open thread – August 4-5, 2017

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

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

{ 1,994 comments… read them below }

  1. anon24*

    So out of curiosity, how do you commute and how long does it take you? And if you drive, what kind of roads (highways, back roads, etc) do you take?

    1. anon24*

      Been doing a lot of personal travel during rush hour lately and I keep thinking about all the people sharing the road with me and how they are going to work and I am not and it makes me very curious! (The things you think while stuck alone in a car on the highway)

      1. Loopy*

        35 minutes with no traffic and up to 55 in the heaviest traffic. Going home is usually 45 minutes and it’s absolutely my upper limit!

        It’s highway and main roads. It’s the crappiest commute I’ve had so far. I don’t know how people survive worse!

        1. Julianne*

          Mine is about the same. If I’m able to leave school right at dismissal (elementary school teacher), my commute home is the same length as my commute in (25 minutes). On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, it took me 95 minutes to get home, and I briefly considered abandoning my car and just walking the last 3 miles. (This is only slightly hyperbolic.)

      2. Fabulous*

        My commute is 20-25 minutes on the highway without traffic. If there’s congestion, I’ll usually switch to the backroads instead of being stuck for god knows how long. I prefer to be moving rather than stop and go…

      3. Rockhopper*

        Just moved 2 weeks ago and now I have a 5 minute suburban roads type commute which I am loving. Looking forward to cooler weather to try biking.

      4. Artemesia*

        We bought houses with commuting in mind which mean in the city and our kids went to city schools rather than suburban schools. I could when the kids were small deliver both to school or day care and be at work in about 20 minutes. When they were older we moved further out but still in the city and my commute stayed about 20 minutes because the kids could walk or take the bus to school.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        25 minutes by car on the highway with limited traffic (no public transit option), but I have to be very tricky about how I time my commute. In heavy traffic, it can range 45-55 minutes. In insane circumstances (e.g., car accident on the causeway; heavy flooding on feeder roads) it can take 2+ hours. It’s the only time I’ve lived anywhere where there aren’t side streets or country roads.

      6. Pam*

        20 minutes, short freeway commute. Since I’m heading away from Los Angeles, there’s less traffic.

      7. Batshua*

        Usually less than 20 minutes. Residential streets and … whatever they’re called before they’re minor highways (arteries?) and minor highways (one lane each way, not a more than 35 mph on the stretches I use).

        It’s still a little too long for me because technically the drive can be done in 10m, but it usually takes me about 17.

      8. Eliza*

        20 minutes with very little traffic. Combination of highway and back roads. (minimum speed limit 45 and maximum 55mph). It gives me long enough to mentally prepare for the day (I cherish the alone time), but not too long.

      9. Michael in Boston*

        In the morning, I walk about 6-8 minutes to the subway. Then a ride on the train about 3 minutes. Then walk about 8-10 minutes to the office from my stop. However, in winter, the morning walk to the train can take up to double the amount of time with poorly shoveled snow or ice on the side walks; the walk to the office is about the same because the sidewalks are kept clear of ice and snow. But from my apartment to the station, I have to walk over an overpass that almost never gets sidewalks properly maintained once it snows or precipitation becomes freezing rain.

      10. Simone R*

        13 minute walk to the stop for the free shuttle run by my institution then 15-40 min on the shuttle depending on traffic across the city. After years on public transit the shuttle is amazing-a guaranteed seat and way less gross.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      It’s about 25 minutes out, 35-40 minutes home, via back roads. I love my commute — especially where I drive by a breeding stable, and have been watching the foals grow all spring and summer.

      1. BF50*

        20 minutes by car on a combination of state highways & city streets.
        I have an adjusted schedule where I arrive before 8am to avoid traffic. Otherwise it would be 30-40 minutes and I’d switch state highways, skip the city streets and add backroads.

        My commute is quite scenic and nice whichever way I take, but I prefer the predictability of the earlier commute.

    3. Alucius*

      about 55 min…highway to start, then back roads, then city roads. We live close to my wife’s job and let me do the lengthy commute since I’m in academia and don’t have to clock in/out at specific hours.

    4. Nancy Drew*

      I commute by car, my drive is 14 minutes, all highway. It’s an easy drive with little traffic (most people in my city travel the opposite direction), so I love it.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Similar here. I jump on the highway and it’s 25 minutes door to door, and I’m going in the opposite direction.
        I used to work in the city, four point zero miles door to parking lot. Took 35 to 40 minutes of sitting at lights and merging.

    5. Kvothe*

      I have the best commute either about 2 min by car or about a 10-15 min walk (but I have to cross a super busy street so I don’t walk often)…and we’re about to move to a new office which will actually decrease that even further

      1. anon24*

        My dad walked 10 minutes to work for the first 20 years of my life. He loved it and saved so much money on commuting!

      2. Dr. KMnO4*

        I see your 10 min walk and I raise (lower?) with a 5 min walk from my apartment to my office. :)

        1. Kms1025*

          And I’ll double down on that with the thirty second walk from my bedroom to my inhome office and my teleconnection to almost all things work related Best.Job.Ever.

    6. Ramona Flowers*

      Hour train to London, half hour tube train. I don’t mind it! I use the time to read and watch Netflix.

    7. k.k*

      I drive in an urban area, standard city streets. It’s only about 5 miles, but during rush hour takes 30-40 minutes. On the rare occasion that I’m coming/going during non-peak hours, it can be as little as 15 minutes.

      My city actually has great public transit which I’ve used for past jobs to avoid driving, but at my current location there isn’t a direct route, I would have to make several transfers so it would be much longer.

    8. Across The Sea*

      10-15 minutes by car on side streets. Living closer to work is the best decision that I ever made. I also go home at lunch to walk my dogs, so being close makes a huge difference.

    9. Amadeo*

      My commute is about 30 minutes. one-third country oil and chip backroads (as long as it’s not flooding) and the rest is open state highway.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This morning I left 20 minutes later than usual and only arrived about 10 minutes later than I normally do. So it varies. But on average, about 20 minutes, mostly highway (we are located right off the main highway here). If I don’t want to sit in traffic I can take back roads, and that adds about five minutes to my trip. It’s a very sane commute.

    11. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I commute by car; it takes 10-15 minutes. I really should ride a bike, but I haven’t ridden since I was a kid and I’m a weenie.

    12. Snark*

      By car. It takes about 18-20 minutes, 60% on surface streets with a 45mph limit and 40% on a 55mph bypass. I never run into traffic. It’s glorious, especially after hour commutes in Texas.

    13. Rincat*

      My commute depends on who is taking care of my daughter that day. I live in DFW, If I’m going to my in-laws’, I mostly take back roads through the south of the metroplex since they kind of live out in the country. Then I take highway to get to my work. If I’m dropping her off at my friend’s, I take highway the whole time because they live more in the center of Fort Worth. All total it’s about 1-1.5 hours in the morning. In the afternoon it’s about 30 minutes because my husband picks her up on his way home.

    14. Ash (the other one)*

      45 min to 1hr15min depending on traffic. On weekends it takes me 15 minutes. Oh, life in the DC Metro Area.

    15. kittymommy*

      20 min. with no traffic. With traffic it can be up to 40 minutes. My work is a pretty straight shot on a state highway.

    16. Red Reader*

      Usually my commute consists of “get down the stairs without tripping over a dog or cat” and it takes me about a minute and a half to get to my office.

      But when I have to go on-site, my two most common options are 15 minute on the expressway to one location or about 30 minutes on a main surface road to the other.

    17. Naptime Enthusiast*

      45ish minutes, 90% highway. I get in early though so I miss the majority of the city traffic.

    18. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Finally found a few side streets that work. Was taking me almost an hour to get home (traffic + construction…god bless the Chicago metro area) now I have it down to just about 45. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but it doesn’t make me want to rip my hair out anymore.

      1. Emmie*

        That’s a big change for Chicago! I used to commute between the North Side Lakefront to the burbs. 1 1/2 hours each way – except on Friday nights when it’d be 2 hours home.

        1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          It is! Granted, I’m in the suburbs not Chicago itself. But close enough that traffic patterns are the same. But, regardless, I’m quite pleased with my extra 15 minutes. (And I’m taking my route to my grave, I do not want other people discovering it…)

          1. ThatGirl*

            I live in the Chicago burbs and used to commute from central DuPage Co to the Northbrook area … now I work 15 minutes west of home, and it’s amazing.

      2. Pearly Girl*

        I drive 10 miles from the N suburbs to the very edge of Chicago. 20-25 minutes there, 30 minutes in the evening, no highway.

        1. Emmie*

          That’s not so bad for a Chi commute. :) I found that parking and walking to my car added to my commute too, but I didn’t put those in my driving times.

    19. Nonprofit Lady*

      I usually drive, although I occasionally take the bus (< 1 time per month). I live on the outskirts of a medium city, and I work downtown. It usually takes me about 20 minutes to get in, via mostly highway. When the roads are bad (say, in snow), I will take major roads in instead of highway.

    20. Kalamet*

      My commute is 15-20 minutes during the summer and 30-60 minutes during the rest of hte year (school makes a huge difference). I wouldn’t mind the time, but I live in a area with notoriously bad drivers. I get people who turn out in front of me at the last minute, cut me off, and tailgate six inches off my bumper. Every. Single. Day. I used to like this town, but I know I’ll move away eventually just because of how people drive here.

    21. EddieSherbert*

      I currently commute 10 minutes by bike (or in awful weather, like 4 minutes by car) . It’s the best.

      Can’t imagine I’ll ever have it this good again, hahaha.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        I would love to become someone who bikes to work, but the thought of navigating city streets terrifies me!

        1. JustaTech*

          Me too! Sometimes during the training season I will run to work, but between the rain, hills and drivers I’ve given up on every cycling to work. Now, if I lived on one of the big pedestrian/cycle paths that ended close to work, maybe then I would try.

        2. EddieSherbert*

          I get nervous about that too – I’m lucky enough that I can go through my neighborhood, cut through a park, and just cross one busy-ish road to get into the neighborhood my work building backs up to (so I come in the back entrance).

    22. Larina*

      My commute used to be one hour (25 miles or so) to work, and one hour to one and a half hours on the way home (more traffic for some reason). I hated it, so I moved 7 minutes away from my office. now if it takes me 10 minutes to get to work, it’s because a road is closed for construction and I have to go the long way around.

    23. Boo*

      20 hours a week, door to door. I bus to the station in the morning, get a train and then a tube. On the way home, it’s tube – train – walk. I like the walk as it help me unwind, tires out my body and means I don’t have to pay for the gym ;)

    24. stitchinthyme*

      I live in the DC suburbs, where traffic is the norm; work is northwest of home, and most of the commuters are going east into the city, so the east-west part of my commute is always against the rush. However, there are no major north-south highways in my area, so that bit always sucks. Tends to take a half-hour to 45 minutes (usually less in the morning, more later unless I leave later than usual), pretty much all on back roads. But I carpool with my husband, who works in the next town over, so that helps — we drive to a gym near his office and work out most mornings, then I drop him off and go to my office, and pick him up later. We take separate cars only if one or both of us have something else going on that day, like a doctor’s appointment or something.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        I leave early. I’m on a 6:30am bus and I get to my office in about 35-40 minutes.

        1. stitchinthyme*

          I can barely manage to make myself get up at 6:30am! That’s when my alarm goes off; takes us another 10 minutes or so to stagger out of bed, and we’re usually out the door around 7 since we’re heading for the gym (so no need to shower first).

    25. OtterB*

      Drive. 30 minutes in if I go early, which I prefer and usually can; goes up to almost an hour if I leave at peak traffic. Return trip is normally about 45 minutes, can be closer to an hour. All city streets.

      I used to take Metro (DC area) which is about 45-60 minutes each way door to door, but I seldom do that any more.

    26. D.W.*

      I walk one mile to the subway, which usually takes me about 15 minutes. My train ride is 15 minutes (w/o delays), and then I walk another 5 min to my building. If everything goes smoothly, my commute door-to-door is 35minutes.

      1. thunderbird*

        Basically the same for me. 10-12 min walk to the subway, 15 minute ride and there is an internal path that connects to my building (5 min walk).

        1. D.W.*

          That’s really nice, especially in extreme temperatures and weather. I do get spend about 4/5 min walk on an internal path, but I eventually have to exit. Just to cross the street. I’m still grateful!

        2. matcha123*

          Same! Except my train is 11 minutes if it’s running without delay. The station is connected to my office, which is nice on rainy days.

    27. Emi.*

      By bus and subway; about an hour door-to-door. This is kind of a pain, but I get my transit card subsidized so it’s free money-wise, and I get some reading time.

    28. Hakky Chan*

      10-15 minutes, all city streets, but I do also drive through two school zones on the way.

    29. Murphy*

      I recently went from a 7 minute drive mostly along one busy main road to 15-20 minutes, about half on highway, half on a busy main road. (And the new drive is from my house to my daughter’s daycare, which is about 5 minutes from work.) Takes me about 20-25 minutes to get home from daycare in the evening. They’re widening the highway, which I think will make it better, but I really can’t complain.

    30. NewBoss2016*

      I used to commute from a major metropolitan area to my job in a small suburb. It was 26 miles each way, but it was entirely highway and I could drive 70 mph. If I didn’t leave at exactly the right time, it would take 45 minutes to get there and back. If I left early in the morning, I only had a 20-25 minute drive tops. I foolishly decided to move 15 miles past my office into the country. I thought it would be so much easier with my demanding job. It is all farm to market roads with 60 mph speed limits. I get stopped/slowed down often by farm equipment, but that is a given so I am okay with that. What does kind of drive my crazy is nobody seems to drive the speed limit or close to it. Most people do 40-45 mph until there is a mile long train going down the road, and some people do 75-80. It just seems dangerous and takes *at least* 35 minutes each way on a good day.

      My husband was re-located to a different office after the country move, and now drives 1 hr and 15 minutes each way. This is on a good day with little traffic. It is often 2 hours each way. I have offered to move to the city, but he says the driving doesn’t bother him.

    31. ZedForZebra*

      I take the subway and walk, and it’s about an hour door to door. The train ride is about 35 minutes and walking is about 25.

    32. Olive Hornby*

      30-40 minutes by subway, depending on which train I take (if it’s raining or snowing, I’ll take a local train closer to my apartment; otherwise, I usually walk 5-10 minutes to the express train, which makes the trip in 15 minutes.)

    33. CatCat*

      I vary how I get to work:

      * Bike: Takes about 40-45 mins door to door. I go through downtown city streets, a bike path, and suburban streets. More circuitous than driving.
      * Bike + bus: Takes about the same amount of time as just biking, but when the weather is stupid hot in the afternoon, it is better than biking.
      * Drive: Takes about 10-20 mins via downtown, the freeway, then suburban streets.
      * Walk + bus: Takes an hour. It takes so long because my work is 2/3 – 3/4 of a mile (depending on inbound or outbound) from the nearest bus stop and then I have to change buses downtown.

    34. Xarcady*

      It’s about 12-15 minutes, door to door, depending on how many red lights I hit. Living and working in the same city, there are several routes I can take. Oddly, the longest, in terms of time, is the expressway. Between my house and the on-ramp, a distance of 1/4 mile, there are 4 traffic lights, and in the 3/4 mile from the exit ramp to work, there are 5 lights. But I can drive the city streets for five miles and have only 4 5 lights the entire way.

      It would be a shorter commute, but currently one bridge is closed for the summer for repairs and another is being completely rebuilt and is closed for a year. Those bridges shave off about 4-5 minutes each way.

      There’s a bus, but it involves a mile walk to the bus stop, the bus only comes once an hour, I have to ask to be let off as my office isn’t a regular stop and half the time the drivers forget, and it lets me off 45 minutes early or 15 late, and, including the walk to the bus stop, takes about an hour one way. Going home I have to call the bus company to ask them to pretty please stop at my office, or walk 2.5 miles to the nearest stop. It’s okay when the car is in the shop, but way too time consuming on a daily basis.

    35. AVP*

      30-40 minutes. Two subways plus a 7-minute walk. Pretty easy considering I can read for 90% of it, and I get a seat about half the time.

    36. OhNo*

      I travel about a mile on downtown streets, by bus. Sometimes I walk, if it’s especially nice out. Either way, it takes me about 30 minutes door-to-door.

    37. john watson*

      I drive and it takes 30-60 minutes depending on traffic (the freeway goes past one of the major universities and I work in an area with tons of other businesses, so it snags up pretty easily).

    38. volunteer coordinator in NoVA*

      I commute by car and it takes me between 35 to an hour on major highways for 95% of my trip. For the DMV area, it’s not the worst commute I’ve had but I live south of where my job is so I get lots of beach traffic on a Friday.

    39. Anna*

      The morning school run is 45 minutes to 2 schools. It’s mostly city streets with a bit of interstate.

      It used to be 3 schools from a rural county and lasted 2.5 hours with good traffic. That one was 1/2 rural country roads, 1/3rd interstate (and just forget making the morning bell if there was an accident on the interstate) and the rest city streets.

    40. Lynne879*

      For my weekday job, it takes me 40 min /28 miles each way to get to and from work during the summer. The rest of the year, it’s about an hour. With ZERO traffic in the middle of the night it takes me 30 min. I drive on highways & on a major city beltway.

      My weekend job is fairly close to my house & it takes me 10-15 min depending on traffic lights.

    41. ThatGirl*

      Both driving…

      Old job: 45-60 minutes on interstate and/or major arterial roads. (I had two routes to choose from, one nearly all interstate, one interstate + arterial)

      New job: 13-20 minutes on interstate + little arterial or major arterial (three main routes to choose from)

    42. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I have a 45 minute drive (about 33 miles) with no traffic one way. It’s almost all highway.

    43. Avid reader infrequent commenter*

      I walk. Out my door, down the townhome complex driveway, across the street, across the building parking lot, into the back door, down the hallway into my office.

      I KNOW. Super exhausting. Much hard.

    44. JustaTech*

      20 minutes in average traffic (during the school year, non-holiday) all residential or surface streets, though I do pass entrances to the interstate that can slow me down when traffic is bad there.
      I’ve had the exact same commute for 11 years (and two jobs!) and I really, really appreciate it.

      1. JustaTech*

        Oh, yeah, this is by car, living and working in a city, ~4 miles each way. If I take the bus it’s 2 buses (or the one super special bus) and at least an hour. And a change in a super sketchy spot. And a ride on the bus where my SO got pinkeye. Or the other way is I think 3 buses and goes through the university.
        In the running season I run into work one day a week and Car2Go or ReachNow or Lyft home.

    45. Trig*

      My office is 15 minutes by bike in the summer on almost exclusively bike paths or segregated bike lanes, 45 minutes walking in the winter. I tend to work from home more in the winter, but there’s a short stretch of winter where I can SKATE most of the way and it only takes 30 minutes. It’s a delight.

      With traffic it would take more like 20-30 minutes to drive and then a bajillion dollars to park. Even the bus takes longer than biking.

      And my coworkers STILL wonder why I don’t want to buy a house in the suburbs!

      Also, in this thread I learned the term ‘surface streets’.

      1. onnellinen*

        Are you in Ottawa? It’s the only place I can think of where ‘skating’ is a winter commute option!

        1. Trig*

          Nail on the head. :) Though I *think* you can sometimes skate on canals in Scandinavian cities, when the weather obliges. It’s just not as regular and maintained a thing.

    46. Heaven*

      I travel by bus and it’s a nightmare. If I could afford driving lessons, buying and then running a car, I’d definitely switch to driving, but part time on £7.05 p/h makes it kind of impossible.

      The buses I use are late 75% of the time, and there are three… Which all come within several minutes of each other twice an hour, so I’m left with choosing between arriving at work over an hour early or risking being late. Even worse is when there’s a driver shift change in the middle of the journey and the drivers of the bus already running late decide to just stand around and gossip for several minutes. Like… Don’t mind us, it’s not like your passengers have anywhere to be!

      Filed under: reasons I want to work in a large city with a reliable, cheap public transport system.

      1. Heaven*

        And I was so busy moaning I forgot to say how long my commute takes. The actual bus journey should take 30-45 minutes depending on the route and time of day, but factoring in traffic and late buses and waiting for buses it’s usually approaching or over an hour. For a journey that takes ~20 minutes by car.

