open thread – November 3-4, 2017

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

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

{ 1,741 comments… read them below }

  1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

    I have to tell all of you about a hiring horror story from my organization. So, back in March, I think, a full time staff member from a department adjacent to mine left to go back to school. The hiring process starts, everything goes pretty smoothly. They narrow it down to three candidates. The offer it to top candidate, he turns it down. Hiring manager decides she doesn’t really like the other top candidates. She doesn’t offer any of them the job. She sits on her thumbs for about a month. Finally, the position is posted again. One of my staff members, Jane, asks me if I think she’s qualified for the job, says she interested in it. She’s an excellent employee and actually excels at the work this other department does. (For example, we make teapots for adults and they make teapots for children and Jane’s small teapots are consistently better than her large teapots.) She applies and I send an email to hiring manager basically saying that I know Jane is applying and what I’ve seen of her work and why I think she might be a good candidate for them. About another month goes by and neither Jane nor I hear from hiring manager. I think this is odd because it seems to me that even if Jane isn’t as qualified as I think she is, hiring manager should at least let me know that. I contact that department and find out that they never interviewed anyone this second go around, but they have offered someone the job and he accepted. The person who was hired, Fergus, was originally not considered because he doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree, only an associate’s. He does do excellent work, though (he was a part-timer in my department and their department). Since he does great work, I don’t think it should matter what degree he has or doesn’t have. BUT, now for the insane part of the story….hiring manager never asked higher-ups if it was ok. C-level found out that he doesn’t have a bachelor’s and doesn’t want him working in that department! He has been working there for three weeks already! They have not let him go yet, buy c-level is really pushing for it. Also, he has no idea that right now that c-level wants him gone. It just such a messed up situation

    1. Samiratou*

      That’s insane, mostly on the part of the C-level folks. I loathe the artificial degree requirements. If people are qualified and do good work, who cares if they have a degree, especially since there’s no guarantee that the person’s degree would even be relevant to their current job?

      1. Serin*

        Oh, lord, when I left my part-time job as a church secretary, I had to talk them out of requiring a bachelor’s degree for my replacement. For a 20-hour-a-week job! In a town where only about 10% of the population has a four-year degree!

        I mean, you don’t want a person who isn’t intelligent in that job (I’ve worked in departments with dim admins, and it’s not fun), but there are no academic requirements. You want Word and Excel skills and good written communication? Those are super-easy to test for, and they don’t require four years of college.

        1. 2 Cents*

          Yeah and a degree doesn’t ensure you won’t be a dim person. I’ve worked with many, some of whom made it all the way to Ph.D.!

          1. Alli525*

            My best friend and I were living together during her grad school years, and one night she looked up at me and asked “What’s a preposition?” I fell over laughing and coined the phrase we now use at each other constantly: “Well, it’s a good thing you’re pretty!” She is one of the brightest people I know, and once I started singing the Preposition Song (anyone else? crickets?) she understood, but she went to a school that decided teaching grammar just wasn’t important and kids would pick it up on their own from reading books. (uh……..)

            School ain’t everything.

        2. tink*

          I’ve been locked out of receptionist and entry level admin positions because I don’t have a 4-year degree, so I wish I was more surprised by this. I think what gets me most is that a lot of the positions that don’t necessarily NEED a degree (but rather someone with a few ounces of sense and the ability to listen, learn, and pick new things up pretty quickly) but list it as a hard requirement ALSO do not want to pay any sort of decent wage to do the work. I’ve seen so many listings for “Receptionist, must have 1+ year front office experience AND a bachelor’s degree” where the pay is something insulting like $8/hr. (I live in a state with US federal set minimum wage, so they’re making above the minimum, but not by much.)

          1. Jadelyn*

            I’m particularly fond of entry-level HR Clerk/HR Assistant roles that want the candidates to have a degree and a freaking PHR certification…in order to make like $12/hr. Which I have seen a few of.

          2. JN*

            I hate job listing where it seems like it would be an entry level job, but they want you to have experience. Come on, someone’s got to be the first place to give a person experience in a type of job, so that they can move up into jobs that really do need to have a background in the field.

          3. Aunt Jemima*

            Yes! I see receptionist jobs with those requirements for about $8/hour in my area all the time! It’s ridiculous.

            1. Jake*

              Wow. We were paying admins $15/hr in PA with no degree requirement, but there were absolutely no benefits, so it was a pretty rough time finding qualified candidates.

              1. Artemesia*

                Because admins are not real people and benefits would not be relevant to their needs. I hate it when businesses treat some employees as if they were not human beings.

        3. Artemesia*

          Seriously!! I had a cousin who had an associates degree, was a terrific person, a pleasure to be around and very competent with secretarial tasks. She worked as a working mother in church offices and schools for her career and did a terrific job. Artificial requirements that don’t related to the job are insane and in a small town, where most people don’t have them but many young people have taken business classes in high school or CC programs, doubly so.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Ugh, yes. I’m in HR at my org and when job descriptions are being developed or revised, we push back HARD and force managers to really justify why they absolutely *need* someone with a degree for the position. If they can’t make their case, then they can put a degree under “preferred” qualifications, but not under requirements.

        The worst thing with degree requirements is they function as a gatekeeper for low-income people and older people. My coworker, the HR Generalist, doesn’t have a degree because she started as a secretary 30-some years ago when she didn’t need to have a degree for that, and she learned on the job and worked her way up. My mother is a skilled accountant, but she doesn’t have a degree because again, when she started her career, you didn’t necessarily need a degree for it. She’s got 25+ years of experience but no degree and that’s shut her out of a number of positions and promotions over the last few years.

        Eff that.

        1. Queen of the File*

          Here here!! We had a receptionist position (answering phones and buzzing people into the building) that required a bachelor’s degree for no reason. Every person they hired quit within three weeks out of boredom.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Honestly, I found pretty much nothing from my university time that was really all that applicable in the general admin jobs I had. College didn’t teach me how to file, how to do business outreach, how to predict supplies usage and keep things stocked but not overstocked, how to “manage up” and herd cats when the cats are uniformly much higher above me in the company, how to politely word a business email to convey “eff off, this is not my problem and I’m not taking the fall for you” (which is a critical skill, imo).

              My favorite was where having gone to college made me eligible for a shift supervisor position in a retail store when I’d applied for a regular associate position. I had *no* retail experience whatsoever, mind you, but that college on my resume automatically made me Supervisor Material to them. Okay then.

              1. JGray*

                Your retail story reminded me of my best friend when she worked at a national retailer. We both worked at national retailers (not the same one) in high school. She worked lots of jobs at the store and when we were about 20 (so having worked these jobs for about four years) a lead (front line supervisor type) position opened up at the store she worked at. She applied but was told since she didn’t have a college degree she couldn’t have the job. The person who got the job had a college degree had only worked at the store about six months. Well he knew nothing and would come to my friend all the time to find out how to do his job. She finally started telling him that she didn’t know & he was the manager. It worked out okay for her because her second job at a bank actually became full time so she was able to quit the retailer about a year later but it was still insane how a college degree would qualify someone who knew nothing about the actual work.

              2. Look What You Made Me Do*

                I’ve run into this, kind of. I have a Bachelor’s in Psych, but it’s pretty difficult to find jobs in the field that will accept anything less than a Master’s. I’ve ended up in customer service jobs where they say things like, “You have your degree! Why are you applying here?” Also, I absolutely do not ever, ever, ever want to be in management. EVER. I would be a terrible manager. Do Not Want. But that degree loves to make interviewers/bosses want to know where my ambition is.

                On the other hand, my husband “only” has his GED plus a short stint in the military, and he is constantly promoted into management positions after mere weeks/months on a job – because he’s a great employee and a good manager! But at his current job he’s now in a position where he can’t move any higher without a degree, even though he’s worked there for years and could probably handle the job just great. Frustrating for sure.

          1. K.*

            That was a battle where I used to work! Reception is not an entry-level stepping stone job there. You don’t get promoted off the reception desk. The person leaving the role was a career receptionist (and awesome and great at her job, everybody liked her), and the role wasn’t going to change. Once she announced her retirement, someone wondered if they should fill the role with a recent college grad and that spread, and a lot of us, myself included, were like “Why? What does a bachelor’s bring to the role?” Eventually someone pointed out that a college grad was likely not going to stay in a reception role very long, if s/he had aspirations beyond reception.

        2. cornflower blue*

          I know two very skilled people with engineering/electrical backgrounds who did all their training in the military, and so are shut out of degree-requiring jobs. Their problem-solving skills are far superior to those of recent BS grads, but they consistently lose jobs to them. It’s a darned shame.

          1. Artemesia*

            This is the one place where those stupid diploma mill on line programs can come in handy to get a ‘degree’.

            1. Specialk9*

              Exactly. It’s a broken system but sometimes you just check the box, if you at all can afford it.

        3. Althea*

          This is like the opposite of my org. We were hiring an associate position, basically an entry-level. We wanted to list minimum qualifications as a bachelors, because although people often get a masters, we also wanted to attract candidates with field experience. Sometimes just college-PC-internship yield a better candidate than someone with the masters would.

          HR insisted they had to list it as “masters degree or combination of equivalent experience” because the degree is supposed to imply a career-track job rather than an admin one. We said most candidates who read that are going to assume they need the masters or a LOT of experience – and then they won’t apply.

          We lost this fight. Only 1 application out of 20 or more didn’t have a masters, and that was an application referred internally.

          1. Astor*

            One thing that might help is to call out of the exact number of years of experience that is (minimally) considered equivalent. For example, I see a lot of “requires either a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience or a master’s degree”. This makes it easy for skimmers who are looking for just the degree they have.

        4. Samiratou*

          I know tons of programmers that don’t have degrees because they’ve been programming well before you needed a degree (or even before there were degrees, in some cases). My husband is running into this, too, as a web developer, for pete’s sake. He’s been coding websites for 15 years. I don’t think a bachelor matters one way or another to that, but he gets auto-rejects all the time because of it. Infuriating.

          1. many bells down*

            Mr. Bells got hired halfway through college since programmers were in such high demand in the 90’s. He’s never gone back and finished his degree. 25 years of experience, so far, has been enough that recruiters call him all the time. But if he ever wants to change careers he might have trouble.

          2. copy run start*

            Yes, sadly this is starting to happen to tech jobs now that tech degrees are offered everywhere. You might still break into tech now without a degree, but a) it’s harder and b) you might find yourself needing it anyway to move up. And truthfully it shouldn’t matter, because anything in tech changes so rapidly. Often what is taught in schools is several years behind current practice or based on best practices wishes, not what is actually being implemented in the real world or what legacy garbage you’ll encounter out there. It sucks that such talented people are finding themselves locked out by such rigid mindsets.

            Truthfully I went back and got a second bachelor’s in the IT world specifically to future-proof myself when I made the move a few years ago. (I figured it would be much easier to go back at 28 than to go back at 38 or 48, and I’d be less grumpy about doing it at 28 than I would with 10 or 20 years of experience under my belt.)

          3. nonyme*

            Heck, my mother has been programming since the early 1980s (so like 35 years experience), HAS a bachelor’s degree in programming from around the year 2000ish, and a degree in graphic design, and until a year ago, was actively working as a programmer/computer animator/web designer. She’s kept up on all the latest programs. She was laid off through no fault of her own.

            She can’t get work as a web designer/programmer/anything related to computers, in areas she’s absolutely qualified for. She’s losing out to brand new college grads. She’s 65 (doesn’t want to retire) and it seems to be a combination of “too old” and that they think her degrees are no longer relevant … even though she’s been continuously working in the field for longer than the kids they’re hiring have been alive.

            1. nonyme*

              (And to clarify, she’s mostly looking for contract work through temp agencies — it’s not like she’s looking for a long term career position at 65. Still can’t get anyone to hire her.)

        5. Anon Accountant*

          I’m glad you all push back on this requirement when it’s not needed. I’ve worked with accounting and other people without degrees or college coursework who were excellent. You didn’t know they had never been to college unless they told you.

          They worked hard to learn on the job and were excellent. Terrible to keep people from promotions due to lack of a degree when it’s unnecessary.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            My employer doesn’t require degrees unless it’s absolutely essential for the position. My team has no education requirements, only demonstration of expertise. One of my close colleagues is a high school dropout.

          2. Ramona Flowers*

            My employer doesn’t require degrees unless it’s absolutely essential for the position. My team has no education requirements, only demonstration of expertise (and I showed some of that through personal life experience, and some through volunteering). One of my close colleagues is a high school dropout – in a role she wouldn’t be able to get almost anywhere else as they all want degrees. Which stinks.

            1. Anon Accountant*

              That does stink. Many places around here have a questionnaire after you apply that specifically asks if you have a degree. If you check no then you are disqualified. If you check yes then you have to enter your college name and major.

              They’ve even done this for admin jobs where a degree wouldn’t be truly required.

        6. Tris Prior*

          Yes, Boyfriend is in this position now. Job-hunting, lots of admin experience, only an associates’ degree. It’s demoralizing when he fills out the online app, a window pops up that makes him check “yes/no” to whether he’s got a bachelor’s, and then immediately comes the automated rejection email. This has happened more than once.

          The other day I saw a job listing for a seasonal retail position that said “bachelor’s degree required.” For RETAIL. That is SEASONAL. WTAF?

        7. Anion*

          Ugh, yes. We just relocated back to the US, and my husband–with twenty+ years of management/upper management experience in a variety of different business types & departments, couldn’t even get a resume into most jobs because he doesn’t have a degree (online applications disqualified him or wouldn’t even allow him to finish the application).

          He finally went to a temp/recruitment agency and found a great job right away; they’ve already promoted him once after six weeks. But it’s so frustrating to see jobs he seemed ready-made for and he couldn’t even get a toe in the door, especially in an area where we don’t have any real contacts or experience.

          I had a boss once who wanted a degree, and when I asked him why he said “It proves they can finish what they start, and are dedicated.” Seven years with the same firm, and two promotions at that one firm, proves the same thing, though.

          1. Jadelyn*

            …I dropped out of school the first time, and barely scraped through when I went back (undiagnosed and therefore untreated/unsupported ADHD plays havoc with your academic survival lol that was so much fun). What exactly does that prove?

            1. Anion*

              Exactly. It proves nothing about you that isn’t also proved (or disproved) by a good work record. It was just so infuriating to hear someone basically say, “Yeah, no specialized knowledge is necessary for this job, I just want to see people spend thousands and thousands of dollars so I know they really want to work.” Nonsense.

            2. Evie*

              I had the same struggles with ADHD and was seriously considering not finishing my BA, but my parents made the same exact argument that having the degree would help me get work because it shows… dedication? The fact that I’m capable of surviving a rigorous academic environment? I’m not even sure.

              (It did feel great to finally get my diploma, but getting there was so awful that I don’t even want to stay in that field anymore, and I’m left scrambling for transferrable skills)

            3. many bells down*

              I’ve been to college three times, and each time I haven’t been able to finish. The first two times I couldn’t afford to. The last time, we ended up having to relocate when I still had a year to go. I’m dedicated enough that I *keep going back and learning* but I never get to the graduation.

            4. Miss Betty*

              That argument is nothing new. I was hearing it when I graduated from high school (1981) and it’s never gone away.

        8. Free Meerkats*

          We had to fight HR to get the degree requirement taken out of the job description for what I do. Yes, a degree in a hard science would help some, but it’s not needed and the two worst employees we’ve had here in my 25+ years were both degreed, while neither I nor the manager have one.

      3. Snark*

        Aside from the obvious “we’re losing good, qualified candidates” issue, this also turns into stealth racial discrimination in a lot of cases.

        1. Drew*

          This is a fantastic point. Thank you for the reminder that discrimination doesn’t have to be overt to be real.

          1. Snark*

            Or even intentional! But if you’re putting degrees front and center in your quals, you’re pre-selecting for the demographics that have them, and, well.

        2. Autumn anon*

          Sneaky disability discrimination too! If disabled people aren’t supported (and even a lot of the time if they are) at university, they find higher education inaccessible and drop out (drop out rates for disabled students are higher than for non-disabled students, and disabled students also self-select out due to predicting inaccessibility in the first place), and thus requiring degrees is also stealth discrimination against them too.

          1. nonyme*

            Yes, this.

            I had a full ride scholarship to a good university at twenty, in the early 1990s, on the basis of my grades in community college.

            Ended up not even being able to start. Why?

            Needed health insurance, because I was averaging around 50,000 a year in medical expenses in the early 1990s, because of health issues. However, at the time the Medicaid cutoff was $237 a month in income, and Medicaid considered the scholarships and grant I’d rustled up to cover my schooling to be income. (Yes, really.) So the scholarship disqualified me from Medicaid. If I stayed at home (it was a 25 mile drive to school) and financed my college tuition, Medicaid looked at my mother’s income, and that would disqualify me, so I still wouldn’t have insurance.

            My mother’s insurance only covered me to age 19 and I was twenty.

            So then I got a job with a good company that offered scholarships for employees! Yay! I decided to go to community college for another year (I’d already declined the scholarship for university before I got the job).

            Except they kept changing my hours midway through the semester. Four semesters later, I’d only managed to complete two classes because I kept having to drop out because they were inflexible about hours.

            But this otherwise good company offered a pension and good pay and really good health insurance and plentiful vacation so I shrugged and finally decided just to make a go of life without a degree. I had a good job I felt secure in so meh, who needed a degree?

            But then several years later the company got bought out, our pensions got frozen (and then cashed out for pennies on the dollar recently, compared to what they should have been worth) but that’s a vent for another day. Oh, and the new company that bought us required degrees for advancement … and even started requiring degrees for entry level positions.

      4. Kelsi*

        This. My organization is focused on early childhood, but we don’t work directly with children. They want the administrative assistants to have early childhood degrees! I understand they want people to “get” what our mission is about, but frankly, why do you expect that someone with an early childhood degree is going to want to work in an office answering phones and filing training paperwork??? Or that they’re going to be the best candidates vs. someone who has a degree in something else (or no degree) but experience with administrative work?

      5. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        I’m feeling this really hard right now. I applied for a position that I have been *doing* since the last person left (not all, but a good portion) and I had two interviews. Both of them just wanted to talk about my unfinished BS degree. I need 6 classes and have been taking classes while working, it’s just slow going. The hiring manager actually said, “you do excellent work, but this position requires the BS degree”. It’s not a matter of regulations/certifications or anything like that. It’s just that they want this person to have a certain degree. I’m still being considered but have already been told that I will have a deadline to finish school if they do offer it.

    2. SophieChotek*

      That does sound like a mess. I feel for both Fergus and Jane. Sounds like HR manager is really the one that needs to be talked to by C-level…

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Can’t they move him back to part-time instead of firing him? It seems awful to punish him for the hiring manager’s incompetence.

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        Yeah, I don’t know what the plan is. I would hope they would move him back to part-time instead of getting rid of him, but he would still be taking a financial hit. He quit his other two part-time jobs to take this full time one.

        I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that they can convince c-level to change her mind and just keep him.

        1. Caro in the UK*

          That is absolutely appalling behaviour on the part of your organisation. I really hope someone can point of to them how monumentally messed up that would be. (Not saying it should necessarily be you who speaks up, I don’t know if you have that kind of realationship / clout with the c-level, but I hope someone who does, will!)

          I’m sorry for you being stuck in the middle of that.

        2. Samata*

          Well what they NEED to do is keep Fergus and get rid of the manager who hired him without getting the OK. I am guessing that is not going to be helpful, but it’s really not fair to Fergus to punish him for the manager’s actions, which is exactly what knocking him back to part-time or firing him would be. He’s not the one who did any misleading in this case. What a mess.

    4. Been there*

      Does the employer offer tuition reimbursement? Why don’t they offer to keep Fergus in the role and pay for him to complete his bachelors? My company is super degree focused in hiring, but they also will make exceptions and do encourage people to get their degrees (encourage as in pay for and support in other ways).

      This seems goofy.

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        We do offer tuition reimbursment, actually. That would be an excellent compromise. I hope they come to that conclusion

        1. Specialk9*

          Any way you can mention that possibility? Mention how cool it will be of them to help someone with good skills to overcome a barrier.

        2. Anion*

          I had that thought, too, please do mention it. (Maybe you can even pull Fergus aside and, without revealing anything, tell him he ought to ask his mgr. about it–like, he can say he wants to get his Bachelor’s and will they reimburse? Maybe if he’s being proactive about it and his mgr. can report he’s starting the process, C-level will take it into account?)

    5. Observer*

      I agree that the artificial degree requirements is a load of nonsense. But the hiring manager is a jerk.

      There are a lot of ways to fight this battle that don’t require you to put someone in harm’s way. If the c-suite can’t be convinced to let this go, or to punish the hiring manager rather than Fergus, best case Fergus takes a nasty hit. I don’t care that the organization is also harming itself – they deserve it!

    6. AshK434*

      Is this a federally-funded position that mandates the degree? When I worked at a non-profit we would always include in proposals that ppl in certain roles held X degree which made them qualified. If that’s not the case, then this really sucks

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        Nope! As far as I know, that is not an issue. We are a non-profit and that department does get some state funding, but it’s to fund a particular program of theirs, not to fund staffing.

    7. Anon Accountant*

      This is messed up situation. If they do let him go I hope they find him another role in the company or give him generous severance.

      Better yet they should let go of the manager who wants Fergus gone only because he doesn’t have a bachelors degree.

    8. Half-Caf Latte*

      It is interesting to see all of the disdain for degree-requirements. I agree with the examples given here, but my profession (healthcare) is actively working to improve the number of bachelors’- prepared people in the workforce, with the lofty goal of making it the entry-level standard for the profession.

      I have Thoughts And Opinions about how this is being accomplished, but there is empirical evidence that it improves patient outcomes, so I’m in favor overall.

      1. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

        Well, yes, there are some jobs where a bachelor’s degree really is necessary and/or helpful, and I feel like health care is one of them! But there are plenty of other jobs out there where a bachelor’s degree is absolutely not necessary — and not even unnecessary-but-helpful — but the job still has “bachelor’s degree” listed in the requirements. I think that’s what people are reacting to.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yeah, but requiring a degree to answer the phone is a lot different from requiring a degree to give someone a medication that could kill them. I don’t agree with the push for everyone to have a BSN, but I can see the reasoning behind it. (I’m not against degree requirements, but as someone who spends a significant amount of time in the hospital and at the hospital, I have always found the nurses from the local practical nursing program to be much more competent at running IVs and doing other practical tasks than the nurses with BSNs, assuming they have the same amount of experience.)

        1. Specialk9*

          Exactly. I’m *vehemently* against arbitrary inflation of job requirements. In health care, education on humans, pathogens, basic science, and how to learn… clearly not arbitrary.

      3. LS*

        Yes, my mother started out nursing in the 1960s with on-the-job learning, followed by getting her BSc and MSc in the 90s, then going into teaching a nursing degree. Nursing (and related professions) absolutely should have those entry requirements, because they’re actually relevant to the work being done, mean that people in more female-dominated professions have better bargaining chips for wage and conditions negotiations (compared to other fields with bachelor degrees but less responsibility and training!), and are important to understand complex systems of accreditation, safety and further learning quite separate from direct patient care. But that’s not this thread is discussing in general – they’re discussing genuine credentialism.

    9. Chaordic One*

      It reminds of bad old toxic ex-job where they were trying to hire a receptionist/entry-level admin with a college degree for $12.00/Hr.

      Meanwhile, at the same time they were also advertising for a entry-level warehouse worker who they would train to operate a forklift. This position required only a high school education, but paid $15.00/Hr.

      Is that wack or what?

    10. Anon4This*

      This LITERALLY just happened to my BIL. Working via contract company for HugeFinancial in IT for 2 years. HugeFinancial loved him so much, they wanted to hire him as permanent employee, due to his work for them and his previous work in same field (15 yrs+).

      Fast forward post background checks, they came back to him and said they couldn’t find his degree. He replied that he did not have one (which he never said he did!). They took back the job offer and tech contractor let him go. WTF?

      His non-degree from nearly 30 years ago should be irrelevant. He’s been working at Director level for eons (in previous company).

  2. who moved my cheese*

    Before this week I’d never had food taken from the work fridge, and this is hardly a egregious case, it was just…odd. I had a pack of sliced cheese in the fridge and someone took half a slice. If they’d taken the whole slice I wouldn’t even have noticed (and it’s not even fancy cheese, just supermarket stuff). But since I’m a bit paranoid(?) about food hygiene I can’t get over the thought that someone might have touched the rest of the cheese. I hate wasting food but I can’t bring myself to eat the rest. I’m almost tempted to put a note on it telling whoever took the half slice they can have the rest.

    1. Temperance*

      That’s so gross. That would really skeeve me out, too … and I would probably end up just buying the pre-packaged stuff or not bringing it at all.

      I don’t trust the kinds of people who would find it reasonable to take half a slice of someone else’s cheese to practice good hand hygiene.

      1. MoinMoin*

        Unrelated, but this week my company fired someone in Accounting for fraud and theft. The story got to my department because apparently she has a lot of payroll garnishments due to debt and a few years back she fraudulently altered and faxed Payroll a debt release to get a garnishment stopped (which was pretty quickly figured out when the debt attorney called asking why they were no longer receiving money). Why she wasn’t fired when she was caught out on that, I don’t know. But as this story makes its way around HR the part that always causes the biggest reaction is, “…and she never washed her hands whenever she went to the bathroom!”

        1. Temperance*

          We had a receptionist who didn’t wash her hands after taking loud poops. She was also obnoxious … but the poor hygiene is what we all spoke about. lol

          1. NewBoss2016*

            Our CEO straight up openly refuses to wash their hands after using the restroom because “that wasn’t a ‘thing’ back in the day” and they think we are now just creating resistant bacteria, etc. I am not at all a germaphobe, so I just regularly disinfect my area and wash my own hands, but I know a lot of people who would be really bothered.

            1. Ange*

              But unless you’re using antibac soap you’re just washing microorganisms down the drain. Pretty sure that doesn’t create antibiotic resistance.

        2. Drew*

          I went to tell our facilities manager that the men’s room was out of soap. A coworker overheard me and said, “Yeah, i noticed that a couple of hours ago.” I wanted to ask him why he didn’t say anything, but the horrible implications of following that line of thought dissuaded me.

      2. Close Bracket*

        “don’t trust the kinds of people who would find it reasonable to take half a slice of someone else’s cheese to practice good hand hygiene.”

        I don’t see the connection. I could even argue the other direction, that someone who touches food when they serve themselves must have excellent hygiene.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          The connection is that someone who thinks it’s reasonable to manhandle someone else’s food while tearing off a half a piece of cheese is probably the same someone who thinks just because they didn’t obviously soil their hands in the bathroom means their hands are “clean enough” and don’t wash up.
          Doesn’t mean it’s true, just means it’s pretty darn likely. More likely than, “I’d like to grab a half slice of someone else’s cheese, let me wash up properly before I defile their food without their knowledge or permission.”

    2. RachelR*

      Your name though. I’m dying. My awful internship made us all read that book after the company got acquired.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Ha! My church had a weekly adult ed session on Sunday mornings after the service and coffee hour – wide-ranging, often secular topics, like a local historian presenting about a nearby cemetery or Doris and Herb sharing photos of their trip to Argentina. One day a church member presented the whole allegorical plot from that book as a clip-art-filled PowerPoint. I was about 15. It was …interesting.

          1. Artemesia*

            I read the book literally cover to cover in a few minutes at an airport bookstore; it defines lightweight and it takes a talent to monitize any stupid thing. I have won two raffle items: the complete speeches of Jimmy Carter on Microfiche and a case of orange pineapple drink.

    3. GreyjoyGardens*

      That *is* rather gross to think about, someone putting their fingers all over your food – which they had to do if they just took half. And you never know if this person is one of those “I only wash my hands if someone is watching” people.

      I’m sympathetic, because I’m extra-careful about food safety due to the fact that I seem to get an upset stomach from anything “off” very easily. And I hate to waste food, but I’d rather that than an upset tummy for an afternoon.

    4. Turtlewings*

      They probably took half a slice because they just really desperately needed (for some reason) half a slice of cheese and didn’t want to steal any more than they actually needed. (I would have just taken the whole thing anyway, since that’s actually less weird, but it was probably well-intentioned.) Being suspicious of the rest of the cheese seems extremely unnecessary — aren’t they individually wrapped? Or am I visualizing the wrong kind of cheese?

      1. Infinity Anon*

        I stole food from the office one time. I suddenly started to go hypoglycemic. Sweating, shaking and vision fading. I grabbed a coworkers juice and drank it. As soon as I was able, I went down to the cafe, bought real food and two juices and brought them to the coworker and apologized and explained what happened. I can definitely see borrowing food if it is really and emergency, but I don’t understand not replacing it ASAP.

      2. MoinMoin*

        I visualized the kind you get sliced at a deli, so altogether, maybe with paper separating slices, in a ziplock bag.

      3. bridget*

        I mean, maybe they desperately needed it, but in most offices I think it’s far more likely that it wasn’t a “desperate need with no other options” situation, just a person who opportunistically nicks unguarded food. Plus, there was another option – the cheese thief, if truly about to starve due to a lack of 45 calories and in a financial position where they could not even access the smallest possible snack, probably could have just asked who moved my cheese “hey, can I have a slice of your cheese”?

        1. Turtlewings*

          Well, yeah, obviously a true cheese emergency is unlikely, it would be something more like “my sandwich really needs just a little more cheese to taste good oh please i can’t stand eating this without cheese.” But even if the cheese had a name on it, the thief may not have known who that was or how to contact them. I just feel like guilt is the only plausible explanation for leaving the half-slice. That or trolling.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      It is endlessly fascinating, the contortions people go through when stealing food. This takes the reasoning “so long as I never quite finish the bottle, they won’t notice some of it is gone” and applies it to individually wrapped slices of cheese.

      1. Jadelyn*

        “As long as I leave 3 drops of creamer in the bottom of the bottle, it should be okay, right?”

        No, I don’t speak from experience, why do you ask?

        Of course there was the one time when someone actually *did* not only finish my flavored creamer I’d brought in, but very considerately threw the bottle away for me. I still don’t know who did it but if I ever find out, gods help them.

      2. crookedfinger*

        Yep, this is how I went from a whole carton of half-and-half to just a few drops in less than a day at my old job. Multiple people thinking “I’ll just take a little bit, she’ll never know.”

        1. Specialk9*

          I’d fantasize about leaving a carton of half and half at each person’s desk on Friday evening… and then not do it, of course.

      3. Hermione*

        Now I’m imagining someone trying to top off a half slice of cheese, like teenagers stealing liquor from their parent’s cabinet. Of course, cheese would require some creative molding on the part of the artist… Ugh.

    6. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      What kind of monster only eats half a slice of cheese??? (kidding)

      Seriously though, that’s really weird. Seems like more work to take half a slice. I’m picturing the individual wrapped slices and just can’t imagine why you’d open a slice and just take half.

      1. Infinity Anon*

        It kind of reminds me of the last donut that everyone keeps taking smaller and smaller pieces of because no one wants to be the one to eat the last donut. Just eat it!

        1. LavaLamp*

          We don’t have that here; we have someone obsessed with those cake donuts that NEVER get eaten because cake donuts are an insult to fried dough.
          Thankfully my coworkers mostly agree with me and will come and grab me if my favorite doughnut happens to make a rare appearance.

          Also; my boss had this happen a few months ago. She had brought in a little box of presliced/packaged cheese. Someone ate all but one of them. She was rather annoyed, and I don’t blame her since I know she’d have shared if someone asked. That’s what gets me. Everyone I know around here generally shares their goodies, so why steal and make someone not want to share with you?

