my office posted “no complaining” posters, dinner with my boss cost me $500, and more

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

1. My office posted “no complaining” posters

My workplace recently put up these posters around the office in an attempt to… Well, I guess their hope is to improve morale in the long run. I find it condescending, but I’m not sure if that’s fair or if the generally low moral here is clouding my judgment.

The posters say: “The No Complaining Rule: Employees are not allowed to mindlessly complain to their coworkers. If they have a problem or complaint about their job, their company, their customer, or anything else, they are encouraged to bring the issue to their manager or someone who is in a position to address the complaint. However, the employees must share one or two possible solutions to their complaint as well.” Then there’s a graphic of two people holding a sign that says “stay positive.”

What are your thoughts?

Yeah, it’s ridiculously inept and a bit patronizing. If there’s a morale problem where people are doing a lot of complaining, you fix that by addressing whatever the underlying causes are, not by trying to silence people. And I’m on board with “hey, you should talk to people who can actually change the thing you’re complaining about,” but the effective way to convey that to people is by talking to them one-on-one and showing you’ll giving them a fair hearing, not by posting juvenile signs. (And really, you can’t ask employees to act like adults while simultaneously posting childish signs to communicate with them.)

I’m also a fan of encouraging people to share solutions to problems, but not every problem can be solved at the employee level.

On top of all that, this runs afoul of the National Labor Relations Act, which makes it illegal for employers to prohibit employees from talking to each other about working conditions.

2. My share of a meal with my boss was $500

I just started a director-level position with a new company and was sent on a business trip with my boss. Over text, my boss asked me to join him and a friend for dinner at a very expensive restaurant that I would never go to on my own. Since my boss had invited me, I naturally said yes, thinking the friend was some sort of business partner and the dinner would be expensed. Turned out that this was not the case, and at the end of the meal, I was asked to split the bill three ways. It was $500 each with tip! Had I realized it wasn’t a business dinner I would have immediately declined, and I feel completely duped.

We’re going on another business trip in a few weeks, and I don’t want this to happen again. How do I protect myself moving forward, and how do I establish a solid working relationship with my boss when I now question his judgment?

Oh no! How awful. The only way to address this is by having an semi-awkward conversation, unfortunately.

You could say: “Hey, I wanted to mention — I really appreciated you inviting me to dinner with you and Fergus on our trip. I have to honest — I had thought it was a business meal and would be expensed, and wasn’t prepared for the hefty bill! Will our meals while traveling typically be expensed and that was a one-off, or should I assume dinners are on us individually if we eat out?” (Or you could change that last sentence to “Would you give me a heads-up in the future if we’re not expensing something so I know ahead of time?”)

Or you could just wait until there’s another dinner invitation and say something similar then, but you’d probably feel better getting it settled now.

As for establishing a good working relationship when you now question your boss’s judgment: Some people are clueless about other people’s money but are otherwise fine to work for. I’d watch and see what else you learn about him before concluding anything more broadly.

3. Using sick time for doctors’ appointments when I have mornings off

I have a coworker who works 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. She will use her sick time to go to the doctor’s or the dentist about once every few months.

I work 9am-5pm three days a week, and 12-8pm two days a week. When I started, my boss gleefully mentioned how having the two mornings off a week was great so that I could go to appointments. I have been working here for about two years and have always had all of my appointments scheduled on my two mornings off, not thinking much of it.

Thinking about it now, I would like to go to appointments during the workday and use sick time, too. My coworker and I have the same exact job. We are paid the same rate, even though I work some evenings. What do you think is fair re: using sick time for appointments, when I do have two mornings off?

In most offices, it’s fine to use sick time for medical or dental appointments. If you’re unsure, you can always check with your boss, but I don’t think you even need to; you should be able to just do what your coworker is doing. The fact that you work a different schedule than she does shouldn’t really matter; your sick time is there for you to use when you need to use it.

If your boss questions it (which she shouldn’t, but that doesn’t always stop people), you can explain that you can’t always get appointments in the morning quickly enough to be seen for whatever you need to take care of. But I wouldn’t assume that her comment about the mornings being convenient meant that you were never expected to have appointments at other times.

4. I’m leaving and my company wants me to post something positive about my experience on their social networks

I am leaving my company to start a new job. My motivation for leaving was that I didn’t like working there (for several reasons). I have never mentioned this and the bosses think that I am leaving for a better company (which is also true) and that I truly enjoyed my time there. They asked me to share a personal statement about how much I enjoyed working for them to put it on the corporate’s social networks. Taken by surprise I agreed, but I don’t feel like doing this at all. Is there a polite way to get out of this engagement? Shall I just do it and say some platitudes?

Ideally you’d just run out of time, not do it, and it wouldn’t come up again. So I’d start with that as your strategy because it’s possible that’s all it will take. But if they come back and nudge you to do it, just post something very vague like “moving on after two years and wishing you all the best.”

5. Will this interview process ever end?

I have a question about an interview process I’m going through right now. I was just asked back for a FIFTH interview conversation for a role I am very excited about. I have spoken to nine people (over the course of five visits/calls), including the initial phone screen with HR. Each time, I worry that I didn’t do very well but lo and behold, the HR person asks me back for another day.

I have never participated in such a lengthy process so I looked up the company’s other interviews on Glassdoor. I found that other candidates who were hired for this same role were interviewed only 2-3 times. Can you think of any reasons it is taking so much longer in my case? Is it possible that every interviewer has been lukewarm on me and they’re just keeping me in the process as a last resort? Or is it possible this is a good sign somehow? The continuous chain of follow-ups is getting tiring and I just want to know where I stand.

It could be that they’re lukewarm and that’s why they’re not willing to commit. It could be that there are questions about the role that are still being ironed out, and that things have changed from the first time they talked to you until now, so different questions are coming up. It could be that they’re terribly disorganized and so they haven’t created an interview process that will get them the information they need in a more reasonable number of meetings. It could be that they’re just really, really cautious about hiring. (And the fact that candidates reported a shorter process on Glassdoor doesn’t necessarily mean anything; things could have changed in the company or with the position since those reviews were left.)

Since there are so many possible explanations, I’d avoid trying to read anything into it. It could mean something for your candidacy or it could mean nothing.

But on your end, it’s reasonable to say, “It’s becoming difficult for me to keep taking time off from work. Can you give me a sense of what the remaining steps are in your process and whether there will be additional interviews after this one?” (If you’re not currently employed, just leave off that first sentence.)

{ 482 comments… read them below }

  1. LadyL*

    That no complaining poster would absolutely enrage me OP1, and I would find it very patronizing. It would probably inspire a lot of complaints from me, tbh.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Same! Even if I agree with the part about raising issues with one’s manager, it’s a ridiculously lengthy (and patronizing) poster.

      The NLRA violation bothers me, as well. It’s not just a no complaining sign—they’ve framed it as though it’s company policy. I’m really curious to find out who came up with this idea.

        1. Admin of Sys*

          hah! We had someone surreptitiously replace one of the classic motivation posters with a demotivation poster and it took management like 6 months to notice.

          1. Mrs. Fenris*

            A friend of ours did this in his office. On a military base! The only person who ever seemed to notice was a very high-ranking officer on a visit…who did a double take, visibly choked back a laugh, and never said a word.

          2. Canadian Natasha*

            Oh that is fabulous! I have wanted to do that ever since I discovered the existence of demotivational posters. (Sadly my own office lacks motivational posters to surreptitiously replace)

      1. OP #1*

        They took it verbatim out of a book called The No Complaining Rule.. Which seems to be a novel (which is weird) about personal reflection more than management tips. I really don’t understand why someone thought it was a good idea at all! I’m glad I’m not being too sensitive when I found it condescending.

        1. LadyL*

          My eyes just about rolled out of my head! Of *course* it’s from a book called the “No Complaining Rule”. Of course. And I’ll bet the guy who wrote that is also a big fan of The Secret.

          But really, if your office loves reading so much you should suggest they check out Bright Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich. It’s about how our national obsession with positivity is dangerous, including in business. She has a whole section on how before the bubble collapsed in 2008 anyone in the housing market who tried to suggest that it wasn’t sustainable was told not to be a negative complainer, and that they needed to “think positive”. And we all know how that strategy worked out…

          1. Snark*

            He’s a smiling Paul Rudd lookalike named Andy or Tony or something. His temples crinkle when he smiles, but the smile still never seems to reach his eyes. He makes you want to wash your hands after meeting him.

          2. MashaKasha*

            Not that extreme of an example, but we had a disaster of a CIO at OldJob, who was making one terrible decision after another, with the department *and the business* having to live with the consequences. One day he flew over to our office from the HQ for an all-hands meeting, and we all just snapped, and all took turns standing up and explaining to him how our work and the business were hurting as a result of his changes, why, and how we could resolve it.

            His first reaction: “wow, no one told me. I have only been getting positive feedback” – gee, could it have been because you had a track record of FIRING anyone that gave you negative feedback?

            His second reaction, the next day: blame the whole thing on the manager he’d put in charge of implementing his ridiculous changes. Reprimand her and continue with the ridiculous changes.

            I heard there was an office-wide celebration when he retired a few years later. I was gone by then.

          3. Former Employee*

            I read her excellent “Nickel and Dimed”, one of the most truly depressing books ever, but I highly recommend it. I’ll have to check out “Bright Sided”. hanks for the rec.

        2. Mike C.*

          F*ck business/self help books. The vast, vast majority of them serve only to paper over systemic, difficult to address issues with band-aids that put the onus of change, cost or risk on those with the least agency to shoulder that burden. There’s something so fundamentally lazy or dishonest about that approach that really brings out the grumpy old man in me.

          At least Alison has the guts to tell people, “yeah, your situation sucks but it looks like you’ll need to find another job” rather than blowing smoke up our backsides.

          1. Julia*

            I think damning all self help books is a little harsh. Some of them actually help if they fall into the right hands.

          1. k8*

            “Hope wondered if they had been drinking, but she didn’t smell anything, thank goodness. She later found out that they were infused with the intoxication of kindness and happiness.”

            LMFAO how is this not a joke ????

            1. MashaKasha*

              This looks like something they may have swiped from the Campus Crusade for Christ booklets I was exposed to as a college student… same style, same content.

            2. Lora*

              OMG I am DYING. “I think you mean cocaine.”

              Possibly MDMA though?

              Problem: my line management makes unfortunate literary choices, leading them to spout vapid nonsense.
              Solution 1: Line management encouraged to read Dostoeyvsky’s Notes From Underground, Camus’ L’Etranger, Kafka’s The Transformation, and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-five.
              Solution 2: Line management watches Sartre’s No Exit, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Rashomon, perhaps some David Lynch.

        3. Infinity Anon*

          Demanding that any complaints be accompanied by potential solutions is also idiotic. It there is a problem it should be brought to the manager’s attention, regardless of if the employee knows how to fix the problem.

          1. Artemesia*

            I agree on one level, but on another it has been my experience that if you bring a personal complaint to management that they cannot fix, their only choice is to frame you as the problem. Otherwise, they are the problem. And no manager wants to be the problem. It depends on what the complaint is about, but if you want something the manager cannot give you, be careful about complaining about it.

            1. Lora*

              VERY TRUE. Had this conversation yesterday, actually. Or rather, smiled and changed the subject because nothing I could say was constructive or actionable.

            2. Observer*

              That’s a valid point. But very often the person bringing the complaint does not know – does not have access to the information needed – what possible solutions are.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I think it really depends. I do think there’s value in nudging employees to think of potential solutions when they raise issues, but it’s also important to make it ok for them to come to you when they’re frustrated and can’t see potential solutions (and then it’s the manager’s job to help coach them through that process, if solutions exist at their level; to determine if it’s within the manager’s power to correct; or to escalate the complaint if it warrants greater attention). But yes, as a general rule the poster is just flat-out dumb.

        4. Falling Diphthong*


          Viewed as a personal rule for self improvement, there are certainly exhausting people out there who are dedicated complainers as a default setting, and they might benefit from following the poster’s advice. Including the subset who love to complain about a potentially fixable problem to everyone except the people who could fix it, like preserving the number of things to complain about is their guiding principle.

          But a normal part of work and life is dealing with things that are annoying and not fungible. Like an unreasonable customer who is way below the level of “fire the customer” but it’s nice to be able to turn to a coworker and sigh “Bob just made me listen to the fish story again.”

          1. Infinity Anon*

            I agree. Constant negativity is draining, but venting is an important stress relief sometimes. Not allowing people to vent is going to decrease morale instead of increase it.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Sure—excessive griping can be a massive morale drain. But the solution to that issue is not putting up posters like this!

          3. Kate 2*

            I think you’re right. I know that when I updated all of my friends and family on my life and they updated me on theirs, telling them all about the latest bad thing to happen to me just kept it fresh in my mind, even trying to tell it as a funny story. It was like the bad thing was happening over and over again.

            And then I remembered the Little House books. They were sometime cold, scared and hungry, but since they couldn’t do anything about it they didn’t talk about it or complain. There was no point, they would just be reminding themselves of it and making everyone listening feel bad. They only talked about the good things and tried to focus on those.

            So I made a rule for myself. I am only allowed to talk about or complain about each bad thing that happens once. Barring of course things that are so big and important (like losing a job vs. a really rude person) that lots of people in my life would want to know.

          4. Delphine*

            I consider venting one of the perks of my current job. My last place forbid us from ever speaking about a client unless it was something positive. But sometimes a client won’t meet a deadline or will be rude and you just want to turn to a coworker and share the frustration.

          5. Zip Zap*

            Not whining is a good rule to live by. Don’t aimlessly complain about minor things just to make small talk. Save it for constructively talking about serious issues and venting / commiserating as needed.

            Putting up a poster telling people not to complain is ridiculous. It’s going to have the opposite effect. No one wants to be condescended to.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        It’s possible that I would really take initiative, find my own solution and generally make my own individual mark by amending it with a sharpie.

      2. Artemesia*

        Just keep saying ‘there are probably cameras’ under your breath when the urge strikes. That is what I do when I resist keying the cars of people who deserve to have their cars keyed . (while fantasizing about ways to key with out being seen)

        1. Samata*

          I actually did have my car keyed once by a very drunk ex who wasn’t the most stable. He thought he was being so clever doing it at 2 a.m. during a blizzard. And he was right, with the 7 inches of snow we got I wouldn’t have seen the hood for days….except he didn’t account for the neighbor who came home for lunch during his midnight shift each night and witnessed the whole thing.

          That was 20 years ago and I still think “some is always watching” and think of that night.

          1. Artemesia*

            LOL as a child, I lived in an Ozzy and Harriet world where mothers all stayed home and cooked and clean and if you did anything in the neighborhood it would reach your Mom before you even got home as there was always some SAHM looking out the window as she did the dishes. I remember a couple of vivid examples of being caught like this and having to undo whatever mess I had created.

      3. blackcat*

        I’d be tempted to post a “Your rights under NLRA” poster/flyer thing right on top of it.

      4. Red lines with wine*

        There was once a “If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be neat and wipe the seat” sign in the ladies’ room at work. I promptly tore it down and it never showed up again. I mean, honestly. This isn’t middle school.

        1. AJHall*

          The version I’ve come across ended “Be a sweetie, wipe the seaty” which is even worse.
          I can’t imagine the productivity lost in sheer hate and annoyance every time one saw that poster.
          There are only two things to do about it. The first, is follow the instructions to the letter and complain about the poster to management, using this useful structure: “Hey, chief! I could be wrong, but that poster on Corridor E seems to drive everyone who passes it to paroxyms of barely suppressed fury. This makes me feel anxious. One thing we could do is take it down and smash it ritually in the parking lot. How does that sound?”
          The second is job hunt, because once this sort of rot starts, the next thing is team building exercises involving furniture assembly.

        2. the gold digger*

          To be honest, I find the pee on the seats far more disturbing than the sign. If the sign actually means I can sit without doing an inspection, I will live with it.

