my coworkers say I’m not fast enough, going to work after being sprayed by a skunk, and more

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

1. Candidate didn’t tell us she’s been at another job for a week

I recently served on an interview committee for an entry-level staff opening in our office. We interviewed Sansa, a candidate we liked very much. Her resume listed that her last job was an internship that ended a few months ago. The next day, we interviewed Arya, another candidate we liked. Arya’s resume listed her current job at Company A and indicated that she had been there for two years.

Later, I was looking at the website of Company A to learn more about it, and found Sansa listed there as a current employee, despite the fact that this job had not appeared anywhere on Sansa’s resume and she never mentioned that she was currently employed.

My boss did some sleuthing and found that the Sansa on Company A’s website was indeed the same Sansa that we interviewed, and she had only worked at Company A for one week at the time of her interview with us. Our hiring committee has varying opinions on this — some now see Sansa as a liar, others want us to approach her with questions about the omission, and some are okay with it, guessing that Sansa felt silly including a job that she’d been at for such a short time on her resume. It might be the case that she started that job and immediately knew it was not a good fit.

How should we best move forward in this situation? Sansa and Arya are both top candidates, but we are concerned about Sansa’s omission on her resume.

This is a completely normal omission and not something you should generally penalize someone for! It wouldn’t have made sense for Sansa to put the job on her resume when she’d only been there a week (and may not have been there at all when she first sent you her resume), and in fact I regularly advise people to leave off jobs that they haven’t been at for long. A resume isn’t a legal document that’s supposed to be a comprehensive account of every job you’ve ever held; the point is to show how you’re a strong candidate for the job you’re applying for, and having held a job for a week is never going to do that. So no lying happened here, unless she told you she was unemployed when you spoke.

The worst thing you can say about her is that she may have taken a job with Company A without intending to commit to them for very long (which is indeed crappy) — but you don’t even know that it’s the case. For all we know, she could have applied with you before she got the job with them, started work there and discovered that she was seriously mismatched with the work, the boss, or the culture, and jumped at the chance to talk with you when your interview invitation came in. Who wouldn’t do the same?

At absolute most, you could say to her, “I happened to be looking at Company A’s website and noticed you’re listed as an employee there. It wasn’t on your resume so I wanted to ask you about it.” But really, it’s unlikely that there’s anything shocking to hear here. This is just not a big deal.

2. My coworkers complain I’m not as fast as my predecessor

Two months ago, I received a promotion from a support position in a low-revenue department to a support position in a high-revenue department. The position had been unoccupied for a month and was previously held by a very nice and very helpful gal for a little less than a year.

I do not have a direct manager (just someone “over me” for administrative purposes who is willing to look over my work if I ask her to) and no one else in my office knows how to do most of my job duties, so I have mostly had to train myself. I am a one-person department. Everyone else in the department was laid off several months ago. They are working to hire a new manager, but it will be an outside hire. They are looking for someone with experience in the field but obviously they won’t know our systems or processes.

The problem is, I am constantly being compared to the gal who previously held my position. I’m constantly hearing “Katie was able to do this a lot faster” or “Katie could pull this report” and other things along those lines. (I hear this from coworkers but not from higher-ups.) How do I handle a situation like this? I really love my job and my employer but I’m concerned that I’m doing a terrible job.

People are astonished that you’re not performing at the level of your predecessor when you’re had no training and your whole department has been laid off? These people … are not very insightful.

Ideally a manager would be telling them to knock it off and pointing out that’s it ridiculous to expect you to perform like Katie when you’re brand new and have had no training or support. Since there’s no manager, you’ll need to do some of this explaining yourself. It’s going to be tricky because you don’t want to sound defensive … but the next time someone makes one of these comments try saying, “I’m sure she was. I want to be up-front with you that I’m still figuring this out. With the rest of the department laid off and no one here to train me, I’ve been having to figure this out as I go. If there are specific things you’d like me to do differently, please tell me! I’d welcome any specific input you have.”

Also — is there anyone else in your organization who does work that’s at all similar? Even if no one else is doing the same thing you are, there might be people doing work that’s similar enough that you could pick their brains or get some training from them.

3. Going to work after being sprayed by a skunk

This situation occurred today in our office and… I’m at a loss for how to handle this one. Ten minutes before leaving for work, my dog startled a skunk. We both got sprayed, though I didn’t know it at the time. We returned home and I subsequently left for work. When I got to work, I began to wonder whether I had gotten any of the scent on me. I asked several coworkers and ended up going home. By that time it was apparent that both my dogs and I had gotten sprayed. We did tomato baths, hydrogen peroxide bath, and Nature’s Miracle within five hours. You can definitely still smell it, although much more faintly.

My coworkers have been kind about this, but how what`s an appropriate way to handle this? It will eventually wear off and most interactions are not with customers or other departments. My coworkers have been kind so far, which is helpful because our company’s contract doesn’t allow working from home even though the company we actually perform work for does allow it. What would you do when stuck like this?

It sounds like you’ve done all you can do, and you’ve explained it to your coworkers. They presumably know that you’re not a magician who can get rid of all traces of the smell immediately, and as long as the smell isn’t overpowering (and it doesn’t sound like it is), this is just a kind of crappy thing that you have to go to work with. If your coworkers are kind people, and you’ve been clear that you’ve taken all measures you can, they should be understanding.

4. Will writing about his marijuana use impact my friend’s career later?

I am writing on behalf of a friend. He is a dad for a year and left his job as a security guard at a high school to care for his child full-time last November. He has since finished his degree and isn’t currently looking for employment. His goal is to, after his daughter is a little older, become a teacher and coach football at a local high school.

Since becoming a full-time dad, he has started to write under a pseudonym for a marijuana-friendly blog out of Canada. The blog has offered him an internship with the opportunity to become a full-time gig. The catch is he must drop the pseudonym and use his real name. They believe he’ll be more relatable. We live in a state where marijuana is 100% is illegal and he discusses his past and current uses of marijuana for medical reasons. Will this decrease his odds of employment in the school system/as a coach?

Yes. Writing about marijuana policy in general? Not a big deal. Writing about his own illegal use of marijuana? A big deal if he wants to teach or coach.

And any responsible marijuana-related publication should know that and not ask that of him. Speaking both as someone who fully supports marijuana legalization and as someone who writes professionally, the idea that he needs to use his real name to talk about illegal activity because it will make him “more relatable” is laughable. He should find an outlet that takes the well-being of their writers more seriously.

5. My manager gave my employee 10 years of my personnel records to copy

I am a manager at a small consulting firm, with one direct report who I manage. I was in a serious car accident (unrelated to my job) and as part of my insurance claim, my employment records were subpoened by the insurance company’s lawyers.

My boss was required to provide a copy of my complete employment record: pay info, salary increases and review notes, medical leave documents, any disciplinary documentation, basically 10 years worth of records. My boss had my direct report photocopy the entire contents. So she saw everything in my record. Was it appropriate for my boss to give this task to someone who I manage? I’m not pleased that she had access to my entire 10-year work history and feel that something this sensitive should have been handled with a little more care. Am I being too sensitive here or did he handle it incorrectly?

No, you’re right to be annoyed. That’s private information that shouldn’t have been handed to your employee. You said it’s a small firm, so it’s possible that there was no else logical to ask (no HR or payroll person or so forth), but if that was the case, your boss really should have just copied it himself.

It’s done at this point so I don’t know that it’s worth making a huge stink about, but if you feel strongly about it you could say something like, “I’m not thrilled that Jane was the one to see 10 years of my personnel history and pay records. Ideally I’d like more of a firewall there with people I manage.”

{ 291 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, please talk your friend out of blogging about marijuana while using his real name (or revealing other identifying information). Talking about personal use could easily get him blacklisted from any number of high school coaching jobs, nevermind other “zero-tolerance” employers. This isn’t to say that athletic coaches and K-12 education professionals don’t use marijuana—medically or recreationally—but public disclosure would open your friend up to risk if this is indeed his ideal career path. Most states are draconian about how they perceive and treat illicit drug use in public schools, and many private schools have similar restrictions.

    1. Gadfly*

      It can even be a problem in states where it is legal, depending on the employer. Just because it is (somewhat–still the fed issue) legal doesn’t mean that all employers agree, or that all insurance coverage for the employer agrees, or somewhere sensitive (like schools) are going to take the risk while it is questionable.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        My friend is a music teacher at a middle school in a state where it’s legal, and their work does drug-testing.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yep. No school in Colorado (where recreational use is legal) will hire someone who uses pot recreationally, AFAIK. And a fairly large percentage of blue-collar and lower-wage hourly jobs absolutely still do drug testing — my brother knows the manager of the Wal Mart in my hometown, and he was complaining that out of a pool of 20 or 30 applicants for a job recently, NONE of them passed the drug test, and ALL of them were shocked! that they were being screened for weed.

      3. Jadelyn*

        Nude modeling is legal, but female teachers who used to model still get fired if someone digs up old photos from their modeling days. Especially in anything involving A: children, B: public funds, or C: both of the above, “it was legal” doesn’t protect you if the employer gets even a tiny hint of something potentially ~scandalous~ in your background.

    2. dawbs*

      Yes–I work in education and the ‘this is illegal federally’ thing means that if I were recorded with ‘legal’ medical marijuana, I would likely find myself unemployed (behavior clause crap in our handbooks) and unemployable (extensive background checks)

      Which really sucks when you have medical issues that would be much easier fixed w/ MJ than the opiods they keep writing me scripts for :/

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        See that’s what pisses me off. Someone on prescribed oxycontin, a heavy duty narcotic similar to heroin, would presumably be acceptable to a prospective employer because it’s for a medical purpose (unless they operate machinery), but not weed.
        Just goes to show younthe stranglehold big pharma has over politicians.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I don’t want to get too far off topic, but I don’t think it’s big pharma that’s keeping weed from being used as a medical option.

          1. Candi*

            There are a lot of federal regulations around marijuana and research into it; as far as I can tell, their creation was related to the media hysteria that got it slapped on the narcotics list in the first place.

            The paperwork any R&D company has to go through to get federal permission to experiment is NUTS. Someone has to get paid for that, to do that, and do it right.

            Pharmacy companies would likely love to be researching, and making money off of, marijuana products.

            Just to get started:

            • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
            • Conducts and supports scientific research with
            marijuana and compounds found in marijuana
            • Oversees the cultivation of marijuana at the University of Mississippi (through a contract)
            • Designated by DEA as the single source of marijuana for medical research
            • NIDA assesses the varieties and quantities needed to meet anticipated US research needs
            • DEA establishes yearly quota of the amount grown
            • NIDA provides marijuana to researchers when:
            • Demonstrated scientific validity and ethical soundness of study
            • Submitted/approved IND to the FDA
            • Have a DEA Schedule 1 controlled substance license

            FDA Regulation of Marijuana: Past Actions, Future Plans

            Note there’s only one federally legal source of marijuana for medical research -and any pharmaceutical company that exists in more than one state is not going to tangle with federal law.

