{ 862 comments… read them below }

  1. ABC123*

    An opportunity has come our way that’s too good to miss and my family and I will be relocating within the next few months. Rather than continue with my traditional job in education, I’d like to seek out some free-lance work. I have a strong background in K-12 education and have also worked for a brief time as a technical writer. Does anyone have suggestions as how to get started in this?

    1. LS*

      I don’t have experience in this field but possibly curriculum development or textbook writing / editing?

    2. Lizcat*

      There are plenty of work from home teaching positions. Check out ratracerebellion dot com. (Not affiliated. Just find it helpful)

    3. Boris*

      Depends a bit on where you’re going and your field. Maybe look into examining/marking for an exam board? I know the IB hire people around the world to examine remotely.

    4. IvyGirl*

      Think about higher ed – either administration or possibly adjunct teaching staff.

    5. Landshark*

      I see freelance education related jobs on Upwork a lot, but it’s not education specific and it can be a crapshoot sometimes whether the jobs are great. I’ve done some curriculum and test prep work before from Upwork clients that was really great, though!

    6. RhapsodyBlue*

      Usajobs.gov – sometimes they are looking for school liaisons and the pay is pretty decent. You’d be working for one of the military branches. Adjunct faculty at a community college. The only drawback is when a class doesn’t “make” due to low enrollment.

    7. Sally*

      Look into instructional design. Plenty of firms hire freelancers, and with your background you’d be a natural fit.

        1. JanetM*

          I’ll be. I actually was able to puzzle out the chemical formula (I last dealt with chemistry classes about 30 years ago). Thanks, Dr. KMnO4!

  2. Cristina in England*

    (To avoid confusion, I am American but I moved to the UK twelve years ago yesterday)

    Every year, I say I am not going to do anything big for the fourth, especially this year. Every year on the morning of the fourth I find myself in a grocery store buying random American things like watermelon or apple pie or corn on the cob because I feel compelled to observe the day somehow. Also my children and I are wearing red white and blue. I can’t help myself!

    1. Done*

      How do your UK friends view this? Do they find it weird or interesting or something else?

      1. Cristina in England*

        My friends usually wish me a happy 4th and think I should be celebrating in some way.

    2. Michele with one L*

      It’s very likely we’ll be moving to London in the next year. Any words of wisdom or things you would have done differently if you had known what you know now?

      1. Nico*

        As Londoner id advise regarding accomodation: “Residential” London is a patchwork of micro-environments so treat any advice about where to live with utmost skepticism. Including mine.

        1. Marzipan*

          My mum (who live in London for the first 40 or so years of her life) always said London isn’t really a city; it’s a collection of villages squashed together.

          1. EleonoraUK*

            This is 100% true (Londoner here).

            I’m from the countryside in another European country originally. My dad isn’t a fan of what he thinks of as cities at all. Midway through his first visit, he turned around and said, “It’s not really a city though, is it, London… It’s more like a huge number of villages attached to one another…?”

      2. The Bread burglar*

        I am also American and in the UK and always say I wont do anything but now really want hot dogs.

        Things I wish I had known:

        London is massive and made of lots of mini villages. Wherever you live it will take an hour to get anywhere else in London.

        There is no grape jelly. Or hot dog buns. Hot dogs are less common to find and some places sell it “American Style” in cans. *cringe*
        It feels weird shopping for things like pasta sauce and having to figure out new brands you like. Some brands are in both countries. Some not.

        You still have to file taxes in the USA and should look at your states laws as well.

        When voting overseas many states information centers around the military overseas with limited information on general US citizens living in other countries. Also your vote will count for the state you lived in last before you moved abroad.

        Regardless of what state you are from EVERYONE will tell you about their holiday to Disney Land/World and/or Florida.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          We have hot dog buns. Or do you just mean they aren’t good?

          Also, I work in London and used to live there. South of the river is cheaper and north is overrated.

          1. Cristina in England*

            I have never seen hot dog buns here. I have seen buns the vague size and shape of hot dog buns, but those are not the same. Can you find a link to the ones you mean? Is it something you see in Tesco, etc?

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              Well I was thinking of things that are the size and shape of them. What’s the missing piece?

                1. Zathras*

                  I don’t know if it’s relevant to what the commenters above were saying, but in New England we have different (better!) hot dog buns than the rest of the US. So even different Americans do not agree on what a hot dog bun is supposed to look like. :-)

        2. Cristina in England*

          Yes! I totally get why you inexplicably want hot dogs today. And yes, hot dogs in cans are SO WEIRD!

          1. DouDouPaille*

            Pre-made pancakes in the bakery section of Sainsbury. As an American in the U.K., all I can say is this is So Wrong.

    3. Janelle*

      I think this is so sweet. I must say that even though I usually think I won’t get into the hype it is a truly fun time to, like you said, eat all those American staples. I truly also love watching our whole country take a moment to stop and come together. I find it refreshing.

    4. Jessesgirl72*

      When I was 18, I spent the 4th of July as an exchange student in Germany, and I was surprised at how homesick I got for the 4th of July! It’s all about those childhood memories!

    5. Channel Z*

      I’m an expat in Ireland. I am wearing black today as a subtle political commentary, but I couldn’t help myself, I am wearing a red, white, and blue scarf with stars. Not officially the flag, but very close. And I made homemade mac and cheese for the kids to reheat. Ultimate

    6. Miso*

      Watermelon is American? Man, I love me some American food!
      Coincidentally I’m actually having hotdogs for dinner right now. It seems my stomach knew what day it is.

    7. Indisch Blau*

      I’m an American in Germany (for over 30 years) and I wore a red t-shirt under a white blouse with blue jeans. No American food or festivities though.

  3. anon24*

    Can I just say how much I love that picture! 4 kitties AND fireworks? Sounds like a perfect holiday!

    1. The Grammarian*

      They are celebratory kitties! I love seeing their pictures, especially Olive.

      1. anon24*

        I haven’t been reading long enough to know their names but I love seeing their pictures every week!

    2. cleo*

      I agree, but probably not for the cats though! Mine hate the 4th of July – all the fireworks and firecrackers and random loud noises terrify them.

  4. Cristina in England*

    File under: people are good.

    I lost my sunglasses, and my daughter’s sunglasses, and a very nice sunglasses case, a week ago but only just realized. I went into every shop, pub, cafe in the area to see if anyone turned it in. As a ‘why not’ we also tried the local convenience store/post office, which was not in the route we were retracing but was the type of place that you might turn stuff into, since it is a big shop on a corner. I asked the guy if he has had anyone give in a purple zipped case with sunglasses. “Purple suitcase?” he said, and my heart sank. “No it is a purple zippered case this big and it holds sunglasses”. He looked stumped, glanced around the till/cash register, and reached behind a display. “Like this?” And I gasped because YES some kind person had turned it in. Hooray for happy endings.

    1. The Grammarian*

      That’s awesome! People are good. Also, it’s so upsetting to lose glasses because they can be so expensive.

    2. Artemesia*

      We always hear a lot about petty theft and pickpocketing in Europe tourist spots and there is plenty of that, but my husband has managed to leave his computer in a bar (after only one drink, go figure) and my camera bag with fancy camera at a restaurant and in both cases they were saved and we recovered them. Alas the glasses he sat down on a wall at the Coloseum when he changed into sun glasses didn’t survive to return. I live in a big midwestern city and all year long you see mittens or toys or hats etc hanging from fences where pedestrians have recovered them and then placed them so those looking for them can find them.

    3. Russian Kat (France)*

      Oh my god it is so great when your faith in humanity is restored like that! I once went to a Starbucks, took off my grandma’s fur hat (it be cold in France in winter), and promptly forgot it. Right after I left and got on the metro, I realized my mistake, and was ready to write it off but decided to call them up just in case.
      The incredibly nice barista had noticed it and put it behind the counter! I was so relieved, not only was the hat expensive but it’s one of the very few things I have left to remember my grandma by. Just reading your story makes me have all those happy feelings again, thank you!

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      People can be wonderful. I’ve never forgotten the time I dropped the change from my purse all over a London station floor and about five people helped me pick it up.

    5. ..Kat..*

      This reminds me of the time a couple of years ago when I lost my prescription sunglasses (approximately $800!). I finally discovered that I had left them in a restaurant we visited on holiday. The lovely people at the restaurant shipped them to me at no cost to myself. My faith in humanity was renewed.

    6. Life is Good*

      Or, the time my husband and I were in Atlanta and sat down in front of the aquarium for a bit before walking over to the Center for Civil and Human Rights. We had been in the museum for about an hour when his phone rang. It was AAA calling to tell him a lady had found his wallet (that he set down next to him because it hurts to sit on in his pocket) and was waiting by the aquarium for him to retrieve it. We were so grateful she had thought to call the number on the back of his card. Cancelling all those credit cards and replacing his license would have not been too fun. The money was all there, too. :)

    7. JanetM*

      Several years ago I dropped my car keys on the way to lunch (I was walking but had them with me for the loyalty card). I panicked, and more so with each “no, nothing here.” I finally went to the little grocery / liquor store around the corner and someone had, in fact, turned in my keys there. I was so grateful!

    8. Iain "Get off my lawn!" Clarke*

      I have both directions in my recent past:

      1) We were tidying things up at home, and found the box my work laptop came in. and thought it should go back to the office. I bought some tea at the train station, and left the box by the tea machine. It was handed in. Being a fancy laptop, the box with manuals weighed about the same amount as it would have done with no laptop. Someone thought they were handing in a big thing!

      2) Out on the town in Göteborg a couple of weeks ago, I found a passport in the street. I tracked down the person’s phone number and left a few messages, thinking they would be close by. In the end, I waved down a police car and handed it in. If they’d paid attention to their phone they’d have been super happy! (I left a last message saying what I had done with it)

      3) Not quite as nice… At the local mall, I found a handbag in the bathroom. I took it to a nearby shop, and they tried to contact mall security, to no avail. With witnesses, we had a dig through, but could find no wallet. My wife’s theory (when I told this story later) was that someone had picked this up elsewhere, stole the wallet, and dumped the bag. So, I was not in time. The ladies car keys were in the bag, so I hope she tracked it down in the end!

  5. Amber Rose*

    Has anyone discovered a trick for actually sleeping in hotels? The bed is ok but the pillows are killing me. One is too thin, but two are way too thick. I get a sore neck either way and I’m stuck here ’til Saturday.

    I knew the 8 hour hell at the airport was a bad omen. This trip is just dismal. I miss my cat. :(

    1. Boris*

      Ask for a second duvet/quilt/pile of blankets and fold those to the correct thickness? They’re a bit more flexible than a pillow.

    2. Evie*

      Towel rolled or folded to the correct thickness is one I had suggested when I was having neck strain related headaches.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Sometimes I will fold a towel and put it under the thin pillow, to raise it up a bit but still have it a pillow on top, works very well for me.

    3. Business Cat*

      If you can find one of those microwaveable neck wraps filled with rice (or whatever!) I have recently found that it helps me sleep wherever I am. The heat helps with tension and the wrap itself tends to keep my neck a little more stabilized which results in less overall pain. Mine was $10 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Worth a try!

    4. anon24*

      I always bring a hoodie from home and use that as a pillow because I can bunch it however I need to and it smells familiar so I sleep better. My little sister and I both swear by having something that smells like home to sleep with when traveling.

    5. Artemesia*

      Some hotels actually have pillow stocks where you can have different types of pillows. Maybe since this matters so much, it is time to carry a travel pillow that can augment the too thin pillow?

    6. Cap Hiller*

      Honestly in that case, using no pillow is probably best. When I get a crick in my Neck from sleeping wrong, the only way to fix is to sleep for a night with no pillow

    7. The Other Dawn*

      I have exactly this same problem. I sleep with one pillow while at home and it’s the perfect thickness and firmness. At hotels it’s just awful. I tend to bring my own if it’s a road trip.

    8. Candy*

      If your hotel provides pillow cases, take out the pillow and stuff the robes inside the pillow case. Towels can work too.

      Did you bring a travel pillow for your neck on the plane? Those can be surprisingly comfortable as well

    9. Janelle*

      I have this problem. I ask for tons of pillows. Some hotels if you call the front desk do have firmer pillows. Depends on the hotel. I’m also going to seriously recommend a sleep mask. Changed my life. I’ve since got many friends and family on board.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Sleep masks are AWESOME. I have a contoured one I found at Target that doesn’t press down on my lashes. It makes me look like a bug, but oh well, haha.

      2. JanetM*

        I currently have three sleep masks: one upstairs in the headboard, one downstairs for naps on the couch, and one as part of the permanent contents of my suitcase.

    10. SarahKay*

      I feel your pain! I’m so fussy about pillows I’ve been known to squash my foam pillow into my suitcase – even when I’m flying somewhere!
      Definitely ask the hotel – lots of them do have spare pillows, and they may have some choice of fatness.
      Failing that, I find one of those micro-bead cylindrical pillows are good to add to a too-thin pillow, and easily ties to the top of your carry-on for use in the flight home.
      If you’re really struggling, is it worth just buying a cheapish pillow that will suit your needs and abandoning it once you leave?

    11. KarenT*

      I use the thin pillow and a towel folded under to get the right thickness. A nicer hotel will likely have some more options for you (they often keep soft, medium, and firm pillows). I’m also not above drugging myself with some Dramamine.

  6. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    Hi all :D
    I have a new job :D . Sortof part time (25 hours per week) but it’s a perm contract, 25 days probation period.
    I’m the receptionist for a notary’s office and I couldn’t be happier. Everyone is really nice here, and I was told I can use the computer for myself during down times as long as I complete all my other tasks as a priority.

    I’m just hoping I don’t piss anyone off by transfering them to the wrong person or something… but I’m happy as a clam, soon enough I can shut up about my finances being ruined yayyyyyyyyy!

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

        I keep that profile pic as a memorial for that hair. Can’t have it now though I will say that I am *so* tempted to ask my boss… but I just won’t because this is a very chic/posh part of Paris and there is no way the client base would accept it, sadly!

  7. WG*

    I’m looking for suggestions for an auto and home insurance company in the US. I almost never have claims, but a recent minor auto claim has left me less than impressed with my current company. I plan to switch companies at my next renewal and wondered what companies others have had reasonable luck with for their claims.

    1. atexit*

      I was with Amica for the longest time 20 years.
      I chose them for their high ratings.
      You’ll want to check Consumer Reports.
      I switched to NJ Manufacturer two years ago, because they were a less than Amica.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If you’re affiliated with the military in any way, USAA is amazing. I’m eligible because my mother was in the naval reserves in medical school and my stepfather was in the army for a while. I have never had a bad experience with USAA, even when I just needed a question answered.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I second USAA. They really take care of their customers. Also, their banking is amazing! Even though they don’t have a lot of branches they will refund ATM fees so you don’t pay anything to withdraw money, no matter where you are. And their online/mobile banking is pretty great.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          I love my USAA insurance, but the low interest rates on savings accounts makes them a noncompetitive bank for me.

      2. Lady Jay*

        I also love USAA. I hatehatehate dealing with large bureaucratic organizations, but they make it tolerable.

    3. Spoonie*

      I concur with the suggestions for USAA. Amica would be my second choice. Look at AM Best ratings in addition to Consumer Reports. A friend of mine in the insurance industry surprisingly has State Farm. Whatever you choose, speak to whomever about how to maximize your discounts/deductions. Sometimes random things work in your favor that you weren’t even aware of.

    4. AliceBD*

      I’ve heard excellent things with USAA, but alas am not eligible. I have State Farm and have had a claim where I was at fault and a claim where the other person was at fault (and my car was totaled) and they have been wonderful to work with both times. The accident where my car was totaled was Sunday night, by Wednesday morning it was being evaluated, and by Thursday/Friday they had declared it totaled and were telling me the value of it. Early the next week I went into the office to sign the title to them and get the check for the value of the car (minus the deductible, which the other driver’s insurance sent me).

      1. Merci Dee*

        I’m with you on State Farm. My folks, bless their little traveling hearts, have had 3 incidents in 3 years. One was a single car incident where something just went nuts with their car, and the other two were caused by other drivers. State Farm has been exceptionally fast to settle claims and coordinate with the carriers used by the other drivers.

      2. Nye*

        Also recommend State Farm. I’ve had two accidents in the past several years, one single-car and one caused by another driver (who also had State Farm). They were prompt and easy to work with in both cases. My only complaint is that “accident forgiveness” apparently disappears when you move to a new state, so even though I stayed with the same company, my rates were jacked up significantly. (This was because of an accident 2 years prior, my only at-fault accident in over 10 years with State Farm.)

    5. Really*

      I have Erie and they have always been good but they are in a limited number of states. USAA when I checked was 50 percent higher than what I am paying. Had bad experience with Met Life when one of their policy holders hit my daughter. State Farm on the other hand was great. And I’ve heard good things about Liberty Mutual.

    6. Landshark*

      We’ve had good luck with Geico recently. They work as an agency with home insurance, so if you do a bundle there, I advise asking for Traveler’s. They’ve done pretty well for us recently.

      (Full disclosure, though, my husband works for them, so they did give us a fairly hefty discount. Still, their customer service and rates aside from that have been good.)

      1. copy run start*

        Geico has always had the best prices for me, and I was very satisfied when I had a claim last summer. The rep who I spoke to was kind on the phone, I had prompt, professional communications with the adjuster* and no issues with payment, with my rental car, etc. They mailed me the check for the insurance portion of the bill before my car was even sent in. Even though my insurance went up after my claim, it was still significantly less than anyone else who I pulled quotes on. Every year or so I do check around, but Geico is always less for me.

        I have renter’s insurance through Geico (company called Assurant though) and they seem fine enough. Haven’t had a claim.

        I think I’m technically eligible for USAA, who gets rave reviews, but I don’t know my grandpa’s SSN and he’s passed. So I’ve never explored their coverage. I have a friend who was in several accidents with them as her insurer and had zero issues with their assistance.

        *He was in another state, so I suppose if that’s important to you it’s something to think about. However my experience with him was “get an estimate from someone you like and have them send it in.”

      2. rubyrose*

        Another vote for Geico. I’ve been with them (and Travelers for renters insurance) about 25 years. I was in an accident about 20 years ago where there was some discussion about whether my injury should be covered or not, based on their determination of a pre-existing condition. I asked for a second opinion and they sent me to someone who was obviously not just rubber stamping the initial determination. It cost them around $50,000. I never saw it reflected in future premiums.

        Having said that, I saw my premiums going up over the last two years in a manner I thought was excessive. I called and asked for new quote. It turned out that they were changing over to a new method of underwriting and I qualified for my rate to be cut in half.

        Another potential option for you – get a Costco membership and get your insurance through them.
        I have a friend who did that and she has been quite happy. I priced mine through them when I was questioning my Geico price and they came in about $30.00 over my Geico quote.

      3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Agreed on Geico. I totaled my car not long after graduating high school, and it impressed me a whole lot that when I got on the phone with the adjuster, the first thing he did was make sure that I was okay — not in a ‘we need to know’ sense but in a genuine “holy shit I just saw your car, are you ok?!” sense. Everyone I dealt with was very understanding that I was pretty rattled and scared with the whole process, and they were also proactive in keeping in touch with me about their efforts to contact other folks involved in the accident.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Er, college, not high school! This is what I get for typing while having a conversation.

    7. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

      I’ve had good experience with Nationwide for auto. Not the least expensive, but they offer declared value policies. Claims, both not at fault and at fault have been handled well. And die to lost mail, I once let the policy lapse for about 3 months o_0. A couple of phone calls and I was covered again with no penalty rates.

      For home I’m the only one left with my agent still on MetLife. That’s because I got a 5% deductible earthquake policy back in ’90 and no one writes that coverage at less than 15% anymore. They’ve handled claims for quake damage, theft, and a small fire well.

    8. Aphrodite*

      I’ve been with State Farm for somewhere around 25+ years for automobile and renters insurance. In all that time I have filed only one auto claim when someone ran into my parked car. (My parents were with them for more than 40 years.) I like them because they use individual agents. Find a good one, like mine, and they are gold. I’ve been pursued by other insurance companies but won’t change because I get good service and lots of discounts for being a long-term member.

    9. Ktelzbeth*

      I will put in another plug for State Farm. I’m in the middle of a claim and in this one, as in others, they have been easy to work with.

    10. Middle Name Jane*

      I’ve had nothing but a positive experience with State Farm. Been a customer since 2001. Car and renter’s insurance while I lived in apartments post-college, and now car and homeowner’s. They give you discounts for having multiple policies, having a security system in your home, being a safe driver, etc.

      Disclosure: I’ve never had to file a claim. The fender benders I’ve been in have all been judged to be the other driver’s fault. But State Farm has been great about getting those other insurance companies to pay for my car’s damage. And when I bought my home, they were really patient with the questions I had about what all coverage I needed.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Currently with Travelers. They have their own version of Triple A for roadside assistance. The basic package is free with the insurance. I just upgraded to the 100 mile towing radius and it was an additional $13.

      I have been with an insurance agent for decades now. The firm is very old and they are affiliated with well over 100 insurance companies. The agent “shops” for me, when I tell her the current policy is getting too high. Last year she found a Travelers’ policy that saved me 55% on my old bill. If you go this route the trick is to find an agent who does business with many, many companies. My friend went to an agent who had 3-4 companies that the agent worked with and all the quotes were very high.

    12. Delightful Daisy*

      We had American Family for almost 20 years and had been happy with them until we moved to another state and our rates doubled. They overcharged us for over a year by putting our under 21 year old son as the account holder which jacked up our rates. We had asked 3 times for this to be corrected. It never was. We switched to State Farm and have been very happy.

  8. Katie the Fed*

    I want to thank everyone who gave me tips on maternity clothes in last week’s open thread. I just ordered some from Old Navy and Motherhood Maternity and I’m hoping this will be enough to get me through the next few months!

    On another subject – the next woman who tells me “I never felt better in my life than when I was pregnant” might get punched.

    1. American in London*

      Ugh those women are the worst! I hope it goes as smoothly as possible – I’m at 36 weeks with my second and both times have been “easy”…and miserable.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’m tired of the emotional rollercoaster. I broke down crying yesterday because I couldn’t have deli meat and really wanted a sandwich with proscuitto and I had to ask for it to be heated. Then I cried again because I realize I only have 3 months left to travel.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          *pat pats* The emotional rollercoaster evens out some too, for most women.

          And the “never felt better” women are mostly delusional.

          1. Observer*

            I really don’t get this kind of reaction. Dismissing people’s experiences just because they don’t match yours, or because they are not typical is neither kind nor smart.

            Some women feel REALLY good throughout their pregnancy, and some do for part of their pregnancy. And a lot of women are not all that miserable, although for a lot of women it depends on the stage.

            There is a wide range of normal, and lot of not so typical stuff.

            1. nw*

              I agree with Observer. I enjoyed being pregnant, and I’m entitled to feel that way just as much as women who feel differently.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*


                I feel lucky that pregnancy agreed with me so well, and I understand that women experience a spectrum from “fantastic” to “never felt worse”, but other people’s bad experiences don’t negate that I felt pretty great while pregnant.

            2. Jessesgirl72*

              And you know what I’m sick of, and isn’t the least bit kind, anytime I say any GD thing on this comment section, people jump all over me to be kind and sanctimoniously pick apart every blasted word I say. All while themselves pretending to be kind all the while being smugly superior.

              The group think here is the worst I’ve seen anywhere.

              And since no pregnant woman can avoid all the unpleasant changes that happen to her body, I yes, dismiss you saying your saying “you never felt better” as delusional.

              I’m also sick of the uneven way the “be kind” rule is enforced, so don’t worry, I won’t be “unkind” here again. I’ll leave you to your echo chamber of fake niceness.

              1. Kat*

                I got the impression you were trying to make the OP feel better, and I thought that was nice of you.

              2. Artemesia*

                Guess what. Your personal experience is not universal. I had two kids and felt fabulous during the pregnancies. I worked literally until the day before delivery each time and had a meeting I led 3 days after the second was born. (it was important and she was slightly early — I went on leave after that)

                One birth was horrendous with a 36 hour lab0r; one was actually pleasant and not even slightly painful. And both were born with no drugs/lamaze.

                I had hoped this would pass in my genes to my daughter because my mother also had easy pregnancies. Alas, hers are miserable like her paternal grandmother’s.

                Everyone is different and for me at least the deliveries were dramatically different — one hellish and one bordering on pleasurable.

              3. Katie the Fed*

                Thank you for trying to make me feel better – I appreciate it!

                This is probably one of those things like how I want to snark on naturally thin people because ugh how can anyone be NATURALLY thin but apparently it’s actually possible.

              4. ..Kat..*

                I am sorry you feel that way. Personally, I have found your comments to be helpful to me and look forward to future comments from you.

              5. nw*

                You called an entire group delusional, and now you’re pissed when members of that group come out of the woodwork to disagree with you? I don’t get it.

          2. Book Lover*

            Ok, I was going to stay out of this, because no one is interested in my pregnancies. But this is pretty unfair. I felt amazing during both of my pregnancies – I felt cute and weirdly sexy, for whatever reason, and just amazing. I was fortunate to not have issues with morning sickness and would have loved to have a few more pregnancies, but two kids is enough for me. That said, my deliveries were pretty unpleasant, so you can’t have everything. But I don’t understand why you would suggest that people who feel that way are delusional.

        2. onnellinen*

          Ha – I can relate… 22 weeks pregnant, and I cried the other day because the utensil I needed was in the dishwasher (which was only halfway through the cycle).

    2. IvyGirl*

      Oh boy. As a first time pregnant mama at 40, it was…interesting. The good thing, though, is knowing yourself enough to not get sucked into it all. Knowing that it’s ok to not love being pregnant, that its ok if breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you (while still trying/pumping) and finally that there is no valedictorian of childbirth – you want medication, get it.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        It’s even okay not to try to breastfeed or pump. Feed the baby! How you do it is your business and no one else’s.

    3. esra (also a Canadian)*

      Ha! Every woman I know has been like NEVER AGAIN after they finish having kids. Between the swelling and the peeing, the hair loss, the nausea, the weight gain, the back pain…

    4. Maya Elena*

      On the plus aide, everyone makes a fuss around you and you can almost always get a seat on the train. :-)

    5. Merci Dee*

      If you’re going to punch somebody, hit ’em in the throat and make it count.

      My daughter was definitely worth it, but the pregnancy was for the birds. I was unemployed at the time, and thank goodness. I couldn’t sleep at night because my ex would cuddle up right against me and make me pour sweat – I’d have to get up to lay on the other side of the bed until he scooted over to me again. Only time I could sleep was after he went to work.

      And I went through my big months during the summer. In Alabama. Good gravy. If I could’ve crawled into a deep freezer from June through the end of September, I would’ve.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I can’t sleep either! I’m up peeing like 3 times a night and I’m hot as hell, and just can’t get comfortable. And I’m not THAT pregnant yet!

        1. ..Kat..*

          I recommend a Vornado fan. They create a cooling air movement without making you feel as if you are in a wind tunnel.

        2. Merci Dee*

          The only other symptom I had that was really bad was issues with sciatica, but that was mostly during the last half when kiddo was really growing. Granted, it wasn’t a constant complaint, but I never knew when that sciatic nerve was going to get tangled up in my hip joint. Doc recommended a great exercise to help relieve the pain – lay on your back, put the bottoms of your feet together so that your knees point outward, and pull your feet up as close to your backside as possible. That opens up the hip joints and provides all kinds of relief. Interestingly enough, it worked also when I started having pain in my tailbone when first standing or sitting.

          I sincerely hope you don’t have problems with sciatica further along, but this might help if you need it.

    6. Jenna P.*

      Oof, I hear you. I was super happy to be having twins because I always wanted two kids and the whole way through my pregnancy I was celebrating that I never had to do this again. Being 40 week size at 32 weeks and still having a month to go was rough.

    7. Observer*

      My sympathies – these people are ANNOYING on a good day.

      Outside of the emotional rollercoaster thing, which tends to get better, there are usually things you can do to relieve a lot of the other “small” miseries of pregnancy. And, thank heavens for AC!

      1. Bibliovore*

        I think that those who are suffering need empathy not comparison. This goes for people waiting for test results, recovering from a broken leg , job hunting or lost love. No one wants other people to suffer but it doesn’t help in the moment to hear about someone else’s fast healing, or the job that landed in their lap or how easy and great feeling their pregnancy was.

    8. Jen RO*

      A friend of mine was one of those women when she was pregnant with her first. She is currently pregnant with her second, high-risk, she has to stay in bed for at least another month… and yes, she does see the irony.

      1. Artemesia*

        I really feel for people in this situation. There is no medical evidence that bedrest is helpful but if I were told by my doctor I needed that I’d do it too — no one wants to risk the baby. But there is no evidence that it does anything more than leave the mother very weak.

    9. ..Kat..*

      Full disclosure: never been pregnant, turns out my uterus could never have children, I’m okay with this.

      I suspect that women who tell you how wonderful their pregnancies were are either (1) lying, (2) delusional, or (3) drank heavily throughout their pregnancies and have no clear memory of the time.

      Best wishes for Baby the Fed. If all else fails, just hunker down at home naked until you give birth!

      1. Book Lover*

        I think it is possible to make people feel better without putting other people down :(

      2. Boris*

        Or just had bodies that did really well at this one thing! I don’t tell my friends who love running that they’re delusional or drunk just because I loathe it.

    10. Jubilance*

      Ugh I hate those women! I had a disintegrating fibroid, constant heartburn, and an embarrassing waddle during my “easy” pregnancy. I couldn’t wait to give birth and get back to feeling normal!

  9. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I am now at my grandparents’ condo for a visit; we dropped in for a hour on our way back from New York back on Memorial Day, and I decided I needed more time with them. We’ve always been very close, but more than that, my grandmother’s mobility is terrible and my grandfather’s is suddenly worse. They live independently but with an incredible network of friends and family who help out. They’re 87 and 91, and at 39, I am reminded every day how lucky I am to have them, especially since my relationship with my mother (their daughter) is such a mess.

    Anyway, I told them I was at their disposal for this visit, so we went to Nordstrom. My grandmother used to go to Nordstrom or Bloomingdales at least once a week– she is a champion shopper. So we went. I cannot say enough wonderful things about their customer service. The one wrinkle was that the salesperson in the shoe department seemed to be very young and in training, but after a while she reset and spoke directly to Grandmom instead of me, and she got right down to help a stiff old lady try on all of her shoes. Then we went bra shopping, and my goal today is to send a glowing email about the amazing care we got in the lingerie department. (This would be a repeat of the praise I gave in person.)

    The whole outing took 4 hours, and we were all exhausted, but what a great day. I used to live an hour’s drive away, now I’m an hour away by plane, which is great but expensive. I hope to be able to come up more often, though.

    1. Lucky*

      I have friends who work in Nordstrom’s corporate headquarters – they take customer service very seriously, so please do write to them. Mention names, or describe the employees with department/date & time visited. Your comments will be appreciated.

    2. Cinnamonroll*

      Nordstrom is great _ my elderly mom uses a (narrow mini) scooter and the store layout & the bathrooms are by far the best.(Lord & taylors is the worst, Macy’s is barely ok). At other stores I’ve had to move clothings racks, display tables to allow for enough room for her to get through. And grab bars in the changing rooms or bathrooms need to be on both sides- so often they are only on the right hand side, which mean stroke victims who have low mobility on their right sides can’t use grab bars.

    3. Noah*

      Love, love, love Nordstrom. I will pay more to shop there because the employees are so great.

  10. evilintraining*

    Happy Independence Day, everyone! I’m headed to the local amusement park, Kennywood, with my kids, son-in-law, and granddaughter. What’s everyone doing today?

    1. Liane*

      We are having a quick 4th of July lunch, at College Son’s suggestion. He & his sister both work at same store, but he gets off at 1pm & she starts at 2pm today. So he got the food & I will cook it so the 4 of us can eat together between their shifts.
      After that, I will probably read or CS & I will watch movies and then fireworks on TV (the forecast rainy weekend/clear 3rd & 4th turned into clear weekend/rainy 3rd & 4th).

      My holiday wear will be my red/white/blue star earrings and a Capt. America tee.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I’m about 2 hours north of you! I’m not planning much today–getting outside for a walk (and maybe some Pokemon Go) at the local university, reading The Martian which I just started yesterday, and eating healthy for the day in advance of my doctor’s appointment tomorrow (I’m pretending one day will help so just go with it!).

      1. Book Lover*

        Yay, someone else who plays Pokemon go :). It is insanely hot here but I have still met some nice new people with the raids and we are trying our best to coordinate. Looking forward to maybe gen 3 and legendaries soon.

    3. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

      I’m working (freelance editor). Trying to get as much done as I can before we go to Disneyland next week. Don’t want to have to bring my laptop with me.

    4. Temperance*

      We are fixing our pool! I might wear a patriotic shirt while working. We saw Wonder Woman last night.

    5. Shayland*

      I don’t have anything planned. I’m still really drained from life stuff, and I hate fireworks in part because of my PTSD. So I’m going to play video games and snuggle dogs while my text to speech reads AAM and other comment forms to me.

      1. Junior Dev*

        Hugs. I brought home my noise cancelling headphones from work because I hate hearing the fireworks. I have PTSD also–it’s not from gun violence or combat, but hearing loud sounds puts me on edge. I hope you can have a minimally stressful day.

    6. Kristen*

      Studying for the CPA exam mostly. It’s also my anniversary with my boyfriend (technically it was last week but I like to celebrate on the 4th, because watching fireworks was our second date and it’s easy to remember). We are going out to lunch at one of the few nice restaurants open today. Then we’ll see fireworks at our neighboring suburb’s local festival tonight. They put on an amazing show every year so it’s the perfect ending to our anniversary.

      1. Drew*

        Start counting your dates at zero and this will be the anniversary of your first date! It works for computer scientists…

    7. Jessesgirl72*

      I have spent the 4th at Kennywood once or twice. I’m glad to be home relaxing instead! ;)

      The big fireworks were last night, which we saw from the comfort of the top floor of the (secure access) parking garage of my husband’s office- with about 20 other cars instead of the hundreds at the Lakefront. So today we’re grilling (smoked ribs yesterday. Burgers tonight) but otherwise just relaxing. We hung the baby monitor above the crib this morning, but that’s about the most taxing thing on the agenda (and the Vusee wall attachment made that take all of 2 minutes!)

    8. Drew*

      Nothing much. My parents are in town and we’ll probably go out to lunch in a bit. I’m going to be doing some laundry to prep for a short vacation starting tomorrow. And I may go see “Baby Driver” tonight because everything I’ve heard is that it is amazing.

    9. Shark Whisperer*

      I’m working, but I wanted to say wooooo! another yinzer! I have so many good Kennywood memories from when I was a kid. I’m still sad the Steel Phantom no longer exists.

    10. Bigglesworth*

      We’re still getting settled in our new place. The original plan was to go into DC itself for the fireworks tonight (we live in Falls Church for now), but that idea has been changed to making manicotti, drinking Biltmore grape juice, and eating chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting on our balcony. We’ll still probably be able to see fireworks from here, but battling crowds on our 4th day in Virginia didn’t sound like fun.

    11. Overeducated*

      My dad is visiting and wanted to go swimming at a state park, but brought it up mid morning and I felt like it was too late to start off considering the distance and heat today, so we went on a walk through a more local marsh instead. Whew…close to home, but steamy and not refreshing like swimming would have been, so maybe I chose wrong! Then after lunch, while kid napped we watched Arrival, and I cried like a baby through most of it. (Liked it overall.)

      We are probably going to just stay home and skip fireworks. Feels less than festive, but my town does them next weekend, and I don’t want to travel and fight traffic to see the DC ones when it’s my kid’s first time, well past bedtime, and a weeknight. Next week….

