employee has already decorated for Christmas, explaining a chronic cough to coworkers, and more

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

1. Employee has already decorated for Christmas

I came into work this morning and one of my employees has her cubical all decorated for Christmas! We are a small office and we all celebrate Christmas….in December. How do I handle this as a new manager?

Unless she’s the receptionist and her decorations appear to visitors to be the company’s decorations, handle it by doing nothing. There’s no reason she can’t decorate her cubicle however she wants, assuming it’s not offensive in some way.

As a manager, you want to default to giving your employees the maximum freedom you can, as long as it doesn’t impact their work, other people’s work, or how the team or organization functions overall. There’s no reason you need to intervene here.

2. Should I tell my teammates I have cystic fibrosis?

I have a mild form of cystic fibrosis. I’m a fairly unusual case in that I’ve only been hospitalized once, I’m not currently on any medication for it or doing physical therapy, and things are overall going very well.

But I do have a really bad chronic cough. It’s a mostly dry cough, not hack-y or gross, but…frequent. Sometimes it’s worse than other times. I’m always at a loss as to whether to tell coworkers or not. I’ve read complaints on your blog before by people who hate working with someone with a chronic cough, and why don’t they just stay home or take a cough drop?

If someone asked me if I have a cold or something I might say, “Oh, I actually have a chronic lung condition. It’s not contagious and it’s under control, but I do apologize for the cough, I know it’s annoying.” But nobody does ask. But they HAVE to notice, and it must be very annoying.

Part of why I tend to not tell people is because I do have such an unusually mild case. If someone wasn’t sure what CF was and they googled it they’d see the average life expectancy is 37 years, in which case they’re going to assume I’ll be dead in just five years. At my last job, a coworker noticed my coughing and asked if I smoked and I flat out said, “No, I actually have cystic fibrosis,” and he did a huge double take. The next day he came up to me and made a really big deal of apologizing and feeling really terrible about it. This is why I hesitate to tell people, because it seems like such a big deal and makes them worry about me more than is necessary.

My team works in a back room in our building that’s really quiet and echo-y and I’m positive my constant cough has been noticed. Like I said, I do have a script in mind if someone asks me about it, but no one has so far, and I’ve worked here for over a year. Should I proactively mention it, or maybe just tell my boss so she knows? Do you think it’s nobody’s business, or is it, since I’m presumably affecting their day-to-day life with my coughing? If it matters, my work does offer health insurance and I do use it.

I don’t think you’re obligated to mention it, but I also think it would be smart to mention it to the people in regular earshot of you anyway. You’re right that ongoing noises — coughing, sniffling, humming, etc. — can be distracting, but people are usually much more understanding if they know the context. It’s one thing to think “argh, why on earth doesn’t my coworker see a doctor or use cough drops” and a totally different thing to understand that the person is dealing with a serious chronic condition. For most people, knowing the latter will make the noise a lot easier to deal with, to the point that sometimes people can even block it out because the “why doesn’t she deal with that?!” aggravation can take up more mental space than the noise itself.

I think in doing that you can use the language you mentioned about a chronic lung condition that’s not contagious; you don’t need to get specific about it being cystic fibrosis unless you want to.

3. Website wants to reprint my work

I just started my own blog, writing about my divorce. I have been approached by a company who says they would like to periodically carry the content from my blog on their website. They want me to sign an agreement (attached). Do you know if this is standard stuff or should I be wary? I’m very new to blogging and I don’t want to get taken or sign an agreement I will end up regretting. If you know anything about this I would appreciate your insight. Unfortunately I don’t know any bloggers in real life so I feel like there is no else I can ask.

Well, they’re basically saying that you’re going to provide them with free content that they will use on a site they presumably make a profit from. Do you want to give them your work for free, so they can make money from it?

To be clear, there are a lot of sites that use this set-up, and a lot of bloggers who agree to it. For the bloggers who agree, the thinking is that it’ll expose their work to a wider audience than they’d attract on their own. And frankly, there can be something to that for bloggers whose sites are new and/or who don’t have a ton of readers. Sometimes this set-up really does help build a blogger’s audience in ways that would be hard for them to do on their own. Sometimes it helps build it enough traffic that it then takes on a life of its own, at which point you can stop. (I did it early on and then stopped doing it after I built my own audience.) Not all value has to come in the form of money, and it’s not inherently a bad idea to do it; you just want to be really clear on what you’re getting out of it and decide if it’s worth it to you.

But any website that tries to convince established writers with an existing audience to hand over content for free should be attacked by bees. And really, they should pay people for their work regardless of experience or audience size … but there can still be value to you as a new blogger.

If you do decide to do it: The agreement they sent doesn’t address copyright at all and needs to, so add a line indicating that you retain copyright to all your pieces, and that you’re granting them “non-exclusive rights” to reprint. Also, have them add something stating that you can end the agreement at any time without notice, and see if they’ll agree in writing that you can request that your work be removed from their site with 30 days notice. They may not agree to the last part, but it’s worth asking.

4. Fairness in days off around holidays

I work in an office setting which gives us Thanksgiving off, but not the day after due to some kind of solidarity for other employees who work at other sites that require them to be available on that Friday. Some people can have the day off if they ask off early enough, but our entire department cannot have the day off.

I’m pretty Type A and put in all my time off requests well in advance and have been able to get the day after Thanksgiving off last two years, but haven’t taken any other time off around other holidays. I am also frequently one of the few people that can make it in when the weather turns bad in the winter.

I have coworkers who are expressing their frustration over their inability to get this day after Thanksgiving off. Should I not be asking for this time off in order to keep things fair, or should I leave this to our manager to decide if changes need to be made?

You’re fine leaving it to your manager to speak up if she wants to change the system. If you were also always taking all the most desirable days around other holidays, my answer would be different, but when we’re talking about a single day a year, I think you’re fine (especially since your coworkers also have the option of putting in their requests early).

5. Applying for two very different jobs with the same company

Today, as I skimmed the local job sites, two different jobs popped up, both of which I am qualified for. The first is an accounting manager position. The second is a typical administrative assistant-type role — more entry-level, with a salary to reflect that. I could do this job perfectly well, but the job I’d really love is the accounting manager position.

So, should I apply for both? Or will applying for a manager job and a regular admin job make me look desperate? To be honest, I am rather desperate — I’ve been searching for a job for a year and a half, which has been rather wearying. It’s difficult enough finding one job I’m qualified for, but to find two, and at the same company? I really feel as though I should jump at every possible opportunity. But could something like this backfire on me?

Because the two are such different positions, I’d pick the one you think you’re most strongly matched with and just apply for that one. If you’re well qualified for the accounting manager job, that’s almost certainly the one you should apply for since in that case they’ll probably think you’re overqualified for the admin job.

If the positions were more similar, it would be fine to apply for both. But with two roles like this, there’s too much risk of you looking scattered or like you’re just applying for everything you see. And you risk them discounting you for the accounting manager role because they’re not envisioning hiring someone for that job who also has herself on a admin assistant track, or discounting you for the admin role because now you look like you really want a higher-level role instead. (This is flawed thinking — lots of people would be happy with a variety of tracks — but it’s really common.) There are employers where applying for both would be fine, but there are enough where it will hurt you that I’d just stick with one.

{ 421 comments… read them below }

  1. neverjaunty*

    OP #3 – don’t do it! An agreement that doesn’t even mention copyright is written by amateurs. No wonder they aren’t offering to pay you. Avoid avoid!

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah, that definitely made me raise my eyebrows. Isn’t copyright a kind of basic/necessary term to always have in there?

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Eh, I get approached ALL THE TIME for this kind of thing, and weirdly it’s really common for them not to address copyright, even when it’s a decent site. There are lots of decidedly-not-amateur sites that do this.

      1. Orlando*

        Wow, YOU get approached for this? “Give us your content, we’ll maybe give you something that definitely isn’t money?” That sort of thing?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Constantly. At least once a week, probably more. Most of the time, it’s a site with significantly less traffic than this one gets, promising me “exposure.” I have a slightly snotty form letter I reply with, when I’m so inclined.

          1. Aeon*

            Now I’m tempted to mail you and ask to republish your content on my not-so-much-read-blog just to read that snotty reply ;-)

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Here’s the basic template I use:

              Well, no, because I don’t work for free, like most established professionals. And you’re not a charity, where asking for free work might be reasonable.

              Do you not realize that asking people to work for “exposure” has become a widespread joke — that writers get offered that so often that there are entire memes and campaigns against it? (See, for example, this or this or this.)

              I urge you to reconsider. The tide is really turning against your type of business model, and this is going to get you a terrible reputation with any reasonably established writer.

              1. Allypopx*


                The whole concept of paying in exposure really irks me, so I’d probably turn them down on principle, but I’m also kind of haughty and stubborn sometimes. Think it through, OP. It might be worth it for you as a new blogger.

              2. bookish*

                BRAVA! Thank you for sharing this wonderful response! It’s definitely useful work-related advice too. I’m an artist and graphic designer and people in my field definitely have the same problem of being asked to do free work for “exposure.”

                1. Jessica*

                  Same! I always want to reply with, “Why don’t you write me a check, and instead of building you a website, I’ll just tell all my friends about your business!” Same deal, right?

              3. Agathe_M*

                There’s a great bon mot from a fake autopsy report published on the Beaverton a while back–or anyway, some kind of satire production from a part of Canada where winter is severe: “paid in exposure, died of it”

          2. JessaB*

            That would be a fun letter to read. You often post things like letters written by your readership. I’d love to see one written by you for a professional reason.

            1. Snark*

              Wish it were still around to refer you to. It was focused on cooking inspired by Baja California, New Mexico, and northern Mexico, heavy on live-fire cooking on the grill and in wood-fired ovens, some travelogue content from road trips in the area. I’m actually thinking of cleaning it up and turning it all into a cookbook, but I am busy and lazy.

                1. Snark*

                  Unfortunately, “hey, this guy who nobody has ever heard of isn’t a chef, hasn’t been on a reality TV show, and has no particular credentials, but he wants you to publish his cookbook” is not exactly a business case that has the publishing houses eating out of my hand. Even if there’s a wood-fired lamb, roasted corn, and green chile empanada in that hand.

                2. Snark*

                  Is that a topic that would be appropriate for open thread this Friday? Asking people about self-publishing?

                3. oranges & lemons*

                  For what it’s worth I also work for a book publisher that does cookbooks and I would recommend it!

                4. Snark*

                  Oranges and Lemons, is there a way you could email me your contact information? I’d be really curious to talk more with someone in the industry. My email should be linked to by my user name.

                5. oranges & lemons*

                  Thanks Alison! Sure, I’d be happy to talk to you about it, Snark. I do work in Canada though, so I can only speak to the peculiarities of the US industry secondhand.

                6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  OMG, I am 100% on the “Snark’s self-published cookbook” train. Happy to help with the intellectual property aspects (if needed), as well.

                7. Delightful Daisy*

                  Just one side note- self published have less of a chance of getting bought by libraries. Many patrons check out cookbooks to preview before buying them. If you can go the traditional route, it may be better for you.

              1. Jennifer Thneed*

                We could talk about copy-editing, proof-reading, etc. I suspect I’d enjoy working with you.

                1. Jennifer Thneed*

                  Hey Snark, how do we do this? How do we get in touch? (I don’t want to put my email address on a publically-searchable webpage.) Does Alison do match-making?

          1. LCL*

            (I posted basically this same thing on an open thread a couple weeks ago, still true. From the Hillbilly Hellcats song ‘I hate music’)
            ‘At least it’s exposure
            that’s what they say
            but you can die of exposure
            in less than a day.’

          2. Katie the Fed*

            I had a food blog briefly too. I enjoyed it but then people stole my content including pictures and text, or asked me to republish stuff for free. Ugh. I also just didn’t have the time to devote to it.

              1. AKchic*

                *laugh* Eating my food would cause people to expose themselves to extreme weight gain. We call it my famous heart attack mac and cheese for a reason.

                1. Snark*

                  I reverse-engineered an IPA mac n cheese with country ham and peas from one of my favorite pizza joints, and….yeah. Here’s your bowl, your fork, and your disclaimer.

            1. Snark*

              Oh, yeah, the stolen content thing made me ballistic. One of my recipes got jacked by a surprisingly well-known food site and they just played dumb when I requested attribution.

              1. Telephone has a cord*

                Unless you’re constantly searching, how on earth do you keep up with people taking content? I mean, how do you even know?

                Not trying to be snarky, I’m genuinely curious.

                1. REd 5*

                  I’m not a blogger, but a content creator for media content and I have several specific alerts set up to email me when specific sets of keywords pop up.

                  Plus there’s tools within some CMS systems that I think could help with that. It’s surprisingly easy to find when people are stealing your stuff, but surprisingly hard to do anything about it.

        2. Karen K*

          I do freelance work for an author that many of you would have heard of, who also runs a successful website among other ventures, and she constantly gets requests to reprint her blog posts for nothing. The requests are worded in such a way that she should be ecstatic that she has the opportunity give her work away. It’s insulting, to be honest.

      2. Anon anon anon*

        Well, if it’s already been published somewhere, then you clearly own the copyright. Meaning that they wouldn’t necessarily need to mention it unless they were asking you to sell it or donate it to them.

        1. ArtK*

          Sadly, there are a lot of people who believe that once it’s out on the ‘net, then it’s public domain. Even very intelligent and honest people believe that. Having a contract that doesn’t specify copyright ownership would be a bad mistake. What the writer doesn’t want to have happen is that their work gets turned into “work-for-hire” with the copyright devolving to the site owner. The non-exclusive clause is also critical.

          TL;DR it is always in your best interest to have all the details laid out in writing. It guards against dishonesty and helps prevent honest misunderstandings.

          No, I am not a lawyer!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Just to clarify, it can’t turn into work-for-hire, since it doesn’t meet those conditions! But regardless, it’s smart to specify copyright ownership.

          2. pumpkin spice.*

            Anyone remember the Cooks Source fiasco?! I worked in publishing at the time and was a super copyright nerd, and it was one of my all-time favorite internet pile-ons. I recently saw it in my timehop/memories, it was 7 years ago now. “BUT HONESTLY MONICA…”

            1. bookish*

              I didn’t know about this, what a delight to learn about this meme! I also work in publishing and I’m truly baffled by how many people think they are free to publish something they just found on Google.

              1. pumpkin spice.*

                I didn’t produce any actual work for 3 business days when this happened, I was so delighted to follow along with the madness on twitter and couldn’t concentrate on anything else :)

              2. animaniactoo*

                In a time long long ago, a member of an image website I used to run around on got an actual e-mail threatening to sue him because he had dared to take down the image that the writer was linking to and using as part of his website design.

                It started out with a simple request to please put the image back up. But when it was denied the communication got increasingly vitriolic with accusations of robbing him of the ability to make a profit with his startup business by destroying his website, and as the member invited him to contact his lawyer as since he – the member – would be contacting his own for copyright infringement. There were a few “it was free on the internet!” and “you’re kidding, right?” exchanges back and forth until suddenly there was an apology and groveling letter and please don’t sue me.

                We assume that they guy had actually gone far enough at that point to consult a lawyer and was told in no uncertain terms that not only did he not have a case but he might owe some decent amount of money if the copyright holder pursued it. We also laughed. A lot.

                1. SusanIvanova*

                  I know of a web artist who’d replace hotlinked images with very NSFW ones when people did that. Got them to stop hotlinking real quick.

