my coworker keeps asking everyone for loans

A reader writes:

Since last holiday season when my office hired Cersei, she has quietly hit up almost everyone in our small office for various short-term personal loans. I personally have always been firm and apologetic with her when saying no for myself. Saying no was easy because it seemed really inappropriate, and because of the amounts she would ask for ranged so widely, sometimes with 2+ requests in one day, such as $10 for gas (less weird, maybe, but still weird) to hundreds for a vet bill (ok, getting weirder) to a thousand and change for a car repair (which shocked me so much I laughed out loud).

My colleague Sansa, who fell for one of her sob stories, lent her the $1,000+ amount and waited through months of flimsy promises before it was repaid. After that, when she realized that Cersei was comfortable asking for money again and again, Sansa came to me to tell me her experience and ask what I would suggest. That’s when I realized that my interactions with Cersei were not isolated. I told Sansa to say “sorry, I can’t lend anything, but why not ask the payroll office if they could perform an advance on your pay?” – and then stop talking, walk away, change the subject… Sansa tried that, but the pressure has continued. Sansa also started asking colleagues if they were having any issues with Cersei (not advisable, right? tricky) and the stories started to come out. With the exception of one very junior staffer, Cersei has hit up everyone, with different sob stories for each person, sometimes even on the same day.

So my question for you is – is this a personal boundaries issue that each person should just deal with individually, or is this a work-related problem that I should now bring to Cersei’s manager? Cersei does not handle money or any company assets, so that’s not a variable, but sheesh, how do we get this to stop?

Yeah, tell her manager. A good manager (and even many mediocre managers) would want to know that an employee was regularly pressuring coworkers for personal loans. It’s disruptive to the workplace, it’s making people uncomfortable, and it’s an inappropriate use of her professional relationships. Plus it has the potential to cause major problems in your office. For example, if someone loans Cersei a large amount of money and it’s not repaid, it’s pretty likely to impact that working relationship and bring drama into the office.

When you talk to Cersei’s manager, make sure to explain that this is happening over and over to multiple people, and that she keeps asking even after people say no. Say that some of the requests have been in the four-figures range. Those details make this worse than your manager might otherwise be envisioning.

At the same time, though, ideally people would be dealing with this themselves as well, by telling Cersei “I cannot loan you money; please don’t ask me again.” Realistically, though, lots of people are really, really reluctant to be that firm with a pushy coworker. (Which is weird! Cersei is violating boundaries all over the place, so people shouldn’t feel rude about telling her to cut it out. But at least some of them will, because this is how people are.) But because of that, her manager really does need to intervene and tell Cersei she needs to stop.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 546 comments… read them below }

  1. Heather*

    I read “firm and apologetic” as “firm and apoplectic”, which actually doesn’t seem too far off from what my actual reaction would be here ;)

      1. LSP*

        I think that’s reading too much into this. Some people are just terrible at managing their own money and think that it’s okay to borrow from other people, even at work.

        1. Caro in the UK*

          Yeah, I know way too many people who are horribly bad with money to immediately ascribe malice to this. But the differing stories that she seems to be telling coworkers is pause for thought.

          1. LSP*

            I figured the different stories were for different costs that she had no way to pay for because she is mismanaging her money. Without more information, we can’r know if she is asking for the same amount from different people on the same day for different reasons.

        2. michelenyc*

          I readily admit that I am terrible at managing money. Never would it even occur to me to ask a co-worker for a large loan. That is beyond out of line.

        3. Super Anon for This*

          Between the differing stories, the 4 figure sums, and asking multiple people for money on the same day, I would be very suspicious.

        4. Health Insurance Nerd*

          I agree. My husband has a cousin who does this, and the requests for money and the reasons she needs it are constant. Money for gas, money for car repairs, money to keep her electricity from being turned off, money so her house isn’t foreclosed on (it was), money so her car isn’t repossessed (it was). Sometimes the requests are legitimate, and sometimes she’s just looking for a handout- one instance in particular that stands out is when she asked a family member for money to help offset the costs of her fathers funeral, only she didn’t contribute a single cent to his services.

          We don’t talk to her anymore, and if she happens to be invited to a family event we all hide our valuables.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            Oof to the funeral. That’s horrible.

            This also strikes me as the ‘boy who cried wolf’ scenario. Some of the money lending could have been done (house/car) if she hadn’t cried wolf before.

            1. Jesca*

              I am estranged from all of my father’s family for this. They too, even after years of estrangement, asked for money to pay for my grandmother’s funeral. I did because I did love my grandmother, but I did it knowing that none of her children paid a dime! My uncle is a multi-millionaire and I had to help pay so his mother could have a grave side service!

              1. the gold digger*

                Whoa. And I thought my husband’s brother was bad. He wanted to be reimbursed for his expenses for attending their dad’s funeral. He had used frequent flyer miles for his ticket (which he could have bought for under $300 – I checked) but wanted Primo to give him $875 as his ticket cost.

                (Primo said no way. The brother screamed at him. Ha. After a lifetime with his alcoholic parents, Primo is immune to screams and threats.)

                1. Jesca*

                  I have a very uncommon last name (like as in if someone else has my last name, the likelihood that we had the same great grandparents is very high), so my brother and sister and I have a phrase as far as a our last name was concerned. You never trust a [insert my last name here], because having to be around these people growing up, you really learned early that people are freaking absolutely insane, selfish, and rude. They are bandits! It is the only term you can really use! I just look at it as entertainment, because some of it is really morbidly humorous, like a black comedy!

                  I’m sorry your husband had to deal with this during his time of grief!

                2. Cheap Siblings*

                  I thought my sibling was the only person who would request reimbursement for attending our dad’s funeral. I wasn’t shocked, though since that was the norm for my sibling.

        5. many bells down*

          My father’s widow is exactly like this. My dad had terminal cancer and couldn’t work, and she *wouldn’t* work, so she hit up every one of their friends and fellow churchgoers for “loans”. As far as I know she’s still doing it.

          Some of it was probably for gas and vet bills. Some of it was probably for shopping binges. She’s a hoarder.

          1. saffytaffy*

            Well, for what it’s worth, if she’s a hoarder you can take some “satisfaction” in knowing that she’s likely a very unhappy person and uncomfortable most of the time. I don’t mean that snidely. You obviously have cause to resent this person.

      2. Anonymoose*

        I feel terrible but my first thought was ‘closet druggie’. I guess I’ve never been desperate enough to ask coworkers to help tide me over, so my only plausible explanation was over the top. I totally admit that says way more about me than her. Poor lady.

    1. caryatis*

      Gambling addiction? Or she could just be really, really bad at managing money. Either way, there’s no excuse for repeatedly begging for money.

      1. littlemoose*

        Gambling or substance addiction is my guess. :( Some kind of compulsion makes more sense to me as far as the changing stories and the continued willingness to ask coworkers for money despite both the general impropriety and the prior denied requests.

        1. Alienor*

          I hope it’s not that, because for a lot of addicts, the next step after asking for loans is stealing money/items to sell, which would be a serious issue in the office. But it could be just very poor money management.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            There can be a lot of overlap between poor money management and addiction though.

            I buy stupid shit I don’t need all the time, which means I have some credit card debt rolling that I would be better off paying down, but whatever. If I didn’t make sure to pay all my bills/rent before buying 10 new mascaras (I’m barely joking: I have a problem), I could see a situation where I didn’t have money for necessary surprise expenses (vet bill, car repair) or ongoing expense I hadn’t set aside cash for (gas) before blowing my “disposable income” from that paycheck.

            I mostly learned how to budget from a manager at one of my first jobs. He had a gambling problem and no concept of budgeting. He tried to frame me for shorting the register when he ran out of money but needed to go to the casino. There but for the grace of god and all that nonsense, so I earmark my income for specific purposes (including too much goddamn mascara).

            Tl;dr: That are a lot of compulsive spending behaviors that don’t rise to the level of addiction that can still be extremely detrimental if you don’t know how to manage money.

        2. Optimistic Prime*

          It doesn’t have to be either. This brings my mom to mind, who doesn’t have any addictions but is just seriously, pathologically bad at managing money – almost comically so. Like, she’ll come into a large sum of money for [insert reason here] and instead of paying off outstanding debt or taking care of necessities, she’ll…get landscaping or redecorate or something. (Actual examples.) She definitely hits up everyone close to her for money, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she asked coworkers too.

      1. Mephyle*

        The reason isn’t irrelevant. Knowing the reason doesn’t mean that “if it’s Y reason instead of X then they should give her a break.”
        Rather, it could matter because knowing why she’s doing it can point to what to watch out for. For example, as noted above, certain causes make it more likely that it could escalate from begging and mooching to stealing.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Given that she was able to pay Sansa back, guessing she just finds life easier when you spend other people’s money.

      1. NCKat*

        That’s not very kind. Yes, it needs to stop. But it might be a question of immediacy. She might be able to pay people back when she gets paid or if she gets money from someone else; that is, “rob Peter to pay Paul.”

        1. Soon to be former fed*

          That’s what payday loans are for. Did Cersei pay Sansa interest?

          I’m personal loan averse, and don’t ask friends or family for money. I help my DD out, but that’s a one way street. People work hard for their money and need it themselves. I just don’t get how anyone can hit up everybody in an office for cash! It is disruptive and management should shut it down to help those who are too nice to do it themselves.

          The nerve of some people!

          1. NCKat*

            I don’t dispute the no-loan part, I just think that saying she enjoys spending other people’s money is a bit unkind.

            Personally, I would have no problem saying, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t.”

          2. Magenta Sky*

            For people who are perpetually short of cash, payday loans are not the answer. With interest rates than can run 30% per *month*, they inevitably make it far, far worse. People who borrow a few hundred can end up paying tens of thousands, and *never* clear the debt.

            Financial counseling is a better choice, but only if she’s willing to admit she needs it.

            1. NCKat*

              Yes this. I used to know someone who was on disability for a chronic illness that robbed him of the ability to work. He had to borrow money when he was short, and he got trapped in the payday loan cycle. Did he enjoy spending the borrowed money to pay for his food? No, he didn’t. But those payday loans created a vicious cycle until he was finally able to break free of them. It took him years, though, because the interest rates were crippling.

              This is why I say to be kind – you never know what the other person is going through unless they tell you.

              1. Anonymoose*

                This is one of the reasons why I forced myself to keep working despite my (incredibly painful and frustrating) illness. My security – and ego – couldn’t take the hit of not being able to ‘take care’ of myself. Although, I’m still totally sick because I’ve never focused on my health. My point is that I really feel for your friend. It’s scary to give up security in any capacity but especially when you’re without choice. I hope his health has improved.

              2. Mallory Janis Ian*

                My grandma was on a fixed income and got into the habit of taking items to the pawn shop when she wanted or needed some extra cash. She would unpawn and repawn the same items every single month and didn’t understand that she was losing money on the deal. I started giving her $40/month to try to help her have a little extra pocket money, but she never would stop pawning those items. Finally one of her sons (my uncle) started managing her money for her, and I just sent the $40 to him and told him to give it to her as spending money when she ran low at the end of the month.

                1. Just Jess*

                  That sounds like my childhood. I remember telling my middle school friends about my mom’s pawning process and they were in complete disbelief that someone would buy back their own items from a pawn shop.

              3. Green*

                I agree with the advice of generally being kind, but that’s a two-way street. Pressuring people to offer you a lone, particularly at work and particularly after they have previously declined or you have yet to pay them back and particularly in an environment that can make them feel even more uncomfortable saying no, is also unkind, and not least because you have no idea of the financial situation of the people who you are asking is.

              4. Bea*

                We can make excuses and compare each case all day long but badgering your entire workplace for cash is a move that should get you fired. No matter how hard of times a person is on, you don’t do that, end of story, end of dripping sympathy “just in case” they’re having a hard time like your buddy.

                This is a horrible cycle of manipulation that we’re talking about here.

            2. JB (not in Houston)*

              Yep, the annual interest rate is often something like 400%. Once you start down that path, it’s so so difficult to get out.

              Some people are commenting that it’s probably drugs or gambling, and it could well be. But if you get in a deep enough hole, it takes a whole lot of money to get out again. It’s very possible this coworker is just in financial hole she can’t get out of because it would take way more money than she could get from her coworkers to get her on solid ground again. Of course, it doesn’t really matter what the reason is, so we don’t really need to be speculating about it.

              1. Green*

                It kind of does matter, though, what the reason is, *because she asks for it for specific reasons.*

                I’d be highly likely to loan/give $10 for lunch or gas to a colleague who had forgotten their wallet that day or had no cash (we don’t have an on-site ATM). I’d also be more likely to loan someone at work money for a medical reason (or for veterinary assistance) than general debt retirement or a gambling or drug addiction. So if the reasons she isasking for money are not truthful, the problem (which has already gotten out of hand) is exacerbated because she’s potentially defrauding people in addition to having a general boundary problem and creating an unpleasant work environment.

                1. Late Late Lurker*

                  I’ve seen bad money management paired with shopping and gambling addictions firsthand. Someone could spend $500 at the casino on Saturday and need $400 for a vet bill or car repair on Monday. There isn’t a clean separation between lending someone money for a medical (or insert “valid”) reason and lending someone money to support an addiction.

                  This is why a lot of people have a blanket “no personal loans” rule since you’ve got to be deep in someone’s financial business to figure out where that money is actually going and why they really need it.

            3. Optimistic Prime*

              Yes. I come from a working-class community so I know lots of people who have used or regularly use payday loans. They make everything worse.

              1. Managing to get by*

                I lent a co-worker almost $1,000 once. It was someone I’d known a while, it was very difficult for her to ask me for help, it was for a good reason (to pay an attorney to help her sort out debt issues caused by her dread beat ex), I paid the bill directly to the attorney, and I was okay not getting the money back. She paid me back every penny on the exact day she told me she would.

                We’ve never mentioned it again and as far as I know she hadn’t borrowed from anyone else before or after. I think my surprise that she would actually ask for help was a factor in my willingness to help.

            4. Jaydee*

              Exactly. There are financial penalties for being poor. Late on your rent because you didn’t have the money? There’s a late fee for that. Couldn’t pay the water bill on time? There’s a late fee for that. Took out a payday loan because you couldn’t make ends meet until payday? There’s a 30% interest rate on that.

      2. attie*

        With the apparent amount of requests, she might be running some pyramidesque scheme where she borrowed the money to repay this loan from someone else…

        1. Decima Dewey*

          Yeah, I imagine Cersei is hitting up Fergus for money, and using part of that to pay back Lucinda, and then hitting up Muriel to make up for what she had to give to Lucinda.

    3. BadPlanning*

      I am with you on the curiosity. If she’s generally bad with money and did some PayDay type loans, those are basically money vacuums of doom.

    4. Observer*

      Does it make a difference? I can’t imagine any scenario where it changes how wildly inappropriate she’s being.

    5. Middle Name Jane*

      It’s possible she’s having legitimate issues keeping up with her bills, but my cynical mind immediately went to alcohol, drugs, or gambling. I agree the manager needs to be told. She can’t be allowed to harass her coworkers for money.

      1. MashaKasha*

        My mind went in the same direction.

        But, considering the update in the comments below (she got promoted and her husband got hired by the same company), that’s probably unlikely. I really have no idea at this point what’s going on. And honestly I don’t need to know. But now she’s hitting people up for money from a position of power, and that’s even worse than the way things were before, regardless of what her reasons are.

  2. Snark*

    Isn’t it weird how people feel LESS latitude to be firm the more outrageous and ludicrous the other person’s behavior is? It’s like, the other person sucks so much air out of the room with their looney tunes that everyone just suffocates. The correct response to this is “No. Don’t ever ask me for a loan again, what the hell is wrong with you?” but everyone is just wringing their hands over “God, would it be rude to refuse my serially dishonest, boundary-crossing coworker a loan?”

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      “God, would it be rude to refuse my serially dishonest, boundary-crossing coworker a loan?”
      This is so true.

    2. Murphy*

      I’m thinking that at first people gave her the benefit of the doubt that she might really have been having difficulties. They may not have known that she was asking everybody and so that these loans were probably not for what she says they are. But armed with that information? That’s definitely a hard pass on loaning money.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, this.

        I mean, I have no trouble saying no, but if people don’t realize she’s asking *everyone*, they might feel like it’s because she’s particularly comfortable with them, and not want to say anything for fear of starting office gossip and embarrassing her.

      2. madge*

        Yes, and at this point I would have no problem emailing her after the next ask and saying, “I can not and will not lend any money to you. Today is the seventh time you have asked. Do not ask again. The answer will always be no.”