    12. Junior Dev*

      I’m taking advantage of the day off to clean my apartment!

      I moved a couple months ago under pretty rushed and stressful circumstances. I then struggled with depression, anxiety, and low energy to the point where I’d often come home from work, throw my stuff on the floor, and do nothing except maybe eat a frozen dinner until bedtime. My apartment looks like something out of Hoarders–not because I’m afraid to throw anything away but because anything more than the barest minimum of cleaning or tidying seemed insurmountable.

      Well it’s now a little after 3pm where I live and I can see most of my bedroom floor! It had been scattered with trash, papers, clothes and miscellaneous boxes from the move that I had dug through to get something but otherwise never unpacked.

      Now I need to find the time and energy to do something similar for the other rooms of the apartment (living room is the worst) but I think having the bedroom done (or close enough to done that I can vacuum it, put stuff away in drawers, etc.) will be very encouraging.

      1. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

        Yayyyy!!! Go you. That’s such a huge thing, and I hope you are celebrating yourself tonight!!

        I read somewhere that if you spend 5 minutes before you do your fun stuff (like computer, reading, watching tv) tidying up every night, it can help a lot. While I don’t do it religiously, I try to at least spend a few minutes doing the “easy” (in quotes, because they aren’t easy for everyone!) things. For example, before I go to bed, I can put my dirty dishes in the sink/dishwasher, throw out any trash, and go through junk mail.

    13. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Wow, the fireworks in my neighborhood have really reached a peak! At least six or eight of the homes around me have what sound like professional-grade fireworks with the deep, low rumble before a low-pitched “BOOM!” It sounds like heavy artillery out there this year.

  11. VioletEMT*

    Happy 4th and shout-out to all those who ARE working today: service industry, hospitals, public safety, etc. I hope you get extra pay today and the chance to relax at some point.

    1. Landshark*

      I second this! I’ve done the 4th of July work grind back when I worked retail. It’s rough. May all of your customers and clients be polite and your work related emergencies be minor!

    2. Windchime*

      I wanted to have a BBQ with my youngest today but he has to work. I said, “Oh, bummer! I’m so sorry!” He said he’s OK with it since he’s getting double time and a half. I’m glad his store makes it worth his while to work on holidays! (He is in grocery, so they are almost always open.)

    3. Pet sitter*

      Two hours ago, I was stretched out on the floor of a client’s house with two kittens purring on my chest. :) Tonight will be An Experience, but all my current clients’ pets are so easygoing that it might go all right.

      Shout out to everyone who works in veterinary hospitals or offices tonight. You’re amazing people. People should tell you that more often.

    4. Lone Rhino*

      I work in a restaurant and it’s been pretty busy. Luckily I have the next two days off.

  12. EA*

    A few weeks ago i posted about being rejected from dog rescues due to having a job.
    The one I thought would work out ended up goasting us. I passed the reference check and phone interview. The said I could adopt as long as I got a dog walker or came home at lunch, both I can do. Then they just never scheduled my home visit. She said she had trouble finding someone who will ‘come into the city’ to do a home visit but would keep trying. ( I live in a pretty residential part of Cambridge, MA) so lol on this being like the scary inner city. Then no response to follow ups.
    Anyone know any rescues in New England I can try next? I am feeling discouraged.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      This kind of thing drives me nuts. Ostensibly they don’t want people buying from pet stores or backyard breeders, but they make it so damn hard to get a dog sometimes! It’s harder to get a dog than a gun.

      You might have better luck just going to the local animal shelter – they tend to have a healthier view of getting the dog a good home vs. getting the dog the most perfect home in all the world.

      1. Artemesia*

        The animal shelter is also less likely to lie about a dangerous dog although they of course may not know the dog’s history.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          ??? I don’t think any rescue is likely to lie about dangerous dogs. I’m sure that it has happened — there are anecdotes for any situation! — but this feels like an unhelpfully broad statement.

          1. Erin*

            I’ve had that happen. We got a dog from a rescue, she was a Belgian Malinios. and the lady who fostered her left out that she didn’t like men. Doesn’t work when you live with a man and have mostly make friends. We had to return the dog after a week. Because she tries biting my neighbor. They’re so eager to place a dog sometimes they leave out vital info.

            1. Lindsay J*

              A rescue lied to my family about the dog’s age. They told us he was a little over a year old. He was really around 5. They also sent him home to us with a mild case of kennel cough, which was easy enough to clear up but would have been nice to have been told about up front.

            2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Huh. Like I said, I’m sure this happens. But this whole thread is about how rescues are often TOO strict, not too lax. It sounds like they can’t win.

      2. Jenny*

        My mother in law got rejected from a rescue because she wouldn’t promise that the dog would be on a leash while outside at all times. They live on a 100+ acre farm. Although another rescue jumped at the chance to give them a dog.

        Some rescues can be crazypants.

        1. LM*

          I’m experienced with stock dogs, have goats and chickens, live way out in the country, and we have a fenced acre yard. I was looking for a dog with high herding drive (i.e., the kind that are hard to place in pet homes because they’re lunatics when not given a job) to help put the goats and chickens up, be a hiking buddy, and chase off small varmits, and be a general farm dog.

          A stock dog “rescue” turned me down … because the (seven foot, to keep elk out) fence was wire. They require a six foot block fence (nothing else would do, including wood!) … how the heck would anyone afford to fence an acre in block?

          Another wouldn’t adopt us an aussie because we let the dogs outside without supervision. What, we’re supposed to be helicopter parents to our dogs now?

          I ended up buying a border collie puppy off a working ranch. He’s got the genetics I wanted (untold generations of working dogs behind him — we’re talking a REAL ranch) and all the rancher wanted to know was if I was paying cash, and when I wanted to pick him up.

          1. .*

            How the heck did this post with my real name? I NEVER EVER typed it in. Fortunately nothing bad in it
            but that’s … disturbing, given how easy my real name is to google.

            Could the management delete this anyway? I’m thinking this might have been a weird browser autofill issue because I just tried to remove my name and it autofilled it back in. I think I’ve got it gone now.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I posted a reply to you here that you cannot see.
              It has a link in it which will cause my post to send my post into moderation.
              Alison will see the problem and she will fix it.

              Any posts with links get sent into moderation for Alison to review before releasing. A nice little trick if you really need to get her attention.

          2. TL -*

            Okay, we have two aussies on my parents’ ranch, and they’re basically allowed to roam where ever their hearts desire and they are the happiest, most well-behaved dogs you could ask for.

            Aussies love being outside, they’re very smart, and after a certain age, they’re fine to be outside on their own, and much happier, because they’ll make up jobs to do if they’re bored otherwise.

      3. Anxa*

        Yea, this is how someone in my family ended up going to a breeder. They were low-income but had substantial investments and owned their house outright, but didn’t qualify for several small breed rescues. She checked the shelters for about a year for a good match, then ended up buying a dog.

      4. Pet sitter*

        I have only adopted from a shelter, and that has been great. They’re all about finding the right match.

        Unfortunately, my experience volunteering with local rescues has not been encouraging. I would definitely recommend trying a local shelter before a rescue, or trying rescues that come strongly recommended by close friends/vets/other people involved in pet care.

    2. Sibley*

      Just go to the animal shelter. Plenty of animals there that need a home, and they tend to be less neurotic about adopters (yes, I consider some, but not all of the rescue and private shelter people to be neurotic. It’s not helpful).

      1. Amadeo*

        Seconding this. Screw the rescues who obviously don’t want to be bothered actually adopting a dog out. I am so fed up and done with the attitude of most of them at this point. Go to the county shelter if you don’t have a specific breed in mind.

        If you *do* have a specific breed in mind, suss out the good breeders, some of them may get a dog returned to them because of a circumstance of the buyers, or they have an older dog they’ve retired and are looking for a home for, or they know someone who does. The good breeders will still make you fill out an application, but their motivation is to place their animals in a well-matched home, not keep them forever so they can feel sanctimonious.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I volunteer for a rescue in Brooklyn, and we have several adopters in the Boston area. We do virtual home visits via FaceTime if we can’t find someone in person. Only wrinkle is you’d have to go to New York to adopt your buddy, but if you can do that… we do three reference checks, a home visit, and a vet check if applicable. We do require a mid-day walk, but we don’t require a backyard. Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue.

      1. Lucille*

        I love Badass!! We just went to the summer fair with our 10 year old terrier- she loved her Shake Shack ice cream :)

      2. SL #2*

        My friends (who live in Brooklyn) got one of their dogs from Badass! They love him to pieces and can’t say enough nice things about the rescue and their volunteers.

    4. Namast'ay in Bed*

      Last hope k9 rescue! They’re absolutely amazing and that’s where I got my sweet pup through. They’re 100% foster based, so no pup is hanging out in a shelter, and they’re extremely responsive. They’re also not a bunch of weirdos who think having a job is a detriment to owning a dog. (What even.) I’ll post the Facebook page (where they post everything, including all dogs up for adoption) in a comment below this.
      I (and they) recommend filling out the application form first and get pre-approved, even if you don’t have a specific dog you’d like in mind, just to speed the process up if you fall in love with a pup. You don’t have to, and that’s not how we ended up with our dog – we followed the fb page, saw a dog we liked a day or two later, asked to meet her, met her a few days later, and then went through the application process. And even then the application and the in home visit only took maybe a week. From the moment we thought “hmm I think we’re ready for a dog let’s start looking” to actually having a dog was about two weeks.

      1. EA*

        This was the rescue that ghosted me!!

        They seemed great and normal, so maybe my emails have just slipped through the cracks.

        1. Namast'ay In Bed*

          Oh no! Reach out through the Facebook group, the woman who runs it is very responsive to messages there.

    5. ThatGirl*

      I’m in Chicago area so no help but neither of the rescues we talked to required one of us to be home during the day, it wouldn’t have been possible. We looked for a grown dog who could handle the time alone, and our fuzzbutt is perfect. We also don’t have a fenced yard but the walks are just fine.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah, people work. And they also can’t always shell out $25 a day for a dog walker – I’m amazed at places that require this.

        I have a happy, healthy dog who gets walked in the morning, after we get home from work, and again before bed. She’s fine.

    6. Anon In Mass*

      Take a look at Sterling Animal Shelter in Sterling MA. They are about an hour away from Cambridge, straight out Rt2. Sterlingshelter.org They don’t require home visits or a crazy amount of paperwork. I’m looking from the opposite end of the state and finding lots of places don’t want to drive out to the boonies for home visits!

    7. Liane*

      Sorry it’s not working so far & I hope you find your dog soon. Have you considered a city/county shelter (if there is one)? That’s where we got our Bear, and we were very happy with the process. Short application*, very good staff/facilities, could take him the same day

      *only covered things that might be legit red flags for some/all cases, like whether you intended it to be outside alone/tied, kids under X age, & other pets and what kind

    8. DogLover*

      For me, this is the kind of situation where I looked outside of the rescues/shelters to find my fur babies. The only local rescue/shelter had issue with pretty much every single aspect of my life. If I couldn’t devote 110% of my time to my dog then I wasn’t worthy of getting one… I think the only people approved for adoption were couples where one was at home all day!

      I feel like I technically ‘rescued’ my dogs because I took them out of homes that either didn’t want them or couldn’t care for them. My first was severely dehydrated when we picked him up and had never been allowed in the house (he was a shih-tzu for crying out loud!), then the second was in a home where the daughter had severe emotional issues and they tried to train her as a therapy dog by throwing her on top of the girl mid-tantrum.

      If I hadn’t taken them in they could’ve gone to someone else that wouldn’t have loved and cared for them like I do. There are so many dogs that never make it to a rescue/shelter that are in need of a loving home… and so many more that need to find a new home before suffering the trauma of getting abandoned or dropped off at a shelter.

      1. Bryce*

        My kitty was a spur of the moment ‘rescue’. Someone abandoned a litter outside of Pet Smart, they wound up at a friend’s place, and she had to find homes for them before her landlord realized they were there. I was the first to show up and got one who had been bullying the runt (which she wound up keeping), and for something I didn’t really get to choose we wound up great together. Had that guy for about 13 years and we loved every minute.

    9. KR*

      If you can do the trip, I got my dog from the NHSPCA in Stratham, NH (roughly an hour and fifteen minutes drive north from Boston). They didn’t require a home visit, had no problem with the fact that I lived in an apartment without a yard, and only required that I bring the other dog in the house to meet Jerry before bringing him home. They’re good people, there.

    10. Peanut*

      Try animal shelters, not rescues. The MSPCA in Jamaica Plain, and the Northeast Animal Shelter in Salem, MA. Both have websites where you can see what dogs they have, but both can adopt out quickly, especially for puppies or non-pit bull-looking dogs, so you’re better off showing up as soon as the shelter opens. But the websites will give you an idea of the types of dogs they get in.

      Also, I got my current dog from the Animal Rescue League of Greater Portland (Maine) which didn’t have a problem with getting a dog walker for midday. The shelter is about a 2 hours’ drive from Cambridge, but you may want to call first to confirm their adoption policies. Arlgp.com

      For all these places, bring proof of home ownership or letter from landlord/copy of lease stating that you are allowed to have dogs in the apartment (and any breed or size restriction, if applicable.) They also want any kids and other dogs in the household to be at the shelter also, to see how your potential new dog gets along with them.

      Good luck!

      1. Peanut*

        I forgot to add that the shelter in Salem is the kind that gets unwanted dogs flown in from the Midwest (because more people in the Northeast are willing to adopt). The MSPCA does not do this and just has local dogs, if this matters to you. A lot of animal rescues also fly in/purchase dogs from the Midwest.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Heh, that’s funny. I’m in the Midwest, and our rescue dogs mostly come from the South (for the same reason!).

          1. Peanut*

            Ha, I bet these are from the South then, not Midwest! I am geographically challenged.

    11. Shayland*

      There’s always craigslist. Don’t get a puppy, as that is one way puppy mills sell dogs, but if the shelter’s aren’t willing to give you a dog, someone on craigslist would be willing to, probably.

    12. Emma*

      I got ghosted by a rescue too, so I finally adopted from a good animal shelter. They seemed really well run, and I couldn’t be happier. It took us a few momths to find the right dog but I was impressed by how much better they were with customer service than the rescue.

      I originally had my heart set on a certain breed but was eventually open to something else. But I did ultimately get a dog in the breed I wanted. I love our spca!

    13. Jessesgirl72*

      And I had a friend who had problems because she lived in the Boston suburbs and no one wanted to LEAVE the city for her home visit!

      Rescues in New England really suck.

    14. Zara*

      Try the MSPCA or the Animal Rescue League if rescues aren’t working out. I’ll never fault rescues/shelters for being overly cautious–I volunteered at the MSPCA and saw too many dogs being returned for silly reasons–but it definitely gets frustrating when the rescue drops the ball. Best of luck!

    15. Call me St. Vincent*

      We adopted our dog from Companion Pet Rescue in Southbury, CT. They were great to work with and made it easy. I’ve since recommended several friends and colleagues go to them and they have also adopted through them. I also second the advice of others though of going to the local chapter of the humane society and adopting a shelter pet!

    16. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’ve heard from so many people who have this experience. It’s so surprising because it’s so far from my experience! I guess I just got lucky with my rescue.

      Have you tried the Humane Society/pound/etc.? In my experience they are MUCH less strict than volunteer-run rescues. All I can suggest is calling up all the rescues you haven’t tried yet and asking for their policies. I’m so sorry!

    17. Administrative Assistant*

      I work in animal rescue. First, let me say I’m sorry you’re facing difficulty with the rescue you’re trying to work with. Second, I want to remind you – if it’s even needed – that most, if not all, rescues are staffed by volunteers. That’s people like me and you who have jobs and families and many other personal responsibilities. We’re all busy and trying to save animals in the middle of our busy lives. They may actually have had trouble finding someone to come to where you are, since it might mean someone who can take a good chunk out of an already busy week. It may have absolutely nothing to do with being the “scary inner city.”
      Third – please remember that animal rescuers have SEEN IT ALL. We see potential adopters lie to us about how their lives really are. We see adopters return dogs in horrible condition because they weren’t really ready for a dog. We have seen every kind of abuse you can imagine. It’s incredibly disheartening and sad. It takes a toll on rescuers. We have all said, at one time or another, “I HATE PEOPLE.”
      Please keep trying, but also remember that the rescuers you’re trying to work with have seen MUCH WORSE than you have. Their first priority is a good, safe placement for the animals. YOU are not their first priority.
      All that being said – I’m in Alabama, and we work with several agencies to place animals in New England. I suggest you broaden your search. Try Adopt-a-Pet or Petfinder, and look for rescues who will transport dogs to your part of the country. It costs more, because you have to bear the cost of the transport, but it happens more than you may realize. Here in Alabama, we are overrun by stray dogs because people don’t spay/neuter – the laws aren’t strong enough. We try to place dogs up in the Northeast because spay-neuter laws there have some teeth in them, and people who have to really work to get a dog (as opposed to just adopting from a shelter) tend to take better care of them.
      I’m sorry, rant over. Good luck with your search for a canine friend.

    18. Noah*

      This is how I ended up getting my beagle puppy from a breeder. The rescues wouldn’t even speak with me because I was single and had a job. He’s a great dog and the family he came from was great too. I travel for work periodically and they loved to have him come visit during those times. He had a blast on their farm running around too.

    19. LCL*

      I am intrigued with Rescue Dogs Rock, they are often mentioned in the pet news. I think they are based in New York. I was looking at their page today, they have puppies.

    20. Lo Squared*

      We got our dog from Northeast Animal shelter up in Salem. You definitely need a car to get up to them, but did not blink an eye that we were two working adults that had no yard (living in Brookline at the time). It was also a few hour thing, not a multi-day, home-visit, etc process.

      I can’t speak to their dog adoptions, but we got our cat in the South End at the Animal Rescue League. Again, it was super easy.

  13. Andrea Bayden*

    Hi all! As an Aussie I am very excited to make the beginning of an open thread!

    Semi work, semi personal.

    Short: Any tips for increasing emotional intelligence?

    Long: I am an entry level role (but I’m 35) after graduating masters. I’ve been in social work in varying capacities for 10 years so I have a deeper understanding than most newbies. I am a high performer and do my job very well however my EQ is definitly lacking. I am attacking it various ways – I have a binder with 50+ articles and tip sheets I sourced that I am making my way through (usually spend 3-4 hours per weekend reading, highlighting, summarizing etc). I have signed up for three external PDs (of which I am paying for, not work) – one on EQ, one in communication in the workplace and one counselling skills. I am also paying for external supervision/mentoring/guidance from a professional which is starting in two weeks. I have purchased ‘Teach Yourself the Emotional Intelligence Workbook’ and Daniel Goleman’s book. Needless to say I am taking this very seriously. I am way too ambitious to let this hold me back.

    I do however have a few cards stacked against me. I didn’t have a great childhood and many of my traits are learned behaviors / survival mechisms. My boss knows this and understands but at the end of the day to succeed and move up I have to work on this. Plus I’d do my job 50 times better with this downpat.

    My issues are: I am way to direct/blunt, very ‘bull in china shop’, this approach rubs people the wrong way. I stress easily and flap out. I am not a ‘calm’ person. We weren’t allowed emotions when I was a kid so as a result I’m not in tune with mine or other people’s. One of the articles describing EQ mentioned, ‘ability to recognize identity and act according to emotions of others before the emotion metaphorically hits you over the head’ – I need it to wack me good before I get it!

    Good people of AAM, I seek your guidance. Does anyone have any resources? Tips? Stories to share? Advice?

    Unfortauntly as I am in Australia I won’t be able to reply for 12 hours as I’m about to go to bed but I will check back tomorrow.

    Thank you:)

    1. RMF*

      Kudos to you for recognizing a weakness and proactively acquiring resources to help!
      I once had a coworker who had a similar problem. Partly due to his personality, and partly due to his upbringing, Coworker was very quick to voice negative opinions and often offended the rest of the office.
      He was able to improve by training himself to count to 5 mentally before reacting to nearly everything—giving him time to soften his response, come up with substantive questions, and rework criticisms into suggestions. For one very sensitive coworker, Coworker set up a coffee meeting to apologize for their previous interactions and explained that he was working on his behavior. She was immediately comforted to know that “the attacks” were never personal or malicious.

      1. Andrea Bayden*

        Thank you!

        I have one colleague in particular that I just don’t mesh with and I have no doubt my low EQ is a contributing factor (but I also think she’s difficult and rude too!). I have half considered something similar to what you describe – I actually dreamt about it the other night and it didn’t end well in my dream :/ (she just cracked it at me and our rship got worse, which I honestly believe will happen. Or she’ll give me a fake ‘no worries!’ And still act weird around me).

        I always have good intentions never bad; I am over excitable like a small puppy… bouncy and cheery; always happy. But my crazy ‘yay I love my job!’ Definitely also translates into ‘omg this crisis is so badddd’ *cue flying off the handle*

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I’m not sure I have many good tips, but I was once someone who got stressed easily, can be very matter-of-fact, and wore my emotions on my sleeve at times. It took time and experience for me to get to a point where people see me as very even-keel and don’t mind calling me for something. I also had to learn that my tone of voice matters.

      I’m a banker. I found out later on that when I was in the branch, people from the main office didn’t like talking to me because my matter-of-fact tone made me sound grumpy. As a result, they tried not to call me unless they really had to. Also, when I was later in the main office and had to call the branch for something, they dreaded hearing from me. Not a good feeling.

      Nowadays, people don’t very often know that I’m flustered or upset. I wouldn’t say I consciously put a ton or work into it. I mainly observed people that were senior to me and how they interacted with people and conducted themselves. And I kept in mind that tone matters, as well as how you phrase things and how you react to people and situations. People generally don’t want to work with someone who flies off the handle or barks at them. If you have direct reports, that means they will find ways to work around you, which is not a good thing. A former EVP at my old company had a low EQ and people avoided him like the plague. They didn’t go to him unless it was absolutely necessary. As a result, things sometimes got missed–important things–because nobody wanted to deal with him. And it made the workload heavier for other people.

      Good luck!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ll add that how you react to things matters more as you move up in the heirarchy. People will watch you and mimic your reactions. Say the big boss announces a big project that’s going to take a ton of time and effort, and there will be big hurdles. If you voice a negative opinion or start complaining, your coworkers and direct reports are going to do the same. Maybe not always, but that’s generally what happens. That makes it harder for things to get done.

        (Sorry if my comments lack flow, but I wanted to answer and hadn’t fully formed it in my mind when I started typing.)

        1. fposte*

          This is a really good point, and it’s not something that you automatically notice, either. That’s why it’s so easy to end up in a bubble.

    3. olives*

      As someone who’s mostly been learning emoti nal expression “the hard way”, as you seem to be doing – I can’t recommend enough getting sessions with a therapist that specializes in getting you to feel your own emotions. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), and brainspotting are all techniques that have a strong record of success in getting you more familiar with your own emotions.

      Much like you, I spent years reading everything I could get my hands on to increase my ability to feel emotions! (A lot of my favorites are mindfulness-based books – the Mindful Path to Self Compassion, Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart.) It took actually having therapy sessions for a lot of that to actually sink into my emotional self, which only responds so much to reading!

      I know what I answered is how to get in touch with your emotions, *not* how to pay attention to the emotions of others. I definitely would have balked at the same advice given to me a few years ago. But doing it this way has actually been my fastest path to outward emotional intelligence. Understanding other people is a thousand times easier when you understand yourself. =)

      Good luck!

    4. Fishcakes*

      I am shy and irreverent and not great at phrasing things. I also grew up in a blue collar background. What helps me is to pause and think before I open my trap. And I realized that almost every socially savvy, overtly compassionate person I know draws on scripts that they’ve memorized (intentionally or not), so now I try to do that too. That’s why Ask a Manager is great – lots of smart scripts!

    5. G uk*

      I’ve found checking in on how I’m “feeling” (and focussing on how I’m feeling not what I’m thinking) regularly got me more in tune with my emotions so I can articulate all of them not just extremes. I try to compare them too, so if im feeling meh! Is that a more or less irritated, bored, frustrated meh! Than yesterday. I use my fitbit reminder to walk as a reminder for how do I feel too.

    6. Allergist*

      You and I are very similar. Rough childhood. Bull on China cabinet (although unwittingly). You did not say but I am a woman and feel that it holds me back even more since some of my behaviors that sups let slide for men get labeled “abrasive” for me.

      What helped me the most was not worrying about correctly guessing someone else’s emotions. I am never going to be good at that and that is ok. For those of us who struggle with this we tend to put wayyyyy to much emphasis on it.

      What I do now which has helped tremendously is a recognize when emotions will probably exist and then I set the emotional tone. It is working wonders.

      1. Allergist*

        Some examples:

        Someone brings me a broken laptop – they will probably have feelings about this. What feelings? I don’t know! But I can control how I respond and try to engender an new feeling. So when they come to me I now always say “I am sorry you are having to deal with this.” Before I start any trouble shooting.

        Now all the comments about “I am brusque” or “callous” or she makes me feel stupid are practically non existent.

        I still can’t tell you who feels dumb when there device breaks vs who feels angry or stressed by it… But I now set the tone to “allergist cares about me/this problem.”

    7. Junior Dev*

      This is more personal and less about work, but can you try journaling about your day and your feelings? Not with any particular goal in mind except to just spend about 10 minutes a day writing about what happened that day and how you feel about it. I suppose you could also try each day to identify one person you interacted with and how they seemed to be feeling (and why, so that you can learn to associate certain body language/tone/actions with feelings) but I have personally only done it for my own feelings.

    8. anon attorney*

      I think it’s great that you are recognising this and working on it.
      Given what you say about your background, have you had any psychotherapy? I am not sure that this kind of issue can be fully addressed with the kind of management skills learning you describe. It sounds like you have a degree of alexithymia (inability to recognise and name yours and others’ emotions) which is not a disorder but a trait which can be addressed in therapy. Apart from anything else, life gets easier when you get more of a handle on this stuff – it’s not just a career enhancer.
      In the meantime – since that is not a quick fix – you have had some good suggestions about self management of your reactions. I used to be similar to you in terms of being overly blunt with people and (long before I had any therapy) people would come to me and say thing like ‘Now before I tell you what this is about, I want you to know that I am addressing it so please don’t get angry with me’. This is not good, obviously. If we are angry or seen as difficult to talk to (which is not always a fair judgment, especially for women) then we won’t get the information or resources we need. I had to work really hard on changing this perception. Partly that was by finding ways to be genuinely less frustrated (that is, improving business processes) but partly I came to realise that most people I worked with needed a lot more personal ‘softness’ (as in taking an interest in their lives, making some small talk before getting involved in business) than I needed and thought appropriate. I was lucky enough to get some really good feedback from people I worked with. I’m struggling to articulate this as it was many years ago but essentially I am a MBTI Thinker and I tried to communicate in a more Feeler style in terms of making connections, using feelings vocabulary, spending time establishing rapport before getting down to business.
      Now, as you can see, I’m a rambler :) but honestly, it sounds like you have got to a point in your life where some therapy could really have an impact. If you choose to do that I hope you can access some affordable and useful support.
      Final tip – yoga. Connects the mind and body, improves self-awareness, teaches you ways to stay calm.

    9. TTK*

      I don’t know if this will be helpful, but specifically for the issue of flapping out when feeling stressed, it might be helpful to look into emotion regulation books or other research. Depending on your tolerance for scientific research and brain jargon, James Gross has an edited book called Handbook of Emotion Regulation that I found super helpful.

      I’m oversimplifying here, but generally, the idea is that emotion isn’t just a subjective feeling, but a feeling combined with a thought, combined with a physiological reaction, combined with a behavior. Typically, when we talk about controlling our emotions, what we usually mean is suppressing the behavior, like, we might feel stressed, but we stop ourselves from flapping out. Emotion regulation research, though, looks at influencing emotions at all levels – changing situations to avoid triggering an emotion in the first place, adjusting attention to ignore triggering stimuli, and most notably changing our thinking about a situation so that the feeling changes. The first two of those sound like they may be impossible in your work environment, but the third one may be something worth exploring to see if it works better for you. Like most things, all these strategies require practice, but it may be good to look into.

    10. Isben Takes Tea*

      Is there anyone around you who offers Dialectical Behavioral Therapy? It focuses on emotion management/mindfulness/etc and I found it to be EXTREMELY HELPFUL in both identifying the mechanics of my behaviors and providing a wide range of skills to have in my back pocket for various emotional situations.

      Good luck!

    11. Ramona Flowers*

      All of this is a great start but do make sure you don’t just think about feeling – it’s important to give yourself opportunities to actually feel. Would echo the suggestions to try getting some therapy – it can be a safe space to figure this stuff out.

    12. Panda Bandit*

      It sounds like we’ve had similar childhoods. Therapy has been extremely helpful. It’s really great to have something tailored to your specific situation. I’ve learned how to uncover my emotions, identify them, and how to identify and respond to other people’s emotions. Also ways to cope with stress. My blood pressure went down significantly! I keep a journal too. It’s a good way to organize my thoughts.

      Observe people who are good with people. I’ve learned a lot by watching the “social butterflies”. Try doing some of the things they do. Keep or discard things as needed, tweak the wording, give it your own flavor. There is some trial and error involved but don’t let the errors discourage you.

    13. HannahS*

      I’m impressed with your insight into yourself! You’ve obviously done a lot of work already. Have you considered going to a psychologist/psychiatrist/therapist who focuses on cognitive-behavioural therapy? I’m no expert in it, but I wonder if the whole structure of it (understanding one’s own feeling/thought/action loop and taking charge of it) would help with the not-being-calm thing.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I agree with those who say you are doing very well to have identified these areas and to be able to talk about it.

      You may find it helpful to think of the process as life-long. In fairness to yourself, realize that most of us are learning about who we are and how other people tick. Think about all the advice columns there are and think about what a huge success AAM is, and it makes sense to say that many people have difficulties in communication and in their various relationships. I am not trying to negate your concerns, rather, I am trying to say that you are in lots of company.

      I grew up in a kind of strange setting and I took to reading advice columns at a young age (probably pre-teen? not sure anymore). I knew I had some disconnects but I could not figure out how to find them. There is nothing like seeing real people talk about real life examples to learn about what others are going through and seeing. So I think that reading advice columns daily may help you to grow your awareness level. When we are more aware of what types of difficulties others encounter then more likely it is that we can react in a manner that is supportive and beneficial to them.

      Stressing out. How to handle stress is a big topic. Just my opinion, but a lot of stress seems to come from lack of knowledge or lack of facts. We don’t know something and we feel compelled to act/speak/do anyway but we don’t know what to say or do. This can describe many stressful settings. We can’t help if we don’t know what to do.
      When you feel the tension building, catch yourself and say, “Where can I collect up more information/facts so I can better decide how to handle this particular situation?”

      At work, I keep a list of resources. This list has both websites for general info and telephone numbers of people I can call for specific info. Yes, I write down what the site or the person will help me with. I have a problem with X I call Sue. I have a problem with Y I go to blahblahblah. com. At home I have a smaller list of people I call for plumbing/computer/car problems etc.
      Just knowing where your backup people are is hugely helpful.

      Stress can start when I feel a situation is unique. I start worrying because I have never encountered A or B before. It can be helpful to think of times when you have encountered something similar to A or B and think about how you handled that. Our previous experiences become a little library that we can draw on when we encounter an unfamiliar stressful situation. In a similar vein, you might think of people who were talking to you recently about having that problem and think about what they did. If you don’t know how they resolved it then maybe you can call them or shoot them an email.

      You are working in human services. People! They do people-y things. It’s always something new every day. So, oddly, I am going to say invest in self-care. Stress is way worse when we are not eating healthy, not properly hydrated or not properly rested. When I went back to college I decided to take better care of myself. I ate regular meals, I went to bed at 11 pm every night and I pumped water like crazy. Nothing else changed, I still studied as hard as I did previously, participated in my classes like I had done in the past and so on. My grades went up by 5 to 10 points across the board. Simply because I was rested, not hungry and not thirsty. I found that when I had to make guesses on tests, I guessed BETTER. Never underestimate the power of good self-care.

      A fireman I know commented, that the fire fighters who take care of themselves work smarter and sharper when there is a fire. He said you can pick out the people who work at their self-care. Where others are starting to let their emotions get in the way, the self-care people are surefooted in their thinking and moving ahead with solid plans.
      We can’t predict when stresses will pop up. We can just know that stress will happen at some point. Good daily self-care can help us to stay on our toes.

    15. Jeff*

      First, you are not alone in seeking this out or in where you come from and what baggage you bring with you. I have some of the same challenges. I have found great help on this site:


      Patience and perseverance help. Remind yourself that you are only human, make mistakes like the rest of us, and are striving for better.
      I would also recommend the Brene Brown books.

  14. MeagL*

    Can anyone recommend a comfortable bra for a plus size lady? I’ve been buying Old Navy Plus Sports bras, but I have cysts forming along the band, so I’d like something larger, but I haven’t been able to find anything. Underwire is too uncomfortable for a “standard bra”. I’m in Canada as an FYI, but not opposed to ordering online.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t wear anything by underwire, but I like bras from Lane Bryant. I don’t know if you have those in Canada, but you can definitely get them online.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Seconding Lane Bryant. I wear non underwire bras from there and they are definitely my go-to. Good luck! I know how much of a pain shopping for stuff like that is…

        1. Landshark*

          +1 for Lane Bryant. If that’s unavailable, Vanity Fair (sold at Kohl’s) has some decent bras for plus size women.

        2. JayeRaye*

          Also a Lane Bryant wearer, and I love love love their no-underwire sports bra. They also currently make a regular bra with memory foam in the straps, which sounds silly but is hugely comfortable.

        3. KV*

          Yessss I haven’t worn a bra with wire in years thanks to Lane Bryant. Wait till a sale to buy if you’re not super picky about color. You can get some great ones for cheap!

      2. Soon to be former fed*

        Yes. Cacique no wire cotton. Thats all I wear. Supportive, comfortable, and excellent quality.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Can you find a local lingerie shop who will work with you? I wore the wrong size for so long. Found a local shop who does great work and makes sure it fits perfectly.

      1. BorderLeicester*

        Same! I had such issues with upper back pain (I’m a 36 FF/G) and bra shops kept trying the whole down a cup size up a band size thing until my boobs were literally slipping out the bottom of the cup because they refused to acknowledge sizes >DDD existed. I found a lingerie shop about an hour drive away on the advice of a friend and it’s been so great to have properly fitting bras! I love Curvy Kate and Elomi especially.

    3. Pengwing*

      Not a bra recommendation, but wanted to chime in as a PSA: this happened to me, where I thought my bra underwire was causing boils, but it turned out to be an inflammatory disorder called hidradenitis suppurativa, which often occurs in that area. Apologies if irrelevant, but it is one of those things that seems to be misdiagnosed for years and I don’t want anyone else potentially suffering from it unnecessarily.

      1. Marzipan*

        I get contact urticaria (hives), which makes underwiring basically excruciating. So that’s something else to be aware of.

      2. MeagL*

        interesting! This is TMI territory, but I do get boils on on my legs, underarms and thighs. I assumed it was from being very overweight. Have you received treatment?

        1. Book Lover*

          Maybe check in with a dermatologist? You could have hidradenitis (look up pictures on google, but warning as they can be unpleasant) but you could also be colonized with staph or strep and that is treatable.

          1. TL -*

            Yeah I get infections when I’m super stressed (and boils in the armpits) and they recommend I wash with a specific anti bacterial wash soap and it pretty much stopped the problem entirely.