        2. Jerry Vandesic*

          It doesn’t need to be published in order to be covered by copyright. All that needs to happen is that the content be “fixed into a tangible medium” (i.e., written down). If you write it down on your own computer, without publishing wider, it is covered by copyright.

          That being said, you can’t get damages (up to $150K per infringment) unless the copyright has been registered with the US patents and trademark office. If you don’t register you can enforce your copyright and have the infringing document taken down, but you won’t get paid.

          1. Non IP Lawyer who knows just enough to be dangerous*

            This isn’t entirely accurate. I think you are thinking about statutory damages (i.e. money you can get without proving you suffered a loss or the infringer profited) in which case, yes, you do need the registration to get statutory damages. The copyright holder can indeed get monetary damages for a non-federally registered works, they just need to do the prove up the damages.

          2. Erin*

            no in the visual art world you own the copyright to your work as soon as you create it. You just have to prove it’s yours, and that the person who used your intellectual material created by you caused you financial harm. It’s like that because filing for copyright for every doodle and drawing would stop people from creating.

        3. REd 5*

          It’s still best practices to make sure that any contracts or agreements involving your content clearly state that you retain the copyright. Because 90% of internet users actually don’t understand copyright whatsoever and love to argue about it like they went to law school. I just finished a big argument with somebody trying to prove some content I had posted was public domain, and those were some fun logic hoops they jumped through. They were still wrong, but wow they tried hard.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        OMG, Alison, that is literally my nightmare as an attorney. (I’ve only had to deal with copyright in the context of print, but the idea of not addressing it for e-content makes my heart wail.)

      4. Elder Dog*

        Nobody ever thinks copyright applies to them. Most of them can’t even spell it.

        I own a fairly popular website, and I get people just lifting content all the time. When called on it, they always claim they’re doing me a favor by giving my content “exposure” and are sure I am so invested in “the cause” I should be thrilled at their “getting the word out.” Thanks, but the word is already out.

        I also constantly get people who want me to publish their articles on my site to give them exposure. Most of those are simple rehashes of my own content. At least most of them are not silly enough to ask me to pay them to republish my own content. Most of them.

        Then there are the people who claim they are writing an article for some other site or magazine, and want me to give them an interview, which consists of a list of questions that can be answered by reading the content on my site. They’re never writing for that site or magazine, but are hoping to get an editor to express some interest once they can say they interviewed me. I put a press release page on the site and refer them to that.

        When I turn any of these people down, I get called a “gatekeeper” worried about competition from them. All these people are wasting their time and mine, and they turn nasty often enough, I seldom respond to them anymore. They love to say they’re going to tell the world how mean I am and destroy the site and then take over with their own. OK. Knock yourself out.
        Just get your own content.

    3. Ramona Flowers*

      Sometimes it can work out in your favour if they don’t mention it. In the UK the default is that, without an agreement specifying otherwise, you default to selling First British Serial Rights. FBSR is basically a non-exclusive license to publish first. I preferred an agreement when I was a writer, but just wanted to flag that no mention of copyright does not necessarily mean you’ve sold it.

      This is why it’s important to know your rights. Talk to other bloggers and try to find some relevant professional groups to network in.

      1. Koko*

        Also not a lawyer but I think the same thing holds true in the US – content creators own the copyright absent an agreement to the contrary.

    4. Not a lawyer*

      Or people who are writing a contract with their own interests in mind, which is… normal. I’ll come right out and say I’m biased as I work for a lawyer, but op, I *strongly* suggest you find a lawyer willing to give it a once over. For a simple contract it should be fairly low cost, and then you have the benefit of someone who knows your rights with respect to your location, the other site’s location, internet/content related laws, etc etc. I’ve seen more self-made contracts than not that have poor or unclear language, or are even missing one or more vital clauses. If it’s not caught until *after* it’s needed, you can run into major, and serious, problems in getting out again. I’ll give you one example. Two women wanted to go into business together. They made up their own simple shareholder agreement. Then they had a fight (side note, this is the most common result w/small businesses & anyone looking to get into one w/a friend or family they want to Keep as friend or family, GET A LAWYER for at least the initial setup). Our client hired us, other woman hired her own lawyer, and right away that’s more expense than just getting it set up by someone who can help break it down again. But it got much worse. If you ask Wikipedia about shotgun clauses, you’ll see there are some problems with them. Problems that dwindle to nothing when there us *no* language covering that sort of situation at all. Whoops. Now we have two lawyers trying to get two angry people making poor, emotion-based decisions to come to the same table to negotiate. They’re both convinced they’re right both convinced the other one is asking for unreasonable concessions, both determined the other one will budge, but NEVER THEM. This of course is not helped by many people’s perception that lawyer = own personal pocket-Matlock who will look at the contract, ask three simple questions of the opposing party, and whip a metaphorical rabbit from hat by dramatically revealing some harmless looking clause to be a magical I WIN button. Nnnnno. We see these jobs and groan inside because it’s usually going to involve a client that phones several times a day with “stuff we might not have thought of” that they googled or got from their accountant (which is totally almost the same thing right? So while you’re doing this contract work for me here’s, all my tax issues to sort out too oh you don’t do that?, are you *sure* you’re actually a lawyer?) and will then complain about the bill (NOBODY who doesn’t want to shell out $1k for a simple corporate setup is going to be pleased with the cost of hourly billing that post-bad-contract negotiation brings)

      Anyway sorry for the sidetrack there, but that basically summed up what happened. A simple shareholder agreement by us would have cost them a couple hundred bucks total. This was much more. Each. And because there was no easy exit and neither wanted to budge, it dragged on for moooonths while their business suffered, and eventually – whole they were still fighting – died. Leaving them both out more money than necessary, two lawyers & staff with headaches, and a smoking crater where the business had been.

      Not directly related, but just an example of simple fixes that if missed turn into large issues.

      1. eplawyer*

        GET. A. Lawyer. Alison is qualified to address WHY the company would do this and the advantages. But the terms of the contract should be reviewed by a lawyer who can explain what it really means to you. You need your own lawyer who will represent your interests. Do not ask the website’s attorney for clarification. One, they can’t give you advice, they represent the website and two, they represent the website’s interest not yours.

        As a side note, I get this all the time. People who write their own separation agreements to save money. Then when it comes to time to enforce it, find out it doesn’t do what they thought it did. Then the self-represented person wants me to explain the agreement and the court process to them. No, I represent the other side and I like my law license thank you very much.

        1. Livinia*

          Divorce and probate….people want to diy divorce agreements and wills bc they think all they are doing is writing things down.

          People don’t know what they don’t know. It’s too late when they find out.

          I had a client who did a pro se divorce using docs provided by the circuit clerk written by legal aid. She wanted cheap and easy. Then she came to me a few years later crying (literally) because she can’t get her ex’s military benefits. Sorry, permanently lost. No recourse.

          As there were other issues, Her cheap divorce cost her tens of thousands of dollars. It would have cost her $3-5K for a competent attorney.

          I make bank on probates where the will was handwritten, typed up by the deceadant, downloaded from the net, bought at a stationary store.

          Too many people think transactional legal work is fill-in-the-blank or just simply being clever enough to write things down properly.

          That’s why I am not afraid of the rise of Legal Zoom. I’ll make money on the probate when there are issues.

          No fillable form or interactive software can replace a well trained lawyer who cares.

          Web-MD is not a replacement for doctors either…

          There is a reason we have experts. A reason why we require education, testing, and annual certification.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            Employee benefits attorney here. Even corporations do this – get some form document they use for their company retirement plan from a non-lawyer vendor, and they don’t really understand what it says and so they don’t administer the plan right, and then the IRS comes over for an audit… and now the company has to spend *so much* on legal fees and IRS penalties, when if they had simply hired us to draft their plans (and explain what all the terms meant, and what it required, and how to administer it) at the outset, they’d have saved thousands and thousands of dollars.

            1. Discordia Angel Jones*

              Or worse, they’ll get the original document from a lawyer, then just chop it up and reuse it in all sorts of different situations.

              *waves hello at the client who chopped up the corporate lease when they came to renew it with the same tenant, but accidentally left out the, you know, actual clause which made the rent payable*

          2. Clever Name*

            You’ve summed up exactly why I’ve hired a lawyer to do my divorce while my nearly ex is representing himself. From his perspective it’s just “filling out forms”. Well yes, technically it is, but being an expert (in another area) that folks hire, I understand the value of paying an expert and not just doing it yourself simply because you *can*

    5. working as an artist*

      In the working artist circles I run in (and I think more broadly too), the general rule of thumb is this:

      If Company comes to YOU, they want something that they clearly value (they’re asking for it after all), so they should be willing and prepared to give something of value in return. Generally that means money.

      If YOU go to Company, you are asking them for something (e.g., exposure), and will need to offer them something of value in return as well. Generally this would mean offering your work product as that thing of value, while being aware you won’t necessarily be paid.

      In other words, she who asks first is the one asking for a favor from the other, and should expect to be flexible in how the favor is granted, or it may not be granted at all.

      Be aware that organizations expecting work for free is RAMPANT in the arts industries. Figure out your own professional boundaries and learn to defend them, because you will have to, a lot. Be careful about agreeing to “exposure” only — you’d need to get really lucky for that exposure to translate into actual money somewhere down the line. Traffic on their site will not necessarily translate into clicks through to your own (let’s face it, very few people will click away from their favorite news site to “learn more” about the author of this one article), which doesn’t necessarily translate into future clients/commissions/paid work for you. At the end of the day, you can’t eat exposure… https://www.facebook.com/burningbrigid/posts/989676737735459

      Also of note in the blogging field: Google has what’s known as a “duplicate content penalty,” where it will rank pages lower if they have identical content/copy as another page. Most people will rewrite about 20% of the article before posting it on another blog to avoid this penalty.

      1. Anon anon anon*

        Yes on expecting actual money. If you speak the language and ask about pay, people will take you more seriously. It isn’t easy. Some people get really nasty and vindictive when you bring up the pay issue. Consider those people as having burned a bridge with you and move on.

      2. Florida*

        I work in entertainment and am always being asked to work for “exposure.” I like your guidelines about the one who approaches should be prepared to give something in return.
        Here’s a fun flowchart to determine whether or not you should work for free http://www.shouldiworkforfree.com/

      3. Oryx*

        Yup, this is how I treat speaking /writing engagements:

        If you come to me and ask me to speak, I will give you my speaking fee.
        If I go to you and offer to speak at your event / location, I will be prepared to do it for free unless you ask what my fee is.

        As a writer and blogger, it always kills me when people come to me and then expect me to work “for exposure.” You found me first so clearly my exposure is okay as it is.

      4. CF Girl*

        Thank you for bringing up the duplicate content penalty. I’m a writer and knew about this but did not think of it when I read this before. It’s much advised to, as you said, rewrite it a bit or reorganize it somehow. I once had to rewrite a post on wedding budgets for five different wedding websites.

    6. Anon anon anon*

      If it says, “work for hire,” and they’re not paying you, I’d run. That usually means they’re asking you to hand over the copyright to your work.

      1. Grace*

        The OP has already written it, so it’s not work for hire. It’s licensing. Tell the company it’s $X amount to re-run your content, and if you get hits over X number you get a bonus.

    7. Digital Marketing Manager*

      #3 – I have a background in this – I lead digital marketing for a company that publishes a lot of marketing content, and many of the companies that partner with us (sell us products or that we sell to) ask to reuse our content. We have some guidelines on this that you should weave into an agreement like this:

      1. As Alison said, maintain your copyright. Make sure that’s explicitly laid out in your contract.

      2. Require they use a rel=”canonical” tag in the header of their HTML code, linking back to your original blog post, when they share your content. This tells search engines like Google to give you “SEO credit” for the original content, rather than the website that shares your content getting it. Here’s some more info around it: https://moz.com/learn/seo/canonicalization

      3. Require that, at least at the bottom of the blog post, they link back to your original blog post, citing it as the source of the content. Ideally make it so that they can’t bury it (by using a small font, light font color, etc.), either.

      1. CF Girl*

        That canonical tag did not work well at my work. I don’t recall the reasons why (sorry), but I’d recommend working as an artist’s suggestion of rewriting about 20% of the piece over using that tag.

    8. oranges & lemons*

      I’m not a lawyer, but I do negotiate reprint rights for a book publisher, so for what it’s worth (without having seen the contract), my general recommendations are:

      -Draft your own document. Most of the form documents are stuffed with all kinds of unrealistic rights grabs that you don’t want to sign off on.
      -Specify that the rights are non-exclusive, single-use, and specify the formats included (for example, if some of the website content gets turned into a book, do you want the book to include your content for free?) Best to make the rights as limited as possible.
      -Specify that the rights granted only extend to what is covered by the agreement, and any other uses will require a separate agreement.
      -You may want to specify that no changes should be made to your content.
      -Specify how you would like your work to be credited. The credit line should link back to your own blog.
      -When I negotiate web rights, I often include a time limit (say, it will have to be removed after 5 years), but that might just be book publisher stuffiness and might not make sense for you. But obviously one risk with allowing another website to publish your content is that it could be then lifted from that website without anyone crediting you and drift far afield.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, I would definitely leave this to your manager. As another person who doggedly takes the Friday after Thanksgiving and works all other “coveted” winter holidays, I feel no guilt. I understand that it can be frustrating for others, but if they’re receiving other coveted winter days off, then I don’t think there’s a fairness problem.

    And if there is a fairness problem, then your manager should take a look at the rotation of people who receive those days off, and if there’s anyone who’s consistently losing out. But again, that’s on your manager (and on your frustrated coworkers to escalate), not on you.

    1. JamieS*

      Agreed. I don’t think this type of thing should always be left completely up to managers to regulate and there’s something to be said for common courtesy since managers aren’t always good at keeping things equitable. However that would really only come into play in cases where a person is hogging holidays. Barring some rare exceptions, such as Thanksgiving being the only holiday they get off, one coveted holiday a year isn’t discourteous.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        And hogging holidays that other people really want. If my job didn’t give the day after Thanksgiving off, I would gladly work it — I celebrate locally but not at my house, so it would be fine for me to just have the one day and save my day off for another time. That might mean my counterpart always got it off, and that would be great for everyone.

        1. Project Manager*

          I agree with this in theory, but have found it troublesome in reality. My fiance’s office is closed for the major days, but always open day after/before (open the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, day after Christmas, New Years, etc.). Because he’s the only local, there’s an expectation that he should work ALL of those days, EVERY year. In this case, it would be appreciated if management would step in and implement some type of rotation strategy so things are a little more equitable. As it is, my fiance is stuck working or being the bad guy, because forbid that he might want to spend the night with family on Thanksgiving Day or New Years! Maybe if it was only Thanksgiving we’d feel less annoyed, though (and if it wasn’t every single year).

      2. Allypopx*

        I ask my employees to be courteous to each other, tell them not to expect priority for time around Christmas if they want time around Thanksgiving and vice versa, and remind them that we still have to operate, and that works out pretty well. I’m usually able to approve all the requests I get if I just ask people to be mindful of the requests they’re putting in. BUT I also know I’m blessed with a staff who actually give a crap about each other, and that’s not everywhere. Still IMO it works best when it’s sort of a team effort between management and employees, with management being transparent about the process and employees showing some flexibility and willingness to make tradeoffs.

