Buzzfeed’s 23 favorite Ask a Manager letters

Buzzfeed just did a round-up of their 23 favorite Ask a Manager letters. It’s full of classics. You can read it here:

{ 145 comments… read them below }

  1. Ramona Flowers*

    Banana crackers, you say? That rhymes with quackers. (Or: totally pleased duck club made the cut.)

        1. Josh S*

          @Alison – Were these linked with your permission? I sure hope you get the clicks and views from them that you deserve!

    1. OverboilingTeapot*

      Definitely–the perfectly absurd situation, and the beautifully satisfying comeuppance. :)

    2. Lissa*

      Same here, as a spicy food lover and lover of happy endings. Also food theft stories are my rage trigger on this site. :)

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yes, I love that one. Never has such a patently absurd situation been resolved so satisfyingly.

  2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    I like that lead-in to the article

    Ask a Manager is a great workplace advice blog with questions are a good mix of simple/basic, unique and interesting, and ABSOLUTELY BANANA CRACKERS.

  3. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Yup, they are ALL doozies.

    But, they missed the one with 20 (/?) job applicants doing the dinner w/ entertainment.

        1. EmilyAnn*

          Dress Code Interns are what brought me to the site. The summary I read from another site made it seem like it was another “bash the millenials” situation, then I came to the site and read Allison’s thoughtful response and was hooked.

  4. Rae*

    This is perfect because I was gushing over this blog to friends last Thursday, so I was able to send them the article so they could dive in head first.

  5. C.*

    Will never, ever get over the manager that called that poster in the middle of the night to pick them up from the airport. It just absolutely defies all comprehension and rationality.

    1. beanie beans*

      I hadn’t read that one and was so pleased not just with the outcome but made me all impressed with the power of this blog! Not just a listing of crazy things that happen to people at work, but actual change and improvement! (The credit card one made me feel the same way!)

      1. Starbuck*

        You mean the one where an employee had tens of thousands in debt on a company card? Yeah, the updates on that one were so wonderful, I appreciated how surprising it was that things turned out so well for that OP.

        1. Candi*

          I found it interesting that some of the commentators on that did the math on the amount and what he said he was paying, and realized -he should have paid down a chunk of that by now…

          …which indicated he was still using it for non-essential expenses, like eating out way too often. (That’s expensive anywhere. Time > labor > money > you’re going to have to spend something.)

          When he stopped doing that, and started grocery shopping and eating at home, and cutting out true luxuries, it helped him pay the amount down. He seemed amazed in the update where he discussed it. And he said he was healthier.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Figure he’s probably gotten plenty of publicity lately. Didn’t he actually get his own Buzzfeed article all to himself?

      1. Caledonia*

        Yes the ghosting ex did get a buzzfeed article himself – and they followed up when he gave us an update.

  6. Midwest Red Sox Fan*

    I have never been more thankful for my extremely boring workplace. :-)

    One of my recent favorites was the “I Bit My Coworker” letter. Goodness.
    (Also glad the Master letter made the cut.)

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I live in hope that the subject of that letter will write in someday and let us know how she’s doing.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            The LW was the terrible boss, not the poor college grad. I don’t think we’ll get an update from boss after the way the comments eviscerated her.

      1. Brittasaurus Rex*

        That one made me incoherent with rage. And the letter with the poor liver “volunteers.”

        1. EddieSherbert*

          Oh, the chemo one just riles me up so much. I STILL can’t believe that boss. *insert swear words*

          1. many bells down*

            On top of how awful the sneaking into chemo part was, there was the poor receptionist who got fired for giving out the personal info. Which she was told she’d be fired if she DIDN’T give.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yes. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt (because real life is often stranger than fiction), but I actually *hoped* that was a fake because the letter writer treated her employee so awfully and was so entirely clueless about the real problem.

      1. Candi*

        There were too many stories in the comments that indicated this type of jackdonkey behavior is way too common. Some people should not be in charge of others.

  7. Kate*

    The updates from the letter writer who racked up $20,000 of personal debt on the company credit card basically just renews my faith in humanity. OP acted so maturity and had to face a VERY SCARY situation by coming clean, but then his management acted equally as mature and with compassion to set up a plan for getting the debt paid off. It’s just all so great.

      1. The Ginger Ninja*

        And not only that, but the manager’s actions were compassionate and loyalty-inspiring. If I screwed up like that and my manager helped me work through it like that, I’d be loyal to them, to the end of time (and, by extension, loyal to the company too).