    3. Alli525*

      And honestly, I’d be concerned that (since it’s illegal where he lives) CPS might get a little over-reachy and start a case against him. Keeping employment prospects open is serious enough without also potentially opening the door to child-endangerment charges. Seems unlikely but not impossible, especially if he’s a POC or in a more conservative state.

      1. Kj*

        Yep. As a mandated reporter who is around a lot of other mandated reporters, there is always one who decides to overreach. And child endangerment charges can be fatal to any career working with kids- any founded charges will disallow a job working with kids. There are LOTS of risks here.

    4. Anonymous Teacher*

      If your friend is considering being in any position with responsibility for teaching or being with any children, any age, he should not have anything connected to his name and marijuana. I am part of a cannabis study for intractable chronic pain, legal in my state but would certainly be a problem for employment if it were public.

  2. Viki*

    Re: #4. If the writer is Canadian (unsure from the letter) writing about marijuana/legalization issues would in theory not be something that could be held against him as Canada has decriminalized marijuana and is working on fully legalizing and selling marijuana by 2018. That could make it all a non-issue as the attitude towards marijuana in Canada is different and more akin to alcohol than in other countries.

    But regardless, forcing a writer to use their real name is very odd; could your friend go by his middle name if he is very attached to the idea of writing for the blog?

    1. Mes*

      This is very dependent on the area. There are many conservative parts of Canada. Marijuana is viewed nothing like alcohol in my area and in many others. OP should use a pseudonym no matter what country they’re in.

      1. Viva*

        Ditto. Even legal medical marijuana has stigma attached here in Canada (even in weed friendly major cities – never mind smaller conservative places) and I know two people who have had real problems at work because of it.

        And just because something ‘in theory’ is or isn’t legal doesn’t mean much when the onus and lawyer costs are on the employee.

        1. Jesca*

          I can believe that as I am sure not everyone embraces what was for so long considered an illegal drug. I can also imagine that people who want to go into teaching would probably run into this problem more frequently as well, since it is not just about the school, but the way it will look to their community. It sucks people are still this way, but it is a reality I am sure!

            1. Annabelle*

              This. Teachers are held to really intense standards. I have a friend who was reprimanded after running into her students’ parents while buying wine. I can’t imagine what would happen if she was publicly disclosing marijuana use.

              1. Floundering Mander*

                Reprimanded for doing perfectly normal shopping? In a place where they presumably had zero control over what other customers might come in?

                That is straight up crazy.

                1. Annabelle*

                  Yep. She got a talking to about “appropriate behavior in public” and was advised to go to stores one county (so, a different school district) over if she wanted to buy alcohol. It was totally bonkers.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      Legal or not, the rules of behavior for educators are very different from the general public. If he wants to work in education, he should steer clear of attaching his name to anything potentially controversial.

    3. Mephyle*

      The letter seemed to me to explain clearly that the friend is an American in the US, and writes for a blog based in Canada. That means, of course that his posts could be read anywhere the world, including by readers in his home state.

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      This isn’t about legality, this is about people’s reactions to the information. And as we all know here, people do have personal reactions to things, and those reactions do influence their interactions with people.

  3. Gaia*

    I live in a state with legal recreational use and even here it would make him unemployable as a teacher or coach if he was found to have written about his own use on a blog.

    1. Artemesia*

      A blog that pushes a writer to do that seems to have a hidden agenda that is not in the interests of the writer. I wouldn’t write for them at all as I would not trust my identity would be protected if I chose to use a pen name. These people are not safe.

  4. Sami*

    OP#3: In the past few weeks, both of my sister’s dogs have been sprayed by a skunk. So far it sounds like you’ve been doing everything right. Additionally make sure that any rugs, carpets, drapes or curtains, towels, any of your clothes, bath mats, etc. have been thoroughly and/or professionally cleaned or tossed out. Good luck!

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      The dog we were dogsitting for last week got sprayed the night her owner came to pick her up. We scrubbed her for two hours, and our whole house smelled like skunk for several days. But it will pass, OP! And your coworkers know that as well.

      In the meantime, is there a more isolated space you could work in at work for a couple of days, like an unused conference room? Or a space closer to a window? If not, don’t worry too much. I were your coworker, I’d be feeling sympathy for you, not annoyance.

    2. Annonymouse*

      I’ll tell you how I handled a similar situation. (We don’t have skunks where I live.)

      As I was heading to work I took out the trash, the bag split and I got sprayed head to toe with rotten milk.

      I instantly went inside and called my boss telling them I’d be late and why. Then I took another shower, put my clothes in the wash and changed into a new outfit.

      I made sure there was no trace of milk smell on me before leaving.

      If you work in an enclosed space or with lots of people the decent thing to do is make sure the smell doesn’t interfere with their ability to work or stink out the office.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Unfortunately skunk spray is notorious for lingering – a bath and new clothes are not enough to get rid of the scent. It’s also strong enough I’ve that you can smell it while driving by the site at 100 km/hr with the windows rolled up. An understanding boss would let you stay home for the day while you work the smell off.

        1. Triplestep*

          Right. Plus it seems like the OP did the skunk version of everything Annonymouse suggested. I’m not seeing where she didn’t do “the decent thing” once she knew she’d been sprayed.

          OP, the only thing I might add is that you can bake something to bring to work as a peace offering. Or maybe make a lighthearted gift basket including nice-smelling things and Fabreeze. (Unless you work with any fragrance-sensitive folks.)

          1. Chinook*

            “(Unless you work with any fragrance-sensitive folks.)”

            If the OP works with fragrance-sensitive folks, then she should try to find a work from home alternative until the scent clears.

            1. OP 3*

              Oops, that was in reference to baking. As a side note, we have a least two employees with repository or scent sensitivity issues – impacting them was a concern.

              I am not a direct employee of my parent company. They allow for telecommuting. My actual company does not. While my daily manager would be fine with that, we’ve had several issues with our company on their policies and the reasonability.

              Another employee had to leave work because his spouse was having surgery and had potentially life-threatening complications. They got in trouble.

              On a positive note, I’ve heard they are addressing the telecommuting policy this week. Hopefully we will have this option in the future because I would have jumped at it.

              1. MCMonkeyBean*

                Wow, what a horrible thing for your coworker to get in trouble for! I hope your company does update their policies and becomes more reasonable in the future!

                1. Gazebo Slayer*

                  I was recently told not to return to a job after I had to make several medical appointments for a possibly scary issue (which is fine now) so… that happens. At this point I expect it and feel like I should never mention a health problem to an employer, call in sick, or schedule a medical appointment during work hours again.

        2. Temperance*

          A skunk died under my home when I was a teenager, and I had to call my mom to pick me up from school because I smelled like it and didn’t realize for an embarrassing amount of time.

      2. Anony nonny no*

        So today I learned… if you accidentally get sprayed with something smelly, wash and change your clothes. Amazing!

      3. DArcy*

        The problem here is that skunk spray is a LOT more persistent than rotten milk, and also vastly more pungent. The stuff is a natural chemical weapon evolved to outright incapacitate predators that hunt by scent.

      4. Kathleen Adams*

        I’ve never personally been sprayed (thank goodness) but one time after I simply drove my car over a dead skunk – without hitting it, because I was very careful about that – my car still stunk for weeks, despite two car washes, including the special under-carriage wash. It was particularly bad in enclosed spaces, so walking into the garage first thing in the morning was oh, so unpleasant.

        So yeah, while showering and changing clothes, post skunk, is a fine idea, it will NOT be enough.

        Good to know about Febreze, though. It works on many things, but I didn’t know skunk juice was one of them. :-)

      5. Breda*

        Yeah, there’s a reason the OP mentions three different kinds of chemical baths: there’s nothing, NOTHING, that can get all traces of skunk smell off you. If you’ve never actually interacted with a skunk, you wouldn’t know this, but it’s not like anything else.

        My dog was once sprayed in the face, and he smelled like skunk every time he exhaled for a month, poor guy.

      1. Amber T*

        Febreeze is literally magic juice. I don’t recommend spraying it on yourself (or your dog), but your clothes, couch, carpet… literally anything you two may have touched (or even didn’t).

        As a funny aside, my parents’ old dog once got sprayed by a skunk (actually many times… he liked to think they were his friends). He was a Samoyed, which is a fluffy white polar bear looking dog. My parents tried tomato juice… and ended up with a pink (and still smelly) dog!

        1. Em*

          We had a skunk problem for a while, and our dog and cat both got lightly sprayed a few times (not so bad that it was overwhelming, but you could definitely smell them. I sprayed them with febreeze.

        2. Meghan*

          I just had the thought of “how would I clean my Samoyed-mix if this happened?” Thank you for letting me know how that would end up.

          1. dawbs*

            there’s a concoction of soap, peroxide, and baking soda that works better without turning pink–if you google, you’ll find the ratios.
            Not perfect, but it’s the best solution I’ve found, and my dog was dumb enough not to figure out that the black and white ‘kitties’ didn’t want to play until 4 or 5 sprays in :P

      2. Soon to be former fed*

        There are also institutional strength spray deodorizers used by nursing homes and hospitals.

        And I have sprayed Febreeze in ny hair to remove cigarette smoke smell, with no ill effects.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          Seconding the “get smoke smells out of your hair” bit!

          “Febreeze yourself” was a running joke in my college house… because we did that in lieu of showering sometimes the morning after the bar when we had to go to work/class.

          1. Midge*

            “Febreeze yourself” is also useful if you have to hand wash your clothes. In college, I did fieldwork where I would get pretty smelly. And all I had to wash my clothes was a plastic tub for water and my own two hands. (And detergent, of course.) I used Febreeze to make sure my technically clean clothes actually smelled clean.

            Funny story, I told this to one of my professors who was supervising the field work at the time. Years later, I think she mixed up where the story came from and forgot some of the details. So she swore that another student never actually washed her clothes all summer and just sprayed them with Febreeze. Oops!

        2. Kalie*

          PSA from a long-term waitress: to get persistent smoke and fryer grease smells out of your hair, use a tiny dab of (clear, unscented) Dawn dish liquid. It will dry out your hair like mad, so use a deep conditioner afterwards.

        3. Soon to be former fed*

          I should have noted that it’s not my cigarette smoke, I smoke nothing. A dear friend and her husband both smoke inside their home, I reek after visiting them. I’ve actually scale back on visiting them for this reason, as I have a heart condition and smoke aggravates it.

      3. Chinook*

        “FEBREEZE!!! Actually works pretty well on skunk smell.”

        I am honestly surprised they don’t use this as a point in their advertising. Forget getting rid of stinky trash or smelly feet smells – if their product can work on skunk, then it can definitely work on anything!