          1. Kate 2*

            Ditto. There’s a reason why I always use a seat cover. Especially since even looking doesn’t save you, between dim lighting and people who drink a lot of water and can leave almost clear urine on the seats.

            1. sue magoo*

              This is not directed at most people that use those paper covers… I just have a pet peeve about *certain* people I work with that use the paper covers.
              Those *certain* people are ridiculously bad about ensuring that the covers are flushed out after use. At least once a day I will find at least one stall has an incompletely flushed paper cover plastered to the side of the bowl, usually with a wad of used toilet paper stuck on top of that. Um, maybe a second flush was in order? (Sorry, I probably crossed over the TMI line.)
              I find it ironic that some of the people that are so concerned by other people’s toilet hygiene won’t bother to check behind themselves… Blech. But they are the same people that are generally inconsiderate about many things at work.

          2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

            I have never ever seen that sign actually relate to a clean bathroom seat. People who don’t check after themselves to make sure they haven’t left a mess for the next person don’t give a crap about little signs. (The futility adds to my rage at seeing said ridiculous signs, tbh. It’s annoying AND pointless.)

          3. General Ginger*

            Gold Digger, if only. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen one of those signs correspond to a clean toilet seat.

          4. Zip Zap*

            It would be nice if the sign was phrased matter-of-factly, though. “Please clean the seat after you’re done. This minimizes health risks. Thank you!”

            By the way, I wonder what the real risks of unclean bathroom seats are. What diseases can you get and how easily are they transmitted? I can think of a few, but this isn’t a medical blog and I don’t want to detail things. Just curious.

        3. anycat*

          i saw one yesterday that said to check and make sure you didn’t leave anything behind, complete with a poop emoji coming out of a toilet.

      5. Bunny*

        I once ripped down “If you sprinkle when you tinkle…” Xeroxed signed in the ladies’ room at one news network. I REGRET NOTHING

      1. SignalLost*

        This is almost like one of those guard who lies and guard who tells the truth puzzles. By doing this your stated way, you’ve followed the rules stated in the poster, which is apparently the New Appropriate for this office. But does complaining correctly about something this ridiculous matter? :)

        (Also, I loved your comment – struck me funny.)

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        But then the poster would still exist. I suggest (1) take it down, (2) burn it, (3) purge the design from the server and (4) grow up…

      3. LadyL*

        Perfect comment is perfect.

        Also suggest maybe management should check out, assuming it’s still around. The note writers are seldom the mature heros.

    2. Temperance*

      When I was a younger Temperance, and working at a craptastic chain family restaurant, my boss would make these awful signs in a similar vein. He was a terrible human being and a shitty boss. (He had been sued for sexual harassment multiple times, so he would approach younger women with very vague language about making an arrangement if mutually agreed upon. It was very clear that “arrangement” involved sexual activity with him to get better shifts.)

      So, I took a red Sharpie to all of those signs and correct his bad grammar. He never knew who did it, and it pissed him off soooooo much. #noregerts

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        No regerts…I see what you did there. The editor in me approves your act on rebellion!

    3. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      I would absolutely lose it if I saw this. “Mindlessly complain.” F you. They’d have to escort me out because I’d be posting a big old picture of the building on fire. Someone shouting fire and a manager saying “another mindless complaint about the office being too hot.”

    4. Gee Gee*

      I would paper that place with demotivational posters. Particularly the one with the box of fries.

      1. Chalupa Batman*

        Exactly. I’m not a “talking about it makes the problem worse” type of person, but if I was blissfully ignorant of all the supposed complaining (not unrealistic, I actively try to keep out of office dramas), I’d suddenly be hyper aware of anything at my job that might elicit complaints. There’s something about blatantly passive aggressive signs that gets my imagination wandering.

    5. DrPeteLoomis*

      Yeah, if I worked there this kind of thing would take me from low morale to full-on Norma Rae. OP, I get the sense that you don’t work in a particularly reasonable office, but if you feel comfortable doing it, you might consider actually following what the signs say. As in: go to someone who has the power to take them down and say something like “I appreciate that you’re trying to raise morale around the office, but you might not have realized that these signs are really doing the opposite. It’s making people feel infantilized and disrespected. My proposed solution is to take them down and consider doing a staff survey to get at the real root of the low morale issue.”

      1. Decima Dewey*

        What if employees are “mindlessly complaining” about how management never listens when they propose solutions to problems?

      2. OP #1*

        The timing of the posters affords management a bit of plausible deniability, but I believe these posters are in response to the staff survey! Wish I was kidding…

        1. Jadelyn*

          Well that just makes it 100x worse. You solicit feedback via a survey, and then your response is to basically say “Okay, shut the hell up we don’t want to hear it”? Yeah, that’s going to inspire trust and collaboration.

    6. Sum1*

      Just wanted to say I use my sick leave for appointments because my psychologist only works between certain hrs which clash with my shift. I think your looking at it without understanding it

    7. Life is Good*

      This poster reminds me of an incident at my old dysfunctional company. The boss was afraid of confrontation. So….when people complained about a gal who cornered anyone walking by and talked their ear off for an hour, his solution was to hang a “No Parking” sign at her doorway. He didn’t tell anyone what its meaning was and the lady who was the offender just thought it was a cute decoration. Needless to say, it didn’t have the desired effect.

  2. LS*

    re: OP #5
    That happened to me once for a job and it turned out that midway through the hiring process they’d realized I might be better for a different role so they were having me meet people on a different team. In my case it involved two cross-country flights and meetings with a seemingly endless parade of staff. It wasn’t immediately clear that was what was happening, which was a little confusing, but I ended up like the role they offered me and accepted. That might not be a sensible explanation in your case though.

    1. Kathleen Adams*

      It’s happened here a couple of times, but both times it was (as far as I know) because while the position had existed before, it was being significantly altered, and so they were basically trying to figure it out as they were hiring.

      So basically it was Allison’s “not very well organized” scenario. :-) They tried to be organized, but this is a place that has traditionally had a difficult time when it makes big changes in job descriptions. “Nimble” is not a suitable adjective.

    2. D.W.*

      Good point. That happened to me as well. My first interview was an eight person panel, and then the second round was completely different set of people in a different division!

      I found out from a contact working at the org, that they were switching me to a different position. I still had another 3 interviews…

  3. The New Wanderer*

    It looks like OP3’s schedule isn’t shorter, just a delayed start two days a week but same total hours.

    I think if you want to use sick leave for appointments, and this appears to be company policy for the OP, for whatever reason you should be able to. Sometimes morning appointments just aren’t possible, or on those specific days.

    1. Edith*

      And if you’re asked about it, OP, don’t mention your coworker. Even though the comparison is apt you’ll risk it coming off as a “but she can do it!” excuse. Instead make it about the policy– that you understood medical appointments to be a valid use of your accrued sick leave.

    2. blackcat*

      I’m really surprised OP3 has always been able to schedule appointments during those mornings so far! I see a specialist for monitoring every 6 months (so not that often!), but I basically have zero choice in appointment time when I schedule. I don’t think my situation is uncommon, either, and it would be worse for anyone who sees multiple doctors a year.

      1. Artemesia*

        Yeah I have an issue that needs looked at and the first appointment I can get is in January. Whenever people complain about single payer policy because ‘look, you have to wait for care in Canada’ I always wonder how they get such zippy service in the US.

        1. Kate 2*

          Oh yeah! I have to wait three months to see my primary care doctor. And even with Obamacare, which I am so grateful for, there are three tests I need that I can’t afford. Each one costs $200. And the conditions the tests are for aren’t really a problem now, but I do need to find out if I have them so I can take preventative measures. I would like to know if I have glaucoma, for example. Even if it took a long time to get the tests done with single payer, at least I could get them. It could be years before I can afford to get my tests done.

          1. Candi*

            How the heck does it take them that long to get you in!? Around here it’s three months, tops, for most specialized tests. The longest my dental clinic ever took was five weeks. (Because summer.)

            Oh, wait… is this one of those “spoiled for choice” things I’ve notice in my city/county? Because we have lots of options for clinics, optometrists, dentists, and five hospitals within an hour’s drive of towne centre.

            In which case, the problem isn’t who’s paying, it’s lack of options.

            Australia does it right, btw. They have public and private options, and people can use them both at the same time. It meant a friend of mine there was no money out of pocket over some major medical bills about four years ago; the private insurance through her work paid first, then the public paid the rest. (Canada it’s either private or public, you can’t do both, Google says here.)

    3. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      It’s been a couple years, correct? Your boss may not even remember what was just an off hand remark.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

        Yeah, I suspect the boss meant it as a “isn’t this nice, you’ll be able to save up some sick time” and hasn’t given it a second thought.

        1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          +1 – I’d see it as a perk. Assuming you can get appointments during time you aren’t scheduled to work, you never have to waste sick time on routine appointments. I’m sure that if they want to schedule an appointment during their normal working hours that would be fine too.

          1. Sarah*

            I agree, I would see it as a perk too as I have a not-amazing immune system and would like to be able to save my sick days for when I am actually sick. Your boss also might not even have been talking about medical/dental appointments at all, but rather all the other appointments/errands that are easiest to accomplish during business hours — like if you need to schedule a thing with your bank, drop stuff off at a post office with a notoriously long line, schedule repair people to come to your home, or take your cat to the vet/groomer, etc. etc.

        2. Jaydee*

          I’m guessing the boss wasn’t even specifically thinking of medical appointments (unless you happen to have a lot of them and have trouble scheduling them and she knew about all that or something). I’m guessing it was meant more along the lines of “oh, won’t it be nice to get things done during business hours without having to fit it into your lunch break or take time off just to do basic errands.”

          Since it sounds like your schedule is still full-time just different hours 2 days a week, I don’t think there’s an issue using your leave time for things that you need to schedule other times of day. While you have the “perk” of two mornings a week “off” you also work two evenings a week. So if your friends wanted to go out to dinner one of those nights or there was a concert you wanted to attend or your kid’s school play or soccer game or something, you would need to take time off while your coworker wouldn’t. It’s really a trade-off. Seems like one you find beneficial more often than not. But it’s not strictly a benefit.

          1. Artemesia*

            This. Assume he was talking about how convenient it will be to get your hair cut or the appliance repairman out to your place, and schedule your doctor appointments as you see fit. In the very unlikely event there is a comment, you just say ‘this was the only time the doctor could see me’ which is utterly plausible.

        3. Kira*

          Agree, that’s what I would have meant if I said it. I once had a 4-day a week job and really appreciated using my Fridays for appointments.

    4. aebhel*

      Yep. I work nights two days a week, and so do most of the full-time staff here. While we’re generally encouraged to make appointments for when we’re not on schedule (and I think this is generally fair since all the full-time staff have one or two mornings a week off), nobody’s ever been given a hard time for using sick time. Sometimes there are no morning appointment slots available.

      1. Nolan*

        Yeah, I work four 10 hour days a week, so I always have a free weekday available. Since that day is already free, that’s what I schedule most of my appointments for, but sometimes that isn’t an option, or it’s urgent, and I’ve never had an issue or taken any flak for scheduling one on a work day.

    5. Stop That Goat*

      I’ve made that same comment offhand when my own schedule changed. Basically, listed it as a bonus of the new schedule when I was talking about it with my manager. They didn’t take it to mean that I’d only be scheduling them during that time. I think you’re probably fine.

      1. Kathleen Adams*

        I also took the manager’s comment to mean something like, “Yay! You have so much flexibility with these things. How cool is that?”

        1. LCL*

          Yes, I think OP3 is getting into the weeds a bit with talking about the fairness of it all. She has sick time, she can use it for appointments. In fact I would encourage OP3 to still schedule appointments on her off time if she is allowed to accrue sick leave. That is one of the biggest benefits of shift work that people don’t realize; it can be possible to save hours of sick time so you have a longer block available if God forbid you need it. Of course, if her employeer has a use it or lose it policy about sick leave there is no advantage to saving it.

    6. Decima Dewey*

      You schedule medical appointments when you can. I work 11 to 7 two days a week, but my doctor can’t see me on those two mornings, I have to use my own time. If you have to see a specialist, it’s getting to be whenever he/she can fit you in.

    7. OP3*

      I should probably some little detail here:
      -I have braces, so I have a lot of appointments (about every 4 weeks). Luckily, they love giving me morning appointments, because it means they have more afternoon appointments available for the kids in school.
      -We have a lot of sick time, 20 days a year, and I rarely take sick days, so I don’t have to worry about running out of that, luckily.
      -I fill in a few gaps covering the reception area of our organization. I’m regularly scheduled to cover reception for a few hours a week. I will also help cover when the receptionist is out, along with the 9am-5pm coworker. If none of us are available, however, my manager has to cover the reception area.
      The reason for my post was because I want to start seeing a specific new physician, and she is only at the office local to me on a certain day each week (that day not being one where I have mornings off). After reading a few of your responses, I asked my manager to approve the use of sick time for an appointment with that physician for a month from now. She was skeptical at first, and a little annoyed, because after doing some figuring she determined that she would need to cover the reception area for about 2 hours, due to my being away and someone else being out on vacation that day. (I didn’t know that my coworker was out on vacation that day, we don’t usually know until the week before who is going to be out). I explained that the physician I want to see only sees people on a certain day and that they didn’t have a lot of openings coming up. She asked if I could wait and do it on one of my mornings off. I said that I really didn’t want to change the appointment to another week when the coworker was back, because it was pure luck that this appointment was even available, and reiterated that this physician only sees people on a specific day, when I do not have mornings off. She made a “joke” about how she didn’t get a Master’s degree to sit at a desk answering phones, but approved it.
      I think that going forward, I will use my sick time for these appointments with my new physician, and continue to schedule my orthodontist appointments for my mornings off. My manager and I have a pretty good relationship, but, she really emphasizes showing up to work and is the type of person who brags about coming to work when she is sick (very gross, yes, but I suppose I just have to live with her being that kind of person).
      Thanks for all the comments!

      1. Rachel Green*

        Your manager was that skeptical about an appointment a month away? Couldn’t she use the advance notice to find someone else to provide coverage at reception for those two hours?

        I think using sick time for the physician appointments and your mornings off for the orthodontist is a good compromise. Scheduling doctor’s appointments is hard enough, I can’t imagine if I’d ever be able to see my doctor if my availability was only two mornings a week.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Yeah, and I didn’t get a B.S. to assemble training binders, but that’s what my job needs me to do now and then so I shut the hell up and just do it. If she has a problem covering reception, she needs to take that up with someone else and see if there’s another arrangement they can make, like getting a temp in from a staffing agency for a day or something.

      3. AsianHobo*

        Coming to work sick is not just gross, it makes other people sick, causing them to take more sick days, and lowering overall productivity…

    8. Goya*

      Agreed, my allergist (where I have to go get a shot once a month) has several offices in several cities. So Tuesday is the only day that I’m able to get my shots in and even then, they have specific times since you have to sit and wait to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction.

    9. DNDL*

      I have a similar schedule where a couple times per pay period I have mornings off. I do like to try to get things done during those mornings, but on more than one occasion, I just haven’t been able to see the doctor or the dentist during those hours and have used sick leave. No one has ever batted an eye at that. Similarly, I have a coworker who has a morning off every week, but her allergy shots can only be given on a different day of the week, so she is using sick time every single week to get that shot. Again, no one bats an eye. Just because your schedule is different than a normal 9-5 does not mean you have to squeeze every. little. thing. into the one morning you have free.

  4. all aboard the anon train*

    Regarding #5: while I understand having multiple rounds of interviews to make sure someone is a good fit, do employers realize how frustrating this can be for candidates? On one hand, you may have people who are interviewing at multiple places with 4 – 6 rounds each and are running out of ways to take time off from work, and for another, you may have people who can’t make that many rounds due to the nature of their current job, finances, or personal obligations.

    I’ve noticed an increase in interview rounds over the past couple years, and it’s exhausting.

    1. Nico m*

      I think more than 3 interviews is organisational incompetence.

      The company either cant get its shit together to collect the full set of interviewers, or, they dont trust each others judgement enough.