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yes! I love the ongoing updates from that LW; I’m so glad things have worked out so well for him.

  8. SunshineOH*

    I don’t know how I missed the pot-smoking letter. That’s a good one. I still get shocked over #3 (the manager who thought the bullied employee was just a bad “culture fit”).

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        What else is there to update?

        The company botched the whole ordeal by punishing Sally for reporting illegal activity, did nothing to the manager or other direct reports, then Sally quit along along with two coworkers who left specifically naming the poor treatment of sally as a reason, then Sally successfully sued company who settles because not only did you they illegally retaliate against Sally it turns out there were also probably sexual harassment issues from manager to Sally all along.

        I mean I would love to see an update along the lines of “we screwed up and have learned our lesson” from the company but considering that the update heavily implied that Sally was in the wrong and used “framing” to unfairly win the suit I highly doubt we will.

      2. Phoenix Programmer*

        What else is there to update?

        The company botched the whole ordeal by punishing Sally for reporting illegal activity, did nothing to the manager or other direct reports, then Sally quit along along with two coworkers who left specifically naming the poor treatment of sally as a reason, then Sally successfully sued company who settles because not only did you they illegally retaliate against Sally it turns out there were also probably sexual harassment issues from manager to Sally all along.

        I mean I would love to see an update along the lines of “we screwed up and have learned our lesson” from the company but considering that the update heavily implied that Sally was in the wrong and used “framing” to unfairly win the suit I highly doubt we will.

    1. Amber T*

      I remember the pot smoking one when it was posted but I missed the update on it. It’s making me super conflicted, especially with today’s climate. I feel like the automatic reaction is “she’s making it up,” but its very possible that Sara did feel sexually pressured and assumed the pot smoking (an obviously illegal act) would be believed over any claims of harassment. That would explain the seemingly random bolting too.

      1. KHB*

        I reread some of the early comments. It seems to me like the discussion got distracted by the idea that smoking pot, in general, is a victimless crime that doesn’t hurt anyone, and people lost sight of the context – that this was a male manager offering pot to a female subordinate in a hotel room on a business trip – so it seemed to come out of the blue when the LW mentioned it in her update. But really, it was there all along.

        I think it also says a lot about how the conversation on harassment has come so far so fast that the letter looks very different just seven months later.

        1. Amber T*

          This is it exactly. I definitely got swept up in the weed legalization discussion. There was something about her reaction that just didn’t make sense to me, and I couldn’t figure out why someone would just run away like that over weed. I’m kind of hanging my head in shame that it took me this long to realize it.

          1. Emi.*

            Yeah, the “Her boss offered her a mind-altering substance in a hotel room” angle did not jump out at me originally, but it sure does now.

            1. KHB*

              Reading more of the original thread, it’s interesting how many people apparently found it easier to believe that “Sally is a banana crackers crazy person who freaks out about pot, deliberately tries to ruin her coworkers’ lives for no reason, AND makes up stories about feeling unsafe” than to believe that Sally actually felt unsafe.

              I’m now wondering whether Sally’s “dislike of marijuana,” mentioned by the LW, is not because she’s a pearl-clutching prude who’s been to one too many DARE classes, but because she (or someone close to her) had been assaulted while under the influence before.

          2. paul*

            And then the two other people quitting…that *really* raises flags to me. People, as a whole, put up with a lot of crap in order to pay the bills ya know?

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      I pretty much nailed how that whole thing was going to go down and was not surprised by the update (posted as Arduino back then).

      It’s rare that I feel Allison misses the mark on an answer but that is an example of one.

      1. Candi*

        I had that gut feeling, too, that something BIG had happened, that the LW probably didn’t even know,
        and the LW’s update pretty much confirmed it for me.

        I think the whole potential harassment thing got drowned in “Marijuana: Pros and Cons, Legal or Not?” Which is very sad, since better advice -from everyone- could have been given on handling both Sally and the guy who, however he did it, made her feel threatened. (Hmm… no, I think that’s an appropriate word.)

        It’s sad that I have to warn my daughter to not get drunk or otherwise under the influence (once she’s old enough) in order to protect herself, instead of young men getting it embedded into their brains from a young age that “you do NOT do that.” (As I did with my son.)

        For the record, I’m in the PNW, and weed is legal here, if you’re over 18.