        What’s she going to do? Stop talking to me? Forward the email to management? Both of those are wins.

        1. Observer*

          Well, no she could start creating drama or become difficult to work with. That’s a major reason why her manager needs to be looped in at this point.

      3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Yes! A situation where keeping quiet allows it to continue. I’m not going to go to a coworker, even one I’m friendly with and start a conversation with, “Cer asked me for money for her car.” Oh. Just like Dust Bunny explains.

    3. Rat Racer*

      Right? That is SO true! And I wonder how much this varies by national culture. Some countries are much more conflict averse than the United States; but I wonder if there others where people would be more comfortable saying “Ha! no!” and be done with it.

      1. Snark*

        Yes. Israel. That’s no dig at Israelis, but their cultural standard for interpersonal communication is “anything short of writing your response on a 2×4 and clobbering the person with it goes.” The response in this situation would be colorful.

          1. Snark*

            Nope, my spouse was born there and split her childhood between Tel Aviv and New Mexico. We go back once or twice a year.

        1. Manders*

          Hah, yes. My Israeli relatives are shameless about asking for favors, but don’t mind being turned down.

          I think regional differences play a part too. I got a lot of practice saying “no” when I moved to a big urban center; it’s just not financially possible to give money to every single person who asks you when you’re walking down the street. Most of the panhandlers are polite, but the canvassers can be aggressive and are often trained to try to talk you out of a “no.”

          1. Jesca*

            OMG Yes! My ex was an Orthodox Jew who spent a lot of time in Israel. He had no problem asking for anything and had no problem with being turned down. Sometimes when we traveled to other countries, I seriously was afraid at times that he was going to get punched for asking for the most ridiculous things. Because in some cultures, you just don’t ask certain things and he was really dense (that was a personal failing haha).

            1. Snark*

              Back when we were dating, my now-spouse just kind of glanced over at me one day and was like, “So are we getting married sometime or what?”

              Me: “Huhbuhwah?”

              Her: “Are we getting married sometime? Not right now, but like….sometime? You think that’s gonna happen?”

              Me: “Uh…yeah? I think so?”

              Her: “Cool.” *goes back to reading book*

              1. Emma the Strange*

                TBF, my parents aren’t Jewish, and this is more or less how they decided get married (although there apparently was a handshake outside of a pizza pizza parlor involved).

          2. Lissa*

            I think I’d do well in Israel! I like the idea of knowing that when someone says “yes” to a favor they aren’t secretly resenting you for it…

        2. Specialk9*

          I mean, an actual 2×4 shouldn’t be eliminated from the realm of possible with Israelis! :D

          (Said with great affection.) But yeah, this behavior would be called out in a heartbeat, and harangued for years, and it would become a group screaming match.

          I once saw a lady in Israel who legit missed the bus, because she wasn’t there in time – she chased it down the street, waved it down like a maniac and got it to open its doors at a non-stop (!!), got on and started screaming at the bus driver – who screamed back. It went on for like 15 minutes. And she wasn’t crazy or homeless, she was just Israeli. They all act like crazy homeless people act back in the States, except when they’re being warm and kind and loving. It’s really confusing.

      2. Martha, My Dear*

        I know someone whose colleague, who he’d only been working with for two months, asked him for a $3,000 loan. My friend lied to the co-worker that his wife had put her foot down and vetoed the loan, rather than just saying no himself because it was all so awkward.

        1. Jesca*

          Yeah, some people it is cultural, but the broader context of western culture, my motto has always been be weary of people you just met asking you for money. They are generally nefarious in their boundary crossing. LOL!

        2. Artemesia*

          Life is so much easier if you have personal policies: ‘Oh, I never lend my car’, ‘I make it a practice to never lend money’, ‘Thanks for the invitation but I never attend sales parties.’ Be firm the first time and you don’t get asked again usually and if you do, you say the same thing.

          I’d have no problem lending 10 bucks for lunch once and if it were paid back, perhaps again. But I am frankly astonished that anyone would lend a work colleague $1000.

          1. Martha, My Dear*

            I think he just thought it sounded better to be all “Oh, I totally know you’re good for it and can be trusted to pay me back, and if it was just my decision…” rather than turn him down flat, especially after been given the hard sell about how he’d have the money back in two weeks.

          2. Specialk9*

            It’s hugely awkward. Lots of people have literally never said “no” by itself in their lives. I certainly haven’t. And I’m actually really good at verbalizing and communicating. But refusing someone being inappropriate, to their face? Uck.

        3. AJ*

          Way to throw the wife under the bus! I would have been pissed that my spouse was too much of a coward to the “no” word – NO.

          1. minuteye*

            It’s possible the wife was okay playing the ‘bad guy’ role. My spouse definitely has permission to use me as an excuse if it’ll help an awkward situation (mostly when they were still learning how to say ‘no’ to people, a tricky skill to learn for a lifelong people-pleaser).

            1. Anonimouse*

              Yup, and since the spouse probably doesn’t really have a relationship to worry about with the asking co-worker (they might never even meet), there might not be any harm done.

              It’s all in the execution and what has been agreed between the spouses, of course.

        1. Indoor Cat*

          I know what this means, but the term “guess culture” always makes me cringe. It ostensibly defines my culture, to an extent, but growing up I always perceived it as “offer culture.”

          For example, say someone’s car broke down and is in the shop, and they say to their friends and family, “Ugh, I’m so frustrated. My car broke down and is in the shop, and I don’t know how I’ll pay for it or get to work tomorrow!” Notice, there’s no question / request there.

          This way, the friends and family can each offer what is comfortable to them. “Do you want to borrow my extra car?” “Can I help you pay for an uber?” “I can pay for the repair if you help me with [x]” “I know how to repair that! I’ll do it this weekend if you like.”

          So, nobody is stuck having to say “no” to something they can’t afford, AND the person who needs help (ideally) has more options, even ones they might not have thought of in the first place.

          “Guess culture” makes it sound like we’re all playing mind games with each other, but we’re really not. People in my culture are very generous, actually. It’s frustrating because there is a stereotype that we are stingy/ungenerous, and that is just not true. It’s just that a direct request automatically carries a sense of urgency. No one wants to say no to an emergency situation. But if a person from an ask culture asks too many times, my family will say (basically) that they’re entitled / helpless, or a boy who cried wolf, etc.

          Also, things like, “can you pass the potatoes?” nobody says. The potatoes go around the table, and if you want a second helping, it’s okay to just reach over and take them. It’s not rude, whereas it’s at least a little eyebrow-raising to ask someone to pass you the food, and sometimes someone will say something snarky akin to, “What, am I your servant?” It’s a joke, but I’ve had American friends get embarrassed, and then it’s weird to explain why the joke is not offensive, which is awkward.

    4. neverjaunty*

      That’s how grifting works. Most people (especially women) don’t learn social niceties as nuanced rules with exceptions.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I feel like that’s a bit unfair and borderline sexist – it’s not that we “don’t learn social niceties as nuanced rules”, it’s that we know we face more social censure than men will for putting a toe out of line socially. It’s like the “women don’t negotiate their pay” as an explanation for pay gaps – that’s true, kind of, but research has borne out that women who do negotiate pay are judged more negatively than men who negotiate pay, and so the fact that many women don’t negotiate pay is based on their knowing they face potential repercussions for doing so, not because women just don’t like negotiating or don’t know how to negotiate or whatever.

        In similar vein, a woman who does something that people around her perceive as antisocial will face strong repercussions, and so most women develop an entirely well-founded aversion to saying “no” – because we know that many people will view our “no” not as appropriate boundary-setting, but as us failing to uphold our responsibility in the social order for managing and smoothing over situations to prevent unpleasantness.

        TL;DR Women have a harder time saying no than men do – because women are punished for saying no in ways men aren’t. It’s not ignorance or misunderstanding of social nuance. It’s trying to play by a really unfair set of social rules as best we can.

        1. fposte*

          I think there’s some post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy there, though, and a lot of this is about how we deal with risk in both gendered and ungendered ways. (And I’ll add my usual note that even though some studies have indicated women are perceived more negatively for negotiating, they still do better than if they don’t negotiate–the value of negotiating for a career apparently outstrips the negative perception.)

          1. Optimistic Prime*

            Mmm, I don’t think so. I think most women are acutely aware of the social expectation that they will go along to get along, and that’s a big influence on why they don’t negotiate. The research supports that too – when asked why, women often cite wanting to avoid backlash. And even if you attribute it to how we deal with risk in gendered ways, that’s still women being socialized to minimize the risk of social opprobrium at the cost of their own salaries.

            Also, the research on whether women “do better” after negotiating is actually pretty mixed. Several experiments have shown that the interviewers are less willing to work with the women, and view them more negatively, after they try to negotiate. Some research has shown that managers assign them fewer projects and assign them to lower-value projects afterwards. So yes, they perhaps are “successful” in the short term of earning more money, but in the long-term of being able to work with the team – and being in a position to get better projects and be positioned well for future raises and promotions – maybe not so much.

            1. Stardust*

              Alison has strongly cautioned against this view in the past, though, and I think she’s right to do so. I mean, it’s good and important to be aware of societal differences like this but I see it presented in a truly fearmongering way super often which then leaves women terribly afraid to even start negotiating when in reality, they’d probably be fine. Not necessarily, of course, but literally no woman in my social circle I’ve ever talked with about this (myself included) felt like there were negative repercussions for their attempts at negotiation and most of them were successful.

        2. Happy Lurker*

          I love that the people who post here can put into words so eloquently what I feel but cannot adequately express. Thank you Jadelyn (and Snark too!)

        3. Artemesia*

          Good point. The pay negotiation is a prime example. Women are punished for behavior that is expected of men; I know of personal cases where this happened to women who negotiated.

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think it’s because most people assume that if someone is asking you for something insane, it’s because they really need it (but perhaps this is a class-background-informed assumption?). The internal monologue ends up becoming “why on earth would someone ask for something so personal and so big in the workplace unless they were truly hard up?” And sometimes people are honorable and truly are hard up, and so for folks who have a predisposition to want to help “their community,” it’s really easy for someone with good intentions who is not cynical/street-smart to be taken in by someone who is cunning or willing to take advantage of others.

      In this context, it sounds like folks didn’t know Cersei was serially dishonest until after they lent her money, so I’m not surprised Sansa fell for this more than once. I’m on the Board for an organization that has an employee like Cersei and who has done this for over 30 years, and it has had a tremendous negative impact on morale and work relationships. She has all sorts of elaborate, Robin-Hood-esque explanations for why her behavior is ok, and she’s been spoken to repeatedly (but still does it, but is dishonest and sneaky about how she tries to do it now). We finally hired a legitimate HR Officer, and we’re finally in the process of transitioning our Cersei-esque employee out of the organization.

      1. Snark*

        “I think it’s because most people assume that if someone is asking you for something insane, it’s because they really need it (but perhaps this is a class-background-informed assumption?)”

        That’s an interesting take.

        1. Jesca*

          This is not untrue. Many people really do believe people’s ridiculous sob stories upon first meeting them and don’t see the possibility of it all being a scam until after they have been screwed over.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I know it sounds kind of incredible, but this has been my experience with folks who are suckered through grifting or more often, through white-collar crime (Ponzi schemes in particular). I’ve seen people from across the SES and social spectrum buy into these scams because they know they would not ask for something unless they needed it, so they assume the same is true of the person asking for something outlandish. Of course this isn’t the case for everyone, but you don’t need to con everyone—you just need to con a handful of people (and usually you can pull it off with those people more than once).

          I used to also wonder how people could be so naive. Having now worked with victims of these kinds of fraud, I’ve really changed my assumptions/beliefs about how people can fall for this stuff.

        3. Tuxedo Cat*

          That was my thought, that people found it to be such a bizarre request that they would want to fulfill it. I also find that some people are able to get away with more if others perceive them as being innocent. I’ve seen some truly horrific behaviors excused in my personal and professional life because of someone being seen as too innocent.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I know for a fact she’s chased people away. I’ve been on the board for a relatively short time, but I would estimate she’s “run off” about 5 employees (at a 25-person office) over the past 7 years. More frequently people avoid that specific office because organization-wide she’s known as being toxic and predatory. She’s so bad that we almost lost an excellent hire in a completely different office because of her.

          The organization isn’t spineless, but she’s the Exec. Director’s EA, and he hates firing people. He feels personally responsible for her “poverty” (she is extremely well-paid and makes way beyond the living wage for where she lives, and she is the worst assistant I have ever met in my entire life). So he wasn’t really willing to fire her, and the Board is not going to override the Exec. Director on whether he should fire his assistant absent fraud or a similar level of malfeasance. If she were my assistant, I wouldn’t have hired her, and I certainly would have fired her by now.

          Having a competent HR Director has been a tremendous benefit on so many levels. I cannot even begin to describe how much I appreciate that there’s someone coaching the Exec. Director through the kinds of questions he needs to consider, and who has uncomfortable conversations with people and then follows up with progressive discipline (when appropriate).

          1. Hills to Die on*

            I would love to know what those conversations are like. How do you get someone to change when they have done it for so long that they’ve ‘paved the cow path’?

          2. Not So NewReader*

            ” and the Board is not going to override the Exec. Director on whether he should fire his assistant absent fraud or a similar level of malfeasance”

            Oh god. Looks like it might be time to amend the bylaws? “In cases where the director refuses to fire an employee who is destructive to the organization the board may chose to step in an fire the employee and optionally discipline the director.”

            If he can’t fire he should not be a director.

      2. hbc*

        That, and we really don’t have preparations for the more outrageous kinds of questions. Lots of people would be stunned into non-responsiveness by, “Hey, can you name your baby after me?,” even though the answer should be the same as when responding to “Can you name your [dog/ficus/character in your screenplay] after me?”

        And the more the person treats it like a normal request, the more doubtful you (okay, I) feel. Someone who lacks confidence facing that kind of self-assuredness is bound to question whether this is a normal thing in this situation or office or industry.

        1. Emma*

          I think this is it. It’s the being stunned that someone would ask this, and not having a good stock answer presaved in my head.

          1. Artemesia*

            Hence the usefulness of having personal policies, so the phrase ‘Oh, I never lend money’ immediately issues forth when you are asked.

            1. Julia*

              “Oh, I never name my babies after co-workers.”
              How often does a policy like that come up, I wonder? :D

          2. Katie Sewell*

            My panic-answer is “No” and some people’s panic answer is “Yes”. But it’s way easier to call someone back and say, “On second thought, I think I could” than to get out of a commitment later, so I can totally see people lending small amounts even though they don’t really want to.
            I also say “No thanks!” in a cheery manner even when the thank-you part doesn’t really follow because people don’t argue.

    6. Manders*

      Part of it’s the sob story angle–I don’t have a hard time saying no to people who are calm and not emotional, but when the person asking for money seems to be in distress, it’s harder to stand your ground. Grifters know this, which is why they use sob stories.

      I once had a roommate who was a bit like Cersei, but he hadn’t figured out the sob story angle–he would just wander over and say “I was hoping you could give me $20 for groceries” with no explanation of where his money went. Laughing him out of the room was the only good part of living with him.

      1. Jadelyn*

        “…and I was hoping to be crowned Queen of England, but here we both are.”

        You know, I’d actually have a lot of fun coming up with ever more elaborate “no”s for someone like that.

      2. Soon to be former fed*

        Maybe it’s because I was born and raised in the big city, but an unverifiable sob story to me signals con.

        1. Artemesia*

          LOL yeah big city grifters have it down pat. The same guy is ‘out of gas’ and needs a few bucks to be able to get his family to the next town — for years. I ran across a woman in Paris with a roller suitcase who ‘was pickpocketed’ and just needed 20 more Euro to get a hotel for the night. She was at the same metro stop for the whole two weeks we were in that neighborhood.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            For me the “it’s a con” alarm goes off when the person asking takes forever to get to the point. They are surprised when I interrupt with “No, I’m not giving you money.”

            1. Gandalf the Nude*

              Of all the folks who’ve asked me for just a couple dollars to buy a sandwich, not one has taken me up on it when I offer to by them lunch.

                1. Bookworm*

                  Yup. I’ve also had people enthusiastically take me up on my offer of dinner leftovers that I was carrying home. One guy (in a wheelchair) said no worries when I didn’t have money but asked if I could help push him up a slope to panhandle next to a friend of his.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I’ve had people take me up often. I don’t say, “I’ll buy you lunch instead,” but I do offer them whatever I have or to step into a shop to get them something to eat because I rarely carry cash. 80% of the people I do this with take me up on the offer. Same goes for people who need gas money. My “con artist” radar is pretty high, but I also figure that, in this context, if someone cons me it’s kind of my responsibility.