      1. Lora*

        Or they generally suck at interviewing and aren’t asking the right questions to get the information they are looking for. Or they don’t know what they’re looking for, AKA “culture fit”.

        1. Gaia*

          Aw come on now. My company is a bit infamous in our industry for our long interview process and the number of people involved. But…it is wildly successful. It gets us the right candidate among many strong candidates. And by the 3rd round it really is about determining if they are a fit for us (and us for them) because we have a very specific culture.

          I don’t think it is fair to say companies looking for culture fit don’t know what they are looking for. This can be the case, but it can also be the case with specific skills. Bad interviewing practices come in all shapes and sizes!

          1. Naruto*

            I’m skeptical of “culture fit,” the success of your company notwithstanding. If by culture you mean something like some combination of “hard working, smart, motivated, friendly, and professional,” okay, then you should be screening for those things. But those things are also simply part of being a good employee.

            If by culture you mean you want people who dress loudly or read manga or like to bro out over craft beer, then I’d argue that hiring for culture actually isn’t important and isn’t helping your company (unless your company is a brew pub or something).

            1. Lora*

              Yeah, this is what I was thinking of. The subtle racism/sexism/classism etc that is vaguely termed “culture fit” but in practice means, “we want people who look like us”.

              1. Gaia*

                That can be the case, but it isn’t always and it isn’t with us. It has nothing to do with race, gender or class – it has to do with working style and expectations.

            2. Gaia*

              Culture fit can be a really important part of hiring if done correctly (which we do). We have a very unique culture and a very unique way of working and a lot of people will not thrive here because of that. But it is what makes us wildly successful in our industry. It isn’t used to discriminate (people of all ages, races, genders, family status, etc can thrive here and be a part of our culture)

              I know it is sometimes used as a dog whistle of sorts, but that isn’t always the case.

              1. Naruto*

                What do you mean when you say your culture is unique? There are a lot of different types of cultures mentioned in Alison’s link that are totally legitimate to screen for — but those are all well established and understood. So I’m really curious what a unique, legitimate culture might look like.

                1. Gaia*

                  I mean our culture is unique. We have a unique working style, a unique hierarchy structure and unique expectations of how work is accomplished and divided. It is contrary to every other business in our industry (and I cannot get into too many details as I know a few other posters here work in my industry and would recognize my company easily).

                  We screen for people that will be happy and thrive here. And, as I said before, people of all genders, races, socioeconomic classes, family statuses etc can and do thrive here. But not many will, even highly skilled people (which are hard enough to find in our sector), so we have to screen carefully to match our culture.

          2. Nico m*

            How do you know the good rejects wouldnt have done well?

            I suspect that by round 3 youve already got to the decent candidates and any of ’em would do a good job

            I also predict the special culture will be a two edged sword

            1. Gaia*

              Because we used to hire the people we now turn away and we’ve seen them fail miserably and hate the job. The fact is, we don’t operate like a lot of other companies in our industry (and operating the way we do is why we’re still around and they aren’t and it is why we’re snatching up their market share left and right) and some people will really thrive here but many others will not. We hire people who are a culture fit for us because we’ve seen over time who does well and who doesn’t.

                1. Gaia*

                  You would think so, but it really is not that simple. The first thing we have to screen for is technical skills because those are very specific and difficult to find. Once we have a group of technically skilled candidates who can do the work, we screen for those that will be happy doing the work the way we do the work. It takes two rounds for the technical screening and another 1 – 2 rounds for culture screening (depending on level of seniority and whether or not they need to meet with the international teams)

                  We do what we can to accommodate and make it clear what the process looks like early on. But I’d say our retention, engagement and market success speak to a pretty solidly functioning process. All this to say: a long process does not immediately mean a bad process. YMMV.

      2. Jadelyn*

        So here’s a dilemma, then: job seekers complain about slow hiring processes, too. If I’m trying to corral several high-level people into an interview schedule, and my options are to wait until all of them are back from their overlapping vacations or business trips six weeks from now, or schedule multiple interview sessions over the next 3 weeks that each gets the candidate meeting with one or two of the stakeholders, which is the “right way” to do it? Because the candidates are going to complain about it either way, apparently.

        Especially if you’re hiring for a manager or high-level position, the decision-makers may have very busy schedules that include a lot of travel, and it’s not inherently a sign of “not getting their shit together” to have to try to work around that.

    2. Gee Gee*

      I’ve seen an increase in length of interviews to make up for it. People were dragged around my old job to meet with multiple managers over 6-8 hours for some senior roles, just so they didn’t have to schedule an extra day. I can’t imagine still being able to give clear, thoughtful answers after having to be on my feet and mentally sharp for that long.

      1. AnotherNPRGeek*

        Then can you ever expect your expect your senior employees to produce clear thoughtful work and still be mentally sharp after putting in a long 6-8 hour work day?

        1. Close Bracket*

          1. No, actually. You can’t.

          2. A typical work day is not similar to a typical interview day, and a typical work interaction is not like a typical interview interaction.

        2. Jadelyn*

          Interviews are not remotely the same as a regular work day, and I’m pretty sure we all know that. On a regular day, you’ll probably have a few meetings, but you’ll also have periods of time in between to work on less-taxing stuff like checking email or reviewing reports, which lets you recharge in between intense meetings. On an interview day, though, you have to be On the whole time, without getting those kinds of natural fluctuations in mental labor intensity that lets people keep working effectively over a longer stretch. There’s also not really any equivalent in most regular workdays to the level of tension interviews can bring, because in an interview you know you’re actively being evaluated, whereas even intense meetings don’t tend to have that level of scrutiny.

      2. Close Bracket*

        My interviews have always been all day affairs with one hour meetings with different people. I’ve typically flown in the day before and spent a night in a hotel. It comes with the territory, so I handle it, but yes, it’s draining.

    3. Lynne879*

      The ONLY time where I think 5 interviews MIGHT be worth it is if you’re hiring someone to be the director or CEO of a huge company.

      But otherwise, like you said, anything more than 5 interviews is ridiculous.

    4. Anon Accountant*

      Me too and I think at that point it’s very reasonable to ask how many more interviews they plan. And if it’s more I’d probably withdraw from consideration, even if I wanted the job. 5+ interviews is ridiculous unless maybe you are interviewing for a CEO or executive director position. Fo

      1. Anon Accountant*

        Please excuse my weird few letters. I’d started out typing a sentence but hit submit before finishing typing.

    5. But you don't have an accent*

      I had an interview once where they left the end time vague (they said “you’ll be done in the afternoon”). Turns out, it was because if they liked you, they kept you around all day, but if they decided you weren’t a fit, you got sent home “early”.

      My interview went from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Luckily I was still in college, but I had driven up the night before and then had to drive back to school (which was 5 hours away) afterwards. I don’t know how people who were previously employed were able to deal with that.

      1. Deejay*

        I had an interview once where on the way out the guy on reception said “You’ve got the job. I know because you were in there longer than anyone else”. He was right!

    6. DDJ*

      I’ve been trying to get a phone interview policy set up, but company policy is that if a candidate lives in the city, they should make the trip down (first interviews included). I always feel awful when I’m in an interview with someone and realize about ten minutes in that they’re not a good fit for the position, because getting downtown is a hassle. I’m going to keep trying it (I’m helping with the interview process for another open role) so…we’ll see!

    7. EAB*

      I did six rounds of (mostly phone) interviews, in an industry where the norm is three (phone screen, tech interview, in-person team interview).

      It was grueling, and it seemed really weird at the time, but it turned out to be a very good thing. I had originally applied for an individual contributor position, and they were openly interviewing me for a manager position (which is what I came in as). More than 3, maybe 4, interviews would have been excessive for that.

      However, it turns out that they were really starting to vet me for the next-level management position that they were planning to open in the next several months. I was promoted into that job and am now hopefully on track for the next step to senior leadership, with a bit less than three years’ total tenure.

      The extensive interview process made a lot more sense in hindsight when I realized they were interviewing me with an eye toward quick advancement.

  5. T*

    “The fact that you work a shorter schedule than she does shouldn’t really matter; your sick time is there for you to use when you need to use it.”

    Just a note that LW doesn’t work a shorter schedule; she works the same number of hours as her coworker, but works later some evenings. This makes the appointment thing sting even more, because it’s not like OP has more free time than her coworker – it’s just that she has some free time that happens to fall in business hours.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Not really. Those work hours are over time she might otherwise socialize with friends, relax, etc. Imagine for a moment that your doctor is open from 5-8 pm, so your boss *of course* assumes (or you have the impression that your boss assumes) that you will take evening appointments whenever possible. But those 1-2 hour appointments are coming out of your personal time.

          The fact that the personal time happens to be during business hours doesn’t change the fact that the OP is using their personal time while their coworker is using sick time from work.

          (And I have a flex schedule and use personal time for appointments a lot, by choice, because otherwise the number of appointments I juggle for myself and my children would cause me to use more time off than I think is reasonable or would be perceived well…but still. That’s down time and relaxation time I do not have, all the same.)

  6. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 You have my sympathies. I’ve never forgotten the time an old workplace dragged us to a very expensive restaurant for some reason that now escapes me, promising that a senior manager would show with a credit card. I waited to order as I couldn’t afford much. No manager, no credit card. I ended up ordering the cheapest thing on the menu, which was basically the most expensive starter I’ve ever had in my life.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      Also, for restaurants outside your budget I think the best thing is to make no your default answer. When your boss invites you to dinner, check the restaurant’s prices online. If you can’t afford it, say no, thanks for the invite but that’s out of my budget, anyway about those TPS reports…

      If your manager says it’s on them or on the company, you could risk it. But you’d need to go without your wallet, and you’d need to be willing to speak up if you were asked to split it. I’m not sure I’d take that risk unless I had it in writing that the dinner was on expenses – I think I’d have to just refuse if I wasn’t willing to be stuck with going Dutch.

      1. Natalie*

        I think that’s too indirect – you’re relying on your manager to guess right as to your reason for declining but there’s an excellent chance they won’t, particularly if they take it as a given that the meal would be expensed. There’s nothing particularly egregious about just asking.

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          I agree. I would be straight up: ” Last time the dinner was really outside my budget, so, although I appreciate the offer, I can’t cover something like that again. If we are expensing it, though, count me in”

          1. OP2*

            I definitely will! I had just never had a boss not expense a meal on a business trip, so it didn’t occur to me. I will be much more direct in the future.

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          Ramona suggested to say “no, thanks for the invite but that’s out of my budget” – the manager doesn’t have to guess at anything. It’s a no with a direct explanation as to why.

          1. Naruto*

            Yeah. I think “thanks but that’s out of my budget” is perfect. It gives all the information clearly. And if they say “that’s okay, we’re expensing it,” then you can go.

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              Yeah, I’m fully behind “that’s out of my budget.” There’s nothing ambiguous about that. If the boss volunteers “we’re expensing it” or “it’s on the company,” then you can join. I’ve done this in the past (not for a $500/person meal!!!), and it’s never been awkward.

    2. Chocolate Teapot*

      I did some business travel in my last job and I think it sometimes doesn’t occur to senior management that not everyone can afford Chez Posh. Asking whether somebody else is picking up the tab can also be a bit awkward.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        As I’ve grown older I’ve become more comfortable with just saying no to going to places I can’t afford – even if someone else says they’ll pay.

        I do wish I’d expensed the above bill, as I don’t think it was okay that I just sucked it up. Again I’m more comfortable with this now. My manager once held our team meeting in a coffee shop and I checked beforehand that I could expense my order (I could and did). The trick is to be very clear but very low-key and not apologetic.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I’m right there with you on that. 10 years ago I would have been mortified to say I couldn’t afford something but now I’m downright cheerful when I say it. I think it’s because it’s the perfect excuse for me not to socialise :)

          1. Gee Gee*

            I think reframing it mentally was what made me feel more comfortable saying it. “I can’t afford it” doesn’t have to literally mean that you don’t have two dimes to rub together. It can just mean “an expensive meal isn’t within the budget I’ve set for myself, because I choose to use my money in other ways”.

            1. Ice Bear*

              Yes, this. I CAN afford to pay $500 for dinner but I don’t WANT to, so I would not go if I knew I was footing the bill.

              1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

                Exactly. I’d rather spend $500 on something I picked to do and dinner with the boss and his friend would not be my first (or 100th) choice

        2. zora*

          I think you’re right, starting with the assumption of the ‘no’ is way less awkward than asking it as a question. I can’t imagine saying to my boss, “so, are you picking up the tab?” that seems so rude. But saying it as an assumed no “Oh, I can’t, that place isn’t in my budget. But thanks for the invite!” is such an easier way to go! I’m going to remember this if I ever need it.

          Because $500 for ONE PERSON!! I can’t even imagine that restaurant in my wildest dreams.

      2. babblemouth*

        Even out of management, some colleagues can also be oblivious. A few of us decided to have dinner together. We do the same job and have similar incomes, but one was single, no kids, and others were married with kids and a large mortgage. The child-free person suggested a very nice restaurant that was realistically out of budget for many others.

        1. Colette*

          I don’t see that as oblivious so much as assuming adults can speak to their own budget. Single people have expenses and one income; some married people have tons of room in their budget, others have none. That’s up to them to manage.

        2. Blue*

          I’ve actually had the opposite problem. I’m single in a major city, which means my income alone has to be enough to cover a high cost of living and give me a cushion for the future. Many of my coworkers have successful partners who work in industries that pay better than ours, and as such, they tend to have way more cash to throw around than I do. They often forget that.

          In general, I think we’re all better off trying to be mindful about other people’s situations. It’s why I typically give options at different price points when arranging plans with people.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I had a friend who always wanted to go to the best of the best. I love food and I love great restaurants, but three courses plus drinks every week at NYC hot spots adds up and I just couldn’t do it. What made it so strange to me was that she was consistently un- or underemployed and had absolutely no problem running up her credit card bills, and she was surprised I wasn’t willing to do the same. We’re no longer really friends because I got tired of listening to her complaints about my unwillingness to eat at Daniel or Marea on a random Tuesday for the hell of it. On the other side of the coin, one of my best friends is a freelance artist and lives pretty frugally. She’s pretty vocal about a restaurant being out of her price range, and we’re all happy to plan around her. I would rather have her company than not, and I would hate to make her uncomfortable with a price range.

            1. Artemesia*

              When I lived in big southern city my friends and I had a list of inexpensive ethnic restaurants where even 5 years ago we could eat for about 10$ a head, sometimes that even included a beer. We also found BYO places which greatly reduces costs.

              Now that I live in big midwestern city my friends here and I are are trying to put together a similar list since we eat out before theater and frequently just for fun. It looks like it will be more like 20$ a head here, but when you eat out with the same people a lot, it does help the budget to be strategic about it.

          2. Kira*

            I’ve noticed the same – my personal budget is much different from my coworkers, though we all earn the same amount. And it’s not a clear line (child free vs parent, homeowner vs renter, single vs married) of who has more spending money because we each have unique expenses and resources.

            1. Artemesia*

              Some people have other resources e.g. inheritances and some people are fine with living on credit and debt. We were always frugal, spent our disposable income on travel and had a fairly shabby house. Many of our friends had gorgeous furniture, lovely window treatments, well appointed kitchens and tables. We didn’t make more but we tucked it away. Now we live in retirement in a small condo, travel internationally for months at a time and can do anything we want on that cash squirreled away all those years we were not living above our means. The difference between being broke in the end or not on adequate income is systematically saving and never going into debt except for the house.

            2. irritable vowel*

              Yeah, I mean, how are you supposed to know whether your coworkers paid cash for their house or have a big mortgage? (And if they have kids I’d assume they’d be less likely to be able to go out to dinner because they have that as a commitment after work, not necessarily that they wouldn’t be able to afford the restaurant because their kids are so expensive to take care of.) I think unless you know for sure that the people you’re inviting have the same level of disposable income as you, it’s a courtesy to aim a little low with the restaurant price point.