    47. Kowalski! Options!*

      I commute by bus, and if I hit the connections right, I can be at work in 20-25 minutes in the morning. In the afternoon, there’s a bus that goes directly from my office complex past my neighborhood, so it can be as fast as 15-20 minutes on the way home (depending on the traffic and how aggressive the bus driver is feeling). don’t know how much quicker it’d be if I went by car (and I don’t currently own one), so I’m happy with the commute as it is. I try to bike to work twice a week, too (all but about 200 yards of it on bike trails!!), but that takes about 40-45 minutes, and some days I can’t be bothered.

    48. Emily S.*

      I’m lucky to have a short commute, ~15 minutes, on mostly city roads and a small stretch of highway.

      It’s so great to be home at 5:15 pm after a long workday!

    49. Allie Oops*

      45 minutes on podunk rural roads. I could get there in 30 minutes via highway, but it’s been under construction since the Bronze Age, and I’ve grown to love the farm scenery.

    50. JanetM*

      I drive; it’s currently about 30 minutes mostly on a very busy US Highway. I moved, a few months ago, from one building to another on campus, and that cut my commute by about 10 minutes.

      More detailed:
      * One block on residential to get out of my subdivision.
      * Four miles rural state route to get to the US highway
      * One mile on the US highway to the other US highway
      * Fifteen miles on the US highway (very busy and under construction) to the main road through the city where I work
      * Less than a mile on the main road to my building

      If there were good — heck, ANY — public transit between the city where I work and the town where I live, I would do that in a heartbeat, at least several days a week. I’d prefer buses, since that seems to require a lot less infrastructure than light rail and runs on existing roads, rather than tearing up more land.

    51. RabbitRabbit*

      About an hour door to door in the morning, a little over in the evening. That includes a couple blocks’ walk to the train station, the train trip, waiting for the work-provided shuttle, and the shuttle trip to work, which stops outside my building on our campus. Then reverse it in the evening, where traffic slows down the shuttle so that part takes longer and can play with what train I take home.

    52. Justme*

      Fifteen minutes because I drop my kid off at school (25 over the summer when care is farther from home). All fairly busy surface roads after I leave my neighborhood.

    53. Menacia*

      30 minutes one way was my fastest time (does not happen often), 3 hours was the longest time (one way, during a blizzard, this happened twice), norm is usually 45 minutes. The drive was longer when I lived farther away, moved closer after working here for 3 years.

      I take a two lane highway (have been driving it for 13 years now) which at one time might have been fine but the number of cars that use it has grown exponentially and I’ve experienced the negative effects of that over the years. It’s supposed to be a “scenic” highway for leisurely driving (55 mph) but myself (and many others) regularly drive 70 and above.

    54. Anna*

      I used to drive 40 minutes each way to work via car. I would go across traffic, which was so easy. I took main roads, though.

      Right now I take main roads, travel via car, and it takes between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on day. When I worked downtown I used public transportation on a commuter line and it was a 30 minute ride.

    55. Beancounter Eric*

      “Normal” traffic morning – 60 minutes. Evening – 45 minutes. Four-lane, non-Interstate. When I used the interstate at oldjob – 45min on an extremely good day, average around 60 minutes. 2 hours was worst “normal” morning (several collisions impacting route). Absolute worst was 12 hours (Atlanta snow several years ago)

      Current commute – about 23 miles one-way – old job was 25 miles.

    56. JustaCPA*

      about 15-20 minutes on 4 lane road with center turn lane. Usually some traffic and there are a number of lights but its not bad. A bad day turns it to 30 minutes. I usually have more traffic coming home (anywhere from 4:30-5:30) then going to work (7 AM)

    57. Teapot Librarian*

      25-30 minutes by foot. I had to drive downtown during rush hour a few weeks ago and I about lost my mind. I am a VERY patient person (sometimes to a fault!) and I was ready to lay on my horn in frustration. More power to all of you who drive to work and maintain your cool.

    58. Calacademic*

      80-90 minutes, depending on traffic. (Bay Area). The morning is easy to plan: 15 minutes to walk to the bus terminal, ~30 minute bus ride, ~10 minute BART ride, ~15 minutes walk to work. The fact that it is broken up into bits makes it feel less bad, and the walking is part of how I get my daily exercise.

      1. It's Business Time*

        I am currently at 1.5 hrs – car/bus to BART & then 1 hr BART ride into SF. I used to have to catch Bus / BART / CALTRAIN / Bus shuttle when I worked on the Penninsula – that was at least 2 – 2.5 hrs each way

    59. Bagpuss*

      About 12 minutes in, 8 minutes home (one way system)
      Rural roads and small town.
      I moved about 3 years ago, and the change from 45 minutes each way to about 10 was wonderful!

    60. Xay*

      I commute by car. It’s a 15-20 minute drive with a combination of highway and surface roads. I could do surface roads only, but that would take closer to 30-35 minutes.

      My job is very close to a train station and I am looking for homes where I could commute by train. It just doesn’t make sense where I live now.

    61. Callalily*

      I have to take the bus to work. It takes 30 minutes by bus plus a 15 minute walk from the terminal to my office – so a 45 minute total commute.

      If I had a vehicle my commute would be 20 minutes.

      If I hadn’t moved and could still walk to work – it would be 5 minutes.

    62. OlympiasEpiriot*

      20 min each way door-to-door when everything works: Walk to bus stop, bus to subway, walk from subway to office. Reverse in evening. Total 40 min/day

    63. Admin of Sys*

      ~15 minutes by car, back roads, since I started the new job. But I miss the 20+ minutes on the bus, I could catch up on email and such.

    64. Pwyll*

      I have a love-hate relationship with the subway. Takes me 30-60 minutes depending on whether it’s running on schedule, but parking in the city is upwards of $75 per day and takes an hour during rush hour (there really isn’t a way to do back roads effectively to get into the city) so the train is just worth it.

    65. Kyrielle*

      So, I have a one-mile commute; I mostly drive, and it takes about five minutes. Suburban residential and feeder streets, nothing bigger. (I can walk it in 20 minutes, but then when I have to pick up the kids at the end of the day, I have to walk 20 minutes and…drive almost right back to where I was to get the first one, before continuing on to the second. That’s kind of silly.)

      It was hardly the only reason I took this job, but it was definitely one of the benefits I appreciated!

      Before I took this job two years ago, I had a 22 mile commute that was almost exclusively freeways – three separate freeways, the last of them running counter-commute but the other two not so much. It took 35 minutes each way at 3 am, but I wasn’t working that shift, so 1.5-2 hours a day were commonly spent on my commute. I am so, so, so glad to be done with that. I don’t know that anywhere could pay me enough to go back to that, now that I’m doing this. It’s so much better.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I _could_ have taken public transportation to that job, as an aside. If I drove to the local station and took the commuter rail, light rail, and a short bus ride, it would have been about two hours each way, though. (If I walked the mile from the light rail station instead of taking the bus, I think I could have shaved perhaps 15 minutes off that, but in many weathers that would not have been worth it.)

    66. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      20 to 45 minutes depending upon if school/class is in or not (I work at a major university). City streets.

    67. jmm*

      1 hr 15 mins on mostly country and suburban roads – including dropping off kids at 2 different schools. Thankfully, the schools and my office are only 10 minutes apart. I would say I wish I lived closer to work and my kids’ schools, but I have zero desire to live in that area.

    68. Sparkly Librarian*

      I can walk it in 40min, but I tend to leave the house too late (not a morning person) so I take the bus. Less than 15min if the bus shows up right away. Sometimes I have to wait a bit.

    69. mskyle*

      In order of frequency: 20-25 minutes by bike or motor scooter, 35-45 minutes by public transport, an hour walk, or 20-40 minutes by car (this is rare, parking is expensive and it takes too long). It’s about 4 miles.

    70. Kately*

      12-15 minutes by car, 22-25 by bike.

      The bike is by far the most pleasant option, through the river valley here. Regional Canadian city so the longest car commute would be maybe 35-40 minutes in ideal conditions? The bus service is terrible and basically double the time of driving, so a lot of us bike if it’s going to take that long. Unfortunately the bus won’t improve if more of us don’t take it, but 50 minutes one-way is a sacrifice not even I am willing to make.

    71. Optimistic Prime*

      I live in the ‘burbs so I drive. My commute takes me about 25 minutes in the morning, and about the same in the evening as long as I leave before 4:30 pm. (If I leave between 5 and 5:45, it takes me 45 minutes.) I take back roads and specifically moved to where I live because I wouldn’t have to take the highway to work. Traffic is notoriously bad in my metro.

    72. Adjunct Gal*

      About an hour on the back roads. It’s about the same if I took the highway, but the back roads are prettier, and I have 4 options for great ice cream on the way if I am so inclined.

    73. H.C.*

      45 minutes if driving (50/50 between surface streets and highways), a bit under an hour if I use public transport (light rail/subway)

    74. LizB*

      15-20 min via the highway. There are ways to get there via side streets, but they generally take longer, so I don’t use them unless the highway construction is REALLY bad.

    75. KMB213*

      My commute is 45 minutes, almost all highway, but my workplace itself is located on a back/country road about 5 miles from the highway. My SO’s apartment is about 5 miles from the highway, as well – the commute from his house is a shorter distance, but those 5 miles of driving on congested streets (he and I both live in high density areas, but I’m right off the freeway, so I don’t have to worry about congested streets to get to my place) mean that it’s about 45 minutes to and from his place, as well (if we’re being honest, I’m commuting to and from his place more often than my own).

    76. Amelia*

      10 miles, an hour and fifteen by train, and 20 min to 1.5 hrs by car depending on how bad Boston traffic is.

    77. lowercase holly*

      40 min one way. i drive using an interstate for the majority of it and smaller highways (state roads?) to get from my exit to my work. one highway goes through a very small town at a slow speed.

    78. Manders*

      Oh, I was thinking of asking about that this week! My current commute is a 40-minute bus ride from the edge of Seattle to downtown. It’s pretty much always exactly that time unless a bus breaks down, I miss my ride, or the bus is so full when it gets to my stop that I can’t get on.

      Seattle has a highway running through the middle of town, and during rush hour, there’s a separate express lane that actually switches direction to help deal with the number of people heading into and out of downtown. I catch my bus in a transit tunnel so it doesn’t get stuck on surface streets. In a few years, the buses are going to get kicked out of the tunnel onto surface streets, because a few years after that a light rail station will be completed and only trains will run in the tunnel. It’s kind of a mess right now but everyone’s crossing their fingers that it gets better after it gets worse.

      I used to have a pleasant 30-minute walk to work, but I can’t afford to live so close to downtown anymore.

    79. K.*

      25-35 minutes depending on traffic. City streets. I could take public transportation but it would take the same amount of time, parking & PT cost about the same, and I have more control over my commute if I drive. If I could shower at work I’d ride my bike.

    80. Rainy, PI*

      If I walk it’s about half an hour. If I bike it’s 15-20 minutes depending on how my thighs feel that morning. If I take the bus it’s anywhere between 15 minutes and 50 minutes (I unfortunately live on a city-run rather than a transit-run bus route and the city literally doesn’t give a shit about schedules, and will also abuse you verbally over the phone if you call to complain).

    81. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      30 min each way. Back roads – through lovely country. It is a great drive.

      I dread the day I might need to go into the city to advance my career. I’ll probably cry.

    82. Candy*

      I live about 2.5 kms from work. In the summer I ride my bike, which takes about 15 minutes. In the winter I’ll walk and that takes about half an hour. I could take the bus but it’d take just as long as walking and I’d much rather spend that time walking freely than crammed into a packed bus.

    83. Master Bean Counter*

      25 mile commute. 5 miles on dirt roads, that were washed out in a monsoon yesterday, and the rest on paved highways. My office is only half a mile off the Interstate. Takes me about 30 minutes both ways, unless the border patrol check station is running slowly on the way home.

    84. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

      7.5 miles, takes about 30-35 minutes at low traffic times and about 35-40 during rush hour. I live on the edge of the city inside the interstate beltway and I commute into the heart of the city. I opt for secondary routes – they are major enough to not have very many stop signs, but typically one-lane each direction and not as heavy traffic as the primary arteries through the city.

      I find one-lane roads get less jammed up at rush hour because drivers can easily use the shoulder to go around cars that are waiting to make a turn, whereas in heavy traffic on a two-lane road, a car waiting to turn holds up every car in the lane behind it, who aren’t easily able to move into the unobstructed lane due to the heavy traffic. And in the city with so many pedestrians, you’re just as likely to get held up behind someone waiting to make a right as someone waiting to make a left, so there’s no good lane to be in.

    85. GarlicMicrowaver*

      I live in an area notorious for its traffic. Fortunately, I get off the first exit of Evil Highway. With smooth sailing, it only takes 15 minutes, but usually with traffic, about 25, give or take. At my old job, my commute was 2.5 hours each way (a train and two subways and many tears ).

    86. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      I have the best commute ever.
      2.5 miles, by bike, on the beach. That is on the 2-3 days a week I’m in the office, also work from home 2-3 days a week.

    87. Aphrodite*

      The drive takes about three minutes; if you count door to door (literally) it’s about seven minutes. I drive on a one-lane road that parallels the freeway. Love my commute!

    88. Machiamellie*

      I grab my coffee and walk downstairs two flights to my office area. Sometimes I even put on pants.

    89. ginkgo*

      I feel like I have to represent for the bus commuters :)

      My current commute:
      To work: 30-min bus ride, then walk a mile to the office (which takes about 15 minutes)
      From work: 20-min train ride, then 30-min bus ride

      I don’t really know why I got into the habit of doing it that way, especially since the train makes me crazy (our city’s transportation system is TOTALLY inadequate for its ridership; I have to fight through a wall of humans on the platform and the escalator has been broken for two weeks and counting now). However! Today is my last day at my current job, and my new job is located right where the bus drops off/picks up, effectively cutting off a leg of the trip! So from now on my commute will be a 30-min bus ride only. SO happy!

    90. Zathras*

      25 minutes by bike. If I can’t bike for whatever reason (icy roads, bike needs repair, etc.) it’s 15 minute walk, 15ish minute train, 5 minute walk. I could theoretically walk it in about an hour I think, but I haven’t tried.

    91. Soon to be former fed*

      I commute across the hall, with a detour to the kitchen for coffee. Best commute ever.

    92. oliviacw*

      About 40 minutes, plus time stopping in the middle to drop my daughter off at daycare. About halfway is on a minor highway (that goes through a downtown area), the other half is on a freeway that gets congested sometimes in the morning, always in the evening.

    93. Beachlover*

      40-45 mins by freeway , which in California means you are not moving very fast, I have a 22 mile commute. if there is a major accident that can become 2 hrs. The side streets by the freeway jam up also, so those are no help.
      There is a back road I can take if I know about issues before I leave my house, its in the opposite direction from Freeway, that would take about 40 min.

    94. Sabrina Spellman*

      I live in Pittsburgh, so my commute means taking at least one bridge to work and either a highway or backgrounds. Generally, a good commute for me is 45 minutes one way.

    95. Applesauced*

      I live in NYC a depend on the subway to get around. On a good day, it takes about 45-50 minutes, door to door (15 minute walk, 30-35 on the train) (there are closer stations but I prefer to walk over transfers)
      On bad days it can take a lot longer depending how f’ed up the the trains are that morning.

    96. DrPeteLoomis*

      Public transit. It’s about 45 minutes from door to door. That includes leaving my place about 10 mins before the train is due to arrive to give myself time to get to the train station and get there a little early just in case the train is early. Then I have about a 15 minute walk from the train station to my office. It would be faster to drive, but I enjoy the time to listen to podcasts and get a little exercise from the walk to/from the station.

    97. anonymouse*

      On a good day, 3 hrs round trip. On a more typical day, closer to 3.5-4 hrs round trip. On a very very bad day (rain or accidents if I’m driving, delayed trains if I’m public-transit-ing) it can be 5 hrs round trip. The train gives me a little more “me” time (reading for an hour each way, a little exercise with the couple of miles I have to walk) but is miserable in crappy weather or if I’m in a rush or if I have to do something after work. The car allows me to be alone (something I love) and be on my own schedule, but the traffic is a nightmare and makes me very stressed out. I try to alternate them so I don’t go crazy. They both costs close to $30 round trip per day (commuter rail is $27, parking in the city is $26 plus gas).

      I like my job. It pays pretty well. I get to work from home 1-2 days a week (1 officially, plus flexibility if an additional one is needed/desired), increasing to 2-3 days a week this fall. The commute is the worst thing in the world and it has decreased quality of life in a very significant way. Right now, I don’t see a way out of it. If my schedule goes to 3 WFH days a week and 2 office days, I think I can last long term. If it went back to only 1 day per week (like if we got a more rigid manager, since WFH is at manager discretion), I’d have to get a different job.

    98. blackcat*

      35-40 minute walk (depending on lights) or 2 minute walk + 5-7 minute bus (depending on traffic) + 5 minute walk. Bus route and walking route are identical, suburban/urban-ish roads. I strongly prefer to walk, but I bus whenever the weather is too wet, too hot (>90F heat index or so) or too cold (<15F windchill). It's 1.7 miles door to door.

      My husband drives on suburban surface streets, 20-40 minutes depending on traffic. It's about 7 miles each way for him. He heads further out into the 'burbs, I head inward towards the city. There is a bus he could take, but it would require a 20 minute walk. He is a chicken about driving in snow, though, so I suspect he'll take the bus a fair bit in the winter (it's a new job). He keeps talking about trying to bike, but he hasn't found a route he'd feel comfortable on yet.

    99. SaraV*

      At OldJob, I commuted from one major-ish city in the state to the biggest city in the state. If I remember correctly, it was 96 miles roundtrip from our driveway to the work parking lot. It was about 1/4-1/3 of a tank of gas for the roundtrip. Figuring my salary and the price of gas back then (which was more expensive than now), a litte less than an hour of work a day paid for my gas. But I loved what I did, and I loved the people I worked with, so it was worth it to me.

      I was lucky in that a) most of my drive was interstate, b) I exited the interstate on the western edge of BigCity, right before traffic got really messy, and c) work was 3-4 blocks off the interstate. The worst part of my drive was getting from my home to the interstate in BiggishTown, and vice versa. Getting yourself east/west in BiggishTown wasn’t a huge problem, but getting north/south was. Plus, I drove past an elementary school and a high school. Whenever school wasn’t in session, it was quite a relief.

    100. SJE*

      20 miles in Houston TX all freeways–generally the morning commute takes about 65 minutes & the afternoon one takes about an hour and 15 to an hour and a half. And that’s on a good day!

    101. Mine Own Telemachus*

      Going to work, it’s usually around 40min highway travel (I’m including time spent in the parking garage getting up to my usual spot, as I park on the far opposite corner to increase my walking distance to get in).

      Going home, about an hour, using side streets and the like because it stretches to 90 minutes or more if I take the same highway back thanks to construction on that side of the interstate.

      1. Mine Own Telemachus*

        Oh, and I should add I go from one city to a neighboring city, for a commute of about 8 miles.

    102. Agile Phalanges*

      I used to work in the same town I live, but the commute was on a winding two-lane road with a lot of construction traffic (dump trucks, etc.) that you couldn’t pass. It took 12-17 minutes to get to work. Now, I live in the next town, but I live on the edge of my town closest to that town, so while it still takes about 17 minutes to get to work, it’s a much nicer commute as it’s nearly entirely on a four-lane highway, so I can pass slower traffic, or use cruise control when traffic is going “my” speed. It’s also the reverse of the typical commute, so I don’t deal with as much traffic even at “rush hour” (small town life!) as going the other direction would. I’m considering buying a house in the town I work in, or even the next town past it from the one I currently live, but not because of the work commute-it’s to be closer to my horse! :-)

    103. Jadelyn*

      10-15 minutes – mostly freeway/highway. Although on Fridays, I drive to the next town over for my favorite coffee shop, and when I come back I take my favorite twisty little back road because what’s the point in driving a sports car if you don’t have fun with it once in awhile?

      My commute is not at all normal for this area, though – almost everyone has to commute between towns/cities for work, this is the first time in my work life that I’ve lived and worked in the same town. It’s awesome.

    104. The Rat-Catcher*

      15-20 minutes by car, primarily state highways and interstate. One of the few blessings of a rural area is that traffic is not really a factor.

    105. Aunt Vixen*

      One of a few options:
      1. 15-minute walk, 35- to 40-minute train ride, 5-minute walk
      2. 20-minute walk, 30- to 35-minute train ride, 5-minute walk
      3. 10-minute drive, 45-minute train ride, 5-minute walk
      4. 10-minute drive, 30- to 35-minute train ride, 5-minute walk

      Option 1 is normal. Option 2 is if I have to do the day care dropoff (which Uncle Vixen usually does while I am taking option 1). Option 3 is if I am too tired to do any of the walking in the morning or will need the car in the afternoon right at the end of the train ride rather than walking home to get it. Option 4 is if I am too tired to do any of the walking in the morning or running late and Uncle Vixen drives the baby to day care and then drops me at the train.