          1. Green T*

            Perhaps the cleaning crew? Or security staff? The security staff at my work kept stealing string cheese. It became obvious who was doing it when the security company was replace with a different company. No more string cheese thefts after that.

            1. LavaLamp*

              We don’t have a security staff, and the cleaning crew didn’t actually clean that building as it was temporary. We all concluded it had to have been somebody in the office. It was just weird, because all they’d have had to do was ask for some.

      2. H.C.*

        Maybe the co-worker wanted the whole slice but the cheese tore halfway, and didn’t feel like doing the work of extracting the other half too.

    7. who moved my cheese*

      Quick clarification: cheese was not individually wrapped, and come to think of it it’d be pretty hard to not touch the rest (or at least the adjacent slice) when pulling out half unless they used tweezers or something…

      1. BlueWolf*

        Yeah, I assumed from your comment that it was one of those packages where they are not individually wrapped, but each slice is sort of separated by a little piece of paper. In a way it is almost more considerate that they only took half so that they left evidence behind that it had been tampered with (lol). Like you said, you wouldn’t have noticed if they took a whole slice and wouldn’t have known about possible germy hands contamination (ick).

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        So I’m now imagining tweezers in the hands of someone suspended from above, Mission Impossible style…

      3. Anion*

        Those always break for me, actually. When you take off the slice, the part that touches the next slice always sticks. Maybe that’s why?

    8. WellRed*

      Definitely put a note on it. That solves both the food waste issue and sort of calls them out on it at the same time.

    9. k.k*

      I once has someone disassemble my sandwich to steal a piece of cheese. I had a very simple sandwich in a tupperware, just two slices of bread, two slices of cheese, and some lunch meat. Someone stole one slice of cheese off of it.

      The next day I bought a lunch bag and ice pack, and never used the shared fridge again.

      1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

        That’s up there with the time I brought some leftover Chinese food for lunch, only to open the container to find only half of my egg roll. Yes, someone ate part of the egg roll and put it back on top of the rice, thus rendering the whole damned thing unsafe in my eyes.

        1. Witty Nickname*

          Ewww…I had that happen with fried chicken. Someone took a piece, ate it, and then put the bones back in the box, rendering the rest of the food (lunch for both my husband and me that day) disgusting and inedible.

      2. Samata*

        i am really sorry but I just laugh-snorted pretty loudly. This takes it to an entirely new level.

    10. Shiara*

      This is so bizarre.

      Is there any chance someone accidentally knocked it out of the fridge or spilled something on it or something so they were trying to clean up/fix the contaminated bit? I just can’t imagine someone thinking that leaving half a slice would be less obvious than just taking the whole thing.

    11. clow*

      I cannot understand people who think it is ok to steal other people’s food. It doesn’t matter how much it cost, or what it was, it is stealing plain and simple. Since they put their hands all over it, they might as well have stolen the entire package because who knows what the heck they touched before putting their hands on your food.

    12. Accidental Analyst*

      We once had someone steal half a boiled egg. They bitten it and then placed it face down in the salad so the salad owner wouldn’t notice

    13. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      We had some leftover donuts from an employee recognition event put out yesterday morning and, under the saran wrap, no less, there was a donut with a single bite out of it on top. I mean, really?! Just take the whole donut!

    14. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I’m thinking it’s like a pack of Kraft cheese–no separating paper, just a hunk of pre-sliced cheese. No way to really get those out without touching the rest of the cheese.

      If you really wanted to try to save it but you’re worried about germs, you could always take the top and bottom slice off then cutoff the edges. Seems like a lot of work with no guarantee that someone won’t do it again, though. Might be best to leave the note.

  3. UpperPylon*

    I am an entrepreneur working on a low-cost device to automate a common task in many labs. I am trying contact professors at a local university to get early feedback about this project and place a prototype for free, in a lab for testing. I have tried some cold emails and I haven’t received any responses. I am looking for advice from people in academia and research. Specifically what language I should use and how in general I should approach people about this?

    1. TallTeapot*

      Unless you have a personal connection with the faculty member, it’ll be really difficult to get traction with them on this. They get lots of email and just throw most of it out. You might have more success reaching out to the post-doc(s) who are actually in charge of running the day-to-day functions of the lab. But depending on what the technology is and what it does, if they’re running very precise experiments and need to keep conditions consistent, they might not be interested no matter what. If that invention could affect replication efforts, could mess with results, etc, it’s hard for them to take the risk when the potential costs are higher than the benefits.

    2. Simone R*

      Lab managers tend to be the people who make these decisions in larger labs. How common is the task? Make sure you’re reaching out to labs that will definitely use it. I think networking would work much better than cold emailing though-if you don’t have a connection to people I think they’d be unlikely to want to spend time and effort on testing this for you as most people are pretty busy. Selling it as a “collaboration” to another engineering lab might be your best bet.

    3. Stelmselms*

      Is there a Commercialization or Technology department within the Research Office at the campus? As an administrative office, they work with the different academic units/colleges on campus and might be able to help push this out to the labs more broadly.

    4. selina kyle*

      Email lab or building managers, those are going to be the people who will actually (possibly) email back or be able to make those decisions. Good luck – it’s pretty tough to get in from outside academia honestly. :/

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I know someone who owns a company making lab equipment. The local university here recently had a big expansion of engineering labs, and his company supplied a lot of that equipment. He already has ties to the university (and I’d assume other universities or private labs). Could partnering with a company like that be an avenue?

    6. fposte*

      I’m not in hard science, but I’d say your ROI on emails is going to be tragically low. In my area I would consider trying a conference–see if there’s a state-level one, where things are lower key–where you can grab somebody face to face and treat them to coffee. There may also be in-conference messaging or postings where you can post this as a query. Yes, you would have to pay to attend the conference (though often you can get a day pass), but that’s part of the point–that would be a demonstration of your commitment and that you’re not just asking for a favor at no cost to you.

      1. Southern Ladybug*

        This is a great idea. I’m not in a lab science either, but am academia/academia adjacent. I get a lot of emails trying to sell me things/post content/etc that I would miss something like what you described b/c i just don’t read past the subject/first line if it’s not from someone I know already. Too much email coming in.

    7. Dalia524*

      I’m a lab manager, and I’m the one who connects with vendors, places orders, etc. You definitely want to talk to lab/building managers, post docs, technicians, or students. My university also has “vendor days” where we can go talk to various vendors, large and small, about their products, and they give out samples, do demos, etc.

      You can try going to the building if access isn’t restricted. It’s pretty aggressive, but it’s normal. Most lower level scientists are too polite/shy to blow you off to your face. If you have specific departments or professors you’d like to work with, you might be able to figure out who’s in their lab by looking at their papers. Email addresses are usually available on a public database. If you can get a contact, you can say you want to do a “demo lunch”… aka buy pizza and all of the graduate students will show up.

      1. Hermione*

        Oh demo + free food always brings graduate students. Have a veggie-friendly option. Weirdly, 60% of my grad students were either vegan or vegetarian (social sciences).

      2. Ms. Mad Scientist*

        Please don’t go around walking in random labs. We get those from time to time and I hate it.

        It’s also typically not effective. Hand me a catalog, I’ll throw it in the trash.

        It’s better to do the product shows.

    8. Hermione*

      As someone who used to work as a dept. admin supporting faculty, I used to get 10-15 of cold e-mails per week. You would be better off contacting lab managers than faculty, but I expect you would have better luck with personal in’s, if you have any mutual connections. Maybe attend a lecture if a ranking faculty member holds one, and then talk to them afterwards? Graduate students sometimes are less spammed, they might bring it up if you get in touch with them?

      Also, your e-mail should be super personalized to the person you’re writing.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’ve been admin support in a tech sort of department and would get approached several times per month by entrepreneurs with the “best idea ever”. Usually the faculty just wanted to be shielded from them, because in their experience, none of the queries has been for the best idea ever. I second the advice that the best thing to do is acquire an “in” with a faculty member or lab manager, or someone who hasn’t been deputized to basically screen you out.

    9. Postdoc*

      Can you tell us a little more about what it does? Obviously nothing too specific, but does it deal with bench work or computer work? And does it have to be sterile? How expensive are the reagents that would be used with it? I work in a biomedical lab and it is very very hard to make changes to established protocols. If something is working, no one wants to mess with it. If it is something that has to do with bench work, the time savings would have to be huge for it to be considered. If you are talking about a process where samples need to be sterile, most labs would be hesitant to try a prototype from an unfamiliar company. If reagents are expensive then it is a non-starter at least where I work because they wouldn’t want to risk wasting the reagents. In academia, money is much more precious than time since there are tons of postdocs and grad students who do not get paid overtime.

      1. UpperPylon*

        It is bench work and is nonsterile. It’s an automated pipetting system that leverages computer vision to automatically find 96 well trays and reagent sources. So the reagents cost varies depending on the process run. Initially, I am planning on targeting 3 tasks PCR prep, ELISA prep and bacterial plaque assays (the device has a very easy way to do serial dilutions)

        1. Anon forever*

          How easy is it to calibrate compared to a traditional pipette and does it work with filter tips? If it is easy to calibrate and can use filter tips, I think your best bet might be to get a booth at a conference to demonstrate it. Alternately, you can try to get grad students interested. They tend to get less spam and so are more likely to read your e-mail and they are the ones who will be saving time. But overall it sounds like industry might be a better target than academia.

          1. UpperPylon*

            Thanks for the reply. It can use filter tips. We haven’t automated calibration yet. We plan on using a plate reader and a fluorescent dye to do performance verification and calibration. The results could be compared with a known pipette and entered into the software to allow the machine to make adjustments.

            1. Lora*

              How does it compare to the liquid hangling already out on the market from Eppendorf, Rainin, etc? Universities and nonprofits will care if it’s cheaper, but for industry there’s a lot of validation that you have to be able to beat. I love buying from known large manufacturers because then I don’t have to have the conversation with the FDA that goes like this:

              FDA auditor: What is this?
              Me: A liquid handler. It does our small scale HTS pipetting for us, 96 well plates and stuff.
              FDA: Huh, never seen one like this. What kind is it?
              Me: It’s a prototype from a small local company who designed it from scratch.
              FDA: Uh…where is the UL sticker / manual / validation package / training for operators / SOP / Part 11 compliance documents?
              Me: ….yeah, about that….uhhh…

              vs the conversation I like to have:
              FDA auditor: What is this?
              Me: A liquid handler. It does our small scale HTS pipetting for us, 96 well plates and stuff.
              FDA: Oh, Hamilton. Nice. That must have cost a lot. Where’s the validation binder?
              Me: It’s electronic, here’s the file. Do you need it printed out?
              FDA: Nope, let’s just look at the next unit operation.

              1. Sam Carter*

                I was about to write a very similar reply. What’s your intended market and how is this different from the well known automated liquid handlers already on market? If you haven’t already established a quality and validation system, your preliminary data won’t carry you very far. It sounds like you should hire a consultant (expensive, yes, but necessary).

              2. UpperPylon*

                Thanks for the question. Basically, it is very stripped down and basic compared to the liquid handling systems on the market. The goal is to make a system that is in the same ballpark cost wise as a set of handheld electronic pipettes. There are no fixed positions for trays or reagents and the user interface will be an image of the working area. Commands are given by click and dragging on objects highlighted in the image. There is no programming or syntax.

                While we don’t have any of that documentation now we have team members that have cleared these hurdles for other pieces of lab equipment currently on the market. This is something we will need to think about going forward thanks for bringing it up!

            2. Mike C.*

              Is this calibration method certified? I used to do a ton of ISO 17025 pipette calibration, and the idea of using a “reference” pipette seems like a really bad idea to me.

              1. Postdoc*

                I would be hesitant to use a pipette that is not directly calibrated. For the experiments I do, small variation can actually make a huge difference.

                1. UpperPylon*

                  Do you mind telling me how do you currently calibrate your pipettes and how often do you check their performance? I have done some gravimetric calibration with the device and the pipetting can be fully automated but the recording and processing of the data still had to be done by hand. I really appreciate the constructive feedback.

                2. Lora*

                  We have Agilent do it. They have a support service that comes around to collect them. Other places we’ve had Rainin do it because they will do repairs at the same time and if your piston is too messed up (perhaps one of the associates tried to pipette TFA…) they will give you a good deal on a trade-in for one of their brand.

                  I liked Rainin better. Plus for whatever reason, their tips fling really well. Like throwing tips at a dartboard :D

        2. Postdoc*

          The main hurdle will be that initially they will need to the experiments in duplicate (one with your pipetter and one with the old one) in order to validate that they can trust the data. Is it an option to provide some of the reagents as well? I think you are going to have to give them a larger incentive than a free prototype.

          1. UpperPylon*

            Thanks for the follow-up reply. I think that would be possible and I think that is a good idea. I will keep that in mind.

        3. Mike C.*

          It’s been a while since I was a lab rat, but this sounds like something lots of labs already have.

    10. Sutemi*

      Do you need to test it in an academic lab? Why not industrial research (Phama, etc.)?

      In academia, labor is cheap but dollars for equipment and automation are limited. In industry, labor is expensive but there is a lot more money and emphasis on ROI, time savings, automation etc.

      1. UpperPylon*

        We believe industrial research has invested in large-scale expensive solutions to the problem we are attempting to solve. We are offering a barebones prototype for free in return for their time essentially so it made sense to us to offer it to institutions with surplus time.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I think you’re a step or two ahead of yourself. Contacting faculty (or lab managers) is what you need to do when you’ve got a commercial product – something that’s been tested and certified and calibrated. What you’re doing now is asking for free prototype testing for your future product, which is something that is going to cost time and money, for no reward on their part. The possibility of a cheap product, sometime in the future, if it works and makes it to market, is not an incentive.

          Graduate students and postdocs, the people who are going to be doing the actual work, don’t typically have a lot of free time to give away (and neither do the lab managers and faculty).

    11. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      In my experience, academics across the board are just terrible at replying to email. I know that sounds like a generalization, but it’s been true for me across schools, across geography, across area of expertise… heck, even when I literally just need a bit of info so I can send them money we owe them, it’s hard to get a response. I don’t even have any advice, other than maybe to reach out to parts of the school that might interact with external partners more (maybe business office? facilities? idk) and asking them who to reach out to?

    12. PNW Dan*

      I’m at a community college (no research) and *I* get a ridiculous amount of cold email from people selling lab equipment. I can’t imagine how much of this actual research professors get.

      Your best bet is to get to conferences to meet with the researchers (professors, post docs and grad students) in person, in the vendor hall.

    13. Nye*

      Do you have any personal contacts in academia? If you know Prof. X, and she suggests you might work with Dr. Y and is willing to connect you with him, I think you’ll have better luck than cold emailing. I get cold emails fairly regularly, and if they’re not either a) from someone I know and respect, or b) super-specifically targeted at my work and clearly sent by someone who did their homework, I’m not going to respond. There’s just not enough time to respond to every out-of-the-blue request, and they tend to be big time sinks rather than ultimately useful.

  4. Green Buttons*

    I recently went through an interview process for a Teapot Marketing job. Right before the second interview with the VP, the hiring manager said that there was re-organization on the team and the position was no longer part of the picture.

    Today, I noticed that there was a job posting for a Teapot Developer within the same department, but within a different team. I felt like I had a good repore with my original interviewer and would have gotten the job if circumstances didn’t change. Should I reach out and ask if she can connect me to the hiring manager for the Teapot Developer positions?

    My concern is that my skills were very aligned with the Teapot Marketer position and only somewhat aligned for the Teapot Developer role. I think it’s still something I’d be able to do, and I’d like to go into development, but it might come off as strange that I want to apply for something that doesn’t completely reflect my experience. I’m also not sure about asking the Marketing hiring manager to refer me when I’ve never actually worked with her.

    Your insights are appreciated!

    1. Infinity Anon*

      I don’t think it is weird to apply. You can explain in your cover letter why you are interested and why you think you are a good fit even though it isn’t obvious from your resume. I wouldn’t ask the other interviewer to recommend you though. You don’t actually know them either professionally or personally. They are basically an acquaintance.

      1. Green Buttons*

        Feel free to correct me. I 100% knew that wasn’t right when I wrote this out, but failed to edit. Ugh.

    2. Haley*

      I think you should do exactly what you suggested – reach back out and say you’re still really interested in working for the company, and I think I also have the skills suited for the Teapot Developer position (briefly explain which skills) and if she would be willing to connect you. Wouldn’t be weird at all.

  5. Monsters Of Men*

    Story time! Tell me about your annoying coworkers! I am frustrated with one of mine but I would rather just commiserate than vent!

    1. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Two of my co-workers are LOUD talkers. They usually come into the lunchroom around the same time I’m in there on a break. They are not hard of hearing, just came from loud talking families (I heard one of them actually say that.) You can hear them through heavy walls that are banked by soda/vending machines, and when one of them gets excitable about a subject, she goes louder, and louder, and louder. But boy…they can surely speak very quietly when they are gossiping about someone! Sigh….I just want to read my book.

      1. SNS*

        I switched offices a couple months ago to escape loud talkers and then we did some office shuffling again this month and now different loud talkers are in the office next to mine. I swear it’s inescapable

        1. starsaphire*

          Oh dear skies, the loud talkers.

          There’s one whose cube is back-to-back with mine. And he’s always on the phone, and he is always shouting.

          I can do nothing about this because:
          * He is doing technical support.
          * …in another language.
          * …for field service personnel, who are generally in noisy rooms.

          My job, of course, requires sharp focus and attention to detail, which for me means relative quiet, or something predictable that I can filter out.

          Thank goodness for classical music, up loud, on YouTube and Pandora…

      2. Sara*

        Oh there’s a woman in my office that is so so loud. She’s a nice enough person but ALWAYS has some sort of drama in her life. And she’ll tell the same story like five or six times to different people, but because she’s so loud, you just hear it over and over. I’ve only snapped once when she was complaining (repeatedly) about a client and told her “Get over it!”. Fortunately, everyone else was annoyed too and laughed at me saying “If Sara’s at her limit, you know you’ve gone too far”, so she went back to her office to work.

        1. Language Student*

          I know someone like that – not so much the drama, but the retelling the same story loudly, individually, to like 5 different people who are all in the same room. The stories aren’t that bad! It’s just hearing them so often that’s a bit grating.

        2. Kalamet*

          My office has a chronic complainer. I used to sit near him and he complains all the time – in casual chitchat, on phone calls to clients, in staff meetings. He will occasionally circulate through all of the team’s cubicles and recite the same complaints over and over. The most common complaint, of course, is how he doesn’t have time to get anything done. *eyeroll*

      3. Ama*

        Heh. We’re still getting used to our new office (we actually have more space per person, but the layout is such that sound carries a lot further than it did in our old one), and the two loudest talkers (who, unfortunately, are also two of the people whose jobs require a lot of conversations) have been out of the office all week. Everyone has been commenting on how quiet it is. I like them both but it has been a welcome break.

        1. Troutwaxer*

          Maybe you can decorate your new office with some kind of fabric art, which will hopefully absorb some of the sound. And maybe some plants, real or otherwise.

        2. As Close As Breakfast*

          Sometimes office acoustics are mind boggling! My coworker in the office next to me is a loud talker that has daily Skype calls with her family back in her home country.* So for 1-3 hours a day I get to listen to her yell with family and friends in a foreign language. Sometimes she’s in her office right next to me. Other times she’s in the kitchen at the other end of the hall from my office, and somehow it’s louder when she’s way down the hall than right next to me! At least those days I can close my office door and the sound doesn’t reverberate through the wall like it does when she’s in her office. Sigh.

          * Nothing to be done about this as she’s the company owners wife. Double sigh.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        One of my coworkers randomly switches to whispering parts of her conversation. Like, she’ll be having a normal conversation, and then she switches over to whispering for only parts of it. I hate whispering, so the whispered parts of the conversation are really grating for me to listen to. Also it’s distracting from the conversation, because part of my mind is occupied with trying to figure out what distinguishes the parts that she whispers from the parts where she uses her normal voice, and I haven’t figured it out yet.

        1. Specialk9*

          That would be so distracting. If someone whispers something like “Sharon and her manager are ((very… close))” or “they’re, you know, ((black))” you know that they’re being gossipy or racist. If someone says “you open this folder, ((then you right click on File)), then zoom out to 125%” I’d be sitting there trying to figure out why they are whispering and if there’s some right-click scandal I missed and aah¡, and miss everything they’re saying.

      5. So Very Anonymous*

        I have a colleague who is a loud and frequent talker who seems to punctuate every other sentence with a piercingly loud nervous laugh.

      6. Anonforthis*

        One of my colleagues has the loudest, shrillest, shriekiest laugh EVER. And she laughs as a nervous tic. I know she can’t help it but it is legitimately nails on a chalkboard for me. It’s so loud, it just cuts over everything. 100 people could be talking at once and her laughing would carry over all of them.

    2. Nervous Accountant*

      The creepy coworker who is known for taking as much free food and snacks as possible, sometimes not leaving anything for others.

      The girl who randomly bursts out laughing super loud. We’re a relaxed casual office but god this is too much.

      The new dude who randomly forwards me an email
      W no background no msg.

      For now that’s about it.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I had a coworker who I never saw do or say anything remotely impolite in any other situation, but he would lose his mind if free food was involved.

        His manners in any other situation were impeccable, but if there was a buffet, he was always the first person at the front of the line (even if other people were holding back to allow, say, a guest or other honoree to go first). He would pile up his plate until it was conspicuously more than anyone else was taking, and he was territorial about the leftovers. The admins would put everything in the fridge after an event, and he would go to the fridge, like, six times compared to one or two visits by everyone else. He would declare that he was taking home items that we planned to save as leftovers that everyone could eat the next day.

        He even showed up early to a reception at the department head’s house. The hot catered food was still covered because none of the guests had arrived yet, and he announced to the hostess, “I guess I’ll go ahead and get started”, and he just uncovered everything and fixed himself a plate.

        It still boggles my mind. I’ve seen other people be impolite about food before, but they all had other noticeable issues with their manners besides just that. He’s the only one I’ve ever met who has really good manners in every other respect but just can’t control himself when it’s about competition over food.

        1. LAI*

          I had a similar coworker. When we had leftovers from events, we would go around the office and notify everyone else first, because if she got there first, there’d be nothing left for anyone else.

        2. Specialk9*

          Any chance that guy was going hungry? Like the lady who wrote in that she was living on office cupcakes?

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            No, he was part of a group that I would eat lunch with, and he always had nice leftovers from the previous day’s meal or else we would go to a restaurant and buy lunch. He and his wife are both well paid professors (not that that precludes someone having trouble that might lead to food insecurity — you never know based on income alone). But I saw evidence that he was regularly eating well, but he had some sort of issue around competition for free stuff (I only ever saw it in relation to food, but who’s to say if it might also have come out if there was anything else laid out and free for the taking).

            1. Pamalamadingding*

              I work at a university and free food is the siren call to all academics, apparently. If you feed them, they will come. Perhaps this guy suffers somea carryover from ramen/starving student days?

            2. NS*

              Could be that he had food insecurity for a long time in the past – a friend of mines dad who was in the army in China is like this with food. Her mom has to separately serve him and portion out his leftovers or he’ll eat everything, even if he’s not hungry because for a long time he had to eat quickly and as much as he could because he there wouldnt be anything left if he didn’t.

        3. Green T*

          We had a guy that would eat the leftovers out of the garbage can. Someone thought there wasn’t enough left to keep and tossed the remaining cake into the garbage. He stood at the garbage can to eat the cake.

        4. Maybe?*

          Oh, this reminds me! Background:
          my brother loves sampling everything he can, and would be that person taking everything from a buffet

          Story: The head honcho’s secretary had a charity Christmas thing every year – house all decked out, catered, etc. Thousands of employees work there, so we wouldn’t recognize each other from Adam, and it wasn’t an advertised thing, more for the higher ups. One of my closer co workers somehow was talking to the secretary one day, and she told her to come by and see the decorations. The invitation was extended to us through that in a “yeah, let anyone interested know” kind of way. It was last minute so I didn’t go (I wasn’t sure how legit it was). The next year, we were told in advance and there was a flyer. Now, this was more of a “come see the house decorations” not “be at the charity event” (again, that was for higher ups or big hitters in the community) so I thought the charity event was the next evening. My brother and I were out and about, and I said, hey, let’s check it out. There are a lot of people there, so I think “good, we’re not alone” we walk in, see some decorations, then I notice the head honcho about and start getting suspicious. Then I notice the catering trays, and my brother near them. I manage to quietly but effectively relay the message to him with just hard looks: DO NOT EAT FROM THE BUFFET. Then I just succinctly told him “we have to go” he was like “but are there more decorations upstairs?” “We have to go now”

          I explained to him in the car, and he asked “So… Did we basically just do a home invasion?”

          And that’s how I accidentally did a holiday home invasion.

    3. all aboard the anon train*

      One of my coworkers thinks he’s knowledgeable about everything and is, in fact, knowledgeable about nothing. On top of that, he’s a huge mansplainer (he once tried to mansplain my second language’s alphabet to me despite the fact that he doesn’t even speak it). He gets really angry (pounding on desks angry) if you try to correct him about something, especially if you’re a woman.

      He also loves to call himself an ally to every cause but has so many unconscious biases. He’s so obvious about trying to get to know all the women in the office and gets snippy when they don’t want to spend time eating lunch with him or chatting when he stops at their desk. He likes to try and hang out with some male coworkers who he thinks are “cool bros”, but these guys avoid him like the plague. He’s so annoying that everyone tries to avoid working with him or talking to him.

      Basically, he’s a creep and annoying and no one likes him, and he’s managed to skate under management’s radar because there are other people who are so bad at their jobs that he looks good in comparison.

      1. fposte*

        Heh. I have a colleague known for painful and uninterruptable long-windedness who once cornered several women to tell them how awful misogyny was and how important it is they tell him if he’s ever being anti-feminist. Um, kind of now?

      2. College Career Counselor*

        The first part of that makes me think, “Holy Dunning-Kruger Effect, Batman!” (D-K developed tests to determine that, among other things, the MOST incompetent/unskilled among us also think that they’re among the top at whatever that skill may be.)

      3. Lady Kelvin*

        Do we work in the same office? Because that’s my guy too. We (the girls) strategize on how to interact/avoid him and use lots of AAM and Captain Awkward scripts to set boundaries.

    4. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      The guy behind me who continually pops his gum. Or incessantly clicks his pen. Or utters every though out loud.

      The woman who always talks in a baby voice.

      Or the woman who giggles after every word.

      The guy who slams stuff around and cusses, top volume, whenever he’s slightly inconvenienced.

      1. Thrillho*

        My boss is a sociopath and a bully, and doesn’t know how to be nice in a normal, human-emotion-having way. So when she encounters a situation in which a normal person would act nice in a normal way, she talks in this really obnoxious, really high-pitched baby voice. She also does this to condescend to people, so sometimes you have to play a guessing game about which situation you’re in. Needless to say, I’m job searching.

    5. Janine Willcall*

      I have a coworker who asks questions about me to lead-in to trying to show off his knowledge. An example:

      Annoying Guy: Hey, I see that you have an Eiffel Tower desk toy. Have you been to France?
      Me: Yes, I–
      AG: I know all about France. Let me list all the cities in France for you.
      Me: No, please–
      AG: Paris. Nice. Normandy. Lyon. Lille. Rennes.

      And so on. Repeat for any topic he wants to talk about…

      1. Jesca*

        Haha wait. Are you being facetious or is that exactly how the conversations go? Like he just walks over and brings up some country and then starts naming off its cities? Haha omg. I score waayyyy too low in agreeableness to tolerate that at the time, but would see laugh about it later!

        1. Janine Willcall*

          OK, OK, not literally. In reality he’ll say something like “Have you been to Paris? Nice? Lyon? Lille? Rennes? Normandy?”

          I have to cut him off mid-list all the time, but it does make for a good laugh later!

      2. Argh!*

        My old food nazi baited me this way. “Ooooh that smells good. What is it?” Me: stupidly tells food nazi what I’m going to eat at my desk. Food nazi: “Do you know how much cholesterol is in that, not to mention calories?”

        Yes, I do. Go back to your desk and switch to annoying us with your vegetable-induced loud-as-a-freight-train farting!

    6. Just a thought*

      My last job one of the managers in my department really liked to talk but wasn’t good about reading social cues. He would wander around the office telling everyone the same story that was super interesting to him and really boring to everyone else. When I left he was taking karate with his family. My sister is a black belt in Taekwondo and I know more about his karate than I ever did about her Taekwondo.
      Then he would complain about all the work he had to do. He also came in at 9 and left at 4, would make kind of racist/misogynist comments, and stupid jokes.

      1. Lissa*

        I first read that as “liked to talk about how he wasn’t good at reading social cues” and was like “hmm…self awareness at least?”

    7. Thlayli*

      Omg I worked with this guy once who was the laziest person ever. There were 3 of us in the team at the time and he was the most junior. The other member and I were both assigned a number of tasks to manage when our boss went away for a couple weeks and somehow we both got the impression he was working for the other. She sat beside him I was over he partition. After 2 1/2 days the other coworker said to me “what is Fergus doing for you every time I look at his screen he’s on hotmail”. That was when we discovered he hadn’t actually been assigned any work and he was sitting there knowing the two of us were working our butts off trying o get through our work and our bosses work and he was doing NOTHING! For 2 1/2 days.
      Another time I had made a spreadsheet containing a bunch of info for a project. Client asked me in a meeting to tell him the total from about 8 pieces of work – which equates to 8 lines in this spreadsheet. This was at a meeting and I didn’t have access to the laptop so I emailed him on my blackberry told him exactly where to look to the detail even of which line to look at and expected an answer back in 5 mins. Nothing. Meeting ended, told the client I would send on that info, went back to office with my boss, and told my boss I Could get it in two mins and send on. My boss by this stage was suspicious of Fergus having been Told about previous issues and he told me explicitly not to do it as it had been assigned to Fergus and I shouldn’t be doing his work for him.
      I mentioned it to Fergus when we got back and he fobbed me off that he was too busy doing a different task but would do it by the end of the day (to reiterate this was literally adding 8 lines in an existing spreadsheet – 5 mins max to do it and send the email.
      Towards the end of the day Fergus sends out an email to all the members of the team, attaches the spreadsheet (which had been stored on the drive so already accessible to everyone in our organisation), and included the info in the cover email. So technically he did eventually do the task.
      When I opened the spreadsheet he ha put in all manner of fancy formatting to make it look pretty which did not add any info as it was already perfectly clearly delineated and he made the email sound as if he had produced the spreadsheet.
      He got loads of praise from the client for producing such a useful spreadsheet.
      I told my boss exactly what had happened. He was well aware of what a lazy so-and-so Fergus was but he never got fired or reprimanded to my knowledge.

    8. NicoleK*

      My annoying coworker does the following: is running late/behind 90% of the time, tells me schedule changes last minute (I’m lucky if I get 24 hr notice that she needs the day off, has an offsite meeting, needs to leave early and etc), needs CONSTANT reassurance due to her anxiety, barely knows how to operate her computer (I’ve become her back up IT support by default), and frequently ask me if I’m okay.

      Yes, I’ve spoken to her about the last minute schedule changes. And nothing has changed. It’s just her and I and we need to work closely together.

      1. Anon for this*

        I have huge anxiety about asking for time off because of a toxic boss who the more notice I gave came up with more reasons I couldn’t have the time. I was refused time off to move house because having to take time off work proved I was disorganized, when it was agreed with HR that I was to take two weeks together to use time I was owed and get away from work demanded I come in on two random days in the two weeks which would have meant I didn’t have even a whole week off. And said it was my fault i needed to come in until i said I’d have to involve HR to change the agreement.
        It made me put everything off until the last minute that even now 5 years on with reasonable bosses I annoy them (less often now) by asking at the last minute. I promise I’m getting better but it is hard still. If possible, maybe check out why everything is last moment. I’ve said it to current boss and apologised because I can trust them and it is making me better.