        OP if that’s the only day you ask off I’d grant it to you every year. Don’t worry about it.

        1. J.*

          I think that’s a fair system. My dad is a nurse, so all holidays really need to be covered. He would always volunteer to work New Years because his younger coworkers wanted to party, or Christmas Day if he could have Christmas Eve off because my brother and I are grown adults, and his coworkers with kids wanted to be home with the little ones on Christmas morning.

          As long as you’re not hogging ALL the holidays and understanding there needs to be some flexibility, it’s not really a huge problem.

          1. Kj*

            Agreed. I always offered to work with Friday after Thanksgiving, as my husband has to work that day and we don’t travel. In return, a co-worker who likes to work around Christmas would take the week of Thanksgiving off for a long trip and I’d take the week of Christmas off . We could cover each other’s work with ease, so the boss was really pleased we’d worked it out on our own.

    2. eplawyer*

      Fair in this case, from the complaining co-workers perspective often means: I didn’t get every single holiday off and have to work one. Or I didn’t get the holidays off I wanted because I waited until the last minute to request them when I could have done it much earlier but didn’t bother.

      This is how management does the holidays. It’s fair to everyone. It’s not like the lady who got to the calendar first and then took every single Friday before a holiday off so no one else could all year long.

    3. Koko*

      In last year’s similar question that Alison linked to I was one of those who felt it was very uncool for someone to be swooping in and taking all the holidays months and months before most people make plans (or are even able to make plans in many cases).

      But I agree this is different. One would reasonably expect/hope that all the employees could get to take at least one of the popular/family holidays each year. So what if OP’s happens to be the same holiday every year? She’s left plenty of other holidays available. This is within reason.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        I thought it was uncool and foolish- I can’t imagine her coworkers were willing to do her any favors in the future.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Absolutely agreed that swooping all holidays is foolish, inconsiderate, and obnoxious/uncool. But only swooping Black Friday? I think that’s limited enough to avoid the “swooping all coveted holidays” problems.

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            I’m sorry for the lack of clarity- I meant last year’s post not this year. One holiday is fine.

  3. Observer*

    #2 I think it’s a good idea to let the people around you know that you have this chronic condition. I agree that you don’t need to provide a diagnosis, just a generic “Chronic condition, totally not contagious and I’m under a doctor’s care.”

    1. Dinosaur*

      I agree with this. I’ll admit that when I read “cystic fibrosis” I also pictured the more drastic version before reading the rest of what the LW wrote, so I’d definitely advocate for not including a specific diagnosis. I’d trust a coworker who assured me that it isn’t what I’m picturing but it’s sometimes better not to open that door to preconceived notions and assumptions.

      1. Al Lo*

        My understanding of CF (and other such conditions) is very informed by the many (very dramatic) Lurlene McDaniel books I devoured as a tweenager. Hence, I also would go to the more serious version first.

        1. I am good at dealing with people*

          Last winter and spring I had a chronic cough which only got worse as time went on. I was working at temp office jobs and as a retail cashier. Some people who expressed concern was also worried they would get what I had — and a particularly nasty respiratory illness was going around my city. And I especially couldn’t seem to shake it. In the spring I found out I had a cancer recurrence in my lungs. I had surgery in July and am doing much better.

          In light of my experience, I think OP ought to explain his or her cough to those who’ve overheard it. Others may worry about catching it, especially now that it’s cold and flu season. OP shouldn’t give an overly detailed explanation or scary reason. But do let your coworkers know that despite the cough, you’re OK.

        2. Canadian Tuxedo*

          I instantly pictured the wedding that took place in the hospital with the teenage groom 20 seconds away from death by CF.

        3. Ramblin' Ma'am*

          OMG! I haven’t heard the name “Lurleen McDaniel” in so many years.

          I also, sadly, had a childhood friend who died from CF. I didn’t even realize there was a milder form. I agree it might be better not to get into specifics with most coworkers.

          1. Else*

            I ran across a pile of those in a used bookstore, and instant nostalgia! WHY did we read those so religiously? Yet so many of us did…

          2. CF Girl*

            When I had my baby earlier this year one of the nurses came up to me and was like, “So we saw ‘mild CF’ on your chart and we were all like, what??? Nobody had seen that before.” Haha.

        4. Librariana*

          Me too! Then I met someone in college who has CF, and she was able to finish her college degree, get married, work at a job, and foster kids! She has quite a full and normal life, as long as she keeps up her treatments.

        5. a girl has no name*

          I am so glad I am not the only one! I have no idea why I was so obsessed with those books, but my mind also went there immediately. If a handful of us already assumed the worst case of CF, it might be best to avoid mentioning the specifics about your condition. I agree with Alison’s approach.

        6. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

          Oh my God, Lurlene McDaniel. Reading her bibliography is hilariously depressing.

      2. GG Two shoes*

        Hey Dino, I totally see what you are saying. I know growing up with CF, I was scared that was my future. However, we’ve come a long way in the treatments for CF. Over half the people with CF are adults now!

          1. GG Two shoes*

            I hate that number. I wish it wasn’t used at all. I think it’s really misleading. I feel like I heard though that it’s closer to 40 now?

          2. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            Slightly off-topic but I work for a health plan and one of the issues we have coming up more and more frequently is finding primary care doctors who are knowledgeable about CF and really prepared to treat it. Most of the doctors who are really successful at treating CF are pediatricians, but as the average life span of a person with CF gets older and older, there’s a real need to train non-pediatricians in adequately managing this chronic condition–and to treat it as chronic, rather than terminal!

        1. Miss Betty*

          This is so amazing and wonderful to me. When I was a kid, the life expectancy for those with CF was really young – late teens, maybe? In 1986 or ’87 I knew a young woman with CF who died around age 25 and her family kept saying how wonderful it was that she’d lived so much longer than had been predicted when she was diagnosed. She was even married, which no one had expected when she was a child. Treatments keep improving and life expectancy is longer and longer and no doubt things will continue to improve over time. (Hmm, maybe it’s stuff like this that gets me so ridiculously irritated when people tell me they don’t trust doctors and medical science, that they’re up to no good, blah blah blah.)

    2. INTP*

      I agree. I have a chronic cough due to asthma and people can still be jerks even when they know you can’t help it, but it does improve. I do share my diagnosis but obviously it’s not as scary to the layperson, I agree that it might be a good idea to describe CF as a “lung condition” instead. (Before I knew what was causing it, I once had a coworker imply he thought I had whooping cough and was not okay with that because he had a baby at home. That’s the kind of thing that sharing a diagnosis will avoid but there will always be people that think you should just take cough syrup and stop annoying them.)

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed, particularly on keeping it vague. I tend to get a persistent cough after any sort of URI because of my asthma. At that point I’m not contagious and desperately would love to stop coughing, too. People tend to be more compassionate if you let them know it’s chronic, you’re trying your best, and it’s not contagious.

      2. VioletEMT*

        Same. Cough-variant asthma here. I had a cold in early October and I’m still freaking coughing.

        You want me to stop coughing? So do I.

        1. kitryan*

          Another cough variant asthma girl here! I also get the month long coughing spells after URI bouts. I always feel so much better when that phase starts, but it’s so dramatic to those around me that it’s really hard to convince anyone that I’m feeling great and am basically all better – they keep giving you the side eye!
          In high school, my friends would have to talk for me when I had a coughing fit, to keep people from Heimliching me.
          Maybe this is another job for gossipy co-worker- let them know it’s a chronic condition and you’re not contagious and have them spread the word?

      3. Insufficiently Inspirational*

        OP #2, yet another CFer here! (I have typical mutations, but I’ve also never been hospitalized, so I never know how to describe it.)

        I typically mention CF in passing when a relevant opportunity occurs. I think this can be less risky than trying to have a specific conversation revealing it. However, one complication of this is that I have no idea how far the news has spread and who knows. I work remotely in a (not-exactly-) independent contractor arrangement with occasional chances to meet with other contractors and employees. Lots of conversations happen that I don’t know about.

        But I’m really commenting to say that it was so good to see your comment! I’m considering looking for other work (because of the “not-exactly-independent” thing). The “it’s so unbearable to hear coughing, dealing with coughing saps everybody’s productivity, just stay home if you can’t be quiet” stuff can get really demoralizing and isolating.

    3. GG Two shoes*

      OP#2, fellow CFer here! I could have written your letter a few years ago. I know the pressure to tell folks so they aren’t concerned or annoyed. This is what I have done:

      1. I told my boss the first time we had some 1 on 1 time. I did this because I wanted him to understand that I’m perfectly competent and relatively healthy but I will be coughing a lot and he doesn’t need to worry. Also, if anyone asks him, he can tell them I have a chronic condition that causes coughing.

      2. I told the folks who work nearest to me at a time that was convenient to me. I used to get a lot of “wow, that’s some cold you got!” but I think being up front about it was easier in the long run. That said, I’m an open book about it and volunteer with the CFF, etc. so I realize not everyone is as comfortable about that as I am.

      On a side note, I’m on a study drug that has made my coughing go WAY down- to the point that friends, family and coworkers have noticed. I hope that a drug like that is on it’s way to you soon.

      1. CF Girl*

        Thanks for your comment. I did a study drug once many years ago. I’m lucky enough to live near a hospital that has an excellent pulmonary division and they’re usually on the up and up with new drugs, so maybe it’ll come my way soon!

      2. Mariah w CF*

        I’m about the same. Very open about it- boss gets told first thing, everyone else within a few weeks as it becomes necessary. I would tell them- if you present it as not a big deal, people don’t assume it’s a big deal. “I have cystic fibrosis. It’s mild, but I’ll likely be coughing a lot. Just wanted to give you a heads up.”

    4. that Broadway nerd*

      Another CF-er here! I was so thrilled to see this letter, especially since I made my first ever AAM comment about my CF on another thread last week. I’m also a relatively mild case (not as mild as yours, but not constantly-in-the-hospital bad either), and I definitely understand the coughing anxiety. I’m very up front about it. I told my manager within my first month of being at this job (my first out of college), and I told coworkers as it came up. Since I occasionally get extreme coughing fits, I find it’s best that everyone around me just knows the situation so they don’t freak out. I also try to have a sense of humor about it so people feel at ease and don’t feel like they need to treat me differently. Best wishes to you and all the other CF folks in the comments! It was nice to feel some solidarity today :)

      1. GG Two shoes*

        It’s a small world, huh? :) I think coughing stuff UP is worse than the cough. That’s not as easy to hide and is super gross if someone is watching.

    5. Modernhypatia*

      I say “I have chronically cranky lungs, sorry if I sound like I’m dying, I’m not.” and when relevant a “Not contagious!” The ‘cranky’ phrasing usually makes people smile.

      (Staying home and otherwise visibly taking precautions when I get a cold and am contagious is also a helpful sign to people I work with regularly, I think, about the differences.)

  4. Observer*

    #1, Is there something that you left out of your question? I know that sometimes people leave out information that turns out to be pertinent in an attempt to be concise, and it just feels like there is missing context here. It’s not at all clear WHY you think you need to do something about this. And, by the way I don’t even celebrate Christmas. But, if you are an office that does and the employee isn’t being obnoxious, what’s the issue?

    1. super anon*

      In (some places) in Canada it’s become a big deal to put out any decorations before Remembrance Day, people get incredibly offended that you’re disrespecting veterans and those who died at war by decorating before then. I suppose OP could be one of those people who feel strongly about no decorations before Nov. 11… but that still seems strange to me.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Not in Canada, but I personally only properly think about Christmas once Armistice Day is over.

        Still, I can imagine if the decorations are large and brightly coloured (giant Santa Clauses etc.) it could be distractive. It seems as you get older that Christmas starts earlier every year!

      2. Agatha_31*

        This is what I do. I am a Christmas monster, but not until after Remembrance Day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve already started watching holiday movies and playing carols in my car. But for public celebration, it just feels tacky (to me) to have lights up or be humming carols at a time that’s supposed to be about solemn reflection and gratefulness. And that still leaves me with a good month and a half to go christmas insane. ☺️If this is how op feels and if they have the authority, they *could* institute a “no decorating before (date)” rule. Maybe the weekend after Remembrance Day? Even as a confirmed Christmas nut I couldn’t see a rational objection to that.

        Side note, my mom’s rule when we were kids was “nothing until Dec. 15th.” One of my happiest moments when I got my own home was pulling out the decorations December 1st ☺️We still have a debate every year about who’s right! I am, naturally, because why go to all that work and then just have to pack it up again 11 days later???

        1. Christmas Tree Fairy*

          You don’t pack up Christmas stuff until Twelfth Night :) That’s the rule! Which is January 5th, so plenty long enough.

          1. Thornus67*

            One year, we didn’t pack the stuff up until Valentine’s Day. My mom hated that. Once on my own, I was so lazy I didn’t pack up my one foot tree until St. Paddy’s Day. And that was only because I had people

            1. Liz*

              One year, when I was a student, we saved time by just leaving the tree up all year. Lights on every night. Decorations in the window. It was great.

            2. Catabodua*

              We had a neighbor who never took her Christmas tree down. It was condos, and our kitchen window over the sink looked right in to her living room.

              We just called it by the holiday. As in, she forgot to shut her blinds again, I can see her 4th of July tree or the lights from her Groundhogs Day tree are reflecting so pretty on the snow.

        2. Agent Diane*

          My family is “no decorations apart from advent calendars until Christmas Eve”. I have married into a family who start waaaay earlier. We have compromised in our house, and put things up a couple of days before the winter solstice. But November???? Never!

        3. Mallory Janis Ian*

          When I was a kid, we put the tree up in the evening on my mom’s birthday (December 10) as part of her birthday celebration and took it down on New Year’s Day. Now any time after Thanksgiving is fair game (though we usually don’t get around to it that early) and New Year’s Day is still take-down day.

        4. JessaB*

          Mind I was raised secular Jewish, but seriously we always had, and all my Christian friends had a rule that was nothing before the Friday after Thanksgiving. In fact that was the point, the whole family was around on that day to actually help decorate and all. And as my sister is Armenian Apsostolic we never took down before Eastern Christmas ever.

          The only reason retail gets a pass on this is because layaway and people saving or buying a few things each paycheque in order to decorate in December.

      3. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Canada here. Some people get very upset when they see Christmas swallowing up Remembrance Day. After Nov. 11 it’s still almost 6 weeks of relentless holiday madness so waiting is not a hardship. I have no problem with decorated offices as long as there is no holiday music playing. Work should be a safe place from All I Want For Christmas is You on auto repeat.

        1. DeskBird*

          +1 on Holiday Music! If there is Holiday Music it is time to speak up! People will get way to much of that soon enough.

        2. Chinook*

          Yup. Nobody will think twice if the Christmas decorations start going up on Nov. 12th (or even after noon on the 11th, thank you big mall right next to the national war memorial in Ottawa for not starting to put the reindeer until after the Remembrance Day Parade was dismissed. It took great restraint to wait for all the vets to leave). But do it before and you will be ridiculed and belittled.

          1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

            Hey! I was in that mall recently. It’s really changed over the years. You are right, people watch like hawks to make sure that the vets are respected on that day.

        1. Huntington*

          Oh, but that really hasn’t been the case for years — and I think it’s due largely to the emergence of Black Friday. I remember being irritated when overnight stores went from waiting until after Thanksgiving to put up Christmas decorations to immediately after Halloween (and now sometimes it’s even earlier), and a lot of the public has followed.