          3. Not Allison*

            I agree with this. Just bc I can afford a $500 dinner doesn’t mean I want to. I also would prefer to have a special meal with people I care about. Not my boss and his random buddy.

            Also part of me thinks it’s only an issue bc it wasn’t expensed. In what world is a $1500 meal for 3 people okay to put on the company’s dime? I might understand if you’re entertaining clients but that had to mean several very expensive steaks, everyone getting appetizers, and at least 2 bottles of wine. I’ve been to many fancy meals in NYC and none of them came close to costing me $500 per person.

            1. Bryce*

              I’ve eaten at a place that my friend and I agreed was “the best steak you’ll ever go broke eating” and that was just about 60 bucks each. I can’t imagine what a $500 meal even looks like.

        3. Health Insurance Nerd*

          I don’t think it’s fair to describe the single person as “oblivious” unless they had full knowledge of the particulars of everyone’s financial situation. Frankly, I’d be offended if someone assumed I couldn’t afford a nicer restaurant simply because I’ve got kids and a mortgage.

        4. Gaia*

          Yes because single, unmarried people have no expenses.

          Their marital and child status aren’t relevant here.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Yeah, I don’t get this. I know people married with children who have tons of resources (they bought early or have family money) and single people without children who have tons of student loan debt or have to support elderly parents. Please let’s not make assumptions that single people have no expenses.

        5. Bea*

          My best friend assumed I had more money because I don’t have kids. Until I pointed out that I do not get the giant tax refund she gets every year to take into consideration. So despite making the same, she takes home almost 7k each year in refunded taxes. Along with many more reasons why not having a child does not make me have a lot more disposable income.

      3. nonymous*

        it’s not even Chez Posh territory. I had a boss back in the day who would regularly invite junior staff to have lunch with him at the nearby thai place (read: <$15). What he failed to acknowledge was that we were hourly and company policy was a 30 min meal break on a badge swipe system. It's one thing to talk shop over your meal in order to get some face time with upper management, but anyone who swiped out to lunch with him wouldn't hit their 40 hrs for the week because the meal inevitably took longer than 30 minutes.

        He couldn't figure out why we all started saying no thanks.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          There’s really no excuse for this (nor is there for the OP’s boss), since theoretically the boss should know how much they get paid and that $14 per day (or $500 for a meal, in the OP’s case) would be wildly out of budget.

        2. Arjay*

          Around here, we don’t count that as a meal break; we count it as a meeting, so it’s on the clock.

    3. Artemesia*

      As a graduate student I got stuck splitting bills at conferences with senior professors who ordered multiple courses and expensive wine while I ordered modestly. I finally gave up and started ordering the same way they did and one actually had the balls to whine that the ‘prices must be going up as this is so much more expensive this year.’ Yeah when you had the coquille St. Jacque, the filet, the caesar salad, and the soufflet and I had the pasta dish, it did average out less. Another time a professor grandly announced he was getting the wine, ordered an expensive wine, and then just folded it into the splitting of the bill. These were people I needed to help me get a job.

      1. Laura (Needs a New Name)*

        I am junior faculty and from my very first conference with students I made very clear that anything I invited my students to was on me. Coffee, dinner, dessert, whatever. I am super up front about expenses and budgeting and planning and cutting costs.

        It can sometimes be a stretch for me to be able to cover a dinner for the whole lab, but I would cancel that tradition before expecting a student to pay.

        Which is to say your profs are terrible mentors! Ugh!

        1. Another person*

          Yeah, our PI always pays. Like even if a bunch of us are just ordering a couple of pizzas for lunch, if he is also getting one, he’ll usually throw in a couple extra dollars. We did have a big going away party for a lab tech at a nice restaurant and we did have to pay that a little. But we were all told ahead of time what the deal was and the costs were laid out very explicitly (we each paid $15 I think and our PIs subsidized the rest of the meal).
          I also sometimes am involved in taking visiting faculty members out to dinner. Our department covers food and drinks, but some of them are from universities that only covers food for seminars, and those ones almost always offer to pay for student drinks before I tell them the department has that covered as well, and they are invited speakers from outside the university!

      2. blackcat*

        WTF? I am a grad student, and 100% have always gotten separate checks in these situations. No one has EVER thought it odd.

        The occasional exception has been made for drinks at a bar, where a couple of faculty clearly announce that grad students drink free (they cover the bill).

        (Also, and I know that this is different in different disciplines, but for 90% of my travel, I get reimbursed for expenses from a grant. That makes the separate checks rule even more crucial. 90% of the time, restaurants right near convention centers are more than happy to oblige.)

      3. Lora*

        You know what, I tend to think it’s a class thing – many of them had parents who bankrolled them while they were in grad school on a tiny stipend, so they never lived on Ramen like the rest of us. They actually think that when you say, “yeah, not gonna make it, I have to pay rent this week” or “how about (cheaper option) instead?” you’re just being mean or antisocial or don’t want to be their friend anymore. Not being able to afford a thing they want to do is genuinely not a thing they understand.

      4. Gee Gee*

        Aside from the obvious crappiness of trying to get people to pay an average when they’re obviously going frugal…I hate when drinkers expect non-drinkers to pay for their alcohol. It’s can be such a complicated issue, involving religion or addiction for many, that it seems incredibly tone deaf to do that.

        1. Artemesia*

          We have that problem now. We usually split bills with friends and it does even out. but we have a couple of friends who drink a lot and that is where the money is in a bill. When we do that (we have one friend who doesn’t drink) we always cover our drinks, but it is awkward, especially if you are eating family style to deal with. (eating family style by the way saves huge bucks and you don’t waste food and get lots of cool stuff — we have found most restaurants will do it if you assume they will i.e. we get 2 or 3 aps for a table of four then a couple of mains, then a couple of desserts and a bottle of wine. Better and cheaper than everyone with a giant plate of too much food)

        2. Another person*

          I hate that so much! I rarely drink because of various reasons and I hate when I get stuck paying for alcohol which I have iffy feelings on already.

      5. Xarcady*

        Wow. As a grad student, either the professors paid for the grad students, or everyone paid for just what they ordered, in which case, the professors made sure the restaurant wasn’t too expensive. And at conferences, professors would flat out tell us which hospitality suites to go to because of the huge amount of free food at some of them.

      6. nonymous*

        I had one situation where our program admin arranged for a meal with faculty from a sister institution (and their grad students) during a conference. So we get there and the faculty member grandly announces that he will pay for all of us (not expected, our program admin had given us reimbursement instructions/limits), and proceeded to order some apps for the table.

        Towards the end of the meal, he stepped away to use the restroom. Turns out he paid for his grad students only with no contribution towards tax, tip or appetizers. Then he called his grad students by cell to leave the table. We were so confused.

      7. Chameleon*

        Wow. My PI would *never* expect to go for food with the lab without picking up the tab himself. (Except alcohol, which he could not expense but also would only order with everyone’s approval).

      8. Floundering Mander*

        This is why I stopped going out for dinner with my supervisor and other faculty when I was a PhD student. They consistently picked restaurants that refused to split tabs and would order multiple bottles of expensive wine, and I’d end up unexpectedly blowing my grocery budget for the month even though I didn’t drink anything but water and ordered a frugal meal. They acted shocked and offended when I brought it up.

    4. Middle Name Jane*

      I must be a rube because I can’t imagine one person’s share of dinner costing $500.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Me either. That’s more than I pay towards rent. You’d have to be serving gold-encrusted unicorn horns, or something.

          1. Specialk9*

            You both pay less than $500 for rent/mortgage?!?!

            (Broken sobbing on my desk)

            I pay FIVE TIMES THAT, for a rental. Because I don’t have $1.2 million for a starter home – the median price here.

          1. Natalie*

            It doesn’t even need to be that good, necessarily – alcohol of all kinds if super marked up at restaurants (over 100% markup) to make up for the low margin on everything else

          2. Gaia*

            I mean, in my world, a “good” bottle of wine is $25. If someone told me $300 I would laugh in their face and decline. In no way am I pay $500 for MY SHARE of dinner. Hell, I’m not paying $500 for dinner for 4.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              Restaurant wine is typically around 3x what you’d pay in a store. That good bottle would cost you $75 in a restaurant.

              1. Decima Dewey*

                And some cities (like Philadelphia, where I live) have by the drink taxes. A few drinks with dinner, and the bar bill is more than the food.

          3. Garrett*

            A friend of mine was just telling me how she had a glass of $1000 wine recently (she got it free since she knew the sommelier).

      2. Nico m*

        And if its good enough to be worth $500, it should be good enough to be fully booked weeks or months in advance.

      3. NJ Anon*

        And I would not have had the money to cover it. On the other hand, I’ve never had a problem speaking up and asking.

      4. The Other Dawn*

        I came here to say exactly that. I think that’s the most important question here (sarcasm…kind of): what the hell did they all order that came to 1,500.00 for three people?!?! I must have led a really sheltered life, because I’ve never heard of a restaurant meal costing that much. The most I ever paid was about 100.00/pp at a really great steakhouse (and it was totally worth it!).

        1. Kyrielle*

          I’d assume it was both a fancy restaurant, and a major and expensive metropolitan area. New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago. Or abroad, some of the more major cities and again, a fancy restaurant.

          Hashiri in San Francisco, The Kitchen in Sacramento if you buy the fancy wine (and, um, you can get well above $300 a bottle; the review I saw referenced a $1500 bottle, which is apparently normally *more* than that elsewhere).

          1. Kyrielle*

            (To be clear, this is me being a research geek and a foodie geek – I am not a foodie. I am someone who enjoys reading what foodies write about. I don’t taste the distinctions well enough for a $500 restaurant to be a good experience for me, even if I didn’t have enough dietary restrictions to drive the chef up a wall anyway.)

          2. JHunz*

            Yes. I’m in Chicago, and the restaurant two floors below my workplace is $400 a head *before* drinks. I’m a foodie, and it’s supposedly one of the best restaurants in the country, but I still haven’t been able to justify that price tag yet.

            1. Anon today...and tomorrow*

              WOW! $400 just for food? For one person? I don’t know that there’s anything on this planet that I’d want to eat that I’d be willing to spend $400 on. I cringe when my grocery bill (2 weeks worth for 4 people) hits $200.

          3. Decimus*

            I was actually thinking that there might also have been a “special menu” involved. A lot of fancy restaurants will have something like a “7 course tasters menu, $350” as an option but they will also often require everyone at the table get the menu. So Boss and Friend look at the menu, decide “gee let’s try the taster’s menu” and LW figures it’s expensed and agrees. Add to that wine, tax and a tip and it’s easy to get to $500.

            1. OP2*

              Bingo! Tasting menus for the whole table plus wine pairing plus tax, and a 20% tip because the waiters really were incredible and don’t deserve a meager tip because of a miscommunication between the dinners.

        2. Sara*

          I went on a company dinner that was for our department at a really nice restaurant, it was expensed and I got lamb chops that were $55 for JUST the chops. I could never order that on my salary and said something to the sales guy next to me about how I would love to order that, but couldn’t afford it. He looked at me like I was crazy and told me to get it since the company was picking up the tab and proceeded to order a steak and lobster tail. Add in all the wine, apps and sides people ordered, it was thousands of dollars for dinner.

        3. Sara*

          I went on a company dinner that was for our department at a really nice restaurant, it was expensed and I got lamb chops that were $55 for JUST the chops. I could never order that on my salary and said something to the sales guy next to me about how I would love to order that, but couldn’t afford it. He looked at me like I was crazy and told me to get it since the company was picking up the tab and proceeded to order a steak and lobster tail. Add in all the wine, apps and sides people ordered, it was thousands of dollars for dinner.

          1. Aurion*

            Every time I’ve gone out to eat with a boss (PI from my research lab, regular boss from my jobs) or even gone out for a business-y meal, I’ve brought my own wallet and carefully checked the prices on the menu (and usually order something cheap). Every time, they’ve paid. It’s a hard thing to get used to.

            One time at my current job, I went to a training event with one of my sales guys and the person running the training was one of our business partners. The three of us went out eating afterwards. I ordered my thing, had to duck out early, and was about to pay for it when both of them asked me what I was doing. And when I explained, both of them (gently, kindly) laughed at me. Sales Guy said he had an expensed credit card for a reason; Business Partner added “if he can’t expense it for whatever reason, I can”.

            My parents didn’t really work in white collar jobs, and sometimes the norms just aren’t clear to me.

            1. Specialk9*

              In my white collar job, I’d be fired for expensing a meal that costly. Well, maybe not fired, but I’d have to pay out of pocket, my boss would question my judgment, and it’d probably kick off an internal investigation into my past expenses.

        4. anonykins*

          I once – ONCE – paid $500 for a meal for two at one of the fanciest restaurants in town (I was living in a developing country, so definitely not as fancy or expensive as what you’d find in the US or Europe). Also, it was my 5-year wedding anniversary. No way I’d pay more than $100 per person for any other meal, and it had also better be another special occasion!

        5. Anonymous Educator*

          I live in San Francisco, and while you can certainly find $500/person expensive restaurants if you’re looking for them, that is not the norm even for nice places, not even remotely the norm. Probably the most expensive meal I’ve ever shelled out for was $100 per person, and that was a really swanky meal. Of course, yes, I’m not ordering top-of-the-line bottles of wine, either…

        6. Anon for Sure*

          Umm…some co-workers and I ended up with a bar bill of $1300 once. Alcohol, especially, top shelf adds up quickly. Although we weighted the bill based on how much you drank. The person who drank soda contributed about $10, the real pain was for the rest of us. None of the rest of us have ever repeated that experience.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Yeah, I will say I pleasantly had the opposite experience to the OP’s. One time on a business trip, a bunch of us had to stay longer (weather, canceled flight), and we ended up having afternoon drinks for several hours. I wasn’t drinking at the time, so I just had a bunch of iced teas (not the Long Island kind), and when the bill came around, I was all set to pay the split, but they insisted I pay nothing at all and split it amongst themselves because my iced teas were a drop in the bill bucket compared to all the alcohol they consumed.

      5. aebhel*

        Same. I don’t think I could spend that much on a family meal at any restaurant I’ve ever been to. Granted, I live in a poor area, but still…

      6. awkwardkaterpillar*

        My jaw dropped! A $1500 restaurant bill? I think I would have passed out. That’s a vacation not a meal (at least for my budget).

        1. The Rat-Catcher*

          Seriously! Our vacation did cost roughly that much for 4 nights in a decent hotel, car rental, and expenses there and back.

        1. Artemesia*

          Alinea in Chicago runs about $250/300 a person before wines which add another couple hundred. You have to reserve and pay ahead; can’t come? Too bad. Your seat has flown so to speak. A wonderful experience best thought of as a ticket to Hamilton or a rock concert.

      7. BlueWolf*

        Some of the Michelin Star rated restaurants (as in best restaurant in the world) can be at least that much for the tasting menu plus wine. But as someone else said, you usually have to book those kind of places weeks or months in advance.

      8. Serin*

        I agree — I was appalled when I read that. That amount of unbudgeted expense in a month would send me into a gibbering panic. (‘course, I live in Iowa; I doubt one person could run up more than $100 even at the best restaurant in town, unless they were drinking multiple bottles of wine all by themselves.)

      9. The Rat-Catcher*

        I came to say this if no one else had already. I’m from a really rural area and the nicest restaurant we have could come to *maybe* $100 a person, if you just went all out with appetizers, entrees, dessert, and lots of drinks. I don’t know if I’m not cultured enough or don’t run in the right circles or what, but I’m having some trouble even conceiving of a $1500 meal.

      10. Sfigato*

        I live near san francisco and I like to eat out and the only time I have spent $500 on a meal was when I went to Le Circe in Vegas and paid for myself and a friend. Granted, that was 10 years ago, but it is the most expensive meal I have ever had, and I only did it because I was turning 30. When my wife and I go out and go big we max end up spending $150 a person, and that is a full meal with drinks at a fancy restaurant. And it’s the kind of thing we do maybe once a year, once every other year, to celebrate a big birthday or an anniversary.