                1. Bookworm*

                  I will occasionally get people food (no one has ever asked me for gas) and it always occurs to me that they might be lying.

                  But then I think, hey, if someone is running a con for a $4.00 sandwich outside of a gas station, they might have won this battle, but they’re definitely losing the war.

              2. Tris Prior*

                Oh god, there’s this guy on my El line who is forever in need of $3 so he can buy himself a sandwich, because he’s homeless and hungry. Boyfriend once offered the sandwich he happened to have on him, and it was declined. Offers to buy him a sandwich: also declined. Makes you go hmmmm.

              3. Gazebo Slayer*

                In my experience, people who ask for food or blankets (really sad) will usually accept aid in kind. People who ask for bus or train fare – especially for a long commuter route or intercity bus – usually won’t, and furthermore they’ll get nasty if you then doubt them.

              4. Misc*

                Most people will be really happy if I offer them food or something (I don’t usually have cash anymore, so it’s often the only thing I can offer). I bought scarves for three people once and they were so happy (it was winter, and freezing). I can usually spot the scam story easily, I just don’t care; I’ll cut them off and tell them it’s fine, I’ll give them money, I just don’t want to pretend to be interested and patient so I skip to the end bit.

                Most people who are asking for a few dollars on the street really need it. Money is the most helpful thing to give to someone who is poor, it’s literally the thing they do not have, that’s why they are poor. I don’t see the point in holding the need to come up with a story to persuade people to give them money against them, I see that as an indictment on society.

                Now, that said, I do have to say no a lot for my personal sanity/budget, and I would be very unimpressed with someone who repeatedly pushed my boundaries or doesn’t give me a chance to make my mind up on my own without them fast talking at me. But that’s an issue with boundaries and manipulation, or choosing to blank people for my own mental state, not a judgement on whether they actually need money.

                1. Anonimouse*

                  I experienced a new story today: “Could you give me some money, I’m saving up for sex change operation?” I didn’t see that one working while I was nearby.

                2. Misc*

                  Oh that’s sad. And a high chance of being true, given the massive rates of homelessness for transgender people.

            2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

              Same here. My line is “bottom line me.” What? “Just tell me what you need.” Well, er, um, I don’t need any…I mean, I…”
              Knocking people off script can be fun.

            3. Lynn Whitehat*

              Seriously, what is it with this? How does this help them grift? For me, even if I *did* believe the story about how your llama’s in the hospital and your wallet fell down a sewer grate where it was snatched up by Donatello the Ninja Turtle etc, I don’t have time for this. Is the point to screen for people who cannot say no? So if you get through the whole crazy story, this person is a pushover?

          2. eplawyer*

            It’s playing the percentages. Not saying Cersei is a grifter. But if persons A-F say no, she figures she can get someone from persons G – M to say yes. It only takes 1 yes to make the whole thing worthwhile.
            And she is counting on people not wanting drama to not talk about it. It’s only when she failed to pay back the money timely and then asked for MORE money that one person started digging.

            I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she is just bad at managing her money. However, she will keep asking people for money as long as at least one person says yes. Which is why her manager needs to tell her to knock it off immediately or she will be fired. Then do it if she doesn’t. Because at that point, it isn’t about the asking your co-workers for money and making everyone uncomfortable, its insubordination.

          3. MashaKasha*

            Hah! I follow a local standup comedian on FB, and a couple years ago, he posted about how he’d run into a guy at a bus stop downtown who’d just gotten out of jail, had no money on him, and needed $50 for a bus ticket to (medium-sized town an hour away), where he was going to stay with his grandma. Local Comedian, who was broke himself at the time, gave the guy the money, took a photo with him, and posted it on FB with the story. After a few “good on you” and “you’re a good man”, he got this comment from a friend: “Hey, I saw this guy at this bus stop six months ago. He’d just gotten out of prison with no cash in his pockets, and was asking for $50 for a bus ticket to his grandma’s!” Ouch.

            I might give a person the few bucks “for gas”, if I’m in a good mood and have the spare change on me. But I will do it with full knowledge that this money is not for gas.

            1. Kathleen Adams*

              I’ve actually bought gas for people – as in, they had their car at the gas station at the same time I’m there and are out of gas/money. I’m sure I’ve been scammed sometimes, but I’m pretty sure other times, it was people who were genuinely out of gas and money.

          4. ss*

            We have one of those “I was pickpocketed” permanently settled onto a corner in our tourist district. Each time I see her, I start in with “you poor thing, lets go get a police man so he can get your details to make a police report in case your wallet is found”….

            1. Optimistic Prime*

              We had a guy who had just arrived in town from Florida 3 days ago for an excellent job opportunity who watched everything fall apart and got robbed yesterday. Only issue is he told me the same story multiple times months apart from each other.

        2. Backroads*

          I grew up in the city. Husband grew up in the middle of nowhere. It took him a couple of years (and working in security) to get quite automatic in saying “no.”

          I also have an extremely needy and manipulative aunt. I think that in itself has made me cold to sob stories. Watching my mother have a nervous breakdown when I was 13 years old trying to help her sister changes you. (Epilogue: My mom, after that, became extremely limited in how she helped my aunt).

        3. Student*

          Another city person. I dated a homeless guy for a while and he gave me a lot of insight into the basic pan-handling and grift concepts. I always assume the sob story is fake, especially when there’s a request for cash at the end.

          I think I’m a bit of a weirdo, in that I then do pay the really good story-tellers a nominal amount. It’s not that I buy the story. It’s that I admire the thought and effort that went into it, and I think they’re clever enough to have a decent chance at getting out of the street. I look for the stories with a good emotional hook, not too fantastical or over-the-top, concise, relate-able. Or a really good subway speech. The subway grift speech should really be its own art form. It’s the elevator pitch, but for people with no shoes.

            1. Cactus*

              1. That’s hilarious.
              2. My favorite one was a guy whose sign said something like “I bet you 25 cents [I can’t remember the amount now, but it was a miniscule amount] that you’ll read this sign!” Luckily, I actually had cash with me that time and gave him $5.

          1. attornaut*

            If someone has a really good sign, I’ll give them a dollar. I think of it as supporting artists/comedians.

    7. Allison*

      To me, if someone was making a ridiculous request, it demonstrates a disconnect with reality and standard social boundaries, so I’d worry about how they’d react if they didn’t get what they wanted.

      1. Soon to be former fed*

        Not in the workplace. Report it if you feel threatened. There is absolutely no place for shakedowns at work.

    8. Laura (Needs to Change Her Name)*

      I think one thing that happens is that, when something is SO weird, you have to go from heuristic-based reasoning (we have rules-of-thumb to follow) to algorithm-based reasoning (where you go through a process of making a decision), and it is such a weird thing to think about in a step-by-step way that you start overthinking the “rules” and suddenly you’re wondering if you are being the unreasonable one.

      Like, if someone asks you if you want to go to a concert you don’t want to go to, we have an easy social script “oh, no thanks, I’m not into electronic death metal” or “I can’t make it, have fun!” But when the request breaks all of our existing social scripts suddenly your internal monologue is like “wait, CAN I decline to be a birthing coach for the person who always sits next to me on my bus commute in the morning? I feel like it would be weird, but maybe it’s not weird at all? Maybe it’s super normal and I should be more supportive? She clearly feels OK asking me to do this, so if she is OK with it there is no reason for me to make it weird. God, babies can be born at any time, do I have to decline every invitation for the month of September in case she goes into labor?”

      1. Jesca*

        I am a very logically based person. These out of nowhere requests throw me every damn time! I am like “i know this feels wrong, but like, am I the nut here?” Like the lady who was holding up the line the other day at Wal-Mart the day before a holiday because she just bought a new dog (that she had with her?), and felt having strangers take her picture with said new dog while she was supposed to be checking out for 20 minutes was a perfectly normal, understandable, and rational thing to do. Clearly this was not the time nor the place for this as the lines were all backing up, but at the same time when told me the reason is because her other dog just died I was still like “well am I the crazy one here?” No, I wasn’t because that was wrong time wrong place and very rude. I had to ask people later if I was actually over reacting in asking her to please stop and that no I was not going to hold up the line any longer to take more pictures of her. She needed to pay.

      2. Xtina Schelin*

        I want to respond to more ludicrous requests with “no thanks, I’m not into electronic death metal”, tbh.

        1. Wintermute*

          “Can I have 20 bucks, I ran out of gas for my rent?”

          “no thanks, I’m not into electro-death-core, sorry”

    9. Magenta Sky*

      People who do things like ask for loans from coworkers often become very confrontational (often passive/aggressively) when told no in no uncertain terms. And most people are terrified of confrontation, even when it’s the *only* answer.

      Some people rely on this to get what they want out of life, whether they deserve it or not.

      The best answer in this case is for every single coworker to tell her “no, and don’t ever ask again.” That won’t happen, but it’d be best. Her manager telling her to stop is a close second.

      My prediction is that if *everyone* refuses to loan her money, she’ll be looking for a new job in short order, hoping they’ll be more tolerant.

      1. Anna*

        What are you basing that on? I don’t think it really stands up to scrutiny, especially if they’re coming at it from the sob-story angle.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          Based on personal experience. Obviously, your experience is different than mine. But someone who is good at the passive/aggressive guilt trip con won’t normally register to a lot of people as being confrontational, but it’s a form of it. (I’m especially sensitive to it, and completely immune, due to plenty of personal experience. My instinctive reaction to that is to go out of my way to piss them off so much they never want to talk to me again. That doesn’t work in a work environment, though.)

    10. Backroads*

      I teach 2nd grade. Having met enough adults with this sort of behavior and enough adults that don’t know how to respond, I’m actively teaching a firm “knock it off” and its cousins as social skills.

      Manners doesn’t preclude being a doormat.

    1. Snark*

      Right?!? I wouldn’t ask my best friend for a four-figure loan! I feel icky asking a coworker to cover my latte because my card’s chip is fried!

      1. Infinity Anon*

        I cannot imagine loaning someone that much money except family in DIRE circumstances. Maybe the $10 loan if it was a one time thing, but $1000!!!!!!!!

        1. Snark*

          I’d be like, “okay, jig’s up, bring out Ashton Kutcher so I can give him the right hook his face begs for.”

        2. Magenta Sky*

          I never loan out money I expect back. And I’ve told friends “I won’t loan you money, but I’ll give it to you.” It’s amazing how committed some people are to believing they’re going to pay it back, even when it’s blindingly obvious they’ll never be able to.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Some people have no problem with it, though. I don’t understand these people. I guess it’s all how you’re raised, maybe? My cousins see their mother’s money as their money, and even when they were married with kids, would ask her to give them money for things like new garage doors. I have a friend I grew up with who has a similar attitude. She hasn’t had a job in 12 years, but it’s “not fair” that she can’t have everything she needs, so they ask for money from her fixed income parents & in-laws, and most recently her entire list of FB friends.

        We have loaned money to my husband’s aunt (actually a 4-figure gift) to keep her from losing her house, which has been in the family for a century, and to his sister. Once. And it was a huge deal to do it, and she paid it back.

        1. Snark*

          Yeah, I saw a GoFundMe for a purse from a girl I dated in high school, and I was like, oh honey, never change. And blocked her.

          1. EddieSherbert*

            Hahaha, I especially dislike when people do stuff like this!

            My favorite was a couple I knew that set up a GoFundMe for their wedding – because they only had $15,000 for the wedding but wanted an extra $15,000 for it. O-0.

            1. Jadelyn*

              That honestly makes my blood boil. I spend a lot of time in other social media spaces where people are setting up GoFundMe’s for things like “help me move out of my abusive parents’ home” and “my dog needs emergency vet care and will die if we can’t afford this” and “I had to be taken to the hospital in the ambulance and they want a thousand bucks that I don’t have and my insurance won’t cover it”. I’m happy to help out people in genuine need, but just to boost someone’s wedding budget into “you’re spending HOW MUCH on this?” territory…nope.

              1. JoAnna*

                My ENTIRE wedding, sixteen years ago, was $3,000 (and 1/3 of that was $1000 for professional pictures). Good gravy.

              2. gmg*

                I agree re greed vs genuine need. But even in the case of the latter, the people asking NEED TO BE READY TO BE DECENT ABOUT IT. In the days before GoFundMe, I was among the people who responded to a high school friend’s desperate appeal on social media for money to pay legal expenses (it was a custody case involving international borders). We had not remained close, and she had some lingering resentment about what she felt was dismissive treatment by our mutual friends during our HS days — in fact, the last time I’d seen her (about a dozen years after HS), she had gone out of her way to be unfriendly (and so had her current friends who were also in attendance at our get-together, suggesting she had badmouthed me to them beforehand). But for all that, she was an old friend and I was sympathetic about her situation. So I sent a small check.

                My reward for that was for this person to cut off contact with me after she won her case, I’m not sure out of embarrassment or what. So … yeah, I will lend or donate you money if you are a family member or a CLOSE friend. Or I will donate to a charity that can help you. That’s it.

              3. Sarah*

                I mean…at least they’re honest? I would rather have someone honestly say they’re asking for wedding money rather than make up a sob story and then misuse the funds after the fact. Much easier to just laugh at it and not give. :)

            2. stitchinthyme*

              Wow. Why anyone would want to spend $30K on ONE DAY is beyond me — especially if they can’t afford it on their own. My wedding was on a cruise ship and cost about $4000, and my husband and I paid for it ourselves (without borrowing). Wouldn’t change a thing.

              1. Snark*

                My wedding was a giant party in the mountains. The bride wore a white sun dress, I was in shorts, and the biggest expense was the kegs. Everybody got gloriously drunk, bitchin’ guitar solos were played by the best man, a howling bonfire was danced around, and the cops were called due to the noise disturbance (and stayed for a beer).

                Whatever 30k buys you, it isn’t any more fun.

                1. Tuxedo Cat*

                  As I told a driver when I was on my way to a fancy wedding, at the end of the end, the bride will be no more married to her husband than I am to my partner.

              2. Anion*

                We got married on a yacht! It was $6k, all inclusive (meaning food, ceremony, music, open bar, cake, were all included). It was an excellent deal and a ton of fun.

            3. Allison*

              Oof, that sounds tacky. Look, I won’t judge anyone for having a big, expensive wedding if a) they are covering it b) their families are willing to fund it or c) a mix of both is happening. Asking your friends for wedding money is annoying. When you’re getting married, you can ask that people give money instead of gifts, or set up a honeyfund, but receiving money from people before the wedding is even paid for? That leaves a bad taste in my mouth, it’s on the same level as expecting friends and family to “work” your wedding by making the cake, cooking the meal, playing music, making the dress, etc. (a backyard BBQ potluck is fine, enlisting a friend to roast duck for everyone is not).

              Then again, I seem to be on the non-judgmental side of the spectrum when it comes to weddings. Again, I don’t sneer at expensive weddings, I don’t roll my eyes at registries and see them as suggestions rather than demands, I don’t think asking for money instead of gifts is tacky and I think honeyfunds are great if a honeymoon is a big priority for a money-strapped couple. As long as you’re aware that not everyone can spend a gajillion dollars to attend your wedding, and you don’t judge others for having cheap weddings, we good.

              1. Optimistic Prime*

                The only time “working” a wedding felt okay for me was when my cousin got married and a couple of us took turns tending bar. We got super drunk and had a great time. But it was a small wedding (50 people) and I knew pretty much everyone there.

            4. Julia*

              Or the engagement ring GoFundme. My engagement ring was under 200$ (I prefer dainty jewelry and we specifically got is used so that the whole blood diamond issue wasn’t a deal – it was in the system already), so I cannot for the life of me understand why someone NEEDS a giant ring, especially if they don’t have the money for it.

              If you want to get married, but can’t afford the court house, that’s one thing – but I’m not donating for your unnecessary huge ring.

            1. Jadelyn*

              IDK, remember the potato salad guy on Kickstarter? There are people out there who donate to random stuff, it seems.

              1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

                I was posting right when you did, haha. That potato salad guy still sticks in my craw. The sheer audacity and the fact that people went for it!

              1. MashaKasha*

                That was one of the best things for me about leaving religion, that I no longer had to give a divine being all of the credit for things that actual, real people had busted their butts to make happen.

              2. Relly*

                This is one of my aunt’s responses to everything: “the good Lord will provide.”