      4. Ms. Annie*

        US here. Thanksgiving is the 4th Thursday in November, and lots of people wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas – unless you are some kind of retailer. You get major side eye for decorating before Thanksgiving, and I would expect an employer to say no to Christmas in November.

        Christmas decorations in the office on 11/8? I would be …. less than impressed by your overall judgement.

        1. ob*

          But why, though? I get that it’s not ‘the norm,’ but if it’s just in her private cube what’s the harm?

            1. Ms. Annie*

              I believe that the commercialization of Christmas tends to blot out the spiritual meaning. The whole everybody is only in it for the gifts thing. Now, if she wants to put out her Advent stuff, that is another story.

              But, if the decorations are noisy, there is music, there are flashing/twinkling things that catch the corner of my eye, that is another issue. It’s distracting. And, if she even thinks too loud about those horrendous, pinecones with their ghastly stench I am going straight to HR and vomiting in her chair. I am only sorta kidding on that.

              1. Observer*

                I don’t think it’s the place of an employer or of fellow employees to get into whether someone is celebrating “properly” or with the appropriate spirituality, though.

                Of course, if it’s being obnoxious (and stuff that’s noisy or distracting qualifies in an office setting), that’s a different story.

                And, of course, if it’s a receptionist that’s a whole different issue. That is EXACTLY the kind of detail I was wondering about having been left out.

                1. Liz2*

                  Exactly, it’s just as easy to say the only celebrating of the birth should be going to church and quiet contemplation of the nativity. Anything like cards, gifts, trees, lights are absolutely unrelated to the focus of the holiday and should be forbidden (and at times have been).
                  Once you start going down the road of deciding if something is “good enough” versus “fire hazard” you open yourself to a lot of “throwing stones in glass houses” issues.

                2. Lissa*

                  Yeah, I agree I don’t celebrate Christmas but if other people want to put up a tree in September what do I care? I am Canadian and to be honest have never agreed that it’s “objectively wrong” to do anything pre Nov. 11th – I’ve seen people get heated and make terrible assumptions about people who do and it has left a pretty sour taste in my mouth – if someone personally doesn’t agree with it, then they shouldn’t do it themselves.

              2. NorCalPM*

                I’m going to sound like a cynic, and maybe I am, but the “spiritual meaning” of Christmas went away, or at least became very much a side-issue, a long time ago.

                Christmas these days seems to be about buying things, drinking, eating, socializing (often with people you avoid the rest of the year because they’re faaaaaaaaaaaaamily and you’re guilted into it), and going into debt from all the buying. For some people it’s a very stressful time of year. I’ve noticed that my commute gets a lot worse during the holidays because of all the stressed-out, inebriated drivers on the road.

                I see no issue at all with somebody decorating their work space for Christmas, starting in July, if that’s what the person wants to do. Where’s the harm? As a manager, if that were the biggest issue (non-issue IMO) I faced, I would count myself the luckiest manager on the planet.

                Would I think it was kind of odd? Yes. Would I give it much more than two seconds though? Nope.

              3. Tuxedo Cat*

                Noisy, flashing decorations in general are probably not a good idea regardless of when they’re up.

                If someone wants an image of Santa or the Easter Bunny 365 days a year up in their private cubicle? It’s odd but no harm IMO.

          1. Koko*

            Personally I would just raise an eyebrow and file that away as “odd quirk” rather than “poor judgment.” I think of poor judgment as being unable to anticipate negative consequences of violating norms. If there aren’t negative outcomes it’s just weird behavior, and we all have some of that. I put butter in my coffee. It’s weird, but it’s not poor judgment.

        2. Kathleen Adams*

          I think decorating on Nov. 8 is silly, but lots of things can be silly but harmless. As long as it’s only affecting her in her little cubicle, leave her be.

          Now, one of my former bosses had one of those loathsome singing Christmas trees – the ones with a motion sensor. Hangin’ was too good for *him*, IMO.

          1. JessaB*

            No no no to the flashy flashy noisy stuff. NOPE just nope me the heck outta there. I’m photosensitive. Migraines much?

          2. NorCalPM*

            If you accidentally douse one of those things with eggnog, does it stop working?

            Asking for a friend…

            1. Kathleen Adams*

              What a great idea! I wonder if there’s a way to just short it out without bringing down the entire floor?….?

              What we would do is unplug it. Over and over and over again. Often he’d just plug it back in, but maybe 25 percent of the time, he’d leave it unplugged, and we’d have four hours or so of blessed, blessed, tacky-talking-tacky-tree silence.

              The only permanent cure was that he finally retired.

    2. dawbs*

      My daughter is 7, and has heard/over-heard enough of the *shaking cane* ‘kids these days! WHat with their Christmas lights up on Halloween and rushing the season!” *grumble grumble* schtick that she occasionally says the “WHat?! lights before Thanksgiving?!”

      I think it’s become quite a bugbear. Even if the OP is completely OK with it, figuring out how to keep the debate from invading the office might be legitimate.

      1. Observer*

        To be honest, given that this is an office that does celebrate Christmas, the way to keep the debate from invading the office, is by expecting people to act like adults and not police the timing of other people’s decorations.

        The bigger potential problem is the issue of whether your entire staff really does celebrate Christmas and is comfortable with that going on in the office altogether. That and the possibility that the decorations may not be appropriate altogether. Like, if someone is putting up stuff that’s overtly proselytizing, that’s going to be a problem. But, neither is really affected by the schedule.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I’d agree. It sounds like this is an established complaint stream, from the OP’s subsequent comment, and that some of this may just be that the other employees don’t much like this one (it seems odd that somebody was upset enough to say something about decorations being out on her birthday). I think the OP needs to have a clear policy that either allows or forbids this and to firmly redirect the complaining.

        2. MarsJenkar*

          Yeah, I can definitely see a situation where an annoyed coworker goes passive-aggressive and plays “The Way-Too-Early Christmas Song” or similar on continuous loop if someone decorates before Black Friday. That could escalate into further drama very quickly.

        1. I am good at dealing with people*

          Love the name “Christmas Tree Fairy,” especially since my roommate LOVES Christmas trees. There is one in every room of our house, except for mine.

          My company has a rule that each person may only have 10 personal items of decoration in their cubicle (family pictures, motivational posters, small stuffed animals). Plus, I’m an American; most people, even people like my roommate, don’t start their Christmas decorating until after Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November). Could it be that the coworker feels the decorator has both gone overboard and done it too soon?

      2. Chinook*

        Now Christmas lights up before Halloween makes sense in a cold climate. They are really hard to put up when there is already ice and snow. But there is no need to turn them on until December.

    3. Gibby*

      OP #1 here
      She is the co-receptionist and it is visible to all who walk in. Most of the staff is talking about Thanksgiving and have relayed their displeasure in having Christmas items up before Thanksgiving.
      On another note, she decorated for Halloween the first week of September, the other receptionist has a birthday early October and wasn’t thrilled that Halloween decorations were up for her birthday.
      As I type this, I’m thinking WOW I have some pettiness in this office!

        1. Allison*

          Seriously, that absolutely should have been specified. Were we supposed to assume she was the receptionist?

      1. Roscoe*

        Yeah, it sounds like your office is just petty. Maybe its not an issue with that employee, but the issue is her co-workers.

        Now, if she is a receptionist and you really feel its a problem for people coming in, that is fair. But if the people coming in aren’t complaining (not that I can see why they would) then let it go.

        1. Thursday Next*

          My two cents: if I walked in as a customer/client, and saw really early decorations, I’d be turned off. I’m not Christian, and the seeping of Christmas into increasingly earlier days would bother me. However, I wouldn’t say anything to anyone. But it wouldn’t endear the business to me, and I might go elsewhere.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            I would groan and roll my eyes, but I probably wouldn’t say anything about just decorations. If there was already Christmas music playing though?? I am definitely a “not until after Thanksgiving” person.

            That being said, I think it’s a matter of knowing your customer base and what they will find appropriate.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yeah, this would make me roll my eyes. As a non-Christian, I’m used to there being excessive Christmas decorations and music weeks (months?) before the actual event. So I don’t think it would cost a company my business.

              That said, OP has all the right/authority to limit decorations in the reception area. If there aren’t company guidelines about this, then I would give her a timetable (as Bea suggests downthread) and parameters on appropriate decor. For example, she should probably limit the religious iconography/symbols, but more generic “wintry” decorations are probably fine. And maybe there should be limits on the amount of decoration put up.

          2. medium of ballpoint*

            Seconded. I don’t think religious decorations belong in a business at all. General winter decoration is fine but anything more specific is no bueno.

            1. JM60*

              Something like a Christmas tree (or holiday tree) in the workplace: Probably secular enough to be okay (in spite of it’s Pagan origins). On the other hand, something like a nativity scene: Not okay in the workplace because it’s overtly religious.

          3. Candy*

            On the other hand: if I walked in as a customer/client, I guarantee you I wouldn’t even notice.

            There were two mini pumpkins on the info desk at the library I work at for a week and a half before I realized (because someone asked if they were real). I just looked out and they’re still there even though, horrors of horrors, Halloween ended over a week ago. I would think there are far more egregious reasons to take one’s business elsewhere than the premature (or tardy) celebration of holidays.

            Besides, winter is gloomy. Tinsel and fairy lights are pretty. Why begrudge someone a little seasonal cheer?

            1. Roscoe*

              Yeah, it just seems like an extreme reaction to have because someone put up decorations earlier than your liking. Like I suppose if it were a manger scene I could “kind of” see it. But I couldn’t see not shopping somewhere again because, heaven forbid, they had a menorah up.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Could you elaborate on why the other receptionist objected to Halloween decorations up on her birthday? A birthday isn’t a national holiday or a social celebration, so I find it hard to see the objection. That would be like someone with a December 10th birthday irritated because there are wreaths everywhere.

        I, like Observer, don’t celebrate Christmas and I would probably roll my eyes, but in the scheme of things, this is not a big deal. Now, if you’d prefer the front desk remained decoration-free until December, then that’s one thing, but even so, this doesn’t strike me as at all egregious.

        1. Legal Beagle*

          I have a December 10th birthday AND I’m Jewish! Now I realize I should have been complaining all along!
          (Seriously, though, that is very silly and petty. Your birthdate doesn’t give you veto power over your coworker’s holiday decor choices.)

        2. KT*

          In my office people tend to decorate one another’s cubicles for their birthdays. Maybe with all of the Halloween decorations there was no room for birthday decorations.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, I love Halloween but I would wait until October 1 to start decorationg–but if her birthday was in early October and not late September than I’m not sure why she would even expect to be able to avoid Halloween decorations on her birthday.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Yes, October 1st is the appropriate day to begin Halloween decorating. Not September. Ugh. This person sounds exhausting.

        4. Elder Dog*

          My mother’s birthday was a few days before Halloween, and she was always teased about being born “right along with the other witches.” I know other people born even early in October are teased the same way. I can see someone objecting to a co-worker putting up decorations that remind other people to pull out the rude comments around their birthday without their at least getting cake at the same time.

          1. Chinook*

            I was born Nov. 2nd and never had a non-Halloween birthday party as a kid and so did not like it. I would never tell people not to decorate but wrapping a birthday in with another festival is a huge pet peeve of mine.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              Chinook! We have something in common! Although, I also share the birthday with my older brother, and was always happy to get Halloween candy as a gift from my siblings. I never had a Halloween birthday party, but was happy one year when I got my own little cake instead of the shared birthday cake. It was probably worse for him – who wants to share a birthday party with a little sister?

      3. Ms. Annie*

        Uh, if she is the receptionist, then she needs to box that uh, stuff, right the you know what up now and wait until after Thanksgiving.

        If she has that much of a bug about seasonal decorations, she can put out gourds, leaves and other fall decorations.

        1. Anon anon anon*

          Or confine it to a space that isn’t in public view. Sometimes receptionists decorate the “hidden” area of their desk with family photos, etc.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Then that’s the reason: “We would prefer to keep the front of the office autumn-themed until December.” That’s not so hard. It’s the whole, “It’s too SOON, why does she DO this?” tone that bothers me. Oh, and the, “But the other person doesn’t like it.” Nope. If it’s a client-/customer-facing issue, then ok, but it has to be said out loud.

      4. Anon anon anon*

        Could you ask the receptionists to work together on decorations and run their ideas by you? Could you set aside some time for people to decorate the front of the office together? I think this type of thing is a good way to foster collaboration (as opposed to open floor plans and unassigned desks, ha).

        1. Liane*

          Considering Other Receptionist wasn’t thrilled, per OP, about Halloween decorations up on her birthday, this is just asking for a Co-irker Fight that OP will have to referee.

          1. fposte*

            She’s already going to have to referee the situation, though.

            Right now you have two people sharing one location or desk. One loves decorations; the other doesn’t. There’s going to have to be a policy to handle this.

      5. Adlib*

        I was just going to guess she decorated for Halloween early too. It sounds like she just loves holidays, but she seems to have skipped over Thanksgiving! That’s a bummer as I personally would love seeing her decorate for each holiday, but I just love festive stuff like that.

        1. Thlayli*

          Given that she loves holiday decorating, OP could assign her the task of decorating for specific holidays on specific days. Eg decorate for Halloween on x day, for thanksgiving on y day, for Christmas on z day. Make it a rule that decorations for the next holiday can’t overlap. This gives coworker the joy of doing the decorating but gives OP control of the dates. Make it an official rule that there is no overlap. It would also avoid Christmas on thanksgiving. You could even ask if any coworkers would like their birthday to be added to the list (strictly voluntary) of decorating holidays and then viola you have a rule that Halloween decorations can’t go up until after coworkers birthday decorations come down.
          It seems like no one has a problem with the decorations per se just the timing so this is one possible solution.

      6. Purplesaurus*

        Unless the co-receptionist is doing a bunch of other annoying stuff or something more egregious, it sounds like the other employees are more of a problem here.

        But because she is a receptionist, I think it’s reasonable to ask her to limit decorations to the month the holiday falls in (or whatever makes sense for you guys).

      7. Falling Diphthong*

        If she started two months before Hallowe’en, too, then it sounds like this is a case of the decorating urge run amok. As opposed to “everyone will celebrate Christmas NOW” overtones. Start of January it will be hearts and cupids, then maybe a nod to covering everything in shamrocks before we go to the ALL BUNNIES theme.

        So view it in that context: How much seasonal decoration is okay for reception? I can see offices where the answer is “none” and offices where the answer is “anything Darlene gets up to in her cube is fine, because she always files our expense reports on time. She could have an full-scale ode to Titanic set up in there and we wouldn’t care.”

      8. INTP*

        I think you’re in a good position to say something here because she is the receptionist. You can just say that while the company does appreciate some festivity briefly around major holidays, it might look juvenile or unprofessional if the office is decorated for half of the year, so please decorate in these specific time frames (a week before Thanksgiving, two weeks before Christmas, or whatever the preference is.)

        That said, the pettiness of the other employees is a separate issue but it sounds like you’re aware of that. It’s just so odd that someone would be personally offended that decorations were up on her birthday, did she expect her birthday to be considered a holiday? I have an October birthday too, people are in the mood to celebrate Halloween then and you won’t change that.

      9. Livinia*

        If she’s the receptionist, she shouldn’t be putting up personal decorations in a publicly visible space. That’s asking for trouble AND it’s making her spend personal money on an expense that should be on the firm.

