open thread – May 19-20, 2017

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)

{ 1,623 comments… read them below }

  1. MeoMeoMeo*

    Can anyone tell me how intermittent FMLA works? I submitted my claim this week for fibromyalgia and I am just wondering how it works if I am approved. Do I have to see my doctor every time I am out and have him approve when I go back? Or do I just notify my insurance company? I’m just curious about the logistics of it and don’t have anyone else to ask.

    1. Bad Candidate*

      You don’t need to see your doctor every time. Some people have intermittent FMLA for taking care of family members. You need to notify your boss you’re taking a FMLA day and however your company works as far as administering leave. For instance my company has a FMLA administrator and I call them. (Technically it’s “in house” but it happens to be a service my company offers) Once you get approved they should let you know the procedure.

      1. MeoMeoMeo*

        The doctor part was mostly what I was wondering about. My doctor is 2 hours away and I just couldnt imagine being able to see him every time I need an FMLA day.

    2. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      Your doctor will tell the insurance company how often you can be out of work – in my case, it’s two days per week. If I take a day off, I have to use PTO until that is used up, and then it is unpaid. I have to mark it on my timecard, even though I am exempt. My insurance company also has a website where I have to report time off, and they approve it. You don’t have to see the doctor every time you’re off. It’s usually good for a year, but my insurance company makes me “re-up” with my doctor at the 6 month mark.

      1. MeoMeoMeo*

        My doctor put 2 times a month for a duration of 2-3 days. In reality, I think I only need one time a month for 2-3 days, but he said he was over estimating on purpose. I don’t believe I have to use my PTO. We have unlimited vacation so I’m not sure what I would exhaust before FMLA kicked in under those circumstances. We also have paid FMLA so I don’t have to take my time unpaid regardless.

    3. Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys*

      Every company could have different procedures as some do it in house, others use a vendor. Make sure you read the paperwork they provide you. It should have the instructions to follow similar to what the other replies listed.

      1. MeoMeoMeo*

        They actually just sent me something a few minutes ago. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

    4. Fortitude Jones*

      I just put in for intermittent FMLA today (had a nervous breakdown at work yesterday after having my first counseling session with the EAP therapist Monday), and my supervisor, who also knew nothing about it, suggested I reach out to our HR department to ask about it. I did, and they said that I’d have to use PTO when I’m out and would have to let them know so they can input the time off on my timecard even though I’m exempt. Anyway, my supervisor thought the whole having to use PTO for doctors appointments was dumb because I usually schedule them towards the end of the day, so at most, I’m only gone for an hour and a half. She talked our HR department into letting me make up the time during the week (which she’s not going to monitor) instead. This is good because even though I have over two weeks of PTO accrued for the year, I’m going to ask my therapist about referrals for in-patient treatment, so I may need that whole two weeks to check in somewhere.

      My therapist has to fill out a form about my medical condition, how long my treatment is supposed to last, and things like that, and then fax it back to my HR department. Other than that, that’s all my company does for intermittent leave.

      1. MeoMeoMeo*

        Oh man. That sounds tough. I’m sorry you’re going through that. It sounds like you have a supportive manager which is great!

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Thank you. I see you say you may not have to use PTO either during your time off, so that’ll be good if that turns out to be the case. I’m not familiar with how this works, I always thought my mom was just leaving when she took hers, but apparently it’s common to make people use PTO while on it. I just don’t see the point if it’s one or two days or even a couple hours a week.

          1. MeoMeoMeo*

            A lot of companies really like to nickel and dime their employees time. If it’s FMLA, I don’t see why you should have to use your PTO, but maybe there are logical reasons behind it that I’m missing. I’m lucky to work for such a good company. They really value their employees time. But even knowing that I am a little nervous about requesting time off in the future. We have unlimited vacation but I think I’m going to feel guilty requesting vacation time when I am also using FMLA time.

            My main reason for wanting the FMLA is that we get 8 sick days per year, which is generally pretty generous, but not quite enough for someone with fibromyalgia. I’m constantly depleting my sick days and I really stress whenever I have to call in sick. I just don’t want to feel stressed about it anymore.

            1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

              For our company, the policy is we use sick leave first, but it’s coded FMLA. Then we use unpaid time; our contracts don’t generally let us take any unpaid time unless we’ve used up our bank. They track FMLA sick time to differentiate our FMLA usage from “normal” sick time, both to see if we’re in line with the doctor’s estimates and so that the FMLA time doesn’t count against us for performance metrics or other performance management issues.
              I can understand where you want to save sick time for other illnesses; if HR hasn’t explained how they’d want you to handle it, they need to. The reality is you’d end up taking unpaid time if you go over 8 days whether it’s coded FMLA or not, right?

              1. MeoMeoMeo*

                Yeah, that totally makes sense to use your paid time first. I presume most people would want to do that anyway. I have never done this before so I wasn’t thinking of it that way.

            2. Fortitude Jones*

              My main reason for wanting the FMLA is that we get 8 sick days per year, which is generally pretty generous, but not quite enough for someone with fibromyalgia. I’m constantly depleting my sick days and I really stress whenever I have to call in sick. I just don’t want to feel stressed about it anymore.

              Yeah, that’s definitely not enough time for your condition and stressing certainly doesn’t help. We have a combined bank here – it’s times like these where I wish it was separate. 8 days would more than cover my time out without me having to “make up” time or use PTO.

              1. MeoMeoMeo*

                In the past I have always had jobs where vacation time and sick time were combined and found it pretty crummy. Especially once I had a child because it was a lot easier to use up those days. My current company is very generous. I can choose whether I use sick or vacation time for when my daughter is sick and the vacation bank basically up to the managers discretion, but I have never been told no. And we also get a few personal days as well.

                But my manager is very specific about how we log our time so even when use vacation for my daughters sick days I end up using all my actual sick days for myself.

            3. LCL*

              There isn’t any money associated with FMLA. it is a classification of your leave, to protect you. If you leave and your absence is part of approved FMLA, your company can’t fire you for it.
              Whether or not you get paid for FMLA time is completely up to your company. The act doesn’t require your company to pay you, only to not fire you for FMLA absence.
              I am hourly, and have used vacation, sick leave, personal holidays, and emergency day for FML so I would get paid. I could use comp, except I take my OT and never have comp on the books.

              1. MeoMeoMeo*

                Yeah, I realize FMLA is not typically paid but for some reason I wasn’t thinking about that. It makes a lot of sense to use your paid days first.

      2. MerciMe*

        That doesn’t sound right. I’m work week exempt and while they track my hours off against my Drs. note and total annual fmla accrual limit, my employer doesn’t charge the absence against my leave time. Seems like it kind of defeats the meaning of exempt if they don’t pay you the full day’s salary, so it might be worth a little research.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          I would still get paid, but they’re saying it would have to come out of the PTO bucket.

    5. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      Where I last worked (I’m not familiar with the process at CurrentJob), your doctor filled out paperwork and it was submitted to HR. You didn’t have to do anything with insurance other than use it as you normally would when going to the doctor. To take a day off, you just notified your manager that you needed to use an “FMLA day” and the absence would be recorded. We did require that PTO be used until it was gone. Also, we would ask employees to re-certify (have their doctor confirm FMLA was still needed) every so often. I think 6 months, but it may have just been yearly. Also, FMLA covers 12 weeks or a total of 480 hours in a year, most likely your employer will track how much you use.

      1. MeoMeoMeo*

        From what I can tell, it looks like I log my time right in the system where I submitted my claim. They just don’t have any information in there about the rules and what determines whether its approved or not.

    6. fposte*

      The law limits how often the company can ask for the recertification, but it doesn’t require them to do so at all, so it’s mostly up to your company.

      The limits are, I believe, as follows: if the original certification is for over 30 days, they can’t require recertification until that time is up or 6 months, whichever comes earlier; if the original certification is for less than 30 days, the earliest they can ask for recertification is 30 days.

      1. MeoMeoMeo*

        Interesting. My doctor put the timeframe down as indeterminate. My company tries to make things as easy as possible on us so I am hoping itll be only once per year.

        1. HRChick*

          Ours only makes you renew once every rolling year. So, if you get approved in March, unless your doctor puts an end day, we’ll follow up with you next month.

          Make sure that’s how your HR department does it because some don’t use rolling years.

    7. Learning Grasshopper*

      I applied in December. I have always had migraines but they have increased significantly

      for my company, it is issued for 6 months, then you can request and file for extension.

      I have to use PTO UNLESS I have used what is allocated to date, then I can go unpaid.
      So if I get 21 days a year, and x days allocated per month, once I am in a negative, I can take as unpaid.
      Putting in for worst case scenario is smart. If you exceed what is agreed upon (submitted by your dr) you may have to get recertified

      We put in for 3 incidents per month, up to 3 days per incident. So I am basically covered for 9 days a month

      Being able to use I FMLA is a godsend! Not having the worry about getting fired removes so much pressure.

      Good luck!

      1. MeoMeoMeo*

        Exactly! I just want the pressure removed. I’m constantly worried about getting fired for being absent and I can’t help but feel like the stress only exacerbates a flare making me take even more time than I might need if I wasn’t stressed. I also have severe insomnia and some days I just don’t fall asleep until 3 or 4 am or at all. I really need to take a couple hours those mornings without losing a whole day.

    8. The OG Anonsie*

      How it works is that your doctor will have to do some paperwork (be aware that your insurance will likely not cover the visit to go through the paperwork, so often times rheum offices will have an NP or PA appointment type specifically for this that is a smaller charge) to say that, in their opinion, you need ___ amount of time away over ___ periods of time and also whether or not they believe you need to see them and get authorization to return to work for each of those absences. This can be for sick leave where you stay home or for time you need to go to appointments or receive treatments or whatever.

      When I had it, my doctor said I may need to be out of work as many as three days per month for issues related to my chronic illness. Typically I only needed one, but maybe once or twice a year I would have a really bad week and be out for several days. When I needed to take a sick day that was covered under this umbrella, I would just notify my manager that I was out on FMLA related leave and would mark it as such on my time sheet later as well. How your workplace wants this done by vary, but you don’t need to tell them why you need FMLA related leave when you take the days, and you do not need to notify anyone else including your doctor (unless your doctor made that part of the plan, but for fibro I doubt that would be the case).

      1. MeoMeoMeo*

        Thank you for all the details. I actually already had the form filled out by my doctor. They told me once they have that it only take 5 days to get a decision! I am really surprised. I thought it would be a longer process. I suppose they may deny it for some reason but it sounded like they just needed to see proof that I had a health condition that qualified for the intermittent leave. I guess I will just have to wait and see.

        My manager actually already knows about my fibromyalgia. I was missing too much work and I decided to tell her because the stress of wondering whether she thought I was just calling in for a sniffle was really getting to me. She has been good about it. She has not given me a hard time about taking a sick day once since I told her. But I am glad I don’t have to tell her the specific ailments I am experiencing when I take a day under FMLA. (Not that I had to before but sometimes I explain a bit because of the stress.)

  2. Commuter Blues*

    I’ve seen several posts on the site about job applications being rejected because of the employers worrying about long commutes. Well, on the opposite side of things, do you think it’s okay to leave a job mainly because the commute is too long?

    I recently got a new job with a longer commute than my previous one. Last job’s commute was about 20 minutes; new job’s is 35 min… but that’s without traffic. In the month I’ve been in this job, my hours put me right smack in the middle of rush hour and that commute is stretching to an hour and a half more often than not. I plan on asking my boss if I can change my hours. I think it’s likely she’ll say yes but I also want to prepare myself if she says no. I otherwise like my job but the commute is weighing on me way more than I thought it would. For financial reasons, I can’t move for the foreseeable future to be closer so that’s not an option.

    I feel like a commute should be a ‘turn on the radio and suck it up’ kind of thing but it’s driving me crazy to have lost half of my evening to being stuck in traffic. I eat dinner way later than I’d like and I don’t have time to do things I used to do in the evenings like exercise classes or volunteering; I just go home exhausted. Would I be crazy to give up a job for this one aspect of a job given how much it’s affecting me?

    1. Mobuy*

      Of course you can leave a job because of the commute! That’s totally normal (of course that’s why it’s not unheard of to reject a candidate because of where they live). It would be great to see if you can change your hours, though, if the driving time would be significantly different if you came in and left an hour earlier, say.

    2. OntheSpectrum*

      I’d say it depends on where you are. In Los Angeles, for example, where you drove and how long it took you get there is common small talk, and commutes are a huge part of people’s lives. So a manager in LA is likely to be understanding of wanting to change hours to avoid a worse commute. Elsewhere? I’m not sure.

      1. Natalie*

        I think pretty much anywhere is going to understand not wanting to drive 3 hours per day. With an 8-10 hours workday plus sleeping, you could be left with only 3 hours a day for literally everything else a person needs to do as part of life.

    3. Squeeble*

      Oh my gosh, it would be totally normal and understandable to have to quit because of the commute. I lived through five years of a nasty 90-minute commute each way, and when I got my new job that cut time in half, it really improved my overall quality of life.

      1. Whats In A Name*

        2nding this. I made the same switch (after only 3 years), from 90 minutes to 20. My 5:30 – 6:30 door-to-door turned into a 7:30 – 5:00 door to door. The impact it had on my overall happiness was mind-blowing – I was able to go back to the gym, join friends for weeknight dinners/happy hours and wasn’t chronically exhausted.

    4. AnonEMoose*

      Just like, in an at will state, an employer can fire you for any reason (or no reason), provided it’s not discriminatory, you can also leave a job for any reason you want. And that you are, in essence, losing an extra 2 hours a day to traffic – I mean, I know a lot of people have it worse. But I don’t think it’s frivolous to decide that it’s a big deal to you. Different people have different views on this, and that’s completely ok.

      In the short term, would it help to do something like listen to a podcast or audio book during your commute? At least it might help you feel a bit less like that time is being totally wasted. But I hope your boss will be willing to work with you on this!

    5. starsaphire*

      It really is region-dependent, I think. In the Bay Area, honestly, if you mention a one-hour or so commute (each way), you’ll probably hear “Lucky!”

      You can ask, absolutely, for a schedule adjustment, but be prepared to hear no.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        An hour is normal for the Bay Area. The OP is doing 90 minutes. But that is also why flex hours are so normal in the Bay Area- so people who live in S San Jose can make it to Palo Alto in only 30 minutes, if they leave early/late enough, instead of 60-90 (120 in the rain…)

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yup – my mom works 7-4 so that she can get from Vallejo to Oakland without hitting too much rush hour traffic. My current job is the first time in my life that I’ve worked and lived in the same town – it still takes me about 15 minutes because I’m across town from my job, but it’s better than 45+ minutes each way!

        2. Mints*

          Huh, my friends in the bay who commute an hour tend to think that’s entirely too much, and are willing to change jobs / move to get that down. However I know tons of people buy houses in Morgan Hill / Gilroy and think that’s worth the three hours per day.

          Probably the #1 reason I was so miserable in my first job was the commute (90-120m). Anything else would have been easier to manage if I had had time to decompress in the evenings. So yeah, changing jobs because you’re miserable three hours a day is completely reasonable

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            You either need roommates or two really good incomes to be able to move closer to the jobs that are in Palo Alto/Mountain View. We could never afford to live closer than that 20-30 minutes that turned into an hour or more in rush hour. Some of that can be mitigated by very specific locations (live where you can take 280 instead of 101 from the north, 85 instead of 87 from the south, or best of all- Central Expressway- but most people have about an hour commute- the ones with families who want to live in Gilroy, more. We got a really good deal on a rental a block from the ocean in Pacifica, and took it because it was 45 minutes reverse commute, so it was ALWAYS only 45 minutes- and it was a cute house on the ocean for less than an apartment in Silicon Valley. And for a brief year, at the height of the dot bomb, apartment prices fell low enough that we could afford the edge of Sunnyvale that is almost Mountain View- a year only, because the owner decided rentals were too low and sold the townhouses as condos!

            Now we’re in Milwaukee and whine if we have to drive 20 minutes, when we used to routinely drive 30 just for dinner! LOL I still giggle because a “really bad traffic day” per the tv and radio announcers adds “as much as 15 extra minutes!” to a commute.

        3. Beckie*

          Yes, I know lots of people in the Bay Area who work 6-3 or 7-4 to avoid rush hour traffic. It can be the difference between 45 minutes one-way and 90 minutes one-way.

        4. Ama*

          I’m in NYC and half the people at my current employer work flex hours for commuting reasons here.

    6. Protein Muffin*

      Not crazy at all. I left a job in October for this reason. The job was right on the water and there was 1 main road so only 1 way in and 1 way out. Commute should have been no more than 35 minutes but same story as you…
      Also parking was an issue so I had to factor in long walks to and from my car.

      My time is really important to me and I’m now at a job with a parking lot and where the commute is very familiar and comfortable so I know there is rarely traffic and I know how quick I can get the heck home.

      It doesn’t bother some people, I know those that travel 1.5 hours each way daily! But it’s a waste of time for me and I try to only job search within a 20mile radius.

    7. anna green*

      It’s not crazy! Your commute is part of your work life, so it’s absolutely important to make sure it fits what you need. However, just be smart about it, just like any other job issue. If you are going to ask your boss to change your hours that’s a good first step. But don’t phrase it as, if you don’t agree I’ll quit, just see if its possible. If you want/need to leave, you need to think about how having such a short job would affect your resume, and if you find another job closer that you may like less is that a reasonable trade-off, etc. So treat it as any other work issue that is not great. But its totally a legitimate reason to not be happy at a job.

    8. MindoverMoneyChick*

      A commute is an absolutely valid reason to leave a job IMO. Happiness researchers have actually found that commutes are a negative experience we do NOT adapt to (most negative and positive things we do adapt to over a period of time.) It’s actually something human beings have a very hard time sucking up.

      I actually just finished doing a bunch of research for a seminar I was giving on how to use money to increase your happiness, and one of the weirdly specific things that came out of it was the using money to reduce your commute (getting a place close to work usually) resulted in a net increase in happiness. Seriously Google commutes and happiness, health, stress… anything like that and you’ll find a ton of info on this.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq*

        That is fascinating! I live in a metro area with pretty extensive suburbs but not insane housing prices either, and I am always curious about the choices people make in terms of where to live and where to work. My husband and I both adore our 20 minute commute and have postponed buying a house because I’m actively looking for work and we want to decide where to live based on where I end up working. On the other hand, I know people who pay less for a lot more out in the suburbs, but spend so much time driving that I feel like I would go mad. It sounds like the extra housing costs for shorter commute might translate to more happiness, in the grader scheme of things!

        1. Anon Anon*

          One of the reasons I stay at my current job is because of the 15-20 minute commute, and it’s why when I bought a new house last year, I made sure that I was still within a 15-20 minute commute. I’ve done 1 hour commutes each way, and I’d never do it again. It’s also why I stay in the city I live in versus moving to a city with more career opportunities.

        2. MindoverMoneyChick*

          The evidence seems to show the the bigger house/longer commute is a losing deal in terms of net happiness. Bigger houses are the types of things we adapt to emotionally and eventually take for granted while long commutes pretty much always annoy us. I’m in the DC area and we had to make the same decision. We went with a crappy house in need of all types of renovation to avoid the commute issue as much as possible. (I had a 20 minute reverse commute, which in this area is golden). My handy husband did the basics when we moved in and we saved for several years for a more substantial renovation. Totally worth it IMO, even though the house really was pretty crappy.

          Also I have good friends who has kept up apartment living well into their 40s so they can make sure to move for the husbands job when it changes (she works from home). They get lots of crap about how they should buy a house for financial security, which first of all, isn’t even necessary if you do the math and plan accordingly. But more importantly would have been a big drain on his time energy and mood over the years. Well worth it again IMO.

          1. MegaMoose, Esq*

            We are still renting in our mid-30s and I’m not remotely embarrassed about it (although our income and good luck in landlords does allow us to rent a small house rather than an apartment). I know more than one person around my age who lost a house or condo to foreclosure during the financial crisis, so I’m in no hurry to buy. Plus, I love that I don’t have to plan for emergencies – last year we had a couple of fairly expensive items needing to be repaired or replaced, and I’m quite happy to let the landlords cover it. And knowing we can easily move when I get a new job is a big thing I don’t have to worry about.

            1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

              I’m in my 40s and renting, with no desire to buy a house. I’m not a DIYer, and I really like that if something major needs to be fixed or replaced, all I have to do is call maintenance and they take care of it. Case in point: On Monday morning this week, I woke up to find that our air conditioner (wall unit) was completely dead. I called maintenance to report it, and by the time I got home from work, they had installed a brand new (and much better) AC. To me, that’s worth more than any pride of homeownership.

              1. MindOverMoneyChick*

                Yay for renting in your 40s. I wish more people saw this as a viable option. Lots of my clients come to me all worried that they haven’t bought a house yet. But renting has so many benefits. I’m in a house and have mixed feeling about it. My husbands likes doing home maintenance stuff as a hobbie and likes owning so here we are. But whenever he grouses that I don’t help with yard work, I always say I voted for a condo. But we got the house, so you get the yard work ;).

                1. Bea W*

                  I live in the city. Half our housing stock is rentals. It’s a normal thing adults of all ages do.

                  I am glad I decided to buy though because rents are absolutely insane. My mortgage payment is a lot less than what I’d be paying in rent for also smaller place and also stable. I do live in a condo, but it’s only 3 units so it’s not hands off as much as a large complex with professional management and regular maintenance staff.

                2. AcademiaNut*

                  Also a mid-40s renter. Where we live, the housing prices are high enough, and so much higher than renting, that buying doesn’t make financial sense even if you have the money. And with two professional incomes, we couldn’t afford to live somewhere we’d like – we’d pay significantly more per month for a smaller apartment, have to buy a car for the commute, have to deal with all the maintenance issues, and would probably lose money on the deal when the market crashes.

                  And even buying, there are no single-family dwellings here at all, so we’d still be living in an apartment, but without the option of moving if we had obnoxious neighbours or major construction next door.

      2. JAM*

        Minus some major crisis happening in my life, my happiness is so much higher now that I live closer to my job. I commute about 10-15 minutes and can even go home over lunch if needed, which was a huge help for little things like a scheduled delivery or needing to throw food in the crock pot and was so incredibly needed during a time when my dog’s health was in decline. The extra hours at the beginning and end of each day make all the difference too. Even when I do nothing after work, it’s my choice to do nothing and that feeling of control is so worth it. I don’t know what I would do if I had to commute again.

        1. MechanicalPencil*

          This. The SO is looking to buy a place that would be a 40 train ride and probably an hour car ride from my job — one way. But it’s only 15-20 for him. I am not amused.

    9. Temperance*

      Last summer, SEPTA magically discovered cracks in a bunch of their trains and lost like 2/3 of their cars. Because of that, my commute literally tripled.

      I was miserable. I lost my entire summer to commuting. I spent 3 hrs/day, every day, getting to and from work.

      So, yeah, I don’t think changing jobs for a shorter commute is unreasonable at all.

      1. AP*

        It was truly miserable. I already commute one hour each way on regional rail, and the added stress of overcrowded, cancel trains and the general anxiety of it was just awful.

      2. Jules the First*

        Transport for London put the wrong wheels on a whole bunch of Piccadilly line trains (they spec’d indoor-only wheels, forgetting that a third of the line is above-ground) last year, so trains were running at 20-minute intervals instead of 2-minute intervals for four months while they replaced them all urgently…can we say oops!

    10. Amy*

      I don’t think it’s crazy to consider an hour and a half long commute to be a dealbreaker (and traffic at your commute time definitely counts as part of your commute!). That’s a lot of time to be spending in the car. If you and your manager can work it out, that would be great, but if not I’d probably start looking around for alternatives.

    11. Ang the SA*

      I would definitely ask if you can change your hours. My are 7:30 to 4:30 and it makes a world of difference. I leave my house at 6:30 and am at work by 7. There is barely any traffic and I usually bring book, call a friend or put in a podcast before going into work. I am not stressed about my commute because it is 30 minutes when it use to be almost 1 hour to 2 hours if traffic is bad.
      I don’t know if I would leave a job over it until I work out every single way to make it better. That said if you are dreading getting in your car and it is starting to effect your work, yes I would find another job. My health and well being isn’t worth being miserable.

    12. Millie*

      Commuting isn’t for everyone and it DOES affect your life and ability to get things done. I have had a varying commute over the past few years ranging between 3 hours to 6 hours all together daily. I get very little done at home and in a way it also ruins your weekends because you have a million chores to finish and all your friends and family who you want to give your attention to. I don’t think there’s any reason to think it’s a bad reason to quit. It’s a quality of life issue. But definitely ask about changing hours, and does your job have any possibility for telecommute? I am only allowed to telecommute about one day a month but honestly it does make a difference knowing you’ll get done at 5 and already home.

    13. NJ Anon*

      Part of the reason I am leaving my job is the looooong commute. I am able to adjust my hours somewhat but it’s still too long. But there are other issues as well, the commute just adds to it.

    14. Anxa*

      You can see in another post that I just gave up a full-time job in PART because a pretty reasonable commute. There were a lot of other factors, and for me the commute is less about “traffic sucks” and more about “how the eff can this carpool work” because I share a car. And it was a short-term job and I cannot risk a car loan for something like that.

    15. Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys*

      Definitely ask about the hours first, but could you change your workout location and volunteer activities to be closer to work so at least a few days a week you don’t have to fight as long of a battle? Visiting the gym and then taking the commute could put you past the worst of it. Would they let you work from home a day or two a week instead?

    16. Rachel in NYC*

      This is hard for me since as you can tell I live in NYC and an hour commute is pretty normal. But I understand your position- I love my job (I’ve been here close to 3 years) but its basically an hour each way by transit. My solution was this year I would look seriously at moving closer. I’m currently looking at an apartment that would only be a 45 minute walk from my office (less then 30 minutes by transit.) And it isn’t the first time I’ve moved to shorten my commute. When I worked in Boston, I initially lived in the suburbs but the commute drove me crazy and after about 6 months, I moved into the city.

      My suggestion would be if you enjoy your job, consider seriously whether moving is a possibility. It’s definitely a large expense but there’s a lifestyle that comes with a short commute.

      1. LadyKelvin*

        I also think commuting on transit is very different than commuting by car. I would have no problem with an hour metro/bus ride but I am not willing to drive more than 30 mins. Sitting in traffic and not being able to use that time productively is maddening. Thankfully now I have a 25 min no traffic commute. I’m at work before I even notice I’m driving.

        1. Tedious Cat*

          Oh, it really is different, assuming the transit is reliable. Technically my new commute is longer than my old one, but since it’s by train instead of car, I’m happier and calmer (I have issues with road rage).

    17. Princess Carolyn*

      I agree with everyone who says leaving a job because of the commute is reasonable, and I agree that changing your hours is a good place to start before you decide to quit.

      Another suggestion: Is it possible for you to do some of your post-work activities (working out, possibly volunteering or running errands) in the neighborhood around your office so that you can postpone your drive until after rush hour? It’s probably not a true solution, but it may make things more tolerable until you find a different job or adjust your hours or whatever.

      1. Cookie*

        While I can’t speak for the OP, I’m in a similar situation and I can’t do anything after work in the area because my work is located in a desolate wasteland (which is the reason I refuse to move out there). If it was possible to have a life in this area, I would’ve moved here already and wouldn’t have a commuting issue. Not that this is true for everyone, but I imagine isolated offices in horrible neighborhoods are a big part of why people commute.

      2. Commuter Blues*

        My job is out in the middle of nowhere. I have to drive 10 min to get food if I don’t bring lunch with me, so there’s defintely nothing to occupy my time before jumping into the drive home.

    18. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA*

      Like some other people mentioned, in certain areas, people may be more willing to be flexible than others. I live outside DC so if it takes me less than an hour to get home, I’m jazzed. I’m sure if I lived somewhere where commutes were 15 minutes, I could better ask for this accommodation but around here, it’s not so unusual that people might not be as flexible. If you do decide to change your hours, you may want to try it out as sometimes if I have to get work early, the traffic is worse so you may never be able to find a good time unless your hours at like 3 pm to 11 pm instead of 9 to 5.

    19. Stephanie*

      Long commutes are one of those things you don’t realize are exhausting until you stop doing them. Totally valid.

      1. Audiophile*

        This is very true.

        While I used to commute 45-50 minutes by car, I found it really draining. My commute is now about 90 minutes, but I’m taking the train and then a subway, somehow it doesn’t feel as long. I don’t mind it at the moment, though I may feel differently come the winter time.

        1. Stephanie*

          I think my tolerance for a train commute is higher. What can be frustrating with train commutes is that if there’s a service interruption…suddenly your commute becomes three hours.

          1. Audiophile*

            The other day there was a disruption because someone hit a fence and killed the third rail at another station. We were single tracking for that station.

            I’m on a Metro North line that tends to not have a lot of disruptions, I think if I was on the LIRR,I’d feel differently.

            1. Lady Bug*

              As a former LIRRer I can confirm my hour to and a half drive is much calmer than my 2 years of constant delays and being stranded in the middle of nowhere by the LIRR

              1. Audiophile*

                I was in Penn last night with a friend who explained to me how she commutes regularly to Jamaica from the Oyster Bay line. It sounded horrible. She was trying to tell me I should move to Long Island, just not anywhere on the Oyster Bay line.

    20. Project Manager*

      I’m trying to convince my husband to look for a new job, and one of the reasons is that his commute is awful even for Houston. (My thirty-minute commute, plus a little extra time to drop the baby at daycare, is excellent around here.) It not only affects him but also the rest of us – the kids and I don’t get to see him, and I have to do all the dinner, bath, etc. evening work by myself, which makes me feel resentful even though it’s not his fault. Plus, neither of us can exercise (the baby hasn’t learned to stop climbing on the exercise equipment, so I can’t, and he is too exhausted when he gets home). I would say commute is absolutely a valid reason to change jobs.

      1. JuniorMinion*

        Funny. I’m in Houston and I commute 30-40 minutes to go 8 miles (through a really bad highway transition that I am sure you can guess:) and I constantly think of moving. My husband teases me sometimes and I’m just like “yeah this is a hill I die on.” Having worked crazy long hours before it can be amazing how much difference even an extra 30 minutes – 1 hour makes a day. I’m just straight up not doing those crazy suburb commutes that some folks do and I will live in a townhome / small house forever if it means I don’t have to do that.

    21. Anonymous Poster*

      This is a normal reason to transition out of a job. It’s easy enough to answer the question in an interview of, “Why are you leaving?” with “My commute was becoming too long and I’m looking for an opportunity where I can grow more professionally and have a shorter commute,” or however you’d want to massage that.

      I left a job because I was far away from family and wanted to move closer, and it was a pretty acceptable reason. Well, correction, of my 7 bosses (I was a government subcontractor), 5 of them understood the reason and said it made complete sense, and the other 2 thought I was giving up an opportunity of a lifetime. Yeah, I was paid below the 25th percentile for my engineering degree, the work was fun but I have student loans to repay.

    22. Gordon Greene*

      Think of it this way: If your commute is an extra hour each way, then in a given week, you are spending 10 extra hours just commuting. In a four-week month (and obviously, most months are longer), that’s an extra 40 hours per month. If you are working a 40 hour per week job, that’s like working an entire extra week per month. Now, obviously, you must have some commute, so I’m just talking about the incremental increase. This is a long way of saying yes, it can make sense to change jobs because of the commute, especially if the commute is taking you away from family or hobbies that you value. Of course, this all assumes that you have options that are closer to home.

    23. Manders*

      Totally normal to quit a job over a bad commute. I live in a city where some of the biggest employers run their own private bus systems because commutes can be so rough on their employees–it’s pretty much the expectation around here that people care a lot about the time of their commute and factor it into their job choices.

      It doesn’t hurt to ask for flexible hours, though, because you have a decent chance of getting them if rush hour is that rough in your area.

    24. CatCat*

      I’ve left a job over the commute. I couldn’t stand being in my car 45 mins – 1 hour each way. I wouldn’t mind a commute that long on a train or bus (reading time and meditation time!) or riding my bike (exercise!), but in a car… it just felt like my life was being sucked away.