                As in, she will begin a story about yet another financial crisis, how she’s going to be evicted this month, they’re going to repo her car, etc, and then sigh and announce that the good Lord will provide! If she has to end up sleeping in her car, or on a bench, that must be the plan. But she’s praying hard that SOME way, that won’t happen, because surely the good Lord will find someone, ANYone, who can help her just this one time so she isn’t completely destitute. COUGH, COUGH.

            2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

              There was one of these types of things (Kickstarter, Indie Go-Go, GoFundMe…I don’t remember which) that some average dude set up to make the biggest potato salad. BIGGEST POTATO SALAD.
              The backers didn’t even get to potluck or whatever with the dude and they still donated ridiculous amounts of money well over his stated goal. It made me angry.

              1. Manders*

                In fairness, I think the potato salad guy was making a joke about how easy it was to abuse Kickstarter’s system, and he wasn’t expecting all that money and attention. He couldn’t give away the money he got because it was against the site’s terms of use, but he ended up using the cash to throw a festival and donating the proceeds to charity.

                I still wonder why people gave so much money, but at least the guy who started it was decent enough to do something useful with the cash.

                1. Anna*

                  Yes to that.

                  There was a woman who wanted to set up a GoFundMe or Kickstarter to pay for her living expenses for a year so she could write a book. Her reasoning was that people get paid to do jobs all the time and since this was her job, people should support her in that and all I could think was how privileged and out of touch this person was. I just couldn’t believe the entitlement she felt.

              2. Andraste's Knicker Weasels (formerly ancolie)*

                Why would it make you angry? He was honest that it wasn’t really FOR anything. If people want to give him money, who cares?

                I’d save my anger for people who claim they need money for surgery or to keep their home and (or to produce a product) and it’s a lie.

                1. Lissa*

                  Yeah, potato salad guy was at least honest and didn’t seem, to me, entitled, the way some of the wedding etc. kickstarters are. Like, he knew that it was pretty ridiculous; there was no guilt trip attached.

            3. Manders*

              I run with a crowd that often uses Patreon and Paypal donations to make some money on the side, but they’re basically putting out free or very cheap art and entertainment and letting appreciative fans donate as much as they want to. Sometimes that money does turn into a nice purse or a little extra in the fun budget, but it’s not presented as “please buy me this new purse.”

              The problem, I think, is that people who already have lousy judgement look at crowdfunding sites and think they can get money for nothing. My husband’s aunt recently decided to buy an extremely expensive piece of property and has been hitting up the family for cash. She has a spiel about how she’ll generously allow a high school tennis club to play on the grounds, but it’s just ridiculously tacky.

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                Yeah, artists using Patreon or the like for donations is totally fine with me as long as they’re honest and up front about it, but “gimme cash for this purse just because” is super tacky.

              2. Anion*

                I’ve occasionally posted free stories on my website and included a Paypal link as a “If you feel like kicking back some cash because you enjoyed this, great, but if not, the story’s still there for you to read for free–there’s absolutely no obligation.” I’ve done pretty well with that, actually, though I haven’t done one in a while.

              3. Jadelyn*

                Patreon and Paypal type stuff is more like a busker having a tip jar. They’re providing entertainment and their audience chooses how much to value that monetarily, but it’s still an exchange, not charity.

                1. Anna*

                  Exactly this. I donate to a Patreon for a podcast I listen to. In exchange for my very modest donation, I get to hear the ongoing podcast (which I would still get to hear if I didn’t donate) and get a little something extra in the form of show notes that other people don’t get. This, to me, is a fair exchange.

              4. Optimistic Prime*

                I give on Patreon to McMansion Hell, but that’s because I greatly appreciate all the work she does and I think she’s hilarious. It’s different to give money to someone who is essentially providing a service – that feels like a subscription, and I am willing to subscribe if the content is good.

              1. Ellie*

                Yep – the GoFundMe page has a list of donors and how much they gave (unless they have decided to remain anonymous, of course).

        2. Anon today...and tomorrow*

          My sister lives with my mother and has actually referred to things belonging to my mom (bank account, car, even the house) as if she’s part of them: “Our bank account is in the negative because of our mortgage payment.” I’ve confirmed with my mother that there is no “ours” and my mother does not let those slips go unnoticed. She’s very clear about her stuff and my sisters stuff and where the divide is. It’s weird. Same sister is also the one who called me one year to ask me “Is there any way I could borrow some money?” I asked how much and she literally said “how much was your tax refund check for?”

          There are some people who don’t think that asking for money from other people is not okay. A co-worker repeatedly asking for loans from co-workers is absolutely not okay!

          1. AnotherAlison*

            My SIL didn’t ask for our tax refund, but she did ask my husband what we do with ours, because we must get a huge refund since she gets a large one, and we make 10x what she does. Sigh. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

              1. Artemesia*

                Most people don’t know these two simple facts about taxes:

                1. a tax refund is an interest free loan to government
                2. moving into a higher tax bracket does not mean your entire income is now taxed at that rate, so no you don’t lose money if a raise puts you into a higher tax bracket

                Like the majority of people don’t know this.

                1. SusanIvanova*

                  Though at the very bottom of the scale, getting a raise can lose you more in benefits than the raise gives you.

        3. Manders*

          Yes, I think the way you’re raised plays a big part (although I think Cersei’s dysfunction isn’t just cultural). I’ve heard of people describing this as “ask” culture versus “guess” culture: people from “ask” culture learn early in life that it’s better to ask for a favor and be turned down than to not ask at all, while people from “guess” culture are taught to try to guess the person’s feelings about the favor, whether their opinion of you will be hurt because you’re asking for too much, etc. Both sets of behaviors can work, but going too far toward either extreme or failing to read the room can be risky.

            1. Foreign Octopus*

              I made the mistake of telling my university housemate the phrase “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” when talking to him about asking for a more flexible work schedule.

              He then used it constantly. He would ask for food, rides (I was the only one with a car), class notes, everything, and he would always repeat the above phrase back to me with a laugh.

              I was getting ready to hit him with my car by the end of the year, insurance be damned.

            2. Anna*

              I think this mentality only works if you have the social IQ that would prohibit you from asking for a loan in the first place. I really do live by “if you don’t ask, the answer is always no” but I tend to focus it on inviting people to events, asking companies to donate to charity events, starting fundraisers, getting members of Congress to show up somewhere, asking a friend to draw his interpretation of Toledo Vader, Darth’s lounge lizard brother, etc.

              1. Manders*

                Ok, I’m going to need to see Toledo Vader.

                And yes, agreed, both ask and guess culture really only work if you’ve already got some social skills already and you care about making a good impression on people. Cersei either doesn’t understand how far from normal her behavior is, or she knows she’s doing something beyond the pale but she doesn’t care about her reputation.

      3. Caro in the UK*

        I’ve (fortunately) never needed to ask a friend for money. But one of my best friends asked me for a loan to get an emergency plane ticket (which I was totally happy to do). But she was mortified that she had to ask, it was her last resort, and she paid me back pretty much straight away.

        1. Cathie*

          Yes, I helped a freelance co-worker once when he was desperate for money to pay his rent and the newspaper hadn’t paid him yet. It was money I really couldn’t spare, but he paid me back within a couple of weeks, as soon as he got paid himself, so it worked out fine. I realized then, however, that I was just too anxious about lending money, so I decided never to repeat it.

      4. Jane*

        Yeah, I had several embarrassing discussions with friends before I adjusted to the idea that some people don’t mind picking up a $2.50 coffee for someone else. In my family, the only people it’s okay to let cover for you are your parents or your adult children.

        1. shep*

          Your mention of buying coffee for someone else reminded me of my first boss. She was about my age, and we both loved Starbucks. She got in the habit of buying my favorite drink sometimes along with hers, so I thought I’d return the favor–except the drinks are already overpriced and her favorite was the priciest, so I was paying about $4.50 for mine and nearly $6 for hers, and I realized after a while that I was the one buying us coffees the most.

          I think at a certain point I quietly put my foot down and just started getting my own drink, and to be fair, she never brought it up (i.e., “Hey, where’s mine?”), but I was too green to the work world to realize that someone making WAY more money than I am shouldn’t halfway expect me to get her overpriced coffee out of my wallet. (I kept telling myself the coffee favors would eventually even out, and of course they never did.)

          (Needless to say, that was just the barest tip of that dysfunctional iceberg of a workplace.)

        2. Drew*

          I’m one of those people; I’m happy to grab you a Coke or a burger if I’m going to grab something anyway, and I don’t generally keep a mental ledger because if you’re a good enough friend that I’m willing to cover you, there’s a good chance I owe you that Coke anyway, and if not, I know you’ll take care of me some other time.

          Had to explain that to a friend once who was getting super stressed because I was picking up lunch for him once a week or so. “Hey, I’m making good money, you’re struggling, and I really don’t mind. If you can’t pay it back now, pay it forward later.” That said, we weren’t going out for steak and Scotch, we were grabbing wings and cheap beer; if he had come back asking for a few hundred bucks, we might have had a different conversation.

          1. Anion*

            My friends and I usually refer to it as the “floating $20.” Like, you’d happily loan $20 to a friend/spend $20 on them without a second thought, because you know at some point they’re gonna loan you $20 or buy you lunch or a $20 gift. And nobody thinks anything of it, or keeps track, because it always comes back around.

            More than that, yeah, it’s different. But the cost of a lunch or a Coke or that cute thing you saw at the store and knew X would love it so you grabbed it…among friends it’s nothing.

              1. Bryce*

                That said, it does make me rather anxious. because even if I know I don’t *have* to keep a ledger, part of my brain still does.

                1. Anion*

                  I can’t speak for your friends, of course, but I can say that for me, I get genuine pleasure out of giving people gifts or buying them lunch or whatever. It would never occur to me to think, “Bryce owes me for that lunch or little present,” because it simply makes me happy to do things like that for my friends (or for random strangers, actually; I always give money to homeless people if I have it, and I don’t care what they spend it on. They’re human beings and I give what I can–which isn’t much, admittedly).

                  I’d feel awful knowing a friend kept an anxious ledger in his or her head, because I don’t do little things to create an obligation. I do them simply for the joy of making my friends happy.

                2. Bryce*

                  I’m a big bundle of neuroses anyway, so I don’t let them know and just try to take care of myself when I can. I know it’s not their fault, and I’m not nearly as caring about it when someone else is in my debt. I just don’t like spending money that’s “not mine” so I can’t relax until I’ve settled up, probably a hangup from having debt issues in the past.

            1. Julia*

              That’s so interesting! For a moment, I felt sad because I don’t really have people who randomly get me lunch in my life right now, but then I remembered the suitcase full of souvenirs I brought back for some of my closest friends and how they’ll surely get me something from their next trip, and now I feel better. (Although I’m sure one friend will insist on paying for the stuff or our next lunch until I convince her it’s fine.)

        3. Iris Eyes*

          The whole getting coffee/drinks for coworkers thing makes me so anxious. My basic assumption is that they are offering to treat me, with the likely unspoken obligation that I will do the same for them. Falling under the same general social rule that the person who invites people out is the one who pays unless there is explicit direction otherwise (but also always be prepared to pay for what you order.) However I have the suspicion that there are some people that expect to be given cash to pick it up or paid back after returning. I’m not always great at guessing correctly so my default is never accept, never offer unless I truly do mean to treat them.

          1. CMart*

            I always assume “I’m going to Starbucks, anyone want anything?” is simply the offer to be the coffee mule, not the financial backer. I just can’t imagine why a colleague would be willing to pay for my drink/lunch.

            Perhaps I’ve been missing out on “free” coffees all these years, but I’ve accepted that as the price for never having to have to have an awkward conversation about payment.

            1. ss*

              I dislike when I go out to Starbucks and some one goes with me and then they announce that they are treating me…. I went to Starbucks because I wanted a specific drink that I add extras to and it usually adds up to much higher than a normal drink. So if someone else is paying, I feel like I can’t splurge on what I wanted to get and so there was really no point for my having gone to the coffee shop now since I can’t have what I went there form.

              1. Julia*

                Ooooh, yeah, that is something I face from time to time. When I treat a friend for ice cream or something, I either pay after they ordered and tell them it’s fine (that way, if they really order a triple thing with extra whatever, I can always back out) or I tell them upfront that I’m treating them to whatever they want, really, because of X.

              2. Cherith Ponsonby*

                Ooh, I hate that! If I’m going for a coffee then I generally want a large, but if someone’s treating me I feel like I’m being greedy asking for the bigger size. But on the gripping hand if I were treating someone then I’d hate to think they weren’t getting what they wanted.

                One thing you could do is say something like “Are you sure? I was going to splurge on a [complicated drink with extras]”, or “oh, I couldn’t let you pay for me, my drink’s really expensive”. They might be happy to pay the extra, and it gives them a graceful way out if they can’t or don’t want to.

          2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

            I’ve never assumed someone was offering to treat. Usually if someone is treating, they’ll say “my treat”. I almost always decline with “I don’t have cash on me” and no one has ever offered to pay at that point.

          3. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

            I say “I’m going to Starbucks! Anyone want anything? Get out your munnies! No pennies!.”

          4. Floundering Mander*

            Perhaps it’s because there’s a prominent culture of “getting a round in” here in the UK that I’ve really gotten used to but it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me to pay for drinks for several people if it’s a regular thing that we do. If I’m at the pub with a group, for instance, I might buy four beers in one go but I know that eventually those four people will eventually buy me a beer. I think it generally works the same way if you pop out for coffee together.

        4. Jesmlet*

          When we buy food at work, we usually trade off who pays between peers but if the general manager comes with us, he usually pays for stuff. No one really keeps track but I think we all assume it nets out even because when we go without him, we sometimes pick up stuff. Fortunately none of us are in financially difficult situations but I can imagine it being really awkward if we were

      5. Shelby Drink the Juice*

        I’d never ask a coworker for a loan, but I will ask my parents. My cat is currently undergoing a bunch of tests and it’s been adding up. I spent $1,200 and then my dad loaned me $1,000. LOANED. He knows where every dollar of that is going and I set up a payment plan with him, but it’s interest free.

      6. Wintermute*

        I feel you, like when we’re all chipping in for a pizza or something I always give too much, I’m fairly certain I’ve put some pizza delivery guys’ kids through college because I don’t want to be seen as not holding up my end. When we were on a corporate trip we went for a cheap breakfast and they expense’d it, I’m a big guy, I wasn’t going to be able to get buy on the same combo meals everyone else was getting, so I actually paid for my own muffin on the side because I didn’t want to be seen as taking advantage!

        I could never IMAGINE this sort of thing.

    2. LBK*

      My only concern about firing her is that it pretty much guarantees her coworkers are never getting paid back. I wouldn’t really want to keep someone like this on my payroll but I also don’t want to screw everyone she’s been borrowing from either. I’m not sure how I would navigate that, especially since I don’t think you can have some sort of contingency agreement where she gets to stay on as long as she’s making regular repayments.

      1. Miss Mary M*

        Not to mention that if there is an advance against payroll, then they’d have to keep her long enough to get their money back. Most organizations that I’ve worked with do not allow payroll advances for that reason, unless there are extenuating circumstances on the part of the company: late paycheck, etc.

    3. BuildMeUp*

      I think before you get to firing, she should get one chance to stop – a sit-down with her manager in which she’s told, clearly, that she needs to stop asking coworkers for money immediately, and that any further money requests will be grounds for disciplinary action and firing.

      Do I think this meeting will actually get her to stop? Probably not, but it sounds like she hasn’t been talked to by management yet, and I think it’s worth making sure she understands how serious this is before actually firing her. I know we all understand how far outside professional norms this is, but she either doesn’t understand that or doesn’t think it will have consequences.

    4. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

      Deja vu. For a minute I thought I was reading about a person at oldjob. She was fairly new and I barely knew her yet one shift she sought me out and said her cell phone would be cut off at midnight if she didn’t pay some 450ish dollars and if I would please call with my debit card and pay it, she would pay me back on payday. I nearly fell for it! Luckily I didn’t have that much money and said if she couldn’t find someone else to lend her the full amount then maybe I could go half on it with someone else. Unfortunately she did find another coworker to cover the whole thing. About three weeks later a different coworker told me she had hit up one of the resident interns for almost a thousand dollars and he had given her the money as they were from the same country and he wanted to promote kinship (and another resident piped up she’d loaned her 1200 dollars!). But she hadn’t paid the money back and he was very upset because he really needed the money to be repaid. Once it hit the grapevine, several other people said they had loaned her money too (smaller sums) and had not been repaid. She had even borrowed someone’s car and refused to return it until he threatened to report it stolen, and when he got it back it was damaged and torn up like someone had been living in it. It was decided to go to management, who called the employee in and questioned her, and she denied ever having asked for or received any money from anyone. Management said that’s the end to it, we will not further involve the company in personal affairs, and that was that. We were shocked – this sweet tiny lady had come in like a pickpocket and conned half a dozen people out of a few thousand dollars and there was nothing to be done as there was no proof. The employee had no shame about it and kept coming to work like nothing had happened. A few weeks after that she was in a car wreck and never came back to work. I still think had I loaned her the money for the phone bill, it really would have put my finances in jeopardy had I not gotten it back, and I really felt bad for the ones who gave out of kindness and got left on the hook.

