did I price myself out of a job, chipping in for a gift for the cleaners, and more

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

1. Did I price myself out of this job?

I just came out of an interview for a job that I desperately need. I thought it went great, until I realised the salary expectations I named are a little higher than what the company pays for the position.

The interviewer didn’t seem to have a negative reaction at all when I answered this question, but now I’m worried my answer may cost me the job. I didn’t indicate that I’m willing to negotiate and I don’t have an email address for the interviewer — only HR. I should have done my research beforehand instead of after, but is there anything I can do now? Is this salvageable at all?

If the number you named was vastly outside of their range, this could be tricky — but if it was just a bit over it, there’s a very good chance that it’s not going to be an issue at all. It’s not uncommon for people to take the numbers named in conversations like these as a starting point for conversation, not a completely rigid stance (and of course, companies are sometimes willing to pay a little bit more to get the candidate they want, too). They’re probably assuming that there’s a decent chance you could have some flexibility.

Often in this situation, people want to contact the employer to say “by the way, that number is negotiable.” Whether or not to do that is a judgment call. It’s possible that that could help things along, but it’s also possible it could lower the offer you’d otherwise get. So I’d do it only if you think the number you named was way out of their range, or if they haven’t seemed quite as interested since then.

(And of course, make sure that you’re not so focused on getting the job that you end up agreeing to a salary that you won’t actually be happy with.)

2. Only some of us are being asked to chip in for our cleaners’ holiday present

Our receptionist has sent an email to 20 of us in the office (out of 100 people) asking us to chip in for a Visa card for the office cleaning ladies for “going above and beyond this year.” Receptionist didn’t specify an amount in the email (give whatever amount you can) but when my colleague told the receptionist that she’ll give $10, the receptionist goes, “that’s it? It’s for two people! Maybe $20?”

I/we don’t mind chipping in for presents for special occasions, but this feels a little weird. I, along with two of my colleagues, have two issues with this: 1) Why are we (just 20 of us) responsible for this — shouldn’t the company be giving them a bonus of some sort? 2) What seemed to be optional is coming out as mandatory and we’re judged for the amount we’re giving.

Again, I don’t mind shelling out $5 or $10 or maybe even $20, but it’s the principle of it. We feel forced to do this and why is it that only selected people are asked to do it? I don’t know if I should reach out to HR about it or ask the receptionist if she’s asked HR or someone to have the company sponsor it. I just don’t feel comfortable with how this is being managed.

Yeah, this should come from the company; it’s a business expense. And if for some reason it needs to come from employees, it doesn’t make sense that only some of you are being approached. (Any chance you’re all women? It would not surprise me if that’s the case and you’re being targeted for this out a sense that women would be a more receptive audience. Which, obviously, would not be okay.)

How about saying this to the receptionist: “Since this is part of the cleaning people’s compensation, this seems like something the company should pay for. Have you asked the company to handle the expense?” If she says she hasn’t, then say, “I think that’s really the next step here since they’re the employer.” If that doesn’t settle it, you could also say, “It seems like just a small number of us have been asked to chip in. I’m trying to understand the context for the request — why just us?”

And if this doesn’t change the plan and the receptionist continues to pressure people for money, it’s reasonable to hold firm and say, “This is what I’m able to give, and I don’t think we should be pressuring people to contribute more than they’re comfortable with.”

3. Can I wait to give notice at my job?

I’ve been at my current job a few months and for a variety of reasons it’s not right for me and I started job hunting. Normally I’d be willing to stick it out for a year and I have a really solid employment history (think 15 years somewhere else before I left). However, management is really hostile and difficult to deal with which makes me not want to try. Think publicly berating employees for small mistakes and my coworkers and I constantly worry we are going to be fired for things that don’t make much sense. I interviewed for a position that’s a much better fit and I did a better job of vetting the organization so I feel confident about all those things.

The problem is that I wouldn’t be able to start for almost two months! I’m trying to negotiate this with the new job but I’m not sure that it’s really possible for me to start any sooner. My current company has a reputation of pushing people out at the beginning of their notice period. In my field, people typically give a month’s notice when they leave and my boss has been known to fire people at the end of the first week of their notice. So I’m left in a quandary as I want this other job but financially it would be really difficult to be out of work for two months. Is it bad practice to delay giving notice for a month or so as long as I’m still giving a month’s notice?

No, not at all! People very commonly wait to give notice until the time period makes sense — which can mean waiting several months before giving notice. It’s normal to do that. You’re fine.

Also, if your boss commonly has people leave sooner than they planned when they resigned, it’s reasonable to give less notice and to say, “I know that you usually prefer people to leave earlier.” (It’s of course harder if she doesn’t do it with everyone. Even then, though, she’s really forfeited the right to expect generous notice if she’s done that in the past.)

Read an update to this letter here.

4. My coworker disregards all my answers to him

I have a coworker who started three months ago. His cube is directly opposite mine, and we both came from the same previous job (although we never overlapped there), so we are in a position to talk a lot. We are the same title and roughly the same amount of professional experience. I have been with the agency for five years.

He has a habit of asking me a question but then he’ll ask the same question of other peers or managers in the office. On many occasions, he’ll come back to me and say, “Well, you were right, [manager] agreed with that you said.” I am irritated that he is implicitly disregarding my answers or advice (despite asking for it in the first place!) and then finding someone else who he apparently trusts or respects more for a different answer. (These are fact-based questions like, “Am I presenting at the meeting on Wednesday?” “Should I call the IT desk with my computer concern?”) Would I be out of line to tell him that I don’t appreciate it when he asks for my advice but disregards my answers?

I should mention that I have had to set other boundaries with him in the past three months. He seems to be using me as an emotional replacement for his wife while at work, and I had to tell him to back off (he apologized).

That’s irritating! You wouldn’t be out of line to point this out and ask him about it. The next time he does it, you could say something like, “I’ve noticed that you’ll ask me a question and get an answer but then ask other people the same question. What’s behind that?” You could also say, “I’m happy to answer questions when I can, but it doesn’t seem like a good use of either our time if you feel like you need to double-check all my answers!”

5. Dealing with menopause symptoms at work

I’m dealing with peri-menopause, about 10 years too early. And I’m getting hit fairly hard with pretty much every symptom there is: brain fog, hot flashes, chills, depression, increased migraines, overall pain/discomfort, and generally feeling unwell. I’m fighting this as best I can with exercise, herbs, and acupuncture, but if those things are helping it seems to be minimal. I’m not a candidate for HRT.

My issue is that I know this is affecting my work, as much as I try not to let it. There are some days when I just feel too unwell to come in and will work from home, or have to leave work early. Or I’m just not producing work at the level I should.

I’m struggling with how to best approach this issue with my boss. He’s a great boss, but I’m sure he would find this an awkward conversation, and I don’t want to make him (or myself!) uncomfortable. I want him to know that I’m not just slacking off or getting lazy. So far I’ve just told him I’m dealing with a medical condition, but is that too vague?

As I said above, I’m going through this about 10 years too early, and I’m already the oldest one in the office (8 – 20 years older than the others). Although I don’t look my age (thanks mom for the good genes!) I still struggle with how my boss will perceive this “old, menopausal” woman in his company.

Saying that you’re dealing with a medical condition is perfect. It’s not too vague, because it conveys exactly what he needs to know. There’s no reason that he needs specifics on what that medical condition is. And that would be true regardless of the medical condition; you don’t need to share details beyond the fact that something medical is happening that might be impacting you (and, where relevant, that you’re working to get it under control, or that it’ll likely continue on for the foreseeable future, or so forth).

{ 250 comments… read them below }

  1. Grand Mouse*

    I work in cleaning and I would love a gift as I don’t make much and often feel excluded from the office but I wouldn’t want it like that! We are happy just to be thought of and would never want to pressure anyone.