    25. TotesMaGoats*

      One of the big reasons, not the biggest though, that I left OldJob was my commute. It was a solid hour and 15 on a good day. And it shouldn’t be. 40 minutes and I would’ve been fine. As it was, I was doing back roads and coming in early to leave at 4:30 bc later would’ve been even worse. NewJob is between 30-40 most days each way. And going from suburbs to city. Makes sense. I’ve gotten back so much time with my family. OlderJob was 20 max which spoiled me majorly.

    26. Drew*

      Four and a half years ago, I moved into a house that I was hoping to make a “rent to own.” I doubled my commute in the process, from 15 minutes to half an hour.

      Four and a half years later, I’ve just bought a house across town because the half-hour commute has turned into 45 minutes or more at rush hour, as everyone now uses the out-of-the-way freeway I was counting on as my secret commute weapon. Argh. My commute is now 20 minutes or less if I avoid rush hour, and usually no more than 30 minutes even with traffic and an accident or two. Plus, this house is WAY nicer.

      IMO, yes, it’s totally valid to decide a commute isn’t a cost you’re willing to pay to keep a job. But I echo several other people: talk to your bosses and see if you can flex your start/end times.

    27. SomeoneLikeAnon*

      My husband and I are moving completely to change our commute. Right now our commute is 45 minutes in the AM and anywhere from 65 -100 mins in the evening. While we though we were being smart by moving an extra 15 minutes out of the commute at the time (and saving a ton in rent/etc) after 3+ years of it, we’re done. We have nearly no social life and like others have mentioned our weekends are packed with chores we can’t get done on the weekdays. I don’t even have that bad of a commute compared to others, but it just isn’t working out anymore.

      I completely understand wanting to change jobs for the commute!!

    28. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      I left a job I absolutely LOVED over (mostly) a long commute. Commuting can be really draining and make you feel like you’re working extra long hours. My current commute is 2 miles by bike each way, and even though the job is much less fun, my quality of life is 1000x better.

      1. Commuter Blues*

        The job I left with a 20 min commute was miserable, completely terrible job and place and coworkers that was not worth the quick commute. So now I’m in a much better job but the longer commute is what’s dragging me down. I can’t seem to win!

    29. Becca*

      You are NOT crazy!!! Losing out on almost 13% of your day because of traffic is a perfectly good reason to be dissatisfied. Your life shouldn’t be all work and driving and sleeping— you need some you time!!

      My husband hates driving, and so he’s pretty much committed to living within a 20-minute drive of wherever he works. But he’s a high school teacher, so rush hour hardly impacts him. (Certainly not at 6:45 am…). For people dealing with rush hour, however… Well, I can’t imagine dealing with that for weeks and months on end. See if you can change your schedule, and if not, resume the hunt. Good luck!

    30. BF50*

      I work 7:45-4:45 just to drop my commute from 40 minutes to 25. It’s absolutely reasonable. You might also see if you could work remotely one day a week.

      I have turned a job down over a 45 minute commute which got me some judgement from the hiring manager, but there is a big difference between 45 and 90 minutes.

      The only thing is, some hiring managers may question you for not realizing the length of the commute before actually taking the job. I know generally how long it will take me to get to most parts of the metro area in rush hour, so commute would come up at the outset.

    31. Bea W*

      Commute can be a big deal. That’s 2-3 hours of your day just sitting in the car, mostly going nowhere fast. I used to have a 45-60 min commute in traffic. I sucked it up and accepted that as normal. It’s what everyone does. Then I moved and my commute was 30 minutes on accepted less awful route, and then I realized almost immediately how stressful the longer crappie commute was. I had just never known accepted another nylon different. Then I took a job that was easily accessible by subway. I didn’t have to drive at all. It was 45 min but I wasn’t sitting in traffic, and I wasn’t worried about repairs or gas or shoveling out a spot in the snow and potentially losing it later.

      It’s a quality of life issue for me. I did turn down a job that would have been a 90 minute commute in rush hour, and not accessible by any acceslternative method other than cab or rental if my car was in the shop. I tried to convince myself I should suck it up, but nope, not voluntarily doing that to myself if there alternative other options. Not worth any amount of money. That’s 3-4 hours of my day I can’t get back, and I’m not a morning person either. Having to leave around 7 AM was not going to work.

    32. Windchime*

      I changed jobs in October and went from a 20 minute commute (each way) to a 60-75 minute commute (again, each way). I drove to work on the 20 minute commute but I take the bus or train for my current job. The first couple of months were the absolute worst; like you, I was exhausted all the time and felt like I had no life. It takes awhile to get used to a longer commute. I have to say that it’s not as bad as I thought it would be; since I’m on the bus, I can nap or read my book or look at my phone. I’m in the Seattle area and there is no way I could drive from my house to work; it would take easily twice as long because I wouldn’t be able to take the carpool lane like the bus can.

      I would say, give it a little more time. Maybe look into a carpool if that’s an option? But if it just feels like it’s not going to work, then I think that a long commute is a perfectly fine reason to start looking for something closer to home.

  3. Cambridge Comma*

    Similar but very different story of a boss telling the whole team that they would be laid of: I used to work for an arts/culture non-profit at a regional centre. After I left, a colleague became the director when the old one retired. He was a devious so and so, but he inherited a bright and dedicated team. So a few months after he started, he told the whole team that they should start job hunting because their performance was so bad that the centre would be closed and they would lose their jobs. So, they all immediately started job searching. In the country where the centre is, you can only resign on the last working day of the month. So the final day of that month, all of them handed in their notice. They were all well qualified and talented and had been being paid below market rate. As there was 0% employment in the country at the time, they had all found better jobs. He was flabbergasted. He had invented the whole thing as a motivational tool. He thought they would suddenly work much harder, but was too stupid to see they were already giving 110%. None of them complained to the parent organization so he spun it that they were only interested in the money, they bought it apparently as he’s still there are retires soon.

      1. Sabine the Very Mean*

        hahah okay okay…that’s the first I’ve heard what the line in “Veep” was really supposed to be. “Hoisted by our own **tard”.

    1. justsomeone*

      What an idiot! Those poor people – I hope they all made a lot more money working elsewhere.

  4. Cordelia Chase*

    I have been at my first post grad job for over 2.5 years and it is a very small office (10 or less people). When I signed on I was trained by the person who I was replacing. He quit without a job lined up. He interviewed, helped hire, and trained me for 3 months. This is unfortunately the norm at this particular place.

    I was asked to and also am expected to do the same… or at least give them much more than 2 weeks notice. Ideally they said I would let them know when I start looking so I can help them get a replacement and train them.

    So my dilemma is… how should I go about leaving? They said that they would notice if I started taking time off for job interviews since the office is so small, so they would rather me be honest with them. Since the office is tiny and I wear a couple different hats, I really would be hurting them if I only gave them two weeks notice. I would also burn some serious (well connected) bridges that I would like to use in the future.

    I have about a years worth of savings saved up because I knew this time would come. I live with my SO who is willing to help, but can’t take on both of our expenses on their own for a long period of time. My plan is: start applying to places and when I get a few positive bites for interviews, break the news to Boss, help them get squared away, hopefully have a job by time I leave, or take a giant leap of faith and be unemployed. Is this insane? I feel stressed and stuck. I am pretty unhappy.

    1. Sadsack*

      I think it would be difficult to ask a new employer to let you push your start date out 3 months. I think I’d do as you suggested and start looking without telling them. Are they just going to fire you if they find out? Doesn’t sound like it as they would be left in a bad position if they tell you to leave immediately.

      1. Frozen Ginger*

        I’d say it depends on the employer/industry. In companies where they interview colleges hires in October for a June start-date, you might be able to swing it.

    2. Emmie*

      Their request is quite unrealistic. It is very unfair that they’re putting you in this predicament where it could jeopardize your connections and references. I would apply and interview for jobs now. When I received an offer, I’d negotiate a start date one month out to give me a month at my current job to train someone. You can also create process documents now for regular tasks to give to whomever takes over. (It’s also realistic to give a standard two week notice if that works for you. It is ridiculous to expect a person leaving to stay three months, and then job search while unemployed.)

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        I really like this as a solution. And you can prep in advance without it looking like your quitting (we’re in process of creating a true SOP at my job now not because either of us are planning to leave but because we’ve created or re-created so much and there was never an onboarding packet for someone new to this area of work).

        1. Emmie*

          I usually do this for every job that I’m in mostly because I wish someone had done it for me. A person can also do this under the guise of “if I got hit by a bus,” or my preference “if I somehow figure out how to grow money trees.”

          1. Jadelyn*

            Our usual phrase is “if we all won the lottery tomorrow”, but same deal. I just had to do some serious documentation for my job so that I could take a week off without it all going to shit, and now I’m thinking about setting us up with a team wiki so we can all do stuff like that.

    3. Longtime Lurker*

      It’s not insane but you are not working in your own best interests. Quitting a job and being unemployed because your boss wants more than the two weeks notice seems really off to me. Don’t do that. You don’t owe them that much. Do it the standard way: research, interview, get solid offer, resign. You may be able to negotiate with your new employer a start date which may allow you to stay at your other employer longer than the two weeks’ notice. Best of luck to you.

      1. Amber T*

        This. As Emmie said above, make various documents and training guides on everything you do (during work hours, not on your own free time). You know what would be best for your employer? That you never leave. But that’s not what’s best for you, and that’s not practical. Same with expecting 3 months notice. Not practical, and not best for you. Make the transition as smooth as possible, and like LL said above, try to negotiate with a new employer for a later start date (though I would not go beyond 4 weeks), but don’t become unemployed for the sake of your old company, because that’s what’s “best” for them.

    4. Amy*

      I definitely understand places wanting more than 2 weeks notice, and assuming they don’t have a history of screwing over their employees when they give notice, I think it’s good to give more notice than that. But asking for 3+ MONTHS notice is pretty out there for your employer to expect.

      Apply for jobs. Many will be fine with you setting a start date a month out from when you’re hired (they know you need to give notice, and it’s pretty common to want either a longer notice period or a couple weeks to recharge between jobs), so you’ll probably be able to wait until you’re negotiating an offer and give about a month’s notice then. I think that’s enough time to hand off most things–especially if you take the time now to note what you do and how you do it, so there’s easy reference material to hand off to someone else.

      And if their management is so bad that they really can’t handle someone leaving even with a month’s notice, that’s on them! They should have the ability to cover people leaving, whether it’s for a new job or a medical issue or whatever.

    5. Princess Carolyn*

      It is weird that they said they’d notice if you started taking time off for job interviews. Assuming this is at-will employment, you have no legal obligation to give notice at all, and no ethical/politeness obligation to give more than, like, four weeks’ notice. It’s unlikely that your new job would let you postpone your start date any longer than that, though of course it will depend on a number of factors.

      They wouldn’t give you three months’ notice if they were going to fire you or lay you off, would they? So you don’t really owe them the same courtesy. It’s an unreasonable request.

    6. Inspector Spacetime*

      Definitely don’t leave before you have another job lined up.

      If you think they can be trusted to not harass you and push you out if you tell them you’re looking before you actually get a job, then go for it. If you don’t, don’t tell them until you get a job. You can give the standard two weeks or longer depending on what your new job will allow. Definitely don’t go without work for an unknown amount of time just because you don’t want to inconvenience your current job! Having professional courtesy is one thing, but that is going way too far.

    7. fposte*

      A slightly different viewpoint: it’s pretty common in academics to give this kind of notice, and it works out okay. I think your plan seems like a reasonable way to approach it.

    8. Happy Lurker*

      Cordelia – I think your plan has merit. You work for a crazy place, but you want/need their reference. Do their dance, on your terms. Brush off your resume, chat with a headhunter. Roll it all around in your mind for a week or two. Maybe by then you will have a couple interviews lined up and then sit down with your boss.

      You don’t owe them any more than the two weeks, but they asked and you really don’t want to be unemployed (I don’t think from your letter). If they make your life hell after giving notice, then just leave. You then know you did what they asked and you tried your best.

      Good luck!

    9. Rachel in NYC*

      One idea if you trust your boss(es), is to say to them: Hey, as you know, I’ve been here for X long and I think its time for me to move on to my next opportunity. I know you guys really want me to what Jimbo did (interviewing/hiring/training) and I’m happy to do that, but for that to be a real option, I would need your guarantee that I would still have my job here until I find a new position while I’m available to your new hire. (And you can ever suggest perhaps a project that’s always on the back burner that you could work on during that period.)

    10. DecorativeCacti*

      I work 8-4:30 with a 30 minute lunch.

      I always thought the song “9-5” by Dolly Parton was completely ridiculous because she is complaining about having an eight hour shift but she’s not even working a full eight hours with lunch!

    11. Cordelia Chase*

      Thanks for the replies everyone, it helps put things in perspective. Preparing a packet of my duties is a great idea!

      I also want to add that when they said this to my face, that ideally I could let them know when I’m job hunting and could find/train my replacement, I said that I would do my best and try to give as much notice as I could. I also said that we could set up something on weekends if needed. They didn’t bat an eye at that so I am hoping they didn’t take that to mean I would go along with the plan, but more as an “I’ll try to help you out as much as I can within reason.”

      Also, they will not fire me if they find out I’m looking, but I am worried about burning bridges with them by giving only one months notice. Everyone’s advice was really helpful and has given me something to think about. Thanks all and happy Friday!

      1. Natalie*

        For whatever it’s worth, I discourage you from working at your old job on weekends after you get a new job. New jobs are hard and tiring, and assuming it’s full time you are going to need your weekends to recharge and handle other stuff in your life.

        This organization is going to be 0kay without you. If they tank your reference because you wouldn’t given three months notice or keep working there after you quit, they are effing bananas and you frankly couldn’t trust them to not renege on a good reference for some other dumb reason.

  5. NJ Anon*

    I am interviewing and dreading the “weakness” question. I am trying to frame it that at this point in my career I have identified my weaknesses and done things to improve on them and then explain those things. So far that seems to work.

    Also, I am looking for a job with less stress. How do I frame that in a cover letter/interview?

    Thanks! and Happy Friday!

    1. Hey Anonny*

      For asking about stress, I would ask in interview what kind of pace/hours are typically worked. If they say they stay late in the office every day to get things done, that would seem like a high stress environment to me.

      Then again it can vary depending on who you talk to. If you asked coworkers at my previous job, they’d say things were very low stress… But that’s because I was dumped with all the worst projects to work on so my job was super high stress! :P

      Good luck with the search!

      1. nonegiven*

        My mom went to a job that the other employees warned would be high stress. After she was working for a while she laughed, ‘high stress,’ this is nothing compared to [job she left.]

    2. Anon16*

      You can also ask about the expectations for employees and decide if that’s the type of thing that will cause you stress. Or deadlines or cultural fit (are employees expected to work beyond 40 hours a week?). What causes you stress at a job? Maybe if you’re able to determine what it is exactly, you can ask about that, rather than stress level.

    3. michelenyc*

      I used to dread the weakness question but have realized it’s not so bad. Mine is that I am very direct in all of my communication and if you don’t know me I come across as short and a little a snippy. What I have found is almost 90% of my most recent interviewers have said I have the same problem.

    4. Iris Eyes*

      For the weakness question in my most recent interview I said that I didn’t always listen to my own good advice. The interviewer liked the answer. I was quite impressed with it myself. YMMV

      As far as the stress, maybe stressing the health aspect, I’d read that as taking responsibility rather than looking for something easier/lazy.

    5. LSP*

      If you’re looking for less stress, I’d ask about work/life balance in the interview.

      I’m not sure I’d add it to a cover letter, though. It could too easily be taken as “doesn’t want to work hard,” when what you really mean is “I don’t want to kill myself with work.”

      1. NJ Anon*

        It’s really more about stepping away from some of the responsibilities of my current position which cause stress although it could just be this particular workplace.

    6. Ama*

      I have framed it before as “looking for a a position with an emphasis on proactive project management.” But my stress level was driven by a workplace that operated at crisis, last minute emergency levels 80% of the time. I have also used “looking for a job focused on [area]” when trying to get away from a catch all general admin job.

      In an interview, if asked about the proactive thing I would explain that my current job was largely based in reactive tasks and as someone who thrives on advance planning I was looking for something with a higher proportion of proactive projects. It worked extremely well in getting me my current position (which really does require an ability to plan a year or even 18 months in advance to really execute well).

      Basically decide what you want in your new position that would reduce your stress and figure out how to describe how that differs from your old position that at least sounds like “your job is a better environmental fit for me” and not “I need out of here because these people think dropping a $5,000 advance request on Friday afternoon for a trip they are leaving on Sunday morning is reasonable.”

  6. Hey Anonny*

    For those with a full-time hourly job, how does lunch factor into your hours? My last job was eight hours 8:30-4:30 but an hour lunch was included in that so it was seven working hours. Current job requires eight working hours and lunch is not included, so if you’re 8:30-4:30 and take half hour lunch, now you’re leaving at 5. How does it work with yours?

    1. Jan Levinson*

      I work 7:30-4:30 with an hour lunch. So, I’m technically only working (and getting paid) for 8 hours, even though I’m there for 9 hours.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s how most of my office jobs have been. At Exjob, my boss let me squish my hours down to 8:30-4:30 and work through what would be my lunch hour (Missouri doesn’t require you to take a break, and I did eat) to avoid the worst of the rush hour traffic. I had to drive across town to get to work, and while it wasn’t a very long commute, it was a really aggravating one and was stressing me out.

        1. Jan Levinson*

          Oh, man. I live in Missouri, too, and didn’t even realize the state doesn’t require you to take a break.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            It’s at the employer’s discretion; I’ve never had one that didn’t give you at least a half hour for lunch, and usually two ten or fifteen-minute breaks.

    2. LizB*

      I work four 9-hour days and one 4-hour day each week. I take a half-hour unpaid lunch on the 9-hour days, so technically I’m at work 9.5 hours (e.g. 9-6:30, with half an hour clocked out for lunch whenever I have time/feel hungry). I don’t take a lunch on my 4-hour day.

    3. lcsa99*

      Mine works just like your last one. 8:30 to 4:30 an included lunch hour so only technically working 7 hours (though I usually come in around 8, since I have to keep track of the time everyone comes in and that just makes it easier).

      I don’t know what I am gonna do if I ever have to go back to actually working 8 hours cause this is great.

    4. Variations on a theme*

      I’m just… here… as long as necessary, and pretty “on” to notifications and emails while I’m home.

      That utter lack of work/life balance means I get in around 8am, leave at around 5pm, and take as long a lunch as I feel like (though it’s usually 45 minutes or so).

      1. Bilbiovore*

        oh, this is me. flexible hours and 176 hours of vacation and no work/life balance. On the other hand, I am one of the fortunate few that loves their work in a field that is highly competitive. Lunch- bring it. at my desk. reading AAM.

    5. YarnOwl*

      When I started the job I’m at now, I worked from 8:00 to 4:30 with an hour lunch, because they just required 7.5 hour work days (which is kind of weird and I don’t know how normal it is, but that’s what they do).
      When the new overtime law was going to go into effect, I was below the threshold for exempt employees and so I was switched to hourly. Now I work the same hours but take a half hour lunch break and get paid a bit more since my hourly rate was based on 7.5 hour work days and I work 8 hour days. I usually go to lunch with a friend at least once a week and take a longer break, and so on Fridays I usually just come in a bit early to make up the hours.

    6. straws*

      I work 8-4 with an included lunch. We typically say 30 minutes, but no one bats an eye if you bump up to an hour as long as work is done.

    7. Gaia*

      I am not hourly but my team is. Their schedule will be something like 8:30 – 5pm and half an hour of that is their lunch so they are paid for 8 hours a day.

    8. krysb*

      When I was FT hourly, I worked 8 – 5 with a lunch. At my current job, I let my employees take lunch on the clock, since hourly workers are such minority here.

    9. Bad Candidate*

      I work 7-3:30 with a 45 minute lunch. A half hour is unpaid and a 15 minute break, which I could take separately if I wanted to, is paid.

    10. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I work 8:30am-5:30pm and get an hour-long lunch (which is unpaid), so I’m still working a full eight hours.

    11. Mona Lisa*

      When I started I go to pick whether I wanted a 30 or 60 minute lunch, and my schedule was adjusted accordingly. I work 8-4:30 most days with a 30 minute lunch included in there. If I’d chosen to take the 60 minute lunch, I would be working until 5 instead.

    12. Susan*

      I get a 30-minute paid lunch, but the deal with the paid lunch is that we don’t have a set lunch time — we have to take our lunch break as time permits, and if something comes up in the middle of our lunch break, we have to go back to work and finish the lunch break later.

    13. Callalily*

      My job is a 9-5 job where it is optional to leave for lunch. I opt to stay at my desk and take 15 minutes to eat so that I get a full 8 hour paycheque – to my boss this is the same as taking a coffee break. If I leave for an hour I have to dock that from my timesheet but I can choose to stay late to get the hour back if I wanted.

    14. over educated*

      It is unclear and variable at my workplace. My boss says our half our lunch is unpaid, so I work 8.5 hours most days, but another supervisor at his level in our division says we are supposed to get a half hour unpaid lunch and 2 15-minute breaks, so she and all of her employees work 8 hours, combine the 2 “breaks” into a 30 minute paid lunch, and just don’t take the unpaid lunch. It definitely annoys me sometimes to work more than most of my colleagues, especially since the people working 9 hour days to get every other Friday off are only in the office half an hour longer than I am. But I don’t want to go to HR to clarify because I don’t want to ruin it for everyone else if the other supervisor is wrong.

    15. J*

      Lunch is not included in my working time. My general hours are 8:30-5:00 with a half hour lunch, but I have some flexibility. I usually come in 5-15 minutes early and used that banked time to leave between 4 and 4:30 on Fridays. If I wanted, I could work 8-5 or 8:30-5:30 with a longer lunch.

    16. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I am paid by the tenth of an hour and am required by state law to take a half hour unpaid break if I work 8 hours or more. I often work 7.9 hours (7 hours 54 minutes) so I can go home earlier, unless I know I can clock at least 8.5 or 9 hours, as otherwise it isn’t really worth it. I also get a paid 15 minute break for every four hours worked, so when I work 8 hours I usually tack one or both paid break onto lunch.

    17. Nan*

      I’m not hourly, but my staff is. They have 8 hours of working time (which includes 2 15 minute paid breaks) and a half hour unpaid lunch. So they are here 8.5 hours a day, with 7.5 hours of productive time. 8.5 hours here minus 2 breaks and lunch.

    18. Jadelyn*

      Ours is 8 working hours +lunch, and you can choose to do a half hour or full hour lunch, as you prefer. I do half an hour because I’d rather get to sleep a little later without having to stay late in the evening, so I work 8:30-5 with a half hour lunch.

    19. JAM*

      My government jobs were 8-5 with a 1 hour off the clock lunch planned for hourly employees (8 hour days). In the private sector I do 8:30 – 5 and still an hour for lunch (7.5 hour days).

    20. General Ginger*

      I work 8:30 to 4:30 with an included 15 minutes of paid break as long as said break is taken in the building and I can be tracked down and pulled back in to work if needed. If I want to take more than 15 minutes for lunch, or leave the building, then I need to punch out and it’s unpaid.

    21. EddieSherbert*

      My last job was hourly and I worked 7:00-4:30 with a 30 minute unpaid lunch (and two 15 minute paid breaks).

      Break times and lunch time was scheduled at specific times (breaks at 10 and 3, lunch at 12).

    22. Frozen Ginger*

      I work 9-hour days (9/80 schedule) and lunch is unpaid. We also have flex-time in my department, so people take however long they like for lunch, whether that’s 2 hours or 0.

    23. Salyan*

      8-4:30, with a 30 min unpaid lunch break and 2 15 minute paid breaks. Only no one here really takes coffee or smoke breaks, so we all end up book-ending our 15 minute breaks into lunch so we can take an hour. It works out to 8.5 hours at work, with 8 hours paid and a 1 hour lunch break. I like that math. :-)

    24. Tim*

      I work 11-7:30, so 8 hours + 30min unpaid lunch. When I think about it I actually find it really annoying that I’m required to be at work for an unpaid half hour.

    25. Ama*

      Every job I’ve ever had (I’ve been in academia and nonprofit) has been paid based on a 7 hour workday with the expectation that you would take an hour lunch. Now, whether that actually happens all the time is debatable — my last job in academia I was working 9-5:30 or even 6 some days with about 20 minutes for lunch because we were so understaffed. But at my current job except for a couple busy periods I can usually work 9:30-5:30 and take a full hour.

      1. Ama*

        Oh, and to add — my employer is cool with flex hours, so I think they’d be open to someone adjusting to a smaller lunch and leaving earlier/coming in later (as long as it met labor laws) but I personally find that hour break in the middle to be extremely important to being productive in the afternoon. Possibly because I know what it’s like when I don’t get it.

    26. copy run start*

      I’ve always had an unpaid lunch, so 8 hours was 8 – 5. I need an hour to eat and decompress/run errands, but some people like 1/5 hour lunches and will work 8 – 4:30 at the places I’ve worked. Maybe things were different many years ago?

      My mom had a job that paid the first half hour of lunch, but it was a unionized place. I’ve never encountered it here, even when I was unionized.

      1. Workaholic*

        My official shift is 6:30-3 and required by state law to an unpaid 30 min break if we work over 5 hours and 2 10- min paid breaks if working 8 hours. Though i typically arrive at 6:45, eat lunch at my desk, and just make sure I’ve got 8 hours in. If i need a longer lunch break i just have to let boss and co-workers know, assuming no conflicts, and work later to get the full 8 hours.

    27. Thlayli*

      Every job I’ve been in has paid for hours worked not for lunch, so it’s expected you work 8 hours and take a half hour or hour lunch so you are there for 8.5 or 9 hours. At the moment my hours are 8-16:30 with half hour lunch so paid for 8 hours. We get a paid 15 min break in the morn which was a nice surprise never got paid for my breaks before!

  7. Petri Dish of Shame*

    I will officially be getting my master’s degree in a couple of months. It is from a prestigious public university and it is a non-thesis degree (fine for what I do). Here’s the catch: my degree is in a science but since it isn’t a research masters it isn’t an MSc. It is an M with three more letters that unfortunately make the uninitiated think it might be for fine arts! I’m pretty sure I will never be able to use the abbreviation professionally for fear of people thinking I have an arts degree. Is there anything I can do besides writing out “Master of Science Stuff Not Art” (obviously not the real name of my degree)?

      1. Petri Dish of Shame*

        Yes, the S is the fourth letter because it is a Master of Thing and Certain Sciences

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I have an MSEd, which I find is easier to write out as “Master of Science in Education” and then add another line to clarify the subsection within education in which my master’s was focused.

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        Yes that’s a good way to do it, especially for resumes or applications where you really need the hiring manager to understand.
        For a business card or byline or places where there’s not a lot of space, I’d just use the abbreviation and not worry too much.

    2. Gaia*

      I’m not sure you intended this but it comes off as if you view a Master of Fine Arts degree is somehow shameful. It certainly isn’t. Our culture relies on people with a deep understanding of the arts to maintain this aspect of our culture and history as part of our humanity.

      1. Petri Dish of Shame*

        No not at all, I could never pull off such a degree. It would just completely bizarre for somebody in my field to have an arts degree.

      2. Anon today...and tomorrow*

        Hmmm…that’s not how I read it at all. I got the impression that Petri Dish of Shame was more concerned that the work put into the science part of the degree would be overlooked since it’s not clear by the designation / title. I can understand that. Titles do matter. Years ago I had my title change at a position and though I was clearly advised that nothing about my position changed the title gave the impression that I had less responsibility than I did. I raised a stink about it and turns out they did it to all people in the company with a title similar to mine and we were all peeved.

      3. Petri Dish of Shame*

        Ohhh, do you mean the nom de plume? I think there is already a Petri Dish here, so it was of Shame (as in Cone of Shame from the movie Up) or of Doom. The name is not related to any opinion I have about art at all. This is the reason I hesitate to comment here. I won’t be doing it again any time soon.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Please don’t let one (pretty gentle) question drive you away!

          Anyway, is the degree-granting institution relatively large and/or well-known where you are? I’m assuming there are bunches of other graduates around looking for the same kinds of jobs as you are, so that will help ensure that resume-readers are familiar with the degree.

          1. Arduino*

            It’s not just one though. People have been quick as of late to socially nit pick comments. It’s tiresome. Happened to me yesterday on the PTO post.

            1. Drew*

              Agree with Arduino. I’m seeing more comments that snipe from the sidelines without saying anything constructive here, and I’m certain that’s not the community Alison wants for her website. Can we as a group resolve to be less pointlessly critical in our responses, please?

              1. Elizabeth*

                I didn’t think it was pointlessly critical. I got a little bit of the same vibe although I realize it was likely unintentional or unconscious wording. I work at an art school and I do think that people undervalue academic study in the arts in some ways. It’s just incredibly different from other fields.

                1. Arduino*

                  My advice is to assume positive intent vs derailing an entire Convo based off of the vibe a comment most likely written quickly between work tasks gives off….

          2. PDoS*

            Yes, it is a big school and it is in the top tier for my particular profession, and yes there are a lot of us in this degree program (the reason it isn’t an MS is because it was designed for folks already in the general field who want to advance but who aren’t looking to be principle investigators/academic track, there are also a lot of veterinary and pre-veterinary students who get this degree to be more competitive getting into vet school or as continuing education).

            The problem is I am only in the 7th graduating cohort because it is a new degree.

            As for the above comment; it wasn’t necessarily worded rudely but it was certainly off topic and pretty defensive when there was nothing to defend. Asking me for clarification would have been preferable to launching an unrelated offensive. I’ve been reading comments here for years and this is getting to be an issue. I used to really admire how civil discussions were.

            1. Can't Sit Still*

              FWIW, my boss has a very unusual degree, so she writes it out on her CV, since it’s not clear what it is otherwise. I would write yours out for now, since it’s a relatively new degree.

        2. KellyK*

          For what it’s worth, I didn’t take your comment as critical of arts at all. Obviously, if you’re in a sciency field, an arts degree is going to be less relevant, and if the degree type isn’t one where the acronym is easily recognizable in your field (like an MBA would be in business or an MLIS for librarians), it’s going to confuse people.

          I’d write the full degree out on your resume if you think there’s the possibility of confusion.

          My master’s degree is a little weird too, in that it’s a Master’s of Science in English with a Concentration in Technical and Professional Communications. It’s wordy as all get-out, but as a tech writer, I always include the concentration, since it’s way more relevant to my field than an English degree with a focus on literature.

          Even weirder, the MS has nothing to do with the fact that it’s a tech writing degree. The school’s English program does MS degrees, with MAs requiring additional foreign language classes. There’s no part of that that makes any sense to me.

          1. LAI*

            Haha my degree is similar. The concentration is much more closely related to my field of study than the general degree field, so I always include the full name of the concentration, and abbreviate everything else!

        3. Not So NewReader*

          FWIW, I read your question as people would say why do you have X degree for Y field and it was unsettling for you that people may discard your app without even asking what those initials mean.

          Just my opinion, but there seem to be so many degrees out there it makes sense to not abbreviate the name of the degree. Hopefully the name fully stated will make more sense?

          Family member has a Ph-something-or-other and he has to explain what it is, all. the. time. I started thinking of it as our modern day normal. Making matters worse for Family Member, the university no longer offers that degree. I think we will see more and more of this in the future, and more people will be explaining their degree.

        4. Gaia*

          Hi Petri, no it wasn’t the name it was just the way it read. I didn’t think you meant it that way but it read a bit like it would be terrible for people to mistake your degree. Certainly no reason to not comment here.

          1. Amy*

            But…it would be terrible for most job hunters if the person reviewing their resume mistook their super-relevant degree for something completely irrelevant. That could be the difference between getting an interview and not getting it!