        Easy solution is for the company to buy some high-quality decorations for each season that are non-offensive (e.g., being wary of Native stereotypes on Thanksgiving) and charge the receptionists w putting out the decorations on a set schedule. If there’s a set schedule and reusable decorations in the storag closet, the problem is solved.

      10. WellRed*

        Geez, I hate when adults, ESPECIALLY in the workplace, get all in a snit about their birthday. Grow the eff up!

        1. Amber Rose*

          I agree that we shouldn’t care too much what other people do or don’t do for our birthdays, but I don’t think it’s somehow less adult to get excited about your own birthday. Since we’re lacking a lot of information here, try to give the coworker some benefit of the doubt.

      11. Observer*

        Yeah, the fact that she’s the receptionist is a pretty big deal, and does change things. On the other hand, you need to tell your staff to knock it off. Figure out what schedule makes sense for the people who come to your office, and stick to that.

        And, as others have said, someone’s birthday doesn’t give them unilateral say over what decorations do, or do not, go up in the office.

      12. Grey*

        Now I’m curious. Did she decorate last month for Thanksgiving? Or, did she skip from Halloween to Christmas?

      13. Bea*

        Easy solution, put a timeline together for when decorating reception is acceptable.

        Oct 7th – Halloween
        Nov 1st – Make sure Halloween is put away
        Nov 4th -Thanksgiving
        Monday after thanksgiving-Make sure all is put away
        December 7th -Christmas

        You’re giving her free reign of a public area otherwise. Receptionists should have power over their area to a point so they’re comfortable and proud to be located there. This just needs added structure imo.

      14. Leenie*

        I’m wondering how the space is configured/how the co-receptionist thing works. Is it a formal reception area/reception desk(s)? Or do they just have the first two cubes when you walk in the door? If it’s a formal reception area and the decorations could be confused with official company decorations, then I think you can try to control that in the interest of professionalism and visiting clients. However, in this case I wouldn’t do anything to try to control this because of other employees. An adult being upset about non-birthday-decorations being out on her birthday really should not be humored.

        1. Leenie*

          Sorry – just to clarify – I think it’s a totally legitimate choice to ban or control the decorations because of business interests. I just don’t think the motivation should be keeping the peace with petty people.

      15. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The fact that she’s the receptionist is highly relevant and changes everything. In that case, her decorations come across as the office’s decorations and therefore are very much your business. You can decide when/if you want those up.

      16. JeanB in NC*

        I have to say, I would definitely ask her to keep from decorating more than 30 days ahead of the holiday. If she’s the receptionist, there may be many people who are irritated by early decorating. I’m not even sure I’d let her use more than one or two things.

        But I have been called a grinch more than once, which is fine.

      17. Tuxedo Cat*

        The other receptionist’s complaint about having Halloween decorations up for her birthday, when her birthday is early October, makes no sense to me. Early September is odd, but I would expect Halloween decoration to be up in early October.

        Is there some other underlying issue happening?

      18. CF Girl*

        As a former receptionist, it SUCKS that your own desk is not really your own desk and you’re restricted in many ways that literally every single other person in the office isn’t.

        Maybe she’s trying to make her desk feel a little more homey to her by doing this, so perhaps you could compromise with her somehow? Explain why the Christmas decorations can’t go on at this juncture, but she could feel free to put up a few family photos or something like that.

        1. Robin Sparkles*

          But it is in the nature of a receptionist that they are the first face people often seen and their desk is literally the face of the company – so while unfortunate -you can’t claim the desk as your own desk in that way. Sure photos of your family facing you are OK but other than that, you have to accept the limitations that come with the role you have (like any other job -everyone has some).

    4. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      I have an early December birthday and I’ve drilled it into my husband and kid’s heads that the holidays are strictly in order: Halloween, Thanksgiving, my birthday, and THEN Christmas. I do realize that by waiting until the first week of December is over to start decorating that I’m in the minority so I’d never say anything to anyone else. Well, I have given my sister a hard time when we’ve gone for Thanksgiving and her tree is already up, but I wouldn’t say anything to anyone else. LOL

      1. WellRed*

        My birthday is Christmas Eve. I long ago chose to believe that Christmas decorations are everybody decorating for my birthday. Also, Santa got birthday cake instead of cookies ; )

        1. Cleopatra Jones*

          Is your username a reference to Trae Crowder?
          If so, kudos…I love that guy, he’s effing funny.
          If not, carry on. :-)

        2. a girl has no name*

          When I was a teenager, I babysat a girl who had a Dec. 25 birthday. Her mom would get so upset on her behalf that her relatives would only bring one gift (Christmas) when her brothers received gifts both on Christmas and their birthdays later in the year. The mom solved the issue by adding a birthday tree to their house. (It was white and Xmas tree was green.) Relatives would put a gift under the Xmas tree and the birthday tree. I was always so impressed about how they solved it.

          1. Miss Betty*

            My dad’s birthday was January 2 and he got that all the time as a kid. “Now the scarf is for your birthday and the mittens are for Christmas.” “The train is for your birthday and the tracks are for Christmas.” Grown-ups, don’t be jerks to little kids just because it’s cheaper and more convenient for you!

        3. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          That’s a great way of looking at it. And birthday cake for Santa is a genius idea!

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I can get behind this because it’s in your own house and with your own family. In the workplace? Eh, not so much. :)

      3. EmilyAnn*

        I have an early December birthday, but I love Christmas. I love Christmas decorations and I hate everything about Halloween, so I’m perfectly fine with seeing Christmas stuff earlier and earlier each year. The festivity, the music, everything puts me in a good mood and reminds me my birthday and Christmas will be here soon.

    5. Statler von Waldorf (AKA the Grinch)*

      Because there are twelve days of Christmas, and none of them are in November. As a cranky atheist, I don’t want to be reminded about the birth of your religious figurehead for two solid months, thank you very much.

  5. I totally don't know anything about this*

    #1: Decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving is offensive in of itself!!! /s

  6. MilkMoon (UK)*

    Ebenezer: I like your employee’s style. The only reason I wait until December to unleash my love for Christmas is because anticipation can be fun too – but then, come Christmas 1st, I will be wearing my Christmas jumper and doing my Carlton Banks dance, mince pie in hand.

    1. Lumen*

      LOL. I sort of love this. I am not the type to decorate for Christmas on November 1st, but I like when people really enjoy holidays and bring that enthusiasm. It’d be another story if the employee were decorating EVERYONE’s desks and playing carols at top volume… but otherwise, eh. Live and let live. Bring on the trees and menorahs and non-flammable Yule logs and what-have-you!

      To your own desk!



      1. MilkMoon (UK)*

        Exactly! Our office doesn’t officially decorate for Christmas but no one is opposed to personal desk decor – and we don’t even have cubicle walls.

        Joyous people should be treasured, including at work, there are already enough miserable, cynical people in the world.

    2. Marillenbaum*

      I like you! Let’s be pals. I am SO HYPE for Christmas, always and forever. The day after Thanksgiving is my day for 1) cozy jumper, 2) hot chocolate, 3) Christmas movie on the TV, and 4) writing my Christmas cards. It is such a fun way to kick off the season!

      1. MilkMoon (UK)*


        Mate I’m in the UK, after Hallowe’en & Bonfire Night it’s a festive free-for-all! Nothing standing in my way but willpower.

        I make a mean toffee apple hot chocolate that suits this period too.

    3. La Revancha*

      Lol! Ebenezer! I also love the holidays and there is a special vibe about them! Cooler weather, boots, scarves, etc. And decorating for Christmas could be something that really makes her happy! Why not let her be? Even if she is the receptionist, I don’t see the big deal.

      1. MilkMoon (UK)*

        A little harsh perhaps, but I couldn’t resist the reference ;)

        Honestly as long as her decor isn’t legitimately offensive and she’s not blasting The Pogues in clients’ faces, let her be. People should be free to express themselves work, happy employees are productive, loyal employees, and anyone who is so miserly should not be pandered-to – whether this petty coworker or a client – it only encourages them!

  7. scribblescribblescribble*

    LW #3, money flows TO the writer.

    If your blog is worth money, consider looking for advertising or other ways to earn a little off it, yourself.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s a brand new blog, which generally means low traffic, which means advertising isn’t going to earn much.

      The question is whether this other site can help her build a bigger audience for her own site. The annoying reality is that sometimes it can; it depends on the site.

  8. Lumen*

    OP #2: I have a young family member with CF, and because it isn’t very widespread, most people don’t understand it at all and likely don’t know anyone else with the condition. Then they go Google it, see every version of Worst Case plus a bunch of myths, and… cue the awkward assumptions. But you already know that. :)

    At the end of the day, no: it’s nobody’s business. But it might help the people you work most closely with to understand, and it might help you worry less about what they might be thinking.

    Several years ago I worked with a teacher who not only suffered from fibromyalgia, she had also survived ovarian cancer, had a mild heart condition, and got frequent migraines. For many reasons, she chose not to share this with the parents of our students or most of the school. But she did make sure that the assistant teachers in her classroom (like me) knew what was going on. It helped immensely. We didn’t take it personally if she seemed to be having a rough day, we didn’t gossip about her wondering what was going on, and I think it helped her feel less guilty/ashamed for doing things recommended by her doctors, such as taking more regular breaks.

    So, think about telling the people nearest to you, even if they haven’t asked. People make a lot of assumptions and may never ask, because it could be rude or because they’ve already decided in their head what is going on. Speaking up may help quell that. But you definitely don’t have to get specific about naming your diagnosis, because again: people Google, and Google doesn’t know your chart. :)

    1. Anon anon anon*

      Yeah. A lot of health conditions are really misrepresented on Google. And people do get weird. But I’ve found that saying something, no matter how vague, is better than dealing with the kinds assumptions that people make.

    1. I get that*

      Google Type A personality. But generally someone who is organized and doesn’t wait for things to happen.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      It’s a reference to Freud and the full name is not safe for work (but many don’t realise that).

      People use it to mean organised and neurotic.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        The Wikipedia link that Sparkly Librarian gives above has a different history for the Typa A/B thing. Also, are you suggesting that it’s short for “anal-retentive” and that that’s not safe for work?

        1. Legal Beagle*

          That’s what I thought, too. Personally I’ve said it at work; it’s a common enough expression (i.e., “I’m so anal about my filing system”). Now maybe if you’re calling yourself anal-expulsive at work, then you’re going to get some looks!

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          By not safe for work I meant not necessarily safe to search on work internet – or NSFW as some might say. Sorry, didn’t anticipate that that wouldn’t come across.

      2. Abigail B*

        It’s not a reference to Freud. It has nothing to do with him. It comes from Friedman and Rosenman, the cardiologists who originally made the observations of these behaviours.

        I have no idea what you mean about the full name, nor about it being NSFW. I suspect you may have been misinformed, or be confiusing it with something else. They originally called it Type A Personality, and it is now usually referred to as Type A Behaviour Pattern. There’s nothing NSFW there.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Confusing it with anal-retentive, which generally means overly picky/controlling of their environment in modern use, rather than being driven/on top of things/etc. that is attributed to the type A personality.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I have never met anyone who found it to be NSFW. I know folks often use it as a substitute for “anal-retentive,” but I don’t think people assume that “Type A” is a euphemism for the more inappropriate bodily function reference.

  9. Ramona Flowers*

    #1 There’s a note in our handbook for managers that basically says: before addressing issues with your reports, stop to ask yourself if they are actually problematic or just unusual.

    If your staff member was insisting the whole premises be decorated, that would be a problem. Decorating early is just unusual, so you can let it go.

    1. Anon anon anon*

      But I think there’s a middle ground. If someone does something unusual, you can have a friendly conversation with them about it. I mean it wouldn’t be weird to say, “I see you like Christmas decorations! Those are really pretty. Does it have any special significance or do you just like to decorate? No need to answer if that’s too personal.”

      1. CleverGirl*

        What would be the expected outcome of saying “I see you like Christmas decorations! Those are really pretty. Does it have any special significance or do you just like to decorate? No need to answer if that’s too personal.” exactly? I don’t see what the would achieve.

      2. Fiennes*

        But how “unusual” is it to put up some stuff in your cubicle, a few weeks before most people but weeks or months after some businesses? This is well within normal behaviors. Even if it were truly odd — putting them up in June, maybe — I’m not sure it rises to the level of an issue.

    2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      I like this rule of thumb. It can be hard for new managers to differentiate between, “I don’t like this/This bothers me” and “This is a problem for the workplace/This is impacting office productivity”.

    3. Tuxedo Cat*

      I like this rule. I’ve seen some unusually decorated offices. Not offensive, not distracting, just unusual.

  10. JamieS*

    OP #1, from the perspective of someone who dislikes office Christmas decorations at any time this isn’t something that needs to be regulated. In general, there are fairly few ways for a person to show off their personality/interests at work and cubicle decoration is one of the few ways for people to do so. Assuming the decorations aren’t inflammatory, which I assume you would’ve mentioned, let her be.

    That being said if she starts playing Christmas music…SHUT IT DOWN.

    1. Lars the Real Girl*

      If I hear any musical version of bells jingling, snowman making, or chestnuts roasting until the day after Thanksgiving, I will judge you and hate you lol

      1. ShopLady*

        I’ve worked retail all my life and it has absolutely ruined Christmas music for me. I can’t hear anything without breaking out into a cold sweat. I’ve only worked in one store (and I can’t recall which it was) that mixed its regular playlist with Christmas tunes- what a kind gesture (really!) to staff!

        To add, I hate office Christmas decorations. One or two things maybe, but when people start going mad and putting snowflakes on windows and lights around their computers I can’t help but roll my eyes (I’ve had coworkers do both). I think I’m biased because as a buyer I’m thinking about Christmas all year round so I’m quite sick of it by the time December rolls around.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I love Christmas music, but working retail (and at a coffee shop) ruined it for me as well :( Now all I have left to cling to is “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” and i will murder whoever ruins it for me.

        2. oranges & lemons*

          I used to work for a grocery store that played the most horrible Christmas music I’ve ever heard. Just really weird stuff like a cover of “This Kiss” that went “Chris-miss, Chris-miss!” There was also only apparently one album so we got to hear these beautiful songs over and over and over again in the course of a shift. On the one hand, it completely sapped my will to live. On the other, at least it saved me from hating regular Christmas music (although “Santa Baby” and I will never get along).

          1. Jessica*

            @#$%! After many years of working in retail stores, I can’t stand popular Christmas music, and “Santa Baby” tops the list. I can feel the earworm forming as I type. I do enjoy classical/instrumental Christmas music.

        3. Pathfinder Ryder*

          I worked two retail Christmases and found that I was able to stand Christmas music at another job when I made the playlist myself with my pick of singers, none of the specific songs I hate, and far more songs than my actual shift on shuffle so that I didn’t get routine repeats like I did with the department store’s much shorter playlist.

        4. a different Vicki*

          I know someone who is loyal to a grocery store in part because she walked in once on December 22 and they were playing Bach rather than the often-annoying mix of Christmas music that every other business in the area seemed to have.

          She likes Christmas, and decorates her home with a tree and a Nativity scene, but you don’t have to dislike Christmas to dislike hearing the same ridiculously short playlist over and over for weeks.

      2. BookishMiss*

        I’m well known as a Scrooge, for various reasons, and I get enough of Christmas at my retail gig. It started in October this year. I don’t also need it in my office gig!
        Nb, my family rule was no Christmas decor until the weekend after Thanksgiving, and no actual tree until December.