  3. AdAgencyChick*

    A Lannister always pays her debts, so it’s okay, right? (KIDDING)

    Yeah, this is so obnoxious. OP, please say something to her manager. You may be helping people who are junior to her and don’t feel empowered to say no.

    1. Callalily*

      That was the first thing I thought…. but we all know that once a Lannister pays her debts that she has to ask for an even bigger loan because she is out of gold. Then there is foolish Sansa falling for her tricks and not standing up for herself.

      1. Anonymous 40*

        Well, we saw what happened to all her gold, right? Ha!

        Now I have this image of Cersei going around shamelessly asking everyone on the show. Jamie, Euron, Qyburn, The Mountain….

        1. RVA Cat*

          I’m picturing the OP coming out of the manager’s office, gulping down her coffee staring down Cersei — “I want you to know it was me.”

  4. Snark*

    Oh, and Cersei’s manager? If you read this? The correct response is “Cersei, if you ever ask anyone who works for this company for a loan ever again, you’re walking out the front door with your shit in a box and Dimitri the Security Guy two steps behind you.”

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    I’m really curious about how long it took folks to realize this was an office-wide problem. I’ve worked in places with coworkers who hit people up, and they have never been subtle, so it’s been easy to identify the issue as a “more than interpersonal” issue. Given how persistent/brazen Cersei has been, it’s interesting to me that it took some time for coworkers to find one another and compare notes. (I’m not saying that to question OP or to imply anything, just musing outloud.)

    But definitely tell her manager OP. This is pretty disruptive behavior, and it sounds like Cersei has no intentions to pay folks back. I think there are limited circumstances where it’s an entirely personal decision whether someone loans/gives a coworker money (I’ve done it), but what you’ve described does not fall under those limited circumstances.

    1. Anna*

      It sounds like Cersei was counting on other people not wanting to embarrass her by revealing they had loaned her money. It’s another side to taking advantage of the kindness of others. Or perhaps she just didn’t care.

    2. k.k*

      It sounds like Cersei has been very good at keeping this under-wraps. That’s even more reason to loop in management. There’s a good chance her manager has no clue this is going on. If I was the manager, I’d be horrified to learn that she was doing this.

    3. Kathleen Adams*

      I’m just going to say it: Something is very, very wrong with Cersei, and that problem *has* to be worse than just being very bad at managing money. People who are bad at handling money sometimes borrow, it’s true, but this – with the multiple sob stories relayed to multiple coworkers, none of whom know about each other, for multiple amounts – is so far beyond normal that there’s just no way it’s as simple as “Isn’t good at handling money.”

      Now, having said that, someone is going to pop up and say that they knew someone who was a wonderful person yatta yatta yatta who did this, and OK, I guess it’s possible there is an extremely rare exceptions here and there.

      But I think assuming something is very, very wrong is far more likely to be true. She’s a con artist, she’s mentally ill, she’s got an addiction, she’s got a romantic partner with an addiction who steals her money…I have no idea what is wrong, but something absolutely is terribly wrong. And she’s got to stop bringing whatever it is to work.

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*

    If your company provides an EAP, it would also be appropriate to refer Cersei to that since it sounds like she is having some ongoing difficulties.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I’m not exactly sure what EAP provides, so I’m curious about this. “Ongoing difficulties” with money or with functioning in an office?
      Do you mean finding some help with budgeting or finding help for the condition that makes her create fantastic stories to harass people for money?

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Yup. Ours even has legal services (free 30 minute counseling with an attorney), identity theft recovery services, financial counseling, elder care references, all kinds of stuff beyond the standard mental health counseling.

          1. LQ*

            (I know this is off topic but this little piece of information was hugely helpful. Mine does too and it may help a lot with a recent death in the family, so thank you for saying this. I never would have thought to check.)

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              Glad to hear it. My department had an EAP specialist give a little presentation about the sheer scope of services they offer and everyone was astounded. Sometimes you just need a little reminder about where you can turn.

              1. LQ*

                I really wish ours did. I’m kind of shocked at all the things ours offered now that I’m looking around. Thank you very much.

      1. Elder Dog*

        I’m always a little annoyed people suggest EAP so easily, and amazed when it’s suggested for money problems. When my mother died while I was at work I called my direct supervisor who was supposed to come in and let me leave. She had me call all the other supervisors, who were out of town or alone with kids, but when I called her back her husband answered and claimed she wasn’t there. Then to top it off, after I got back from funeral leave she told me off because she had to cancel a vacation she’d been told when she put in for it she couldn’t take because my mother was dying and there wasn’t coverage for us both to be off.
        I told her off very quietly, and she sent me to mandatory EAP for “anger management” which made me even angrier at her because one session cost almost as much as I made in a day.

        So maybe this knee-jerk “Oh send her to EAP” stuff could use a bit more thinking through.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Your situation doesn’t sound like a typical one that EAPs are usually used for. In my experience an Employee Assistance Program is there to *help* an employee through a difficult situation.

          Having a lousy boss and being sent to anger management is not a common use of them.

        2. Jadelyn*

          Well that’s a horrifying misuse of EAP. Seriously, that is not at all what they’re for, and the EAP is supposed to be a benefit, not a method of discipline.

          That said, you having had a bad experience with a terrible manager who misused the EAP as a form of punishment against you doesn’t make all EAPs worthless or bad, nor does it make recommending that one seek assistance through an EAP an inappropriate suggestion. It’s not knee-jerk when someone has an issue related to something the EAP offers, which is the case here.

        3. Not a Morning Person*

          I’m sorry that was your experience. In most cases, EAP expenses are covered by the organization and not the individual employee, so it’s not a financial burden, it’s a benefit.

    2. CatCat*

      Yes, definitely. My employer’s EAP offers 30-60 min. consultations with a financial counselor on a variety of topics including budgeting. I assume they can also make referrals for community resources for money management.

    3. A Nonny Mouse*

      I second this suggestion. This post reminded me of the financially abusive relationship I was in quite a few years ago, and how I would lie to friends and family to get money. Cersei may really need help.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I remember going to an ethics training at OldJob and we had an exercise where we split into groups and were given different scenarios and asked how we’d respond to them.

        My partner and I were given one about finding an employee stealing things like toilet paper and cleaning supplies from the office and we said that we’d ask what was going on at home to try and get them some help. Apparently we were the first group to suggest that.

        1. Cherith Ponsonby*

          I know it was a hypothetical situation, but as someone who was once reduced to “borrowing” toilet paper from the office, thank you for thinking this way.

          (Everything is better now, incidentally.)

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Well, confirm what your workplace’s program includes. Sounds like at least one person has a lousy program.

  7. NoMoreMrFixit*

    Sadly I had been in the position of working with someone like this. Repeated NO’s were required and they kept pushing anyways. Their strategy was to keep at it to wear you down until they get what they want. In the end I had to get rather unpleasant about it and told them no in pretty harsh terms. Not happy I had to do that but it did stop them finally.

  8. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    In my perfect world, everyone would be issued a printed sign to hold up when she starts her line. Something along the lines of
    “It has been 0 days since you last asked me.”
    “I will loan you money tomorrow.” (let her think about that one.)
    “You already used that one.”
    “Still nope.”
    But definitely kick this mess upstairs. It’s running rampant because nobody is talking about it. You could be the one to project your voice, “No, I can’t lend you money today either.” Which will warn the next person she plans to tap, but this whole mess shouldn’t be on you.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I have this image of the person silently withdrawing a flip chart after Cersei asks, maintaining eye contact with her and flipping the number of days back to zero.

        1. Jadelyn*

          …I’m glad I’m the only one in the office at the moment, I’m not sure I’d be able to explain why I’m giggling like a schoolchild.

  9. DecorativeCacti*

    Some days I wish I had the guts to be one of these people.

    I really would like to know what it feels like to be able to walk up to someone and ask for that much money with a straight face. I barely feel comfortable asking for a nickel when I’m short for the vending machine!

      1. Anna*

        I’m not sure this is a desperation situation if they have repeatedly asked for the loans and have hit up every coworker. At that point, a person’s desperation can’t be another person’s problem. I doubt you approached everyone repeatedly for large sums.

    1. neverjaunty*

      You wouldn’t. It involves a pretty ugly view of the world where other people don’t actually matter as people – they’re just output devices.

      1. Blue Anne*

        Yep. My mom is one of these people. It is not fun. When I was a teenager she would instruct me to ask people for huge, inappropriate favors while “fluttering your eyelashes”.

    2. Amber Rose*

      I know right? I feel uncomfortable asking someone if they have change for a five, even though it’s an even exchange.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I work at a credit union and I don’t even like going up to the teller line to get change because it means taking a teller’s attention away from the members for 2 minutes, lol.

    3. Squeeble*

      I once borrowed ten bucks from an acquaintance because I was almost out of gas, had no money on me, and wasn’t sure I could make the drive home otherwise. It was mortifying to ask and I fell over myself thanking her when she breezily said “sure” and gave me the cash. Cannot imagine having the audacity of OP’s coworker.

  10. MamaSocialWorker*

    Depending on my comfort level I would actually consider going to my own manager first rather than Cersei’s if Cersei and I are on the same level and I am not on the same level with her manager. Especially if they don’t know me very well. At least at my place of work, the managers talk very frequently and it might be better to do it anyway. I might go to my own manager anyway because I trust their judgement and advice. But I would definitely say something and mention that it’s been happening to a lot of people and especially note how it’s been disruptive to getting work done because it makes it difficult to work with Cersei. These kind of asks are super inappropriate and Cersei needs to understand that.

  11. Foreign Octopus*

    It amazes me that people think that this is appropriate behaviour. I’ve been trawling the archives again as I’ve had a quiet Monday and this is nowhere nearly the first letter where someone has written to Alison asking for advice about co-workers wanting loans. It also sounds as though Cersei started this fairly early in her employment.

    The manager needs to be looped in now.

    I’m really, really pleased that Sansa was able to get her money back but she definitely shouldn’t be loaning out anymore money. I’d be wary of $10 to a coworker, let alone $1000.

    You seem to be going about it in the right way on a personal level. Does she ask you in private or in public? If it’s the latter, maybe try raising your voice so that others can here you refusing to loan her the money and telling her to stop asking you. I’m not normally a fan of public altercations like this but she’s stubbornly refusing to stop.

    I also agree with Snark up the thread where they talk about how the more ludicrous a person’s behaviour is, the more people wring their hands with worry about dealing with it because they’ve taken up so much space.

    Good luck!

    1. Allison*

      I think it’s because some people buy heavily into the idea of a community taking care of its own. They have friend groups where money is given to those who need it, and people knowing that the favor will almost definitely come back to them when they in turn need help – they’ve probably had to rely on help from their friends in the past. Some of these people see a workplace as a community similar to a friendgroup, and feel coworkers should take care of each other. It’s why we see people like Cersei ask for money, or people in other letters ask for rides to and from work, or ask coworkers who sit with them at home because they have anxiety.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        That’s an interesting thought.

        I wonder if its generational as well.

        For me, a job has always been a job. Go to work, clock in, do my work, clock out. I didn’t enjoy any organised activities and I didn’t like staying late because I wasn’t being paid for my time. A number of my friends are the same (late twenties). I would never take my personal problems to work simply because it was work and I was being paid to do a job so I had a completely different mindset. I’ll help people out, don’t get me wrong, but in the context of work related problems – need a shift covered? Got you. Running late to work? I’ll stay a bit longer. You need a bank holiday off? Sure, no problem. But I would draw the line at personal problems.

        (Also, that anxiety letter was a wild ride from start to finish.)

      2. Soon to be former fed*

        Uh, no. In a church or spiritual group, maybe. My church has a benevolence fund to help those in a bind, not just members. But work? A hard hell no.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          Churches and spiritual groups are set up for these things, aren’t they? I’ve always viewed them as charities for the community.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            I didn’t think you were. I just thought it was an interesting point.

            I’m sorry if my response came across as confrontational. That absolutely wasn’t my intention.

    2. Antilles*

      I’d be wary of $10 to a coworker, let alone $1000.
      Eh, I wouldn’t blink twice at loaning $10 to a generally trustworthy co-worker if it was the first time they asked. I’ve absolutely loaned a few bucks to co-workers for minor stuff like “oh shoot, I forgot my wallet” or “uh oh, didn’t realize this place doesn’t take credit cards” or whatever. Of course, if you don’t get paid back shortly (either directly via cash or a quid-pro “lunch is on me today”), then that never happens again with them, but I’ve never had an issue thus far.
      But the line there is somewhere around the cost of a typical lunch or a few gallons of gas or whatever – minor stuff only.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        That’s especially true now that we have Venmo and things. One day, I overslept and forgot my wallet. A friend gave me $10 to buy a sandwich from the coffeeshop nearby, and since I had my phone, I could pay her back before I had even ordered.

      2. H.C.*

        Agreed, I wouldn’t mind loaning up to $20 to a trustworthy co-worker either, and have (usually in the context of spotting lunch when one of us didn’t realize we’re going to a cash-only place.) Repayment always come within that work week.

    3. Cassie*

      I am extremely reluctant to borrow money – when I go out to lunch with coworkers, I’ll bring a credit card and some cash just in case the food is pricey or my card doesn’t work or whatever. I hate that feeling of having to ask someone so I won’t unless I absolutely have to.

      On the opposite side of the coin, I’d be willing to lend money to about 4 coworkers (out of 30+). I’ve known them for ages, they’re trustworthy, they aren’t extravagant and they don’t go around asking to borrow money all the time. Years ago, I had a coworker who asked to borrow $600 because she needed to get her car fixed. We wrote out a loan agreement and everything, where she’d pay me back in 3 monthly installments of $200 each (I didn’t charge interest). I think she made 1.5 or 2 payments and then she asked to borrow some more money because her (adult) daughter lost her job or something. Despite knowing that things were starting to going sideways, I couldn’t say no – the poor ol’ lady! What’ll she do? I ended up loaning her a total of about $1800.

      She couldn’t pay me back on schedule, of course, and after she retired(!), she sent me a few post-dated checks but would invariably call to ask me not to cash it. She tried to ask for more money, but I told her (truthfully) that I couldn’t because my mom had lost her job (I didn’t have to support her, but it made for a good reason).

      I ended up telling her that if she could pay me back a certain amount by a certain date, we could just forget the rest of the loan. I think I lost $600 on the whole thing, but it was a lesson well learned. (My coworkers kept telling me I was crazy for lending the money).

  12. Jan*

    I can’t imagine asking to borrow money from anyone at work past $10 if I forgot my wallet for lunch. And I’d pay it back the next day.

    I once found out that a co-worker had borrowed $20 from one of the interns, more than once. I can’t even imagine how a grown-up over the age of 40 could rationalize asking a 22 year old for money and taking their time to pay it back.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It’s like in that movie Pursuit of Happyness where the CEO asks Will Smith (the intern) to front him $5 for a tip or something. He paid it back the next day, if I recall, and he wasn’t thinking, but that’s not a good look.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Ugh, I’m still mad that my VERY cheap former boss didn’t tip cab drivers or gave them $1 at most (for long rides to the airport), I used to have to travel to meetings with her and I’d make up excuses to lag behind her so I could secretly tip drivers. I thought she’d get furious if she figured it out, but I soon realized that she noticed right away and was happy to let me tip on her behalf. I was a low-paid assistant so it should not have been my duty. And she used to expect free overnight babysitting from me! I got tricked once and never let her get away with it again. I am normally assertive but this woman was extremely intimidating and I was young and scared of her. By the end of my 5 years at that company I’d just laugh in her face when she would try to get crazy favors from me (I was promoted by then and she was no longer my boss so I didn’t care if she got mad).

        2. Cochrane*

          I hated that movie for that very reason. That, and the exploitative “internship” where unpaid interns were used to prospect new business for the firm, only costing them one actual new hire out of the whole class. Better luck next time!

          I’ve never read the book; I’d hope that Dean wotrer wouldn’t stoop to boiler room tactics for their lowest rung sales staff.