    3. DeskBird*

      I live in an area with so many skunks – my dog has been sprayed a couple of times. I cannot stress enough that the length of time it takes you to react is critical. Using Nature’s Miracle within minutes vs. hours of being sprayed makes a huge huge difference. First time my dog got sprayed I gave her a tomato bath that night then got Nature’s Miracle the next day – and I kid you not for the next year she smelled bad whenever she got wet. The last time I dragged her into the bath and doused her with Nature’s Miracle within minutes of her being sprayed and she was fine in a few days. All the difference in the world. You cannot let that stuff sink in. I always keep some on hand at the house, if you even vaguely suspect that your dog got any on her – douse her immediately.

      1. Murphy*

        I never would have thought of Nature’s Miracle for skunk smell! I will definitely try this if this ever happens to me.

        1. Peanut*

          Just FYI, it’s the Nature’s Miracle product specifically for skunk, not the regular stuff for dog pee. Unfortunately, by the time we figured out our dog had gotten sprayed by a skunk (really fresh skunk spray does not smell like the slightly older stuff), it was several hours later. We had already bathed him in water and shampoo (do not do this if you suspect skunk!!)) and then gave him another bath with the hydrogen peroxide solution. Now the dog is leaning toward blonde, but his face still stunk the next day so he got another bath then with the Nature’s Miracle skunk solution.

          His face still reeks. It makes him very popular at doggie daycare, apparently, but he won’t be getting kisses from any humans for a long, long time.

          1. Chinook*

            “formula ( but it has the advantage of being ready-to-use and not requiring mixing.”

            I can just imagine the business conversation around selling it as a ready mix:
            “We could sell it as a concentrate like we do our other products. It would be easier to ship, yada, yada, yada.”
            “But do you think a customer who has been sprayed would want to spend the time to mix it or actually read the directions? Would you?”

        2. DeskBird*

          Oppps – yes, should have said, it is a special product for skunk. It is usually right next to the normal stuff, I would super highly recommend buying it before you need it and hoping you never do.

    4. Case of the Mondays*

      When my dog got sprayed, it got in her eyes and really irritated them. I called the emergency vet. She gave me the recipe for a concoction to get rid of the smell. All the ingredients were over the counter. I don’t remember all of them now but one was peroxide, one was dish detergent and the most key ingredient was feminine d0uche$. When I ran to the pharmacy to get the ingredients (also smelling like a skunk) one of the staff members was helping me quickly grab what I needed. From several aisles over she yelled “how much does your dog weigh?” I said 60 pounds. She yelled back “You are going to need 10 d0uche$” That got the attention of the whole store. That magic feminine ingredient is key for the face and eye area because you don’t want to get peroxide there. Apparently the boric acid neutralizes the burn and the spray spigot is perfect for keeping it localized. I know such products are no longer recommended for women but if they ever discontinue them, I hope they move the original unscented ones to the pet dept for skunk issues.

      1. Lynxa*

        Dish detergent works really well on skunk smell because skunks spray an oil! (as though it couldn’t get any grosser!) And douches usually have vinegar too, which also helps with smell. I’ve never thought of using douches for stinky dog purposes, but that’s kind of genius.

      2. Soon to be former fed*

        Plain white vinegar is the most common ingredient in commercial douches and is also a known odor remover. Shallow bowls of vinegar placed around the office could helo during the acute stinky phase. Of course, some won’t like the smell of the vinegar either.

  5. Janelle*

    LW1: this LW really bothers me. Lied? Good grief. No one is ever required to tell you every job they’ve held. Over reaction is an understatement.

    1. Jeanne*

      She certainly couldn’t have had the job when she applied for the job. And if she did include it, what would her job duties be or her accomplishments? She found the bathroom and learned the names of 15 coworkers. They are being completely ridiculous. It is not a lie and the job is not even relevant.

      1. SunshineOH*

        Your first point is what I came here to say. Unless LW1’s hiring process is REALLY fast, there’s no way she had the job when she applied for this one. In fact, the interview was likely schedules before she started at Company A. At worst, she isn’t planning to leave the job and didn’t cancel the interview for some reason.

        1. McWhadden*

          There is a lot of career advice out there that says it’s rude to EVER cancel an interview.

          I mean that’s crazy advice and of course a company would rather not take the time to interview someone that won’t take the job in the end. But it is out there. And she may have genuinely thought it was bad form to cancel.

            1. Temperance*

              I’ve seen advice that says you should take every interview, even if you don’t want the job, so you can get practice in.

                1. Sarah*

                  Yep, I heard this from career services too! I agree it’s terrible advice (as is much of the advice from career services), but it very well may be something she has heard from a “trusted” source. Young people often don’t realize how inaccurate a lot of career services advice is until they get that real world experience — I certainly did not!

                1. nonymous*

                  I had an internal interview that wasn’t going to pan out (the hiring manager told me at the interview beginning) and the way I wrapped it up (I asked her to give me an unflinching critique of my resume, which she gleefully tore to shreds, some legitimate, some not so much) made one of the staff look at my department in her own job search. The staff member ended up being my replacement when I moved onto grad school!

                1. Kate*

                  I feel like it falls in the realm of “advice from your parents you should ignore”. I think it’s based on this unfounded fear that it will get around that you cancel interviews and sound flaky.

      2. Allison*

        And it may be that she applied for OP’s company when she was in the interview process for Company A, either in case she didn’t get the job or so she could continue to qualify for unemployment, if she were on it at the time, or maybe the job just looked that good and she thought “hey, why not?” since she didn’t have a job yet, even though the interview might have gone well.

        A resume is not a background check document, it doesn’t have to have every job fully disclosed and every month of your career accounted for.

        1. Kathleen Adams*

          Unless she actually lied. I agree that there’s no reason to wonder about why it wasn’t on her resume – I mean, how could it be? – but if she actually said or implied that she was unemployed during the interview, that would be a cause for concern, at least for me. I’m not saying I would automatically eliminate her or anything, but a lie would bother me.

          But of course, she almost certainly wasn’t asked. Why would she be?

          1. Jeanne*

            Most people who interview have to leave another job. I wouldn’t even feel the need to discuss it unless we were farther along and thinking about a job offer and start dates. Not in a first interview.

      3. Erin*

        What if she took an emergency job like retail or food service in between the time of applying for the job and hearing back? Sometimes months can go by before you hear from an employer about your application. I don’t think people should be looked down upon as a liar or undepenable because they took a survival job.

    2. SleeplessInLA*

      I’m glad that someone else was as annoyed by letter #1 as me. To accuse Sansa of being a liar is such a huge leap. Aside from hiring timelines making it near impossible to list the Company A on her resume, there’s literally nothing meaningful she could say about it after one week.

      LW#1: I don’t even know that asking about it would be ideal because putting myself in her shoes, if a potential employer “confronted” me over an omission they found on my resume after e-sleuthing I’d be completely turned off. This brings back memories of a former boss that I never felt trusted me and always needed an explanation/justification over every. little. thing. was which was anxiety inducing.

      1. Soon to be former fed*

        It’s a curiosity that someone would keep interviewing after accepting a job, elsewhere, I have never done that in 40 years of working.

        I do understand that financial pressures can lead to taking a less than ideal job while still in the job search process. Most new hires don’t have accrued time to take off for continued interviewing, so the mechanics of it all can be a bit problematic.

        I would want to know the candidate’s specific situation, but I wouldn’t hold it against her. OP wasn’t looking to out her, it was happenstance. If she is the best candidate, I would offer her the position. It’s on her to figure out how to resign from the current job withoit burning bridges, if that’s possible

    3. Runner*

      I applied to a call center that had me list every single employer in I think the past 10 years and implied exclusion of any would be immediate disqualification. I mean this was low level non-government work, the whole thing and approach made no sense. (I notice this too is over someone who is either in her very first job or close to it, having been an intern just months ago.)

      1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        The 10 years is for the background check that the call center would have had to run if you were in a position that took payments over the phone. They just collect the info up front instead of during the on-boarding process.

    4. Liz2*

      Yeah maybe I am cranky but LW1 just repeats the stereotype that companies expect you to give up everything, be powerless, and have no job ever except the ones they deign to offer. And then never ever consider leaving!

      1. Jeanne*

        I’d stay forever if they offered real things like pensions and raises. Not for these days when they treat you badly and expect everything in return.

      2. Obi-wan's wife*


        In fact I’m wishin Sansa knew about this letter and would avoid this business like the plague.

    5. Samiratou*

      My first thought is Sansa liked the sound of the job at LW’s company better, but one bird in hand vs two in the bush and all that. Company A offers her a position and she hadn’t heard from LW’s company and needed a job, so…

      If I were in her position–getting contacted about an interview around the time I started at a new job, I would continue with the interview and see. Lots can happen–Maybe I’m no sure yet about how Company A will work out and still prefer the job with LW’s company. Maybe I interview and don’t feel like it’s a good fit. Maybe by the time LW’s company presented an offer I would turn it down because I’m happy at A. Or A is the most dysfunctional workplace of all time and I’ll jump at the chance.

      Lots of possibilities that don’t add up to Sansa being a liar.

    6. Karen D*

      The only thing I can say is that it is somewhat discourteous to Company A.

      We hired “Candy” to fill the fourth spot in our department, paid rather exorbitant cross-country relocation costs (she “negotiated” a much more generous relocation package than we normally provide), purchased some office equipment/furniture she requested and went through two weeks of increased workload getting her introduced to everyone she needed to meet (extensive community contacts) and training her on the location-specific elements of her job. We went out of her way to make sure it was a good fit … And then a month later she announces “Sorry (not sorry) I’ve accepted another job.”

      Corporate was so PO’d (understandable, considering we had busted our department’s budget bringing Candy on board) that they eliminated the position. Which turned out OK … but still, we saw it as a pretty stinky move on Candy’s part, given all we did to accommodate her.

      At the least, I’d question Sansa about her commitment to stay at OP’s company if things get that far.

      1. LadyKelvin*

        Wow, well I hope Candy had to repay her relocation costs. I have to repay mine if I leave within a year of getting the job.

      2. Sarah E. Brock*

        This is what alarmed me about the first letter. Agreed with other comments that she didn’t lie by leaving it off. But I find it a huge red flag when I find out a candidate has already accepted a job (much less actually started) and is still looking. To me when you give your word to a company that you’ll join them, you’re putting your integrity on the line and agreeing to follow-through and actually start and work. Totally fine if you decide it’s not for you after a few weeks or a month in. I’ve rejected a candidate before when I found out he had committed to another organization already because it makes me believe he’d pull the same stuff with my job. There are exceptions of course like if they had to take a retail or hourly job to get by, but if it’s a career job on par with what they previously did, I won’t consider them if I found out that they have an accepted offer and plan to start elsewhere.

