employee MUST be present and show their employee ID at check-in/time of purchase. This sort of policy still gives the perks to employees but prevents the type of abuse that OP1’s sister unfortunately decided was OK.

          1. Oryx*

            Obviously there are probably two big companies that fit your description and a couple of years ago went to one with a family friend who worked there. She was allowed more than 4 people and it was non-family, but absolutely had to be with us for all purchases in order to use her employee discount at the shops.

            1. Sweaty Cheese*

              I actually work for this company, and hourly employees get the passes for immediate household family along with the winter and summer tickets. Salaried employees get theoretically ‘unlimited’ passes, but I have heard that if they think you’re are taking advantage they will speak to you about it.

          2. JS*

            Definitely the mouse lol. Yeah, I mentioned it above but even to use the discounts in the park on shops/food they have to show an employee badge and have any credit card they use with it match.

      3. EleanoraUK*

        I think cutting the sister out of her life to get in her manager’s good books might be a bit much, especially if we’ve not established whether it was naivete or malice on the sister’s part, but the rest of your script is awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I’d have a protracted grump towards my sister for a good long while, and make it crystal clear how much she’d jeopardised my job and my standing at said job, but cutting all contact seems a bit extreme.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          The sister naively only posted pictures of the 5 of them, not the other 20?

          1. FiveWheels*

            Yeah, it’s not to get in the boss’ good books – it’s because the sister cynically violated her trust, for financial gain, in a way that will potentially cause serious repercussions.

          2. Loose Seal*

            I actually understand how this might have happened. Once inside the park, the larger husband’s family probably decided to split up into smaller family units for the day. So the only people in the pictures would be sister’s immediate family. This is what my large extended family would do if we decided to go to a park or a cruise together.

            So the pictures might not have been part of an evil scheme to keep the deception under wraps.

            1. Jessesgirl72*

              Then how did they also get all the store and food discounts?

              My family also splits up- and rejoins for the meal. And for at least one group shot.

              1. Chatterby*

                My bet is that the LW gave her sister her employee number in order to make her purchase, and then the sister told it to everyone else.
                It would explain how so many people managed to get discounts. If someone had walked up and requested 20+ employee family passes at a single time without prior approval, it’s very likely the request would have been denied out right, or escalated up to a manager who would have denied it.
                But if each family unit had her number, they could have made the purchases in small batches of 3-6 for the family members present, and it would seem like the person saying the number was the employee. That wouldn’t have raised any flags until the end of the day, especially if everyone ended up at different ticket windows.
                Once inside, food and souvenir shops typically require an employee badge/id, or at least the number for a discount, and again, each family could have presented her number as they made their purchases all over the park.
                If this was done out of naivete, then the sister must be thoughtless, and her in-laws a smidge dishonest for never wondering and asking “Is it really ok for us to do this?”

                1. Jessesgirl72*

                  That also explains why her privilege has been revoked- because now those 25 people have it to use!

            2. Cath in Canada*

              In my extended family, we never split up by family group though – my fave cousin and I spend all day on roller coasters together, adults who like other sorts of rides and attractions form another group, the people with kids go to all the kiddy rides together, etc.

          3. EleanoraUK*

            The sister may not have realised that the extended use of the discount code would get her sister in such significant trouble. And as per the other posters, people in a park tend to split up into smaller groups, so the photos aren’t necessarily a plot devised to keep things secret.

            Regardless, even if she knowingly went to town on the discount code, advocating people stop speaking to family members is extreme, and I wouldn’t want the OP to take away that her only way to fix this with work was to stop speaking to her sister. That is a private decision that isn’t relevant for her manager. There are ways to emphasise how unhappy you are with your sister that don’t include not speaking to them anymore.

            1. AD*

              I don’t see anyone advocating for disowning the sister, so your comments feel like they’re muddying the waters rather than clarifying the advice to OP.

              However, it *absolutely* needs to be mentioned that what the OP’s sister did was not acceptable and has resulted in potential work-place fallout. And it’s absolutely fine for the OP to have this tough conversation with her sibling, as she should.

              1. Beezus*

                Annonymouse’s advice included letting the manager know “you are mortified and outraged that she did that and you are no longer in contact with her”. I missed it the first time too.

                I wouldn’t disown anybody over this unless it were the last straw in a pattern of problematic behavior. My trust would be shaken pretty hard, though.

                1. EleanoraUK*

                  Yup, that’s the bit I was responding to. It must have got confusing with the nested comments. I thought it took what was otherwise a solid gold response a little far, hence the comment. I hope your waters are unmuddied.

                2. nonegiven*

                  I would say, you are mortified and outraged that she did that and you have spoken with her.

                  I would speak with her, tell her the discount no longer exists and that you had disciplinary action taken and your job was in jeopardy. Tell her what she did was not ok with you or your employer. Then I would tell her I forgave her because she was my sister and I love her.

              2. TootsNYC*

                One person did–
                Annonymouse above wrote this:

                “She acted wrong, you are mortified and outraged that she did that and you are no longer in contact with her. This is a VERY BIG DEAL and you get it. You don’t condone this.”

                I would not say something like that to my boss. It’s more family drama than he needs to hear. And I honestly think most bosses would react badly to hearing that you’d completely cut your actual sister out of your life for this, rather than just making it clear how badly she’d messed up.

                1. Annonymouse*

                  Might I just clarify?

                  The sister abused OPs trust in such a way that has caused her real problems.

                  Also from reading the letter the sister and her family were actually staying WITH OP at the time they used the discount. All the Facebook photos only had them so it’s clear that the sister covered this up from OP.

                  Sister put a value on her husbands family over her own.

                  Those actions would break the trust between my sister and me and I would not wish to be in contact with her for a long time.

                  Also from what OP initially said to their manager “Oh, I guess some extra people were added to the trip.”

                  Sounds nonchalant and like she was in on it.

                  OP for themselves needs to take a stand and seperate themselves from their sibling in both their real life and work life.

                  It might be unfair but given OPs reaction if I was her manager I’d be questioning their integrity because they’re currently not showing its a big deal and haven’t said there is something wrong with how their family acted. Which makes me think everyone in OPs family thinks this way.

                  But can you honestly say you’d be happy to give the sister a birthday or Christmas present this year given what they’ve done?

              3. Annonymouse*

                Considering how badly sister abused the trust and the level of hiding they did shows she knew she was doing wrong.

                Someone has said they’d forgive their sister because they love them.

                But it goes both ways. If your sister really loved you she wouldn’t have li

                1. tigerStripes*

                  I don’t think the LW should tell the boss that she’ll cut her sister out of her life, even if she’s going to. Too much information. I do think the LW should be careful and avoid trusting the sister with certain things.

                2. Annonymouse*

                  Yes but the way OP initially reacted “oh, I guess some extra people came along.”

                  Makes it sound like they’re ok with what happened. I’d actually be questioning OPs judgement and how they were raised because:

                  1) discount abused by family
                  2) OP didn’t seem to think it’s s a big deal at all or seem shocked when it was revealed.

            2. anon for this*

              As someone who has had to make the decision to stop speaking with my sibling, I agree with this comment.

      4. Ms_Morlowe*

        Excellent point about explaining a little to other family members–I would add especially others you think might try something similar in the future!

    4. Discordia Angel Jones*

      Yeah I was also shocked at this.

      My mind went straight to where my in-laws live and the famous park they live next to, and my husband and I have used a staff discount to get a day pass there before from a family member of his. My husband has a huge family and its normal in his culture to have such a large family, but I still can’t see him inviting all of the cousins and aunties to the tune of 20 extra people and trying to hide it!

      OP you really need to talk to your sister and stress the consequences her actions have had for you. And also that you don’t understand why she tried to hide it after she did what she did – because she has tried to hide it.

      Also, OP, please do what Alison suggests and speak to your boss again about it. This really isn’t your fault and you need to stress you didn’t know how your sister would invite more than the 5 people you knew about. It might not get the discount back but it will help the relationship.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Honestly, I would probably say that you’re not trying to get the discount back, you just want to close the loop so your boss knows what happened and knows you didn’t intend it and wouldn’t condone it.

        You probably can’t get the discount back, and if you’re perceived as trying to, the rest of what you say may not hit home as well. And you need it to, because what you more likely can get back is a good part of your lost reputation with your boss.

        1. tigerStripes*

          I agree. You might get the discount back in a year or two, but don’t expect it now, and tell the boss you don’t expect it back.

    5. Collarbone High*

      I’m wondering if the situation snowballed out of the sister’s control, possibly with a side of “wanting to impress the in-laws.” Especially if the way to get the discount was to orally give an employee number or code, it’s possible various family members overheard it and started using it in gift shops without her knowledge.

      I used to have access to Desirable Thing through work, and somewhat like here, there was no official cap on the number of guests we could bring, but showing up with 20 people wasn’t cool. I had a couple of problems in the beginning with friends inviting other people without telling me, then meeting me at the door with an entourage of people they’d promised entry to, and it was awkward to have to tell these strangers who were really excited about Desirable Thing that sorry, they couldn’t go.

      I could see a situation where a bunch of cousins-in-law showed up with excited kids and pressured the sister — “we TOLD them Aunt Sister could get us into Park and they’ve been looking forward to it all week and we can’t afford it without the discount. If there’s not a rule, then what’s the problem?”

      1. Ms_Morlowe*

        You described the correct thing to do in such a situation–if that happened, it would have been awful for the sister, and a painfully awkward situation, but she did have a responsibility to say that Sibling had given the code only for her use, and that if more than (number of people in her immediate family) wanted to use it, she would have to ask for Sibling’s permission first.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, I can easily see a case where someone attached to sister (spouse, or in-law) said “It’ll be fine! No one checks this stuff!” and she didn’t want to Make A Scene. But part of being a grown-up is that you have to sometimes set a boundary in the face of The Dreaded Social Awkwardness.

      2. Ruby Smith*

        Yes, my husband and I once spent a couple of days in a really fantastic hotel with a rooftop infinity pool. When I found out that we could each sign in a guest I invited friends who happened to be in the same resort to join us for an afternoon. But then they invited their in-laws including a child. I could have said no, I suppose, but I didn’t want to have to turn away the child who was by now looking forward to it. I ended up running around begging the hotel management to allow me to sign in extra people. Our friends thanked us but it was stressful for me and I felt they had somewhat spoiled what was meant to be a fun, relaxing couple of hours. My Mum would have said No good deed goes unpunished!

        1. Noobtastic*

          I wonder if saying, “You’re my guests. I’m paying for you. They are YOUR guests. You are paying for them,” would work, here.

    6. Braxton*

      OP1’s sister was way out of line. I have a more cynical view. I think the sister knew that she wasn’t supposed to use the discount for 25 people. How else do you explain the extended party not being in any of the photos.

      My brother gets an employee discount where he works and I would NEVER abuse it. Doing so could result in disciplinary action or worse, he could be fired. There’s no way I would put my brother (or anyone, for that matter) in that position.

      I agree with Alison. You should tell your boss what happened. You gave your sister permission to use your staff discount for her and her immediate family and not the extended party. You weren’t aware that they were going to misuse your discount and you have “had words” with your sister about it since.

      You also need to talk to your sister and let her know she has gotten you in to trouble at work. If you do get your discount back at some point you are going to have to be VERY careful how it is used going forwards. I would advise not allowing anyone to use it without you being present, as a second misuse of your employee discount on your record could have more serious repercussions for you. It could also make it difficult for you to seek employment elsewhere.

    7. Stranger than fiction*

      Right, I’d have the sister pay my family’s discount next time Inwent if I were Op since its her fault. If she’s a good sister she’d do that to make up for it.

      1. Noobtastic*

        The sister owes OP1 $2000. She needs to know it. What she did was theft, in OP’s name. OP is lucky to still be employed, and sister NEEDS to KNOW that.

        I think OP should talk to her boss, and explain that she did not know what was happening, and has since tracked down the culprit. She is takings steps to ensure that should the discount EVER be re-instated (and it’s possible that it never will!), it will never again be abused. And she’s working to get the sister to pay the company the $2000 back, since the discount was used under false pretenses.