  9. Elizabeth*

    I saw the story yesterday and went “I remember that one, and that one, and…” Then I thought “what will this do to the comment section???!!?”j

  10. McWhadden*

    Somehow I never saw the quack sex club one before.


    I will say that I once worked somewhere that I wouldn’t be at all shocked if that was happening.

    1. SushiRoll*

      Me neither. What a doozy. And funny. And gross. What kind of office job wouldnt pretty much immediately fire you if they caught you getting down in the printer room ?!?

      1. McWhadden*

        I know! At the very least I’d be furious that I was being prevented from making copies.

        Also, they were likely breaking into people’s cars to do it?!?!?!

    2. oranges & lemons*

      I have to admit that although it is incredibly bizarre, I’ve never really understood what’s so funny about this letter in particular. Maybe my sense of humour is broken. Although I usually have a stronger reaction to ones that are less all-around weird and more just one or two people acting in a completely incomprehensible way about something relatively normal (like the spicy food letter).

    3. Candi*

      My (admittedly zebra) theory is, while the sex was real enough, at least some of the rest of it was a massive prank on the manager, possibly with a side order of Trunchbull Crazy -if it’s nutty enough, people won’t believe it happened. (Don’t we see that here ALL THE TIME in letters and comments?)

      In the update, the LW mentions finding a condom in a tampon/pad dispenser. I don’t even know if that was even related -some time before the update, there was a prank going around my kids’ high school -stick a condom up the dispenser. The boys thought is was HILARIOUS, especially if the girls screamed when they found it. (And there’s the factor of sneaking into the girls’ room to do that… oh, you expect this school to discipline anything that’s not overt sexual hara ssment?)

      I can’t swear my son ever did it or not. I did have a talk with him about how that is epically bad manners on several fronts.

  11. C.*

    Oh, this is so unfair of you to post this when I need to buckle down and do work (…for my law of the workplace class. Maybe I can pretend this is homework?)

    1. a1*

      IKR? I have online training to do, but here I am reading the few Banana Crackers letter I missed. At least it’s my lunch hour right now.

    2. Annie Mouse*

      I decided Code Black was acceptable revision for my medical course I’m doing. Surely this counts for you :)

  12. Princess Cimorene*

    We never did get update from the one who wouldn’t let her employee attend her own graduation and wanted to counsel her on how “unprofessional” quitting was because she was a foster kid who didn’t know any better. It was so jarring. I was soo sad and infuriated by that and I really want to hear that the LW had reflected and learned something and maybe even apologized to the employee. I’m also holding out hope the employee recognizes herself in that letter and let’s us know how she’s doing with life! (Although I suppose we could never know for certain it was her if some stranger wrote in, unless the OP gave Alison the employees real name or something)

    Anyhow, a similar jaw-dropping letter was the manager who was playing favorites and completely unaware of how they were coming across but then their second update completely floored me in that they got into intense therapy and realized how harmful they were being to everyone and themselves. I wonder if they ever apologized to the employee they were “un-managing” and I’m aware the latest update was fairly recent, but I hope they write in again in a year or so on how they’re doing now.

    1. McWhadden*

      The un-manager always stuck with me because I’ve had a few managers like her in the past. I was always one of the liked ones so it didn’t really impact me directly but I cringe thinking on how some people were treated and pushed.

      But my past managers wouldn’t have the self-awareness the OP developed overtime.

      And I think she really knew she was in the wrong from the start. But panicked on being called out on it at work. And hoped AAM would have some quick fix to patch things up with her superiors. That’s why she was so defensive at first. Not because she was some irredeemable jerk but because she knew she was wrong and was uber-defensive about it.

      1. Princess Cimorene*

        Yes! I was really happy to learn she wasn’t some irredeemable jerk, because in the first couple letters I reallllly didn’t like her! haha

        She really double downed at first but knowing she’s working on herself and working towards figuring out what was going on inside and how not to project that and knowing what she was better suited for for work makes me really want to hear how things are going 4 or 6 months or a year from now and I’m rooting for her!

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I really love the update on the un-manager; it was a great example of how the commentariat here really can be supportive when someone owns up to their mistakes and resolves to do better. And yes, I’m also hoping for an update — and rooting for them to continue the turnaround!

  13. Temperance*

    I kind of wish the one about the woman who was hexing her colleagues was included. Or the one where the person’s direct report was forcing her aunt’s assistant to watch her kids because she couldn’t get to work on time.