        2. Pengwing*

          That’s what I thought for years! I was too embarrassed to ask my PCP because I thought I would get the diet and exercise spiel, which is what I was desperately trying anyway. I eventually saw a dermatologist and tried antibiotics, washes, etc. However, my HS is quite severe – think excruciating pain, scarring, difficulty moving around – so I’ve recently (as in a week ago!) been put on an injection.

          Highly recommend seeing a dermatologist to get it checked out. As the other commenters have pointed out, it could also be something that’s easily treatable.

          1. SoManyNamesInTenYears*

            Just spotted your username and …Sherlock, all 4 series…here I go…again…

        3. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

          I know we aren’t to be armchair doctors, but I am also very overweight and often struggle with boils. I discovered it was connected to my PCOS and insulin resistance. Diabetics (and those with insulin resistance) tend to get boils more often. When I’m being very good and keeping up with an appropriate diet and exercise, I do not get them. But if I slack off, they will show up.

    4. Elizabeth*

      Penningtons & Addition Elle. They are divisions of Reitman’s that specialize in plus sized ladies and have some excellent bra lineups. They do online orders & offer free returns via Canada Post. I’d recommend trying to get to one of their stores & get a bra fitting to get the correct size, then order online afterwards if there is no store near you. I’m also plus sized and hate underwire. I love Penningtons Ti Voglio Padded Wirefree lineup. Available in sizes C – H, 38 – 48. The only downside is they aren’t cheap. But their buy one, get one free sale is on right now!

    5. Matilda Jefferies*

      If you’re in Toronto and can afford a specialty bra, I highly recommend Secrets from Your Sister. (Bathurst and Bloor area, unfortunately you can’t order online.) They’re not cheap – I think my last one was in the area of $120 – but they’re very comfortable!

      Otherwise, yes to Penningtons and Addition Elle. Both cheaper than SFYS, but still not at an Old Navy type price point. I will keep thinking…

    6. em2mb*

      I’ve been buying Warner’s bras at Target because they’re structured and supportive without underwire. They’re inexpensive and hold up — I’ve been wearing/washing my $20 bras weekly for a year now with no issues. I’ve found them at TJ Maxx, too, and ordered a few older styles that aren’t in stores anymore on eBay. Not sure if you can find them in Canada, but it looks like Target has up to 44DD online. Good luck!

    7. Marzipan*

      Did you know there’s a reddit for helping people find well-fitting bras? (r/abrathatfits)
      The measurement tool on there really helped me get the sizing correct, which helped a lot. (Turns out I am an F cup!)

    8. Junior Dev*

      I ordered bras from Vanity Fair online and they are very comfortable. I have to get them online because I have a below-I rage cup size and an above-average band size and a lot of stores do not carry my size.

    9. Paquita*

      I like Lane Bryant as well but I started buying from Soma. We have a local store but you can order online too.

    10. Jiggs*

      My best friend swears by Knixwear. She says it’s the comfiest she’s ever owned and the most supportive (no small feat since she’s something like a G cup.)

    11. LCL*

      Junonia is your friend, since you like sports bras. Pay the extra for the wicking, they have cotton also. Warning-the straps on the cross back are a bit too short. Torrid always has a few sports bras, again with the short strap bs.

    12. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      I’m going to step out on a limb for you, but can you find a local seamstress who makes bras? I’m so very fortunate that my good friend who lives locally is actually famous in the sewing world for her bras and bra patterns. She has created a lot of measuring tools and sizing fits that brand name companies then steal (and get sued the crap out of). She’s made a few custom bras for me and they are always my favorite. I have an unusual shape so it’s hard to shop commercially, but I can usually figure it out with Cacique/Lane Bryant.

  15. The Other Dawn*

    I commented on the nose-picking thread yesterday about how a friend of mine is a finger-licker when eating. Napkins are close by, but her default is finger licking, even at restaurants (although not as bad). When eating buttery popcorn, whether at home, my house or in the theater, she rubs her fingers together and licks them, usually slurping when she does it. Drives me insane. Not sure if it’s the noise, the visual, or knowing she didn’t wash her hands first. I guess it’s all three.

    I’m interested in hearing what people perceive (or learned) to be bad table manners/habits.

    I would say my family observed most table manners. No elbows on the table most of the time; no pushing the food onto the fork with your fingers (think peas, corn, rice, that kind of stuff); no talking with food in your mouth; wash hands before eating; when at a restaurant, no one eats until everyone’s food has arrived; and no chewing with your mouth open. As for eating with our hands, that was fine for foods that lend themselves to that, like chicken legs, corn on the cob and others. Finger-licking was just to get the worst of the BBQ sauce off our fingers while eating at home, and then we finished the job with a napkin. If we were out at a restaurant, a napkin was always used–no licking our fingers. One thing we never did was to put the napkin in our lap, although we did if we went to a nice restaurant with cloth napkins, which hardly ever happened. We also didn’t bread our serving of bread into smaller pieces. Slurping happened sometimes, like when we had soup for lunch or dinner.

    I’d never witnessed someone pick their teeth until I had a meal with my in-laws. My MIL always picks her teeth while at the table. With a fork. Grosses me out. Or if the fork has been cleared from the table, she somehow finds a piece of paper, folds it up, and uses that. My husband and the in-laws use their fingers to push the food onto the fork when eating the last of their corn, rice, etc. And my husband will sometimes wipe his fingers on his pants. He’s worked really hard on not doing that over the years, but he still does it sometimes. Not when he’s wearing clean clothes or out at a restaurant. I’m talking when he’s eating after working outside and has his crappy clothes on. Many times he doesn’t take a napkin when eating at home, so I ask if he needs one, which is code for, “Use it.” (Same for my friend I mentioned above; they both often say, “No.” GRRR)

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I grew up in a culture where eating with your hands is very common and table manners aren’t viewed as that important in general (although properly holding your utensils is saintly.) I’m eastern european for what it’s worth. I learned most of my “western” table manners from watching others and trying not to embarrass myself. I actually find the level of table manners we (westerners) observe to be overkill. Some food tastes better when it’s eaten with your hands. Doing it the “proper” way kills the experience. While there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed (finger licking being one), I do wish there was more freedom to just enjoy the damn food.

      The most annoying western manner when it comes to eating in my opinion? Waiting for everyone to get their food before starting to eat. I hate it. I hate waiting and I hate when people wait for me. Some food takes longer to cook than others. Should I wait for my dish to get cold so your steak can arrive. Grr. Honestly, what is the point of this rule. It’s not like I’m worried there won’t be enough to go around or something. I’ve lost patience with this one and simply ask, “do you mind if I start.” But I’m annoyed I even have to ask. On more than one occasion I’ve totally forgotten this rule and gone for it only to feel like an idiot when I noticed other people are waiting.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I think the whole waiting for everyone to get their food is more out of politeness. Some people are chowing down while others are waiting for food with growling stomachs. That’s the only reason I can come up with. I’m sure if I Google it I’ll find something.

        I don’t observe all the things I had to when I was living at home. I don’t care about elbows on the table or talking with a mouth full of food (unless it’s falling out of your mouth) or leaning over the plate.

        And, yes, properly holding the utensils is a good one! The fork is not a shovel, although certain family members think so.

        1. esra (also a Canadian)*

          It is just about being polite. It’s basically like, you don’t want to be all “I got mine, screw you guys” and dig in while someone is sitting there with nothing in front of them.

          Table manners was a big big thing with my parents. I can barely sneak a fry off a plate without feeling guilty if everyone doesn’t have their food in front of them.

          1. Al Lo*

            In my family, it was also “don’t start until you’ve had all the condiments come your way” (I.e. your plate isn’t ready to eat until you’ve buttered your bread), and “hostess takes the first bite of dessert.” That one will be engrained until I die, and while I don’t enforce it as strictly in my house, because my husband thinks it’s unnecessary and kind of rude in itself, it still bugs me a bit in a more formal setting for people to just dig in before everyone is served.

            At my parents’ house, my dad always serves dessert: hostess first, then women and girls in descending order of age, then men and boys in descending age order, then himself, then the hostess takes the first bite.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Or how about, “no one sits down until the hostess sits down”. ugh. Try putting food on a table with people standing all around it. The rule makes no sense to me.

      2. SarahKay*

        My Mum brought me up that if it’s hot food then you shouldn’t wait, as it’s rude to the cook. When I’m out with friends I ask – or tell them to start, if they’re waiting for me – but at home we all just start.

      3. Susan*

        In my family, we wait for everyone’s food to arrive before anyone starts eating, but it is expected that the people who get their food later insist of those who have their food, “Please go ahead and start; don’t let your food get cold waiting for me!” It’s silly when you think about it, but I think we would consider it equally bad manners not to insist that others start eating as it would be to start eating before others have their food!

      4. Bagpuss*

        If you’re eating in someones home, then it is politeness – the host isn’t stuck eating alone and feeling rushed because everyone else started first and is now waiting for the next course, and it allows a communal meal to be a sociable event.
        (for hot meals, this is one reason why warming the plates and serving dishes is a thing – it means no-one’s food gets cold while they wait for the other diners to be served)

        I grew up with this as standard so it’s now automatic to check f everyone has been served before starting to eat. ( It also has the practical advantage that you learn the habit of checking whether anyone is missing anything you can pass / offer them)

        It’s similar when eating out , if people don’t start eating at the same time then those who get their food last van then feel pressured to eat quickly to ‘catch up’, and it’s gives out a message that the food is more important than the company.

        If you ever get to eat in *really* good restaurants, part of what they will do is manage the cooking times so everything is ready, and served, at the same time, so this issue doesn’t come up.

        1. CoffeeLover*

          It’s interesting what you say about the host. I grew up in Canada but was born in eastern Europe. Hosting is a Big Deal where I was born and the host didn’t eat until well after the guests. They were too busy running around making sure everyone had refilled drinks and was entertained. In Canada it would be considered rude if the host didn’t sit down to eat the meal with the guests. Different cultures, different rules!

      5. Artemesia*

        A good restaurant times the food so it arrives at the same time and so the situation where some people have food and others don’t should not happen often. It just seems boorish to me to be hoovering up food while others sit there waiting. If we are at a restaurant that is not competent in service and someone gets something hot first e.g. at a sushi place the tempura may arrive long before the sushi platter does, then of course we encourage whomever has the hot food to start so it doesn’t get cold and congeal. But other than that, waiting till everyone is served just seems considerate. (and in a friend’s home where service is family style it would be particularly gross for someone to be wolfing down food while the platters have not yet made it around to everyone.

      6. Ann*

        The actual formal etiquette rule is you DO NOT wait when the food is warm. You only wait when the food is supposed to be at room temp.

    2. PatPat*

      People that pick their teeth at the table are the worst. I have to stop eating because it’s disgusting! I was at a BBQ joint that had communal picnic tables and as I received my meal the stranger beside me finished his and started digging for gold with a toothpick. I couldn’t eat until he left and I was not happy! Teeth picking should be done in private!

      1. fposte*

        I’m with you, but as long as restaurants actually hand out toothpicks, we’re doomed on this one.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I can’t even stomach toothpicks. Probably because two BILs keep that thing in their mouth way beyond the tooth-picking food removal stage. So gross. My husband likes to harass me when we’re out and says he needs to grab a toothpick on the way out. I give him the death-to-you glare.

      2. Nicole*

        My 19 year old stepson requested a toothpick after a dinner recently which consisted of corn on the cob and then took it to the bathroom to clean his teeth. I initially worried he was going to use it at the table; needless to say I was impressed!

        1. Artemesia*

          I need to take this to heart. I have always thought it rude, but in my old age my teeth have shifted such that half my meal ends up wedged in my teeth and it drives me nuts. Some of our friends do you a toothpick at the table and I have started too — but yeah it is gross and so I will stop doing that and head for the restroom. I haven’t decided whether a quick floss with the edge of a paper napkin between the front teeth is grosser than talking with a pound of cake wedged between my front teeth.

    3. Maya Elena*

      If I may make a suggestion, don’t use “code” with the napkin- just outright ask him to use it. Men are notoriously terrible at reading code, even if you explain it to them.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I typically ask and then hand the napkin to him anyway or put it on the table next to his plate. With my friend, I ask and hold it out to her. Sometimes she takes it, but most times she doesn’t.

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I honestly hate most of these sort of etiquette rules. Ultimately, they tend to be classist in design and execution. It bugs me a little when people chew with their mouths open or wipe their hands on their pants, but not enough that I would ever say anything. And I definitely don’t get the aversion to picking food from teeth with a toothpick or licking fingers. I agree with the poster above who mentioned that sometimes those rules interfere with just enjoying your meal.

      Given all that, it will probably surprise no one that I come from a lower-class background, and i don’t respond well to people treating me differently because I didn’t observe some pointless etiquette rule like not putting elbows on the table or whatever. I will tend to wait a few minutes for everyone’s food to arrive, but it bugs me when I’m the only one without food and nobody else is eating; I’ll insist that they do, because we’re here to enjoy a meal together, let’s just eat!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        My family was definitely struggling for most of our lives, including most from my grandparents’ generation. From what I understand, my grandparents on both sides were very strict, and that’s where it comes from. My parents’ table manner requirements were relaxed compared to their parents’.

        There are definitely table etiquette rules that baffle me, though. Like the napkin in the lap thing (which I don’t do). Is it there to catch dropped food? To not display a used napkin on the table? And I’ve noticed that when people put a napkin in their lap, I almost never see them actually use it until the end of meal. Does your mouth not get crumbs on it?

        1. SarahKay*

          I put a napkin on my lap as standard, and for me it’s to catch dropped food. But I will pick it up and wipe my mouth with it as I eat if I feel I need it. And then put it back on my lap.
          The exception for me is spaghetti with a tomato sauce and me in a white shirt – then it’s tucked into my collar and I don’t care if I look like a child because spaghetti, tomato, and white clothing is a lethal combination!

          1. SarahKay*

            I will pick up the napkin and wipe my mouth with it, not the dropped food! Oops

        2. TL -*

          I rarely get food on/around my mouth – most places I never actually use my napkin. I don’t eat a lot of sloppy foods, so maybe that helps? But yeah, I often don’t really need napkins.

        3. nonegiven*

          idk, but my dropped food never makes it to my lap, it usually sticks to my boobage. I need a bib,

      2. Anxa*

        I would think the finger licking one is fairly obvious? I find it absolutely vile. I feel guilty often eating with my SOs family because they are very kind to me and are feeding me, but I have a hard time enjoying the meals sometimes because they lick their fingers all throughout the meal.

        It’s just so unsanitary and gross. I don’t mind as much when it’s not cold and flu season, but I think it’s pretty rude to spread your saliva around the table.

        1. Artemesia*

          With the exception occasionally of something like BBQ ribs, I have never eaten with people who lick their fingers. I also have never eaten with people who make smacking sounds when they eat. Either I am oblivious or lucky.

      3. Bagpuss*

        That’s interesting.
        I think the eating with your mouth open one is legitimate and not classist – seeing someone else’s partly chewed food is not pleasant.

        Wiping your hands on your pants I feel is mostly down to you – there’s your pants. If it’s extended to wiping your hands on the chair or the table cloth it’s inconsiderate.

        I do think there is a difference between being the last one to be served, and you suggesting that they start, than for them to just dig in without waiting or considering you. I think if you encourage them you’re fine :)

        1. Statler von Waldorf*

          Eating with your mouth open is not always a sign of bad manners. I have sinus issues, and there are days when I am completely unable to breathe through my nose. It’s really hard to eat when you can’t breathe, and repeatedly holding your breathe while you chew attracts more attention than eating with your mouth open. For the most part, I try not to eat in public because this happens, but sometimes it can’t be avoided.

    5. Zara*

      My parents are South Asian; eating with your hands is very common and I believe licking fingers (as long as you weren’t being super gross about it) wouldn’t turn any heads…it may even be considered polite to do so because of certain traditions that suggest it’s good for your health to like just your fingertips at the end of a meal. There’s nothing that irritates me more than visiting a South Asian restaurant here in America and seeing Westerners cutting up their naan or samosas or other obvious finger food with a fork and knife.

      Elbows on tables wouldn’t be considered impolite in my family, but that stems from typically eating on the floor–like a picnic–and not using a table.

      And we definitely wait until everyone has their meal to eat.

    6. D.W.*

      Add me to the chorus of people that get a little sick watching people pick their teeth at the table. My dad does that. He also cleans his nails with pocket knives and wipes it on his pants…

      The one etiquette rule I learned, and that has stuck with me, is eating with a knife and fork. I was dating a Parisian and he always commented on how Americans always tried to cut food with a fork when there is a suitable cutting utensil on the table. One day we were having lunch, and he mentioned it again and said, “See. Look at that lady.” It was a lady who was trying to cut a fried green tomato with a fork, and she was struggling. As were a lot of other people in that restaurant. It did look kind of ridiculous, and now I’m hyper-aware to that.

      At that moment, I became a knife and fork user. It’s become a personal mission of mine to show others the light, ahahahah!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Hmm, interesting. I’ve never thought about the knife and fork thing. I always use just the fork when it’s something very tender and obviously doesn’t need the force of a knife. But I definitely use the knife when it’s something harder to cut, like steak and other meats, something with a chewy texture, etc.

        1. D.W.*

          I also using the knife to put food on your fork (e.g. grains, legumes, diced vegetables, other small bite-sized foods). So I use it for that so I’m not chasing food around the plate or tempted to use my fingers, but believe it or not, I have witnessed people trying to cut meat with their fork…

      2. Life is Good*

        “He also cleans his nails with pocket knives and wipes it on his pants…”

        This made me laugh. Not at all related to this thread about table manners, but my old boss used to clean his ears out with a paper clip – in front of you as you were asking him a question – then would flick it out with his fingernail and put the paper clip back in his clip holder. (I made a mental note the first time I saw this to NEVER touch his desk supplies).

        1. The Other Dawn*

          A former boss of mine would dig around in her ear with her long fingernails, look at her “finds” and then flick them away. Usually in the lobby (I was a bank teller).

          1. D.W.*

            Ughh, I have seen that. I’ve also seen people wipe ear wax on their pants or on furniture / walls.

        2. D.W.*

          LOL! That is so dangerous! I would be so afraid to rupture my eardrum. What do you do if he hands you paperclipped documents? Pull the papers apart until the paper clip flies off? I have done that.

          1. Life is Good*

            I seriously spit out my water! Yeah, hand sanitizer all the time in that office. Yuk!

      3. Turkletina*

        My partner always has to point out when I’m struggling to cut something with a fork. I really don’t realize I’m doing it! I’m vegetarian, and 99% of the food I eat doesn’t really require a knife; most of the time, it doesn’t even occur to me to get one out when I set a place for myself.

        1. D.W.*

          Hahah! I’m vegan and I had the same thoughts. I used to hang on to the argument that tofu is soft and therefore doesn’t need the force of a knife, but after dating him I must say, the knife has made my life 10x easier!

    7. Lindsay J*

      I’m a food pusher.

      My parents never really taught me any table manners at all to be honest. Most of them I picked up socially as I got older. I know I don’t do anything objectively gross like chewing with my mouth open, slurping, gulping drinks, double dipping, etc. And most of the politeness ones like not eating before others do, asking for something to be passed rather than reaching across people, no elbows on the table. Even some of the more esoteric ones like what order to use the utensils in when there are multiple forks etc, which side each utensil goes on, only using the fork to stab things on the tines and never as a shovel. But this one has slipped by. I also sometimes wipe my hands on my pants. Not usually when there’s actually anything on them, but just when I’m done eating. (I also do it after washing my hands rather than using the blow dryer or a paper towel.) I am also generally a messier eater than most? I don’t know. I somehow haven’t managed to master the art of getting all of it into my mouth rather than on my face or the table.

      They’re just habits that are hard to break. My boyfriend (who I feel like basically grew up in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine or something. Like his parents house is perfect. Always. They have a multi-course dinner for Thanksgiving complete with palate cleansing gelato and the dessert pie has floral decorations cut in the crust, and individual salt and pepper shakers for each place setting.) has tried coaxing me into using a knife to push the food rather than my hands, but sometimes I forget.

      He’s mostly gotten me on board with the napkin thing at this point, to the point where I remember to take one on my own and use it pretty much all the time at restaurants, and most of the time at home.

      The things that I did learn was that you never do any sort of personal grooming thing (which would include teeth picking and nose picking, as well as cleaning out under or trimming your nails, etc) in front of people. I do believe that my parents taught me that drinking from my bowl (like to finish soup, milk from cereal) was poor table manners. Any excessive mouth noises I was taught were rude (slurping, smacking lips, gulping.) Certain foods were okay to eat with your hands (typical stuff, appetizers, bbq, pizza, etc) but like grabbing a steak and bringing it up to your mouth wasn’t cool.

    8. MicroManagered*

      I support table manners that exist for sanitary concerns of others. But a rule for a rule’s sake–I don’t care. Like if you want to push a few peas onto your fork, go for it. I cannot possibly care less about an elbow on the table.

      But like, suckin’ butter off your fingers before going back into a shared bucket of popcorn? That’s gross.

    9. Searching*

      My parents were pretty picky about table manners. No elbows on the table, chewing with your mouth closed, using your utensils properly, and all that. After moving to the US, I really had to get used to people using their forks to cut food. I still don’t do that myself, but I accept that it is normal here. The one thing I still can’t stand is when people keep their baseball caps on at the table. I still ask my adult son to take his off when he comes over to eat & forgets. Of course I don’t do that with other guests, because it’s even worse manners to call out your guests on their manners :)

  16. Cruciatus*

    A house that kind of made me internally squee was put up on realtor dot com Saturday and was pending Monday morning already. I don’t even have a realtor yet (I’m working on it), but out of curiosity, what is a general rule for pending sales? How long is too long for something to be pending before you just have to walk away? I’m not planning on doing anything at this point except taking note of what I liked about the house (and keeping an eye on it in case something happens), but I don’t want to let another one of these pass me by! I knew that house would go quickly but I was still a little sad to see the pending that fast!

    1. Alston*

      Pending means they accepted an offer with a contingency. So either inspection or maybe contingent on financing. When we bought we had something like 10 days to get everything in order. So give up by then?

      Realtors will sometimes still show a pending house if you ask, but I’d probably just wallow for a couple days and forget about this one.

    2. lcsa99*

      If you like it enough you should find a broker now and put in an offer even if they already have one. Deals fall through all the time and if this pending one does, an offer already in place puts you in position to be their backup.

      Good luck

    3. Jenny*

      Yeah, a good house that goes on the market on a Saturday in a hot market will often accept an offer on Monday. Realtors often know about properties before they are listed and usually offers will be made on the very next day or same-day. It’s fast. If you’re serious about buying, you need a realtor before you see something you like.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, our house was put on the market the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. We had one showing Sunday, a bunch Monday (there was a text message thing where I would get sent a showing time and could accept or decline it, and my phone was buzzing constantly), a few more Tuesday, and we had 3 offers on Wednesday. One was significantly over our listed price but we had to decline because it was not likely they would be able to get the mortgage to cover it after the value was assessed. One was at the listed price. One was $2k below the listed price but cash and willing to buy AS-IS. We took that one.

        3 or 4 of the showings were from people who worked in the same office as our realtor and had clients actively looking for houses similar to ours.

    4. Meyla*

      I wouldn’t necessarily give up on it. I was house shopping in 2012/2013 and practically all the houses I liked were pending sale. I put offers in on 3 that were already pending, and two of the sellers ended up accepting. One of those deals fell through (as is often the case), but the second one worked out and it’s my home now! I’m not trying to give you unrealistic expectations, but it’s a seller’s market and if you’re serious about loving a place, just throw your hat into the ring and see what happens.

    5. Artemesia*

      Pending means it is sold. Those can fall through if financing doesn’t come through or something but it means they have accepted an offer so assume it is gone. You could contact the realtor showing it and indicate you would like to see it IF it comes back on the market.

    6. Jessesgirl72*

      If you’re serious about buying, you need a realtor ASAP. Houses in my neighborhood are going contingent in 18-48 hours. You need to have your financing set up, see a house as soon as it hits the market (THAT DAY, no waiting for the weekend) and make an offer immediately.

      Pending houses sometimes go back on the market, but it’s rare- only if financing falls through or the house is appraised for less than the seller insists it’s worth. Sometimes if the seller gets impatient if the buyer has to sell their house first. Really, if a status goes to pending, just mentally move on right then.

    7. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      This is why working with a realtor really pays off. Especially a realtor with great connections in your community. A good realtor would know that house was going to be listed and could prep you for it.

      If you are really interested in purchasing a house, make sure you have financing in place and a good idea on your budget. It sounds like you are in a fast market. When my husband and I bought our first home in 2004, we saw dozens of properties that were listed in the morning and sold by that night. It was so hard to get a property. When we purchased our current home in 2015, the market was slower and that really helped since we weren’t planning on making a purchase until the following year but spotted a house that was nearly perfect for us. We were approved for a mortgage up to $410,000 but were totally unwilling to go that high. We ended up buying at $335,000.

  17. Sibley*

    The adventures of home ownership! I bought a house a little over a month ago, and am doing some work, mostly cosmetic. Saturday, the water line from the pipe to the utility sink broke. I was home, heard it, and was able to turn off the water before it got bad. Sunday, I went to the hardware store and got new water lines.

    Then followed the comedy of errors. I was able to detach all the plumbing, but the utility sink was attached to the floor by one screw, which was stripped. My friend’s dad ended up coming over to try to help, and in the end we used a pry bar to pry the sink up. I had a new faucet for it, so I got the old one off, new one on, and new water lines all hooked up. Put the sink back in place, try to hook up the water lines, and they don’t fit!

    My mom went to the plumbing supply store Monday for me since I had to work and got supply lines that are the right size connectors. Wish me luck in this…

    1. Landshark*

      We just got our house, and I’m lucky that my family loves to do home improvement stuff, because otherwise, that’d absolutely be me. Best of luck with your Murphy’s Laws/Comedy of Errors situation!

    2. Sibley*

      Well, the saga continues. Got interrupted to get bug spray and to spray the yard for TICKS. Now the cats are pissed because they can’t go out until it’s fully dried.

      Got the sink back in place, hooked up. Water lines seem good so far (cross your fingers). However, the drain isn’t happy, and one of the twisty pieces that hold it in place is cracked. Of course, the plumbing supply store is closed today. So on to other things.

    3. Searching*

      I think the first time we fixed a toilet, it took 5 trips to the hardware store before we managed to finish the job. I’m sure the employees at the store had themselves a good laugh behind the scenes!

      1. Merci Dee*

        My dad replaced the toilet in his bathroom recently. He did a great job – he’s really handy around the house, and does stuff like this all the time. The installation went beautifully. Only problem… the toilet is taller than he thought, and he’s thinking about making a small stool so that his feet can touch for those … umm … more involved visits.

        And, dear heavens, don’t suggest he buy a stool. He’s got the perfect wood out in his shop, and he can bang that stool together in a few minutes, thankyouverymuch. So, naturally, it’ll take him two weeks to finish it. But that potty stool will be a freaking work of art when it’s done.

  18. Mimmy*

    Happy 4th of July to my fellow USA readers!

    I am off this week due to my annual shore trip with the family. I’m still covering for the other keyboarding instructor at my job, but it’s almost over – just one more full week, then a half week after that.

    The following two weeks, I get a reprieve because of a summer program for blind & visually impaired high school students. I’m nervous because I have never worked with this age group before and I can guarantee it will be organized chaos, which I’m not very good at handling. But I’m excited too because it will be a new experience.

    Going forward, I am really going to start focusing on next career steps. This is technically a temporary position, so there’s no guarantee I’ll be there forever. Nor do I want to be. I think I want to set my sights on working in a college/university disability services office, likely focusing on students with sensory disabilities. So I’m want to take the time now to learn more about Braille and the various adaptive devices and techniques used by the visually impaired, as well as get back on track learning ASL. Even if I don’t work with students directly, I really have a passion for accessibility and availability of resources.

    As much as I gripe about my current job, I have to keep reminding myself that you have to do what’s uncomfortable to get to where I truly want to be.

    1. salad fingers*

      In the last couple of weeks, I’ve made friends with a guy who is legally blind, and wow – it’s kind of nuts how little I knew before about the many aspects of visual impairment. He’s showed me his IT set up, from familiar things like voice to text, to audio description for movies and the screen reading tech for his cell phone. There are a lot of cool things going on with accessibility.

      That said, I walked him to the bus stop the first night I met him and noticed that Chicago doesn’t have (or at least doesn’t always have) an auditory element to crosswalks. He makes the walk to that particular bus stop frequently, late at night and occasionally after drinking. It’s a really busy street and kind of a badly lit intersection, and he has to just listen and use what light perception he has (no depth perception) to judge when he can cross. Crazy to me that we have technology that allows visually impaired folks to navigate smartphones really well but all crosswalks don’t have simple technology to help some people safely cross the street.

      This is only tangentially related to your post but has been very much on my mind in the last couple of weeks. In any case, I think your career is really cool and very interesting and one that I knew more about.

      1. Marzipan*

        In the UK, the kind of pedestrian crossing where you press a button has a little knob on the bottom that spins when the green man shows, so visually impaired people can tell by touch that it’s safe to cross.

      2. Mimmy*

        Crazy to me that we have technology that allows visually impaired folks to navigate smartphones really well but all crosswalks don’t have simple technology to help some people safely cross the street.

        Interesting observation! Mobile device technology is always advancing, and I think that is where the money is. Who wants to spend money on a little thing like helping people cross streets safely? :P

      3. Parenthetically*

        Most busy intersections in my city have auditory elements to crosswalks, which is great — but the best thing about some of them is that the voices on the recordings (which say “Walk sign, Kingston Blvd” or whatever on repeat) are fairly obviously not Lady With Calm Voice In Recording Studio, but Slightly Irritated Contractor Who Installed New Crosswalk Signals And Realized HE Had To Input The Audio. It’s great.

  19. Elizabeth West*

    *random thoughts*
    Happy and safe Fourth!
    It’s raining. I am not really upset about this. I don’t feel much like celebrating this year. Not like I have anywhere to go anyway.
    Yesterday I hit my arm and today I hit it in the exact same place and it’s all purple. :(
    I want to write all day and I also want to binge Doctor Who all day. Oh, the dilemma.
    There are gnats in my house and I have set out a vinegar trap and it stinks. Also, they are not going in it. >:(
    That kitty picture is outstanding.

  20. Mimmy*

    Oh – one other question: Does anyone ever do independent projects just for the heck of it? I have an itch to study certain interest areas and write about them, or even just develop subject matter knowledge. Yet, I don’t have a reason to, such as school or a work project. Is this weird?

    1. Annie Mouse*

      Definitely! I’ve been doing free distance learning courses which, although they’re useful for my professional development, I’ve done because I find the subject interesting. If I hadn’t got a place on a course next year at work, I would still be considering doing another degree part time (cos I’m odd like that!) in something completely unrelated to work.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Yes I do, absolutely. I’ve realised I just have a thirst for knowledge. I love doing free MOOC type stuff on my commute.

        It’s not weird to be curious about stuff!

    2. RMF*

      Not at all! My desk job doesn’t require much research outside my field, but I love to “flex the muscle” on weekends and study subjects that have nothing to do with work.

    3. Fishcakes*

      Yup. That’s my main hobby. I’ve done it since I was a kid. Right now I’m learning Python with codecademy.

    4. Landshark*

      Follow your interests! I try to look for independent projects and opportunities to learn, and you never know how it may help you in the future, so you’re not alone. For example, I study up on crafting and DIY stuff a lot because I make cosplays for conventions, but it’s all self-guided and I’m not paid or sponsored or anything like that.

    5. The Grammarian*

      I love to do this. I’ve been reading about industrial safety history (Radium Girls, etc.), and I like to sew, so I research techniques. I’m also going to take a Spanish class to refresh my speaking and listening skills, just because I want to.

    6. Artemesia*

      My husband and I used to do this all the time. We would get interested in some random thing e.g. cosmology, or theology and then read a bunch of books on it. I got into looking at newest findings in evolution a few years ago and read Shubin’s ‘The Fish Within’ — so interesting and so much stuff I didn’t know (on a subject I thought I knew a lot about) As far as I am concerned this is sort of the purpose of life — to seek new frontiers, to go where noone has gone before (except the experts who are writing the books of course.)

      We are lucky to live in a big city with spectacular cultural opportunities so we also have museum exhibits and classic and foreign films etc at our fingertips.

  21. Anon.*

    Is it just me? It seems I have encountered several classic sociopaths in the workplace. I worked for one, worked with several and possibly encountered many more. It took me lots of reading and research to understand them. They were liars, manipulators, pot stirrers and more.

    The worst was an HR director who went after employees who threatened her, manipulating them into situations that got them fired.

    Are they really that plentiful, or do I attract them? I have a highly dysfunctional background, and a sibling who also appears to be a sociopath.

    1. Fishcakes*

      Maybe once you recognize sociopathic behaviours in a close family member it’s easier for you to spot those people in the wild? I have several narcissistic family members, and I can spot someone with those tendencies right away. It’s like a protective instinct.

    2. PatPat*

      No, you don’t attract them. With your background you just notice them more and can classify them (or think you can because you may be wrong). I was raised by a narcissist and meet plenty of them (or think I do). I think it’s good that we both are “on guard” for certain personalities because we’re more likely to know how to handle them. For example when I encounter someone with narcissistic behavior I know from experience that the best thing to do is to not engage, document everything if need be, and stay as far away as possible because you cannot convince a narcissist of anything, even the truth.

      1. Artemesia*

        The percentage of people with these pathologies is high, you just are good at spotting them. Most sociopaths use this talent to improve their own lives; they are dangerous to those who get in their way but only a small percentage decide to turn their skills to violent crime.

      2. Anon.*

        Yup, raised by a narcissist here, too.

        Unfortunately, it took me a long time to figure out how to avoid them

        1. Artemesia*

          And a lot of people who don’t have personality disorders have some of those traits to some extent e.g. borderline characteristics or narcissism. Now that I am aware of them I try to resolutely stomp out elements in my own character most of them picked up in my family of origin. They were not personality disordered, but certainly shared some of those traits to a lesser extent.

    3. Temperance*

      You might be more aware of it. My mom has BPD, and I feel like I can spot it a mile away in others (those who aren’t well controlled).

      I have a strong hatred for any sort of manipulation, because of how manipulative my mother has been my entire life, which might be why you’re on the lookout for that sort of behavior.

    4. Junior Dev*

      I worked for a few months for a company where the CEO displayed abusive and manipulative behaviors that reminded me strongly of an abusive ex-boyfriend. Other people were upset by his behavior but I think it affected me worse than anyone I talked to, because I knew the kind of person he was. A few years ago I would have probably written off my reaction as being overly sensitive, but now I know I was in an especially good position to see his behavior for what it was.

      1. anon24*

        Awhile back I read a book called “Snakes in Suits” by Robert D. Hare about sociopaths in the workplace. Totally recommend it!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “Are they really that plentiful, or do I attract them?”

      My wise friend was very helpful on this question. As others have said you have a higher awareness than most people so that may just be your self-preservation kicking in and warning you to move away.

      BUT. If you question that you are doing something to attract them my wise friend had an odd piece of advice. He said, “Decide, deliberately decide, that these folks are to go away from you.” See, the idea here is that while you may not be deliberately attracting them, you could have skipped the action of deciding to repel them. It’s a two part thing: 1) We decide not to attract these folks, yet they still find us. 2) We need to decide that they are to move away from us. To this I add: Be prepared to be surprised by who moves away from you but trust that it is for the best.

  22. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

    I’ve self-published several novels (and one nonfiction book), and now Kindle Press is republishing one of the novels. I’ll be able to reach a wider audience and have Amazon promote the book. Exciting times!

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Ooh, neat – congratulations! I’d love to check them out, if you don’t mind sharing the titles. I’m always looking for more independent writers to add to my TBR!