    9. k8*

      if i send the visual designer a few messages on slack at once, he only reads the very last one . . . like . . . are you ignoring me on purpose? do you not see the other messages? are you just assuming they aren’t important?? drives me nuts

      1. Turquoisecow*

        I’ve worked with many people who, if you send an email with more than one question, will answer only one.

        Even if you write it out in bullets like
        1. Question one
        2. Question two
        3. Question three

        They will reply to either the first or the last (usually the first because they can’t be bothered to read anything) and then I have to write back something like “ok thanks for answering question 1. What about…?”

        It’s best to not ask question 2 until one has been answered. And don’t send multiple emails, they’ll assume they’re all on the same topic and only answer one.

        1. LAI*

          I have to say I was guilty of this recently. I read all of the questions, I just didn’t want to answer one of them because it would require me to use political capital with another office that I didn’t want to use. So I just answered the first question and pretended I didn’t see the other one. So far, I seem to have gotten away with it.

        2. DaniCalifornia*

          My boss does this. He will even answer a question with yes or no, when that is not an actual answer to my question?

          Me: Would you prefer green or red teapots? How many teapots do you need?
          Boss: Yes

        3. Kate*

          Yes! OMG! This has happened to me so many times with certain people that I started doing 1 question per email only. When you ask more than one it’s like they instinctively answer the least important question.

        4. Someone else*

          This is especially infuriating when doing software support.
          Does the error happen when you do A or B?
          Is there anything in the log file?
          Does it happen to all users or just one?

          Response: Just one. Is there anything else I can check to help you figure this out?

          Yes, the other two things I already asked about.

    10. is this day over yet?*

      My one coworker thought it would be cool to basically word vomit to me about every. single. issue. in her life (which really just amounted to, “Oh gosh I’m so in love with my boyfriend but I don’t know if we’re boyfriend-girlfriend, but gosh it’s so awful!”) and then told me that she thought all of my friends were awful people after I invited her out with us one night and she proceeded to explicitly tell me that she has, “so many amazing people in my life that I already don’t make the time for, so I sure as hell don’t want to spend it with people I don’t like.”

      Honestly, I had let a lot of her comments go and considered her pretty okay and have been pretty nice about it all even when her chatter distracts me from work, but that last part was the absolute last straw. I don’t mind if you don’t like my friends – not everyone in the world is going to get along with each other – but the attitude really wasn’t necessary. A simple, “they’re just not my type of people,” would have sufficed.

      1. Specialk9*

        I could let it slide that she was annoying, but to be my guest and insult my people? Oh no. Oh hell no. You can go sit on an icicle.

    11. MAB*

      I work in a shared office space. My counter part who is new to the manager title and all the weird social expectations that come with it, is loud, mildly inappropriate regarding professionalism and I know at least one employee that sits next to her has told me they have issues getting things done when she is in. The hardest part about it is she does do good work but since our manager isn’t in the room he doesn’t see the shit that goes down.

      I wear headphones a lot and ignore the bumping party most of the time.

    12. Kiki*

      Everyone on my team is an over-sharer. I know intimate details about a spouse’s alcohol addiction, the failing health of a parent, money squabbles between a co-worker and their siblings…all they know about me is that I’m married with two cats. I like to keep it that way.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Same! Except my boss is the worst of the lot. Did NOT need to know that it’s been 3 years since she’s had sex . . . . or that she reads her 18 year old daughters texts and is convinced the kid is having sex.

    13. Bad Candidate*

      The person training me has no documentation other than her notes, which mean nothing except to her. It would be like leaving yourself a note to buy Chocolate Teapots. You know that you want a dark chocolate, non-GMO, organic teapot, and the brand that they sell at Trader Joe’s. But if you told someone else to buy Chocolate Teapots and didn’t give them all those specificities, you couldn’t be mad that they went and bought a milk chocolate Hershey teapot from Walgreens, could you? Well she does. It’s infuriating. Especially since verbally she’ll say something like “Always get milk chocolate teapots” and when there’s an exception I don’t know about, it’s my fault for not knowing that she didn’t really mean always.

      1. Amy*

        OMG Yes, I work with her currently. “Why did you do X instead of Y?” Because you never mentioned Y once. So I do Y next time. And I get “why didn’t you do G?” Are you kidding me?

        1. Bad Candidate*

          Do you also get the “Well if you weren’t sure, you should have asked”? Um, I am sure you told me to do it this way. And of course if I do ask I get “Why in the world would you do it like that?” Because reason and logic do not apply to anything else I do, why would this be the exception!

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ugh, I worked for a boss like that for a very short time before I ran screaming back to the university. She never knew what she wanted, and we (her employees) were supposed to figure it out. But also, what she wanted was a moving target, so if we ever figured out what she wanted, we also had to intuit that her desires had changed at some point between starting and delivering the project. We could hand her exactly what she had asked for earlier that day, and she would be screaming about how could we not know that she didn’t want that.

      2. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

        Um – did you take my job after I left??? B/c that’s exactly how the person who trained me in my last job was. She was the sole reason I left. When I think about her “training style” and this is the best analogy I can come up with:

        Imagine that you’ve never brushed your teeth before and you’ve never seen someone brush their teethbefore. You’ve never seen a toothbrush or toothpaster or anything. This is how she would teach you to brush your teeth: To brush your teeth you put the toothbrush in your mouth and rub it around. Brushing your teeth is really important for (insert list of reasons) and there’s other stuff you do to take care of your teeth like flossing – that’s when you rub a string between your teeth – and using mouthwash and there’s even these links between flossing and having lower cholesterol, but nobody knows why for sure, but that’s why taking care of your teeth is so important (but this tangent will go on for awhile). Oh – and the first step is picking up the toothbrush and then you rinse your mouth at the end.

        But then it’s totally your fault for not knowing what toothpaste is, where it’s kept, or that’s it’s part of the process at all. Also – you are now fully trained on all aspects of oral health and if there’s stuff you’re unsure about it’s because you don’t have the required comprehension skills and/or are lazy untrainable bum.

        1. Bad Candidate*

          Can’t be, she never gives the reasons why anything is important or unimportant. And some in some instances the brand of toothpaste is VERY IMPORTANT and others it’s of no consequence. If I ask why it is in once case and not in another, she sort of waves off the question and doesn’t answer. I’ve been here four months, I’m already looking for something else.

          1. Sunshine on a cloudy day*

            Oh my person would only touch on the “why” of very random, and what I came to understand, not actually important things. When it came to things that were actually relevant to the job, if I asked why something was the way it was, it was considered a direct insult to her or her intelligence (I was obviously implying that she was doing it wrong all along – really I was trying to understand what I was doing!)

            Ugh… I lasted less than a year. My replacement lasted less than a year. They’re on the second replacement now. I’m morbidly curious to find out how long the second replacement will last and if someone higher up will pick up on this pattern (at the time the trainer was a golden child, could not do wrong, walked on water)

        2. JD*

          Ugh my boss does this. I am about 100x more computer savvy than he is yet he will say “Hey sent Monica an email.” Me: “OK no problem”. Him: “So go to start, open Outlook, click new email…” OMFG!! I want to strangle him every time. I told him once “Are you under the impression I don’t know how to use email”? The reality is that it is how his mind works and how he processes thing but frankly I don’t care, it is demeaning and mind blowingly irritating. Plus it wastes soooo much time. He also MUST reiterate what he says three times at least per conversation. So telling me how to send an email is repeated in three different ways.

          1. Bad Candidate*

            OMG yes, she does that too. Complicated work related things that I have zero experience in get a quick brush over. But how to save a document in Word? Painstaking detail.

    14. Grits McGee*

      I have a coworker that stages overly-complicated and specific potluck competitions at least once a month, and then asks everyone at least once a day what they’re making. I’ve developed whatever the opposite of the Pavlov effect is, in response to people mentioning the words cookie and classic.

    15. Amy*

      Clicky McPenclicker. All day every day and in meetings too. I’m going to stab her with it one day.

      Also, condescending to fellow women, but talks little girl talk to men. At least I don’t have to deal with her all day.

      1. Jesca*

        OMG to your second topic, I have so many of these women in my already male dominated and heavily misogynistic work place. And I just want to grab them and shake them and tell them to stop making it so hard for the rest of us who actually want to move up in the company!

      2. crookedfinger*

        Ugh, I hate the “little girl talk” to men thing. One of my coworkers does that, and her “little girl persona” is also a major ditz who is super gullible. She’s not dumb or even particularly gullible, she just thinks this persona is endearing or something. I don’t know. I like her when she’s being normal, it’s simply an annoying quirk I guess? So weird.

        1. JD*

          I’ve never had anyone offended by asking them to stop clicking their pens. Some thing are difficult to bring up but the offenders know that a.) they don’t realize they are doing it and b.) it is an all around annoying habit. I often ask my boss to stop and he just says “oh sorry”.

    16. Jadelyn*

      The coworker across the hall from me listens to her music, which is always the twangiest country music you can possibly imagine, super loud. Asking her to turn it down gets it turned down by about half a degree for about ten minutes, then it goes right back up. I’ve given up and just keep my office door closed most of the time now, and play my own Pandora stations on my computer when her music leaks through the closed door anyway.

      1. Specialk9*

        I don’t understand why you haven’t started loudly listening to thrash metal (with ear plugs in if necessary).

    17. anon this time*

      I have a coworker who:
      -Does virtually no work
      -Comes and goes out of the office at odd hours without informing anyone
      -Tells clients that parts of her job are my job
      -When she does accomplish something, tells everyone in the office individually about it
      -Chooses not to learn any parts of her job that she isn’t interested in
      -When anyone needs any information from her, stalls them out for weeks because she doesn’t know
      -Brings her small, poorly behaved children into the office and allows them to run amok, often breaking things and hurting others
      -Leaves piles of dirty dishes all over every surface in the breakroom
      -Snoops into private email and uses the contents for blackmail
      -Gets paid a ridiculous salary
      -Sucks up to the boss big-time and is one of her favorite employees

      This is not an exhaustive list.

    18. Applesauced*

      We just shifted desks around, and I went from back-to-the wall in a quiet corner to back-to-back next to a busy aisle (ugh). The guy who I’m back-to-back with is on the phone half the day, and then reads everything under his breath the rest of the time.

    19. Language Student*

      I was the weird coworker this week. Accidentally sent kisses to a coworker when he texted me (force of habit – I don’t text much, and everyone I *do* text is family or close enough to use kisses with!) and I am mortified and hoping he’s not uncomfortable/going to hit on me next time I see him.

      1. Anion*

        Next time you see him, just laugh and apologize. “By the way, sorry about those kisses I texted you–force of habit.” It’s highly unlikely he’s never done something similar.

      2. JD*

        One time out of habit I said to a client “ok thank you, love you bye.” I just paused, he paused and we cracked up. He said “habit huh” and I explained prior to him i had been talking to my boyfriend.

    20. Crylo Ren*

      At my current employer the woman who sits in the cube kitty-corner from me has a laugh that sounds like a donkey with bronchitis. The funny thing is though, she has a perfectly pleasant and normal speaking voice, which makes her laugh even more jarring. I jump out of my skin every time.

      At my last employer the person who sat right next to me was a scream sneezer.

      1. crookedfinger*

        I used to have a co-worker who everyone referred to as “the Rooster” because her laugh sounded like one. You could always tell she was in the office, at least.

      2. Lora*

        I think I went to undergrad with this person. At one point our genetics professor told her she should try to control it as it was super-annoying and she got really, really mad because she honestly couldn’t help it. She was totally incapable of a quiet chuckle, it was a smile or all-out crying with laughter. She was a really sweet person though.

      3. MeM*

        I was at a family dinner and kept hearing what I thought was a piece of faulty machinery grinding – like a gear was caught. Turns out it was my new SIL chuckling.

    21. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      I have a reply-aller. Luckily she isn’t in my department, so I don’t have to deal with it all the time, but I dread division wide emails. And the things she says in her reply-alls are inane too! Just stuff like “thanks for the info!” A) you didn’t need to send that email at all and B) you definitely didn’t need to send it to all 70 people in our division.

      1. Opalescent Tree Shark*

        Oh, and I also have an incessant question asker! I almost forgot about her but she just popped her head into my office. She does great work when she’s out in the field, but when she gets back to the office, it’s just a constant stream of “How was your week? Who made the schedule? How does this process work? Where do I find X? What is Y? Why was Z written on this form?” Which might seem like valid work questions except that she either doesn’t need to know the answers to those to do her job or she should definitely already know the answer.

      2. Monsters Of Men*

        We had one of those when I worked in municipal government, and we accidentally had a chain going for about 6,000 employees regarding a golfing weekend (yep.)

        The city manager’s assistant sent out a cease and desist email.

        My coworker thought someone was taking a shot and sent back, reply all, “Cease and desist? What nonsense is this. Stop replying.”

        She was mortified to learn it came from the top of the top. Hilarious.

        Then two weeks later, someone resurrected it as a joke, and the union had to be called in about it. Ah, good times.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Ha. Not anything near as splendid an example as yours, but we had a 300-person email in our college for people to offer freebies or items for sale, ask to borrow a ream of green copy paper, etc. Sometimes people would get snippy about others replying to all once they’d entered the into a transaction with one individual, and they’d send a “Stop replying to all” email. Then someone else would send a snarky, “Stop replying to all to say ‘Stop replying to all'”, and it would get out of hand from there.

      3. copy run start*

        I used to work in an office with several reply-allers! Every time there was a mass email you’d have 5 – 6 reply alls from them alone. Ignore Conversation quickly became my favorite Outlook feature. :)

    22. Professional Cat Herder*

      I just found out yesterday that not only did a former coworker I hated actively prevent me from doing parts of my job, she also made fun of my physical appearance to her direct reports, who I have a very good relationship with.

      So happy she got fired.

    23. crookedfinger*

      One of my coworkers on the next cube over is an older guy in his 70s who loves to talk on the phone. He calls his mom and/or wife every day and at loud volume asks about their health problems, talks about his own health problems (like, I know way more about this dude’s urinary health than I ever should…). He’s one of those people who acts like he’s afraid of people stealing his money, yet loudly reads out his credit card number/SSN/birthdate over the phone so our whole side of the office can hear it. He also spends ridiculous amounts of time arguing over small fees to his card – he once spent over an hour with some poor CSR trying to get them to reverse a $5 charge! And this guy is wealthy!

      Which brings me to an amusing conversation we had after Halloween… he was talking with his assistant and me about the hundreds of trick-or-treaters he got at his house and she was lamenting only getting a couple. I mentioned that people in this city would drive their kids to the rich suburbs for trick-or-treating because they got better candy that way.

      Him: Well I’m not in a rich neighborhood…
      Me: Where do you live?
      Him: [richest suburb city in the area]
      Me: …You’re in a rich neighborhood.
      Him: Now just wait a minute.
      Assistant: Didn’t you tell me your house is worth over a million dollars?
      Him: Well yes, but I bought it for $200,000 twenty years ago…

    24. Master Bean Counter*

      I have sportsball guy. He’s a rabid fan of all things sports. But that’s not the annoying part. His ring tone, and yes the fact that I know what his ring is in itself annoying, is the fight song for his college team. He also likes to sing along, badly, to the fight song. I get treated to this at least once a day.

      1. nonegiven*

        I started calling it sportsball. I can’t keep track of what sportsball season it is, anyway. My husband isn’t into sportsball, either.

        1. Specialk9*

          Love it. I’m totally into playing sportsball, and even sportspuck and such, but could. Not. Care. Less. About watching grown stranger men playing sportsball.

    25. HigherEd on Toast*

      I have a colleague who will not shut up about how busy she is- even though most of us are equally busy (we all teach the same number of classes, have almost the same number of students, have the same number of mandatory meetings, etc.), we somehow manage to find the time to do things like reply to e-mails within 24 hours and meet deadlines. Not her! The response to an e-mail is often a single word “Busy!” that feels really curt, and she spends more time complaining because someone has asked her to submit a form that’s late than it would take to fill out the form. Also, since her office is right next to mine, I can hear how much time she spends on personal phone calls and conversations with students that don’t address school issues but are about her/their personal lives. It’s like, okay, you can spend literally an hour talking (in a loud voice) about your mental health issues but you can’t send me a one-sentence e-mail that would answer the question I had? (I have tried talking to her in person, but it usually evolves into at least a 10- or 15-minute conversation about how busy she is, and how sad she is, and how hard it is to be as awesome as she forces herself to be).

      It really is a lesson in that the person who’s always rushing around and screaming about how busy they are usually isn’t the most productive person.

    26. Lissa*

      I once supervised somebody who would get angrily defensive when you asked her to do a task, and say something like “I was just *getting* to that!” Basically always had this attitude that I was nagging her or being unreasonable. Also, any time she asked a question it would go like this Her: Is Sara working today? Me: No, she’s off until Friday. Her: I was *just asking*. Me: And I was just telling you…

      It was super weird and made me paranoid about my tone and interactions in general…

    27. Aunt Jemima*

      My supervisor is a TOTAL over-sharer. Her most common topics of conversation are:

      1.) Her 5 1/2 year old’s ongoing issue with having still having potty accidents every day. The verbiage she uses ranges from “she doesn’t totally wet herself, she just has leaks” to “I did some research and think that some of her (names several private women’s parts) are physically tilted, incorrectly placed, etc. causing her to still have accidents at her age.”
      2.) She tells me EVERY SINGLE DETAIL when she has a sick child. The last conversation she told me “Jane was pooping her brains out last night…no, actually she was DIARRHEAING her brains out. It just kept exploding and making a mess every time I’d just given her a fresh pair of undies. I had to keep cleaning her tush up for her because she was too embarrassed.”

      She says all of this at full volume in a small office, btw!

    28. Ange*

      The coworker who can’t take instructions or advice even when she’s asked for it. Even if she knows nothing about the topic, she’ll argue with you that you’re doing it wrong or just ignore what you’re trying to tell her.

    29. emalia*

      At my last job, I had an oversharer and over talker. And even when I had my back toward him, told him I had a deadline, and was clearly working, he’d keep talking. If he didn’t get a hello when he came into the office (cubicles around the outside of the room, open in the middle) because I was in the middle of something, he’d keep saying hello and looking at me.
      He’d also text me on my personal cell phone when I was working from home even though I clearly was on email.
      EVERYTHING was political. Since our organization had a social-justice component, he’d find a way to work in his opinions and outside activist work into EVERY conversation. He had a way of stating his opinion so that if you disagreed, you were some sort of -ist.
      Even though I shut down the personal talk, I still know way more about his relationship with his (now ex-)wife than I care to.
      The most frustrating thing was that the ED and board president LOVED him.

    30. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      One of my co-workers is super negative and wears every frustration on her sleeve. She mutters, mumbles and groans loudly constantly, and at least once a month can be counted on to have a meltdown where she yells/snaps at others on our team or other teams. I do understand her frustration because she’s wholly unsuited for this job (doesn’t have the temperament, soft skill set or technical knowledge) and our management team hasn’t done her any favors by babying her for the past two years. The rest of our team is extremely competent, dynamic and positive, and she seems oblivious to the fact that she’s dragging morale down.

      1. Rainbow Hair Chick*

        I have a co-worker that is so loud you can hear her from one end of the office to the other. She also gets upset easily and slams doors all the time. That scares the crap out of me and really disrupts my focus.

    31. Beancounter Eric*

      The people who like to hang out in the open area near my office and chat…sometimes work, mostly not.

      The people who like to drop in my office so I have to stop whatever I am working on, regardless of priority, to chat…sometimes work, mostly not.

      The people who empty the water cooler and can’t be bothered to load a new bottle…or if it’s too heavy, ask someone else to help.

    32. Hillary*

      My coworker quite obviously has bronchitis. Coughing, throat-clearing, lost his voice, the works. We’ve all been asking him to stay home for two weeks now, but he keeps showing up. It’s finally letting up, but instead of the throat-clearing he’s taken to listening to Christmas music without headphones. I’m not sure which noise is more annoying…

      1. Argh!*

        I’ve had coworkers with chronic coughs that are *not* related to a virus! Years and years and years of enduring that sound constantly. One just would *not* go to a doctor and claimed it wasn’t a problem. But it was a problem for everyone around her!

        1. that broadway nerd*

          I’ll chime in here to say that I cough VERY often, because I have a respiratory disorder (cystic fibrosis). I know that it must be insanely annoying for my coworkers, but it’s truly something I can’t help (and often don’t notice because I’m so used to it). If I feel a really major coughing attack coming on, I’ll go to the bathroom, but most of the times it’s just intermittent coughs. I’m pretty open about it, though, so most of my coworkers are aware that there’s a reason and I’m not just constantly sick. So it’s possible that your coworkers may be dealing with something similar. Or maybe they’re just oblivious.

      2. Liz*

        If I get a cough with my cold, it tends to sit with me for weeks. Going to the doctor will result in a co-pay but nothing useful other than advice to take it easy, and use OTC medication when needed. I keep my hands clean, cough into an elbow, and work from home sometimes, but most days I just have to be in the office. I know it’s annoying – it annoys me too – but I don’t believe it’s contagious. Just annoying,

    33. Mallory Janis Ian*

      For a while, I was the sole occupant of an office that was meant for two people. They finally assigned another person to the empty desk and he moved in.

      Then I noticed that my under-desk trash can was gone, and when I looked for it, I found it under his desk. I took it back, but instead of putting it under my desk, I put it between our desks so we could share it, since apparently there was only one for the office. Every time I would leave the office and come back, I would notice that he had taken the trash can from the shared area and placed it beneath his own desk. I kept taking it back and putting it in the shared area.

      Then he finally asked me if we were having a problem over the trash can! As if it were meant to be his, and I kept taking it! I was trying to share it, and he was trying to make it exclusively his, and it was mine to begin with!

      1. clow*

        Wow, I think I might just dump my trash under his desk, even when he is sitting there, since he loves the trashcan so much.

    34. bridget*

      I generally think that people who get annoyed with traditionally feminine-coded behaviors like uptalk, vocal fry, sitting on a foot, wearing a lot of makeup, etc. are being at best mildly sexist.

      But now I have a new junior colleague who seems like she is trying her damnedest to put out a Barbie Princess/Legally Blonde vibe. She hits EVERY stereotype with exceeding gusto, combining it with fairly childish behaviors and somewhat immature comments, and she’s driving me batty. I didn’t feel like having to introspectively examine my unconscious biases this week, but apparently that’s going to happen.

          1. Footiepjs*

            I don’t know if links to random images get caught in moderation, but google “sitting with one foot tucked under” shows what is meant. Look for people sitting on a chair.

          2. Turquoisecow*

            Sitting on a foot is annoying to others? I’ve done this on occasion, didn’t realize anyone else cared. Or noticed.

            1. bridget*

              In my fairly formal work environment, I have heard people comment on it looking childish or informal. I think there is a bit in Nice Girls Don’t Get The Corner Office about not doing it. Like I prefaced, I think that this alone is a very silly and often gendered complaint for people to have, and I sit on my foot with abandon. Not great for my knees, but whatever. (This coworker also generally has her tongue sticking out while concentrating, which I also read as childish and informal).

              Really, my coworker is irking me because she seems to be aggressively pursuing the vapid/ditzy persona, and I can’t tell if it’s because she’s actually vapid and ditzy or if I’m being judgmental and misogynist.

              1. Elizabeth H.*

                Is it an especially female thing? I agree it’s kind of informal but I too continue to sit on my foot with abandon! Yay! It’s so much more comfortable. I occasionally sit in half lotus (which is my favorite and absolutely most comfortable position to sit in in a chair) but only when nobody can see me.

                1. bridget*

                  I’ve really only noticed women or children do it, but I think that’s probably partially explained by the fact that men tend to be less flexible. My husband can barely sit in a cross-legged position. I do think women get criticized more for tucking themselves up in chairs in various positions.

                  I have my office door closed right now, and my knees are tucked up under my chin cannon-ball style. Guessing my male colleagues don’t do that?

                2. Lison*

                  My male grand boss does this so I never thought of it as being gendered but he is short so I thought it was making himself taller sitting, which is not why I as a taller person does it, it’s just how I sit. So it turns out I am making sexist assumptions and I’ve only realized that right now.

              2. Nines*

                I sit like this all the time! And it never occurred to me that it might annoy people… but I can see it looking a bit childish… oh well! I am usually doing it because my legs are too short to reach the ground on “normal” chairs. I also take off my shoes at work all the time at my desk. Though I try not to do it when others are in my office…

        1. Footiepjs*

          This is best googled because there are articles out there with sound clips to hear what those vocal quirks sound like. I think I’ve seen articles posted on NPR or similar.

          1. Specialk9*

            I have make co-workers who do vocal fry, bad, and it always makes me argue with the world (inside my head, hopefully without weird facial contortions) about how only women are judged for vocal fry and nobody gives a darn when men do it. So obviously I give a darn, but mostly for the point of it. Again, all inside my head.

      1. Chaordic One*

        The thing that annoys me with uptalk is, that when you’re in a mixed group, men seem to respond to it by “mansplaining.” And when that happens my darker self thinks, “Well, you asked for it.”

      2. JD*

        Sitting on a foot annoys people? I am not sure I can stop this habit. Plus I was run over a long time ago so I cannot sit normally I must constantly sit in different positions or the pain becomes unbearable.

      3. ST*

        Vocal fry is pretty common in radio for men – I know that for certain things I use it (though I didn’t know that’s what it is called).

    35. AshK434*

      My coworkers low-key don’t like me bc I’m quiet. Whenever they arrive in the morning, they say hello to everyone but me by name. For example “Hi Jeff!” Or ” ‘Morning Mike” and just walk right by me. Or when multiple ppl take off on Friday, one particular coworker will complain that the day will go slowly because no one is here & acts like I don’t exist. I swear I’m a nice person

        1. Trillian*

          I don’t understand this. You can be outgoing and not be friendly. One does not equate the other. True, quiet does not equate nice either, but there are plenty of outgoing people out there open-minded enough to understand that introverts can be nice people too. Otherwise, you’re making outgoing people sound kind of ignorant and judgemental. Like they are saying, “oh that person didn’t greet me enthusiastically, what a snob.”

      1. Specialk9*

        Uh that’s not low key not liking you, that’s really aggressive and rude. Systematically excluding you and giving you the silent treatment is bullying. Does your manager know they did this?

    36. Elizabeth West*

      This is more a personal beef than a general one, but a coworker at one job would constantly complain about her husband. I mean, constantly. He did this wrong, that wrong, didn’t do this when she wanted this, etc. It really pissed me off. I know when people have been together for a long time that they irritate each other more than during the honeymoon period, but come on. It’s just so disrespectful to your partner to complain about them behind their back to anyone who will listen. I’ve worked in whole offices like this–it seems to be a sport or something. :P

      Plus, it frustrated me to hear it because some of us don’t have anyone to go home to, and her taking it for granted made me feel bad. It was like listening to somebody humblebitch about the broken strap on their Louboutin shoes.

      1. KAG*

        I would interpret it as a humble*brag*: not only do i own expensive shoes, but since they have a broken strap, I have an excuse to wear comfy shoes instead!

    37. Annoyed Admin*

      One of my coworkers yesterday tried to tell me he didn’t know how to run credit cards on our new machine, even though I personally trained him on it. Then said, well, the instructions should be posted by the machine – so I pointed to them, posted right by the machine. Then he said, well you should have told us all of that! And I pointed to the email I sent to all staff, with the instructions attached. I almost kicked him in the shin.

    38. Wendy City*

      There’s the women in my department who sound, no joke, like Tammy and Jocelyn from Bob’s Burgers. There’s the woman directly across from me who only takes calls on speaker phone and never shuts her office door.

      But the be-all-to-end-all is a coworker I have lovingly dubbed Frank Burns due to his resemblance to the character of the same name. A shriveling suck-up with no backbone, who dishes out criticisms with little regard for kindness but becomes incensed and upset when any slight or correction comes his way. He also does things like, when giving me a project that involves designing teapots that go in the front window and will be seen by others, make sure to “jokingly” tell me not to carve curse words into the teapots or leave some kind of glaring error in the spout.

      Thanks, dude, I wasn’t planning on it.

    39. LAI*

      The most highly paid guy in my office is also the most useless. He sidetracks every. single. conversation into theoretical debates about the way things should be in an ideal world, which is not relevant to the way they actually are.

      Me: What should we do about this broken teapot?
      Him: Well, elementary school teachers really need to be teaching kids how to handle teapots more carefully so that they grow up with those skills.
      Me: Right, but THIS teapot is broken right now.
      Him: Yes, and that’s why education is so important. Let’s talk about how we can change societal culture toward teapots…

      1. Hellanon*

        I’ve stopped listening to anybody whose answer to any kind of issue involves a practical “should” going anywhere but forward or a theoretical “should” of any kind. “Well, they should teach kids…” – I don’t care what part 2 is, I’m not interested.

    40. clow*

      I have one who talks down to all the women on the team, but has the least amount of experience (as in…none, this is his first job in the industry). He also is extremely entitled. We have trick or treating on halloween, where employees bring their kids in to go around the office and trick or treat with us at our cubes. I set out candy in a box at my desk and this guy, without asking, grabbed some. I told him that I was planning on sharing out any leftover candy with everyone but that right now, these are for the kids and i want to make sure there is enough. He got really angry and asked me if I was serious, I said “yes, I want to make sure I have enough for the kids and then I will share with everyone” he got annoyed and dumped the candy back in, leaving in a huff. He then complained to my other coworker that I didn’t share my candy with him. Oh and he cuts in line when we get catered food, all the time.

    41. ab*

      The guy I share my office with talks to himself constantly – like he’ll suddenly just start commenting and it’s so abrupt it still startles me even though he started over a month ago! And the weirdest part is that even with that habit, if he wants to say anything to me he’ll send it via our messaging system. I literally sit four feet away from him. He’s a nice guy but I can’t get over the weird habits with communicating!

    42. Jillociraptor*

      I have the Constant Grouser! All day, every day, outbursts to no one, “This makes no sense!” “Why do these guys do it like this?” “This is crazy!”

      Of course, if he took three seconds to read one thread down in the email, or literally ever showed up to the relevant meetings, it would all make perfect sense! (For context: The most recent “This makes no sense!” was for a project he repeatedly refused to go to trainings/info sessions on. The most recent “Why do these guys do it like this?” was for needing a supervisor signature to make a major purchase.)

    43. Sabrina Spellman*

      I have a coworker who works part-time in the office next to me. We could be successfully closed off in our individual offices, but the in-between door is always open so she can ask me questions if she runs into something unfamiliar. This means I get to hear every personal phone call she makes to her boyfriend/brother/mother/sister/aide for her daughter. It’s endless! I’m not sure how she gets anything done.

      I have another coworker, who is older, who ducks out so often for long bathroom breaks or coffeeshop runs.

    44. Jersey's mom*

      In cubicle land, I sit next to the King of Farts. He has worked in this kingdom for over 35 years. He farts all day, every day. So loud, that someone I was speaking to on the phone heard one. So stinky, that people in the corridor make slight gagging sounds. When I started spraying little spritzes of Glade into the air, he asked me to please stop, as the smell bothered him.

      The co-worker on the other side of his cube and I (both female) finally spoke to his boss (a very nice guy) about it. Boss did so, and said that the King had no idea he had been farting up a storm every day.

      The King now goes to his throne a few times a day, and the farting has cut way down.