    1. k.k*

      That’s really low. That person had to know that an intern is going to feel forced to say yes to anything they’re asked, and that $20 probably meant a lot more to them.

      1. Relly*

        I know a number of people for whom this is absolutely true, and you may well be one of them … but I want to push back just a little here and say that this sentence is much, much easier to say on a full stomach.

    2. BadPlanning*

      According the Alison’s comment update from the OP (below) — this situation also just turned into “person with more power asking for money.”

  13. Gwen Soul*

    With all the stories of people asking to borrow money from coworkers I am beginning to think I have just gotten lucky to never run into one! The most I have seen (or done myself) is asking for a quarter for the vending machine.

    1. Mes*

      I’ve borrowed money and also had lots of coworkers ask for loans. I think this might be one of those blue-collar/white-collar divides?

      1. Snark*

        Wow. I’m flabbergasted, because this is so Not Done everywhere I’ve ever worked it actually astonishes me that not only have people had coworkers ask for loans, they’ve had lots.

        1. K.*

          Ditto, aside from being out at lunch or happy hour, someone forgetting a wallet, being covered by a coworker, and paying it back, or chipping in on a group gift or something. I rarely have cash so once someone kicked in the $5 for bereavement flowers for a colleague for me, and I paid them back the next day when I had a chance to go to the ATM. But “Can I borrow $100?” Never seen it.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I’m not even sure I have an ATM card on me, and I think my cash is about a buck fifty. She’d have to take credit cards.

          2. Essie*

            Same! I had to kick in for funeral flowers, and my boss covered my share until I could run to the ATM at lunch. Even those few hours of owing stressed me out!

          3. Antilles*

            Honestly, I don’t even think of those sort of things as loans. After all, in those instances, you actually *have* the money, just not accessible This Exact Instant due to your forgotten wallet/don’t carry cash/whatever.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I think it’s more a “people with access to credit” and a “people without access to credit” thing, which may follow along white/blue collar divides somewhat.

      3. Jule*

        It is, and I’m really dismayed to see the “I would NEVER!” posts here from people who…maybe have never need a loan to cover rent, a utility bill, or school supplies for their kids. It doesn’t sound like this woman is necessarily in need that way and no, I don’t think asking for loans “belongs in the workplace,” but damn, I feel the shame from some of these reactions.

        1. Soon to be former fed*

          There should be shame. I was as poor as a churchmouse starting our right after college, still never asked for a dime from anybody at work. People who shamelessly beg at work have bad credit, why should I take a chance on them if no lender will? Nope.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            This is a pretty heartless POV.

            Life happens and I wouldn’t look down on someone who had a legitimate emergency situation and needed some temporary help. Nor should anyone feel ashamed if they find themselves in that predicament.

            1. caryatis*

              I don’t think being broke is something to be ashamed of. But, in that situation, I would go to my savings, credit cards, relatives, friends, or even welfare or food banks. I would never beg from a stranger or coworker.

              1. Soon to be former fed*

                I didn’t say that being broke was something to be ashamed of and I agree with you one hundred percent.

            2. Soon to be former fed*

              I meant shame for the blatant serial begging from captive coworkers, not shame for being in a bind. Please read what is actually written, not what you think is written. Geesh.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              I read it as, “If I have no money and the person asking is not trustworthy, why would I loan the measly few dollars I have?”
              This would be a much more specific setting than someone who just had some bad luck.

          2. Jule*

            I think the fact that this is the first response to my balanced comment says about all that needs to be said!

        2. K.*

          I’ve been broke and borrowed money from family but I separate work from everything else so much that it wouldn’t occur to me to ask coworkers. However, in Nickled and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich notes that the cadre of coworkers she finds do tend to support each other – maybe not financially because money is tight everywhere, but with crashing on a couch, bringing food, etc.

          1. blackcat*

            Yes, I was thinking of exactly this! She described how generous and helpful *coworkers she had just met* were when she took low wage jobs.

          2. Gwen Soul*

            I would do that no problem, I wonder what it is about cash that makes it feel more off, maybe because it feels more like a business transaction or there is the pay back portion, I wouldn’t think of getting paid back for a bag of groceries or for the baby clothes I brought in for a co worker.

        3. Snark*

          I’ve been in binds and needed loans, and family helped me out. But that was family. There’s really no circumstance I can imagine where it’d be appropriate to ask a coworker – who’s only a coworker – for a loan of any amount larger than required to cover a Starbucks total.

        4. TiffIf*

          I have borrowed money from family when I was a very poor college student and couldn’t cover my rent or medical bills. But work? Never.
          I loaned a roommate money for rent a few times when she was in a particularly hard spot.

          I still feel ashamed to this day that I was unable to pay my grandmother back the $600 she loaned me once before she passed away.

          I know my parents, in lean times, (I remember them declaring bankruptcy when I was a young child) have gotten support from both family and our church.

          But there is a line between needing assistance and pestering your coworkers for loans.

        5. Delphine*

          I agree. It may be inappropriate, but I would rather a coworker ask me for a loan if she/he was in desperate need instead of going to a payday lender or some other shady place. A little compassion doesn’t hurt, even when we agree that asking coworkers for money isn’t a great thing to do.

            1. Soon to be former fed*

              Oh, and a one of situation is far different than what Cersei is subjecting ger coworkers to.

        6. Observer*

          I would normally agree with you. But what is happening here goes WAAAY beyond anything reasonable. Nor is it explainable by relatively normal events that happen at any socioeconomic level.

          There is a lot of “can you cover my lunch” type of stuff where I work. And while I’ve never encountered larger more “outside” requests, I wouldn’t be shocked if they happened. But requests this large, and this frequent are not something I could ever imagine happening. And the employee body here is pretty divers, from the socioeconomic pov.

        7. Colette*

          None of your examples are surprises, though, so if you can’t afford them today, the odds are you won’t be able to afford to pay the loan back.

          Sure, life happens, but that’s on you (hypothetical you) to manage without asking for significant favours from people you barely know.

          1. LQ*

            Sure those aren’t. But the unexpected car repair that ate the money for the gas bill which means you have to pay to have it turned back on and now don’t have money for school supplies was.

            It is great if you have been in a position your entire life where you’ve never had to be without power, food, heat and not had a good way of getting money to get back on your feet because poverty is expensive. But a little empathy for people who have experienced that might be good.

            1. Colette*

              Asking for someone you barely know to lend you money you can’t pay back is actually a pretty nasty thing to do.

              Yes, poverty is expensive, and moving to a more stable financial situation requires both hard choices and luck. But that doesn’t make it your coworker’s job to sort out or subsidize.

              1. LQ*

                I’m not saying this person is right. I’m saying that claiming the only way to be a decent person in our world is to starve rather than borrow $5 from a coworker is really unfortunate. It shows a deep lack of empathy because you can’t make good decisions when you are starving to death.

                1. Observer*

                  Please that’s not what’s going on. I didn’t see anyone who said that. Even if I missed that, most people are saying that THIS is just not something a decent person does.

                2. Stardust*

                  That is quite a drastic escalation from the situation at hand. Nothing in the letter suggests that the coworker behaves the way she does because she’s afraid of literal death.

              2. Super Anon for This*

                Agree. And quite frankly your coworker probably makes the same as you do, what makes you think they can afford to lend you money that might take you months to repay???

                General “you” of course.

            2. caryatis*

              We actually have no information about the financial situations here. It may be that the serial beggar is actually higher-income than the poor suckers she’s begging from. She may or may not be poor (despite having a full-time job), but she’s definitely shameless and should not be allowed to exploit people anymore.

        8. Perse's Mom*

          I’ve been there. It did not once cross my mind to ask a random coworker (much less most of them, repeatedly, on a daily basis!) for money.

        9. Temperance*

          I mean, I grew up poor and lived below the poverty line for some of my adult life, too, and I would honestly not ever do this, ever, ever, ever with coworkers. Friends or family, only if super desperate.

          It’s tacky and rude to ask random people barely in your life for money.

        10. Super Anon for This*

          I don’t know about that. I grew up in a very poor area, lots of farming and blue collar workers. My family was low income/lower middle class, so we fit in pretty well. Nobody in our extended family or our friends or our community really had to borrow like that. Generally if you couldn’t afford it you did without. There was a food pantry, coat drives and school supply drives, but for the most part no one borrowed, they made due.

        11. Gazebo Slayer*

          There’s asking for money to cover lunch or in an emergency once – and then there’s multiple requests from multiple people including *four-figure* ones, which is what this woman is doing. That’s far beyond normal or acceptable in any workplace.

    2. A Person*

      Aside from the odd couple of quid for lunch, pretty much the same.

      I did run into a slight varient though where a now ex-co-worker dug himself a hole with his taxes to the point the tax office took most of his salary one month (how true that was, I’m not sure, but having known other people who had semi-accidentally dug themselves tax holes in the way he said he had, enough not to call it an outright lie) and he kept repeating the story to the same people for a few days straight, basically doing everything but asking us for money. No-one gave him anything as far as I know because he was a well known ass. I got him off my back by offering to put him in touch with my friend who knows accounting.

    3. Student*

      There’s a reason that pay-day loan sharks are an extremely profitable business, and widespread in areas of poverty. Along with rental scams – furniture rental, electronics rentals. Pay for a TV seven times over through little payments every month, instead of saving up for it and buying it out-right, because you can never keep money around long enough to buy the TV cleanly. It’s always going to other bills, or a friend’s emergency needs, before you can save up for something proper.

      This borrowing co-worker probably has something of a Ponzi scheme going, with the number and variety of lenders – pay off the loans and bills coming due today by borrowing from the next person in the cycle, always trying to stay one step ahead of the inevitable consequences when she can’t repay everyone on time.

  14. Amber Rose*

    I would laugh at a four figure loan also. Cuz I just have that lying around to give to near-strangers. Sure.

    As far as I’m concerned, the response to a request for any amount over $50 or so is, “sure, I’ll just do up a contract with the terms of repayment and I’ll give you the money once you’ve signed it.”

    Or possibly, “there’s a payday loan place down the street.” Sure, they’re nasty for large amounts, but if you need $200 now and you get paid day after tomorrow, you probably won’t run into trouble.

    1. Jadelyn*

      Right? Like…I don’t even have $1k laying around for myself (or if I do, it’s all spoken for already), what makes you think I’ve got that much hanging around waiting to be lent?

      1. Amber Rose*

        At the end of the month, I will have a grand, because that is my mortgage payment. And I’m not having my house repossessed for anyone.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Hmm, payday loans are a dangerous thing. I’ve never had to use one but I’d be hesitant about using one even for a small amount. They seem to prey on the desperate and that never bodes well in my book. However, it might just be the idea for people like Cersei if you reply like that.

          1. Soon to be former fed*

            To me, it’s preferable. I have never used a payday service, but I would before asking a coworker to pay my bills or living expenses. That’s a hard nope for me personally.

        1. Student*

          They are usury and should be illegal. You may not know exactly how they go after people, nor how extreme their rates are, but they are not something to endorse to help someone out. They are specifically designed to lock people into exactly the behavior that this co-worker is exhibiting – get too far into debt to the loan shark and then scramble to get money from every acquaintance to keep up with the sky-high interest payments. Never requiring the person with the loan to pay back enough to get out of debt – objective is to keep them in debt and paying perpetually. She is probably frantically borrowing from strangers just to keep current on something like a pay-day loan.

          1. Soon to be former fed*

            I agree which is why I saud they are horrid. So is using your coworkers as a loan service. Who knows what this person is doing with the money.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Payday loans places are popular with the desperate, since the background check is pretty much limited to “are you employed.” But being employed doesn’t mean I can just give up money out of my pay. People who become the prey of payday loans places are the ones who borrow more than they can afford to pay back right away.

        People like Cersei are smart enough to know how dangerous that is. That’s why recommending those places is a good way to shut them down. You’re basically calling them out on their intentions not to pay you back because you don’t charge interest and late fees.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Eh. I’ve used them. A friend used to manage one. It’s fine for small amounts, as long as you’re willing to suck up the fee.

        I agree they have a criminal impact on at-risk groups, but it’s all in how you use them. In Canada, at least, the restrictions have become much tighter.

  15. FormerOP*

    I read somewhere about a documentary crew (I think) that went around asking folks in a major metro area (maybe DC?) if they had $400 accessible to them at that moment. Apparently LOADS of professional-type people said no to that question. Not that it excuses her behavior at all, but I wonder if Cersei thinks that everyone just has way more cash on hand than she does. Again, what she is doing needs to stop for business reasons, but perceptions about money and who has it are strange things.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Interesting! Do you mean accessible as in “in my wallet right now” or accessible as in “I can go to the ATM and get $400 if I need it?”

      1. attie*

        I’ve never seen the original but I’ve seen this talked about a lot as “if you had an $400 emergency today (car broke down; vet bill), would you be able to pay for it without taking a loan?”

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Thanks – so I guess they mean liquid funds. I feel very lucky to have a few months of living expenses tucked away in an “emergency” fund, but that was not something I was able to afford until my late-30s. And I probably can only afford it now because I don’t have kids or student loans. But one sickness or lost job and *poof* – it will be gone just like that.

      2. FormerOP*

        I think it was along the lines of, is there a bank account that you have access to that has that amount of money in it. But I could be remembering wrong.

        1. Lily in NYC*

          That makes sense. I don’t know why I even considered that they’d ask people if they have $400 in their wallets at any given moment.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I don’t know, some people with money carry what are, to me, terrifying amounts of cash on hand. I’ve glanced at my VP’s wallet when he’s pulling out cash to ask one of us to make a Starbucks run for the team and seen a handful of twenties in there, which to me is “I’m traveling and want to have cash on hand for incidentals” money, not “everyday in my wallet” money.

            1. many bells down*

              My ex didn’t believe in banks (or wallets*), so whenever he got paid he’d just have the whole wad of cash loose in his pocket. I think it made him *feel* rich to be able to flash a few hundred-dollar bills around, even though that was literally all the money he had in the world.

              *his reasoning was that he would lose a wallet, but if he had everything loose in his pocket he’d only lose one or two things and not everything.

            2. Lily in NYC*

              I’ll admit I usually have at least $200 in 20s in my wallet because I am way more careful about spending when I pay in cash. It’s so easy for me to spend mindlessly with a debit card. I don’t want to have to keep going back to the ATM so I take out 200 or 300 at a time and make it last as long as possible.

              1. TiffIf*

                Actually I am kind of the inverse. It is easier for me to spend cash than from a debit card–cash is money already spent to me–even if you still have the cash because it is no longer reflected in the bank account balance.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  I’m the same – cash out is already gone from my account, so I tend to be careless with it; if I’m spending using my card, each transaction is directly affecting my balance, so I’m much more cautious.

            3. Sarah*

              Yeah, my dad does this. He grew up very poor and now makes a decent (if not 1%-er) living, and LOVES to carry around $100 bills. I tell him this is insane (and would make him look like a drug dealer if he were not very obviously just an eccentric older guy), but I think it makes him feel “rich” in a way he didn’t as a kid.

            4. Not So NewReader*

              A guy I knew carried A LOT of cash. And every so often he would flash the cash. I think it made him feel good about things.
              At any rate, I have handle lots of cash for a long time. I can’t do it any more but in those days I could look at a stack of cash, thumb to see the denominations and have a pretty good idea of how much was in the stack. So one day this guy flashes his cash for the umpteenth time. He thumbed it. I said, “You know you really should not carry five k around with you like that.”

              He face went white. “You knew how much was here.” Yeah. And if I can figure it out so can other people.

            5. Floundering Mander*

              Mom does this. She has a minimum wage job that she only works at a few hours a week to give her something to do in her retirement, and rather than have her pay deposited automatically she cashes the checks and stashes it in her wallet. To her it is her “fun money” independent of Dad and her own pension so she likes to have it on hand for impulse buys.

              I was a bit shocked when she came to visit me in the UK with about $6k in cash, though! I guess she just didn’t think to clean out her wallet and take out the stuff she didn’t need on her trip.

          2. KatieKate*

            Back when I was waitressing, someone tipped me, the other waitress, and the bartender each a $100 bill. And not in a flashy way–he just waved us over and slipped it to us (we had stayed late for his party.)

            The only person I every met who carried that much cash at a time.

    2. Amber Rose*

      50% of Canadians are living paycheck to paycheck and I imagine it’s not terribly different in the US.

      I sure as hell don’t have $400 anywhere.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I could get an advance off my credit card if I absolutely had to, but in terms of liquid funds on hand, nope.