        If the boss continues to think badly of OP regarding this, OP may just have to suck it up and pay the $2000 back, herself, in order to regain her lost reputation. And yes, the sister needs to face consequences. “Sis, you just cost me $2000 with your shenanigan, so consider this your birthday and Christmas presents for the next 20 to 30 years. And your kids’ graduation gifts. And wedding gifts. And baby showers. Just never expect a gift from me again, because I’m now in hock, trying to pay an unexpected $2000 bill, in order to KEEP MY JOB.

        True, OP has not been fired, but she’s on such shaky ground now, because of this, that the danger is still very real. If her boss thinks as badly of OP as we think of OP’s sister, her next minor offense could become “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” so, yeah, I do think her job is still very much in danger, and sister needs to know it, and own it, and make recompense or else accept that OP will not be able to spend any money on sis or her family again.

        In my family, gifts are typically in the $20 – $30 range, although less is also a frequent occurrence, because we are not rich. $2000 WOULD be all the gifts for that family for the next two decades or more.

        I am very angry on OP’s behalf and need to go away now and do something happy. Good luck, OP, and I hope you send an update with good news.

  9. MamaSarah*

    Letter Writer #3 –
    I also do not love my job as it doesn’t truly line up with the career path I’d like to pursue, there is an extensive amount of travel, and it’s exhausting st times. I am not a lifer with this employer and look forward to, well, moving forward in a year or so. In the meantime, I’ve focused on other goals (perfecting the half-marathon!), started a new dance class, joined a writer’s group. I think, unless you hate yourself at the end of the day, it’s wort it to push on through. A year and change is not so bad.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Yes this! My therapist says you can manage so much better when you have hobbies you look forward to.

    2. tw*

      or networking/volunteering and figuring out what you really want your next move to be so you won’t want to leave again

  10. Sarah G*

    OP #4 – I like the idea of bringing it home, which will at least help with mornings. Even if you aren’t typically allowed to do this, perhaps you can get special permission. Or, since you don’t currently have a manager, maybe you could just tell whomever you’re reporting to, “Hey, Jane, I’m going to start bringing my laptop home at night so that that I don’t have to delay starting work in the morning due to it being occupied other staff members.”

    Also. I know this is not an immediate solution, but WHOA does this situation sound weirdly inconvenient, inefficient, and frustrating for all the staff if they are “clamoring” for computers! I’m sure people have spoken up to some extent, but is there any way for several senior staff to approach leadership together and explain there are too few computers, and people are getting less work done because of this? Personally, I cannot imagine doing most work on a tablet, and I don’t see how an employer could justify this approach rather than just purchasing a few more computers.

    1. Ashie*

      Yeah, it sounds to me like there just aren’t enough computers for people to do their jobs.

  11. Michael*

    #5 – I hope this doesn’t come across as dismissive, but I’ve seen a similar questions in various places and I’ve never gotten what the issue is. I mean, it just doesn’t seem like even vaguely a big deal! Maybe this has to do with the type of workplaces I’ve been at, or maybe it’s an geographic/generational/cultural thing, but saying ‘hey, you have a tag sticking out’ or even ‘hey, your shirt turned see-through when it got wet’ hasn’t ever seemed like anything but a totally basic low-key human interaction.

    1. Uyulala*

      I wondered if OP meant telling them by tucking it in. If so, don’t do that.

      I don’t know how guys together handle it, but among women it’s not uncommon to tell a friend her tag is showing while simultaneously tucking it in.

      1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        I still remember when a colleague came up behind me all ninja-like and tucked in my tag without warning. I was fairly stressed at the time and have boundary issues anyway, so I jumped and let out a shriek. She never did it again. (And seriously, it’s a tag. Who cares if it’s showing?)

        1. Blurgle*

          I would care. I would be angry if I went all day long with a $;)[^# *tag* hanging out and nobody mentioned it.

          1. nonegiven*

            Yeah, but, mention it. Just don’t touch me, unless I ask because I can’t reach it or something.

        2. BritCred*

          Yeah, as a rule everyone should announce themselves before doing this. Any unexpected touch like that – when the person is unaware you are there especially, because you came up from behind – can result in a shock reaction. 2 guys have nearly flown across a room before thanks to doing this to me. And no, it’s not just a reaction I can and should control, get away from the back of my neck!

          Same goes for the “health and safety” guy who swept past my desk as I was sorting paper work and squeezed my foot to check if my shoes were steel toe caps. Ask first thanks, unless you like broken body parts because you triggered a reflex reaction.

          1. blackcat*

            Yeah, the only time I did not announce such a maneuver was at my friend’s wedding. She was talking to her husband’s cousins, and her bra was poking out in the back of her dress. Rather than interrupt her conversation with an announcement, I came up from her side, put my arm around her, and adjusted her dress for her while offering to refill her drink.

            As I was walking away, the photographer quietly said, “I’m glad you did that, because I was about to!” I said back, “Oh, man, I thought I was being so smooth no one would notice!”
            She responded, “No, that was pro-level smooth. I think I’m the only one who saw! Good work.” *high-five*

            But I can think of no other occasion where I wouldn’t say what I was doing first–in this case, it was a close friend (I helped put that dress on her, so I felt responsible!), she had paid $$ for pro photos, and she was talking to new relatives around whom she probably didn’t want to discuss her bra.

            And the only people who have done stuff like that to me unannounced are my mom, grandmother, aunts and (female) cousins.

            1. the gold digger*

              I was at a play where not just the tag but the entire back facing was flipped out on the actress’ dress. I kept thinking it was going to be a plot point because how could anyone miss that?

              It was not. And nobody fixed it. I was in the very front row and wanted to walk onstage and tuck it back in. It was so distracting.

              (I kept thinking, This is like the gun hanging on the wall in Act 1. You don’t show it if you’re not going to use it.)

            2. Whats In A Name*

              A friend of mine was Cleopatra for Halloween one year and her boob popped out of the bottom of her very cut out, not bra friendly dress while she was sorta-dancing and sorta yelling conversation to some random guy on the dance floor. It was dark with a strobe-type light and the light just happened to hit where I could see it..I shimmied over and slid her boob right back into place with a quick side hug before I sauntered off. She didn’t flinch and the guy never even noticed. We were soooo smooth like that.

              1. Stranger than fiction*

                I’m pretty sure the guy noticed.
                Reminds me of a time in Vegas I saw a woman dancing in a very short dress with nothing underneath…and her dress had shimmied up so that her entire crotch was showing. Everyone saw and nobody said anything to her. In retrospect I should have helped a sister out.

            3. Mischa*

              Sometime last fall, I was wearing a favorite black dress to work. The seam at the bottom of my zipper must’ve popped when I was getting ready. My coworker noticed and then *stuck her finger in the hole* and said, “oop! Looks like your seam has popped!”. That popped seam was basically on my tailbone/upper behind area. She’s lucky I didn’t slug her.

          2. caryatis*

            Don’t just announce you’re going to touch someone; ask permission. A tag sticking out is not the sort of emergency that justifies nonconsensual touch.

            1. blackcat*

              Among close friends/family? Who’ve done this before? In that circumstance, a “Hey, I’m gonna fix your tag” does leave open the option for someone to say no.

              I’m someone who is super sensitive to touch from strangers, and I am okay with certain people doing this. (A basic criteria: have you seen me naked? If so, it is okay). This is a Know Your Audience Thing.

              Except at work. At work, it is 100% a no.

              1. caryatis*

                >In that circumstance, a “Hey, I’m gonna fix your tag” does leave open the option for someone to say no.

                Yeah, but you have to react pretty quickly to say no fast enough to stop the person. I guess I just never see the need for someone to tuck in tags for me. Why would I not just do it myself? But maybe the people who are okay with it are very inflexible and incapable of reaching their own necks?

        3. Bolt*

          I had a male boss ninja over to remove a thread from my forearm… when I felt a finger touching my arm I kicked my chair to roll away, he followed to grab it, I pushed jn a different direction… I can only imagine what people thought was happening!

            1. Hedgehog*

              If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I …roll away in my office chair.

        4. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yeah, I’d prefer to not have a tag sticking up, but I don’t personally find it embarrassing if I do.

      2. persimmon*

        Ugh I would find that off-putting from a man or woman at work, hopefully it’s not what OP meant. Invasive and weirdly infantilizing.

      3. Al Lo*

        I’m totally okay with anyone whom I would hug tucking a tag for me. That’s basically my rule of thumb. Have we hugged recently? (Caveat: I work in theatre, which is a pretty huggy industry, I find.) Go ahead and tuck my tag in. Even at work. I’m cool with that.

        And the next step beyond that: Are we about to go onstage? I don’t care who you are; if you’re in proximity, fix any wardrobe malfunction you see before I get out under the spots and my wardrobe looks sloppy, and I’ll do the same for you.

        1. Jesmlet*

          This is where I am… if I’ve had physical contact with someone beyond shaking their hand, I would have no problem with them tucking a tag in.

        2. peachie*

          Ha, I’m exactly the same–and I’m also in the theater. I would never do this in my office workplace (though I might say “your tag is out, would you like me to fix it?”) but backstage, I would just fix it (usually saying “I’m fixing your tag” because I’m not trying to scare people).

        3. Marillenbaum*

          That is such an important point: I used to stage manage, and you don’t let your actors go out looking a mess (unless they’re supposed to be a mess!)

      4. FiveWheels*

        I’m a woman, and if a female friend adjusted my clothing without asking I would NOT be best pleased, to put it mildly – just as if a male friend did it.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I would be the complete opposite of pleased if someone did this to me. Ick.

          1. FiveWheels*

            Thinking about it I might be more annoyed at a female friend. There would be overtones of sisterhood-all-in-this-together, which I can’t stand.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Wait, that’s the only reason any of your female friends would fix a tag for you? Mine would do it because they’d know I, like many people, would prefer not to have a tag sticking up. I don’t mind if my female friends briefly touch my clothes to fix the tag, and my friends wouldn’t be fixing my tag in the name of “sisterhood.”

              1. FiveWheels*

                I’d rather have a tag stick up than have someone adjust my clothes.

                The go to is always “you have a tag sticking up.”

                I was responding to the suggestion that it was somehow worse or not invasive for a man than a woman to fix a tag without asking. Either is weird and invasive, but anything that implies I have an automatic bond or team with other women “just because” personally gets to me.

                1. Rat in the Sugar*

                  Sorry, I didn’t mean to answer for you, I should have refreshed the page!

                2. JB (not in Houston)*

                  Ah, ok, I see what you’re saying. I agree I don’t want random people fixing my tag for me without permission, male or female. However, for me, it’s less offensive to me if a woman does it, and not because we have any kind of sisterhood bond. It’s because there isn’t a long, long pervasive history of women forcing unwanted touching on women to the same degree as men. So touching me without permission from a woman is unwelcome, but not nearly so much as from a man. Touching from a female friend, however–an actual friend–is not something that’s going to bother me much, even if I don’t love it. But maybe it’s because none of my friends would assume I wouldn’t care just because we’re women–they know me well enough to know I don’t care.

                3. nonegiven*

                  Yeah, do you do up a guy’s zipper for him? Or do you tell him discretely that it’s open?

              2. Rat in the Sugar*

                I don’t think FiveWheels means that her friends would fix the tag in the name of sisterhood; I think she meant that her friends would think it was okay to touch her without prior permission because of a sense of sisterhood. I have had similar experiences–women who have acted like I should be okay with touching each other/seeing each other naked/etc. without actually asking me if I was, because they assumed it wasn’t an issue between women.

                1. FiveWheels*

                  Yep. For the most part I feel more kinship with men than women. I consider myself a feminist but I’ve never experienced a lot of things that most feminist discourse presents as universal. Things like being scared to walk alone at night, worried a date will rape me, extra emotional or domestic labour.

                  Any time a guy has tried to feel me up when I didn’t want him to, it’s not gone well for him and I didn’t feel in any way threatened. That’s probably why I don’t automatically see women as safer or more likely to be allies.