    106. Stephivist*

      I live 11 miles from work. It takes me 20-25 minutes in the morning and 35-45 around 5pm. I’m on the Interstate 85% of that time.

      I could take the train, but it would be a 10 minute drive to the station + 30 minutes on the train + 15 minute walk on the other end.

    107. Spice for this*

      Since April, my drive is about 20 min. in the am taking city streets. And it takes 30-45 min. in the pm depending on traffic.
      Before April, I used to drive about 20 miles each way and I would be on the highway for about 15-20 min., then on city streets for 20-25 min. It would take 1 hour to 1.5 to get back home if there was an accident or snow on the roads.

    108. Emilitron*

      My commute is 24 miles; 2 miles from suburb house to highway, 20 miles on highway ring road around the city, 2 miles from highway through business park areas to the office. If I were working a standard 8:30-5, it would be about 1-1.5 hr each way; in the dead of night or on the weekends it’s about 35 minutes. I shifted my hours to work ~10-6:30, and it’s about 45 minutes each way.
      I moved across the country for Job A, bought my house 3 miles away in suburb A, 8 minutes door to door. Now I still live there, but work in job B 24 miles away, and I almost didn’t apply to it because of the commute. I’m really happy though. Given that there’s always a “worst thing about this job” I’d much rather it be the drive time than the boss, the tasks, the morale, the coworkers…

    109. Venus Supreme*

      With my current job it’s about 15 minutes door-to-door, maybe 12 minutes on a good day, maybe 17 minutes on a bad day. I take a back road for about 10 minutes then a highway for three minutes. It’s really great and it surprisingly has improved my quality of life, which I haven’t thought of before.

      Previously, my commute was 2 1/2 hours door to door. This included driving to a parking lot to take the shuttle bus to take the train, sit on the train for 40 minutes, and walk about 30 minutes to work because I couldn’t afford the subway. Even one seemingly insignificant delay could make me up to an hour late for work.

      My commute to my summer job throughout school was great — it was a two minute bike ride, and I lived down the shore! That was the best.

    110. skunklet*

      it’s about a 25 minute commute, the direct route is about 12 miles, but that would be with traffic; so I add about a mile or two to my commute (to get to the 25 minutes) to avoid traffic. i very rarely hit any traffic. I take almost all back roads except for about 1 mile on an interstate. I lived in the Va Bch area for 11 yrs, and hit traffic all the time, I love upstate NY and lack of traffic!

    111. IntoTheSarchasm*

      Work at home now but last job was 55 miles one way mostly expressway, took about 45 minutes except for winter because western Michigan. Job before that, 80 miles one way for four years into the teeth of Detroit area traffic (Novi) where there are no driving rules. Took about 1.25 hours. Cost me two windshields and one entire car – that is what happens when you hit a deer going 75 on the expressway during semi-rush hour. Needless to say, six cars were eventually involved and the expressway was closed for about an hour. Bad day, walked away with just a little airbag damage.

    112. Typhon Worker Bee*

      I cycle most days, on a network of designated bike routes. These are back streets in a major city where you’re not separated from cars by a physical barrier or painted bike lane, but there are traffic calming measures in place and tons of other bikes. It’s mostly pretty safe (mostly) and takes 15-20 minutes to get to work and 20-25 to get home (almost all uphill). There’s a shower at work. When I’m not cycling I take a bus and then the SkyTrain (metro) – takes about 20 minutes in either direction.

      I’m moving in a few weeks and get to commute by boat! (The SeaBus passenger ferry). You can take bikes on board so I’ll either bike-boat-bike (the second leg being through downtown, with more traffic but better separation than my current route) or walk/bus-boat-SkyTrain. I haven’t done either commute all in one go during rush hour yet but it’ll definitely take longer – maybe 45 minutes on a bike (depending on timing – the boats go every 15 minutes so just missing one makes a big difference), less on transit. There are other options that involve biking or bussing over a bridge. The latter would be faster on good days but waaaaaaaay slower on bad days. And the SeaBus is IMO the best commute in town – very scenic and relaxing, and you almost always get a seat, unlike on the bus and SkyTrain!

      There’s a VERY big hill on the way to our new home, so I might get an electric assist kit for my bike. My triathlete friends think this is hilarious but I don’t care! All the buses around here also have bike racks on the front. Options, I have them.

    113. Sunflower*

      Half a mile walk to the subway takes about 12-15 mins, 8 min subway ride, 5 min walk to my building. So I say about a half hour door to door. It’s about 2.5 miles total. I walked once in work clothes and flats and it’s about an hour. I’d like to walk more but would not do it unless I was wearing active wear and sneakers.

    114. Bea W*

      Public transit, 2 trains generally 35-45 min door to door unless the Red Line is broken. Part of my ride takes me over I-93. At that point I am with 10 min from being home and I routinely think “glad that’s not me!”

    115. Kiki*

      Commute is 1 hour each way on a major highway. Theoretically it should only take 35-40 minutes but there’s always tons of traffic.

    116. Borgette*

      I live really close to my office! My normal commute is a <2 mile drive on a semi-busy residential street. I can take the highway for two exits in about the same time, but the street is less stress. There's also a bus that goes the same route, and I'm considering trying that out for a month now that the summer heat is breaking.

    117. Khal E Eessi*

      I live near Boston.

      Morning: 5 minute drive to commuter train, 30 minute commuter train ride, then another 25 minutes on the subway. About an hour, door to door, barring a “disabled train” or “signal issues” (cue eyeroll).

      Evening: It takes longer in the evening. 35-40 minutes subway, (standby waiting for train 5-10 minutes), 30-35 minutes commuter rail, 5 minute drive. An hour and twenty, if I’m lucky. (cue another eyeroll)

    118. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

      45-60 minutes by car, main roads and larger backroads mostly (i.e., not highways, but large enough so have some multiple lanes each way, speed limits from 35-50 MPH). There’s a toll road I can take that shaves maybe 10 minutes off, but it’s not worth the paying the toll unless I’m in a super hurry. I’ve taken to listening to audiobooks on my ride.

    119. Tim*

      Right now it’s about 1:15 – 20 minutes walking outdoors + waiting for the train, 45 minute train ride, 10 minute walk indoors on the other end. I usually leave 1:35 prior since the train can randomly be much slower.

      In a couple weeks it’ll just be a 35-minute walk (25 minutes outdoors, 10 indoors). Can’t wait. 100 extra minutes a day!

    120. Amy*

      I live in Northern Virginia – I drive on Rt 66 and Rt 28 every day it can take a half hour to an hour plus each way depending on traffic, the average is about 50 minutes. I commute with my husband so we can use the HOV lanes which does save us a lot of time.

    121. Die Forelle*

      I live and work in the same neighborhood in a city with really bad traffic, so I have it SO good compared to a lot of people around here. I get to/from work 3 different ways:

      1. Drive (takes about 8 minutes, never any traffic unless everything everywhere is borked, which has actually happened a time or two)
      2. Bus (40 minutes total: 20 minutes on the actual buses, 10 minutes waiting and transferring, 10 minutes downhill walking)
      3. Walk (40-45 minutes, uphill both ways: I live on opposite sides of a hill and have to walk up and over to the other side of the hill each way)

      It’s very weather-dependent. In the summertime I bus and/or walk almost every day, but in the dark rainy winters where I live, I drive much more often.

    122. A. Non*

      25 minutes with no traffic, up to 45 depending, with a mix of suburban roads and one major highway crossing. Two five-point intersections, too, which usually are the reasons for delays.

    123. Rianwyn*

      My husband and I share a single car for the family. Since I am employed traditionally, and it’s best for him to have the flexibility of day-travel and errands, usually he drives me to work each day and picks me up. It’s 7-12 minutes each way. … very potholed city streets.

    124. Sandra wishes you a heavenly day*

      If I walk, 35 minutes. If I get a ride from the people I live with, 10 minutes max.

    125. Clinical Social Worker*

      I drive 60 miles on country highways (mostly, the last part is a real interstate highway) to work. There is no public transportation or other options for traveling this distance for work in my area. It takes me an hour, sometimes more when there’s snow, to drive to work. I listen to audiobooks to pass the time.

    126. Anon.*

      I used to work with a guy that lived in Temecula and worked at LAX. I think his commute was 2.5-3 hrs each way. On the plus side, he won the KLOS radio station’s contest for longest commute. He won $1000 in gas money. Probably lasted him a month!

    127. Rovannen*

      Seriously, 4 minutes on a bad day in a car. That’s from one side of town to the other; two stop signs. I can walk it in 20 minutes. I have the best commute ever.

    128. Garland Not Andrews*

      I’m 35 miles from work. It takes 45 minutes to 1.25 hrs. I drive country roads, but main roads not windey back roads, most of the other half is on interstate, both country and city sections and a small bit on city streets.

    129. knottyferret*

      I had a bus commute in the Seattle area of 54 minutes (if traffic was ideal, so going to work but never home).
      I recently moved to Delaware and my commute is now never more than 45 minutes (still by bus).
      Express bus doesn’t hit many side streets, but since either are faster than what I was riding 2 months ago, I don’t mind when I wind up on a bus hitting the residential area.

    130. Overeducated*

      To get in: 20-25 minutes by car on a medium sized road and highway, or 35 minutes by bike. To get out: 15 minutes by car to day care and another 15 home, or 30 minutes by bike and another 20 home. Somehow the bike route to day care is extremely inefficient.

      Public transit is possible since I live in an incredibly dense urban area, but due to my office location it takes over an hour just to get to work, so I avoid it. Biking is awesome but sometimes logistically annoying or not something I am up for in bad weather.

    131. Lives in a Shoe*

      40 minutes in heavy heavy heavy (labeled one of the worst commutes in the nation) traffic to my child’s school, then I park and take a 20 minute shuttle to work. I could use public transit, but it’s so much more expensive than driving.
      Alone, it is just awful. With a kid along, it can be great. We listen to language podcasts and talk, sometimes she reads to me. But it adds 10 hours to my work week every week. I just couldn’t afford anything closer. And she has after school activities, so her day is too long also. I wish it were different.

    132. KR*

      15 to 20 minutes, barely any traffic unless I go for Starbucks before work, and mostly not main roads that are in town.

    133. KR*

      I ad my one on one today and my manager gave me some positive feedback i really needed, so I’m happy about that.

    134. ModernHypatia*

      Boston suburb: 5 miles, somewhere between 30 minutes and 50, depending on traffic. (Yes, that is ridiculous, but it’s three towns, town streets, and only three routes between where I live and where I work, of which one is more like an hour+ and multiple rotaries no one knows how to navigate.)

      I got to set my hours so I come in just before the traffic gets bad and if I get out the door on time, it’s about 40 minutes going home. Also, I swim before work three days a week, and while I hate going to bed to get up at 5:30, I love the lack of traffic, since I swim about 5 minutes from work.

    135. Irish Em*

      20 mins mostly walking. Mind you, if the LUAS wasn’t there it’d be a Very Different Story. That 5 minutes on a tram cuts about 40 minutes out of it.

    136. AnonyBris*

      1hr 15mins – car drive – medium traffic through stop start suburbs and busy roads – no highways to my city.

      Traffic is unfortunate as it only takes 20mins on weekend.

    137. Lindsay J*

      By car. 15-20 minutes depending on traffic. It’s about 10 miles. I would say the first 10 minutes are highway, and the last 5 are back roads with a bunch of red lights.

    138. Workaholic*

      Going to work takes 15 minutes. Home takes between 20 (very rare!) And 45 – depends if i leave on time or stay late. Oddly enough if i leave the office so that i hit the main road at 3:28 then it’s low traffic to the freeway. 5 minutes later and it gets ugly. My commute is almost entirely freeway – with one block of side road and a stretch of main road to the freeway both sides. I feel bad driving all the time but if i caught the earliest bus it takes 1 hr 15 mins to get to work and I’d arrive 15 minutes or more late.

    139. MacAilbert*

      I commute by light rail and bus. There’s a light rail stop about an 8 minute walk from my apartment, which converts into a subway a third of the way through my ride. I get off downtown after about a 30 minute ride, then catch a bus for another 30 minute ride that drops me right at work.

    140. amanda_cake*

      I live in a small town less than a mile from the university where I work. Due to one way streets, driving takes longer than walking. If the weather is nice and I’m on time, I walk to work. It takes me less than 15 minutes. It takes me longer than some because it is uphill.

    141. Kickin' Crab*

      I live in Philadelphia. My apartment building runs an hourly shuttle through the city, which takes about 20 minutes to my stop + 5 min walk. If I miss the shuttle and take transit, it’s 15 min walk to the trolley, 5 min on trolley, 10 min walk. If the weather is good I’ll bike, which is a combination of city streets (mostly with buffered bike lanes) and an off-street multi-use trail, takes ~20 min for 3.5 miles.

      Prior to this, I lived in a semi-rural college town, just 5 miles from work. I had to be at work at 6:30 AM, which took ~15 min because no traffic, but going home at 4:30-5pm took closer to 45!

    142. Audiophile*

      My commute is now about an hour one way. An express train from my station is about thirty-five minutes and then fifteen minutes on the subway. Much better than the commute I had a few months ago.

    143. Mrs. Fenris*

      9 miles, 35ish minutes in a horribly congested suburban area. My previous job was 12 miles in the opposite direction and I was going against traffic, and it took 25-30 minutes. In both cases, it’s been on large local streets (like 4-6 lanes with a median) and this one has a short detour on back roads.

    144. Anxa*

      I drive south about 25 minutes, drop my SO off of work, then drive about 40 minutes to work. At the end of the day I either go back to pick him up and go home or I drive about 40 minutes (to an hour) to my second job. By the time that’s over traffic is light so then I go about 35 minutes to get my SO and 20 minutes home.

      During the school year I walk about 30 minutes to a bus stop, then take a 20 minute bus to work.

    145. only acting normal*

      40 miles ~45 mins on motorways after the rush-hour, or and unpredictable 90mins in traffic. Record was 4hours after a massive pile-up closed the road.
      Alternative country-road route is ever so slightly shorter and a reliable 55-60mins – so if I need to guarantee a particular start time I go that way instead (or if I want to see a bit of lovely scenery for a change).

  2. Pineapple Pizza*

    I was passed on for a job because I didn’t comment on my interviewer’s pregnancy.
    I interviewed for an HR job at a company I was referred to. My interviewer was visibly pregnant but I did not address it. I figured, as HR, it would be appropriate to not ohh and ahh over a baby bump. She referred to it once, saying she’d be out a lot once (pointing to belly) comes. I didn’t interrupt to ask when she was due or any of that.
    Anyway, the person that referred me told me that my interviewer was put off that I didn’t acknowledge her pregnancy and that the other candidates all did.
    I guess I could have added “good luck with the new baby” as part of our goodbyes but I didn’t.
    What do you think? In full disclosure, I am not a mother and am childfree by choice so I’m not one for baby talk but again this was an HR interview.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Honestly, I think it’s ridiculous — but then, I’m definitely on the side of “do not mention things going on with other people’s bodies.”

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, I wouldn’t have said anything. It’s an interview and the first time meeting the interviewer. I find it too risky to comment on anything personal the first time meeting someone and especially something as sensitive as a pregnancy. I wouldn’t have gotten the job either.

      2. AVP*

        totally agree. I live in terror of accidentally implying that someone might be pregnant and then learning that they aren’t!

    2. katamia*

      What. That is absurd and breaks the cardinal “Unless you see a baby actually exiting at the moment, don’t mention a stranger’s pregnancy, and even then maybe you don’t want to assume” rule.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I think once she mentioned it it would not break that rule to say something, but if she didn’t leave a pause to allow you to respond it would feel awkward to then go back and comment on it later.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      My knee-jerk reaction is that the interviewer is an awful, awful person who expected lots of attention and was miffed that you didn’t give it to her, and that you’ve dodged a bullet if you would have been working for her.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Honestly. That is not going to be a fun place to work. The evil in me wants to say that once you found out why you didn’t get the job you said that had been that you’d recently suffered a miscarriage and it was a very sensitive subject for you.

        1. Humorless*

          The interviewer was being awkward, but I don’t think lying about a miscarriage is the way to go. They’re not a joke

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Or if not an awful person, certainly a person who bizarrely thought they deserve praise and attention from strangers for their fecundity/procreative state.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Agreed. I understand that it’s very important and exciting for the person it’s happening to, but pregnancy seems like the one thing a person can do where it’s not okay to (eventually) tell them no one else is as interested or excited about it as they are and if they expect other people to be that invested, they’re naive at best and self-absorbed at worst.*

          *Compare this to literally any other life milestone. Everything has an upper limit for congratulations and a basic understanding that some people might not care, except for pregnancy.

      3. motherofdragons*

        Co-signed, as a currently enormously pregnant person. It would never occur to me to think less of someone, let alone *not offer them a job*, if they didn’t comment on my bump!

    4. Blue Anne*

      What the heck? That’s ridiculous. It’s never good form to assume someone is pregnant when they look like it, for one thing…

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      I’d put this in the ‘bullet dodged’ category. If they’re that unprofessional during a job interview, imagine what the day-to-day is like there.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s really strange. The only explanation I can think of is that you didn’t ask about changes to the job during her maternity leave, which would be a reasonable question to ask (assuming she would be your boss), though certainly not required. Did that come up at all?

      1. Pineapple Pizza*

        She would not be my boss. She was finance and I would be taking payroll over from her. I figured I’d own payroll before she took time off, plus she mentioned she could work from home.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          This actually makes me feel a little more like she was expecting a question about how payroll would be handled while she was on leave and how your role would fit into that leave. Answers to questions like, “Would I own payroll during your leave? When are you planning to take leave?” would likely be important to someone who is planning to move into the role. There’s a possibility she preferred a candidate who asked rather than assumed what the plans would be. I don’t think that’s right or wrong, just possible.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            “She didn’t acknowledge my pregnancy” sounds, IMHO, more like “I wanted to be fawned over.” If she’d said “She didn’t seem to have any thoughts about how things would be handled during my absence,” I’d see your point.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              We’re getting that third-hand, though. I think there’s a possibility that it’s less, shall we say, hysterical than it sounds. Either way, the job isn’t the right fit for Pineapple Pizza.

    7. Nancy Drew*

      Very odd that she would expect you to comment on it. If I were in your shoes, I don’t think I would have commented on it, either.

    8. Marzipan*

      That’s just weird.

      Also, having moved for some time in infertility circles, there are plenty of people out there who find it quite difficult to engage with other people’s pregnancies. Obviously, pregnant people do exist and interacting with a pregnant woman isn’t an issue, but being expected to make a big thing of her pregnancy would be potentially quite difficult for anyone dealing with fertility problems or losses. So, if that’s their only reason it’s a rather inappropriate one.

    9. Snark*

      Consider that a bullet dodged, because that kind of drama queen would be IMPOSSIBLE to work with.

    10. kittymommy*

      Personally, I probably would have mentioned it, especially after she referenced it, but I do think it’s ridiculous to base a decision on it. If she’s that particular (I’m trying to be kind) I think you got lucky not getting the job.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        I probably would have just asked her when she was due AFTER she pointed to her stomach. But the fact that you chose not to say anything should not have played a role in whether or not they chose to hire you.

    11. Menacia*

      Wow, I actually feel discriminated against for you as I too am CFBC and don’t ooh and ahh over every preggo I encounter. Ugh, you’re better off… Way to take the focus off the intent of the interview and then penalize you for it! :(

      1. Ego Chamber*

        At the last place I worked, there were 3 separate pregnant coworkers that would hang out with me in the breakroom because I was the only person not commenting on their pregnancies. Sometimes they talked about pregnancy issues, and that was fine, but I kind of didn’t care and they said they liked that because they could get away from all the attention for part of the day.

        I don’t ever want kids and I’m just not super into babies, so my default is to talk to about not-baby things.

    12. Emi.*

      I think she’s overreacting, but when someone mentions that she’s pregnant it’s normal and polite to offer brief congratulations–that’s hardly “baby talk.”

      1. neverjaunty*

        In the context of a job interview like this, it’s not abnormal or rude *not* to comment, either.

      2. Olive Hornby*

        I agree–I think a brief congratulations would have been appropriate here, and not acknowledging it at all would probably strike me as a bit strange (though certainly not a reason not to move forward with an otherwise great candidate.)