            Trying to read this as “Art degrees are inferior and not worth as much” seems like a real stretch to me. All this says to me about a fine arts degree is that it doesn’t give the right qualifications for a science-based job in OP’s field, which is true.

            1. PDoS*

              That’s pretty much it. I’m fairly sure folks with MFAs would not want professional contacts confusing their degree with a Master of Finite Asteroid Science, Master of Forestry and Agronomy, Master of Fistulas and Sepsis Sciences, Master of Fisures and Soil Sciences, Master of Fomites and Alkaline Soda, etc. (disclaimer: degrees I made up). But MFA is much better known in the general population than my degree.

      4. Anxa*

        I didn’t read at all, but that’s because I’m in the sciences. In a lot of schools, getting an arts degree in a science field means you focused on a lot of arts classes and probably skimped on supporting sciences or math credits, which really does matter.

        1. Drew*

          I got a BA in math because I was heading toward an education career and I didn’t see the point in taking a couple of high-powered classes the BS would have required. This came back to bite me when I started working on my MS…

    3. Ms. Meow*

      My bachelor’s is in Chemistry, but because I went to a liberal arts college, I have a BA. At my current job (I now have a PhD), one of the interviewers questioned it and I answered honestly. The interviewer commented how that was interesting and we moved on. It might not be that big of a deal if you can explain it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s weird–my English degree is a BS, not a BA. My criminal justice degree is an AS. I’ve never been asked about the actual letters, just about why I have two such disparate degrees.

        1. Nan*

          I have a BA in healthcare leadership, but am currently pursuing an MS in healthcare admin. Same flippin’ classes, just more in depth. I don’t know what really distinguishes the A from the S, unless you’re clearly in a science field (biology, chemistry, etc). I wonder if it’s up to the institution. If you think about it, a DDS and a DMD are the same degree, but different schools call it different things.

          Runs off to Google…..

          1. Jadelyn*

            Honestly if you get a good answer come back and share it with us please! I just got my B.S. in HR Management, and I’ve been wondering why that one is an S rather than an A…especially since when my grandboss shared the news with the whole dept most people assumed it was a B.A.

            1. gwal*

              at some schools you can get either BS or BA in the same subject, where the actual distinction has to do with number of research credits/completion of a thesis.

              not my school, as I have a BA in molecular biology :D

              1. General Ginger*

                Yeah, my school’s BS of Accounting required Quantitative Research Methods; the BA folks didn’t have to take that.

                1. Amy*

                  Mine was similar I have a BS Business, to get a BS at my school you had to have a specialization, mine is accounting, and had more core classes in you specializations and fewer general studies classes than people in the BA track.

              2. Jadelyn*

                Huh. My school didn’t have multiple HRM programs for me to choose from, they only offer it as a B.S. But that makes sense as a distinguishing factor for schools that do that!

          2. TL -*

            I know at my school a BA was assumed to be more theorectical and a BS was assumed to be more applied (you could actually track to a biology BA, though most got a BS, by changing classes, and because we didn’t offer any applied math classes, our math degree was only a BA.)

            1. Nan*

              So, it seems in a BA you’ll take a wider sweep of classes, learn more about more things, not just related to your field. In a BS, you are mostly in your field of study.

              Way back when, when I went to school the first time (I quit) I was pursing a BS in biology, but the school offered it as both a BS and BA, and I chose the BS, because the BA would have required a huge paper at the end. But that was 18 year old me thinking on that one.

              1. Anxa*

                Probably at some schools.

                At my school you could get a B.A. in my science subject with fewer math classes, fewer chem/physics classes, and fewer credits overall. I think some people in the BA track even maxed on on just 15 credits a semester as full-time. B.S. was more rigorous and more quantitative. A lot of BA students were double majors.

          3. Mephyle*

            In my day (1970s), my country (Canada), the degree was according to the faculty. So if you studied Biology in the Faculty of Arts, (an unusual thing which my undergrad university allowed), you could get a B.A. (Biology). But most of the biology students were taking their degree in the Faculty of Science, so they got a B.Sc.
            I also studied at a university that had a Faculty of Mathematics, which is an unusual thing, since most mathematics departments at other universities are organized within the Faculty of Science. So most math majors at other universities earn a B. Sc. (Mathematics) or a M.Sc. (Mathematics) but at this university, you earn a B.Math. or an M.Math.
            I can’t say if it’s the same in other places.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          At one school I went to the BS was if you did not take a foreign language. If you took another language you got a BA.

      2. General Ginger*

        I went to a liberal arts college, but have a BS in Accounting. The college offered a BA in Accounting, too. Both the BA and the BS students took mostly the same classes, except that those of us on the BS track had to take Forensic Accounting and Quantitative Research Methods. BA Accounting students didn’t have to take a research methods class, and I think the Forensic Accounting was optional.

    4. Aunt Vixen*

      I have (among other degrees) an MA in a social science. The fact that the A stands for arts hasn’t hurt me at all. The fact that you’re wishing you had an MSc (rather than wishing you had an MS) makes me think you might be in the UK? But I’m not sure I see why you can’t put on your CV “Mish, Extremely Scientific Subject” just as you’d do if you had a science degree in something artistic (“MSc, Ceramic Basket Weaving” or whatever).

      1. PDoS*

        Thanks for your feedback but I’m an American and the degree is in a “hard science”. I don’t wish I had an MSc, I wish the folks who designed my degree program thought about how the initials could be misleading. I will definitely be writing the whole thing out on my CV but on cards and stuff I’m afraid it will look very strange, or if I were to do adjunct teaching the letters would look really weird because I’d be teaching in the science department.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          Yeah, there’s nothing at all wrong with wanting your degree to be interpreted correctly. I think you just need to spell it out – I don’t think anyone would think worse of you for doing so.

        2. TotesMaGoats*

          I wouldn’t worry about it if you are going into teaching in higher ed. We know there are all sorts of interesting ways of granting degrees.

        3. Ama*

          FWIW, I have an MFA in an arts subject and wound up working in an area adjacent to medical research academia (as an admin not a reasearcher), so I go to a lot of events where it’s expected that you will list your postgraduate degrees after your name. I was a little concerned also that people would see my degree and discount me because I’m not a scientist but really all I have gotten was the occasional interested “I saw on the directory you have an MFA? What in?” and sometimes a follow up “how did you wind up in [area] research?” but always just out of curiosity not in a condescending way. I’d imagine you might get a few more questions about what your degree subject area was than the average MSc but I don’t think most people will automatically think less of your educational background without asking.

          1. PDoS*

            Thanks for sharing that anecdote! Of course there is nothing wrong with an MFA, it’s just irrelevant to the sort of thing I do. It’s nice to have your the perspective from the other side. People who ask know you have an MFA right? They don’t assume you have a professional science degree with weird initials (like mine)?

    5. KL*

      No, I doubt anyone would look at it an think it’s not a science degree. A lot of schools (including the one I work for) have professional Master’s degrees in sciences, but they aren’t MSc degrees. I’d spell it out on your resume/CV if you’re worried about it, but I would imagine that if a hiring manager saw the degree and school, but didn’t recognize it, they’d look it up.

    6. Jules the Third*

      Go with the ‘MFAS (Masters of Flourine Activation and Science)’ format (degree abbreviation, then degree full name), and be prepared to discuss it briefly in the interview.

      I entered an ‘MBA for Geeks’ program that had an odd abbreviation (like, MSB, Masters of Science in Business, iirc). It turned into a fill MBA program by the time I graduated, but for intern interviews, I had to talk to it.

      Fortunately most job listings have ‘or equivalent’ for degree and experience requirements. The online applications I’ve seen get around the ‘worldwide variety of educational abbreviations’ by asking ‘level of educational attainment’ and having a pull-down with ‘Masters’ as one option, so *which* masters it is doesn’t matter.

      I would actually expect HR people or people in a smaller field to recognize the relevant Mxx varients, but maybe you could put ‘similar to an MSc’ in applications to smaller companies with no HR / web application.

    7. Bartlet for President*

      I have an MSSc, which no one has ever heard. I typically write “MSSc in Subject Area” or write out the actual degree type. Sometimes, I just write MSSc, and they ask me about it later. Honestly, they will recognize it as a masters, and unless you are looking at research positions, no one will care that much.

      If you’re concern is how to write your name (such as Josh Lyman, MSSc), I would just write John Lyman. Unless it’s a terminal degree it really should go to after your name.

    8. Pwyll*

      Are you asking how to write it on your resume, or as a post-nominal?

      I’ve long-since given up on abbreviating my degrees on my resume, as I’ve gone through so many quizzical looks with my BBA degree (which has previously included an argument with a recruiter that, no, it’s neither a Bachelor of Arts nor of Science, and is in fact a Bachelor’s in Business Administration directly. Yes, my school is weird. No, no amount of clarifying questions to the school is going to magically change it to a B.A. or B.S.)

      I also didn’t find it terribly helpful in my career to include M.S. behind my name because it gave people the wrong idea (it’s in crisis communications), and only use my Esq. when absolutely necessary. That said, if it’s normal in your industry to include post-nominals, can you swap around the letters a bit? For example, if it’s MFAS, perhaps FASM or MFASc?

      1. PDoS*

        Post nominal, like on the personnel listing at work and on business cards or bylines (I do a bit of technical writing). I like your suggestions for rearranging the initials. I don’t think I could do MFASc though, in my mind Sc is reserved for graduates who did a thesis. I am doing a technical paper, oral comps, and seminar/ defense, so it is a little more low key.

    9. Collie*

      I have an MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science), and while many people don’t know what it is by acronym, those who matter know (ie, employers). Unless you’re putting it on a printed business card, why not just try the acronym for a bit and see how it goes? You can always change it (your email signature, your resume, etc.) if you determine it’s not obvious enough. Good luck!

  8. Private Eyes Are Watching You*

    Oh the joys of a security camera!

    This is the first job I’ve had that requires I keep an eye on the security camera throughout the day and it has been interesting, to say the least. I am curious what crazy things others have seen.

    I have seen everything from people making out and practicing their golf swing, to using the time between all floors on the elevator to eat their lunch (pushing all the buttons). But the craziest happened last week. Our building is mostly secure, in that you have to buzz to get in and need a key fob to open any doors along the stairwell, but the lobby itself is unmanned, it just has the cameras. Well last week two women buzzed every floor to get in so I ignored them. Unfortunately someone on one of the other floors let them in and they immediately scoped out the area testing the door to the stairs which was locked. Then one of them stood in front of the front door obviously playing lookout while her friend proceeded to pull down her pants and squat in front of the elevator to relieve herself into a shopping bag, which she then moved out of sight under the radiator before the two of them left! She was semi concealed from the public view but…it is an elevator, so anyone could have stumbled upon them at any time. Oh and I forgot to mention, her friend took a break from her lookout duties long enough to take a picture of the squatter.

    I work in a big city, so there are public restrooms everywhere (including a Starbucks three doors down from us). Even if you don’t know the area, they obviously have phones so they could have looked at a map. Just makes no sense they would pick a secure building that they have to wait to even be let in. But they did!

    So what crazy things have the rest of you seen people do when they had no idea someone was watching?

    1. Rincat*

      That’s insane!! I mean, I have to pee all the time myself so I get feeling desperate when you have to go….but it seems like it would take much longer to wait for someone to buzz you in than find a gas station or Starbucks or whatever!

      The only funny thing I can think of – my husband works at a datacenter with security cameras everywhere. In the lobby, they have motion sensor lights. When he was on night shift, some of the guys would try to see how far across the lobby they could get before they tripped the motion sensors, so there’s a bunch of security footage of the techs moving in slow motion with goofy smiles across the lobby.

      1. Private Eyes Are Watching You*

        That’s hilarious. I can totally picture it. That’s definitely the kind of thing we’d end up replaying again and again.
        As for our visitors, I think the consensus is that they must have been stuck on a tour bus for that long. But even so if it was me, I would have looked for a restaurant or something similar.

    2. k*

      Well that is something you don’t expect.

      We have security cameras in my office. The monitors are always visible, but they’re really only closely watched when something suspicious has happened. Still, I always feel a bit self-conscious that see me walking around and wonder why I take so many bathroom breaks (I like to get up and stretch my legs).

    3. LKW*

      My office building installed those pre-select elevator things where you have to select the floor before you get on and they’ve removed the floor selection buttons from inside the elevator. No lunch break elevator rides there…

    4. CatCat*

      I didn’t see it, but I’m not surprised (as your tale shows, people are super bizarre): Someone took a sh*t in the hallway at OldJob. I wasn’t there anymore, but it’s become a running joke when I talk to my former colleagues. “How are things at NewJob?” “Great, no one’s taken a dump in the hallway here!”

      1. RVA Cat*

        Somebody took Like a Boss! a bit too literally (but it least it wasn’t on someone’s desk).

    5. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Man, that doesn’t sound like she needed to go… it sounds deliberate.

      1. Private Eyes Are Watching You*

        We figured if it was deliberate, she wouldn’t have used the bag.

    6. Smiling*

      Our building has a spot in the back that is not visible from the street, but is covered by security cameras. Once, a few months back, a couple (no one who works with us) pulled into the back of the building in their vehicle and proceeded to have sex in their vehicle. It was all caught on camera. This is despite the sign back there that says 24 hour surveillance.

      1. Lolli*

        We came into our offices one morning to find ceiling tile had fallen in various offices in our area. The police were called because one of the offices was used as a store to sell technical equipment. So people thought someone had tried to break in through the ceiling. That office had video surveillance and it showed a raccoon almost fell with the ceiling tile and managed to pull itself back up through the ceiling. An entertaining morning was had by all (except the poor raccoon).

    7. Triangle Pose*

      I just use it to spy on my dogs and see which one was misbehaving when I come home to shredded BBB coupons. (DON’T THEY KNOW THOSE COUPONS NEVER EXPIRE? Gahhh!)

    8. AlaskaKT*

      Whew stories about security cameras, I’ve got a few! I worked security for a bunch of different places over a 7 year span so with that in mind:

      There’s the time a homeless gentleman took a dump on some stairs behind the library, and managed to walk while doing so, leaving a line down 9 stairs. The most ridiculous thing is that those stairs were the only place at the library that had cameras because they led to the computer lab.

      There’s the time I watched playback on school cameras of a burglar leaving out one door right as I entered the other. Had I been a minute sooner my 5’2″ self would have bumped right into the 6ft tall guy stealing computers.

      There’s the time when a bunch of kids broke into a school and didn’t steal anything but smashed every window in the school, doing over a mil in damage. They broke in the front door, then covered their faces to smash cameras, after they were all already on cameras.

      And I saved the best for last. This requires some set up. I was working security for county PUD, and my station had a little screen that I could flip through 20 different cameras all over the county. I was also equipped with a joy stick system for rotating and zooming. Every security stand for the PUD had this system (about 5 or 6 of us), PLUS a big camera wall at the PUD building with a guy watching, PLUS a mini station at the county police station. Now about 3 of these cameras were at a substation near a park with a hug lake that people go swimming and boating at. Those cameras were consistanly moved away from the station to the park, and then zoomed in on women/girls wearing bikinis. And there was some serious zoom on these things too (I could read license plates on vehicles across a mile side river). Now the cool thing about this set up is that the station in the PUD building and the police station could ‘lock’ other users out, and I couldnt move those cameras. My boss ended up putting a camera in the PUD camera room and sure enough he caught one of our guys entertaining himself under the desk while zoomed in on teenage boobs… He was perp walked out, AND banned from all PUD properties and that park.

      I guess that was weird behind and in front if a camera.

  9. Cover Story*

    I was wondering if I can get feedback on a “cover story” for why I want to leave my current job of less than a year.

    The actual reason: the management and team simply don’t have their act together. My problems started my first week. The team got a grant to implement a teapot technology product a year ago despite them not being a teapot-focused department, never having planned or implemented a teapot project in their lives, or managed teapot staff. I was hired as a teapot specialist to bring the product to fruition.

    Because they severely underestimated budget and staffing needs, I had to advocate for a larger budget and commitment to staffing to get the project to a baseline of being viable. I had a tense first few months with my immediate supervisor who was often heavy handed and micromanaging but absolutely clueless. I spent the first couple of months on the job undoing his planning and setting up a new plan from scratch. I talked to the EAP service several times a week and ended up going to a psychologist for therapy to deal with all this in my first four months on the job.

    Eight months later, I am glad to have righted the ship. I am now in the middle of building the product with a vendor and slated to launch in a couple of months. My boss has eased on being heavy handed and now trusts I know what I am doing. My other colleagues are cooperating and are nice to me and respect my skills and experience.

    I could very well stay with this project until the grant runs out (in 18 months). But I’ve had enough of dealing with bosses and colleagues who simply don’t know what they are doing. I also find being the lone teapot person in a non-teapot focused department isolating and not where I want to be. My aim is to launch the teapot product but after that I am out.

    I have been getting asked why I am leaving in interviews. My cover story has been to say the project is financially insecure and dependent on grants to keep going, and that I am seeking a more secure situation. But I get the feeling those who I’ve talked to aren’t convinced this is a “good enough” reason. I hesitate to say the truth because that might give the impression I am badmouthing my current employers.

    I’ve also considered saying I want to be part, once again, of a teapot team or a teapot department rather than be the lone, in-house teapot person in a department and colleagues who are not teapot-focused. Or that being the lone in-house teapot specialist in a non-teapot department working with non-teapot colleagues is not my cup of tea (pun intended).

    Any advice on effective cover stories?

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I think “I want to be part of a teapot team rather than be a lone, in-house teapot person,” is a perfectly valid reason to look for a new job. Obvious if I was hiring a lone, in-house teapot person I’d take a pass. But if I was hiring for a teapot team member, I’d consider it a positive that you know what kind of work you prefer.

    2. LizB*

      I think the “I don’t like being the only teapot expert” explanation is the best one, as long as you’re applying for jobs where you won’t also be in that situation. You can tie it into both working environment and professional goals – you prefer to have at least some peers with a similar background to bounce ideas off of, and it’s hard to grow professionally in the teapot field when the organization doesn’t have any focus on teapots other than your current role.

      1. k*

        This is spot on. As I was reading, this was the explanation that came to mind before you even said it. It works because it’s valid, easy to understand, and shows that you have career goals that are committed to that industry.

    3. fposte*

      Agreeing with everybody that the outlier explanation is fine; I think I’d probably pair it with an “I didn’t want to leave until I got the project off the ground, but now…” preface.

    4. S.*

      I’m also currently looking for a new job because being the lone teapot developer is too isolating for me. In my interviews, when I’ve brought that up I get good responses. It’s also a good opening to ask a lot of questions about their teapot team, the kind of interactions my role would have with other teapot developers, etc, because it’s really important to me to make sure I find the right fit this time.

    5. nonegiven*

      I’d go with
      > I want to be part, once again, of a teapot team or a teapot department rather than be the lone, in-house teapot person in a department and colleagues who are not teapot-focused.

  10. Susan*

    In my job, we work in pairs, and each pair can divide the workload as we see fit. Our main work area is in Building A, but first thing in the morning, we both have to attend a meeting in Building B, which is usually over around 8:45. Then, one of us has to attend another meeting in Building B at 9:15. There’s not enough time to go all the way to Building A, get any significant work done, and go back to Building B, so most people spend the time between meetings eating breakfast or surfing the web on their phones.

    My work partner, Jane, and I both dislike meetings, so for the sake of fairness, we alternate who attends the second meeting. When Jane attends the second meeting, I go straight to Building A and start working after the first meeting, while Jane eats breakfast and waits for the second meeting to start. When I attend the second meeting, however, Jane still eats breakfast right after the first meeting, and often stays in Building B surfing the web or taking a nap until I get out of the second meeting.

    Is it reasonable for me to ask Jane to attend the second meeting every day if she’s not going to do any work between the two meetings anyway? And what is a nice way of telling her that I want her to go to the second meeting every day since I know she’s not going to do any work until after the second meeting, anyway?

    1. Hermione*

      I think the real question is whether Jane is meeting all of her goals and/or keeping up her end of the workload? If she’s able to manage her workload and still take that time between the two meetings then I think maybe it’s not any of your business what she does with her time (because you’re not her manager; if you were her manager then you would definitely have the standing to be upset that she’s NAPPING or otherwise screwing around during work).

      If she’s having trouble meeting deadlines, then I think that’s something you can try to address with Jane (or maybe your manager, if framed in a ‘this is how Jane isn’t holding up her end and how it’s affecting my work’ sort of way).

      But I think either way it’s not really feasible for you to pawn off meetings that you simply don’t want to go to just because you think she should have to do something – the something that she should be doing is her work, not attending a meeting in your place.

      1. Susan*

        The thing is, Jane doesn’t have her own personal workload and deadlines. We work as a pair, so the workload and deadlines belong to Jane AND me. I always make sure we meet our goals, but I am doing roughly 2/3 of the workload, no matter which one of us attends the second meeting.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Can you divide the work 50/50 and each decide how you use your time to do it?

        2. Hermione*

          Then that’s the thing to bring up to either Jane or your boss.

          Question: If she took over the second meeting, would it really make up for all the extra work you’re doing where she doesn’t pull her own weight? I’d wager that the real problem is that she’s not doing her share of the work, and that her taking over this second meeting, while it would be a temporary relief, wouldn’t actually solve the overall problem.

    2. LoFlo*

      Jane can nap at work? Is Jane’s napping and dawdling preventing work from getting done? Is attending the meeting a job requirement? I would just tell her that you think it would be better if she attended the meetings with you every day, and say that if she doesn’t want to go, she should get clarification from your manager if she needs to attend or not. I would be livid if my co-worker was sleeping on the job.

      1. Susan*

        It’s a requirement for one of us to attend the meeting, but management doesn’t care which one of us. The last person who was paired with me liked going to the meetings, and was more than happy to take a leisurely breakfast break and then sit in a meeting while I got started on the real work. Oh, and she has gotten in trouble before for napping on the job, but our managers aren’t around that often so she rarely gets caught in the act.

        1. LoFlo*

          Why do you think that her napping is and lack of equal contribution is OK? The napping thing alone, is time theft, just as if she left early and recorded it as work time. The equal contribution thing might not be something that you can do much about. However, Jane would be much more productive is she wasn’t sleeping at work. I get that you are a team, but Jane isn’t being much of a team player here.

          1. Susan*

            I agree completely, but unfortunately, there’s not much I can do about it. Our management knows that certain people do not pull their weight, but they basically refuse to do anything about it, other than pair each lazy person with a hard worker. I’ve always been paired with lazy people, but at least the other lazy people I’ve worked with have been willing to go to the second meeting so I can get more work done.

            1. LoFlo*

              You are a saint, and your management sucks at performance management. My guess is that they do the pairing thing as a way to avoid, you know, really managing performance. Please don’t burn yourself out trying to compensate for the Jane’s.

            2. Ann O.*

              Is there a way you can talk to management to get their support in making Jane go to the second meeting? It sounds like that would be ideal given the two of your work preferences. You don’t have the authority to force that change, but they do.

    3. Howdy Do*

      Is she not completing her work fast enough for you to work effectively together? Because even if she doesn’t start her work in that time you’re in the meeting and has gotten in the habit of eating breakfast then, if it doesn’t really affect her work output then I don’t see why it would be worth rocking the boat or even really a fair request. You both don’t like the meetings and I don’t think she’d be compelled by “I don’t like the way you spend your time when I’m in the meeting” since you’re not her boss (unless of course it does have a substantial impact on your workflow.)

      1. Susan*

        I don’t think her breakfast break affects her work output, but attending the meeting affects my work output — and therefore our overall work output. Let’s say we’re expected to make at least 25 teapots per shift (preferably more). She typically makes 10 teapots in a shift, whether she attends the second meeting or not, because she spends hours surfing the web every day instead of making teapots. If I start working after the first meeting, I can make 20 teapots in a shift, but if I have to go to the second meeting, I can only make 18 teapots in a shift. So if she goes to the meeting, the two of us make a combined 30 teapots in a shift, but if I go, we only make a combined 28 teapots in a shift.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ugh, it’s hard when two people with different work ethics are paired up. So you are meeting goals but you think the two of you could do better?

          Can you say something like, “Jane, I am concerned because the goal is 25 teapots/day. Most of the time we make it but we each should be doing 12-13 teapots per person. What if I have a bad day or maybe I get sick/injured? Would you be able to get up to 12-13 teapots so we can meet our goal?”

          The point here is you are trying to get her up to carrying half the load. And you kind of put a scare into her by suggesting what if you don’t get enough teapots for the day, then what will the two of you do?

          I have tried this with a few people. I can’t repeat here what some of them said. But others did pick up their pacing. Differences in people. I think talk to her and if you do not see improvement as the boss what she thinks you should do next.

          1. zora*

            I like this idea best, framing it as your team reaching a goal together.

            I think you could either go with what NSNR said: ask her to up her output to help the team.

            OR, this is a little more of a selfish solution: asking her to go to the 2nd meeting as part of the goal. “It would be awesome if we could get up to 30 teapots per day, [insert consequences of this, we would get better reviews, perks, etc.] If you go to the 2nd meeting every day, I could get more teapots done, and we would hit that 30 teapot goal every day. Could we do that from now on?” If you think she’s brazen enough to say no to that, frame it as “could we try this for a month and see what our team results look like?”

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      “Hey Jane, since you’re here the entire time of the meeting anyway how about you be the one to attend while I go back to my desk to work on x?”

    5. k*

      Because you are peers and not in a position of authority, I think you’d have a hard time directly telling her that you’ve noticed she isn’t doing anything, so can she either go to the second meeting or get back to work. I would start with something more subtle. On the day you take the second meeting say “Jane, no need to stick around until I finish the meeting, I’ll just meet you back over in Building A.” I’m sure others can give you and option that is less passive aggressive, but if nothing else this makes her aware that you’ve noticed what she’s doing. Hopefully she’ll be a little embarrassed that her slacking has been noticed and will stop.

      1. Definitely Anon*

        Next time you could offer her a choice “Hey Jane, would you rather attend this meeting or do task X? We can meet up after the meeting to (insert thing that needs to be done after task X). I am fine doing either.” Then if she doesn’t want to do any work she has to explicitly state that, which most people won’t do. You could also try explicitly divvying up the tasks at the beginning of the week and saying something if you feel like to many of the tasks are being shifted to you.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          I think this is a great suggestion – it helps you address everything instead of just the meeting! Good luck!

        2. Rachel in NYC*

          I admit I prefer this as a solution. Or alternatively (or if it doesn’t work), you could try asking her if there’s a reason why she prefers to wait for you in Bldg B- not in a position of authority way but in a friendly, hey I was just wondering if there was a reason why you prefer to not head over to the office to get started on things while I’m in the meeting. She may have a reason that you’d accept or could find a work around with (maybe problems with someone who works in Bldg A at that time of day and she wants to avoid them- it’s unlikely but there are undoubtedly reasons that she may have that OP may find acceptable or that may allow them to find a middle ground)

          1. Susan*

            The reason she stays in Building B is because our break area is there, and we’re not allowed to have food in Building A.

            I know it would be more fair to offer her the option of doing Task X instead of going to the meeting, but I know her well enough to know that she would make up for it later by not doing Task Y (she would probably go back to Building B to eat breakfast after I get out of the meeting, or take a longer lunch break, or just spend more time surfing the web later).

  11. Always anon*

    How do I decide on a career? I’m doing a language degree and there are lots of options that I’m really interested in with quite different environments, but I don’t think I know enough about how I work to figure out what kind of environment I’d prefer. More details in comments.

    1. Always anon*

      So, details: I’m studying English and German. For a career, I’m considering TEFL, teaching German at secondary school, academia for linguistics, translating and interpreting. I’m equally interested in teaching German, academia and interpreting, and slightly less interested in TEFL and translating.
      I know that I work well with a routine, but I’m not sure how set in stone I’d want my daily routine to be. I like a fairly high amount of autonomy, but I wouldn’t want to work entirely alone (I could sit at a desk on my own all day, as long as I have a meeting every couple of weeks, for example). I definitely don’t want to work from home and I don’t want to freelance as a main job, though I wouldn’t mind doing *some* freelance on the side. I’ve read a lot about the realities of daily life in each career, and I still don’t know which I’d prefer.
      So, thoughts? Advice? Anything to share about how you decided on your career? Thanks in advance! :)

      1. Dinosaur*

        Which language is your B language/L2? If you think you’d like interpreting in part because you’d get to speak your L2, it’s more common for spoken language interpreting jobs to work into your first language most of the time. That depends on the region, obviously, but it’s something to know. This is a perfect situation for informational interviews. Good luck exploring!

        1. Always anon*

          L1 is English and L2 is German. Ideally, I’d like to bring in Danish as an L3, though only passively. I think I’d find out how viable it would be for me to use both as an active language when doing training for interpreting, right? If I try to freelance right after graduating (without doing a Master’s), I think I’d be too scared to try and interpret into German anyway! Thanks for your input! :)

      2. AP*

        I actually got my degree in German as well (graduated little over 5 years ago). I first worked in a semi-technical digital role that needed someone who could communicate with internal and external clients based in Germany and Austria. I then ended up going deeper into digital marketing, and that’s what I do now at a totally different company in an unrelated field. So my career path has essentially been stumbling from one thing to another, but it’s fun and satisfying and I think it’s given me the time I needed to figure out what I really wanted to do. The first job helped me get a taste of the industry and from there I ended up taking one path, but it probably could have gone a lot of different ways.

        1. Always anon*

          That’s interesting! I’m glad that you’ve found something that works for you. Thanks for adding that – it’s nice to see that there’s lots of options, if I end up going for something else. :)

    2. LizB*

      I also did a degree that could lead to tons of different environments and roles, and this is how I handled it:

      1. Informational interviews! See if some of your professors can connect you with folks in some of the different fields you might be interested in, and ask them a lot about how they got into their field, what the pros and cons are of this role versus other roles they’ve had, what kind of professional is a good fit for their work, and who else they would recommend talking to. It’s pretty likely that some of them were in the same position you are currently in, and will be able to tell you about how they figured out their own path.

      2. Trial and error, honestly. If you can do internships while in school, that can help you start figuring things out, but then it’s really just getting jobs that sound good and moving on (after a reasonable amount of time – a couple years is best) if it’s not what you really like. It helps if your first job or two involve skills that can translate easily into other careers. It’s not really necessary to Decide On A Career for sure right out of school unless all of your options have separate advanced degrees that you would need to get before taking any kind of job, which is pretty rare. It’s pretty common to move around in different aspects of a given field, or even move fields, over a number of years.

      1. Nemo*

        I second internships because I did not do them and honestly wish I had. I think it would have given me a much better idea in what I want from a job, whereas I’m now on a third post-college job and still feeling really unhappy (not even this isn’t a dream job but Im content enough, I mean really can’t stand it).

      2. Always anon*

        Thank you, this is really helpful! I’m definitely taking a note of the types of thing I should ask about. :)
        I think part of my problem is the more I learn about each field, the more interested I am in pursuing it! So I think trial and error especially will help me to figure things out properly. Thanks again! :)

    3. Beth*

      I got a language degree as well, so I’m familiar with this struggle. If you want to stay in your field, you have three main paths you can take: Teaching language, translation/intepreting, and academia.

      Translation, interpretation, and some forms of teaching (tutoring, mostly) are largely freelance careers. That’s not to say that you couldn’t find an established position, but the reality is that most professionals in those areas are freelancers for at least some portion of their career. If you don’t want to freelance, I’d recommend keeping them for on-the-side.

      Teaching language in a school setting is a more steady path, but often requires certifications and/or training beyond just a degree in your language. It also shares a lot in common with teaching in general–it may be worth talking to some actual secondary school teachers and seeing if the ways they describe their jobs sound like things you could handle.

      Academia is its own beast. Since you’re currently doing your degree, I strongly suggest setting up meetings with your professors to discuss their field and get their advice. They’re a great resource for learning about the day-to-day reality of a career in academia, and there’s no better time to access that than when you’re actually their student and have a relationship built up with them. (If you do decide to pursue this path, you’ll likely need to do additional schooling, and having them on board will also be good for getting letters of recommendation.)