                  I’ve played in mixed sex sports teams, women only, and officially mixed where I was the only woman. I never felt uncomfortable changing around men, but it seemed normal for women to stare, comment on each other’s bodies, and generally let it all hang out in ways that I’ve never seen men do.

                  Anyway the end result of that is that any time a woman acts in a way that suggests our gender means we have a connection, I want to back away, fast.

      5. Michele*

        Please tell me if I have a tag sticking out, but do not touch me. I have had people do that, and I do not like being touched by strangers. I am not your child, and it is not up to you to groom me.

    2. It's-a-me*

      Some people don’t want to “embarrass” the other person, in my experience. They somehow think that never telling the person and letting them walk around like that for hours will be less embarrassing for that person than just telling them and letting them fix it straight away (Maybe they think the person would prefer plausible deniability? “Maybe it only just happened and no one noticed.”)
      If I notice, I tell people. I don’t shout it across the room, but I do say something.

      1. Artemesia*

        On my way to interview for the job that I later held for 35 years, I was wearing a new outfit and on the plane the guy behind me, told me I had a tag (it was actually a price tag hanging off my neck in back, Minnie Pearl style). I will forever be grateful to this total stranger for not letting me walk around like that and go into a job interview like that. A man cannot touch a woman to tuck in a tag and a woman who is not a close friend probably shouldn’t either — but always tell someone about a wardrobe issue they can correct rather than let them walk around like that.

        1. Michele*

          That was definitely nice of him. I had someone interview once with the tags still on the suit, and I just assumed that he was going to return it after the interview. It gave a dishonest vibe.

          1. Kate*

            Really? Maybe he just didn’t notice. I am very absentminded about things like that. Collars flipped, messy lenses on my glasses, even, yes tags still on. I try to do a mirror check before I leave the house, but even then I still miss some things, and if I am in a hurry, I just don’t get to it.

            1. Michele*

              Yep. All of the tags were on, and he pushed one of them back up his sleeve at least once. Pretty sure he was planning on returning the suit.

      2. FiveWheels*

        As a repressed Brit I generally operate like this.

        Something embarrassing has happened? NEVER ACKNOWLEDGE IT EVER.

        1. Jessie the First (or second)*

          Ha! As a Yankee on the other side of that pond, I feel the same way. :-)

    3. Carpe Librarium*

      I think it’s like telling someone their fly is open, there can be angst for some speculating about whether the response they get might be, “what’re you looking at my crotch for?”

      1. The Wall of Creativity*

        Too embarrassed to tell someone they’re flying low. Probably best to discretely zip them up. Less drama.

      2. bluesboy*

        Certainly for me it’s like that, as a man, if a woman has a wardrobe issue.

        I still remember well a meeting years ago with a client who had two buttons on her shirt pop open leaving visible much more than she would have liked. Is it more embarrassing for her to know, but at least fix it? Or should I keep my mouth shut, and when she finds out later at least she can hope it happened after the meeting finished.

        The problem seems to be that different people feel differently so there isn’t one correct answer.

        In the case mentioned above, I got lucky – she put a jumper on after 10 minutes so she was covered up without my having to say anything!

        1. Julia*

          That happened to me while I was out shopping with my husband! He says he didn’t notice and let me walk around with my bright red bra showing. Argh!

          1. the gold digger*

            My husband and I were at a play. The woman behind me asked me, “Did you know your dress is not zipped all the way up?”

            No I did not. I had forgotten to ask Primo to zip it at home.

            I asked Primo to zip it up. He said, “Yeah, I saw that before.”

            I asked, “Then why didn’t you say something?”

            He answered, “Because I thought you wanted it like that!”


      3. FiveWheels*

        I had the crotch dilemma with a male friend who had, not long before, declined a date with me. I tried to work out if crotch staring was appropriate, but in an anxiety induced panic left it so long that I moved from crotch-staring to staring-at-and-contemplating-crotch-for-several-minutes-like-a-sex-offender.

        I chickened out and said nothing … I hope I’d have the decency to speak up again, though!

    4. Loose Seal*

      Back in my day, when women and girls wore slips with dresses and skirts (a trend I was glad to see end, personally), we used to have a saying to let another woman know her slip was peeking out under her hemline. So if someone told you, “It’s snowing down south,” you’d head to the restroom to pin up your slip.

      (And now I’m officially an old fogey.)

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        90% of the time I’m glad we’ve left slips behind… the other 10% I’m wearing something that could use a bit of smoothing underneath and I’m bloody frustrated it’s impossible to find slips in my size anymore.

        Sooner or later I’m going to break down and make my own, but I hate working with silky fabrics.

      2. Cruciatus*

        When you noticed a zipper that was down when I was in middle and high school you just said “XYZ!” (eXamine Your Zipper). Sometimes you said it just to make them look… But apparently this is something I used to notice a lot and I don’t think I do anymore for whatever reason.

    5. paul*

      My boss pointed out to me a few weeks ago that my shoes weren’t matching right before lunch…sometimes clothing gets weird.

    6. Sunshine*

      I’m having flashbacks to 2nd grade when I came out of the bathroom with my skirt tucked into the back of my tights. Next stop was the water fountain with the entire class lined up in the hallway behind me. Ugh.

      1. Chinook*

        I did that last summer, only I walked through downtown Calgary during rush hour and it wasn’t until I got to the bus stop that a friend told me my skirt was tucked up behind me.

        It explained the looks I was getting from drivers, at least.

    7. Ms_Morlowe*

      It’s possible that men might feel uncomfortable telling women about such an issue for fear that it could be seen as sexual harassment: overthinking it so that they think “Hey, you’ve a tag showing,” would come across instead like “While I, a neanderthal MALE, was STARING AT YOUR ATTRACTIVE PARTS, I noticed that I CAN SEE YOUR UNDERWEAR.”

    8. Fictional Butt*

      The only thing I could think of is, maybe OP was reaching over to tuck in the tag as he was saying that it was sticking out. That would really upset me. Tell me it’s sticking out and let me fix it myself–don’t even THINK about touching me.

  12. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    Wow, #1 o_o . I’m so sorry your sister did that to you!

    I guess this is why the Mouse parks have a rule now (at least here in France) that not only must the employee be present when using the discount, but the employee must be the one paying for the items as well. And it seems to be enforced quite strickly, but given your story, OP, it makes even more sense than it did before.

    Best wishes to you. I hope you can talk to your boss about it. As others said, just go back to him and tell him the particulars of the situation you mention in your letter. Do it accepting he might not change his mind, just as a “FYI” maybe. It’s possible that, with a new explanation, he might change his mind. Should you do that, though, think of adding something like “I understand this might not change your mind about the situation and I completely accept that. I just wanted to let you know that if you change your mind, you can be sure this will never happen again. I understand this is a privilege and I really appreciate it.” (or something to that extent that others here may formulate better than I do) .

    Good luck, OP!

    1. The RO-Cat*

      I think you’re right, OP1 should talk to the boss and present her stance on the issue. If only for clearing the boss’s perception of her; she might or might not get her discount back, but that’s secondary IMO. The priority should be re-establishing her as an employee with good judgement who just got duped. As I see it, it’s more important in the long run.

      OT, glad to see you back!

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I don’t get why they don’t have some kind of limit on how much can be used without the employee present (or indeed with).

      If they don’t want people spending too much with the discount, why not put a cap on?

      How was it possible to buy 25 passes but for that also to be a problem – was there a human who should have objected or an online code that should be made not to work in that scenario?

      1. some mammal*

        “How was it possible to buy 25 passes but for that also to be a problem”
        That’s what I was wondering too.

      2. MK*

        So, it’s the company’s fault for trusting their employees to use the discount as the perk it is universally accepted as? I don’t agree that, since the company hasn’t put a cap on the discount, they don’t get to complain if someone uses it excessively.

        1. Zombii*

          I dunno, seems like a valid question. The park could have a huge loss if someone’s discount information was stolen and posted online or something (I don’t know if it’s a code or employee number or what—it clearly doesn’t involve the employee naming the people who they want to be able to use it).

          If the company cares about losing $2k in discounts, they’ll review their policy and process and do something to prevent it from happening again in future. If there’s no stated cap and the best process they have to avoid excessive usage is stripping employees of their discount privileges after the fact, that’s a rather shit policy.

        2. Alton*

          I think it would be fairer for everyone to have a clearer policy, though. I’m generally in favor of relaxed policies, but what people consider excessive use of a discount can vary a lot. What happened to the OP was extreme, but it’s hard to define exactly where the limit is.

        3. paul*

          Given how hard this comment board leans towards the “treat employees like adults and deal with offenders individually” I’m kind of surprised myself.

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            If I were designing the system, I’d put the cap at a bit above what “reasonable use” would be — say, 10 passes? That way it would flag for clear abuse or hacking-type situations, but there would still be plenty of flexibility.

            1. BeautifulVoid*

              Sounds good to me. And if, say, a stellar employee wanted to celebrate her birthday there with 12 of her closest friends, she could talk to management and there could be a way to override it in this hypothetical system.

        4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          I think it’s less about fault and more about surprise that the discount was set up to be open-ended like that. Many of us who have experience with employee discounts have had limits placed on them that would avoid this kind of result. Being surprised at the lack of forethought is not the same as “well, then I guess it’s on them.”

        5. Jaybeetee*

          I do like the idea of clarifying the policy, not to baby employees but because people really can have different ideas between acceptable and unacceptable uses of a discount (don’t get me wrong, this case is more extreme, but I think it’s a good question where the line is?) Another option is to make it so that the employee has to be on-site for use of the discount. Years ago I worked for a museum that allowed me discounted or free access to a number of tourist attractions across the province, often with a guest (just one)…and I had to actually *be there*.

          1. Noobtastic*

            Personally, I favor the “unlimited number at a time, but the employee has to be there for all the purchases, and pay for those purchases himself,” policy.

            Sure, the employee might pay for a family reunion or big party or youth activity, or some such, but these would not be common events. If it becomes a common event for a particular employee, you could have a talk with that employee about abusing the privilege with numbers showing just how much these huge parties are costing the company.

            But then again, the employee might come back with, “Even with the discount, the company is still making a profit here. Just a smaller profit than before.”

            To which the boss would say, “Yes, and without that discount, we’d make more profit. So, it’s still a perk and a privilege, and you’re abusing it. Stop that. Until future notice you are limited to X number of guests at a time.”

            “But nobody else has limits! If you wanted limits, you should have just given a limit, in the first place!”

            “Nobody else is abusing the policy. Take the X number of guests, or take a complete cut-off of the discount. Your choice. Mark your choice on this memo here, and sign it. Meeting over!”

            Gosh, that feels satisfying, going over that in my head. Aaaah, I feel better now. Sometimes, it’s good to be the hypothetical boss.

            Boss. It’s a good word. Boss, boss, boss. I like it. I like it, LIKE A BOSS!

      3. Antilles*

        I’m actually kind of surprised there isn’t a cap already. Maybe I just know a bunch of stingy places, but everywhere I’ve ever worked/had family work/etc has put clear and specific limits on employee discounts – retailers only allow buying $X of employee discount merchandise per month or only provide a maximum of 4 free/discounted tickets or so on.
        Remember, most companies have specifically picked their prices because that’s what it *actually takes* to covers all expenses (labor, overhead, etc) and still make a decent profit.

    3. Anononon*

      For the theme park I worked at, we got unlimited (or a much higher amount/can’t remember) discount tickets and a set number of free tickets, but the employee had to pick up/buy each one. We could also only get a discount in the park if we were there.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        That is the policy I’m most familiar with- no limit to the amount of discounted tickets, but the employee is the only one who can obtain them.

        The discount in park/stores has varied more – My uncle could just give us his badge number.

      2. BlueWolf*

        Same here. I was only a seasonal employee at a park, though. The OP works for the parent company, and not at an actual park, so I guess it makes sense that the process works a bit different for corporate employees.

      3. LKW*

        My company has agreements with museums and you get a limited number of free passes and the employee must be present to pick up.

        If someone offered me that as an option, there is no way I’d add on 20 people without checking and confirming that it was acceptable. That is so unbelievably rude and simply not cool.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I’d focus only on changing his mind about ME.