    It’s a shame how she went about it as you might have considered chipping in for a gift if it wasn’t just a few and it wasn’t an obligation.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      If the gift organizer had queried the whole company instead, she likely would have gotten a lot more money and not felt the need to push the few people she asked for more. That being said, this shouldn’t have been done in this fashion in the first place. I wonder if the person in charge of the cleaners asked her to do it or if she came up with it herself and wants to do it to make herself look good to her boss once she’s collected “enough” money.

      1. Corrvin*

        I’m cynical but my guess would be the person collecting is just going to keep the money for themselves. It would work best if the cleaners were already getting a bonus from the company, so if anyone asked them they would say they did get a bonus.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I really can’t imagine any other reason that she would think to ask only certain people. I can only think that she thought those people were the least likely to complain.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I was thinking maybe she only asked the people she thinks are paid a better salary, or the people she thinks won’t push back. I don’t know. Seems odd that should ask only a handful of people.

          2. OP2*

            Hi all – thanks for your comments.

            Least likely to complain – possibly! The people on the email are mostly the ones who are friendly with the receptionist. I’m inclined to think that she reached out to people she’s comfortable with.

            High paid salary – nope, it’s a mix. So I guess it’s going back to the idea of sending the email to her “friends”.

            Corrvin – trust me, I am trying my best not to think this way. She’s also reached out to people last year to join a raffle and asked for money per ticket. Never heard about the raffle after. :| anyway, it’s besides the point. Someone pointed out about passing around an envelope where people can put cash in. That’s a better way to do it.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              If no one heard a thing about the “raffle” after giving her money, I definitely wouldn’t be comfortable with handing her an envelope full of cash! If you do this, I would recommend writing down amounts and a running total, just with no names. That creates accountability, but allows people to donate (mostly) anonymously.

              Even if she’s honest and it’s about her comfort level, that’s no excuse for putting the burden only on those she feels comfortable approaching for money. And if she isn’t honest, I can tell you from experience that she’ll have perfectly reasonable explanations for everything, and you’ll feel subtly embarrassed into contributing without question.

            2. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

              My first thought was that she was planning to keep the money. I thought maybe I was being too cynical, but the added detail that she’s collected money in the past for a raffle and then no word on the raffle after money was collected is just reinforcing my suspicion.

              1. NacSacJack*

                Who carries cash these days? I either have $20 bills or a bunch of ones or nothing in my wallet. Never 5s or tens.

                1. OP2*

                  She asked us to either give her cash or send money through Venmo/PayPal!

                  Anyway, after confirming that the company won’t sponsor it and that the entire office is aware of the gesture, people have been sending $ in and she said her tally is now over $1000. Let’s all hope the cleaners get the $.

            3. The Other Dawn*

              “The people on the email are mostly the ones who are friendly with the receptionist. I’m inclined to think that she reached out to people she’s comfortable with.”

              Since it’s a mix of employees making different salaries, this now seems the most likely to me. I think it’s human nature to gravitate towards the coworkers with whom you’re most comfortable. Not saying it’s right in this particular case, but I can see it happening.

              1. Lil Fidget*

                Also makes it sound like this was just the receptionist’s personal idea, something she thought would be nice, so she’s reaching out to her friends. That may be a nice instinct (uh unless she’s keeping it – see above about the raffle!) but this isn’t something that should be done unilaterally. Maybe the company is doing something already, or would do something if prompted, etc.

                1. Marthooh*

                  Yes, it sounds like the receptionist had a kind idea and then implemented it badly. First, find out if it’s official. If it is, push back against the weirdness. If not, suggest that it sould be, or at least there shouldn’t be pressure.

                2. Engineer Girl*

                  It becomes “not nice” when you start dictating to others the amounts given. People are free to say no without ANY consequences or it isn’t being nice. Expecting others to fund your ideas is entitled.

            4. EdAdmin to the Stars*

              Especially if she has previously collected money that was never accounted for, I would be cautious of this. My mom worked with a young woman who was notorious for doing things like this. There was also a collection taken up for someone at work after the loss of a relative and this young woman was in charge of collecting the money and getting it to the grieving coworker. Instead of giving her the cash (which was the plan), she sent the grieving coworker a gift card, sent without a list of who had contributed to it (which also broke the typical protocol in this place; all gifts came with the list of names of people who chipped in), so there was no way to know if all the money collected had actually been sent.

              The fact that your receptionist was shaming folks for more money indicates that she has some personal stake in it. Now, it could be that she feels powerfully thankful for the cleaners and was acting inappropriately with her colleagues, or it could be that she is planning to skim from the total (or keep the whole thing) and so is trying to maximize the amount. This also would explain why she didn’t try to arrange this to be company-wide. If she asks just the people she is close to, she may feel that she is less likely to be questioned/caught, but if now she starts including everyone in the company… someone might mention it to the boss or to the cleaners and the scheme would be uncovered.

            5. Stranger than fiction*

              Oh boy, sound alarms going off about the raffle. Maybe find away to casually bring up the collection to her boss??

    2. NVHGal*

      My company (large, Fortune 500) contracts to the lowest bidders for cleaning and facilities, and some of those people do not get bonuses offered. Every year around the holidays, the admins take up a collection for these three or four people, who really do a great job of keeping our crummy old building clean and operational. It’s a mass email to the whole building (800+ people) asking us to give what we are comfortable giving. Envelopes are available for us to anonymously donate, and no one keeps track on the individual level. The senior admin sends out a follow up email to confirm the gifts were delivered, and we almost always get a thank you card. I’ve never minded, and it’s always been handled with class.

      All that to say that many people contribute to the success of an organization, and not all of them are paid equally, or even well. And a bonus is always a good way to show appreciation for a job well done.

      OP, Allison has some great words to use. You might also suggest that it’s significantly easier to hit a target of $400 (20 people x $20) by asking more people. If your admin reaches out to a wider audience (corporate or at least your whole building), the gift would not be a pittance, but a kind gesture. And will leave happiness on both sides instead of resentment on one.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        If the cleaners are contract workers then the company would not want to pay them a bonus, at least not directly. Giving them a bonus would be evidence of a employee/employer relationship, which could make the company liable for wages and benefits. Even paying the contracting agency who would then pay the workers could be problematic.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          This isn’t 100% accurate. Whether someone is an employee or a contractor is a multi-part test and you give different factors different weights. You can also tip service providers. If I tip my hairdresser it doesn’t make her my employee. The business can tip the cleaners if they wish.

          1. pope suburban*

            Yeah, I had a long-term temp placement with a company (Covering someone’s maternity leave for four months) that happened to span Thanksgiving and Christmas. They, because they are awesome, included me in the holiday bonuses (A Walmart gift card for Thanksgiving, and a Christmas poinsettia that I promptly regifted to my mom so it could live; I do not have a green thumb) that everyone else got. There was no pretense that I was an employee, or that I was even in the running to become one. They were just fair-minded people, which I really appreciated after having been assigned to so many places that treated temps or contractors like second-class citizens.

          2. Jerry Vandesic*

            Not sufficient evidence, but evidence none the less. Many companies require that contractors be treated differently than employees (not invited to team building events, no cash rewards, etc.) to minimize any evidence of an employee/employer relationship.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          I think it’s technically referred to as a “tip” when you give money something like this to cleaners, landscapers, etc.

      2. TootsNYC*

        At our company, an admin on each floor sends out an email to everyone on the floor to collect money for the folks who keep us clean, deliver mail, etc. It’s considered a tip, so not actually part of their compensation.

        They ask everyone, and there’s no dollar amount suggested.

        I’m always happy to participate.

    3. Penguin*

      Perhaps I am naive, my first thought was that the admin sent out the email in batches- ie she sent 5 emails to 20 people each.
      That being said, the attitude when $10 was offered is definitely off. It probably depends on the industry, but $5-10 for a Christmas or birthday present has been standard in my jobs.

      1. OP2*

        Thanks for your comments NHVgal and Penguin.

        I will approach her today and ask the questions.

        One thing to note that I forgot to mention is that if she wanted to email the entire office, there’s an email address to the mass audience that she could have used (ie officeall@company.com)…which is why I found weird that she hand selected the folks on the email.