      3. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

        It is not uncommon to have a “claw back” provision in an employment offer letter that says the person must pay back relocation costs and/or signing bonus in the event the person quits in less than a year.

    7. peachie*

      I don’t mean to pile on to LW1, but I gotta say, when I first read the letter, I was sure I’d missed or misinterpreted something, because that is not a reasonable response to the actual situation.

    8. JustaLurker*

      I wonder if LW was new to hiring and interviewing candidates. If this is new territory for LW it could explain her reaction to such a non-issue.

  6. TL -*

    Could your friend compromise on a “real-sounding” name instead of a blog psuedonym? For instance, if he’s currently writing as PotDad, maybe he can write as Maurice Jane instead.

    I don’t think he’ll get hired if this is known. And if he gets hired and this comes out, the chances of him getting fired are incredibly high.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      This is what I was going to suggest. I use a real-sounding pseudonym for some of my freelance work. I use it for work that I don’t want linked to my actual name or professional reputation (things like editing self-published books, mindless top ten lists for magazine/blog ghostwriting, etc.). I have my PayPal account set up under my freelance business name and have a separate freelance email, so my real name is rarely ever used, but all my freelance clients know it’s a pseudonym and understand my reason for using one.

      It’s definitely worth suggesting, OP. Pseudonyms aren’t unusual for this type of work, and it’s a little weird that a blog is that insistent he use his real name, especially for such a contentious topic.

    2. Runner*

      I’m sure the website wants the real name — and not for purposes having to do with the writer’s welfare. This is definitely to bring as much publicity to the website as possible by promoting this real story — it’s the kind of thing that could go viral. It’s appalling. I wonder if the OP should go above the editor who suggested this because this seems a bald power/glory media grab with zero sense of the subject matter.

        1. Had Matter's Pea Tarty*

          If they got in trouble/were sacked and it got out it could be a story – and they could get name-checked on whatever articles are published, meaning for traffic for them.

          1. Colette*

            That’s an unnecessarily convoluted plan, and it depends on a lot of things that are outside their control.

            I doubt it’s more complicated than that they think it’s more sincere/believable if it’s attached to a real name.

        2. Oryx*

          Think of it like the AAM update we had the other day, with the guy who had broke up with his girlfriend and then she ended up being his potential boss.

          This is an anonymous blog: we have no idea who he is or who the real Sylvia is. But those posts and that story and that drama caught on like wildfire and was picked up by a ton of online sources. Imagine if his real name was attached to that.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But “man using medical marijuana” is not exactly a sensational story. Certainly something could happen that could give it more viral potential, but it’s really, really unlikely that it’s going to happen (people speak out publicly about their medical marijuana use all the time; it’s not really new or exciting!), and it’s even less likely that the publication is urging him to use his real name in the hope of that happening. I assume they want him to use his real name for the reason they stated. It’s still a bad idea, but for different reasons.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, I think they’re picturing some martyrs for the cause, and not worrying about details like how it will affect real people with real lives. If they out enough users, then people will realize (insert disapproved activity) is really common.

      2. Manders*

        I think this is unlikely–it sounds much more like someone made a blanket decision about the way names would appear on the site without considering why someone would need an exception to the rule. They may think real names make them look more like a respectable news source.

        To be honest, as someone living in a state where medical and recreational marijuana have been legal for a while, it’s easy to forget at times that I’m living in a bubble. Our local news reporters have written about smoking pot using their own names in their bylines for years. I’m guessing the people running the website live in a similar place and pot has become so normalized that they just aren’t used to thinking about having to hide their habits now.

        1. Anion*

          It’s one thing for us writers to write about using, though; it’s not going to compromise or effect our jobs. I’m a novelist. I could write about smoking pot all day if I wanted to, and nobody in my industry would care or see me as unhireable. But if I was also a teacher or worked in an office or was a volunteer at a hospital, even, that could have some serious repercussions.

          1. Manders*

            Oh yeah, I’m not saying it doesn’t have repercussions! I just suspect that the kind of people who run a blog about pot (which is apparently doing well enough to hire full-time writers–impressive!) are probably not thinking about things like whether their work might impact someone’s chances of teaching kids in the future. They may also be based in a state where smoking is legal, but they’re hiring people from places where smoking is not legal, which adds another layer of complication they don’t seem to be thinking about.

            Basically, I don’t think there’s any malice on the part of the blog owners here, just a lack of consideration for people in different situations.

    3. Lindsay J*

      Exactly. I mean even professional writers use real sounding pen names for different reasons.

      Anne Rice used Anne Roquelare or something like that on her Sleeping Beauty trilogy because of the content of the trilogy – she didn’t necessarily want it associated with her other writings. J. K. Rowling published under Robert Galbraith to get less biased feedback and avoid the high expectations that came with publishing under her own name.

    4. Anion*

      Yes. I’m a professional writer, and no one has ever suggested to me that my real name is somehow more “trustworthy” or “relatable” than my pseudonym–but my pseudonym is also a “real” name, it’s just not my exact legal name. I can see them saying he needs a better, more real-name-sounding pseudonym, *maybe,* if the coach’s pseud is something like “Toker128” or “Purple Snurd,” or something, but there’s no reason to insist he use his actual legal name; no reputable/legitimate publishing company or website would insist that its writers expose themselves like that. Especially if they’re writing about something as controversial as marijuana/drug use.

  7. Panda Bandit*

    LW #4 – A blog wanting him to connect his real name with an illegal activity is always a bad idea. They don’t know what they’re doing. Generally with social media you want to be relatable and personable but this is so not the way to do it.

    1. Paul*

      One of the things my parents taught me was to never admit to a crime, particularly in writing. I’m actually mad at the magazine place for expecting someone to do that.

      1. Infinity Anon*

        The only possible benign explanation would be that they don’t realize it is a crime where he lives. They should know that, but if it is legal where the editor lives either they didn’t look up where the writer lives or don’t realize that it is still illegal in most states and at a federal level.

  8. Elizabeth West*

    I’m glad the OP who got sprayed didn’t get any in her eyes–that could be serious. And that doggos are okay. I’m not usually bothered by skunk smell wafting about, but up close (as in you or a dog is sprayed), it’s really overwhelming!

  9. Myrin*

    I realise that it must have sucked majorly but I have to say that ” going to work after being sprayed by a skunk” is one of the more delightful headlines we’ve had on this site.

    I’m with Alison, OP – don’t sweat it! And in the vein of sweating, I actually realised last week while sitting down next to a coworker where I’d had to spend the rest of my day that I reeked strongly of sweat. I don’t sweat a lot usually and don’t normally smell at all and later realised it was because of my jumper but I was super embarrassed at the moment! Since I have a good rapport with said guy, I pre-emptively apologised and he was very chill about it, so while I squirmed in embarrassment, he totally didn’t care and was very nice about it.

      1. Snowglobe*

        I don’t know how to get rid of skunk smell, but to get rid of sweat smell put the clothes in your freezer, and then wash the next day. That will kill the bacteria that causes the odor.

        1. Purplesaurus*

          I’ve also had success rubbing antibacterial soaps on the sweaty area and leaving it to soak overnight, tossing it in the wash, and then allowing the garment to dry in the sun/open air as opposed to the dryer, which seems to “bake” smells into clothes. Or perhaps that’s only my dryer.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Dryers do literally bake in both scents and stains. If you have an oily stain that hasn’t been removed fully, the dryer will seal it in.

        2. Samata*

          To get rid of skunk smell (and cat pee smell) in the past I’ve used the Scent-Away that hunters use.

          For my stinky sweaty clothes I pre-wash in vinegar and then throw a cup of baking soda in with the detergent for the full cycle. So far that has worked wonders!

        3. Temperance*

          Thank you for this tip!

          I’m a sweaty girl, and also kind of a mess, so I’ve figured out that hand sanitizer will neutralize the smell in the moment.

          1. Specialk9*

            Vagisil in the underwear (to prevent yeast infections – baby powder is food to those bugs), and some in the bra, helps. Not too much, or you leave powder on your seat! (But that’s pre-planning, and not in the moment.)

            I knew a lady who only used baking powder on her armpits, I think bc it was so cheap. In 4 years, I never once smelled BO.

    1. BadPlanning*

      I was sitting at work one day and thought, what smells bad? It was me — or more specifically, my jeans. I left them in my front load washer for too long and they smelled musty. Fortuantely, I could duck out at lunch and work from home. And rewash the offending load of laundry.

      1. Specialk9*

        I hate that! You leave the laundry a little too long (was it last night or the one before?) But the test sniff smells ok, so into the dryer. Until you eat it, and it was the night before after all, and oh man this smell it’s getting to me!

    2. Amber T*

      That’s one of my worst fears at work… getting a whiff of BO or something funky, surreptitiously sniffing myself and thinking, is that me? Then finding out… yes, yes it is.

    3. Specialk9*

      Hand sanitizer. Nonchalantly put 2 pumps worth in your hand, go to the bathroom, rub on the outside of your shirt and inside on your pits. Then keep your arms down in public till the alcohol dries.

      Alternatively, soap and water, pits and shirt. Takes longer to dry, but still works. In middle school I had an embarrassing stinky day, and wish I had known this trick.

  10. Jeanne*

    #2, There is really no good response to “You’re not as fast as Katie.” They are being rude, especially if the difference is hours not weeks. You don’t even know if she did the job quickly and well or quickly and poorly. A non-committal “Mm hmm” or “how interesting” said flatly is probably best. Maybe a two seconds too long stare. You could ask them when they need it but not everything can be ASAP because there’s only one of you. Good luck!

    1. Janelle*

      I had this employee constantly say “Jill used to buy snacks”. Stuff like that. I had to do three years worth of work because all Jill in fact did was online shop. Finally I snapped one day when he mentioned some free food item I had not ordered for him and replied “Well Jill didn’t do her job for three years so now that I have to fix that I don’t have time to order you free cookies”. That stopped that.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Oh I’m so with you on this. I recently asked my supervisor for some policy documents because I couldn’t find them, his response was “Well Fergus was working on that.”
        Dude you fired Fergus over a year ago for not doing his job, I think its safe to say Fergus did not finish that.

      2. kittymommy*

        I used to have a job where the same person would say things like “Mary used to bring is candy, Mary used to do x for me, Mary used to…”. All things that were not part of the job (or even the company). I finally gut fed up and told them that Mary was now in department x, perhaps they could transfer.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Oh I have a good response, “Hi Jenny, thanks for letting me know that I’m not as fast as Katie was. Ya know, I worked with a Jenny at my old job. She was a real leader and very friendly. Too bad you can’t read social cues as well as she did.”

    3. neverjaunty*

      This. Their comments are not really about the quality of the OP’s work, it’s just “I’m mad Katie no longer works here and I hate change”. They sound like children complaining that their bedtime is unfair because so-and-so’s mom lets her kids stay up late.