        1. Emi.*

          No, but it might indicate a bad fit for a particularly warm and friendly office (especially if they had other great candidates).

          I’m also put off by the number of comments accusing this poor woman of being a “drama queen” and expecting to be “fawned over” based on a second-hand report of a stranger’s emotions.

          1. Optimistic Prime*

            Disagree. People have unintended pregnancies all the time, and there is also such a thing as surrogacy. I come from a community where pregnancies were as often unintended as they were intended – maybe more – so personally I don’t congratulate people on their pregnancies unless I know for a fact they are excited about it. Plus I would also think a job interview was an awkward time to comment on somebody’s body and personal life. That doesn’t make me not a warm and friendly person – I love celebrations!

            I suppose I somewhat agree that there’s no real way to know if she’s a “drama queen,” but it definitely hints at a potential propensity for attention-seeking if you pass over an otherwise good candidate simply because they didn’t acknowledge your pregnancy. (That said, we only know this secondhand anyway – really third-hand, so it’s possible that wasn’t even a factor but she just mentioned it as weird.)

            1. Observer*

              You’re missing the point. She specifically mentioned the pregnancy, and she apparently did it in a fairly matter of fact way. Which means that acknowledging it is hardly intrusion on personal space. It also doesn’t sound like either attention seeking or like a sore spot.

              It’s actually very off-putting that you ignored a significant piece of information that someone gave you. A simple “congratulations” or “I hope all goes well” if you aren’t sure congratulations are warranted, followed by a question about the workplace impact of her absence would have made sense, and is nowhere near “fawning.” Not that I would have refused to hire just over this – But we really don’t have any evidence that this is what happened. The interviewer “was put off” does NOT mean the interviewer “refused to move this forward.”

              1. Jessica*

                Not at all. This was quite inappropriate behavior on the part of the interviewer. An interview is not about the interviewer’s personal life, it’s about the position and the candidate. Furthermore, what was the purpose of mentioning it? It could be read as trying to fish for insight on whether the candidate has kids or is planning to have kids soon–which is really pushing the line on ethical interview practices.

                Super unprofessional and probably a red flag on how that office culture works.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  “probably a red flag on how that office culture works.”

                  The weirdest part to me is that the interviewer actually cited not mentioning her pregnancy instead of sanitizing it at all with “I didn’t feel like we really connected” or something similar.

                2. Observer*

                  I actually find this response a red flag. Sure, interviews are about figuring out how the position and candidate fit, or don’t as the case may be. But jumping to this being a fishing expedition for information that is illegal to consider is simply bizarre, and not supported by what we’ve been told. Also, she mentioned something that IS quite relevant to the position – she’s going to be out, and her position DOES relate to the position being hired for. Pretending that this is not relevant is what seems unprofessional, to me.

            2. Emi.*

              Yeah, what Observer said. Unless there’s way more to the story than Pineapple Pizza has told, we don’t know that s/he was passed over *because* of not offering minimum polite congratulations.

          2. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

            It’s not just a report of her emotions. It’s also a report of her actions: she denied a qualified person a job over this.

    13. Murphy*

      That’s ridiculous. I wouldn’t acknowledge it unless they did, and even then I wouldn’t have asked anything in the moment. If that person walked me out, I might have made small talk about it then, but that’s it. And even then, it’s not relevant at all to the interview.

    14. ms-dos efx*

      Also childfree by choice here, but I would not have commented and even after she had mentioned her pregnancy, I still would have felt uncomfortable addressing it. I just can’t muster enthusiasm for other people’s babies. I mean, it’s not like I judge others for having kids, I just can’t pretend like I, too, am excited about their life choices. Nor would I expect strangers to celebrate mine!

      I’m sorry. It’s a cultural thing that I have a hard time understanding/participating in, and I totally know that I’M the weird one here. But Pineapple Pizza, know you are not alone.

      That said, I think it was a pretty ridiculous and inappropriate reason to disqualify a candidate.

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, I’d only address it if it was unclear how her leave would impact her job. I’m 100% a “Do not mention possible pregnancy unless a person appears to need medical attention” kind of person. A close colleague of mine was obviously pregnant *when we were working on a project together,* but I didn’t mention anything about it until she brought up her leave (and even then, it was mostly a “Oh, great, let’s talk about a plan B if this isn’t done before the baby comes.” sort of comment). The only thing that required more conversation was when she started to say that her leave would start on X date (her due date), and I pushed back saying I wanted to have a plan in place in case she had to leave at X-4 weeks. I’ve seen too many people keep their due date in mind or be convinced they’ll go over and end up with a late pre-term baby.

          She was like 28 weeks pregnant before she brought it up. She had been obviously pregnant for months (she never had a “gaining weight or pregnant?” stage, since she only ever gained in her belly, one of those swallowed a basketball types).

          I figure if someone wants to talk about their pregnancy, they’ll talk to me about it! And I also think it’s kinda weird to talk to someone I barely know about their pregnancy in general.

      1. SC*

        I have a kid, and I find it difficult to muster enthusiasm for other people’s pregnancies, with very few exceptions for close family and friends. And even then, I just can’t bring myself to care much about second pregnancies. (I warm up to the babies when they’re around 6 months old.)

        In OP’s case, I probably would not have said anything unless the interviewer paused like she was expecting me to say something. I definitely would have erred on the side of not interrupting, and I would not have come back to it later.

        I’d categorize this as bad luck. It seems just as likely that OP would have an interviewer on the other extreme, who was put off by comments on her body. Either way, it’s weird to take such an extreme position on a sensitive topic.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Depends on your definition of small talk. In a formal situation like a job interview, where you know absolutely nothing about each other, I’d err on the side of “keep on work-related topics” too.

        1. Courtney*

          This is where my mind went too – that they didn’t get a friendly vibe from you, and I’ll assume that doesn’t line up with their company’s culture. How was the wording when they mentioned this – was it an example of why they thought you might not be the best fit, or clearly the sole reason?

          1. Pineapple Pizza*

            The person that referred me called the interviewer to check on the status of my candidacy. He was told, “No, your person didn’t say anything to me and I’m clearly pregnant. All our others candidates acknowledged it.” He was taken aback by this and said he would no longer refer people to this company.

      1. Lisa B*

        I’m feeling a little surprised by everyone’s responses, and having a gut-check moment of my own. When I read your comment, I’m wondering if this, along with your reactions to the interview, made you seem a little stand-offish, when they wanted an HR person who was, I don’t know, interested in people? “I’m pregnant!” *blink*, no smile, no nothing? Yes, it’s clearly not something YOU should have brought up, but just like if the interviewer had said “we’ll probably not get back to you for another week, I’m going to be out of the office for the next few days while my son is getting married, I’m so excited!” it’s generally understood acceptable behavior to respond “oh, how nice, congratulations!” Do you get nervous in interviews to where you don’t smile often, or seem stiff? Perhaps that, along with ignoring someone who basically gave you an invite to connect with them on a personal level, is what cost you the job.

        1. Hedwig*

          This is my line of thinking (as someone who gets nervous in interviews and various other situations and thus fails at social niceties that most people expect). The pregnancy thing may have just been the most concrete thing she could put her finger on for an overall lack of apparent warmth. Or she might be an attention junkie. Could go either way.

    15. Blunt*

      I would have said nothing about it, but once she mentions it & points to her belly, I would have at least said “congrats” & then moved on.

      Not saying anything & ignoring the topic completely make you seem uncaring/unfriendly.

      It does not matter if you are child free by choice or other. Making no comment is strange. It would put me off as well.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I don’t want to be reminded of my own pregnancy or of what I went through in L&D, so, if you don’t want me distracted during an interview, don’t press.

      2. Lady Bug*

        I agree, a simple “Congratulations” would be a friendly acknowledgment, but I wouldn’t expect to have any further detailed conversation. Ignoring it completely could be interpreted as an inabilty to conform to social norms, whether or not that’s true or fair.

      3. Optimistic Prime*

        I really don’t understand this kind of sentiment. I mean, a ‘congrats’ would be nice, but I don’t get the assumption that someone not mentioning it makes them seem uncaring or unfriendly. There are a thousand different reasons why someone might not comment on the shape of a woman’s body and/or their personal decision to have kids, and “this person is uncaring and I would not want to work with them” is like, so far down the list.

        1. Observer*

          Well, there is no reason to believe that this was THE reason for the final decision. I find it incredible how many people are jumping from “put off” to “refusing to hire and then being harshly critical – and complaining that the interviewer may be making assumptions.

        2. Emi.*

          But saying “Congrats” when someone mentions their pregnancy doesn’t really rise to the level of “comment[ing] on the shape of a woman’s body and/or their personal decision to have kids.” It’s just a friendly, polite thing to say. If I mentioned that someone in my family had died and you didn’t say “I’m sorry” I’d be kind of put off, and it would be really weird for you to say “Oh, I didn’t want to comment on your mother’s cancer treatments.”

          1. Jessica*

            But why on earth would you be bringing that up in a job interview? That’s a super inappropriate context. The job candidate is literally a stranger off the street whom you just met! Are people just into sharing TMI with any random human within a 10-foot radius?

            1. Emi.*

              “I have to travel out of town for my mother’s funeral; can we reschedule X?”

              I really don’t understand why people are so against discussing pregnancy. We’re not Victorians, yeesh.

              1. SC*

                I only told 2 people–direct bosses for whom I was working on projects–when I had to travel out of town for a family member’s funeral. And even then, it was only because I had to explain why I didn’t know yet exactly when I’d be out.

                Many workplaces are very Victorian about all kinds of personal issues.

              2. Sunflower*

                I don’t think its too over the top to say I’m sorry but I don’t understand being put off. This person is a stranger. While yes I’m sure they are sorry, at the same time, they probably are forgetting about it as soon as they hang up the phone or walk out the door. I don’t treat it AT ALL the same way as I would if it was a friend, or even coworker, telling me this.

              3. blackcat*

                I’m against it in general because so many people are weird about it/uncomfortable with it.

                There are those who have had infertility or miscarriage difficulties (I want to be sensitive to these folks)
                There are folks who are just plain uncomfortable with all things reproductive (I am not a fan of these folks, but whatever)
                Then there are people who ask ALL THE QUESTIONS (They are the worst)

                I’ve spent plenty of time talking about pregnancy in the workplace. But only with people I know well, and it’s very much a know your audience thing. In an interview, you do *not* know your audience, so I think it’s best to steer clear of discussing it unless it’s immediately relevant.

                1. Hedwig*

                  I am all about following the Miss Manners rule of never assuming a woman is pregnant unless you actually see the child exiting (to the point where I have, I think, come across as very self-involved by not acknowledging some really obvious pregnancies). But once the pregnant woman mentions it, it is presumably fair game for a quick congratulations or when are you due or some other simple acknowledgement.

      4. Amelia*

        I disagree. If the conversation is part of a typical interview, and the interviewer said something like, “We’d like you to start on August 10, but you’ll be working with Delilah and Jones initially. I’ll be out starting August 5 because of [points to belly] ” my response would never be, “Oh, congratulations, when is the baby due!” It would be, “Okay.” or “I understand.”

        Your pregnancy is none of my business, and it’s even less my business in a professional environment that I’m not even a part of. I get being miffed if coworkers never congratulate you, but an interviewee? And then using that as a reason to *not* hire them? It makes no sense.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          When my work-wife was pregnant, I never congratulated her. I also didn’t go to the shower. As far as I know, she didn’t hold either of those things against me. (We’re both female, so this wasn’t a gender thing.)

    16. Pwyll*

      I think this company has just told you that they would have unrealistic expectations for interpersonal discussions, and you probably dodged a bullet.

    17. Artemesia*

      She mentioned it therefore you probably should have said something. It probably came across as cold and insensitive to not say something about it once she had introduced the topic. If an interviewer complained about their kids’ school, you’d probably say something; if they commented they were about to leave on vacation, you would probably with them a bon voyage; so when she mentioned this momentous thing in her life, it probably came across as uncaring or cold to not acknowledge it.

      This one is always treacherous; certainly if she had not said anything you would have been prudent to not say anything in case she was fat and not pregnant.

      1. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

        Those are good parallel examples, and I’d agree that I would usually say something back. It falls under the area of “small talk” for me, and I’ve been socialized to engage in cheerful small talk when the need arises socially. But I wouldn’t say that people who don’t engage in small talk are cold or uncaring. That seems a bit extreme of a judgment to make. Some people just don’t like small talk or aren’t very good at it, but it doesn’t mean they don’t care about people.

    18. aebhel*

      Ugh, no, that’s weird. I’m pregnant right now, and I treasure the interactions that are not all about ‘SO I SEE YOU’RE HAVING A BABY’. I mean, yes, I’m excited, it’s very nice, but there’s really not much to say about it, and it gets tiresome to have the same ‘yep, that’s a baby, no we don’t know the gender, no we haven’t picked out a name, yes it’s very nice CAN WE ALL MOVE ON NOW’ conversation three or four times a day.

      Also, I think etiquette is that it’s generally rude to comment on a pregnancy unless you’re close to the person in question.

      1. Emi.*

        It doesn’t sound like the interviewer wanted the whole gender/name/etc rigmarole, though. Where I live, it’s standard etiquette to offer a “Congrats” if someone mentions her pregnancy, even if you’re not close to her.

    19. Lemon Zinger*

      Totally bizarre– you did nothing wrong. It is totally inappropriate to comment on others’ bodies in interview. Consider this a bullet dodged!

    20. Rainy, PI*

      I think you are better off not having to work closely with someone who wants people to fawn about her pregnancy, frankly, so probably that interviewer did you a favour.

    21. K.*

      I wouldn’t have mentioned it on meeting (I’ve witnessed people commenting that a woman is pregnant when she’s not; I wasn’t even in the conversation and I wanted to sink into the floor) but I probably would have said something like “Oh, when are you due?” when she pointed it out. However, it’s ridiculous and very petty that she held it against you that you didn’t.

    22. Machiamellie*

      Sounds like a bullet dodged, if the interviewer was the person who would have been your boss. If she’s that needy for attention, imagine how she’d be as a supervisor.

    23. GarlicMicrowaver*

      Really curious about Allison’s perspective on this one. I think the woman would have done better to keep that sentiment to herself. She intermingled personal issues with a business decision which is just not sound.

      Also, I haven’t read through all the replies, but I hope this doesn’t turn into a diatribe against pregnant women. Let’s try to avoid that.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        It hasn’t; it’s more about the level of appropriateness of commenting about such a thing, whether the fact that the interviewer brought it up first makes a difference, etc.

    24. LawPancake*

      I have a strong suspicion that were you a man interviewing for that position she would not have weighted the lack of whatever sort of “acknowledgement” she was expecting as strongly against you.

    25. Confused Teapot Maker*

      I can kind of see why this might be a valid reason, on the basis of culture fit. Say I’ve got equally qualified candidates and candidate A brings up the baby bump and candidate B doesn’t, I’m going to hire candidate A (or vice versa if I preferred you *didn’t* bring it up) because, all else being equal, that’s the person I’m probably going to prefer spending 8 hours plus a day with.

      The part that strikes me as truly odd is that they didn’t just explain it to you as ‘culture fit’ or ‘just didn’t click’ and rather said ‘didn’t acknowledge pregnancy’.

      Either way, I would still count it as a bullet dodged. If this was their reasoning for turning you down, then it sounds like you probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it there anyway.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Was the interview specifically for maternity leave cover, or did it just so happen the interviewer was pregnant?

        If it was the former, then it would make sense to at least acknowledge the fact.

    26. Jenny*

      I think maybe you don’t want to work in HR where they want people to talk about other people’s bodies and medical and family conditions ;)

    27. Not So NewReader*

      Okay. So what is the real reason you were passed over?

      Something this minor is fixable. “Pineapple, we are very people oriented here at Teapots R Us. It’s part of the company culture to give positive, encouraging personal comments on a random basis to cohorts. ” Then she could have asked you to give an example of when you encouraged a cohort OR she could have asked if you were comfortable in this type of culture.”

      Instead she said nothing and expected you to mind read. (read my mind = red flag)

      I do agree with folks here that a piece of personal information mentioned in passing probably should be replied to in some manner. But to make it the basis for not hiring a person, does not make sense to me. Most people are nervous in interviews. I would have just chalked it up to nerves. If it really bothered her she could have reframed it into a question like I wrote above here.

      It sounds to me like they had too many applicants and they were using whatever reason they could find to rule out a candidate. I think you learned way more about this company than they intended you to learn. Bullet dodged.

    28. TootsNYC*

      If it’s HR, I could see that the thinking might be, “you can’t just ignore the big events in people’s lives; we need HR people who can make employees feel that they are ‘seen’ by the HR folks.”

    29. Chaordic One*

      Gee, I don’t think I would comment on it, either. It is so easy for anything that you might say, even well-meaning, to be misconstrued or misinterpreted that I’d probably just not say anything. I don’t know that the interviewer was necessarily a mean person, but she’s kind of a jerk.

      (I really feel uncomfortable with coworkers who overshare or who are a little too nosy.)

      1. Anxa*

        I don’t get what you’re supposed to do there. Offer a congratulations? That seems absolutely presumptious. What if you don’t want to be pregnant? What if you are in the midst of a dangerous pregnancy. Oof.

        I just don’t get how it’s more rude no not address the issue than to presume excitement about a stranger’s pregnancy.

        Maybe I’m just weird and think to much.

  3. Folklorist*

    Happy ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST Day! Go and do something that you’ve been putting off and come back here and brag about it. Git ‘er done! (OK, I hate myself for typing that now but I refuse to delete it.)

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I finally set up an online teaching profile that I’ve been putting off because it looked like a complicated registration process. It was actually easy and I’ve already got some lessons booked for next week. This is something I’ve been putting off since January!

    2. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      Finished my billing! I always drag my feet on this task, and I’m not sure why. But the stack is off my desk now!

      1. JustaTech*

        Did it! And it was even more of a nightmare than I imagined, but I finally got to actually talk to the helpful person, so now I know what she sounds like!
        I hate this document system.

    3. Red lines with wine*

      I love this thread every Friday – it’s very motivational. I sent an email to my colleagues that I’d been putting off since yesterday. Now I can go back to reading AAM. :)

    4. Marillenbaum*

      Wrote a memo that has to go out today. Should also be doing my expense report from a trip that ended yesterday, but I forgot to bring some of my receipts, and I haven’t fully figured out the process software yet.

    5. Victoria, Please*

      Emails to all our shiny new faculty, welcoming them to campus. I love writing the email, hate sending it.

    6. Teapot Librarian*

      I sent an email documenting a terrible conversation I had yesterday. (For those paying attention to my weekly tales of my Hoarder Employee, this was NOT with that employee. It was someone out of my reporting line entirely.)

    7. bunniferous*

      I moved some files off my desktop. We are switching to all online files and it has been….an adjustment.

    8. Sparkly Librarian*

      It’s more that I was too busy than consciously putting it off, but I have wanted to organize this supply closet since I got here two months ago. This morning I FINALLY had 3 hours to myself and I emptied it ALLLLLLLL out, sorted it, moved everything onto the right shelves, disposed of a very small number of things, and put it back. You still cannot step inside (all floor space taken up with necessary items that come in and out for programs), but I know what I have and where it is. And as soon as I label the shelves (maybe tomorrow if it’s slow) so will anyone else who looks.

    9. NaoNao*

      I finally got an editor for my NaNo novel. He’s doing 4 hours up front at the “friend rate” for me and we’ll go from there. Ultimate goal is to self publish and become a STAH! :)

  4. Nancy Drew*

    I’ve been at my first company out of college for two years now. I recently got promoted from an entry level position, to a Teapot Supporter. As a Teapot Supporter, I’m responsible for getting our customers’ information inputted into a new Teapot program that we have available, that basically tells our customers how to get the most bang for their buck. However, our Teapot Account Managers are the ones responsible for encouraging their customers to take advantage of this program, and gather the information that I need to utilize the program. Getting their customers involved in the new Teapot program seems like an afterthought to most of our Teapot Account Managers, and we only have a few out of hundreds of customers taking advantage of the new Teapot program. In turn, this leaves me sitting at the office, bored out of my mind with nothing to do, 99% of the time.

    In my old position, I was steadily busy throughout the day, which I really enjoyed. I have no prior experience having absolutely nothing to work on all day, so I don’t know what to do with myself. Since I’m still new in my position, I try to spend my free time navigating around in the new Teapot program, just to familiarize myself with it, should I actually need to utilize it at some point. However, I can only do that for so long, before it feels redundant and pointless.