        1. Anony*

          I would probably send an e-mail to her and her boss asking why only some people are being asked to contribute.

      2. Lil Fidget*

        I did also think that. Maybe OP just wasn’t on the other emails. Either way, Alison’s script would clear that up.

    4. Justme*

      I work for state government. Our accounting people send an email to everyone in the building for voluntary contributions to our facilities staff, because they make next to nothing and we don’t get bonuses. In our case it makes sense (although it would make more sense if they were paid better), but it is completely voluntary and asked of everyone.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Well and I’m going to guess that if somebody puts in $10, nobody pushes back and tries to get $20! If you do a bigger group, everyone putting in $5 becomes fine. That’s a big part of the issue here to me.

    5. Artemesia*

      I worked in a place that did not provide holiday bonuses for the cleaning staff and so we took up a collection each year. But everyone served by those cleaners was part of the collection (and there was no undue pressure). I don’t get trying to collect from just 20 out of the 100 in the building (unless it is a single department initiative and includes everyone in the department). If it is in fact just women that would be totally gross. The first thing I would push back on would be ‘why hasn’t this gone out to everyone; why have 20 people been singled out?’ You might find out that in fact everyone has been solicited but by different AAs or something, but I’d want to know what was going on there.

      1. ggg*

        The way you do this is to pass around an envelope and everyone puts in it what they can afford.

        I think it is fine to restrict it to a smaller group though. Some of us are very friendly with the cleaning staff and talk to them all the time and would absolutely contribute to a gift. Other people don’t really interact with them at all. And that is just in our department; I have no idea what other departments’ relationships with these people are. They’re contractors so our company is unlikely to be giving them a bonus.

        1. Half-Caf Latte*

          But a Christmas bonus isn’t “here’s a present because I know your name/we’re friendly.” This isn’t a social nicety. This is a recognition/appreciation on behalf of the office of the work the cleaners do. The people who don’t interact with them still get their trash emptied and their carpets vacuumed.

          Which underscores the logic that this should be the obligation of the company not the employees.

          But even if it were up to the employees to contribute, restricting to a small group (1) creates pressure on those who are included to contribute (even under the guise of volunteerism); (2) excludes people who don’t know the cleaners but would be willing to contribute; & (3) quite possibly sets up a dynamic where the lower paid employees are the ones being asked to contribute, and highly-compensated aren’t.

    6. Jerry Larry Terry Garry*

      Is this cleaner only responsible for a specific area? Are there different zones of responsibility?

  2. Ann Furthermore*

    OP5, you have my sympathies. I just turned 50, and I’m in very early stages of menopause. Thankfully I work from home a couple days a week, and my husband bought a portable AC unit that I can fire up if it gets too hot in my office. My boss is a woman, a few years older than me, so we can commiserate about it.

    My biggest issue is getting too hot, and if someone, say, complains about the temperature in the office, I say, “I am a woman of a certain age. Getting cold is just not something that happens to me.” It’s kind of a humorous way to explain it without getting into too many specifics. If you’re comfortable sharing personal information, it could help to have a comment like that prepared if it happens to come up. If not, then saying you’re dealing with a medical issue is just fine too.

    1. Mabel*

      I’ve been really fortunate to not have many of the really difficult physical symptoms, but my memory has become very unreliable, and it makes me feel stupid. I have always written down appointments, but now I have to write everything down because things I am sure I won’t forget, I forget. It’s so frustrating, and it’s embarrassing when I can’t remember the names of coworkers whose names I would normally remember. I don’t feel comfortable talking about being middle-aged or menopausal with younger women or any men, so I apologize and say that my memory isn’t working as well as it used to. Sometimes people commiserate, and I’m surprised that other people also feel that their memories aren’t as good as they used to be. I’m really sorry the OP is having to deal with all of the physical discomfort and pain that she described!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Oh man, it’s the same for me too. I can’t decide if it’s my memory going, or just that there’s so much crap to keep track of. I work full time, I am on the PTO at my daughter’s school, and she’s involved in sports and other activities. There is always something happening, or something I’m supposed to do. If I don’t put a reminder for it in my phone calendar, I will not remember. Twice in the last 6 months I’ve completely spaced out on birthday parties for my daughter’s friends. The parents of both kids are close friends of ours, so then I felt doubly bad for missing them. Ugh. Same with going to the grocery store. If something is not on my list, it will not end up in the shopping cart.

        1. oldbiddy*

          I think it’s a combination of actual memory loss and having to keep track of a lot of stuff for other people. I became a lot more forgetful after my now-husband moved in. I’m still mostly on top of my own stuff but not so much for his stuff.

        2. Happy Lurker*

          Commiserations all around! I too am experiencing early Peri-menopause along with managing a busy multi teenage household and working full time. I feel like a juggler, just throwing the balls up higher and higher.

          My spouse keeps asking if I am alright when I explain that I forgot something else. He rolls his eyes when I try to explain that I am of a certain age with certain things happening. I used to be very organized, not anymore. I also know that myself and my family have thyroid issues, which make the symptoms more pronounced. OP, if your boss pushes and you don’t want to say female issues or peri-menopause you can always say thyroid issues – but only if you are pushed into details. It’s not a total lie either, just a more generic answer.

      2. oldbiddy*

        As a woman with mostly same age friends who works in a predominantly male profession, I wish I’d heard pre-menopausal women talk about it more. I expected hot flashes and irritability, but didn’t know about memory loss, insomnia etc. I’m going through it now and (of course) I’m getting the symptoms I was clueless about. My only consolation is that my male boss (2 years older) is as absent minded and forgetful as I am.

        1. Kriss*

          acne. I broke out just as badly as I did when I was a teenager. fortunately, many anti aging products are also excellent acne products. Olay Regenerist serum is an excellent spot treater. I’d feel a bump start to come up, put a dab on it & the bump never appeared.

      3. Misc*

        This is often due to estrogen dropping – it affects dopamine levels which affects memory in various ways. A lot of people discover they have ADHD during menopause because their estrogen levels drop and suddenly they’re consistently scatterbrained instead of going up and down through the month and stop putting up with symptoms.

        1. Misc*

          (To clarify: women with ADHD are massively under diagnosed and often never realise that’s the problem, but the sharp decline at menopause makes it too obvious to ignore, especially as that’s the time people are going to be watching out for mental deterioration in general).

    2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      So – I have not been through menopause, but once upon a time I was on a medication that gave me hot flashes. I cannot advise on the rest of your symptoms, but the thing that helped me with the hot flashes at the office was to put an ice pack on my head. I wore whatever kind of hat I thought I could get away with and put an ice pack under it – and it made me feel so much better. Plus it goes to show there are other conditions and medications that can lead to the same symptoms you are having.

    3. the gold digger*

      Woman of A Certain Age here, freezing and waiting for the Good Part of A Certain Age to come.

      (PS The Good Part is not needing to hunt the Clearasil, a product I have not purchased for decades, in Walgreen’s.)

      1. Alice*

        If you’re te that you’r dealing with a “medical condition” to explain absences and such, it might be worth it to go the FMLA route and try to get it certified, just in case (if you’re in the US and eligible). I’m edging close to that certain age as well, and am NOT looking forward to it, as I too am not a candiate for HRT due to other pre-existing medical conditions. Good luck.

        1. Just Call Me Anon*

          OP, I’m right there with you. Mine started about a year ago but I had no idea what it was. I thought I was either going crazy or dying. I really just figured it out a few months ago. I wish I would have said something more specific earlier or even pursued FMLA. I have landed myself on a PIP at work as of last week because of this nightmare. Definitely affected my performance and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to end well for me. I am hesitant to try the FMLA thing now though because it might make it look like I’m trying to get out of the PIP. I really am trying to improve! It’s just extra challenging when your hormones have other ideas! Definitely keep reinforcing that it is a medical issue!