        It is awkward at conferences etc because many of the restaurants that cater to the business crowd are pricey, and it is awkward to say no. I try to be mindful of where I’m going and who is paying. One conference I go to will suggest several restaurants of various price ranges so that the folks that can expense a $100 meal can go to chez posh and the less fancy folks can go to a moderately priced place and not feel like they are being cheapos.

      11. Chameleon*

        I can think of two local restaurants where that would not be unexpected, with wine. However, both are Michelin-rated and would require reservations a good year in advance.

      12. K*

        It depends on where you live. My mortgage is 4 times the cost of that dinner and we live in a townhouse in the burbs. We’ve only spent that much on a meal once, and it was a fantastic super memorable dinner at one of the best places in town with amazing French wine. Worth every penny. But with my boss? I’d never spend that much. If the OP is in a director-level position, I’m not surprised his boss thought he could afford it.

    5. aebhel*

      Also, it’s just really rude in general to invite someone to dinner and then expect them to split the check, IMO. Especially in a business context.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, how hard would it have been for the boss to say “It’s totally cool if you don’t want to come, because the company is not expensing this—this would just be a personal meal, but the food is really good”?

      2. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

        My first job out of college, I was SO BROKE when I started. I literally had $2 in my wallet (and no credit cards) on my first day of work. My manager asked me and the other two people starting that day out to lunch.

        I ordered a $1.99 appetizer (it was a slice of garlic bread) and water, because I wasn’t 100% sure she’s pick up the tab. You’d think my manager would have gotten the hint at that point that maybe she should say “hey, this is on me, get what you want!”

        But, unfortunately, she didn’t. My last two bucks went for my share of the bill, and then I had to walk home because I had no bus fare.

        I *always* let me team know that I’ll be picking up the bill before we go anywhere, ever.

        1. HR is fun*

          Just today I was emailing a manager with advice about taking their new employee out to lunch on the new person’s first day: “You should pick up the tab- use your company credit card, and if you don’t have one, submit a reimbursement form afterwards.” How rude that your boss didn’t pay for your $2 meal!!!

  7. ExceptionToTheRule*

    OP#3 – I’ve had mornings off my entire career, my advice on your question is that you should schedule your medical appointments when you can get them. You don’t mention how much sick leave you get or your health status, both of which would play into my personal calculus for whether I had sick days to burn vs scheduling them on my off time.

  8. KarenT*

    Shame on your boss. Even if he wasn’t expensing it, he invited you and should have paid for you. If he regularly shells out $500 for dinner, he can cough up $1000. Given you were on a business trip and he’s your boss, I’m apalled he didn’t tell you in advance it was not going to be an expensed dinner.
    That being said, I’d probably handle it in the moment. Next time you get an invite ask if you can expense since it’s a work dinner.

    1. MommyMD*

      Boss was very wrong. I’ve never gone out with my boss where he did not pay for the meal. Even out of his own pocket.

      I would definitely get clarity on this prior to the next time. If Boss wants OP there, Boss better shell out.

      1. Gaia*

        Yep. My boss has always paid for our meals when we’re out and when I take my team out, I always pay for their meals. It is just what is done in our industry whether or not it is being expenses. And it would be really, really weird to behave otherwise.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          Agreed. And it’s not just that this was the boss either – either this was a business expense, or they should follow the rule that whoever does the inviting does the paying (unless prior understandings exist, like long-standing friends who eat out together a lot).

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, it should never be assumed if you invite someone to a dinner that’s $500/person that you want the person you’re inviting to pay for herself.

    3. Vicki*

      Dear OP #2 – This was a meal with your boss during a business trip. It was a business meal.
      Let’s give boss the benefit of the doubt and decide he’s assuming you will be filing yout own expense report. Do that.

      File an expense report yourself. If you don’t have a copy of the receipt, ask your boss for a copy. He probably kept one. Otherwise, use your credit card bill. Or talk to your Finance people about how best to file a report for this expense.

  9. dragonzflame*

    I want to know more about this restaurant with a $1500 bill for three people! Was it good? What did you have? I’d hope it was memorable for that kind of money…

    1. Artemesia*

      The only time I have paid that much for a meal it was a 3 star Michelin and it was that good. I just conceptualized it as a rock concert for which tickets were hard to get. And it did have a lot of entertainment value.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        One of the things I regret not doing while we still lived in New York was getting a meal at Per Se. We almost did it after I got a nice bonus one year, but we ended up using that money to do practical things, like move and adopt a dog. I mean, I love my dog, but– but– Thomas Keller! Views of Central Park! Amazing wines! Still on my list. Expensive? Definitely. But I do think that the entire experience will be worth it, especially from what my friends and colleagues tell me.

        1. Mike C.*

          If it makes you feel any better, the last time it was reviewed in the NYT it didn’t do very well.

      2. finderskeepers*

        Which one? I spent less than $700 with tip at Jean Georges for two people with extra truffles but that was no alcohol. I’d also be curious which restaurant OP went to that managed to rack up $500 per person and if that included alcohol.

        A lot of companies expense policy doesn’t include alcohol so there’s that excuse the manager could use.

        1. Olive Hornby*

          Even still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the manager ordered fancy wine and then stuck OP with the bill! That’s how it would go at most nice boss dinners I’ve attended (though I have yet to be invited to one quite this pricey.)

      3. Health Insurance Nerd*

        I think in those cases you’re paying for an experience and not just a simple meal- I am a total foodie, and my bucket list has one thing on it, eating at the French Laundry. If I paid $500 it had damn well be one of the most memorable meals of my life!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Minibar in DC. I ate something that looked like a yellow rubber ducky but had apple sorbet in it. I had a bowl of vapor. (Here’s a photo.) I had an ice cube that tasted like gazpacho. I had pressed flowers that were suspended in sugar and looked like stained glass and were served in a book. I didn’t know that food could make you laugh! It was easily the best eating experience of my life.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I’m so confused, because to me a minibar is the little fridge in your hotel room that contains deceptively expensive tiny snacks.

        1. The Pink Lady*

          Me too! I was just trying to imagine how amazing a hotel it would need to be to have such a sophisticated selection, rather than bags of five peanuts and cans of g&t. Despite this, I’m pretty sure I’d have no trouble getting through $500-worth of minibar snacks in an evening.

        2. Paul*

          minibar to me is what I have in my shop, so I can drink and do heavy lifting/clean guns/read books/blast metal while sipping cheap whiskey.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Now I am shocked that my boyfriend hasn’t insisted on a trip to DC to visit Minibar. He LOVES Jose Andres. We went to Oyamel on one of our last trips, and he insisted on a visit to Bazaar when we went to LA. (Food was excellent, my server was obnoxious but the rest of the staff was great, dessert room was amazing.)

            1. Mustache Cat*

              Half the quality restaurants in DC are run by Jose Andres, or so it seems, so a trip to the capital should definitely be in your future!

              1. KTZee*

                There was a radio segment recently about best places to go to dinner in DC and the answer basically was “anywhere by Jose Andres or Mike Isabella”. Pretty sound advice, imo.

            2. Marillenbaum*

              You should totally go! It would be amazing–and who knows, maybe we could have an AAM meetup?

            3. RabbitRabbit*

              Went to Oyamel years ago, but it was fabulous. My husband loved the roasted grasshopper taco, among many other things he had.

              1. SinSA*

                Jose Andres is wonderful! Minibar is definitely on my list. (His restaurant Zaytinya, also in DC, is one of my favorite places to go when I am feeling fancy.)

              2. KTZee*

                I was so excited to eat the grasshopper taco at Oyamel! So cool to get to try something so atypical for the US.

            4. Katie the Fed*

              You should come in June for Dine N Dash. It’s a fundraiser for a nonprofit that Jose Andres is involved with, and all of his restaurants in Penn Quarter (except Minibar) and several other ones participate. Each restaurant has like 3-5 appetizer-sized items and amazing drinks and you get a wristband and go from restarurant to restaurant gorging yourself. It’s delightful.

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                Ooh, that’s an idea! We haven’t been back enough recently (my boyfriend grew up in NoVa, I lived there for three years) and we’ve only gone back together for weddings (he’s had a bunch of conferences in Fair Oaks).

            5. K*

              We love Oyamel, and they’re one of the only places still serving food on Sunday nights after the Shakespeare Theater lets out. Their flaming chihuahua cheese with chorizo and tequila is soooo good.

              Jaleo across the street is also great.

            6. Jennifer M.*

              I’m going to Oyamel for dinner on Tuesday and I’m already annoyed at my friend for picking it because I want basically everything on the menu.

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                I don’t remember what we ate (it was a while ago) but the huitlacoche quesadilla was ON POINT. Sadly, it is not quite prime huitlacoche season, but it’s better than any other corn fungus you’ll find in the States.

      2. Jesca*

        Oh my goodness Plume at the Jefferson in DC is a 5 star restaurant. When I went, we kept it pretty conservative and stilled racked up over $1000 with two of us. The people beside us by the time we left were already racking up thousands. I will tell you, though, that even if you only eat at a place like this just once, it is worth it. But it will pretty much ruin any other food for you!

        They too had some pretty impressive sorbets!

      3. Artemesia*

        This is what Alinea is like. The taffy helium balloon, the bonfire in the middle of the table while you eat the 5 preps of duck with 100 condiments on a mirror between you and your dining partner, the bonfire contains logs of kobe beef that are then carved by the table, the small hot potato on a needle that is dropped in to cold vichyssoise and tossed back like an oyster, the dessert constructed directly on the table by the chef. It is tasty but also entertaining.

      4. Anonomyzing myself to reply here!*

        Minibar was one of my favorite dining experiences ever. Went before they revamped it a few years ago but it was amazing! 26 courses of delicious, humorous, amazingness. Most creative meal I’ve ever had. I remember this “guacamole” that was thinly-sliced avocado wrapped around a tomato sorbet, in a log shape. And a bunch of foams and things like that. And the check came in an empty but somehow intact eggshell. After course #12 or 13 of small-bite dishes I started to get worried we were going to have to stop for burgers afterward, but by the end I was completely full!! So much fun.

      5. bean*

        Minibar was one of my favorite dining experiences ever. Went before they revamped it a few years ago but it was amazing! 26 courses of delicious, humorous, amazingness. Most creative meal I’ve ever had. I remember this “guacamole” that was thinly-sliced avocado wrapped around a tomato sorbet, in a log shape. And a bunch of foams and things like that. And the check came in an empty but somehow intact eggshell. After course #12 or 13 of small-bite dishes I started to get worried we were going to have to stop for burgers afterward, but by the end I was completely full!! So much fun.

        (Tried to post a minute ago but don’t think it went through? If I messed up, my apologies!)

    3. Paul*

      I’ve eaten at restaurants with my parents (in the last 5-10 years) where you go in, the restaurant serves you whatever the hell the chef thought was good that day and presents you with the bill afterwards. I know there’s a term for it but damned if I know what it is, can someone help me out?

      It’s uniformly awesome so far. Really, really good. But I think the tab for each for 4 adults was ~2 months of my mortgage payment. As good as the food was, I can’t imagine ever paying that for a meal.

        1. Paul*

          These have been in Santa Fe, Denver, and DC; I’m not sure what type of cuisine it was. One was really OMG good elk medallions served with some veggies I didn’t recognize as the main course. I have not a clue what the 1st or 2nd or last course where with that one. But holy cow that elk was the tastiest thing I’ve eaten in my life (I want to see if that chef could make black bear taste good–that meat’s always been nasty to me).

          1. Anonymous in ME*

            There’s also tasting menus. I think that term is usually used when there’s many small courses that come out one after another.

            Fun for birthday dinners (that’s my new tradition) but pretty ridiculous for a business meal! Especially because they usually last 3+ hours too!

        2. Laura*

          Yes, but I’ve never been to one where they don’t give you an omakase price beforehand! That’s pretty shocking.

          Sushi of Gari in NYC does extraordinary omakase, btw.

      1. PollyQ*

        If it’s French, it’s prix fixe, and you know, if you have that kind of money and you like that experience, then it’s great.

        But to spring it on a subordinate during a business trip is *!*$&*#&-ing outrageous. I don’t care if you’re Tony Stark or Smaug, it is not that hard to notice that other people in the world may have less money than you, especially if you’re their boss and know what their salary is.

        1. Artemesia*

          And they never use that term in France. Americans have a whole collection of frenchified terms that are not used in France e.g. Entree is not the main course in France. and Prix Fixe is called le Menu in France. (what we call menu is the ‘card’ or Carte.) I have literally never seen the term Prix Fixe anywhere but in the US. (In Britain they call it a ‘set meal’)

    4. Ellie*

      The most I’ve ever paid was $300 each and it was about 10 different Japanese courses, with bottomless sake. Was delicious but it was a set price/menu and everyone there had paid in advance.

      I think I paid nearly that amount for another set menu with two tasting wines paired with each course, only apparently they were supposed to be pouring an inch or so into each glass. Someone forgot to tell the wait staff though, and they were all pouring full glasses instead… two full glasses of wine with each course, 10 glasses total over the evening. It was a fantastic night.

      I can’t say I’ve ever heard of somewhere that charges $500 ahead but surely it must have been the drinks?

    5. xyz*

      I got taken to a three-star Michelin restaurant once for my birthday. I don’t know what it cost, but a lot. Unfortunately, I really didn’t like my starter and the rest was okay but not as memorable as meals I’ve had in some one-star or no star restaurants :( I didn’t want to let down the person paying though, so I had to pretend it was the best meal ever. I will say, the service is something else though.

    6. Bagpuss*

      In my experience, it is memorable – food as art, everything perfectly presented and absolutely delicious. And the service is awesome.

      I didn’t think that any meal could possibly be worth those kind of prices until I tried it!

      That said, I think the most expensive I’ve been to was around £150 for the food, had we chosen to have the wine flight as well it would have worked out about £400 each, but we didn’t, (partly because we had plans for cocktails and theatre after the meal)
      I think it worked out around £200 each in total (which is what, $250?).
      I don’t regret a penny of it. I dream about that meal.

    7. Sherry*

      I recently really stressed out about a business meal reservation at a D.C. restaurant that has a James Beard award-winning chef. An important client requested a place where we could have the best meal of its kind. Caviar alone cost $200. I’m sure it would have been incredible but I was so relieved when the client’s plans changed, even with it being expensed.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      Every time I get close to going to a really expensive steakhouse (steak is my thing!), I chicken out (no pun intended). Most of the time I just can’t justify paying those prices. Especially since having weight loss surgery, since I can only eat maybe 1/3 of the meal, and steak just isn’t the same reheated. And there’s just no way I’d pay for the fine dining experience; it’s just not me and my husband won’t eat what he deems to be “weird food”, which is pretty much anything that’s not steak, chicken, pizza or hot bogs/burgers.

      1. Health Insurance Nerd*

        You should go, and eat at the bar. Many of those expensive steak houses have amazing bar menus, where the prices are more reasonable and, more importantly, the portions are much smaller.

        1. Chameleon*

          A coincidence…I am actually doing this today! We got a $100 gift card from my father-in-law which would cover maybe 60% of a single dinner. So instead we are going to happy hour and using it on basically steak house tapas. (It’s my birthday and I love food, but my husband has no sense of smell so expensive food is wasted on him)

    9. Gee Gee*

      I’m cracking up, trying to imagine eating at that kind of place with certain people I know. The one guy shovels food in like a Hoover. I can see his fork moving in a blur back and forth from his plate to his face, while a cartoon cash register noise keeps dinging over his head.

    10. Lora*

      Went to a couple of places like that with sales reps. Typically they would order lots of wine, some kind of seafood starters for the table and steak/lobster for dinner. The wine was good and worth it, but for my money Chez Panisse is better and waaaayyy more affordable.

      Also, I don’t give a crap what any American restaurant claims about their steak, go to South America, preferably Don Julio’s in Buenos Aires, and you will have the best steak dinner of your life. $100 USD including dessert, starter, sides and wine with the current exchange rate.