    4. JulieBulie*

      I’ve been in OP’s shoes. I know at least once, I replied to one of those comments with, “well, Katie quit and doesn’t want to come back, so you’re stuck with me now.” It was definitely not the most diplomatic response, but it was effective.

      At another job, in response to “Katie always finished everything on the same day I gave it to her,” I said, “wow! That’s not what I heard” (because coworkers had assured me that Boss had complained constantly about how slow and error-ridden Katie’s work had been). Again, not very diplomatic, but I was actually sort of hoping to be fired from that place. Anyway, it was the last time I heard about Katie.

      At another job, people were always talking about Katie1 and Katie2, and my coworker and I were getting tired of it. Then there was a reorg, and the manager who had spoken the most nostalgically about Katie1 and Katie2 ended up in charge of us. And when he realized what we had to deal with and the mess that the Katies had left behind, he stopped talking about the Katies.

      Incidentally, after leaving those jobs, I heard that the bosses were boring my successors with tales of how great I had been.

      So, take heart, OP. Your coworkers are being rude, but what they’re doing isn’t unusual; someday they will be making similar comments about you to your successor. And Alison’s script is excellent. It is absolutely a great idea to tell someone who’s making such remarks that you welcome their helpful input.

      1. OP 2*

        Thank you so much! And thanks to AAM for responding. Things have cooled off a little bit as I’ve learned a little bit more (still mostly training myself). The big thing now is that other departments are expecting me to do the work that my nonexistent manager would be doing, so we’re trying to sort that out. The good news is that I might have my very own manager here soon!

        1. Irish Em*

          Not sure if this would come off as too snarky or not, but what about something like, “Katie didn’t train me (to do X), (so, no I’m not as fast as she was)(so if you know how to do X faster tell me).” The things in brackets are optional depending on mood/snark vs tact, etc.

          Good luck!

          1. JulieBulie*

            I don’t think that last bit (“if you know how to do it faster, please tell me!”) sounds snarky at all as long as you don’t say it the wrong way. Let people know that you’re open to any help or improvement they can offer. I’ve had a lot of success with this in non-Katie situations when my work was criticized by people who were in a position to offer the support I needed (and in some cases, were actually supposed to provide it), but were only dissing.

  11. Mike C.*

    What in the heck is wrong with using a pseudonym? This has been a common practice among writers, actors and other creatives and intellectuals for hundreds if not thousands of years.

    Heck, just about everyone commenting here is doing the very same thing!

    1. Had Matter's Pea Tarty*

      Dunno about you, but I’m not…

      (You would not *believe* how hard it is to fit this name on a tag…)

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Eh, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with a publication wanting columnists to use their real names (as I wrote below, it was U.S. News’ requirement that I use mine that got me to drop my anonymity here); that’s pretty normal. The issue here is just that of course it’s different when your subject matter is about breaking the law.

      1. neverjaunty*

        But those publications also allow anonymity in certain circumstances – and the reason for requiring real names is not “it makes you relatable”. These people just sound like idiots.

    3. Catalin*

      I don’t just use a pseudonym here, I actually write (published) novels under a completely different name. It isn’t about hiding behind something or being ashamed, it’s about separation of identities.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Yep. I write published novels under a pseudonym (but my “real name” is attached to my copyright pages so it is a thin veneer at best) and occasionally comment here under this one. I may someday decide to comment here under the author pseudonym, but for now I like the complete anonymity.

    4. Antilles*

      I’m with you. I just don’t see how it matters. If we’re talking about some obviously fake name like “Johnny Growseed” or something, then *maybe* you could argue that it makes the article seem less genuine. But presuming we’re talking a pseudonym that sounds like a typical legitimate name, I don’t really understand why it matters.
      I mean, have you ever met “Alison Green”? Are you sure that’s actually her real name? And more relevantly, would you suddenly stop reading if you suddenly met her in real life and learned her name is actually ‘Jennifer Blue’ and she’s just been using a pseudonym?

  12. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 Someone posted or commented recently about being listed on an organisation’s website when they actually didn’t take the job and did not in fact work there. It’s highly unlikely to be the case here, but it’s where my mind went first.

    Thinking about it some more, she was unemployed for a few months. Maybe she took the first job she could get as she needs to pay her bills, but kept looking for the right fit.

  13. Paul*

    I hope your friend tells that e-zine to shove it! They should know better than to expect someone to do that. Let me open myself up to a real possibility arrest for an internship….yeah, no, hard pass.

    Yes, employers *will* look askance at someone who is willing to publicly discuss illegal activities like that. If nothing else, it’d suck to hire and onboard someone only to have them wind up incarcerated.

    1. Artemesia*

      The guy wants to work in teaching and coaching. I have no problem with the MJ use but wonder about his judgment in blogging about it if that is his career goal. Using his real name would suggest he truly doesn’t have the common sense one would expect of someone working with young people.

      1. paul*

        Amen to that. I don’t care about pot much (unless you’re showing up to work or driving stoned), but if you’re dumb enough to publicly write about something illegal like that, I’m going to wonder A: what the odds are you’ll wind up in jail and B: why you don’t have the sense god gave a goose and how else that’s going to manifest.

        1. KT84*

          I am 100% for legalization but I think people mistake the current atmosphere here in the US regarding pot legality. It is still illegal federally and the current Attorney General has made it know he is not a fan, at all. People can still get fired or arrested for smoking pot in the vast majority of states. And when working in schools, both public and private, smoking weed is a big no-no. (and probably will be a long time even after full legalization, whenever that happens. I am thinking 2078 lol)

          The blogger dad needs to remember that while pot might be legal where he lives and many people couldn’t care less if he smokes, there are still a lot of people who do and can make his life quite miserable as a result.

  14. Paul*

    Skunk OP: Can you take sick leave/PTO for this with your company? I’d be willing ot burn a day or two of PTO after a skunk. I’ve never been sprayed but some of our dogs have been–I know how nasty it is. That’d at least get some of the worst of it gone (although it may be too late now, depending on when you wrote in). And I’d just toss the clothes if it was a direct hit.

    One the plus side, none of our dogs got sprayed twice so maybe you don’t have to worry about it happening again?

    1. TL -*

      We had a lab mix who proudly and methodically freed our barn from the tyranny of the skunk family that lives beneath it. She even brought us the carcasses as proof. The smell apparently didn’t bother her one bit…

      1. KL*

        Yours too? My parents’ neighbors love to feed the deer, which means all kinds of critters come by. Their dog has been sprayed a couple of times and ran away, but mine took care of the skunk problem after getting sprayed. Thankfully, they had everything there to handle the smell, but it was still a long 6 hour drive home a few days later.

      2. Lora*

        Hahahaha good doggo! 12/10 would display his enemies on pikestaffs as a warning to others.

        My doggo, a 150 lb Great Pyrenees, is terrified of the chicken that rules my barn.

      3. paul*

        Oddly enough, one of ours was a lab mix. Dumbest dog I’ve ever known but a sweetheart…but she took off after a skunk one time and ever after getting sprayed she never messed with them.

        It took two runs in with raccoons before she learned *that* lesson though. So. Many. Stitches, and two dead trash pandas–how a dog that sweet and cuddly transformed into a raging hulk-dog is beyond me.

      4. blackcat*

        My parents once came home to a dead skunk in their house.

        They do not own a dog. They do, however, have a particularly large and territorial cat.

        It took weeks of extensive efforts for the house to smell normal…

    2. OwnedByThCat*

      Just happened to a co-worker! Skunk incident at midnight meant she got no sleep all night so she took the next day off to finish cleaning and catch up on rest. Seemed like a really good use of a sick day to me!

      1. LavaLamp*

        A few years ago there was a baby skunk in my yard. I had just let my dogs outside and thankfully my younger dog pulled the elderly blind one back and barked and was smart enough to not go scare the wild animal.

        My mom decided to try to scare it away by honking the horn, but that just made him cower under my house for about an hour. He smelled awful but he didn’t spray. I learned that night that skunks have terrible eyesight because it took him a good while to find the exit he came through.

    3. DeskBird*

      My dog has been sprayed several times – so it is still a worry. She feels it is her duty to defend our backyard from the tyranny of skunks and she will stop at nothing to accomplish her mission. We have coyotes in our neighborhood and I am still wayy more afraid of a skunk encounter.

  15. Traveling Teacher*

    OP #4: Just start looking up some education case law and showing it to your friend. I had to take a semester-long class in it for my certification, and the tiny, personal life things that get teachers fired are insane. Your friend should never underestimate parents’ prudishness coupled with the fact that some will go after you in any way to get you fired if you’ve done something they don’t like (especially for someone like a coach! What if your friend demoted their kid from first to second string? Or they didn’t make the team?).

    For example, not more than 10-12 years ago, there was a teacher who was at a Halloween party dressed as a pirate. She was holding a red plastic cup with a non-alcoholic drink. A friend posted a picture on Facebook, captioned, “Arrgh, where’s the rum gone?” She got fired. For being an adult, at a party, not even LEGALLY drinking alcohol! I cannot even imagine the hell that would rain down on your friend if he did blog under his real name, got hired, and then a parent discovered it!

    1. Traveling Teacher*

      Obviously, she sued and won, but I don’t know if your friend would have a leg to stand on. Parents could even try to get your friend thrown in jail for publicly admitting in writing to using, even though it’s for medical purposes.

            1. Traveling Teacher*

              Oh, sorry if that wasn’t clear: no, she couldn’t be jailed, no, but the parents could *try*…in a small community, you get on the wrong side of a popular, but crazy, helicopter parent booster, and they could definitely try this and at the minimum ruin your reputation.

      1. LA*

        Unions aren’t an option everywhere, especially not in the south, where parents are often even more prudish about these things. I had a coworker get written up because a parent saw her having a fishbowl margarita with friends at a Mexican restaurant (she’d finalized her divorce earlier that day).

        1. neverjaunty*

          Can we swap? I live in a “progressive” area where genuinely bad teachers don’t lose their jobs and administrators do nothing to get them to change. I’d gladly ship those folks off and welcome a margarita drinker with open arms.

        2. blackcat*

          Yeah, I worked at a private school in the south, and fortunately this was not a thing there (liberal parent base, an administration who viewed teachers as professionals). But it was totally a thing at other schools, public, private, and religious, in the area. Morality clauses to teaching contracts are pretty common.

          I was told to be veeerrry careful about who I told I was living with my now-husband before we were married by other folks who taught in the area. It ended up being totally not a thing, I even had students & parents over to my house a couple of times. But a friend who taught at a local public school with a more conservative bent thought I was crazy for revealing I was living in sin.

  16. nnn*

    For #1, I wonder how the hiring committee members who were critical of Sansa expected the situation to play out from Sansa’s end.