    Bird attack letter always reminds me that there is no justice in the world.

    1. Rainy*

      I want another update on the bird attack. That manager is a bad manager and should feel bad and I want updates yearly until they do!

      1. Temperance*

        Seriously that whole org is trash! I either need them to make her whole or burn to the ground. (Metaphorically, of course.)

  14. Jesca*

    Yeah I would definitely like to see an update from the LW who wouldn’t let his employee go to her graduation. I think about that one from time to time. I mean how can someone get something so obviously wrong? I really do hope they learned a lot from it. But I think they likely won’t write back, as I believe that letter went off the wall viral and still pops up now.

    1. Artemesia*

      So obviously cruel and wrong and without the slightest sense that they were wrong. Seniority is more important than this person going to her own graduation? I hope that the person who quit got a great job; it really pains me to think of what a great person she must be, pulling herself up by her bootstraps, being the best employee on the team and then being treated in this horrifyingly ugly way. I am glad she quit; I hope the LW’s team crashed and burned on their big project; and I do so hope the graduate moved on to something more wonderful.

    2. Candi*

      I am hoping, based on the soon-to-be grad letters here, and the comments from people talking about when they were grads, that she already had resumes and cover letters out since she was going to graduate soon, and had already been doing interviews in her sparse spare time. (That poor woman was doing ALL the overtime.)

      In that vein, I hope she had several pending offers within a week.

      This is probably wishful thinking- I hope that she had a roommate to help defray housing costs, and that it was a wonderful person who high-fived her and helped figure out how the budget could bear the strain until an offer came through.

      (Most burning question I want to ask graduation woman -why and when did she start tracking all the hours she worked? Second burning question: Did she color code it, and by coworker subbed for, day, or whether they were normal schedule, overtime, or fill in hours?)

    1. rosiebyanyothername*

      holy moly! This is crazy.
      I commonly get awkward “and, uh, happy… what do you celebrate again?” questions this time of year (sometimes more direct “but you LOOK Jewish” comments), but this is just wacky. And approaching offensive.

      1. many bells down*

        I apparently look vegetarian (??) because people who’ve known me for *decades* will carefully point out to me which dishes are vegetarian and express concern that I’ll have enough to eat. I’m like 150% carnivore. I’ve never been a vegetarian in my life.

        1. Not My Monkeys*

          I’m trying to figure out what a vegetarian looks like. Do you dress like a music festival attendee?

    1. Princess Cimorene*

      I know its the update time of year on AAM and I am REALLLLLLLLLY hoping for some updates to the ones I can’t stop thinking about!

  15. Trout 'Waver*


    Did they coordinate this with you, or did they just do it and publish it? I’m curious how Buzzfeed handles their content like this.

    1. LadyL*

      I can tell you that Buzzfeed isn’t always so considerate; I know people on Tumblr who have had a popular post end up on Buzzfeed without permission. I understand Buzzfeed doesn’t *need* permission because it’s posted “publicly,” but they didn’t even give a heads up. One blogger just woke up one day and found her personal page overrun with comments, reblogs, and trolls, and she ended up locking her page for a while until everything calmed down.

      I assume Allison’s blog, not being hosted on social media, is considered a different thing than when Buzzfeed uses tweets or tumblr posts. I’m glad they talked to her and got her blessing.

      1. Candi*

        Cracked hauled Buzzfeed over the coals for their take and post and lack of credit about… 3-4 years back now? Apparently a Buzz contributor grabbed a Cracked article, heavily edited it down, added pictures, and submitted it as original material. If a sentence longer than six words has only one other hit on Google, at the very least, something’s got to be sorted.

        There were also hiding links to the original posting under words at the end or to the side, that looked like advertising or uninteresting material, when they uncluded them.

        Wildly popular sites pointing out your site’s massive failings tends to create (eventual) reactions, even if you claim that all the problems were from freelancers and such. (I rolled my eyes at that. Talk about insulting both freelancers and the average person’s intelligence. Buzzfeed has an editing team, and editing teams are SUPPOSED to exist for a reason.)

        Anyway, that might be part of the reason they’re behaving a little better now.

    1. Artemesia*

      I think I would have made an appointment with the CEO and retrieved my train but then putting a job at risk is a big big risk.