    45. Marillenbaum*

      Old job had a coworker with some sort of post-nasal drip that he would continually attempt to clear with what I can only describe as a vehement horking noise. It was DISGUSTING and he sat right in front of me. Add in his mediocre work product, whining about not getting the good assignments (even though his work didn’t merit it), and playing Maroon 5 WITHOUT HEADPHONES, I was so glad when he gave notice, even though it was over Christmas and right before our busiest time of the year. (EPILOGUE: Ostensibly, he quit to go to grad school out of state, which is weird because he never mentioned applying, even to his best work friend in an office where leaving to get a degree wasn’t weird. We soon found out he was still in town, and dating an undergrad at our institution–a BIG honking Title IX violation. Considering he’d also failed to complete an important assignment for our boss before he went on extensive PTO, I’m pretty sure he quit before being fired. Even our admins–the nicest ladies on the planet–could speak no good of him after he left.)

    46. Coalea*

      I have several, but I think the worst of the worst is a guy I think of as “Goofus” (of Goofus & Gallant fame). Despite being in the same position for 10 years, he still doesn’t seem to grasp the basics of his role, the industry, or life in general. He seems incapable of taking any action without repeated prompting from our boss.
      Boss: Where are you on the poster for the European Society of Llama Herders? We are coming up on the print deadline.
      Goofus: I’m waiting for client feedback.
      Boss: When is the feedback due?
      Goofus: Two weeks ago.
      Boss: And no response to any reminders?
      Goofus: *blank stare*
      Boss: Have you sent them reminders that the feedback is overdue?
      Goofus: Oh … no … Should I do that?
      Boss: *screams internally*

      1. kas*

        Oh that annoys me! I have a coworker that does that sometimes. She’s really nice but also seems incapable of taking action. If I ask someone for info that I need to finish a project and they don’t get back to me, I have no problem being annoying and sending several follow-up emails. Whereas my coworker will send one and if she doesn’t hear back, she asks me for help. If I work in teapot sourcing, I can’t give her info on teapot reporting, I don’t have access to whatever info she needs.

    47. Ms. Mad Scientist*

      I got a little snippy with one of my coworkers today. He has a habit of trying to tell me to do things that I already know how to do and I’ve told him so. Today’s convo: I was trying to look up something I’d purchased a couple months ago in our order system:

      “You know you can also do [X]”
      “Yeah, I tried that already but didn’t find it”
      “Just go to..”
      “Yes, I tried that, it didn’t work.”

      I shouldn’t have been snippy, but he should listen to me.

    48. kas*

      1. The coworker that talks about her child non-stop. Every conversation ends with her adding something in about her daughter. “Oh you know what she did yesterday?” “Omg guess what word she’s been saying!” “Look at these pictures of her at school.” I can’t take it anymore.

      2. A senior manager who can never be serious. He’s always joking around but I don’t find his jokes funny. Every interaction with him has to include a joke so I try to avoid conversations with him.

    49. Mike S*

      Many years ago, I worked with a guy we’ll call Andy (because that was his name) in IT. Andy was in his late 20s and a bodybuilder. We had also recently hired a late middle aged guy (we’ll call him Fergus, because he didn’t leave much of an impression) as the network administrator. He was the opposite of a bodybuilder. One day as Andy’s riding the elevator to work, one of the CAD operators told him that a bunch of them are mad at him, because a new hire can’t run an app that Andy wrote. Andy found out who it is, and since he had administrator permissions, looked up the employee, saw that their account wasn’t set up correctly, fixed it, and verified that everything is working correctly.
      Then he went to go see Fergus, and lit into him for 1) not setting up the account correctly and 2) not telling anyone when a new user had problems, and letting him take the fall. Fergus’ response was “do you want to step outside and settle this?” Instead, Andy came and told us, with an incredulous look on his face.
      Soon afterwards, Andy left to take a position at another company that he was really excited about. Fergus also ended up pursuing other employment opportunities.

    50. Bibliovore*

      Just this week, I was mansplained by a colleague about progressive education, literacy research, and I kid you not the role of the school librarian. Yes, dear readers, I have been in the field for over twenty five years. It took all my self-control not to just shut him down. We were in a group and I just kept changing the subject.

    51. NewBoss2016*

      I have a co-worker who tries to do the least amount of work possible to get by. Somehow everything that requires the slightest amount of research or follow-up is all of the sudden not her department. She usually foists these things off on our other coworker (in another department) who is an extremely hard worker and very conflict-adverse. I have been seeing nice coworker slowly building up rage for the last few months. It finally came to a head outside my office door this morning, complete with nice coworker slamming a file on a desk, them jerking a piece of paper back and forth, and a glorious dressing down of the work-adverse coworker. Super awkward.

    52. anycat*

      does a manager count? they blatantly ignore me, will go out of their way to not talk to me/include me in things, and will even ignore me in the restroom/hallway if i ask her how they are doing.

    53. Coldbrewinacup*

      People who, when there’s an office potluck, bring in plastic dinnerware or a 2 liter of soda, while others are making cakes from scratch… along those lines, those who NEVER bring anything to the potluck but are going back for seconds and thirds!

      Loud talkers, yes! But what about loud sneezers and loud nose blowers?! Someone in a cube across from me sneezes at the top of her lungs every. time. AAA-CHOOO!! Followed by foghorn nose blowing. Ugh!

      People who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom and then touch food.

      The office know-it-all who thinks she has to babysit everyone. She even makes signs (!!!) that she posts everywhere– “Make sure you close the fridge door!” and “be sure to close the Keurig so the water is ready for the next person!” Stuff like that all over the office. I am waiting for the sign in the bathroom telling me how many squares of TP I can use.

      The office griped/grouch. Ugh. Thoroughly unpleasant man. Makes other people get sodas for him. Ugh

      Sexist comments from my boss, who likes to scare people by jumping out from the side wall of your cube. *eyeroll*

      Thanks for letting me vent. :-)

      1. Old Cynic*

        Heh. I worked once with a woman who was The Organizer.

        She assigned baking birthday cakes to each member of the staff. All in all, she did a fair job on that one, but…

        For potlucks, she assigned dishes. “You bring lasagna!”, “You bring spanakopita!”, “You bring lumpia!” Her contribution? A can of vegetables to heat up. Usually her favorite, corn.

    54. Tabby Baltimore*

      When I was reading this, this morning, I couldn’t post, but so, so wanted to write about the middle-aged guy in the next set of cubes over from me who just loves his speaker phone capability so tremendously that he has multiple phone convos per day with it, and doesn’t lower the volume. I was away from the office for a while, doing another job, and have been back for a month. I don’t remember him being like this when I left, but he’s retiring early next year, so I figure I can live with it for a few more months, then I’ll never have to hear it again. (The other people he works with don’t do this, thankfully.)

      I worked as a reference librarian in a large public library system in the Southwest decades ago, and one of the paraprofessionals who also “worked the desk” drove me completely nuts. Answering patron questions often included telling them which section of the collection they could find the answer in, so I’d actually get up from my seat at the desk and walk them into the stacks and show them where the subject-area books were that they needed to look at. “M,” however, would give minimal answers, then take great pains to point and explain in excruciating directional detail about where to find the material, remaining firmly planted in her chair. Not long after starting to work there, I figured out when scheduled with her on the desk to expect her patrons to boomerang back to me because they couldn’t find what they were looking for, so basically doubling my workload. After two years of this, I finally said something at the end of my performance review. My boss replied, “yes, I’ve heard that from other staff in the past, but you never said anything about it, so I thought it didn’t bother you.” Boss must’ve said something to her, because within a week, “M’s” performance had improved dramatically, and I was kicking myself for not having said anything earlier.

    55. Anon For Days*

      Haha! Just wrote about mine – junior who thinks she owns the place. My favourite trick of hers is when she comes in, half an hour late, on a Friday, then breezes out to go get lunch, then sits there for 15 minutes casually eating lunch. “Hey, can you serve this customer?” “Um, I’m eating?”

      Complained to higher ups, manager was like “oh look it isn’t hurting anyone”

      It is hurting my sanity.

    56. copy run start*

      Two coworkers who like to talk to each over over the cubes and across the office frequently about non-work topics (usually whatever sensationalized news story one of them has stumbled across while Blatantly Not Working), typically politics. While my politics are totally not their politics, I’d prefer we just didn’t discuss it at all in the office and that seems to be how almost everyone else feels, but they’re the type who turn to teasing you if you bring up an issue. Management isn’t around enough to notice/deal with it. One of my coworkers has to wear earplugs; I recently bought noise-canceling headphones.

      The only thing that keeps me from screaming is the fact that they’re not on my team and I never really have to engage with them. But that’s also what kills me about the whole thing — why do I have to suffer their presence when our jobs are totally unrelated (and they thrive on noise and my team thrives on silence)?? I can think of two or three other teams who we interact with more and we would benefit more from having in our area.

    57. KJ*

      I have incapable of being on time guy. Every day he is 5 – 20 minutes late and every day he shares the reason why with our entire team via email. He’s had more issues with public transportation than anyone I’ve ever met, his fridge breaks with alarming regularity, he’s constantly plagued by long lines at Dunkin Donuts, etc etc

      The best part is, nothing about our jobs requires us to be sitting at our desks at exactly 9am, and coming in 15ish minutes late usually wouldn’t go noticed by most of the team if he didn’t feel the need to give us the play by play of his commute.

    58. It's-a-me*

      My annoying coworkers aren’t half as bad as most of the replies you’ve got so far, but still.

      One coworker will chew loudly with her mouth open every lunch time, also laughing out loud occasionally at the magazine she’s reading and thereby ejecting foodstuffs out of her open mouth.

      Another coworker is usually perfectly fine… unless he has soup. It will take him 15 minutes to eat it, and every. single. spoonful. will be SLUUUUURPed at full volume. First to last (so it’s not just ‘this is too hot’ slurps, it is ‘I have soup, hear my soup, this is how you soup, right???’ slurps)

    59. Worker Bee*

      I used to have any annoying coworker, but she’s gone now. :-)
      Some of the things she did:
      – Shrieked in my ear at a staff meeting.
      – Cut her nails in the office.
      – My office was right next to hers. She would yell questions at me that would have been easy for her to look up, like someone’s phone number. I refused to look things up for her.
      – She constantly told stories about her cousin from Indiana.
      – She burned fish in the microwave. Not just a little bit. The stench was incredible.
      – She would steal conversations. I would be talking to someone, and she would jump in and try to redirect the conversation to something that had nothing to do with me. She would even do this when someone was in my office talking to me, and she was in the office next door.
      – Gum cracking. Very loud gum cracking.

      She was friends with my supervisor, so she would go whine to her whenever I didn’t do something she wanted me to do. This really damaged my relationship with my supervisor, so it was more than just annoying. It was like being in kindergarten and being tattled on. One time I was out of the office and she took some office supplies from my office (we’re all responsible for ordering our own supplies. I don’t order supplies for anyone else in the office). Instead of letting me know that she borrowed them and would replace them like normal people do, my supervisor decided that now all of these supplies needed to be kept in the supply cabinet, and she told me not to keep any office supplies in my office. I rolled my eyes mentally and kept on keeping office supplies in my office, so I can do my job like an adult.

      I didn’t have to work on projects with her very often, but when I did, she would expect me to do whatever she wanted me to right away, and she wanted to sit in my office and watch me work. That was a big fat nope. You go away, I work, I show you what I did when it’s done. Also, she would read over all of her notes and point to them as she read, like I wasn’t capable of reading them myself. I can read, TYVM.

      I’m so glad she’s gone. If she came back, I’d have to quit.

    60. Hamster*

      i work retail rn lol… i mean i enjoy the people iw orked with in MY department, but my interactions with other parts of the store sometimes is a bit sour.. internally

  6. Kelley*

    How many rounds of interviews is ‘typical’ for, say, a mid-level position in the US?

    Just wondering if this is a cultural thing or if maybe I just haven’t reached a point in my career where it’s necessary. From the stories here it seems like numbers up to three(?) rounds are taken to be normal, and people talk about being ‘finalists’ for positions.

    I’ve only worked in Australia and (currently) the UK. The only applications I’ve being through that had multiple rounds were for graduate positions which require a lot of sifting given the numbers they’re dealing with, and even then, two rounds seem to be the norm (one group assessment, one individual, sometimes they take place on the same day). Every job since then has only had one interview, which usually includes a practical component / skills test. I also don’t think I’ve ever been told how many other candidates are still in the running.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      I’m mid level in the middle of interviews, and I will have interviewed with 9 people when this is done.

    2. EmilyAnn*

      I’m a mid-level professional in government. Every interview process I’ve been involved in has maxed out at 2, most of the time just one. Hiring is already a lengthy process, so I don’t think we like to drag it out more. I’ve also been hired with no interview because of personal connections.

    3. Samiratou*

      At my company it’s not unusual to have interviews with 3-4 people (or groups) for professional positions. It’s kind of ridiculous, honestly, but not unusual, IME.

    4. LizB*

      Up to three sounds typical to me. My organization does a phone interview and two rounds of in-person interviews. I’ve usually seen either that process or a phone screen plus one in-person interview.

    5. Someone else*

      From my experience, this is more likely to be dependent on the size of the organization than the industry. I’m sure it does vary a bit by industry as well, but I’ve seen the pattern trend more similarly by size. To a certain extent it’s also dependent on the culture within leadership. I’ve known places where everyone had to be interviewed by the CEO before they could receive an offer, even if it were just a 10 minute brief thing. And others where it might be one interview with the hiring manager and one interview with someone else in the department. Smaller companies might do a single interview with more people present rather than multiple interviews with different people. I think it varies too much for there to be a “typical” answer, but I would say it’s not uncommon for there to be only one interview before an offer, but it’s also not uncommon to go 3-4 rounds. There are a ton of variables.

    6. CAA*

      It kind of depends on how you count rounds.
      When I’m hiring:
      1) phone interview — 30 minutes
      2) all on the same visit: skills test; personal interview with me; group interview with peers; office tour as we walk from place to place for the interviews; maybe an HR meeting if we know we like the person a lot and HR is available — all this takes 2 to 3.5 hours, generally the longer it’s taking, the better it’s going
      3*) we call with a job offer. If the HR meeting didn’t happen yet, then it can be over the phone or the candidate can come into the office.
      So, it’s either 2 or 3 or if you count the separate meetings in round 2 then it would be 4.

      As a candidate for Senior Manager or Director roles, I’ve usually had a similar experience but the number of individual and panel interviews during the on-site visit varies. For my current position, I spoke with my manager, 2 peers individually, and a group of people who now report to me; but for a different job I had individual 30-minute sessions with 9 different people on the same day! Senior positions also often have an extra round where the candidate meets with the CEO or CTO on a separate date after the initial in-person interviews.

    7. Red Reader*

      I had two interviews to move from an individual contributor level into first-tier management in my org, one with a panel of four members of second-tier management and one with a third- or fourth-tier manager. (She left the org and there’s been some shuffling of the org chart since then, so I don’t remember what exactly her title was at the time.)

    8. Catroina*

      I interviewed for a job last spring and had nine (9!) interviews, many with multiple people. They ended up hiring internally. I had actually interviewed with the person they ended up hiring and she was lovely and smart and it absolutely made sense to hire her over me. But why did it take them nine (9!) interviews to figure that out?

      I interviewed for another job that was two phone interviews and one in-person, with three people total in those three interviews. That one I was hired for and so far it’s been fantastic.

      1. Nico M*

        Interests wanted to give the job to the internal candidate but you were so awesome it took nine attempts for them to find something the internal candidate was better at.

    9. fposte*

      Our academic staff hiring is generally two rounds, the first a phone interview and the second in person.

    10. LadyKelvin*

      I had one interview for my current job, but I’ve had at most 2 interviews, one with my hiring manager/boss one with the team of people I would be working most closely with. I too am shocked at how many interviews some people go through and I’m in the US.

    11. Natalie*

      Two to three rounds seems typical to me, depending on how involved the executive level wants to be – one phone screen and one in-person interview for sure, and then sometimes a second interview with different management folks.

    12. clow*

      The most I have had is 2, one phone and one in person. Sometimes just one. At my current company, which is huge, it is generally just 1.

    13. Lora*

      Two rounds of in person interviews and one phone screen is normal in my field (STEM), and for those in person interviews it’s with several people – usually at least four or five individual interviews, and you go to lunch with a group of peers.

    14. Optimistic Prime*

      My interview process for my current job was a written exercise, an initial Skype screen and then an all-day interview in which I talked to 6 different people. In my field, 2-3 rounds is about the norm, often with a written exercise you’re given a couple days to a week to complete.

    15. The New Wanderer*

      I’m in a STEM-related field, and the norm now seems to be two phone screens (recruiter or other early screener + hiring manager) and one long in-person interview with multiple people (both as a group and individually). My last experiences are over a decade ago (pre-Skype), but I think that was one phone call + one on-site interview per company.

    16. Five after Midnight*

      Hunting for a corporate finance middle management job now and there are [i]typically[/i] 3 rounds:
      1. Phone screening with HR lasting about 30min to: a/confirm both side have the same salary range in mind; b/make sure that the candidate has basic knowledge, experience, competency, and communication skills; and c/ensure there are no red flags. During this phase it’s all about the company identifying the best candidates, and there is rarely a chance for a candidate to ask any questions. This round is a lot more common than it was a decade ago, but it may be skipped in some companies. About a dozen candidates will get through this filter to the next round.
      2. On-site interview with a hiring manager and [i]her[/i] peers. This is your “traditional” part of the interview process where both sides get to explore the fit and ask probing questions. The length depends on the number of people you meet, but generally runs from 2 to 4 hours. On occasion, but rarely, it will be broken into multiple days – I haven’t met a company so far that wanted to waste my time like this plus it is a lot more efficient for them as well to have all interviews on a single day. The HR will likely also get involved at this point to further narrow the salary range and to discuss benefits.
      3. On-site interview with a hiring manager’s manager. If there is another (dotted) reporting line/relationship for the open role, an interview with that person as well. Generally, there would be only 2-3 candidates at this stage, and if you reached it then you are a “finalist”.
      Unlike in the UK (for the same level roles), I haven’t run into any skill tests, panel interviews, or presentations. All my interviews have been on one-to-one basis. I also never met with my “team” – i.e. the direct reports of the open role or its peers – it’s just not a thing in my line of work. In one instance, I also had a Round 1.5 which was a full phone interview with the hiring manager; the benefit of it was that only 4 candidates were invited to Round 2.

  7. lcsa99*

    Alison – I am curious on your take on an ad I saw yesterday. They are apparently doing a new show televising job interviews, and they are emphasizing that these are real candidates interviewing for real job positions.

    As a candidate I can’t imagine being ok with this. It’s added pressure to an already high pressure situation. Then again, if you do great but don’t get the job I guess it gives you a chance to get recruited for something else. Even if they are doing this as a candid camera type of situation, I personally would rather find another company to interview with.

    But from the side of the interviewer – what are the chances that these candidates are actually interested in the job and don’t just want their 5 minutes of fame? How much more difficult would it be to find out if they are just putting forth a character – essentially acting a part when this is supposed to be a serious situation? And what are the chances that they will actually use good interviewers. In this type of situation, would the typical interviewer be able to ask the real in-depth questions they should be asking? Or do you think they will just pick the horrible interviewers you get questioned about all the time so they can get better ratings?

    1. SNS*

      I saw this too! It looks like a terrible premise for the show, I can’t imagine allowing a TV show to film my interview so I’m curious what companies they’ll be following and the types of interviewees they get.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      A few years back I learned that there were TWO reality shows about celebrity aquarium installers. At that point I stopped disbelieving any given reality show premise.

      (I learned about “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire” on Wait Wait and thought “wow, you guys got punked on that one.” Then I was at the ER on Valentine’s Day, watching the TV, and it was for real.)

        1. Accountress*

          Install for celebrities. I know one is “Tanked”, and it’s actually pretty good! A nice mix of celebrities and businesses (and even a museum!) getting custom fish tanks. It’s super cheesy and heavily scripted, but the tanks are pretty and you get to learn about different kinds of fish.

          1. Mine Own Telemachus*

            My niece loooooves that show. She loves getting to see how they come together.

            She may not be in their target demographic (who is?????) but she enjoys it.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      But from the side of the interviewer – what are the chances that these candidates are actually interested in the job and don’t just want their 5 minutes of fame?

      I mean, people have done reality shows to find spouses, so it doesn’t shock me that they’re doing reality shows to find a job.

      It may result in them finding a job or career… just not the one they’re ostensibly applying for on the show.

      1. Amadeo*

        Spouse 1: “I do random weird job you’ve never heard of part time.”
        Spouse 2: “I’m a stay at home parent.”

        “Our budget is $2.5 million.”

        1. Lora*

          I hate these programs so hard. My mother adores them and is constantly suggesting house things that would cost a couple of lottery tickets worth of winnings, and then I spend weeks to months arguing that I am not fixing things which aren’t broken, I like the color/siding of the house the way it is thanks, and the next time you open your mouth about a home improvement project that I need like I need a hole in my skull, I WILL END YOU.

        2. Parenthetically*

          House one is both too small and too far away.
          House two is phenomenally over-budget.
          House three is perfect.

          They choose house two, and plot twist: all the furniture that was in the house when they were looking at it with the realtor is still mysteriously in the house.

          1. Specialk9*

            Both friends who did House Hunters had to remove their furniture (from the places they were already living) for the “looking at potential houses” shots, then move it back in for the “omg this is perfect!!1” shot of them living in the home they’d had for awhile already. Suuuuper fake.

            They were also told by the producers ‘come up with some conflict or we’ll make something up from things you said stitched together’. It makes me hate some of the people in the show less.

        3. Optimistic Prime*

          Haaaaaaaa it’s so true though. I adore House Hunters but not because I think it’s reality – I just like looking at the homes they’re touring.

        4. nonegiven*

          Yes, then they take a look at a nice kitchen or bath with marble or granite that’s clearly been updated in the last 5 years and they say, “we’ll have to gut it.”

    4. AnonAndOn*

      I was going to post about it too and share a link, but I’m typing on my phone. It’s called “The Job Interview” and is scheduled to premiere this Wednesday the 8th on CNBC.

      I feel the same way as you regarding being interviewed on reality TV. I wouldn’t do it, but I assume that the participants have to sign a release so they’re not blindly appearing on national TV. And the employers conducting the interviews are real too.

      There were a few scenes in the preview that stood out to me – a man sweating profusely, a woman wearing shorts to her interview, and a male interviewer falling back in his chair.

      1. A.N.O.N.*

        Yes, the few clips they’ve shown seem way overly dramatic and cringe-worthy. Most interview candidates are not so glaringly naive/uncoordinated/outwardly anxious.

        1. AnonAndOn*

          I wouldn’t be surprised if the less reality TV worthy footage ends up on the cutting room floor, like interviews that went on without any major hitches. They may only focus on the more out there situations.

    5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      By televising your interviews, you’re also ruling out any candidates who want to keep their job search quiet from their current employers.

      1. Natalie*

        Most reality show episodes are airing months and months (sometimes a year or more) after the actual filming so this is probably not much of a factor.

    6. AshK434*

      There was a similar show on Freeform that followed millenials as they searched for new jobs. It was actually pretty interesting to watch.

    7. Ramona Flowers*

      We had a similar show here a few years ago and it was actually really good. Link to come in next comment.

    8. Sami*

      A reality show that’s basically one long job interview is my secret favorite TV show: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team. The season just ended (it’s on CMT) but you can find it on Amazon Prime video and probably YouTube.

      It’s women going through three rounds of auditions and the eight week long training camp. I love it!

  8. CMF*

    This is only tangentially work-related but I hope that’s okay. I am starting a new job next month, which will be my first position that comes with benefits. I can choose between a PPO and HMO healthcare plan. The HMO plan will be cheaper by about $50 per month and does not have a deductible, so my spouse and I are leaning toward that one. We are in our 20s and don’t anticipate needing to see many specialists or requiring surgical procedures. Until now, we have only had catastrophic insurance. We have done some online research but I would love to get your advice on whether going with the HMO would be a sensible move here.

    1. GreyjoyGardens*

      It really depends on the quality of the HMO in your area. I used to be with a Big Well-Known California HMO and in my particular region it was great, in others not so much. So ask around, check Yelp and online reviews, etc. Though if you are healthy and in your 20’s and don’t do extreme sports or take dangerous risks, and you expect to use your benefits mostly for routine checkups and common illnesses/mishaps, an HMO might be fine for you.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I’ve been with Probably The Same Big Well-Known California HMO for over a decade now and am quite content with it, though I do fully accept that it could be very different in a different region. I started when I was in my mid-20s and had very few health needs, but stayed with it as I went through my pregnancy and delivery last year. That involved, obviously, lots and lots of doctor appointments and a hospital stay, and I had really good experiences with all of those. It was nice to feel like my care was really coordinated and things weren’t getting lost in communication errors between organizations.

        It’s sometimes mildly inconvenient – for example, when I had strep throat and my doctor was willing to prescribe antibiotics for me without an office visit but I still had to drive across town to the HMO-run pharmacy instead of going to one of the countless CVS/Walgreens in between my home and the HMO med center. But on the other hand when I was at the OB-GYN for a checkup and had an issue that needed another specialist, they were able to say things like, “OK, I called dermatology so they know you’re coming. Take the elevator to the third floor and it’s on your right.”

        1. OperaArt*

          I’ve been with the same Big Well Known California HMO for several years. I was very glad of that this spring when diagnosed with breast cancer. (I’m doing great, now.) Everything was coordinate—within a week I met with the surgeon, the oncologist, and the radiation oncologist all together in a conference room. I never had to deal with paperwork or trying to coordinate my care. It was wonderful.

          I compare that with my mother’s very good PPO. Her coverage is good but the amount of paperwork can be daunting.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            Ten-year BC survivor here! Wishing you all the luck in the world. One day this will be in your rear view mirror.

            When I was diagnosed, it was with the same HMO, and I have absolutely no complaints about my treatment. It was first-rate, and it saved me so much time and hassle (I’m single and childless, so managing my care was all on me) because everything was already coordinated and in the computer and under the same umbrella. I was even able to get some counseling with a LCSW to get through those first “ohmygod I have cancer EEEK” months.

            If an HMO is good, it is very very good, and if it’s bad it’s horrid, IME. Luckily I had the “very good” experience.

    2. stitchinthyme*

      If you can find out some of the doctors’ names in the HMO, you can look them up online and see how their reviews look.

    3. the gold digger*

      I would love to be able to have an HMO again. In theory, if you stay within the system, you don’t have out of pocket expenses.

      With a PPO, however, you can think you are doing everything correctly – seeing a network specialist, for instance, but Blue Cross of Michigan will say, “Sure, that’s our specialist, but because you saw him in a hospital*, it counts as a hospital visit and not an office visit**, so you have to pay a $500 deductible before we pay.”

      And then with Blue Cross of Michigan, which is run by unethical people who do not disclose this hospital/office issue in any of their materials, doesn’t pay your claim. And you are stuck with a bill of several hundreds of dollars.

      BTW, Blue Cross has had a bad reputation since I worked for Prudential health insurance in the late 80s. Avoid them if you can.

      * Which is where his office is
      ** Which has a $45 co-pay

    4. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      PPO tends to have fewer restrictions on which doctors, who you can see (ie don’t need a referral), etc. HMOs are designed (no comment on if it works) to help manage your care. So you find a primary care doctor (PCP), and you see them, and if you need to see a specialist you have to get a referral from your PCP first. HMOs also tend to have fewer options in the network, though that isn’t a given.

      Also check to see if there’s differences in what’s covered. For example, one plan may cover allergy shots, but the other won’t. Again, not always an issue but worth checking.

      Given your ages and history, you’re probably ok with the cheaper premium. But you’ll need to reevaluate that for every open enrollment.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I’m a nervous-nelly so I’ve always gone with PPO plans. If something is wrong, I can get it taken care of faster/easier. But it is definitely a personal decision. $50 a month can be a lot.

    6. MeM*

      I’d go with the HMO unless it has a bad reputation. I had the same HMO for years, had a very good experience with them, and was referred to specialists with no problem. I might have had to wait a week or two longer to see the specialist, though. Example – dermatologist I preferred to see was only available two days a week. I did have surgery, and it was diagnosed and performed swiftly – no unnecessary wait. However, my husband had the PPO plan and coincidentally choose to see the same doctors that were available to me in the HMO. I’m now in a PPO and still go to two of the specialists I saw in the HMO – I just see them in a different office.

      1. MeM*

        Just a side note – the office staff in the two specialist offices each made me get a referral from my primary doctor when I changed from the HMO to the PPO. They just couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that my insurance was now a PPO and I could self-refer. It was easier to just go along with them and get the unnecessary referral.

        1. FlyingFish*

          I work in a specialty office that requires a referral regardless of whether the insurance does. We do it because people have a tendency to self-refer inappropriately. For example, we’re teapot specialists who repair teapots. We don’t make special blends of tea or repair coffee pots, but people assume that we do.

    7. DivineMissL*

      It’s been a while since I’ve used an HMO (have had PPO for 15 years). It’s important to check to see if your current doctors are in-network for both plans – if they are, you don’t have to switch doctors! I currently like having a PPO because it doesn’t require any referrals, so it is more streamlined than the HMO. But besides that, in my opinion the medical care we received under the HMO was the same quality (same doctors); you save money on premiums, but there was just a little more paperwork and fewer choices. YMMV!

    8. dr_silverware*

      Use the HMO. Having a PPO can be helpful if you’re planning on specialists and you’re confident navigating medical bureaucracy. But it’s healthy as heck to have a PCP and have an in to getting just antibiotics if you need it, have a nurse line to help you triage, to just have a regular checkup so you can practice preventative medicine and have someone to help track vaccines. You can do this on a PPO, but having an HMO require it can be helpful. Also, cheaper :)

    9. fposte*

      Do you know when the next benefits choice period is there? I always go for PPOs or whatever the even pricier I-get-what-I-want service is, but 1) you sound like good candidates for an HMO and 2) I doubt you’re going to be locked into the decision for very long so you could probably change your mind in a few months anyway.

    10. Observer*

      Do you have a GP / Internist you are happy with? If yes, then the ability to keep seeing them is a crucial piece of information. The $50 per month to keep seeing a primary care physician you like and trust will pay for itself.

      If that’s not a factor, then the others have made some good point. Again, a key thing is to see what their primary care services look like, because that’s your entry to everything else.

    11. King Friday XIII*

      My experiences with HMOs have been pretty good, but it definitely depends on the HMO and how well they’re organized and how good the system coverage is. I have Kaiser Permanente right now for example and 95% of everything I’ve needed to have done is in-network, even most of the fancy MRIs and dental and whatnot. My spouse and I have each had to see a specialist outside of the network and for the most part it was pretty simple as well. When I was on my parents’ plan a million years ago it was an HMO but it seemed like a lot more things were out of network. So look at what the HMO has to offer and decide based on that.

    12. JD*

      Keep in mind it isn’t just a $50 difference as PPO’s have deductibles and out of pocket expenses HMO’s do not. You very likely would have to pay a few thousand up front before your insurance takes over. That being said HMO’s can suck depending on the region, as other’s have said. I believe if you are not likely to need to see specialists that often and HMO can be a lot easier.

    13. Been there*

      Take a long look approach to this, the option you choose now may affect your future choices. My company for awhile stopped allowing people to change from other options into the PPO. They were allowing those who were enrolled to stay.

      I like PPOs knowing that they may be the more expensive option for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in an HMO, but I didn’t like the restrictions and limitations on them.

    14. Struck by Lightning*

      I’ve moved an average of every 3 yrs for decades and IME which one is the better option had far more to do with the individual plans and providers than the type. I’ve had some decent experiences with HMOs…but one period that was so incredibly awful that I doubt I will ever go with one again.