  3. DrAtos*

    For the second year, a colleague of mine emailed the entire office asking everyone to consider a donation to buy gift cards for our office cleaners. It isn’t mandatory, and he doesn’t walk around asking people for cash or a specific amount of cash. We all think it is reasonable and thanked him for gathering the money and buying gift cards and greeting cards. I forgot to donate last year, but I gave $10 and he even told me that $5 would be enough since I am a younger employee and do not make as much as older senior staff members.

    Buying a Visa card for office cleaners who likely aren’t making all the much is a lovely gesture for the holidays. My problem with OP’s receptionist is that she did not ask the entire office to donate, and she is pressuring those selected people into donating $20 each. This is absolutely the wrong way to go about asking for donations ever. My guess was that the receptionist either sent this request to only women, people who have the highest salary, or people she believes are more willing to give a donation. Whatever her reasoning is, she is putting those selected employees on the spot, and demanding that they donate $20 rather than whatever they can give.

    OP should speak to the receptionist about this. I am interested in knowing her reasoning behind why she chose OP and 19 others, and why she is asking for $20 when she did not indicate a specific amount in the email.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      The odd part is that the receptionist would get more money if she asked everyone. So why only ask a few and expect them to make up the difference?
      I’d be asking bluntly: “Why are you only asking some of the people for donations?”

      1. Maude*

        I wonder if she did not ask anyone because she knows it really is not appropriate and/or she doesn’t have approval from management to collect money so she is trying to keep it low key.

    2. MK*

      Asking 20 out of 100 people might make sense in some cases: if they are the highest paid and the rest are making minimum wage, say, or if the 20 are the ones benefiting from the cleaning service (if the workplace has a factory and attached office space and the cleaners are for the office only, it would make sense to only ask the office workers). Asking only the people who you think will want to contribute makes no sense; even if you think of co-worker X as a Scrooge who is never going to participate, there is no harm in asking.

      Also, and this may be cultural, I wouldn’t consider a 100 dollar Christmas gift paltry; that’s how my gifts to family cost, more or less. And this is what this is supposed to be: a gift at the end of the year as a gesture of goodwill. If we are talking about a considerable sum as appreciation for their work, it’s a bonus and it’s the company’s responsibility to provide.

      1. DrAtos*

        If she asked everyone in the office like my colleague did, $5-$10 per person would be more than enough to buy $100 gift cards for each cleaner, especially in a large office. She is going about this in the wrong way and it is boneheaded. I would consider $25-$50 for each cleaner to be more than generous, especially if it is coming from employees and not the company.

      2. Tuxedo Cat*

        That struck me as odd too. If every single one of those 20 people gave $10, that seems like a decent gift. There’s no need to pressure people into giving more.

        It’s totally inappropriate to just ask a select few without rhyme or reason, but asking for more seems really weird.

  4. Zombeyonce*

    #4: If he asked another question, I’d be sorely tempted to just respond, “Why don’t you go ask Fergus?” since he’s doing it anyway. If you say that every time he asks you something, he might stop or possibly explain why he’s asking you in the first place since he doesn’t believe you. Then again, that’s pretty passive aggressive and childish, but would make me feel better if I were the OP and getting this over and over again.

    1. Colette*

      I wouldn’t recommend that. It makes the OP seem (and be)unhelpful and doesn’t point out why she’s not willing to answer questions.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Next time he returns to report in wonder that she was right, I wonder if it would work to do a deliberately patient “Yes. (pause) That’s why I told you that. (pause) Have you realized that you regularly come back to tell me that an answer I gave you was correct?” (With the last sentence only if you’re pretty sure the first two alone would fly over his head.)

      1. JulieBulie*

        My inclination would be to ask why he is checking my answers with other people. It is more direct, and I realize some people wouldn’t be comfortable with that, but if I have a problem with the fact that he’s checking my answers with other people, then that’s what I’ll address.

        On the other hand, if the part that annoyed me really was the part where he came back and told me I was right, then I’d say it the way Falling Diphthong said it.

        But personally, I’d be more annoyed that he was checking my answers with other people, as if he’s in charge of quizzing me.

        1. JulieBulie*

          …and I see now that for some people, the problem is that he’s asking in the first place, which oddly enough didn’t strike me as the most annoying part!

          1. LBK*

            I think to me, it’s annoying that he’s asking the questions in the first place *because* the OP knows he’s going to go ask someone else after. Why not just cut out the middle step and stop wasting the OP’s time?

      2. Mints*

        I’ve done this, “I know you should email John, that’s why I told you to email John.”
        I think it’s important to be clear if you’re not sure though “Hmm you could email John or Jane; I’m not sure who’s in charge. Maybe just email both of them.”

    3. SignalLost*

      That would just give the OP a rep for being passive-aggressive (or unhelpful/unknowledgeable), where Alison’s script puts it back on the question-asked, where the responsibility belongs.

    4. SNS*

      I had a coworker that did the same thing the OP’s is doing and this is the route I took. I felt bad, but it was easier to say “That’s a good question for Jane” or “I think Mary could answer that for you” then take the time to answer when when he was just going to ask them anyway

      1. LBK*

        I’m on board with that approach – I’ve found feigning ignorance can work too. “I’m not sure, probably better to ask Jane.”

    5. Miles*

      Depending on the office culture I wonder if his attitude is a political move. If he can make #4 seem less knowledgeable/helpful than she is it might give him an advantage when it’s promotion or raise time, if the boss doesn’t wise up to it. In this case responding in an unhelpful way would only hurt #4’s position in the long term.

    6. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Haha, this actually happened at my office! Cersei and Sonja sat close together, Cersei would ask Sonja something and then go around and poll the rest of the staff. (This wasn’t factual stuff, more like, “What would you do on this teapot design?” Sonja had a lot of knowledge so it made sense to ask her, plus most of us agreed with whatever Sonja had suggested. One day, Cersei asked a question and Sonja just snapped, “I don’t know why you’re asking me if you’re just going to go ask everyone else anyway.” It was actually pretty funny and did get Cersei to stop asking her questions!

      1. mialoubug*

        This happened to me, once with a much more junior colleague. Cordelia asked me a very long, very specific question about policy and how something should be handled. We talked it through, going over the various scenarios and agreeing on the one the made the most sense. The conversation lasted about 20 minutes, so it wasn’t a “oh how do you do this?” talk. When we were finishing up, her supervisor returned to her office which was next to mine. (Her supervisor and I were the same level but she wasn’t my report). Cordelia abruptly got up and said, and I quote: “Oh, never mind, my supervisor is back. I’ll go check with her.” Nevermind I had about 10 years more experience doing the job; never mind that I stopped what I was doing to talk this through for 20 minutes. I was dismissed. And fairly pissed off. And told her, pretty bluntly, not to ever waste my time like that again. When I mentioned to her supervisor what she had said to me, she told me that when they talked through the problem, they arrived at the same conclusion and Cordelia told her that yes, I had said the same thing. Her supervisor was also ticked off that Cordelia had wasted her time as well.

  5. Geoffrey B*

    #2: perhaps I’m being unduly suspicious here, but the weird way this is being handled would make me want to confirm that all the money collected really is going to the cleaners.

    1. OP2*

      It seems like everyone was made aware of the gesture and she now raised over $1000. I do hope it goes to the cleaners. Makes me want to ask them next week if they got them.

  6. All Hail Queen Sally*

    OP#5:. Welcome to menopause! It is such a frustrating time and it seems to last forever. I wish it was optional–I would have opted out! I had problems mostly with the hot flashes and memory loss “brain farts.” I just had a fan on my desk and carried a hand fan around with me every where I went. I was one of the oldest in my office too. I just laughed whenever I had a brain fart–really, what else could I have done? When the younger women would make comments, I would say “your time will be here soon enough!” The men all knew to keep their mouths shut. (It was a medical office.). Hang in there. You are in good company.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Women with a uterus do seem to get a bum deal when it comes to this.