        1. Retail Gal*

          Do you know how happy I’ve been the past two years that Christmas music doesn’t start at our store until mid-November? A few years ago, I know we started before Halloween.

          But let’s not talk about how freakin’ early we open on Thanksgiving Day…


      3. Pickles*

        I will do the same if I *ever* hear that at work. (I’m a self-acknowledged Grinch, but have also yelled at multiple people to knock off the singing in an open cube office over the years. Why is that ever a thing?)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m opposed to any decorations that make noise, and especially electronic noise. Any holiday. I don’t care if it’s December 24th.

      But if something is beeping out O Holy Night two months before Xmas, I’m probably especially manic because it’s going to be beeping at me for weeks to come.

  11. Tuesday Next*

    OP3, besides Alison’s advice – have a look at their web site and see how the writers are credited, how they link to the writers’ blogs, etc. If your reason for doing this is to build your audience, see whether the way they use your content will help you do that. You should be credited by name, with a link to a profile and your own blog, at the very least, IMO. Look at other sites to see how they do this and make sure you’re getting the same sort of exposure.

    (Disclaimer: I’m not a writer and don’t have a blog.)

    1. One of the Sarahs*

      Yes, this – if the site doesn’t link back to your own site, it’s not helpful at all to raise your profile.

      I have been freelancing in recent years, and get tons of offers to work for free from places in order to raise my profile – and the other endless stream of offers to put stuff on my personal site (which will be full of links with the aim to boosting a company through the SEO/google rankings).

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        Ugh, I cut off before I finished. Raising your profile only works if you are easy to find as a result of it. I have a super-common name, so just having my byline is not useful, outside of industry-specific stuff, because how do people know I’m that One of the Sarahs? And if you don’t use your own name on your own blog, how do they find it?

        I’m not against creative work for free, but only in specific circumstances, like swapping with a friend’s site, having a message I really want to get out into the world and can use someone else’s platform to help that, or loving a specific project.

    2. Orange*

      Also, figuring out how they found you in the first place would probably help you out, if you’re trying to increase your traffic.

  12. Creed Bratton*

    #1 – I have a coworker who LOVES Christmas and listens to carols all year round and what have you. At its worst with her, it’s quirky.

    As long as this employee isn’t imposing her Christmas quirks on anyone, I don’t see how it’s even remotely an issue.

  13. Myrin*

    I must say, “But any website that tries to convince established writers with an existing audience to hand over content for free should be attacked by bees.” is one of my favourite sentences you’ve ever written, Alison!

  14. Bagpuss*

    #1 I’m curious as to whether there is a specific reason you feel you ought to do anything?
    I’m very much *not* a fan of early christmas decor, but if one of my employees chooses to decorate their own work space, that’s their business; I wouldn’t intervene unless the decorations were causing an issue for other workers or if they were publicly visible.

  15. Lars the Real Girl*

    OP #5: Agree with Alison, don’t apply to both. If the 2 jobs were closer together in terms of responsibility and role (i.e. accountant and payroll accountant, or something similar) then you could apply to the one you really fit for and write in your cover letter that you also saw an opening for the other, and would be open to discussing that role as well. But these are too far apart.

    1. Engineer Woman*

      Another agreement here to only apply for the position with the best fit (not both), since the 2 positions are really too different. Sure, you could do either and possible do well at either, but it’ll look like you’d just take any job you could rather than a best fit scenario,
      enjoy the job and stay longer term in that position.

    2. DDJ*

      It’s not a red flag for me if someone applies for two positions that are within one org level of each other (analyst vs senior analyst, for example). Or if someone applies for positions at similar levels, but in different groups (if the skillsets are close enough). I understand that sometimes, a person just wants to get their foot in the door, but they need to show some discretion in their applications, too. If you apply for Senior Llama Export Specialist AND Entry Level Teapot Spout Analyst within a month or two, it’s going to cause a raised eyebrow or two.

  16. cncx*

    Re OP4, i don’t celebrate christmas, so i generally volunteer to work all of the days around christmas that people need to be in but i like to have thanksgiving off (even though i work in a country that doesn’t celebrate it, i have american colleagues). We basically have an agreement that i will always work christmas but in return if everyone else gets off christmas then i don’t want too much drama for the days i want off AND i don’t want to be forced to take christmas off. I wonder if there is a way op can push back on other days they ahve worked or picked up the slack

  17. Agent Diane*

    OP1: you need to introduce hot desking so she has no cubicle to decorate, or would have to take it all down at the end of the day to put in her locker.

    I’m kidding. In our hot desk office, tinsel goes up on all desks in mid-December.

    1. HannaSpanna*

      Ha ha, I was going ‘oh no’ when I read the first sentence, but now am happily imagining a sitcom scene where someone decorates their hot desk at the start of the workday to the bemused reaction of their workmates.
      Ps – To be clear – I think hotdesks are stupid in 90% of cases.

  18. Agent Diane*

    OP4. We need to have cover as we’re available to the public, and risked the problem of the same people getting stuck in the office on the popular leave days. We had one person who would submit her requests 18 months ahead. So we introduced a rule that no leave for those days would be approved until everyone had put requests in. It’s a pain, but it stopped the resentment of people who were losing out because they weren’t first in line.

    1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      This reminds me of an earlier letter where one person always snatched all the holiday weekends for the entire year leaving everyone stuck with nothing. One of my former workplaces mandated that you could have Christmas or New Years off but not both. Full coverage was needed because we handled time sensitive issues.

      1. Czhorat*

        Yes, this seems more fair.

        Back when I worked somewhere where this was an issue, New Year’s, Christmas, and Thanksgiving were designated as “major holidays” and you couldn’t be forced to work more than one of them.

      2. SpaceySteph*

        In my previous 24/7 coverage job, they solicited inputs for holidays around July and we put in a ranking 1/2/3 between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. It was assumed that everyone would work one of the three but you generally got assigned to the one you cared the least about per your submitted ranking.
        It worked really well– if people go in with the expectation that they have to work a holiday, they tend to self-sort over a fairly equal distribution between the three and without much resentment.

    2. Roscoe*

      I feel like that would be annoying. 18 months is excessive. However, I don’t know that waiting until everyone has put in requests is good either. Then you get to deciding whose leave is more important. That often means, Roscoe, you have no kids, so your leave request is less important than Jane’s because she does.

      1. Czhorat*

        A slight adjustment would be to designat vacation request deadline. Nothing is approved until after it passes, so everyone had a chance to get their requests in.

      2. MicroManagered*

        That often means, Roscoe, you have no kids, so your leave request is less important

        +1 to this. +20 if Jane happens to be Roscoe’s boss or your boss has kids. It’s the worst.

      3. Ms. Annie*

        My ex’s family does this big family reunion vacation every other year. It’s at least 70 people, so the planning takes time. I have those dated 18 months out. I’d put in once I got them.

        And ex and I had a holiday rotation, so I could tell you 2 years out which holiday was where.

        But, they can also say Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years requests need to be in by 9/1, and you only get 1 1st choice.

        1. Lissa*

          I think I like this. I feel like for something like “a weekend in summer” that isn’t likely to have a ton of extremely important events for different people you should be able to put in the request really early. I mean, there still could be issues like 4 people all have family weddings in the same weekend but it’s not as likely. But for days like Christmas etc. where the majority of people want it off, there needs to be some kind of system that doesn’t rely on somebody arbitrating who deserves it more. And you only get to “really really need” so many major holidays off, before your request isn’t going to be first priority. As well someone can say “well actually I don’t care about Thanksgiving at all, so sign me up.”

    3. MicroManagered*

      I don’t get how something like this would work. How do you know when “all requests are in”? What if people need to know in advance to book a flight or something?

      I have totally felt the frustration of those early vacation-requesters who take all the good days (OP4 doesn’t sound like one of them, it’s just one day).

      I used to work with a very tenured employee who got a LOT more vacation time than I did. He’d put in requests a year at a time for the whole two weeks of Christmas/New Year’s and the whole week of Thanksgiving *and* multiple Fridays just to make a dent in his vacation bank. Luckily my manager decided that wasn’t fair to me and told him he could do Thanksgiving OR Christmas, etc.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      So we introduced a rule that no leave for those days would be approved until everyone had put requests in. It’s a pain, but it stopped the resentment of people who were losing out because they weren’t first in line.

      I don’t understand how that works. If you’re not approving leave based on who requested it first (and I’m certainly not saying that’s the best/only way to approve it), what criteria are you using?

  19. Czhorat*

    OP3 – I’ll add that they said “reprint”, which is different than asking for exclusive content.

    I blog for a well-known trade site. They are willing to pay, but only for content exclusive to them; if I put it for free on my personal blog then they’d not. If you’re posting on your own and have a small audience then you are likely, in effect, publishing it for free anyway.

    The question now becomes why you’re doing it and what it’s worth to you. THe stuff that I write is very much industry-specific and helps grow my reputation within the industry as a subject matter expert – in that case the dread “exposure” really DOES have value.

    In any event, good luck with it.

  20. hbc*

    OP1: I think there could be an issue here, if the kinds of decorations she’s putting up aren’t really appropriate for the office during all seasons. If you wouldn’t let someone come into the office wearing fangs or hang a fake spider web in August but would on October 31st, then we can acknowledge that there’s certain things that are only appropriate during certain times. So I think it’s cool to have a policy to limit the decorations–don’t stop her from having some stuff on her desk, but full on lights or tinsel could reasonably be kept to December or post-Thansgiving (or post-Halloween, just to keep a cap on it).

    1. Pickles*

      I really want to wear fangs in August now. The kind that look real, just to see if anyone notices.

    2. Colette*

      I see no reason why you can’t hang a fake spider web in August.

      I mean, if the decorations intrude on other people, that’s a reason to object, but if they’re primarily for her, keep out of it. She may be gearing up for an early Christmas with someone who is terminally ill, or counting down the days until she sees someone she loves, or she just may like them. It’s her space, so she’s the one whose opinion counts.

    3. McWhadden*

      Most offices don’t put those kinds of strict limits on desk decorations unless it’s public facing. The rules are usually more general and obvious. Nothing overtly offensive (and the LW makes no mention of being offended by anything except timing.) Nothing too disruptive (and the LW makes no mention of it being disruptive except for the timing giving people pause.)

      Most people choose not to hang spiders in August (which I am now definitely going to do, btw) but there usually aren’t rules against it.

      Also Thanksgiving is early this year so we are literally talking about two weeks. It’s ridiculous to tell her she has to wait two weeks to put up decorations.

    4. hbc*

      As a general response, I think a lot more workplaces look askance at out-of-season decorations than is assumed. We don’t bother having policies about it for the same reason that there’s no policy about exactly what giant stuffed animals I can or can’t have occupying my guest chair. It looks unprofessional, outside very narrow circumstances.

      You have to have a *lot* of credibility to get away with a big fake spider web in your office for anything but the month of October, and I’d bet most offices would have you take it down or tell the cleaning crew to “accidentally” clean it up.

  21. The Outsider*

    OP #4 Well you can count me into the team that gets the great days around holidays off. We have a strict system set in place with very clear rules on how to ask for vacation days. Just because I’ve learned the system inside and out and know the rules, doesn’t make me a non- team player. I’ve had team mates ask how I get those days. After my answer they always say, oh I could never do that or plan that far ahead. I smile and shrug and leave it at that…..and I thoroughly enjoy my days off.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      There are some circumstances that you genuinely can’t plan ahead for, though. One personal example: A family member in the military was deployed to a war zone. Although they gave him a rough time line for his deployment, he didn’t get a firm end date until a month before his deployment ended. My extended family decided to wait until his deployment ended to figure out our holiday plans.

      1. Colette*

        If it were an unexpected emergency, you talk with your management and/or coworkers and sort it out – in many cases, they will try to accommodate you. But if you haven’t picked your days off because you are waiting for something you have no control over, you have to accept that you might not get the “prime” days. In your case, it would be good to encourage your extended family to pick a day that will not already have a bunch of people wanting it off, rather than requesting Thanksgiving or Christmas off at the last moment.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Fortunately nobody in my family is in a position where we need coverage, so everyone can take the days if they wish. But we still have many kids in the family with different school schedules to be accommodated. Taking non-prime days because we can’t plan that far ahead is not an option.

          I know there’s not a good solution that’s fair to everyone. But defaulting to first-come, first-serve is not necessarily the most fair or best solution.

          1. Colette*

            Not taking kids out of school isn’t more important than having a coworker cancel their vacation. I mean, if there are exceptional, unanticipated circumstances, than it’s reasonable to ask your coworkers if they can be flexible. But your example doesn’t qualify, IMO – not because it’s not important, but because you had other options (i.e. request your desired day off in advance knowing that you might need to cancel and leave it open to someone else, or choose to meet on a day that’s less popular to have off even if the kids have to miss school, or accept that your family member might miss the gathering this time, or accept that you might need to miss the gathering because you have to work, or work out an agreement to work from home that day so that you can attend some but not all of the event).

  22. Czhorat*

    For OP4 I have two thoughts.

    First, Allison is right that this isn’t your job to fix. It also is a poor system and is potentially creating resentment. I would consider giving back the day after Thanksgiving this year, and telling your manager that you’d welcome someone else having a chance at it. You’re within your rights to not do so, but always getting a premium day because your act now quickly can come across as taking advantage of a weak system. You don’t have standing to fix the system, but you can act honorably within it and not be seen as taking advantage.

    1. Colette*

      I don’t see a problem with taking that one day off every year, since she’s not claiming the other coveted days. She’s using her time in a way that’s important to her, and the others can presumably do the same. If they don’t want to plan in advance, it’s just not that important to them. Thanksgiving is not a surprise.

      1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        I, too, am a claimer of the day after Thanksgiving on the first day we are allowed to book PTO (and I am 100% Type B, I use that long weekend to be a hermit before the end-of-year sprint at work and home). It’s important to me, so I do what I can to make sure it happens. On the flip side, I rarely take extra time off around most other holidays, so I’m not “hogging” all the “good” days.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I think choosing ONE day that’s particulatly important to you and always acting fast to make sure you are able to get it is 100% acceptable and not taking advantage at all.

    3. Beatrice*

      It’s not taking advantage.

      I get a couple of coveted vacation days around Christmas/Thanksgiving every year, to travel to see my family. I book them in June/July, when I coordinate plans with the rest of my family. Nobody else ever has November/December vacation on the calendar when I do it. I only take 2-3 working days and I’m extra super mega accommodating about holiday/vacation time the rest of the year (and overtime, and working weekends, and traveling for work), but those days are a hill I will die on. I have coworkers who don’t start thinking about holiday vacation until November, and then sometimes have a hard time negotiating the time off that they want. I am sympathetic, but there is a zero percent chance that I’m giving up planned vacation days to accommodate them. If the vacation system was changed in a way that made it harder for me to coordinate these trips with my family, I’d start job hunting, it matters that much to me.

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      OP never said only one person could take the day, just that the whole department couldn’t be out at once.

  23. Another person*

    OP #2 –
    I have a mild form of a different chronic health condition that can have quite a severe impact (but I too am one of the lucky ones.)