      I wouldn’t mention the idea of him changing his mind about the discount.
      I’d say, “I don’t want you to think that I’m the sort of person who would take such advantage of the company’s generosity to us. My reputation with you is important. I put my trust in my sister, and it was misplaced. I’m sorry.”

      And then by golly, I’d make sure my sister knew, my family knew, everybody knew. Not necessarily angrily, but people need to know that she’s untrustworthy, so they can protect themselves.

      (well, maybe angrily to her, but I wouldn’t want to come across vindictively to my

  13. MassMatt*

    I’m struck by the apparent dysfunction in OP #4’s office. People are scrabbling for computers and hijacking those of the support staff for lack of access? WTH kind of organization is this? Clearly the “custom tablets” are NOT a solution. The company should be able to provide chairs, desks, basic office supplies, and, yes computers as a basic matter of doing business.

    1. MacAilbert*

      Heh. This sounds like the retail store I work at (well, for the rest of the week, anyway). We have a total of 3 new price scanners and 2 old price scanners, and less than half of us know how to use an old one (I do, because they’re necessary for a couple tasks in my department). If it’s a weekend, some people aren’t getting price scanners, even though they kind of need them.

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      I’ve worked and temped in places like this – open plan offices where empty desks are seen as inefficient, so everyone desk sharing. Which is fine, if annoying, for, say, 75% of the time but a real pain in the arse for the rest.

      The first time I was in this scenario, the team whose roles were internal-facing had set desks, because they could only work inside, while the external-facing roles had to share. I was external-facing, but I completely agreed with it.

      When I temped in a set-up like this, I was an assistant to a director, in a big open-plan office, where no one was allowed an official desk, and lots of people were allowed to hot desk in the directors’ suite. But the Directors were not happy when they had to wonder around trying to find their assistants, and it made the Directors’ assistants’ work so much easier if we were clustered together, so we could do the endless complicated cooridinating with each other – so we worked out unofficial ways to claim our desks, and politely asked hot-deskers if they could sit somewhere else if another assistant was in late.

      (It was especially annoying when other staff who spent, say 50% of their time working in the office and 50% elsewhere would suggest that the admin side were sitting in the same places *because* we were cliquey, and wanted us to move around so different people sat next to each other, not because we had a ton of really good reasons to sit in the same places – especially when we needed to be in sight-line of our directors, look out for guests etc etc)

      1. Noobtastic*

        Anytime someone doesn’t know the reason, they often (usually?) assume the reason simply does not exist, or else assign the worst reason (easily defeated) that they can think of.

        Basic human nature, I’m afraid. And yeah, really, super annoying.

    3. Tomato Frog*

      Right?! It’s like Office Space Mad Max. Roving bands of employees, fighting over scarce resources, ready to stake their claim if you so much as leave to go the bathroom (!). Employees must lose a large chunk of their workday just having to be alert for opportunities to poach a computer.

      1. Rookie Manager*

        This has given me flashbacks to a previous role where as the only one in my department present in the office, no other department wanted me. I was given a cupboard in one department- but not allowed to sit on that floor and could hot desk on the other 2 floors apart from there wasn’t enough desks! As I was new, not bringing in money ( not my area) and had no manager to back me up I was always the one kicked out – sometimes when I’d only left to go to the bathroom or lunch.

        After a month of this I told my manager I either needed a desk of my own or I would work from home. They found me adesk

        1. Marillenbaum*

          It’s what happens when you play my favorite game, Office Lacrosse! Invented by myself and my sister when we would get dragged to my mom’s office on weekends so she could catch up on work, it involved players on rolling chairs, propelled by brooms. You would attempt to get the ball (a wadded-up piece of paper) into goals (trash cans) on either end of the office. Points lost if you knocked over stuff on people’s desks, or if you caused enough of a racket that mom came out to check on us.

    4. Gazebo Slayer*

      I omce worked in a place where there weren’t enough computers for everyone and if you hadn’t brought your own laptop you wouldn’t be able to do anything – there was almost no work that *didn’t* require a computer. It was dysfunctional in numerous ways – like a habit of not paying people.

    5. Noobtastic*

      My sister once worked at a company where they did not provide sufficient chairs, and didn’t provide paper clips AT ALL, despite the fact that her work involved paper-clipping papers all day long (it was a long-term temp position, where all she did was collate). There were others working with her, doing the same job, and they had to come early and fight over chairs and scrounge for paper clips.

      By scrounge for paper clips, I mean literally crawling around the office, searching for paper clips that employees had dropped. Fortunately, they had no cleaning service, so there were always a few clips on the (dirty) floors.

      Every day, the temps who made it in merely “on time,” or even “ten minutes early,” were reduced to sitting on the floor to do their job. ALL DAY LONG. Also, they were often reduced to going out and buying their own paperclips at lunch, and then getting yelled at, because supplying their own office supplies was NOT ALLOWED!

      It was a very dysfunctional office, and my sister was so glad when her assignment ended.

  14. bridget*

    There’s some fun irony – someone who thinks “boss” sounds too “authoritarian,” and so imposes a unilateral edict that it is forbidden for all.

    1. LW2*

      Oh no, she was an independent trainer who simply said she didn’t like the word and didn’t think we should use it. She didn’t give any orders about it. I just thought it was ridiculous thing to say.

  15. Wildlife rehabber*

    When I was working a volunteer position, I ran into my boss while at a restaurant with my friends. (For what it’s worth, I was a college senior, my boss was probably in his late 20s, we had a good volunteer-boss relationship). I introduced him to my friends as my boss and he jumped in with “I hate the word boss! I’m more like mentor-figure, trainer, kinda in charge type of person” and I think I responded along the lines of “well boss is shorter and gets the point across better”. He took it well (laughed and continued conversation as normal) but I’ve always been amused by his resistance to being called the boss, when it was the best descriptor I had of his position.

    But I think one person overseeing a volunteer and not wanting to phrase it that way is very different from a whole organization being against it. It would definitely take some mental work to make that adjustment to my work language if it was the whole company at my actual job!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      To me, his phrasing “kinda in charge type of person” says it all — he was uncomfortable with owning the authority of his position and saw it as something to feel awkward about. It’s not! So many problems stem from managers not being willing to just be matter-of-fact about their authority.

      1. New Bee*

        Yesss. Someone I work with who is the head (in fact, the boss) of an entire department always introduces himself by saying, “I work for the X team.” I find it so irritating; I think he thinks he’s being humble, but he’s actually an awful micromanager, and it’s just confusing for outsiders who need to know who the decisionmaker is.

        1. The RO-Cat*

          If it’s … what’s the term, humblebragging? then it’s beyond grating (I had a boss just like yours, only he owned the company, which made it more aggravating). OTOH, I sincerely thought of myself (and warned my subordinates who managed people, and now I tell my manager students) that I was a resource for my team. So yeah, in a sense I *was* working for my team; but in others, I was managing / leading / organizing them.

      2. LBK*

        Yeah – if you’re not even comfortable saying that you have authority, I hesitate to believe you’ll exercise that authority when I need you to, eg dealing with performance problems among my coworkers or being able to make unilateral decisions in order to keep us moving when issues arise.

      3. Tomato Frog*

        This is the plague of my professional life. Disclaiming authority is also disclaiming responsibility — to fix problems, to help your people, to make the workplace better. I had a manager who made twice as much as me tell me we had the same job. Okay, then let’s level out our salaries.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          This is an excellent point. “Don’t look at me; I’m only the kinda in charge type person” is not what your staff wants to hear.

    2. LW2*

      I feel like that’s an issue in the nonprofit sector already. This was just the most overt and ridiculous example I personally have. It also has the potential to maybe confuse some Leaders, because while we are one national organization everyone is working at sites throughout the country, each of which has their own culture.

  16. IT Fixer-Upperer*

    #4 – A lot of people are suggesting to lock or password protect it, but I’m *guessing* this is one joined to a domain that anyone can access with their own username and password, which wouldn’t really fix the issue if they’re logging on as themselves . If it’s a domain client, there’s probably not a straightforward solution to this other than outright saying “Don’t touch my stuff”. There probably is a group policy that may force it to only allow one account to logon, but it’s probably more trouble for the IT department than it’s worth.

    The other thing that could reduce the usage is if you were able to set a BIOS password (a password that gets prompted as soon as the computer’s turned on). The computer won’t boot up at all without it. This obviously doesn’t stop perpetrators who sit down at the computer after you’ve turned it on.

    But you’re the manager. There’s nothing wrong with saying “No” to this. And if they don’t want to use the tablets then I think it’d be time to try and address *that* issue with the powers that be, because it’s clearly not working the way it was intended.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I don’t think OP is the manager for the tablet-equipped coworkers, but rather the office manager….

      1. IT Fixer-Upperer*

        Ah. I misinterpreted that. Still if it’s to the point where they can’t do their job, I’d say it’s time to just say “No” or see if there’s anyway to address the issue of other employees not having access to usable computers.

    2. Ardi*

      IT person here, and I agree with the rest of this comment, but please don’t set a BIOS password on your work computer, at least not without checking with your IT first. If someone asked me if they could do this, I would say no, just ask your colleagues not to use it…

      1. msroboto*

        The computer most likely is setup to allow all members of the domain to login but that can be changed on the computer. Then say only Domain admins and the user can login. No BIOS or other changes required. This could depend on other things in the domain but worth looking into with IT.

    3. SystemsLady*

      Reserving one computer for one set of users is actually pretty easy to set up. I’d be more worried about suddenly getting inundated with requests to do the same thing to “my” computer.

  17. FiveWheels*

    I’m not sure why “coach” is meant to be less authoritarian than “boss”. My coach can order me to do press ups if I make a wisecrack at the wrong moment!

      1. FiveWheels*

        Mine might order it, and to be fair he probably has, but I would not necessarily be obedient ;-)

    1. ceiswyn*

      I would find it actively insulting for my boss to be labelled my ‘coach’.

      I am an expert at what I do. My boss is not. I don’t need to be coached in my area of expertise by someone who doesn’t have the first idea; I need someone who will set my priorities and push back against upper management when they’re asking the impossible (again). You know, a boss.

    2. LW2*

      Honestly it was a bit ridiculous. The whole training was ridiculous but this was the cherry on top. She stuck me as the type of person who thinks a work team should be like a family honestly.

      1. Noobtastic*

        She thinks a work team should include Uncle Slappy who cannot be left unsupervised with children, because he thinks that playing with fire is fun, and juggling sharp objects is a skill that all second graders should have?

        She thinks a work team should include Aunt Irma, who thinks it is her job to “uphold the standard of beauty” and body-shame all the teenagers for a) blossoming too soon (“getting fat”) or b) blossoming too late (“being too thin”) or c) blossoming just plain WRONG (top or bottom heavy, or too tall/short, or sprouting too much hair in the wrong places, or in the right places, but too patchy, or, or, or…)?

        She thinks a work team should include “that cousin” who HAS to be invited because the aunt everyone just adores cannot attend without him?

        Naaaaaw. Give me a good boss and competent co-workers I can leave at the end of the day.

    3. Poohbear McGriddles*

      IMO, one is not a “coach” unless they are in direct possession of a whistle.

  18. brighidg*

    OP1 – Explain to your boss what happened so he realizes you were not complicit in this. Make it clear you are not making excuses but just want to make it clear that your sister lied to you and at no point were you in on her deception.

    And holy moly, I cannot believe your sister did that. By lying it’s clear she knew what she was doing was wrong and did it anyway. She used you. I am so sorry, OP.

  19. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 Use your words! As Alison says, you haven’t been direct. This might be an example of what some people call ask vs guess culture. You are expecting them to guess what you mean when you really need to be clear and direct. Have you thought of putting a sign up with hours when your desk is in use?

    1. Michele*

      Part of the issue may come from being younger than the rest of the office. It can be difficult to assert yourself with people who are older than you if you don’t have much experience. It is more difficult if OP is a woman, because she has a lifetime of being told to be nice and not be pushy ingrained in her.

    2. Sarah*

      I agree, if someone said “Let me know when you’re done,” I would … let them know when I was done. Versus if they said “Hey, this is my computer and I need it now!” I would get the hell off their computer!