    The rest of my free time is usually spent surfing the net, and reading books online. Should I feel bad about this? I’ve asked my boss (who is often out of the office traveling) if he has any projects that I can work on it the meantime, but he keeps assuring me that “things will eventually pick up and customers will start utilizing the new Teapot program.” However, I’m not so sure. The woman who was in my position before me was here for 10 months, and left rather suddenly. The pay is great, and the employees are nice, so I can’t help but think she left because she couldn’t take the boredom anymore.

    I initially took this promotion because of the pay raise, and because my boss stressed how great he thought I’d be at my new job. But now, I’d honestly rather go back to my old position (which has now been filled), with my old salary, if it meant having something to do all day.

    I guess my question is – what should I do at this point? Start looking for new jobs? Take my boss’s word for it that this program will eventually be utilized my our customers? Be content with staring at a blank screen all day?

    Any help would be appreciated!

    1. babblemouth*

      Should you feel bad about it? No. But I suspect you do a bit, or at least that you’re bored enough that you know something needs to change.
      Could you start looking for ways to encourage account manager to sell the program more? finding data like “Client who signed up to the program reported XX% more satisfaction and were XX% more likely to buy another of our teapots within the next 12 months”. Surely the program must exist for a reason, and it could be up to you to highlight these more to the account managers.

      1. Nancy Drew*

        Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of data to provide. It’s such a new program that those numbers aren’t necessarily available. There are several presentations that our corporate office has provided for account managers to present to their customers, that explain how the program can be beneficial to the customer. However, it’s a matter of the account managers actually taking this info to their customers.

        Another part of the problem is that because it’s been so slow in this position so far, I don’t necessarily have the expertise to highlight the importance to the account managers, besides steering them towards the materials provided by our corporate office on our company website.

        1. Observer*

          Two thoughts:

          1. Ask the managers why they don’t encourage people to use this more than they do. “Is there anything I can do to make it easier or more beneficial?”

          2. Look at the stuff Corporate has sent, and then see if you can come up with some better presentations. Even if they never get used, it will help you to understand the product in a better way, and it might help you figure out why the account managers are not using it as much as you think they should.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve gotten very good at my job and I get projects done in a quarter of the time I used to so I have lots of free time. I have tuition reimbursement so I started taking classes online. I don’t feel as bad if I am working on work relevant homework when I have downtime.

    3. SM*

      Are you in a position to put together materials that account managers can send to clients about how great the new program is? Or create forms that make it easy for the account managers to get the info you need from clients without more work on their part? How about writing a guide or fact sheet for the program? That way, if utilization suddenly picks up and you have so much work that your company needs a second person in the role, they can get on board quickly to support you.

      Otherwise, I would look into online courses that interest you :).

      1. Nancy Drew*

        There’s actually already a plethora of materials that our corporate office has provided (and requires) the account managers to use when they’re pushing the program to their customers. I do offer to send them any materials they need via email, print documents, etc., but most of the time, they say, “yeah, I’ll take you up on that at some point, I’m just too busy with other stuff right now.”

        I actually have been looking into some online classes, though. :)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Is this program something you could help them sign up for and/or start using? Offer some kind of concierge service?

        2. TootsNYC*

          or develop a “fill in the blank” or “confirm the info” sort of email that might get them to join, if you can make it easier?

    4. stitchinthyme*

      Years ago I took a job where I didn’t even get a computer for a month (I am a software developer, so a computer is kind of essential to my job function), and even when I did I didn’t get anything to do. The excuse I was given was that most of my group was in a different office; they were supposed to be moved to mine, and they didn’t want to put me over there only to have to move me back when everyone else did. But the effect was that I never had anything to do, and even worse, the company was strict about security and didn’t allow any Internet access, so I couldn’t even surf — I resorted to bringing books (this was in the days before smartphones).

      I stood it for about four months. At that point there was still no word on when the rest of my group would be moving, and I still had nothing to do, so when another job offer came along, I jumped ship. Since most of my group was in a different office, I didn’t really get acquainted with too many people there, but the one person I had chatted with a bit told me a year or two later that the entire group had been laid off. So I’m glad I left.

    5. Bagpuss*

      Would it be possible for you to speak to your manager to ask about whether you could start to reach out directly to clients?
      You could go into the discussion with facts about the number of leads your getting given, as a proportion of clients / client contacts the account managers have (if you have access to that info) and make specific suggestions about how you might be able to address it.

      Is there anything it it might be possible to combine it with? (e.g .following up seeking general feedback, and offering the clients the additional information)

      Does your Boss also manger the account manager? If not, could he liaise with those who do to get them to push the account managers to do what they are supposed to?

      Do you know any of the account managers well enough to be able to talk to one of them to ask whether there are any reasons from their perspective why they aren’t raising it with clients? If so, you might then be able to talk to your own manager about how that might be overcome. (for instance, are they supposed to deal with enquiries in a certain time frame, so spending time on an extra thing isn’t in their interests? Do they get paid commission so saving clients money would have a negative impact on them etc)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Reaching out directly is a great idea.

        As I read through this, my one concern was do the account managers realize they will still get credit for the sale if it’s done online? That could be a hidden hurdle here.

        Otherwise if the hurdle is just lack of time, then you doing the out reach would be a great idea.

    6. Bostonian*

      I would say give it a few months. There’s a good chance your work volume will pick up. And if it doesn’t, you can go back to your manager and really press about taking on additional/long-term projects to fill the down time. You can say that after X amount of time has passed, it’s still slow ask him to revisit considering to give you additional work.

    7. Poster Child*

      I would look for a new job…you don’t have to take it if the salary or anything else doesn’t seem ideal. But a job where you have nothing to do most of the time is very easy for the company to eliminate if needed. Sounds like your boss likes you. If you don’t think it will hurt your position and you have a good relationship with your boss, you can be very clear about how little you’re actually doing all day. Maybe your boss thinks you’re only bored 50% of the time instead of 99% of the time.

    8. Ramona Flowers*

      Can you focus on finding ways to promote the programme internally and externally?

    9. Hillary*

      Were you explicit with your boss that you’re bored and don’t have enough work to fill your hours? That might be what it takes to get more to do. If he says the same as last time you talked to him, I’d ask him if there are any skills he’d like to see you develop and find some ways to study those.

    10. Borgette*

      I’m dealing with a similar situation! Things have picked up, but there are still weeks between projects when there’s really nothing for me to work on. When things are slow I work on learning new skills. I’ve done Codecademy and Edx courses, gotten involved in industry forms and communities, and built a professional portfolio/blog. For me, thinking of the slow times as having a scholarship/grant to study whatever I want really helped.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      Well… to be honest as you are new in the position it might just be this way for a bit. Generally these things sort themselves out as you get involved with projects and things get busier. But one thing stood out for me:
      “Teapot Account Managers are the ones responsible for encouraging their customers to take advantage of this program, and gather the information that I need.”

      OK, so why can’t YOU be doing this? Why can’t YOU be encouraging customers to take advantage of the program?
      Do some outreach girl! Go to your Teapot Account Managers and ask them what you can do to help them with this. What can you implement to gather the information yourself? How can you reach these customers?

  5. Ron*

    (Don’t read this if you’re squeamish or have any degree of arachnophobia)

    I was watching this show where a (British) comedian was talking about a job interview he once had. Basically, on the way there he has walked into a hedge or something like that, but after dusting himself off he didn’t think any more of it.

    Later during the interview, he noticed something out of the corner of his eye, and it turns out that a spider’s egg sac had caught in his hair when he walked into the hedge, and was now hatching tiny spiders down from his hair.

    He said he tried to subtly swat them away, and was incredulous that the interviewer didn’t stop the process despite this.

    When he was leaving, he said ‘I’m sorry to be the bringer of spiders”…but it turned out the interviewer didn’t even notice them (guess they would’ve been tiny) and just thought he was mad.

    (His point of the story was that he said something bizarre in an interview, but all I could think was ‘arrrrrrrrgh!!!’.)

    1. Kalamet*

      Eeeeeeek. I’m quite impressed at his composure, because I probably would have shrieked and danced around the room if I noticed spiders on me.

      1. JanetM*

        I saw on Facebook something to the effect of, “This interpretive dance brought to you by ‘Oh dear gods there’s a spider on me!’ The next one will be, ‘Oh sh*t, where did it go?!'”

    2. EddieSherbert*

      Yeah, I consider myself pretty comfortable with spiders (I have a platoon of them keeping the mosquitoes of my porch right now) and there’s still no way I’d sit there calmly while spiders hatched in my hair. No. Freaking. Way.


    3. kbeers0su*

      This is my nightmare. I think it stems from one of those silly horror kids books where a girl gets a bump on her face and thinks nothing of it until baby spiders come crawling out….

      1. CrazyEngineerGirl*

        I read this and it triggered a sudden and vivid memory of that story… and now my skin is crawling!

    4. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I foolishly read this even though I have arachnophobia. I know you warned me, but I was thinking there were no pictures so it would be fine. I was wrong. So wrong.

    5. OhNo*

      Oh, man. I am super scared of spiders and I had something like this happen to me once – except I didn’t notice, and the other person did.

      I was in a meeting with a couple of my coworkers about a project, and suddenly one of them got a really odd look on her face and said, “OhNo, don’t move.” Obviously, I immediately froze, while the rest of my coworkers all stared at me like I just grew a second head. She came over with a piece of paper and started walking around one side of me and said “Don’t look!”, Cue two seconds of complete panic, then SWAT right on my shoulder, and everybody started shrieking. I thought my whole office had just erupted in mass hysteria for no reason.

      Turns out there was a spider on my shoulder. My coworker knew that I am terrified of spiders, so she was trying to kill it before I saw it and freaked out. Except she missed, and the spider went flying, so everybody panicked. The rest of the meeting devolved into trying to find the spider, and I spent the rest of the day with the heebie-jeebies thinking I felt something crawling on me.

      We never did find the spider.

      1. Rainy, PI*

        I had to pull a hair-coloured spider from my new supervisor’s hair after a meeting across campus a few weeks ago.

        She’s afraid of spiders so I said casually “hey, you have a bug in your hair, here let me get it” so she wouldn’t freak out. It was big, too. So, so big. So we’re standing in the hall and I’m trying to extract this spider from her hair without smashing spider into her hair like the grossest hair product on earth, when a coworker walks up, says “what are you d–OH MY GOD THAT SPIDER IS HUGE.”

        So then my boss is dancing around and the coworker is going on not helping and I’m still in the middle of attempting to pull this enormous blonde spider out of her hair–did I mention she’s taller than me?

        It was exciting.

    6. Amber T*

      Why did I read this when you warned us? Why do I do this to myself.

      I walked through a spider web yesterday and was convinced I had spiders in my hair. Even after I took a shower, every stray strand of hair or cat fur or whatever was randomly brushing against me made me jump. Uggh now I’m itchy again.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This happens to me in the summer, usually—they like to build enormous webs from the bushes near my front door across the stoop. So every morning I would become really great at karate.

        This summer has been weird. I haven’t seen any. Not complaining! I think it’s the weather.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m impressed. I’d have a hard time keeping my composure with baby spiders in my hair, and I like spiders.

      Your story reminded me of my first day at a former job. I saw my desk was in a corner with a black widow up in the ceiling corner above it, and another black widow kitty-corner across the office. I was fine with that (for a few days or weeks) until the spider above me disappeared. I tracked her down and jarred her. And for the rest of that job, I was the co-worker who kept spiders in a jar on her desk, and whom other co-workers brought bugs to feed the spiders.

    8. bunniferous*

      Since we are sharing spider stories-since I sell foreclosured homes for the VA, that means I go into a lot of vacant houses. A few of them are spidery. The one I went into yesterday had big honking blond spiders-several sashaying across the floor, some in webs in corners, and one particularly large one strolling across a wall.

      One of my duties is taking pictures of these houses. So naturally I sent them a picture of said spider. Hey, if I have to see it, so do they.

  6. Regularly Distracted*

    First thing, I wanted to let you guys know that I did successfully complete my PIP! It just took them almost two weeks to meet with me to let me know.

    Secondly, I am hoping to get some advice on the following.

    A little bit of background before my question, I went on the PIP during the month that I was supposed to complete a performance review. The way my company works, the only raise you can get is from the annual review. There is no cost of living increase outside of that. I did my half of the performance review process, but my boss did not, likely because of me going on the PIP and it happening to be our busy season. My boss has not mentioned anything about finishing my performance review since then.

    Can I ask my boss to finish my performance review? Or would that be totally out of line?

    If it wasn’t for the fact that I won’t be up for even a cost of living increase until next june, I would be happy with the way things are now. I would also like to get an update on how my boss thinks I am doing. I don’t feel like I get much feedback during the year.

    The money does of course factor in, but I can live with no raise until next year if the answer to my question is no. I wanted to get some advice on whether this is totally out of line and if it isn’t, how to phrase my request.

      1. Regularly Distracted*

        That’s what I was thinking, but I wanted to ask someone else to make sure.

        Thank you!

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Agreed. While you deserve congratulations for successfully completing a PIP, I don’t think they’re likely to be considering giving you a raise right now. I’m sorry!

      3. Reporting to an Incompetent boss seems to be common*

        I disagree. A performance review would incorporate the fact that there was a PIP and that it was successful. Presumably every item in the performance review wouldn’t be unsatisfactory, just the category/ies that justified the PIP. It’s a document that goes into the personnel file, and there could be a new boss next month who would be looking at that file. If I were in those shoes I’d want a fully fleshed out performance review on file.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Usually people are not PIP’d based on one issue that does not have spillover effects on other major performance areas. A PIP is a form of performance review; it’s just not a pleasant one.

          You can certainly want a different document to serve as your review, but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect one or wise to request one (because the latter makes you look like you don’t understand the seriousness or nature of a PIP). And I have not met many managers who see a PIP in someone’s file and go, “Wow, I wish there were also a separate performance review from the same period.”

    1. Amtelope*

      I don’t think it’s realistic to hope to get a raise right after having been on a PIP, and any performance review right now would have to include the problems that led to you being placed on a PIP. I wouldn’t push to complete the review process. By next year, hopefully, your boss will have more positive things to say.

    2. Southern Ladybug*

      I agree. And I were your manager, I would be taken aback that you expected a raise immediately after finishing a PIP that allowed you to keep you job. Unless the cost of living increases are all across the board and the same for everyone, I think you need to let it go until next year. In my work, COLAs are for everyone at the same time. They do not occur with performance reviews.

    3. TCO*

      I don’t know the details of your PIP, but in general it looks really out-of-touch to ask for a performance-based raise so shortly after your performance was poor enough that they considered firing you. It would suggest that you don’t understand how serious their concerns about your performance were. Raises aren’t guaranteed; they’re earned.

      If, on the other hand, you want more frequent feedback to help you continue to improve your performance, I think you have the standing to ask for that, given that you’re really trying to improve your work but aren’t hearing much about how well that’s working for the company. Don’t ask for a performance review; ask for regular (maybe quarterly) informal feedback meetings with your boss.

      If you can’t continue to live on this salary, maybe it’s time to consider moving on to a different job. It sounds like your time at this company has been rocky and they don’t think of you as a top performer. Maybe it’s not a good fit.

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      I would not ask for a raise after being on a PIP it won’t reflect well on you.

      If I were in your situation I would ask for regular one to ones to keep track of progress, making the request more about performance rather than about getting a raise and it will come across better.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Adding, I had to do a required performance review while an employee was on a PIP. It was a misery since the review covered the same ground including the issues that put the employee on the PIP. Although there was improvement, it felt like the employee wanted a raise for adequately doing her job. She was peeved at not receiving the lowest raise pe centage.

  7. Jesca*

    I had stated in the comments on the post involving the boundary crossing male coworker, that I was in a similar but slightly more bizarre situation. So here is the story as promised! Maybe someone can offer up more on what I tried!

    In order to fully convey my feelings and misgivings towards this guy, I will need to provide some background. I only recently started at my current about 6 months ago, coming out of a business that was toxic and poorly ran (think every bad management thing anyone has ever written in about on AAM!)

    No, aside from the screaming CEO, the public humiliation of managers, the standing on chairs screaming and throwing things, and the complete lack of skill needed through all departments to compete AND stay compliant within this Federally regulated industry, there was of course poor management (LOL)!

    There are many crazy stories of poor management and poor behavior of subordinates to fill 20 AAM questions, but the worst of them all involves a woman I like to refer to Hurricane Karen. When one thinks of Karen, all the negative traits written about on here of the *worst* coworker comes to mind. All Of Them. And then some …

    She would not work. When she did work, it was not on anything needed or worthwhile. She could clearly not complete the job she was hired for (specialist for regulations in our industry) and it was obvious that she lied in numerous places on her resume. But lies were pretty par for the course.

    There was a lot of insane oversharing of her extremely dysfunctional home life (think drug abuse, child protective services, selling drugs, yeah you use your imagination). Many of these stories were horrifying and involved her fiancé, lets call him “Heathcliff” (remember him. He is important later).

    she also lied about people at work. She regularly would make up wild stories to try to cover that she was not working. Many of these involved sabotaging other coworkers to try to get them fired just to take the heat off her herself. A few people did end up getting fired before the dust settled and she was exposed! But alas, still management sucked and did not fired her!
    But the worst was, whether was she conveying some horrible story about how they were threatening to take away her kids or how she raged in the CEOs office the day before trying to get a boss fired, she always just acted like these things were like life prizes. Like “look at all this attention and look how drama filled and awesome I am.” She always said and did these things like she won the lottery. Not ever in a way to show that she was an awful person who needed to feel remorse!

    Eventually, she assaulted someone outside of work (actually, this was who she was texting all day as opposed to working). Came into work the next day and explained away like she won some grand prize. Nothing about her said “wow, I really lost control. I can’t believe that happened”. This person has apparently had the nerve to call her out on a damaging lie. This is when I became concerned.

    Shortly around this time she started showing up to work less and less. When she would, she would begin to nod off during conversations and even while eating! Drippling her food all down her front! And still, management did nothing.
    So I decided to leave (had to put in at least 2 years here) as this person was both professionally and personally a huge danger.

    As a long time reader, I ransacked AAM, drew up a bang ass resume and cover letter and owned the interview! I landed a job with a 30% increase in pay and half the stress! Thanks AAM!

    So now fast forward. Heathcliff (remember him?) now works were I work! I know things about this guy. I know he abuses drugs heavily. I know he has become violent. I know he lost his last job under very unsavory circumstances. I know all this as it was verified by others and not just from her. I also know this massive company goes cheap on background checks. I also know that Heathcliff took a keen interest in me from when he first started.

    Day one, he sought out my cubical in the 80 or so on this floor alone. My cubical is not posted on some directory either. He. Sought. It. Out. I did not in any way want to have any type of contact with anyone so closely related to dangerous Hurricane Karen. Plus I already had a pretty good idea that this guy was not exactly sane either.

    I responded to this with *cool* and *polite*. When he brought up his ex, I gave a general response cool and polite. He didn’t get it. He kept trying to find ways to talk to me. I kept getting cooler and cooler. Went down to one answer responses while turning to someone else and speaking warmly. Still was not getting it. The one day I was walking down to the café to get a snack. He saw me and seemed to me changed his course and began following me. I began walking even faster and really going at a clip down the steps. Next thing I knew, he was practically right on top of me behind me! We were totally alone. So I kept going even faster and went into the café. He blew right past me, through the doors and circled back. Never got a thing. I was creeped.

    It reached a pinnacle the next day when went I outside for a break. I noticed he was out there, but I was so annoyed by the day before and by his behavior in general, that I felt like I shouldn’t have to hold off my break just because he wants to be weird. So I went. Big Mistake. He tried up conversation. I went cold one answers. Turned my body away. He walked around to look in my face. Became almost frantic asking me what I did for the company. What is my job. Is it about him!!!! He got about 8 inches from my face with this frantic, angry, horrifying face. His whole body was shaking. I walked around him and walked (ran) back inside. I immediately told some people around me what happened as I could not assess for myself if it was worth taking higher. I don’t want to make waves being so new.