    2. Don't turn this name into a hyperlink*

      Just curious, what self-publishing avenue did you use originally? (Sorry if this is a stupid question; I’m new to the world of self-publishing.)

      1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        I used Kindle Direct Publishing for my ebooks (and then used Draft2Digital for the non-Amazon venues: Nook, iBook, Kobo, and a few other tiny ones I can’t remember and that I never get any sales from). I do a paperback version of each through CreateSpace.

        Basically Kindle Press somehow came across one of my books and felt it was a good fit for them and offered me a contract for the ebook. So I removed that book from Draft2Digital, so it’s no longer available on non-Kindle platforms. I retain all paperback rights, though.

        1. Don't turn this name into a hyperlink*

          Thanks! I got a friend who’s going to find this very useful. Good luck in all your endeavors!

  23. LookingForHelp*

    Does anyone have advice for getting back into therapy?

    Pretty much a year ago I stopped going after just 2 sessions. I was having a career/identity crisis and sort of thought I could just pop in to have her fix my life. I stopped going because I didn’t want to pay so much when she wouldn’t tell me what to do and wanted to delve into my issues. My first session was basically a cry-fest where I unloaded everything, then the second was me lying about how everything makes sense and how happy I was.

    I’ve had severe anxiety most of my life and hid that from here last year, I also lied about having issues with my marriage. I’m almost positive that I have developed depression this past year and there have been several stressful events that I don’t even know how to deal with anymore.

    I have an appointment booked for the end of the month and I don’t know how to really start once I go in. I don’t know if I should prepare a timeline for her as to the major events that happened since I stopped coming and reveal my issues with anxiety and depression up front… or if it would be best to try and let it all come up gradually through future appointments. But then I worry that letting it come out gradually will leave some things unaddressed until they surprise her.

    I’m prepared to start attending therapy on a monthly basis and see where it goes. But I know my mindset of wanting to just go in and fix everything in a few appointments could be detrimental to the process.

    1. Andrea Bayden*

      I also wonder if perhaps you didn’t click with her? The therapeutic relationship is very important and a solid match is so necessary. Perhaps seeking another therapist might be best?

      I like how you acknowledge what happened last time and how you think it’ll be a problem now. Maybe tell your therapist that and even say you understand it’ll be you talking about your stuff but you’d appreciate some solid advice every time?

      1. LookingForHelp*

        It is possible that we weren’t clicking but I also didn’t give her much of a chance to develop a relationship before stopping. It was a positive sign that I had opened up on some things that I’ve never really discussed with anyone else (hence the cry-fest) but I really didn’t want to talk about anything that would be ‘off-topic’ to the issue I wanted to resolve; when really, now that I think on it, my entire life contributes to that issue.

        It was really when she suddenly jumped in to talking about my mother’s childhood that put the brakes on the whole thing.

        I didn’t even think about telling her what I’d like to get out of it…. it is hard enough with her only having monthly appointments available but then to not get any advice for coping in between sessions makes it difficult. Hopefully I’ll be able to put that on the table when I go in.

        1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

          It’s good that you’re able to admit that! So many people quit therapy because of the reasons you did and blame it on the therapist, or therapy not working in general. You need to work at it for it to work. I think it’s a good idea to know what you want to get out of it before going. I have been in and out for YEARS and when I start with a new therapist, I usually make a list of some of the main issues. I’m also pretty open with the therapist about what works for me and what doesn’t (some people like analyzing the past, some people would rather just have concrete ways on how to improve things in the present, etc.). Being honest is important. You don’t have to tell her your entire life, but there’s no point in going if you’re not going to be truthful. I know it can be hard to admit things to yourself, nevermind a therapist, so that’s why it’s important that you’re emotionally ready for therapy. It’s a process!

        2. Former Mental Health Professional*

          She suddenly jumped into talking about your mother’s childhood….??

          That sounds really “off” to me. This occurred during a second session, and from the context of your post, seemed to be way off-topic from wherever you were (?) I can see why you put the brakes on the whole thing.

          Yes, find a new therapist, and one who lets you express your own agenda, not hers.

          My suggestion is that you go into a first session, not by holding back, but maybe presenting your concerns in a “outline” format. Like, “Broadly, here are some areas that I would like to explore during these sessions.” And then let them unfold naturally.

    2. Michaela*

      I’m going to suggest you consider the following excerpt from a discussion of how to find and evaluate a therapist:

      It’s a suggestion of how to communicate what you want to a prospective therapist.

      It seems to me, from my side of the counseling room, that patients come to therapy with one (or more, but usually one) of just a few ideas of what therapy is or should be like:

      1) Some patients present with a specific, well-bounded problem that they want addressed. Example: a patient presenting because they have panic attacks when they have to speak in public, and they now need to make a presentation for their job. They are looking for similarly specific, well bounded treatment for that specific well bounded problem; they see therapy as a project with a specific, short-term or medium-term goal.

      2) Some patients want someone to talk to, thereby to hash out their inner conflicts and confusions, on an on-going basis. They’re looking for emotional support and a space for self-confrontation as a kind of self-care. Example: a patient who presents self-describing as “having a midlife crisis” and “needing some help sorting something out”. They see therapy as like going to the gym, only for the emotions: something you do on an ongoing, indefinite basis, to keep oneself fit, enhance wellbeing and functioning, and prevent illness.

      3) Some patients present because they are embarking on a very specific psychological challenge, and want support and assistance through it. Example: a patient who is going through a divorce, or a protracted medical treatment. This is similar to #1 in being specifically bounded and well defined, but there is no more specific goal than “support me getting through this”.

      4) Some patients present because they feel something is wrong with them, something serious. This might be a felt sense of shame or worthlessness, or sense of one self as damaged, tainted, ruined, or broken; it might be a recognition that some sort of behavior of theirs has become uncontrollable, such as an addiction or a compulsion; it might be frightening emotional or sensory experiences; it might be a feeling that they can’t keep important relationships; etc. Such patients present with a strong sense of needing help, but often the nature of what they need help with is not particularly bounded at all; they don’t know what things about them need fixing and what is okay the way it is. These patients need, first of all, specific help to figure out what their specific problems are. They see therapy as treatment, and the therapist as like a physician, with whom they have an on-going relationship treating an on-going medical condition, which may be quite complicated and mysterious. They want to know that the therapist is going to stick around as long as necessary, which they expect is going to be many years.

      5) Some patients present because they are dissatisfied with themselves and their lives in a vague way, and are seeking transformation by means of self-exploration and experiences of insight. They, too, are looking for something specific, but don’t know what it is, and rely on the therapist to provide them with that information, or with experiences in which they might find it out. They see therapy as a process that they will go through for however long it takes, which they expect will not be fast.

    3. olives*

      I agree with Andrea – I’ve found if there’s something I’m hiding from my therapist, the therapeutic relationship isn’t working. My first therapist was a very poor match with my needs, and I found myself constantly trying to prove things to her – which is exactly the behavior I needed to learn how to stop doing in my everyday life.

      Try somebody new, and even consider setting up “intro” appointments or phone calls with a couple of people where you look for someone that you feel like you can get somewhere with.

      Good luck! It’s so discouraging when your last memory is of someone who wasn’t really ready to handle the brunt of your problems. You can do it.

    4. olives*

      Oh, and on the “letting things out gradually might surprise her” – it sure might! But a well-trained therapist can handle things like that. You might be surprised by what doesn’t surprise them. =)

      1. Saturnalia*

        This was exactly how it went for me with my current/first/only good therapist. I basically barfed via email everything I was worried or insecure about, told her some of the rated R and above topics I’d need to discuss (and my predilection for foul language while doing so), and left her with an easy out to tell me her schedule was too full…

        And despite all background and appearances, she had expertise in the very things I was afraid she wouldn’t want to discuss. she heard what I was actually asking through my wild anxious rambling and really helped me to start healing and moving on from previous abusers. When everyone I knew thought I was nuts to stay with my partner due to how he triggered me, she believed me when I said the relationship was worth fixing and helped me with my reactions… And now we have a beautiful relationship full of communication and growth together.

        Basically, if your style is to just get all the stuff out at once, the right therapist will see that as completely normal and be stoked to hear more about you.

    5. Pinkyout*

      Wishing you the best of luck. I admire your bravery during this difficult time.

      I’m going through similar struggles, and I have to admit I have a hard time getting out of bed most days.

      You’re not alone!

    6. 30ish*

      I would definitely tell her immediately about your anxiety and possible depression. Try to give as much context as possible. This gives you a better shot at getting treatment that really helps you. Good luck!

    7. Junior Dev*

      It sounds like maybe your last therapist pushed you to talk about something painful before you felt ready? You get to have boundaries with your therapist! If you are afraid of being unable to assert yourself in the moment, you can start by setting expectations with the new therapist early on: “I’ve had problems with a therapist asking me about (painful topic) before I was ready. I want to ask you not to bring that up unless I specifically ask about it, and to instead focus on (thing you want to work on).” A good therapist will respect your request without complaining or trying to weasel around it. (I say this as someone who has seen a lot of therapists good and bad and who also has a family member in the mental health field who IMO is not good at respecting boundaries. Just like with any other job, people can be better or worse at different aspects of it.)

      If you find it’s hard to get what you want out of talk therapy, maybe something like CBT or DBT would be more helpful? They are focused on building emotional and interpersonal skills, not on delving into your past.

    8. Isben Takes Tea*

      Lots of good advice already here, and wanted to add that it’s a sign of a GOOD therapist to NOT give advice…the point of therapy is to allow you to work through things and get a better grasp of who you are and what YOU think the best plan is. If you’re looking for advice, you’d probably want to look more into a life coach, who can help you make a plan of how to get where you want to go. (Though my opinion, from experience, is everyone should go to therapy with a good therapist to make sure where you want to go is really where you want to go.)

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I think you have written a great summary here of what is going on. Why not just say what you have here and ask the new therapist how she would help you?

      I had problems with my house. Too many problems to list here, but eventually I came up with an overview of what was going on. (You have an overview written right here.) I found a contractor who actually LISTENED to my summary. He incubated it for a bit and then developed a plan for dealing with the layers and layers of problems. So, of course, he was the contractor I hired to help with my house. This kind of parallels what I would do in your shoes.

      I think you could use the first appointment or two to see how well you match up with the person you have chosen. You could tell her, “here’s what’s going on” and then “I want to get out of this hole I have fallen into. I’m interested in building an over all plan before we start. And it is important to me that I have things I am working on between appointments so that would have to be part of the plan.”

      I do agree with you that counselors who do not give advice are pretty useless to me. Let me discover it on my own? If I could do that I would not be sitting here. I have exhausted all my resources that I why I am here. Sigh. The last counselor I went finally offered a piece of advice, “You are a woman. You need to accept your lot in life.” I responded with “Thank you for your time, I will pay the woman on the way out.”

      I ended up going for life coaching and I got more out of that. She was 40% cheaper than the doc, too. It was really important to me to talk about things in present time. The past is what it is and I can’t change it. But I can change my present and my future so I wanted my focus there.

  24. Exhausted Anon for this*

    Could anyone who works for an agency or any company that requires you to log billable hours to clients lend me perspective or tell me if this is normal?
    At my company we’re alloted a certain number of hours per client each month and we’re not to go over them. However, we’ve been getting steadily increasing demands across the board, and I’ve been struggling to get everything done and stay within my hours. Pretty much it doesn’t matter if my work is done on time and the client is happy if my boss thinks the assignment, which always takes 4 hours to complete, should have only taken 2. (No, they’ve never done it themselves and no, they do not offer advice on how to do it quicker.) Attempting to rush through it makes the quality decrease (also unacceptable). Overall it’s been making me horrifically anxious at work, as well as feel really insecure and stupid, and overall miserable.
    Well I discovered recently that I’m maybe not actually a slow moron, but that the reason my coworkers are able to get all of their work done and stay under their number of hours is that they work off the clock. For hours. Every day. As in they come in and start their day at 7, leave at 6, and only log 8 hours of client work. They aren’t faster than me, they just log the assignment as 2 hours and then do the other 2 on their own time.
    While my boss doesn’t “encourage” this outright, they are definitely aware of it and don’t discourage it. (We are all salaried so actual hours worked doesn’t matter.)
    So, is this normal at jobs with billable hours? Am I naive to have been honest with my hours? This only really started being an issue after our small company was bought out by a large conglomerate last year.
    I’ve been trying to do the whole “work extra hours off the clock” thing, but it’s exhausting, draining, and just overall making me miserable. My thought is to keep it up long enough to hopefully not get fired while job searching like crazy, but is this the norm and I’m just slow to pick up on it?

    1. Bolt*

      There is nothing that I hate more than billable hours in our timesheet program.

      It makes me feel so stupid when my boss prepares a bill and calls me in to ask me what my problem was because my time was double what it ‘should be’. He has the perspective that if I can’t get it done in the budget that he magically pulled out of his head to please the client, then there must be something wrong with me.

      There is so much anxiety because I am constantly waiting to be accused of wasting time or told that I am stupid. They want the job done right but also want it done under budget when the budget was never realistically estimated.

      I also have the same problem of my coworker constantly meeting these budget targets because she works off the clock. She’ll take work home with her in the evenings and not log those hours at all! So some days she will put in an extra 6 hours of work on a client and there is no record of it. Then I work on the client the next time and everyone is in disbelief at how much time it took me to complete. Even my coworker doesn’t seem to realize that the prior time didn’t include the many hours she spent at home.

      I’ve tried to stop caring. When I put in my time for a client I try to be a lot more conservative. A lot of times I’ll take a couple of hours off and stick them into overhead time… no one has pushed me on it yet but it works to get my full hours recorded for payroll and reducing my billable time. Last week I worked on a client all day on something that should’ve only taken a few hours, so I only recorded 4 hours as billable and the rest was considered overhead.

      Since it doesn’t matter the actual hours worked, would it be possible for you to lower your billable hours recorded? or is someone monitoring your total billable hours each day for efficiency?

      1. Exhausted Anon for this*

        It’s nice (and sad) to hear that my experience is not unique!
        Unfortunately hours are monitored on a daily basis, and we’re supposed to keep non-billable hours to an absolute minimum. Every single task for every single client has its own billing code, and I/we have been admonished for logging over one hour of non-billable time on an 8 hour day.

        1. Bolt*

          That would kill me.

          Our average is typically 2-3 hours of non-billable in an 8 hour day. I was terrified of ANY non-billable time when I started but with distractions/other office matters you just can’t help being unproductive for at least a couple of hours. Then we’ve had people that of course fudged their sheets showing only 0.25 on non-billable time when they guaranteed spent a cumulative hour chatting and going to the bathroom.

          I’ve known other coworkers to spread the time around to make things look a bit better. So if they really blew it one day on a simple task, and they worked on several clients, they would add 0.25hr to one or 0.5hr to another depending on how much time looked good. It could make you look a tad slower overall instead of very slow on bigger jobs. I even have to admit that I have done this a few times when I was really overthinking simple problems and didn’t want to show that I wasted the entire day.

          I would say to just do your best without working off the clock. If there is too much time being billed to the clients then you just try to back it up with the facts and always state that you are unwilling to work off of the clock to meet these targets. There will be meetings if they have a problem with it and you can hope that they don’t fire you before you can find something else.

          If you remain firm there is always the chance something could change… nothing will ever change if everyone keeps working off of the clock for the sake of the numbers.

      2. hazy*

        I did that for about a year, for the same reasons, and was recently dropped to part-time because I wasn’t billable enough.
        I did think ahead a while ago and have a hand-written note from my old boss telling me to bill a few hours of project time to overhead, but I don’t think it’s gonna help.
        Now I just work for free…For a company that dropped me to part-time due mostly to my bosses actions.

    2. anon for billable hours rant*

      It is normal and it sucks.

      I work for a consulting firm. We’re not one of those big pressure-cooker firms, but there is definitely simultaneous pressure to underbill time to certain projects while also logging as many billable hours as possible, overall. Budgets for indirect activities (like for writing proposals) are extremely strict and result in a lot of “volunteer” work; I had to go way up the chain recently to get some indirect hours approved for my staff who helped film a promotional video for our company. My coworker was amazed; she’d assumed I’d be told that this type of work was “voluntary” and therefore completely unbillable, like a lunch break or office party. Our billability targets basically assume that we will be 100%+ billable all year except for when we’re on vacation; if there is not enough billable work to go around, the expectation is you will take vacation time unless it’s a big systematic issue like a government shutdown.

      Also, our entry-level consulting staff are now non-exempt (this was implemented when it looked like that DOL reg would go into effect last year). I came up through the ranks so I’m kind of an unofficial mentor for the junior staff, and recently one of them came to me in private, saying that her manager is directing her to underbill time on a federal contract. So this is doubly problematic — both the non-exempt thing and the federal timekeeping thing. Ugh. I’ve brought this up a few times with people senior to me, and I’ve basically been advised to not waste my hard-won political capital on this issue, because it’s not going away.

      I truly enjoy most aspects of my job and, overall, the company treats its employees really well. I’ve been here for long time. But this is grinding me down and in my next role, I just want a job where I can do stuff based on deadlines and priorities, rather than hours requirements.

    3. Toph*

      This is not normal. It doesn’t make sense to me from a business perspective to promise the client X hours if you know the task will take X*2 and just have the workers do extra off the clock. Where I work, if it were quoted for a fixed price based on the number of hours it should take and one person regularly takes longer, it’d be viewed as inefficiency of the person. If everyone takes longer than what the price were based on, we’d adjust the price based on how long we expect it to normally take. If it’s so widely variable that we can’t predict, we wouldn’t promise a set price OR number of hours, we’d give an estimate but bill based on actual time. If the hours are billable in the sense that they’re being tracked and the client is billed for all the hours actually used, the company is screwing itself by encouraging employees to go over and eat the time. You could and should be billing the clients for those extra hours. If the issue is they promised the client a certain price, then the hours are not what matters; they ran the risk they might eat some money if it occasionally takes longer than expected but should have priced in a way that accounts for that so it washes out. If the situation is that the clients are prepaying a certain number of hours but then requesting work that cannot be completing in the block they paid for, the client should be asked to pay for more. The practice you’ve described is not only bad for the employees who will burn out, it’s bad for the company because it sounds like they could or should be charging more. If I were you I’d start looking to work somewhere else.

    4. Tris Prior*

      This happened a lot at a previous job. “Why did you bill X hours for this project? We can’t charge the client for that! Change it to Y hours instead.”

      They weren’t interested in the very legitimate reasons why the work had taken X hours instead. And what killed me is, the client never seemed that upset at our billing! It was all internal, coming from the higher-ups who were convinced that we were going to lose all the work to overseas vendors if we didn’t report our labor costs to the client as artificially low. (Spoiler alert: that eventually happened anyway; it’s very common in my line of work.)

      We were salaried, so for us personally there was no “off the clock,” but my timesheets were always completely false and it really skewed my perception of how to report my time when I moved later to an hourly job which actually DID want an accurate accounting of how long it was taking me to complete tasks….

    5. Sibley*

      Eating hours – yes it has a name – is quite common, and in all the good companies, strongly discouraged. You just aren’t interested in being taken advantage of. Doesn’t make you dumb!

      It’s also hard when the budgets aren’t realistic. As long as people are eating hours, they won’t be.

      If there’s someone in management that you think you can trust to discuss this with, go for it. But it sounds like this is ingrained in the culture, so really the best option is to find a new job.

      To help identify places where this is common, ask questions to try to get a sense of the hours people are actually working. Keep your eyes open too. If they have a well stocked kitchen that includes breakfast type items or dinner/meal type items, or you see people with a ton of food at their desks, at the minimum people work a ton of hours. If you’re looking at a tax department in tax season, that makes sense, but not this time of year.

      1. zora*

        I am working somewhere that works on billable hours, but eating hours is highly discouraged. And management is constantly checking in with account team members about how long things are taking, whether client expectations are reasonable, etc. That is why they get paid the big bucks, to make the balancing act work between what the client wants and what is possible to execute. So, there are reasonable places out there!

        I second the looking for a new job. But you can also ask more specific questions about this kind of thing in interviews! Ask the person who would be your supervisor: “How do you handle it when the client only wants to pay for 2 hours for something that will take significantly longer to complete?” “How do you handle scope creep from clients?” , Etc. You don’t have to read between the lines, a good workplace will be upfront about how they make it work, while having a reasonable work-life balance for employees.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      This is epidemic in the repair/service field. Even though there have been court cases about it, it still goes on. Yeah, repair people getting paid for a 40 hour week and working 60-90 hours per week. Pretty normal and totally unethical, IMO.

    7. CheeryO*

      This is why I’m currently working at a state agency and not at a consulting firm – the stress and anxiety associated with billable hours would probably kill me.

      I’ve seen three versions of billable hours in my short career so far. The first was at an internship where staff generally only worked 40 hours per week, and people were allowed to have 10-25% of their time be non-billable without getting chewed out. I see now that that’s pretty much as good as you can hope for, but the work culture was very high pressure/sink-or-swim, with the expectation that junior employees should not be given anything but should have to beg for work from the principals, and that just didn’t work for me.

      The second was at my first entry-level job, where junior staff needed to be 100% billable, and there just was not. enough. work. to go around. Got out of there after six months of feeling horrible every day about stretching out tasks and practically making up work to do. They prided themselves on keeping to a 40 hour workweek, but I’m sure they’d expect more if that were an option.

      The third was a job that I had several interviews for and ultimately declined – the firm had a ton of work, and it was expected that you would work 50-60 hours per week and bill 44. They were very up-front with that in the interview and played up the whole work hard/play hard thing. The caliber of projects that I would have been able to work on almost made it worth, but in the end I held out for my current state gig, and I am so thankful that it worked out.

  25. Girasol*

    Does anyone have tips for dealing with an aging parent whose driving skills are slipping? My father is a great driver on familiar territory but not so much when he’s turned around. This place used to be a field, that shop didn’t used to be there, it all used to be different. And then confusion hits. Rather than pull over and consider where he might be and consult a map, he makes hasty and dangerous moves. He’s got great access to bus and shuttle services but he hates them and values his independence. I’m afraid that if I say, “Dad, you need to stop driving,” I’ll say it the day before he was about to come to the same conclusion, and make him change his mind and insist on driving forever.

    1. Victoria, Please*

      Have someone who’s not you say it? A pastor or poker buddy?

      Sorry about this, it seems to be one of the ubiquitous issues of supporting older loved ones. I don’t have great advice since my mom had to stop driving because the cancer made it impossible; and my dad lives 3000 miles away.

    2. PatPat*

      No, you have to say something. My grandmother was the same way and whenever we’d go somewhere she’d insist on driving even when I offered. Because she was my grandmother and I was in my twenties I never pushed it. One day she was driving with my baby and me. She pulled into the path of an oncoming car and, if the other car hadn’t swerved, the impact would have been on the passenger front and back where my baby and I were. She pulled over sobbing and said she almost killed us. She never drove us again and pretty much quit driving from that point on. My baby could have died because I didn’t refuse to let her drive. I should have insisted.

    3. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Ooof, that is so tough! My paternal grandmother (who passed in March) gave up her license a couple years ago and moved into a retirement home because her eyes got so bad, she couldn’t see to drive. I know my mom is worried about having this conversation with her father at some point. No advice, just commiseration.

    4. BookishMiss*

      I’m sorry, this is a really hard thing to realize and act on. Good on you for recognizing it.
      The way we handled this with my grandmother was to name the most recent concrete incident, then lay on the family concern. She’s a nurse, so the potential guilt of ‘what if you hurt someone who isn’t you’ had more impact than ‘what if you hurt yourself,’ but the general message was ‘it really worries your kids/grands.’ There was also a hefty helping of ‘we’re not trying to take away your independence’ and ‘you still own the car/have easy access to the keys’ to kind of soften it.

      It might take a few conversations, but it worked.

      Another question – you said he has easy access to public transport, but is he familiar with how it works? That might be something to work into the conversation, even if it’s just offering to use public transport with him a few times so he gets the hang of it without getting confused or lost.

      Good luck, and I’m rooting for you!

    5. Artemesia*

      I have no good advice just commiseration. My FIL drove without a license when he was legally blind. He couldn’t renew so he just kept driving. We were all terrified he would kill someone. This only stopped when he was hospitalized and my BILs stole his car. If he had fully recovered, I have no doubt he would have bought a new car and kept driving. At that point we would have had to call the police. No one lived close enough to keep taps on a daily basis.

      My father had Alzheimers and drove several years longer than he should have. Well before he was diagnosed I would not allow my kids in the car with him. He could have killed someone else’s kids. We pushed on my mother when he was finally diagnosed to make sure the license was pulled and she did work with the doctor to put a stop to his driving.

      Is there anyone he would listen to? Some doctors will cooperate — they can’t tell you anything but you can tell them things. Good luck on that. I hope you can get him out of the car before he ruins someone’s life.

      The problem of course is that in most of the US there is no adequate public transport; but with the advent of Uber (much as I hate this labor exploitive company) you might be able to make the case that he can get where he needs to go around town for less than the cost of car insurance and maintenance and that he shouldn’t be going on long road trips out of town anyway. Perhaps travel with Uber with him a few times with the ap on his phone so he gets the hang of it.

      1. Observer*

        I’m with you on Uber. The good thing is that in many areas there are competitors that are a bit more ethical, so if you want to go that route, check out what’s available in your area.

    6. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Can you talk to his doctor? We had to do that with an elderly relative and the doc volunteered to be the “bad guy” and get the driving license revoked. Made the whole thing much easier on us and they’re familiar with the paperwork too.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think doctors can order driving exams? Not sure. But a friend has to go for one soon. A friend’s relative went for one and failed. The family breathed a collective sigh of relief.

    7. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Does he have a cell phone? Depending on where he lives, rideshare services like Uber or Lyft might be available… even in my hometown, which isn’t tiny but isn’t large (50K people, at least 4 hours from any metropolitan center) has Uber drivers now. I’m really glad because my mom doesn’t drive anyway, but now in the later years of life she can enjoy some level of independence if I can get her to download the app and connect it to my credit card, since beyond that it is really easy to use.

    8. KR*

      My grandfather needed to stop driving 10 years ago but whereas your dad is nice but unwilling to give up his independence, my grandfather is just clueless and an a**hole. I understand what you’re going through.

    9. Uncivil Engineer*

      If you prefer a less confrontational (but a little bit sneaky) method, you can send a letter to the DMV. The DMV can retest them. In my state, the DMV website specifically says a letter from a family member is one of the ways to generate a retest.

      1. blackcat*

        This is what my family did to my grandfather after he wrecked his car spectacularly (fell asleep on the highway, went off the road, flipped the car repeatedly, etc. Remarkably, he was barely scratched and didn’t hit anyone else).

        Confrontation didn’t work. So we teamed up with his doctor and wife to get the license revoked from the DMV.

        My grandmother, on the other hand, is transitioning gracefully out of driving. She now only drives between 10am and 3pm (daylight & little traffic) and travels no more than a couple of miles from her house (generally to the store & doctor’s appointments). She has let her children know she intends to stop driving all together this winter with the aim of prepping them to drive her around more (she lives in a retirement community where they provide shuttles to stores & pharmacies, but she’d need rides for other things). It’s so striking to have two grandparents who have responded so differently to aging. My grandfather has met it with denial and my grandmother has admitted her limitations gracefully.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Sometimes if one elder sees another elder behaving badly that encourages them to make better choices.

          May we all have gracefulness about this when our turn comes.

      2. Artemesia*

        I lived in a southern state where after age 60 you don’t have to appear again to be tested to renew your license. Thus someone can become demented or blind and still be happily renewing the license. It is beyond ridiculous but any attempts to change it were deemed ageism. I think anyone over 65 should have to appear at least every two years for eye and orientation testing in order to drive and any at fault accident should trigger a re-test.

        1. Observer*

          I agree – it’s ageism. Better require EVERYONE to get a recheck. The reality is that people start needing significant vision correction loooong before they hit 60, and young people are just as likely to deny it as older people. And, a young person who can’t see is no safer on the road that an old person who can’t see.

          Just do the rechecks for everyone and have done.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yep. Driving is a privilege, not a right. We have to earn the privilege of keeping our licenses.

    10. Anon for this*

      That is so hard. My family tried to talk to my grandmother, but she wouldn’t listen. One day she saw a video of herself driving. She was shocked. She took driving lessons immediately. Sometimes people assume their skills are fine because they use them regularly, but they do need to brush up sometimes.

      The local Department of Motor Vehicles has resources for helping people improve their skills and for evaluating whether people should continue driving. Your local equivalent could be a good resource.

      1. Sandy*

        I am curious about how you got a video of her driving. Was it a family member standing on the sidewalk or something?

        I ask because my husband is an ATROCIOUS driver, but he doesn’t realize it how bad it really is.

        1. Anon for this*

          I didn’t bring this story up because it’s distracting, but she was watching TV one night, a news story about something driving-related… The presenter speaks while footage of people driving on her small town’s roads rolls… There goes her car, swerving into another lane!

          I don’t think enough was visible for anyone else to recognize her, but she knew it was her. Wouldn’t wish that kind of embarrassment on anybody, but she did become a better – actually pretty good – driver!

          Back to your husband, is he brushing off anything you’ve said about it? Does he get the same feedback from other people he drives with? Is there someone whose opinion would really get through to him?

          …Could you maybe get a cell phone video of him, say, backing out of the driveway and nearly taking out the mailbox?

      2. Artemesia*

        My mother took a course called ’55 alive’ when she got older that had lots of tips for extra safe driving (e.g. make right turns only as much as possible, make left terms at traffic light and not stop signs when you must etc etc — ) I have two ways to get to the main road from my condo; one is a stop sign and the other a traffic light; I always use the traffic light. One of the things that occurs with normal aging is the inability to juggle several decisions simultaneously. I notice this in my own driving and so arranging driving so that you face as few of those situations helps as does driving at less busy times.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Great advice for people of any age really.
          I helped my younger friend get her license. We talked about traffic lights as being a friend and ally. I said if you have a choice between a stop sign and a traffic light, use the light.
          Taking the easier way is a good plan for reducing stress levels. Why fight traffic along with everything else in life.
          We also talked about detours for construction or emergencies. If you have to suddenly detour and you have choices, take the familiar roads even if it takes longer. If you are late for work, so what. More important that you arrive there safely.
          One of my favs that I started using in my forties is to watch when pulling out on the main roads. If there is a big truck coming, that truck is probably going to follow me for miles and miles. That is because of rural roads, it’s normal to follow the same vehicle for long distances here. So I would end up getting pushed down the road because of a tractor trailer doing 70 plus mph for a half hour or longer. (The speed is 55 or less.) Sometimes they were so close I could not see their plates. I started waiting for them to pass before turning on to the main road myself.

          Some of these strategies are just good strategies regardless of age.

        2. Girasol*

          Wow. If Dad had limited himself to right turns that would have solved one of the near misses I saw while riding with him. He mistook a four lane road for a two lane and was waiting for a break in right-running traffic so he could turn head on into the second lane. I’ll try to talk him into this one.

    11. Delta Delta*

      Figure out how to make it his idea. My husband and I went through this with an aging relative. Another relative thought he was being helpful by contacting the DMV to report her as someone whose license should be revoked. It wasn’t (although her driving got progressively much worse), and it damaged the relationship. She once confided in me she thought she shouldn’t drive but was quick to point out it was because SHE thought so, not the meddling relative.

      1. Girasol*

        That’s where I’m going with this so far. I know he notices that he’s having trouble so I’m trying to talk him into pulling over and thinking or maybe calling when he finds himself in an unfamiliar spot like the situation I saw. He admitted that he knew he’d made a mistake, so he knows he has a problem. I’m hoping that now that he knows I see it too he might change his mind about driving. But I can’t wait long for him to come to that conclusion himself.

    12. Sibley*

      Ugh. I’m in the same boat with my dad, he’s got some dementia going on and my sister and I don’t think he should be driving. Mom kinda agrees, but isn’t really willing to do anything about it yet. Luckily, they only have 1 car so he doesn’t drive that much at least. Family dynamics are so much fun though!

      I believe all the states have a process in place for a dangerous driver to be reported to the state, and they’ll step in and do an evaluation. If you can’t get a doctor or someone else to say it and have it stick, that might do the trick.

      If he has a smartphone, setup Uber/Lyft or other rideshare services on that to help with transportation (and teach him how to use it). Since in many areas public transit isn’t great, those services can really help.

      1. Artemesia*

        This is where I was for years with my Mom and Dad. It was a matter of masculinity for my Dad and my mother wasn’t willing to push it although she was a pretty good driver and could take over the chore easily. I was terrified they would kill someone’s child or father or hapless pedestrian on their way to work etc and ruin someone’s life. It wasn’t until my father was actually diagnosed with AD that we were successful in getting her to insist and enlist the doctor.

      2. Girasol*

        The retirement place he’s in – one of those places that provides meals and convenience but not nursing – offers weekly van trips to the store and van trips on request if you ask a day in advance. The front desk person will help if that’s confusing. When I get older I would love this! But he doesn’t like the van and doesn’t like planning ahead, unfortunately, so no amount of ease of use will convince him. And being otherwise remarkably healthy, he doesn’t see a doctor often. But I’m hoping he’ll find reason to soon and mention a doctor trip so I can try enlisting the doctor, else I might have to try the DMV. I hear a lot of children of aging parents find those approaches effective.

  26. Mallows*

    Advice for adults re-learning how to ride a bike? I want to bike for fitness and short trips – I’m not interested in mountain biking. I have all the gear. I live in Denver, if that helps.

    Also, can I get by without the padded shorts if I have a good saddle? What do you wear if you’re overweight and horrified by the visual of yourself in Lycra shorts?

    1. Anonyme*

      I find that if the seat is too high it’s a bit more painful. Also, yoga leggings and longer shirts. I also sometimes bike in a skirt, you can safety pin a small weight on the front centre and it doesn’t fly in my face.

    2. PatPat*

      I bike in loose shorts because I would die before I’d leave the house in Lycra shorts. You may not need padded shorts if you have a naturally padded bottom. I’m thin and bony with no natural padding and even my padded seat isn’t comfortable but my husband, who is muscular with a naturally padded bottom has no trouble.

      1. biker dude*

        Ha! I have a pretty padded bottom and it hurts when I bike on my saddle (not a road bike). But I’ve found through buying a bunch of padded shorts over time that different brands make it hurt differently even if the padding looks the same. As it is, my preferred shorts are tri shorts which have significantly less padding than traditional biking shorts but my butt is certainly happiest in them. So try them. Also, there are some shorts that look like street wear but come with a padded insert so you are not wearing lycra. Finally your butt also gets used to it, early season is always the worst.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I’m considering re-learning, too. I have a very basic Walmart bike, but I’m not confident on it at all and will only ride it around the yard (it’s large and level). I feel like it doesn’t fit me well enough. I’m 5’11” and I’m guessing I should check out “real” bikes, but they’re expensive. And I worry about the saddle thing, too. I didn’t as a kid, but as an adult, I really don’t want a sore butt.