  20. Em too*

    #4 I recommend post-its on the screen whenever you leave, saying you need it the next day, back in a minute, or free till (time).

    1. cncx*

      Seconded. This is what i did when i was in a similar situation. But this was after the discussion where it had been made clear to other users that i needed that machine for Reasons.

  21. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    #1 This is why we can’t have nice things. Explain the circumstances to your boss. Tell the mooching sister that she cost you your discount and even if you get it back, never extend it to anyone unless you are present. The company might also consider putting a number of limits on the discounts that employees can use within a certain time frame.

    1. Emmie*

      I agree with you, and others that OP should have a conversation with her boss. Others have used really great language about not wanting to give excuses, but not fulling explaining herself earlier. As for the sister, I’d want to know more about what happened, why she thought it was okay to exceed my permission, and why she kept other’s presence in the town a secret from me. This might be part of a bigger pattern of her sister pushing the limits. If it’s indeed an isolated situation, I’d explain to her the repercussions of her decision (lost discount and boss conversation, but especially the harm to your professional reputation.) You can work on re-building your reputation by explaining the situation to your boss, not loaning out your discount when it’s returned to you, not asking for your discount back for at least a good period of time, and doing all the things attentive superior employees do (being on time, doing a good job, providing good customer service, going above / beyond, etc….)

  22. lamuella*

    #2: “She prefers the term “coach,” since our higher-ups should be like coaches to us.”

    This is so infuriating to me because that’s NOT what coach means in this context, and there are (or should be) coaching opportunities in an organisation like this, especially one with a leadership focus.

    Someone training leaders for a national service organisation should know the difference between coaching, mentoring, and line management.

    1. Michele*

      Even if the higher ups should be like coaches, there is no guarantee that they will be. Someone could sit back and provide no guidance, advice, or leadership, but still say, “they call me coach” and pretend that is good enough.

      1. LW2*

        This is why it was so bad, each Leader works at a different subsite working with different organizations. And this branch of national service is notorious for having subsites agree to participate but not really understanding what we do or what they can’t use us for. So actual training would have been very helpful

        1. Observer*

          Well, this explains why subsites have no idea. When they get handed this line of malarkey, what else can you expect?

          Is there anyone from the main leadership group monitoring these trainings?

          1. LW2*

            Yes, and they were totally on board with the kumbaya-ing (i am actually legit running out of ways to express how much hippie crap was going on). They had been hiring these trainers for years apparently.
            Also all the other Leaders seemed to freaking love the training. People were flat out shocked when i expressed how useless i found it all to be and how frustrated i was at the lack of actual training. Which left me feeling even more alienated and alone.

    2. LW2*

      The whole training was filled with frustrating moments like this for me. We got to choose which training to attend one day and i went to “Having Difficult Conversations” and it was supposed to about conflict management. We spent the whole time talking about ourselves and how we respond to stress and conflict, not how to handle other people responding. There was so much useless self analyzing.

      1. FAT*

        I feel like we work for the same org and am empathizing so hard OP. Thank you for writing in!

      2. Noobtastic*

        “Having Difficult Conversations: Talking To Yourself.” This is a new twist on “I”m OK; You’re OK.” It seems to be “I’m Messed Up; You’re OK.” Or maybe “I’m Messed Up; You’re Irrelevant.”

        It seems to me that the higher-ups need some “coaching” in “How to Have a Difficult Conversation With Other People,” and learn what their employees/volunteers find actually useful, rather than “But we like it, and we’ve always done it this way, so it must be good. Let me just have a conversation with my inner child about this. Hmmmmmm. Yep. Still good.”

        Don’t get me wrong, I find great value in a lot of the “hippie” stuff. But this is not what you needed for your job, and they should have been HONEST in their branding. It’s the dishonesty that really gets my goat.

  23. Irish Em*

    OP1 you need to make sure your boss is aware of the whole situation, because it has already impacted you in a disciplinary way, and has already lead to your boss thinking badly of you – you need to stand up for yourself and looking naïve is far superior to looking like a thief. As far as I’m concerned, your sister took advantage of you and knew full well that what she was doing was not cool, which is why the photographs you saw were specifically tailored to what you were expecting to see, as opposed to what actually took place, and your boss needs to be aware of the whole thing.

    Don’t over explain, but make it clear that what happened took place without your knowledge or consent.
    Your sister also needs to know that she’s burned a bridge with your job, and needs to make it right with you, but I leave it up to you how to approach that – you know your sister best.

    OP4 I am a people-pleaser type and hate to make a fuss or be thought ill of, but if I need a thing that is just mine then I will go ott with mantling gestures and “Mine!” comments to make sure that people know that the thing is mine and that I have a sense of humour about how ridiculous I’m being. It may not mesh with your company culture, but if you can swing it, a “MY laptop, no touchy,” followed by (or not) with an explanation of “You have a tablet to do your job, use it, I need that laptop to do my job,” or a more polite version thereof.
    Of course, my go-to spite move would be to password protect it without saying anything to anyone, so they get a nice surprise when they try to use your machine. It depends on what you and your office culture is like, to see which of these (if either) would work.

    1. Noobtastic*

      OTT with mantling gestures and “Mine!” comments make me picture you doing a Gollum impression.

      “They stole it from us. Wicked! Tricksy! FALSE! It’s ours! Our Precious!” Add some giant google-eye glasses, or just slip them in, and hold them in place with your lowered brows, like two monocles, for the full effect.

  24. GermanGirl*

    #4 Go to your boss and explain the situation. Get them on board.
    Say something like this: “Since I don’t have a tablet and can’t do my work on any other machine than my laptop (bad idea btw, there should be at least one other machine that works for you, otherwise what will you do if your laptop breaks?) I really need people to not use my laptop or to free it within a couple of minutes of me arriving, otherwise I can’t get anything done during the time they are blocking me.”
    And then suggest that you or your boss send around an email reminding everybody to not use your computer.

    1. Emmie*

      I think those are good ideas. I recommend she start immediately by being more direct with other people. Stop using “let me know when you’re done,” but something like “I’m not sure you realize this, but I am one of the few with an assigned desk” or “that’s my work laptop, and I need to use it now” (in a friendly tone.) She would benefit from telling her current manager about the issue, and how she’d like to address it.

      Other people have brought up the idea of taking her computer home if possible, and locking it. That might help people get accustomed to this being her personal computer. People may also use their own logins on other’s computers. These solutions feel passive, and a direct approach would be helpful.

      I’d also encourage OP to see if there are other computers to use on site. Is she committed to using this one computer / desk when others are available? It doesn’t seem like that from the text, but may be an issue.

      1. Emmie*

        I also recommend making your desk look more lived in if it’s assigned to you. Add a name card. Put up pictures, or post-it notes, or a well-used calendar.

      2. Jessesgirl72*

        She says explicitly ” I cannot access my email or work documents from other computers”

        1. tigerStripes*

          Explaining this to co-workers would help, along with saying something like “I can’t get my work done without this computer; please let me use my work computer.”

  25. One of the Sarahs*

    #OP4 I said upthread that I’ve worked in hot-desking work places, and this is how it worked best, and I think it could be useful for your office.

    One of my workplaces moved to a hot desking system for external-facing staff, but internal-facing staff had set desks, as their work was always in the same office, and it was easier for everyone if they could keep a set desk. It was often admin staff, but also people who worked on project finance, estates management etc. IT and HR had definitely protected spots.

    It was a difficult at first because the hot-desking was brought in to save money on how much space we used, so we deliberately didn’t have enough desks, and on busy days (eg when we had all-office meetings, or specific times of the year) we’d be bursting at the seams. But we had a system set up, especially as people from other offices, or who were out a lot wouldn’t know where the internal-facing staff usually sat, and everyone worked flexi-time, so some admin staff started later, but still needed a fixed desk.

    Each hot desk had a laminated card on it, with a green side, saying FREE and a red side saying IN USE, and there was space for people to add specifics in temporary marker – eg if I came in and was using the desk, but had a 2 hour meeting in the middle of the day, I could make it FREE UNTIL 2:30pm, so someone who was coming in to work between meetings, with their next one at 2,knew it was more efficient to use that one.

    If someone was popping to the printer, or kitchen, or to talk to a colleague etc, they left the IN USE sign up as it was – and it was agreed that we left IN USE up for any period of 30mins or less (so, eg, I’d leave IN USE for a standard half hour lunch, but if I was taking an hour I’d leave it FREE UNTIL 2).

    Because we were flexi-time, some people would come in later in the day for work (eg after a meeting finishes at 4, get back to the office at 4:15 for a small or big block of work – or coming in at 6 to print papers for an early meeting the next day, eg) so when people left the hot-desks, they’d all flip the signs back to FREE – and this was useful to the people coming in the next day.

    Internal-facing staff would leave the IN USE card up when they left for the evening (unless, of course, they were taking the next day off) – and if someone had a work pattern that was eg 10 til 6, they might leave it saying FREE UNTIL 10am, for example. We also had maps on the walls, with which teams were based where, and showing which were the designated hot desks, so it was easier for people unfamiliar with our office.

    It wasn’t a perfect system, of course, and we all had to discipline ourselves to remember for the first weeks, but it became second nature – and people were really good at reminding each other about it. In each back of desks assigned to specific teams, usually a senior admin person would keep an eye on how the hot desks in their area were working, so if someone was forgetful, or tried to game the system, they’d get noticed and reminded.

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      This sounds like it worked out for you guys in the end, but good gravy that sounds complicated. I guess they were saving money on space, but I wonder how much time was wasted by having to implement this system of FREE and IN USE, people wandering around trying to find a free workspace, and situations like meetings ending early but the employee has no desk free to go back to.

      1. Undine*

        And if you call in sick, someone has to go flip your sign for you.

        Looking at our office, where many people work from home twice a week, I can see the potential savings in hot desking. But adjusting my monitors to the right height, finding my ergonomic chair and dragging it over, having to put my notepad in a locker — every time I left my desk, ugh.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Oh, I should have said, anyone with ergonomic chairs or other set-ups recommended by the OT service got to keep an allocated space – eg the person with the raised desk, the one with the 2 part keyboard etc.

          We also had easily-moveable pedestals/draw cabinets that stored against a wall, with our names on, that we could pull to the new desk. Some people with specific chair issues set up a chair and left it there too, with their name on.

          Like I said, it wasn’t perfect, but a lot of us worked primarily outside the office, so I can see why they did it.

        2. Lynne*

          And there’s got to be a significant invisible cost to recruitment and employee retention, doesn’t there? I would absolutely consider a hot desking environment to be grounds to refuse a job offer unless I was desperate. And if I did take the job, I probably wouldn’t stick around as long (couldn’t resist the siren call of other jobs with their sweet sweet personally assigned desks, heh).

          Obviously it can be made to work, but is it really a savings in the end?

          1. Jeje*

            Wouldn’t that depend on your job? If you were in the office once a week or less, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.

            1. One of the Sarahs*

              Yeah, this is why, in this system, people who were in the office most of the time had fixed desks, but people like me, who spent a lot of time away from the office/worked across different sites/could work from home when we wanted, it worked.

              Of course it would work less well in other environments – but OP can’t change that, but she could suggest ways to make hot-desking easier for everyone, including herself.

          2. e271828*

            I refused a job offer at a prestigious firm because they were hot-desking in an open office. I could not imagine focusing on my work (report preparation, among other tasks) under those conditions. The last thing I want to devote work-related brain space to is “where is my desk today.” It is a practice that, I think, is designed to keep employees unsettled and insecure on a deep level, continually shifting their environment, and I don’t need the extra stress.

      2. One of the Sarahs*

        It was a big open plan office, the cards were big, so as you walked down the centre aisle looking for a free desk, you could see red or green (or the words if colour-blind), so it was a lot quicker than walking around, seeing a desk that *looked* free and then waiting for people nearby to get off the phone to ask if it *was* free – or sitting in a place then having to stop work and get up and go 10 mins later when a previous occupant was back from taking a break, while they tapped a footing waiting for you to go. Flipping the card, or writing when you were back took literally seconds, and was faster than eg writing a post-in note for the screen, so it wasn’t a burden.