      In Boston my restaurant of choice is actually Neptune Seafood. No reservations, you just get there early and wait as long as you have to for a table. Worth it. Oleana also good. Neither have to break the bank.

    11. Sara*

      Drinks add up fast – I’ve done expenses for a lot of my sales people. Steak, several bottles of wine, appetizers and desserts – its shocking how quickly those things add up. And at fancier steak houses, all the sides are ala carte on top of the $30 you’re paying for the actual cut of meat.

  10. Anja*

    OP#3 –

    I work in an environment where we have a schedule which allows us to have an extra day off every two or three weeks (eg. union staff could theoretically work 6.75 hours a day for the ten working days in a two week period but instead work 9 days at 7.5 hours and have the 10th day off ). For us medical/dental appointments don’t count as sick time as such, they are just paid within work time.

    Our direction is to try to book appointments for that day off (or weekends or otherwise outside of work hours) but we are able to use work hours if necessary. This kind of equates to regular checkups (regular annual or for a chronic condition), dental cleanings, etc. tend to be booked for those days but if it’s more urgent or a specialist it happens whenever an appointment happens to be available. I’ve never seen in questioned. And it makes sense in our case as there’s effectively an unlimited bank for medical appointments in this case (though I’m sure if it became a regular occurrence there would need to be a discussion with HR as to whether or not it would need to be a documented issue).

    If it were me I would tend to trying to book non-urgent appointments on my mornings when available but that’s because I’d prefer to keep my sick pay for times when I actually needed to miss work time due to illness or more urgent appointments.

    1. finderskeepers*

      regular vanilla appts (yearly dr checkup, dentist cleaning, eye doctor) can be booked way out so you can snag evening or weekend appts. And since those aren’t specialists, you can shop around for practice that isn’t only weekdays.

      1. Whoanelly*

        My dentist’s office is open from 10-6, which happen to be the exact hours I’m at work. No weekend appointments. There’s zero opportunity for me to book an appointment outside of work hours. Crappy insurance and dental phobia have kept me locked into this dentist, because she actually listens to me and takes her time and doesn’t accuse me of crying for attention (which I’ve been accused of before by dentists).

      2. Rachel Green*

        I have never had a doctor or dentist offer evening or weekend appointments. The best I can do is schedule it early in the morning so I’m just a little bit late for work. Or schedule it late in the day so I just have to leave a little early.

  11. Junior Dev*

    Alison, given that #1 is potentially illegal, would you advise the OP to do anything differently than if it were simply annoying?

    I can see filing some sort of official labor complaint if someone were disciplined for talking about work conditions, but just having the poster up seems like it would have a chilling effect on employees discussing work conditions.

    What specifically would someone do about this, if anything?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You want me to talk about work and not food? Fine, fine.

      There’s always a calculation with this sort of question about how much you care and how much you’re impacted versus how much potential hassle you’re willing to take on. It’s easy to say “if your employer is violating the law, you should always report it,” but the reality is that it can have real professional ramifications. It shouldn’t, but it can. So the answer depends on how strongly the OP feels about it. (On the other hand, this stuff can be more easily reported once you leave or are in the process of leaving.)

      But there’s often a much easier way to address this stuff, which is just pointing out to your employers that “we” could get in trouble for violating the law. A lot of times — especially with the kind of thing in this letter — an employer may not even realize that they’re violating the law. (There are tons of employers who genuinely don’t know they can’t prohibit people from discussing pay with each other, for example.) More on how to do that here:

      1. OP #1*

        Thanks for the advise, Alison. I probably will end up not mentioning anything since I’m pretty low on the totem pole and I’ve heard that our HR team isn’t the best at handling things like this. This has just cemented for me that it is probably time for me to brush off my resume. Which is too bad, because I genuinely like the people I work with… as people. For some reason, when it comes to work related things, they lose most of their likability.

        1. Naruto*

          Get out while you can! I’ve had the experience of sticking around long enough that they lose their appeal “as people,” too.

    2. Paul*

      I’m really curious here too. I’ve *never* worked at a place that didn’t have rules against gossiping. I’d also note I don’t think those rules have ever been enforced well, just for fairness sake. Would those rules violate that law? I’m confused now. This even goes back to large retail chains in HS, let alone professional jobs.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It depends on the specifics of the policy. But it’s really, really common for employers to have policies that violate the NLRA (the most common is prohibitions on talking about your salary with coworkers).

        1. Paul*

          OK, I went and pulled up my digital copy (thank god for Office 365) of our current handbook.

          “Behaviors which may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination include …[long list] violation of the company policies regarding gossiping about [employer name here].”

          But I can’t find an actual policy in the handbook about gossiping, so why are they referring to it? I’m really confused now. I sign an NDA every year and maybe that’s what they mean? But it only references clients or confidential vendor information. We *just* signed this year’s last week!

          1. Myrin*

            It’s so weird to me that they’re actually using the word “gossiping”. That’s weirdly specific and completely unspecific at the same time somehow, because it sounds like they’re using it to mean “anything bad about employer” which is not necessarily gossip.

            1. Liane*

              It’s an extreme version of that bad management practice of telling everyone in the office “Don’t do The Thing” when there is only one co-irker who does The Thing?

            2. Dinosaur*

              I worked at a place with a no gossiping rule. The handbook was vague but my manager explained that it meant that if a person has an issue with how a coworker or manager is doing their job (or not doing their job, she was sure to mention) the policy meant that one should bring the issue up the management chain to get it resolved rather than complaining about the coworker behind their backs. That manager was great and would address issues in a fair and diplomatic way so the policy was successful and made sense once explained. It’d be weird to focus a “no gossiping” rule on gossiping about the company, however.

          2. General Ginger*

            Ours has a no gossip rule as well. As far as I know, it’s meant to encourage people to come to management about an issue w. a coworker instead of talking about them behind their back. Unfortunately, best case scenario here is, people do both.

        2. Kalamet*

          Yep. My grandboss once announced in a team meeting that compensation is “confidential and not to be discussed”. I asked my manager if he knew that the rule was illegal – he had no idea but explained that it’s important to keep salary secret for morale reasons. *sigh*

          I’m in tech, by the way. No history of pay gaps or discrimination here. /s

          1. Artemesia*

            Yeah all those people being underpaid will have their morale hurt if they know it. LIke Lilly Ledbetter who would have been so much better off not knowing that her mediocre male co-workers were paid much more than she was. And then the courts told her ‘well, this has been going on for years, too late to complain now.’ ‘But I didn’t know’ was not considered a good enough excuse.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        I’ve never worked somewhere that did have rules against gossiping. That sounds kind of infantilising.

        1. The Pink Lady*

          Me neither, but I think we are both in the UK, where many workplaces run on not-really-serious mutual grumbling, a byproduct of the sort of understatement which gives rise to the most enthusiastic response to the question “How are you?” being “Not too bad.”

          Seriously, though, the sort of rather desperate measure the OP describes smacks to me of a workplace where management is losing all authority and respect and having to manage by dictat instead, which is really hard to deal with. This sort of Big Brother approach is fraught with problems, not least that they will have to give more and more specific instances of what is and isn’t permitted; and, since these sorts of measures are largely unenforceable, will have to resort to increasingly draconian ‘punishments’ to get people to toe the line. I suspect this poster campaign isn’t the first or only indicator there’s been of poor management in this organisation. Personally, I’d be rethinking whether or not I wanted to work in such an environment.

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          I’ve never worked at a place that had that explicitly spelled out. But I get the urge. Nothing destroys teamwork faster than someone maliciously gossiping about their teammates.

        3. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          Me either. Constant gossiping would have violated the professional communication and behavior bit.

      3. Nacho*

        I can only assume “gossiping” is along the lines of “Betty’s sleeping with Joe from accounting” or “Bob is an alcoholic” in this context, which would be a pretty decent thing to have a rule about.

        1. Caitlynn*

          My work does have a gossip problem currently, and most of it is “Monica is so bad at assisting with blah and let’s discuss how she sucks for ten minutes; Joey let’s arrange for you to always be around to assist me instead of her” or “Phoebe told me to do blah but I don’t think she’s entitled to tell me what to do ugh let’s all tell stories about how obnoxious Phoebe is!” But occasionally it does veer into stuff that’s necessary, just like 10%.

          1. KTZee*

            My team had a similar type of gossip problem – including the kinds of examples you listed where performance issues were getting discussed not in appropriate ways as a management issue but as gossip. (And I will admit I was one of the people participating and had to do some real self-reflection and self-correction to address my own behavior.) We ended up hashing it out as a team during a team retreat where we wound up completely abandoning the planned agenda to focus on letting everyone express their concerns in a reasonably safe space. It was one of the most brutal and personally painful meetings I have ever been involved in and I cried afterwards, but in the year since then, things have gotten a million times better, people have become much more self-aware and self-correcting, and our team’s morale has improved tenfold. All that said, I strongly believe it worked because it came from within the team, including a commitment to manage our gossip tendencies (knowing that eliminating them completely isn’t realistic), and not as an edict from above.

  12. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

    OP #3 – your boss might also have been thinking about non-medical appointments when she said you’d have mornings for appointments. Like hair appointments, going to the bank, etc. It might have been more of a “You can get a pedicure or your hair done during the day!” and not so much a “You have mornings off so you don’t have to use to sick time to go to the doctor!”

    1. Samata*

      You know, this is a great point. It’s always so much easier to get in for these types of appointments (at least where I live) in mid-morning as opposed to weekend or after work hours which seem to be trickier.

    2. INTP*

      I agree with this. And even for medical appointments, a lot of people prefer not to use sick time if they don’t have to so they can save it for when they’re really sick, their kids are sick, etc. I would assume the boss was just trying to be positive about the schedule and not forbidding you from ever using sick time for appointments.

    3. PB*

      This was my thought, too. I have had to use vacation time before to get my refrigerator repaired, or leave early to get to the bank before they close. Having two mornings a week off would avoid that.

    4. Zahra*


      9-5 coworker gets to have evenings free, where most social activities happen (dinner with friends, sports, or hobby classes, etc.). But they have to take PTO for appointments, which means they have less for vacation or actual sick days. Also, stores are busier in the evenings, appointments that can happen in the evenings (hair dresser, for example) are harder to get, etc. Also, see child care arrangements: most are setup for the 9-5 crowd.

      OP#3 gets 2 mornings free, where she can go to all sorts of appointments when they are easier to get, shop when salespeople are free to help, lineups to pay at the cash are shorter, etc. But she has fewer possibilities for evening activities. She also has more PTO to use for vacation or days she is sick. It’s a balance. Some people prefer working days, others don’t mind working evenings.

  13. GH in SOCal*

    Oh God, #1 brings up such a horrible memory for me. Years ago I was at a convention location and had made plans to go to a very special local restaurant with a work friend, that was actually considered a destination. I mentioned it to various people I worked with and invited them along. I used phrasing like “Emma and I are going to The Amazing Table on Friday, if you’d like to come.” So then there was a group of 8 or 10 people and when the bill came I learned that most of them thought I was treating them! It was more like $150/head, not $500, but that would have been $1500 for me. I embarassedly clarified that it wasn’t a business dinner. I wasn’t a senior player, I was shocked anyone thought I was in a position to buy a big dinner like that, but on reflection I realized people thought I was representing my boss. Most people were gracious about it, but some weren’t, and a couple of people had to borrow from others at the table to settle their share. It was such a horrible experience. Since then I try to be VERY CLEAR about when I am inviting people to dinner vs. just letting them know that a group is getting together.

    1. misspiggy*

      I gasped out loud in horror. Interesting example of how some people will take the most optimistic view of a situation whenever they can…

      1. Adlib*

        Yeah, it would never occur to me to assume someone was treating if they didn’t specify that up front. If I wasn’t sure, I’d definitely ask, but again, another reason to never assume!

    2. Red Reader*

      This is the kind of thing I was super worried about in planning my destination wedding. I kind of feel like I’ve hammered the hosted vs non-hosted (aka, I’m paying the check vs everyone’s paying their own) event lists into the ground, but by god it should be clear by now.

  14. cncx*

    re OP2, i worked for someone who was a good boss but a multimillionaire from old money. He literally did not comprehend other people’s cash flow. like it wasn’t anything you could hold against him, for him 500 dollars was like 5 dollars for me. So i agree with AAM, see if there are any other red flags but i can get someone just being really clueless about how much something costs and otherwise be an ok boss.

    the weird thing was, he was frugal or cheap about a lot of things (he wore dockers to work instead of armani suits or whatever, this was probably the old money part coming out), but when he wanted to spend money he SPENT MONEY. i am glad i met someone like that early in my career.

    1. NJ Anon*

      People who come from “old money” usually aren’t flashing it around. Thats why it’s old!

      1. Samata*

        Agree 100%. Usually the people from old money or people with assets are the ones who you would never suspect just seeing them walk down the street. “The Millionaire Next Door” is an interesting book on this if you haven’t read it.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        Yep. My experience with ‘old money’ is that they’re very frugal and shrewd because they intend to leave the money for their kids and grandkids. Decisions to spend money are weighed against the impact of their descendants having that money.

      3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        The first thing I learned working at a bank was that the people with the most money never dressed like they had it. You would not believe the number of people with brand new cars, big houses, and really expensive clothes that are playing a huge juggling act to keep just barely on top of their payments.

        1. Adlib*

          My dad used to run a business servicing residential customers. He would frequently have clients in a very expensive neighborhood/suburb near me where the huge houses barely had any furniture in them. Being “house poor” is real.

    2. Jennifer M.*

      Most of the rich people I know are cheap in a lot of ways. My aunt buys Walmart brand diet soda because she drinks so much it would be a waste to buy Diet Coke. But she also has no problem dropping $25,000 on a Rolex. I only drink Diet Coke, but have never owned a watch that cost more than $30.

      I also recall recently reading an article where the author was commenting on the costuming of a character on a TV show or in a movie. S/he was writing that the costuming was perfect for a dissolute trust fund kid – khakis with frayed hems and a fleece hoodie that looked like something the character picked up off the floor of a party and decided to wear and floppy hair.

      1. blackcat*

        My parents think nothing of a 30k vacation (which includes meals that top $500/person). They also only buy used cars. When I was growing up, our vacations were literally the only thing that seemed different from my friends. My parents are rich (like 1% rich, not work in the trump cabinet 0.001% rich), but super frugal in a lot of ways. In particular, my mom was always baffled by people who lived in mansions. So much money! Then you’d have to spend so much money hiring people to clean it!

        1. Artemesia*

          We are not in the 1% but took long European vacations (like 3 weeks, long by US standards) for most of our working years — no $500 meals and we have always rented and cooked in to make these trips more affordable, but still it is expensive to do that. One of the reasons we could is that we always bought used cars and drove them till they dropped. Priorities.

        2. Bryce*

          Yeah, my family (and a decent number of folks in our area) were wealthy by living well within our means. We didn’t have all the toys as a kid (though looking back we were a bit spoiled, just not totally spoiled), but if a car broke down or someone broke an arm we never had to worry about how to pay for it.

          1. Bryce*

            By which I mean that they also made enough money to allow us to live within our means. Not trying to make a “poor people just need to budget better” claim. Maybe I shouldn’t comment while reading Twitter, makes me second-guess how my posts read.

            1. Specialk9*

              I took your comment as a personal finance ‘spend your money only on your true priorities’, not as minimizing the struggle of living in poverty.

    3. Zip Zap*

      I’ve known people like that too. I recently worked with one. I’m not sure what her story was, but she made about $200 a week, didn’t have another job, and had recently bought a house in a pricey area. She talked about buying the house like it was a puppy or something. “I know. It seems like a big commitment, but I really liked that one.”

      One time, I tried to explain to her that I didn’t have enough gas money to attend an event in another city. She said, “It’s a tax write off. Now you have no excuse. We need you there.” I ended up paying for gas in pennies and gave notice shortly afterwards. She was nice but completely oblivious to certain “real life” kinds of situations.