    4. Kowalski! Options!*

      I used to teach cycling skills workshops, and I think for most people who are getting back into it, the most harrowing thing is having to brake and turn quickly. The club I belonged to at the time would take “reborn” riders into a parking lot on a Saturday morning and have them work on those skills. In a nutshell…
      a) The bike goes where your eyes go. Always look 30 ft. in front of you.
      b) Remember that the bike doesn’t ever really go straight – bikes move in a series of oscillations, which become minimized as the bike goes forward (which is why it looks like it’s going straight). Going back and forth is a normal part of the forward movement.
      c) When you’re turning, keep the inside foot/pedal up and the outside one down (think of it as pushing off, like in figure skating).
      d) If you think you’re going to fall, just keep saying to yourself, “I WILL NOT fall. I WILL NOT fall.”
      e) Never ride through a puddle or a pile of sand if you can help it. You never know what’s at the bottom of that sucker.
      Bicycling Magazine used to have good instructional videos on their website, and there are a ton of advanced skills videos on YouTube.
      Re the Lycra…it mostly depends on what kind of saddle your bike has. I have Lycra shorts (and Pearl Izumi liner shorts) that I wear under baggy shorts when I ride to work or do errands – it gives enough cush to the tush without making it more bulky. I tried a Planet Bike A.R.S. saddle and it was just too much cush. As long as the saddle has enough padding around your sit bones, you’ll probably be all right.

    5. Muu*

      For the attire part of the question: Google “numuu dress”. It’s a multi-purpose athletic dress that comes in lots of sizes. In my world bike shorts and leggings are hosiery NOT trousers so I feel compelled to not display my lower areas when wearing them. Numuu does this nicely and is A line so very flattering on all figures. I think they’re having a sale today actually

    6. Junior Dev*

      I would not worry about the padded shorts or the saddle until you’ve ridded a few times and can get a sense for the ways, if any, your bike seat makes you uncomfortable or sore. Just wear whatever clothes you feel comfortable in.

      If you do want to upgrade your seat or clothes after riding a few times, do some research on the specific problems you are having and get an idea of what you want. I consistently have an issue with male bike shop employees telling me (cis woman) I should be adjusting my bike seat in a way that would be more comfortable for the average man, but is less comfortable for me. I usually just say something like “thanks, but this actually works better for me” rather than launching into a discussion of human anatomy 101…

    7. GermanGirl*

      It depends on the bike. I have a Dutch style bike which I love because the more upright position gives me a good overview over the traffic. It also has a very wide, comfy saddle. I ride it to work every day and I wear jeans or slacks or dress pants or very rarely a skirt on it.

      As for practicing: Practice going straight first. The best place for this is a paved farm road, because flat surface, long straight path and no traffic except the occasional farm machine. Go as fast as you dare and as slow as you can balance. Practice breaking soft and hard from slower and faster pace. Find a pace where you’re comfortable with balancing (i.e. not too slow) and comfortable with breaking hard (i.e. not too fast).
      All good? Then on to the next practice session. Find an empty parking lot (church on weekdays?) and do slaloms around soda cans or whatever. Keep in mind Kowalski’s tips about looking where you want to go etc. Start with a very wide slalom and make it tighter as you progress. Also practice breaking while turning. Start from wide turns and soft breaking and work your way up until you’re comfortable with emergency breaking in a street corner radius (again choose a pace that you’re comfortable with, you might have a different pace for turns than for straight paths).
      Got all that? Practice two more things – looking around to check for traffic before turning, and giving hand signals before turning (once you start your turn, use both hands to steer).
      Congratulations, you’re now ready to bike in traffic.

      And if you still want to improve your biking skills, you can check out https://bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/32170/how-to-improve-ones-bike-handling-skills/32173

    8. SarahKay*

      I cycle just in my normal clothes, whether that’s jeans or a skirt – although beware of skirts with lots of fabric that can get either blown up into your face, or caught in the chain. If you’re cycling as a serious work-out then I guess a wicking t-shirt will probably help keep you from getting too sweaty, but other than that, wear what’s comfortable.
      I was in the Netherlands a couple of years ago and have never seen so many bikes in my life (bike parks, but no car parks!) and *no-one* there wore anything but their everyday clothes to cycle in.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My husband was an avid bicyclist and all he ever wore was jeans and a comfy shirt. He did put a Velcro strap on the pants leg next to the chain. And he got padded, fingerless gloves for his hands because of pressure points.
        The biking clothes help with ease of movement and keep the weight down, this are things that concern super serious bikers. There are still plenty of things you can do to help yourself become a better bicyclist, for example working on your cadence.
        I was in a car in traffic one day and my husband was on his bike. I watched him go up a steep hill. The guy was a machine, I mean wow, he had that cadence down and he went up that steep hill in heavy traffic as if he was taking a brisk walk. It was impressive.

    9. Girasol*

      You don’t need to look like Lance Armstrong. I cycled around the country in jeans and shorts. Just be sure that your first rides are not too long so you don’t get chafed before you toughen up a little. But then, you were going to start small anyway. Have a plan for dogs and especially keep the small yappy ones out of your wheels. A threatening shout is usually enough to slow them so you can sprint out of reach. For a determined pup, a squeezie water bottle of lemonade that’s good to drink or squirt on a dog’s nose startles them well enough and is easy to explain to a surprised dog owner. Have a plan for a flat tire – phone to call a friend or the canned “green slime” quick-patch stuff or a pump and patch kit. If you go with doing your own roadside repairs and haven’t done them lately it’s a good idea to practice once at home. But it’s still just like riding a bicycle. You’ll be an ace again in no time.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You can also get air horns for your bike. The air tank looks like a plastic water bottle, but it can be filled to 100 psi. This horn is so loud. It’s great for dogs/other animals and unthinking drivers. I liked the idea because it is just a loud sound and we were not touching people’s pets with anything.

      2. Arjay*

        AAA is rolling out a program where they will provide you and your disabled bike with a ride home. It counts as one of your four annual service calls, but it’s great to have in an emergency.

    10. Zathras*

      A saddle that fits right will do far more for your comfort than padded shorts. The saddle should be wide enough for your sit bones. There are websites out there that explain how to measure this at home with the help of an intimate partner, or a solo method which involves siting on tinfoil. Some bike shops can also measure it with a memory foam type pad that you sit on, although your comfort with asking a random bike store employee to essentially measure your butt may vary. I used the at-home tinfoil method. :-)

      I wouldn’t buy anything until you have ridden on the saddle you have and decided what you like/don’t like about it. If you decide to try a new one, get it from a store or website that accepts returns during a reasonable trial period (at least a few weeks of regular riding, more if possible). So you can try one, and if you don’t like it, try another one that addresses whatever problem you had with the first one. They’re a lot like shoes, you need to figure out what works for your own body by trial and error, and you need to actually use them for a longer period to know. It can be frustrating but it’s worth it to find the right one.

      Also, it’s counter-intuitive, but heavily padded/gel saddles can be less comfortable than ‘harder’ ones, because instead of resting on your sit bones which support the weight properly, you sink in and now your weight is supported by fleshy bits that are not designed for that, which get bruised/irritated easily. Different levels of padding work for different people, but don’t assume that the solution to discomfort is automatically more padding – for me it was less (I have a Brooks B17).

    11. Anonacademic*

      I have a wide comfort saddle and find I only need to wear padded shorts if I’m doing more than 12 miles or so.

      1. Mallows*

        Thank you everyone! I am taking screenshots. I took the bike today to a school and just rode in circles and figure eights for an hour, and will probably continue that for a bit. I need to work on speed and the ability to bike one-handed long enough to signal. The clothing suggestions are very welcome and the note about the dogs is something I hadn’t even considered. Thanks again!

        1. LCL*

          Make sure your bike seat is adjusted in a way that works for you. For most women, that’s level or nose slightly down. A lot of boys will adjust all seats nose up, I think they are reliving their glory days of BMX riding. If the seat height is good, and when you sit on it in riding position full weight your soft parts are squished in front, the nose is too high.

  27. Seneschal*

    I’m applying for a new job and a bit stumped on references.

    The job I’m applying for is reporting to my previous-but-one manager who moved to a different company.

    My current manager has only been my manager for four weeks.

    My previous-but-two manager was fired for his treatment of me.

    My manager at the company before this (twelve years ago) has died and the company has gone out of business.

    I haven’t kept in touch with any of my previous managers (sixteen years ago) and have no idea where they are.


    1. Biff*

      Oh man, that’s AWKWARD. Have you done any volunteer work or have long-term coworkers who can vouch for you due to having worked closely with you on special projects or initiatives?

      1. Amadeo*

        That’s kind of what I did when I didn’t trust my superviso-before-last (who was the business owner) to give me an honest reference. I asked the editor of the little paper we did if he would do the honors. He wasn’t *technically* my supervisor, but we worked closely together towards the end of my tenure at that print shop laying out the paper and I trusted him to be honest.

    2. CAA*

      The hiring manager for this new position should be one of your references. She’s got recent personal experience of managing you, so if she wants to hire you and manage you again, then her opinion should trump anything any other reference would say. In this case, it’s likely that they won’t even check other references.

      Since you still have to offer other references, even if they won’t be used, ask your senior coworkers or any higher level managers who have left your current company.

    3. GermanGirl*

      Ähm, just ask your previous-but-one manager for advice? I’m guessing it’d be fine to just put him as a reference and that might be enough.

  28. Victoria, Please*

    I have lots of happy stuff to do today: a bit of housework, getting ready for my house-guest (she is feeling nervous about the heat, since she’s from Germany and I guess it doesn’t get up to 100 degrees much), 2-3 concentrated hours of work-work since I have two giant events practically back to back but inconveniently separated by a high-stress vacation. I’m also going to embark on the “Always Hungry” eating program. I’m very fit and healthy but I don’t like being 15 lbs flobbier than necessary and I know it’s down to food choices. I *might* go to our little town’s festivities to see my friends at one of the booths today, but since it is 100 degrees…maybe not.

    Happy Fourth of July, my fellow Americans, and anyone else with reason to celebrate today.

    1. GermanGirl*

      Yeah, I the all time record for Germany is 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40,3°C) and temperatures in the 80s are considered a hot summer’s day around here. For that reason most homes and many offices don’t have air-conditioning.

      Tell her to bring a very light scarf and/or jacket because most Germans are not used to switching between hot outside and fairly cold, air-conditioned inside, so she might catch a cold if she’s not careful.

  29. Biff*

    Job-searching question for everyone: has anyone been in a bait-and-switch situation that didn’t end up being deliberately misleading on the company’s part? E.g. They were hiring for two positions and accidentally sent you the wrong job description in your offer letter. Or when you mentioned that you’d discussed a different salary, they wrote back and said they’d fat-fingered it and corrected it right away.

      1. Landshark*

        I second the “proceed with caution” advice. It could be an honest mistake, or it could be a sign of something seriously messed up. Look for other signs to see which one it is.

    1. NoMoreMrFixit*

      Once. Got to the office where they proceeded to interview me for the wrong position. When I pointed out to the HR manager that they’d made a mistake and this wasn’t the position I applied for they got quite nasty. I ended up walking out. Several years later they fell on hard times and ended up getting bought out by foreign investors.

    2. KR*

      When I was an older teen, my dad applied for a paralegal position that was a jump from his current pay and in a great area some distance from where we lived. He was a single parent and the town was small and didn’t have its own high school, so it paid tuition at a local private school so it was a good education opportunity for me too. Discussions went well, they liked him, we visited the area and the business in person. We were pumped and looking at options to buy a house or rent there and deciding what to do with our current home (rent out or sell) but as my dad talked with them the position went from being represented as a paralegal position with paralegal pay a few steps higher than his current role to being a administrative assistant with legal experience (and the pay to match). What ended up being a good career opportunity for my dad ended up being only an estimated extra $50 a week, and we would have to move and sell our house and pick up our lives. So he declined the offer.

      1. Biff*

        That still sounds misleading on the company’s part, unless they said something to the tune of “While talking to you we’ve come to realize that we really need someone with a different skillset.”

  30. Quickbeam*

    I’m celebrating 6 years in my final job before retirement. It has made me reflect on career trajectories. I totally changed careers at 30 and have had many jobs in my second field. After 46 years of working, I am so happy to have landed in a job that fits me well. There was a lot of trial and error! And a lot of very wrong jobs.

    I got this job while being unemployed. An old coworker called me up and said she needed my skill set in her new project. 6 years in, the “project” is making 100 million a year. No regrets along the way, just a few jobs I stayed in longer than I should have. Best to all you folks looking for that good fit at work.

  31. Dr. KMnO4*

    I recently returned from a trip to Europe. A friend of mine was in Paris for work (he works in the US but his company is French) and was planning a vacation in Spain after his assignment was over. I speak Spanish pretty well so I kind of invited myself on his vacation. Since his Spanish is limited to “buenos dias”, “hola”, “adios”, and “gracias”, it was a no-brainer.

    The first three days I was in Paris, mostly by myself as my friend was still working. I went to the Louvre, Versailles, Musee de l’Orangerie, and Musee d’Orsay. I actually made a new friend while waiting in line to buy a ticket at the Louvre. She’s from South Africa and we really hit it off. The Louvre was nice, though not fully air conditioned which was a bit rough when it was 90+ Fahrenheit and humid. Versailles was beautiful but it was too hot to fully explore the gardens. The other two museums were great, and I loved the water lilies in l’Orangerie.

    I was surprised how many people in Paris are smokers. I really dislike cigarette smoke, and cigarette butts, so that was annoying. Also, Paris is quite an expensive city. But overall it was a nice place to visit, and I hope to go back to see Notre Dame.

    We also went to Barcelona and Madrid. My mom and I had visited Madrid 12 years ago, so I was excited to go back. Coincidentally, we were there for World Pride Week. My friend is gay so he was excited about that.

    Barcelona is a beautiful city, if rather tourist-y. However, I don’t like seafood so some of the delicacies were lost on me. The beaches were extremely crowded, and I’m not really one for the sea anyways, so I was glad we only spent a couple of days there. We saw the Picasso museum and Sagrada Familia. I would definitely recommend the latter. It was astonishingly beautiful.

    Madrid was our final stop. It was my favorite of the three cities. My only real complaint is that a lot of places don’t open until 10 am or later. That aside, we had a fantastic time. My friend and I visited the Reina Sofia, the Prado, and the Santiago Bernabeu. We walked around the gay neighborhood as well, taking in the sights of Pride Week. In terms of food, we had delicious paella, fantastic tapas, and found a great little cider bar near our hotel. I loved how many places in the city had cider and GF menus. Having celiac, I was impressed with the options I had in Madrid. There was even a GF bakery called Celicioso that had amazing brownies, cookies, and hot chocolate. If you like hot chocolate Madrid is the city for you. They take the chocolate part seriously, and it tastes like melted chocolate.

    I really felt at home in Madrid. The public transportation was easy to use, the restaurants were amazing, cider was everywhere, and it was easy for me to communicate with people. I hope I get to go back someday. Heck, I’d live there if I could.

    Just a PSA for my fellow Americans: Don’t try to pay with American dollars in an open-air street market, especially when you don’t speak Spanish and the seller doesn’t speak English. Just change your money. It’s rude to pass the costs of changing money on to the person you are buying from. I acted as a go-between to help the vendor make a sale, which was fine because he then gave me a discount on what I was buying. The vendor wanted to make the sale, which is why he accepted the dollars, but I think it was rather weird that the couple didn’t have Euros. Don’t be that couple.

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      Jealous! I lived in Madrid for 12 years (got outta Dodge when the economy seemed about to collapse in the summer of 2012), and I miss the Metro SO. DAMN. MUCH. (Well, the Metro as I remember it. I don’t miss entire lines being shut down during July and August, and I got out before the service cutbacks meant that you had to wait 10-12 minutes between trains on some lines, as opposed to 3-4 minutes before.)

    2. Landshark*

      If you liked the Sagrada Familia, next time you’re in Paris, go to the Sainte-Chappelle (I believe that’s how it’s spelled–the cathedral with the giant medieval stained glass windows). It’s also breathtakingly beautiful, albeit smaller.

      1. Uncivil Engineer*


        I was in Mexico in line behind someone trying to buy a soda with USD. The cashier did not want his USD and he was making a bit of a scene while exclaiming, “Why won’t they take my USD!” Um… because you’re in Mexico?

        1. nonyme*

          In many Mexican border towns, they do take USD so if that’s her only experience with Mexico it’s a reasonable (if naive) assumption.

          In fact, in some locations they often prefer to get USD from the tourists — I’ve haggled the price of widgets down (using pesos) on several occasions in markets and then had the seller be quite upset when I produced Mexican currency to pay. They’d much rather get USD … they pad the exchange rate in their favor LOL.

      2. Bagpuss*

        It’s surprisingly common. I live (in the UK) near a very popular tourist destination, and I’ve heard it a lot.
        The times I’ve notices it it’s always been Americans, (it’s possible that other people do it as well and I’m just less likely to notice when it is a non-English speaker)

        The part that is really odd to me, is that we’re not right near any of the major international airports – I’d expect most of our American visitors to have been in the country for at least 24 hours, so you’d think they’d have found out we don’t take $$ before they got to us! (A friend of mine, who works in a restaurant in the same city says they get it pretty regularly, and most of those involved are then equally surprised to learn that we have credit cards over here!)

        1. fposte*

          Sometimes Canadian venues will take US money (usually on a dollar for dollar basis, so it’s not a bad deal for them); maybe that’s spoiled us.

        2. Caledonia*

          A lot of English places will not take Scottish notes. My friend who’s Polish says that it’s better to change English money than Scottish as she gets a better exchange rate.

          1. fposte*

            Back in the day when checks were a thing, I was living in Wales. When I traveled to France and wrote a check for cash (a thing you could do within the European system), the French agent looked at my Welsh-language checks and said, in impeccable colloquial English, “What the hell is this?” (He did cash it, though.)

        3. Natalie*

          I was surprised at how many people took USD in Costa Rica. Something like 80% of their tourists are from the US, so I guess it makes sense for them. Even the credit card receipts showed the total in both dollars and colones. Of course, we wanted to spend our colones so we wouldn’t have to change them back when we arrived home.

          1. Julianne*

            I was surprised by that, too! I guess it made sense for the more touristy places in San Jose and the coast, but even some of the shops and restaurants in the little town I stayed in (near Heredia) took USD.

            Friends of mine who lived in Nicaragua report that it is less common nation-wide to accept USD compared to Costa Rica, but that the Sacajawea dollar coins are the most common form of US currency they saw there outside of businesses that existed primarily to serve tourists (ex. smaller restaurants or shops might give change for USD in dollar coins). I thought that was interesting.

      3. blackcat*

        On the other hand, my mind was boggled on Montreal by how many places accepted USD. One coffee shop accepted Euros, too.

        And of all the places I have traveled, I have never been somewhere *SO* bilingual. When we talked in anywhere, we were greeted in both french & english. The only exception was a small coffee shop off the beaten path

      4. Artemesia*

        Near the American border, it is fairly common for Canadians to take dollars but their exchange rate in a store is horrendous. In Western Europe don’t even try. I would never change money though — just use an ATM and get a few Euro walking around money. You can use dollars for rentals and such in Russia but most settings where they accepted dollars were using very old exchange rates and we paid literally half as much for an apartment in St. Petersburg, by using Rubles.

      5. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        Eh, there’s a fairly robust USD economy in lots of Latin America, especially in nations experiencing inflation with their own currencies. When I travel to second world nations I don’t change all my money, because a lot of the time the vendor will prefer to be paid in USD rather than the local currency. That being said, the Euro doesn’t have those sorts of issues, so it’s very weird to assume the same would be true in Spain.

    3. Dear Liza dear liza*

      I loved my trip to Madrid! Even dear Henry was bowled over by the Prado.

    4. LS*

      It’s great that you have a new friend from SA! :) That’s where I’m from. Is she an expat or on holiday?

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        She was on holiday in Europe. She has some friends working/living in Europe and she was visiting a few of them on her trip.

    5. soupmonger*

      Why, why, would anyone go to another country and try to pay in non-local currency? That is just weird. Well, weird and kind of rude. Good on you for picking up on that!

      1. Searching*

        Right? I grew up in Europe in the pre-Euro days, and we drove through several countries to get to our summer vacation destination. I still remember my parents’ money-pouch, pre-filled with the various currencies they would need. It was red, and had multiple sections, with zippers. Childhood memories!

    6. Life is Good*

      We noticed that there are a lot of smokers in Paris, too. And, in Rome. We enjoyed the Musee d’Orsay after having spent the previous two full days at the Louvre. Though crowded, it felt more intimate and peaceful than the Louvre with its mobs racing to each “must see” (i.e.: Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, etc.) As for people trying to pay overseas with American currency, WTH? Maybe first-time travelers….but still.

      I am feeling a bit melancholy today. I just dropped my husband off at the airport. He is flying to Geneva to hike the Haute Route in the Alps for the next 22 days. I will miss the big galoot.

  32. resigning tomorrow*

    I am giving my 2 week notice at my current job tomorrow and I’m freaking out. When should I tell my boss – first thing in the morning or at the end of the day? How do I even start that conversation?

    I’m feeling all the guilt. My quitting is going to put more strain on a team that is already stretched thin after recent reductions in force. I will of course document as much as I can, but there will be a LOT that will need to just be dropped because no one else in the company has my skill set and it’s not something I can document or train on in just 2 weeks.

    I guess I shouldn’t feel too terrible because I tried to get my bosses to let me train people, and they said no, they wanted everything to be centralized with me. I couldn’t take a work-free vacation because I had to deal with emergencies that no one else could handle. One of the many reasons I’m leaving.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Don’t feel guilty. It’s business, not personal. Business will go on. People leave all the time and businesses have to be prepared for that.

      Do it at the beginning of the day. Although it’s only a few hours, it gives your manager a little more time to prepare. Theoretically he can just jump right into transition mode (if he’s a good manager) and won’t have to wait until the next morning and lose a day.

      As for starting the conversation, you can just send him an email asking to schedule a few minutes with him tomorrow morning. When you get in his office, just say that you’re giving your notice, your last day will be X, and maybe say something about feeling it’s time to move on. I’m not sure what else. When I gave notice my boss already knew I was very unhappy, so she wasn’t surprised. I didn’t need to make up anything, like wanting more challenges or feeling it’s time to move on. I told her that I’ve found a job that is a better fit and has more of what I want, like managing people (I must be crazy LOL) and being in an area more suited to my skills and interest.

      Good luck!!

      1. AliceBD*

        This is basically exactly what I’m planning to do tomorrow! My job offer was finalized Friday late afternoon and my office was closed yesterday and today. My boss is off all week this week so I’m going to text her later today to let her know and email her boss to ask for a few minutes first thing in the morning. Then I’ll tell her boss in person. I’ll have my resignation letter ready because from what I understand HR requires one. (My boss mentioned it in passing when I was confirming how she wanted me to resign if I got the news while she was away; she was a reference so she was expecting it.)

      2. resigning tomorrow*

        Thank you, this is incredibly helpful!

        Will be back in the next open thread to let everyone know how it went. :)

    2. Kristie*

      Good for you for leaving! And try not to feel too much guilt. It’s good that you’re doing what you need to do to take care of yourself.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Don’t feel guilty. It’s business, it’s normal.
      In terms of time of day, I think it depends on how you think your boss react and how much it will stress you put to tell her. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong time, but if you’re worried, maybe do it just before your lunch break so you can ave a breathing space immediately afterwards?
      good luck with your new plans.

    4. LS*

      Don’t feel guilty. They’ve knowingly created a situation where they have a huge dependency on one person. Hopefully this will help them learn from the mistake.

    5. Artemesia*

      It’s business. It’s normal. Tell them at the end of the day and let them know your last day and that are happy to document your projects and assist with the transition over the next two weeks.

    6. D*

      I resigned for some of the same reasons a few weeks ago, I got my doctor to write me a burnout medical note and approached the manager as my needing to leave for health reasons and I didn’t want to put the company in a fix by taking multiple leaves of absence so they agreed to terminate my employment and pay me 3 months notice. Now everyone is after me for training time before I leave……

  33. Sexist and Mean*

    Just had a fight with my parents over whether something is sexist or just plain mean. A man says to a woman “You should smile more- you’d be prettier.”

    I land on the side of sexist and mean, they landed on the “just mean” side. What do others think?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I say just mean. Substitute “prettier” with “more handsome” and it fits a man. (Sorry for commenting in a new thread. The page keeps continuously loading and I guess the page jumped.)

      1. Marzipan*

        But does anyone ever say that to a man? How many men, walking down the street, get random people telling them to ‘cheer up’? That happens to me quite frequently, so I’m genuinely curious if it’s something men also experience with similar regularity – my sense is not, but I’m ready to stand corrected!

      2. London Engineer*

        The sexist part is that that doesn’t actually happen to men (or at least not nearly as often). Men don’t have the same expectation of being cheerful and pretty – it’s why resting bitch face is even a thing.

    2. Temperance*

      It’s sexist. Because women 1.) only want to be pretty, 2.) have the obligation to be pretty, and 3.) no one would say this to a man.

    3. Landshark*

      Sexist and mean. Mostly mean, but the fact that people tell women to smile more than they tell men to and the bit about being prettier have undertones of sexism.

    4. Dr. KMnO4*

      I would say sexist and mean – men don’t generally get told to smile more, and if they did it seems unlikely that their appearance would be brought into the conversation. There’s a pretty clear pattern in our society where a woman’s appearance is mentioned but a man’s is not (think politics, the media, etc.). I just don’t think that kind of feedback would be given to a man.

    5. neverjaunty*

      Serious question: are your parents the kind of people who think calling something sexist is the same as calling someone a puppy-killer? Because I’m scratching my head here why they think it’s “just mean”.

      Telling a woman to smile so she’ll be prettier is a sexist bingo card by itself: women’s appearance being fair game for criticism even by strangers, women are supposed to prioritize being pretty, women must be warm and friendly…

    6. Marzipan*

      I think this is a very gendered comment – it’s almost exclusively women who are expected to be ‘pretty’ and to smile in order to present a pleasant side of themselves to the world – so I’d say it’s sexist.

    7. fposte*

      In a vacuum, it would be just mean/obnoxious.

      But it’s not in a vacuum. It’s something women get told all the freaking time and men only occasionally, so I’m going with sexist and obnoxious.

      1. KarenT*

        And on top of that, there’s sort of an implied “You owe me pretty” statement, or at least the idea that women should aim to be prettier

    8. Zara*

      It’s both, but it’s straight up sexist. This is a well-documented gendered comment. Women get it a lot, from men on the street, in the classroom, in the workplace. It’s a way to demean women.

    9. Observer*

      I say “Who cares?”

      I’m serious about that. It’s a nasty thing to say. Does it really matter where it’s coming from? It’s not the (potential) sexism that makes it bad, it’s that it’s mean and demeaning that makes it bad.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        The ones who care are the ones whose experiences are constantly being dismissed. When you say “X is bad enough, so whether or not Y is in the equation is irrelevant,” you’re adding to the force against people who experience Y and are constantly and consistently told they’re imagining Y or that it doesn’t matter.

        1. Isben Takes Tea*

          And personally, yes, it matters to me. It’s not like once a statement passes a certain “mean” threshold, it can’t get meaner or more hurtful. It shouldn’t pass the first threshold, yes, but adding sexism to meanness has a more complex and hurtful effect. The words themselves are not the arbiter of meaning: social, cultural, linguistic, and tonal contexts are what embody words with communication. Mean words X + cultural context Y have a more insidious meaning than just the words X.

        2. Observer*

          You’re assuming that I’ve never experienced this phenomenon. Why? Because I don’t agree with you?

          Talk about being dismissive! I’ve experienced this kind of nonsense, more than once.

          You also haven’t given me an answer as to why it matters. Yes I read your second response. You explain that YOU care – which wasn’t my question – and why you think it’s sexism, which I’m not disagreeing, but which is ALSO not my question.

          My question is why does it matter? More importantly, why does it matter so much that time, energy and relationship gets burned up arguing over this, rather than on “HOW DO WE MAKE THIS STOP!?”

          1. neverjaunty*

            1) Knowing why it happens is important to figuring out how to stop it.

            2) Nobody is making you burn any energy you don’t want to.

            1. Observer*

              1 – Sometimes. But, it’s not always the case. It’s worth asking how useful any given label is, in any given situation.

              2- However, some people do do that. I’m asking why it’s worthwhile to do that for the sake of applying a label.

          2. Isben Takes Tea*

            Um, what? I never assumed you hadn’t experienced it. You asked who cares, and I answered. I didn’t mean to imply that everyone who experienced it has to feel that way, but clearly some people care, and usually the reasons I gave are why.

            Time, relationships, and energy are always burned up when people’s experiences aren’t being validated.

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      It’s definitely sexist, because a smile is a show of emotion, it should not be treated like an outfit you put on to please other people. It’s saying “It doesn’t matter what you’re actually feeling, it’s your obligation to put on a pleasing expression in order to please others!” And as others have already pointed out, “others” means men in this case, and it doesn’t work both ways. Only women are told they are just there to be pleasing to the eye to men, and that is their only value. That’s what this attitude implies.

    11. LS*

      Sexist, offensive, rude. I have *never* heard anyone tell a guy that he should smile, he’d be more handsome.

      1. Statler von Waldorf*

        I’m a guy and I was told that. Once. Back in the 90’s somewhere. Seen a couple of magnitudes more women get it since. It’s sexist and rude.

    12. Artemesia*

      This is classic sexist. The text (it isn’t even subtext) is that women exist to delight men and that men have a right to expect them to smile and entertain them and be pretty for them. Ask your father is any stranger has ever in his life said to him ‘you should smile; you would be so much more handsome.’

      This one isn’t even close.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Telling women to smile has been identified as a sexist thing to say. Your parents may not be aware that this is the current thinking. So while they do not believe it is sexist, it would be good for them to know that other people do. If you parents are ordinary aware of women’s rights, they will seem, at best, ODD for thinking that saying this is NOT disrespecting women. At worst they will discredit themselves because it shows a lack of awareness of issues.

      I think I would be printing out articles for them to read so they can see for themselves.

    14. Amy Cakes*

      Of course it’s sexist.

      You don’t have to be pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.’ –Erin McKean (often attributed to Diana Vreeland)

  34. photo album designer dreams*

    Any tips on wording an email to my client that I am raising my rates? I was thinking it would be good to mention in the invoice for last month’s work.

    1. Landshark*

      I’d keep it matter of fact. “Just so you know, I’m raising my rates to $x per [time] as of [date]. Thank you for your understanding.”

      Keep extra stuff out unless they ask about it, that way you don’t end up putting your foot in your mouth if something about that causes issues with clients.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Don’t put it in the invoice – some people only look at the amount. I’d write it in an email.

    3. LS*

      I think Alison has also written about this, if you feel like digging through the archives…

    4. Artemesia*

      Give them a month’s notice e.g. in the July invoice say something like ‘beginning September 1 rates for my services will be X$ per hour (or whatever unit you use)’ I think raising them for August in the July 30 invoice is more likely to be annoying to a client who has no option to decide to go forward or not.

  35. Landshark*

    Totally un-work or 4th related, but I’m about to hop on a plane to go see my best friend. She moved to another state back in February, and I’ve missed her so much! We’re like sisters, and we’re so excited to be reunited.

    (Plus, her boyfriend told me he’s gonna propose over the weekend. She has no idea, while I’ve been his contact person to get everything sorted out regarding ring size, tastes, etc., so he could keep it a complete surprise. I’m so excited for them too! He and I have been planning this for months to make sure he gets this right)

  36. I hear you knocking*

    OK…You’re at work, in the bathroom, which is a single with a locking (locked!) door. ( There’s more than one for our use.) Not very many employees, so I think most know what voice belongs to which person. (We also have students who utilize these.)
    Sooo…*knock knock* on the door, even as they are trying the handle sometimes…
    What do you say?
    I know this seems really weird but I know I have a real privacy/reluctancy of going in public places issue, and I just don’t know what to say. Like, if I’m in there and take a while, I get embarrassed. My default is say nothing and have them try the locked door. “Occupied?” “Sorry?” “Be right out!”
    What would you say? :-)
    I know…butt…(haha)

        1. nonegiven*

          “Sorry, I’m going to be a while.” Maybe they’ll go to another bathroom, rather than wait 30 seconds and knock again. “That’s not gonna help!”

    1. Purple snowdrop*

      People are weird. I wouldn’t want to reply and out myself as the current occupier either. I’d just shift around so it was clear that there was someone inside but not answer, but I think the other replies are probably better suggestions!

    2. fposte*

      If they only try the handle, I say nothing. If they knock, I say “Occupied,” because I wory otherwise they’ll report to maintenance that the door is locked but there’s no answer and maybe somebody’s dead in there.

    3. Jen RO*

      Huh, so there’s no go-to phrase in English? In my native language, we always say “Occupied!”.

      When I am abroad I always wonder if I should learn to say this in the local language or if people will simply get the message when they hear a voice coming from inside…

      1. Zathras*

        There isn’t a set phrase, at least in my corner of the US (Boston). “Occupied” works fine and I have said that, but to me it always feels very stilted when I’m saying it. It’s the sort of word that is common in writing, on signs, etc. but not often used verbally. For some reason saying something like “I’m in here” doesn’t feel right either.

        “Just a minute” or “I’ll be out in a minute” is more comfortable and what I usually say. But you’re right, technically you could say anything and the point is made by the fact that there was a voice coming from in there.

        There is also a weird etiquette clash around multi-person bathrooms with stalls. I was always taught to look under the door just enough to see if there are feet – but other people seem to have been taught to try the door, which horrifies me, because the flimsy locks on the usual type of public-bathroom stall are broken at least 1/3 of the time. But people who aren’t used to the looking for feet thing seem to find that creepy.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I can give presentations to huge groups of strangers, but for some reason I feel incredibly self-conscious when someone does this. I just really loathe the idea of talking to anyone I don’t know really well when I’m sitting on the toilet! I’ll usually ignore it or, if they’re being a particularly troublesome jerk and rattling the door a lot, such that I’m worried they’ll hunt down a key or try to break it down because they think it’s unoccupied, I’ll just flush the toilet.

    5. Ktelzbeth*

      I usually say “Just a minute.”

      Do not read this anecdote if it may make you more nervous about going in public. I was on a ferry at one point where the restroom was near the very noisy engines. As I was doing my business, a woman tried the door. I called “Just a minute,” but she continued. I yelled the same thing and she still continued. She shook the door so hard she popped the lock before I could get myself done and put together. Do not be that person.

    6. Serious Sam*

      In that situation I always say, loudly & clearly “Come In!”. No one ever persists.

      1. I hear you knocking*

        Thanks, everyone! I noticed I put some of my punctuation within the quotes rather than after…When will I learn? 1. Coffee, 2. Post
        (No reference to the subject’s #1 and #2 intended.)
        No one uses ” Go away!” ? So tempted sometimes…
        Maybe “In use”? Just thought of that…
        And yes, I’m so afraid if I stay silent it’ll be maintenance or housekeeping (Huge “haha – fat chance!” for either, actually…) with the key and they’ll just open the door.
        Happy 4th if you celebrate. I’m watching “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” to celebrate. Potty on!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I use, “Be right out” even if I know I won’t be right out. Because I am a terrible person, ha! I figure if they can see the door is locked the next step in logic is that someone must be in there. I don’t feel bad about exaggerating my timing if they are persistent.

      2. SoManyNamesInTenYears*

        OMG. I can just hear the door handle jiggling up and down frantically now…

    7. Isobel*

      I had to think about this. I suspect I probably say “sorry!” Because I’m English and so I say sorry a lot (cue people saying “so you should! – yes, I know. I know).

      1. SoManyNamesInTenYears*

        Honestly, I say “Sorry!” almost always. OK – always. Like, for everything. :)

  37. Peanut*

    A few people recommended The Goblin Emperor by Kathryn Addison a couple weeks ago on the open thread. I just finished it and loved it! Thank you!! I wish it was a series – would have loved to read more about the characters.

    1. Sylvia*

      IIRC she may write more in the same setting! I think Maia’s story is done, although I would love more. It’s become a comfort-read for me.

  38. anon for this one*

    Does anyone here have a partner [or family member] who suffers from depression and anxiety? My wife has both. She is on medication and she does see a therapist. But as it is with these things she has good times and bad times. I do my best to be supportive and to let her know I’m always here for her.