    Sansa applies for a bunch of jobs. She is hired by Company A and then offered an interview by your company.

    Do they expect Sansa to decline the interview on the basis that she now has another job?

    Does her having another job make her a less desirable candidate in their eyes and outweigh the qualities that make the interview committee like her very much?

    Did they expect her to proactively bring it up in the interview? (If so, at what point in the interview? And how? If someone said to me in an interview context “So I’ve now been working for Company A for a couple of day,” I’d expect that statement to be followed by some kind of conclusion and kind of stare at them expectantly.)

    Throughout my career, people have always advised me that you should always go talk to a company that’s interested in interviewing you, even if you’re not looking to switch jobs. I have in fact declined interview offers when I was not looking to leave my job, and people have been shocked and appalled that I’d “throw away” an “opportunity”.

    You say your position is entry level. So what you have here is either an entry level employee following the standard job searching advice, and/or a person who took you at your word that you were interested in hiring her and accepted your invitation to interview.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’m curious about the timeline here. How long between the initial application and the interview? As Alison and others have pointed out, it’s unlikely that she had the job when she applied. And while it’s not ideal if she accepted a job with no intention of staying, it’s not deceptive or dishonest. If she’d been employed there for any significant length of time, that would be different.

      One way to probe this delicately would be to ask her when she would be available to start if she was offered the position. This gives her the opportunity to bring up that she’s in another position without being accusatory.

    2. Important Moi*

      There’s a suggestion of punishment in the letter. The idea that Sansa is a liar or to approach her with questions about the omission… concerned about Sansa’s omission on her resume?

      OP#1 has another candidate that seems like she would be fine for the entry level job being offered. Why not just choose her and move on? Especially since no mention was mentioned was made about this being a teachable moment for Sansa. What is there to gain about this “concern” of the omission?

      Further, it sounds like Arya would be fine for the job. The Sansa and Arya are both top candidates, but we are concerned about Sansa’s omission on her resume.

    3. Diane Nguyen*

      I suspect they expected Sansa to decline the interview on the basis that she now has another job, but I think you’re asking valuable questions. The people who are upset about Sansa’s actions here may not have thought this all the way through.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I imagine Sansa tapping her fingers together maniacally laughing “Ha Ha! Now I have 4 jobs, let’s see if I can get these suckers to hire me as well!” Add in a backdrop of a dark city and a black cape and you can have yourself an Evil Job Candidate villain.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Now I can’t stop thinking that it really isn’t Sansa at all. It’s two mice in a Sansa-Suit trying to take over the world.

    5. Scion*

      I’m pretty sure that it actually is common practice to withdraw yourself from the hiring process once you’ve accepted a job at a different company.

  17. Fresh Faced*

    “some now see Sansa as a liar”
    This isn’t a case of deception and secrets, this is tailoring a CV to be relevant.
    Also OP#1 I’m curious as to how long your hiring process is? I ask this since if it took say a month from submitting an application for Sansa to get an interview I’d definitely watch for those that have reacted so negatively to this news. Unless the whole process was arranged in a few days the CV you got was accurate at the time. This may just be a case of the company being too slow and missing out on a candidate. Sansa may be looking to still accept an offer from you, or she may be feeling out the company for the future, if she finds herself searching again.

    1. SoCalHR*

      Do you find there is a difference between not listing something on your resume and not listing something on your application (that says to list all job and periods of unemployment)?

      1. Floundering Mander*

        Even if I have an application that asks for every single job, sometimes I skip some of them. For one thing there are some that I have forgotten. For another, I am highly unlikely to ever apply for something that requires a full background/security check where every single job would be verified, doubly so since I’m now living in a different country. Unless I have some reason to think that they will be checking every single thing I’m still not going to bother putting down the time I worked for two days as a temp five years ago, even if they do ask for every single job I’ve ever had. I suppose you have to gauge the risk, but most places are probably not going to go to the expense and trouble of having someone investigate you like that.

  18. AlexandraVictoria*

    OP #3, just don’t go overboard trying to cover it up. I worked with a woman who got sprayed and she came to work absolutely bathed in lilac perfume to hide the smell. I’d rather have smelled a little skunk odor than getting the migraine I did from her perfume!

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      When I got hit by a skunk it was back in the dark ages before there were a lot of options (like those listed above). I learned several things. 1) If you’re outside, it is possible to not know you were hit because you don’t smell it. When you walk into the local Dairy Queen, it becomes immediately obvious. 2) Tomato paste does not really do anything, at least not for a direct hit. 3) Charlie perfume may not smell good, but if you can’t afford to throw away your jeans, then washing them several times and then dousing them in Charlie and then hanging them outside for a week will work.

      Skunk up close and fresh does not smell at all like dead skunk at the side of the road – it’s worse.

  19. Delaypedal*

    Re: #1 – Not long ago, someone wrote in to say that she’d just graduated college and had been job searching for a little bit, but wanted to know if it was okay to take a barista job. You advised her to take it if she needed it, but to keep job searching for a job in her field in the meantime. Today you say that if Sansa took this job with Company A intending to not stay long, that would be crappy. What is the difference between those two people? Maybe Sansa took the job with Company A because she needed a job, but it’s not exactly what she wants to do, so she’s job searching. Is it okay for the previous LW to screw over a coffee shop because it’s not a “real job” but not okay for Sansa to do it because Company A is a real job? Becoming a real barista takes a lot of training and time, I’m sure a coffeehouse would be just as annoyed as Company A to have put in training and time for someone to have been job searching the whole time and just bounce after a few months if they find another job. Just curious as to how this works. I thought the idea is that if you get a job, you stay for a while (barring any serious issues), so I thought it was strange you gave that previous LW permission to just use the barista gig as a stopgap.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      It’s not that being a barista is an unskilled job I think alison’s advice just reflects the difference between the types of working environment.

      Coffee shops and retail jobs have less of a learning curve and expect a certain amount of turn over. Professional jobs require a lot more investment from the company to onboard a new employee.

      There’s probably also an element of trying to preserve references from an industry you want to carry on working in, leaving a barista job quickly is less likely to catch up with you in the future where as someone who was a manager at an old job could easily end up working at the same company as you in the future.

    2. Maliey*

      It sucks, but the reality the of retail/service industry is that turnover is expected to be high. Taking a job as a barista for just a few months is completely normal! Yes, we would love for more people to commit to a career, but it is not for everyone. AAM is giving advice based on industry norms.

    3. Roscoe*

      Assuming the barista job was part time, then yes, it is very different. If you are looking for a full time gig, there is nothing wrong with taking a short term job for a while. But I think it would be totally different to take a full time job then leave right away.

      This is to take nothing away from baristas. I’m sure they work hard. But you can’t really compare that to a full time professional job, if that is what your goal is.

      1. Hope*

        I respectfully disagree. You have to support yourself and look out for yourself, no one is going to do that for you. Maybe Sansa was barely making ends meet (if at all) with a retail/service industry job.

        And with all the stories that we read and hear about, we know there is no loyalty from employers these days as well as some downright very dysfunctional work environments. For someone to take a job that improves his or her circumstances until something better comes along is about survival.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I honestly feel like “professional” jobs shouldn’t expect loyalty either in our current environment. People do what they have to do, and employers have almost all the power unless you have VERY valuable skills.

        2. Someone else*

          In the case of this letter though I think it’s highly unlikely Sansa’s one week job was retail/food service, unless the company she were interviewing with now were also in that industry. It seemed like both this candidate and the other were currently employed at the same other company, in the same industry as this one. That’s how Sansa’s current gig were found. She may have taken the one-week job because she needed something, anything at the time she took it despite continuing her search otherwise. But if the job she’s bailing on now were just a “survival” job it sounds like so is the one she’s applied for with OP?

          1. Hope*

            I didn’t pick that up. I think it is OK to see what is out there. Let’s say job B or company B would be better, maybe in terms of learniing, compensation, or anything that Sansa thinks would be better for her. Maybe jon/company A would be better for her.

            Who would not want the best one of the two? And how invested could company A be in her if she has only been there for one week? If she were to resign, they would call the number two candidate gor the position and offer that person the job. I have seen that happen.

            While I work for you, I will give 100%. If som.etbing better is out tbere, I owe
            it to myself to try for it.

    4. Rae*

      Food service and retail workers have high turnover rates. I worked May-September at a gas station/convenience summers during college. It was not uncommon for me to start and end with a completely different set of co-workers and come back to different ones. Companies expect that. There’s a reason they can get away with minimum wage or slightly above. People are replaceable and skill levels are low. Can a more experienced worker move quicker and provide better service? Sure…but if the company knows they are not offering attractive wages…and likely no benefits…and their worker will quickly move on.

      Full-time jobs are a bit different. Being paid over minimum wage, benefits, etc. It’s an entirely different level of commitment. One handles more sensitive data on both company and potential client level. The expectations are that one will commit for a substantial amount of time.

      1. Delaypedal*

        I worked at a full-time retail job for five years. I would say that during that time, 75% of the people I worked with stayed that long as well. I know people who are still there 10 years later. If we hired someone full-time and they ended up leaving three months later (and that wasn’t a prearranged deal), they were blacklisted and immediately put in the “do not re-hire” file. So I guess I may have a skewed perspective on these things from that job.

        1. Rae*

          I think it’s very unusual in retail to have full-time employees. In general, where I worked, you’d have only a few full-time employees, mostly management. I’m also hoping that you were not being paid minimum wage. My correlation was simply minimum wage = minimum “loyalty”. Then again, I’m speaking to lower-income serving stores, and not higher end retail or mom’n’pop fancy coffee houses.

          1. Turquoise Cow*

            Yeah, the grocery store I worked at for 4.5 years (and then worked corporate for) was not a fan of full-time workers (in the stores, anyway). Maybe because they were never in great financial status, but they were constantly offering to buy out the few full timers they had.

            Most of the people, with very few exceptions, (as in, there was one or two in my store) who were full time were also management. And to become management, you had to either work your way up from part-time or maybe have previous management experience. And since one supermarket is generally the same as another, and any benefits you do have (vacation pay, etc) is gained with time, the latter was unlikely.

            So, most of the employees in my store were part-time, and while a lot of them stayed on for years, often while in school, or as a retirement job, or a second job, the turnover rate was pretty steady, because the type of employees hired were often not intending to make a career out of it. And the company was not delusional enough to think that a 17 year old they hired was going to stick around for long after college. Did people do that? Sure. But not many.

          2. Delaypedal*

            It very well may have been unusual. It was a large department store and the majority of the staff was full-time. We hired part-time help only for the holidays, and there would occasionally be a part-time high school or college student who worked nights and weekends, but nearly everyone who worked there had a college degree and a 40-hour week. There were benefits and most people made at least a little more than minimum wage, although no one was getting rich off the job.