      1. Specialk9*

        Tax write-off. So you get to write off, what, a quarter or third of the cost? Sigh. Financial illiteracy is a real burden.

  15. Traffic_Spiral*

    I would print out a “the beatings will continue until morale improves” sign and put it up next to the “no complaining” one.

      1. Adlib*

        I love your name! (Lady in office next to mine had tuna yesterday but fortunately not microwaved.)

        1. Sadsack*

          I am planning to eat a late lunch today so I can nuke my leftover salmon without it effecting anyone else’s food in the microwave!

    1. Liane*

      My husband has a big pirate flag with this on it and I was just thinking the OP’s office needs one like it.

  16. MW*

    OP1, complain to your boss, tell them you have a problem: patronizing posters. Solution #1, take the posters down. Solution #2, throw the posters in a fire.

    1. Catalin*

      Solution 3: (Since the morale and general professionalism in that office is evidently low* enough for such a poster to be made) MANAGE YOUR PEOPLE. Got gossipers? Sit down with them and FIX THE PROBLEM. Bullies? FIX THE PROBLEM. If you have an employee who is constantly complaining about their coworkers, address it with the employee and if the complaint is legit and is a business problem, address it with the problem employee(s).

      *Someone thought the poster was a good idea, which indicates that overall morale is low and there’s a streak of passive-aggressive management involved.

  17. Fresh Faced*

    OP1: Ooof. The key words for me are “mindlessly complain” you’d be hard pressed to get me to believe the company cared about my concerns when they begin a message like that. It reads like they maybe picked up on some complaints, tried solutions that didn’t work well enough and are now being passive aggressive about it. (if you MUST complain YOU have to fix it else you don’t have the right complain at all!) Good luck op, I hope they take those down.

    1. Fish Microwaver*

      The mindfulness movement has made it to complaints. Sit in a circle and really be in the moment with each whine and gripe. Perhaps embracing the collective discontent will render it powerless.

    2. eplawyer*

      So if I stop and think about why I am complaining, and have an reasonable explanation for the complaint, I am not violating the Rule?

      Yeah I could have fun with this one. No I’m not in violation of the policy, I considered my options, considered the issue and decided complaining was the only solution.

    3. MashaKasha*

      Right. Isn’t that poisoning the well in some fashion? The overall morale is low (probably for a number of valid reasons), so of course people complain. But they do it mindlessly, so it does not count. Feel free to ignore!

      Also, if things are *that* bad, demanding that an employee present the complaint to their manager with a solution outlined is asking a bit much. What do you do if the root cause of the problem is incompetent leadership and everyone knows it? Solution 1, tell your supervisor that the problem is incompetent management and the solution is to fire everyone on top. Solution 2, not say anything, update your resume, and GTFO. Guess which one everyone will choose.

  18. Jen*

    #2- are you sure you can’t expense it? It’s possible your boss is dense and assumed *off course* you’d expense it but had the bull split 3 ways so he didn’t pick up the 3rd person’s tab as well.

    I’d just stick it on my next expense report if I were you, but that’s because as a director/VP, meals while traveling have always been expensable and I’d want my boss to outright say “not approving this, we don’t pay for meals while on business trips” so I can follow up with WTH not.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Agreed. This was a business dinner while you were on a business trip, you should expense it. The bill-splitting is weird, but it’s possible your boss has a limit or there’s some kind of policy, written or unwritten, that employees have to fill out expenses separately and one employee can’t “entertain” another.

      Of course, you might run into limits. I once ate $50 worth of sushi and was only able to expense half of it, but dammit, I wanted that rainbow roll.

      1. Artemesia*

        We had such hassles with our business office. We were allowed $25 for dinner and didn’t have to have receipts. Since everyone put $25 for dinner, the business office assumed everyone was cheating and so started requiring receipts. So when we would submit the receipt from a New Orleans restaurant for $65 (expensing for 25), they would kick it back with ‘you can only expense $25 for dinner) It took way too much explaining that, yeah — we have always spent more than $25 in places like NYC, Chicago and New Orleans, we just put 25 because that was your limit. We aren’t asking for full reimbursement and we are not eating at McDonalds in great eating towns like these. The concept was hard for people who had assumed we were cleaning up on that lavish $25 budget for dinner.

        1. jmm*

          Our company allows $75 per day for meals. When I’m in a good eating town, I will make it a point to eat super cheap for breakfast and lunch, and then save for an amazing dinner. I’ve had some great meals this way.

    2. BlueWolf*

      I suppose it depends on the business. There may be limits on how much you can expense for a meal. $500 would definitely exceed the limit by A LOT at my company because no client is going to pay $500 for your dinner…

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yeah. I don’t think the expense system at my old job would even have let me put in that amount for a meal.

        My expense claims were once audited and I had to pay them for a month of lunches because I had been going to a smoothie place across the street from the job site for lunch. Apparently smoothies are a drink and you can’t claim only a drink as a meal. The guy conveying this news agreed that it was dumb, but places have weird rules around expenses.

    3. Zip Zap*

      Yes, ask the boss if you can expense it. Then you can also have a conversation about how you enjoy these sorts of things but have to keep the expenses within your budget. If he’s nice, he should be able to work with that.

  19. LuvzALaugh*

    OP#2 I a so sorry. Some people really do not know what diversity means. They just memorize the training. Sounds like you have achieved a good position, if your boss assumed that type of expense would be fine with you though. I cringe every Monday at work. I am the lowest paid salaried person at work. I hate the Friday what are you doing this weekend inevitable question and the Monday so what did you do this weekend follow-up. I usually have the standard not too much, getting things done or nothing that interesting answer. Then I ask about their plans and activities all the while feeling subhuman as I listen to the rendition of their weekend at the beach house, a flight to go to a ski resort ect. I tiny part of me wants to say I stayed home and tried to figure out how we would eat this week or I binged watched Netflix because I have to conserve gas so even taking a ride was beyond my means. I have the education experience and skills to command a better job and salary. I just haven’t fund an opportunity and it is a vicious cycle of beating myself up and feeling less than everyone else when I hear about hem living when I am barely surviving. I once responded to someone who asked where I had vacation plans this year that vacationing was a first world problem and I didn’t have 1st world problems. Not my best moment but it really hurts when you are surrounded by people who make 2x and greater what you make and are oblivious to your suffering.

    1. NJ Anon*

      I feel your pain. I had a boss once who complained about the cost of an oil change for his Porsche when I could barely afford to put gas in my car.

    2. Jen*

      When I was in this spot my answer was always “spent a lot of time outside” “went for a hike” “spent time with the family” etc

    3. Temperance*

      So sorry, Luvz. I’m financially secure now, but was poor for most of my life. In my experience, the people talking about going to the beach or on a vacation honestly aren’t trying to brag, they just aren’t aware that other people in their circle could possibly be struggling.

      It doesn’t make it easier on you, of course, and I’m really sorry. It sounds like you are making the best of it.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I feel your pain. I’ve been there myself and it really sucks.

      The last place I worked was like that. They all talked about their vacation homes, expensive cars, trips to exotic places, etc., while I’m struggling like hell. It wasn’t necessarily my salary, although I was underpaid, but I had tons of debt and some other major things going on that totally drained me financially for quite awhile. Many times I was worried we wouldn’t make it and I often couldn’t just take a drive because I didn’t have gas money, and with a long commute I couldn’t afford to just drive around for pleasure.

      Like someone else said, I don’t think people were bragging. They just didn’t realize that not everybody lives like that, as the company is headquartered in a very well-off area of my state and everyone who worked there lived in a very well-off town/city; I definitely didn’t fit in there. And it was really weird to see young part-timers coming in with brand new BMWs and Mercedes.

    5. Christina at Resume Renovations*

      I’ve been there as well, and it sucks. If you’re not getting as many interviews as you’d like and just want a sanity check on your resume, I’m happy to help you (free of charge of course). Shoot me an email. :)

        1. Candi*

          Plus there’s lots of fantastic advice right here.

          There’s also lots of advice on how to pitch for a raise/promotion, if LuvzaLaugh wants to try that in the meantime.

    6. CR*

      I’m there right now and it really sucks. I’m also the lowest paid person. It’s summer so everyone is off taking their holidays and doing cool things, and I have $18 in my bank account.

  20. PB*

    OP #1, this sounds uncomfortably like an experience at my old job, but even more passive aggressive. We had a major morale issue, and management ignored our complaints and suggestions. So people started escalating to higher levels of management. The higher levels both ignored the complains, and the got annoyed.

    Eventually, great-grand boss called us all in for a mandatory meeting, asking that we clear our schedules to be there. In the meeting, she literally said, “You’re getting a reputation for complaining. Stop complaining.”

    The effects of this were chilling. I’m pretty sure we all went home and started polishing our resumes.

    This was a terrible experience. If management had tried to soften it with cute posters and passive aggression? Yikes. I’m sorry.

  21. Madeleine Matilda*

    OP #3 – Can you carry over your sick leave from year to year or do you need to use it all in the year it is earned? At my employer we can carry over from year to year so I have accumulated over 1,500 hours of sick leave in my 20 year career. I did this by not using sick leave for appointments by scheduling them out side my working hours (we have flex hours so this is easier for me than for others with more fixed schedules) and having the good fortune not to be sick for much of my career. Early in my career my boss gave me the advice to not burn my sick leave as some in our office did because you never know when you might really need it. A few years later she became very sick and had to use all of her accumulated leave. I also have, in the last few years, had to use a few hundred hours of my accumulated leave due to a serious health problem. But because I saved my leave, I had the leave I needed to use and still have a significant amount if needed in the future. So my suggestion would be to continue to schedule appointments when you can on your mornings off so you have the sick leave in case you ever have a serious health issue.

    1. nonymous*

      moderation is key. My dad was chronically ill and used his sick leave to buffer retirement on disability, so he would bring up this advice when my mom was coordinating leave. The amazing twist he used was that she needed a sick leave bank in case HE got even more sick and needed nursing care. So for 20+ years my mom never took sick leave for personal reasons – flu, fever, etc. And then she got laid off and all that banked time was cashed out at 25% rate.

      Don’t be like my parents.

  22. OP5*

    OP5 here. I actually sent this letter in a while ago and forgot about sending Alison any updates as things developed. In all, I wound up meeting with fourteen people over the course of ten calls and meetings. It reached a point where at the end of every interview, I asked politely if the interviewer knew what the next steps might be, and typically they would say they didn’t know for sure yet. Then every time, I would get an email from HR right away asking me back for another interview the next day. They eventually rejected me, so I wound up running through almost my entire bank of sick time all on one interview process – which makes things difficult as I’m obviously still trying to interview with other companies too! I’m frustrated with this organization and my view of the company has really shifted from this experience.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      You should leave a review on Glassdoor. That’s so ridiculously inconsiderate of them.

    2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      That’s appalling. I’m sorry this happened. If you can review that doesn’t reveal your identity, definitely do so. I hope you get a great new job soon!

    3. Frustrated Optimist*

      Your story is an extreme example, but typifies the kind of treatment applicants get overall: Little to no consideration, respect, common courtesy, or human decency. OP, I hope you’ve already been through the worst of your job search process, and that it only gets better from here.

    4. Rockhopper*

      Wow, you must have really wanted this job because that is one ridiculous interview process. I am sorry that it was all for naught. I’m wondering if after a certain number of “events” (maybe after 3, definitely after 5), it would be ok to say, I’d be happy to talk more but I am unable to continue to do so during working hours. Can we schedule for an evening or a Saturday (or whatever time works for the OP)?

  23. Lindrine*

    Mega interviews OP – I went through two separate rounds of interviews that were months apart for my current position so I feel your pain. I interviewed at a bunch of different places different amounts of times and overall it did not matter. The minimum was three, with at least two of them often being phone interviews. My current job this time did an odd combination of in person interviews and then a last minute phone interview with a higher up person.

    I think it is reasonable after nine interviews to bring up that although you are excited about the role and the company, taking more time off for in person interviews is challenging and you’d like to get a sense of next steps and where you stand as a candidate.

  24. Aaron*

    Sort of related to #1: I’ve always been a fan of “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” Recently though, after reading Adam Grant’s “Originals”, I’ve become a bit more skeptical of this:

    “A familiar axiom in business is ‘Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.’ Grant takes issue with that widely embraced notion noting that ‘[David] Hofmann found that a culture that focuses too heavily on solutions becomes a culture of advocacy, dampening inquiry. If you’re always expected to have an answer ready, you’ll arrive at your meetings with your diagnosis complete, missing out on the chance to learn from a broad range of perspectives.’ He cites this as one of the reasons NASA missed the possibility that the Space Shuttle Columbia might have a problem on re-entry – dissenting voices were shut down.” (source:

    1. Candi*

      The problem with ‘bring me solutions’ is whether the person bringing the problem has the information to provide a solution, or at the least provide a workable solution.

      I thought of a type of maze puzzle in the Puzzle/HOS games I play. The maze area is completely dark. You can see where you’ve been, but not where you’re going. Finding solutions can be like that: The employee simply can’t see the whole picture.

      In situations like the LW’s, the upper levels of management (even just two or three levels up) who are holding the strategy guide with the fully lighted picture are expecting lower level employees to find a solution to the puzzle when they can barely see in front of them.

      (And to continue the metaphor, the strategy guide has the solution in it, even if it’s the one the higher ups don’t want.) :P

  25. RVA Cat*

    I can’t be the only one who thought of the Louise Linton Instagram kerfuffle when reading #2? Not that OP2’s boss was mean-spirited, just that some people have really warped norms about money. Also, what the heck did they eat that cost $ 500 a head? I can understand that they can’t expense alcohol (I’m thinking Glen-something had to be involved to get to that price point) — note that makes it extra unfair to split it equally if the OP wasn’t drinking.

  26. High Score!*

    OP4, for the sake of future relations with the people at the company you’re leaving, try to remember something good about them and post that, even a small thing will go a long way.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. It costs nothing to be gracious. ‘I have enjoyed working with wonderful colleagues and am going to miss you.’ offers no insincere praise of a crappy management and costs you nothing and is positive. And if the colleagues are not wonderful? So what.

  27. Murphy*

    #3, I used to have Fridays off, and didn’t work til 1 on Mondays. I really appreciated being able to schedule appointments and such without missing any work and saving my sick time for when I was actually sick. (Also, running errands…I miss shopping on a Friday morning versus a Saturday afternoon!) But I never assumed that I wasn’t allowed to schedule them during my working hours. (Though, we needed a certain amount of coverage, so if I did it at certain times of the day, it really would have inconvenienced my co-workers.)

  28. Finaman*

    When we first moved to Brazil, my boss (another expat) invited us to dinner (without explicitly stating what the plan was) at one of the “hottest” places in Sao Paulo. After looking at the menu prices, my wife and I debated it, but figured it was best to get to know the new boss and his wife to build that connection while we were down there. The average entree was well over R$100 (about $50us at the time) which was about 3 times what we would typically pay without even discussing drinks or appetizers. After ordering “lightly” at the end of the night my boss ended up covering the bill thankfully.

  29. Allison*

    #1, I wonder if this is the same company I worked for out of college. They had a very strict “no negativity” policy. They also paid trash wages, paltry PTO, benefits left much to be desired, hours were unnecessarily strict, but hey, jeans on Friday and occasional free beer and box wine was supposed to make up for that! Plus, someone was always watching you, and you had to write your stats on a whiteboard every day so there was always a visual of your supposed productivity and quality of work versus everyone else’s supposed productivity and quality of work – but GOD FORBID we ever be negative about it!