      I hate to say it, but late 20s and early 30s is also where both my spouse & I developed some chronic conditions despite leading healthy, active lifestyles.

      I’d read the fine print on both and really read reviews & plan ratings for both. I’m lucky as a fed we are provided very detailed rating metrics for every plan available…hopefully you’ll be able to find something similar!

    15. Theme Park Employee*

      For me, the HMO option was more expensive than the PPO option. And although the PPO has deductibles, and higher copays, based on my personal situation (mid 30’s, relatively healthy – see my Dr 1-2 times a year for minor illness/injury, see a chiro monthly for back pain), the PPO is still more affordable.

      My wife works for the same company. (We have separate health insurance, because it’s far cheaper to cover “Employee Only” than it is to cover “Employee + Spouse”). She uses the HMO because she has some health issues and sees a Dr far more frequently, and also sees a few specialists. The cost for the HMO works out to be cheaper, based on what she uses, than the PPO.

    16. Aardvark*

      You’ll probably be fine with an HMO.
      That said:
      * Switching primary care physicians under some HMOs is very difficult–you have to make the request by the 15th of the month for it to take effect by the first of the next month, there may be a limited number of providers who are accepting new patients, and so on.
      * If you travel a lot, it may make sense to get the PPO. Some HMOs have limited coverage areas, and getting treatment if you’re away from home could be tricky.

    17. Specialk9*

      I find that if the doctors I have in PPO are higher quality than HMO. (I almost died from terrible care that was the opposite of proper care, when I had HMO insurance.) Many renowned doctors hesitate or don’t take HMO.

      But if you have the choice every year, you might start cheaper then change plans if you end up planning for a baby or you get problems. I believe so long as you were insured it should be ok but don’t quote me on it.

  9. all aboard the anon train*

    So I’ve been job searching for almost two years now with little success. I finally had an offer – and one that was double my current salary – and had to turn it down.

    The benefits were truly awful (no 401K match, I’d lose 3 weeks of vacation time, steep out of pocket medical costs, etc.) and there were some other red flags that made me realize it wouldn’t be a great fit (bonuses were dependent on how much you brought outside hobbies/interests into the workplace to share with coworkers, they didn’t have any training or resources for new employees, they went on about how they were in the city but asked you to travel to the suburbs for clients 3-4 days/week and pay for your own car & gas with no reimbursement).

    It was a hard decision to make, especially since it took me two years to even get an offer and it was SO MUCH MONEY. I could have easily paid off my medical debt within a few months on that type of salary, and would actually have been able to start saving a lot. But I weighed that against being miserable in the job and the other red flags, and turned it down. I know it was the right decision but I can’t stop thinking about how much that money would have made my life easier.

    1. SophieChotek*

      That does sound like a tough decision!
      Um…how does bringing outside hobbies into workplace lead to bonuses? My hobby is rice-sculpturing!….

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        It was mostly centered around creating interest groups….so if BBQing was your interest, you’d create a BBQ group for anyone else who was interested in BBQing, and you could have BBQ events outside of work or as parties for the office.

        And they asked everyone in the interview stage about volunteering because they wanted people who gave back to the community, and shared that with their coworkers.

        I think both ideas could be good in theory, but I didn’t like that they seemed mandatory and had an impact on your performance review/bonus. If they had phrased them as optional or an added perk, I would have been fine with it.

        1. SophieChotek*

          Thanks for the explanation.

          “My hobby is opera! I aspire to be the next Florence Foster Jenkins.” I wonder how well that would go over? all the co-workers getting together to sing opera badly?

        2. Funbud*

          I’m probably just old and crusty, but this sounds hellish. I have hobbies and interests, but a) I never want to impose/inflict them on others, mainly because I never suppose anyone else would be interested, and b) I’m basically an introvert, so I mainly enjoy my alone time to pursue said hobbies and interests. By myself. While I am polite, I really don’t want to have to hear all about your historical teapot reenactments. It’s nice for you, but do it on your own time. But this could just be my reticent New England upbringing showing through.

          My current employer has a fairly robust volunteer/contribution program working with local charities (homeless shelter, youth groups, environmental groups, arts groups) and a couple of annual volunteer events that are very well attended. But it’s not mandatory or even made to feel mandatory. Still, the activities can be fun and response & participation are usually very strong from my co-workers. If you are actively involved with a charity and you ask for a contribution from our employee charity your application will get more weight, but if you are not personally involved with the charity they still get a contribution. An effective but not overbearing education program throughout the year keeps employees informed and aware of what the employee charity is doing and how employees can become involved or contribute. It’s really a nice feature of my company.

          I think the thing that really makes me pause with your situation is that any of this would potentially impact your annual review/bonus! That really sounds like a literal carrot/stick situation and would rub me the wrong way.

          1. all aboard the anon train*

            My reticent New England up bringing probably has something to do with it, too. I do enjoy companies where, say, they have a book club or an after works sports team you can join, but as long as it’s voluntary and no one is being forced to join or it impacts your work performance/review/etc.

            I don’t mind sharing interests with coworkers, but being demanded to do it is where I draw the line. It’s one thing if I choose to participate in a hobby with other coworkers, and another thing entirely if I’m told I have to bring my outside of work life into the office.

            1. Specialk9*

              I mean, if I knew going in it was a bit kooky, I’d probably choose to go with it, given the doubling of salary.

      2. Nea*

        I was wondering the same thing. What if someone’s hobby is dressage – are they going to be penalized for not bringing a live horse to the office? (OMG, what if their hobby is jousting? It’s the Maryland state sport, and you’d need to bring a live horse, armor, lance, and quintain To. The. Office.)

          1. Specialk9*

            I actually know somebody who was on the tv show Full Metal Jousting. He jousts. He’s a jouster.

        1. JustaTech*

          Or what if your hobby is taxidermy? Or rucking? (Rucking is where you go on really long hikes/walks with a 40+ lb backpack.) Or sailing? Or burlesque? Or any of the billion hobbies that are individual activities or don’t transport well or you don’t want to share with coworkers?

          Oh AATAT, I feel so bad for you! But I think you made the right choice.

          1. cornflower blue*

            My mind immediately went to this. So many trainwrecks in waiting. Belly dancing, trapeze artistry, hunting, drag racing…

      3. Clewgarnet*

        My hobby is horse-riding. Am I meant to bring my horse into the office with me? I don’t think I could fit him in the lift and he’s terrible at stairs.

            1. Drew*

              “Dear Ask a Manager, I just started a new job and I learned they’re a horse-friendly office. I didn’t see any horses when I interviewed!”

              1. Natalie*

                Relevant bit of trivia! Only two specific types of service animals are protected by the ADA – dogs, and miniature horses.

              2. Amadeo*

                LOL, you jest, but I had to do an externship when I was getting my AAS for my vet tech license and the vet boss didn’t believe me when I told her this. She took me with her on a farm call and assigned me a task that put my neck, shoulder and arm right up against the belly of a horse.

                I was covered in hives wherever I’d touched the horse with bare skin when we got back to the clinic.

                She threw the bottle of Benadryl at me and took me at my word after that.

    2. Cheesesticks and Pretzels*

      While the money would have been nice, you made the right decision. The wacky bonust structure along with having to travel at your own expense would burn anyone out no matter how much money was offered for a salary.

    3. paul*

      That sounds freaking bizarre. Basing bonuses on bringing outside hobbies in?

      you want me to teach my coworkers how to do deadlifts or photograph rattlesnakes on company time to get paid more? OK….that’s just weird.

        1. Specialk9*

          Exactly. I’d invent a passion for something relatively easy and enjoyable. Reading in hammocks, anyone?

    4. Book Lover*

      Perhaps you are underpaid at your current job, but double your salary presumably would cover the 401k match, the out of pocket medical costs, the car and gas with no reimbursement? For me the vacation is priceless, but realistically similar positions usually pay similarly. Just some of them put it in wages and others in benefits.
      I wouldn’t like the weird bonus structure either, but I think reasonable people could choose the second place if they prioritized cash in hand.

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        After I did the math, it ended up not being worth it financially for the loss of 401K, much higher medical costs, and the car/gas. I also live in a city where parking is expensive and there’s no way I was buying a car while living in the city and having to fight for a parking spot every single day. I’d still have made more with each paycheck than I do now, but it really wouldn’t have been worth it for everything I’d have to pay out of pocket.

        The salary was higher, but the benefits were much, much worse than what I currently have. Health insurance is a big thing for me, so I wasn’t really keen on paying more out of pocket for worse coverage.

        1. kittymommy*

          It makes me think that they blind people with the high salary who then quickly realize the downside. Wonder what their turnover is??

    5. Susan K*

      That must have been a hard decision to make, but it looks like you did a good job of weighing the pros and cons. Some of those issues would have eaten a lot of that extra money, too. You likely would have been taxed more on the extra salary, and the loss of the 401(k) match, higher medical costs, and more transportation expenses would have made a pretty big dent as well. Good luck — with patience, you will find a job that pays better but won’t make you miserable.

    6. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      I’m thinking of getting into skeet or target shooting with either a small gun or a bow and arrow. That would just terrify coworkers, wreck eardrums, and possibly break the law!

      1. nonegiven*

        You’d need a shotgun for skeet but I didn’t think they were illegal. Not at work, you have to go to a skeet club for that, it takes some room.

    7. cornflower blue*

      You did make the right decision. There are so many red flags there, your outside hobby could be bullfighting.

    8. SansaStark*

      Ugh I’ve had to make this decision, too, and it was awful. But it sounds like you did a good cost/benefit analysis and saw that while the paycheck would have been higher, the expenses (not to mention your happiness and sanity) would have increased so much that you probably wouldn’t have been able to pay off the debt, saved some $, etc. as quickly as you would have liked. The good news is that your resume, cover letter, and interview skills are all working – you got an offer! Hopefully a better one comes around soon.

  10. WellRed*

    For awhile I’ve been thinking it’s time to move on from my job. It’s a small media company and I am one of the editors. I haven’t had a raise in six years, but the benefits are decent and culture is a perfect fit so it’s scary to leave that. The problem is, since journalism is a dying industry, and I’m kind of burnt on it anyhow, I should probably look to change fields but have no idea what that might be. To make it worse, I am 47 and single with a chronic health issue so am very risk averse. I can’t afford to make the wrong move (though I realize there are no guarantees in life). Help! Where do I start?

    1. SCtoDC*

      Not sure where you’re located and what the job market may be like, but have you thought of taking your editing skills to a company/organization with an internal communications department? I work for a large non-profit and we have a huge communications department, which includes quite a few editors. It’s stable and the benefits are usually good.

      1. WellRed*

        Thanks, this is along the lines of what I was wondering about. Course, the job market isn’t great, but I hadn’t thought of nonprofits…

        1. Media Circus*

          Ooh, yes, nonprofits are a good idea! Also, if you’re in an area with colleges/universities, they can be a rich source of comms jobs. I was the assistant in a large research university’s news bureau for several years, and almost every single PIO (public information officer) we hired had a journalism background. Heck, *I* have a journalism background. And for those of us who are a little older and like a stable health plan, higher education jobs can be nice and consistent. Of the coworkers who left that office while I was working there, the majority of them *retired* from the office.

    2. Argh!*

      Save every penny you can so you have a cushion in case you wind up unemployed.

      Journalism of the kind you are doing now may be “dying” but writing isn’t! Editing isn’t, either. You could start a blog, write it for a year or two, then invited others to write posts and you’d be the “editor” of the blog.

    3. Catty Hack*

      Not sure what your market is but most ex-journos I know have gone to PR and comms. It’s also not considered ‘taboo’ if you decide to jump back again as know several people who have done that too, so might be a good option if you don’t want to risk going for a move that feels like it’s going to be your career forever more.

      1. WellRed*

        Hehe. We refer to switching over to PR as going over to the dark side. That said, I have worked with many wonderful PR people who make my life soooo much easier. They don’t have an easy job.

    4. ronda*

      i worked for a big media company that has been having lots of layoffs in the past few years. I worked in accounting but saw lots of comments from people who did other things like editing etc. It seems like it was difficult for lots of people to find something similar and many pay-cuts where taken. (lots of older workers where included cause they offered a voluntary layoff if you were over 50 and had worked at company for 10 years.)

      So be realistic about what you can expect.

    5. Specialk9*

      Check out proposal and grant writing. The hours can be long when writing to deadline, but you will always have work, and there’s no end to the need to bring in money. Consulting, construction, universities, I believe pharma?, etc.

      DC area government consulting, if you have at least a college degree, bonus for masters. (Live in Maryland or Fairfax VA to save money – DC and Arlington are expensive, some DC neighborhoods can be iffy.) Your benefits should be quite good, especially medical. Consulting firms range widely in quality but with a liberal arts degree, look at Booz Allen Hamilton; if you can talk tech/science, Mitre (PhD heavy), Boeing, Lockheed. (I wasn’t impressed by what I saw of L3 or General Dynamics but they got big contracts.) Stay away from Capitol Hill (Congress) and Dept Homeland Security. The smaller Fed Executive agencies can be really enjoyable.

      Most big corporations have Communications depts. They write or approve messaging to employees, put out press releases, review employees’ pubs (presentations at conferences, articles for publication, case studies). Sometimes they monitor and respond to social media, though that’s sometimes Marketing. Benefits can range widely.

    6. One of the Annes*

      Have you considered state government? I went from a small publisher (there about seven years) to government writing and editorial work (in that now for about ten years) and have been pretty happy. The work has been interesting and challenging. I took a pay cut to begin with but made much of the difference up over a few years and then got a big pay bump after taking a new job in a different agency. And the benefits are good. A lot depends on your state, though, of course.

  11. KK*

    Me again (aka, the girl whose boss got fired in a Waffle House after he was found to be taking cuts of sales reps’ commission for 10 years!)

    I have another update…OldBoss reached out to me via message on LinkedIn yesterday! It read:

    You are a great person and employee! I hope only the best for you and trust the truth will emerge someday about my departure. Give the next General Manager a chance and you will prove to him/her that you are a valued teammate.
    Take care,

    I did not respond to the message. I think several parts of the message speak volumes to his character (or lack thereof).

    1.) “I trust the truth will emerge someday about my departure.” Um, I already know the truth, and it doesn’t look good for you.
    2.) “Give the next General Manager a chance.” Total arrogance, in my opinion. He apparently thinks he was the only one keeping me around. If I were to leave here, it certainly wouldn’t be because I’m sad that he’s gone.
    3.) “You will prove to him/her that you are a valued teammate.” I’m not a new employee. I’ve been here for 2+ years and have established great rapport with all of my colleagues, and other managers in our (rather small) office. While of course I’ll value the new GM’s opinion, I don’t need OldBoss’s direction to “prove myself.”

    I didn’t respond to the message. Maybe I’m overreacting by dissecting every part of the message, but it just got me really fired up that he feels he is in a place to offer me professional advice after what he did!

      1. Specialk9*

        Well, he’s at least hoping to put out a more self-complimentary version of what happened than the truth. Sometimes it works, but not here.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*


      Honestly, I would be tempted to disconnect on Linked In from someone who has that kind of reputation.

    2. Lucky*

      Different take. He wrote a self-serving (but likely, in his mind, friendly and warm) message in hopes that you would response, so he could fish for information.

        1. Lora*

          Fish for information or try to sway your potential testimony. Had a subordinate once who was fired for extremely good reasons, starting with “when I told him I needed the report by Friday, finished and edited so please get the draft to me end of business Wednesday he screamed FK YOU LADY, YOU THINK YOU CAN FK ME WELL I FK YOU in a client’s office at top volume” and ending somewhere around “turned out to have lied about his education” and then he sent me several texts and LinkedIn messages about how he hoped I was doing well and just wanted to say hi and thought I was a great engineer etc etc. I never responded. He was fishing for a reference and hoping that I wouldn’t ruin his chances at an organization where my previous boss was working, knowing that we were still in touch.

    3. fposte*

      I think whatever his impulse, it doesn’t look good on him and silence is your absolute best response. Coupled, of course, with telling us :-).

    4. Ama*

      So I’ve had in my career two different bosses fired for financial malfeasance, and both pulled stuff like this.

      One tried to call me at the office for about a week after he was marched out of the office, but I missed his first two calls and then started avoiding his number. I had found out from coworkers who he talked to that what he was really after was to “apologize” so he could get that rote “It’s okay” forgiveness that we too often reflexively say to be polite, and I already knew the consequences of his actions were that my role was getting absorbed into a department managed by a really dysfunctional micromanager and losing our temp her job so I was very much NOT in the mood to forgive him. He eventually gave up but not without leaving a sulky voicemail about how “he guessed I didn’t want to talk to him.” (Got that one right, buddy.)

      The other, who spent the year I worked for her trying to turn me against the other two people in our office (who also reported to her, and apparently offended her by making off-hours plans without her, their boss), left me a book on writing (she knew I had a writing degree) with some overly friendly note about how she believed in me or whatever, as if she didn’t know full well that she had left such a huge administrative mess behind that it would take years to clean up.

      I think in both cases they were trying to make themselves feel better — one by trying to get my forgiveness, and the other by setting herself up as some kind of mentor — so they wouldn’t have to deal with the ramifications of the professional nightmare they’d created for me and the other people in the department.

    5. Marthooh*

      Reach out and ask to hear his side of the story. Offer to meet him for lunch at the Waffle House.

    6. Nugget*

      I work as in-house counsel for a Big Corporation with locations in many major cities, and we are moving into a new headquarters in our city in a few months– our current location is pretty terribly located and outdated so the move has been anticipated for quite some time now. The new location will have an open-office layout and only VPs and above would have offices of their own. This is a major adjustment for a lot of the attorneys and other professionals who have had their own offices for years, but generally we’ve been team players and have gotten on board with the idea. That was until we found out that not only would the office be open concept, but to “encourage collaboration and mobility” none of us will have assigned desks. We will be expected to keep our laptop and belongings in lockers and claim a new work space every morning. We wont be able to personalize our desks (cause we won’t have our own desks) and I can’t help but be kinda grossed out that I will have to use shared phones and keyboards every day. Am I being a curmudgeon, or am I right to think this is absolutely ridiculous and a step too far? Does anyone else out there have this kind of arrangement in their office?

      1. NewJobWendy*

        It’s ridiculous but don’t be grossed out. Buy some rubbing alcohol wipes in bulk and just wipe down the keyboards and phones. It’s what we did when I worked at a hotel front desk. Also while you can’t have assigned desks, I suspect that unofficially people will lay claim.

      2. Anion*

        That’s a hideous idea. What happens the first time somebody comes to the office to visit Employee X and is thus privy to privileged conversations between Attorney Y and Client Z?

        Plus it’s gross and cold; aside from germs (yuck), you’re people, not cattle.

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          I had that set-up when I worked for a county system – almost everyone was fully mobile so there were designated reservable offices to meet with clients and others in the secured area to meet with other staff. Everyone from child protection, disability, hr, etc. I know area managers didn’t have their own offices so maybe one level up did. I assume a law office would offer similar confidentiality protections.

      3. Specialk9*

        Applying hot desks to highly qualified people (like, oh, lawyers) with options is a baaaaad idea, they will just leave and then recruitment for replacements will be hard especially for top quality workers. Bad idea. Those kinds of things work when employees are short-term, or stuck and don’t have many options.

        My old company tried this. People teleworked while the renovations were happening (companies always try to make cattlecar desk setups look so slick! and mod! to hide that they care more about cost-cutting than morale) and just… never came back. We had about a quarter of the people from that floor actually show up regularly. The renovations on other floors kept getting pushed back…

      4. consultant*

        I had this arrangement in the job I just left. It was awful. And there were more of us than desks – some people needed to do home-office every day – so you needed to reserve and there were struggles for desks, especially on Fridays. We were able to book a desk but only with a few days of advance. Not to mention that open space is not a good thing if you have a job in which you need to focus.

        It’s a waste of time and energy, I honestly can’t see what advantages this arrangement has.

  12. QY*

    I was reading an old post here on gimmicks (and why they don’t work). It reminded me of a story I read once in another advice column (no idea if it’s legit though) where a candidate, at the end of the interview, requested to be given feedback regardless of the outcome. She then placed $2 on the table and said that was to cover the costs of the call (this would’ve been before email was commonplace).

    Even back then I wasn’t sure what the point of the story was (oh apparently she got the job because the interviewer was impressed that she was willing to invest in her own development), but thinking back, sooooo many things wrong with it! For one thing, exchanging money during an interview? Surely that would raise questions regardless of how small the amount? Also, if she was paying to get feedback then she needs to cover not only the cost of the phone bill itself but also the time the interviewer spends to prepare/communicate this feedback?

    (I really hope no one who read that article ever tried this tactic!)

      1. selina kyle*

        As a former bank teller – feel free to ask if you ever go in to make a withdrawal. If they have any in their drawer, the tellers would probably love you for a chance to give you a two dollar bill!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      It isn’t just the exchange of money… it’s just weird in general. A company that can’t afford to make a phone call? The whole thing is bizarre.

    2. fposte*

      I could only see it “working” if the candidate meant it as an eff you to a company that had treated her cheaply. Even then it would probably mostly cause puzzlement.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Also, maybe I have a misunderstanding of how phone bills used to work, but even in the pre-email days, making an additional local call wouldn’t have added to the bill, right? Unless the $2 was meant to cover the cost of the caller’s time, in which case it seems like a laughable underestimate.

    4. Close Bracket*

      She did impress the interviewer and get the job, so I can’t find that much fault with her

      1. Chaordic One*

        But I can find fault with the interviewer, falling for a cheap and sleazy gimmick like that.

  13. Murphy*

    Thanks to everyone who answered my question last week about clocking out while pumping. Long story short, my state and my university has no “paid break” policy, so it’s really up to the manager. Mine told me not to worry about it, so I don’t have to clock out anymore. Yay!

      1. Murphy*

        Oh, sorry! I’m a nursing mom. Pumping breastmilk. I say it so often, I didn’t even think about it!

    1. New Bee*

      Hooray! I just stopped pumping yesterday; my kid’s about to make a year and I’m trying to get down to just feeding at home. You can do it!

  14. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Two work-related (although not my job) SHOUT-OUTS.

    Hats off to the person who deleted Tangerine Trayfe’s Twitter yesterday!! I was nose-to-grindstone on a report and didn’t even hear about it until after 5. So disappointed I didn’t see that.

    Wishing the best to everyone who worked for DNAInfo & the Gothamist sites. (LA-, Chicago-, SF-ists, etc.) Watching what the Writers Guild does now…support these people if you can.

    1. Lady Jay*

      Ha, I’d come over here to talk about the Twitter incident too. Wouldn’t it be lovely if that ex-employee had written in to AAM! There are so many letters asking for advice about whether to do something terrible on the last day or not; it’s fun to imagine that one coming in. :)

        1. Lissa*

          It’s also kind of amazing to think about because it sort of points to social media as, in some ways, an equalizer. If that employee is allowed to delete accounts, then it doesn’t matter WHO the account belongs to….they have the same protections or lack thereof as anyone else (I know in reality it doesn’t always work that way but in some technical ways it still does!)

          1. Snark*

            Just a point of clarity – the account was just suspended, not deleted. The press covfefe is somewhat misleading on that point.

          2. Manders*

            It definitely raises a lot of questions about how social media works behind the scenes! I don’t think Twitter was built with the expectation that it would be in the international spotlight for this kind of stuff, and I’m surprised they haven’t made any changes to their system given their recent notoriety.

            It also makes me wonder what the deal is with their lack of response to all the harassment problems they’ve had in the last few years–if it’s really that easy to suspend an account for harassment, why are they acting like it’s a huge ordeal?

            1. Optimistic Prime*

              I work in tech – not in social media, but adjacent – and I have two guesses:

              1) Big social media companies like Twitter and Facebook really have no idea what they’re doing. Not in terms of the technical capabilities of running big social media sites, but in terms of the social and ethical implications of how those sites can be used and twisted for nefarious ends and how to address that. These tech companies grew rapidly by hiring lots of engineers, software developers and data scientists…not social scientists and ethicists who can help them parse it. They’re trying to play catch-up now but they are behind the power curve.

              2) Partially because of #1, they were trying to stay as neutral as possible – above the fray, in an attempt to try to maintain business and web traffic from all sides of the controversy(ies). I work in a part of the industry that has attempted to take a similar stance with similar kinds of issues, and this is one of the things I am bringing up at work all the time – we CANNOT remain neutral on this, because there’s really no such thing – remaining neutral is essentially taking the side of the trolls and spammers who come in to ruin the service. But I’m a social scientist and it’s part of my job to bring the social science lens to all the developers and engineers who aren’t really paid or trained to think about that stuff. Lots of companies don’t have that.

              In harassment cases that go viral, social media companies like Twitter are terrified of taking a stand because they aren’t sure who they’ll anger and who will boycott the service, losing them money. And oddly sometimes their PR people aren’t always equipped to handle sensitive identity politics matters correctly (because again, they’ve overindexed on techies and techie-adjacent people). I bet when something like this happens they’re running around scrambling trying to figure out what to say or do.

              Twitter has also openly said that they essentially suspend their TOS for high-profile people – if those people break the rules they will leave them on the service because it drives traffic and attention.

    2. Jadelyn*

      You know, I was idly researching the DNAInfo/Gothamist situation last night, because it seems to me that this would get into a really murky grey area as far as legality goes – if the company closed specifically in retaliation for unionizing, I feel like that’s a pretty clear-cut case of unfair labor practices. The only hesitation I have on that, though, is that he closed the whole business, and a business owner presumably has no obligation to keep their company running if they don’t want to, so I’m not sure where the law falls on that one.

      Would love to hear if anyone with more experience in unionizing and NLRA stuff wants to weigh in on this.

      1. Maya Elena*

        ‘m sure there are laws preventing someone from going out of business at will in isolated circumstances (e.g., stopping the rental of a property with a current tenant in it), but I

        1. Maya Elena*

          Darn, comment posted before I finished. I meant to say, I would expect most people to draw the line at forcing a private business to stay open and operate, especially at a loss, if they were closing it entirely.

      2. Manders*

        That’s a great point. I have no idea what the laws are on this, but I’d like to hear more about it from someone in the know.

        I’m surprised that the response was shuttering the whole sites immediately instead of selling them–that’s a lot of value to basically flush down the toilet to make a point. I know that even with unionized employees, those media properties were still valuable and someone would have wanted to buy them. It seemed like a spectacularly business-unsavvy move from someone who claimed it was all about business.

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          Apparently, DNAinfo has never made any money since he started it. He bought Gothamist to try to combine them and help control costs, but apparently it didn’t work. Ricketts claims that the unionizing was only one factor that contributed to him deciding to shut them both own.

      3. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Unfortunately, there was a decision under the Supreme Court that actually made an exception for closing a biz due to unionizing. In that case, IT”S A-OK!! :-\ See Textile Workers of America versus Darlington Mills, 1965. IANAL, but, I am the daughter of union ppl. So, I know this stuff.

      4. OlympiasEpiriot*

        See SCOTUS Textile Workers of America versus Darlington Mills, 1965.

        Legal to shut down biz.

    3. Master Bean Counter*

      That was a great going out in a blaze of glory kind of story. I admire whomever that was.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      It’s sort of surprising (and heartwarming?) that this kind of things doesn’t happen more often. How many thousands of employees have the ability to turn off a celebrity’s twitter/nose around in their 401(k) accounts/etc.

    5. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      My friend pointed out that it’s pretty remarkable that a customer service rep had the power to do that – that means there are a loooooooot of Twitter employees who had that power. I guess it wasn’t the power to make any permanent change (it didn’t delete the tweet history in a non-recoverable way or anything) but still.

      I’m sure that there’s been some kind of change internally at this point so the next customer service person who resigns can’t just do the same thing.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        That was probably the most surprising part to me too! It makes me wonder if others will follow that lead.

        One of my friends said that it was the best 11 minutes of the year.

      1. Lady Jay*

        It’s a snarky reference to Donald Trump; his Twitter account was suspended by an outgoing employee yesterday. It was the employee’s last day. The account was suspended for 11 minutes.

        This truly is the blaze-of-glory-to-end-all-blazes-of-glory story.

      2. Lady Jay*

        Okay, so I’m figuring out what makes comments go to moderation. Let me try that again. :)

        The “Tangerine” is a snarky reference to the current US prez; a Twitter employee, on their last day with the company, suspended his account yesterday. It was suspended for eleven minutes.

      3. kittymommy*

        Briefly w/o any opinion, yesterday an employee on their last day suspended President Trump’s personal twitter account for 11 minutes.

        1. Observer*

          I’m aware of that. That wsan’t the question.

          Fortunately others were kind enough to answer the question.

    6. Drew*

      Also Consumerist, which is getting folded into the parent company Consumer Reports but without almost any of the actual staff.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Don’t think so. It started under Gawker, then the non-profit Consumers’ Union (those who publish Consumer Reports) took it over and I think they are just folding it into their website now.

      1. Becky*

        Is that what happened with Consumerist? I use their RSS feed and loved it and was disappointed I wouldn’t be seeing their content any more.

    7. Observer*

      To be honest I find this to be somewhat enraging. Nothing to do with politics, but Twitter just came out with updates to their “anti-harassment policies” (which in the past have amounted to ignore it unless someone we don’t like is involved), blathering about her SERIOUSLY they take harassment. Well, as Manders pointed out, if any Joe Shmoe can take down an account, why is it so hard to take down an account that is posting revenge porn, harassing and the like?!

      Also, what’s to keep someone from doing this to others? And what ELSE does every Tom, Dick and Harry at the place have access to? That’s really scary.

      If I knew that this guy were applying to my company, I’d be talking to HR and the ED in a flash. What’s to keep him from deleting the client records of a client whose political views he doesn’t like? (OR at least trying to – we DO try to keep some sort of security going on this stuff.) What other decisions will he make, that could damage the organization?

      1. Fictional Butt*

        And as others have pointed out elsewhere on the internet– could this employee possibly do more than just delete the account? What if he had sent out tweets from the President’s account about a politically sensitive situation?

      2. Anion*

        Yes, exactly this. I don’t think it’s worthy of applause at all; it’s horrifying. You don’t get to arbitrarily silence people just because you don’t like them.

        And as someone who watched a friend be harassed on Twitter for months and months, including the posting of her home address and phone number, while Twitter did NOTHING (despite the fact that a number of of reported every harassing tweet), I find it infuriating that they somehow “find” the delete button so easily when someone with whose politics they disagree has something to say.

        1. Lissa*

          I don’t think this has anything to do with the politics of twitter as a whole though. It was one dude. He might have done the same thing to anyone, it just so happened this is how he picked. If he’d been of a different political persuasion he could’ve done it just as easily to a different figure. Twitter themselves put it right back in less than 15 minutes, so I really don’t see how this has anything to do with the politics of anyone of one dude.

          1. Observer*

            That’s really the point. They CLAIM that it takes all this trouble to turn off a genuinely harassing account for REASONS. But clearly those REASONS don’t exist if someone actually WANTS to turn off an account. Clearly no one WANTS to be “bothered” with turning off harassment.

            And what happens when the next person someone wants to shut up is someone you happen to agree with? It simply shouldn’t be possible to shut someone down because you con’t lie their views. And it shoulldn’t be acceptable to any prospective employer.