      30-40 years of periods every month, sometimes crippling us with pain if you’re one of the unlucky ones (and I did work with a woman who, every month, couldn’t move because of the pain). Then about 10 years of the menopause before our bodies finally decide that it’s time to be done.

      I’m really not looking forward to the menopause.

      1. VerySleepyPregnantWoman*

        I have told people that pregnancy has made me understand why so many religions seem to think that women most have done something very, very bad in the past and are being punished by god(s). Menopause just seems like a continuation of that :/

        1. Decima Dewey*

          I had an okay menopause, no serious symptoms. What I was glad to see the end of was the “guess when your next period will be” stage. Once it was clear that everything was over and done with, I was fine.

  7. kas*

    4. There’s been plenty of times I’ve asked someone a question and double-checked their answer by asking someone else. The difference is, I don’t let either person know! I had a new hire do the same to me with basic questions and once I realized, I stopped answering her questions. I started responding with “I don’t know” or told her to check with/ask someone else. I wasn’t rude or anything but I was annoyed. When he does it again, I’d probably tell him that he seems to be checking your answers a lot and you’re not sure why (especially if your answers are always right).

    I find some people do this to try and be social.

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Yup, I think it can be a weird kind of small talk. (Not necessarily in this particular case, of course, but in general.)

      Your comment made me realize I am guilty of doing this sometimes — I’ll try to stop it. Thanks!

      1. Emily Spinach*

        I could imagine a person doing it as a way to initiate conversation, particularly if they’re trying to meet their new coworkers/get to know the workplace. But even so, I think the letter writer’s annoyance is understandable and she can totally ask/try to get him to stop using Alison’s suggestions.

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        Agree, especially if the person is new to the office. It’s not the most natural form of small talk but is something I’ve seen before. But like Orlando said what makes it annoying /strange is reporting back to LW! It’s kind of like the act of getting an answer from his is more important to him than the actual answer to a question.

    2. Orlando*

      Yep, I’ve done a version of #4. I preferred my facts to be backed up by multiple sources, at least until I felt I could trust specific people to be dependable sources of information. To be clear this can still be annoying and had more to do with my own issues at the time, but it’s not necessarily personal. The really weird thing to me is that colleague is getting back at OP with “yep, person 2 confirmed what you said.” Like… thanks for the update? That does sound especially clueless.

      1. SignalLost*

        But this isn’t “check knowledge” – they’ve already worked together. I have a good sense of which of my former coworkers I trust to be informed and which I don’t. I don’t need to double check their answers.

      2. Hophornbeam*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily take this personally; sometimes people like to double-check things with multiple sources and may even consider it their professional responsibility, especially if it’s something important where there could be negative consequences of getting it wrong. So it might not be that he doesn’t value your opinion or believe you, but considers it an important piece of intel that he’s piecing together to have a very solid base upon which he can act. He may just be higher on the anxiety scale than you or the average person. I think this is especially likely given that he is new to the company and may feel more unsure than he will once he has several years of experience at the company, when he’ll have a better sense of what is a Really Important Not to Screw Up and when it is something that he can just be like, “oh, Mary told me she was giving the presentation” and nobody will question his value to the company based on a misunderstanding (which I think also tends to depend on time in role/company).
        I don’t know if this applies to you, but you might also want to check how you are conveying your answers. An issue that often comes up in workplaces is that more men tend to say something as if it is fact when they are not really 100% sure about it, while women can be 99.9% sure about something and still preface it with “I think…” (or even raise their voice at the end of the sentence, as if they were asking a question) which, unfortunately, can result in the men being viewed as more competent and knowledgeable, or in your case could simply mean that he thinks you’re not sure about the answer so he should double-check it.
        Also, I realize that part of the problem is that he is coming back to you telling you that so-and-so confirmed that you were right, but he is probably doing it with good intentions, in the vein of giving credit where credit is due and acknowledging when someone is right.

        1. Soon to be former fed*

          If you are going to forum shop, just research it yourself or confine your questions to your manager. I don’t need confirmation I
          I’m right.

      1. LBK*

        I tend to agree. I’ll admit I do this occasionally when there’s someone who is supposed to be responsible for certain information that I know isn’t especially reliable – so I’ll check in with them first so that they’re in the loop and I can say I went about things the “right” way, but then I’ll also check with the person that I think probably has the actual correct answer. I do let the second person know that I asked the first person already, though, so that they can read between the lines and understand that I’m circumventing them.

        That being said, there are constantly times when people go to myself, my coworker, my manager and my manager’s manager, which we absolutely know about because we’re in constant communication with each other and pretty much any time one of us hears about an issue it’s immediately circulated between the 4 of us. So be very careful with who you’re double checking with unless your backup person is on your “side,” so to speak.

      2. kas*

        Not necessarily. I’ve only ever done it with people in separate departments. They wouldn’t know unless the other person walked over to my department and brought it up.

  8. WoodswomanWrites*

    For letter writer #3, it sounds like it’s a given that your manager will show you the door soon after you give notice. You know this is how your workplace treats people and that management is not trustworthy, so it makes sense for you to give less notice. Two weeks’ notice is reasonable in most positions, and if you are asked to leave at once, that gives you a week of vacation to get ready for the new job that you’re excited about without the financial hardship of going two months without income. Congratulations on getting yourself out of that toxic workplace and heading to somewhere better.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I agree with Woodswoman.

      If your manager had shown in the past that she won’t honour the notice period then she has forgone the right to be given a full one. Resign when you think it’s best, and financially viable for you if you’re shown the door, and good luck with the new job.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If OP#3’s boss has been known to fire people after they give notice, I think a week to a day’s notice is reasonable! Not everyone can afford to take even a few days unpaid leave, and the company has not held up their end of the unspoken bargain about giving notice, so there’s no reason for the OP to do so if it will be a hardship for them.

      That said, if it’s not a hardship I’d still give the standard amount (industry standard, not necessarily what this employer says it wants).

      1. Christmas Carol*

        If you give a month’s notice, and the boss shows you the door after a week, and you can’t start your new job until the original negotiated start date, wouldn’t you be eligible for unemployment against your original company for those three weeks?

        1. Corey*

          Yup! Giving notice is not a cause that disqualifies you from unemployment benefits. Those are benefits that you are owed for being let go, and the letter writer would be right to enjoy the subsidized preparation for his or her next role. At-will employment works both ways.

        2. PersephoneUnderground*

          Only in some states- in many your unemployment doesn’t start paying out until you’ve been unemployed for a certain period of time, like two weeks, so anything less than your state’s minimum means you’re out of luck. (And no, you don’t then get paid unemployment for the waiting period, that is just unpaid, period.)

    3. HS Teacher*

      If she can’t afford to be without income, I think she shouldn’t give any notice. I don’t understand why we employees have to standardly give notice when most employers don’t when they terminate you, but that’s a different issue.

      If the company treats resigning employees so poorly then they don’t deserve any notice.

    4. RVA Cat*

      I would also research to see if you get back any unused PTO, or if you could file for unemployment if they force you out a month before you can start the new job.

      1. Natalie*

        Yes, definitely check on unemployment. In my state you qualify if you give notice and are walked out early, but it has to be more than a week.

    5. Artemesia*

      THIS. You know that your boss turfs people short of their notice period completion so don’t even consider giving a month’s notice unless you want to forego a month’s salary. Give two weeks notice at most. The fact that you have the job now does not require you to tell anyone at work that and given the long gap between hiring and going to work, I would also want to hedge for them postponing or canceling. It is a little weird to not let you start for so long. Double check two weeks out about your starting date and procedures with the new job and then if everything is on track, give your notice. A two week vacation without pay, beats a month.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I second this, especially with the double-checking. A start date two months’ off would make me nervous, although they might have a good reason for it. And in this case, I wouldn’t even give two weeks’ notice. This boss sucks and doesn’t deserve it.