    Now, he has stopped talking to me. Im not sure if maybe one of the two people I talked to about it said something to him or not. From what I could understand from the loud oversharing conversations he has conveniently with the woman beside me, is that the court forced him into rehab so he could have visitation with his kids. But the staring. Omg the staring. And the finding reasons to walk past my cubical. HE will also lean over my cubical walls as he walks by to see me and see what I am doing. The other day though, he did the same following me thing he did before. This time I immediately stopped, turned around, and went back to where other people are. If I walk up like say to my desk, and he happens to be camped out at my neighbor’s desk, He will stand up and look right at me like expecting me to make eye contact! It is so creepy. I have taken time now to ensure I am never alone with him and I check behind me frequently while driving home. Does anyone have any advice on what I can do? I am afraid management may think ME crazy for all of this. AM I crazy? There is a lot of talk around the office about this guy and personal space. Maybe I should just laugh it off and continue to ignore? I don’t know! I have been in positions where sexual harassment has escalated. But, I just don’t know!

    1. babblemouth*

      You don’t mention if you have raised this with your manager and/or HR. If not, this should be your immediate first step. It also sounds like he comes to the floor oyu work on solely to look at you. Can you confirm that he doesn’t actually normally work there? If that’s the case, HR will absolutely want to know.
      He sounds like he could easily go from “pretty creepy” to “physically violent” and you are more than justified to report his behaviour.

      1. Jesca*

        He works on my same floor. But he does use the excuse of coming to the neighboring cubical to discuss his personal life with the woman there. He has actually successfully infiltrated himself into her life to the point where knowing what I do know it is concerning. I tried to discuss this with her, but he has been “so helpful”.

        See it is all so nuanced. Outside of that weird incident outside, he hasn’t done anything that would be obvious. And since his stint in rehab, he hasn’t tried to talk to me at all. But the staring still happens. The leaning over my cubical wall (we have low walls) while he walks past still happens. But all nuanced.

        1. Snark*

          No, there’s no nuance at all there. He’s still harassing you, unambigiously and flagrantly.

    2. Hey Anonny Nonny*

      You’ve got to report this behavior to HR. He is being aggressive and threatening and someone needs to speak to him. Document everything he’s done and take it to HR. If you don’t have an HR, take it to your manager. Don’t just hope this will go away.

      1. Snark*

        And record every single interaction you have with him – date, time, location, and nature of interaction.

    3. Snark*


      This guy is harassing you. He is making you feel unsafe and threatened. He knows you know all his dirty secrets and he is trying to implicitly threaten you into silence and complicity. You absolutely must take this mortally seriously because this guy is a danger to you, and he is escalating his interactions with you, and he clearly is unstable and has an unhealthy and dangerous level of interest in you, what you know, and the notional level of threat you pose to him. Go to HR, go to your boss, go to his boss, go to the cops if you must.

      And just to give you a little shake: why on Earth are you doubting yourself here? Why are you even considering, for a moment, laughing it off, or thinking you’re crazy? You know better, I know you do, so why are you talking yourself out of it?

      1. President Porpoise*

        It sounds to me like she’s having trouble shaking off the dysfunction of her previous workplace, and it’s making her question her instincts here.

        I agree with Snark (actually, I usually agree with Snark). You need to bring tis to your boss’s attention. If he thinks you’re a threat to him (and it sounds like he does), he may try to sabotage your work or reputation. He may get physically violent or continue his harassment. They need to be made aware of his behavior so they can ensure a safe working environment.

        I don’t know if you should bring up the dirty laundry you know about him, though. It might be a good idea, it might not.

        1. Jesca*

          I think you may have convinced me. I guess I have been wondering why? Why in earth is he so freaking fixated? For me, if i started a new place where i knew a coworker of my crazy ex now works, I would never ever try to go talk to them! I would not want people to know about my association. Especially knowing how much said crazy ex talks. But I see now that he sees me as a threat to him.

          I think I am struggling with the thoughts of past experiences from years ago where I won’t be taken seriously by HR. Also, he is creepy. He is creepy enough that other people have made comments that he seems like the type who will just go off the deep end one day.

          As far as outing him as to what I know about him, I would not do this. 1) I have only listed above what was verifiable as correct. His ex said some other things that may or may not be true. 2) Even with the stuff above, i think it would make me look petty. I am new and have no “rock star” standing like I did at last employer.

          1. Snark*

            “I guess I have been wondering why? Why in earth is he so freaking fixated?”

            It really doesn’t matter, though. Those are questions to ponder over a glass of something relaxing, a few months from now when this is all in the past, not questions that need to be answered before you go to HR and report that he is behaving in a harassing and threatening way towards you.

            Go now. Like, right after you read this.

          2. Snark*

            Just what he’s done to you so far, maybe with the context that he was involved with someone at your old job, would be enough to make any HR professional worth their job VERY concerned.

          3. Kately*

            You know, I wonder if he thinks you’re a plant or a spy, to see if he’s doing his job and fulfilling custody/rehab commitments? Just based on his panicked interrogation about “why are you here? What is your job??!!”

            Strongly agreeing with other people here about going to your manager – even if she is away, document it via email, and definitely loop in any coworkers. The more people you tell about this, the better. Channel your inner Alison and describe the situation clearly and in a matter-of-fact manner.

          4. Observer*

            You should ABSOLUTELY bring up the verifiable stuff and the STUFF HE SAID IN YOUR PRESENCE. This is TOTALLY NOT petty! (Yes, I’m raising my voice.)

            What you know about his is that he has been violent in the past and has behaved in such a manner that socials services had to be called in and he had to be kept away from his children! This is not petty stuff – this is TOTALLY relevant to your safety – and the safety of all of your coworkers!

          5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            First, I agree with others that it doesn’t really matter why he’s fixated on you. This is like the OP who wondered what she did to “not enforce” boundaries properly. She did nothing—the other guy was the one who was out of line. That’s the case here, too.

            That said, here’s my speculation. He sounds extremely anxious/paranoid based on your last pretty intense interaction. It sounds like he knows you know things about him from his prior life/job (which you do, and you also know Karen, who both you and he know is manipulative and a liar), he’s worried you’ll share information from his prior life that could affect his rehab or visitation. For example, if he loses his job because his bosses find out information they didn’t seek through a thorough reference check process. He also doesn’t understand your role and is bizarrely worried that someone put you there to watch him and help him fail. None of that is rational, and the very last part makes me wonder if he is still taking illicit substances or if he’s grappling with related issues that are warping his perception of reality. Or perhaps it’s what happens from long-term exposure to Hurricane Karen.

            None of that is your fault, and there’s nothing you can do to mitigate his reaction. But I think you should proceed, as Snark has recommended, with the understanding that (1) he’s not in his right mind; and (2) he’s exhibited threatening behavior that places your safety at risk. Normally I would recommend having a direct conversation with him, but I don’t think it would be safe for you to do because I don’t think he’s sane right now (I don’t say that to be pejorative; it’s just not normal for someone to become frantic and demand to know your job because they’re convinced you’re there to spy on them or otherwise ruin their life).

            I think you’re right not to out him, just because, at the moment, there’s no reason to do it. His prior drug use, etc., doesn’t really change that his current behavior is independently threatening and not ok and worth reporting to HR/your manager simply because it’s bizarre and threatening. That said, you don’t have to be a “rock star” before you’re allowed to complain about threatening behavior. You just need to be honest and no-drama about sharing that information.

          6. Louise*

            Oh gosh the why almost certainly has nothing to do with you or anything you’ve done. This guy sounds like a violent creep, and I’m sure you’re not the only woman he’s done it to. If you’re still nervous about going to HR, maybe try thinking about it as you making sure he doesn’t do this to other women – or if he does, there will at least be documentation that this is a pattern! Sometimes when I don’t feel confident standing up for myself, I think about standing up for all my amazing female friends and that a lot of the time gives me the courage to speak up.

    4. Myrin*

      Oh my goodness, NO, you are NOT crazy! That sounds horrifying and scary and I’m creeped out by this appropriately-named, staring weirdo.

      If you don’t have any tangible reason for thinking that HR/management at your current company will indeed look unfavourably at you, not him, I’d definitely say something. This needs to end as soon as possible.
      (A test for that might be: How did the people you told after the following-you incident react? Were they sympathetic? Protective? Are did they just handwave it away? If they reacted positively, you might want to try and find support among their ranks as well.)

    5. LavaLamp*

      You’re not crazy. Definitely not crazy. My first piece of advice is to get a notebook or even the notes app on your phone and record each and every weird instance. Like ‘Tuesday 8:45 am, Heathclif followed me to cafe and crowded me in empty stairwell’. Go back and write it all down every last bit.

      After you have enough documentation I’d decide weather to loop in a manager you trust or if he gets super creepy, talk to your police department about your options. they might have some additional advice I don’t know of.

      In the meantime focus on being a superstar at work so when you do loop in someone there will be more weight behind your complaint.

      1. JustaTech*

        You might even consider putting the list some place like Google Docs (or elsewhere in the cloud) so it can’t be lost like a notebook or even your phone.

    6. Lora*

      No. Do not laugh it off. Go tell your boss right now. We’ll wait. If your boss gives you static, tell HR. Do it right now, today. This is a very big deal.

      1. Snark*

        Seconded, with feeling. Go there right now. I’m honestly extremely concerned for your physical safety.

      2. Lora*

        Also tell them the whole history, because it gives context to why he is doing this creeping thing. It’s not coming out of nowhere.

      3. Jesca*

        I would go right now, but she is on vacation! Then she is out of town on business. With that said, we do not have HR on site that would help with this. This is one of those large 10000+ companies where the HR that would actually get involved lives in another state.

        Otherwise, I would definitely at this point. I do have a good report with my manager and she would be the person I would feel most comfortable going to in regards to this. This is a pretty male dominated industry, so I know from previous experience how this can go.

        1. Alli525*

          Then PLEASE go to your manager today. You do not need to suffer this in silence, and risk your safety, for one minute longer.

        2. Observer*

          Email her!

          She may or may not be looking at email when on vacation, but she WILL look at email once she’s back, even if she’s not in the office. Mark it as high priority. If you’re not in the habit of doing that that should catch her attention.

        3. Lora*

          I’m in a male dominated industry too. Go speak to your manager. Guys know what Creepy is.

        4. NoMoreMrFixit*

          Then go to whoever is above your boss. Plus email your boss so they’re in the loop on what’s happening. This is not something to delay. This guy is potentially a threat.

        5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          You have to talk to your manager right now. Try to keep your conversation focused on the creepy behavior. Explain that you worked with Heathcliff’s fiance, and that she shared personal information about him with her coworkers (including you), and then describe the experience where he got in your face. But focus on the creepy behavior, because it is independently not ok and worth sharing, even if you had no idea what his prior behavior/struggles were.

        6. Natasha*

          I got chills read in your story. He sounds genuinely frightening, and I’m sorry you have to deal with this. I think any person who heard these details would understand where you’re coming from.

    7. Naptime Enthusiast*

      I just went to a self defense class and all of the behaviors you’re describing are exactly what they recommended to watch out for in public with strangers. You’re doing the right thing by trusting your gut and walking back to where people are so you’re not alone with him. Since you know about his past (though how much of it came from lying Hurricane Karen? Be wary of how true some stories are), don’t let yourself be put into a 1-on-1 situation with him. Talk to your manager if you trust them to take your concerns seriously, and if they share them, you can say you worked with his ex and know more about his personal life than you would like to, but you don’t need to share those details because from what I can see, it’s heresay from a known liar. Ask for a security escort to your car – you don’t have to say it’s because you’re afraid of him specifically. Walk confidently, don’t make eye contact but instead look at his chest so you can see his movements.

      From what you’re describing, I don’t think you’re crazy. I think the behavior is alarming in general but you notice it more because you know him and are already wary of his presence.

      1. Jesca*

        Everything I listed about him was able to be verified by third parties. There are a whole slew of other really crazy things she said about him that I have not listed, because I cannot tell if they are true …

        I think as snark pointed out, I was definitely not considering that this was personal with him. As in, I wasn;t taking his “attention” personally. I guess I felt he was just weird and boundary crossing with everyone. He crosses boundaries with others, but no one has told me any stories of the following me around (he just did that the other day after I think he overheard my boyfriend and I just broke up) or getting wildly crazy and paranoid in their faces either.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          The difference in this new job is that you have that other connection and a lot of knowledge about his history of problems and behavioral issues due to that. So *for you* more than for these new coworkers, his boundary crossing sets off alarm bells because you already know what he’s capable of.

          Spend a bit of time getting all your ducks in a row so that you can lay it out clearly for your manager as you have for us (hell, edit what you posted here already, print it out and take it with you). Express that Heathcliff is doing A, B, and C which all make you feel unsafe and alarmed, and while other coworkers at New Company have expressed agreement that he has problems with personal boundaries, you have a tangential personal connection to him from Old Company that makes you feel even more unsafe due to information you were able to verify from third parties.

        2. Observer*

          The boundary crossing does not make anything any better in the sense of making him any safer. But, it does mean that it should be harder for management to brush it off as “we’ve never seen anything out of line here.”

    8. Part-time lurker*

      Adding to the chorus. DON’T DOUBT YOURSELF – your instincts are correct (my heart was racing just reading this!). Just based on his actions (and not accounting for the extra information you know about him) you already have a case. Go to your manager/HR and continue to document.

      Until this is resolved, ask for someone to escort you to your car (maybe the people who already know). If you have some flexibility, change up your routine as much as possible. Park in different places (but not in isolated ones), Randomize your start, leave, and break times. Keep your conversations with other co-workers general in case he’s within ear shot (don’t give out any info that would establish time and place where you will be outside of work). It sucks because you didn’t do anything to provoke this. Try viewing this as temporary protective measures.

      Also, contact an organization that deals with domestic violence. Even though this is a co-worker, they can give you advice.

      1. Snark*

        Yeah, I got fight or flighty too. Good suggestions with randomizing your parking spaces and schedule.

    9. Anna*

      Please, please, please Jesca, run, do not walk, to HR and tell them everything you’ve said here. This guy is a danger to you and others around you. Even if you don’t want to share what you know of his past, his present behavior is enough to warrant a trip to HR.

    10. Observer*

      Why would you ignore this?

      Pull whatever information you can, that is public record.

      If he follows you, make sure to go back to people and TELL someone what just happened. You want to make sure that what is going on is KNOW and in as close to real time as possible.

      When he gets too close to you, step back and turn away. If he tries to move in again, tell him loudly enough to be heard by others to back off. When he stares at you for more than 30 seconds or so, ask him coldly and LOUDLY enough for others to hear “What are you looking for?” Again – you need to make sure that no one can ask you later if you tried to deal with it and / or why you didn’t tell anyone.

      Keep a log and write down, as accurately as you can, prior dates and events.

      He’s almost certainly going to keep on being a creep. Unless he ratchets it up, give it a week or two, then go to HR or your boss and be very explicit – don’t let them slough it off. People know that he has “problems” with personal space. “That’s just the way he is” is NOT an acceptable answer in any case, but especially not when you add the stuff on record and your log of inappropriate and frankly scary behavior.

    11. The Rat-Catcher*


      Aside from the safety concerns (which are Really Legitimate and Big Concerns), it doesn’t sound like there’s any way this isn’t interfering with your ability to do your job. Physically running away from someone, making sure you are not alone with them, and checking behind you while driving home are NOT precautions you should need to take with a coworker. (Don’t get me wrong, please keep taking those precautions – just be aware that they are NOT workplace-standard unless you are in law enforcement or some other such job.)

    12. bunniferous*

      Every red flag in the universe waved at me when I read your story. You need to speak up. At this point it is less about will your workplace think you are nuts and more about your personal safety, PERIOD.

    13. Menacia*

      I’ve come here to say something that does not seem to have been suggested yet…when ever you can, try to walk with someone when you are going anywhere, especially out to your car after work. Try not to be in any kind of location where others are not. You have to be aware at all times of your surroundings and where he is in relation to them. Make as many friends as you can with your other coworkers. And like everyone else has mentioned, document every interaction with him, and make sure when the HR person is back you make a beeline to their office.

  8. Cookie!*

    What’s the oddest conversation you’ve overheard in the office?

    Two of my co-workers (who sit on the other side of a partition from me) have been engaged in a lengthy conversation about how the Cookie
    Monster doesn’t really eat that much cookies because it all turns to crumbs and fall out of his mouth. Then they started talking about how he should be called ‘crumbs monster’ …and apparently the work cookie doesn’t exist in German?

    I don’t even know how the Cookie Monster topic came up to begin with but it’s been a weird series of tangents…

    1. Loopy*

      This is totally work inappropriate but I once overheard a coworker sharing this article about how some women were injured from falling off a balcony where they were having a threesome.

      1. Liane*

        And here I thought I’d have the most “adult” one:
        The friend who told me at work (one of our first conversations, actually) that my black just-below-knees boots with 2″ heels (which had been purchased at the very store we worked at, which isn’t known for selling anything kinkier than inexpensive everyday lingerie) were “Dominatrix Boots.”
        Me: “Don’t they wear thigh-high boots with 6-7″stiletto heels?”
        Friend: Nope, They wear these boots with black stockings. I know because I am a dom.”
        Me: Uh, okay, that’s…different…

        (In my defense for continuing this topic at all:
        1–it was so unexpected I gave a straight reply instead of “WTH did you just say?”
        2–I was bored-bored-BORED!!! on a shift with few customers

        1. I should probably go anon for this*

          Doms wear whatever they darned well feel like — that’s why they’re the dom! — unless they’re at an event with a dress code.

          *Professional* dominatrices often do wear the stereotypical thigh-highs with spike heels (or knee-highs with dark stockings, or CFM pumps and fishnets) because that’s what many of their clients expect. However, they don’t always, by any means, and most have a variety of outfits for different types of clients.

          Your friend the dom sounds like he needs to get out into his local community and meet more people :-).

    2. self employed*

      They don’t go in his mouth because he is a puppet! There is nowhere for them to go!

      Dying laughing. :)

        1. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

          And my other favorite, if Donald Duck doesn’t wear pants, why does he put a towel on the lower half of his body when he gets out of the shower?

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          My favorite is, “If Goofy is a dog, why does he have another dog as a pet?” The last time I had that conversation we got into the moral philosophy of a dog-based universe and whether Pluto was in bondage/slavery to Goofy.

          (The Cookie Monster convo totally made me smile, though.)

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      At my first job out of grad school, the VP and the director (who actually hated each other) once had a lengthy and detailed conversation about bikini waxes. Their own bikini waxes. Loudly. It was… special.

    4. AwkwardKaterpillar*

      This is 100% the kind of conversation have with people.

      I had a conversation once with a coworker about how empty coffee pots were really just filled with ghost coffee – because the carafe was just the vessel for the coffee.

    5. MicroManagered*

      False. The word “cookie” does exist in German; the word is Plätzchen. Cookie Monster is called Krümelmonster in German, which does literally mean “Crumb Monster” but I’d bed a dozen cookies that it has more to do with sounding more like Cookie Monster and because Plätzchenmonster just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

        1. Alli525*

          But hanging out in bed with a dozen cookies sounds so much more fun than risking those cookies on a bet! ;)

      1. Myrin*

        I’d never say a Plätzchen is a cookie! I mean, very technically it’s the umbrella term for all kinds of small sweet biscuits (something I as a German didn’t know until I googled it just now to find out whether there are regions that call all such biscuits “Plätzchen”), but Plätzchen are very specifically the sweet treats you bake before Christmas. “Keks” is the general neutral term but I’d say that “cookie” evokes a certain image of a round biscuit with chocolate chips which is not the case for “Keks”, which is a pretty broad term.

        (I don’t know if you are from Germany but if so, we must be from completely opposite regions – I’ve literally never in my life heard anyone use “Plätzchen” for anything but the Christmas “cookies”.)

    6. volunteer coordinator in NoVA*

      I once was listening to coworkers ranking the murder weapons in Clue to which would actually be good and which were unrealistic. At first, I was worried they may be trying to kill someone but then when they started talking about what a conservatory was, I realized it was about clue!

      1. the work fairy*

        My coworkers and I once had a lengthy conversation about what would happen if an axe murderer were to barge in the office… who would he go to first, who has the safest desk, what is the best escape route. All of it with someone pretending to be an axe murderer and waving a big ruler around. we had a fun office.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I freaking do this all the time. Where would I go, how would I defend myself if I couldn’t escape, etc. I’m the person who stands in line at the post office thinking about what I’d do if the zombie apocalypse suddenly started. I also never sit with my back to the door in a restaurant. HATE that. I will literally make people move so I can face the entrance.

          Yeah, slightly paranoid. But when the zombies arrive, I want to be able to see them coming.