    After a flare up one year I told my team my diagnosis to try to explain my absences and symptoms while I was at work and I ended up really regretting it. Several people either had a neighbor who was homebound and frequently hospitalized, or an aunt who suffered terribly and died, or a friend who couldn’t have children due to my condition and they just had to tell me all of their stories about it in great detail. The ones who didn’t Googled it, and saw worst case, and I had so much “How ARE you?” “How are you feeling today?” in the workplace after that I really hated going to work after that. I actually became depressed over it and couldn’t even fend it off because they meant well and I was just so exhausted.

    Eventually I left for another job, and now I don’t talk about it at work beyond “chronic health condition, not contagious, I don’t like to talk about health stuff at work it makes me squeamish thx for your concern bye.”

  24. S.I. Newhouse*

    OP #4, your coworkers could also request the day after Thanksgiving early. It is great of you to be concerned, but you’re not in the wrong at all.

    I wish someone in power in the USA would finally acknowledge the day after Thanksgiving as an official holiday and put it on the same plane as Labor Day, etc. Our current president has done so many awful things… this would be a really cheap way for him to garner some good will. Anyways…

    1. Florida*

      “Our current president has done so many awful things… this would be a really cheap way for him to garner some good will.”

      This is a non-political blog. It’s not necessary to add commentary about the president (or any other politician).

        1. Florida*

          That seems reasonable. The part about the president doing awful things is what made me think, “Uh oh. This could lead to the wrong kind of discussion.” But I agree that if any politician creates a new federal holiday, that would probably win them some goodwill among the majority.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            There are no federal holidays in the US. None. Not a one. Nobody can create a “new” one.

            There are holidays when federal offices are closed, and federal employees get them off paid, but that’s about employment. There’s no day that MUST be a holiday nationwide.

  25. Minister of Snark*

    As a writer, I can tell you, don’t write for free. It’s very difficult to get paid for writing, once you start an agreement to write for free.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I know that’s the standard thing everyone says, but there really are cases where it makes sense to share your existing content like that (not write something brand new for free), and being a brand new blogger who doesn’t have ways to drive traffic otherwise is one of them. It was part of how I built this site into one that now makes good revenue (and where I can happily turn down those requests now).

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      However, she’s already writing it for free. The question is whether she should let someone else use it, so it’s not quite the same thing.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        This is a strong point to me. Presumably, OP isn’t getting paid right now – they’re only writing for exposure, basically.

  26. Temperance*

    LW4: I’ve worked at places with many differing approaches to holiday time off. My least favorite was the “family restaurant” that required “all staff” to work 2 out of the 3 major winter holidays, but then gave all the parents working there the option to not work any of those days. We found out from some parent coworkers that the management was giving them off to “be with their families”.

    Second to that is the place where we had to have holiday coverage, but our GrandBoss put her requests in first and immediately approved them, so she always had the last two weeks of December and a super long weekend around Thanksgiving.

    Currently, my boss and I decide together when to take off, so one of us is around.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Ew. That is gross.

      My mom used to work at a place that was open 24/7/365 and they had a rule about only getting off one major holiday. Since she had grown kids, she would always volunteer to work Christmas morning so that parents with younger kids could be home, but they didn’t give those folks any sort of special treatment.

  27. Chereche*

    #1 actually made me do a double take for a moment because I actually decorated my cubicle at the start of this week (the 6th) and it was no big deal. Christmas music has already taken over the airwaves and there are many private and public places that have already started to decorate. All of my co-workers just reacted with indulgent amusement (I am the second youngest in staff and pre-this my cubicle was decorated with anime posters and stuff toys – the posters having been swapped with Santas) and some even gave me ideas for arranging! Although I will add that this may be a cultural thing because I’m not US or Canada based and have absolutely none of these celebrations etc that occur late October into November that would ‘govern’ these things.

    TL;DR let her have her fun. As long as it is not impacting on anyone else or a poor reflection on the company, let her enjoy what makes her happy.

  28. Shop Girl*

    Kudos to your company for having the same holiday rules for the customer service staff and administrative staff. Nothing kills team spirit like working your butt off on a cash register the day before Thanksgiving and having the back office staff leave at noon saying “see ya Monday.”

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Huh. I’d actually be pretty annoyed if I had to work, even though my presence wasn’t necessary, just because other people’s jobs needed to be done that day. It wouldn’t exactly fill me with team spirit.

  29. Sarah*

    OP2: Several conditions can cause a chronic cough (both serious and less serious conditions). I think your response about a non-contagious chronic health condition is perfect.

  30. C.*

    #2, I was just talking about this with friends yesterday because I am living the other end of this situation. I think it would behoove you to mention to the colleagues near you that you’re fine but the cough is a chronic condition. I’m in grad school, and there’s a guy who sits in the library carrel near me who for the past month has been clearing his throat about once every minute. With a cough, your first thought is that it’s part of a cold and will go away so when it lasts it can be frustrating. If I knew this guy had a chronic condition, I would readjust my expectations and train myself to tune it out. As it is, I’m both incredibly annoyed and worried about his health. Telling your colleagues that the cough is sticking around but you’re ultimately okay may ease their minds in multiple ways.

    1. BadPlanning*

      Yeah, my office has a chronic sniffler. I get by with repeating, “He has allergies, you can’t blow your nose all the time, it’s fruitless, allergies, ignore it.”

      1. Allison*

        I have allergies too. I sniffle a lot, and sneeze more powerfully than I’d like, but I only have so much control over it! I’m not playing it up for attention or trying to bother people and I hate when people comment on it.

  31. WG*

    #4: I agree with Alison that since you’re not asking for time off at every holiday, leave it to your manager to mention if asking for time off at Thanksgiving every year is an issue. I’m assuming from the wording of your letter that more than one person can have the day off, just not the whole office. If the manager isn’t getting more requests than are possible, it’s a non-issue. And in any case, it’s not your issue.

    I recently worked with a person that asked for time off at every single holiday. When I expressed a desire to work out a system so that we could both have some of the time, she was aghast. You know, she had family and needed to have that time off to spend with them. It’s a good thing I only had a husband, kids, grandkids, parents, siblings – nobody I’d want to spend time with :).

    I also used to work a full-time job with very many holidays in one industry and a part-time job in a different industry with regulatory standards that required being open the business day after Thanksgiving and Christmas. The full-time job was also closed the day after Thanksgiving and the time between Christmas and New Year’s. My coworkers at the part-time job loved that I would volunteer to work some of that time, allowing more of their full-time staff to take PTO.

      1. WG*

        I had a good working relationship with her supervisor and mentioned this issue, in relation to other performance and attendance issues the supervisor was aware of. The supervisor started denying some of the coworkers requests when they conflicted with my desired time off. Of course the coworker would then just call in sick, which created other challenges in the office. But this was just one of many issues and the coworker was finally put on a PIP. She was eventually terminated and her replacement is much more willing to work out systems so we both get some desired time around holidays.

  32. always in email jail*

    #2 I actually have a very similar situation! They called it a “partially expressed genetic mutation”. I have some of the digestive issues but the lung issues don’t flare up too bad unless I catch a cold, then I have a hacking cough for about 8-10 weeks after. I default to telling people “It’s not contagious, I promise! I have pretty bad asthma and _____ triggered it” (____ being the heat being on/dry air, the weather change, whatever. make something up). The way I look at it, it’s really no one’s business, and asthma is a lot more commonplace/easier for people to accept and move on.

    1. BadPlanning*

      I feel like there’s an X-Men joke in there. You’re just waiting to complete the transition so you can control the weather.

  33. MommyMD*

    If it makes her happy to decorate her little cubical for Christmas, her tiny little personal spot in this chain, why rain on her parade? It’s such a small thing.

    1. McWhadden*

      And what could they do? Make them take everything down and then have them put it back up again in two weeks?

  34. Roscoe*

    #4, I think you are doing nothing wrong.

    I think its perfectly fair to say that you aren’t taking holiday requests until a specific date, say June 1. However, if you put yours in on June 1, and others wait until October 10, well thats on them. I get that some people say its greedy, but I look at it as the fact that everyone has the same option to put things in early, just because some people are organized and some are procrastinators, that doesn’t mean the procrastinators have a right to be mad that they didn’t get what they wanted. It doesn’t make you not a team player, it just makes you someone who plans ahead. As the saying goes “a lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part”

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      There are legitimate reasons why one would wait to hammer out a holiday schedule other than procrastination, though.

      1. Allison*

        Truth, they may be at the mercy of other family members who take just a little too long figuring out what “the plan” will be.

      2. paul*

        And what system do you suggest? According to OP they’re asking for one holiday, not all of them, so it isn’t a case of one person grabbing every coveted day. First come first served makes a lot of sense, and it’s pretty restrictive to refuse to approve leave until a month or two beforehand (makes hotels and airfare cost more).

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Well, I was speaking in general, not specifically to the OP’s situation.

          But, in general, I’m a bit concerned that rigid first-come first-serve promote gamesmanship and a ‘F-you, got mine” attitude. Not only that, but some people seem to think that plans made further in advance have more merit or that super advance planners are more virtuous. And that’s not necessarily the case. Ideally, it’d be worked out between colleagues and approved my management. But not everyone’s workplace gets along well enough for that.

          As I mentioned up above, there aren’t any perfect solutions.

      3. Roscoe*

        I understand that. But at the same time, if I DO know my plans early, and co-workers aunt is taking forever to make her plans which impact the co-worker, that shouldn’t affect MY ability to make those plans.

    2. The Outsider*

      This is exactly my attitude. I’m a planner and organized. These traits are what I use to get the best days off. Also, these are the same traits that keep me in the top 5% on performance in our company. Everyone has families; Everyone wants to take time off.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      It’s really unfair to assume the only reason people don’t request time off early is because they’re procrastinators. My sister in law has a position that requires coverage, and she’s not allowed to request vacation time until the people with more seniority have requested theirs. Which means my brother in law can’t request his until he knows what’s available to her.

      1. Roscoe*

        You are aright, it may not be that they are procrastinators. But, as much as that may suck for your brother in law, his co-workers shouldn’t be punished for that. If they know their holiday plans, and they put in for it, they shouldn’t have to wait for his to be finalized.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          No, his coworkers shouldn’t be punished. But that’s no reason to insult people, just because their lives don’t work the way yours does.

    4. Temperance*

      Eh, I always think of the person whose colleague came in at like 5 AM on January 1st (or 2nd) to snap up all the days before and after holiday weekends, giving herself every single long weekend of the year. That person was a huge asshole, IMO.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yeah, if you take the early vacation requests to the extreme like this example it is greedy and unfair. But I don’t think the OP’s one day a year thing is that bad.

        I also think a lot of this debate depends on your employer and the amount of coverage needed. In my current role, one of five people at my level need to be here during open business hours, which means the other four can be on PTO. But I’ve also worked plenty of places where it was way harder to get off time around the holidays and it wasn’t uncommon for coworkers to beg, borrow, bribe, and manipulate the PTO request system to ensure they could get the time off they wanted.

      2. Roscoe*

        Yeah, but that is a more extreme reaction. Often its just people who plan stuff out earlier. Like I’m going on a big overseas vacation over Thanksgiving, which meant I bought tickets and everything early. Now if I did that, I would find it ridiculous for someone to be upset that I got my stuff in early.

  35. MommyMD*

    I have moderate asthma and can be fine for a year but even with treatment can flare up and I can cough for weeks on end. I’m very cognizant of it affecting or concerning others. I tell them it’s allergies, not a cold. Not contagious.

      1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        Some people prefer not to disclose any chronic conditions. It’s a matter of personal choice. I agree that asthma is one of the ones least likely to raise eyebrows or affect others’ perception of the sufferer, but there are still folks out there who consider admission of any chronic illness (mental or physical) to be a sign of weakness. If there’s someone like that in your chain of command, it could affect your prospects. How cautious anyone wants to be with their own medical information is entirely up to them.

  36. Blue Sky Jessica*

    I’d ask coworker not to decorate for Christmas until after Veteran’s Day. It a matter of respect for many people.

  37. Florida*

    My company has a Halloween decorating contest, so a lot of people decorate their door or cubicle. On November 1, they sent an email that said Halloween decorations needed to be taken down by Friday (November 3). I rolled my eyes. Sometimes I remind myself, “It’s all about who has control.”
    Certain decisions have nothing to do with best practices, smooth operations, or anything other than who has control. Don’t be that boss.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Do you think it’s unreasonable to request that holiday decorations are removed in a certain time frame? That seems like a perfectly logical request to me.

      1. Florida*

        I think asking someone to remove decorations by a certain date is the same as not allowing them to put them up by a certain date. So if OP wants to put their Christmas decorations 7 weeks before Christmas, then let them do that (unless it affects the business somehow). Likewise, if they want to leave their Halloween decorations up for a month or two after Halloween, who cares?

        My workspace is about as minimalist as you can imagine, so I don’t want any of these decorations in the small space I have control over. But if it makes you happy to have your decorations Christmas decorations up 7 weeks early or your Halloween decorations up 7 weeks late, then have at it. I think in both cases it involves a manager trying to control things that there is no business reason for them to control.
        (I’m assuming that the desk is out of view of the public. That would change my opinion.)

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          The LW clarified in the comments above that this person is a receptionist, which means their desk is in full view of the public. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for a company to dictate how their space can be decorated based on the image they wish to project.

          1. Florida*

            OK, I didn’t realize that this was the receptionist. In that case, I think the company should control their decorations.

    2. Allison*

      My office was the opposite. I took my decorations down first thing the morning after Halloween, mostly because I thought it would be obnoxious to keep them up, and people were actually disappointed they were gone so soon, but I explained it’s not Halloween time anymore.

      1. Florida*

        I think that is fine. I think you decorate your desk how and when you want. I think for any holiday, probably 90% of people remove the holiday decorations a few days after the holiday. My point was just that I don’t know that we really need a building policy to dictate that. Let people control their one little area that is theirs.

  38. Lucy*

    One of my coworkers couldn’t be bothered to take down their desk decorations so it’s been Christmas all year round in that corner of the office…

    1. Boris*

      I hate Christmas, so I delegated responsibility for putting up, decorating and taking down our (small, tabletop) tree to my child.

      It’s been Christmas all year in my house too.

  39. Persephone Mulberry*

    OP3, a couple more points that crossed my mind:
    – decide if you want to give them carte blanche or if you want to retain control of which of your articles they can reperint; and
    – if you decide to turn down this offer, keep an eye on their site to make sure they don’t decide to help themselves to your content anyway.

    1. Blue Sky Jessica*

      Excellent point about keeping an eye on them! Freelancers need to plan for the worst while hoping for the best.

  40. McWhadden*

    Some of my co-workers were playing Christmas music at lunch this week. Not in a loud distracting way just in the breakroom while they ate. Normally I’m against Christmas drift but our office has been really depressing lately (a beloved co-worker has been out for months with cancer, another had a car accident, and some internal politics stuff) so it was actually kind of nice to be merry for a bit. I’m even thinking of decorating my office this year (never do.)

    Generally, I think if it doesn’t directly impact you or anyone around the employee let it be.

    Also, I love working the day after Thanksgiving. No one is around. It’s an excuse to not have to go shopping.

  41. imaskingamanager*

    I ran a small business for many years that had to be open during holiday seasons. There was a lot of stress around time off during the holidays. We finally sat down as a team and crafted an agreement. People had to agree to work either during Thanksgiving or Christmas on alternating years. So if you took Thanksgiving off this year, you had to work it the next year, but you got time off around Christmas. We plotted it out for each position, so if someone left, the new hire would know what the expectations were when they were hired. It wasn’t perfect, but it at least reduced the resentment for the team.