  9. Tuesday Next*

    #4, this is annoying, but the fact that he’s up-front about it makes it easier to deal with. Just ask him, in a curious tone, why he feels the need to double-check the answers you give him. He may have an answer that makes sense, and if he doesn’t, you can point out to him that it’s annoying and he needs to stop it, if he wants you to take his questions seriously.

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, exactly. I find it especially curious that these are fact-based questions – it sounds like they refer to things that he could be finding out all by himself? (Given that OP says they basically have the same job and experience – if she can find out whether he’s presenting at the meeting on Wednesday, so should he!) I also agree with others above that this might be his weird way of making small-talk, especially since he’s already used OP for emotional fulfillment in the past. Absolutely trust your gut and be straight with him, OP! (And report back if you want to, because I’m immensely curious about his reasoning.)

    2. Purplesaurus*

      Yeah, I had a coworker who did the same thing to me. She would ask, leave, and then come back saying she confirmed my response with someone else. After several instances of this, I finally asked her, head tilted, “is there some reason you think I would mislead you?”

        1. Purplesaurus*

          I guess that would have been interesting to include, eh? Turns out she had planned on asking someone else in the first place, but stopped in at my office because I was next door. Like other commenters suggested, it was kind of a social thing for her.

  10. Anon right now*

    I feel your pain op5. I’m going through early menopause at age 35 right now and am also not a candidate for HRT. I did talk to a trusted mentor at work who thinks that it’s not as noticeable as I think everything is and in general just saying I’m dealing with medical issues has worked well. I do have a lot of other chronic medical issues though so people might just be assuming that I’m having a flare up of my autoimmune disease tat a lot of people at work already know about.

    1. Barbara in Swampeast*

      I have gone through several cycles where something will work for a time and then stop working for me. I have used sage tea, then evening primrose. Bio-identical hormone therapy worked for me for a couple years. I have also just finished using a mild antidepressant.

  11. MilkMoon (UK)*

    LW3: Employers, like all people, deserve the level of respect and consideration which they earn. You need to do what suits you best in this situation. Give a month or two week’s notice and if they push you out early enjoy your little holiday between jobs.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Yeah – was mostly responding to the difference between uk & us… it’s in every employment contract I’ve ever had (and virtually everyone has one) that if you’re leaving, and company wants you gone sooner, they pay your notice period.

          1. copy run start*

            Dreams! Last time I changed jobs I only took 3 days off… and could barely afford that. Prior to that job I was even worse off and literally didn’t get a single day off (as in I worked my last day at the old job on a Sunday, and started the new job Monday morning). The UK sounds like some mythical work paradise at times…

          2. LBK*

            This is a tangent, but I’ve always wondered what the advantage to contracts is from the business’s standpoint in the UK. If someone had a contract in the US, I’d imagine it would stipulate that they can’t leave before it’s over and that they’re probably liable to pay a sizable fine if they do want to break the contract. It seems like the contracts in the UK pretty much solely benefit the employee, granting them job security but not giving the employer any “staffing security” in return. How’d anyone ever get companies to agree to this? Is it the law? Or just how things are done and no one really questions it?

            That is one way in which I’ll agree that the UK and US are wildly different not just in law but in practice – even for the most generous US companies, I’m pretty sure if you went to them and said “I’d like to sign a contract that guarantees my employment for X amount of time but I’m still free to leave at any time if I decide I want to with no penalty,” you’d be laughed out the door.

            1. anon scientist*

              Not in the UK, but I’m in Norway and I have a contract. It states that I have to give them 3 months notice if I want to leave, and if they want me to leave, I have to be given 6 months notice (unless I do something egregious, like stealing). I’m actually not sure if it is the law here, but I assume whether it is law or not, it’s set up as a for security on both sides. I can’t leave them in the lurch with no warning, and they can’t do the same to me.

              1. LBK*

                Ahh, that makes sense that they get longer notice periods out of it. So you can still technically quit at any time, but you have to stay there for longer after resigning – you can’t just decide you’re not coming back tomorrow like you theoretically could in the US (and even the professional standard for notice periods is much shorter at only 2 weeks). Thanks to you and Myrin below for clarifying!

            2. Myrin*

              Speaking purely from the “notice period” angle – and from Germany, not the UK, but from what I’ve seen our rules and laws around contracts are very similar: notice periods are usually and generally three months here and of course it’s beneficial for an employer to have three months in advance to look for a new person in any given job. They don’t have to fear someone just up and leave on any given day but can prepare extensively. (As always, extreme cases of criminal conduct etc. notwithstanding.)
              Is that what you mean?

              (As for whether it’s the law or simply how things are done: definitely both.)

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          That didn’t occur :( (Health insurance really is never on my radar unless I’ve specifically been told about it.)

  12. Just Employed Here*

    2. I’m also guessing that the 20 people selected are women, but not for the reason that they’ll be more likely to give, but that somehow they are more responsible for the cleanliness of the office than their male colleagues… There’s no way of knowing this of course, I don’t think even the receptionist sending out the email would think this consciously, but I’m guessing this is guiding her choice of email recipients.

    3. “Using me as an emotional replacement for his wife while at work” — eeewww! Good thing OP already nipped that in the bud, that sounds so out of order.

    1. Artemesia*

      I hope that it is not true that only women are solicited for this; that would entirely outrageous. I would certainly want to know and make sure everyone in the office was on the list.

  13. Todd Chrisley Knows Best*

    OP2, is it possible she just divided up the email list and sent 5 emails, each to 20 different people, so in total everyone actually was hit up for
    Contributions? (Although I feel like depending on the Office, talk would have already spread about the odd behavior?) I can’t really imagine a sound reason for doing that, unless maybe she wanted 20 people’s contributions per cleaning staff, and there were 5 cleaning staff? Fielding responses is easier when the email is capped at 20? (No, I don’t particularly find that to be sound logic considering in total you have the same number of people, but…maybe she planned on doing a new 20 every few days?). I’m not attempting to excuse her behavior, by any means, but I think we’ve all heard of stranger things from AAM.

  14. bryeny*

    #5. That collection of symptoms sounds lousy — sorry you got hit so hard. There’s so much, though, that it makes me wonder if something else might be going on. Consider revisiting with your doctor, or even getting a second opinion. And maybe treat the depression? That’s likely to make the rest of it easier to work through. Hang in there — it does get better.

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      “There’s so much, though, that it makes me wonder if something else might be going on.”

      Well, that’s menopause for you. That’s how it works for some of us – those are common symptoms of perimenopause (ask me how I know….ugh).

    2. Oxford Comma*

      Those are all standard symptoms of menopause. Nothing wrong with talking to the doctor, but it’s kind of par for the course for a lot of us.

    3. Just Call Me Anon*

      Hate to say it but some doctors either don’t know anything about peri-menopause or deny its existence and attribute it to “stress”. It’s a frustrating time. I wish someone had told me about it so I didn’t think I was going crazy / dying when it started!

  15. Kate*

    OP4, I’m guilty doing this when I started this job. I haven’t really thought about it being annoying until my coworker pointed it out. And then I cut it out (though it took a few days).
    It was part of my learning process and probably because I’ve known one of my coworkers for ages and the other person was new to me. But I wouldn’t do that 3 months already in the job. Probably the first couple of weeks, a month max.
    He might not even realize he’s doing it.
    So, point it out to him, tell him how annoying it is and how it makes you feel like he doesn’t value your opinion. He probably didn’t intend it that way and when he realizes what happened, he should cut back on double checking things and maybe cut it out completely.

    1. Blue*

      Yeah, I think calling him on it makes sense. Continuing to ask if he straight up doesn’t trust OP’s answers is very annoying and just doesn’t make sense! If he doesn’t believe her, he should save them both time and just ask other people. I imagine that you’re right and he just hasn’t thought about the message crowdsourcing every answer sends or the time it wastes.

    2. Snark*

      “I haven’t really thought about it being annoying until my coworker pointed it out.”