  15. Anon for this*

    I just had a really disheartening performance review. I’ve had three managers in the past year: Lucinda, Fergus, and Joe. Lucinda left for another job 6 months ago. Fergus, another manager in my department (the Teapot Design Manager), became the interim Teapot Maker Manager for 4 months after Lucinda left. Finally, Joe, a teapot designer, was promoted to Teapot Maker Manager 2 months ago. Since Joe is new in his management role, Fergus wrote all the teapot makers’ performance reviews this year, but due to schedule complications, Joe gave me my performance review (even though it was written entirely by Fergus)

    The problem is, Fergus hates me. I don’t even know why, but I have always sensed that he has a personal dislike for me, and it was even more obvious when he was my manager. My performance review reflects that as well. Fergus made several comments on the review that didn’t make any sense. He wrote that I have been disrespectful in meetings, but he has never before mentioned any problem with that. Joe said he had no idea what Fergus was referring to and was unaware of any instances of me being disrespectful in meetings. Fergus wrote that I hoard my knowledge, but Joe said that my peers have specifically mentioned (unsolicited) many instances in which I helped them and showed them how to do things. Fergus gave me an overall rating of “average” but Joe said he thinks I am the top performer in the department.

    I told Joe that I know Fergus doesn’t like me, and I’m not sure why, but I don’t think it’s fair that his personal feelings about me are affecting my performance review and therefore my raise. Joe agreed that Fergus doesn’t like me and said that other people have commented that Fergus has been treating me unfairly. But he also said there was nothing he could do about this year’s review, so I will just have to wait until next year when Joe is writing the reviews to get a better one.

    This is all really hard to swallow because I have worked my butt off to be the top teapot maker in the department. I work much harder than any of my peers, and it shows in the quality and quantity of my work, and I think I deserve at least a slightly higher raise than people who do the bare minimum (less than half the work I do, and often half-assed). I have also been passed over twice this year for a promotion to teapot designer, because Fergus is the hiring manager for that position and he wouldn’t hire me. He is also second in command to the department director, Mike, and I am pretty sure he has bad-mouthed me to Mike, so I basically have no future here as long as Fergus and/or Mike are around. I just feel like a chump for working so hard for nothing.

    1. GG Two shoes*

      Could you ask to have Joe give you an updated review (even informal) in 3 months? That way he will have about 6 months with you and you will know what you really need to work on based on your actual manager’s feedback.

    2. La Revancha*

      I would go to HR and explain this situation, especially since Joe says he “can’t do anything about it”! This isn’t fair to you and is extremely immature on Fergus’ part.

    3. CatCat*

      Can you ask Joe if he will be a reference for you?

      This whole situation blows, but it sounds like Joe is reasonable. You’re not a chump for working hard and it sounds like you have a great reputation with Joe and your peers. It’s probably time to move on and parlay your hard work and experience here into a better opportunity elsewhere. If the organization chooses to reward mediocre performers rather than their top performers, that’s up to them, but you also only need to put up with it until you can find something better.

      1. RVA Cat*

        Seconding this. The fact they let Fergus do this unchecked and poison your reputation with Mike means they really don’t deserve your loyalty.

        1. Anon for this*

          I have to admit I’m not sticking around out of loyalty. This is the only chocolate teapot company in the area, so in order to get another job, I’d either have to move or take a huge pay cut to change industries (my skill set is valuable in chocolate teapot manufacturing, but not so much in any other industry).

    4. Kathenus*

      Good suggestions so far. I’ll add that you might want to add a written response to your review, to Joe and HR, and ask that it become part of the official document stating basically what you did here about what you believe are untrue comments and the examples you gave here that refute them. Sorry you’re dealing with this, but at least Fergus isn’t your manager anymore, so going forward you’ll be in a much better place.

      1. Anon for this*

        I do plan to add a written response. The reviews are processed electronically, and there is a space for employee comments that will get saved along with the review. But I don’t think it will do any good, because the reviews and raises are already finalized. Even though Fergus is no longer my direct manager, he is still going to cause problems for me because I will never get a promotion if he’s involved in the decision.

    5. WellRed*

      Fergus was only your manager for 4 months? Joe has been your manager for half as long and disagrees with much of the review. Fergus is an ass and Joe could push back a bit on the review if he wanted to.

      1. Anon for this*

        Joe also previously worked with me as a peer, so I think he is much more familiar with my work than Fergus, but since Fergus was my manager for slightly longer this year, apparently his opinion is the only one that counts. Joe is a nice guy, but not really inclined to rock the boat by arguing with Fergus.

    6. Close Bracket*

      Oh, that’s terrible! :-( I hope Joe will take it upon himself to be your advocate for a promotion.

  16. Loopy*

    Work from home folks- does anyone have scripts to keep friends and family from intruding on work time with requests for chores and errands? Anything that firmly but politely makes clear that work time absolutely cannot be disrupted. I’ve seen the issue mentioned a lot around the site and am asking from a friend.

    1. SophieChotek*

      Honestly just keep saying “no.”
      And to some point, I just won’t answer the phone/personal email when I am at work, otherwise family/friends get “trained” into thinking I am available.
      It is frustrating – I work from home and my mother not too infrequently calls and asks for some favor…because she knows I can just pop-out and do X.

    2. Temperance*

      I think you need to be more polite than firm, ESPECIALLY when it comes to repeat offenders. I’m a big fan of the whole “no is a complete sentence” movement, but for those who wouldn’t be comfortable, it’s also totally fine to keep repeating “I’m working, I cannot do X”. This is like a million times true for doing other people’s chores(!), which is so shockingly rude to me that I don’t think I could respond in a normal way. I don’t actually do my own chores most of the time, though, so YMMV.

    3. Turtlewings*

      Definitely one factor is to just make it as difficult to interrupt them as possible. Locked door, headphones, Do Not Disturb setting on phone, etc. — trying to get as close as possible to being as physically inaccessible as if they were elsewhere. Whatever messages get through, don’t answer them until work time is over (or at least until it’s time for a break). Don’t reward the unwanted behavior!

    4. Loopy*

      This is great advice! Anyone have issues with people that actually live in the house that might be able to make requests outside of that work time (like over dinner etc.) That can’t necessarily be blocked by not answering phone or text?

      1. Temperance*

        I think it depends on who is doing the asking, and who owns the home. If you own the home, and your parents live with you, you can just shut them down immediately. If your parents own the home, and you live with them, you can say no but then you are more or less obligated to offer an alternative. If the person is your spouse or partner, you have some room for negotiations.

        Booth works from home a lot, and I will ask him if he has time to run a specific errand (for example, running to a store that is only open set hours). He can always say no. It’s a little different, though, because we’re a one car household, so either he does it while WFH, or he’s stuck taking public transit to work so I can do it.

      2. fposte*

        Do you mean “Hey, can you run house errands sometime?” kind of stuff or “Hey, can you give me a ride to practice tomorrow at noon?” In other words, is the problem timing or the level of expectation?

        “Sorry, that’s work hours–gotta work then” is a fine answer to questions like the second. Questions like the first are an “it depends”–that may mean more a conversation about what kind of expectations are appropriate in your household for the various members rather than a simple “I can’t do that on top of a work day.”

        1. Loopy*

          It’s a friend’s situation but I get the sense it’s a lot of little things around the house that add up. Laundry and cleaning that take up too much time to reasonably do while working but need to be done say, because a guest is coming over that evening or that weekend. So it seems like a last minute type of oh, we need to do x and y before guest arrives, can you do that?

          1. fposte*

            “I can’t do it tomorrow because it’s a work day–how about we do it together tonight?”

            But everybody has to do laundry and cleaning, whether they’re working inside or outside of the house, and in the vast majority of shared households it needs some negotiation. It sounds like that needs some discussion in its own right, and if this is living with parents, that is, as suggested, an additional layer of complexity.

      3. justsomeone*

        My dad worked from home most of my childhood (and still does). He made it really clear to us that he was “at work” and we couldn’t treat it any differently than when he worked in an office. “No, sorry I’m working.”

    5. Thlayli*

      I used to work from home a lot and I have always been clear with people what doing stuff during the day entails. So for example if my Mam asked me to do something if it was something I didn’t mind doing I would say something like “no problem it should take about 2 hours on Tuesday I can work late half an hour for four days that week to make it up”. That way I’m still doing the favour but making clear exactly how it is inconveniencing me. If you keep doing this any time you agree then any reasonable person will factor how much it inconveniences you into their requests and they will stop asking for things unless they really need it.
      If it was something I didn’t want to do or for a person I didn’t feel obligated to help I would just say no sorry I’m too busy that day.

      1. Alice*

        I think your second paragraph is right on the mark.
        About your first paragraph — it seems like maybe the “no problem” response you gave as an example actually means “it’s a problem that I can work around this time, but please only ask again if you really need it.” I might need that spelled out for me.

    6. Turquoisecow*

      My husband works from home 2-3 days a week, and his ability to do any other tasks varies depending on what else is going on. If he has a doctor’s appointment or wants to go with me to one, or a worker coming to the house, or something else he needs to get done, he won’t schedule any meetings in that time period. He will often do laundry; take it downstairs at breakfast, move to the dryer at lunch, retrieve at the end of the day, but I don’t really expect any more housecleaning from him aside from occasionally turning on the roomba. He can sometimes make enough time to run an errand (pick up dry cleaning or a prescription) over lunch.

      When we first moved in together, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a work from home environment, since I’ve never been able to do it. The way his job is (and maybe *he* is, he’s basically going to be keeping an eye on emails/slack/etc and if something happens, he’ll jump in even if it’s a day “off” or a weekend or whatever.

      It took me a little while to realize that, even though he’s in the house, he’s mentally in the office. I think that’s harder for someone who’s not in the house with the person working. I was out of work for several months and not allowed to drive for medical reasons, so at first it was like “yay, you’re here!” and while it was nice to not be physically alone, it was not a day off. So if you have someone who is incessantly nagging you about this, maybe it would be helpful to somehow make this more tangible to them, like, lay out your agenda or a typical workday.

      The only time he’s really had other people expect extra from him has been his boundary-crossing Dad and stepmom, who will be in the area and want to meet up at 3pm and not understand that people are at work. But that would be the case even if he were in the office, and while he has trouble saying no sometimes, he’s usually capable of saying no when there’s a work excuse attached.

      1. LAI*

        Thanks for this! The “mentally in the office” thing makes sense to me. I just started working from home one day a week and have been struggling with how to explain it to my partner. He’s a teacher so he’s used to a very strict work schedule, and it’s always clear when he is working or not. I’m exempt in an administrative role, so I have a ton of flexibility. If I were in the office, I might work for an hour, then check personal email quickly, then work for an hour, then grab coffee with a coworker. It’s harder to draw the boundaries, so it was harder for me to explain why, no, I can’t clean up the yard while I’m working from home.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          It was a hard concept for me to grasp when I first started working in the office, because I had this mental image of “at work=working”, after years of school and retail work. But people periodically have personal conversations, or check personal email, or text or look at the internet or whatever, and it’s not a big deal at all.

          I think it helps if you have a set-aside designated work space, like an office or at least a desk, so you can clearly indicate “working” and then have an end time for yourself.

    7. Someone else*

      If the person is also at home and asking me for stuff, I do just default to “I’m still working” and that usually shuts it down pretty quickly. Sometimes “I’m working but will be done at X o’clock, so I can do that/talk to you then.” If they’re not home, I just don’t check my personal email or texts that frequently. If the phone rings and it’s family, I usually answer it “hello, is everything alright?” and if they say yes, straight back to the previous statements. I might be lucky that I don’t get these interruptions frequently and when I do, the above shuts it down. If you’re dealing with someone you’re trying to prevent from doing it in the first place, a firm “I work from X to Y o’clock and can’t talk in between”. But really when makes the most difference is cutting it off in the moment or setting yourself up so you’re not even seeing/replying to the messages until you’re on a lunch break or done for the day.

    8. Erin*

      “No, I’m working til ”

      If it’s a spouse or someone you live with, you need to define very clearly what wFH means. I go into my home office after the bus comes for the kids in the AM, emerge at 5:30. Maybe I get lunch and pee at some point. I do not do errands much less housework!

      If I have an awful call (think 5 hour meeting of which 10 minutes is relevant to me), and I can’t multitask on another work project, I may pop in my Bluetooth and fold laundry or chop veggies quickly.

    9. Mephyle*

      A sales trick – make your ‘no’ a ‘yes’. Lead off your answer by naming when you can do it. Sure, I can do that for you/yes let’s have a coffee together, at XX o’clock [in the evening when you’re off work]/on X day [a day when you schedule your non-work things]. Sorry, I’m on a deadline and I can’t talk now, but I’ll call you back. Is 8 pm all right? Bye now, talk to you later, have a good day.

    10. Specialk9*

      “Oh I’m sorry, my cell coverage is so flaky in this building” and then you don’t answer till after work hours. (I’ve had this situation, legitimately, so it’s completely possible.)

      1. Specialk9*

        Oops sorry, reading fail, you said at home, not just at work.

        My spouse shuts the door to the office when uninterruptible. Our agreement is the door means no.

  17. Sharon*

    Just writing in for sympathy. :) I’ve been job-hunting for a few months because I hate my current job. A couple of weeks ago I was called in for a face to face interview, and that went very well. I was submitted for the position by a staffing agency but I interviewed with the client agency. About a week later (October 26th) I received a phone call from the staffing agency saying the client really liked me and wanted to offer me the position. He told me the salary offer and said I’d hear more from them the following week as they worked through my background check (for a minor clearance). Last Monday I sent an email to him and the client agency with a couple of questions for the hiring manager. They were things I should have asked in the interview but forgot, but since he invited me to email with any other questions I thought of, I thought this would be okay. (The questions were if the job required travel and if the dress code was business formal, nothing outlandish in my opinion.)

    No reply. Then this Thursday night I got an automated email from the client agency’s HR system saying that I was not selected for the position. I suspected a glitch or miscommunication but wanted to just check, so I called the staffing agency rep. No answer, so I left a voicemail. This person’s voicemail was not customized with their name, just an automated “number xxx-xxxx is not available, please leave a message” so after four hours with no return call I thought maybe I had the wrong number. I called another one, got another un-customized voicemail, but I left one more message.

    At this point I think they’ve ghosted on me so I’m not going to contact them again. Very frustrating. They may still come through with communication at some point but as Alison advises us to do, I’m sending out more resumes to more posted openings in my area. The worst frustration ever is when they verbally make an offer and then ghost. Do you guys think I did anything wrong to cause them to run?

    1. Temperance*

      I think your mistake was in calling multiple times. I don’t think this was “ghosting”.

      Four hours isn’t a reasonable time frame to expect a return call, especially if someone is busy.

      1. Sharon*

        Completely agree. I would have waited longer except that the unprofessional (no name) voicemail message made me think that I’d called a wrong number. Or is that common for staffing/recruiting agencies to not put their names in their voicemail systems?

    2. La Revancha*

      Yea, this doesn’t sound like ghosting. It sounds like someone is busy and hasn’t had a chance to check their voicemail.

      1. Sharon*

        I really hope they haven’t ghosted me. But just to clarify/summarize, they have not responded to one email or two voicemail messages (to two different people). I expected them to send me a form to fill out for the background check at the very least. And I wouldn’t have called them at all if I hadn’t seen the “thanks but no thanks” email from the client agency. I think it’s fair to want to know if that’s just a mixup or real.

    3. GG Two shoes*

      Wait, I’m confused, you called them at night? Then four hours later you called again?

      Even if I’m in the office, at my desk, I don’t answer or return calls after work hours. Boundaries.

      1. Sharon*

        No, sorry. I got the email at night, called them the following morning during business hours, and then called a different person at lunchtime. I wouldn’t have called two people if not for the unprofessional voicemail system.

        1. Temperance*

          I actually don’t think it’s unprofessional. I get a ton of unsolicited calls from people who want free legal help, and sometimes, when they hear my name, they start calling reception asking for me and trying to track me down. I don’t return unsolicited calls to people who want my help because every time that I have, it just ends up with the person making unrealistic demands and making their issues my problem. (I used to call back and suggest resources … btu that’s a mistake, because they often have a reason why only my firm can help, so they keep pushing).

          1. Sharon*

            Okay, thanks. This does make me feel a bit better. I’ll just try to be patient and let them contact me on their own timeline.
            (It’s just that lack of communication, especially with something as confusing as being offered a job and then being notified that you were NOT selected for the same job tends to make a person’s imagination run wild wondering what in the heck went wrong!)

            1. Artemesia*

              If you got a message that you were not selected why would you expect any more communication from them? They didn’t ‘ghost’; they told you you were not selected. What more is there to be said? (one followup to the agency to see if there was a misunderstanding was reasonable, but no more)

              1. AshK434*

                She was originally offered the job though. I think some clarification from the staffing agency is justified

        2. Lily in NYC*

          That is so weird. They offered you the position so it was not wrong to call to see what was up when you got the automated rejection. They are probably embarrassed and don’t know what to say to you. RUDE. I’m sorry that this happened to you.

          1. Steph B*

            Yeah, I would definitely consider not working with that staffing agency / recruiter again, if you have options.

            I had an external recruiter contact me again and again about a position, do a full phone interview with me about it, get my details… and then when I asked for a few days to think a little more about the particular company and position, get a disappointed ‘OK then’. When I contacted her the next week saying I was ready to apply… they told me the company actually wanted someone with 2x the experience advertised (from 3-5 years to over 10 years) but would I be interested in relocating to Arizona? (no, no I wouldn’t.).

            I’ve been contacted a few times since by other external recruiters with the same exact job description and based on my discussions with them, it sounds like the recruiter gave me a complete lie about this particular job — the other recruiters aren’t aware of any change in the years of experience desired. I’m not even sure why but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

            In any case, this external recruiter recently contacted me to catch up and I’ve not really felt the desire to call her back.

            1. Sharon*

              Wow, sheesh. You’re right it sounds like she just made some excuse to blow you off. Very unprofessional. On the other hand, at least she’s keeping in touch with you. It sure seems to me that they find the least tiniest excuse to disqualify candidates. Then when you don’t hear back from them your mind goes through all the possible reasons why they blew you off: hair out of place, didn’t smile enough, smiled too much, misspelled a word in the application, transposed numbers in a date on your application, shoes dusty, on and on. And they wonder why we’re all so insecure!

    4. Close Bracket*

      The agency verbally saying that the hiring company wanted to make you an offer is not a job offer. Nothing coming from the agency is a job offer, and unless you work in some industry where written offers are uncommon, nothing verbal is an offer. I know how painful it is to have your hopes raised and then dashed. It’s fair to want to know what changed since you talked to your agency contact, but don’t ask the question thinking you had an offer that was revoked. You never had an offer.

  18. SophieChotek*

    What to do when your title is “inflated”?
    I am applying for jobs and technically my job is something like “Director of Communications/P.R. Coordinator, USA Division” – to me it makes it sound like a have a staff and a big department and tons of experience.

    But honestly, I only have a few years and it is department of just me (I write, edit, publish pretty much everything, though I do share the social media with the PR team overseas) – we almost operate more like a small start-up in the USA where everyone wears multiple hats.

    Do you think it will be clear from my resume that my title doesn’t really quite match my actual experience? Should I put a different title? Mainly I don’t want people to dismiss my resume if I apply for entry level positions and my title is “director” or think I must be really bad at my job if my title is “director” but all the things I mention in my resume or cover letter are more entry level stuff.

    Happy Friday!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you should think of your title as inflated. You may not have the exact experience of other directors, but if you do what you described above, your work is not entry level by any means. I think you can just be clear in your bullet points of your résumé what you were responsible for.

    2. Nervous Accountant*

      I feel that sometimes bc I don’t have the same managerial responsibilities or experience/knowledge as someone else in my job title (Sr tax acc) but the person who promoted me feels I am worth it so.

    3. Amadeo*

      If it were me I’d probably not use that official title and use something more appropriate. At a previous job I was a lot of things, including ‘Press Operator’ according to the owner/boss. I never used that title, I never felt it was appropriate, because all I did to earn that one was babysit the monstrous digital Xerox machine (feed it supplies, clear jams and sometimes cajole it into doing its thing properly, but nothing more).

    4. Turquoisecow*

      Unless you’re in a field where titles are standardized, I think it’s fine to write something that’s more accurate.

      My old job, the company kept rearranging the deck chairs in a futile attempt to save money. Each time, they claimed that positions were “eliminated” to justify mass layoffs; those of us that remained were retitled until my eventual title not only did not reflect the job I was doing, but also would have made no sense to any potential employer. Almost all of us with that title put something else on the resume.

      As long as your resume then clarifies exactly which responsibilities you had while you had that job, I think the specific title is kind of almost irrelevant. Again, depending on field!

    5. LAI*

      I think it’s still fair to use your title. Even if you’re not supervising staff, you’re still running the entire PR effort for your organization right? That’s still more responsibility than someone who reports to a director, since the director is presumably the one making final decisions. But just be clear about your actual responsibilities on your resume, and use your cover letter to make it clear that you understand and are excited about the specific duties of the job you’re applying for.

    6. Five after Midnight*

      I would use a title that reflects the jobs you’re applying for. As a recruiter once told me: “you need to be selling what they are buying”.
      First and foremost, your resume is a marketing document whose sole purpose is to get you an interview. This, of course, doesn’t mean you lie and add things you’ve never done or claim skills you don’t posses – it needs to pass “the truth in advertising” test. But it is an advertisement. Once you get to an interview, you can be upfront about the actual title and explain the context.
      Second, using the inflated title (notice no quotation marks) may get you prematurely eliminated from the hiring process because a/someone quickly scanning your resume will see “director” and toss it into the “no” pile because you’re overqualified – they will never get to your accomplishments; or b/if someone actually gets to your achievements listed under “director” the mismatch between them and the title will send up a red flag (or at least a yellow one) that you’re inflating your importance – it’s not likely, given the amount of time spent by screeners on each cv, anyone will bother thinking twice about it or checking out your current company or your LinkedIn profile.
      And yes, to me “director” means staff management and about a decade of progressive experience.

    7. Specialk9*

      Why do you think you are entry-level, if most places need multiple people to do what you do singlehandedly? That’s actually really impressive!

    8. publicista*

      From someone in that industry, those two positions named in your title are several promotions apart, so I would be confused for sure. But reading your resume would clear it up, as well as just looking at how long it’s been since you graduated from college. Hopefully any HR person worth their salt would actually look at the person’s resume before rejecting them based on title alone. However, if you have a few years experience, you should be applying to entry-level positions.

      If you want to, you could always reverse it – PR Coordinator/Director of Communications – so that they maybe see the Coordinator part first, since that is more on track with industry norms for your experience.

      If I might ask, why do you have those 2 titles? They seem to imply vastly different positions.

      1. publicista*

        EDIT to my comment above – you SHOULDN’T be applying to entry-level positions!! Can’t figure out how to edit sorry!

  19. Sunflower*

    Are there certain industry sales jobs that are easier/harder to break into? I’m interested in medical device but my research says it’s difficult to get into. I have a wide variety of industry interests though.

    1. La Revancha*

      It’s very difficult to get into medical sales (on the sales side). I used to work for St. Jude Medical (now Abbott) in their contracts department and thought about going into medical sales before I left the company. I spoke with a few people and there are a few ways to go about it, but here is what experience/education most people had:

      1) Hospital working background, either as a nurse or OR tech
      2) Science background (usually biology) with a lot of sales working experience
      3) Master’s degree in business with sales experience

      I think your best bet if you don’t have the above experience is to get a job at the company in a department where you would be working with the sales team directly (sales operations, contract operations, product marketing), specifically a department where you would need to learn a lot about the products that the company sells. After a couple of years of doing this, you could probably ease your way into a sales position. Another option, if you have a science background but not necessarily the above experience I listed, get a job supporting the sales team as a tech. This person is in the operating room with the doctors, working with the products sold, and supports the sales team. Good luck! :)

    2. Stellaaaaa*

      Natural foods and beauty products. It’s a growing industry that attracts people with a lot of…quirks. People who are pleasant enough to work in a sales context can be very successful.

  20. Susan*

    So this is a little situation–I found out a while back taht a few of my coworkers got together and created their own little company doing the exact same thing we do. there’s speculation that they may be taking our clients.

    Heres the dilemma–One of those people is someone on my team. The person who told me asked to keep it quiet even though they’re not involved. Others know so it’s not a huge secret.

    I was struggling with deciding whether I should tell my mgr or not. I just feel like….if this comes to light, it’s possible that HE can land in hot water for not knowing this. Again, the side hustle isn’t an issue, it’s the taking of clients. He’s someone I trust and respect a lot.

    What would you guys do in this situation? Keep quiet or tell?

    1. AMPG*

      If you don’t KNOW that they’re trying to take clients, I’d stay out of it. If you’re wrong, the blowback could hurt you, and there’s very little upside for you personally even if you’re right. If you have proof, then I think it’s your call – you don’t have to tell, but it’s understandable why you would.

    2. Nanc*

      It’s unethical. If you want to start a competitive business, fine, but poaching clients the current business has spent time and money on to build relationships is just skeevy. If your current company is under NDA with the current clients poaching them most likely violates that NDA and you don’t want go get caught up in the resulting poop storm.

      If it were me and I respected and trusted my manager, I’d tell. As to the person on your team who asked you not to tell, they have no right to ask you to keep a secret that could potentially impact your own job. If you don’t want to tell your manager, you might at least refuse to discuss the competitor at all because when it blows up–and it will–and your company finds out you knew it’s going to create trust issues.

    3. La Revancha*

      I knew someone who did this at a law firm I worked at. HR somehow heard about it and investigated his side business. It was a direct conflict with his contract with the firm and he was fired. If you decide to do something, HR will likely investigate to see whether or not your coworkers are stealing clients.

    4. Lily in NYC*

      Tell your manager. Think about the hell you will go through if clients leave and someone finds out you knew and didn’t say anything. Most companies would fire you for that.

    5. Nico M*

      What good will it do you to tell?
      Seems to me: you aren’t greatly outraged, you aren’t worried you’ll be punished, and there’s no reward .
      So keep quiet.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t see how your manager could get in trouble if he genuinely knows nothing about the secret company.

      I would absolutely tell if I knew that not telling was against company policy and if I knew that I would personally reprimanded for not telling.

      If none of this applies to your setting my next hurdle would be figuring out time frame. The more people who know the more likely someone is to blow the cover. I have often joked that I am the last person who gets told this stuff, so if I know then the whole place knows and the countdown to discovery has begun.

      One suggestion I have is to back to the person who told you and say, “I am really uncomfortable with what you told me. Do you think we need to go together to report it or do you think management is close to figuring it out?” This may help you decide.

  21. Bend & Snap*

    Thanks to everyone who has given advice through my changing jobs saga. Last week I was asked to do a final interview with the C-level. This week I was asked to do two additional interviews, and learned that I’m in the final two. Should know next week.

    I was also floated a new role where I am.

    Cross your fingers!

  22. Nervous Accountant*

    I got in touch w the recruiter and turned down the second interview. I know I didnt’ want to proceed, but I still feel kind of crappy/weird bout it. A tiny part of me thinks I should have just gone ahead, gotten an offer and then used that for a counteroffer since I was told they were willing to match me at a really high salary i named. But I don’t think that’s ethical, and I didn’t watn to waste anyones’ time and I’m hoping karma rewards me for not being like this (although I know that’s not how it works). It would have been at least nice to see someone acknowledge that Im worth $XX.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, I think you made good choices here. Sometimes being fair/ethical sucks, we take one on the chin. But over time people notice and they start realizing, “Hey, NA is a square shooter, she plays a fair game even when it might be a disadvantage to her. I wanna talk with/work with NA.”

      Your intuition went into warp-drive on that one. Probably for a reason. You probably made a good call.

    2. Specialk9*

      I think you’re overthinking. Getting a counteroffer is just part of the game. Conduct yourself ethically, yes, but this is not an example of behaving ethically. It’s just how things are done.

      1. AshK434*

        Don’t listen to this advice. I don’t know if this is ethical per say but it’s a shitty thing to do to waste a company’s time if you already know you definitely won’t take the job

  23. anon scientist*

    Earlier this week my boss plucked a hair from my head. I was talking to some colleagues and I had a stray hair (it was outside in the wind) and she just came up and plucked it from my head. Her excuse was that it was OK because it was gray….

    On a related note, has anyone done freelance editing/proofreading/copyediting for scientific writing? I’m wondering how easy it is to find work. Can it be a full time job, or at least supplement a lower paying job?

    I want out before I am bald.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I would have yelped and possibly (unthinkingly) swatted at whoever did that. Plucking a hair hurts! Besides, I say about my grey hairs that each one has a story.

      1. Steph B*

        Yeah, I am totally going grey in my early 30s and to be honest I am in love with it. I have a chronic condition that 30 years ago would have meant I might not live to grow old, and now I have the tools to live a happy long life. Each grey hair has been earned, darnit.

    2. Snark*

      Honestly, my feeling is that funding is so tight that most researchers couldn’t afford this, but there’s certainly a need for it . You could certainly supplement with it, but it might be a while before you have enough business to freelance.

      1. anon scientist*

        Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking, too. I may try to target non-native English speakers, since that’s a lot of what I do in my current job (edit writing in English that is written by people who speak another language as their first language). Also, the funding situation is a bit better in some parts of the world.

        1. Birch*

          I did some freelance language proofreading in northern Europe, affiliated with a university. Sometimes you can apply to Language Services or Student Services type departments, if the university has one. You can also just advertise directly to students with prices that are competitive with the official university services, particularly for dissertations, since the university affiliated services are really expensive and at least where I am, only certain writing is covered by the departmental funding. It depends on the particular university area, how many foreign students there are and how strict the culture is about good quality writing. It’s ok for pocket money if you price yourself well, but it’s hard to find the work. It might be good to try to make connections at a university, or what about something like an online science magazine?

      2. paul*

        If your science funding is being hit as hard as our health/human services funding, you have my sympathies. It’s been a rough couple of years and its’ only going to get worse.

    3. DaniCalifornia*

      I’m sorry….WHAT?!?!? I would have been thoroughly annoyed at that. What did you say to her?

      1. anon scientist*

        In a kind of joking tone I said “I’ve been physically assaulted”, and then one of the colleagues said she needed harassment training. I think she thought it was all joking, but in reality I was kind of serious, and I think the colleague was as well. One of them looked truly shocked, and the other looked less shocked but knows my boss quite well, and this, sadly is not shocking behaviour for her.

        1. Alice*

          Look, she shouldn’t have touched you, but I think the joking-but-not-really-joking approach was maybe not the response. Maybe, if it happens again, just say “please don’t do that again” or “never do that again” in a serious, level tone of voice? That way there will not be any uncertainty in her mind about whether you were joking or not.

          Good luck in the job search.

          1. anon scientist*

            I definitely recognize that it wasn’t the best response, but I was pretty startled. It was an automatic response. I’m just lucky my brain went with that over “what the F do you think you are doing?!”

      2. anon scientist*

        Hm, I think my reply got eaten, or is in moderation. When it happened, I made a joke that she had assaulted me, and the colleagues looked pretty shocked at the hair plucking. I think she thinks it is all a joke. Sadly, this is not too out of character for her. Hence, looking for other work opportunities.

        1. Snark*

          “You keep doing that, boss, I’m coming for your gray hairs.” o_o

          “HAHAHA, you’re funny, anon scientist.” :D

          “Am I.” o_o

          “…..oh.” O_o

    4. JaneB*


      Will also be interested in any replies, I have the same question (although I want out or at least part time before I actually throw something at my boss…)

    5. Grrrr*

      I do the job you mentioned, sort of. I do it for people outside the US whose first language is not English. I just do it for a bit of spare money in addition to my day job, so they pay can be extremely variable if you do it freelance. It might be better if you work for a company. However, it is my understanding that there is a mostly unwritten rule that Anglophone researchers will be responsible for their own writing for publication in journals and it is somewhat unethical to use a professional technical writer, depending on what sort of institution the researcher works at. However, in the countries where my clients work it is expected that they will use a professional technical writer in order to get published in Anglophone journals. I also do it for non-Anglophones applying for research grants that require English applications, like some of the international conservation trusts. I generally do that gratis, though, for friends who work at non-profits. You could always look at textbook corporations, I suspect they might have some related jobs. What about applying for grant writer positions at academic institutions or science non-profits?