      I think it’s also worth considering a career that’s maybe not 100% ABOUT your languages, but touches on them. A lot of people with language degrees go on to use those skills in other fields–a lot of companies do international business, for example, and really appreciate employees who have the ability to function in both their local language and their business partner’s (or international branch’s) language. If you’re not sure what to do next, doing something like this for a couple years can give you a chance to build up some savings while you’re figuring it out.

      1. Undine*

        I know someone who did translation (for a company) for a couple years & hated it. But she now is employed as a project manager for a tech company, coordinating translators, which she likes much more. She doesn’t use her language skills directly, but her past experience is really useful. So whatever choice you make, you can develop after that.

        1. Always anon*

          Thank you! I haven’t given management much thought, but maybe I should to try and keep my options open. :)

      2. Always anon*

        My impression for translating is that many people start either freelancing or inhouse, then career development is to either managing teams of translators or back to freelancing. For (conference) interpreting, my impression is that it’s common to start freelance, then go inhouse (such as for the EU, on the higher end of things). Would you say that’s a typical career path, or am I off base? I think I could deal with freelancing for some time, with the goal of eventually working inhouse.
        I’ll see if I can contact my old high school teachers and set something up with my professors. I’ll try to keep my options open to alternative careers, too. Thanks so much for your input! :)

        1. EU anon*

          Take this with a grain of salt, as I’m not employed in translation/interpreting, but as someone who worked for the EU institutions (and who has a degree in languages and considered translation as a career)… it’s not a career I would go down these days. Very, very difficult to get in, you’ll need a masters degree (unofficially, if not on paper), as well as excelling in a multi-stage job competition lasting almost a year (IIRC) with 50,000+ applicants who need to pass just to be allowed to apply for a job. And once you’re in, the prospects aren’t great – they’re relying heavily on contracted agency work these days, and many translators feel they’ll be lucky to get through to retirement without being replaced entirely by machines and proofreaders. Some of this is hearsay, so obviously do your own research, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

          1. Always anon*

            Thanks for pointing that out – I knew about the Master’s, and I’m not particularly *surprised* that the process is so intensive, but… wow, that’s intensive. If I do go into translating or interpreting, I’ll keep that in mind and do extra research when it comes to it. Thanks again! :)

        2. Humble Schoolmarm*

          Secondary Language teacher here. Asking to talk to some of your old teachers is a good idea, as is making arrangements to go in and help or observe a class or two. One thing I would ask myself is whether your biggest love is using German or helping others use German. If you mostly love using the language, I would go for translation etc. Using a language at that level of fluency is a different skill set from teaching. For teaching, you have really enjoy teens and have a lot of patience with kids who are struggling to master concepts that you find easy because you’re much more fluent.

          1. Always anon*

            Thanks so much for pointing that out – I’ll need to think a lot about that! I think this is probably what it comes down to for me. Thanks again. :)

    4. Drew*

      This may be a minority view, but the way I chose a career was to have several very different jobs until I found one that “clicked” – and it has NOTHING to do with the degrees I got. My parents were appalled that I was “job hopping,” but my shortest stint at a professional job was a mite under three years, and that one ended when the business closed, not because I chose to leave. I think, find a job that you can see yourself doing for a few years, and if it turns into a career, great – and if not, it’s still valuable experience you can sock away while you look for something new to do.

      Best of luck!

      1. Always anon*

        That’s interesting! If you don’t mind answering, is there anything in particular that you took away from each job that helped you find the one that clicked? Like figuring out life/work balance, environment, amount of collaboration, day-to-day etc? Or just learning and growing? Thanks for your input! :)

  12. Collie*

    I’ve accepted an offer, been confirmed with drug/alcohol/background checks, and put in my resignation! It’s real!

      1. Collie*

        Tests are done and I passed (of course…there’s no reason why I wouldn’t).

        Thank you all! I’m thrilled!

    1. A paranoid drinker*

      Congratulations! Can I ask, what were the requirements for passing the alcohol checks? I’ve never heard of them being a requirement before.

      1. Collie*

        When I went to the drug testing lab (which required the usual pee-in-a-cup), I also had to take a breathalyzer test. I thought it was on the odd side — who shows up to a drug test drunk? — but I’ll be working with children and it was no skin off my nose, so *shrug*

  13. OntheSpectrum*

    Argh, I didn’t realize the formatting would eat up half my story. Let me try that again. Sorry!

    I’ll hopefully be starting a new job soon and I’m a woman on the autism spectrum. Should I tell HR?

    Background: I’m “high functioning” and have been in the workforce for over a decade now. I’ve gotten pretty good over the years at figuring out social cues, have algorithms for small talk, can convincingly fake eye contact, etc. Many people are surprised when they find out I’m on the spectrum.

    However, the longer I’m around someone the more likely it is they’ll pick up that there’s something “off” about me. Try as I might, I’ll completely misread a social situation, forget the social hierarchy and be too polite to the janitor and too casual with the CEO, say something sincere and have it read as sarcastic or vice versa, think it’s a good time for a joke when it isn’t, and so on. (Side note: when people tell you it’s okay to loosen up and make some mistakes, they definitely don’t mean socially!)

    I told my manager at my first job and at first she seemed understanding, but later on she’d say things like “You’ll need to take Jane with you to the meeting because you need an interpreter” and calling it “my condition.” If a social situation went badly, she immediately assumed it was my fault, even if I had multiple co-workers backing me up and saying no, Fergus really was just being a jerk.

    At my more recent job, I tried not telling anyone I was on the spectrum. Cut to a couple months later, and my manager does my initial review and goes down the checklist, noting that I’m great at absolutely everything my job entails – but a couple co-workers don’t like my jokes. (These jokes were silly puns and such, not anything offensive.) I’d mistaken their laughter at the first one for encouragement and didn’t notice they didn’t actually like me. *whoops* I told him I’m autistic and promised to fix it, and he said okay, that was fine.

    But then I had a few more problems, most appreciably trying to make friends with some of the HR women, since they’d been nice to me, only to get told blatantly that HR doesn’t make friends (which, ok, makes sense, but *whoops*) and openly calling out some white male privilege during a company-wide open discussion (the guys being privileged were upper managers *whoops*). Got let go without much ceremony after that last one, though they tried to soften it by telling me that “I was clearly under a lot of stress” and “maybe this wasn’t the right environment for me.”

    Additionally, everywhere I’ve worked I’ve inevitably had co-workers correct me on some social incident and then, after I’d said thank you, assume they could tell me how interact with people from then on. It’s incredibly aggravating, demoralizing, and patronizing, but I’ve yet to find a graceful way out of it, and some times it actually is a help.

    So should I tell HR and/or my manager at the new job? I’m honestly scared at this point of having more bad co-worker experiences, but freelancing isn’t paying the bills fast enough. (I’m a writer.) Any other advice would also be greatly appreciated!

    1. Triangle Pose*

      I would wait for a bit and see how the environment is.

      I want to note something for you – your comment indicates to me that you feel you were let go even though your manager said in your review that you’re great at absolutely everything your job entails and that the only reason you were let go without ceremony is because a few coworkers didn’t like your jokes. But part of you job does entail being pleasant and interacting with coworkers, bosses, everyone else in the building in a professional, appropriate and polite way. Part of that is reacting appropriately to social and professional cues and generally behaving in a way that aligns with professional norms. You might find it helpful to consider whether the jokes were just an example of behavior they wanted changed and not the sole reason they let you go (also may look back at this and consider if your jokes were inappropriate for the moment). I find that many people (Autism spectrum or not!) try to draw this bright line circle around their listed job responsibilities/tasks/deliverables and then put everything else outside that circle and decide they don’t have to care about it or throw their hands up and call it “office politics” without recognizing that this decision it to their own detriment. I’m not saying you’re definitely doing this but I’m getting a hint of it from your comment I find in general that outlook on the working world to be very unhelpful if your goal is to advance and be successful in a professional environment.

      I’m sorry your manager assumed all bad social interactions involving you were your faul. I’m not sure why it’s a problem that she’s acknowledging it as a condition? Is that terminology offensive to you or was she sharing it with others? I guess I’m having a hard with your position here – you want her to acknowledge that you’re ont he autism spectrum but just not call it a condition?

      As far as your coworkers, yes, if you tell them you find that sort of correction helpful, they are going to keep doing it when they notice you doing something they perceive as inappropriate or not responsive to social cues. If you find it demoralizing sometimes and helpful other times, you’ll have to properly tell them that. “Hey, I really appreciated you saying X last time but right now I’m having a hard time with the corrections now and I think I can handle it myself, can you step it back?” They aren’t going to know it’s no longer helpful if you don’t tell them.

      1. OntheSpectrum*

        Oh, it wasn’t just the jokes. I had a series of social missteps. The jokes were just the first indication I’d messed up at reading people (again).

        I’ve tried telling co-workers I don’t need their help, and it leads to them either a) being mad at me for being mean and/or b) pointing out with glee the next time I’ve messed up that I should have asked them. :(

        1. Poisson's Revenge*

          Just wanted to sympathize, bc I have trouble reading people myself. Mine is of the foot in mouth variety, but does cause me regular trouble. But everyone makes mistakes. The other day our CEO implied one of his department heads was fat in a badly-worded joke.

    2. Collie*

      Disclaimer: I am not on the spectrum.

      This sucks and I’m sorry. While I feel strongly that people should not have to hide or “misrepresent” parts of themselves to succeed, it often seems that is just the world we live in and in order to fight for visibility in the long run, we sometimes have to concede in the short-term. That said, is it possible to give them a vague “I have a history of having trouble in social situations (which is why I’m really excited about X-non-social-aspect-of-my-job). I hope you’ll let me know if you see me doing something faux pas. I’m really looking forward to this position and don’t want anything to jeopardize it.”

      I don’t know. That wording isn’t great and, frankly, it’s probably ableist and otherwise problematic — happy to take criticism on it; anyone else?

      1. Amy*

        If you don’t want to disclose, OP, I think this is the way to go. Acknowledge that this is an area where you sometimes struggle, and ask for specific feedback if something isn’t going well. (Plenty of people struggle with social stuff without any kind of diagnose-able thing behind it, so I don’t think this will out you or anything.) I’d leave off the part about not wanting to jeopardize the position–that sounds to me like you’re already expecting to do something firing-worthy, which isn’t the impression you want to give–but I like the first two sentences of Collie’s script.

        I do think it’s worth considering getting your diagnosis filed with HR as a thing needing accommodation, especially if you can think of specific accommodations that you could request. There are some protections that come with having an officially filed thing like that. But there are also downsides that come with disclosing (as you’ve experienced), so it’s up to you to decide if the protections are worth it.

    3. Claudia M.*

      I work as a middle manager for state government which employs about 3500 people on our main campus.

      I would not tell HR, but I would tell my immediate supervisor. They should be the buffer between you and upper management if any issues arise, and they are at a level they can directly assist with any problems. Arming your manager with that knowledge lets them fight for you; not against. (As long as your manager is not awful…)

      Additionally, because I recently faced this issue myself with employees, letting a manager know where your comfort zone is can be helpful.

      For example, if you were my employee and had disclosed all of the above information, I might try to assign you to projects more in your skill wheelhouse (specifically writing, based on the above). Not that you’re incapable of other tasks, just that playing to someone’s strength is always a better choice.

      I think not telling ANYONE would be risking the possibility of something unpleasant occurring, similar to previous events. I really hope you get a manager who’s competent and not patronizing, like some of your prior managers were…that really bothered me to read!

      1. OntheSpectrum*

        That sounds reasonable, thanks. I’ll probably go with that.

        I’ve had 50/50 luck with managers and, before that, teachers. Half of them love me, half of them hate me, and there’s genuinely no middle-ground. (Usually the difference is who is most likely to take advantage of the social contract, since I don’t know when I’m ignoring it, but that’s a whole *other* story…) You’ve made me realize I should prioritize talking to my potential new manager during the hiring process this time. And while I really do need a job right now, figure if I don’t get a good manager this time to do everything I can to get myself somewhere else where I do have a good one, whether at the same company or elsewhere.

      2. General Ginger*

        This sounds like a good option to me, though I would still wait and see how the environment felt, first.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I second Triangle’s advice to suss out the environment a bit first.

      I was afraid to disclose my dyscalculia at Exjob, so I did not; I merely alluded to OldBoss that I had difficulty with math. In hindsight, I wish I had disclosed earlier; I think waiting until I was in trouble and NewBoss brought up the Excel work in my PIP left her with the impression I was faking to get out of doing something I didn’t like.

      Once I’d submitted documentation and she watched me struggle with a spreadsheet in a one-on-one, I think the impression of fakery was dispelled, but at that point, I was doomed anyway because the spreadsheet work was the main responsibility in the revamped position. But it did not help me in the least to hide it. Had I not done so, I could have met with her earlier and said, “This is documented; how are the changes going to affect me?” The entire no-information anxiety kerfuffle could have been avoided and I could have left the job on better terms.

      Ideally, you would have probed the culture a bit in the interview(s) if it were possible to do it without disclosing, but I know that’s not always the case. Hopefully this employer is very open and accommodating. Good luck!

    5. Godzilla*

      Wow! Until I got to the bit about the CEO I thought somebody had somehow stolen a letter I previously wrote to Alison. It is spooky how close your words are to mine. Alison very kindly gave me a reply and suggested that I ask my question here, which I declined to do for various reasons. I don’t have any really good advice for you since I’ve never actually gotten fired for that sort of stuff, but I imagine the reason for this is that I self-select out of jobs that require much interaction. Could you maybe try to find roles where you could be by yourself a lot? I’ve tried telling my coworkers a couple of times and they totally do not believe I am on the spectrum (I’m Aspy). My industry is full of militant individualists so I don’t stand out as much. I hope things work out for you!

    6. Brogrammer*

      How you’ll want to approach this depends on what sort of outcome you’re hoping to achieve. Are you hoping for formal accommodation? If so, what would that accommodation look like?

      If you do go the accommodation route, something I could see working is trying to get sort of a primer on the unwritten social rules of your new office. Some of the social heuristics you use will work as is, but each work environment is different so some will need to be recalibrated.

      1. OntheSpectrum*

        I don’t think I need formal accommodation. I’m a girl, so most of how to interact with people has been pounded into my brain by now by popular culture if nothing else. But a primer on the unwritten rules would be amazing if possible. But a lot of people like to pretend unwritten rules don’t exist…

        It’s really just going to come down to having an understanding boss who I can trust, I guess. Maybe third time’s the charm? ::fingers crossed:

        1. Amy*

          A lot of people don’t even realize the unwritten rules exist–they just do them without thinking about them, the same way we all just kind of know when to say ‘the apple’ vs ‘an apple’ (and to never say ‘a apple’). Unfortunately that makes it really hard to make a primer on them! If you don’t get it, usually people would never think to warn you until you’ve already broken it. :(

          I hope your next manager is understanding and gives you clear, constructive feedback you can follow!

    7. Making myself nuts...*

      I like Claudia M’s response. Keeps it on a need to know basis.

      P.S., One can never be too polite to the janitor.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        My thoughts exactly. There is no reason to be anything but polite to EVERYONE you work with, from upper management to the people who clean the toilets.

        1. OntheSpectrum*

          Not if the top IT guy gets really offended you talk to him the same way you do the janitor, or if everyone else ignores the janitor so it stands out like a sore thumb that you chat with them, adding one more “weird” thing to the pile or making co-workers feel guilty because they don’t talk to him so they lash out at you…

          1. Natalie*

            Eh, in this case it sounds a bit like the IT guy is the one in the wrong.

            I’m sorry if this is totally presumptuous/incorrect, but do you think perhaps your ASD makes you second guess yourself more than needed when it comes to social situations? A lot of what you’ve described sounds quite normal, and where it’s abnormal it mostly sounds like your co-workers were the ones in the wrong. Is there someone you trust who is fairly socially savvy and could help you “reality check” interactions you’re unsure about? This is something I’ve had to do with my anxiety disorder and it can be very helpful.

            1. OntheSpectrum*

              I’m pretty sure he was, but he was also in a position of power above me and so it didn’t do me any good.

              Oh, it definitely makes me second-guess myself far, far more than I should! But more than once, I’ve thought to myself “Hey, normally I’d get freaked out about that, but I think that was actually okay there…” only to get called into HR for a lecture.

              I’ve tried for the reality check thing but it just doesn’t work if the “checker” don’t know everyone involved and see the situations as they come up.

              1. Natalie*

                Yeah, I definitely wasn’t think getting a second opinion will shield you from, say, a poorly run HR department. But maybe it would at least put your mind at ease that you’re not doing anything egregious?

                It does sound frustrating.

          2. LadyKelvin*

            I’m sorry you worked with jerks (and most places shouldn’t be like that, if you find yourself surrounded by people who judge based on jobs, then you should start looking for a new job. Because those people are jerks.) You should be polite and friendly with everyone you work with, not just people who are your “equals” or “superiors”. I’m not on the spectrum, but I know all the janitors and security guards by name, I know which ones are married and who has kids. We talk about weekend plans, etc whenever I see them. They are people so you should treat them like people. So my advice is that if people are angry that you are talking to people who are “below” you then you need to just keep repeating to yourself that they are jerks and you are not. And that’s ok.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              My grandfather had an Irish surname back when that was not a good thing in the eyes of society. He taught his daughters to speak to everyone in the same manner. Speak to the night watchman in the same manner as you speak to the CEO.
              Grandpa was never unemployed.
              And at his funeral the church was packed.

              What I am picking up on here is concern about what others think. And, you know what, OP? NONE of us will ever win that one. None of us will ever have everyone at work thinking positively of us at all times. It just won’t happen.
              The best we can do is be fair, be transparent and be sincere. Aim for these things rather than aiming for what other people may/may not think.

              1. only acting normal*

                My Grandpa was also very egalitarian like that, and his funeral was also packed. :)
                E.g. During WWII he was a Lance Corporal (one up from Private) stationed in Iraq; an officer was berating one of the local civilian staff for not stepping off a narrow path into mud to let him pass. Grandpa told the officer “don’t be ridiculous, it’s his country, you’re just a guest”. History does not record whether he was disciplined for that!

                I suspect he was on the spectrum as I’m fairly sure that’s the side of the family my autism comes from. I also have no time for treating different “ranks” differently: they’re all people, and therefore all get treated with the baseline level of respect.

                As for disclosure… Luckily I’m in an organisation where there are an unusually high proportion of spectrum dwellers, but disclosure can still be a minefield even here: from poor assumptions about what you can handle or not, to dismissing out-and-out asshattery as “probably on the spectrum” when most of the confirmed cases I know are perfectly lovely if occasionally awkward!

    8. Jbelly*

      Sometimes bad coworkers are bad coworkers. Or the environment is a bad fit. It doesn’t always mean it is about you – you’ve got enough on your plate to deal with, so no sense in adding that burden.

      That being said, I would wait to disclose this. Feel out the environment first. Maybe don’t disclose at all.

    9. Tau*

      Spectrum high five! I hear you on this front, even though I have apparently managed to stay under the radar socially so far, or at least no one’s said anything to me yet. (It probably helps that I’m in tech, which is often pretty accepting of social oddities.)

      Honestly, I’d try to avoid telling them, and don’t disclose myself. The downsides you describe are pretty significant, and the spectrum is present enough in popular culture and negatively stereotyped enough that I think you risk real splash damage. In fact, to some extent I worry that disclosing will cause the incidents you’re worried about: I myself am pretty certain that my veneer of neurotypical does not hold up to close inspection, and if I disclose that I’m on the spectrum I’m basically guaranteeing a close inspection. If an issue occurs in the new job, I’d think about bringing it up then, but not before.

      What I would suggest you also consider is thinkng what environments might work better for you than others when you search for jobs. Smaller, more casual companies with relatively flat hierarchies might help with the “too polite to the janitor/too rude to the CEO” problem, for instance. I’d almost certainly put my foot in it myself at a more rigidly hierarchical company.

      Finally, and I really hope this comes out right:

      I think that when you’re autistic it’s easy to end up under the impression that everyone around you is perfectly socially poised and you are the obvious exception who is blundering through like a bull in a china shop. But that’s just not the case. I promise you: there have been NT people who didn’t realise other people didn’t like their jokes before, there have been NT people who thought they could make friends with HR. It’s easy to make a thing like this into a huge deal in your head, or view it as proof that you’ll never manage to beat your autistic social difficulties… but it’s important to remember that other people aren’t necessarily viewing it that way. An occasional minor faux pas or social gaffe should not sink you, at least not in any environment worth working in.

      1. OntheSpectrum*

        High five! :D

        Hmm, more casual companies are usually smaller and don’t usually need writers so much, but maybe I can find something that works with my other skills. Certainly a good idea to consider. Agh, job searching is the figurative worst!

        May I ask, do you identify as male or female? I’ve noticed with my dad and brother (also on the spectrum), they get a pass on a lot more behaviors than I do. So I’m quite gloomy about the sexism thing. On the other hand, it would be nice to hear an encouraging story about an aspie woman in tech. :) I used to program, but gave it up when Impostor Syndrome hit me pretty badly.

          1. Tau*

            OK, that really sucks and the people who told you that were being asses. I know it’s not necessarily helpful to think that way when you’re stuck in the situation, but seriously. Not OK, and I hope you find an environment where people are better about this shit.

            Although now I’m curious as to whether you tried #9…

        1. Claudia M.*

          The gender thing is actually interesting, and something I’ve only started thinking about lately.

          In the govt. branch I work in, it is almost 80% women in management positions. Typically, it is looked upon as normal if someone is a little faux paus. But the men definitely get hit harder with consequences than the women.

          For example, a woman can run around ranting and raving and raising her voice (even threatening bodily violence) and only receives a warning, verbal or written, if anything. A man gets frustrated the same way (or even less visible to other coworkers) and gets a formal reprimand, and sent to various anger mgmt. trainings.

          This is an odd belief for me….when I just assume being horrible to each other should be something we avoid, and gender is irrelevant. Everyone needs to vent, but there should be a limit in the workplace.

          And our tech area is more like 95% female, entry level and management.

        2. Mints*

          Oh I just wanted to chime in that boys/men definitely get more leeway doing things that get scrutinized in girls/women. Women have a higher bar for being social, and we tend to get socialized to adapt better (harsher) in ways that men can let slide. Add that into it manifesting differently in boys than in girls, we’re probably vastly underdiagnosed

        3. Tau*

          I’m nonbinary but I pass as/am read as female in daily life and am fine with being counted as a woman for statistical purposes. ;) So I hear you about being given less leeway than the men, but it’s not the difference here. That said, the difference may really be tech – I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still given more leeway than women in sales or female admins or, well, writers. And before I was a developer I was in maths, and mathematicians are also not generally expected to be the most socially competent. It may be that that camouflage is and was helping even more than I figure.

          Ugh, I’m sorry, Impostor Syndrome sucks! It’s part of what drove me out of maths, so I really sympathise. (Although the other big part was that it turns out academia and executive dysfunction really don’t mesh well.) If you enjoyed programming, I do encourage you to see if you can find your way back into it. Too many women get driven out one way or the other. And – between me and you – there are some truly appalling programmers out there who somehow manage to do it for a living anyway. (Guess who’s had to maintain their code…) Trust me, you’d have to be actively trying to be nearly as bad!

        4. Close Bracket*

          Sounds like going back into programming and working from home might be perfect for you. Do you know about this website?

          Look for coping strategies for the impostor syndrome. I bet a CBT based approach would work well. No reason to pass on a career without other people bc of a cognitive distortion. :)

    10. kittymommy*

      I would get the lay of the land and then tell people as you feel comfortable. I also wouldn’t worry too much about the HR thing, it’s something a lot of people don’t know, including hr.

      And your manager who had someone babysit you and blamed “a condition” sucks.

    11. Mints*

      You’re still job hunting? I’d try to work a little into the interview process. I like Collie’s lines, but generally just being “I strongly prefer direct interaction, and tend to miss things if people rely on hints or implicit expectations. I work better when people tell me about potential problems early on.” (That might need softening so it doesn’t sound like you like to be yelled at?)

      I’m not diagnosed but I think I would have been with Aspergers as a kid if my teachers had been familiar with it. I tell close friends (and internet strangers) that “I have a lot of Aspie traits” even though it’s mostly not recognizable

      1. OntheSpectrum*

        That sounds like a good script! I could also tie into it if I get the “weakness” question mentioned above. And you know, if I phrase it like that I could probably avoid bringing it up. Just focus on the directness being part of my personality… Hmm, but probably still a good idea to tell my direct manager if they seem nice.

        I really appreciate all the solid advice from everyone, by the way. This has been worrying me for over a year now and with my get-a-real-job-or-move-back-in-with-the-folks deadline coming up I’ve been getting panicky.

        1. Mints*

          Yeah I’ll tell anybody “I like when people are direct with me” just like “I like working with Excel” but have only told a couple people about the Aspie stuff. I think looking for a manager who seems nice enough that you’ll feel comfortable disclosing is a good thing to screen for, even if you’re not planning to tell anyone else.

          Good vibes to you!

    12. Hazel Asperg*

      I’ve had really similar experiences: I can’t often ‘do’ the social things. People seem to think I’ll pick up on these things eventually, not realising that in some/most cases I just never will.

      In my current job I’ve gone with being open in order to temper people’s expectations of my social abilities. Luckily, social skills are not a part of my job (except in the vague sense that one is to be polite with one’s coworkers) so as far as I know, so far it hasn’t affected my job in a negative fashion.

      I wish you lots of luck. I’m also happy to talk more about this if you wish.

    13. D.A.R.N.*

      On the spectrum, haven’t read all comments under yours yet, buuut…
      I’ve been handling it by not mentioning it and going “Oh, sorry, I’m a little awkward”, or “Oh, I miss sarcasm a lot” and not mentioning autism AT ALL. I don’t trust the non-autistic people to treat me like a person if they know I’m autistic (if they even believe that I AM, and not assume I’m making shit up). What I focus on is naming the action and not the disorder.

      So for your joke issue? “Oh, sorry, I misunderstood the laughter. I’ll keep the jokes to a minimum now.” Reason for the jokes: Autism. Problem that needs fixing: the jokes, not the autism. So that’s how I’ve dealt with it.

      And for the record, the first situation is exactly why I don’t tell people. I completely sympathize with how aggravating it is to have everyone assume you’re the problem because you have a disorder even when it isn’t, assuming you’re less-capable because of it even though you’ve managed to survive up ’til now just fine, etc. All the offensive stereotypes balled up into a “but I’m helping!” insult. :T

      1. Wheezy Weasel*

        I like the ‘naming the action’ strategy. Unless you’re making 10+ corrections a day with a particular individual, I can’t see that this will stand out and affect your reputation in a new company. To me, it’s actually a sign of strength and introspectiveness that many people can’t access. My typical defense mechanism for criticism is to double down and deny the issue exists, but I’ve started to apologize quickly and then drop the subject, and it’s made a positive impression on my friends and work colleagues.

      2. OntheSpectrum*

        The more I think on it, the more this sounds like a good idea. I’ll have to practice not over-explaining a little bit, but with a script in mind I should be fine. :)

        1. Lab Monkey*

          I’m also nb-but-read-as-female and autistic, and this is my strategy. I’ve tried telling and not telling, and the only times telling helped were when I did shift work and needed a set pattern – and not even then. Focusing on what I’m doing wrong vs making my way of being wrong is really helpful for me.

      3. Mimmy*

        I too like the “name the action” strategy. Once you start putting a label on the issue, people can have misconceptions about you solely based on that label.

    14. Close Bracket*

      Hi OntheSpectrum,

      I have no good advice, but I have a ton of sympathy. I have never been diagnosed as on the spectrum, but I am also a woman, and I share a lot of behaviors and missteps with you. I fully understand the bind that you are in where other people are sometimes the problem, but they outrank you so you are stuck trying to figure out what they expect so you can pacify them.

      And you hit it on the nose about social mistakes. Women are supposed to be socially perfect, and the kinds of awkward or abrasive things that men can get away with are absolutely not ok when women do them.

      I’m sorry that society stinks, and I hope you are treated well in your next job.

  14. krysb*

    So, I’ve been given the opportunity to put together a plan for an employee training and development position and create a program around it. This is really exciting because it is right in line with my career trajectory. I’ll have to defend it before the Leadership Committee, but it appears that we have some buy-in he president. We have had continuous issues with utilization of our training program (which I also helped create) due to a company culture that focuses on billable work at the expense of long-term programs that yield positive results. Does anyone have any first hand experience with creating such a program? Success, failure, pitfalls?

    1. DecorativeCacti*

      My suggestion is to have a plan before you start and make sure you stick to the plan. If you’re relying on anyone else to create materials, really stay on top of them. We started a project to revamp our training materials at my office but the person in charge of the project wasn’t good at follow through and so it was never completed and hasn’t been touched in two years or more. It’s incredibly difficult because now everything is in this weird limbo.

    2. Jules the Third*

      Incentives matter. Use that perceived buy-in to make sure that company incentives are aligned with the overall program. For example, if billable hours are an important metric for bonuses, then make sure training hours are baked into the assessment criteria. Maybe the bonus criteria could be ‘billable + training’, for example. That lets you sell it to employees as ‘here’s a way to keep working towards your bonuses if customer work slows down’.

      Asking for that also lets you assess how much buy-in there is, and who is against it. Try to sell it to the biggest resister, tailoring examples of the benefits to her / his experience. If you can get them on board, they will pull along a lot of reluctant people.

    3. Anon attorney*

      I have done this in a pre-legal previous life. I think it’s essential to treat such a program as a change leadership/OD activity and not a training course. Everything else – senior sponsorship, buy in, evaluation – flows from a clear understanding of the cultural and organisational change you want to produce. Also to measure the relevant skills at baseline ie. before you do the training so you can demonstrate return on investment (also requires sensible KPIs, tricky when going for behavioral change, assuming this is the goal rather than hard skills development). And don’t get discouraged because it takes longer than you think to make progress. Hope this helps! You’re doing the good work :)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Upper management across the board needs to buy into the importance of a training program. It is going to be a rough ride if people are not granted hours for training.

  15. Chriama*

    Question – how do you respond to a ‘keep in touch’ email after turning a position down? As in, I turned a position down and the HM said thanks and that he hopes to keep in touch. Do I respond to that?

    1. Protein Muffin*

      Have you already connected on LinkedIn? You could reply. “That would be great, I will you connect to you on LinkedIn. Thanks!”

      Or just, “Thanks for understanding, I look forward to connecting with you in the future.”

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      Synergy. I get eye twitchy at the word. One of my old bosses used it ALL THE TIME. Sadly, there was none…ever.

    3. Pwyll*

      I agree with Protein Muffin.

      There’s also really no reason to respond at all. I only use that phrase when hiring when I really did like the candidate and think they’d be a great fit in the company, but I’m not really expecting a response. I usually mean it to say, “We thought you were great and are sad you didn’t take this, so if anything changes in the future or a position comes available please feel free to contact us.”

  16. Emmie*

    What business jargon words would you ban? The thread earlier this week had me thinking.

    I’d ban Deck (= PowerPoint), hill to die on, optics, bio break, and political capital.

    1. Christy*

      Why do you hate optics and political capital? Or rather, what would you use to describe these phenomena?

      I too loathe bio break.

      1. Emmie*

        I don’t have a good reason, Christy! I would probably use “it looks bad,” or describe how it impacts what we’re talking about. Political capital was helpful term when it started being used, but it feels overused now.

        1. KellyK*

          Going to the bathroom, getting a drink, grabbing food. I think it’s more MMO gamer jargon than work jargon.

        2. LKW*

          Yes – it’s code for “we’ve been talking for two hours and everyone is squirming”

        3. Tedious Cat*

          Yep. I’ve most often heard it in the context of MMORPGs and have always considered it both too niche and too explicit for a work environment.

        4. General Ginger*

          Bio break makes me think back to my WoW days; it feels like a really weird phrase for an office.