    She has 2 younger sisters. One of them is an alcoholic and sometimes drug user. The other doesn’t have any mental health or addiction issues. The one without these issues cut both my wife and their other sister off years ago and does not have contact. She was angry that when their parents died in a car accident and their grandparents and older relatives died from old age related things, she [the sister without any issues] had to “do everything while you [my wife] laid in bed all day and *othersister* was out drinking and taking drugs who knows where.”

    My wife had a horrible time with the death of her parents [and the other relatives too] and could not even get out of bed. It was so bad, she couldn’t even go the funerals because of her anxiety and I was scared for her because of how her depression was. The sister who cut contact was angry about “having to make all the arrangements and take care of the estate and host the mourners while working 2 jobs and going to night school part time.” Their other sister also was a no show at the funerals. After their parents died, the sister finished night school and joined the army. My wife and her other sister last saw her before she left. There’s no contact and we don’t know where she is or anything like that. My wife and her other sister did reach out but were rebuffed and she would have gotten a lawyer involved if we tried again. It’s been almost a decade since she cut contact. She even made sure any pictures my wife and her sister got didn’t have her [the sister who cut contact] in them and besides copies of their high school yearbooks neither of them even has a picture of her.

    My wife is going though a tough time because we have struggled with infertility and it’s come to light that she will never be able to get pregnant or carry a baby to term even with fertility treatments. Even using a surrogate with my wife’s eggs would not work [not that we could afford it anyway]. Because of my wife’s mental health issues and mine and hers past arrests for marijuana make us unsuitable for adoption with any of the agencies we have tried and we have tried dozens.

    It’s been hard enough for her to come to terms with this but on top of it the decade anniversary of her sister cutting contact is close and her other sister is in the hospital because she almost overdosed. My wife does not have any living relatives besides her sisters. She is going through a terrible time and I’m hoping there is a light at the end of tunnel. Thank you for listening whether you have advice or not. I just needed to get all this out. Thanks.

    1. Pinkyout*

      I’m sorry you’re having such a difficult time. The older I get, the more I realize how complicated life really is.

      Possible for you to consider therapy?

      Wishing you health and happiness and hope that things will get better for you.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I’m so sorry that you and your wife are going through this. A lot of people recommend RESOLVE, which is a resource and support group for people dealing with infertility; that might be helpful?

      I’d also note that while the estranged sister doesn’t have any known mental health issues, she could well be struggling with something undiagnosed or that she kept hidden. It’s not uncommon in these situations for family members (especially parents) to shove the least dysfunctional child into the role of “the normal one”. I say this not to minimize your wife’s grief, just to note that her sister’s anger and blame are probably something that comes from a source your wife couldn’t do anything about.

      1. fposte*

        I’ll also say that Sister’s desire to separate and Wife’s grief can both be fair and legitimate; this situation doesn’t require anyone to be in the wrong. Seconding the advice, anon, that you might want to bring this up in therapy for yourself; it’s tough being the well spouse.

    3. Temperance*

      As hard as it is for your wife, I think that her sister has the right to decide who she has contact with. It sounds like the addict sister and your wife didn’t help with all the work related to the family deaths, and that they might not have reached out to thank well sister/explain the situation. There’s a TON of work that needs to be done with a death in the family, and it’s doubly true when you’re the heir/child and you need to clean the house, etc. It seems like you might be minimizing just how much work that the well sister did.

      I’ve been the “well” family member in a family with a member with serious mental health issues. It was very, very difficult, and thankless … especially because there was an attitude that, oh, your relative can’t handle X because of their issues, so you have to do it, and don’t expect to be thanked since you should be happy not to be sick.

    4. Shark Whisperer*

      I have depression and anxiety (although I am not going through any hard life things like you partner). My partner has been incredibly helpful. My advice would be to, if you can, talk to your wife about what you she appreciates you doing the most when she’s having a depressive episode or an anxiety attack. I’ve had to talk to my partner because sometimes when I’m having anxiety he wants to be supportive by telling me my concerns are legitimate when what will actually make me feel better is him telling me I have nothing to worry about. Now obviously that is not going to be true for everyone, that why I think you need to talk about it with you partner. I think if you find out even just some small things that will make her feel a little better at her low points like her favorite cup of tea or fresh sheets on the bed or even helping her through breathing exercises (that really helps me when I’m having an anxiety attack, it will really help her feel supported and you feel like you are doing something.

    5. Notthemomma*

      I have both. In addition to a complet medical exam- even if she’s had on in the past- with a full chemical panel to see where/what/if exists in chemical imbalances as a base for any medical intervention. Talk therapy with a psychologist or psychiatrist is also essential. And one final step I took when I was at my absolute worst (****and this is in the top 5 BEST decisions I made in my 47 years) was a series of sessions with a hypnotist who has a psychology background. They can help her go through the situations that are triggers and take enough of the ‘sting’ away so they aren’t such debilitating episodes. I was very clear with the team I put together that I knew I just wasn’t myself and would be continuing with the theee prong medical-psychologist-hypnotist approach and they were all open and worked with each other to help me.
      Good luck!!!

    6. LS*

      You also need support in this difficult situation – it’s very challenging to be in a long term care giver / well partner role, fertility issues aside. Take care of yourself so that you can continue to support your spouse.

    7. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

      I’d like to be able to tell you there’s light at the end of the tunnel; but unless your wife decides to do something about her mental problems, there isn’t. Even if she does, there may not be. My wife has been on drugs and going to therapy for depression and anxiety for almost 20 years and it still controls much of our lives.

      Today is a partial melt down day because she wanted to go visit friends in SoCal for the holiday. I told her to go, her therapist essentially ordered her to go, but she Just. Couldn’t. Make. Herself. Go. No good reason, just couldn’t do it. So it’s tears and beating herself up all day because her friends are posting the fun stuff they’re doing together and she’s not there.

      As far as the “normal” sister goes, she did what she needed to do for *her* mental health. Good for her. I’m exhausted from having to be the adult in our house. I’ve basically given up doing everything. Wife wants to go to a couple of exhibitions here, so I told her to make them happen. In the past I would have gotten the tickets, but I’m leaving them in her hands. I’ll bet a week’s pay we won’t be going.

      You might want to consider getting your own therapy. I did for a while and it helped me immensely. It’s still exhausting, but I have a different view on life.

    8. OhBehave*

      What a sad situation. I feel for you. I deal with depression myself and have taken meds for years to keep me in balance.
      While I certainly understand your wife’s paralyzing grief, I also greatly understand her sister’s position. My mom died three weeks ago. Three of us kids worked together to plan the funeral with the funeral director. I cannot imagine having to do that alone. Her death was unexpected and we were all in a fog, just going through the motions. But the details had to be dealt with right away. Add in (your SIL) having to go through this process with older family members, and it’s overwhelming to say the least. I am still feeling melancholy and weepy at times throughout my day. I am thankful for the medication I am on that is keeping me functional. I changed it a few years ago and it was a good move for me. Although my hubby is watching me closely these past weeks.
      All the things you describe would topple any healthy person. That’s a lot to deal with. I am glad to hear that she has good days. Have you seen your wife progress with this therapist? I just get concerned when someone sees a therapist for a long while and things don’t get better. Depression is not cured. It’s managed with the right combination of doctors and meds. It’s possible she needs a meds adjustment.
      I tend to agree that the sister who cut off contact may have her own demons to deal with and she has just avoided it for years. She doesn’t want to be considered ‘weak’ by anyone. I’m afraid that until she seeks help on her own or is forced into it, nothing will change for her.
      I am so sorry you got the news that she can’t carry a baby. The timing may not be right to bring a child into your family.
      Bless you for sticking with your wife and supporting her the best you know how. I would suggest you speak with a therapist (not your wife’s). You carry a heavy burden. I think of you as a caregiver (esp. during those bleak times). There is such a thing as caregiver burnout. A counselor can help you come to terms with the fact that you can’t ‘fix’ your wife. Sometimes, no matter what you do, she’s going to have very bad days. You have fear that she may get so low that she can’t come back. I understand. I was there at one point in my life. Please make a plan to speak with someone. It doesn’t have to be multiple times a week. Start with once a week if you can afford it.
      I wish you all the best as you wade through this mental illness jungle.

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      I’ve posted a few times about being the relatively normative one in a family of people with various diagnoses. I’ve learned to be firm when saying that just because I’m “privileged” to not have to deal with these things myself, that doesn’t mean that I owe it to anyone to suffer through interactions or situations that I know will be painful or unpleasant for me. I do not have to let people with problems treat my time and my life as a playground for their learning experiences.

      What you need to realize is that this didn’t actually start with the death of your wife’s parents. The normative sister has likely been sacrificing and giving her entire life at the behest of people who had more sympathy for the sisters who were unwell. The funeral was most likely the final straw after years of similar scenarios. The sister had to handle all the planning and settle affairs on her own, and her sisters didn’t even come to the funeral that she bent over backward to plan without any help from her parents’ other children. Did you offer to help pay for it? Did you go, even if your wife couldn’t? Did you help her or send her a check or reach out to her once your wife felt better? Did you go over without your wife to help the sister clean her home after hosting mourners and visitors? Right now, you are asking this sister to make all the changes and to appease your wife’s wishes while your wife is not being asked to meet in the middle or to admit that she ever handled anything incorrectly. That is textbook codependency, and the sister is completely right to decide that she doesn’t want to initiate a relationship that would be unhealthy for her.

      Think about why you really want this sister to reach out to your wife. You want the sister to help your wife in some way, to take on the burden of your wife’s pain and loneliness. You are not thinking about what your wife could offer her sister in a positive relationship. You want this woman to do your wife’s emotional heavy lifting for her, and she knows that.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      As each of my parents went into their final illness, I ended up getting pretty sick from the running around and all the emotional stuff. With my mother I landed in the ER. With my father I ended up changing everything in my life, eating healthier, natural cleaning products and so on to get through how sick and worn down I had become. I have never had a job where I worked this hard and I have had some tough jobs.

      I can’t imagine burying parents while working two jobs and going to night school. As gently as possible, I suggest to you, OP, that Sis is gone from your wife’s life. She probably will not be back.
      You might suggest to your wife that her sis is doing what it is she needs to do given her givens. And your wife should do the same, she should do what she needs to do to take care of herself.

      I’m an only child. I have long believed that family is whoever we chose. Encourage your wife that she could build relationships with people who could become like family to her. Currently she is begging for companionship/love from a sis who won’t do that with her. But there are other people out there who will be a companion and a loving friend.

      Your wife has a lot of sadnesses in her life, these sadnesses would break anyone’s heart. I suggest getting a book or two about grief or joining a grief group. Learn about the causes of grief (it’s not just deaths), learn about the symptoms of grief (depression, heart issues, other medical stuff, mental confusion) and learn about the stages of grief (anger, sadness and yes you can do both at the same time). Encourage your wife that tears are a good thing, tears trigger a chemical reaction in the brain that cause it to be healthier. The easiest way to help a crying person is to tell them that it is okay to cry. Oddly, you may see the tears slow down and gradually come to a stop. It’s the power of acknowledgement, OP.

      Definitely seek counseling for yourself so you can have a road map through some of this.

  39. ann perkins*

    this is a dilemma I’ve been agonizing over but I could be making a bigger deal than is needed. I recently started a new job that is about a 50 mile commute for me with every intention of moving. three problems: 1) I am looking for a place for me & my BF, who is moving from another city to be with me, 2) I haven’t found a single apartment that both meets our needs and is in our budget, 3) we’d both prefer to stay where I currently live because we like the area. The issue is that I told my new boss during the interview process I did plan on moving and now I am getting questions frequently about my apartment hunting. This company is very flexible with hours, etc, so I know I could make the commute work, around rush hour, but I’m terrified that if I tell my boss that I’ve decided to stay put and commute, it will reflect badly on me. I had every intention of doing moving, but our options there vs. here are like night and day. I’m stressing out so much that I seriously can’t eat or sleep. Help!!! (for what it’s worth a good friend of mine told me people commute all the time and it’s no one’s business where I live, but I keep circling back to that I told them I’d move and now I really don’t want to)

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      I think the main concern for your boss will be that you will be get sick of the commute and leave before you would have otherwise. In the end, its none of their business if you decide to commute, but it probably was a consideration in the hiring process, and that is worth acknowledging, if only to yourself.

      I don’t think you need to be terrified of it though. Circumstances change and people change their minds all the time.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Why would it reflect badly on you? Your job cares that you are able to show up on time and for the hours you need to be there – right? As long as you are managing the commute there shouldn’t be a problem.

    3. JulieBulie*

      You can just say you’re taking your time and looking for the right place, the local housing market was tougher than you expected, but in the meantime, the commute really isn’t so bad and maybe you’ll stay put.

      Will that work?

    4. Annie Mouse*

      What about saying to your boss that you’ve been unable to find anything suitable so are staying put for now, but will keep an eye out for somewhere closer. Make sure they know you’re comfortable with the commute at the moment and that you aren’t giving up on moving. And then find out when the market is at its best for renters/buyers and have another look then. By that point your boss might not care any more, or you might be fed up of the commute. Good luck!!

    5. OhBehave*

      Be honest with your boss. You haven’t found something in your budget that meets your needs. Who knows? Maybe he ‘knows a guy’ who can get you a deal.

    6. Her Grace*

      Is there a deadline for getting a place closer to work? If not, don’t sweat about it. You know what you want and at what price.

      Be honest with your boss and explain what you’re looking for in a place. Tell them you aren’t just going to take any old apartment simply because you haven’t found anything by next week. Tell them you’re content to remain where you are until the right place shows up, no matter how long it takes.

      Househunting doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing activity. Stay where you are if you’re okay with the commute and love the area. Of course, keep tabs on the real estate market. You never know; the perfect place might pop up, and you can move to work.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It might be helpful to be aware that some people subscribe to a school of thought that 50 miles is the cut off point for being too far. These are folks who believe at 50 or more miles the trip just becomes too much over time and the employee quits.

      If this is what your boss believes then a good response will be to explain how you plan to handle the commute.

    8. nonegiven*

      Does it have to be in the same town? Could it be in another town, just closer than you are now? It would give you more options.

  40. Em*

    Sometimes retail workers complain about customers that mess up the tables of clothes they’ve folded. However, my experience is more often than not, clothes are placed in a way that you can’t tell the size unless you pull the garment out or at least mess with the pile a little to find the size sticker. I’ve also seen it done where the only size is on the tag and the tags are folded inside the garment. What is the preferred procedure for finding the specific size you want in a neatly folded pile? Or is it too bad on them if they don’t leave the size visible?

    1. Christy*

      Pick up an entire section of the stack as one, see what size you’re at, place your section back on top of the stack, pick up either more or less, and repeat until you find your desired size. Remove the item of clothing and replace the stack that you have removed.

        1. JulieBulie*

          At most of the stores I go to, by the time I get there they’re in no particular order at all.

      1. Temperance*

        I’ve never actually seen this work in practice. It’s usually kind of a wild card.

    2. NaoNao*

      If the worker is available, ask them! I worked in retail for years and I would have loved to quickly get a size for someone as opposed to coming on a pillaged pile.
      Also, oftentimes folded clothing is represented elsewhere in the store, hung up or on a rack, so that people can easily pull it down and see.
      Alternately, sizing in a stack or pile folded on a table is almost *always* smallest on top to largest on bottom. If you need an XL, it’s on the bottom. If you need a medium, it’s in the middle. And so on.
      If you *have* to rifle through an entire stack, just do your best to put it back together, or notify someone.
      “Hey, I grabbed this medium and the whole pile collapsed, I’m sorry.”

      1. SarahKay*

        Seconded – if there’s a worker there, ask them. And if the worker asks you if you need help say yes! I used to work selling curtains (stacked on plinths, like clothes, but in slippery plastic wrap and heavy) and would ask people if they wanted help. They’d decline and I’d have to watch as they pulled apart a whole display that I’d just tidied :(

    3. Amadeo*

      I have been that poor soul, folding tables of clothes, and I agree with Christy as far as finding the size you need. What irritated me more was someone leafing through a stack of shirts I’d just folded (that did, in fact, have sizing stickers visible) and making another mess, or unfolding three or four shirts then handing them back to me and walking off, or hovering around and waiting for me to finish folding and sizing and then destroying the table again as soon as I’d walked off instead of asking for help finding the size or color they wanted.

      Honestly, the whole thing is cumulative, and on busy days I’d usually have a closing shift to clean up the store at the end of the day. I’d walk in at 3 or 4 pm to a disaster. Mounds of clothes in the carts in the fitting rooms (I had to tend to at least four some days) in addition to piles of them in the changing cubicles themselves, clothes knocked from hangars all over the floor, piles of wadded tops on the display tables and a jean wall that looked like a tornado came through.

      If you really want to help a retail worker out, pick up the clothes you accidentally knock into the floor and at least hang them back up. Don’t leave your tried-on clothes in heaps on the fitting room floor – if they came on hangers, put them back on the hangar and at least hang them on the go-back rack in the room, try your best to fold up anything else and make as neat a stack as possible in the rack basket. If you can put it back, that’s awesome! If you can’t remember where it came from, the fitting room rack is OK, it prevents tops or pants ending up on a rack with a sale sign when they’re not on sale and some irate customer coming in later “The sign said $20, why are these ringing up $30!?” and they don’t care that those pants didn’t belong on that rack.

      I recognize that sometimes there’s not much can be done about the folding display tables, especially if they’re already a disaster. If they’re neatly folded though, just mind the stack while looking for your size.

    4. Sylvia*

      I can usually find one angle from which you can see most of the stickers or tags on the stack.

      If not, I’ll ask someone if they have my size. Saves us both from a hassle.

      I bump into the typical tall/petite issue of stores not always stocking my size, so I’ve gotten used to this. It’s a useful habit to have.

  41. AGirlNamedViolet*

    Does anyone know any legitimate work from home PT jobs? I’ve been looking for a few to make extra money from home but am difficulty finding ones that AREN’T scams. Any help would be much appreciated!! :)

    1. KR*

      Rev.com (online transcription) is super duper low paying but it’s something to do from home if you have time to kill. They give you good feedback and you can pick your own assignments, though sometimes there isnt a lot available
      I learned about some interesting topics about different topics too (marketing a lotion with DJ Khalid, colangeocarcinoma, ect) while I was doing transcriptions.

      1. Another KR*

        This is weird, but I also transcribe on Rev.com and my first two initials are KR. What are the chances?

        Rev’s good. The pay is a bit better at each “level” – you don’t make much as a beginner, you make more at the intermediate level, and the upper level is where it’s really good. You also get your pick of jobs in the upper levels, while beginners don’t have as many options yet.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Is it hard? Do you have to type fast, because I have trouble doing it for long periods of time. I have to take frequent breaks or my hands stiffen up.

        1. Zathras*

          So, I don’t know anything about Rev.com, but I had a transcription job once. It helped to have a reasonable typing speed, but I could just pause or rewind the audio whenever I needed to catch up. They actually make foot pedals that you can use for play/pause/rewind. I didn’t buy one because I was only doing it for a few hours per month on the side, but the person I worked for mentioned them to me and said they would make things easier.

    2. HannahS*

      I used to tutor online–English lessons to children in China. It was around 20-25 dollars (Canadian) an hour, and could be 15-20 hours (or more) a week, if you’re diligent. The downside is that the hours are 4-9pm Bejing time, which was a 12-13 hour time difference for me. Overall, though, if you’re good at tutoring ESL, it was good. The company I worked for was called US Talk, but I worked as a contractor for a Canadian company…it was a bit weird. There are loads of companies, though! I knew a few other people who did it; it was definitely legitimate.

  42. TiredGal*

    **Warning: Long post with background and issue laid out. Seeking feedback and input. Thanks!

    How to process bad part-time person quitting and doing no work

    Background: Nearly seven weeks ago, I started a position with a charity and was tasked with managing a part-time (flexible schedule) teacup maker. Kyle began as an intern and was hired to make teacups for a few hours each week, dependent upon availability. My supervisor assigned me with directing Kyle’s schedule and activities, so I set about being as friendly and accommodating as possible. I accepted last-minute cancellations, complete changes to schedules, failure to complete assigned work, feigned ignorance about programs, complaints about the need to attend meetings, among other issues.

    The real difficulties began about three weeks ago when the organization discovered issues with its saucers and needed an immediate fix. Given Kyle’s previous brief training with my predecessor, my supervisor volunteered our part-timer for the task. The reaction was one of restrained frustration, meaning that I knew Kyle was displeased and annoyed with the assignments. For two weeks, I directed Kyle’s efforts to remedy the saucer issues; however, found that time constraints and limited knowledge slowed success. My supervisor noted this and decided to seek help from an under-utilized resource within the charity who has a much broader and fuller understanding of saucers. This worked out well, and we were in the process of transitioning Kyle back to teacups when the resignation happened.

    Resignation: Kyle declined to respond to multiple text messages about scheduling for the upcoming week. This concerned me because the schedule fluctuated nearly daily with preference given to class meetings and other obligations. During a group meeting, my supervisor asked if I knew why Kyle contacted her about a meeting. I was flabbergasted and said I didn’t know off-hand. Later that day, Kyle arrived at the office when I was working on teacup-oriented tasks and asked that I let her into my supervisor’s office, wherein I heard her resign through the thin separation wall.

    She cited a need to focus on her school work and time restrictions that prevented her from completing work. My supervisor called me over to officially hear the resignation and work out a two-week exit plan. I made a point of telling her I understood the decision, and we coordinated two one-hour blocks when she could come in the office and work.

    Issue: During the first block, she texted that she would be late and then announced about 35 minutes in that she needed to leave early. Her final 60 minutes ended up being about 40. At the start of her penultimate hour, I provided her with a stack of information to begin working on the teacup issues because I knew her time was limited. She took the information and agreed to continue working on it from home.

    I texted Kyle the following day because I noticed the teacup info had not been updated. She responded three hours later informing me of extensive school work and a personal appointment that prevented her from completing the work. She sent this text after the close of business, when it would have been difficult for me to complete it.
    In response, I sympathized with her busy schedule and asked that she and I schedule a time for me to collect the teacup information I shared. She declined to text back for two days, so I texted a third time, called and left a voicemail message, and texted a fourth time. After two and a half days, Kyle finally texted back a time to deliver the information.

    I expressed my support and understanding of the busy school schedule, then Kyle proceeded to add to the drama and told me about a family issue. Again, I noted my sympathies while Kyle cleared out the workspace of anything remotely related to the teacups position without asking for permission.

    As we wrapped up our brief discussion, Kyle made a point of indicating another discussion with my supervisor was necessary as was an exit interview with HR. I am incensed that a part-time teacups specialist with less than two months of work with the organization is being so demanding about exiting the organization.

    What are your thoughts? Is this typical young person behavior? Should I say anything to my supervisor or HR?

    1. CAA*

      I think you may be reading too much into this. It seems like your supervisor is the one who hired Kyle and Kyle thinks she reports to that person, not you, so she wants to have a final meeting with her own supervisor. That’s really up to your supervisor if she wants to have that meeting or not and she can say yes or no when Kyle contacts her to set it up.

      Likewise the meeting with HR. Kyle can ask for one, but the HR person will decide whether or not to hold an exit interview.

      In both cases, these meetings are not your responsibility and you don’t need to get involved in setting them up or get incensed over the requests to have them.

      1. TiredGal*


        Thanks for the response.

        My questions in general were about the difficulty in scheduling and the lack of follow-through on assignments from Kyle.

        Still, I appreciate the comment, especially given that today is a busy outdoor holiday for many.

        1. Colette*

          It sounds to me like you were too accommodating. When she was late, didn’t complete work, etc., there were no consequences – not even a “I was counting on you to get this done. Can we work out a way for you to let me know in advance that you’re not going to meet your deadline?”

          And I’m a little confused about why you gave a poor employee who had given notice work to do after her last shift.

          Being accommodating is good, but only to a point. It’s not unreasonable to have the schedule set the week before, or to expect her to stay for her entire shift.

          1. TiredGal*


            The reason I was accommodating, excessively so, is because my supervisor committed to having Kyle on staff until late summer. They entered into a verbal agreement prior to my employment with the charity.

            My rationale for giving her work was to have her be useful during her final weeks in the office and to end her time doing tasks she was originally hired to do. With regard to the work, the saucer stuff is something any teenager or person with basic tech literacy can do. Nothing super difficult, so having her spend a couple of hours doing it would have taken some burdens off of my plate.

            1. fposte*

              But you have the prerogative of going to your supervisor and saying “Kyle’s a disaster; can we cut this short?” You have the prerogative of setting rules for Kyle that you expect her to observe or else suggest this isn’t the position for her. I think some of your frustration here comes from feeling trapped, but I think this was less of a trap than it seems.

              Just in case it helps: in working with students, I do give priority to course schedules, so that’s a reasonable accommodation to me. I don’t care about punctuality unless it’s a shift or front-facing job where it matters, so a set-your-own-schedule job is often fine with me; that’s not being unreliable as long as the staffer is reliably productive. I care deeply about attitude, however, and the first complaint about having to attend a meeting would have gotten firm pushback; a second would have gotten a closed-door discussion about attitude incompatible with continued employment here. I also care deeply about communication and reliability, so a last-minute texted “not coming” for any reason other than emergency would be a “do it again and you’re out” conversation. Having clear steps helps avoid that trapped feeling, too–I know what I’ll do in the face of the usual problems and what’s unacceptable to me.

              1. TiredGal*


                My manager and I spoke about Kyle and the performance issues twice.

                Both times, my supervisor opted to work with Kyle and continue the relationship. It was convenient for the department and allowed me to focus on other tasks for the department.

                I explained the absences and lack of follow-through. My supervisor was well-aware and just explained that we likely would not continue Kyle’s contract.

                1. fposte*

                  Then at that point you go with a shrug and a “Not my circus, not my monkeys” and stop investing in Kyle. It sounds like however it was ostensibly set up, you weren’t really her manager, so you take the co-worker approach of “summer flakes happen.” (And I think it highly unlikely that a summer part-timer was on an actual contract, so I again think your supervisor may be more avoidant than is good.)

                2. LS*

                  It doesn’t sound as though it allowed you to focus on other tasks though, if she didn’t do what she was supposed to, and required constant oversight and supervision with little output.

            2. Observer*

              Fposte is completely correct. Your manager’s commitment didn’t mean that anything goes. It means that “assuming you do your part, we’ll keep you on till xyz.” At MINIMUM you should have been looping in your manager.

            3. Colette*

              First of all, I think this is a really common mistake to make. You’ll do better next time.

              But I think you expected her to read your mind to some degree. If being unreliable, constantly adjusting schedules, and not finishing work resulted in nothing more than a shrug or “that’s OK”, then it’s not surprising that she started to think that that kind of thing was OK.

              I think this is particularly common with students – because school is and should be their priority, people try to be accommodating. And most of the time, the student doesn’t take advantage. But on occasion, a student will take advantage of the stated flexibility (possibly due to inexperience rather than a deliberate attempt to take advantage) and it does them a disservice to not mention that it’s causing problems.

              It’s not wrong to explain to them what you need them to do.

              Now, if your manager isn’t on board, then you’re not really the manager who can make a difference – but even so, you can communicate the impact on you to your manager. She

      2. LS*

        “My supervisor assigned me with directing Kyle’s schedule and activities … I set about being as friendly and accommodating as possible. I accepted last-minute cancellations, complete changes to schedules, failure to complete assigned work, feigned ignorance about programs, complaints about the need to attend meetings, among other issues” – I think this is your problem right here. It sounds as though you didn’t make the requirements of the job clear, didn’t communicate what was / wasn’t acceptable, and just took whatever lousy performance / attitude she feel like dishing up. So it’s not surprising that she thinks she’s in the driver’s seat in this situation, and is being demanding – she’s had her own way in every other respect. Excuse the mixed metaphors.

        And no, this is definitely not a “young person” problem.

        I hope this doesn’t seem unduly harsh but I’m surprised you’re surprised, and I’d be pretty thankful to get rid of such a poor performer with no effort.

        1. TiredGal*


          You raise a good point.

          My framing of the issue is that Kyle’s young and inexperienced in the working world. Being unable to either discipline or fire the part-timer has put a strain on me.

          I am hoping with the new HR person on board, the next teacups specialist will be more professional.

    2. neverjaunty*

      It’s typical bad-employee behavior. She doesn’t like the tasks and figures she’s quitting anyway, so why bust her butt? I would talk to your supervisor about it.

      1. TiredGal*


        Thanks for your perspective.

        I have a series of text messages from her with the litany of excuses about why she couldn’t come in and why work wasn’t completed.

        With her tenure being so brief, I don’t expect HR or my supervisor to have much of an issue with her departure.

        Honestly, I just feel frustrated by how gracious and accommodating my supervisor and I have been and how shabbily this part-time person has treated us. No planning, no follow-though, an open disrespect of people’s time.

        Sigh. After tomorrow morning, I won’t ever have to deal with her again.

    3. KR*

      I think this isn’t typical young person behavior. Kyle seems like kind of a flake. At the same time, similar to what CAA said, I think there’s a lot of confusion about who is actually Kyle’s manager. In any case I think that Kyle has given you clear signals that she is too busy to finish up her work and wants out of this position. I agree with CAA that you need to let your manager and HR handle it and remove yourself from the issue.

    4. fposte*

      Kyle’s a sucky employee, but the only thing I’d bother to say to HR or supervisor is “I would suggest we not give a positive recommendation if asked due to her lack of reliability,” and that can be a quick email and you can then let it go. Basically, you had a flaky employee demonstrate flakiness and then quit, saving you the trouble of firing her. If she wants to talk to HR or your supervisor, that’s up to them; it doesn’t seem like a good use of their time to me, so unless she’s got some secret malfeasance to reveal either there won’t be a meeting or it’ll be mighty short.

      I do think it sounds like you tried to nice her into nicing back to you, and that’s not really a recommended management strategy :-). In my experience, structured and businesslike is more useful than friendly and accommodating when working with students and inexperienced part-timers; it doesn’t keep flakes from flaking, but it helps, and it makes me feel less taken advantage of. Right now it sounds like you put a lot of personal energy in and that’s why you’re so frustrated, but this situation really isn’t worth that level of personal energy–spend it on something more enjoyable. Do you get to hire Kyle’s replacement? Maybe think about how you’ll assess reliability in advance for the incomer, because it’s certainly possible to get reliable student part-timers.

      1. TiredGal*


        Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

        You are completely correct in that I tried the endlessly nice and accommodating approach with her. Because the entire team was new, and I didn’t hire her, I wanted very much for everyone to get along. I also followed the lead of my supervisor, who made a point of working with Kyle’s chaotic and ever-changing schedule.

        The HR woman was warned about Kyle’s inconsistent schedule, so she has taken the lead on finding a more professional part-time teacups specialist. I am hopeful that with a much more thorough vetting and higher standards, we can find someone capable of following through and behaving in a professional manner.

    5. Observer*

      This is NOT typical behavior. What is of concern to me, though, is not Kyle, bit you. Why on earth did you keep on overlooking bad behavior? You should have started managing her better, and if that wasn’t possible – she does sound difficult, you should have started documenting and looping your manager in.

      At this point, I don’t see any point in going to either HR or your supervisor, except, perhaps to explain that Kyle did not complete her last assignment, and what your plans are for getting that done.

      1. TiredGal*


        I didn’t keep overlooking the behavior!

        Because of the agreement between my supervisor and Kyle, I was unable to conduct a termination. My supervisor also really liked Kyle’s work and wanted to honor her word.

        All I could do was work around Kyle’s schedule and maintain my professionalism. The charity is famous for giving low-income people their first work experiences; thus, is very, very accommodating and willing to bend over backward for people.

        With the next person, I will be able to exercise more control over scheduling and disciplinary action for failure to follow through with tasks.

        Kyle’s time with the organization has been a very taxing lesson in why interns often don’t make for good employees.

        1. Doodle*

          I’m super sympathetic because I’m often prone to that kind of thinking myself, but I’d encourage you not to draw the conclusion that interns make bad employees (or above, that this is “typical young person behavior”).

          I do agree that sometimes early career employees don’t understand workplace norms (especially with regard to scheduling — you gave her flexibility for classes but expected her to stick to the schedule once you set it; I think there’s a good chance Kyle read schedule flexibility as “I can work when it’s convenient and it’s no big deal to change”), but your workplace inadvertently reinforced that behavior by not having those important conversations about those norms with her early.

          Kyle sounds like a pain, but I’ve worked with dozens of interns and former interns who aren’t like this at all. Please don’t overgeneralize, especially if your organization works with low-income young people seeking their first work experiences! Just get on the same page with your boss about how much you can manage them.

        2. Observer*

          Well, you went way beyond “maintaining your professionalism.” I see that you did tell your manager about some of the issues – but clearly not all. It also sounds, from all of the comments I’m reading, that you didn’t make it clear that her behavior was out of line.

          I do agree with the others who pointed out that your manager is apparently too conflict averse and that no one did her any favors.

          The thing I think you can take away from this, I think, is that if someone you need to supervise isn’t doing what they are supposed to be doing, you need to make it very, very clear. Also, loop in your manager (and HR if appropriately) fairly early and very completely.

          1. TiredGal*


            Until three weeks ago, the organization had no HR person.

            It’s only in the past two weeks has she been introduced to staff and learned about issues.

            Still, I take your statement to heart.

            Thanks for your comment.

            1. Observer*

              I hope you have a good HR person. When a manager won’t manage, a good HR person can be your best ally.

    6. Not Alison*

      I don’t get why you are so “incensed”. The intern has school responsibilities that apparently have overwhelmed her and she has realized that it isn’t working out to do the intern work and also keep up with her schoolwork – not to mention a family issue is also taking up her time.
      I’ll concur that wanting all of these exit interviews is odd, I’ve never wanted an exit interview in leaving any job I’ve ever had. This doesn’t sound like a “typical young person” thing to do. And I’m ambivalent about mentioning it to your supervisor or HR – maybe mention that she requested an interview but that it seemed odd to you and then just leave it in your supervisor’s hands.

      1. TiredGal*

        Not Alison:

        I’m confused: Why would I mention the HR exit interview to anyone? Kyle set that up with my supervisor and HR herself at the time of her resignation.

        I’m very upset because of the ongoing communication issues Kyle presented and how many times I had to repeatedly ask questions about scheduling and check on the status of her work. I have every right to have feelings about this, but I am continuing my decision not to act on them in the workplace.

        Again, your “ambivalence” confuses me.

        1. LS*

          TiredGal, you posted here looking for people’s thoughts, but you don’t seem open to the feedback you’re getting. Most of your follow-up posts come across as pretty defensive. Thought I would point it out in case you hadn’t realised. I don’t always register my own tone.

          1. TiredGal*


            Thanks for your feedback!

            AAM commenters are allowed to have differing opinions and defend themselves. It’s part of the process.

            If you do not care for how I’m responding, you are welcome to refrain for further engagement.


        2. Ramona Flowers*

          You are entitled to your emotions but people are offering feedback aimed at a more logical place (your thinking brain not your emotional brain). While you asked for input it sounds like you just need some support – and it’s maybe feeling too raw if people try to offer practical advice?

          1. fposte*

            I was thinking that–or maybe, TiredGal, you had some really high hopes for Kyle, or how your work with Kyle would go, so that this is really a disappointment to you and not just an annoyance.

            At any rate, flakiness sucks, so I’m pretty sure we’ll all on board with understanding how frustrating you’ve found it to work with Kyle.

            1. TiredGal*


              I am very frustrated for a number of reasons: My supervisor talked up Kyle’s abilities during my interview, during my onboarding, and during my first week on the job. I did expect to direct someone who was capable and adhered to basic guidelines of professionalism.