    6. MLiz*

      That’s my side gig (copyediting and translations for science), but I’m also treating that as a side gig. It makes me some nice pocket money and keeps my name in the field. I like doing it on the side, the experience I gathered has also led to me getting full time employment in the past, so there’s that.

      As for ease getting into it, I was rather lucky to still have some contacts from my previous academic organization (even though I left on pretty bad terms with my supervisor who was toxic) and still get some steady work from them. I also did some work for (pharmaceutical) industry partners in the past and that was a nice bit of cash to have on hand. So if you have any contacts still into some academic settings that would be good and helpful to get started.

      Though it depends on what specifically you want to do. I have a friend who now is a major editor for a Big Name Academic Journal (think big 3) and she started with an internship.

    7. Mephyle*

      I do editing/proofreading for all kinds of academic writing, in diverse fields. I got into it through freelance translating. I don’t remember how my first contacts found me (except for some that found me where I have a profile on translator job websites), but once you know one person from a department or a research group, they refer you to their colleagues, students and post-grads if they like what you do.
      It’s good if you can offer LaTeX editing; I don’t think a large proportion of editors can.
      It’s a part-time job for me, but on the other hand, I’m not actively seeking clients, I just take them as they come to me. If you hustled, you could probably make it fairly lucrative, though I don’t know if it would be enough to make a living.
      For some academics, whose English is not that strong, I find it invaluable to know something about their native language, because I can recognize the ‘false friends’ in their vocabulary and syntax. Sometimes they write something that seems to mean one thing, but you know it actually means another because you recognize they confused an English word with one that looks the same in their language but means something different.

      1. Mephyle*

        Oh, another thing, I have hardly ever met any of my clients in person, so they would not have an opportunity to lay hands on my hair.
        I feel outrage on your behalf.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        How did you find your LaTeX clients? I am relatively well-versed in it and did some document conversion and table design for a journal for a while, but they switched to an agency and the agency wasn’t interested in hiring remote people, even though they didn’t have the LaTeX expertise in house. :-(

        1. Mephyle*

          Some through my husband, who is a math professor; some through my profiles on translation websites; and some I have no idea where the initial contact first found me, but he has sent quite a few other colleagues and fellow researchers to me over the years.
          Too bad about that agency, there should be other agencies that work exclusively with remote freelancers. Maybe you could try searching for those.

    8. anon scientist*

      Thanks for the insight on the possibilities with editing. I think I’ll try to get a few jobs and see how it goes. I’m pretty sure it won’t be a full solution but maybe it will help me save a bit in case I need to get out before I have another job, or supplement a lower paying job. I’d rather be doing something other than what my current job is, but all other prospects pay less, so I’d need to find some additional income somewhere.

    9. Specialk9*

      Rand and Mitre are two science oriented consulting companies. They tend to do very technical science based analyses for govt or industry. They might have opportunities in your area, or remote work.

    10. Not a Galway Girl*

      At my university, some of the departments have a full-time staff person listed as “Department Writer.” This is usually someone with a Ph.D. in a different field. They help with various kinds of academic writing, including giving workshops to grad students or polishing reports that have been put together by several different people.

  24. Snark*

    It’s that time of the week again! Is Alison’s advice insufficiently salty? Do you want sass rather than wisdom? Do you need someone to validate your worst instincts? Do you just want a funny story? It’s time to….

    ASK SNARK! *cheering, confetti*

      1. Snark*

        As of last week, this is a thing. Not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s something.

      1. Snark*

        My advice would be to get your PFFTCHCHCHCHCH out of the way before your next staff meeting, not during.

    1. Lady Dedlock*

      Awesome! Here’s my q:

      I’ve taken on a bunch of higher level tasks since I was last promoted (about 3 years ago), and I recently went from having no direct reports to having one. I also had my performance review about a month ago, and it was stellar. My boss says that we’ll talk about putting in for a raise/promotion for me in the spring, after I’ve been supervising for a while and can say I’ve been doing it successfully. How do I tell him that I’ve already proved myself sufficiently? I feel like this is one of those times where, if I were a man, the promotion would have come when I took on new responsibilities.

      1. Snark*

        I think your additional high-level tasks and supervisory responsibilities call for a raise/change of title just on their own, not coupled to managerial performance. But how recently is recently? Because honestly, if it’s less than six months, he…miiiiiight….have a point about wanting to see you in action as a manager for a little longer before assessing your performance doing that. I might advocate for the approach of arguing that your additional responsibilities alone qualify you for a bump of some kind now, decoupled from your manager role which he wants to assess with more time under your belt. Feel me?

        1. Lady Dedlock*

          Recently is like 6 weeks ago. Maybe my question should have been “Dear Snark, how do I stop being so impatient?”

    2. nerkie*

      So my co-worker found out that I was reading a book on how to deal with sensitive co-workers… because of her. When she confronted me about it, I fully admitted to it and even cheerfully said that a lot of the tips were helping because it appeared our working relationship was getting better.
      The problem? I don’t think she understood that I was reading the book because of MY short-comings, not hers. I have a very difficult time relating to people on an emotional basis and she is very emotional. There is nothing wrong with that, but it was causing friction because my corrections were coming across as “overly harsh” (my managers words), and like I was being mean.
      The book has helped me immensely in learning how to communicate corrections and change in assignments in a positive manner.
      How do I smooth this over?

      1. Snark*

        I’d just circle back with her and reassure her. “I just wanted to clarify with you – I’m not reading that book to learn how to deal with you, I’m learning how to deal with ME! I have a hard time not coming off harsh and the book is giving me ways to work around that, so I wanted to reassure you that you DON’T HAVE TO TAKE EVERYTHING SO GODDAMN SERIOUSLY DAMMIT.”

        Maaaybe not that last part.

            1. nerkie*

              Conversation went smoothly! And I did add the last part once I’d gauged her to be in a joking mood. Problem fixed for now!

    3. Aurion*

      Dear Snark,

      Between technology issues, vendor screwups, and miscellaneous acts of god outside of my control, I am about ready to set the internet on fire. My boss said to me yesterday, for the first time ever, that “you seem really frustrated”.

      Some people are as cool as ice in the face of the apocalypse. I need to know their secret.

      1. Snark*

        If your boss is merely telling you seem “really frustrated” while the red mist clouds your very eyes, I think you have already found the secret within you, my compadre.

          1. Lora*

            Actual brush with death on a semi-regular basis works. Seriously, most chill people I know did multiple tours of duty in Iraq/Afghanistan. I am fairly chill and have had multiple cancer Dxs, plus been through a lot of personal crap (divorce from abuser, beloved relatives dying young sort of thing).

            You may wish to question whether this is something you truly want though – I regularly get the complaint that I don’t take work seriously or don’t care as much as someone thinks I should about a thing, specifically because I don’t freak out about stuff the complainer feels I should be upset about. The person complaining NEVER thinks of it from my perspective, that they are acting like an overwrought child upset about the wrong flavor juice served at snack time.

            1. Mal The College Student(Again)*

              Seconding this – I was a police/fire/EMS dispatcher in a previous life and when I get the inecvitable interview question of: “How do you handle a stressful situation” and/or “What if three people want the same thing at once?”
              And I tell them, you cannot stress me out. Even if you are dying, it’s fine. I can and have instructed CPR over the phone, been one the line during an armed robbery and had a knife pulled on an officer. YOU CAN’T SCARE ME, STRESS ME OUT OR FLUSTER ME.”
              Seriously though, like, paperwork? meetings? presentations? Psh. Bring it.

              ***I am also very shy, so please don’t make me answer the door and give out candy to trick-or-treaters – I SWEAR this happened last week – I’ve never lived anywhere with trick-or-treaters, but I am so hopeful we’d have some at our new house that this year when my husband yelled “there are kids coming up the walkway, go give them candy!” I panicked and was like, “I can’t, I can’t, I don’t know how!” And I LITERALLY got sweat on my brow because I was so nervous. I had a troll, Spiderman and a mini-police officer at the door. It was terrifying, LOL.

              But like, work stuff? YOU CANNOT SCARE ME ANYMORE.

            2. Camellia*

              OMG I call this “my yardstick”! Compared to what I’ve been through in my life, work stuff (and a lot of other ‘life’ stuff) just isn’t that big a deal.

              I’ve tried to explain this to a select few, asking them what is the worst thing that ever happened to you – now, how does this thing stack up to that? But they don’t really seem to get it. When they say, ‘I would die if I had to get up and speak in front of people!’ I’m silently thinking, no, you might die if you angered my mother at the wrong moment so having the courage to speak up anyway, as a child? Well, the stress of public speaking doesn’t hold a candle to that.

              1. Lora*

                You wanna hear something messed up – I just had an interview with a guy who remembered me from a previous job/project (we both since moved on), who thought I’d be a good fit for a new project that landed on his desk. The reason he thought that I’d be great was because I was the only person in the office who reacted to the resident temper tantrum-throwing hosebeast with utter calm and politeness – everyone else started crying or shouting back. The job apparently has a lot of all different types of personalities to work with…not sure how I feel about that.

                1. Specialk9*

                  That’s a really bad sign. He just told you that he thought ‘gosh who do I know who could handle a horrifically toxic working environment?’ Run, my dear, run fast and far!

    4. No, please*

      This reminds me of Ask Oscar on Sesame Street! It’s great! Here’s my question: My husband’s coworker asked if they would close the office for Halloween. Husband laughed and asked why he thought that would happen. Coworker said other businesses closed in Halloween. Have you ever heard of a business closing for Halloween? What would your response have been? The business is water restoration. Husband and coworker both respond to jobs on-site and do mitigation work.

      1. Aurion*

        I feel like restoration anything would be well-served to be open on Halloween and surrounding weekend nights due to possibilities of pranks gone wrong…

        1. No, please*

          Well, they did a murder scene clean up this week. It was a Halloween party gone wrong situation. So your assumption is correct!

            1. No, please*

              Husband googled the family and found a Wikipedia page about a past murder in the homeowners family. It’s become the topic of all shop talk this week.

      2. Snark*

        Actually, yes, our office closes on Halloween. It’s more of a practicality thing. I’m fully embodied, but most of my coworkers are phantasms and haints, and the entire admin staff are poltergeists, and with that many of us out, we’d have serious coverage problems and nobody’d be around to man the ouija boards. We just chalked it up to religious accommodations.

          1. Snark*

            In all seriousness, LOL WHAT NO. Nobody closes for Halloween. I think my response would have been incredulous laughter followed by a headdesk.

    5. HigherEd on Toast*

      Dear Snark,

      One of my colleagues is a deeply negative person who I can get along with professionally but don’t want to spend much time with or have personal conversations with. The problem is, they have a lot of friends here who are also my friends, and almost inevitably a casual conversation I’m having with these friends will turn into, “Did you hear about [negative colleague’s easily solvable problem that has been going on for years]? Isn’t [negative colleague] so BRAVE AND AWESOME for struggling through life?”

      What’s the best way to retain these friendships while also not hearing all about how negative colleague’s life is falling apart this week?

      1. Artemesia*

        ‘She sure loves drama otherwise she would (solution to easily solvable problem) and not make a career of it.’

        but then my friends know me.

    6. Grrrr*

      Dear Snark,
      I am wearing a shirt that says “It’s too peopley outside”. Should I care that it is unprofessional?

      Also, my coworker just texted me and wants me to bring some files outside, so that she doesn’t have to come in the building. I have already been bending over backwards for her lately, so I am ignoring her. There are at least 4 other people she can ask to bring her said files. Am I an awful person (and should I care)?

      1. Snark*

        Issue 1: Depends where you work, but I think after this week, most of us have burned through all our f**ks and can give no more, so you do you.

        Issue 2: Screw it, let someone else get peopled on for her convenience.

        1. Grrrr*

          Yesterday I overheard boss describing a desire to dress as a squirrel, climb a tree, and throw nuts at people. I think the shirt is probably fine.

    7. Can't Sit Still*

      My cube neighbor talks about horribly personal things on the phone all the time. Loudly. I’ve heard about her issues with her HOA, her dying father, and now, her yeast infection and how much it itches. How do I make it stop? My manager sympathizes, but can’t let me move, due to department politics. Help!

      1. Snark*


        Srs biznesz now: have you tried talking to her about it? I recommend being discreet and polite, but also embarrassing her. “Bleminda, I’m not sure you’re aware, but I can hear just about every word of your discussions about your personal family health issues and your yeast infection, and, well, it’s just not something I imagine you want me to know about. Can I suggest you take sensitive conversations to the break room or outside? Thanks! Hope your bits feel better.”

        1. Mephyle*

          I thought cranberry juice is for urinary infection. For yeast infection… yogurt? Or is it something else?

            1. Specialk9*

              Insert it. But don’t… only do that if actual medication doesn’t work. Some people have chronic problems and need regular microbiome supplementation, but should really be talking with a registered dietician who can test their strain of candida yeast and make a plan of attack for yeast overgrowth.

              So basically, OTC yeast suppositories first, then prescription pill, then nutritionist and a tailored plan of supplements.

    8. Mike Logan's interchangeable female partner on L&O CI*

      Dear Snark,

      I have one of *those* co-workers who think they are amazing and always has an answer (usually a negative one) for everything. She is never wrong. Please send help and sanity and some butter to go with my BEC.

      1. Snark*

        I have no sanity to spare and these people are beyond help. All I can offer is some hummus to dip those crackers in.

        1. Artemesia*

          Dear Snark
          If you want to write your own advice column should you not set up your own site and not hijack Alison’s?

          1. Snark*

            Because that’s not what I’m attempting to do. But thanks for the benefit of the doubt! I’ll make sure to return it.

    9. Argh!*

      Dear Snark,

      My boss and her boss want me to be a Stepford Wife. I have been a human being for over fifty years and I don’t think I can do this! Any advice?

        1. Argh!*

          I can’t express any emotions. I can’t be frustrated when someone refuses to do their job and it affects my job. I can’t tell my boss anything personal about myself, and she won’t tell me anything about herself. I can’t tell my boss if something isn’t working. She doesn’t want bad news, and I get written up if I vent to someone else. If I let down my guard I’ll be tattled on. I’m expected to pretend things are good even when they suck.

          When I first got here, several of the women seemed phony to me and now I know why.

          Also, it seems my ideas are more valuable and interesting if a man repeats them in a meeting after I first bring them up.

          1. Snark*

            Serious hat on: Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change. If you’re getting penalized or frozen out for discussing frustrations and challenges with your boss, and you’re not allowed to feel negative even about someone’s non-performance, then the culture where you work is probably fatally flawed. It sounds like an awful place to be.

            If you wanted to be confrontational about it, you could call your boss out on it. “Boss, I’ve noticed that you really don’t like it when I bring you bad news about a project or get frustrated when Fergus refuses to pet the llamas. I’m trying my very hardest not to be unnecessarily negative, but I’m finding it really hard to not be able to work toward resolution on truly negative issues, and it results in my feeling more negative and frustrated than I would otherwise. Is there a way I can discuss issues like that openly with you moving forward?”

            But I don’t see that getting much traction with someone who’s like, nope, around here we ignore our problems! So.

            1. Argh!*

              Any advice on a snarky reply to “Why are you applying for this job?” or “What do you like most and least about your current job”????

              1. Snark*

                ““Why are you applying for this job?”

                I need a reason to put on pants in the morning, and I need money to buy pants.

                “What do you like most and least about your current job.”

                I like that they’re willing to exchange pay for labor, and I dislike their value assessment.

    10. Solidus Pilcrow*

      Dear Snark,

      Last week a colleague introduced me to 2CELLOS and now I have their “Trooper Overture” * going round and round in my head. Should I send my co-worker a fruit basket or punch him in the face?

      (* The piece is a mashup of the William Tell Overture and Iron Maiden’s The Trooper, performed with cellos. Link to YouTube vid in my username.)

    11. Ihmmy*

      Dear Snark,
      I have a smelly coworker who was recently moved in to the same shared office as me. They swear they don’t use perfumed or scented products but every day there is a scent, and about every third day it’s strong enough to give me a headache. They talk about how when dressed down about this by their supervisor they have nearly been in tears about it. How do I deal with this? I’m exhausted from these chronic headaches but I don’t want to make my coworker cry.
      xoxo Ihmmy

      1. Snark*

        Don’t dress them down, but I think it’s totally possible to talk about this with them. They can’t hold everybody hostage with the prospect of crying. First, I think you need to try to identify what the smell…smells like. Is it floral, sweet, fruity, acidic/vinegary, what? Then….

        “Hey. Jane, I know you’ve caught a lot of flak about this in the past and it’s truly not my intent to upset you, but would you be willing to work with me to figure out what’s carrying a scent? This is causing me chronic headaches and it’s really not sustainable, so can you help me figure it out? It’s kind of floral, so my thinking is that it comes from a soap or cleaning agent.”

        1. Ihmmy*

          sadly we’ve pretty much already had that talk, and they insist they don’t know what’s causing the scent and they use unscented everything now and it’s just so hard to be them.

            1. Specialk9*

              Yeah, lots of “unscented” things just so happen to actually have a scent, sometimes really strong! It’s baffling actually.

      1. But Seriously*

        Maybe I lack sufficient humor to appreciate Dear Snark, but it seems disrespectful and a bit parasitic to be building your own following on Alison’s blog. Doing it once was a bit of fun, but repeating it just seems ethically squidgy.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I don’t think it’s parasitic (and I think it’s pretty funny!) but I do want to ask that it not become a regular thing because it adds a huge amount of comments to a thread that’s already overwhelmingly long for a lot of people. (And some people don’t read the open thread anymore because of the length.) Thank you!

          1. Snark*

            Sure thing. Might do it very occasionally, with your blessing, but I’ll keep it down. And glad you find it amusing.

        2. Snark*

          My advise to you, my compadre, is to let Alison decide how she feels about this and cut the hyperbole.

  25. Rowan*

    Topic for discussion: a company in Japan is given non-smokers six extra vacation days annually, to encourage people to quit and also to make up for time they don’t take on smoke breaks. Link to follow. Thoughts?

    1. Snark*

      Honestly, it probably just barely makes up for the cumulative FTEs swallowed up by smoke breaks, so I’m fine with that.

    2. SophieChotek*

      I am fine with it. Even working in the coffee shop for 8 hour shifts and having the smokers take 15 minutes to take out the trash, every 2 hours, is frustrating. To me it’s fair.

    3. Temperance*

      I think that is more than fair. The smokers in my office are outside nearly every 60 – 90 minutes, and it’s *not* like they aren’t also grabbing coffees, chatting with friends, etc.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I think it’s a great idea. I’d be fine with it being even more than six vacation days, too.

    5. MsMorlowe*

      I’ve never worked anywhere that I (or any other smoker) could take paid smoking breaks, so that’s strange to me, but yeah, I think that sounds fair.

      1. fposte*

        Most exempt employees can take smoke breaks without changing their compensation; it’s the non-exempt ones that probably can’t.

      2. Temperance*

        In my office, all the admin staff is required to clock in and out for lunch, but the HR system we use doesn’t have a mechanism for smoke breaks … so they get paid to smoke. Every CS job that I had only gave paid breaks to smokers, too.

    6. Been there*

      Why do non smokers complain about the smokers breaks, when they could just as easily get up from their desk and wander outside for a couple of minutes without the actual smoking part?

      I’ve never understood that, it’s not like there is a bouncer out in the smoking area checking for lucky strikes.

      Seriously the next time Fergus gets up for a smoke, get up at the same time and take a walk, go out and talk to Fergus, Sam, Wakeen and the rest of the smokers, look out the window, grab coffee.

      1. Snark*

        Talking to the smokers is a nonstarter because the smell is revolting. And frankly, I’ve got shit to do. So do the smokers. I focus best when I don’t interrupt myself, and lunch and two breaks is more than adequate for my break-taking needs throughout the day.

        1. Been there*

          So then I’m still confused if you don’t want to take the breaks then why does it matter if they do?

          It’s like this…

          Fergus: Ughh I hate those people that who can just walk up to flowers and sniff them… what about all of us with allergies, it’s so unfair.
          Wakeen: Here, take this allergy pill, if you take this you can smell all the flowers you want
          Fergus: No, I hate the smell of flowers, they stink, I prefer to sniff candles instead. I don’t need any flower smells in my life. Damn those flower smellers though… it’s still not fair.

          1. Snark*

            See below. It’s time theft.

            Oh, and your flower analogy is nonsense unless we’re assuming everybody goes out to smell the flowers every 90-180 minutes all day and takes 10-15 minutes of paid time to do it.

            1. Snark*

              Or, put another way: I’m not asking for more breaks. I’m asking for smokers to get their asses back inside and work.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        I’m not complaining about anybody’s breaks. But I don’t need breaks as often as the smokers do. If they’re going to be taking that many breaks, why should they complain if I get six vacation days? Maybe I don’t want a break when they want to take a break. Maybe I prefer vacation days instead.

        1. Snark*

          That’s the thing. Not only do I not need a break, I don’t actually want one.

          And I am going to complain about their breaks. Let’s generously assume the average smoke break is 10 minutes (actually 15, usually) and the average smoker takes three of them a day (which is on the low side), and your smoker is taking a second paid lunch every day. That’s five hours a pay period, and if you work 25 pay periods a year (26 total, minus one for vacation) that’s 125 hours a year.

          That’s over a pay period and a half you’re getting paid to do absolutely nothing of any business value while your more productive coworkers shoulder the load. I think smoke breaks are time theft.

      3. Old Cynic*

        I tried, as a non-smoker, taking breaks when the smokers did. I got called on it. I pointed out the smokers were taking breaks too but was told it was ok since they can’t smoke at their desks anymore.

    7. kas*

      Love it. At an old job, the smokers were outside almost every hour and they would all go at the same time. I hated it because I couldn’t take the same breaks.

    8. caledonia*

      Given that Japanese work culture has recently been in the news in the UK for very negative reasons (overwork), this is probably a way for them to get more work out of the employees. Link in the new comment

    9. Turquoisecow*

      I saw this and thought it was something interesting to ask here also!

      I’ve worked with smokers who were discrete and took few (short) breaks and I’ve worked with some who took a lot of long breaks. There was one guy who used to annoy others because whenever they had a team meeting to discuss a large project, he would head out for a smoke break right after. The others would be ready to get started right away but he’d go outside for ten-fifteen minutes first. Either they had to wait for him before brainstorming, or they’d have to repeat their conclusions when he returned.

      I occasionally went outside with a smoking coworker despite not smoking; we didn’t have formal breaks aside from lunch and I wanted a few minutes away from my desk. It isn’t fair that they should get an increased amount of time off simply for indulging their habit, so giving me that time cumulatively sounds great.

  26. anon this time*

    I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here, but I am currently job searching and also have a very sick immediate relative. If I were to be offered a new position, I was wondering if it would be a good idea to give my manager a heads up about the situation? Or would it just make them wonder about my level of commitment?

    Honestly it’s not a great time to be job searching but my current position might end early in the new year.

    1. nerkie*

      So my co-worker found out that I was reading a book on how to deal with sensitive co-workers… because of her. When she confronted me about it, I fully admitted to it and even cheerfully said that a lot of the tips were helping because it appeared our working relationship was getting better.
      The problem? I don’t think she understood that I was reading the book because of MY short-comings, not hers. I have a very difficult time relating to people on an emotional basis and she is very emotional. There is nothing wrong with that, but it was causing friction because my corrections were coming across as “overly harsh” (my managers words), and like I was being mean.
      The book has helped me immensely in learning how to communicate corrections and change in assignments in a positive manner.
      How do I smooth this over?

    2. anon scientist*

      I would tell the new manager. I’m not sure whether I would say something at the offer stage, but I definitely would say something once I started just in case you need some time off at short notice. I would hope that any sane manager wouldn’t question your commitment. But I’ve worked for some insane managers, so it’s always a possibility I guess.

    3. Book Lover*

      I wouldn’t mention it. But do see if you have a chance to check out the culture or the new place, work life balance, that sort of thing. I am sorry about your relative :(

    4. Faith*

      Two and a half years ago I was in the middle of an interview process when my dad was diagnosed with an aggressive terminal cancer. I got an offer but knew I would only accept it if I got a sense that the new place would be understanding of the situation, especially since the organization I was trying to leave was letting me work remotely while visiting my dad (working remotely wasn’t usually a thing there). I wasn’t expecting as much flexibility at the new place, of course, but I did want to hear how they responded, so I told the person who called me with the offer (not my manager) what was going on. He really gave me the sense that the workplace is very understanding of “life” issues – in fact, his own wife had cancer so he often needed to take time off, and one of his reports had just been out for several months for her mother’s illness and subsequent death – and I trusted what he was saying enough to take the offer. I’m really glad I had that reassurance at the offer stage, and it did turn out to be totally true that my manager and the higher-ups were understanding and flexible about my need to take some time off as my dad got sicker and ultimately passed away.

      So basically – I did get lucky in terms of how flexible my workplace is, and of course my situation is different from yours because I didn’t need to take a new job and it sounds like you may, but I do think it was really worth bringing it up before accepting the position.

      1. anon this time*

        Thanks! Part of my issue is also that I work in an industry with few jobs and the expectation of lots of overtime, low pay, and minimal vacation and other benefits so I’m doubtful they’ll be very flexible (you may ask why I choose to stay in the industry, which I also ask myself sometimes). My current job is actually reasonably flexible, so it’s unfortunate that it’ll most likely be ending soon.

        1. Faith*

          Yeah, that does sound like a pretty different situation :( I’m sorry about your relative and about those aspects of your industry. I do still think it’s worth bringing up, but in this case maybe after the offer stage since it seems like your acceptance of a job wouldn’t hinge on their response. Also it might depend on whether you anticipate needing to take time off to care for the relative (a heads up is probably warranted) or only if they pass away, in which case only the worst of managers would begrudge you the time off whether or not you’d said something beforehand.

          1. anon this time*

            Thanks! Yes, I think I might need time to care for the relative. I guess the reason I wanted to bring it up at the offer stage is because I feel like it might be better received then than if I spring it on them later. It would be nice to be able to turn a job down for this, but I don’t really think I’m in a position to do that.

  27. Discouraged*

    What do you do when you feel purposeless in your work? The stats: software development, 10+years in, a semi-successful (in users) but not profitable (in dollars) side hustle is losing its luster. Want to do something meaningful but can’t get anything off the ground. Advice? What have you done in these shoes?

    1. Dawn*

      First, what does “meaningful” mean to you?

      Secondly, do you have to make money at “meaningful” work or would you find fulfillment through volunteering?

      Third, how long would your runway have to be for you to make a full switch from purposeless but pays the bills work to meaningful but might have to make some sacrifices work? Once you know how long that runway needs to be, you can set about paving it!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I looked deeper to see what purposes I had been ignoring.

      I looked around to see how I could find purpose to bring into the job. For example, everyone ignored X, it needed to be done, it was too boring/too hard/whatever so no one did it. I decided to do it for the exercise, for the feather in my cap and because it made me set aside those feelings of purposelessness for the moment.

      A sense of purposelessness brings on glazed over eyes. Decide to look that the job as if it is brand new today. What do you notice that you had not noticed before? What do you see going on tangent to you that you can leverage into something greater for yourself and maybe some folks around you?

      Any job or side hustle brings us in contact with people that we would not otherwise be in contact with. What are these people commenting on, what are their needs for their work? And which of those needs are not being met?

    3. Darren*

      All of my side projects (I’m in software development as well) are done with the full knowledge that I’m probably never going to get much in the way of money from them, I’m doing them because I either find the work interesting, or to build my skills in ways beyond what I get at my actual work.

      If you are actually doing it trying to build a new potential main job that is another matter entirely, you’ve got a lot more expectations you are going to put on yourself, and as a result it’s going to have impacts on how you feel about the work. But if that is what you are looking for then you might be best building the skills and then trying to just transition into an area more similar to what your side hustle is.

  28. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’d love some networking tips. I’m passively job searching, but need to be careful what I say on LinkedIn because I don’t want my current employer to know.

    Basically, my situation isn’t terrible, but I am kind of over working with the public and would like to move into something where that is not a significant responsibility. What is the best way for me to communicate this out to my network without tipping off my boss?

    1. Amy*

      I just went through this myself and landed a new job. I would casually mention to my peers in our monthly meeting that I might be interested in expanding my horizons. I also didn’t post anything on LinkedIn, but did privately message former coworkers and bosses and asked them to ‘keep their ears open for me.’ I received a call from a former coworker that her cousin’s business was expanding and after interviewing with him, I got the job. Good luck!

    2. Professional Cat Herder*

      I’ve just gotten into the habit of actively keeping my LinkedIn up-to-date regardless of whether I’m job searching or not, and when I am searching I turn on the setting that indicates to recruiters that you’re open for positions. I honestly don’t think a lot of places take the time to look at your LinkedIn, especially if you have a strong resume, so I don’t think it makes much of a difference if you state “actively looking for opportunities” in your profile or not.

  29. Sam*

    I’m wondering what you guys think about references. I’m less than 3 years out of college, and have had two jobs (one for 7 months, one for 2 years), and a bunch of college internships before then. I’m currently applying for new jobs, but can’t use my current employer. So that leaves me with the place I was with for 7 months (probably not a great reference), as well as my internship supervisors. Do you think in this case it’s ok to use kind of “old” references? At this point, some of these references I haven’t worked for in almost 4 years. Thanks in advance for any thoughts!

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      I just contacted a manager I worked with from 2010-2011 who agreed to be a reference. I was her right hand man at a fledgling school so while it’s been some years, I know she’d give me a good reference. She had previously left one on LinkedIn for me, but I asked her if she still felt comfortable being one since my current job can’t be a reference and I’ve been here 5 years. I say there’s no harm in asking, and then if they agree you can email them your current resume, and what you’ve been doing.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      It’s an issue even if you’re not fresh out of school. I had the same job for a long time but did change managers pretty often, and now I’m on the job market. Two of my previous managers offered to be references but I hadn’t worked with them since 2010 and 2012, respectively. I’ll still list them because they’re more familiar with my job-search-relevant abilities, and I know they hold me in higher regard, than my more recent revolving-door managers (four of them, longest tenure = 8 months).

      I think if your manager from years ago has a better sense of what you’re capable of, they’ll be able to speak more enthusiastically about you than someone with less than a year exposure to you, or someone who managed you while you were working on, let’s say, less talent-showcasing work.

  30. DaniCalifornia*

    I am starting to get some response to my many job applications while I job search. While some have been ‘thanks but no thanks’ there has been a lot of networking going on this week! My husband’s large corporation had an EA job open and he also introduced me to an admin he knows there who was really excited to hear that I applied!

    I also reached out to a former colleague, and my old manager both who are willing to be references for me. And I have an interview with a recruiter on Tuesday. I don’t think I’ve ever networked this much, but I can’t wait to get away from my toxic job, toxic boss, and the toxic bird poo! (My boss still won’t do anything about it, he was also horrible to my awesome coworker who just left.)

    Any networking tips are appreciated! I have been scouring AAM here as well.

  31. Havarti*

    Yesterday after reading the ladybug letter, someone found one in my boss’s office as they were about to sit down for a meeting. I heard my boss say “just take it outside” but the person brought it to me. After learning some of them bite, I had no interest in handling it so I dumped it into a cup and interrupted my lunch to take it outside. The things I do… But the timing did give me a good chuckle.