        5. Merula*

          I had an old boss who would use “bio break” at work ALL THE TIME. Why do you have to say “bio”? Why can’t it just be “break”? Or “short break” if you don’t want it to be “step out into the hall to make 15-minute phone calls”?

          This boss was DEFINITELY NOT in the MMO gamer category.

      2. Zip Silver*

        I didn’t realize bio-break was a “businessy” term. I’ve always used it on MMO’s.

    2. Variations on a theme*

      I wouldn’t ban any specific terms. They can sometimes be helpful. (I also work in marketing so YMMV!)

      I WOULD ban specific people who use them inappropriately or in the place of actual sentences as an attempt to sound smart/put together/on top of things.

      Looking at you, former boss man. :|

    3. Teapot Queen*

      “your challenge” to me equals “a big pain in the arse for you.” I hate that expression.

    4. Anxa*

      A lot of words are really cringey to me, but “deck” is the worst for some reason. Does not compute.

      1. Natalie*

        It’s a shortening of “slide deck”, with deck meaning “set” as in a deck of cards.

      2. Emi.*

        In my office, people call powerpoint slides “charts.” I’m like, That is literally just a big rectangle that says “QUESTIONS?” on it. It is not a chart. But as long as it’s reasonably free of chartjunk, I’m happy.

    5. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I loathe “we can discuss this offline,” when currently talking in person.

      Also “efolder.” Guys, it’s 2017, you can call folders on our network shared drives just “folders,” we all know it’s on the computer.

    6. Alex*

      I would ban acronyms. Not everyone knows what they mean, or they could have different meanings for different people or groups. I like clarity.

      1. Queen of the File*

        I’m sort of with you, but I’d spend 40% more of my life typing if I had to spell out every abbreviation we use here. My solution is to keep the office glossary as up to date with them as possible, and spell out anything that’s potentially uncommon/confusing the first time I use it in a document.

      2. JulieBulie*

        I love acronyms… that is, I love making up alternatives for what they stand for.

    7. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA*

      Ping and in the can are two words/phrases that drive me nuts. I know they are very normal words for some reason whenever they’re used around my office, I just try not to roll my eyes.

      1. Trix*

        We use ping at my office, always specifically referring to sending someone a message in Skype for Business (which most of us still call Lync, because that’s much less of a mouthful), but after reading the thread the other day, I got the impression that some people use it for in-person conversation? Like, “I’ll ping Bob to ask for those figures,” when they mean they’ll stop by Bob’s desk or call him or something.

        Is that a thing? Or did I misinterpret the thread? When talking about some kind of instant messenger, I have no problem with it, it’s a useful shorthand . But it would definitely bug me if someone meant it another way.

        1. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA*

          A lot of senior staff will say oh, ping Hermione for that or I need to ping Hermione for that info. But there is no context about what context that’s in. It’s never used for internal communication either which is odd.

      2. Mints*

        Ping annoys me too! It’s a computer science measurement, not an email/call/smoke signal

        “I’ll ask her” “I’ll check in” “I’ll call her” > “I’ll ping her”

        1. Emi.*

          I always assumed it was named after the “ping” sound of a chat notification, or a sonar ping.

        2. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA*

          I have a senior staff member who uses it all the time. I was in a meeting with her and she said it 9 times! Why?!?

        3. Tau*

          What do you mean, I definitely contact my colleagues by sending them multiple 32-byte packets of data and then counting the milliseconds to see how long it takes them to respond to each one. Doesn’t everyone?

      3. Nan*

        Ping drives me bonky. I actually asked CurrentBoss if she could not say ping, because OldBoss said ping all the time. He drove us both nuts. We have banned ping from our vocabulary.

    8. Clever Name*

      I’d ban “low-hanging fruit” because my last boss, who was a lazy asshole, used it all the time, and I will forever associate it with “not wanting to do actual work”.

    9. Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys*

      Not hill to die on! I just learned that one from AAM and love it!

      Mine would be “socialize” as in we have to socialize that solution for stakeholder input.

        1. Trying to Transition*

          “Going forward” is overly used in my office, and it drives me crazy.

          In Toastmasters they count the number of time the speaker uses filler words, I’ve started doing the same in meetings with this saying and “next steps”. UGH!

        2. apparently not the only fashion designer here*

          I’ve got one better for you: “go forward”. One of the ladies who used to work with me said it and somehow got almost everyone on our team to do it too. “So for go forward, we’ll do…” Please don’t. Ugh.

      1. General Custer*

        I used hill to die on once, and someone complained to my boss that it was unprofessional.

    10. Jan Levinson*

      I don’t think this is necessarily business jargon, but everyone at my company uses ‘thx’ for ‘thanks’ (even in email conversation with customers). I just think it looks unprofessional, and it literally takes half a second longer to type the whole word out!

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        A significant number of people I work with (mostly international) use “best regards” as their email closing, and abbreviate it to “BR”. It drives me crazy- for some reason, I don’t believe these regards are really your “best” if you can’t be bothered to spell it out.

        1. nep*

          Ugh. BR. Cannot stand that.
          I can’t believe how many colleagues send out emails with punctuation faces — including my supervisor. How ridiculous.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I feel that way about TY. Is it really that hard to type out thank you after a person has put in long hours on something? Apparently, the answer is yes, it is just way too hard.

          1. Laura*

            I’ll use that stuff in texting. Rarely.

            My emails are formal (prolly also longer than they should be, but- I use complete sentences like my life depends on it.)

            Abbreviations are iffy. Like if someone put “BR” on its own in a work email- I’d wonder where the rest of the item number was!!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I can see it in texting.
              My person was leaving hand written notes with TY at the bottom. So sad.

    11. Triangle Pose*

      None of them? I really dont get the hate for many of the words or phrases from the other thread. They mean things. Yes, there are other words that mean the same thing. In almost all the cases from the other thread the person griping with the jargon knows exactly what the terms means and just takes issue the speak didn’t use some other work. Sometimes the new word is more nuanced, sometimes it’s broader, sometimes it connotes a different tone. I liked the commenter who said we’re not under an obligation as humans to use the lowest common denominator in language, especially in cases where absolutely no one is confused.

      1. Nan*

        For me, it’s not about the word, but associating the word with the person who uses it. Normally a person I don’t like, but have to be nice to anyway. Because professional.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Exactly. I had a person in my life who had a knack for saying DUH like she was stabbing you with a very long pointy object. Think skewered meat on a grill.

          I tried to tell myself I have having an overreaction. When in Rome, right? One day I used the term, after avoiding it for so long. This person almost fell over, the look of shock on her face was incredible. After that we heard DUH a lot less.

          Words can be like bullets… or long pointy objects depending on the voice inflection, the body posture and the personality involved.

    12. Havarti*

      Someone calls an electronic file a “softcopy” (as opposed to “hardcopy”) but I had never heard it so I was horribly confused when they asked me what they should do with the softcopy. I was like “The what now? o_O”

      1. Queen of the File*

        Hm. From now on I’ll be using the term “wetcopy” for a document that’s still floating around in my mind waiting to be made manifest. :)

      2. JulieBulie*

        I don’t know if this is news to anyone besides me, but apparently “hardcopy” can now refer to a file that’s on a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM as opposed to a file that either resides on your computer or is accessed remotely.

        Is this widespread? It’s very confusing.

        1. Havarti*

          That’s certainly news to me. “Hardcopy” is limited to the physical printout on paper for my workplace. Boss would not be happy if I tossed a CD on their desk lol!

    13. Claudia M.*

      Take this offline, table this for another time, circle the wagons, put that on deck.

      Seriously, just stop and use normal words. These things are often improperly used so I spend more time trying to figure out what they actually meant then listening to them continue to speak.

      And in a company with MANY different languages spoken and a culturally diverse populace, things like this can get even MORE confusing. Idioms don’t make sense for everyone.

    14. Mapp*

      Not exactly business jargon–just more of a cliche I keep seeing all over the place lately–but every time I hear “full-throated” I feel a little bit ill. I get it what it means, but ew.

    15. DecorativeCacti*

      I had a manager who CONSTANTLY used “FYI” and “effective immediately”. They aren’t necessarily jargon, but they were severely overused. I rewrite whole paragraphs now if I catch myself using either one. It’s really frustrating because sometimes I really need to say something is effective immediately!

    16. Collie*

      I don’t like “clients,” particularly when the “clients” are either internal or not paying for the service or both.

      1. Feo Takahari*

        “Clients” is the term the Red Cross uses as a way of avoiding the term “victims.” People feel better about being a client than a victim.

          1. Anna Held*

            Nah, your examples would bother me too. But in social services it has become common to say “clients” so you can avoid loaded terms like “victims”, “the indigent”, or “poor”. It’s a very neutral term, but like so many of these, industry-specific.

    17. Drew*

      This one hasn’t been used at my current workplace (yet), but I heard from a friend that his HR department sent around email saying “We regret to announce that Fergus McExworker has been outboarded. We wish him well.”

      He and I both thought it made Fergus sound like a boat motor.

      1. Nan*

        Ha! For a while, we didn’t fire people, we “de-hired” them. “I’ll be back in 10 minutes, I need to go de-hire Fergus.”

        And then there’d be the email that Fergus was no longer with us. I didn’t kill the man!! I just packed his box.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        LOL, what did they do throw him overboard? Can he swim? Outboarded seems a bit much.

    18. Beancounter Eric*


      Reach Out
      Bio Break
      Ask (“Our ask is”)
      Leverage (outside the physics and financial uses)
      Circle Back
      Deep dive
      Thought leader
      Transformational Change

      1. I am here now*

        Reach out – gives me creepy image of gnarly hands coming slowly towards me to grab me. Also, I don’t like people to touch me and “reach out” sounds touchy.

    19. General Ginger*

      Me too with the cringing at Deck. For some reason, it always rubs me the wrong way.

    20. EA in Rainy Florida*

      As one of my friends has in his Lync status: “Ask is a verb. The word you are looking for is request”

    21. Lady Russell's Turban*

      We use “bio break” when hiking/backpacking. I have never heard it in a work context before.

    22. MsEsq*

      Deep dive. I am not sure why this one rankles me, but it started when I read it in a student cover letter I was editing – “I am known for my interest in taking deep dives…” I think I find it to be incredibly pretentious

    23. Lady Alys*

      Using “reach out” instead of “call” or “contact” ….. kill me now.

    24. Queen of the File*

      Nouns becoming verbs which become nouns again makes me want to walk out of a meeting and never come back:
      Day 1: “Let’s wait until our plans are more concrete.”
      Day 206: “Let’s concretize these plans first.”
      Day 393: “The concretization of our plans has not yet occurred.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Just goes to show, if you don’t know what word to use, just make one up. It’s fine.

    25. Pwyll*

      Cadence. We use cadence.

      As in, “We need to establish the proper cadence for these meetings” which really just means, “How often should we meet?”

    26. JulieBulie*

      I have a friend who says “ASAP” (pronounced as a word) frequently. I don’t think he knows that it means “as soon as possible.” I don’t know what he thinks it means. He uses it sort of like punctuation to be emphatic.

    27. Roly Poly Bat Faced Girl*

      Swirl. As in, “There’s a lot of swirl around this issue” meaning people are getting up in arms about something. I’ve been searching for another word to replace it, but haven’t found a suitable substitute yet.

    28. Candy*

      I hate “onboarding.” I’ve never actually heard it used IRL, just here, but for some reason it drives me crazy. You’re training someone, not loading them onto an airplane!

      1. Queen of the File*

        I can’t hear this term without mentally replacing it with “waterboarding”.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Could be me, but if they use the word “onboarding” it’s because they don’t train. But they’d like to train. Some day. Years from now.

    29. Elizabeth H.*

      Utilize! Utilize! Utilize! This is more general society than business jargon but obviously it is much more rampant in the business world. There is almost never an occasion where it’s actually most appropriate to say “utilize” instead of “use.” Yes there are some, but we as the human species wouldn’t suffer too much if utilize was always changed to use.

      Others: ask as noun, gift as verb, overuse of impact.

      I was intrigued that so many people hated “planful” and considered it business jargon. I’ve never heard it as business jargon. It seems like a normal, rarely used and kind of archaic or old-fashioned sounding word to me.

      1. Anxa*

        Utilize is really looked down upon in the science writing world (although still common in the science writing world), and I had always thought I was just hypersensitive to its overuse because of that.

    30. Not So NewReader*

      Why, why, why.
      We had a perfectly good word, signs. We could use that, but nooooo. Dunno why but I connect “signage” with “snow job” every time I see it.

      Plan-o-gram. I think this word was made up by the same person who invented “signage”. I had to control my laughter when I heard ADULTS saying “Let’s check the plan-o-gram.” I kept waiting for them to pull out an Etch-a-Sketch.

    31. Chaordic One*

      Some of the jargony terms that my former workplace used a lot and that bugged me included:

      “reach out,” “push back,” “buy in,” and “building community”

      A couple of other terms that bugged me were:

      “stewardship” and “servant leadership”

      I was mostly annoyed by those last two terms because my employer misused them.

    32. Bea W*

      Transversal, as in working tranversally. What in the actual heck?
      Restacking, usually done for “more effective adjacencies” FFS, just say you’re moving people around so they can sit next to people they work with.
      Doing more with less, “lean”
      Using “QC” as a verb

      1. Chocolate Teapot*


        No. A Stakeholder is a wooden spike wielding vampire hunter. Another pet hate is Client-Centricity. What’s wrong with client focus?

        A previous Director used to fill his meeting presentations with this drivel. I decided, that since I was writing the minutes, none of it would be included unless it was unavoidable.

    33. Sail On, Sailor*

      Drill down
      Ask (used as a noun)
      And if I hear “reach out” (instead of contact) one more time, I may scream.

  17. WaitingforMacaroni*

    I’m wondering if that post where the person was concerned about exposed shoulder cut outs in women’s wear modified or clarified their dress code. Because this appears to be the fashion of the summer and I see it in all the stores…

    I would rather see that style of shirt than the see-through neon yellow shirt with the hot pink bra I saw in the office last summer.

    1. Clever Name*

      Swimsuits are in all the stores now, but that doesn’t make them work appropriate.

      1. Triangle Pose*

        I think WaitingforMacaroni means she’s seeing it in all of the stores that cater to office clothing. And she’s right. Ann Taylor and Loft and Banana all have cold shoulder tops right now in their workwear sections (not casualwear with all the sundresses and vacation clothing) – they are made of materials traditionally associate with officewear, are often styled for the office except for the glaring flaw of the cold shoulder cut-out or off the shoulder design.


        1. Elizabeth West*

          I hate trends like this. It becomes very difficult to find work-appropriate clothing without shopping at the same store my grandmother would have gone to. It seems like everything is either naked or Victorian; there’s no in-between.

          And why does ALL summer wear have to be sleeveless!? I have a big tattoo on my upper arm and don’t always want to wear a damn jacket or cardigan to cover it. Or show my upper arms or pits at all!

          1. k*

            I’m a fellow sleeveless-hater. And then half them time when there are sleeves, they’re those little cap sleeve that don’t even count. Is it so much to ask to want to keep my armpits to myself?

            1. zora*

              HAHA! I don’t know why, but I love the phrasing of keeping my armpits to myself.

              And also I 100% feel the same way about my armpits!!

          2. tiny temping teapot*

            I like a nice three quarters sleeve paper thin cardigan. (Well, not actually paper thin.) I have one from the Gap I’m wearing right now and you can’t see any of my tattoos are either arm, also not overheating in the office.

            1. Jadelyn*

              I’m a big fan of short-sleeve cardigans. I have a couple that are basically thin cotton t-shirt material, regular short-sleeves, open front and they work beautifully for summer. Plus I can strip it off the second I step out into the parking lot and be running around in a tank top the way I prefer (I live in California, don’t judge me).

          3. Jadelyn*

            Naked or Victorian, ugh, yes. Or covered in huge gaudy prints. My kingdom for a workwear store that carries plus sizes and long-length pants, and everything is moderately cut and in simple colors or subtle patterns.

              1. Jadelyn*

                I’ve actually bought work pants from Lands End before because they carry *long* pants – I need a 33″ inseam and you don’t find those everywhere – but I’ve never really shopped through them for anything else. Never heard of J Jill though, may have to check that out. Thanks!

            1. Bilbiovore*

              what you are asking for is my Eileen Fisher uniform. The material wears forever and there can be good deals on-line at the end of the season. Everything goes together like Garanimals for grownups. The pieces can dress up or down.

              1. Jadelyn*

                So I looked them up and was getting cautiously excited until I looked at the prices. Even their on-sale stuff is still $70! My budget doesn’t stretch that far, sadly. Thanks for the suggestion though!

                1. Bilbiovore*

                  oh, I KNOW! but seriously….I am not kidding when I say “wears forever” I buy one or two pieces a year from the site on big reduction. (so just ignore the regular prices as they will give you a heart attack) So if a sweater costs 138.00- my magic number, I hand wash it, and I wear it for 8 to 10 years, that is pretty amazing. Also, depending on where you live, I have had great success getting Eileen Fisher jackets and sweaters at resale shops.
                  And it is kind of a capsule wardrobe. Right now in rotation- two skirts- one A-line, one lantern, one pair of lantern pants, one cropped (I am really short so actually regular on me) two shells. A cardigan and a “boxy” sweater. One viscose dress. Bought this year- 2016/2017- the dress, one merino sweater, one cotton sweater. All of these in shades of grey and charcoal. For the most part cheaper foundation garments in black – leggings, shells and tanks and cotton stretch long sleeve shirts.

            2. Ally A*

              Oh my god, the ankle length pants. Everything is cropped at this weird length! It’s impossible to find full-length work pants these days. (Or full-length jeans, which for me, are work pants)

              1. Anxa*

                Cropped flares, too, don’t forget!

                No but seriously, I think that ankle pants look cute. But I cannot figure out how to pair them with full-coverage non-sneaker shoes. I have a crusade against ballet flats: I think they are cute, but I hate how I feel like women are being expected to wear heals or half-shoes.

                I’ve worked in labs and while ballet shoes and sandals are common, ostensibly you should be wearing socks and shoes. I don’t care what people say about flared pants and boot cuts, at least they didn’t showcase your shoes. I feel like skinny jeans and ankle cut pants drive the need for a more robust shoe collection. And I don’t think anyone should feel frumpy because they want shoes that cover their full feet.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  You can pry my bootcut full-length jeans from my cold, dead hands for this exact reason. I have like. 2 pairs of shoes that I wear regularly? Maybe? I have my summer work sandals and my winter work shoes, and in my off hours I’m either wearing the work shoes (in the cold) or just slippers (in summer). I don’t like having to coordinate shoes with outfits more than once in awhile, so black ankle boots/black sandals under boot-cut jeans is my go-to uniform, and I deeply resent trends that try to pull me away from that lol.

            3. Windchime*

              Yes: Because not all generously-proportioned women want to have a giant, colorful flowers or kittens emblazoned across our clothes.

              Another work trend that bugs me is cropped or “ankle” pants. I’m tall and already have trouble finding pants long enough; now I have to wear ankle pants?? On purpose??

          4. HR Bee*

            My new office at my new job is right in the center of the building, has little ventilation, and is always warm. I just purchased a very, very thin open cardigan with short (like, covers the deltoid but not the bicep short) sleeves. It’s not even June yet and this thing is already a lifesaver; I can wear it with sleeveless or cap-sleeve shirts and not have to worry about pits or feeling too naked. It’s lace-backed and so thin, it barely adds any weight/heat. I’m in a pretty casual environment, though, so YMMV.

          5. Havarti*

            And sometimes you just want to hide the fact you forgot to shave your armpits that day…

          6. Smiling*

            I’m in the Deep South where sleeveless to work in Summer is fairly common (especially when A/Cs are set at 80 degrees in the office).

            However, something about the cold should trend for work wear bothers me too.

          7. Anxa*

            There’s a real unmet need for summer work blouses with substantial sleeves that lay flat under a cardigan.

            I will never understand how there are thousands of fashion/manufacturing companies and still no solutions to common fashion problems.

            Also, slim fit undershirts for women. Not camis, but something that actually provides a barrier at the armpit, but doesn’t affect the silhouette much.

            1. Windchime*

              Yes! And is not skin-tight and hot because of all the spandex. I can barely find normal camisoles to wear under work tops; everything is tight and plastic-y feeling.

          8. Bea W*

            I don’t mind sleeveless on really hot days, except the office is generally to cold for it. The should cut outs…WTH? It just looks stupid. Either have a sleeve or not. What is this weird hole where they shoulder is? That may be fine for evening wear, but I think it looks totally weird in a casual or work context.

        2. WaitingforMacaroni*

          Yes, exactly.

          It doesn’t bother me as long as the top itself is still presentable, not see-through, or has plunging neckline, etc. I find its a fresh change from the usual summer wear.

          It’s still better than (in my opinion) hot pink bras, see-through leggings, short-shorts, yoga pants instead of slacks, etc. It all depends on where you work.

          1. KellyK*

            Yeah, I’m not bothered by shoulder cutouts either. I think they can make an outfit either more casual or the wrong kind of dressy for work (club or date dressy rather than office professional). But a lot of that depends on the overall style of the shirt, as well as the type of cutouts.

            Like, the first shirt here reads as more work appropriate than the second. (I think it’s kind of ugly, actually, but the collar and the pinstripes keep it more professional than the lacy one that looks like lingerie.)



            And then there’s this one ( I’m not sure if it’s work appropriate or not. It’s definitely not casual, and the shoulder cutouts are much more “decorative embellishment” than “my clothes are falling apart in a terribly sexy manner.” I’d want a camisole under that deep a V-neck, I think.

        3. LKW*

          Bothers me so much. I hate the term. I hate the look. I hate that I will be seeing this in my client’s more casual work environment. The cold shoulder office shirt should be paired with a full shouldered jacket.

        4. Lady Russell's Turban*

          I really dislike them in a professional office context. I know it is just a shoulder but they just seem too flirty/sexual for the office.

          1. Anxa*

            To me they don’t seem flirty so much as they seem aggressively trendy. I feel like there’s no practical reason for the cut out for most people. I’m sure some people want something to cover a tattoo on their forearm that’s still breezy or whatever, but they are just so aggressively non-practical that it turns me off.

      2. fposte*

        Yeah, there was a funny digression yesterday about the stuff StitchFix is sending people for officewear that is utterly unsuitable for most offices.

      3. Rosamond*

        Yeah..I’m frustrated because I’m trying to upgrade my professional wardrobe, and most everything in stores right now is super-duper not appropriate for a business-casual boss lady.

    2. No, please*

      I kind of wonder if those tops will become more office appropriate as time goes on? Plenty of styles that started as casual are now okay for work.

      1. INFJ*

        I have a feeling that may happen. I’m hoping the trend is transitory, though; I’m not a big fan of it.

    3. Zule*

      I was thinking about that the other day too because I was in the bank and all three employees (manager and 2 tellers) had cold shoulder tops on. It was not casual Friday, although in my region of the country banks seem to be more casual than they are elsewhere.

    4. LizB*

      I like the satire article that’s been going around entitled something like “Do you love yourself enough to wear shirts with actual sleeves?” But mostly because cold-shoulder tops look ridiculous on me so I hate them.

      1. fposte*

        Funnily enough, big sleeves are apparently the big fashion trend on the catwalks this year.

    5. Tedious Cat*

      I would have assumed they were a hard no at NewJob once I was told jeans and sandals were out, but I see cold shoulders here, including on the HR person who told me no jeans or sandals. (I see jeans occasionally and sandals all the time. I’m confused but unwilling to test anything myself after only two months.)

      1. Jadelyn*

        “No sandals” might’ve meant “no flipflops or casual sandals” – we have that rule but we’re fine with more professional-looking sandals. We just don’t want you slap-slap-slap walking down the halls like you’re going to the beach.

        1. Tedious Cat*

          That would make sense, but she actually explicitly said no sandals or open-toed shoes. I haven’t followed up because I suspect it’s one of those on-the-books rules that’s quietly ignored and I have no desire to bring it to anyone’s attention, and also, I’d really need to keep up with the pedicures.

    6. Lily in NYC*

      I have such a visceral hatred for those shirts! They are all the rage with my mom’s friends in FL (a bunch of old ladies with bad taste in clothing).

    7. Tedious Cat*

      I don’t even object on the grounds of too sexy for the office. I just think they’re dumb. Oops, I left half my sleeves at home! But I also think leggings are not pants, and I’m pretty sure that war’s been lost in general, though not at the office.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I went into a doctor’s office the other day and a woman was wearing a black shirt with cutouts all across the top of it and on the sleeves. It looked odd because no one else was dressed that way. And because the shirt did not move WITH her, it stayed behind or went in its own direction.

      I liked the shirt, I might wear it myself, but not to work in a medical office.

  18. So anon for this*

    My coworker and I both have spouses who work in the same industry in similar jobs. He mentioned that his spouse, Sansa, works at a pretty lousy company. As it happens, my spouse Jon’s workplace is hiring for a couple positions that’s would work closely with him (and so he has some say in the hiring process). They’ve been having a tough time finding quality candidates, and they’re getting pretty desperate. One of those positions is exactly what Sansa does, so I told my coworker about it, thinking it’d be a win-win for everyone: Jon would be able to help his company fill the position with someone qualified, and Sansa could get a new job at an awesome company. My coworker seemed to think Sansa would be super excited about it, and Jon was pretty pleased when I told him about Sansa, too.

    As hoped, Sansa sent Jon her resume…. but it was awful. I mean, it was really, really bad. It came off as completely tone-deaf to not just the norms of the industry, but to job applications in general.

    In order to avoid any potential awkwardness between me and my coworker, Jon had his coworker interview Sansa. That way, if it didn’t go well, it could be blamed on him rather than Jon.

    But I’m still pretty baffled at how off-base Sansa’s resume was. Perhaps more baffling is that my coworker and I work in a department that deals with tons of resumes and cover letters all the time. He should definitely know the standards regarding resumes, so I’m not sure how Sansa’s could be as off as it is.* I feel like someone has to tell Sansa that her resume is NOT what resumes should look like. Is there any way I can help Sansa that is polite and not disrespectful to her or my coworker, or should I just drop it and hope Sansa figures it out eventually?

    *Obviously, it’s possible that Sansa didn’t show my coworker her resume before sending it to Jon. But it was so against the norms, and she has a spouse who should really know this stuff, so I’m finding it hard to believe that she’s never asked him for advice or had him look it over ever.

    1. Sadsack*

      Some people just do not accept advise regarding their resumes. Maybe she is one of those people. I’d let her decide if she wants feedback from her interviewer and then she can ask him. You and your husband don’t need to get involved. If your coworker asks about it, it was up to your husband’s coworker. Hopefully, the person who interviewed her will give her feedback about her resume.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding: Some people decide to ignore their spouse’s advice. Anyone else could say the same thing and that person would be deemed as Einstein.

    2. Natalie*

      Oof, awkward.

      If you say something to her, obviously don’t say “this is absolutely terrible garbage”. I’d soften it a bit and also just lean into the awkwardness: “This is really awkward. I see a lot of resumes at work and people are generally doing A/B/C [the most important things you think she should change]. I think your resume could really benefit from an overhaul. You might check out [website] and [website].”

      But if you don’t think she will react well, don’t worry about it.

    3. Amy*

      It sounds like you and your husband don’t actually know Sansa personally. Given that, I wouldn’t reach out to give feedback. If Sansa or your coworker ask for feedback, you could certainly say something, but I’d wait for the request.

      1. Thlayli*

        Not only do you not know her personally, Jon shouldn’t have shown you her resume in the first place. That’s a violation of privacy and depending on where you are if may actually be illegal. So I really wouldn’t say anything.

        And you never know, maybe she will do a great interview.

  19. Discordia Angel Jones*

    Open thread readers!

    I have a story for you.

    I had an interview yesterday, and as I got off the train and into a taxi, my skirt ripped all the way up the front. Taxi driver was sympathetic and stopped at a chemist so I could pick up some safety pins, so I repaired my skirt in the toilets of a nearby store.

    I decided I needed to apologise for the safety pins which were visible because it’s impossible to repair something flawlessly with them, so it was one of the first things I said. The interviewer laughed and said the interview was off to a great start.

    I got a second interview! I think I was so worried about my skirt I forgot to be nervous!

          1. Thlayli*

            In almost every English-speaking part of the former British empire. I think it’s just North America that says pharmacy.

    1. nonegiven*

      Nancy Reagan told a story where she met with someone over lunch as part of being first lady. She always wore whatever the staff put her in and she stood up to shake the woman’s hand goodbye at the end and her skirt fell off.

  20. ann perkins*

    Have been patiently waiting for this open thread. So I have a job offer sitting in my email inbox. Since this is a company where I know people from industry events, the entire process from “hey I might be interested” to “here is your offer letter” took about eight business days. That being said, I am hesitating on pulling the trigger. Not because I don’t think I will like the job as it is very similar to what I do now. Here is the long story of the issue:

    Almost two years ago, I applied for an internal promotion to a Senior Manager of Teapot Designs. Really thought I had a great shot because I’d been given glowing performance reviews and was everyone’s go-to person on that team. Well, they ended up giving it to someone who doesn’t even know Photoshop. (this is not actually a design job but what I do is highly specific so I’m using it as an example and not sure if designers still use PS or not so my apologies if that is inaccurate). What was even worse was I had to train him and hold his hand. Almost two years later, nothing has changed. I pulled the Sr Mgr job description and realized I’m doing almost everything on it. I have since been promoted and continue to get glowing reviews and blah blah. However, I really want to move up and I feel I’ve hit a wall here. The job offer I have is for a Manager role (w/o the comma, so the title but not the people) and there is room for growth but it will take some time and I’m impatient. But it’s also a LOT more than I’m making now. While I have some normal new job reservations, and I am quite sure current job would try to keep me, I think I’m ultimately too bitter to stay here. But on the other hand, re-establishing yourself as a rock star is hard . So I don’t know what to do.

    1. Teapot Queen*

      Sounds tempting to me! Lots more money and the chance to move up? I’d go for it.

    2. Variations on a theme*

      Moving on is sometimes the only way to move up. Presuming you’ve put in your time at current job (which, since you mention spending 2 years helping the person who got promoted over you, it seems like you have), it’s plenty reasonable to look for new ways to grow and new places to do that at.

      You’re not going to be a rock star if you keep holding on to the bitterness that comes from the very reasonable resentment that you’re feeling where you are. So go on! Find a new pond and be the biggest fish!

      1. ann perkins*

        yes, I have been here for over three and a half years, almost two of which has been dealing w/this BS. thank you!!

      2. Is it Friday Yet?*

        Yep. In my industry, moving on is the best way to move up and make more money.

      1. Inspector Spacetime*

        Seconded! If you do great work at this job, you’ll do great work there too. Have faith in yourself and enjoy the higher salary. :)

    3. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

      To steal a line from your BFF Leslie Knope, “Ann, you beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk ox!”

      Despite the current glowing reviews of your work, you sound frustrated and unchallenged. Enough so that you went for a new opportunity and rocked the whole process in two weeks. Don’t sabotage your current great performance with an increasingly bitter outlook.

      Go for it and take the new job! Change is hard anyways, and while you’re waiting to move up, you’ll learn a lot about the new place. Good luck!

    4. Muriel Heslop*

      Rock stars make lots of money – take the new job! Congratulations!

      Seriously, if nothing has changed at your current job, it’s time to move on.

    5. BBBizAnalyst*

      Take the new job. Your current company is never going to promote you.

      Sometimes employers don’t get it right and it sounds like the new opportunity will provide the growth you’re desiring.

      Take the job. Take the money and go prosper.

    6. LKW*

      Take the job. If you’re a rock star at work, responsible for the guitar solos and are thrilling the audience, then you should get the gold and glory that go with it.

    7. Anxa*

      If you expect that your current job would try to keep you, can you practice a few scripts for moving on if you want to take the new job.

      I can soooo see myself as being reluctant to move on. In fact, I think I’ve been in your shoes (just at a lower scale). If it helps, remember that your job had 2+ years to keep you and didn’t make an effort.