              You are correct in that I am disappointed in Kyle and the system by which she received such strong support from my supervisor. Going forward, I aim to assert more control over who joins the team and how work schedules are set.

              My two-month anniversary on the job is in mid-July, and I’ve been told the preliminary interviews for the new part-time teacups specialist have been scheduled. Fingers crossed for a more promising outcome this time around.

              1. fposte*

                That sounds like a good plan going forward, and I forgot this was all when you were new, too, which makes it more stressful. But keep an eye on that supervisor–it seems like she’s really behind a lot of the issue here.

          2. Cap Hiller*

            TiredGal-I think the issue is that you don’t seem to be open to anyone giving you feedback on how you could have tried to improve the situation. Your POV seems to be that if you weren’t able to ultimately terminate Kyle, there was no point to attempting to be stricter or provide feedback to her about her performance and work ethic.

            But what PPs are saying is that this lack of feedback on your end actually reinforced her behavior. So what folks are saying is that this can also be a learning experience for you as a manager (instead of you just hoping HR selects someone better next time, which you said repeatedly).

            I’m in a position where I’m a manager and I/we can’t fire someone, and while it’s true we’ve had to let some of their ongoing actions go bc it’s not worth beating our heads against a wall, we have 1) made it clear to them that the behavior isn’t actually ok, and 2) continued to manage and document in other ways to ensure our butts are covered and nobody can blame us for the employee’s actions (or lack thereof)

        3. Not Alison*

          Sorry, I thought she wanted you to set up the exit interviews and that is what you were incensed about. Re ambivalence – I meant if she asked me to set up the interviews, then I was ambivalent about whether or not I would do it.

          Regarding all the rest, your feelings about being upset are valid, but “incensed” seems a bit intense to me. Supervisors are stuck with problem employees all the time – old, young, experienced, inexperienced, male, female, etc, etc – so it is best to not generalize the problems this employee presented across their demographic. And while this was a difficult situation for you, try not to take it too personally (which I acknowledge can be difficult).

          1. TiredGal*

            Not Alison:

            Thanks for clarifying your previous comment. My apologies for the lack of clarity in my initial post.

            The reason I associated Kyle’s performance with age is because the position became more than a for-credit internship through a university right before the new team, including myself started. This meant that Kyle began her time at the charity as an intern with limited responsibilities and a very flexible schedule. I don’t know if my supervisor made the changes in professional guidelines clear to her when moving her over to a part-time paid position.

            Regardless, she finished her term and will complete her exit interview tomorrow. Then, I will have a say in who replaces her and the direction of the teacups work.

  43. LizB*

    I feel like I’m having the prototypical mid-20s weekend: 26th birthday on Friday, went to a wedding on Saturday, bought kale and greek yogurt and made student loan payments on Sunday, talked on Monday with my mom about how I need to clean out my childhood bedroom once and for all so they can rent out the house, RSVP’d for another wedding and paid a parking ticket today. All I need now is to refuse to buy some diamonds and instagram my lunch and I’ll be the Queen of the Millennials.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I think you also need to work in a stop at a food truck somehow. (Says a Gen Xer who unapologetically loves her diamonds.) :-)

    2. HannahS*

      That’s so funny! Don’t forget not to shop at department stores. Apparently, we’re killing Sears.

  44. NaoNao*

    Has anyone experienced a deep, inexplicable, and completely illogical love for a city?
    My second visit to Dallas (!!) just concluded and I was crying in the airport because I didn’t want to leave. I live in Denver, a city people are mortgaging the house and strapping suitcases on the car to get to, Beverly Hillbillies-style, but I have always struggled to make a true connection in the four years I’ve been here.
    One three day trip for work to Dallas and I was ready to marry it!
    I’m struggling to articulate what I love, but my short list is:
    Greenery. Lush, rolling, deep, mature greenery. Everywhere.
    Lower altitude and higher moisture makes my body, skin, and hair happy.
    Diversity in the city is very evident and even celebrated.
    A historical texture is woven into the city.
    The downtown and its immediate areas are *gorgeous*. Denver has a lot to recommend it, but, respectfully, get five minutes from downtown (and even downtown is….very sterile, corporate, and gentrified) and hoo boy it is UG-LEE.
    The pervasive dank of legal marijuana is blessedly absent. Look, I am *totally* pro-legal-weed. But I am SO OVER THE SMELL EVERYWHERE.

    My long term, serious BF *loves* Denver and is from Dallas, and while he said he’s okay with moving back to Dallas for work, he really just adores Denver.
    So we’re here for now. It’s okay. But despite being a liberal, feminist, East Coast “elite” who couldn’t fit in LESS in Texas, I *friggin’ love it in Dallas*.
    Share your tales and make me feel better? :)

    1. hermit crab*

      Something similar happened to me when I was about 13 years old and spent 36 hours in Vancouver. I fell in love with it and was sure I’d grow up, move there, and live blissfully for the rest of my days. Of course, I’ve never been back since!

      I do really, really like Minneapolis and am dying to move “back” to the Twin Cities despite never having actually lived there — my husband was there for a job for a couple of years, but I was living elsewhere at the time. I don’t see that as illogical though, it’s objectively a pretty great place. :)

      1. Susan*

        I once interviewed for a job in Minneapolis, and I loved it there. I just felt “at home” there somehow. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job, and I always sort of look back on it as the one that got away (although there were some red flags with that company, so it may have been a blessing in disguise).

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I’m from Minneapolis! For a while, it looked like I was going to settle down in Philly, and I cried and cried. Then, we moved back to Minneapolis and have been sortof disappointed that we’re not in Philly. (We’ve since moved to Saint Paul, which — if you know the Twin Cities — is, for real, a different world.)

        I will always love Minneapolis best. But I miss being on the East Coast, so easily accessible to other cities (and the ocean! I <3 you, South Jersey beaches.)

        1. East Coast Transplant*

          I never really understood comments that said “are you me?” I had lived for twenty five years in NYC but born and raised in south jersey and spent my twenties in philly. I always thought I would end up in Philly. Yet her I am living in St. Paul and working in Minneapolis. A very different world indeed.

    2. KR*

      Not so much a city but my husband was stationed about an hour outside of Seattle in a little town on the Puget Sound for a few years. I visited a few times and I LOVED IT. I loved the trees. I loved the wildlife. I loved how liberal it was but back-woodsy too. I loved the little towns around where he was stationed that were so much like New England. I loved the recreational, legal, and easy to obtain green vegetative substance that starts with an M. I loved how you could be literally at a beach and see huge mountains, and not just see them. You could drive a half hour and be going UP them and be in the middle of the forest. I didn’t love how cold the North Pacific Ocean is, but it’s about as cold as the North Atlantic so completely doable for me and there is barely any snow in that area in the winter. Long story short, I fell in love. After my husband is out of the service we want to move to the PNW. He really likes Oregon but I’m pushing for somewhere slight north of Tacoma, WA. :)

    3. 17again*

      I live in NYC and can’t wait to eventually establish roots somewhere else. I have such a love/hate relationship with this city.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Treat it like a work crush – you know it makes no sense and it’ll fade eventually :)

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I completely love Washington, DC. I really wasn’t into it for the first maybe 3 months I lived here, but after that, it just keeps growing on me. My partner and I originally intended to move back to Oregon at some point but now I don’t want to ever leave DC.

    6. Windchime*

      I fell in love with Seattle when I was 15. Cold, rainy, damp Seattle. I was from the sunny side of the state where there is a lot of wide, open spaces and the people are friendly. I lived near Seattle briefly when I was 19 and I thought the coolest thing ever would be to get a job in an office in a big building. Over the years, every time I came to the Seattle area I would have this feeling that I belonged here.

      Now I’m 56. I live an hour north of Seattle and I have a tiring commute, but I work downtown in a big office building and sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure I’m awake.

      Seattle has lots of problems. The traffic is terrible and the weather isn’t much better. The downtown area is full of the homeless and drug-addicted, and that is a very sad thing to witness. Like Denver, the smell of (legal) pot is *everywhere*. But on a sunny day, there is truly no place more beautiful. I can stop outside my building and look down the street to see Puget Sound. I hear the seagulls every time I step outside. I love, love, love Seattle.

    7. lcsa99*

      I was born and raised in a small town in California and visited New York city when I was 12 and fell in love. Decided I wanted to live there. I ended up moving there in 2003 and haven’t looked back once!

    8. Artemesia*

      I feel this way about Seattle and Chicago — and I sure can see someone falling in love with Vancouver.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I feel that way about London.
      And I haven’t stopped dreaming about California since I left. Mostly I dream about Santa Cruz, but because of housing costs and the lack of well-paying jobs there, I can’t go back to that town.

      1. Turkletina*

        I miss many, many things about Santa Cruz. I do not miss being forced to rent a room in a hovel because I couldn’t afford a place (or even a nice room!) of my own.

    10. AliceBD*

      I am moving in a month to a city I really really like and I couldn’t be more excited. There are logical reasons for me to like it (closer to my parents, family are there, already have a built-in friend group there, know my way around it somewhat) but I also just really don’t like my current city and can’t wait to leave it. My current city is way too corporate and bland — it’s not that much younger than the city I’m moving two (both cities are in the original 13 colonies) but even the older parts feel very modern and manufactured, which is not something I enjoy.

    11. Lady Jay*

      O lord. I do *not* like Dallas. All that ostentatious wealth . . . . But I enjoyed hearing your more positive take on it! Me, I visited Seattle once for a conference and fell in love. I hear the people there are pretty chilly, and there’s no way I could afford it, but the abundant (and large!) roses and the huge parks with the snowy mountains behind them were just so beautiful. I loved my runs through the park in the mornings, even on cloudy days.

    12. Chaordic One*

      I used to live in Pasadena, California and I loved it (and most of the Los Angeles area in general, too). I had to move away when I faced a massive increase in my rent and I could no longer afford to live there.

      I lived in Denver for a while and I thought to myself that it should have been a perfect compromise, but for some reason things always seemed a bit off there and I never seemed to find a place to fit in. I guess it was just me.

    13. Lindsay J*

      I just moved to Dallas from Houston a couple weeks ago. I like it a lot so far. I haven’t had a lot of time to explore the city, but I have a 2 page list in my notebook right now of all the stuff I want to check out.

      I do have to comment on the whole liberal feminist thing. In the cities I feel like we are the majority more than the minority as far as political attitudes go. While parts of rural Texas are still deeply conservative, large swaths of Houston and Dallas (as well as the entirety of Austin) are pretty blue. And mostly people who aren’t seem to keep their beliefs to themselves. I actually feel like people are more tolerant here than they were in the part of New Jersey where I grew up.

    14. nonegiven*

      30 years ago, I remember being on a flight taking off from DFW and noticing SO. MANY. POOLS.

    15. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

      Hiraeth is a Welsh word that doesn’t have a direct English translation. It’s a feeling… “homesickness tinged with grief or sadness…a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the Wales of the past” according to University of Wales. And it’s a really great explanation of how I feel for Boston.

      My mother’s family comes from the greater metro area of Boston and/or New England but she moved to the west coast 40 years ago. I grew up spending summers and holidays there. One of my happiest memories was when I took my year old son and my husband to Boston for the first time. It was nearly ridiculous – I took him to all the touristy parts and had so much fun being a snotty know it all. I told family jokes and showed off places where some of my favorite family photos were taken. There is just something about that city that soothes my soul.

  45. 17again*

    I signed a job offer on Friday that’s contingent on a background check. I’m so excited to be leaving my current company after 5 years of being there!
    But the timing of this new offer isn’t the greatest. I have 2 business trips coming up, and I have a feeling my bosses are going to be surprised and it take the news very well.

  46. Sophie*

    I wrote about my mom last week embarrassing me in front of people. The thing is, and this drives me crazy, is that most people are like, “Oh, your mom is so nice!” and she can be…. to them!
    This also happens to me at work and with friends- I had a friend who would kick and hit me, yet she would start to cry and tell people that *I* was the mean one! (What?)
    At work, my boss would scream at me and throw things, yet he got everyone to hate me by telling lies and spreading gossip about me.
    I’m not perfect and I’m not trying to have a poor me, pity party…. But how do you overcome this? It’s tiring trying to defend yourself all of the time. I usually just walk away and try to cool down. I feel like I’m going crazy though because only I see their behavior, yet can’t do anything about it. Other people may see it too though, but they don’t know what to do/don’t do anything.

    1. Junior Dev*

      I have the same issue with my mom. She’ll trample over people’s boundaries in a way that seems well intentioned to people who don’t know her well. I just have to stop talking about her with people who don’t get it.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. I had the same issue. My mother was nice and was very helpful to many people but her neuroses meant she just undermined the @#$% out of me my entire childhood and youth. I had to use behavioral techniques to draw boundaries. This mostly worked.

        You don’t have to justify anything to anyone else.

        On the job — that is tougher.

    2. Biff*

      Unfortunately, your Mom has probably trained you to go on the defensive when people behave badly towards you. Also unfortunate, the sort of people who like having victims or at least someone who fills the “DUFF”-like role in their life are very attracted to someone who is easily triggered to go into the defensive/fixer role. I had a similar problem and this is what I’ve tried to do:

      1. Work on my “Excuse me, but why are you treating me like this?” assertive response to pointless antagonism.
      2. Work on my “WOW.” Response when someone says something incredibly nasty/short-sighted/thoughless.
      3. Work on disengaging. Instead of trying to defend, or smooth things over, there’s a time to just disengage.

    3. fposte*

      I suspect because of your mom you might not have a good “Hell, no” radar. The other incarnation of that I see are people who end up friends with the first workmate/schoolmate who gloms onto them, and their friends turn out to be overbearing people they don’t really like (who have been distanced by everybody else, who saw it coming). Boss and mother are a little harder to negotiate, but with friends, remember that it’s always optional; you don’t have to accept a friendship just because it’s brought to you, and you get to pick friends as well as be picked.

      1. fposte*

        I think this is bad, but I don’t think this is gaslighting, at least not as I understand it. Gaslighting is about directly and deliberately making that person doubt her own perceptions, not just being nicer to other people.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes I think life is loaded with tests.
      One of the tests is “how well do we stand up for ourselves INSPITE of not having any support”.

      The friend who kicked you? Your mom does not need to valid that. You know you have been kicked so that is enough info there, ditch the friend.

      The nasty boss, well that means it’s new job time.

      Get some boundaries books and sit and read. Seriously. The books show example of people setting boundaries in various situations. Start figuring out your boundaries and stick to them. My wise friend said if you see a given behavior three times you have a pattern. If you have a pattern that means you need to take action. Boss bullies you three times, time to look for a new job.
      There are some things you don’t need to see three times. If you see it once that is enough. Your friend hurts you, done. Over.

      I can see why gaslighting was suggest above, because it sounds like you are having trouble trusting your own senses. This can happen when people have been gaslighted, they no longer believe what they see/think.
      I think that starting with setting boundaries is good.

      There have been quite a few times in my life where others did not see or understand what I was reacting to. Sometimes being confident that I was taking the right action was as good as things got.

      I also think that you should look around for people other than your mom for support. How about a trusted neighbor or family member? I have had friends’ parents say and do some supportive things for me. Look around and see if you can find someone a bit older than you but someone who seems to be in your corner. Here is the trick: In order to identify other sincere people we have to have a relationship with someone who is sincere. This is how we get to know how sincere people talk and act. So look around, see who you have in your life that can give you that comfort and stability. Someone who can help you trust your senses again and trust your own judgement.

  47. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    Hey all! I want all your advice for starting my own business. I’m not going to pull the trigger until at least December, maybe not till March of next year. Once thing that is tricky: I don’t want there to be any overlap between my current job and when I’m running my business. I’m doing work behind the scenes to get everything set up, build out my website, think thru the services I’ll offer, etc, but I don’t want my brand to be in any way associated with or controlled by my employer (other than as a place I used to work). So, I don’t want to do the classic advice of doing it as a side hustle.

    I’ll have savings (that’s the only reason I’ve not launched yet; I over-withhold on my taxes so I get substantial refunds, and I’m saving about half of what I got this year and then planning to use next years’ to give me even more runway), and my partner has a low-paying but relatively decent and stable job. Healthcare is gonna be a b*tch to afford, and I may decide to forego for a few months depending on the costs of each option and the political climate.

    What do you wish you knew before you launched your business? How quickly were you able to see whether your plan was viable?

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      Think long and hard about how you want to deal with hiring other people if/when the time comes when you need to do that. Lots of companies get off the ground on the backs of the owner’s friends and people who just happened to be hanging around…and these are people who often are able to hang out because they’re not so great when it comes to holding down jobs. If you want quality employees with pleasant personalities, you have to be competitive with what legitimately good workers are getting from their current employers. Just research employee stuff in general and try to change any tendency you might have to be nickel-and-dime-ish. I’ve worked for a lot of small businesses where you could tell that the owners started by selling X product out of their garage, and they resented having to pay employees once the business became too successful for one person to handle. If you want your employees to have experience and certain educational backgrounds, be prepared to start them at $15/hr AT LEAST.

      I’m happy with my current job but the long-term prospects for my industry aren’t great. I have a friend who’s trying to get a business off the ground and I told him that if he’ll wait though my job’s busy season, I’ll make a weekend project out of helping him. He agreed that if things work out, he’ll have to bring me on board, and not just as a regular employee. I’m talking about a director-level position, possible part ownership, and perks up the wazoo. He agreed because I’m good at what I’m bringing to the table. For my part, I wouldn’t have even bothered except his idea is extremely good. He’s aware that I don’t need to work for him for nothing when I could be working for someone else who could pay me what the work is worth. He knows his idea is too good to squander on a start-up crew of acquaintances who just happen to always have a lot of free time.

  48. Anxa*

    I got the wifi password at work! I work in the field, but spend about 1 to 2 hours at our office waiting to be dispatched.

    All of my coworkers have smartphones, most have done the job before, all are more familiar with the area. Every day I spent 20 minutes sweating in a parked car trying to mooch internet from a nearby school while looking up driving directions for my site visits.

    I feel like I might be much more efficient from now out. Actually getting to use my time in the office in the morning for work instead of awkward waiting!

  49. Elkay*

    I’m having problems at work because I’m so disengaged I can’t articulate what the problem is other than my boss. My colleague suggested making a list of when you did x it made me feel y but I fear that won’t fix the problem because it feels so much bigger than making me feel bad through actions.

    1. Biff*

      Is your boss shutting you down consistently?

      1. You have an idea. Boss says it will never work.
      2. You have work that turned out well and you want to share it with your boss. Boss says they’ll look at it later and never does.
      3. You discuss your job with boss, and boss is obviously waiting for the minute you go away.


      1. Elkay*

        More number 3 than the others. Boss clearly doesn’t engage with the work I do so just wants me to take it off their hands. Boss praises what I do but it feels hollow because they have no idea/interest as to whether I’ve done a truly good job or just scraped by on the minimum (and sometimes I don’t know either whether I could have done more).

        1. fposte*

          That sounds like we’re getting out of the realm of things you could ask him to change, unfortunately. How does this compare to other bosses you’ve really liked?

    2. fposte*

      I think it would be helpful for you to make a list for your own clarity of mind, then; spend a week or two noting down what happens at work that makes you feel disengaged. I will say that “when you did x I feel y” is more of a social relationship tool than a work one, so even identifying the x doesn’t mean you can ask your boss to be different. However, it’s possible that there are some strategies that you can identify or request of your boss–but you have to be specific.

      1. Elkay*

        It’s the specifics that are lost on me though because to me it’s obvious you don’t tell your team that you don’t want to do a certain team building activity with them because you’re doing it with the management and invited guests (none of our team) at your overseas off-site but apparently my boss needs telling so it feels like I’m picking on every single thing that they do.

        1. fposte*

          I’m not talking about writing stuff down to tell your boss, though; I’m talking about writing stuff down so you can articulate the problem better to yourself. You can pick on him all you want. Whether he needs telling or not, the times when you can straight-out ask a boss to be different are pretty limited anyway, so you’d want to find out whether you can marshal the main problems into one of those times or identify strategies that will mitigate the problem.

          Can you clarify the problem in your example? If a manager says “I’m doing Outward Bound with the execs in Switzerland in August, so I won’t be doing it with you guys in July” that doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. Is this bad because it’s yet another example of his not being there when the team expects him to? Is this bad because he said it more insultingly than that?

          I can’t swear to you that being more specific is going to provide you with tools, but generally it’s a good exercise for breaking down discontent and understanding it better, and it’s pretty tough to mitigate without doing that.

          You sound pretty fed up, so I hope it gets better one way or another!

  50. Lib.retto*

    TL;DR Does having more volunteer work than paid work on my resume hurt me?

    Long background:
    I am a young professional 3 years out of college. In college, I had about a year’s worth of nonconsecutive volunteer experiences but no paid work experience. Several months post graduation I accepted a job in an office that was not in my field but was the population I want to work with and is a related field to the job I want to be in. For the second year of this job I also volunteered with a hospice doing both patient visits and administrative work. Fast forward 2.5 years and I left that job for the opportunity to move. I did leave my previous job without another job lined up. It was a toxic workplace and I knew that if I didn’t leave then, that I wouldn’t leave. After moving I started volunteering with a senior center to keep me busy while I job search. After several months I accepted one part time position (20 hr/week) as well as starting another volunteer position at a hospice in an administrative position. I have also signed up for a virtual senior center based across the country from me that will start in the fall. I will be looking for another job (hopefully full time) but I really enjoy volunteering and see it as an opportunity to dunk my toes into a host of different areas while I figure out what I enjoy doing and what I am good at.
    So here is my question: Right now my resume is listed like this. Work Experience: Current job, Previous job. Volunteer Experience: Job 1, 2, 3, 4. I suppose my concern is that my volunteer experience takes up a good 1/3 to 1/2 of my resume in the middle. I would like to point out that my experiences and accomplishments at my volunteer work are relevant to the career I want to be in especially since my previous job was not. I will continue to volunteer either way, but I just can’t decide if some of these positions are worth leaving off my resume now that they are almost 5 years old even if they show accomplishments that I still talk about in interviews today.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s fine if you’re looking in health care or gerontology related stuff, because you have a really clear track that speaks to consistency and commitment; I wouldn’t push to list each volunteer experience separately for jobs to which that isn’t relevant, though.

    2. HannahS*

      I really don’t know! I was in the same situation before being accepted into more schooling. I’d go to job interviews, and my work experience was a current job, a high school job, and then half a page of volunteer experience. I was applying to entry level jobs, so I think that interviewers understood my situation–it’s so common for young people to need to volunteer or take unpaid internships to break in to a field. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

  51. Call me St. Vincent*

    I supervise, but don’t totally supervise, an employee. She reports to me and several others, but my boss is her technical supervisor. We have a lawyer/paralegal, doctor/nurse type relationship where she is considered support staff. I’ve been in my job for less than a year, and she has been there almost 2 years. I have found her to be the most negative person I’ve ever met! She literally complains about EVERYTHING. If you say, “oh it’s a nice day” she’ll complain that she can’t enjoy nice weather because her yard needs to be mowed and her husband is a good for nothing and hasn’t done it and she’s told him sixty times but he is terrible. Literally, every single conversation turns into a complaint she has about work or about her personal life and she takes over the conversation with her negative stories.

    While she is competent, she complains she doesn’t have enough to do and that the work is beneath her, at the same time taking forever to do everyone’s work! She used to work in a supervisory position and likes to remind everyone that. It also doesn’t help that she clearly does not agree with or support our mission (social justice non-profit). A lot of people find her too grating to even talk to and avoid her.

    It doesn’t help that I am a younger woman and she is an older woman and I have definitely gotten the distinct feeling she thinks she is the one who should be supervising me, not the other way around, despite the fact that I have an advanced degree and have worked really, really hard in my field to get the job I am in now (and I am really proud of it!). She has made specific comments to me that she could do my job and that she’s better than the position that she is in. The thing that’s crazy is she really likes me and thinks we’re buddies. I don’t dislike her, but she drives me and every other person in our office, absolutely crazy. I was recently talking with a colleague about it and she said that she had spoken to our supervisor about letting her go because no one can stand the negativity and the fact that she really doesn’t do nearly as much work as she should be.

    I want to talk to her and tell her how much her negative attitude is hurting her and her attitude towards work. I just worry because she is also one of those people who takes everything PERSONALLY and I’m afraid she’ll just turn it into one of her woe is me rantings instead of actually listening. Any advice?

    1. Windchime*

      I would probably let it go, honestly. If she was a family member or a close friend then I would try to help, but it’s been my experience that people like this (especially older people) either can’t change or don’t really want to change.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        It’s a problem because she isn’t doing my work in a timely manner and that’s messing up my ability to do my job. So I need to talk to her, just need advice on how to do it.

    2. fposte*

      I’m not sure what you mean by “don’t totally supervise,” but if you’re her manager or even one of them it’s totally appropriate and highly advisable for you to counsel her on this. “Jane, it seems clear to me you’re unhappy right now, and I know that’s tough, but constant statements about how you’re underemployed and should be doing my job, or conversations like this morning that involve you complaining about normal work stuff [I’m betting there are conversations like that] hurt morale and hurt you. I’m going to ask you to work on that habit to make this a more positive workplace for everybody–do you think you can do that?”

      1. fposte*

        Okay, I guess fireworks ate my brain, because you describe the situation in the second sentence–sorry. I think you can still talk to her but it’s less of a laying down the law. “Wow, you sound really unhappy” or “That sounds like you’re unhappy about this job. You should talk to Supervisor.”

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          Thank you so much. I think I can lay down the law when it comes to my work specifically, but I think she should know that it is really a problem and she might be fired. My other colleague who spoke to me about her performance said that when she spoke to her about the issue, the person in question said that my colleague was just being picky and that it was only her having ridiculous standards. In truth, everyone agrees. Colleague thought it would be a kindness if someone else spoke to her about her attitude and actions prior to her being let go, which my colleague has been working on doing with my boss if she doesn’t improve soon. In fact, my boss has told her to quit if she’s so unhappy before (when she was complaining about her pay and workload), but he tends to be very forgiving of people in general. This has gone on way too long and I think it’s about to come to a head unless serious improvement happens.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Speak to her supervisor. The real problem isn’t that she’s annoying; it’s that she doesn’t do as much work as she should be, and she doesn’t support your mission. And someone who has a negative, takes-everything-personally attitude is NOT someone who is amenable to being told to improve.

      You cannot afford to have support staff who will screw up or even sabotage your work.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Thanks. I think it is headed that way, but I know my supervisor and the first thing he is going to ask me is whether I sat down with her to explain the issues and gave her time to improve. He knows she is a problem, but he wants to have more documentation and evidence. He is also way too nice and has given her one too many chances already. I don’t think she would sabotage my work because I just wouldn’t let her touch anything if she did anything questionable. It would be pretty obvious if she did something and given the type of work we do, if she messed something up for me, it would be obvious and she would be fired immediately based on that.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      For me, the best strategies with people like this are to deflect or reflect. As in, if she complains about the weather, deflect: “Oh, I’m sorry you feel that way. So, I wanted to ask you about the WENUS report….”, basically ignore it and change the subject, or reflect: “Really? But those issues don’t really have to do with the weather, right? I just meant it’s nice enough to enjoy stepping out the door.” The second is a bit more confrontational, but sometimes when ignoring/deflecting doesn’t seem to decrease the negativity, I might be tempted to pick apart their negative statements. It’s definitely more confrontational, so some people might never want to go there. I just happen to come from a family where that kind of talk was second nature; normally I try to suppress it and just deflect or ignore, but sometimes it gets tiresome, especially when they seem to be trying hard to turn something into a gripe.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Thanks. I appreciate it. I am going to want to sit her down to talk about her behavior over all, but I guess I will just have to do it. I honestly just back away when she starts in now on something negative or just say “huh, ok got to get back to work.”

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      I once witnessed someone shut one of these people down with: “Wow, it really happens to you doesn’t it.”

  52. ToxicWaste*

    I left a toxic work place 6 months ago, but I still remember the smirks and laughs from my boss, another supervisor from a different department, and a co-worker. It was the 3 of them who were always tattling on me, trying to get me in trouble or fired. The day I gave my notice, they seemed really happy and were laughing.

    My boss and co-worker never liked me. My boss wanted his buddy hired for the job/or at least a chance to pick his team, so he hated me from day one. The co-worker was a curmudgeon, so no loss there. But I don’t understand why the supervisor from a different department hated me so much. He was buddies with my boss though, so I’m guessing just through that association.

    I think I might have PTSD, because I can’t get their stupid laughing, smirking faces out of my mind. How do you deal with this?

    1. TiredGal*


      I’m terribly sorry for your horrible experience at your most recent job.

      As someone who has dealt with workplace cliques on more than one occasion, I completely sympathize with your predicament. It truly is traumatic to have your self-esteem eroded at a place where you spend 40 or more hours each week. The buddy-buddy element of the workplace was beyond your control, so please don’t take it personally (easier written than done).

      One suggestion would be to make a point of rebuilding your sense of self-worth by meeting one-on-one with friends and having conversations with people you know and trust. This will allow you to see your value as a person and know that only jerks will openly smirk at you and make inappropriate comments. Good people, including your friends, will offer commiseration and help lift your spirits.

      You could also look into talking with a counselor about how rattled the previous position left you. For something as sensitive as this, a professional who will know how to listen and provide constructive and useful feedback may do you a lot of good.

      Keep in mind that these are just suggestions from a random Internet person. Feel free to disregard.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Search for workplace ptsd on here – there are some threads with really great advice.

  53. Sometime commentor who is going the full anon monty*

    How do you date when you’re a straight male in his late 20s, morbidly obese (6’2″, 330 lb), hasn’t dated ever, and got his confidence broken by a woman who used his social awkwardness to break his heart? (We’re talking someone, i.e. the OP of this, who might be on the high-functioning autistic end of the spectrum based on clinical opinion from therapists.)

    I can be social with members of the opposite gender, but I don’t really have the cojones or the opportunity to take it farther than that.

    1. fposte*

      Have you tried online dating? If Tinder feels too looks-focused, something like OK Cupid might be a good alternative. Part of online dating is that it makes rejections more legible, so you do have to be willing to face that, but friendly, honest, and non-creepy can take you pretty far.

      If you haven’t, you might also consider raising this question in therapy. It sounds like you had a bad experience in love, which a lot of us have had; I think maybe you’re a little more stuck on the narrative of what she did to you than is usual, though, and that might be worth talking about.

    2. Junior Dev*

      Captain Awkward (look for the “dating guide for geeks”) and Dr Nerdlove are two good sources of dating advice for people who are awkward, socially anxious, or have trouble with self-confidence.

      I’m a fat queer woman who has been getting dates, though not a lot, on OkCupid–I found it really helps me to approach it as “I’m going to try and have a good time with this person and if we see each other again, great, and if we don’t, oh well.” That helps take some of the pressure off of an individual person to be THE ONE.

      Do you have hobbies? I would suggest you do something you find fun and interesting so that 1) you’ll have some well rounded things to tell dates about and 2) you can get some practice being social in a low-as-possible context. If you’re having issues feeling confident about your body, learning a sport or athletic activity can be a good way to appreciate your body for what it can do, not what it looks like (which means you should probably steer clear of sports where people are super competitive or fixated on looks.) I do roller derby (on a very beginner level) and lift weights and both of them have helped me feel more confident with women.

      1. Zathras*

        Dr. Nerdlove is good, I’m pretty sure it was his site that had good suggestions of ways to “practice” things like approaching people. Like, the first step was just to sit in a cafe or on the train and look around at people and find something about them you thought was attractive. All the people, not just the 2 or 3 that had already drawn your eye as “attractive.” And a later step would be to turn one of these things into a complement that you could pay someone, without further expectation of any interaction. Like, go up to someone who is waiting at a bus stop, and say “hey, I just wanted to say I really like your hat.” And then keep walking.

        I think his specific advice on how to flirt/banter leans to the aggressive side; not that it’s wrong, but it’s worth thinking a bit about whether the type of partner you are looking for is likely to enjoy that, because not all women do.

        1. Dan*

          Actually, I’d challenge the advice to try to pick people up on trains. From everything I’ve read, women hate that. And I’ll admit, when strangers approach me on public transit, it creeps me the f out. You really can’t hit on people when they don’t have an “escape”.

          For someone “on the spectrum”, it may help have a cheat sheet. Public transit and their job are off limits until you are more experienced.

          1. Zathras*

            Yeah, actually the bus stop was a terrible example for the reasons you stated. Much better to practice that stage at some kind of party / social gathering, where people have a reasonable expectation of being approached by someone they don’t know or don’t know well.

            The point is to also pick somewhere where *you* can easily escape after delivering the compliment – because you want a low stakes interaction with a stranger. But definitely pick a situation where they also have an easy escape.

            Trains etc. are fine for the first stage where you are just practicing compliments inside your own head, as long as you don’t stare at people. I guess, if you have difficulty knowing whether you are staring, it might be better to start somewhere where you are sitting and the people around you are moving past, like a park bench.

    3. KR*

      Try online dating! That way the people you’re hanging out with KNOW you are looking to eventually date (because you’re on a dating site) so you don’t have to have the whole, “I’ve become friends with this person but how do I flirt and let them know I might like them as more than a friend”. They already know you were on a dating site and most sites have a place you can mark down what you’re looking for. I’m a big fan of, when you’re socially awkward and not knowing how to put things, a)writing things down and practicing at home, in the shower, ect, b)trying out scripts on a good friend to get their input, and c) just coming out and saying it! “I’m not really sure how to say this, so I’m just going to come out and say that I think you’re quite nice and I’d like to spend more time with you. Would you like to come over for dinner Sunday?” I can’t speak to dating in your specific situation and maybe other commenters will have better advice but keep in mind, you will be rejected at least once most likely. It will hurt. But that’s okay! Dating is a two way street – everyone is just trying to find the best people for them.

    4. Dan*

      Social groups on meetup are a good place. Strike up as many conversations as you can, especially with people who you know are single. If the conversation goes well, ask for a phone number. Get the number and set up a date. First date? Just normal stuff. Keep the job talk to a minimum. No sex talk on the first date.

      Ask for lots of phone numbers. Get rejected a lot. Get rejected so much you get used to it and it doesn’t bother you. Once you get to that point, you’ll get comfortable with it. The more comfortable you are, the more easier it gets. And the easier it gets, the more dates you get.

      Also, find a clothing style that looks good on you.

  54. Lana*

    Has anyone ever had an awkward run-in with an old friend? I saw an old friend at a mutual friend’s wedding and it was uncomfortable to say the least. We grew apart and stopped talking, but I think she blames me. It was a weird conversation though because first she would be friendly, then she would switch to being ticked off…. It was odd.
    I don’t want to be friends again because she was emotionally draining and used me. Plus she’d only hang out if there was no one else to hang out with or spend the entire time on the phone talking to other friends, so we drifted apart.
    It stinks though because my parents practically raised her growing up- her home life was pretty tough and she would spend nights by us and so on. (My parents were more like parents to her and her sister than her own parents!)
    Plus I was always sending her stuff and visiting her in college. My family and I drove up to see her at school.
    She doesn’t owe me anything and I don’t want an apology, but it just stinks because there is this animosity and tension and I don’t know why. It’s too late to question anything and she’s getting married, so I’m happy for her, it just sort of hurts.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Small consolation but maybe frame it as recognizing you had way more than she will ever have in terms of family/home/belonging. She may be embarrassed by that imbalance, she may feel a debt to you and yours that she cannot repay, or any number of emotions.

      Hold the door ajar. Decide that maybe at some point in the future when she feels more anchored in life she will be able to talk to you about it and you will build a stronger relationship. Right now it sounds like she is carrying a lot of wounds from life. It’s very hard for any being to be considerate or even-keeled if they are nursing a bunch of wounds.