        Obviously it’s easier if everyone has an allocated desk, but it’s just not possible in some workplaces, or it’s possible, but would require a lot more spending on a large space/heating etc, and leave half the desks empty for a good proportion of the time.

      3. Jeje*

        Good response, because, it’s something an office manager may have the authority to implement.

      4. Noobtastic*

        Ergonomic issues aside (chairs and keyboards can make a huge difference), if you have a population capable of hot-desking, it might make more sense and be easier to just assign each desk as a resource in Outlook or whatever calendar scheduling system your office uses.

        I mean, it works for reserving conference rooms, so why not use it to reserve desks? You could even have one central computer that is always on, and always has the scheduling program open, so that anyone coming in, at any time, can head straight there, and look for a desk with a block of time open for the required amount of time, and then book it, and head straight to the desk, rather than wandering through the aisles, checking all the signs. They could even check and reserve the desks remotely, set up recurring reservations, CANCEL a recurring reservation, if they are out sick. It could be a huge time saver, IMO. Also, if your office expands with more desks, more rooms, more aisles to wander, it would still be just as simple to check the calendar and see which one is free.

        A simple naming system, such as Floor or Room/Aisle letter/Desk number would make it easy to find.

  26. I Herd the Cats*

    #4 this would drive me up.the.wall. In addition to all the excellent suggestions above — can you argue any privacy or security concerns? I’m the office manager and assistant to our CEO; my computer will give access to various sensitive documents from HR as well as the CEO’s email account.

    A larger issue (and maybe I’m reading too much into this) is boundaries and respect from your coworkers. It sounds to me like you’re a little short on both. I recommend some firm, unemotional boundary setting. Talk to your IT guy about passwords — you literally cannot log onto my computer unless you are me, with my password — and work on setting boundaries. You have regular work to do. Yours is not a shared computer.

  27. MuseumChick*

    OP 4, I just wanted to add to the excellent advice you’re getting. As tough as it might be, try not to worry about the employees making fun of people who are protective of their computers. That’s immature on their part, not yours. You are there to do a job and they are eating into your time.

    If for some reason a password/taking the laptop home is not possible/won’t solve the problem, be straightforward. If you come in and someone is on your computer a simple “Hi Fergus, I need my computer in 5 minuets. Thanks.” If they push back just remain calm and firm “I have work I need to do and I need my work laptop for it.” Then stick to it.

    1. LCL*

      Yes, you said your biggest hurdle in speaking up is the offenders make fun of the other worker that protects her stuff. Mocking someone who stands up for themselves is classic junior high behavior. Your coworkers have a maturity problem. They probably will mock you. So what? Since they are allowed to behave like this at work, you really can’t stop them anyway.

  28. Bad Candidate*

    #1 – Oh no. I used to work for Six Flags, many years and a few owners ago, but even employees at the time couldn’t get a discount on food or at the gift shops in the park. It was really annoying and I’d be furious if I’d been able to and someone had endangered that. What a pain! I also used to work for Oriental Trading and EVERYONE wanted to use my employee discount. We had a per year dollar limit though, so if casual friends asked I informed them of the limit, which was an easy way to get out of it for me.


    A1: OP, not sure if it’s possible, but can you make/have your sister pay for part of their spending?

    1. Liane*

      The sister ought to pay it back, but I think asking will only get OP But Faaaaamily* drama

      *copyright Capt. Awkward

    2. Aphrodite*

      This is exactly what I was going to say. Your company and boss will likely refuse this because there is no way to put it on the books, but your sister should be required to pay you back for the extra twenty people. And you offer the company that money while making it clear you do not expect or even want the discount back.

      You are in deep doo-doo here and taking responsibility for your sister’s (ripoff, in my opinion) is essential because this is YOUR career it is affecting.

  30. Jessica*

    #4, where do you keep your purse at work? (Or would if you had one, if you don’t.). I would absolutely be locking that laptop in a desk drawer at night.

  31. Erin*

    #3 – No, I wouldn’t. You made a commitment. What you can do, though, is start job searching a little bit before that time is up.

    I was in a similar situation with my last job. I worked for an accountant and he knew I was taking a job that was beneath my skill level. At my interview he basically said, “Obviously you’re qualified for the job and I’m going to hire you, but I’m just worried that you’ll leave.” I promised I wouldn’t leave during tax time, which is basically January through April.

    I found it much more difficult than I thought to not job search during that time, to make a long story short. I ended up doing so anyway. I job searched starting in February/March, and because of how long hiring processes take, I was able to secure another position that started after tax day was over (April 15), so it ended up working out.

    So I’d say you can start job searching a month or two before that year and a half mark is up, but yeah, you made a commitment and I’d stick with it.

    #4 – Oh my goodness, yes, please speak with IT or even a computer-savvy person you know outside of work. Figure out how to password protect your computer, have no guest log-in, and just do not let them in. I understand you’re worried about being mocked like your other coworker, but don’t. That’s a different situation.

    If I were you I’d be so pissed off about not being able to start work for an hour, hour and a half when I come in I would at that point care less about who got pissy with me insisting on *working on my own computer.* Especially since you’re manager-less at the moment, you’ve gotta take ownership of this. Good luck!

  32. Jessesgirl72*

    Op4: Everyone is addressing the laptop logistics part. No one is addressing the fact that her coworkers think it’s okay to bully someone- and a senior staff member, at that. It’s the bullying that has made the OP afraid to explain to her coworkers that, unlike them, she can only work on her own computer.

    OP, the harassment your coworkers are doing is not okay. You may not have a manager, but there must be someone who is in charge until you get one. If they start in on you for needing to actually use your desk and laptop, then you need to report the harassment to that person and/or HR. Or you should consider looking for another job in a place where that’s not just accepted as part of the culture.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Fair enough. :) The resent part isn’t, but the “make fun of part” could certainly be.

        But as you say, either way, it’s not okay.

  33. Hiring Mgr*

    On #1, maybe it’s just me but it doesn’t seem THAT bad…I mean it’s definitely wrong for the sister to have done that, but considering the policy sounds a bit loose anyway, I don’t know–doesn’t seem worthy of a berating and revoking of the discount. Does anyone else thinks it’s a bit of an overreaction?

    1. NEW YEAR, NEW ME*

      Naive or not, there’s something greedy about a relative using a family discount for 20 people. The sister assumed it was okay; never asked the OP about it.

      1. A Bug!*

        Honestly, I’m not sure the sister assumed it was okay. I think it’s pretty likely that the sister suspected it wasn’t okay but made a decision to preserve her plausible deniability by not checking with OP first. Maybe not an explicit, conscious decision, but the choice to ignore a gut feeling.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          A, ye olde “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”

          The first time I read that phrase in a book (Miles Vorkosigan, legendary mercenary commander) I laughed. But applied to you by your real life intimates, all it does is destroy trust.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Not every company, not even large ones, can so easily absorb at $2k loss. If it was flagged, which it was, it’s a problem. Without revoking the discount, what is to stop the OP from doing it again?

      1. Newby*

        Revoking the discount seems reasonable. From the companies point of view, she has shown that she can’t use it responsibly. Instead of making changes to the policy that punish everyone, it is easier to revoke the privilege from the person who showed poor judgement. Since she did not explain how it happened, from the companies point of view she is the one with poor judgement and has already benefited greatly from this perk, so revoking it from her is not a deprivation.

    3. Natalie*

      I generally don’t think berating employees is the right solution, so I’m inclined to agree with you that the boss overreacted a bit. Sales discounts do reduce revenue numbers, so I wonder if the boss is in a department where those metrics affect theie performance ranking. That might explain why there isn’t some kind of limitation – because they’re isn’t actually a rule, the boss just doesn’t want to take the hit.

    4. Michele*

      I don’t think it was an overreaction. The company probably will tighten up their policy if they more incidents like that, but for now, the boss is likely looking at it as a violation of trust.

    5. The Supreme Troll*

      No, this is not an overreaction at all. With the dollar amount and the number of people abusing the discount privilege, where do you draw the line?

      I hope OP#1 is able to get a sincere apology from her sister. This will sound harsh, but the sister should have had common sense to know that the amusement park discount is for immediate family, not anybody & everybody else she chooses to pass it along to.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Supreme Troll, you have hit the nail in the head. The sister should have had the common sense to know better.
        Personally, I have been burned by family members. I would never allow any of my family members access to any discount through my work. But 10-15 years ago, I totally could have been in OPs shoes.

        1. Noobtastic*

          Yep. Two decades ago, I would have trusted a certain family member, but have since learned that he was not to be trusted.

          I still love him. I just know never to trust him, because he would totally pull something like this, and laugh about it, afterwards, especially if you got angry with him about it, and told him you had consequences. He might not laugh if you actually lost your job for that SPECIFIC incident, but if it was just a note in your file, and you lost your job for the NEXT (minor) incident (straw that broke the camel’s back; we expected you to try harder after getting in such hot water last time; you have shown a pattern of bad behavior; you had a second chance, you don’t get a third), well, he’d say that’s on YOU, and yeah, he’d laugh.

          OP knows, now, that she can’t trust her sister. She also needs to clear her name, so that she will only be held responsible for her OWN mistakes, and not her sisters. If she ever trusts her sister again, that will be OP’s mistake, because of the “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” rule.

          Unfortunately, her sister’s kids are learning that this is OK behavior.

    6. fposte*

      The berating is off because berating is off, period. But we have a not-similar-but-also-discounted-access perk for employees that we’d probably end entirely if it got misused.

    7. Observer*

      25 people? Not an over-reaction at all. That is NOT immediate family, and it is OBVIOUSLY not immediate family.

      1. LNZ*

        not just 25 people, but $2k worth or things/food too. Even if it was direct family that’s a bit much.

  34. Allison*

    OP #1, as I understand it, technically you’re supposed to be at the park with anyone using the discount, yes? And most people get away with letting people use it by themselves? While it’s not uncommon, in hindsight it may be been a good idea to tell your sister “look, this is really supposed to be used when I’m with you, so please try to be discrete” and maybe even “It’s just you, your husband, and the kids, right? A bigger group than that could get me in trouble.”

    But unless your sister is the type to routinely abuse discounts, or show up to a party with a much bigger group than expected/anticipated, I can’t blame you for trusting her in this case. But she should know that by going behind your back and extending the discount to a huge group, she got you in serious trouble and even if you get your discount back, you won’t be letting her use it.

    1. Natalie*

      People have mentioned that policy at other parks, but from the OP’s description it is not a rule at her company.

    2. The Supreme Troll*

      Exactly, I definitely don’t blame OP#1 for loaning her employee discount pass to the sister, as I’m sure she expected her to use it for her immediate family only. I just hope that her sister realizes that doing what she did not only can hurt a business (if everybody else did the same, yes, it really could), but it can also cause the OP to suffer consequences from her boss, or worse, a termination. The sister should apologize sincerely.

  35. WhichSister*

    OP #1 I am so sorry. I have no advice but tons of sympathy. I have a sister who would do that without a second thought. I loaned her my damn BARNES AND NOBLE password once so she could get free shipping on a purchase (i was helping her out because times were thin for her at the time ) she pretty much took over my account and deleted my wish lists then lied about it.

    Do you need to use your discount any time soon? If not how about waiting 3-6 months and going back to your boss and appealing his decision. Explaining it outside the heat of the moment.

      1. WhichSister*

        This was back when BN only let you have one wish list with a limit of 25 items on it. I was working and taking graduate classes at the time and I used that to store books that I wanted or knew I would need coming up. That way when I got paid or something, I could just go to what I needed and get it. So I gave her my log in so she could order something and get the free shipping. When I went back to my wishlist later it was filled with stuff for her kids. I asked her about it and she claimed that it automatically deletes the oldest item when you add something and “she had no idea.” NOT TRUE. It operated more like my full DVR it wouldn’t add anything new unless you selected something to delete. You had to go through a three step process to add something. (I knew this because I was constantly culling and re prioritizing my list) 12 years later, our relationship has never recovered. *and now there is no limit on my wishlist. This is her mindset. And I can totally picture her inviting half of her fricking town to something using my discount. (this is one of many examples of my sister’s me first, me only attitude.) I flipped two weeks ago when I realized she had my MLB password when she was helping my mom set it up on mom’s tv. I told my mom explicitly that I would change the password my next visit because it bother’s me that Sister has it.