    8. CatCat*

      Employers that don’t treat their rock stars well in terms of pay and opportunity lose those rock stars. The new job sounds like it recognizes your abilities and is able to provide the pay an opportunities your current job lacks. Current job has had plenty of time to try to keep you, but has made you bitter and frustrated. If it were me, no last ditch effort to try to keep me after I gave notice would work (and it’s happened to me, but it was such a relief to mentally move on, it was basically “Thanks, but no thanks” on my part.) I’d make the leap and wouldn’t look back :-)

    9. JennyFair*

      If you’re a rock star, that’s about you, not about the job you’re currently doing. You’ll be a rock star wherever you go. And it sounds like waiting will only delay the inevitable. Happy new jobbing :)

    10. INFJ*

      I get it. When I moved into my current position, I was nervous about starting over. I was at my last job for 8 years and was knocking it out of the ballpark. But I needed to move on. And now I’m knocking it out of the park here, too.

      Go for it, you deserve to move on and up!

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Re-establishing yourself is going to be hard no matter where you go.
      If you wish to avoid re-establishing yourself then you must stay in this job for the rest of your days. (I think the answer here is a huge NO.)

      This means do you want the pain of re-establishing now or later? The meat and potatoes of things: Is this particular job worth all that effort to re-establish yourself? It could be that you want to move but there is not enough at this new place to motivate you to move. Take a closer look at the offer, go over it line by line, could you do better some place else?

  21. DevAssist*

    My work has free, extra access to Rosetta Stone for employees! (completely voluntary) Woohoo! I can’t wait to learn another language this summer.

    1. Elizabeth West*


      What language are you gonna do?? I would love to be able to afford that or classes–I’d probably learn Spanish and German.

      1. DevAssist*

        We had a ton of options, but I opted for (Latin America- specific) Spanish, since it would be the most helpful for my job!

      2. Drew*

        I am being very, very lazy about Duolingo and other programs. I want to learn Spanish (for geographic reasons), Portuguese and Italian (because they’re beautiful), Welsh (because I have Welsh friends and it would blow their freaking minds), and Russian (because it may come in handy if things continue to get worse). That’s probably too many languages all at once, though, so I’m trying to prioritize. And if I don’t quit being lazy, I won’t pick up any of them.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I snorted at the Russian bit, but I’m also trying to convince myself to get off my lazy butt and work on learning Spanish. My org works a TON with Latino communities and probably upwards of 2/3 of our employees speak Spanish, including two members of my immediate team who I know would be happy to help me practice. But I’ve just been…well…lazy about it, I guess, and shy. I don’t want to try to speak it and sound stupid, you know?

          Tell you what. I’ll get Duolingo reinstalled on my phone and let’s check back next open thread to see how many lessons we can each get through in the week? ;)

        2. H.C.*

          I got overly ambitious with Duolingo too and was doing Spanish, Italian and French concurrently, except now I’m constantly using the wrong words when practicing outside of the app – given that they are all Romantic languages with masculine/feminine nouns. Ha and UGH.

        3. Poisson's Revenge*

          I went through the full DuoLingo Spanish module. It was fun and helpful, but I didn’t retain I very well without speaking practice. I had also been using workbooks to supplement the study, and had a friend helping.
          My bf tried DuoLingo for Russian, and I was really surprised that they make you try to learn to read and write it at the same time. I tried to help as a native speaker, but he stopped it after a few weeks. The alphabet was too much.

      3. La Revancha del Tango*

        I love Italki. I take spanish lessons with a professional teacher and have conversational chats. it’s way cheaper than an in person tutor!

      4. Apollo Warbucks*

        I’ve been using a pod cast called coffee break Spanish to learn with and it’s really good. They have coffee break German too.

        There a nice format and easy to listen to.

    2. Emi.*

      Awesome! I will warn you that the speaking practice for tonal languages is RUBBISH, though.

  22. Ama*

    I asked this a couple weeks ago but I think I was too late because I only got a couple responses, so I’m trying again:
    I think I want to switch careers to management consulting. I know that my best bet is to get an MBA and go through on-campus recruiting. But I’ve also heard that it’s a very high burnout career. I’m concerned about dropping 100k on a degree +2 years of lost wages and leaving the job after just a couple years. Has anyone ever struggled with this? How do you decide if making a career switch is worth the risk?

    1. Tableau Wizard*

      I thought about going into management consulting, and every time I decide it’s not for me.

      Some of the factors that help me make that decision are:
      – I want to work no more than 45 hours in an average week (spending time at home with my family is a priority for me)
      – I don’t want to spend time traveling (see family time above)
      – I like to have more ownership over my work and be able to see the impacts of the improvements that I make – so working directly for a company in a similar capacity is a better fit
      – I don’t want to get an MBA and I hate the idea that I need it to check a box.
      – I don’t want to live a lifestyle where I make more money but don’t have the time to enjoy it.

      The other thing to consider would be which management consulting firms you’re looking at. There is wide variety in the industry and some have worse burnout than others.

      YMMV with ALL of the above.

    2. LCL*

      No canned sig. Most of my email contacts are internal, so I tailor it to the situation. People that I know very well and talk to all the time get my first name only, used to be lowercase but autocorrect changes it. People that I don’t normally work with get first and last and both phone numbers. External customers get first and last, phone numbers, title, and somewhere in the email an explanation of what I do. I may have the longest title in the company because of reclassifications, merely stating the title won’t give the reader any useful information.

    3. LKW*

      I work in mgt consulting. No MBA. Many of my colleagues have, more of them don’t. So do that only if you’re interested in very specific elements of management consulting, in particular projects focused on business strategy. Otherwise, your business skills may translate to a consulting opportunity. You may have to start at lower entry point, but if you do well, you’ll be on a faster promotion track.

      Burnout is possible. But I’ve been doing this almost 20 years and haven’t burned out yet. I travel 80% of the year and typically work 10 -12 hour days. In my company, I’m one of the lazier folks. I find my work is interesting and I get enough change that it keeps me engaged and if I don’t like the work or the client – I know that it’s got an end date.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I work with a bunch of management consultants who burned out and now work for the government for less than half of what they used to make. But they get to work on interesting projects, there’s very little travel and they usually get to leave by 6:30. Here’s the thing – it’s very difficult to get hired at the big firms (McKinsey, BCG, etc) unless you have a degree from a top school. You don’t necessarily need to have a grad degree if you are willing to start at the bottom. Lots of people work two years and then go get their grad degree. And urban planning or public policy degrees are also helpful – it doesn’t always have to be an MBA.
      Cons: Long, long hours, lots of travel (usually), difficult personality types – if you don’t enjoy working with dominant type-A competitive people, then you will not be happy in management consulting.
      Pros: decent money
      Caveat: I only know people from the big name firms – I can see it being different in niche consulting.

    5. MissGirl*

      There’s plenty of good MBA programs that don’t ask for $100000 but still get you kick-a jobs. Some consulting companies are getting better about work life balance. My colleagues are home but Thursday night and work from home Friday. Still a lot of traveling.

  23. Christy*

    What do y’all have as your email signatures? My office recently got a new sub-office (to justify having a front-line manager in addition to our director) so we have to change ours. My old signature was in italics (except the |) and in my standard font:

    First M. Last | Job Title | ABC Big Office – Office | 123-456-7890

    And because I’ve had to add the new sub office (boo!) I’ve changed it to a blurb with my name in a slightly larger font size and everything else the same as my email:

    First M. Last
    Job Title
    ABC Sub Office | Office | Big Office

    (The ABC is my organizational acronym, which happens to be the first part of the sub-office’s name. I wanted to include it but didn’t want it twice.)

    What do y’all have?

    1. Brogrammer*

      Firstname Lastname
      (little graphic of company logo) (little graphic of an award the company won)
      Company address
      Direct phone line | Company website

    2. Christy*

      Oh, and I’ll clarify that I always sign my emails with Christy–my nickname, but my email is first.m.last at

    3. Jan Levinson*

      First Last
      Job Title
      Company Name
      Office | Office Phone #
      Email Address
      Company Website

    4. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      [First Name Last Name]
      [Job Title]
      [Larger organisation with address]
      [Phone Number]
      [Email Address] [website] [twitter]
      [details we have to include as a charity]

      [Quotes about whatever we’re trying to push)

    5. Bad Candidate*

      Ours are standardized. My name and title are bolded and the slogan is bolded and in one of the company’s colors.

      First Last
      Title, Team
      Street Address
      City, State ZIP
      Direct Line
      Fax Number
      Email address

      Company Slogan

      Insurance jargon no one ever reads

    6. Joie de Vivre*

      First Last
      Title, Department (in French)
      Title, Department (in English)

      Company Name
      Phone #
      Fax # (seriously?! who ever faxes anymore)
      Link to website

      Legal disclaimer and link to email policy (French)
      Legal disclaimer and link to email policy (English)

    7. tiny temping teapot*

      First Last
      Job Title
      Company + name of department ( Super Pots Tea Pot Painting as an example)
      address line 1
      address line 2
      Direct line:
      Fax: (unlike many I don’t have my own fax so I use the office fax line)
      email address

    8. Arduino*

      First name last name in large blue text
      Title very small light grey text
      Return line
      Address phone # cell # on darker grey slightly bigger text with p and c do you know what it is.

      It’s standard and looks ok. I like | much better though but alas company policy.

    9. Drew*

      First Last
      Job Title
      Office Phone Number

      The phone number used to include my extension, but as I don’t have an extension (or an office, NOT THAT I AM BITTER), now people can just call the trunk line.

    10. Collie*

      For emails to folks external to the organization I have:

      Firstname Lastname
      Description of organization
      123 Street Avenue | City zipcode
      +1 555.555.5555 | flastname@organization | http://www.organization |

      For internal:

      Firstname Lastname
      Department (linked to internal webpage)
      (555) 555-5555
      (Paragraph about service or resource my department offers.)

    11. Ribbon*

      First Last (in larger size than the rest)
      Government Agency
      Direct: Direct phone number
      Main: Main office phone
      Agency Address

      Public records disclosure warning (in gray)

    12. Coalea*

      Name, Degree

      Company Name
      Company Address (even though I work remotely in a different state!)
      Phone (my direct line)
      Fax (located at the company HQ, I assume)
      Company website
      Company logo
      Blurb about privacy

      For some reason, our company has set up its email system so that messages show up in other people’s inboxes as being from “Last Name, First Name.” As a result, I often receive responses to my emails that begin “Dear Last Name.” I know it’s an honest mistake, but it drives me nuts.

    13. CatCat*

      Person’s name (in bold font), Title
      Office | Division
      Employer Name
      Physical address
      Phone | email address | employer web site

    14. Audiophile*

      This isn’t totally standardized:

      FirstName LastName
      Job Title, Department
      Org Name (this is optional, but I’ve added it)
      Direct Line

    15. Pwyll*

      Copied from our e-mail policy:

      First M. Last[, designation from approved designation list(link to policy)]
      Vanity title, if any (e.g. Director of Marketing)
      Corporate title (e.g. Vice President), Functional team
      Division | Legal Entity | Office address
      Appropriate telephone numbers

      Information classification


    16. JulieBulie*

      I have my name, address, phone, email, title, three organizational levels, website, and a bunch of social media icons for the company

      And at the bottom, “Please consider the environment before printing this email.”

      It’s a large sig block and when there’s a long chain of emails in a thread, it takes forever to scroll through them all.

      One time, I really needed to print a conversation. It took up three sheets of paper. The first two sheets were printed on both sides. The fifth sheet had printing on one side only, and it was just the line, “Please consider the environment before printing this email.”

    17. Rachel in NYC*

      Ours are standardized more because everyone just sorta copied one person then any actual rule I believe (plus I admit to judging people who have crazy email signatures). Anyways:

      First Name Last Name
      Job Title
      Phone Number
      Fax Number
      Office Website
      Office Logo
      Hyperlink to subscribe to mailing list
      Links to office Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn pages

    18. KR*

      First Last | Position

      Office number
      Cell number
      Work email
      Office address | 2-word Company Slogan
      Small Company graphic

    19. Nallomy*

      Firstname Lastname
      Employer Name
      Employer Address
      Link to a relevant website (not my employer’s website though)

      We don’t have work phones, and I choose not to include my cell number. (Most of my coworkers do not include that.) Some people put their degrees after their name, but I don’t.

  24. Teapot Queen*

    After putting up with a sub-standard employee for the past several years, we are now in a position to replace this person. Yay! My boss asked me if I knew anyone who might be interested in the position. I do–Wakeen. Wakeen and his wife and I all worked at the same place about 17 years ago. He works in a public library; we are an academic library. I have already mentioned the job opening to Wakeen and he is very interested in the job. It’s got good benefits and a lot of other stuff going for it.
    However, my boss is a narcissist who spends literally hours monopolizing other people’s time. His particular victims are those he supervises, so we can’t use the “hey, this is great, but I have work to do” excuse. He goes on and on about his own interests, his political opinions, his opinions of TV programs–you name it. You literally cannot get away.
    He is also very lazy, and dumps just about everything on us to do, while he sits and does nothing on his computer all day long.
    Also, he’s been known to be capricious and back-biting.
    So….as a friend, do I tell Wakeen ANY of this? I want him to get the job, and I want him to WANT the job. But I’m wondering, how far do I go, if at all? I think I would have liked to have known some of this stuff before I started the job. Especially the talking thing. If I had known about the talking thing, I never would have let him start on personal subjects when I started working here. I’d have kept it strictly professional.
    What do you think?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I would give Wakeen the heads up. If I were him and you told me all about the job and encouraged me to apply but didn’t warn me about the pitfalls, I would be so mad. Give him all the information and let him decide what to do with it.

    2. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA*

      I think it’s important to share both good and bad if you have a personal connection with someone. At my last job, I had a temporary employee who I became really good friends and when I left, I asked her if she wanted me to suggest they reach out to her about the job. With this, I told her all of the things I liked and the challenges of the job as I didn’t want to her to get into it and be upset with me about some of the issues. The interesting thing is that we are very different personalities so some of the things that drove me nuts, don’t bother her at all and when she has a complaint about something I did well, I can provide some helpful feedback.

      1. Tuckerman*

        Good insight. Also, if you haven’t worked with Wakeen in 17 years, you might not know what management style he prefers now. What bothered him 17 years ago might not bother him now.

    3. BigSigh*

      Think of it this way. If you don’t tell him and he quits because he can’t stand it, you’re worse off than if he just hadn’t taken the job.

      Emphasize the good AND the bad. If you overshare the bad, you risk driving him away.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I agree, and you might share how you deal with it so he knows it’s possible to do so. Like, “Ray tends toward X behavior and it might be off-putting to some; we handle it by doing Y.”

      2. Teapot Queen*

        Thanks, everyone, for your help! I was a little afraid I was being non-professional by warning him, but you’re right–I’d want to know about the good and the bad.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Please tell Wakeen. My first nanny job was referred to me by the previous nanny. She did NOT tell me that the woman I’d be working for was arrogant and demanding, that she and her husband would be out of the house from 7am to 6pm every day, leaving behind kids who were thus desperate for attention and acting out all the time.

      I ended up being very frustrated and disillusioned with my friend for not telling me the situation. I might still have taken the job, but I would have gone into it with a different attitude!

  25. Junior Dev*

    Is there a specific accommodation you want? If not, I’m not sure that pre-emptively going to HR makes sense.

    For what it’s worth your old co-workers sound really rude. Correcting other people’s behavior is itself rude unless it’s really necessary to do so. Your co-workers aren’t your therapist or social coach and it’s not ok for them to presume they have that role.

  26. Tris Prior*

    Someone smeared poo on the stall wall in the ladies’ room this week. Whyyyyyyyyyy??

    I know from reading this site that this can be A Thing That Happens in offices, but it’s the first time I’ve encountered it personally (and I’ve had some AWFUL jobs with AWFUL people in my career.)

    1. Teapot Queen*

      So sorry you had to see that! If it makes you feel any better, during my first six weeks at my current job, I saw a turd on the floor in the ladies’ room.

    2. Shadow*

      People do this out of spite because they feel they e been wronged.

      I’ve seen people clog the toilets, drop loads on the floor of the exec bathroom, and smear poo. It always happens when somebody feels they’re not being listened to or that they’ve been treated unfairly.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Yeah, there is some sh!t going down (no pun intended) at my company right now. But, well, that’s been the case everywhere I’ve worked. I guess I should be surprised it’s taken me this long to encounter it. (We apparently had a booger-smearer in the men’s room a few jobs ago, but never poo.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t understand this behavior. I get snippy when I feel I’m not being listened to, but I can’t even imagine smearing my poo on anything other than the toilet roll.

          1. Marvel*

            Full disclosure: I’ve keyed a car. (I was in college and the commuter parking lot was a warzone.) I still can’t image smearing feces on anything.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Well I once dumped a big double handful of leaves into the open window of a car that belonged to a guy who pissed me off, but they were dry leaves. But poo! No!

      3. Natalie*

        When I was in commercial property management we could predict when a tenant was going out of business catastrophically because the bathrooms on their floor would start getting effed up. Within a month or two, they would have moved out in the middle of the night with no forwarding address.

        1. Queen of the File*

          From now on I’m going to make a point of checking out the washrooms every time I get a job interview!

      4. Tuckerman*

        And the person affected by the behavior isn’t the target. The custodial staff, not the boss, cleans it up.

        1. Tris Prior*

          Right?? I felt SO bad for the cleaning staff that day. And glad that it didn’t happen at my last job, where we had no cleaning staff and took turns scrubbing the toilets.

    3. Anon today...and tomorrow*

      There’s someone in my really small branch that never flushes the toilet. Never. It’s so nasty that I end up trying not to use the restroom at all if I can help it.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      I almost lost my mind when we had what we called “The Mad Pooper” at work. She would crap on the floor and then walk in it and leave a trail. One time I didn’t notice she smeared it near the bottom of the outside of the toilet bowl and it got on the calf of my pants. I was so angry that I had fantasies of making everyone give me a DNA sample so I could play detective. And the worst part is that I ran outside to buy new pants and my boss misunderstood what happened and thought I soiled myself.

      1. Tris Prior*

        Oh my god, I am so sorry. That is so much worse than seeing poo on the stall wall!

      2. OhBehave*

        What the *&^%? Did you know who this person was? Did anyone speak to her? YUCK!
        No Mr. Boss, TMP smeared it all over the toilet!

        1. Lily in NYC*

          No! This was about 6 years ago and I never found out who it was. She must have resigned because the incidents stopped relatively quickly.

    5. Say what, now?*

      When I worked as a Barista there was a “mad pooper” who would come in and take a poop in the corner across from the toilet in the men’s toilet probably once a week for several months. I kinda just figured it was a phobia situation where they were worried about the germ on the toilet seat? That kept me from screaming. It did not stop my male coworker from watching people going in and out of the toilet whenever we had downtime, but to be fair he was the one cleaning it up.

    6. Thlayli*

      Some days I feel like I just don’t understand how to navigate society and be a normal person. And then I read about people like this and I think “hey, I’m doing pretty well”

      So thanks for that!

      1. Say what, now?*

        Just don’t poop where you shouldn’t and you’ll be held in high esteem.

  27. catering anon*

    I had a goof-up at work this week. I was responsible for ordering catering for a half-day workshop. I spoke to my manager beforehand to clarify what she wanted; she said not to order lunch, but that we would pay for a coffee break. I clarified (does that mean just coffee or food?) and then went on my happy way to do the order for 10:30am.

    And then the day before the workshop… she asked me if I had ordered coffee for the morning. Uh. No? I said, “When we talked, you said just one coffee break so that’s all I ordered…” and she said “Did I really? Just one coffee break? Hmm. Mental note to you for the future…” and that’s all that was said, but now I feel silly for not having thought to ask if that was something she wanted. I don’t drink coffee or tea, so I don’t automatically think of that stuff first thing (even though this isn’t the first time I’ve done catering for a workshop, so I should’ve thought to ask).

    Just… ugh.

    1. Variations on a theme*

      Relatively minor mistake, and your manager seems like a good egg for positively identifying that she was also a source of the confusion, so, definitely handled well!

      Mistakes are how we grow. :)

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Weird that she said “Mental note to YOU for the future”–I mean, if you went to her to clarify what she wanted, it’s up to her to be explicit. (Of course I also come at this from a non morning-hot-beverage standpoint, but really.)

    3. Squeeble*

      I know how you feel. This sounds relatively minor, but it’s so annoying when you follow directions and then they realize that’s not what they wanted after all.

  28. Delyssia*

    I’ve recently come to the realization that there are two types of people who do well in my role: people who bring order to chaos and people who thrive on chaos. I thrive on chaos. (Don’t get me wrong, there comes a point where it can be too much, but in general, I’m in my element when I’m juggling several things at once and things are a little hectic.) But I feel like most jobs are looking for the people who bring order to chaos. Are there other jobs out there where thriving on chaos is a good thing?

    1. Mazzy*

      Yes I manage analysts and I always need one or two who are legitimately frazzled because they’re finding a bunch of stuff that is going wrong. It does NOT put m mind to ease when someone has an “everything is fine” attitude

    2. Andraste*

      You might enjoy the chaos, but man the chaos can be rough on everyone else who works around you, ESPECIALLY people you might supervise. I used to work for a local affiliate of a women’s health nonprofit that was CONSTANT chaos. I could tell my managers liked it–I could tell they felt powerful and important when they were the ones putting out fires. But for me, it was awful. Couldn’t ever get any long term projects done because there was some new disaster. Couldn’t get direction on what our day to day was supposed to look like because “things are changing every day!” Because disaster could strike at any moment, we were micromanaged to hell and back, so things would get stalled waiting for approval but we’d get yelled at during our weekly check-ins for not accomplishing enough. Of the six people who started with me, only 3 lasted a whole year. That job was terrible. I know the chaos can seem fun, but I think it’s really bad and unsustainable in the long run, and prevents your business/organization from really thriving. My recommendation (and again, this is just me), would be to get that chaos under control.

    3. Jules the First*

      Oh yes…I’m definitely a ‘thrive on chaos’ sort.

      My last serious job claimed to be an ‘order out of chaos’ job, but the reality was that it was a three-person workload done by just one person, meaning there’s so much chaos that your options are to work a 100-hour week (and bring sort-of order to the chaos) or work a normal week by knowing the chaos inside out, upside down and backwards so that you can reach into it at any point and come up with the bit that is required Right Now….

    4. HR Pro*

      I find that journalism/news is a field where it can feel like chaos because you often have to turn on a dime when some unexpected news comes up. I think people in those fields like the adrenaline rush that comes from the “chaos.” And the nice thing is that it’s inherent in the job – it’s not just because there’s some terrible boss who doesn’t know how to plan. So you might look into journalism/news (even if you’re not a writer, there are other related jobs that publishing/news broadcasting places need to have filled).

      On the other hand, I worked in a place that was terrible at planning and so everyone was putting out fires all the time. Yes, it made people feel needed and important – it is a good feeling (for many people) to “save the day.” But eventually the CEO realized that long-term, strategic planning was really the best way to produce the best product and give the best service over the long haul. And even the employees who liked to save the day would realize that there really were good reasons to at least do SOME planning.

    5. all good*

      Have you ever done advance work for a political campaign? That’s basically the wildest, most chaotic thing a person can do while wearing a suit. And you have to keep your head about you at all costs.

    6. Incognito*

      Mine? I’ve been desparately trying to bring order to the chaos, but my boss just keeps it churning or manufacturing more of it. I’m actively looking, so a position should open up soon. ;)

      1. Workaholic*

        I complain about chaos, but work best with many things going at once. I also had a boss tell me once after a particularly crazy day that he could never tell if i was as calm and collected as i seemed, or if i was as stress as everyone else but able to hide it. Totally stressed internally.

        1. Incognito*

          I work best with a lot of things going on at once, and can even get excited about the occasional urgency. It gets the blood pumping. It’s the chronic needless chaos that is pushing me out the door, people sitting on things for months, even years until they become blazing dumpster fires. They do it even when you spoon feed them solutions and repeatedly remind them of the timelines. Then there’s my favorite, we make a decision about something critical; it’s forgotten, and it becomes a crisis all over again.

          When you’re working on a long term projects (spanning decades!), the basic day-today stuff should really stop being chaotic at some point. How many times do we have to go through regular annual reporting cycles before someone figures out they happen every year at the same time like clockwork? Why do people panic over things where decisions we made and tasks have been completed as if they were brought up before. Why do we keep reinventing the wheel? Why don’t we even have a simple standard electronic filing system so people can find things easily and file them easily? Why is filing a even crisis?! This should not be a thing!

    7. Nonz*

      Public safety dispatching. High-demand, very good pay and benefits depending on where you’re located geographically. High burnout & turnover also, though, and 24/7/365 shift work. If you’re in Colorado, we’re definitely hiring!

    8. GirlwithaPearl*

      Politics and advocacy, crisis communications, maybe some government agencies (ie a press secretary at the public health commission during an outbreak).

      I usually thrive on chaos and do indeed work in one of these listed fields ;)

  29. Audiophile*

    Happy Friday!

    I think my project is officially dead. Mid-week my co-workers suggested changing course, I don’t want to appear inflexible so I’m trying to remain relatively open-minded. This new idea though, I’m pretty sure, won’t work. Basically, rather than appropriately treat lapsed donors under a new GL, they suggested just added something to their bios. This won’t solve the original issue and the likelihood is high that no one will remember to add the lapsed descriptor to their bios.

    I was originally really excited to be trusted with a project and have something “large scale” to add to my resume. Once things got underway, it was a lot less exciting.

    I’m interested in handling projects in the future, I’m sure it will come up again. There’s definitely room for improvement in this department and I’d like to help.

    1. Drew*

      I had a major project killed over the Christmas break – and since I’d planned to spend the first half of this year on that project almost exclusively, this was a real kick in the goolies. I decided to be a good soldier about it and move on finding other work, and I think I’ve been exemplary about it, even telling other people who also thought it was stupid to cancel my project that it’s a done deal and I’m not dwelling on it.

      My boss is now pushing our owner to reconsider the decision and let me start the project after all. When he told me that, I told HIM not to tell me anything else about it unless he got a firm “Yes, this can happen” and had a start date for me. I can be a good soldier once, but twice will be pushing it.

      1. Audiophile*

        Yeah I don’t think I could do with it being killed twice. I’m alright with it being killed this time, since it largely depended on Finance and they weren’t moving along at a reasonable pace.

        I definitely don’t want to go through this again. There is a slight chance that it could turn around in the next week or so, for a roll out in June. I’m not very hopeful.

  30. Giles*

    Remember the post earlier this week about how marketing was resisting changing a person’s headshot? That very same day I got an email from a partner here who had just gotten a new, professional photo from us – it said: “I was hoping he could photoshop out some of my wrinkles. Don’t they normally do that ;)!” I told them that the photographer does some retouching, but I didn’t direct them as to what needed retouching where. Their reply: “Can you?? I am sensitive about my aging!” …. Moments later I got a phone call saying “I’m actually really serious about this; I’m very insecure about my aging and would like you to soften the wrinkles in my photo, if you can.” I had to spend almost an hour getting their photo reprocessed and re-touched up. Ugh. The timing made me laugh, though.

    1. YarnOwl*

      I work in a marketing department and we’re responsible for coordinating everyone’s headshots with the photographer we use, and it’s so funny to me to see what people are self conscious about! Not like I’m making fun of self conscious people (because heaven knows I am one), but just interesting to see that something you don’t even notice stands out to that person.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      When I had to get a headshot done for work, I made the photographer help me pick the photo (we had to sign off on which was used, which is smart imo). I literally hated all of them. I’d say I can’t wait to get it redone, but I can. Really.

    3. Chaordic One*

      At my former workplace we had a woman in a very public position who had to often deal with the media for our company. It was decided that she was one of the comparatively few people who would have her photo on the company website. Strangely enough, she insisted that on the company website we use 15-year-old photographs of her. I thought she was an attractive person in her early 50s. Her hair was identical to the 15-year-old photos, but she is obviously older and a bit heavier (not much) now and her insistence on using old photos seems odd to me.

  31. Gaia*

    I do not have advice but I want to give you some assurance: someone not liking your jokes does not mean they do not like *you.* For instance, I am really particular about humor and some types of jokes will irritate me but I still like the person, I just don’t share their humor.

    1. Sugar of lead*

      I know what you mean. My dad is a wonderful human being, but he is unilaterally banned from using “humor,” because he’s very dry and I can’t tell that he’s kidding and it’s very alarming to me.

  32. Anxa*

    This is long. This week has been a job-search roller coaster:

    So last week I had mentioned qualms about an interview. I had applied for a part-time job that could have been a really great summer job opportunity, but I really didn’t know what kind of schedule they were looking for (and I had let my bosses know that I was planning to stick around this semester). I had gotten an email that my application had been reviewed the morning after submission (a Friday), which I took to be a really good sign they were interested because state jobs rarely move that fast.

    The next week they called, but I couldn’t fully make out the details of the voicemail, which I thought I mentioned when I called them back, also leaving a VM. The next day we set up an interview.

    And then I realized I didn’t get any details about the interview, just a date and time. I’m really prone to second guessing myself and I was telling myself it was stress brain making me nervous, but I called to confirm the location and either I literally wasn’t listening well enough due to nerves or HR literally told me I had the right impression when I didn’t (I thought the interview would be at the department HQ listed in the job ad). Key point here: I was talking to HR, not the hiring person (this will be relevant later).

    My BF set up an urgent vet appointment for the same afternoon as my interview. Miraculously, we got my cat into his carrier at the absolute last minute and I ended up getting to the the building at the exact time of my appointment, only it didn’t really matter that I wasn’t responsibly early because I was in the wrong county! Yea, so HR and the satellite office were either not speaking the same language or I was a total space ball. Still, they told me to try to reschedule. At this point I was so embarrassed I wanted to just run away and never talk to them again and I felt like all my fears about how I’m too disorganized and unreliable to ever be a serious employee were founded.

    The next morning I call and make a same day appointment. I go to email my current boss to let them know I had pushed back my interview, and that I may have more info about my schedule later that afternoon. I was encouraged to get back to them at a time that was 1 hour after my interview started.

    The interview itself is fine, until I find out it’s a full-time job, not part-time. Which is the ultimate goal, but would mean leaving my current job after telling them I’d be there. The commute was reasonable but much worse than my current job and its tentative schedule. I can walk/take the bus to and from work <1 hr each way, and it's <20 mins by car. This New Job was in a city with bad traffic but nowhere near a bus stop. It started early enough that my BF would have to start work way earlier than usual if we car pooled, plus it would be hard to get to if he needed the car at odd times (he does field work in the summer), and meant dealing with Beltway traffic. It was further than expected based on the ad. I let them know that I had been under the impression it was a part-time job and that I had JUST told my job I would be there that summer.

    So, after the interview, I called my BF (no answer). I was kind of lost (I hadn't had time to write down reverse directions) and hot and cranky and pulled into a random development and called my boss right before my 'deadline' to tell them I won't be taking the New Job so my tentative hours are great. The new job literally calls during that call, which was awkward, but I took the call. The job offer was for only .15 cents an hour higher than the minimum (I have no direct experience, but a lot of relevant skills, education, and experience) and while I'm sure it was negotiable, I literally didn't have the time to. It was a 25% hourly pay cut. I declined the offer. It could have been a great segue into working for the state, but I had already given my boss the impression I'd be staying on for the summer. I had to choose between a full-time summer job or a part-time year round (but technically temp) job. I would make 80 a week more, but the commute would have been hellish (not the drive itself, but the car sharing: partner does field work and travels in the summer). Also, it's physically not a comfortable job, which I didn't mind, but did make my current job more attractive. Also, my gut said no.

    Everything was so drawn out, and then had to happen so fast.