        1. TiffIf*

          Ditto. I could pay for something on a credit card but I don’t have that much liquid at the moment.

          My roommate often doesn’t have any more immediate funds than I am but doesn’t have any credit cards; I think three times I have bought her a plane ticket when there was a good deal but she didn’t have enough on hand. I set the terms very clearly–she has to pay me back in full before the ticket is used and I will calculate in the interest I am being charged on my credit card in what she owes. She has always paid back on time–in installments when needed, but she’s never failed to meet the conditions. If she failed to pay back properly I would stop doing it.

    3. Laura (Needs to Change Her Name)*

      Oh this is super interesting. This has me wondering if there are class-based differences in what people consider when you ask that question. This has definitely changed for me as I have changed economic class. Back when I was less likely to actually have $400, that was a concrete question. Was there $400 in the bank? Did I have $400 in available credit? Versus now, I consider a lot more – if I have that money in the bank, did I have plans for that? Can I afford to lose it – and “afford” does not just mean “will I be able to pay my rent if that money is not in my bank account on the first.” Paradoxically, having more money has freed me to think about money in a way that makes me less likely to say “yes” to this question, although I technically have more money available to me at any given moment.

    4. k.k*

      I’m one of those professional types who would have to scramble to cover at $400 unexpected expense, and I cringe at the idea of asking a coworker for anything more than some change for a vending machine. Perhaps that is because I’m embarrassed of how terrible I’m am with money and wouldn’t want everyone knowing. Personally I don’t like people knowing that about me, but even more in the workplace I don’t want to be seen as irresponsible.

    5. Anon for this*

      I’m not wealthy per se, but I keep a “cushion” of $1000 in my checking account at all times, on top of money I need for expected, upcoming expenses like rent, bills, insurance, etc. so as long as an ATM would let me take it out, sure, I have $400 accessible to me right now. But if a random person asked me if I did, camera or no camera, I’d say no because I’d be concerned that they’d ask for it, or try to take it.

      It’s not hard to guilt-trip good people with “you have all this money you don’t need right now, but I really need that money and if I don’t get it, something bad will happen to me, are you really so selfish as to hold onto that money when it could actually help someone? I promise I’ll pay you back well before you need it.”

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        The cushion is sensible.

        Every monetary advice I’ve seen has recommended a cushion like that. I’ve gone freelance and I had this cushion but, unfortunately, this is the month that it runs out so now I’m feeling very nervous about work and paying my bills and building it back up.

        I don’t even have 4€ to spare at the moment, let alone 400€.

        1. Jesmlet*

          The recommended cushion I always hear about is 6 months worth of expenses – which is thoroughly unrealistic for a vast number of people. Don’t feel bad if you don’t have it, you’re in good company

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Interesting point about money you have and don’t need right now! My husband and I don’t share checking accounts, although we do share the household bills, and I’m honestly a little selfish with all “my money” even with my husband. I’m much better with money (it’s in my DNA), so I usually have more, but he has an irregular income, so he gets windfalls and I don’t. I know exactly how long it will take me to re-save $1000, so I’m not really loose with giving it to him or anyone else. For him, it’s more “easy come, easy go.”

      3. Veronica*

        That was my first thought, too. Random person on the street (with a camera or not) asks about my money? Gee, yeah, I’m broke. The answer wouldn’t change if I had a million bucks in my pocket.

    6. Anonygoose*

      With so many people having such easy access to credit nowadays, it’s impossible to tell anyone’s financial situation without actually seeing their bank account. Somebody might have bought a brand new house, but their mortgage payments are crippling. They might have all the best designer clothes, but they are $10 000 in credit card debt. Maybe they went on a month-long vacation to Europe last year, but they still have 6-figure student loans. Not having an easily accessible $400 isn’t that surprising to me!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I remember going over to one person’s house and from piecing random conversations together I realized they were paying on their: house, 2 cars, boat, furniture, and 3 college degrees. And this is what I knew of, I realized while what they had was nice, they owed money on ALL of it.

    7. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I wouldn’t let a stranger on the street, even if they presented themselves as a documentary crew, know I had $400 available. I’d just say no. So I wonder how truly accurate their survey was. Even if I trusted that the crew were honest, if it’s a documentary and they’re filming, then whoever hears/sees me answering now knows I have the money available. If I won the lottery, I’d keep it as secret as possible.

      Cersei sounds like she is immature and still stuck in the mode of expecting other people to take care of her like a parent would. “Mom, can I have $20 to go to get some food?” “Dad, can I have $40 for gas?” It’s just so infantile.

      1. Essie*

        That was my gut reaction, too. Why would I announce to strangers with cameras that I had a bunch of cash on my body? It sounds like a great way to get mugged a block later.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          It wouldn’t even have to be on my body. I wouldn’t let them know I had it in my bank account, or available as credit either.

      1. always in email jail*

        I’ve certainly been there, and don’t intend to find myself there again by lending $400 to a coworker!

    8. Artemesia*

      If someone with a camera asked me I would say no, but that would have been untrue since I was 18 — I saved up $400 then and have never since then had less than that as an emergency fund available. But someone asks me about it? I’m going to lie.

    9. Drowning-in-paper-Anna*

      I wonder how many of the people on the documentary said no to the available funds because a stranger was asking on camera?

      I certainly would have. It wouldn’t matter if I had $1,000 in my purse right then for mad money, I wouldn’t tell anyone that.

    10. Bagpuss*

      I don’t know of this specific one but I know that the Money Advice Service did some research in the UK early this year about found that around 1/3 people of working age have less than £100 in savings.
      £100 or less doesn’t go very far if you have an emergency.
      SO I can see why someone might have a genuine need, but not so as to make trying to get large loans from co-workers appropriate.

    11. Manders*

      While I can imagine some good reasons to lie to a random documentary crew about this, I’ve seen similar numbers from other studies, so this doesn’t surprise me.

      One thing to keep in mind is that “cash I could pull out of a bank account in the next 10 minutes” isn’t the same thing as “money I could come up with if there was a major emergency.” I happen to have way more than $400 in liquid cash, but it’s not necessarily the result of the smartest possible financial decisions–some of my friends have way less cash immediately available, but more money in investments or property they own. Some have more in their checking accounts right now, but that money’s about to flow right back out again to pay off a loan. The person with the most liquid cash on hand isn’t necessarily the person who’s the most financially secure.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        The person with the most liquid cash on hand isn’t necessarily the person who’s the most financially secure.

        Exactly. I have a family member who “doesn’t believe in credit cards,” and maybe even banks, so he tends to have cash on hand. He’s got no retirement savings, and when he needed repairs to his house, he had to beg money off his MIL. But at any given moment, he’s definitely got more money in his wallet than I do.

  16. Lily in NYC*

    I loaned a coworker $40 once knowing I’d probably never get paid back, and I was right. I asked him twice and then just gave up because I didn’t care that much and felt kind of bad for him. He was just not a smart guy and had a difficult time managing money so I decided to consider it a gift. He got fired for missing too much work and I later found out he owed tons of people money. I can’t tell if he was a con artist or just kind of pathetic, but I think it’s the latter instead of the former.

    1. JeanB in NC*

      I think if you give to others based on the idea that you won’t get it back, it can make you take a closer look at whether you want to give it or not. If you do end up getting back, that’s great but I basically never count on getting back any loans which is why they are all in the $20 range rather than the $200 range.

    2. StartsWithZed*

      Somebody (Captain Awkward?) once wrote that “sometimes the cheapest way to pay is with money.” I ‘lent’ $100 to a former co-worker who was needy in other ways too, and never heard from him again. It was lovely. My spouse and I now call it ‘paying off Sherman’ – sometimes to make a problem go away you just have to pay of Sherman.

  17. Observer*

    This person’s manager needs to be looped in ASAP. There are at least two specific issues that I see beyond the general inappropriateness of the behavior. One is that I would never trust her around anything that belongs to me. The second one, and one that I might mention explicitly with the manager, is that she clearly crosses boundaries on a regular basis. That’s a big issues. And if she deals with clients or any outside entities, I shudder to think what she might say or do that would make your organization look really really bad.

  18. Lacey*

    This sounds an awful lot like an old co-worker of mine. She received multiple “loans” and gifts of cash from various people in our department after she’d share a sob sorry about not being able to feed her children. It later came out that she was also stealing hundreds if not thousands of dollars in cash from those same co-workers’ purses. She “resigned” rather than being fired after she was confronted.

    1. Soon to be former fed*

      She would have resigned to the nearest police department if it was up to me. Straight-up criminal here.

  19. NaoNao*

    I just wanted to tell a cautionary (and sad) story here:
    I worked for a collections call center that employed a lot of ‘struggling’ people. Drug use, history, or arrests were not an issue, just don’t come to work high/drunk was the party line.
    We had a coworker arrested mid-shift, people sneaking drugs in the bathroom, whole nine.
    Anyway, we had a very well liked coworker who went around asking for small loans, and a few of us loaned him money.
    He used that money to buy drugs and spent the weekend with a “friend” (a receptionist from the call center, who was later let go for her role in this debacle) in a no tell motel doing drugs and partying. He died of an overdose induced heart attack.
    Granted, he would have found the money, he was an addict. But those of us who loaned him the 10, 20, or 50 felt AWFUL and wish we would have spoken up. Perhaps disciplinary action or threat of losing his job would have shaken him out of it. We’ll never know.

  20. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Just FYI that when I alerted the OP yesterday that her letter would be printed today, she sent me this update:

    I really appreciate this, as the story got more involved in the last couple of weeks and is becoming really quite concerning. Cersei is still at it, but since I wrote to you, two things hit: first, she has been promoted to Lead Manager (like a Class President – kind of role) to her peers (not me, thank heavens – I’m in a separate division). She cannot hire or fire, but she can discipline the same colleagues whom she has solicted for funds. And, second, the company just hired her husband for a field position, and he’s a train wreck – incompetent, unreliable, and obnoxious. And guess who team members have to go to if they have complaints about field members? You guessed it – Cersei. At least she still does not handle company assets or finances. Everyone is at a loss – our company has a “no hiring of spouses rule”, but it was completely ignored here. And I am told that Cersei just hit up a new team member for funds – and this lady has only been with the company a week! Any suggestions you have will be so very welcome.

    I would love to participate in comments, but doubt I’ll be able to. Our company monitors our computer use at all times, but I sure will have a look when I get home on Monday. I appreciate your advice and that of the savvy commenters – you truly have an exceptionally thoughtful & professional audience!

    1. Neosmom*

      OP – get out as soon as you can after alerting the appropriate people (and your manager) about Cersei’s loan requests. Your employment culture has taken a turn into massive toxicity (or is that toxic city?)!

    2. gmg*

      That is … wow. Speechless. I would say LW’s best recourse at this point is to go to HR with her concerns, but now there is the additional question about the flouting of the “no hiring of spouses” rule and whether Cersei will be legitimately able to handle any concerns about her husband’s work. I guess that has to be put to the side for now to deal with one issue at a time, even though the issues do tie together.

    3. Observer*

      OMG! You need to talk to your manager and hers THIS minute – preferably with some of your coworkers. And, then keep kicking this up the chain if it doesn’t stop.

    4. Menacia*

      Wow, who the heck promoted this woman and hired her husband (who reports to her?)! Seems like management might not be helpful in this regard and it might be OPs quest to tell everyone (especially the new folks) what they may expect from Cersei and not to fall for it. It’s amazing to me the gall that some people have and when they are told no, instead of changing themselves, they just move on to the next person. There needs be a wall of NO in place for her that she can’t climb over.

    5. MsM*

      I suppose burning it with dragon fire isn’t an option, so unfortunately, I think your next best option is asking Varys and his little birds to keep an ear out for other opportunities for you, ’cause this place is not going to be ready when winter comes. (I’m sorry for all the references, but the canon was well chosen; the office politics sound like a mess.)

    6. stuff*

      Yeah…I’m not sure informing anyone is going to help if the company flat out ignored their own no-hiring-spouses policy. Someone is either protecting or actively turning a blind eye to that mess. Which means mentioning it to the wrong person (and who that is, is unknown) could paint a target on your back.

      I’d run if I were under her. But, I acknowledge that I am in the privileged position to do so for those that can’t, I’d suggest launching a quiet job search.

      1. Snark*

        Yeah, this has escalated to “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” territory, and it’s time for OP to bail on the most aggressive timeline possible.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. Time to run like Godzilla is on your tail because he is. This is going to get worse. Start looking for a new job now.

    7. Anonymous Poster*

      Wow, that’s jaw-droppingly poor decision making right there.

      Stonewalling Cersei still looks like the way to go. If going to Cersei’s manager doesn’t help, I’d suggest going as a group and letting this individual know exactly what’s going on and what that group looks like. It’s just so bad that even bad managers would be able to see what an awful situation is brewing, with Cersei’s spouse and her pulling these shenanigans. They’re about to shed the bulk of that staff unless something is done very, very soon.

    8. k.k*

      Oh my. If this is a best case scenario the no spouses rule was ignored due to extreme circumstances, and your company doesn’t just suck, then this could still be salvageable. Her boss, HR, or whoever has power over her needs to be informed of this now. She should in now way be asking a subordinate for money, especially a week in! This is an abuse of power, recipe for a toxic work environment, and a great way to scare off good employees.

      If the higher ups are aware of the situation and do nothing, then sadly it may be time for you to jump ship before things spiral out more.

    9. Nolan*

      Might it be time to go over her manager’s head? If her husband has been hired to the same team, that seems like her manager really isn’t doing their job and someone else needs to be brought into the fold to resolve this

    10. Tuxedo Cat*

      Just when you think it couldn’t get worse… The OP (and others) need to talk to Cersei’s manager.

      1. Jaguar*

        Haha. I wonder if she can lobby for subordinates to get raises on the condition that the subordinates then loan her some of the raise.

    11. Gazebo Slayer*

      As Artemisia pointed out on the old thread about the mooching boss, this is essentially extortion: using a position of authority and implicitly threatening people’s jobs to get them to give money. OP, feel free to tell any lies about your finances that might possibly get you out of this if you have to.

    12. Sara without an H*

      Oh, dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

      OP, I know you said you were in a different division, but you need to brief your own manager about this ASAP, if you haven’t already done so. You will need top cover. And think carefully about the possibility of blowback if you report Cersei to either HR or her own manager. OK, maybe I’m too cynical, but I’ve spent a fair amount of time in toxic shops, but if Cersei has managed to ingratiate herself to the point that she can get promoted AND get her husband hired in spite of policy, it may get tricky to call her on her behavior.

      Of course, if her husband is the train wreck you make him out to be, and if Cersei keeps annoying people by pressuring them for loans, they may both implode quickly. But it wouldn’t hurt to update your resume — check the archives for a lot of good advice — and start quietly looking at other options.

    13. NEW YEAR, NEW ME*

      OP, tell your manager immediately what you’ve been observing, in particular as soon as Cersei hits up the next person. It sounds like Cersei is using her position to get people to get money; that might be why she continues to ask. These colleagues might be afraid of retailation.

  21. Essie*

    “Sure, Cersei, but I charge so many points that you’re really better off going to a payday lender. I’ll also require your home address, since I’ll need to have Vinny stop by to ensure that your repayments are prompt.”

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Or “Gee, Cersei, I don’t have that kind of income to assist with this request. Maybe you should go ask the boss. Oh, you don’t want the boss to know? Why not?”

  22. Hiring Mgr*

    This would appear to be an instance of an undercover investigation into employee theft or emebezzlement. Cersei is likely acting on behalf of management because they must suspect an employee is stealing. The plan is that Cersei hits up everyone, and if someone who’s say a mid-level or lower level employee constantly has money to loan her (more than would be expected), there’s your guilty party.

      1. gmg*

        Yeah, this sounds like … not the most efficient way to investigate employee theft. (If someone is stealing, they’ll either be buying things for themselves, or sitting on the money so as to keep a low profile.)

        Hiring Mgr, are you speaking from experience here?

    1. Justme*

      Or those employees have a spouse with money? Or received an inheritance? Or are super cheap in everyday life and have extra money?

    2. Amber Rose*

      We honestly have zero information which would suggest that, and I’m not really sure where this came from. It’s also a really, really impractical plan, since lots of people who have lower pay still manage to have savings and stuff, so what you can expect someone to be able to loan you is not really easy to determine.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Ah. In that case, Hiring Mgr is still absolutely wrong, because what’s really happening here is that Cersei is secretly investing all these little loans and is planning to give everyone back a share of the profits, when that happens. Sadly, she’s really bad at playing the markets and keeps losing money.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        It’s not helpful to the discussion.
        And it causes digressions that eventually detract from the discussion.