          1. WhichSister*

            dammit, I have been trying to pawn this one off for years…. But…. my mom did actually look into at one point to see if she was switched at birth. For multiple reasons, (physical characteristics as well as blood type) not the least of which my mom is kind of a witch.

        1. Bea*

          Omg this happened when my friends uncle moved in, he was using our shared accounts that he had no business using. Such a selfish move and thankfully the password was easily changed.

    1. Kate*

      Yeah, I really get this. It is not always the act necessarily, it is the principles behind the act. Lying, destroying something important to you, taking advantage of a gift that was offered, etc.

    2. Noobtastic*

      When someone in my family needs to order something from Amazon, they tell me, (as the resident Prime member), and together we place the order on my account. Either we will input their credit card information, use it, and then delete it, or I will use my card, and they will give me money. Either way, NOBODY logs into my account, but me.

      And darn it, I trust these particular family members, because (unlike certain other family members), they have never abused it. Even so, it’s a good habit to keep yourself secure.

      She deleted your wish list?! I got nothing but interrobangs for that one.

  36. Not Karen*

    I didn’t want to sound like I was… pushing the blame onto my sister

    The blame is on your sister. It’s her fault. Blaming someone when they are at fault is a good thing, not a bad thing!

    1. LBK*

      I get this sentiment, but I think in a work context that’s generally a conversation that doesn’t play well; laying blame tends to read as making an excuse, especially when the person being blamed isn’t an employee and is therefore outside of the manager’s authority.

      1. Myrin*

        I don’t know, even in a work context there are situations that happened through no fault of your own and the only alternative I see to “laying blame [on someone else]” is to accept the blame as your own which, well, not advisable if it wasn’t actually you who did the thing.

        And in this particular case, I think it’s possible for the OP to both recognise that the blame for the general situation lies on the sister’s shoulders and still accept responsiblity for it in front of her boss as the one who actually got the discount and allowed it to be used by someone else without her being present. I know that as a boss, I’d absolutely want to know about the rogue sister lest I think I have some kind of loose discount cannon in my team.

        1. Matilda Jefferies (formerly JMegan)*

          Yeah, I think it’s important that OP clear up her own reputation here. She probably won’t get the discount back, but she definitely wants the boss to know that she wasn’t part of her sister’s shenanigans, and that she is still the reliable trustworthy employee she always was.

          Nothing to do with placing blame or making excuses, just a straight retelling of the facts so the boss doesn’t think poorly of her for something she didn’t do.

        2. A Bug!*

          Yeah, I think OP’s making a mistake in thinking that any explanation for the incident is an attempt to shift blame. In explaining the situation, OP is identifying where OP is to blame. OP didn’t give out the code all willy-nilly to a bunch of people; OP gave the code to one person that OP thought could be trusted to use it appropriately. There’s a huge difference in blameworthiness there.

          OP is “responsible” for her sister’s inappropriate use of the discount code, but OP’s actual blameworthy conduct in the matter is limited to misjudging her sister’s intentions. If I were OP’s boss, I would consider that to be very, very different than if OP knowingly allowed all those people to use her discount.

          1. Noobtastic*

            Yep! There’s still responsibility, but a different sort of responsibility.

            OP needs to own that she went on trust and was not there to personally supervise, which she probably should have been, as per rules (maybe? not clear on the rules) and lesson learned. Even if she never gets the discount back, odds are there are other opportunities to apply this lesson. Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify,” which can be used problematically, to be sure, but is in general a good idea, especially the “verify,” bit.

            For example, if OP1 trusts that a co-worker in another department is on track on a shared project, she can still verify that, and if the co-worker is not on track, still have time to steer them back on track.

            OP, when you talk to your boss, try to tell him what lessons you’ve learned, specifically how they can apply to making you a better employee. And don’t ask for the discount back. Let them offer it back. Unless they keep it from you for five years, in which case, yeah, go ahead and ask.

        3. LBK*

          Oh, I get that, I was just saying I understand the OP’s reticence to place the blame elsewhere since it could come off as sounding like an excuse. I think you can phrase it in a way like Alison suggested where you’re explaining the details but still taking responsibility for the situation, rather than just outright saying “this wasn’t my fault” since that tends to sound bad even if it’s completely true.

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            I imagine the OPs thinking here was that since it’s still her repsonsibility, there’s not much to be gained from the explanation (to the boss it might sound like there’s no difference.) and it could sound like excuse making so maybe it’s just better to take the hit

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Unless the boss is utterly unreasonable, it’s better to explain the context so that he doesn’t think she flagrantly abused the discount. It’s not an excuse; it’s an “I’m mortified and and here’s how it happened.”

    2. alexa, set timer for ten minutes*

      OP1, I am so sorry this is happening. Blame DOES lie with your sister. She is an adult. She made a bad choice. All choices have consequences – and the person who made the bad choice here is NOT the person being punished.

      I agree with other commenters and Alison that you need to return to your boss and clarify how exactly this happened once you have spoken with your sister.

      My suggestions about that are below.

      It’s going to be difficult, but you need to ask the sister specifically HOW this happened, why she invited others, why she thought such an outsize use of the discount would be appropriate, and why she specifically did not discuss it with you first before inviting others. You also need to ask her whether she ever paused to reflect whether this could have repercussions for you at work.

      Then you need to explain to her that you have been disciplined because of what she did, that you have lost your discount privilege (likely permanently I’m afraid), and that if she or anyone else attempts to use the code ever again, you will be fired.

      You need to explain that her behavior constitutes stealing from your company, full stop. No amount of framing the use of the discount in another way changes the base fact that this is stealing, and stealing is wrong, and therefore her conduct related to the use of your discount was wrong.

      I would also suggest that you have her make you a phone list of everyone to whom she gave the discount code so that you can contact them personally and explain that the code is “dead” – meaning that future use of it will be ineffective. You CANNOT trust her to do this for you.

      If you have determined that you do not want to cut her out permanently, I would consider giving her an itemized list each holiday/birthday of the gifts you would have purchased for her and her family and the gifts’ dollar value. I would also create invoices reflecting that the value of the theoretical gifts will be deducted each birthday and holiday until the $2000 mark is reached. This would give her a very clear understanding of the damage she has done if she is not contrite or intent on claiming that what she did is no big deal.

      Personally, I would never be able to forgive this, but I understand that is an extreme viewpoint.

      1. sstabeler*

        Sorry, but I don’t agree about the itemised list and invoices. That smacks of cruelly going “look what you would have got but for abusing my discount” on an ongoing basis. It’s one thing to quit buying them presents, but to go to the trouble of creating an itemized list, and invoicing her? not reasonable.

  37. Jay*

    I was raised by my parents not to use the word boss, they said it creates a subservient mindset. I and three of my siblings happen to be entrepreneurs. Go figure. When I hear people say it it sounds silly but that’s because of my upbringing. I don’t mention it but I never use it.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        I think that’s a pretty big leap to make from Jay’s comment, which, to me, was worded pretty neutrally. Jay didn’t say anything about non entrepreneurs or anyone being a “lesser being” at all, and your comment came across as pretty hostile.

        1. LBK*

          It might be a little bit of a leap but I did also read a bit of…maybe not condescension, but certainly seeming to imply that people who don’t mind being part of a hierarchy and being frank about that fact are somehow less successful or free-willed than those who decide to strike out on their own. I wouldn’t exactly call “subservient” a neutral term – it definitely implies a lack of willingness or ability to be autonomous.

          Particularly in the US there’s an ideal that being an entrepreneur is somehow intrinsically praiseworthy, but there’s plenty of bad entrepreneurs, and most of them don’t achieve long-term success without the help of people who are willing to call them the boss. There’s nothing wrong with working for someone else.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            This. It ties into the unfortunately prevalent idea that entrepreneurs have the right to behave horribly to other people because they’re so special.

            Also, as Statler von Waldorf pointed out below, people who start businesses usually have family wealth and other privileges that allow them to do so. And a family that produces *four* entrepreneurs likely has access to a fair bit of capital. Being smug about that is not a good look.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      Subservient mindset or not, you need to be able to take direction from people, regardless if you use the word “boss” or not.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d pretty strongly bet that whatever impact your parents had on your eventual entrepreneurism was about other things they taught you that reflected that same mindset, not simply that you didn’t use the word “boss”…

    3. LW2*

      But we aren’t entrepreneurs, we are literally low level management in a national organisation.

      1. Gigglewater*

        I can’t explain why this comment is making me giggle, but it really is – LW2 you are the “ok but facts” person I want to be

        1. LW2*

          lol thanks! It’s honestly one of my pet peeves of the nonprofit world when people who work on the office side of non-profits try to act like we aren’t office workers.

    4. Statler von Waldorf*

      Being an entrepreneur has far less with what words you use to describe authority, and far more to do with family wealth. That wealth that give you a financial safety cushion that allows you to take risks. It’s far easier to be creative when your basic needs are met, and it’s far easier to take risks.

      1. Brogrammer*

        If you want to start a company in your garage, first you have to have a garage.

    5. Noobtastic*

      I have a subservient mindset at work, because I’ve been there, tried that with entrepreneurial ship, and I’m just not good at it. I have decades of experience that has taught me that 1) I prefer working for other people, and 2) I am competent and capable enough to get a good job, so if I’m working for the WRONG other people, I can leave and find better ones.

      I have had a variety of positions, including low-level management, and frankly, I simply prefer being in a support-staff position. I am good at it, and it gives me warm fuzzies to see other people succeed, knowing that I helped them on their way. And the best part? I can go home at the end of the day without stress. All that project planning and management this and that, and responsibility is on the shoulders of other people who want it.

      As long as I’m making a sufficient income and my workday is sufficiently pleasant, that is the extent of my ambition.

      And did I mention, I am GOOD at support? I take great pride in being really good at subservience. That old, “make myself indispensable” attitude, and the resultant “what would we do without Noob?” attitude, is just great, as far as I’m concerned. And when I really want to branch out, I am able to find opportunities to do so, because the people I support like me, and want to see me happy.

      Mind you, this “subservience” does not in any way make me a lick-spittle who will just suck it up, no matter what the boss throws at me. I have my pride, and there are things I will not do, and how dare you even go there, you twit? This rarely comes up, though, because if you lead your interview with “I’ll bring you coffee, but don’t ask me to pick up your dry cleaning, and you are responsible for buying your own gifts for your wife,” then you don’t have to have the argument, later. Meanwhile, I can suggest gifts for the boss to consider buying for his wife, if I happen to know her well, and see something she’d like. That means, it’s still from him, directly, and she knows it, but at the same time, I’m easing his stress load by helping him with the ideas, so he doesn’t have to spend so much time shopping.

      Attitude makes a huge difference, and respect goes both ways. My job is to make my boss’s job easier, so that he, in turn, will feel less stressed out, and thus will be able to focus more on making his other employees’ jobs easier.

  38. Michele*

    OP#3. If you leave now, you will never get a recommendation from your current employer. With an employment history that goes back 5 years with them, you need to think about how that is going to look to future employers. That isn’t a three month gig that you can leave off your resume. Someone will ask why you left and will want to contact your current boss. You would have to be a heck of a lot better at lying than I am to pull that off.

    1. Emmie*

      Good point. She will have to be honest about all her dates of employment with that employer, which includes the three month stint.

  39. heatherskib*

    RE #5- My best advice is this- if it’s something you would want to know then discreetly pass on the info/offer to help.
    A quiet “Your tag is sticking out, would you like me to adjust it for you” or “Hey, just so you know there’s lipstick/spinach on your teeth” or “Check your fly.”

  40. Talk about a Mickey Mouse job*

    OP#1 – It sounds like your company needs to come up with a more formal guideline about the usage of discounts.