    Part of me gets it, a little. My current cube neighbor whines every day. It’s cold, she’s tired, people are crazy, her internet is too slow, she’s sooooo busy, every complaint that enters her brain comes out through her mouth. So “anti-negativity” policies might be intended to keep people like that from endlessly poisoning the air with negativity, but at companies that implement them, people end up getting told in review meetings they need to be more cheerful, smile more, say “good morning” instead of just “morning,” and then the policies are often used to boot people who just aren’t meshing with the group.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “No negativity”? I would implode at a place like that, mostly because the people who institute those policies are the kind that won’t accept any criticism at all. I worked for a guy who thought every conversation about how something might not be so great was an “attack” and a “complaint”. I would say things like, “How is that new procedure going to work with X or Y?” or “I think some people might take advantage of that, and not in a good way, so how can we prevent that?” and get chewed out for being negative or complaining. I tend to look at new things from all sides before I’m comfortable moving forward, and I like to know that my superiors have thought about contingencies. Do I do that a little too much sometimes? Sure. But it’s not “negative”.

      “No negativity” sounds to me like code for, “We are always right so you must do everything we say and don’t ask questions.” Nah.

          1. RVA Cat*

            I think a lot of folks blew poutine out their noses, eh?

            (I almost typed an “a” in there, which makes it something…other than a food.)

    2. Candi*

      “you had to write your stats on a whiteboard every day so there was always a visual of your supposed productivity”

      That reminds me of a very specific work environment I read about.

      Post-divorce I was researching my rights and responsibilites re: debt and debt collectors. One book was the account of a reporter who took a job (commision only!) at a somewhat shady debt collection agency. (Nothing illegal -when it could be recorded, anyway.)

      His statement of how they put their productivity stats on a large chalkboard sounds almost exactly like that. As does the crappy environment, except they never got free alcohol.

      (Also very memorable: Cleaning up and making nice when the bigwigs that owned the parent company came by, and supervisors alerting the collection agents when QA was listening in.)

  30. BRR*

    #3 I’m in a semi-similar situation where my employer is flexible with coming in late, leaving early, or taking a long lunch for appointments (or really whatever). Not a lot of people use sick time for medical appointments even though we get a decent amount of sick time. I noticed this is because most people use their sick time to take care of their kids when they’re sick. Since I don’t have children, I wanted to use some of my sick time for appointments because I have a ton banked and was able to but my manager seemed to not understand why I would use PTO when I didn’t have to. So it’s possible that your manager is just of the mindset that “it’s great to be able to avoid using PTO.”

    I don’t think that you should have to schedule all appointments during those two mornings if you don’t want to. I would treat that time as any other time off like a weekend.

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I have a staffer who could probably handle all her appointments without taking sick time. But if she wants to take sick time, sure, that’s fine with me.

  31. Elle Kay*

    Re: #5. All the points made here are valid and someone earlier commented about the company deciding, halfway through, that you might be a better fit for a different role; I’ve had that happen with people I interviewed and it is a weird process for all involved.
    There are 2 other options that come to mind:
    1-you’re one of two (maybe 3) really competitive candidates and they’re just having a hard time deciding between you. (As I typed that it also occurred to me that they might have made another offer to another candidate, say after interview 3, that that person turned down.)
    2-Funding. I’m currently working in academic research and we *need* to hire more lab support. We’re interviewing but… don’t actually have secure funding until some grants come through. We’ve been up front with our candidates about this but it’s possible another organization might string you along if they expect their funding, like, yesterday.

  32. Jennifer*

    #1: “If they have a problem or complaint about their job, their company, their customer, or anything else, they are encouraged to bring the issue to their manager or someone who is in a position to address the complaint. However, the employees must share one or two possible solutions to their complaint as well.”

    So what happens when you’ve DONE that and gotten told that whoever is in a position to address the complaint can’t or won’t do anything about it and you’re just going to have to put up with it? Because that is what happens in our office. We have so much stuff broken in our computer system that it’s like walking on the world’s most broken staircase, and the tech team categorically refuses to fix any of it, they say it’s too hard and we’re too busy, and apparently nobody has enough power to make them. We also used to have an extremely obnoxious other tech team that ran a program, where their leader had a grudge against our office and anyone reporting finding an error in their program got told that no matter what it was, it was the fault of our office. That team has been disbanded and the leader finally got another job and quit, but guess how well it goes reporting any problems with that program now :P

    People have reasons for complaining–frequently they know very well that if they speak up, at best it won’t get them anywhere and at worst, it gets them in more trouble.

    1. fposte*

      That happens in a lot of offices. However, it’s also true that it’s really crappy for morale just to bitch about stuff that isn’t getting fixed. The choices really are change it, accept it, or move on.

      1. Jennifer*

        True. I was just commenting on the “give us a solution” bit of that. Really they should just say, “never gonna happen, you will just have to put up with it.” Shut up and smile!

  33. MassMatt*

    #1 sounds like a dysfunctional organization on many levels. A poster like this would set off major alarm bells for me. OP’s comment to the effect that the HR there is not good at these situations seals the deal.

    #2 your boss seems to act like Mr. Big Shot when inviting you to a $500 per person dinner and yet where is Mr. Big Shot when the check arrives? Maybe this is just a single thoughtless event and he’s otherwise great but it sounds like a warning that maybe he is a jerk.

    1. Zip Zap*

      Yeah. If he can afford the dinner, he can afford to cover the cost for his subordinate, who he invited spontaneously without providing relevant details. Maybe he’s a good guy and he had one too many mojitos before inviting OP. Who knows. Definitely say something to him and see what his reaction is.

      “This is awkward and I wasn’t sure if I should say anything or not. I’m on a budget right now. I really appreciated being included the other night. It was great to meet Charles. But I had assumed the dinner would either be expensed or more affordable. $500 is outside of my budget right now! What would you recommend? Could you please give me a heads up next time you invite me to something where there are personal expenses involved?”

  34. Sara*

    For #2 – I don’t want to overgeneralize but in my own interactions, I’ve found that people that have a lot of money generally don’t think hard about what other people can afford. They don’t realize expensive is a hardship. If he’s a good boss/person, he’ll apologize and be more clear the next time. It’s more a blind spot than a total lapse of judgement.

    Or maybe he’s just a jerk. Either way, Alison’s advice is spot on.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      There’s a rule I’ve found alarmingly applicable about money, which is that most people think twice what they make now would be plenty. They could live as they do now, plus a few indulgences, plus savings: anyone making twice what they personally make must be set.

      But when they actually double their income, usually their spending expands to use up the extra. And so does their view of the salary that would be plenty and allow them to live comfortably with savings.

      (My husband described this as the sliding scale of how much money he could spend without thinking about it–for the boss, that’s apparently $500, and he’s not realizing that for his employees it’s probably more like $100 or $50 or $10.)

    2. Cercis*

      I got bitched out because I wouldn’t pay $20 to attend the office xmas luncheon. I pointed out that that was more than my entire lunch budget for the week AND the prix fixe meal they’d arranged wasn’t something I could eat (I mean, I could have eaten it, I wasn’t allergic to it, but it was something I couldn’t stand and wouldn’t be able to choke down). At the time, $20 was our budget for a family night out – which we only did every other week at the most.

      I was “not a team player” and “making [the boss] look bad” but I didn’t see the boss offering to cover my meal. The other support staff member got a pass because she was the first to offer to stay to work the front desk (and was the boss’ favorite). I pointed out that she’d need someone to relieve her if she needed to go to the bathroom and when she took lunch, so they needed me to stay as well. But nope. I was a horrible person.

  35. Serin*

    Found a link to No Complaining Rule posters, just in case anyone wants to open them in Photoshop and get creative: jongordon[dot]com[slash]useful-tools[slash]posters.

    1. Zip Zap*

      OMG. There is some great stuff at that link. “You can’t be thankful and stressed at the same time.” Well now. You learn something new every day. All aboard the Energy Bus!

      1. Serin*

        “You can’t be thankful and stressed at the same time.”

        Tell that to every parent sitting beside a hospital bed saying, “Thank God it wasn’t worse …”

        1. Zip Zap*

          Yeah. There’s a real, um, “lack of life experience” feel to that guy’s work. Feed the positive dog.

  36. Zip Zap*

    #4 – Don’t do it! It will stay with you for the rest of your life. If you later choose to speak honestly about your experience there, it will sound contradictory. Your integrity will be questioned. Whatever you do, don’t lie in public and put your name on it!

    You have already found another job. They can’t fire you. Find a way out of it. If it comes down to it, you could feign sick and take some time off. Taking a few sick days would be more honest than lying to the general public on whatever social channels they are using.

    I worked for a company that pulled this kind of thing. They advised their employees about what to say and not say about them on social media. We were given PR blurbs to copy and paste. The people who did it were considered better employees and had more opportunities for growth. I thought it was shady. Employers shouldn’t try to control their employees’ personal speech. If you’re not in PR or a related field, it shouldn’t be part of your job. And even then, you still have a responsibility to be honest.

    There is too much blurring of personal and professional boundaries these days. But I digress. Yeah, don’t do it.

  37. tigerlily*

    OP3, I don’t know your boss, but I would imagine her “gleeful” take on you being able to schedule appointments on those two mornings was more about highlighting that particular schedule as a perk for YOU, not getting excited that she’ll never have to pay you sick time or anything. I think a lot of people would see it as a perk, not having to spend limited sick time on drs. appointments and instead being able to save it until they really need it for the flu. Plus you know for sure that you’re free those mornings and don’t have to get that appointment time approved by anyone. But yes, you’re right that if it works better for you to use sick time for an appointment during the work day then that’s what sick time is for!

  38. Falling Diphthong*

    The no-complaining office reminds me of a book I read about the language we use to talk about food. In restaurant reviews, good cheap restaurants are described with metaphors evoking drugs, and good expensive restaurants with metaphors evoking sex. When the review is for a bad meal, what comes out are… personal pronouns. I, we, the review is a story told in the first person about the indignities the writer suffered at the hands of the chef and waitstaff.

    Even in an office with fabulous morale, you would expect employees to occasionally suffer frustration with code or customers or weather, and to turn to their coworkers and tell a tale rife with first person pronouns about how awful it had been. And then to feel better.

  39. Shrunken Hippo*

    Anyone who wants a giggle over the no complaining rule poster should look at the reviews of the book also titled “the no complaining rule”. Goodreads has some great commentary. It wont help OP #1 with their terrible work environment, but they might get a chuckle

  40. jmm*

    OP#3, this might make me the worst employee ever, but if I were you, I would schedule my pre-planned doctor’s appointments on the mornings that I’m already off work, and reserve my sick leave for unexpected illness or, better still, mental health days.

  41. LizM*

    OP3, I work 9 hour days and take every other Friday off. I still schedule doctor’s appointments for time that I’d normally be at work because I don’t have childcare on my days off, and I don’t want to have to deal with hiring a babysitter for my days off when I can just use sick leave when he’s at daycare.

  42. LizM*

    I’m confused about OP2. Was there no reimbursement for meals while on a business trip, or was it that the per diem didn’t cover a $500 meal?

    Generally, I try to not suggest restaurants where there aren’t options within our per diem when traveling with junior employees, and make sure that at least one dinner we have is affordable even if I decide to go to a more expensive restaurant that I wanted to try on another night. I had a boss a few years ago who wasn’t cognizant of this, and employees either had to spend their own money or not have access to her on business travel. This created a lot of tension between the staff who were willing to spend the money to get the face time, and those who either didn’t want to or couldn’t afford it.

  43. Goya*

    #2) Rude/tacky of your boss to begin with. Though he might not have even noticed he was doing it. If invite someone to dinner, I’m fully prepared to take on the full bill since it was my invite. Also, I HATE splitting checks. I know it seems nit picky to some, but I have a big list of allergies/intolerance’s. I am not going to pay for your shrimp cocktail appetizer, several dozen beers (if with multiple people) and lobster dinner if I didn’t eat any of it! If I order an appetizer and offer it to someone else to try or have some, I do NOT expect them to chip in for the cost. I ordered it, I made the choice to offer it, I pay for it.

    1. Ice Bear*

      That’s why I love that our friends are on the same page. When we “split the check” we are really just paying our individual costs plus our portion of the tip. I’ve never had to foot the bill for someone else’s indulgence and if I did that would be the last time I dined out with them.

  44. Rusty Shackelford*

    #4, if you liked some of the people you worked with, perhaps that could be your focus. “I’m leaving Company X, but I’ll miss working with some great people there!”

  45. Zip Zap*

    #5 – It’s so easy for employers to take advantage of job applicants. It’s the kind of situation where people feel they can’t push back or negotiate, and they might be willing to jump through all kinds of hoops for a shot at a better job or because they don’t want to burn bridges. A decent company to work for will keep that in mind and be respectful.

    I understand that sometimes hiring involves tough decisions. There can be disagreements about which person to make an offer to or whether someone would be a good fit. However, there are solutions that don’t take up inordinate amount of the applicant’s time. Think about it. When you demand an unreasonable amount of time for interviews and other parts of the application process, you’ll weed out candidates who have plenty of options and narrow your applicant pool down to the most desperate. And the most diligent… But the point is that some of the stronger candidates will walk away during all of that. If a company is impressive enough that they can demand that much time from people, they probably also have the resources to find creative solutions to tough hiring decisions.

  46. Greg*

    OP #4: This is the perfect opportunity for you to use the all-time greatest back-handed compliment: “I worked there for two years, and when I left I was very satisfied.”

  47. OP4*

    OP4 here. Thank you all for the advice! Today I have realized that it’s even worse than I thought: they actually want to make a video of me for their social networks, saying nice things and sent me a “couple of ideas” for the script…I haven’t yet found the courage to say a clear ‘no’.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*


      “Oh, no, that’s a lot more elaborate than I had in mind. I’ll just put out a text post.”

    2. Zip Zap*

      I know I’m repeating myself, but I think they’re out of line. It would be one thing to suggest it, but it’s not cool of them to require you to do something like that. If I were in that position, I would let it slip through the cracks. I’d get really busy documenting how I do my job, training my replacement, anything seriously helpful and hard for them to say no to.

      1. OP4*

        The more I think about this the more I share your view. Even if I decide to say something neutral just to do them a favor, it will stay with me (and on the net) for life. And it will have my face on it. I will use the business of the last days of work as an excuse to skip this.

    3. Observer*

      That’s insane. Just don’t do it. You don’t even have to say no. But if they try to push, what can they do, anyway? They can’t rescind your job offer. And there really isn’t anything else.

    4. HannahS*

      That’s awful! I think you can say, “Sorry, when I agreed, I thought you just meant writing something on the Facebook page. I’m really not comfortable appearing on camera, so I’ll have to pass on this.” PLEASE OP4? “No, sorry, I’m not comfortable appearing on camera.” BUT WHYYY? “Sorry, but I’m just not comfortable with it.” YOU SAID YOU WOULD/THIS IS VERY INCONVENIENT FOR US “Sorry, but I’m not comfortable appearing on camera.”

  48. OP2*

    The per diem definitely doesn’t cover a $500 meal. There are, however, exceptions for employees who are entertaining clients, etc. which is what I thought this was. It definitely seemed worth it to me to have the face time, and my boss has been very friendly since the dinner, which makes me think that he just had zero idea that I was blindsided.

  49. Wintermute*

    #1– it’s kind of funny because people often assume the law is more intrusive than it really is, but in this case it actually might be illegal! No on really knows how the current administration’s National Labor Relations Board will be, suffice to say it will probably be more employer-friendly than the Obama NLRB.

    But under the previous administration requiring employees to generally keep a “positive attitude” was found to violate employment standards! The logic is that employees have a legal right to communicate work grievances, including to each other. They can’t stop you from complaining to your co-workers because it’s actually a labor right.

    And I think you can see why this is the case: if you can’t communicate with your co-workers about common complaints and shared issues then you can’t effectively organize, which is your legal right as well.

    That said, I’m not sure how far it would go with a company to take a stand for your legal right to complain to co-workers, but if it really offends you (and you have a backup plan in case of constructive discharge) it may be worth a complaint.

    1. Observer*

      Even with a more employer friendly NLRB, if these posters are actually quoting a policy, they fly in the face of a plain reading of the law. They are not just talking about “having a positive attitude”. They ere explicitly banning complaining to co-workers, which would be a problem on it’s own. To top it off they are actually limiting what people are allowed to bring to their supervisors.

      No, that does not fly.

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