  42. Allison*

    #1 Personally, I have a “no Christmas until after Thanksgiving” rule. I love Christmas decorations, music, those holiday fragrances from Bath and Body Works, all of which I gather during November but don’t put up, listen to, or use until the day after Thanksgiving (same goes for Halloween, not until the first day of fall), but that rule is just for me! I try not to sneer or roll my eyes at people who want to get in the Christmas spirit earlier than that, especially if they’re not getting in my face about it. You’re her manager and you do have authority over her, but unless she’s breaking a rule or causing a disruption that impedes people’s ability to work, making her take down the decorations until you feel it’s appropriate to put them back up definitely reeks of micromanagement. Let people enjoy things.

    #4 You’re doing absolutely nothing wrong. You got the holiday you wanted because you put in that request early, and people are able to take other holidays off. It’s not up to you to make sure the system is fair for everyone.

    I’m tempted to suggest that if you are feeling guilty and you know of someone who was hoping to travel to visit family, and now can’t because they couldn’t get that Friday off and they’re now devastated they have to stay home and spend the holiday alone, you could consider giving up your day off so they could travel. You would need to make it clear that it’s a one-time deal and they do need to ask earlier next year, but it could really make their holiday and maybe brighten yours. It wouldn’t surprise me that people who do have to work that Friday are permitted to leave early anyway. However, you’re not obligated to give up your day off! You got it fair and square, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it and enjoying the day.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      I am so exactly the same on #1. I enjoy the Christmas anticipation and 1 month is enough for me to thoroughly enjoy the festivities. That said, I do not begrudge the people who need 2 months of Christmas. In general, I really try to not worry about what other people are doing when it has little or no effect on me.

  43. Althea*

    #2 – In my first job, my boss had a chronic dry cough. It never annoyed me much, but she always seemed more embarrassed about it than I thought she should be. Perhaps she’d encountered people who were annoyed.

    My recollection of how she talked about it included the following:

    “Sorry for my chronic cough.”
    (After a bout of extra coughing) “Excuse me, some days are worse than others.”
    *sigh* “Maybe one day they’ll figure out why I have this chronic cough!”

    She would also mention sometimes when she’d gone to a new doctor to try to figure out why she had it. By the time I left, they never did. But mentioning it in passing to people as you cough was a pretty simple way for her to communicate it would be an ongoing problem, and that she was aware it could bother people and be disruptive to a conversation.

  44. Nita*

    OP #2 – it’s probably a good idea to casually mention that you have a chronic, but non-contagious, health condition to co-workers who may be overhearing it. From personal experience, when cubicle neighbors hear you cough and cough and cough, they get concerned you have something like untreated tuberculosis…

  45. cornflower blue*

    LW#2 Yesterday my grandboss lectured me (in a joking tone) to blow my nose after I ate soup for lunch and was apparently sniffling a bit in reaction to the heat and steam. It’s amazing how that sort of noise is easy to tune out when it’s your own.

    I definitely agree that a vague explanation that it’s chronic but non-contagious will allow people to mentally reset their expectations.

  46. Delta Delta*

    #1- As long as the decorations aren’t noisy or disruptive (overwhelming odor, flashing, etc.), it doesn’t seem like an issue.

    #3 – I’m a regular contributor to a blog that often gets reprinted by another site. We don’t get paid but we do get a lot of exposure. The exposure has brought clients to my business, which has been great. The blog is something I would have done anyway (and which all the contributors do on a volunteer basis), and the reprints have been a bonus. I think if the facts were different – if we generated revenue from the blog, or if if the site that reprints us wasn’t as reputable as it is, we might not be ok with it. But the structure we currently have works out beneficially for everyone.

  47. Amber Rose*

    I would like to confess that what passes for my Xmas decorations at work have been up since last year. In my defense, they are rather subtle, consisting entirely of a set of plush tree ornaments that my boss hated and gave to me because I think they’re adorable. Some of them went missing actually, meaning I think I’m down to just Santa Teddy Bear and Snowman Panda. They’re pretty tucked away though.

    I’m lazy enough to have left my lights up too but they caught fire last year.

  48. Girasol*

    Perhaps OP1 could sit back and rely on peer pressure. If people in the office really object to early Christmas decorations, as many commenters here do, they’ll let her know. Peer pressure being what it is, she might decide to take them down for awhile or at least put them up later next time. And if they don’t object, then no action is needed anyway, as Alison says.

      1. MommyMD*

        Didn’t you just post you kept your Christmas stuff year round? I think he’s just making the case that Christmas decorations in November are not a big offense. Certainly nothing to get worked up over.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Doing things to spite people is the opposite of not getting worked up though. :O

          Besides, my decorations are two three inch tall plush animals hiding behind my potted plant and my cupboard, respectively. Not a full set in my company’s reception area.

    1. Statler von Waldorf*

      Captain Obvious says, “Doing things just to spite your manager is a really bad idea.”

  49. Kimberly*

    #2 – I have a cluster of genetic conditions one of my symptoms can be a chronic cough that lasts several months after getting over any type of lung infection. I also have 2 skin conditions – and with my luck always seem to flare up when the news cycle is slow so the local channel wants to scream we are all going to die from flesh-eating bacteria. I also have a couple of dangerous to potentially deadly touch allergies.

    I find that simply saying I have a non-contagious genetic condition that causes (Rash/cough) and am under the care of some of the best doctors in the field handles the situation.

  50. Jennifer Thneed*

    OP4: You say that your office closes on Thanksgiving Thursday, but opens again on Friday “due to some kind of solidarity for other employees who work at other sites that require them to be available on that Friday”.

    Are you sure it’s “solidarity”? You don’t mention your industry at all, but I know that when I worked for a Rilly Big Bank, the Friday after Thanksgiving was not a holiday due to actual laws or regulations. I don’t know if this is state or federal, but there are laws (or regulations) about how many days in a row a bank can be closed, and 4 is too many. So the branches all had to open, which means the back-office people also had to be present. Lots of people did take that day as vacation, of course, and the office was always quiet, but it wasn’t a company holiday.

    (I have just done a quick research and can’t prove this either way. So maybe I’m wrong about “actual law” but I know that’s what we were told the reason was.)

    1. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      When I worked for a Really Big Bank, we were open unless it was a government holiday. So that means, the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve are regular working days that are much coveted as vacation days. I don’t remember anything about there being a law that said we had to be open, but there might be something about if the Federal Reserve is open that we had to be. The best I could find with a google search is that the FDIC has a section that says hours cannot vary in a way that inconveniences it’s service area. I’d assume that for some it would be a pretty big inconvenience if a bank was closed 3 or 4 days in a row.

  51. Lucky*

    OP #3 and other writers & creators, you may be able to find free or low-cost legal help at an Arts Law Clinic. Google your state/province and “lawyers for the arts” to find one in your area. Most U.S. states have such an organization, and most offer pro bono law clinics, some in multiple cities and some are associated with local law schools, where supervised law students can take on projects.
    I ran my state’s arts law clinic right out of law school, and advising and drafting simple agreements like this – and helping authors take down infringing work or get paid what they were owed – were very common issue we addressed.

  52. Girasol*

    Re: Christmas, did anyone read the Quartz article in which they estimated, based on how much earlier Christmas lights go up each year, when we’d see Christmas lights in July? At this rate, they said, in about 100 years Christmas will begin in July.

    1. SoCalHR*

      I went to an Angel’s baseball game in June and they were having a “Christmas in June” celebration. It was ridiculous because it was like 89 degrees (not that its never warm on actual Christmas day here too).

  53. memyselfandi*

    OP #2, so interesting to hear form you. I have a first cousin once removed the same as you. For many years I could not reconcile his diagnosis with his health until I learned of the degree of variability in the disease. Best of luck to you.

  54. Papyrus*

    OP # 5 – definitely don’t apply for both jobs, especially because there is a good chance that people will notice that you applied for very disparate jobs. Back when my department was hiring, they had one candidate that applied for every position in our department as well as several very different positions in other departments. It’s not a good look, and it doesn’t make it look like you’re serious about either role.

  55. Seeker*

    I don’t think #4 is doing anything wrong necessarily, but I’m not a big fan of “first come, first served” for time off around coveted days, such as before/after a holiday. In January one might not know what their plans are for next Thanksgiving/Christmas to even start putting in time off whereas #4 might know on January 1st she wants the day off after Thanksgiving by default and will therefore *always* be first. The fact she will work around other holidays isn’t really pertinent to a co-worker who can’t join his/her extended family out of town for Thanksgiving because they didn’t know in January that Aunt Bertha was going to be the one hosting the event. Setting up that type of system is asking for problems. And, with Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s being traditional times for families to travel and get together, not taking other holidays off throughout the year shouldn’t automatically mean you get to pick one of those. I’d sit down with the team early on in the year and work out a way to take turns around those particular holidays, even if the end result was that #4 got the day after Thanksgiving every year.

  56. OP 3*

    I’m OP #3. Thank you Alison and everyone else who has weighed in on my question. As Alison mentioned, my blog is brand new. I started it less than a month ago and have literally just 5 posts so far. One day I decided to write something down about the divorce I’ve been going through. I liked writing it so much that I decided to do it some more and make it a blog. Honestly I wasn’t even sure what my intention was with putting this on the Internet. It just felt right. I felt like it gave me some kind of purpose since I haven’t worked in almost a year (I haven’t worked mostly BECAUSE of the divorce but that is a different story).

    I am not claiming to be an expert at anything and am certainly not using my blog to give anyone advice. I feel like the writing is helping me understand myself more, grasp the mistakes I made in the past, and become overall more self aware. When I started the blog I didn’t have any long-term plans in mind as far as what it might possibly turn into.

    Having said all that, I have been advertising my blog on Instagram and Twitter. Mainly, just telling people I have a new post up or something like that. If I want to be completely honest I think one of the reasons I wanted people to read it is because I wanted them to see what I’ve been through (it’s been a pretty messy divorce so far). I’m not looking for sympathy, maybe just a feeling that I’m not alone.

    So the company that wants me to sign the Repost Blog Agreement is like an online community of people going through divorce. They will tweet one of my blog posts and the link goes directly to my blog. The agreement gives my consent that they may repurpose and publish certain articles written by me at my blog and I agree that they are free to copy and post on their website. They will explicitly name me as the author and that the article originally appeared at “specific URL”. They also told me that their main goal is to share great content with their audience which will hopefully broaden their reputation and their audience – since I’m likely to share my articles that appear on their website. They also mention that they tag their version of the article “no-index” so I do not get flagged negatively by Google for SEO.

    I think I might have freaked out at first when presented with the agreement because it felt so formal. I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, again, with such a brand new blog. I almost felt like some kind of fraud because I’m NOT a professional writer out to give advice. I’ve just been writing about the horrible mistakes I’ve made in my marriage and divorce. It is my personal story (of course no identifying names or anything).

    I’ve been really trying to think hard about what my intentions with this blog are. Besides my own self discovery it could make me feel good to know that someone read it and avoided making one of my mistakes. And since I’m already putting my blog out there for consumption having it reach a wider audience through this online community seems like a good thing. Right now I feel like I am going to sign the contract, unless of course they come back with more rules and stipulations that seem unreasonable. Thank you all so much for the advice. It definitely has given me more to think about if things change in the future.

  57. Wendy Anne*

    As a receptionist, I feel like I have to defend the early decorator. I get very little private/personal space on the front desk so if I have an excuse to personalise/decorate the area where I sit for 8 hours a day, I’m going to take it for all it’s worth.

    My co-workers sits 10 metres from my desk, behind a wall. They have a 3’x3′ cork board on their walls, filing cabinets, lockable drawers etc. I have a 1’x1′ square under a ledge to put any family photos. My handbag is currently hidden behind my rubbish bin because it’s the only place that out of sight. My snacks constantly go missing because I have nowhere to keep them except in the set of drawers with the extra stationary and I’m not allow to lock those drawers in case someone needs something while I’m away from my desk. I’ve given up keeping gum anywhere but my handbag.

    If the only thing wrong with the decorations are that they are a little early, please, let this go. A little tinsel can go a long way to improve your mood when someone in the back office is “suggesting” how your post its should be stacked.

  58. GreenDoor*

    #1….I disagree slightly with AAM’s response. Another thing to consider is whether this employee has clients in her work area because than, the decor of her workspace is part of the branding of the company. There are businesses I frequent that I’m staying away from right now because they’re already bombarding customers with the Christmas decor and music.

    But if this employee is not client-facing, then I agree with AAM not to interfere.

  59. Yomi*

    I have a chronic health problem, and generally I don’t like talking about it because it’s a rare disorder, there’s not a lot of info out there about it, and it’s easily misunderstood. Plus could be easily construed into believing I’m a less valuable employee because the common symptoms aren’t things you typically want in a co-worker (difficulty concentrating, falling asleep at odd times, etc.) The wiki article for my disorder specifically says that most people with it eventually are unemployed because they can’t handle having a job, and I don’t want somebody I work for or with to see that.

    But sometimes the symptoms are noticeable, and I’m thankfully at a job where people are generally understanding when I need just a little extra help. I’ve found that being vague but truthful works really well. “I have a health condition, the doctor and I are working on it, but today is just a bad day.” I’ve never had somebody react badly to it, and my biggest problem at this point has been how do I handle people being genuinely sympathetic because I haven’t run into that much before at other jobs. I’m so used to hearing “oh, I’m tired all the time too…have you tried yoga?*” instead of “I’m sorry, are you okay today?” that I just don’t know what to do.

    *I have nothing against yoga, it’s great exercise. It just seems to have no clinical application when it comes to my disorder. It’s a bit like asking somebody with a chronic cough if they’ve tried foot cream.

  60. Aphrodite*

    OP #1, I liked the suggestion that several people made to have dates set for decorating for each holiday. Perhaps consider October 1-October 31 for Halloween. November 1-the Monday after the T-Day weekend for autumn decorations that can reference Thanksgiving, and December decorations for December 1-December 31 or January 2, whichever works for you.

    I am also crazy about these holidays–the only ones I care about. I loathe and fear Halloween so I ignore that, but come October 1-15 (depending on the weather) my autumn decorations come out. That said, I do not overdo it as I do not like either a crowded home or office. The Saturday of T-Day weekend is when I take down the autumn decorations and put up the Christmas ones (because Friday is turkey sandwiches day). I take the Christmas ones down around December 28-30 so I am ready to join Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. That allows enough time to enjoy them but not so much that I begin to tire of them.

  61. Chelsea*

    Who cares if someone puts up Christmas decorations early? I too roll my eyes when I hear shops playing Christmas music just after Halloween, but seriously, who cares? Why regulate her so closely?

  62. Olivia*

    I have Tourettes Syndrome, which results in (oh so very many) similarly repetitive noises during my day-to-day experiences, in my case even a cough-sounding tic. I would also echo that finding a way to talk about it can go a long way towards making everyone feel more comfortable and understanding. I’ve found, oddly, that complaining about it myself can be helpful, as it puts people at ease and gets rid of any “why doesn’t she do anything about it” thoughts or comments. For example, if I’ve been sniffing during a meeting or whatever I might make a small comment saynig something like “man, my nose has been really acting up, it’s frustrating to sound sick when really it’s just an involuntary tic!” Then, depending on the response I can either give a bit more of a response or not.

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