      Just to be clear, this does not mean being unkind to you is okay. no-no-no. It’s not okay. But you don’t sound angry, you sound baffled and sad. So I am attempting to talk about that part, what to do with the puzzlement and the sadness. Maybe in years to come you will find more to this story.

  55. Shark Whisperer*

    Does anyone know why organizations won’t let employees give references? One of my former employees (who still works at my organization, but in a different department) is having trouble finding references because both my organization and her former place of employment have a policy against giving references. It says in our handbook that all reference checks have to go through HR and I don’t get it! HR can’t talk about my former employee’s performance. HR is in a different building and I don’t think they’ve ever actually met my former employee besides maybe new employee orientation. Is there some legitimate reason for this that I’m not seeing? Is it just to make it harder for employees to leave?

    P.S. I am totally giving my former employee a reference anyway. I sent her the job posting for the position she’s up for. She was a stellar employee and she deserves success and way more money than my organization is giving her.

    1. neverjaunty*

      The “legitimate” reason is to avoid giving a good reference that could be used against the company in a discrimination suit.

      That is, if Wakeen says he was fired because of (say) his national origin, the company is going to counter that Wakeen was a subpar performer and that’s why he got fired. That counterargument is a little harder to maintain if the company told Wakeen’s new employer good things about him.

  56. Anxa*

    I’m having a bit of a career crisis.

    I’m working a full-time, temp job with a health department. About 7 years ago, I interned at a health department and really liked it. I am finding, though, that I don’t enjoy it as much I thought I would/used to. In the time between getting licensed for a particular job in public health and now, I went back to school for more general biology and biotech. I never thought I would be a scientist; I cannot see myself getting a PhD at all. Grad school in general is a gambit: I don’t have amazing research, only have a few references, and my grades are dismal (although my post-B.S. grades are excellent). But I keep finding myself drawn to research and wishing I could have a little ownership of a project.

    I might actually have a full-time, permanent job in the fall. I’m just not sure if I want it. It would pay a modest salary, but for me it would be far to much to turn down lightly. Like, it would be solidly middle class salary after spending my entire adult life at poverty wages. Theoretically, I could save up money to go back to school if I want to. But I’m also not sure there’s a good way to segue into my current field into something I want to do. Even if go to grad school and get an MPH or MS, I could end up right back at a county health department, making similar wages after a year of lost income + tuition costs.

    I am so tempted to just stick with my tutoring job in the fall and pursue investing in some of careers I could have later down the line. Working at the health department leaves no time for taking classes or lab volunteering.

    I spent so much time worrying about what I could do with my degree and experiences, and now I’m starting to worry about what a I want to do. I am so, so mad at myself for my academic performance in undergrad. Even after a year of nearly straight A’s, I still don’t make the cut off for most of the programs I’m looking at, never mind being competitive.

    Meanwhile it’s been two years since I started volunteering in a lab and I miss it so much. There WAS a chance I could have done it the past few months, but the opportunity was misleading categorized as not currently accepting volunteers.

    1. Simone R*

      Have you thought about getting a paid job in a lab? Plenty of labs have jobs for people who only have a B.S. and they don’t care as much about your grades if you have lab experience. If you’re working at a university you may qualify for tuition remission eventually which could allow you to work for your masters if you decided you wanted it. Years of experience in lab matter when applying for lab jobs both in academia and industry!

      1. Anxa*

        I’ve been applying to job ads for about 10 months in this area without any feedback. I’m new to the state and have no network, my volunteering was done in a previous state. I have a good reference, but it’s getting stale.

        That’s why I’ve considered an extra year of lab science school (CLS), since it may have a more direct path and would have rotations that may give me a connection.

        The nearest research school to me has only posted 2 research tech positions in the last year, and neither of the schools in my city have science research to volunteer for. My SO works at a research center, but the lab techs are typically hired after interning, and I’d have to go back to school to qualify as an intern, plus that means walking away from paid work to intern.

        1. Simone R*

          Oooh that’s rough. I don’t have any experience with CLS (had to google it) so sorry I can’t give more advice. Good luck!

  57. Ramona Flowers*

    I started reading The Humans today and loved it. Had been off work briefly with (non work related) stress and this had me laughing out loud on the London Underground.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      This is also the first time I’ve ever stopped and taken time out at the first early warning signs (I was bursting into tears at random and woke up at 1am worrying about the coloured labels in my outlook calendar).

      My manager is on holiday so I emailed grandboss who sent the loveliest reply telling me not to pressure myself to come back before I was ready. Ironically, taking time off immediately and being shown human kindness by myself and others (my husband came home in the middle of a night out for a friend’s birthday just to bring me food and put clean bedding on) meant I basically bounced back in 24 hours and came back today almost zen.

  58. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

    Been an eventful long weekend.

    Thursday I went to walk-in clinic as a follow-up to the bronchitis/pneumonia; lungs clear, healing well.

    I spent Friday-Sunday at the racetrack for one of the largest vintage racing events on the west coast. Managed to be at turn stations in full shade first two days, but Sunday had sun; even 3 days after finishing the antibiotics, I got burned in my face through the sunscreen.

    Yesterday morning got a call from my brother, Mom had a heart attack. Ambulance to Rolla, MO hospital, helicopter to Columbia, MO. I immediately texted the bride for Friday’s wedding that I might have to fly out. She has a backup officiant (smart woman!) if I need to. Talked with Mom this morning, she’s doing great and may go home tomorrow. Doesn’t need help, so I’ll be able to do the wedding.

    Still lots of fatigue, but I’m getting better.

    1. fposte*

      Wow, I’m glad your mom’s going home so fast; tough lady. Enjoy the wedding, red-faced or no.

    2. Mallows*

      I hope the wedding is wonderful, and I am glad your mom is okay!

      What is a turn station (yes, I googled)? It doesn’t help that I’m not sure if you’re talking horses or cars :-)

      1. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)*

        A turn station is where the people who wave flags at racecars (Flagging and Communication workers, also called Turn Marshalls) stand. We need to be in line of sight of the drivers, but safe. You literally can’t be closer to the action without being in a race car. Here’s a photo of a nice one, https://www.google.com/search?q=racing+turn+station&client=ms-android-google&prmd=isvn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiE17T9nvHUAhVUVWMKHe5IAGcQ_AUICSgB&biw=376&bih=540#imgrc=AWsvPkwD4YmC3M:

  59. Susan Calvin*

    Any tips for managing up, when you manager has way too much on her plate and it’s affecting you but she either can’t or won’t push back on that on her own accord? My sympathy for her being obviously overworked is starting to be overshadowed by resentment about her apparent disrespect of *my* time and energy.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not clear on how she is disrespecting your time and energy.
      But, generally, I’d recommend sitting down and talking with her. Maybe you both can find ways to work in a more efficient manner.
      Another strategy I have used is to set my own predicament to one side and talk to the boss about her setting. “I see you are getting stressed. What can we do to ease this?” I try to have some suggestions because by then the boss is usually firing on one cylinder or less.

      Overall, a boss whose time and energy is not respected will probably end up doing the same to her employees IF she does not develop a plan not to do this to the employees.

  60. Ruby*

    I’m sure this question isn’t something that can be solved by a quick comment but I’d figure I’d put it out there to collect my thoughts and get some feedback.

    Right now I’m sort of stuck in an industry I have absolutely zero interest in. I first got the entry level retail job because of a life event and didn’t want to be homeless so that meant taking a break from school while waiting for things to settle.

    Now a couple of years and many promotions later I’m one small step from being transferred to the head corporate office in the country (it’s a pretty big company) and every night I come home I can’t help lament “how did I even get here”

    It seemed purely accidental, but now I’m here and making far more money than my friends, who actually did complete college and I don’t feel like I can just stop.

    A lot of these skills and knowledge are completely unrelateable to any field except our competitors but I’m not passionate about it at all. Sure I’m good at it and I’m a great worker, but I don’t really know an exit strategy. I don’t want this to be my life, I want to go back to school and go into something I care about, but if I leave I have no idea where I could go or if I’d have to start square one.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Well, you probably would be starting close to square one, but sometimes that’s OK. The other question is… do you hate the job, or just think that there must be something else out there that’s better? Cause having a good income gives you a lot of flexibility with travel and hobbies, which might be better ways to figure out what you’re interested in than going to school (plenty of people spend $50k to go to college and come out with no better idea of what they want to do).

      I would say, don’t go back to school unless you can do so _very_ comfortably, and even then maybe not until you have at least an idea of something that would be interesting.

      Another good option might be listening to podcasts or reading articles/essays that people write about their fields. Just about every field has a robust online (and often in-person) community of podcasters, bloggers, conferences, networking meetups, etc. You could dig around in a few fields and see what grabs you as being really interesting, and go from there.

      1. Ruby*

        The thing about it is I don’t really hate the work, it’s just nothing that I wanted to do. It feels like I’m just killing time with this but the further I go the more I realize that this ended up being my career. It’s kind of scary.

    2. Susan Calvin*

      It’s hard to say for certain without details of course, but I’d be inclined to bet that you have more transferable skills than you think. Honest. Especially if you’re in Corporate HQ territory – so much of white collar work boils down to the same, or very similar core competencies.

      Also, it sounds like you’ve probably had a chance to build a decent financial cushion – so exploring your options for further education (at least of the part time variety) should be in the cards. Don’t be miserable! Good luck!

    3. Simone R*

      Can I recommend your local community college? That gives you some flexibility to try new things and they might be more likely to accept some of your transfer credits. They also offer more classes at flexible times and are cheaper than other options. Depending on how that goes, you can transfer to a 4 year school if you choose to do so.

      Not sure how many credits you have already, if you were pretty close to graduation it might be worth it to get in touch with your school and see if you have options there.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Try to figure out why you don’t think you can stop. Are you spending to the level of your income? Usually this stops people from making the moves they want to make. Perhaps you have debt for some reason, so taking on more debt is daunting? Perhaps you are scared to find out what you really want and picking poorly.

      First thing is to breathe. Just breathe. You don’t have to solve this tomorrow or by Monday of next week. It’s okay to put time in and build a strategy.
      Next think about what you are naturally good at. If you are naturally good at something you will tend to stay employed and succeed in the field.
      Now look around your home. What do you have a lot of? I have a lot of books. I have a lot of material and thread. These are things I gravitate toward. What’s sitting around your home?
      In thinking about this, keep in mind that we tend to burn out at what we do for a living. So think about things you have been interested in for a long time. These activities will probably remain life long interests for you.
      Talk to people you trust around you. Ask them what they have noticed about you, that you are good at or that you can be counted on for or what is unique about you.

      When I went back to school I decided to get a degree that I could use in different settings. So I did not get a degree in penguin-ology, for example, because that is too limited. As you pick a new direction try picking things that offer several options rather than one limited option. (yes, I made up a word so I could have a silly example.)

      For the time being you can work on building up your savings and doing some research/reading. (This is me, but when I planned to go back to school, I started looking for ways to reduce my bills in prep for having a lower income during that time at school. There are all kinds of ways you can prep while you figure out where to go next.)

  61. Insert witty name here*

    I have one friend, “Diane”, whom I’ve known since college and I’m wondering if the friendship has become toxic.
    Diane only calls when she needs something. I’ve helped her move into her last 2 apartments and always drive out to see her. I always invite her over by me, but she makes some excuse or reason why she can’t come over.
    She always claims that she misses me, but when we hang out, she always puts me down. She makes thinly veiled comments that seem like digs to me and she has these passive-aggressive remarks that I have called her out on before, but she continues.
    Basically, I don’t feel good when I’m around her. It is a one-sided friendship and I don’t like it. I’ve tried talking to her about things, but she either denies them or places the blame on me.
    I feel bad because she is basically my only friend and I have known her for so long, but enough is enough. When do you know a friendship is over? When do you know it’s time to move on?
    My sister gives me crap about how I “cut ties” with people too easily, but I think that this friendship has bit the dust. I am horrible at meeting people though, so it would be lonely. But I don’t want or deserve to be treated like crap just to have a friend. Any advice?

    1. neverjaunty*

      I think you gave yourself the only advice you need: “I don’t want or deserve to be treated like crap just to have a friend.” (And, really, someone who behaves like Diane is not a real friend anyway.)

      Take the energy you were pouring into Diane and use it to work on making good friends and working on your feelings of loneliness. There’s lots of good advice over at Captain Awkward about finding ways to connect with people and shed toxic ‘friends’.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I am a fan of doing whatever you think is best in the moment with these sorts of relationships. If she calls to help you move, tell her you don’t want to or can’t or whatever. If she wants you to come over and you don’t feel like taking her ish that night, tell her you’re busy. If the end result is that you never see her again, you’ll know it’s because you didn’t want to. But if there’s a day you’re craving fellowship and she invites you over and you want to go, then go. I don’t necessarily think you need to cut ties (I’m not opposed to it, some people really feel good about the closure, but personally if I don’t feel like hanging out that night, I don’t, and if that means that friendships fade away, that’s OK, because clearly I wasn’t that into it in the first place.)

    3. Kristen*

      Friends should make you happy and make you feel good about yourself (not to say there will never be bad times). They should listen to you when you’ve expressed to them how they make you feel and then think about those things before denying and placing blame, because presumably a friend would care enough not to hurt another friend.

      I know it’s difficult to drop people when you already have few friends. It can be difficult for some of us to make new friends as adults. Regardless, I believe there are loads of potential good friends out there waiting for you.

    4. Sylvia*

      I don’t know about toxic, but it seems pretty clear that you don’t want to be friends with her anymore. Do you want to wait until it reaches a “toxic” level before you take a step back?

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I think that’s a really good observation–it seems like people feel like they have to stay friends even if they don’t want to sometimes. And you don’t have to, whether a friendship is toxic or unpleasant or just not enough to make the priorities list.

        1. Kristen*

          Not the same thing, but I’m pretty introverted (and therefore get stressed about group things) and it was an awakening for me years ago when I realized, “I’m an adult and don’t have to do things I don’t want to.”

    5. periwinkle*

      Having no close friends is better than having one toxic “close friend”. You aren’t getting anything from the friendship, based on your description, so why keep giving when you get nothing in return?

      I totally understand because I had a good friend in college who wound up moving to the same distant city I had moved to not long before. We spent loads of time together but… everything in her life was terrible, her family treated her like crap, her landlord conspired with her family, her manager hated her and favored other people, every salesperson and server was rude to her… and it was all someone else’s fault.

      We continued to be friends after I moved away, with regular calls, but that distance helped me realize that I only existed to her as a perpetual sounding board for all her perceived woes. And good grief, she would call me out on anything I said that contradicted an opinion I had back in college! Once I mentioned that I had finally found a pair of jeans that fit perfectly. Pause. “[accusing tone] Wow. Back at [college] you used to say that you would never wear jeans.” Like it was a personal insult to her that I had changed my opinion on something after 15 years.

      Finally ended that “friendship” and haven’t missed it at all. You can make other friends, preferably ones who are actually friendly! Don’t waste your friendship on a black hole.

    6. LS*

      The next time you invite her round, and she has an excuse, call her (without getting emotional) on the fact that she hasn’t been to see you in a while. Maybe there’s a good reason – she’s broke and she can’t afford the bus. Or maybe she’s just taking advantage. But poke around a bit before you decide the friendship is over. If you want to ;)

    7. JulieBulie*

      I don’t always know exactly when a friendship is over and when it’s time to move on, but for me, what you describe with Diane would be waaaaay past that point.

      If your sister doesn’t approve of how you handle your relationships, perhaps she can hang around with Diane for a while.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed and spend less time confiding in sis about your friendships. I am not sure she is helping you. Go quiet on the subject and see how things move along for you.

  62. Anxa*

    Full-time contract jobs for the county:

    I just applied for a job with my county, doing very similar work to what I’m doing temporarily in another county. I’m not excited about the work, and to be honest there’s a low-level dread that after 7 years of applications, THIS is the full-time job I’ll end up with. I’m actually relieved that it’s contractual, because I feel like I’d have an easier time quitting before the two year mark (not just for a better job: I’m in a serious LTR that will require a few more moves and has geographical constrictions [academic in coastal sciences]. If I were single, I don’t think I’d find this work fulfilling enough for the long haul anyway.)

    That said, there are real drawbacks to contract work. For one, even though the pay is good to me (and may be slightly higher due to the contract status), I’d be missing out on a lot of benefits. Namely, education with no clawback. I know it’s going to burn me a bit to be doing the same work as other coworkers and not have access to the same perks. Even in one of my jobs now where there are more clear castes, I get resentful of the FTE class with their paid sick days and free tuition (especially as just taking one more class could mean I could fulfill the role of about 1/3 other worker without them having to may me more money, but that would mean treating us like professionals so payroll savings be damned).

    To be honest, I don’t think I can feel like I’m on an okay path at this job unless I’m making moves to parlay it into something else. The job is posted at a higher “starting” salary than others I’ve seen (by 13%). But that could be because we’re in a more affluent county and the COL is pretty high.

    So I’m thinking of negotiating a higher salary. The job doesn’t require experience, but I have a summer internship, this summer job, a year in a relevant service job, and a postbac certificate. I’ve also already passed a very similar licensing test that I’ll be expected to pass two years from now. Do you think it would be worth mentioning the loss of benefits in a negotiation? Or just stick to my qualifications? My qualifications aren’t that much better than nothing, and I’m not the fastest at this job.

    I know this is all hypothetical, but I really want to start preparing for these situations.

    (there are also similar jobs opening in the county I currently work with. I like the people there alright, but there is no chemistry. Also, the commute is 45 mins rather than 10, which is significant in my family since we carshare)

    1. Overeducated*

      So…I’m in a very similar situation, with a 2 year job and no employee benefits and a good chance of moving on again due to an academic partner, and the creeping realization that this might not be the right career direction long term. And yes, it sucks not to be an FTE, oh do I KNOW it, but it also means this one job isn’t “your career” after 7 years of trying. It could be a step toward one in terms of references, contacts, and hopefully some transferable experience (if only knowledge of health & safety regulations that could be relevant to a university staff position for example). And it gives you time to figure out the next step more calmly and deliberately, though it’s hard to do much training outside work when you’re working ft. That’s the major reason I’m not trying to jump early – I like the overall location and quality of life I have right now and I want to take time to make sure the next move is a better move, not a stab in the dark.

      But the salary they are advertising IS the salary including “loss of benefits,” it’s not a bait and switch, so you might not have any negotiating room in a government context. I wouldn’t take that personally or have that be the one deal breaker if it’s otherwise livable and fits with your life.

      Good luck!

  63. sniffsniffmmmhoney*

    My sister decided to adopt a dog for her husband and we are all so proud and excited!

  64. Notthemomma*

    SO VERY happy I’ll be on work travel all next week as I’m going to avoid the last minute wedding WTFs of a wedding I’m in on the next Saturday- he couple put an emphasis on ‘fun’ and ‘spontenaity’ above all else- to the point where they have planned nothing. Wedding party doesn’t know what they are wearing, what they are expected to do, when to show up, etc. they’ve played the poor card to get people to offer to buy/make/supply everything- venue, music, photography, food for 200 people. I’m fun, I’m spontaneous, but if you can’t afford something- scale back!!! And if you sucker people into being a part of this fiasco, let us know what you expect.
    from us. The over/under on the marriage is currently 2 1/2 years.

    1. Susan Calvin*


      I thought *I* had a spontaneous wedding… it involved 9 guests, 8 weeks notice, a date picked to accomodate the lecture schedule of the out-of-towners, a late morning trip to city hall and lunch reservations for everyone at a nice restaurant. FIN.

      I sincerely hope these folks reconsider their approach to life before they start procreating…

  65. Saw something suspicious (anonymous for this)*

    Non-work question about reporting suspicious activity:

    I was at a Fedex store the other day making copies. They have one of those stations with a stapler, hole-punch, etc, which I was using to sort through my copies and staple the right groups together. Next to me there was a guy who was using white-out strips that he’d just bought. I wasn’t trying to snoop, but I happened to see that the form was something like “Physician’s Statement” at the top and was already filled out and signed. It definitely looked like he was trying to change the contents of the already signed form. He then asked an employee about the cost of making a copy and went out to his car to find change.

    I mentioned it to the employee in passing that it looked like he was trying to change a signed document and she said something along the lines of “Yeah, I need to look at it before that makes copies. We get a lot of people in here trying to change electric bills and stuff.”

    I left after that. Later, I googled people forging medical documents in my state and it turns out that this is really commmon right now with people trying to get doctor’s letters for medical marijuana. The form for that looked similar to what he had been working on (although I only really saw it in passing because I wasn’t actually trying to read the contents.)

    Should I have done anything beyond telling the employee in passing what I’d seen?

    1. fposte*

      I think telling the employee is the exact right thing to do. Even if you were sure, I doubt the cops would make it out at speed over this anyway.

    2. Susan*

      I don’t think you needed to do anything else. It sounds like the employee was familiar with that type of thing, and maybe the store has a protocol for situations like this. She was also in a better position to take action than you, whether it was denying him access to the copier or asking for ID so she could report him. Also, some copiers temporarily store the scan of the original, so she might have even been able to retrieve that from the copier.

  66. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    A large dental filling partially came out and the soonest I can be seen is tomorrow morning. I got it filled 3 weeks ago–this can’t be normal…:/ Also the other filling I got 3 weeks ago is still sensitive.

    Tl;dr: 2 filling replacements 3 weeks ago, one just cracked, wth.

    Also, no contact makes every day a holiday when it’s far from toxic family. Though when I tell best school friends via gmail, they’re eerily silent about that. Seems nobody wants to acknowledge that yes, adult kids can be pushed to the breaking point.

    1. Temperance*

      In my experience, people with normal families won’t ever be able to relate. Especially if they know your parents, because I’m sure your mother doesn’t often show her ass to others outside the family.

      1. Caledonia*

        Yes indeed.

        Like, I haven’t seen my dad since last Sept – I don’t get on with his new wife – and whilst my friends are sympathetic, it’s difficult for them to relate. Also, you could just say things like “oh my SO and I have plans” and change the subject.

      2. the gold digger*

        people with normal families won’t ever be able to relate

        Exactly. There is a long thread on (I think) Carolyn Hax today about how could you possibly ever cut off a sick old lady have you no decency?

        The people who say that have never ever been around toxic people, I don’t think.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Temperance nailed it.

        When I was 20 and plus some, my mother was dying and my father was in very serious condition.
        My friends could not even begin to relate and they did not try. I guess that is a good thing? Because who wants a friend who fakes knowing what they are talking about.

        But it was awkward. And finally we drifted apart because I had too much to do and no time to hang out.

        Try to hold it in a lighter context that they just can’t relate to what you are saying. You will find plenty of people who do relate as you go along.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I hear you. I’m currently estranged from both of my parents and people have weird reactions about it. I just don’t get into it really. Sometimes someone will ask how my mother is and I’ll say “We’re estranged at the moment, it’s been rough, but it’s OK. How are things going with…(whatever is appropriate to that person)?”

      1. Caledonia*

        I don’t even say that much sometimes (depends who it is) but I might say “My dad is fine, I haven’t seen him a while/we’re not close” or if it’s a holiday like Christmas “Oh, I have other plans, seeing friends etc” (I’m single, otherwise I could maybe go hang with a boyfriend’s family)

      2. Anxa*

        I’ve been really lucky that my friends have been actually really understanding of these things. I have a semi-estranged relationship with my father. He managed to survive cancer, horrible mental illness, and opiod addiction.

        It’s a miracle he’s alive, and I’m glad to still have in (the peripheral) of my life, but I’m not in any rush to spend more time with him. My friends were shockingly understanding when he had cancer about how I was going through something, but it wasn’t the typical grieving process.

        I think it’s because they grew up with me, tough.

    3. brushandfloss*

      Depending on how large the filling was and if it involved one of the tooth walls, it is possible for the filling to fall out. It maybe too large and need a crown. Hopefully it doesn’t and your dentist can restore again. As for the sensitivity, when I had some sensitivity after a filling my dentist was able to adjust my bite by filing down some of filling. She said it was too high and “knock wood” I haven’t had any pain since.
      Hope all goes well

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks…apparently part of the filling had fallen out. They filled it in then gave me a referral to an endodontist in case it needs drastic action.

        Kinda nervous, wearing mouthguard tonight to avoid crazy stuff, slight headache, partially numb area of mouth, and trying to stick to soft diet of…other stuff.

        On the bright side, August will be *knock on wood* better….I hope? <://

  67. sad cat*

    So. I am on the last five weeks of my 1 year temp position. I asked my supervisor for a firm last day (there was none, just a ‘we will let you know’) and was given one. This was to help me start looking for my next role.
    I found a job! They ideally would like me ASAP, but are waiting till my named last day at temp job.
    The person coming back to my temp role has now extended her return date by 4 weeks.
    My current supervisor said that I should not stress, and of course, take the new role, as she says ‘look after yourself.’
    She did ask that if there was a way for me to do BOTH roles, till the person I was temping for comes back, she would be grateful, but again, she stressed that I should take care of myself.
    I let my current supervisor know I would ask, but there is no guarantee that my new role can accommodate her request.

    Fast forward just a few days, and my current supervisor is suddenly very cold, and terse with me. I know she is stressed, she goes on leave herself in a few weeks.

    I am stressed that my last five weeks here are going to be unpleasant. While this job is nice, the people in my group VERY MUCH made me earn the right to be treated as part of the team, in a social way, not a work way.
    (They are a start up company, nice people, but low on the experience side) and the CEO was the same way.

    I had honestly put it out of my mind how hard the first few months were here, but, now that it is looking like it is going back that way, I am stressed and discouraged.

    Not sure any advice will help, but I am also stressed as I am staying to my last day, yet what if they put on my ROE that I quit? I really need it to say I am laid off… If new job doesn’t work out, I won’t be able to get EI without being laid off, yet if I wait four more weeks, my new job will be gone.

    I am in BC, Canada. If that helps.

    1. Colette*

      That sounds super stressful. Do you have the end date in writing? Because if they gave you and end date and you stay until that date, it would be hard for them to claim you quit (but I am by no means an expert in the EI system).

    2. Observer*

      If the system is the same there as here, you can always dispute this if they try to claim you quit. I wouldn’t stress too much about this. Your supervisor isn’t being nice, but it doesn’t mean that they would do that to you. Do not take the risk of losing the new job. Unless you have a really solid reason to think the new job won’t work out, it’s just not worth it.

  68. Myrin*

    So… my grandma might be on her deathbed.

    Apparently she had a heart attack yesterday evening or this morning and was rushed to hospital early in the morning. She’s now… apparently not comatose, but sleeping and kinda waking up sometimes but not really? I don’t know. My mum had planned on visiting a week from now (we live six hours away) but will now be travelling to her parents’ tomorrow because she’s so afraid my grandma will die before she’s had a chance to talk to her one last time.

    It sounded less dire when my uncle called for the fourth time today just two hours ago – my grandma’s heart is very weak but apparently the doctors assume she’ll be able to go home again in a day or two? I have no idea. Maybe she needs to regain some strength? She’d need to have a health care worker come by several times a day but that would of course be preferable to her actually dying.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Sorry to hear this. Are you able to visit along with your mum? If not, can you write a brief note for your mum to deliver to your grandmother?
      I hope that things work out well for all of you.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear it. I hope you can visit her if that’s something you would like to do; and I wish you and your family peace regardless.

    3. Myrin*

      Jean and Matilda, thanks so much for your support! Fortunately, I stayed with my grandparents for over a week only recently and I don’t want to overwhelm them, so my mum will be going alone – she is definitely the more important person to be there right now and the one who is (apart from my grandpa) most affected by all of this (she and my grandma had a very close and special relationship).

      1. Zathras*

        I’m sorry you are going through this! Do think about sending a note like Jean suggested. It does not have to be long or terribly significant, and actually it can be better if it’s not. It’s just nice for the person to have something to remind them of the people who love them but can’t be there. If your mum has left already when you read this, you could maybe send it via email and your mum could read it to your grandma?

        We had a scare with my grandmother a few years ago (luckily she recovered well) and I couldn’t visit her in the hospital as often as I wanted to, but when I did I brought her a small stuffed toy. I felt silly because I didn’t think ahead of time to find something that really suited her – I just bought something reasonably cute from a random store on the way there. I figured it would make her smile once and then it would be put aside. But my uncle told me later that she held it most of the time she was in the hospital. So even little things on our end can be unexpectedly helpful for the other person.

        Plus, if it’s done being terrifying, being in the hospital can be really boring, so having some notes to read or whatever can help.

    4. blackcat*

      These sorts of things either be very serious or somehow not, with little indication as to which it will be.

      One day, I got a call that one of my grandfathers (age 89 at the time) was in the hospital with pneumonia, and that it didn’t look good. That afternoon when I saw him (I rushed there after work), he seemed fine! Like he was coughing, but was alert and generally himself. He was released from the hospital 4 or 5 days later, made a complete recovery, and lived another 4 years before dying of heart failure (at least one doctor simply said it was “old age,” which, at 93, is a fair assessment of heart failure). He was clear-minded until the end and pretty active until the last 3 or 4 months of his life.

      Another one of my grandfathers (thanks to remarriages, I had 4) had a severe heart attack 7 years ago at age 88. He was in a coma for a week, doctors said it was the end, his children all flew in from all over the country. He woke up, asked for booze, and left the hospital 2 weeks later, followed by a month stint at a nursing home. He is still alive, but suffering from severe dementia that started to really set in a few months after he got out of the nursing home. In retrospect, I think it would have been far easier on him and my family had he died 7 years ago–he really only had one good year after the heart attack and, when he is lucid, he is miserable and asks to die. I think he would have much preferred to have lived a full life and simply never woken up after that too-big steak he ate right before his heart attack. At least one of his children is pretty sure he’s going to die soon, but folks have been saying that for the last six years and he just keeps on going.

      If there is one thing watching my grandparents age has taught me, it’s that you (and doctors!) never know the way medical emergencies will turn out, even in the elderly.

  69. Ruffingit*

    I’ve had four days off from work and it felt really good to just nap and putter around. Back to the grind tomorrow, but at least it’s only for three days instead of a full work week.

    Last night, I cried for the first time about the family dysfunction/estrangement. I found out my brother, the last bastion of sanity in this whole crazy situation, blocked me on his phone. It is possible this was accidental as he called me and there was a 3-minute voice mail message that was clearly a butt dial as it wasn’t him speaking just hearing the background. So I guess that’s a possibility. Either way, I’m just exhausted from it all and looking forward to my week-long vacation the first week of August so I can decompress.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This so sucks. I am sorry. Tears are a good thing, you know I believe that. And vakay is a good thing. Stay strong, nothing stays the same forever. But, boy, oh, boy, it sure feels like it does.

  70. Doubting Thomas*

    A couple days back, I posted about how my new job bait and switched me on the benefits and duties: https://www.askamanager.org/2017/06/open-thread-june-30-july-1-2017.html#comment-1541688

    On Monday, someone from payroll emailed me asking why I hadn’t filled out my time sheet for last week… when no one had ever said anything about a timesheet before that (I’m exempt).

    After asking the only senior person who was in, I found out I’m apparently hired under another sub-organization of the company. The words “budget issues” came up. As in, “oh, you’re working for Department X, but you’re on Department Y’s payroll because of budget issues. The benefits and everything are a little different.” Extremely reassuring.

    It’s a holiday, but we’ll see what happens. Obviously it’s not too easy to let go of the fact that there’s some weird stuff going up with my pay.

    The plan right now is to keep working and see what happens. If I don’t get my paycheck Thursday (our payday), I will be going to my boss (out until Thursday). With all their handwringing about HR being a “black box”, I don’t know if anything’ll happen. If the worst case happens and they don’t get me the check or it’s lower due to “budget issues”, I’ll resign and file a complaint with the state labor board.

    From there I’ll look for a new job, and if it takes me more than a month or two (I’m a web developer in the second or third best city for it) I’ll call up my old job and ask them if they’d take me back.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Sounds like you have good plans about how to move forward. It really is ridiculous that this company did this to you. I’m betting they thought it wouldn’t be a problem because you needed the job and they think you won’t leave over it. How wrong they are!

      1. Doubting Thomas*

        Yeah, it’s pretty weird. I wasn’t unemployed before I got this. I’m slightly inclined to think that they’re telling the truth about HR messing things up. That doesn’t make it better, it just means the problem is spineless management.

        In my state, it’s illegal to change someone’s salary retroactively. Or even going forward if you don’t give them notice. So I kind of doubt they’re going to go that far, but they might try and jerk me around with this time sheet business.

        If they did, I’d have to think very seriously about my next step. Because I know that suing your employer can come up on some types of background checks. Unfortunate but you know.

        I have plenty of savings and I’m in a very good career, so I’m not too worried. Also depending on how far the company wanted to take the not paying thing (IF it happens), I could probably file an unemployment claim. I have nothing to worry about financially and I’m thankful for that.

  71. Bantha Pudu*

    After serving on the board of a local all-volunteer animal welfare non profit for the past five years, today I’m looking at a blank email field considering whether to compose a resignation notice. The president is an overly negative, ungrateful martyr, the board is expected to be involved in most of the organization’s day-to-day activities as well as overseeing operations, and with severe depression over a recent personal loss and the general state of the world, my heart just isn’t in it anymore.

    The rub is, the group does amazing work, though, and it’s so needed in our community. My role is in fundraising/grants, which can be accomplished without having to sit through a three-plus hour ‘board meeting’ that dissolves into a gossip fest once a month. I’m thinking of offering to resign from the board but continue on as a volunteer. Would anyone who’s faced a similar situation care to chime in?

    1. Audiophile*

      I’m not in the exact same situation, as I’ve never served on a board. I’d treat the resignation much the same way, compose a letter and give a notice period of x amount of weeks. Are you sure you want to continue to volunteer? I’d worry there would still be a high probability to be pulled into gossip.

      I’m considering resigning from a volunteer position in the near future. I’m not a board member and no one is overly negative or unpleasant, I think I’ve given all that I can to this organization. I also think I’ve gotten as much out of it as I want. It’s been almost 4 years that I’ve been a volunteer, I don’t think I want to do it much longer.

      1. Bantha Pudu*

        Yeah, I’m struggling with whether I want to continue as a volunteer at all. I believe in the cause but need to get away from some of the people. I’m leaning towards staying on the board for one more month, continuing on as a regular volunteer, and revisiting in a few months.

        Best of luck with your situation too. I’m kind of at the point where it might be good for new blood to take over.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Board work is tough. And the longer we are on a board, the more personality comes into play.

      Start with your board meetings. Ask if meetings can be shorter. Say, “If we expect to function as group and retain members then meeting should be 1.5 hours at most. Sitting for 3 hours is not doable for most people. We will not be able to attract and keep board members.”

      Then move on to asking if the board can follow Robert’s Rules of Order to contain the scope creep in conversations.

      Look at your bylaws, see if you can oust the prez and get someone in who is functional. If the bylaws do not have a provision then it might be time to update the bylaws.

      Is there anyone on the board who feels the same as you? Would this person back you up if you started seeking changes?
      I might be tempted to try to make changes if I had one foot out the door anyway. Nothing left to lose, right?

  72. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

    Starting a 3 month temp job tomorrow. Very happy to not be unemployed any more!

  73. smokey*

    I have been on FMLA caring for my mother. She’s okay now, gonna be fine, so now I am reflecting on how my parents appear to be different people than the ones I grew up with. I knew some of it, but this is by far the longest period of time that I’ve spent with them as an adult (6 weeks). Both my sister and I have realized where certain traits we have come from, which has been interesting. Thinking back to my childhood I notice that some of what I see now in my pare