      How could this not occur to you? I don’t ask that in the rhetorical sense – honest question, I’m curious. I trust you that it never occurred to you….but there’s basically no way that behavior doesn’t come off as dismissive and kind of condescendingly mistrustful, and I’d really like to know what was going through your head when you did it.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yeah, but I think every person on the planet probably has or has had some type of workplace behavior that they did without thinking about how it would affect or be taken by someone else. Like people on yesterday’s post never thinking about how the way their imposter syndrome manifests itself could annoy other people. We all have a thing we do that we don’t see is annoying or dismissive or condescending to other people. When we don’t *intend* to be annoying, dismissive, etc., we often don’t think about how things come across.

  16. Nico m*

    I’m annoyed by #2. The business should give the cleaners a bonus and/or gift. Individuals can give their own gift as well if they want.

    1. Colette*

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing a group gift, as long as both participation and the donation is voluntary and everyone is invited to participate. It’s nicer to get a gift card for $100 instead of 3 for $5, 2 for $10, a box of chocolates, a scarf, 3 types of body wash, and a Christmas ornament.

      1. Guacamole Bob*


        I’m in a government agency so no one gets bonuses and there’s no ability for the agency to spend money on things like gifts, so I’m happy to chip in for group gifts for the cleaning staff. But on a similar note, my sister-in-law is a teacher and always brings a bunch of stuff to family Christmas celebrations that she got from her students. It’s so well-intentioned, but it’s like you say – very scattershot, too many sweets for one person to eat, gift cards in small amounts at places she doesn’t necessarily go, etc. I think a lot of teachers would prefer a group gift from the class.

    2. Artemesia*

      Yeah businesses SHOULD but often they don’t. The one I worked for didn’t; government offices certainly don’t either. So it is a bit like tipping. Yeah it is ridiculous that waiters have to rely on tips given our compensation system, but it is the way it is and not tipping is not a moral stance; it just cheats the worker. This is of course a bit different, but where cleaning staff are paid little and especially if they do a great job for you, it is a great kindness to take up a collection for a holiday tip. Everyone of course should be asked to contribute and there should be no bullying about it.

  17. Akcipitrokulo*

    Op2… it may be receptionist knows or suspects the company isn’t going to cough up (or maybe just jumping the gun!) … that part isn’t an issue for me (for her behaviour) but the rest is really bad!

    If she’s asked only female employees to chip in that needs knocked on head straight off.

    And asking for donations means that you accept “no” as an answer politely – never mind quibble over amount! I’d be inclined to withdraw any offer of cash if I were told it wasn’t enough.

  18. AlwhoisthatAl*

    #3 – While I fully realise the financial hardship of leaving early, there are other benefits too. After working for 15 years solid in your previous job (and if you’re in the US the limited holidays available) when was the last time you had to chance to take a month or so off ? This could be your chance to go and do a few things off a bucket list, visit lots of old friends etc. It’s not often in our working lives that a happy circumstance like this turns up. If it was me I would be seriously thinking about getting a small loan or maxing out that credit card and going for it.
    Yes, you will be in debt but you have a job to go to to pay it back. I’d view it as a great opportunity rather than a problem.

        1. Artemesia*

          The job is odd in not having a relatively immediate start date. I would be nervous that something was off there. I think she should check close to the time work should start asking about starting date and paperwork for benefits and so forth to get organized for the start. If they state a date and seem organized to bring her on, then give notice — a month if she can afford a month of vacation or two weeks if she can’t. If they are vague or ‘aren’t quite sure on the date and procedure, then she has a heads up about burning bridges. I would never be entirely confident of a job that had me starting 3 months hence; so much can happen and in the US it is not unheard of for a job to be eliminated before the person starts or worse, 2 or 3 weeks after the start. I have known of people who left very good jobs for even better jobs that were eliminated in a few weeks in a massive re-organization. US companies have no shame and no contracts for most people.

        2. LBK*

          I don’t think casually digging yourself into debt on the assumption that you’ll be able to pay it off later is “overly cautious”…that sounds like normal financial sense to me. If you have some kind of emergency in that month you’re gonna be kicking yourself that you just blew $1000 traveling or whatever that you could’ve spent on the car repairs you now need to get to that new job that’s going to pay off the debt. Running up unnecessary expenses while unemployed is a terrible idea.

    1. Anon-MD*

      “If it was me I would be seriously thinking about getting a small loan or maxing out that credit card and going for it.”

      I’m sure AlwhoisthatAl means well, but do not do this! It’s not wise to bank on funds you do not have.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “…financially it would be really difficult to be out of work for two months.”

        And since OP says this, I think that’s even more reason not to do something like that. I get the sentiment, as I was out of work for a couple months after 18+ years in one job and it was totally glorious to have the break, but it could be financially irresponsible if OP is in a tough spot already. But, obviously, OP knows her situation best.

    2. Antilles*

      This is really bad financial advice on multiple fronts.
      1.) The job could fail to come through, as MommyMD mentioned.
      2.) During her fired time, OP may not be getting income given that this certainly doesn’t sound like a place that would believe in paying full severance and unemployment tends to take several weeks to get set up and actually start paying you.
      3.) OP’s new job will likely not be a massive pay increase. Therefore, it’ll likely take several months if not longer to pay the debt off…during which time she’s racking up interest charges.
      4.) If an emergency comes, those funds won’t be there. What happens if OP’s car needs major work? What if OP has unexpected health issues and needs to pay for a deductible? What happens if OP’s furnace goes out? All sorts of minor emergencies can come up; if OP has already maxed her credit cards, she’ll be stuck in a hard place.
      On a general level, yeah, OP should try to view the upside and take advantage of the opportunity to learn new skills, pick up a new hobby, meet up with friends, etc…but she certainly shouldn’t be going into massive debt to do it.

    3. Coalea*

      OP #3, you know your own financial situation best, but IMO racking up a lot of unnecessary debt is a really bad idea. Of course it would be amazing to spend your time between jobs traveling and doing fun stuff, but not if it costs you your safety net.

    4. Jesmlet*

      There’s nothing happy or relaxing about not being able to pay your bills. I get that you want to spin this as positively as possible for OP but this is horrible financial advice especially given that there’s never any certainty when starting a new job

    5. LBK*

      Unless the new job is paying twice what the old job paid, how the hell is she supposed to just instantly pay her way out of debt while also paying for the rest of her normal expenses once the new job starts? Not to mention she still has to find a way to afford those things for the month where she doesn’t have any income?

      Being given the “gift of time” or whatever is only really a benefit if you’ve financially privileged enough to not have to worry about emergency expenses or even just, y’know, putting food on the table. If you’re gonna run up debt that you’re not even positive you’ll be able to pay off, at least reserve it for emergencies and necessities.

  19. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

    OP2- I don’t think taking up a gift collection for the cleaning staff is wrong at all. This particular collection wasn’t managed well (everyone should have been asked, it should definitely be optional, and no one should be chastised for the amount they choose to give), but in general I don’t think there is anything wrong with the practice. My company does this every year, and the employees genuinely look forward to it. One guy organizes the whole thing and a few hundred of us donate. The money is then divided evenly between security and housekeeping. It’s nice to do something nice for the people who take care of us and our building all year long.

    1. MommyMD*

      I’m happy to gift the cleaning staff. Let everyone choose an amount to gift and keep it private. Inherently there’s nothing wrong with it.

    2. Zathras*

      We used to do something at a place I worked for, they would write all the employees’ names on a big interoffice mail envelope, then pass around that with a card. You would optionally add cash to the envelope and sign the card, then cross your name off the list and hand it off to the next person. My first year the woman who organized it sought me out and made sure I knew that it was 100% voluntary and that it was totally OK to just sign the card. (Not signing the card and just crossing your name off the list would also have worked, if you had some philosophical objection to signing.)

      It was a small enough office that we all knew each other well enough to know nobody would make off with any cash, it might not work so well on a larger scale. Most people gave – we knew the lady who cleaned for us pretty well, she cleaned during business hours rather than at night because our department was subject to some extra security policies.