    So the past few days I've been trying to accept my situation and look at the positives of staying in my current job. I'd get a set schedule (an upgrade!), can get there by public transit and there's showers on site (nice in the summer!), I'd have more time to focus on finding a new long-term job instead of adjusting to a new one while job searching, and I'd have a day off to pursue volunteering. Also, 3 day weekends so I could more easily visit family over the summer. I wouldn't need a car loan and I'd still get more hours than I have now. And I wouldn't have to fight my sleep tendencies.

    But I think I oversold my current job to myself, because yesterday another job from the state (same county, slightly closer, different department) calls me about another job. And like a fool, I tell them I am flattered but I had just confirmed my hours this week at current job and I felt with the semester starting on Monday, it wasn't a good time to leave. Before I could ask more about their interview schedule, the conversation ended. I hope they don't wonder why I bothered to apply, but had they contacted me last week I would have been much more interested in leaving my job for it. It was a similar situation to the other state job.

    AND soon after letting them know I had committed to a job for the summer, I look and see our hours are only good through the end of the fiscal year. I cannot seem to juggle this right at all. So I might have turned down a full-time job that could have been a step toward a permanent one for the sake of five weeks.

    So here comes the actionable part:

    How weird would it be to call New Job #2 back and ask them what the hours would be like, in case it's possible for me to go to ~.25 FTE at my current job, since that's what I might be at if our budget is cut, if they have weekdays off. Or to let them know that I'm still reluctant to leave my current job after having JUST affirmed my summer hours with the semester starting, but that if they are still interested in interviewing me I would still be considering it, depending on their timeline. Or asking if it would be appropriate for me to reach out to them next spring to ask how their hiring cycle is timed so we don't just miss each other by a matter of days again. That seems kind of brazen.

    Depending on where in the pay scale I would fall and how many hours I would work, I could make between $50 and $180 more per week at the summer job. It could be more if my hours are cut at the end of the fiscal year or if I'm forced into a vacation since I'm a temp employee technically. But, if that summer job precludes me from working in the fall, I could miss out on a job all fall long. And I'm very interested in, now having a semester under my belt, trying to focus on accomplishments to try to boost my resume. But I've been waiting for 7 years for an opportunity to break into this field, and I feel like an idiot for bumbling that phone call. And as wrong as it feels for me to burn a bridge or go back on my word, what will it matter? My current employer will never bump me up to a real job, and no other employer is going to be impressed by the fact that I put my team first.

    1. Anxa*

      Holy crap I didn’t realize HOW long that was:


      I had very brief window at my current job where I could leave without causing a major disruption. Unfortunately, I hadn’t heard anything actionable from any jobs I had applied for before my summer schedule was “due.” The new semester starts on Monday.

      This past Monday I had an interview for a job that I hoped I could do alongside my current one, so I held my schedule for an extra day. Which became an extra two days as I had a scheduling fiasco and had to bump the interview a day back. Turns out, the job ad was all wrong and the job was full-time. I turned it out for logistics reasons, and also because I had already told my job I’d be there this summer. After that interview, I confirmed again that I would stay and my tentative schedule was cool.

      I then felt like such a fool and felt a sense of loss that I pumped up my actual current job for the rest of the week. Sold it myself so hard that I bumbled the chance to interview for ANOTHER full-time, summer only job, but one with a better schedule and commute.

      Now I’m wondering if it’s too late to call them back? If I should work two week and let them know I’ll be leaving, then hope I can get my job back next spring or fall (fall may not work since this summer job will likely go past the start of ‘fall’ semester). Contributing factor: the money gap may matter a lot more than I calculated, because come to find out our schedule is just for the fiscal year.

      What do I even say? Anyway I frame it to new job seems like I’m being really entitled or brazen. Would it be weird to ask for contact info so I can reach out to them next year? It’s a state job so that may not be allowed.

      1. over educated*

        This sounds so frustrating. I know money matters, but I think the only way you are going to move forward from your current job to something more stable and full time is by prioritizing your long-term goals rather than the immediate calculations of $50 per week or numbers of work weeks in the fall. I don’t know what the likelihood of the summer job with the state leading to something bigger is, but if you think it is a step toward a field you want to work in, you have nothing to lose from calling back. I wouldn’t ask a lot of clarifying schedule questions though, asking if they would still consider you for it is a big enough ask that you want to express your interest clearly if there is an option.

        Also, I wouldn’t worry too much about inconveniencing your current job. They know you’re part time and contingent, so if you say “hey I got a summer job with a lot of hours and have to reduce my hour commitment here, sorry that the timing didn’t come up last week, I would still like to work part time if possible and come back in the fall” they will probably understand and it is their job to deal with changing staff schedules.

        1. Anxa*

          You’re so right about long-term goals. I think the problem is, though, that every time I’ve buckled down, committed to something, and took the long-view it’s either blown up in my face or been a dead end. It feels like, even though SO is adamant that he doesn’t want me to feel pressured to bring more money in, I can’t subject us to more deprivation to support what may be a fantasy. It’s not just pessimism or a negative attitude talking there. There are literally thousands of people who spend their entire lives underemployed.

          Also confounding it is that $50 dollars a week is not worth disrupting our commute and changing course over, but $100 or $200 can make a huge difference. I could get my wisdom teeth out, replace my 9 year old computer, get a smartphone, glasses, a proper desk chair, or get a down payment for a car. Take licensing tests for potential fields. Things that may be just as important for my long-term job search.

          I can’t say I’m poor; I live too richly for that. But I’m only able to sustain such a pleasant lifestyle on my income because my SO subsidizes me. My actual income is under the FPL.

          You are right though that I need to come up with some scripts. The thing is, my supervisors know I’m looking and are supportive overall of us moving on and coming back if needed. I think you’ve helped me realize that that’s actually making me more reluctant to leave them in the lurch. I’m also in one of those jobs where not only are you expected to be fueled by selflessness and passion, but I personally feel a disproportionate amount of dedication to my clients (and even my employers, I could not get ANY job for years, despite having worked most of my adolescence without issue. i was in a really, really low place and have a misplaced sense of gratitude)

      2. Anxa*


        I called them back and asked about their timetable. Turns out they aren’t starting interviews for another two weeks. By that time I may have more info about the fiscal year situation at Current Job and have more time to think about it. I’ll also have time to prepare for the interview so I feel like I’m in a better position to negotiate a higher wage.

        On the downside, I can’t just put it behind me and move forward, but I don’t feel as crappy as I thought I would!

  33. the.kat*

    Office supplies! I know we’ve talked about pens before, but what preferences do you have with office supplies? What do you splurge on, what do you skimp on?

    I can’t stand metal paperclips that aren’t plastic/rubber coated. I don’t like cheap/give-away pens. If I’m writing and no one else will borrow my pen I’m going to reach for one of my Pilot Varsity pens and I have never found a highlighter I like enough to use.

    What about you all?

    1. NJ Anon*

      I work at a nonprofit. We don’t splurge on anything but I have to say post-it notes in all sizes and colors are my favorite office supply.

      1. Volunteer Coordinator in NOVA*

        I once went to a meeting at a corporation and they had a whole room of really nice office supplies and I think my non-profit worker heart just broke as I was so jealous! My job will order nicer pens for me which is great but that’s about the extent of fancy office supples.

      2. k*

        Ditto to everything you just said. I love post-its so much.

        I also have a few, fun desk accessories. Their more fashion than function, but it makes my desk more pleasant to stare at all day.

        1. zora*

          Oh yeah, I found a really cute decorated ceramic desk set on Etsy, pencil cup and small tray, instead of the big black plastic monstrosity pen holders my company ordered. They make me so happy!

      3. Parenthetically*

        Also a post-it note addict here. I use them constantly and for so many things!

      4. HR Bee*

        I purchase the pretty colored, super-sticky dispenser Post-Its for myself because the company only buys the boring yellow ones that lose their stick after one re-position. It’s not that much, a package lasts a while, and they make me happy :)

    2. YarnOwl*

      I do a lot of copy editing and for some kinds of documents I print out hard copies and mark them up. I used to not really care what pens I used, but my office stocks these Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens and ever since I started using them I’m obsessed! I use one for my bullet journal and I use a red one for all of my copy editing and hate using anything different.

    3. Liz*

      I asked that when they order spiral-bound notebooks, they toss in a few graph paper ones for me to use. I’ve been using only graph paper for note-taking for like 15 years at this point, ever since high school! It’s a small office and pretty chill about those sorts of things, so luckily it was no problem to ask for that.

      1. DecorativeCacti*

        I love graph paper. I like tiny squares. Office Max used to have 10/1″. It’s just so easy to switch between writing and sketching if I need to. I am a quilter and a planner so all of my graph pads have various quilts and sketches of my house/yard/etc on them.

      2. CrazyEngineerGirl*

        I did the same thing at my job! I was just so used to graph paper I couldn’t stand using regular old lined notebooks. And then of course, other people started grabbing them from the supply room too (because graph paper is so awesome!)

    4. Jan Levinson*

      I don’t order the office supplies, but I so appreciate that my company purchases G2 pens. They’ve always been my favorite, the ink is just so nice!

      Whenever customers come in and need to sign something, I make sure to sit out a non-G2 pen, in fear that they’ll take it!

      1. Andraste*

        I have our office manager order me G2s special. I don’t use anything else, haha. It’s the one office supply I get snooty about.

    5. Lucky*

      I am in constant search for the perfect spiral notebook. Must be 9″x7″ or smaller, lined, and have a hard cover, preferably with no design and small or no branding. Apica Figurare, A5 in Orange is my jam, but very hard to find.

    6. Lily Rowan*

      I bring in my own notebooks so I can have just what I want, but otherwise I’m pretty open.

    7. Anonymosity*

      When I ordered supplies for a previous job, I got sick of yellow sticky notes so I would order myself a packet of colored ones, mostly blue and purple. They were the same price as the yellow if I got the generic ones. I rather spitefully packed them in my box of personal things when I got laid off; my supervisor didn’t notice. YES I TOOK THEM–FIGHT ME.

      I hate plastic-coated paper clips or the ones with texture on them. Smooth only, please. Also I really like stacked letter trays if I have a lot of paper to sort/deal with.

      1. DecorativeCacti*

        I had a manager who hated textured paperclips to the point that she told one of our employees to go around the entire building (two stories, at least five departments) and throw away all the textured ones. I’m pretty sure the employee just hid in the bathroom for an hour and said she did it.

    8. Undine*

      I care a lot about the paper in notebooks (texture, thickness, can you write on it with a non-ball-point and not have it bleed through).

      1. gwal*

        Yup! Love that the black-n-red notebooks have such good paper AND are often the default purchase in offices

    9. Parenthetically*

      I have very strong feelings about so many office supplies. Tiny binder clips > paper clips. Rich, dark-colored dry erase markers rather than black (but NOT BROWN). Spiral notebooks are swell, but only if they have sturdy, preferably plastic covers, and are college ruled or narrow ruled; wide ruled flimsy-covered notebooks are the handiwork of Satan. I also strongly prefer .7mm lead for mechanical pencils. And I like color-coded folders, and don’t understand the existence of file folders that are NOT hanging folders.

      I also need a range of pens in various colors (G2 preferred, never ever the cheap promo pens), a range of sizes and colors of post-its, and COLORED PENCILS for highlighting — you can also find “bible highlighters” from various online retailers that are about halfway between a good artist’s crayon and a colored pencil in texture, so they write VERY smoothly without any bleed-through, since they’re designed for super-thin paper.

      1. Natalie*

        Colored pencils for highlighting is such a good idea! I will have to try this.

        Binder clips 4EVA.

      2. Anxa*

        I’ve been a colored pencil highlighter, but it can be too time consuming. Looking into bible highlighters!

        I think for Christmas I want some of those pastel highlighters for my stocking. And all the fun colored dry erase markers.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I have highlights shaped like cats and bears from Paperchase. Which is like the mothership.

    10. Susan*

      I actually like cheap pens, because I lose them/people steal them all the time. If I lose a pen, I don’t even bother looking for it; I just grab another one, because we have tons of them.

      I hate cheap staplers, though. I insist upon using a Swingline brand stapler. I also convinced our admin to get an electric stapler for the department, and I know that sounds lazy, but it is so nice when you’re stapling a bunch of things at once.

    11. krysb*

      I only use Bic Velocity 1.6 pens, and I supply them myself. Theft my pens is punishable by death.

    12. JAM*

      I have staplers I love and hate. My stapler used to get stolen all the time so I gave my crew the super awesome functional staplers, left an okay one in the workroom (and it never walks off now), and put my own Target gold swingline stapler at my desk. People love to use it when they grab things off the shared printer but they know it can never leave my desk.

      I also fell in love with the blue Pilot G2 05 pens. My company decided to downgrade blue pens the day after my satellite office got a 5 box order in. I now control the firm’s favorite pens and I have so much power with people. If I put it on a desk of someone office sharing, they get so excited. I should love the power and appreciation I get but I really just love the pens.

      1. Trix*

        I love the G2 05 pens! I don’t have nearly enough clout to request specific pens be ordered for my office, but we do get the 07s now and then, and while I do my best to not take boxes at a time, I make no promises.

        And I’m with you on the blue, the G2s are the only blue pens I like and I like them so much more than the black. They are for my own personal use, anyone else who needs a pen gets a standard Bic ballpoint or one of the many BRAND ones that a vendor used to give us in droves.

        1. Poisson's Revenge*

          So funny you mention this one, I never paid attention to pens until I picked one of these up.

    13. LKW*

      I buy these french notebooks (Clairefontaine) because the paper is wonderfully smooth. They’re a little pricey but so lovely in which to write my gibberish.

      1. Ktelzbeth*

        I was just trying to remember the brand name of those. Thank you! The paper is wonderful

    14. Natalie*

      I will cut someone for binder clips in all of the sizes, especially the really small ones. Paper clips suck; team binder clips forever.

      1. FinePrint*

        I’m with you: no paper clips! I get so many documents for BigBoss to sign; I take off the paper clips (yes, throw them away!), substitute a binder clip. You will thank me when I return your document perfectly contained.

    15. Shishimai*

      I have a whiteboard notebook, and it has changed my workflow. Instead of wading through pages of my notes to find the action item from a week ago, I can erase things as I work through them, which means my to-do list is always findable and I don’t have to transcribe it. I can doodle up a storm and easily remove it when I need to take notes in that space, and it has page protectors so that if I need to keep multiple diagrams separate, it’s easy to do.

      I did have to buy new markers recently and couldn’t find ones that would fit nicely in the pen loop, but carrying markers in my pocket is a risk I’m willing to take for the wonders of the reusable notebook.

    16. Ramona Flowers*

      Office supplies make me really happy. I work for a non-profit and they provide basic supplies but I prefer to buy my own notebooks, Pilot v-ball pens and cute sticky notes. I have more sticky notes than I can possibly actually use in one lifetime.

    17. Construction Safety*

      Nothing from Staples.

      Because when I go to the cabinet to get staples, all I can see are STAPLES!

      1. Susan*

        Haha, I have the same problem! My company gets all its office supplies from Staples, and it’s impossible to find the box of staples in a closet full of boxes labeled “STAPLES.” My trick for dealing with this is to print out a label in a distinctive color and font that says, “Staples for the stapler,” and stick it on the box of staples so that it stands out when I’m looking for actual staples.

    18. Anxa*

      My boyfriend bought me a gorgeous notebook (more of a journal). I’m in the process of using up all my crap and have been on a slow minimalism-esque journey and I smile every time I look at it, waiting in the wings. It was so expensive to me, but the perfect mix of pragmatic and romantic and I just love it!

      I have quite the pen collection.

      Anyone here every look at #studyblr and other stationary pxrn?

    19. HR Bee*

      I’m very seriously considering buying my own two-hole-punch and two-prong fasteners. At LastJob, I had created a very neat and clean filing system using two-prong fasteners to fasten files into sort of a book. They looked so nice, the files always stayed in chronological or alphabetical order, they were very easy to use. And punching the holes was very cathartic, because a two-hole punch has a longer lever arm than a standard three-hole punch and just feels good to use.

      I don’t actually have a REAL reason to take the time to reorganize all the files at NewJob the same way, but I miss using two-prong fasteners.

    20. JulieBulie*

      I can’t stand paper clips that ARE plastic/rubber coated!

      I like “ideal” clips (sometimes known as “butterfly clips”)

      I love fountain pens and little notebooks (but not Moleskines, grossly overrated IMO)

    21. voluptuousfire*

      Colored post its (never yellow!) and any color Sharpie marker that my heart desires. I <3 the latter part.

      I buy my own notebooks, Mead 5 Star single subject spiral notebooks. I get them on sale in August at my local supermarket for $2 a pop and I buy 5. That lasts me the year. I love them.

      Pens, as long as they write, I'm happy but I do love those Pilot InkJoy pens. I buy those for my house.

    22. Rachel in NYC*

      Currently, my wrist pillow. I hurt my wrist a while ago and recently stopped wearing a brace but being on a computer all day, it was suggested I get something for it. So I picked a little wrist pillow from the staples catalogue and it showed up the next day. It’s even better then my label maker…(though I don’t use that a ton)

    23. zora*

      I hate cheap pens and basically all ballpoints. I always buy my own Pilot gel pens bc my hands hurt if I have to use ballpoints too much. In one job we were required to use blue ink for certain things, so I brought in my own pens even though I was getting paid crap temp wages.

      I order office supplies here, and we have glass walls by our desks to be used as dry erase boards. I order the fun color combinations of dry erase markers, instead of just the boring primary colors.

    24. D.A.R.N.*

      CanNOT stand bic pens. Their rollerballs just don’t write for me. Give me a pentel V5 any day! At least then I won’t have hand cramps from trying to press so hard to get the lines legible. :)

    25. Ally A*

      I hate plastic/rubber coated paper clips. My old boss used to use them and when she’d give stuff to me with them on it I would change it for a metal one.
      I found really fine point dry erase markers – which I love. I have a huge chart on my whiteboard where I track email marketing rates and it’s so much easier with fine point markers.
      Also, I hate the plastic hanging file labels that you stick paper in. I use angled post-it brand flags.

    26. Chaordic One*

      Although my former workplace claimed that they were moving to a paperless office model, they still had tons of paper. One of the best investments that they could have made would have been to have had a good heavy-duty stapler to use on those stacks of paper that managed to be more than an eighth of an inch or so in thickness. It is worth splurging on.

      Other people in my office just went nuts for label printers and while I certainly do appreciate having them, I was never quite as an enthusiastic about them.

  34. starsaphire*

    Oh, this is such a tough situation!

    I have a very good friend in a similar situation — he’s high-functioning, incredibly smart, really good at his work… and yet he keeps having to change jobs because inevitably people start murmuring about how there’s just “something off” about him… whether he discloses in advance, or not.

    OP, I wish I had good advice for you, but honestly, it’s so hard to tell in advance whether a supervisor or HR would do better with all the information, or do better without their preconceived notions about the label.

    Best wishes, and best of luck.

  35. Susan*

    I have a coworker/friend who has been on paid suspension for a few weeks while she’s under investigation/review for some pretty serious misconduct. We’re not especially close, but we’ve hung out a few times outside of work, and she was extremely kind and welcoming to me when I started this job (which was also a long-distance move), so I’ll always be grateful for that.

    I’m pretty horrified by what she did, and I’m also annoyed that she’s getting a paid suspension (not even using her PTO) while the rest of us have to pick up her work. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I condone what she did, but I feel like I should probably reach out to her just to say hi and ask how she’s doing. I’m not sure if I should call her, text her, send a message on Facebook, or what. Any advice on how to strike a balance between being disappointed in what she did but not wanting to completely shun her as a person or as a friend?

    1. NJ Anon*

      A “hi, how are you doing?” would be nice. I was in a similar situation and the person was so disappointed that no one reached out to see how she was holding up. Mistakes happen and they are still human.

    2. Sualah*

      I understand what you mean about her not having to use PTO, but all I can think is of the letter with the employee who framed the other employee because she was in an abusive relationship. I think a paid leave actually makes sense while something is being investigated.

    3. rubyrose*

      I would not call her, but contact her via some type of written communication that she can easily ignore if she wishes. She may be in a condition that she does not want to talk to anyone.

    4. Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys*

      IMHO, I’d stay away until the investigation is complete. You do not want to be in a position where she asks you what is going on or someone at the company thinks you are feeding her information about the investigation. Once the outcome is decided, you can reach out and send a friendly message thanking her for being so helpful when you started the job. But if the misconduct was bad enough for a multi-week investigation, I’d stay away from it until the dust settles. And then I would only reach out via personal systems, not the company’s.

      1. Susan*

        Yeah, I would definitely only contact her from home using my personal phone or e-mail… I really don’t know anything about the investigation, other than what the coworker in question told a mutual friend, because the company is being VERY secretive about it. I don’t think anyone would suspect I’m feeding her information, simply because I don’t have any information to feed her.

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          I might stay away from even that unless its known around the office that the two of you are office friends (go to lunch together, chat about your personal lives) as opposed to office acquaintances (you’ll chat if your near each other but that’s really it). This isn’t about judging her and you probably don’t know all of the specifics but its important that unless you contacting her would be seen as innocent if she comments about it to someone that you don’t.

    5. Observer*

      She’s getting paid suspension because it’s not definite that she did whatever it is that she is accused of.

      Suspending someone without pay is an awful thing to do to someone, unless it’s a last step before firing. It’s awful even if you have good reason to suspect something, because suspicion is not proof.

      If you want a good discussion of the matter go back to the discussion about the woman who faked fraud to get investigators into her office.

      Instead of being annoyed, be glad that you work for a company that apparently believes in threat their staff decently.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I would do zero contact. Any contact will muddy the waters.

      It could be that the investigation brings up nothing. When she returns you can say that you are so glad she is back.

      If the investigation turns up wrong doing, perhaps you can wait a bit and send her a card thanking her for being so welcoming when you started.

      I would expect no contact from coworkers if I was under investigation. Since you don’t know too much about what is going on, it is probably best that you maintain your distance. This is for your own protection.

      Look at it this way, she is not a close friend. If she were a closer friend you would already know by now what is going on and how she is doing. Sometimes it is best to take a step back and let things play out.

    7. Thlayli*

      If she is your friend and you don’t reach out to her during this time then you are basically choosing not to be her friend anymore.

      Definitely don’t give her any info at all about anything to do with work. If she asks just say you are contacting her as a friend and you can’t say anything about work at all. If she is a real friend she will understand.

      But if you want to remain friends with her you will have to at least send a text to say how are you?

      If you don’t do this then you are giving a pretty strong signal that her behaviour meant the end of your friendship.

      So it’s really up to you – if what she did was bad enough to end a friendship then don’t contact her. If it wasn’t that bad then contact her. If you don’t then there is about a 0% chance she will still consider you a friend afterwards.

    8. Bagpuss*

      I’d double check whether your office has any rules about contacting someone in this situation. Sometimes when someone is suspended / being investigated they may be told not to contact any of their colleagues and while it doesn’t sound as if you and other staff have not been told not to contact her, it might be sensible to be cautious.

      If you do reach out, use your personal, not work e-mail and keep away from the subject of the investigation. e.g. “I’ve been thinking of you, hope you are OK” or” Hope you’re OK – looking forward to meting up with you once this is all sorted”
      But also be honest with yourself. If the investigation determined that she had acted as alleged, and she is fired as a result, (or indeed if she decided to leave, whatever the outcome of the investigation) would you expect to stay friends with her, or is it just an in-work friendship? If it is, then it may be better to wait until the investigation is over, and then either send her a ‘welcome back’ message, or a ‘sorry to hear you’re leaving, wanted to thank you for how supportive and friendly you were when I joined’ one, as appropriate.

  36. Grey*

    Ok. It’s break time. One of my colleagues at another site just received an award. I know this because my company announced it via mass email.

    Now I’m going to relax, read AAM, sip coffee, and methodically delete the emails congratulating me, as they slowly come in, one by one, ding… ding…, because my colleagues can’t be arsed to type an email address instead of clicking “Reply All”.

    This will take a while. Bring it on. I’m ready.

    1. Amber Rose*

      At one point, I ended up on a customer’s mailing list who is also part of a large, nation wide animal rescue non-profit thing, and I kept getting included in her emails to everyone about this non-profit. I just ignored them because it was like, once every couple months and I like animals.

      Then one day, Amber N. who is part of the org got a promotion. And since everyone was just typing in amber and letting auto complete do the rest, I got like 50 congratulatory emails, some semi-personal.

      I felt really bad for the other Amber and tried to correct people but man, that was annoying.

    2. Blue eagle*

      Here’s an idea. Why not “reply” to everyone who uses “reply all” to hit your e-mail with the words “Thank You.” If they are forcing you to read and delete an e-mail from them, you are merely returning the favor. Who knows – maybe if enough people did this they would stop using “reply all”.

      1. Grey*

        That’s really tempting but seems to passive aggressive for my personality. I’d bet most of my coworkers are tired of this but no one wants to be the one to complain.

        I’d like to suggest that future memos have an added line for the lazy folks that says something like, “send your congratulations to“.

    3. Natalie*

      If you use Outlook, I’d like to introduce you to the Ignore button, which will send all future emails in that thread to the destination of your choice, like the Trash folder.

      1. Grey*

        Yes. Outlook. Tell me more. I can’t seem to find this option.

        I just had a co-worker actually type the email address for the right person, but then CC everyone else. Why?!

        1. JulieBulie*

          “Home” tab, “Delete” group, “Ignore” icon is right next to the giant X icon for delete.

          I have never used it before. I never even noticed it before today. Thank you, Natalie!

        2. Natalie*

          Not sure if you’re using the same version as me, but if I open a message there is a little button to the left of the big Delete button. The mouse-over text says “Ignore Conversation”.

          1. JulieBulie*

            Oh – I was looking in the main window. I deal with most of my mail (especially the unwanted stuff) just by looking at it in the preview pane, without ever actually opening the message.

              1. Workaholic*

                OMG! Thank you for this tip! Somebody got promoted yesterday and a company wide email went out and next thing you know all the “reply all” emails started arriving. I can hardly wait to start using this!

        3. Grey*

          I found the Ignore button, but it’s greyed out. Maybe my employer has some way of disabling it?

  37. FDCA In Canada*

    Readers in client-centred nonprofits/social service arenas, a question. I work in a government-funded not-for-profit employment centre (mostly AAM-approved advice! No capes here!), and while we have our issues with management, mostly it’s fine. One of my coworkers is obsessed with seeing herself as a “nurturing, caring person,” and describes herself that way to everyone, implying that the rest of us are “cold, uncaring, and cruel” for setting appropriate boundaries with clients. (The quotes are more or less direct–she’s definitely said “I could never be so uncaring,” in reference to other coworkers saying that they were going to take a light touch with a client or that they were doing well and would be bumped down the priority list.) She’s close to my boss, who tells us all the time my coworker is “going through hard times,” but honestly we’re all tired of being treated as if we don’t care just because we aren’t going to make our clients the centre of our lives. We know we’re in the right, ethically, but the environment here is becoming mega frustrating. Is there a good way to approach my boss about this and ask if she can have our coworker rein in the judgment a little? Or a lot?

    1. fposte*

      Going to a boss seems like overkill, especially since you haven’t directly communicated anything to her about it. I think this could be made into a small deal and that that’s more effective than making it a big deal. I’d respond to stuff when it comes up. “That surprises me–you really think it’s more important to keep the functional person on the visit list at the expense of the person who’s just lost her house?” When she characterizes herself in a seemingly exclusive way as warm and caring, you just laugh and say “Because the rest of us are here for the high salaries?” It’s just her being her. It doesn’t mean anything about you, and she can think what she wants.

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        Part of the reason none of us want to approach her directly is her wild vindictiveness–if she’s upset, it means she’s going to be stomping around the office, slamming cabinets, complaining loudly to herself, generally behaving like she’s having an adult tantrum, and speaking with the boss rather than us other peons seems to mitigate that a bit.

        1. fposte*

          That’s a lot bigger problem than her self-congratulations, IMHO. Self-congratulations are “my co-worker doesn’t think of me the way I want”; that’s not a boss problem. Tantrums are “my coworker is unprofessional about daily life negotiation,” which can be a boss problem. But I would still go ahead with the direct pushback and let the chips fall where they may, and take it to the boss if the chips are particularly untenable.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Agreeing with fposte. I would report the temper tantrums first and foremost.

          You could say, “You know, it seems like you say that a lot. You do not have a corner on that market, we all care.”
          When it happens again, you can increase what you say, “Eh, we have talked about this before. You are not the only person here who cares and you need to stop saying that.”

    2. Rachel in NYC*

      I wouldn’t go to your boss about the bit about how your boss treats your co-worker (unless there becomes specific things you can point to showing that someone else is going through worse things and it doesn’t impact her or that co-worker is lying). But perhaps if several of you are willing to get together and go to your boss and ask her for your help- tell her that it seems that coworkers methods are preferred and you are looking for her advice as to how she would like you to prioritize clients. And give examples- typically I would move Amy down the appointment list she now gotten point X and should be able to handle 1,2 & 3 on her own, which will allow me to take on Waldo as a patient. However I know that coworker typically keeps clients until they get to point Z before moving them down the appointment list.

    3. Chaordic One*

      Just as an observation, maybe your coworker cares too much?

      I’m not sure that there is any help for that.

    4. Sunshine Brite*

      Sounds like she’s coming from a place of sympathy rather than empathy. That level of self -importance leads to inappropriate relationships with clients who will depend on her rather than their own skills

  38. LAI*

    Has anyone ever taken a job for the salary, and did you regret it? I know this is a really personal decision that will be different for everyone. I love the job I’m in but there are no opportunities for growth or a raise. I think I’m about to be offered a job that would be a significant pay increase but for work I’m less interested in doing. It’s still related to my field but doesn’t include the elements I enjoy most in my current role.

    1. YarnOwl*

      As someone who is very much a “work to live” person, I left my last job because they said I would get a raise and it never came. The company also had a reputation for promising people raises/commissions/bonuses and not delivering, so I knew I would never be paid what I was worth or what I was promised.

      That said, I also made sure to do my due diligence on the company and their culture. I got very lucky and moved into a job I love and to a company that treats me really well, but I would definitely be willing to move to a potentially less interesting job role if 1) the money was better and 2) the company culture was something I was comfortable with.

      I think you just have to balance everything out and decide what you’re okay with, but I don’t think taking a potentially less interesting job for more money/potential for growth is weird or bad at all.

    2. Shadow*

      Yes. They’re are trade offs as you probably imagine. Ultimately I took it to pay off debt and increase my savings. I started looking when I got into a better financial position.

    3. Jan Levinson*

      I recently accepted a promotion within my company for a pay bump. I really, really loved by previous job, so I’m fearful that I’ll regret changing jobs if I don’t like this one as much, or end up not being as successful at it. My husband is in graduate school, though, so being the only bread winner in the family, it was too tempting to pass up.

    4. KateS*

      I did that a few years ago and it was worth it. I’m not in that role any longer and I don’t miss it, but I learned a lot of skills while in it that I didn’t anticipate. When I returned to something closer to my previous role, I felt like I had leveled up in a lot of skills without even realizing it at the time and I definitely was ahead of my peers in pay scale.

    5. Jules the First*

      Yes and yes. Twice.

      Hopefully I have now learned my lesson for my latest job hunt…money is nice, but not hating yourself nine hours a day, five days a week is better.

      For you, it’s important to think about how important the extra cash is vs losing the parts of the work you enjoy most. If the extra cash makes big improvements to the rest of your life, then go for it, but if not, I’d think really really hard.

      1. LAI*

        It’s not so much that I need the extra cash – I’m getting along fine on what I make now. It’s more that I’m worried about career stagnation if I stay in the same position for a long time with no salary increases. I know that will hurt my earning potential over the long run. Plus, it’s partially just that I feel like I’m operating at a high level now in my current role, and that’s not being rewarded in any financial way. I make the same amount, or in some cases less, than coworkers who are significantly less productive than me.