      1. KHB*

        I thought it was the CEO of a different company that had the train, not the CEO of the company the OP worked for. Which means less risk to the OP’s job, but a trickier situation to make an appointment (since to the CEO, the OP is just some random person, not one of their employees).

        I would have tried reaching out to the CEO and explaining that I’d heard from a friend that they had a train that sounds a lot like one that had been stolen from me a while ago and that had a lot of sentimental value to me. (I wouldn’t go into detail about the chain of custody between the train leaving my hands and entering theirs, even though I was pretty sure I knew what it was, because that’s more drama than the CEO wants to hear in a contact from some random person.) Then, I’d offer to buy the train back from them at a fair price.

        True, I’d be secretly hoping that the reply would be “Never mind the money – if the train’s yours, you can have it back,” but I think a good faith offer of payment would boost my chances of getting a foot in the door. It’s not the CEO’s fault that they were gifted stolen property, after all.

  16. Case of the Mondays*

    The cast one makes me think of the military pilot that just got in trouble for drawing a pen!s in the sky. The latest news I read was that he was grounded indefinitely. Seems a bit overkill for punishment. (Grounded meaning lost the right to fly. Not like, can’t go out with friends and no TV lol.)

    1. Lissa*

      Though your letter makes me wonder something I had never thought of before – is definition 2 of grounded something that started coming into use by parents/kids because of definition 1 (can’t fly). Makes total sense if so, I just never made that connection.

      1. Annie Moose*

        It would appear you are correct! From the Online Etymology Dictionary (one of my favorite resources):

        Meaning “deny privileges” is 1940s, originally a punishment meted out to pilots (in which sense it is attested from 1930).

      2. Not So NewReader*

        It’s amazing how many things- terms and such- come from aviation. I did not know the BMW logo was supposed to be an airplane propeller.

  17. EddieSherbert*

    I just realized the OP whose boss stole her company iPad didn’t make the list – that’s another one I would of expected to see! Maybe because it was an ‘ask the readers’ versus Alison answering herself?

      1. Kate*

        Ooh, this one was new to me (before I started reading AAM). I know the current “Find iPhone” app has a “play sound” option. I would have loved to have seen the OP press that and have the iPad start beeping in her boss’ desk drawer.

  18. Ramona Flowers*

    Some of my favourite ever updates are cupcakes in the office kitchen (I hope you’re still doing well) and the service dog.

    My favourite open thread comments have been about the intern who put a picture of a turtle in all the documents he scanned, the job interviewers who were dressed up for Halloween meaning someone got interviewed by a giant pink bunny, and the receptionist who liked to randomly wear fangs – not on Halloween, just when she felt like it.

    1. KatTheRussian (France)*

      Could you link at least the Turtle one please? It sounds hilarious and I don’t remember ANY of these (except for cupcakes in the office kitchen – amazing story)!

      1. Elan Morin Tedronai*

        I missed this comment thread last time, or I would’ve posted there, but was there any chance the guy was Asian? Calling someone a turtle egg (and by extension a turtle) is a severe insult in the Chinese culture.

  19. MsSolo*

    I hadn’t seen the one with the “your momma” coworker before. It’s just so sad, even with the updates. The LW’s manager was pushing managing the coworker off on to her while also still treating them like peers (I suspect acknowledging that she was asking LW to manage coworker would have involved salary and job title changes). Coworker was a misogynistic jerk and definitely taking advantage of the fact LW was technically his peer to disrespect her. And apparently nothing could be done because his mum was a significant admin in the company, so he got moved to a better job and LW was stuck under terrible manager. Honestly, I’ve never read something where I wanted to tattle to a grown up’s mum more.

  20. NotAnotherManager!*

    Oh, wow, I had missed the update from the one who called her boss’s daughter a whore because the daughter was interested in dating like 97% of teenagers are. She’s a real piece of work. I guess I’m supposed to feel sorry for her being called a whore often growing up, but she comes off as very manipulative and judgmental from my read. Possibly biased by experiences with the extreme evangelicals in my husband’s hometown.

    I’m glad I work somewhere that using “whore” in a conversation like that would be an automatic sitdown with someone (probably from HR) because, if you truly don’t know how offensive that is by the time you hit the workforce, someone needs to tell you, stat.

  21. This Daydreamer*

    Now that was a very enjoyable tour through the recent history of completely bat guano workplaces. And, as a bonus, I hadn’t read the nickname one.

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