          1. volunteer coordinator in NoVA*

            Oddly enough zombie apocalypses come up a lot at my job. We were talking about this at lunch one day and the question I always have is whats the goal of surviving the zombie apocalypse? Is there a thought that there is somewhere where it’s zombie free and you’re trying to get to that? Because with how the world works and how easily stuff can travel so quickly, I would think anything would spread pretty easily I’d rather go the route of the old couple on the titanic.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              At a previous job, one of my coworkers inexplicably found a random length of 2×4 hidden between the side of his cubicle and the wall (he had recently moved to that cube after the person who used to work there changed jobs). We speculated about it for a while, then he put it back, and we continued to reference the “emergency zombie outbreak defense mechanism” for months. :)

          2. Jo*

            When I worked in a conflict zone, attacks on NGO offices did periodically happen in our city. Figuring out an escape plan was pretty standard anytime you went anywhere, so my office-mates and I used to try to work out escape routes from our office in case of an attack.

            However, that eventually led to a running joke about how we were the expendable ones because our office was on the ground floor right next to the (non-secure) front door. Thus, no escape would be possible for us. Fortunately, nothing happened (at our particular office) while I was there.

    7. Grits McGee*

      Our interns started a contest at their going-away brunch to see who had the worst make out story.

    8. Paige Turner*

      The Crumb Monster, that is amazing!
      I overheard the guy in the cube across from me call several different Dunkin’ Donuts, because he had placed a large order for pickup but had forgotten which location. The conversation was like, “Hello, do you have an order for one hundred munchkins?…What?…No, munchkins…No?” Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

      Also, the person at the cube on the other side from me was a Chatty Cathy and I overheard many stories about her guinea pigs, who were all named after famous figures in Irish history. 0_O

    9. Foreign Octopus*

      One of my co-workers made an off hand comment about how I never wore heels (uncomfortable and I’m tall enough without them). Being delightfully naive and new to the workplace, I then launched into a long spiel about how I liked to dress just in case a zombie apocalypse happened and how I didn’t want to be caught up in it wearing heels. All of this was said with perfect sincerity on my part and greatly amused my co-workers.

      1. Artemesia*

        Actually everyone should always have a comfortable pair or shoes they could walk 20 miles in at their workplace; a lot of women on 9/11 wish they didn’t have to walk miles in heels.

    10. Fabulous*

      Once at an old job, a coworker was raving up and down the cubicle aisle about how she thought she used sour milk in her cereal that morning. Literally off her rockers ranting that she’s going to get sick and how could she not have seen the date. I made a quiet comment to my neighbor about it (nothing about her, just that I always smell my milk before using it to ensure its freshness) and then this lady nearly attacked me! She cornered me at my desk and would. not. relent. A manager finally had to come and drag her away. Oddly, this was the only crazy behavior I’d ever experienced from her, so I guess that’s a good thing!

      On a separate note, at another job I overheard someone in a department talking about a coworker named Mantequilla. For those of you who do not speak Spanish – it means BUTTER. I had a good laugh about that one!

    11. kbeers0su*

      I work on a university campus, and there is a whole crew of student employees who work here, as well. So…all sorts of odd conversations. My favorite was the day they had a long argument about whether buckeyes (chocolate covered peanut butter balls) were cookies or candy. It was a true debate, including internet searches, recipe reviews, and votes at the end. It lasted about half the work day.

      1. Buffy*

        Haha, I read your description and KNEW it had to be Ohio State. Then I saw your username. :) Fellow Big-Ten-er here!

      2. oldbiddy*

        I also work with students. They used to have these type of conversations at lunch. We spent several days on the condiments vs sauces argument.
        It’s not just students, though. Chemistry Twitter has a semi-ongoing debate on what is and isn’t a sandwich.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Obviously candy. C’mon, they’re OSU students—how do they not know this? (I mean, to be fair, buckeyes are nuts, but I get that they’re referring to a different kind of buckeye.)

    12. esra (also a Canadian)*

      We have a months long debate going on about what constitutes a sandwich.

      It started with “What constitutes bread?” with factions quickly rising that it specifically needs to be a leavened bake, breaking all the way down to the bread anarchists who argue that basically everything is bread. So what’s a sandwich? Is a hotdog a sandwich? Is an open-faced sandwich a sandwich? A pita? A pop-tart?

      The rabbit-hole goes deep.

      1. Pwyll*

        Is this a thing now? The “hotdogs are not sandwiches” discussion is raging hard at my workplace.

        1. JeanB in NC*

          I’m sure you mean verbally slapped around but now I’m picturing people leaning across the table to slap him around. (Burritos are not sandwiches!)

          1. Snark*

            Oh, no, he got one smartly upside the head from me. Snorked his beer in a most satisfying way.

          2. Pwyll*

            It’s even better if you picture them being slapped around WITH a burrito for special emphasis.

        2. Karo*

          It’s been proven by a court of law that it’s not a sandwich. In Massachusetts, Panera had a contract that they would be the only sandwich company in their shopping center. The shopping center added a Qdoba, and Panera fought its opening in court, where the judge decided that a burrito is not a sandwich.

      2. The Rat-Catcher*

        Somewhere I saw a chart about your D&D alignment corresponding with what you believe constitutes a sandwich, wherein the Law/Chaos axis represented the structure of the sandwich and the Good/Evil axis represented ingredients (I think).

      3. Alter_ego*

        We just had an hours long debate about this in my group chat with my friends. The wrongest friend says that anything with carbs on two sides is a sandwich, and anything with carbs on three sides, is a taco. Which makes hot dogs tacos.

    13. MissMaple*

      Yesterday one of the supervisors was telling the interns some story about meeting Avril Lavigne. They were confused, so he decided to sing “Sk8er Boi” so they’d know who he meant. Then the interns were like, oh that came out when we were in first grade. So yeah, both super weird and making us all feel old :)

        1. ThatGirl*

          About 10 years ago, I was 26 and working at a Target Starbucks between “real” jobs. I was having a conversation with a teen who worked there and mentioned Dan Quayle. She had no idea who I meant. I said “he was vice president from 88-92” and she’s like “oh I was born in 1991” ….

          1. The Rat-Catcher*

            I’m one year older than she is and definitely knew who Dan Quayle was even ten years ago…LOL

      1. Mine Own Telemachus*

        My intern and I today were sharing stories about gas prices. I mentioned that I was living in Chicago in 2012 and saw prices above 4.50/gallon.

        He replied that he wasn’t even driving then.

        1. Drew*

          Gas prices near my house when I got my license were 79 cents/gallon for regular unleaded. Granted, that was REALLY low because two convenience stores got into a price war, but even the “expensive” places had it for around 1.15-1.20 back then.

      2. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

        I made a reference to Ally McBeal the other day and a 23 year old account rep in the room with my was totally confused.

    14. LQ*

      I JUST overheard someone say “I don’t have an agenda sir.”
      (It was clearly about a secret agenda not like an actual agenda for a meeting.)

      I once heard my boss, after calmly explaining why something wasn’t happening about 6 times to one of my coworkers, say “Well I’m sitting in this chair and you aren’t.”

      But I suspect that I am the person who people often overhear. I have a naturally loud voice which I work hard to bring down and spend a lot of time softly speaking, but it’s still loud, people have definitely over heard me say some wacky things!

    15. Nancy Drew*

      My supervisor has told EVERYONE in the office how one of her 4-year old twins “frequently wets herself”, and how she went to the doctor and discovered that she has a “urethra issue that affects her stream.” Literally, if I hear her say the word urethra one more time…

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        One of the groups I support is made up of late 20-something guys. I once heard them in a lengthy conversation about who would win if a Great White Shark and a Gorilla got in a fight. (I’m not lying)

        1. Snark*

          Oh, men are so gloriously dumb sometimes. Bless us, every one.

          Also it would totally be the shark. Seriously.

            1. Jadelyn*

              idk, man, if the shark can thrash around enough to get its teeth into the gorilla, I’d give pretty good odds to the shark even on land.

            2. Synonymous*

              Dear Netflix, Please make Sharknado: Jungle Edition to determine who would win this battle. I will also accept MegaShark versus King Kong. Amen.

          1. SQL Coder Cat*

            Well, are we on land, or in the water? It makes a difference…

            I’m not a guy, but I’m in IT. The ability to hold my own in these types of conversations are essential.

        2. Snargulfuss*

          I know the consensus is for the shark, but my vote is for the gorilla. Those silverbacks are fierce!

          Also, not a work conversation, but while traveling in Turkey some friends started a similar conversation about the Hagia Sophia vs the Blue Mosque. We decided the Hagia Sophia has strength but the Blue Mosque has agility. Weird conversation, which is probably why I remember it.

    16. Pwyll*

      The strangest had to have been a disembodied voice at the far end of the office saying gibberish words for about 2 weeks. It was starting to drive everyone insane, and no one could figure out where it was coming from. Then we had a visitor come through and ask why someone was saying random words in a foreign language (it was an African language I had never heard of before, and our office was not in an area where we had a lot of immigrants from that area). Finally we discovered that our building used to be all one big office, and that someone in the office upstairs thought this random button on the wall was a light switch, when in fact is was the relic of an intercom system that wasn’t fully disabled, and she had been practicing a language for her planned safari and inadvertently broadcasting it to the building.

    17. Michelle*

      Two child-free by choice coworkers discussing baby names for other people. As in, “Lucinda should name her baby Mabel, because that’s a neat, older name or August if she’s born this month. Oh, and if Jane gets pregnant, she should totally name her child Jackson for a boy or Bella for a girl”. These ladies go on at length anytime that children or pregnancy is mentioned that they do not under any circumstances want children , but they think they should suggest name to coworkers who have not asked for their input.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      At Exjob, people in my row would talk about Duck Dynasty all the time. *Herk* That or football. Or their children’s sports. I had my headphones on a lot.

      One time, I went down to the other building to talk to someone in IT, on the ground floor (something like being in the basement). When I started speaking to the person I had gone to see, all these man heads poked out of the row of cubes like, “OMG, a girl!” There was so much Star Wars stuff everywhere I thought I had walked into a convention. It was BEAUTIFUL. When I saw it, I thought damn, I’m sitting with the wrong group.

      1. Liane*

        I want to work someplace where everyone is discussing Star Wars. Are there any other fields besides IT and Disney where that is possible?
        Oh, wait, I already do that, at Game Co’s blog/

        1. Jessica*

          No you don’t. There’s all kinds of Star Wars nomenclature floating around my company and I am SO sick of it. I’ve been seeing server nodes and organizational groups named after Star Wars for 20 flippin’ years! Can we please pick a different sci-fi universe already?! Why not name something after “2001: A Space Odyssey” or Dragonriders of Pern or literally anything else? Star Wars is so played out. So, so played.

          And no Tolkien either!!! One of the tools I use, created by the damn product teams named after Star Wars characters, is f-ing named Gandalf. ENOUGH. Tolkien, Star Wars, and Harry Potter are now off limits until 2030. There’s a ton of great sci-fi and fantasy to choose from. Put that copy of Game of Thrones down.

          1. SQL Coder Cat*

            We recently developed a policy for assigning server names. Because we had servers named Khan, KHAN, and KHAAAAN.

          2. Drew*

            No one lets me name anything because it will be all Babylon 5, all the time, except for the five computers named Spike, Faye., Jet, Ed, and Ein.

            Tangent: I was playing “Geek Out” with some other geeks and the question “Name four Star Trek characters” came up. We ended up deciding it was a forfeit after the bids went “four, ten, twenty-five, one hundred” – and the person who bid 100 probably could do it, but was likely to be outbid. That was a fun game.

    19. Chicago Recruiter*

      Conversation that escalated into a heated argument about whether or not hot dogs are sandwiches.

      1. Mrs. Boo*

        Just last week, I heard one lady say to another, “You really should check your vagina every week.” I almost fell out of my chair.

    20. kittymommy*

      This sounds like a conversation I would have. In fact I think in probably involved in some of the weirdest conversations at my work (I may have even started them).

    21. kittymommy*

      Personally, I probably would have mentioned it, especially after she referenced it, but I do think it’s ridiculous to base a decision on it. If she’s that particular (I’m trying to be kind) I think you got lucky not getting the job.

    22. Sole*

      Working at a domestic violence agency, there’s a ton of opportunity for training seminars/workshops for issues we see. My non-work friends were seriously weirded out when I answered a simple ‘So what’s new with you?’ with a hearty, ‘I’m excited for the strangulation conference next week!’…(facepalm). Everyone at work was saying the same thing, it didn’t even register as a bit off.

      I definitely pass everything through a ‘is this a normal topic of conversation?’ filter before I talk about work now.

    23. Menacia*

      Two women arguing over who had the worse childhood…they are both one-uppers but this went too far (can’t go into details).

    24. CrazyEngineerGirl*

      I once walked in on a group conversation, complete with visual aids, about the bone bear’s have in their penis. Like, a guy waving around a bone “Do you know what this is??? It’s a bear’s penis! Hahaha!” There was a lot of talk about different sizes, how to get them out, regret at having left a penis bone behind…

    25. Clever Name*

      I once participated in a conversation with the other biologists in my office about which was more dangerous to encounter in the wild: bears or cougars. This was only a slightly hypothetical conversation, as I live in Colorado.

    26. Chaordic One*

      I know I’ve told this story once before, but it still sticks in my mind and won’t go away. I once had to share office space with the most annoying, obnoxious, loud and extraverted woman I ever met. She had a marketing/sales job and was one of those people who felt that she had to form a personal relationship with everyone else she worked with and that meant sharing just about every detail of her life with everyone she knew.

      Although we had cubicles, she had injured her back by falling off of a mountainside while attempting a hike, and for this reason she used a standing desk. When she was on the phone it was like she was hollering into it and she stood above the cubicle and everyone in the office could hear everything she said.

      The worst story she told a prospective client was about her complicated 24-hour delivery with detailed descriptions of contractions, blood, multiple epidurals, and I don’t know what all. This was followed by her telling the person on the phone that her baby was incredibly ugly and had hair on his back and she didn’t want to touch it.

      Her story ended with her saying, “The last thing I remember was that my uterus fell out and the doctor said, ‘Oh, sh*t!’ Then I passed out.”

      I do wonder to this day if she made the sale.

      1. This Daydreamer*

        I, just, wow. Pretty sure I would have NOPED right out of ever dealing with her again if I had been that potential client.

    27. New Bee*

      Yesterday my coworker announced her husband’s vasectomy, out of nowhere. Not really a conversation, because I just stared blankly, but then she offered to show a picture of his hospital room, complete with surgical tools.

    28. Anxa*

      That’s so funny. German and Dutch are pretty similar languages, and I thought “cookie” was a word taken from the Dutch word koekj. Thank you middle-school social studies fair for that useless piece of knowledge.

  9. babblemouth*

    How do you keep going when the project you’re on hits a snag and you’re the eprson driving it?
    I recently have been given the chance to take the lead on a Really Cool Project. it’s something that hasn’t been done before, and there isn’t really a template for it. I’m reporting directly to the leadership for this.
    My problem is that I’m used to be able to talk thinks over with a project lead or my manager when something I work onhits a snag. The leadership team here is made of very busy people that are doing me a big favour by putting me in charge. I have monthly check-ins to explain where I’m at, but I’m not really able to use them as sounding boards.
    This has led me into small spirals of omg-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing. How do you motivate yourself to get out of these when talking it over with someone else isn’t an option?

    1. Jesca*

      Sometimes, talking it over with someone is the only option. I would evaluate the “snag” and figure out a couple different courses of action to solve it. Then, if you can’t get a sounding board at work, google and see if anyone *Out There* has been in similar situations. But in all honesty, no one should ever be given a project without at least a team or a member of management to guide them through a snag. It is very counter-productive as no one can see everything!

    2. LabTech*

      I might not be the best person to give advice on how to stay motivated, but as far as that omg-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing (which I’m pretty sure is my job title at this point), when no one else is able to be a sounding board, I try to read everything I can possibly find on the topic, and (in my case, being in a lab) I’ll try out a little experimentation to figure out which way works best on a practical level. I’ll also look up relevant internal documentation/training materials in the nooks and crannies of my company’s network, browse well-stocked libraries, academic articles, and official regulatory websites, which have all helped bridge the knowledge gap for me. By virtue of reading up on it and being the head of that particular project, you become the de facto subject matter expert, even if you feel like there’s a lot you still need to figure out.

      Not sure how applicable all of this will be to you. In your line of work the information may come from different sources – if such sources exist at all. Finding them will be the hard part.

    3. periwinkle*

      Just because it hasn’t been done before in that form or combination doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done before! This is the time when you work your network, both internal and external. Break the project down into chunks (concepts, tasks, deliverables, whatever makes sense). Maybe the company hasn’t done ABC before but your buddy Wakeen in Finance has done something similar to a tricky part of the C component – or maybe he knows someone else who has. Maybe Jane hasn’t worked on any of this but she’s a great critical thinker.

      I’ve developed a sounding board network in the organization. None of them do what I do but they’re smart, they can see those similarities to stuff they do know, offer a different perspective on the situation, and can often connect me to someone in their own network who might know someone who knows someone. And hey, just describing the problem out loud in simpler, non-jargon words can get my brain in a different gear for problem solving.

    4. Sibley*

      This is probably odd, but I talk out loud to my cats. There’s times I just need to work things out in my head, so even if I have a person I’m talking AT them, not TO them. But the rules-in-my-head don’t let me talk to thin air. So cue the cats.

      The cats generally just ignore me.

      1. periwinkle*

        I do this all the time. When I was earning my MS online, I discovered that the best way to learn was to pretend to lecture on the topic using my own words and analogies. The cats were a great audience. Well, they didn’t get up and leave. Well, not too often.

      2. babblemouth*

        You mean my cats have a use beyond the primary source of dust in my house?
        Genius, I’ll try it! Thanks!

      3. Ramona Flowers*

        It’s like rubber duck debugging. (Google if you don’t know what this is. It’s safe for work I hasten to add.)

    5. Hazelthyme*

      Ooh, babblemouth, have I been there! It’s actually a pretty regular occurrence in
      line of work, so I’m used to it by now, but it’s still stressful, and the first time it happened, I was a complete wreck. My usual approach is something like this:
      1. Get over the idea that you don’t know what you’re doing … by embracing it. You DON’T know what you’re doing, because no one does, because this is a brand new project. That’s expected. Someone who’d just done 5 other projects might know a little more than you, but probably not much — the main thing they’d have an edge in is how to regroup and come up with a Plan B (and C, and D, and E, and … ) when Plan A doesn’t work. I’m convinced after several years that a big part of successful project execution is just being extremely resilient and stubborn.
      2. If there’s something fairly low-risk (=doesn’t cost a lot of time or money, and has little no chance of making your company/boss look bad or breaking something expensive) you can try, go for it! Even if it doesn’t work, you may learn something or come up with a new idea/approach in the process. My favorite saying in this situation is “Well, we’ve found one more thing that won’t work!”
      3. Phone (or email, or walk over and visit) a friend. If you know someone who might be able to shed light on the problem you’re facing, talk to them! It might be a colleague at your current company, someone you’ve worked with in the past, or a friend or acquaintance from your non-work life who might have insights to share. Again, they may not get you all of the way there but they might help you get started, or ask a question you hadn’t thought of.
      4. Go online. You can try just Googling the issue but if there’s a professional journal or association for your field, or other specialized resources, check out their websites and see what you can find. If no one else has ever attempted a project like yours, think about other projects that might be similar, e.g., if you can’t find anyone else working on heat-resistant teapot spout glaze, look at coffee pots and soup tureens.
      5. Set it aside for a few hours or overnight, and see if anything new comes to you when you pick it up again. You’ve got to use this one with caution (letting it sit overnight != abandoning it for weeks or months) but it really can help.
      6. Document, document, document. Write down everything you’ve tried and what happened/how and where it broke down. I personally find that while I do most of my documentation on my computer, I sometimes have better luck working through the specifics of a given problem and what I need to do to solve it on an old-school yellow legal pad. YMMV.
      7. If you’ve tried all of the above and are still stuck, call or email one of your managers and see if they can point you in the right direction. You’re not asking them to solve the problem, but to provide guidance or connect you with additional resources you might not have found on your own. If they’re as busy and high-level as you say, keep it short and to the point, but let them know what you’ve already tried so they’ll know you’re not just running to them at the first sign of trouble. For example, “Hi VIP, I wonder if you could provide some guidance on the teapot spout project. I can’t seem to get the glaze to stop melting at boiling temps. I’ve tried tempering it with floo powder, and I’ve reached out to Fergus at GlazyDayz and checked the Teapot Guild archives, but I’m still coming up blank. Can you think of something else I’m missing, or someone else who might be able to help?”
      8. Remember, this is your first project, not your last. Your managers know you’re new at this, and they probably don’t expect you to nail it perfectly without a single hiccup on your first try. Know your scope (what you are and aren’t supposed to accomplish), make every effort to meet your deadlines and stay within budget (and let the powers that be know promptly if it looks like you won’t be able to), and trust that everything you try on this project, even if it doesn’t work, will leave you with more skills and knowledge for the next one.