    6. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      Is it just that the work doesn’t include the elements you enjoy most, or is it work you actively dislike? That would make a big difference to me. If it was work I had done before and KNEW I didn’t like doing, I don’t think I’d do it. But if it was work I just felt ho-hum about or work I hadn’t done before but didn’t think sounded as interesting as what I was currently doing (which could surprise you and being something you actually like) I’d seriously consider it. Companies that don’t follow through with raises/promotions never seem to change.

      1. LAI*

        It’s not work I dislike. It’s like I’m currently a teapot maker and the new role would be sort of like training other teapot makers. I’ve already mentioned in the interview that I’d love if some of my time could be still set aside for making my own teapots but it’ll definitely be a big decrease from what I currently do.

        And it’s not that my current company doesn’t follow through with promised raises – they’ve been very up-front with us that raises are really not likely to happen anytime soon.

    7. Bess*

      Early on in career I didn’t pursue some interesting options that would have paid pittance, for options that were more boring, but provided a steady paycheck (not amazing money but steady). TBH I don’t regret it, although I angsted at the time a bit. I was bored a LOT at these jobs, but also used the time to teach myself other stuff, and to have some brain space for the things I liked to do on the side. And I gained some really practical skills (and discovered some talents) that I never would have otherwise. So it wasn’t wasted, and it really helped me to better and better jobs down the line, PLUS I wasn’t constantly at the cusp of financial ruin.

      Kinda depends on the financial level you’re at now, too. Is it just okay, or are you making so little that you’re constantly stressed or putting important financial goals on hold? How long have you been at the current place, and are you stagnating to where it’d hurt your future prospects? Also, do you love this job PLUS fit PLUS environment PLUS coworkers PLUS boss, or just the job tasks?

      Also–are you pretty sure you’ll actually like this job less, or is it something you’ll dread doing? That’s a tough move to do just for the money, if you’re not in a critical financial position. Or is it just a type of job you’re not as familiar with? Could be a tradeoff. Just thoughts, not sure if any of it’s helpful :)

  39. The Real Odafin Tutola*

    I’m going anon in case anyone tracks me down!

    So we had an away day work thing the other week. It was team building, making your team work more effectively (allegedly). It was pretty awful in that the “coach” was quite abrupt and rude, pedantic with one of my colleagues (she wouldn’t let him explain generally but wanted him to explain specifically, even though the answers were the same) and she even was rude to our Big Boss Manager.

    It did not go down well.

    Not only that but the coach herself had private screensaver pictures that came on – we saw one of her grandchildren having a bath in the sink – and we know that she’d arranged a dental apt for the week after.

    The food was also v poor from our venue and we were all starving after!

    There will now hopefully be no more such things (last yrs one was also a disaster) and maybe we will do something fun like go to the zoo (another dept in our building went there).

    1. Elizabeth West*

      One of the tasks at the job I interviewed for last week was planning team-building events. I hate those with a passion, but if I were helping plan them, I could steer them away from crap, heh heh.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Uuuuugggggghhh. I don’t think I’ve ever had a good experience with “team building” activities led by outside sources. Did a ropes course once where the program runners were a bunch of surly college bros whose idea of motivation was, “Come ON! Just DO it! It’s not that HARD! Let’s GO!” and who treated those of us who noped out on the high stuff like we were a bunch of whiny babies.

    3. Anxa*

      My major gripe about team building is that I’d often much rather just have dedicated time to actually get to know my team. Not how well they climb a rope or what color their personality is, but what want out our job, what they think we could improve on, what brought them to the same position as me, what projects would be good for them. I’ve had some jobs where there aren’t a lot of meetings or cohesive teams, but every term there’s a team building exercise when if you just paid us to come to work a day early and set up some workshop groups for us to talk, we’d actually probably get a lot more out of it!

  40. Pam Beasley*

    I have a question about switching careers, and the education that would be required.

    I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration (major in finance). I’m really interested in teaching (think high school accounting, personal finances, etc.) In order to teach, would I be required to go back to school and get a degree in education in addition to my current degree? Or, are there teaching opportunities available for people who have degrees like mine, who want to teach the particular subject that said major is in?

    1. Variations on a theme*

      I’d take a look at the kind of places you want to teach and go from there.

      I’d say from my experience (in California, so it may be different for you!), a teaching credential is required for any teaching you do at the K-12 level at a public school. For community college/university, it’s often very specific training in your chosen field.

      Private schools, on the other hand, don’t always require teaching specific qualifications but rather rely on your knowledge and experience. Maybe see if there’s a private high school near you with roles you might be eligible for? Or, if you’re enterprising enough, maybe pitch a workshop series you host outside of school hours/as an “extracurricular” and do a sort of impromptu internship to get the experience?

    2. Turkletina*

      My understanding is that this really depends on the state! Here, you need to get a certification (I think this includes coursework and student teaching) in order to teach in public schools. Private schools may be different, too.

      1. Newby*

        It definitely varies by state. My mom became a teacher and was required to get a master’s in education, then moved to another state and the degree was no longer required.

    3. Liz*

      Some places allow “lateral entry,” or at least that’s what they called it in North Carolina – I had a teacher who did it that way. (Of course NC has like the lowest teacher pay in the whole country, so, be wary of that particular state…)

      1. Parenthetically*

        There was a similar program in CO when I was in high school. People with existing Masters-or-higher degrees could take a different track.

    4. Shadow*

      Before you go into teaching I would really recommend talking to people who taught at some point and currently teach. I have quite a few friends that had their hearts set on teaching and only a few of them are still doing it. The rest liked the concept of teaching but didn’t realize the crap that comes with being a teacher

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        Definitely this. If you have friends who are teachers, maybe you could visit their classes and check out the current school climate.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This. I started grad school for an education degree, and nobody told me until I was halfway through that in my state, I needed the master’s degree to be in the subject, not the bachelor’s degree. Also, many of the other students were already teaching, mostly elementary education, and supplementing their educational training, and listening to them complain about it turned me off. And I didn’t want to get a doctorate, which I would have needed to teach at the college level. Total waste of money.

      3. Natalie*

        It also might be good to take some pedagogy courses even if your state doesn’t require any additional education. “Teaching” is its own skill independent of “finance” or “biology” or whatever.

      4. AGirlCalledFriday*

        This is fabulous advice. I’m completely burnt out after 7 years as a teacher, and it’s not the actual teaching that’s doing it – it’s the discipline issues, not being able to go to the bathroom when I need to, being so overloaded with work and so exhausted with needy students that I’m a lump at the end of the day, barely able to drag myself home just to fall asleep on the couch most nights, then wake up and do more work. For some people, at some schools, teaching can be great. For a lot of others…well, there’s a reason that fewer and fewer people are going into education.

        1. Anxa*

          Yeah, every time I look at my finances and my piddly paycheck and wish I were making a K12 teaching salary, I remind myself that I don’t have to do classroom management, wake up early, do all the paperwork, or deal with parents.

      5. Bess*


        Please do this, OP. Maybe you have already, but it’s worth mentioning. Teaching is very rewarding but very taxing/costly in other ways.

      6. Thlayli*

        Definitely. And realise that teaching teenagers is a LOT different from teaching younger children. And the school / area makes a big difference too. In my country there are some schools in really disadvantaged areas where the teachers aim is to spend only 50% of their time keeping order and 50% teaching – as in if you manage to spend half of your time actually teaching that’s considered a good day! I definitely couldn’t teach 16 year olds.

    5. Kreacher the Teacher*

      At least in UT, there is something called the Alternate Route to Licensure or the Alternate Teaching Pathway (ARL or ATP), depending on what university you get your licensure through. Generally, you’ll apply for a job, get hired, then teach while doing part-time schooling in the teacher licensure program. Several teachers at the school I work at are doing so – actually, one has their degree in finance and spent several years in that world before coming back to teach! I imagine other states have similar programs. Try searching “your state name + alternate teaching license” and see what comes up! Additionally, there are several M.Ed. degree options for people who received a bachelor’s in a non-education program, that would boost your salary from the get-go if you wanted to wait a couple years.

      While private schools and charter schools do have more flexibility on the requirements for their teachers, they also tend to pay a much smaller salary than public schools. That may not be a concern for you, but I would research it first. It makes a big difference in UT where many of us are paid a pittance anyway. ;)

      Good luck – we need great teachers!

    6. Muriel Heslop*

      In Texas, where I teach, there are definitely alternate paths to certification that do not require much additional educations. Some paths are better than others, of course.

      I would also encourage you to substitute – at least a few times – to see what you might want to do and to get some good information from current teachers in your specific area. For example, the last high school in which I taught, we had two business ed teachers for 3400 students. Opening yourself up to teach an adjacent subject like math or even economics might help your search.

      Good luck!

    7. Lemon Zinger*

      It’s highly unlikely that you would have to get another degree. Your state probably requires certification of some kind, but pretty much anyone with a bachelor’s degree can get those. Look up the specifics for your state.

      Know that private schools may have relaxed rules about certification, so it might be easier for you to get in there.

      Sounds like you’d be a great business/accounting teacher! Good luck!

    8. English Teacher (2nd career)*

      A few years ago I went back to school for a teaching license. For the program I went into, you needed at least a Bachelor’s degree for. The types of programs you want to look into: Transition to Teaching, Change to Education. For Finance/Business, you would most likely go into a program that is for Secondary Education (middle and high school). These programs, depending on the school, can be anywhere from 1.5 years to 3 years. Mine was 1.5 years which included a semester of student teaching. They can be online, brick and mortar colleges, or a hybrid style.

      I have a few Theatre degrees and so I was able to go through this program and take the state licensing exams for both Theatre and English.

    9. Becca*

      As others have said— it really depends where you live and what kind of school you want to teach at. For a public high school teacher in Massachusetts, for example, you need a Master’s Degree— but you don’t in every state! Private schools and charter schools often have different requirements, too. I would recommend looking requirements in your area for public schools and, if you’re interested in teaching in private/charter schools, do a little research on those requirements as well.

      If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you could also sign up for a site like SchoolSpring and look at job openings in your area for your preferred positions. Good luck!!

    10. ..Kat..*

      I would suggest that you talk with a lot of teachers, maybe volunteer as a classroom aide one day a week, or something to make sure you really want to do this. Teachers are great. The kindest and most influential people in my life when I was young were teachers. But, it is a difficult career. It is also a career that a high percentage of practitioners drop out of in a few years.

  41. Sugar of lead*

    I got a job at the end of last month and honestly I hate it. It’s not the work–I love the work, even though it can be dull at times. It’s just that we work in pairs, and I’ve had maybe two partners I’ve liked so far. The rest have made it very clear they don’t like working with me, and frankly, I don’t like working with them. On the one hand, I’m still new and maybe sooner or later I’ll get a steady partner who likes me, and that would be awesome. On the other hand, life is too short to spend around people who hate your guts, and I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. If I did leave, it wouldn’t be too much of a problem, since I’m a chronic job-hopper anyway and I usually apply for minimum-wage jobs that will hire anyone.

    So, what do you think: should I stay or cut my losses? If I do stay, does anyone have any strategies for getting through the day working with someone who hates you? I’ve been listening to headphones and stabbing my arm with a pen so far.

    1. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Cut your losses and find greener pastures. I made the mistake of staying in a very similar situation. If you can’t stand the people you work with eventually you will come to hate the work no matter how much you love it currently.

    2. Inspector Spacetime*

      I’d stay while job searching. If things haven’t improved by the time you find a new job, then you can leave your jerk coworkers in the dust.

    3. Jules the Third*

      You love the work and have been here 6 weeks? Stay. Put in the time, because not-job hopping can help you get to a place where you both love the work and don’t hate the coworkers.

      Ways to get through with people who hate you?
      – Kill them with kindness. If they’re confused, it’s fun, but it can actually lead to not hating.
      – Think of it as an acting role
      – Find a low-cost counselor / therapist to help you develop other personalized responses.

      Stabbing your arm with a pen is self-harm. It’s part of a bigger problem, and a counselor might help you with it. Sez the goth(ish) old woman who has had a lot of goth friends who sound just like this letter. All the survivors have all been a lot happier with a therapist in their Team Me.

      1. Say what, now?*

        Look into this. See if your company has an ESA to help you out. Often times they have some over the phone counseling that can at least help you feel heard. Also, as someone who can be distant, I can tell you that it’s entirely possible that they don’t hate your guts. Some people (myself included) just don’t want to make friends with their coworkers. That’s not to say they hate you, they just don’t want to be friends with you.

        I would also suggest that there are a lot of people who “hate” the new guys simply because he/she challenges their patience and slows them down with their lack of experience. You’re only 6 weeks in and probably not up to their level yet. It’s entirely possible that once you get there the animosity will evaporate. That’s not great for right now but it’s a bright spot to look forward to later.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      How can people hate your guts if they have only known you for six weeks?

      My answer is a difficult answer. To get through the day with someone who hates you, you need to stop hating them. Find reasons. They need to earn a living just like you. They are stuck with a random partner just like you. The two of you share a responsibility for particular tasks. Keep going you will think of other reasons.

      Chronic job hopping: If we look for reasons to leave a job we WILL find those reasons each and every time. The real strength is finding reasons to stay in spite of what is going wrong.

  42. Is it Friday Yet?*

    I saw this advice in the news this week and wanted to bring it up for discussion in the open thread. It recommends women who have gaps in their résumé due to having a child add “The Pregnancy Gap” as a company and job title as “Mom” during those periods. To quote the article, “In order to help moms who are trying to resume their careers after taking time off to have kids, Mother New York created The Pregnancy Pause. Now, women can fill the “gaps” in their résumé in a way that accurately reflects what they were doing: birthing and raising a human.” It even goes so far as to include a phone number that can be included for a reference.

    In my opinion, this is distracting and would stick out like a sore thumb and perhaps detract from more relevant experience. But I’m curious as to what other readers think.

    1. Variations on a theme*


      I can think of a few organizations that would appreciate this as an example of valuable experience for their work, but only a very few.

      Mentioning motherhood might fill in the “gaps” on your resume, but it’s going to be utterly irrelevant in describing “work experience” to a hiring manager. Like it or not, illegal or not, it’s also going to impact the way they see you and review your application. At worst, it will make an overly conscientious employer bring you in for an interview you have no hope of succeeding at just so they can prove to HR that they’ve covered the bases and definitely not discriminated against you based on a protected status.

      This is very much more a negative than a positive.

    2. Clever Name*

      Just no. I have a 2-year gap in my resume because I stayed home when my son was a baby, but it’s certainly not on my resume. When I first went back to work, I explained it in my cover letter. It seemed to work, as I got a job, and have been continuously been employed for 8 years after returning to work.

    3. Abax*

      Ugh, no. Comes across as either cutesy or self-inflated. Remember way back when some women re-entering the workforce were told to put Domestic Engineer as their previous position? Just, no.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      No no no no no.

      Being a mother is a wonderful, important thing! I’m really looking forward to it myself. But it’s completely irrelevant to the point of a resume which is to show WORK history.

      I would really side-eye someone who did this, and question their professional judgment.

    5. PB*

      Ick. I have no end of respect for mothers. Bringing life into the world and raising are child are both unbelievable sacrifices. They deserve to be honored and respected. But if I saw this on a resume, I would have serious reservations about the candidate. For one, it suggests that they have no idea what “relevant professional experience” means. For another, I would question their professionalism. I, for one, am not bothered by a gap of a few years on a resume. There are so many reasons it could be there, and none of them are my business. This would be far more troubling to me.

      1. Is it Friday Yet?*

        And if you’ve never heard of it, and the candidate uses a title besides “Mom,” it sounds like it could be an actual company. So when you find out it’s not, it’s a little bit like the candidate put fake information on her resume.

    6. Natalie*

      “I want to roll my eyes right now but the doctor said if I keep doing it, my ocular muscles might spasm and eject my eyeballs.”

      1. Knitchic*

        Thank god I wear glasses then if that happens to me that should keep mine from shooting across the room.

    7. Dienna Howard*

      I think about the episode of “The Simpsons” where Marge’s resume simply says “Homemaker” and Lisa pads the mess out of it to make Marge appear to have a lot more non-home work experience than she does. Lisa’s doctored resume makes Marge appear overqualified to work at Homer’s nuclear power plant, but oddly enough she may be more qualified than Homer to work there! HAHA

    8. Thlayli*

      That sounds idiotic!

      Maybe if you were applying for a job in which your mommy experience was actually relevant – like working in a creche or something. But for any other job this is going to make you look like an idiot.

  43. Turkletina*

    I applied for a job last month. Last Friday, I got an email asking me to come in for an interview, with a list of time slots to choose from. I chose a slot next Tuesday, which they confirmed with me on Monday. Tuesday afternoon (a week before the interview), I got a voicemail asking if I could come in on Wednesday (the next day) or Thursday instead, since they were trying to condense the interview process. I returned the call later Tuesday afternoon saying that I’d be happy to come in earlier than planned, but that the specific times they mentioned in the voicemail wouldn’t be possible because of my current work schedule and named some alternatives. When they didn’t return my call, I sent an email to the same effect Wednesday morning. Since then, I haven’t heard anything. Not even confirmation that I should come in on Tuesday as originally planned.

    This is weird, right? I’d expect to get some kind of communication indicating they understand that not everyone can change their plans for the following day but they’d still like to speak to me (Or even not speak to me! If they really need that level of flexibility, I’m fine not being interviewed.), but maybe my expectations are off.

    1. fposte*

      I think that falls into the category of “annoying but understandable.” You’ve probably got an admin running around trying to reschedule stuff, and who should contact you to respond but is still playing schedule-Tetris so hasn’t gotten there yet.

      1. HR Bee*

        Having been exactly this admin, I second this. You reached out, so the ball is in their court. I’d be patient. If you haven’t heard anything in a reasonable amount of time (a week?) check in once more.

        I would also like to point out that sometimes (many times) the person dictating the interview schedule and the person responsible for actually doing the scheduling are two different people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a hiring manager suddenly go “reschedule that interview, something’s come up” and leave me to handle that.

        (It’s also possible the company is disorganized or this particular admin is flaky, tho, so proceed with eyes open.)

        1. fposte*

          Well, she probably can’t wait a full week because she’s got an interview scheduled with them Tuesday :-). I’d reach out Monday to confirm that if there’s been no word.

  44. over educated*

    I just need to vent a little about the shoe dropping at work. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on a two year grant, not an employee, in a new position my supervisor created. I took this position nine months ago, and moved a few hundred miles with my family, in the hope that it would help me move into a more permanent job with the employer afterward. (This is not unheard of for recipients of this grant, but it’s not universal either. It was a calculated risk that looked like the best option at the time.)

    At our staff meeting this week, our division’s management (1 & 2 levels up from my supervisor) announced that they hired an employee from a related division for a new position that overlaps significantly with my responsibilities. This was news to everyone else in the division, including my supervisor, even though it must have been in the works since around when I started. The new person starts at the end of May. I’m not sure what this means for how my position will change, because they made the public announcement but haven’t bothered to talk to my boss and me about the division of responsibilities. Great.

    I’m not actually losing my job because I am free labor to my employer, so why would they fire me, but this means there is no future for me here. They definitely won’t hire me on in this role since now they have an employee for it, and with a hiring freeze and large budget reductions expected, it seems doubtful that there will be any other roles for me to move into. My boss likes me and has said multiple times that he wishes he could keep me on, but even that phrasing shows that it’s pretty unlikely. So now I know for sure we’re going to have to uproot our lives again soon, and it makes me sad.

    Since I need to build my resume and portfolio more urgently now, my more immediate fear is that I don’t want my role to turn into an “assistant” or support person to the full employee. I’m in my 30s with a grad degree and a few years of experience, and I didn’t uproot my life, family, and spouse’s job to move backward in my career. I hope we can figure out a division of projects that will keep me lead on some. I also need to take networking and grant applications a lot more seriously now.

    TL;DR I am definitely out of a job in a little over a year and my job will be changing in unexpected ways very soon.
    Appreciate that I can talk about it in this space and community here.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh that sucks. This is exactly why I don’t want to move cross-country for a contract position. At least you have a heads-up; can you start looking for a permanent position where you are now? I’d also sit down with my boss and discuss the projects and responsibilities thing now rather than wait to see what you’re assigned, if you can.

      1. over educated*

        The problem is my boss won’t be the boss of the new hire, so he has to figure out that division with the department leadership. Maybe I should talk to him and try to let him know what would be best from my perspective beforehand, though.

        I guess moving cross-country for contract positions seemed…kind of inevitable to me. I’m married to an academic in the early career stage that involves moving around the country for one to three year gigs anyway, so I figured I should take the best opportunity I got rather than the most local since that’s what he has to do too. (The most local ones paid a lot less so they would’ve been hard to support the whole family on.) But I was still hoping to settle down around here.

          1. Overeducated*

            Spouse’s postdoc ends this summer and he is looking for work in this area. No offers yet, unfortunately, and the academic hiring cycle is basically over for 2017 so the odds of his getting a permanent job anywhere are low.

            I really thought that I would have more stability if I left academia…now I have less creative work, a more fixed schedule, and less time off compared to him, but still no stability.

    2. Jules the Third*

      Good luck, but don’t give up! The new hire may well not work out, or may want to move on to new fields quickly, which means there’s a position *already created* that does what you do. That makes it much easier to move over. Make sure you *and your manager* are talking to that position’s manager early and often, so that if things don’t work out with the new hire, they think of you immediately.

      1. over educated*

        The new hire is someone we all know, work with occasionally, and know the quality of their work and career path, so I’m pretty sure it will work out well. My boss’s boss (who might be that person’s new manager?) actually did say that if they hadn’t taken the job, they would encourage me to apply, but they did take it and that’s that. I think my best bet here would be if they needed to replace someone from another program area in my department, which means I need to talk to my boss about cross-training outside of my current job description. As a non-employee I couldn’t just be hired directly though, so I’d still be at a severe advantage compared to anyone with employee status.

        Thanks for the encouragement. I’m not rejecting it, just trying to think through what has to happen.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Stupid question. Can you apply for the new hire’s old job? It’s probably not as straight forward as this, but I wanted to throw it out there anyway.

          1. Overeducated*

            Due to the hiring freeze it probably won’t be filled for a while. (I have no idea what machinations our leadership went through to make this hire, as we are down two senior positions, one of which is mission critical, and they haven’t been able to fill those.) But I’m not sure if I’d be eligible – our division has two main areas, and my degree and position are area A, her old job was in area B, and her new job covers both.

  45. tiny temping teapot*

    Work advice? My phone conversations at work are generally receiving instructions from the two senior teapot makers I am a sort of executive assistant for (so I need to take notes) or relaying important information to them they have to get from me. But we have the low wall cubicles and there is so often so much conversation around me. The question is not about stopping those other conversations or moving, it’s literally, how do I train myself to tune out the white noise? Is there a way to do that?

    1. Amber Rose*

      My process:

      Step 1: crank the volume on your phone so you can hear them really, really loudly (within reason).
      Step 2: Stare at your notes. Don’t look up from them. Focus just on what’s in front of you. The more you develop tunnel vision, the easier it is to ignore everything outside your tunnel.
      Optional Step 3: Put a single earplug in your opposite ear, or otherwise cover it. I know this works for some people and distracts others.

        1. Rick Tq*

          See if you can get a binaural phone headset (covers both ears) at a minimum. If that isn’t enough other options are using an earplug phone headset under sound cancelling headphones or going all the way to blue-tooth connected sound cancelling pilot headsets for serious noise control (for serious dollars, of course).

          I have a Jabra UC Voice 550 that works very well for Skype calls.

  46. Amber Rose*

    Well. I messed up again, and had more tasks taken away from me. Which on the one hand, I like. I always hated doing these things, and just judging by the screw ups, I’m friggin’ awful at them. On the other hand, my confidence is utterly shot and I feel like shit.

    I won’t be fired. I asked (I am blunt like that, not sure if that’s a good thing). But I feel like my reputation is completely and utterly torched with this company now. I feel like a loser who couldn’t even do a simple task. I also feel angry and frustrated and a little harshly treated. Like I’ve been set up to fail.

    I’m basically at a point now where finding a job is my only option because I’m burned out and miserable every day. But unemployment is sitting at 10% and jobs are scarce. How do I stay sane? How do I not let this job wreck my health?

    1. Teapot Queen*

      Honestly? Start looking elsewhere. Your situation sounds like one I was in a few years ago. It didn’t end well. You sound angry and bitter and disillusioned. I was too. The more I screwed up, the more I kept screwing up because management started eroding my confidence. I was in counseling at the time, and I’d suggest you might try seeking someone to talk to who is objective. It might help before this becomes an explosive situation.

      In the meantime, try and build a wall between their actions and your emotions. Not easy to do, I realize. But no job is worth wrecking your mind/health/free time over.

    2. Shadow*

      you’ve got to decide what’s more important right now-a job you like or a paycheck. If you need a paycheck you don’t have to like what you’re doing you just have to do it a level that’s acceptable to your boss to stay employed. That means accepting that the work you’re doing right now won’t be fulfilling and will probably suck and is only a job to hold you over until you find more fulfilling work.

      1. Amber Rose*

        My work is pretty fulfilling actually. I’m good at the job I was hired to do, and an assortment of other jobs I picked up I’m more or less OK at. I failed at accounts receivables. Badly. But they were so angry about it that I’m at a point where I feel like my accomplishments elsewhere are now meaningless and that I’m worthless because I failed a job I never wanted to do or claimed I could do.

        I like so much of my job but it’s hard to care about doing it when I’m treated like crap because I can’t do everything.

        1. Shadow*

          If you’re being treated like crap it can’t be fulfilling and the only way to survive is to check out emotionally until you find a better environment. OTOH if your boss is just attempting to manage your shortcomings dont confuse that with treating you like crap. It’s transactional. She’s simply addressing the issues, not you as a person.

        2. Birdbrain*

          My two cents: this sounds like it’s at least partly a “management fail.” If you’re “treated like crap” because you can’t do everything, that’s not reasonable. Obviously I don’t know the whole story but it sounds like they are taking it out on you to reduce their own responsibility on the mistake. (Yes, you made a mistake. Yes, it is reasonable for them to point that out and take you off that task. But your bosses could have taken action earlier if it was clear you were struggling, or they could have chosen to reassign the work after the mistake without being horrible about it).

          If you like your job and are good at the projects that are still on your plate, I would bet you can come back from this. Wouldn’t hurt to put some feelers out, though — because this sounds like an unpleasant environment and it may keep eroding your confidence. Also, are there coworkers who can give you informal feedback on the other areas of your performance? That may give you a reality check when you’re feeling like your whole career is summed up by this one task.

        3. Rachel in NYC*

          Ask yourself (and your boss) whether this is something you can recover from at this employer. Do they acknowledge that your problem areas are in add-on tasks (outside what you were hired for)? Did they provide sufficient support for you to accomplish them successfully so that their expectations weren’t unreasonable?

          If you don’t end up with the right answers at the end of the day, I agree- start looking. I had a former co-worker who was kept for years until it got to the point where so many tasks had been taken from her that no one seemed clear what she did anymore, until she was finally let go.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You stay sane by building a path out of this place. Work on doing something to get yourself to a better place daily if possible.

      And you protect your health by doing good self care. Situations like this can mean candy and other junk all the time. Try your best every day to eat healthy meals. This will also help brain function and help you keep your sanity.
      Hydration is super important, before people die of dehydration they lose their mental functions. Stay hydrated.
      Exercise. A ten minute walk every day can do wonders for clearing up brain clutter and wonders for your body.
      Self-talk. If you constantly remind yourself that unemployment is at 10% (or similar things) you are not helping you. The rule is if you can’t say it to a friend then you shouldn’t be saying it to yourself either. If you slip up, quickly tell yourself an affirmation. “Just because unemployment is at 10% does NOT automatically mean there is no new job out there for me. I can find a new job if I work at it.”

      It’s one thing if the boss hates us. If we hate ourselves that is a much bigger problem. Go easy on you and take good care of yourself.

  47. Mona Lisa*

    Looking for thoughts and opinions on: what is suitable to wear at your office when not on the clock, specifically in regards to commuting? (Non-drivers would be helpful here!)

    I walk the two miles each way to my office every day. I live in a southern-ish place where it gets very hot and humid during the summer. Last year I started bringing some old shorts and a tank top to work so that I could change before going home. I work on the academic side of a university hospital so I tried to find a bathroom off a lobby furthest from my office that was in the direction I’d be walking. It worked a couple of times, but it seems that the cleaning schedule for this restroom typically overlaps with my commute so at least 3/5 days a week I could not use that facility to change.

    I started changing at a restroom down the hall from my office instead, but I feel self-conscious about the faculty and students with whom I work seeing me in less-than-appropriate office attire. I sometimes run into them with my walking clothes on, and I’ve had a few comment on my appearance. Most people in this area drive and so do not understand why I would be dressed so casually. They seem to understand after I explain my situation (even if they’re a bit incredulous), but I can’t shake the feeling that maybe I’m doing something inappropriate. I could probably find another (not as conveniently located) place to change, but since this is a hospital complex, I don’t want to just go wandering around looking for restrooms. Also there’s a good chance I could run into these same people or others throughout most of the hospital since their work is spread across multiple buildings.

    Am I in good standing to keep changing at the restroom closest to my office, or should I try to find somewhere else in the hospital to do this to hopefully minimize the number of people who will see me in my old, grungy clothes?

    1. YarnOwl*

      I work in insurance (a very conservative industry and office) and lots of people change their clothes, myself included. At the very least, I change my shoes from sneakers to work shoes, but during the summer when it’s hot and I don’t want to get my clothes all sweaty and gross, I change from shorts and a t-shirt into work clothes when I get there.

      My instinct is to say that you’re probably fine and that people being weird about it are just weird, but maybe if it’s really a part of your office’s culture you could find something comfortable but less casual to walk to work in? Like a jersey-knit dress with bike shorts underneath or a pair of jeans and a linen button up?

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, it feels like this is going to be really specific to your office culture and your own comfort level. At my old job, several of the big bosses ran to work and showered there, so they were often traipsing around in running clothes, so that led to a bunch of people doing similarly (going to the gym mid-day and changing in the office, etc.) But if it seems like a lot of people think what you’re doing is weird, and you care about that, I agree with other folks’ suggestions about outfits that are kind of mid-way between work and workout.

      2. Emi.*

        If you just want cooler clothes, not specifically workout clothes, do you have dressier options like linen or seersucker (sun)dresses?

    2. Anxa*

      I’ve walked for my commute, too, in the South so I get it.

      Can you find athletic wear that would work? I wonder if it will look less likes you’re underdressed for work and more obvious that you are not working. Is there not a gym or a rehab locker room you could use?

      1. Howdy Do*

        That’s what I was thinking. I’m no fan of the atheleasure trend but since it’s such a thing for people to wear workout clothes to do all kinds of non-workout things, I think low key workout capris and top would draw less attention (and they have that kind of moisture wicking stuff so it might actually be useful!)

      2. No Name Yet*


        I think if your walking-in clothes are clearly designed for working out (though also not risqué), people will be more likely to categorize your outfit correctly in their minds – not overly casual work, but Something Else.

      3. Parenthetically*

        This was my first thought as well. A pair of running shorts and a baseball cap would go a long way to communicating “I am coming in to change post commute and physical exertion” rather than “I am inexplicably casually dressed.”

      4. Mona Lisa*

        There is a gym, but it’s not convenient to my office (probably 10 minute walk in the opposite direction). I was going with the casual clothes because the shorts are longer and cover more than my athletic clothes, but maybe I should try athletic clothing instead! I’m less inclined to wear capris because (as I’m sure you know) it is HOT down here. (This northern Midwestern lady is struggling!)

        Thank you!

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          I don’t know if this is still the case but I prefer capris for working out outside and I’ve found that old navy has a nice light weight material- they’re my go summer work out pants (and that’s true for many of their tops as well).

          And as a former-Floridian, while NYC isn’t quite that bad, it can get pretty hot in the summer and sometimes I like to walk more then just the 2 miles from my subway stop so the 5 plus miles from my office in my work out clothes is a nice change so I totally get it.

    3. Making myself nuts...*