    The entertainment company I work for (the one who’s mascots include a pair of lovey-dovey oversized rodents, and
    an angry, pants-less duck) sets out the following guidelines.

    1. Employees can get themselves into the parks with no limitations (except some dates that are blocked out)
    2. We get 4 passes per year that can be used anytime, no blockouts, and can be given away (we don’t have to be present for them to be used).
    3. We also get a number of days (the number depends on your position and/or seniority with the company) where we can bring in up to 3 (or more, depending on the number of legal dependents you claim) guests with us. We have to be present when the guests enter, and we are supposed to stay with our guests, unless they are immediate family (brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents)
    4. In order to get a food or merchandise discount, we (the employee) need to present our (photo) ID, at the Point-Of-Sale terminal, and pay for the merchandise purchases ourselves.

  41. Nobby Nobbs*

    OP 5- As long as your phrasing mentions neither London nor France, you should be good :p

    1. LNZ*

      see in my office (which is very close and casual) that is actual how we tell each other if a bra strap is viable or a fly is undone, just saying “i see London i see France”

  42. Bea*

    I giggle when someone thinks boss is a strong word only because I only ever use it when it’s time for my boss to make the decision. “They need to talk to you, you’re the boss!”

    I just handed off a call to my boss awhile back trying to troubleshoot a network being down but I’m not “authorized” on whatever it was. So I got the pushback and pranced into the president’s office “I’m going up to pass you along to the boss for this part…” “*passs boss man the phone* I’m not authorized for this fix! I only print the checks, you gotta sign them.” And when he picked up the phone he responded with “‘ello, the boss speaking.”

    Boss is no longer a scary word, it’s weird to ever refer to the management as coaches unless you’re in sports. I’d be put off if I was told to go by that title.

    1. LNZ*

      Honestly i have never found it to be a scary word anyway. Like they are my boss cause they are capable of bossing me around (though i of course would prefer if they were nice about the bossing around part), that’s just a fact to me.

      1. Michele*

        I have never found it to be a scary word, either. I find it to be an honest word. I can be friendly with my boss, but the fact is that he still controls whether or not I am employed.

  43. Adlib*

    I just re-read the letter from OP1. Her sister and family STAYED WITH HER and never, ever mentioned all the other family that was apparently in town that weekend? Holy cow. If it were me, I’d be so mad I couldn’t see straight. She definitely lied to OP, more than just by omission. I just can’t.

    1. KR*

      This is crazy to me. Like she came home from the park and declined to mention that she saved over $2,000 and somehow her kids didn’t mention it either??? Sounds like a deliberate cover up. Definitely talk to your sister, OP, and clear this up with your boss.

  44. LCL*

    Quick workaround for #4.
    You said it’s a laptop, right? Do you have a locking drawer on your desk? The computer probably won’t fit, but the adapter and battery probably will.

    1. Fafaflunkie*

      Excellent idea. Unless said laptop is a later model MacBook Pro or Air or some other wamnabe laptop where you can’t remove the battery from it. So OP can just let it drain so it has 10% or less power in it at the end of the day, then lock away the charger.

      Seriously though, couldn’t the OP have a password on that laptop and be the only person allowed to log in other than Supreme Boss or IT, as in no domain logins or guest logins allowed? That would solve the problem, assuming OP remembers to hit that Win+L combo before walking away from the computer, and not use monkey for a password :-)

  45. Nonprofit Lady*

    #5 – What makes you assume it’s an undergarment tag sticking out? That does make it sound extra awkward, but I’m guessing that most of the time it’s just a shirt or cardigan tag. Most of my bras don’t have tags, and if they do, they’re far enough away from my collar that they would never stick out. So, fear not- it should not be construed as at all awkward for you to point out, “Hey, your tag is sticking out there.” Except it’s not a big enough deal that I’d point it out to, say, a client, or a stranger. I’d be more embarrassed if I discovered I had something in my teeth for an entire meeting than I would if a tag were sticking out.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I had wondered how this worked too — I couldn’t think of any work-appropriate top where a bra tag would be visible but who knows.

      1. Nonprofit Lady*

        I was assuming (unfairly?) that this was a case of a male writer not really understanding how female undergarments work… but yeah, who knows?

      2. Mela*

        I imagined a low/square-cut back dress, where the bra strap ends up right below the garment line, and the tag is out just enough to notice. The kind of dress you’d usually have a cardigan with but sometimes take the cardigan off.

    2. Mananana*

      The poster wrote: “Should a man tell a female colleague that the label of an undergarment is sticking up out of the back of her dress?”

      Perhaps a camisole? Or a dress with a cut-out in back? Like AAM, I’m having a hard time imagining what type of clothing could lead to that situation.

  46. Whats In A Name*

    I agree with almost all of the advice for OP #1. You need to let your boss in on what happened. I know you didn’t lose your job, but you do have a disciplinary action in your file now; if something else happens you are already down 1 strike. Your boss needs to know, and be given the opportunity to document, the details surrounding what happened. It won’t harm you any further but may help you in the long run. Best of luck!

    Also: Your sister needs to know you had a benefit taken away as a result of what happened. You didn’t ask for advice there, but I did want to add that little piece.

  47. AnonAnonAnon*

    OP#2 – I just wanted to chime in on Alison’s comment about using your authority to maybe affect change in this situation.

    I would wait to get a read on the culture on that first, and make sure it won’t put you at risk. Where I work, there’s a lot of focus put on the idea that anyone in a leadership role (which, of course, can really be anyone in the org, depending on the situation) needs to act in a way that supports the overall direction and values of the org. I.E., if I were in your shoes, and ‘leadership’ told me that I was to be calling my bosses ‘coaches’ and I said “I don’t agree, and here’s why…” (even in the most appropriate way) that push back would be seen as my not supporting the org’s directives, and I would get in trouble for it.

    This has happened to me, so I just warn against jumping in with two feet here until you know the ramifications.

    1. LNZ*

      Sadly the way the organisation is structured means there pretty much is nothing i could do to change anything. Thankfully this isn’t like a org wide directive, it was just the hired leadership trainer.
      Though I was painfully honest on my anonymous survey at the end of training.

  48. HigherEdPerson*

    I’m gonna need OP #1 to come back with an update! I need to know how the talk went with the sister.

  49. Kraziekat*

    Maybe it’s petty of me, but if I was OP#1, after admitting to the boss what my sister did, WITHOUT implying any possible shady practices, I would make sure if anyone asked to use the discount, “Sorry, my discount was revoked after Sister abused my trust with it.” Make sure the family knows why I can’t discount, without going into specifics more than that.

  50. LiveAndLetDie*

    OP1, I think that clarifying with your boss is 100% warranted here (I would definitely frame it as “I understand and accept that my discount was revoked, I just wanted to clarify with you that my trust was abused and I am mortified” when explaining it)… I also think that you should be super clear with your sister that she got your discount revoked and that you got disciplined for her abuse of your trust, and that you will no longer be extending such trust to her in the future (if you ever do get that discount back). I also think your company ought to have more oversight about discounts like that–getting employee verification of how many people were given permission to use it, or something!

    OP2, I think it’s weird that “boss” grates your boss (ha) the way it does. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the word. I will admit that I am annoyed by ‘grandboss’ to refer to higher-ups, though!

    OP4, that sounds infuriating and I hope that you are able to find a way to lock down the computer for only your use–whether that means password protecting it or making it clear with your boss’s support that your desk is not to be considered a shared station.

    1. TootsNYC*

      and that you will no longer be extending such trust to her in the future (if you ever do get that discount back)

      I wouldn’t extend any trust to sister on any -other- matter.
      She wants me to pick up some extra soda at the store? Give me the money now–I’m standing here with my hand out.
      She wants me to loan her my car, since hers is parked in at the family reunion? Sorry, no, “Can you guys move your car? Sis needs to get out!”
      Someone else in the family offers to loan her their car? I’d probably say, “Sis, maybe you should take your own.”
      She needs to borrow the tiller in the spring? Sorry, I don’t loan it out anymore.

      Unless I got a really sincere and credible apology, I’d never, ever stick my neck out for her again, not even in the tiniest of ways. Maybe even after the apology, I still might not. I might not mention it again, but I sure wouldn’t buy anything on her behalf hoping she’d pay me back.

  51. OP#1*

    Thank you for answering my question, Alison, and thank you to everyone who gave input in the comments!

    I took your advice (and totally stole some of your wording!) and spoke with my boss again this afternoon. I explained the situation with my sister and that I’d been hesitant to give the full situation during our last talk. He still wasn’t happy, but he did thank me for explaining and mentioned that it’s possible that it’s possible he’ll be able to reinstate my discount sometime in the future, maybe, depending on my performance, which is much more than I was hoping for!

    As for my sister, she hasn’t apologized and has doubled down on her excuse that i should have told her if i didn’t want her inviting everyone​ else. So, at least for the time being we’re not speaking. Later on when I’m less angry I’ll get in touch with her extended family and ask them not to try to use my discount again.

    Thank you all again!

    1. Happy Lurker*

      OP. Good luck with your crummy situation. Time and space away from specific family members will help.
      My very best wishes for you.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m glad you clarified things with him. (Scalping hadn’t occurred to me until it occurred to other people–but your boss might have been one of those.)

      Difficult relatives are… difficult, but all you can do is limit the spheres in which they can crumple your life. Work is a particularly scary one for her to find.

    3. vivace*

      Maybe follow up with her and say it’s not the pass you are upset about (even though you are, lol) but the fact she kept it secret from you and you had to find out from your boss and were humiliated. There were multiple opportunities for you to intervene and correct the situation if she had been forthcoming about her intentions. And did no one reach out to say thank you?

    4. Nonprofit Lady*

      Glad your boss was receptive! This is good news! But your sister is being plain unreasonable. If I were borrowing someone’s company perk, I would be extra careful/conscientious and check every little thing before I did it. My guess is that she knows that she did something wrong, or she wouldn’t have weirdly kept it a secret from you. And now she’s on the defensive. The right approach on her end would have been to say to you, “hey, when we mentioned to my inlaws that we were going they thought it sounded fun and now they’re planning to come along. Can they also use the discount, or is that outside the bounds of what your company allows?”

    5. WPH*

      Do that last part now, now, now in case there is any lagtime between discount removal and opportunities for others to use it.

    6. Former Employee*

      Good grief! That makes it sound as if you didn’t tell your sister not to take your designer suit or your diamond necklace while she was visiting, she would have had a perfect right to do so! How do people end up acting as if they are entitled to do the things they do, even if those actions cause problems for their own family member(s)?

    7. Kraziekat*

      “As for my sister, she hasn’t apologized and has doubled down on her excuse that i should have told her if i didn’t want her inviting everyone​ else.”

      Good grief. That’s definately victim blaming and implies to me your sister knew she was doing wrong in the first place. Definately reach out to the sister’s ‘guests’ now, and let them know about the discount being no longer valid, now. I wouldn’t blame sister unless asked, but they do ask, make it clear it’s because of your sister’s actions.

      If she doesn’t give you the names of everyone who went with her, then you may want to consider letting everyone in your mutual family know exactly why no discounts are ever happening, ever again.

      If the boss does reinstate your discount, make sure the code is different. Just in case.

  52. Bonnie*

    #4 They make actual physical locks you can put on your laptop that would prevent your coworkers from being able to get in, if you’re going to be away from your desk for an extended period of time. I was required to use one in one of the schools I worked in because laptops frequently went missing. It’s not as cumbersome as it sounds. Think a bungee cord with a clip that you wrap around the desk and closed laptop:

  53. Willow Sunstar*

    #4 Can’t you just change your password? At my company, we aren’t allowed to give it out.

    1. nonegiven*

      It’s probably a password for an account on the domain. You’d need to password protect any account on the laptop, itself, and turn off the guest account.

  54. Lock it up!*

    #4 — And can you or your IT people set it up so that there’s no guest log-in, it’s password-protected, and only you can get on there?

    This was going to be my first suggestion, followed by the others. Make your computer inaccessible and then make sure everyone knows this, and why and stand your ground. They won’t respect you if you don’t require it, so use Alison’s script and you should be fine! Good luck!

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