        1. Myrin*

          I don’t disagree? I just flagged it for confused readers but that doesn’t mean I’m on board with it.

    3. N.J.*

      Folks, Hiring Mgr posts a flippant, silly comment on many posts. It is either designed to amuse us with its randomness or to get a rise out of commenters. I would suggest not engaging.

      1. Anon for this one.*

        They are my favorite comments now that the comments section has devolved to hand-wringing and pearl-clutching over the most minor of infractions.

        1. gmg*

          Not to start a kerfuffle within a kerfuffle, but … what “hand-wringing and pearl-clutching over the most minor of infractions” do you mean? That’s not been my experience here.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      I was speculating based on the Wire. One time in the pit, Stringer was trying to determine who was skimming. He told D to hold off paying everyone for a few days.. The one guy who still had money to throw around would be ID’d as the skimmer.

      1. Bored Now*

        Alison has told you multiple times now to knock this sort of comment off or clearly mark it as an attempt to be humorous. Why are you still posting like this?

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          I have been trying to get Valerie Bertinelli to like me for nearly 40 years. I thought maybe if she saw some of my witty quips here that might help..

  23. Rusty Shackelford*

    I was surprised once to find that a fired employee was a serial borrower, and had hit up several people in the office, but never me. And I still wonder why. Did I seem like I’d be too broke myself to have anything to spare? Too mean to fall for their sob story? Too *smart* to fall for their sob story? I mean, I’m not complaining. It just makes me wonder.

      1. Blue Anne*

        About a year ago, I moved to Ohio and discovered that I had never been catcalled before because I had been living in a lovely progressive bubble-land.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Ha, I read an article I really liked about how “progressive bubbles” ARE the real world and other places are the ones that are backwards and out of touch with reality.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The fired employee knew not to mess with you. It’s a good thing, be proud. Let it go to rest.

  24. Jay Bee*

    We had someone like this in my office. The requests were small, but frequent. $5 here, $10 there, $20 another day. Not only was the colleague bad at managing money, but it turns out she had a drinking problem, and was actually drinking during the day at work. This lack of funds and constant need for replenishment was directly tied to hiding the amount she was drinking from her partner, who was trying to intervene financially in this situation as well.

    OP’s situation is incredibly complicated, but there’s also a chance these loans are not only inappropriate, but not for what the colleague says they are for. Either way, there should be no hang wringing. There should just be a firm NO in response.

      1. gmg*

        Same here … obviously we can’t know given limited info, but HR would surely want to know if this WERE the case.

  25. Cookie*

    All over this thread I’ve seen people comment that they wouldn’t even loan $10 to a coworker, let alone whatever else. I would hope you would reconsider those tiny loans. Recently, I took a new purse to work and forgot to switch my wallet into the new handbag. So I ended up at work with no money, I was almost out of gas, and had a 75 mile commute home. I would have been completely stranded if it hadn’t been for a kind coworker who lent me $40 for gas and lunch. And of course I paid her back the next day. Just wanted to say that emergencies come up and small kindnesses are greatly appreciated.

    1. Anonymous Poster*

      For me there’s a big difference between a one-time freak thing, like what you described which is easily verifiable for anyone, and Cersei’s situation. I can probably know you forgot your wallet (Like I’d notice you wouldn’t be getting lunch, or hitting up the vending machine) and help you out. I can’t verify Cersei’s stories, because they’re just really strange stories. There’s also the difference of a pattern and a one-off thing.

      I’d bet most people would act similarly, honestly, including many of these commentors. But, even if they are holding true, there are likely enough people in the office willing to do these sorts of small things.

      I promise, it’s okay to have some faith in humanity!

    2. SarahTheEntwife*

      I would feel slightly weird about lending anything to a coworker, just because of the obligation that’s then hanging over us, but I’d be completely fine straight-up *giving* small amounts so long as it doesn’t become a one-way pattern.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      This is so different from someone who asks for money for a car repair. I’ve covered expenses for a coworker whose wallet got stolen while we were on a business trip. “I have money but due to unexpected circumstances, it’s not on me” is not the same as “I don’t have money but hopefully I’ll have some next month.”

    4. caryatis*

      For next time, it’s a good idea to keep a small amount of cash (and food) at the office for emergencies.

    5. BadPlanning*

      To be honest, I have given coworkers small amounts of money — but they’ve been in the moment type things with obvious destinations. Like we’re walking down to coffee and my coworker forgot their wallet. Or we’re about to go to lunch and they decline because they forgot their wallet that day (In that case, I covered them and gave them cash for gas).

      But I’ve never had a coworker walk over and say, “Hey I need some cash for some bills.”

      Of course, if I had a coworker who was always, “Oh gee, gosh, I forgot my wallet even though we are clearly going somewhere that requires money” I’d probably draw the line.

    6. The Expendable Redshirt*

      It would be my guess that you are a responsible individual who does not regularly ask coworkers for $40.00. In contrast, Cersei is being an irresponsible loon. I’d loan coworkers a bit of money in an emergency. But repair their car? Nope.

    7. nonegiven*

      I might not have $40 for you but I could use my card to put gas in your car. If you were someone I knew and not a stranger who asked for money every week.

  26. Normally A Lurker*

    Oh. When I was in grad school ( a small program, literally about 30 people between all 3 years – though the breakdown was not 10 a class) there was a girl who did this all the time to us. It got so bad that we eventually told the head of the program, who had a sit down with her and told her to stop. She didn’t. She eventually left the program because no one would work with her (for this and several other reasons). It’s a rough situation to be in. Though, I am thankful that saying no to money requests has never been a thing I’m bad at. I cannot say the same for others in the program though I have no idea who much money she got from people before she finally left.

  27. Nervous Accountant*

    I’m gobsmacked that this is so common bc I know this isn’t the first letter I’ve read about people borrowing money. I have no idea how it’s such a common thing. I’m in the USA but I have a feeling this would be something that may happen in some offices in my parents’ home country (South Asia) where guilt tripping and emotional blackmail is a national sport. I can’t imagine myself not saying HELL NO if someone does this. Obviously aside from the normal “hey get me coffee, I’ll get you next time or paying back for a lunch order or something like that.”

    1. fposte*

      AAM had a letter a couple of years ago from somebody in the Philippines facing a similar cultural problem. (Link in followup.)

  28. dovidbawie*

    “Do you have a minute to talk about our fiscal savior, Dave Ramsey? He brings Financial Peace University.”

    Seriously though, a small gift of $20 or so for a coworker in a tight spot wouldn’t be a huge deal to me, assuming the reason isn’t to buy artisinal catfood or something non-urgent. But if you thing you can just ask for $1000 for rent money I have the right to attach strings, like requiring budget meetings & financial courses. I’d like to be sure my money is used properly, kthnx.

  29. MommyMD*

    Aside from the rare I forgot my wallet can I borrow ten dollars once in a very blue moon, asking for loans from coworkers is so out there it blows my mind.

    Inform management right away. If she keeps it up she should be fired.

    1. Kathleen Adams*

      Yeah, exactly. Borrow money for lunch and pay them back the next day? Sure. Ask if it’s OK to wait until I get to the bank to chip in for Arya’s birthday present? Sure. Ask if I can pay for the Girl Scout cookies I bought from a coworker’s daughter tomorrow because I forgot the checkbook today? Also fine (within reason – I’m not talking about 10 boxes of cookies or anything).

      Ask for more than a few dollars for anything other than “I need this tiny amount just for this very specific, work-oriented thing and just for today”? Absolutely not. Ever.

  30. Catabodua*

    Another idea that I’ve found works for the people in my life is to actually say yes and then follow it up with – bring in your electricity bill and I’ll pay them for you. People like this never, ever follow up with actual evidence of the electricity bill (and also, they want your cash, not for you to pay a bill for them), but the people who are truly desperate do.

    It’s still an awful idea to start loaning / given money to people you work with but I know things can get out of control in your life faster than you think, even when you aren’t being an irresponsible idiot. For someone like this, a repeat offender with multiple people in the office – she needs to be fired.

    1. always in email jail*

      ^YES. I used to do this to my (ex) mother in law, and she would get so mad and admit “well I wasn’t actually going to pay that bill right now, I was going to use the money for other stuff and THEN pay that bill”. So.. you lied to me. And I’m not a bank. Send me the bill or don’t but that’s what I agreed to pay.

  31. Myrin*

    OP, since you said you’ll be reading the comments once you get home today, I’d like to ask: Is this the first “weird” thing (for lack of a better word) going on in your company? You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders and nothing about your original letter strikes me as particularly specific to a company that is toxic in general, but there are several signs of dysfunction in your follow-up to Alison (which, btw, thanks a ton for providing!).
    I’m asking because how you proceed further should probably hinge on that – if these are a couple of loony people gone wild (Cersei, her husband, the person who broke the “no spouses” rule), you may have good chances to “win” in this situation once you get to the appropriate person, but if this is representative of how this company operates in general, it would probably really be best to get away from there. (In any case, do talk to Cersei’s boss as soon as possible, though!)

  32. Interviewer*

    OP, you could lay out the details just like you have here. It is obviously an awkward and untenable work environment.

    I think she needs serious help, and not the kind that an HR manager can provide with coaching or disciplinary action. Rather than trusting the company to fix it, I’d quietly advise everyone on the team to start looking for a job.

  33. Specialist*

    I suggest that you go to HR tomorrow. I would skip Cersei’s boss as you’ve outlined some bad decisions on her part. This is so not okay that it boggles the mind. I would expect that Cersei’s boss will have some explaining to do.

    I second the “do you have a minute to talk about our financial savior Dave Ramsey”. I would highly recommend that program.

    Can I lay my hands on $400? Yes. That doesn’t mean that the past couple of years didn’t really suck financially. There’s $2 in my wallet right now.

  34. Observer*

    OP, I just had another thought. Are you in an industry with any level of regulation? Does your company do business with government entities? If yes to either one, this needs to go up the food chain even faster – and the company has even more reason to do something about this mess. There is no way any regulator or government agency is going to be ok with someone regularly hitting up people they supervise – on a regular basis, no less. And while YOU would NEVER think of telling tales, oh no! someone ELSE might. Or maybe a disgruntled ex-employee would tell the unemployment office that that’s why they left.

  35. Granny K*

    I once let a co-worker use my credit card (I didn’t give it to him, I’m not that stupid) but he wanted to buy flowers for his GF for Valentines Day. When they said the total ($150), I nearly messed myself. He DID pay it back later, after some nagging, and then wanted to use my credit card again to loan this same GF some money, to the tune of $400. I had a weird feeling and hedged by saying I had to check my balance. I lied and said I didn’t have that much on the card and didn’t really feel comfortable. The end of that week he ‘borrowed’ the car he had sold to another coworker and then left town with the guys money and the car. What a grifter.

  36. Jay*

    I’ve posted before on a similar thread – I had a former co worker who did the same. The amounts were small to start with, $20 here and there, and she rarely repaid anyone. Then they started to grow… until the point she borrowed $30-40k from a co worker who had saved up to pay his end of year tax. Not sure what her story was on that one exactly, but the guy was generous enough that he did it.

    Not long after, she was fired for fraud – stealing money by duplicating procurement orders, buying items then reselling them on an auction site for cash. I believe he eventually got in touch with her and I believe managed to recover some if not all of the money, I never wanted to broach the subject with him as he was such a sweet and trusting man.

    I did some digging afterwards and found out that she was tithing a significant amount to her church which I believe may have been related, possibly wanting to keep up with the Joneses.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      “until the point she borrowed $30-40k from a co worker who had saved up to pay his end of year tax. Not sure what her story was on that one exactly, but the guy was generous enough that he did it.”


      1. Jay*

        Yep. I was horrified when I found out. Despite flagging to her manager multiple times around her constant borrowing and cornering of people with sob stories, it got that bad. Poor guy was just a soft touch and thought he was doing the right thing.

  37. Zip Zap*

    I like helping people so I get asked for things a lot. I’ve learned that 9 times out of 10, loaning money to someone who asks just leads to more problems. The exceptions are usually close friends who are embarrassed about it and are incredibly thankful. Even then, they can’t always repay it, and that can cause problems.

    So, in lieu of money, I give advice. “Are you having a hard time making ends meet? Have you considered getting a second job? Do you own anything that you could sell to tide you over? Have you looked into credit cards? Loans? Assistance programs? I know of some great ways to bring in extra income and cut back on expenses.” Most people will either appreciate that kind of conversation or they’ll get uncomfortable and won’t ask again.

    But, yeah, this is wildly inappropriate for all the reasons people have mentioned. Why she’s doing it doesn’t matter. She’s taking advantage of the power dynamics involved in work relationships. It’s not fair and it could lead to all kinds of problems.

  38. Chickaletta*

    That’s crazy town. I’d be so embarrassed to have to ask for one loan from a coworker, let alone countless. It’s such a 180 from my own personal financial philosophy that I find it kinda interesting. It’s like they’re living in another universe from the one I know. I wonder if anyone’s done a financial cultural study on this kind of thing.

  39. Monday, Monday*

    My former husband gave a coworker money almost monthly. First it was $20, then $50, then $100, $300, $500…
    It probably was with more frequency and higher amounts I think he may have just been afraid to tell me.
    When our first child was about born, we were trying to buy house and I said if Bill owed us any money, this would be a really great time to collect. Ex came clean and said he owed us about $5000. I kind of flipped my lid a little bit and told him he had to collect. Three days later, he came home with a horse racing painting, apparently worth $300, that Bill “gave us.” It was ugly as sin and certainly would not go towards paying any of our bills. And yeah, he had a gambling problem. He worked THREE jobs and still took our money.
    Absolutely ridiculous.
    Ballsy Billy, it was I dubbed him.

  40. David St. Hubbins*

    Absolutely talk to her manager. Asking for money is already a bit dodgy, and not taking no for answer will piss people off. The manager needs to step in and tell her to stop

  41. Winter IS Coming*

    Hi all. OP here. Wow, thank you for the advice & input. You have confirmed my suspicions that this is a seriously dysfunctional company. It’s a small company – there is no official HR, and it was the company owner who overrode the “no spouse” rule to hire the husband. The management habit here is to bluster & deny, and insist that there are 2 sides to every story (yes, and one’s about a grifter….). Cersei is the tip of the iceberg of the problems my colleagues and I face every day. We get constant drama from our customers (it’s that kind of industry) and in the office daily from a couple of key players.

    I will think carefully about reporting Cersei’s money habits, as I got serious possibly career-ending pushback yesterday for pointing out that she was assigning herself the highest-paying accounts instead of divvying evenly as it was promised by the higher-ups that she would. I am polishing my resume and building an escape plan, much like my star colleagues are.

    But THANK YOU! Getting 500-odd “hell, no!” comments really has helped my perspective. You can be too immersed in a situation to see it clearly. Your opinions mean a lot, dear AAM readers!

    1. Jules the Third*

      good luck!!! Drama from customers is understandable, but drama from mgmt is a clear indicator that it’s time to leave.

      Please Glass Door this company on your way out, so that others can avoid.

    2. Observer*

      One thing to think about, if you decide to report this. Even if it was company manager who pushed back, and he would bad mouth you to others, the borrowing is different. No one “owns” the accounts other than the company so why shouldn’t she get the best ones? (I know, I know.) But, she is effectively taking money that DOES already belong to others.

      “Boss, I’m concerned. I’m not sure whether she just thinks she’s entitled to other people’s money, or she’s in trouble and will do anything to get more money. But, who knows what she might do…” Whether it’s direct stealing from the business (and don’t kid yourself, it’s almost certainly possible), stealing from the clients or doing work for the clients “on the side” or whatever, she could really pose a risk to the business. And that’s how I would present it.

    3. motosubatsu*

      With the details from your latest update OP I’d say that your chances of getting this “fixed” in an organisation that dysfunctional are verging on zero. So the best plan is to keep your head down, refuse any further requests for cash from Cersei you receive and run like hell as soon as you can find a job somewhere sane!

  42. Lady Phoenix*

    Having read the update, I believe it is time for you, your amanager, and anyone she’s hit up/tried to hit up to take this to HR and the Company Leader. This is about her extorting from her workers and having her husband hired and under his wife despite the no spouse rule.

    If things work out, then I would say stay in the company. If nothing is done, then leave.

  43. BadMoviesLover*

    My wife had a co-worker who did the same thing to the other employees. She actually passed away owing more than $2,000 to one of the other employees.

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