    1. Lynn*

      Ladybugs can bite, but genuine ladybugs generally don’t (and it’s a little pinch). Asian lady beetles (an invasive species) do bite and hard. They also bother and bite animals, etc. They’re a slightly different color (more orange than red) but it’s noticeable if you really look (and have seen real ladybugs to compare to – some people haven’t). For an actual ladybug, you’d have been fine to carry it outside sans cup. Depending on where you are, might have been best to squish an Asian beetle. So, that’s my geeky FYI (a neighbor’s dog had a problem last year with Asian beetles inside his mouth and biting! and they out compete real ladybugs in some areas).

      1. Havarti*

        This one was definitely more orange than red but I wasn’t going to squish anything after what went down in the letter and comment section yesterday!

          1. fposte*

            BTW, it’s not so much that their bite is deeply horrible; it’s mostly that I’m bitter that initially the descriptions all claimed they didn’t bite at all.

      2. LCL*

        Aaah! Was your neighbor’s dog the one in that horrible picture that was making the rounds of the internet, where the bugs were all on the roof of the mouth toward the front? Poor pupper.

    2. Hellanon*

      I repatriated a lizard once – it got into the building during a rainstorm and people kept going at the poor terrified thing with trashcans and notebooks, to no avail. So I grabbed it by the base of its tail and took it outside. Really, wildlife belongs outside…

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have captured (on pieces of paper) many a stinkbug and taken them outside. I found most of them when I hadn’t even been here five months. Good times.

  32. Emmie*

    When you mentor undergrads, how to you counsel them about student loan debt in high debt professional fields?

    I mentor a few prospective law students. There’s always a careful line between encouraging first-gen law students to pursue their goals, but accurately conveying the realities of the job market, salaries, and astronomical student loan debt. It almost feels like the first characteristic of someone going to law school is to completely ignore my advice about the job market, salaries, and debt! Any advice, or shared experiences?

    1. SophieChotek*

      Honestl, yI think it is a fine line. When I went into grad school (and now have useless PhD) and am still job-searching, I knew there would be a six-figure debt at the end, but I thought I’d find a job, etc., etc. and would slowly be able to pay it down (plus possible Student-Loan Forgiveness with working in non-profit education), etc. I thought I understood what I was getting into – but I didn’t really.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        Me too. In retrospect it was rather arrogant of me but I thought I’d be that person who would get a great job and be able to pay off my loans with no problems. Instead I am on an income based repayment plan and have been unemployed since January.

        The PhD was really not worth it for me but I don’t think I would have been dissuaded. I did get some advice that it would be a big financial mistake but I did it anyway.

    2. Simone R*

      I think being as specific as possible is important. What is their end goal in going into law school and how likely is it that the schools they are looking at will be able to get them to their goal? Generalized advice that is gloomy is easy to get ignored. Different schools are differently equipped to set students up well for a successful career and being able to figure out how likely that will happen with a specific school will probably make job market/debt/salaries conversation seem more realistic and easier to weigh when making a decision.

    3. CatCat*

      I’d show them what their debt load would look like and what their student loan repayments look like and build a budget from a typical starting salary (not whatever the law school touts as “average” starting salaries, some outliers may skew it unreasonably up).

      Unless they’re really clear about why they want to go into law, I’d encourage them to wait for a few years and revisit their interest then. Don’t do it because you don’t know what else to do. I had 5 years between undegrad and law school and was definitely a lot more focused on what I wanted at that time and am really glad I didn’t go right from undergrad to law school.

      Do they have any debts other than student loan debt? Credit cards? Car note? Personal loans? Pay those off and do not take out more debt beyond school debt. I think the student loan repayment is manageable, but if I had consumer debt as well, I think it would be a struggle.

      I enjoy being a lawyer and am glad I went to law school, but the debt is no joke.

    4. Sue No-Name*

      Maybe talk about realistic after-tax pay as compared to debt load. Taking on >$30K in debt (10-year repayment being standard) when you expect to be taking home $60K/year doesn’t sound like a lot but comparing to after-tax income makes a big difference. And yes, students likely have intellectual knowledge of taxes but not likely a visceral understanding of the difference between pre- and post-tax income levels.

      1. Sue No-Name*

        Unless these are non-traditional students with significant work experience already–in which case, they don’t need unsolicited advice about handling their money.

    5. Kj*

      I have that concern in my field- most people in my field take on heavy debt to go to grad school, then can’t pay it off. Most have dreams of working for a non-profit for the 10 years it takes to get it written off, but few last that long. It is really depressing. I’m always super-real with them, let them know the realities of non-profit work (grime) and the competitiveness of independent practice, if you don’t have a good speciality. I have a good speciality and I’m successful, but I make it clear to them that unless you choose wisely, are lucky and are good, you won’t have an easy time of it. I came out of grad school with no debt due to luck and I’m not sure I would have gone to the school I did without knowing I could do it debt-free.

    6. K, Esq.*

      Make a table. Show the average loan amount at 3 schools with 3 different pricing levels, input the average interest rate, the average payback period, then the monthly payment. You can also include a column for average public interest law salary, a big law salary, etc. Telling a student they will owe money doesn’t go far. Showing a student they will owe $3k/month for 30 years makes an impact.

    7. HigherEd on Toast*

      I think other people have given good advice in that it helps if the undergrads are focused and, if they’re asking you questions, you have a good enough relationship with them to ask them back, “So what do you want to go to law school for?”

      I’m an English professor and have mentored soooo many students who thought “I’d like to be a professor!” because of things like “summers off” and “flexible schedule.” It turned out that they didn’t know a lot about very basic realities- not only student debt, but that in English graduate school, you’re going to be studying literature or language or composition and rhetoric or how to teach English to ESL speakers (or some related field) and doing some serious writing about it, not just studying how to drift around the halls of an Ivy League and look wistful while perhaps writing a bit of poetry now and then. I asked one student what he wanted to do, expecting literature since he was good at it, and got, “I like to think.” Which, in the end, turned out to not to translate to thinking about literature and he decided not to go to grad school.

      Finding out how much they already know has always helped me a lot.

    8. Optimistic Prime*

      For grad/professional school I give them straightforward but neutral advice, often doing the math with them and laying out the numbers but let them know that I’ll be non-judgmental about whatever they choose. I tend to memorize averages in terms of cost and loan debt. For example, with law school, I know that lawyer salaries tend to have a bimodal distribution – the average salary of $140-$170K for the relatively small number of BigLaw lawyers who go to top schools and work 80-hour weeks, and the $60-80K salaries for the much larger number of lawyers who go everywhere else and/or find most of the other jobs. (When giving such counsel on the Internet, I provide the citations).

      With high school students I tend to be a bit more directional/negative since they often don’t know how much things cost or what it means to be $100K in debt from undergrad, but with college students/young adults hoping to go to grad school, I’m much more neutral – both because I think it’s a personal decision and because being super negative tends to make them just want to do it more to Prove Me Wrong.

  33. LaborLaw*

    Having a newborn and in law school – can it be done?
    For reference, I’m having my first child in mid-February (pretty much in the middle of the spring term). I have the opportunity to either take medical leave for the entire semester, or take two online classes. I just don’t know what to expect from a newborn, or what I’ll be capable of post-partum. BUT the advantage of taking a few classes means I could finish my degree slightly earlier. Any advice from new parents or graduate students?

    1. Wolfman's Sister*

      LOVE the user name.
      It can be done. I’ve seen about 5 people in the course of 15 years graduate under those conditions :) It won’t be easy, but it would be do-able. Every baby is different and not every baby comes on time. I would say register for Spring and re-evaluate your decision in January :)
      If your school has a nursing mother room, take advantage of that.
      Graduating with your cohort is always a plus, so the spring semester online courses sound promising. Or are there any 1 credit classes that are offered for the first half of the semester (legal research & writing, maybe?), take advantage of those.
      Talk to student affairs and see what other possibilities exist. Or see if they can put you in touch with an alum that went through this and is willing to share hints/tips.
      Good luck! and Congratulations!

    2. Temperance*

      I wouldn’t do it. Since you’re graded on a curve, you’re going to be competing with people who aren’t sleep-deprived with a newborn.

    3. Haley*

      I have not had a child yet, so I can’t speak to that, but I know that there were a few girls in my law school who had a baby during law school – one of them took a semester off and seems to be doing just fine! The only advice I wanted to share is to go to a Dean/Dean of Students/favorite professor/other administrator you find trustworthy or are close with and ask them about the situation – at my school apparently they were really helpful in giving advice to the student having a child. That’s up to you though depending on your view of the administrators and professors at your school.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      I had a baby during engineering undergrad. He was born in September. This was in the 90s, before online classes. I took that semester off. I went back part-time in the spring term. I was successful, but I took some of the easier courses I needed that semester. The challenge was that I had daycare for my school days, but on the days I was home and doing homework, I couldn’t get anything done. He was too active. My husband worked ~70 hrs & 7 days a week then, so I didn’t relief to do homework. It may have been easier when he was a newborn, because they sleep a lot, but you don’t know if yours will be a “good” baby or a demanding one.

      I went back super full-time when he was one. I had full-time daycare, so even though my husband worked a lot and I had harder classes, it was very manageable.

      The deciding factor for me would be how much support you’ll have from a spouse/partner or childcare provider.

      Also, just another data point, my cousin had a baby right before med school and a second right before her internship. These things can be done, but it’s just not fun.

    5. K, Esq.*

      I wouldn’t. Law school moves so quickly and covers so much material that if you’re off your game for 3 weeks recovering, it would be really hard to catch up. I’d take an internship to go from the end of classes in December until your due date so you have practical experience.

    6. Guacamole Bob*

      I had my twins while I was a grad student – I ended up withdrawing from a couple of classes the semester before they were due because I got put on bed rest, and there was no way I could have done anything academic when they were newborns. But that was with twins. It was kind of nice that when I went back I was re-taking material that I’d already done parts of the year prior, to ease back into things.

      I’d talk to your school and figure out what will happen with different scenarios, academically and financially. Can you still complete the two online courses if you don’t do any work for three weeks postpartum? What would that likely do to your grades? What are the financial and logistical impacts of withdrawing – do you end up paying to retake the courses later? How much money would that be, exactly?

      The first few months with a newborn are so unpredictable – people react really differently to the hormone fluctuations, some babies are easier than others, some women have postpartum mental health issues, people have different amounts of spousal and family support, etc. Some people have easy births and easy babies and would have no trouble taking classes, and others would have absolutely no ability to think about anything academic, or are in a lot of pain with a difficult physical recovery from the birth.

      Taking the whole semester as leave is the safer choice, probably, but if the downsides of withdrawing aren’t too bad you could just sign up and see how it goes.

    7. Chriama*

      Since this is your first child I say don’t do it. You don’t even know what kind of stressors you’ll be facing because you haven’t done it before. Give yourself some time to acclimate.

    8. A for now*

      1. Does the timing of your graduation affect your articling or job prospects? If so, then use that as a guide, with the caveats below. If it doesn’t have an affect, then take the time off.

      2. If you’re aiming to graduate at a specific time to maximize your access to articling and other jobs, then does your faculty have an administrative support system that you can ask? Here, I have recommend to a student that they should only take the course if they have reasonably strong expectations that they can complete the courses. But I have also explicitly told them that once they start the course, if they (or their child) run into unexpected health problems we will be able to support them. Depending on other factors, that support might mean an extension or a back-dated medical leave to cover the whole semester. (I work in a law school, but in one that’s pretty social justice-y and the support mechanisms support that AND I specifically work with graduate students. I know the JD students are well supported for leaves, but I don’t know if the advice would be different.)

      3. This is all assuming that you’ll be taking less than half of the course load that you would otherwise complete this spring term, that your grades in law school so far are strong, and that these are courses that you have enough experience with (because of the material, instructors, and/or advice from fellow students) to know what to expect.

    9. Specialk9*

      I wouldn’t. I had a baby recently, and it’s really hard. Physically there is more recovery then you expect – healing from birth (esp C-section) but also because your body is going nuts in unexpected ways, with hormones rocketing and milk production (sometimes it’s easy, but for many women it’s a terrible struggle with more bone deep sobbing than you’ve done before, and feelings of utter failure and inadequacy). You are feeding the kid every 2-3 hours, whether formula or breast, which means you will not get uninterrupted sleep for 5 months if formula and you’re lucky (my friend’s kid woke 2-3 times/night till he was almost 2; breastfeeding means you’ll be waking mid night for 1-2 years). My brain was foggy, I was easily in tears, my emotions were unstable, I was beyond exhausted to a surreal dreamscape. I was also utterly consumed with the research about the baby – how to baby proof, zomg is this normal or do I need the ER, is baby meeting development milestones (those made me so anxious), breastfeeding struggles, changing diapers, how do I handle this issue – and then realizing I had to have a plan for raising a kid who’s not a serial killer, and figuring out what books to read.

      And all of that precludes the actual time with baby. Holding baby skin to skin, looking in baby’s eyes and watching them look at you, yawn, react to the world. Stroking their face and hair and marveling at their teeny fingers.

      I think at the end of the day, I’d say that if you’re desperate and need school to make a life for this baby, do it but know it’ll be so hard and you won’t likely get good grades. But if it’s just about delay, take the delay.

  34. Echosparks*

    Has anyone else spent so much time in miserable, dysfunctional workplaces that you’re actually afraid to work somewhere better? I just interviewed for a job that seems to have a great workplace culture, they have very low turnover and people tend to only leave when they retire. It’s in a field I never would have imagined having a chance to work in and so I should be really excited. Instead I find myself hoping that I don’t get the job. I’ve spent the past six years crying at my desk because of the toxic, dysfunctional culture of the place I work at now, yet I’m getting serious “graduation goggles” from the idea of leaving.

    1. nerkie*

      This is me right now. 7 years in family run, toxic, fly by the seat of your pants, work place have left me doubting whether I’m ever going to be able to work in functional workplace ever again. BUT, I’ve started dipping my toes into a new pool with a part time gig working with animals and while it is hard to learn something totally new, it feels WONDERFUL. I feel rejuvenated, even after spending a 10 hour day on my feet running after dogs and cleaning up poo. I’m so happy and can’t wait to leave me current job completely and go full time at the new place.
      Go for it! You can do it and it will be SO worth it!

    2. Amy*

      Yes, just left toxic workplace about a year ago. New workplace and culture are phenomenal. My problem now is that whenever I make even a small, stupid mistake, I fear someone’s going to yell at me or fire me. My new boss is so supportive and kind. It takes some getting used to. Best. Decision. Ever.

      1. DC*

        This. When I left my last toxic workplace, my new one felt great. While it has turned out to have it’s own issues, I still realize regularly how much the old place’s toxicity impacts things here in my reaction to totally normal things, simply because I still expect that OldJob’s toxicity 2 years later.

    3. Queen of the File*

      Yes!! I hope you do get the job and come back to update us about how great you feel in a couple of months. I need the inspiration :)

    4. Master Bean Counter*

      Sometimes getting off the crazy train is a very hard thing to do. But eventually you have to jump, or they’ll push you off anyways.

    5. Laurel*

      I think sometimes leaving a toxic workplace can be like leaving an abusive relationship–it’s scary and your emotions are already so ragged that any risk is extra scary. Take the leap! You can do it! Also it’s normal to feel some stuff whenever something ends. It’s okay to feel sad etc. That will pass.

    6. Argh!*

      Check out the benefits. If they cover therapy, go for it! If you have PTSD you can go to counseling.

      I still occasionally have nightmares about LastJob, which tend to come up when bad things happen at ThisJob. ThisJob has gotten so toxic since a new grandboss arrived that I will probably have nightmares about ThisJob too!

    7. Valkyrie*

      YES! I’m finally in a really great workplace after years of dysfunctional ones. The only reason I left my last position was because the office closed, I imagine I would have just stayed there and been miserable for quite a bit longer. This new, and pretty great job, has really taught me that bosses can respect their employees. It DID take me a couple of years to get over the work PTSD, but I’m so much happier now. Good luck!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      All is not lost here, you have enough left of you to:
      1) know you should leave
      2) write a resume and cover letter
      3) go on an interview
      4) actually remember what was said at the interview.

      You are doing pretty good all things considered. Just have the nerve/sheer audacity to keep following up. Tell yourself on a different day, you will say, “Oh I am SO GLAD I just keep going. gosh that was hard, but I just. kept. trying. And now life is better.”

      You can have a bunch of accountability partners and advocates here. Let us know how you are doing.

    9. Specialk9*

      Oh gosh, I’ve had that with every job, whether functional or dys! Human beings have strong evolutionary instincts for avoiding change – useful for avoiding mastadons or falling through unfamiliar ice fields – but not as useful for cognitive areas. You’re SO NORMAL. But you need to do this anyway, even though it’s scary.

      I have struggled hard with anxiety in my life, and have found some coping strategies that work for me. (Singing loudly to blasting music, chamomile tea, talking to trusted friends, exercise especially swimming and yoga, and eating chips unfortunately :D ) Think through yours and make them happen, even if you have to put phone reminders.

      Another strategy I use to short-circuit my brain’s last minute panic is to do the research I can do, but kind of put on blinders to the big stuff. So research commute, job, dress code, and red flags, but don’t let myself think too hard about the scary stuff (new city, new field, new company, ack!). I mentally kind of tell myself “oh yeah, yeah, we’ll definitely get time to talk about that, just not right now. Let’s just get through this task and then we’ll totally get to those concerns”, until I’m already committed and immersed in the new situation, and by then my fears are usually shown to be overblown. It’s a lot of work, but hamster-in-wheel brains have to find ways to handle it.

  35. Overeducated*

    I am so full of nerves right now. I said I was interested in an informal offer for a good-next-step job last week, which would mean leaving my current contract 8 months early, but I am waiting for a formal offer that is being delayed by bureaucracy so I can’t give notice yet. I expect it next week provided the job can indeed be filled.

    Meanwhile, my husband is interviewing for a more permanent, possibly better job in another city TODAY. It would start right around when my current contract ends, so it would be best to stay put if he gets an offer rather than jumping into and out of a new job so fast (and potentially burning bridges in my large national org with a branch in the other city).

    So please wish him luck for an unusually speedy decision. Any advice on how to alert the hiring committee to the time sensitivity, either in or after the interview, would be welcome…though if they have other out of town interviewees in the next couple weeks we’re kind of SOL here.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Good luck to both of you.

      I used a rule of thumb with our jobs that went only one person move jobs at any given time. If one was job hunting the other would stand pat. This works well if each partner keeps working at changing jobs. It does not work well if one partner decides to stop looking for a while and fails to inform the other partner. sigh.

      Since you only have 8 months left and also because of your nerves being rattled, I am thinking that staying put is the best choice given your setting. You are totally correct, both partners changing jobs at the same time is very, very, nerve wracking.

    2. Specialk9*

      It sounds like you figure that if your husband gets a job and you get a job, his wins. There are likely good reasons you haven’t mentioned, but I’ve also known women who think that a man’s job is inherently more important. So raising that question – are there good reasons to abandon your new job for his new job, or should you have a hard discussion with him about which is better for your family.

  36. Janine Willcall*

    Evaluations, urgh.

    Last year I got a 4/5 on my employee evaluation, which is fine when you assume that 5/5 is for truly outstanding employees. I mean, I’m good– I’ve received awards and have lots of external proof that I am an outstanding worker. Then I found out that in my company, 33% of employees got 5/5, which is…not accurate relative to me.

    I think that my manager is a bit off the company rating norms– she’s taking ‘outstanding’ at face value, and other managers are inflating scores for their departments. It really doesn’t matter, except it cuts into my bonus, so I absolutely would not like to be dinged again. Is it fair to bring that up in mid-years? I know it’s not grading on a scale or anything, but it sucks to lose out on money when the rest of the company seems to have different expectations.

      1. SansaStark*

        Ugh, same here. Just finished mine and ….ugh, none of it even matters because there are no major raises, even for the people with 5 stars. Why do I even care?

    1. Argh!*

      Same here, and I didn’t get a raise last year because of it. I’m not old enough to retire but I’m old enough to worry about my retirement income. Unfortunately I don’t have the credentials to work for EasyBoss, but I’d transfer in a heartbeat if I could.

    2. Millie M*

      My supervisor refuses to give an “Outstanding” rating. Even though I work my butt off and do miracles on a regular basis. Luckily we switched to a different system of reviews that doesn’t involve scores–it’s basically meets expectations or doesn’t meet expectations.

      Our upper management was talking about doing merit-based raises, but I think they’ve given up on that. Which is good, because I don’t think my supervisor would ever rate me high enough to get a merit-based raise, even though I completely deserve it. We get pitiful little raises anyway (like 2%), and they were talking about giving everyone a 1% raise and then making the other part of the raise merit-based.

  37. Ann O. Nymous*

    My boss often doesn’t tell me when she’s going to be out, or if she’s out unexpectedly, she emails her boss, but doesn’t always tell me. I want to ask her to loop me in when she’s going to be out, but historically she’s gotten defensive when I’ve asked about her whereabouts (not WHERE she is or WHY she’s out specifically, but if I’ve been like “Oh, you’re stepping out? do you know when you’ll be back?” or “Hey, it’s 11:30 am – are you coming in today?”

    She sometimes treats me like I’m being nosy, when I honestly don’t care where she is or how long she’s going to be out — I need to know because many of my tasks depend on her input, and because as the admin person, other people in the office frequently ask me where employees are/if they’re out today, and my boss is frequently someone that people ask about (because a lot of people need her for stuff).

    I guess I don’t really have a question, I know that it’s weird and dysfunctional, but I was hoping I could commiserate with others who have similar issues!

    1. Jadelyn*

      Have you been really specific with her about why you want to know? Like, “It’s none of my business how you spend your time, of course, but people often come to me with questions for you or asking if you’re in or when you’ll be back, and it would be helpful if I were able to give them something more concrete than “I don’t know” when they ask.”

    2. fposte*

      In addition to Jadelyn’s suggestion, you could make it about your communications with other people: “When people ask me if you’re in or when you’ll be back, what would you like me to tell them if I don’t know?”

  38. Wolfman's Brother*

    So I’m an Assistant Director for Technical Teapots. I’m burnt out at my job. I am ok at it, but I liked being a Department Head in the Technical Teapots department better (I can’t ever get my old job back, I took this AD job because the Dept Head job was going away).

    I have been looking at Administrative Assistant jobs in any possible field at my University. Some of my skills certainly transfer – need to stay organized, detail oriented, etc. I held Admin Asst jobs about 20 years ago.

    What would you put in your cover letter to even apply for what looks like a HUGE step down? I don’t want to admit burn out. The Admin role would put me in a more customer focused position, which I want to play up… but beyond that??

    1. Helpful*

      I had a friend just get hired as a University admin. She emphasized in the interview that she knows she was overqualified (when asked), but really wanted to do the work and was excited to do it. She got the job.

  39. New workplace struggles*

    I work at a company that has overall has a female bias in staffing (mainly due to industry, healthcare) but my on my specific team I’m the only woman. I’ve been here 10 months and I’m struggling with getting to know my male co-workers. Part of it seems to me that while it would feel natural to say to one of my female co-workers “hey would you like to get a drink or dinner after work?” it feels odd to say that to any of my male co-workers even when we have similar interests. I’m married and have a kid so with my co-workers who are also married with kids it’s a little easier since I can invite the whole family but my co-workers who are close to my age all seem to be single or are in long distance relationships and it feels weird to invite them to dinner with my family.
    I think part of my struggle is that I was at my previous employer before having kids so I already had the established friendship with co-workers, also there was more travel at my previous employer so getting to know my male co-workers sort of happened naturally, and that all the people on the team I worked on there were married or had long-term partners they lived with and many had kids.
    Any advice for how to get past the it’s ok to ask a female co-worker out but not a male co-worker or how to feel less awkward about developing an acquaintace beyond the office with co-workers who I (and my husband) share interests with?

    1. EmilyAnn*

      Group events. Can’t you 2-3 male-workers and put in e-mail? Also, I’m single and childless and I have no problem being invited to events where kids are present.

    2. AMPG*

      Can you set up a team happy hour? Or grab coffee/lunch with someone on the team to discuss a work project (since you’ll generally have some time for non-work chitchat as part of that)? Also, is socializing outside the office something commonly done at your current company? It may not really be that type of culture. If it is, how do the other team members usually seek each other out? The answer is probably there already.

    3. Lady Kelvin*

      Personally I’d steer clear of “is this a date?” type things like drinks and stick to lunch/coffee because those are so much more acceptable for coworkers to have together. I know coffee and lunch are often dates, but drinks are much more muddy. I also work on an all-male team and so far I have 1. had lunch with my colleagues to get to know them and 2. have them and their families over for dinner. It seems to be working well.

    4. Thlayli*

      You don’t have to go out for dinner to be friends. Go for lunch during he day and Ask about their interests

    5. Student*

      The sad thing is, in many places, you just can’t ask them to drinks or dinner one-on-one to get to know them. You can do that after you get to know them a bit and have a clearly established professional relationship – so it’s clear it’s not a “date” in any way. Otherwise, there is a pretty strong chance they’ll assume, or hope, or brag to other people, that you’re hitting on them – regardless of how you phrase anything or actually behave.

      You can ask them to a business lunch. Or coffee break. Or sit down with them at lunch to chat. Those have strong enough business connotations to keep undesirable interpretations to a minimum.

      You can do water-cooler chat to get to know them. This is the best option, really – low-key and low cost.

      You can do events to get to know them – preferably in groups. Try treating the group to bowling, a ball game (baseball can sometimes be very cheap), a round of drinks at happy hour. You could invite them over to your family dinner – individually if they’re a bit junior, or in a group if they’re more peers.

    6. Artemesia*

      Is it possible to organize lunches with two or three colleagues? I think after hours socializing is often tricky unless you can join an already established happy hour or similar and inviting one male colleague is awkward. But seeing if two guys want to go grab lunch at the new pub down the road or whatever might work.

    7. Specialk9*

      Avoid dinner or bars and go for during working hours – lunch or coffee – and initially invite 2+ people to be super clear it’s group hanging out. Just go ahead and send calendar invites. It feels presumptuous to do, but in my experience it’s usually welcome.

  40. Trout 'Waver*

    I just wanted to mention that I got to write some letters of recommendation this week for a two colleagues looking to go get their PhDs. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job.

  41. AMPG*

    Help me focus at work again! I’m having the hardest time keeping my mind on my work at work (case in point – I have a deadline this afternoon and I’m currently on AAM), and while it hasn’t caused major problems yet, I’m behind on several things and generally not able to be proactive because I’m always focused on the closest deadline. I need some strategies for staying on task. I’ve tried dividing my day up into task-specific chunks, setting a timer for tasks and not allowing myself to look at the Internet until a certain amount of time has passed, setting alarms to remind me to get back on task, and organizing my to-do list any number of ways. I’ve managed to ignore all of my strategies, even though I feel bad about it at the end of the day when I haven’t made any progress.

    If it helps, I think the reasons behind it are a combination of the following:
    1) I like where I work and the people I work with, but am not terribly invested in the mission of the organization (I work for a non-profit), even though it’s very deserving.
    2) I have a fair amount of ambient anxiety (not rising to the level of a clinical diagnosis, though) over the current state of the world.
    3) For a number of reasons (including #2 above) I’m not getting enough sleep, so I’m often tired during the day.

    Any suggestions?

        1. Havarti*

          I’d answer your request for suggestions seriously except I’ve tried all the same things and have had no luck. I feel like I’ve spun out of control to be honest.

          1. AMPG*

            Yeah, I keep trying to tell myself that I’m doing OK, but I’m really not. Just this morning I had to admit that I hadn’t done something my boss thought I had done two weeks ago. It’s not the end of the world that I didn’t do it, but there’s also no reason I shouldn’t have had time to get it done by now if I had more than 3 productive hours in a day. Getting fired from this job would be disastrous, so maybe I should start to use that as my motivation (in reality, I don’t think that would happen because I’ve had some really big successes this year, but the last thing I want is to lose my boss’s respect).

        2. Specialk9*

          I literally burned out my adrenal system over politics induced anxiety and anger. I had to cut myself off of the news, except in the tiniest snippets. That was *hard* and continues to be a challenge!

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      I don’t know for you but, for me, making things restrictive and restrained causes my brain to revolt like a three year old and go “NUH-UH! You aren’t the boss of me.”

      So, instead, I use my coping strategy. It has come in handy from the days following my dad’s death, to a really stressful work day, to making it to the dentist after a long absence.

      This is how I cope with everything for [today/this hour/the next five minutes/etc] to be successful all I have to do is X. As long as I do that, I’ve succeeded. If I’m not able to do more than that, the pressure is off! Of course, after you complete X, then you come up with another one. And on and on. The key is to make the first one the bare minimum to be successful. Obviously for work stuff it needs to be more than just turn the computer on.

      1. Queen of the File*

        Yes! These tiny victories have gotten me back on track before. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who has to trick myself into going back to the dentist after an Absence of Shame.

        For a specific example, if I have to write a report about something and my brain refuses to do it, I commit to writing a short paragraph about what I would write in the report if I was actually writing it (like describing the report to someone else). This is often enough to force my mind onto the actual report.

      2. AMPG*

        I do that with a timer – I say, “I MUST work on Task X for a minimum of 20 minutes before I can do anything else.” I can often find my focus in that time well enough not to just stop, and even if it’s torture for that 20 minutes, I’ve made actual progress on the task.

        The problem is restarting the timer once I’ve taken a break. I’m horrible about letting myself read “just one more” article, and then it’s 5:00 and I’ve never gone back to the work.

        Speaking of which, I’ll go restart that timer now.

        1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          Maybe try it without the timer? I’m horrible with that too. It flat out doesn’t work for me.

          I don’t know what, exactly, your job entails. But instead of “work on Task X for 20 minutes” say “For this morning to be successful all I have to do is write three paragraphs in the teapot report” once the three paragraphs are done move on to “Now, for this morning/afternoon/today to be successful all I have to do is file the Llama Grooming receipts.” Etc. It’s tricking your brain into continually pulling the carrot juuuustt a little bit further away.

          1. AMPG*

            Oh, I see what you’re saying. I’ll try that for the rest of this draft report and see how it goes.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          Have you tried using a pomodoro method timer on your phone or online? There are several out there that will automatically ring when break time is up to remind you to go back to work. I haven’t used one for a while so I can’t recall specific app names but some are customizable as well if the standard 25 minutes of work + 5 minutes break doesn’t work that well for you.

    2. Samiratou*

      How big of a non-profit are we talking about? Do you need to care about the mission or can you focus smaller (eg. on your location, or division or even how your specific work helps whoever it is your org helps)? I work for a gigantic corporation, and whenever we get the surveys asking about how much I care about the “mission” or whatever for GiantCorp I…couldn’t care less. I do care, however, care about my division and, more specifically, learning as much as we can about the teapot consumer so we can help them meet their teapot needs as efficiently as possible (or if they don’t need a teapot right now, recall their experience if they need one in the future), which will translate to more revenue and value to our customers, the teapot makers who pay us to generate business for them. Keeping the focus on the customer goals as well as what sort of things we’re doing that are personally interesting to me help with staving off burnout.

      1. AMPG*

        I’m in management, so most of what I do is big-picture. I do believe in what we do and think we do it well, but it’s not a field I have much experience in or passion for (the field I really love doesn’t exist in this area, and I live here for family reasons). Still, I did a pretty good job of focusing before, say, last November.

    3. DC*

      This might sound weird, but: Stand up.

      I was running into the same things, and was being super un-productive. I realized when I do my coursework, I do it standing up in my kitchen while cooking/watching pots boil, and asked for a standing desk.

      My productivity SKYROCKETED. Something about standing up made my brain go “Ok, let’s get this done,” and it’s been great. Fake it with some reams of paper if you just want to try it out.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Being tired is going to tear down your own self-discipline. It looks like you have tried at-work solutions, why not look at at-home solutions? What will it take for you to get decent rest?