            1. LBK*

              I think it depends if you mean full-time in the sense that they didn’t do anything aside from work there (eg no second job or school) vs officially being a full-time employee. We had a handful of people like that who worked 30+ hours a week but weren’t officially full-time; the number of actual full-time employees who were guaranteed 40-hour work weeks and qualified for benefits was minimal (outside of management, which was all full-timers).

          3. LBK*

            Yeah, my experience in retail was that outside of management, each department only had maybe one or two full-time employees. We did generally have people stay for a few years at a time (lots of students, so most of them would stay there the entire time they were in school) but it wasn’t unusual either to have someone quit after 6 months or so. And that was even more common when I was a barista – the Starbucks employee roster was practically a revolving door (I myself only stayed for about 9 months).

        2. Erin*

          Very unusual for people to stay that long at one store for retail. I’m full time in retail and I’m leaving my current job after 2 because my company isn’t stable and pays me 25%less than what people in my position in other companies make.

    5. Breda*

      I mean, I have held a LOT of food service jobs that only lasted three months – from June through August. It’s what they expect, and it’s why food service and retail are almost always hiring. No one reasonable is going to be mad because you left a part-time low-wage job with no benefits for a full-time salaried job with benefits. I actually worked one job at a bookstore right after college where the owner told me, “I don’t expect you to stay for long, I know this is what you’re doing until you can find something better, and I hope you do.” (Unsurprisingly, she was a very reasonable boss, and was very supportive when I got a career-track job in the city six months later.)

    6. Kaybee*

      Also, it’s not necessarily a given that one has to quit their barista job the minute they start their professional job. I continued working as a barista for a good year or so after getting my first office job after graduating from college. I cut my hours some, but that employer was happy to let me work weekends/nights/early mornings (4-7a). I was basically available to cover all of the rush periods except for after school, and we had a lot of minors working for us who could work after school but weren’t allowed to open/close, so it worked nicely. That first post-school office job paid verrrry little, and of course I had to wait seemingly forever for my first check, so having the income from my barista job really helped make ends meet. Plus I enjoyed the work and had a lot of friends there, and really appreciated the free coffee and pastries. Working both places wasn’t something I could keep up forever as my office job duties expanded to staffing events and other things on evenings/weekends, but it helped a lot that first year.

  20. Hiring Mgr*

    Is it just a coincidence that #s 3 and 4 were back to back? I was picturing LW 3 worrying that her coworkers thought she may have been smoking before work

    1. Artemesia*

      I thought the same thing.. When I smell skunk, the first thing I think of is not ‘oh your dog got sprayed’. I’d probably be the complete drama queen about the skunk incident so EVERYONE knew about it so they weren’t gossiping about what I was smoking. I got on an elevator in our building the other day with a guy heading to the laundry; he was oblivious to the skunky smell of his laundry. I am pretty sure he hadn’t tangled with a skunk.

    2. paul*

      I really don’t get how people say those two smell the same. I know people say they do, but to me they’re pretty different (skunk is much worse, at least if it’s recent).

      1. JulieBulie*

        Not all weed smells like skunk – but some really does. That may even be the reason for its popularity (i.e. if someone thinks there’s a skunk, they won’t investigate).

        First time I ever smelled it was in college. One of our suitemates was a skunk (weed) enthusiast. There is no incense in the world that can cover the smell up.

    3. OP 3*

      Very coincidental :) I’m not a smoker. Our state has legalized it, but it is an employment condition to not partake.

  21. SchoolStarts!*

    I once accepted to do an interview at Job A after I had already accepted a job at Job B and was already two weeks into the job at Job B. Job A was much closer to home and the same salary and prior to accepting Job B, I really wanted Job A. The Job A people took forever get around to interviewing candidates and I had bills to pay so when Job B offered, I accepted. When Job A finally called, I said, I have nothing to lose.

    I’m glad I did the interview: it amply showed that it would not have been a great fit for me: married couple ran the place and the interviewer candidly talked about how the couple’s having a bad day played out in the office plus a live dog was allowed the run of the place; I don’t mind dogs but I do mind the hair on my clothes and much more besides told me that I accepting Job B was the right choice.

    This is so normal; that hiring committee either has impossibly high standards or are very new to the job.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      This blog was anonymous when it first started but the difference is it’s a lot harder if not impossible for teachers to write about illegal activity and keep their job.

      1. Shadow*

        I know it’s not exactly the same but isn’t that a part of why all folks hide they’re identity online- they are concerned about work ramifications.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you’re referring to the fact that when I started AAM, I was originally anonymous but started using my real name when I started writing a column for U.S. News, right? Assuming so, I’m not sure I understand the point you’re making here. It’s very, very common for people who are writing about engaging in illegal activity to use a pseudonym. It’s not common for people writing in a mainstream publication unrelated to illegal acts to do that.

  22. Pineapple Incident*

    No real advice OP #1, but the coworkers in your letter remind me of a preteen girl who dances on Ross’s feet in an episode of Friends telling him “faster, you’re not going fast enough!” while he struggles to pull her weight around. Basically, these people you work with suck and should be giving you time and support to acclimate to the new role.

    Link to funny Friends scene:

  23. Michigan Sara*

    Just had a staff member head home because his dog was sprayed by a skunk and he didn’t realize how badly he himself smelled after washing his dog. What an odd coincidence!

  24. someone who has been there*

    The “helpful gal” phrase made me wince. It reads as demeaning, but maybe I am alone in that interpretation.

  25. Fake old Converse shoes*

    – “Katie was faster!”
    – “Well, if you didn’t notice, I’m not Katie”.

    Rinse and repeat until they understand.

  26. Bacon Pancakes*

    LW#3: There is a product designed for Poison Oak/Ivy that also helps remove skunk scent. It is called TecNu and can be found in most sporting goods stores and in many pharmacies. It isn’t terribly expensive (~$15 a bottle and a little goes a long way!) and might be worth keeping on hand. It can also be used to wash clothes and shower with (I use it for the poison oak aspect A Lot).

  27. Buffy Summers*

    So, I can’t help but be very curious as to why on earth the insurance company would want employment records?? If the accident is unrelated to the OP’s job, how can that possibly have any bearing on an insurance claim? That seems crazy to me! Maybe I’m not seeing the big picture there.

    OP I’m sorry your report had to see your entire work history though. I’d be very upset as well.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Officially, they may want to know about the OP’s work and salary history for damages issues.

      Unofficially they’re digging for dirt, or anything they can make look like dirt.

      I’m a bit surprised they were able to do this with no pushback from the OP’s attorney.

      1. Very Anon Admin*

        It’s standard practice and legally allowable discovery. It’s generally not worth the time and money to push back.

        1. a Gen X manager*

          I’m shocked by this whole thing. It’s totally unrelated. Why is it considered allowable / relevant?

    2. Artemesia*

      When fighting a claim one common tactic is to blame the victim. If they find out you had a physical problem, they will try to pretend THAT is the problem not the damage you suffered in the accident; if they find out you had a mental problem well then they will find some way to slander you in court. They are looking for ways to make you unappealing to a jury or to embarrass you to settle. I know someone who was rear ended by a police officer who was picking up his phone from the floor of the car. (admitted at the scene) She has pretty serious brain damage that has limited her life a great deal and made it hard for her to work. By the time the thing got to court she was portrayed as already damaged because she had had cancer and the police officer was blaming her for the accident because she stopped for no reason suddenly (not true) and that she was a flake. She got nothing. It was astonishing how effective blaming the victim was and sickening to see as she has really struggled to earn a living and survive since this accident and had extensive therapy.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        That’s awful. It probably helps that he was a police officer – they regularly get away with literally murdering people because their coworkers, the legal system, many politicians, and large segments of the general public think they can do no wrong.

    3. Very Anon Admin*

      I work for an insurance defense law firm. (I hate it and want out so badly – I think insurance companies are the scum of the earth and nothing has reinforced that belief more than my time here .) Our attorneys will dig into any and every record legally allowed to them and go as far back as they can. I’ve seen pediatric records for people in their 20s and 30s. I’ve seen people’s sexual histories and mental health histories. They’ll use any bit of information they can find to keep the insurer from having to pay the insured. If you break your arm when you’re in high school, then break it again in an accident 20 years later, they’ll use that information to help the insurer keep from paying all the medical bills for the second break, even if it’s much worse and keeps you out of work. Blame the victim is, indeed a very real thing. The attorneys will laugh when they find information that will let the insurance companies win a suit, even if the plaintiff is severely injured or has life-long complications from those injuries. Discredit the plaintiff is the name of the game.

      People that haven’t worked for an insurance defense firm will probably think I’m exaggerating. Unfortunately, I’m not, not even a little bit. I didn’t know if was like this when I when I began here and I’ll never work for insurance or insurance defense again. I didn’t have to do much work in insurance defense cases when I first began here; the attorney I worked for didn’t do much of it, but he left and since then, I have to do more and more. It makes me sick, it makes me feel horrible about myself, and I feel a little more dead every time I get rejected for a job somewhere else. Fortunately, insurance companies don’t win cases as much as they settle them. The settlement is frequently a pittance with little to nothing left for the plaintiff after the bills and liens are paid, but sometimes there’s a big payout, especially if someone has died. That makes me happy.

  28. Dust Bunny*

    Side note: I used to work for a veterinarian. To be honest, the things I smelled on that job were so bad that I don’t even think skunks smell bad any more.

    That said: I second the recommendation above to try the TecNu. One of my brothers has had pretty good luck keeping his annual poison ivy exposure (he’s a field archaeologist) under control with it, and I think it’s worth trying on skunk.

  29. SarahKay*

    OP5, you’re absolutely justified in being annoyed with your boss. In the UK this wouldn’t just be inappropriate, it would be wildly illegal under the data protection laws, and if I recall correctly could incur significant fines for him and the company.
    I know that the data protection laws in Europe are tougher than in the US, but even so, I am stunned that your boss would think this was acceptable for anyone (outside HR) to see unless they were at least his level in the firm.
    I do think it’s worth raising with him, not necessarily to create a stink about what’s done, but to make sure he doesn’t do it to someone else in the future.

  30. Observer*

    #4 As others have said, blogging under his real name could cause many, many problems for him. So much so, that I would suggest that he stay away from this blog altogether. They are utterly cavalier about the well being of their writers – and I believe that they are also being dishonest. So much so, that I have no doubt that they will not hesitate to throw him under the bus at their convenience.

    Also, I’m betting that this could be a legal exposure for him. And, if he splits with his partner and things get acrimonious, I can’t imagine how badly the marijuana use could be used against him. So, it’s not just about how work life.

  31. Bye Academia*

    I find it amusing that you’ve published 3 and 4 back to back in the same post. Was that on purpose, Alison?