    6. Emilitron*

      I can really relate to this – getting put in charge of things I’m very uncertain about seems to be part of my reward for previous competence. I’m excited about it in theory, but kind of panicky in practice. The one thing I’ve got going for me is that I inherited this project from my coworker when he became my manager; i.e. my manager knows what’s going on. So it’s been several months of transition in which I get slowly more functional and he gets slowly too busy to respond to my emails.
      When I hit a snag and am feeling overwhelmed, I’ve had good luck with writing a fake email to this manager, explaining exactly what the problem is and what our options are for fixing it. By the time I’ve weeded out the info that’s not relevant, and focused on exactly what the impact/outcomes are, and written down a few options (and crossed a few out because they stop making sense as I try to explain them), I can pretty much answer the question. And then I start feeling like I know what I’m doing again.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Weird things I have done to dig myself out:

      1) In your mind’s eye go back to the point where the project felt under control. Get a good clear picture of this in your head. Very slowly inch forward to current time. “Okay at stage 3, everything was good. Then we went to stage 3.5, I started to feel uncomfortable. Okay, good. Why did I start to feel uncomfortable what was going on at stage 3.5? Not sure, but it got worse at stage 4.” Okay go waaay back to stage 3 and work forward again. Keep reviewing the particulars question everything.

      2) I am not sure if you lead a project which has people working on it. If yes, ask your people. Half the time the people who are actually doing the work have already figured out a solution. Familiarity or immersion will do this to a person, they are seemingly able to pull rabbits out of hats. No rabbits in reality, they just know their jobs very well.

      2) Look at your path of travel in your process. I would set the tasks up to do A, then B and then C to finish it.
      This is a straight path.

      But sometimes I would be missing components for A. Whoops, problem. Cannot move forward. Sometimes you can prep A and even move on to prep B and C. Sometimes you can go ahead and do A, B and C and figure out that you actually don’t need that component or you can use something from somewhere else. Sometimes you can do one example and test the process and test the end result.
      These are work-around paths.

      Sometimes nothing works so you go to the boss only to find out, “Right. You cannot begin the task because you do not have necessary thing for part A. You have to wait.”
      [Gee, Boss, you could have told me that a week ago.] Give your dilemma the reasonability test- is it reasonable to be expecting to proceed in spite of Hurdle.

      3) Really watch your self-talk. Tell yourself, “there are solutions here and I am going to find them.” Drop off the negative thoughts as often as possible. This really helps.

    8. only acting normal*

      Talk to a peer you trust as a sounding board. I’ve been both the sound and the board in this scenario – sometimes just articulating the question out loud helps you organise your thoughts, sometimes they can give you actual ideas or guidance.

      If I’m in a mega-death-spiral-of-doom I stop and make a to do list, or go update the project plan with progress so far, or do that little annoying thing I’ve been putting off (usually a phone call for me), or do some boring but useful admin (book that meeting room and double check the distribution list for the meeting). Then when I’m calm again I can carry on with a clearer head.

    9. KAG*

      When I was in that situation, I would write it out by hand (basically journaling for nerds). First: clearly define what isn’t working? Then, for each issue: What have I already tried? Why didn’t that work, and what did I learn from that? By the time I got through that point, I usually had a list of specific new things to try to solve that issue.

      And it was important for me to do it away from the computer; away from the environment, where a different part of my brain would kick in (for me, usually my patio with a notebook and a glass of wine).

      And thank you for reminding of that, because I’m in a similar situation again and need to take my own advice!

  10. Astrid*

    Some comments in that controversial letter (manager who froze out employee) regarding attitudes to education were quite disheartening.

    While I definitely don’t think having more advanced degrees is sufficient proof of intelligence or ability, there’s an almost-hostile attitude here that seems to over-compensate in the opposite direction.

    No, not everyone needs an advanced degree (or a degree at all) to be successful in their field, but that doesn’t mean all such achievements are worthless. Yes diploma mills exist (and even with legit institutions, some postgrad certifications are pretty useless), but it’s so dismissive and condescending to group everyone into that category.

    In many cases, they /are/ the results or hard work and ability, sometimes they’re done with scholarships, or part-time while the person in question is working as a means of moving up the ladder.

    There’s an overwhelming feeling here hat in order not to offend people who work in areas such as manual labour (and I emphasise I agree, I /know/ someone qualified as an electrician is likely to earn more than someone with a PhD, and cleaners etc. are indispensable in keeping things running), people are all too willing to scoff and put down people who dare to pursue further education.

    That, surely, isn’t right either?

    1. Jesca*

      I think sometimes people take things too personally. Having a degree is more for the personal benefit of the person receiving the degree and therefore is held to a higher regard by the said person than it is generally by outsiders. As in, yes you worked really hard to get your degree and what a great achievement that was! But at the same time, most people will only look at that as being a part of the broader you. Writing in and saying (bragging) about your degree would be like someone else coming on here and bragging that one time they saved a company a half mil during a project. It is a great personal achievement but it says nothing about who you are and what you can contribute in the long run. That is the point people are making. A lot of people believe that because they got a higher degree, that makes them better than. They don’t understand that it is just one of many personal achievements that add up to make you a good employee. They aren’t bad, by all means. But they don’t make the person special either. I think that is the *harsh* point people are trying to make.

    2. Christy*

      I mean, I’m a person with a master degree and I found the degree pretty worthless. I think in general those in academia overvalue degrees and more education and this blog/commentariat pushing back against that isn’t a problem.

      And I don’t think it’s scoffing at the people choosing to get degrees, I think at most it’s scoffing at people who overvalue degrees.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Well put. I am getting a master’s degree in my field. Fortunately I work at a university so it is paid for as part of my benefits! I don’t find the program to be that useful or challenging, but it’s basically a requirement to move up in my functional area. While I’m working here, I definitely want to take advantage of the opportunity.

        When I graduate, I’ll end up putting “Lemon Zinger, M.Ed” in my email signatures– not because I am proud of it or trying to brag, but because it’ll help the way people perceive me. EVERYONE at my institution lists their advanced degrees. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

      2. Observer*

        And I don’t think it’s scoffing at the people choosing to get degrees, I think at most it’s scoffing at people who overvalue degrees.

        Very much this. Especially in the context of that letter.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. People who overvalue anything are going to probably get called on it here on this forum. Having a degree is a part of life not the sum total of life, just like many other things are a part of life but not the whole of life.

        I will say, that an important thing is valued here. And that is getting a job and keeping that job. Alison’s advice supports people with that process and the commenters do the same in turn. If OP in that letter wants to keep a job she is going to need to let go of some of that high value she places on a degree. Bragging or feelings of superiority are not going to fly well in most workplaces.

      4. Episkey*

        Me too, however, with the caveat that the field that I got my masters in requires it for licensure, so if I had stayed in my field, it would have been necessary. I just didn’t because I realized I didn’t like it in grad school. I don’t regret getting it exactly, but sometimes I do feel it was a waste of time & money and I should have pursued a different area.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I didn’t read those comments with the same hostility that you did. I worked hard for my graduate degree, as did many of my friends and family and colleagues. Those achievements mean something, for sure. But they don’t mean everything. I felt like the gist of the comments were trying to get that particular OP to recognize that education alone does not trump years upon years of experience, nor give someone with an advanced degree the right to dismiss someone else’s “practical education.”

    4. fposte*

      I don’t think there’s an overwhelming feeling here, if by “here” you mean AAM. I think there were a few commenters who responded to somebody prejudiced in one direction with a heightened reaction in the other. Lots of us are in higher education and/or have graduate degrees–but that’s also why we have some perspective on what that doesn’t confer as well as what that does.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yes, I think people have unique experiences that influence their opinions on the topic. Either someone without a degree has been mocked/humiliated or someone with a degree has been accused of gloating. When I didn’t have a degree, I was constantly mocked by co-workers at an old job. When I started to get my degree online, my friends with advanced degrees gloated that my degree didn’t mean anything because it was online. That stuff hurts, but I know that it comes down to individuals dealing with their own insecurities. If it wasn’t a degree, it would be about what city I lived in, or what outfit I was wearing. Haters gonna hate.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes, this. A small number of people made comments that the thread was “anti-intellectual,” but I don’t think that’s the proper tone of the comments. I think it was a reaction specifically to the OP’s comments, which were offensive on their face but also because OP suggested that people who do not pursue advanced degrees are not hardworking, smart, or dedicated.

        So I don’t think the theme was “formal education is useless!” I think the theme was, “Formal education—including higher higher ed—is not the sole measure of a person’s intelligence, dedication, or capacity to learn/advance.”

    5. paul*

      I didn’t read that as scoffing at higher education; I read that as scoffing at someone that thought their MBA outweighed real world experience and tangible results that that coworker was getting.

    6. FD*

      I think what you’re seeing is a reaction, mostly.

      In every class and group of people, obviously, there are people who do their best, people who do enough, and people who do a poor job.

      It’s not easy to get a PhD. It’s not easy to be a welder, or to start your own business either. Generally, our specialist society needs many people doing many types of jobs.

      The problem, however, is that in the past, going to university was, bluntly, a status symbol. Poor and middle class people went to vocational school or to apprenticeships. University was primarily for the wealthy.

      As more specialist fields emerged, we started to need more people to go through higher education. However, university education became seen as the way to get into a well paying job—even though that wasn’t entirely true in all cases. Over time, a lot of Americans have started to look down on anyone who didn’t have at least a bachelor’s degree, not least because it’s often a class marker. While a large share of middle class people go through a four year college, many fewer lower-class people go through it.

      The flip side is that the generation working now often got burdened with an excessive amount of student debt (partly because the high demand means that prices can be ridiculously high). This seems to be leading to a knee-jerk backlash against the entire system. After all, if you were told “You have to go to college to get a well paying job,” only to come out with tens of thousands of dollars in debt while people who went through welding programs are making twice or three times what you can, it sort of sours you a bit on it. In addition, seeing people who look down their noses at anyone with less of an education than they have tends to annoy people as well.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I agree. It is a reaction to what has changed in US higher education in the last 50 years or so.

        A college degree used to be less common now it’s practically a requirement for all white collar jobs. And not because the degree taught any particular skills because those jobs that require a degree, any degree, are just using it to weed out people. The people being weeded out are not just the ones that weren’t smart enough for college (if you were using a degree to measure intellectual/academic ability). but ones who may have aptitude but couldn’t afford college so its a class thing. Also I’m not in academia, but it also seems like college is getting less academically rigorous as more and more middle-class 18 year old go because it’s the thing you do after high school to get a good job.

        With the growth in online masters degree programs, masters degrees are being watered down too. I’ll be honest, my masters degree was weak and I did not pick it because I thought it would be easy. It didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know or couldn’t have taught myself by reading up on it. But it did cost me money and require I put in the hours to do the work. I was lucky to have a job that allowed me to do school work during work hours and put up with me occasionally being so exhausted I practically fell asleep at my desk. There’s a lot of privilege there.

        I’m not saying you didn’t personally work hard, but there’s a lot more people with bachelor’s and master’s degrees that graduated through easy, watered-down programs and they lower the value of a generic degree.

        And let’s the honest, that LW’s attitude that “we were smart and got graduate degrees that make us better than” the rock star with experience was terrible and gives people who flaunt their degrees a bad name. That attitude deserves to be shut down hard.

        1. CrazyEngineerGirl*

          I agree with you about the watered-down effect, and also feel like some of this could be pretty dependent on industry as well though. It may not be across the board, but at least in the STEM fields I’ve been in, people definitely look at not only the degree(s) you have but where you got them. Per the point everyone seemed to be trying to make, neither of those things says anything definitive about someone as a person or how intelligent, capable, or competent they are. But they do say what kind of training you’ve had. They indicate the kind of information you’ve been exposed to and learned, they indicate the types and amount of equipment, procedures, processes and technical experience you should have, they indicate the training you have in your field. In many fields it remains a reality that, at least in hiring for a highly technical position, someone with an advanced degree from an online or small and never heard of program is likely to be judged poorly in comparison to someone with an advanced degree from a well known and rigorous program where they worked under well known and well respected faculty. Is this something that is likely to or even can change? I don’t know. Because while someone that wants to can train to be a welder pretty easily (the welders make bank at my company, by the way) there’s not much chance of someone independently learning and training in transmission electron microscopy…

    7. neverjaunty*

      I can’t say I’ve ever noticed that as an overall sentiment here (and yes, I do have a professional degree). That letter really was an outlier because the LW seemed to think having an MBA makes one Very Special, and people were reacting to that.

      1. Sled Dog Mama*

        This was the sense I got from the comments. That the LW somehow thought her possession of an advanced degree and employee’s lack of one somehow made her a better person than employee. LW actually said:

        I also thought that her years of experience were irrelevant; she didn’t have anything beyond a bachelor’s degree (most of us were smart and dedicated enough to get a masters) and her experience was in a different subset of insurance.

        (emphasis mine) implying that employee’s lack of a masters meant that she wasn’t smart or dedicated.

        1. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

          That’s exactly how I read that piece of the exchange. What should be the indicator of whether I am smart, dedicated, or qualified for a position? The B.S. in education that I earned in the 90s? My professional certification in administrative support and organizational management (which is about to lapse because I’m no longer than admin)? The experience I have in a specialized industry because I’ve paid attention and learned from the different departments I’ve worked in for the seventeen years I’ve been with my current organization?

      2. Jessica*

        It was especially rich to hear “My MBA makes me special” from someone whose management practices were so abysmally, absurdly bad that they fired her and her entire team. Thank God she went to business school, instead of becoming a doctor or an engineer. And what the hell business school was this, anyway, Dilbert University? Or was it a good school and they’re wondering right now if they can retroactively revoke her credentials for obviously not having heard a word?

    8. Jake*

      I’ve got a Bachelor’s, but I work with 95% blue collar folks, just to give some background.

      I agree with your assessment. Sometimes it does feel like in an effort to avoid the whole, “educated people are better than everybody else” line of logic that the pendulum shifts too far in the other direction to the point where people forget that education is actually beneficial in many situations.

      1. Jake*

        I’d like to make a slight clarification. I agree that there can be some of that sentiment, but I wouldn’t call it overwhelming.

    9. Mimmy*

      and even with legit institutions, some postgrad certifications are pretty useless

      *sheepishly raises hand* I can attest to this. It’s only been a little over a year, so hopefully I’m wrong.

    10. Alastair*

      I don’t get an anti intellectual or education vibe from here. I mean, it was hard for me to hear that my GPA and litany of accomplishments in college no longer matter … but that’s the truth.

      By keeping that stuff on my resume 7 years later I looked out of touch.

      1. only acting normal*

        This exactly.
        It was hard for me to hear that no-one cared about by straight A’s record or my Masters when I was 5 years into a job using that degree. But I accepted they were right – I work with some people I *really* respect who I was surprised to find had pretty poor degrees from low-ranking universities, their work record extending into their 30s and beyond is worth far more than what they did for 3 years around the age of 20.
        Didn’t stop me doing a part time Open University BA over the last 10 years and counting! I still get a little ego boost from getting an A, but I accept that is all for my own pleasure, it’s not likely to advance my career in any way. And it’s certainly not for some kind of degree top trumps.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The value of the education lessens over time. Ten years out, employers what to know what have you done with your degree and your career for the last ten years. They can stop caring about a degree from ten years ago.

    11. Triangle Pose*

      Yeah, I see what you’re seeing here in the commentariat as well. Just take it with a grain of salt like you would anything else. I don’t think anyone here is actually scoffing or putting people down for pursuing further education though.

      Sure, there are bright and smart and dedicated folks who don’t have a degree or an advanced degree. I don’t think any reasonable person with those degrees would disagree with that statement. And sure, a lot of good jobs can be had without an advanced degree or a degree at all. But that is the exception, not the rule. And people conflate those things.

      Where I am now, this advance degree absolutely matters, the name prestige of the school you got it from absolutely matters. These things don’t take the place of sound judgment or get-it-done-ness qualities, but they are definitely the minimum hurdle for getting to this level, this salary and this role. But this isn’t for everyone and not everyone is looking to be at this level in a F50 company, and I get that.

      Just say to yourself “this doesn’t necessarily apply to me or everyone.”

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I loooooved being in grad school, and the degree has definitely served as a credential for me in getting opportunities, so on that level, sure it matters. But did the stuff I learned in my master’s program outweigh what I would have learned being in the work force for those two years? Unclear.

        1. Triangle Pose*

          Agree! I just think that’s a different conversation. I actually think the things I LEARNED in or out of class during school were totally not valuable compared to learning on the job. Problem is, the system is set up so that I CANNOT get the job without the shiny degree. I think we can talk about how the system shouldn’t be that way. But I can’t change the hiring systems and I think we are generally all on here for practical advice. I think sometimes the commentariant gets a bit stuck on how things should be when it comes to “get the degree-get the job” trajectory. I hear all the time on here from Alison and other hiring managers how they value experience over degrees and how prestgious schools don’t take the place of valuable experience. However, in my experience, the pretigious degree is the thing you need to hand in hand to get that experience. And I don’t hear that here (and that’s fine, YMMV).

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Yeah, that’s interesting, but I imagine it’s a fairly small subset of jobs that require certain degrees from certain schools up front (McKinsey, Specter Pearson or whatever the firm on Suits is called currently…).

            1. CrazyEngineerGirl*

              I think there are whole industries where you have to have the degree, and the better the school you got it from the better the job you’ll get. Sure, down the road the experience you have will far outweigh the degree. But the degree (and perceived quality of said degree) are still what got you the job that got you the experience that got you to the point where the degree no longer matters.

              And to your first point, I wonder how having the advanced degree changes how/what you learn in the work force. I don’t know the answer to this. I’m not sure how much you can know the answer to this, you know? I have my degrees and the concrete information I learned and the abstract critical thinking/problem solving skills learned from them. It stands to reason that what I’ve learned/experienced in the work force is colored by all of that because it’s all a part of who I am. It’s the basis for what I know and how I think. It’s really hard to determine what the effects have been.

    12. ArtK*

      My response to that issue wasn’t hostility to the degree, but to someone using their degrees to claim that they were somehow better than someone with a “lesser” degree. I certainly wouldn’t scoff at someone pursuing a higher degree. I’d be horribly hypocritical if I did, since I’m working on a master’s 35 years after my BS. But my new degree is simply for me. Mostly for my own satisfaction, but a little bit as a signal for a career change.

      In my (long) career, I’ve found no correlation between academic achievement and success in the workplace. One of the best managers I ever had, only had a HS diploma. He was both technically and managerially competent. I’ve worked with people with advanced degrees who could barely tie their own shoes (in a work context.)

      1. Jessica*

        I have personally run into at least one person who, having only finished HS and then dropped out of community college after a semester or so, conspicuously lacked the ability to not only discern credible information or sources, but lacked the ability to understand why someone is wrong or right based on the credibility of that information. They had a tendency to believe whatever they read on the Internet, *and* you couldn’t convince them it was wrong because they simply didn’t understand that the credibility of sources matters. And say what you will about the value of higher education, those things are taught in college and they are vital to an intellectual understanding of the world.

        You don’t *have* to go to college to learn that, but boy, when you run into someone who hasn’t absorbed that skill, it is plainly obvious. There are an awful lot of people who’ve spent the last 17 years believing that facts are flexible and that they can’t really be wrong, and they are terrifyingly ignorant AND incapable of even understanding why.

        1. CrazyEngineerGirl*

          Speaking of terrifyingly ignorant and incapable of even understanding why… We once hired a new employee where one of their main job functions was to enter stock into the inventory system. She literally just had to take information off of lists and enter if items were added to or removed from inventory. On MULTIPLE occasions, I had to explain to her that if she entered a number and it caused the stock quantity to go negative, something was wrong and she needed to go do a manual count. She absolutely, positively, for-the-life-of-me COULD NOT UNDERSTAND why the inventory couldn’t go negative. No matter how many times or ways I explained it (I even tried to show her with the physical items) she could not grasp why there cou