  32. FormerOP*

    OP #1, Yeah, this is what everyone who follows good resume advice dreads, leaving something off your resume because it is irrelevant or just a difficult thing to explain and then having a potential employer find out and force an explanation. There are just so many unknowables related to whether Sansa is a “liar” or not. I also want to bring up that it is a little unusual IME to have an employee on the website after only a week of employment. Every place I have worked usually waits a bit to put someone on the website just in case that person leaves very quickly. Maybe Sansa has good reason to want to get out of there… Please don’t hold it against her that she followed reputable resume advice, like the kind given here.

  33. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    OP 5. One of my summer jobs in a law office was copying files. If it helps, my eyes glazed over and there was nothing that I read or retained. Photocopying was mind numbing and the only time I actually looked at the text was to make sure that it was all copied and in the correct order.

    1. Artemesia*

      If I had a chance to look through all the private data on my boss you can be sure I would read it and remember it, curious little git that I am. I think most people would find the employment files of the boss interesting.

      1. puzzld*

        Me too. I spent a summer sorting papers from the office of a departing grandboss, so I had to read them to see if they needed to be shredded, stored, or passed on to HR or the new grandboss. Mighty interesting reading, some of it. Many long standing questions were answered and rumors discredited, or confirmed. Only problem is, I can’t and won’t talk about it.

      2. Samiratou*

        Yup, me too. I’ve done copying jobs, too, and I agree that you stop really seeing anything after awhile, but this wasn’t a job copying random files, this was copying your boss’ personnel record.

        Completely inappropriate and I think the LW should be furious. It smacks of her boss punishing her for having the nerve to get in a car accident and causing them some inconvenience.

  34. puzzld*

    #1. We don’t even know that Sansa didn’t take a temp job, covering for someone on FMLA perhaps…
    #3. Duck the Halls. Donna Andrews. Now there’s a workplace with real skunk problems.

    1. Sarah*

      This is a great point — this could totally be a temporary gig and she’s still looking for something more permanent. I had a job where they went through putting me on the website, updating all my info, etc. for a three-month thing! Which seemed like overkill to me, but definitely can happen.

  35. TootsNYC*

    Re: people doing things more rapidly than those who succeed them:

    I worked with the guy who told this story:

    His magazine has a research chief who checked a lot of stories really fast. Then he left, and they hired someone else. Suddenly stuff wasn’t getting done in time and they were hiring lots of freelancers to keep up.

    My friend had drinks with his former colleague and asked him how it was that they couldn’t get the same work done w/t he new person. “That’s because I didn’t check everything,” the guy said. “They didn’t give me time or freelance money, so I picked the things that were most important and checked those. Everything else, I just figured either no one would spot, or it wouldn’t be important enough for the reader who spotted it to write in.
    “We worked together there for 4 years. How many errors did we get letters about? What, two? And one of those wasn’t even an error.”

    Then, I worked w/ an iPad production person who was FASTER than his predecessor–he was more efficient, and he didn’t waste time talking about how hard it was to do stuff; he just did it. Plus, he was helped by the fact that his boss greatly simplified what he had to do (the first guy had a designer that completely redesigned stuff when it moved from print to tablet, and who redesigned stuff all the time; the second guy worked under a different designer who said, “just move it over and make it look reasonable”).
    Now, the difference was immediately apparently–so it wasn’t primarily outside factors; it was all him.

    The takeaway for you would be: be a little hesitant to kick yourself for being slower–maybe you’re more thorough. And of course, you’re knew.
    Look for ways to streamline, standardize, etc. Which you are probably already doing.

    Ask for whatever “training” these complaining colleagues can offer you–sometimes people know things about how Katie did her job that you might not realize, even if they don’t actually do the same tasks.

    And then, yes, I’m w/ Alison: “I am new, and there’s no one to train me.”

    Or a cheerful, “I’ll get there!”
    (Though, that production guy would -never- get there.)

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      I had a job doing quality control checking of a sort, and the company hired big groups of temps to do it on a regular basis. Our only metric for success was how many teapots we checked in a day.

      Several temps got the attention of management because they were completing their work at an insanely fast rate. Like, three times faster than everyone else.

      It turned out… they were literally going through the motions without actually checking anything. They were all fired.

      After this, management instituted spot checks to see if people were actually correcting errors. You get what you keep metrics for…

  36. New Girl*

    My SO just started at a new school as a PE teacher and coach. During his social media training he was told to lock up his online presence and that the school district highly recommends that he refrain from putting photos of him drinking alcohol on his accounts. Alcohol is a legal substances, my SO is waaaaay above the legal age of consumption but they still don’t want it on social media. A lot of the policy’s around teachers make me angry but that is a topic of discussion for a different day.

    That being said, if most districts follow the same protocols as my SO’s district I would assume writing a blog about pot use would be a HUGE no-no.

    1. Sarah*

      Yep, my mom is an elementary school teacher in a small town/conservative area and it’s understood that the teachers are not to be seen in local bars or even drinking a beer in a local restaurant (!!!). They can go one town over, but it’s not okay to do it in the district. I mean, this is clearly insane and hugely invasive, but can give you an idea of how weird schools can get about this stuff depending on the area. If it was illegal substances, I can’t imagine someone would even get an interview to explain the situation, much less get hired.

  37. Jana*

    OP #1: Please don’t disqualify the candidate because of this. It is no way a requirement to list every job you’ve ever held on your resume and, as Alison mentioned, people are often advised to leave off short-term positions or those unrelated to the vacancy to which they’re applying. Honestly, I’d be concerned that listing a job I’d held for a week on my resume would make an employer less likely to contact me because they might jump to conclusions before I had the opportunity to explain the circumstances.

  38. Manager-at-Large*

    pseudonyms: the publication’s reasoning is bogus as to “more relatable”. Actually, relatable would be a column like “why I use a pseudonym – why it is dangerous in US to admit to use, even medical use, where no use is legal, or even in states where medical use is legal – and so on”. I agree that to change to use a more real person sounding name might be more consistent with how they want their ezine to appear – but to require real names for that subject matter for a US-based writer appears unreasonable and a little deaf to the real, relatable world we are in.

    Skunk: I’m sure your colleagues understand. An acquaintance of mine had a skunk go in to his house through the dog door, tangle with his dog in the house and then it left. After it had sprayed INSIDE the house. Somethings just take time to overcome.

  39. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    I’m sure there will be lots of comments on #4, but this is a similar issue to what a good friend had to decide. I live in California, a state where some uses of marijuana are legal. However, federal law supersedes state law. Employees who undergo drug testing can and will lose their jobs if they are using marijuana. The employment contract states they will not participate in illegal drug use from the date of hire. Until the federal government changes their law, marijuana is always going to be a shadow area. Even writing under a pseudonym makes me nervous for OP’s friend. As an educator, specifically for minors, he’s taking such a huge risk. He needs to sit down and make that decision clear in his mind right now and communicate it with his wife: is working toward changing the legalities of marijuana more important than his potential employment and ability to support his family? Because that’s a big decision for him to make on his own. He can decide if it is for him, but he needs to give his wife the chance to decide for herself.

    And this isn’t about using marijuana – what he does in the privacy of his own home, in his own time, in a safe environment, is his own business and if he is using it for medical purposes, that’s between him and his doctor. But publicly exposing himself and his family is a family decision. My friend was heavily involved in campaigning for California to legalize marijuana and in our area, it cost her jobs. Even now, with a huge turn in how marijuana is perceived, she wouldn’t be able to get a job teaching.

  40. Kalie*

    LW #1, it sounds less like your company wants entry-level office staff and more like they want a time lord. Unless you have the most ridiculously efficient hiring practices ever seen, it seems unlikely that Sansa even had that job offer in hand when she submitted her application materials to your company.

  41. Rae*

    Alison, I do have a question for you in regards to real name vs pen name. Knowing now what we do about the power of people to illegally gain information about someone for the sake of cyberstalking, cybercrime and/or doxing would you make the same choice today to use your real name? Especially given the heated vitriol in some of your articles that have gone viral?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes. There hasn’t been much heated vitriol directed at me. And really, the vast majority of people who write for publication do indeed use their real names.

  42. GreenDoor*

    LW#4… The statement by the publication that using your friend’s real name makes him “more relatable” is complete bogus. I subscribe to blogs and publications on a wide variety of topics, professional, hobby, and “mommy” related. Never once have I questioned if the author was using their real name. Never once I have I gauged how believable they are or how expert their advice is based on their name.

    I agree with AAM – if he wants to work with a publication, there are plenty of credible outlets that will respect his desire to use a pen name!

  43. Snargulfuss*

    Alison I’m surprised that you felt the situation in #1 was not a big deal. The letter writer says that this is an entry-level position and that Sansa most recently had an internship. I may be off, but I’m assuming Sansa is a recent college grad. It sounds like Sansa took an offer with Company A and then proceeded to interview with LW’s company, looking for a better offer. If this is the case (which of course, we don’t know), wouldn’t this be operating in bad faith? I guess I’m just surprised you didn’t put this forth as a stronger option and say that LW does have some reason to be concerned.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Like I said in the post, it’s crappy if she accepted the job with the intention of continuing to look. But it’s possible she accepted in good faith, started, and realized it’s a terrible mismatch, in which case of course she needs to be looking around.

  44. Candi*

    Since a search and scan of the page didn’t find it -Mythbusters tested out various ‘kill skunk smell’ remedies.

    The one that far and away actually worked was: Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap.

    It’s hard to judge time lapse on the show, but it certainly cleared the room the was stinkified within a day.

  45. Noah*

    The time line for OP#1 doesn’t make a ton of sense, unless they interviewed her right when they got the resume. A more likely explanation is that Sensa submitted the resume before accepting the other job and decided to take this interview even though she had started working at the other place already to see what she thought about it.

  46. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    #1: The folks involved must be inexperienced in this area, to even ask this question. Unless Sansa actually said or wrote that she was unemployed when she was employed, there was no lie. You are not required to list all of your jobs on a resume. Given the timing, Sansa may not have even had the job when the OP’s company got her resume. Instead of the theory that her new job is not working out , here is my guess: Sansa gets a new job, and like most of us, she probably needed the paycheck as soon as possible. Maybe it was the only offer she had. But then, from her very recent job search, she gets an interview with the OP’s company, and perhaps she likes that company better, or it offers more money or a better position, or she is just curious. So she goes to the interview . What’s wrong with any of that?

  47. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    #5: This is so inappropriate that I’m a bit appalled. I’m surprised it didn’t get more comments. You’ve heard the phrase “firing offense”, right? Well, here’s a quitting offense. I would give my boss the opportunity to explain why my salary information and other confidential information was given to my direct report. And if I didn’t hear genuine contrition, I would start looking for a new job. A boss that would do that has extremely poor judgement (or bad character), and who knows what else will occur in the future.

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