  20. Drama Llama*

    No employee should be asked to chip in for gifts. Whether it’s for a new baby, new home, birthday, retirement, gifts for boss/cleaners/etc – the company should purchase it. Employees are at work to make money, not spend it. It puts unfair pressure on people to donate whether they want to or not.

    1. Colette*

      Totally disagree. People should be able to give gifts to their coworkers. No one should be required to give, but it should be an option.

      1. Marieplm*

        If the ask is appropriate (guilt-free and not overly frequent) and gifts are fairly dispersed, I don’t have an issue with it – some companies like mine (nonprofit contracted with the government) are prohibited from using most company dollars for anything not specifically required for our compny’s express purpose. If we didn’t chip in or pot-luck it every once in a while, it would be pretty bleak around here.

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        Totally agree with Drama Llama. If you’re friends outside of work, give a gift outside of work.

        No gifts to coworkers. Focus on the professional relationship.

        1. Colette*

          Small gifts are unlikely to hurt the professional relationship, and will probably help. When I broke my leg last year and was off for 2 weeks (unpaid), my coworkers sent me flowers. How is that inappropriate?

          Why is it wrong to recognize major life events of the people you see every day? (Why would you not want to do that?)

          Again, I don’t think anyone should be obligated to participate, but that is the kind of thing that makes the workplace more enjoyable for a lot of people.

          1. Hildegard Von Bingen*

            No, it’s not “wrong.” That indicates something inappropriate or immoral.

            But it is something that some of us are not interested in. For me, work is labor in exchange for money. That’s all it is. Sure, I’ve made friends at work. And we do things outside of work. Sure, I work hard and do a great job. But that’s because working hard and doing good work are intrinsically enjoyable to me. Slacking off and doing crummy work would be stressful and almost painful. I do what I do for selfish reasons – which also, BTW, benefit my employer and my co-workers.

            It’s not a question of right or wrong most of the time. It’s a question of what you want from a job. I want good pay, benefits and decent working conditions, and grownup, competent behavior and work product from my co-workers. I don’t want any financial calls on me at all. Ever.

            1. Colette*

              I think it’s fine for people to ask if you’d like to contribute to something benefiting a colleague. I also think it’s fine for you to say no.

              I’m not sure what you mean by “financial calls” – do you mean requests or demands? If you mean requests, then I think that’s unreasonable if you’re in a culture where people do small gifts for their colleagues. It’s not up to your colleagues to change what they’re doing to make you more comfortable.

              However, if you never go out for lunch with your team/participate in the office fun day/ join the secret Santa/join the birthday club etc. because they cost money, there is a non-financial cost to that unless you put in an effort to be friendly and interested in your colleagues the rest of the time. I know I’ve worked with people like that, and frankly, that’s all I remember. I don’t remember their names, or their skills, and that means they have no access to my network.

        2. Sarah*

          In many office situations, the cleaning staff aren’t really “coworkers.” They are often contracted in (so they work for a different company) and they often don’t participate in the social life of the office (especially as many of them work at night–I only see the cleaning woman on my floor because I tend to work a little later). This is not buying a baby gift for Jan in Accounting. So it’s not a matter of friendship. It’s about trying to show some appreciation to a frankly vulnerable group that goes around cleaning up your messes all year long. Your personal feelings about them don’t really enter into it. I’m honestly a little surprised that the distinction requires drawing.

      3. Bette*

        …it’s always an option. No one is preventing you from giving to a coworker; some of us would just like not to be pressured into it.

        1. Colette*

          The specific comment I was replying to was “No employee should be asked to chip in for gifts”.

          I agree no one should be pressured into it, but I disagree that they shouldn’t be asked.

    2. copy run start*

      I think there should not be an obligation to give — either the company handles it entirely, or the employees start an optional gift fund and designate someone to deal with purchasing and coordinating the cards/gifts for major work milestones. The gift fund should have low obligations (absolutely less than $5/month, not mandatory) and set spending limits for occasions (i.e. no $1,000 retirement gifts!).

  21. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

    LW#5 – so sorry you’re dealing with this!

    I’m only 28, but I’ve had terrible PMS all my life, and so I’m already dreading menopause because I know it’s gonna be terrible.
    I had a pulmony embolism a few years back that was caused by birth control pills, so I’m also not a candidate for any hormones once menopause comes around.


    I hope it gets better for you!

  22. MsSolo*

    2 – depending on the set up, the cleaners may not be paid for by the company. In our case, our cleaner is employed by a cleaning company, that’s subcontract by the company that owns the building, so at a third remove from our company (and having worked with that cleaning company more directly before, they won’t be giving her a reward for her hard work; they are a deeply unpleasant employer). We do a whip round every year for a gift for her, usually vouchers and a box of chocolates. We also do the same for the security staff here (though this year it was pointed out giving them one card between two was probably a bit weird – who gets to take it home?). The difference is it’s the whole office that’s involved, and it’s an envelope going round so no one can see what you have or haven’t put in. Definitely push back on it only being a select few asked to contribute – maybe even suggest an envelope or collection pot put somewhere the cleaners won’t stumble across it so people can contribute what they feel able to without pressure.

    4 – I have a colleague who does this, and she also does it to herself. You ask her a question, she replies, and then she goes and gets four or five other people’s opinions to confirm she was right. It doesn’t seem to be a confidence thing; she’s just wired to work by committee, I guess. I imagine there’s a toxic workplace in her history where this was normalised, and it may be true for your colleague too. If you’ve got used to having to get a consensus before moving on with anything, it’s a hard habit to break.

    1. Natalie*

      The cleaners may well by employed by another company, but IMO it doesn’t thus follow that the OP’s company can’t pay for a Christmas gift. When I worked in property management, multiple tenants would give cash gifts to their maintenance person, employed directly by my company, or cleaning person, employed by a third company who was paid by us. You just run it through accounts payable rather than payroll.

      1. MsSolo*

        It might be because we’re charity (and in the UK), but cash gifts from the company to people we have a subcontract-type relationship with have to go through a huge number of hoops to make sure it doesn’t look like we’re currying favour outside of the terms of our contract. Plus, they’d probably end up going to the company that employs the cleaners, never to be seen by the cleaners themselves.

        (a private company we work with sends us a stollen every year, which has to be declared to the ethics committee before anyone’s allowed to eat it!)

        1. Natalie*

          Ah, that does sound like a pain. Probably an industry difference; I know non-profits and charities can have a lot of restrictions.

      2. Artemesia*

        They could but mostly they don’t. And if they are a government office they can’t. But mostly they don’t. So what should happen is not relevant to the situation.

  23. Lizabeth*

    Dear #5
    Run, don’t walk to your doc! There are alternatives to HRT to deal with the hot flashes. Mine usually come at night, or after drinking red wine or a caffeine heavy cup of coffee. I had read some where that a low dose of extended release anti- depressants could help and my doc was game to let me try. The extended release is key! I can now sleep without waking up several times during the night due to hot flashes, which was HUGE!

    1. Robin B*

      Ask your doctor about a non-hormonal supplement called Serenol. It was first made for PMS but also works wonders on hot flashes.

    2. JulieBulie*

      I’m having a lot of luck with black cohosh for the hot flashes, and fortunately those have been my only significant symptoms.

    3. Lizabeth*

      Tried all the natural stuff before going on the low dose (75 mg) ER anti-depressant – they helped some but not enough to let me sleep through the night.

  24. Foreign Octopus*

    Regarding #2, I’ll be spitting feathers if it turns out that the 20 people who were asked are solely women.

  25. Rebecca*

    #5 – I’m going through this too. The hot flashes are the worst for me. Our offices are so hot anyway, as in, almost 80 degrees in the wintertime (I’m in PA) because I have an office mate who is always cold and runs a heater under her desk while wearing multiple layers of clothing. In the meantime, I am sweating and miserable with a fan blowing on me. So, I wear layers, keep various weights of clothing at work, like a short sleeve shirt, 3/4 sleeve shirt, fleece pullover (for the times that I’m cold, go figure), and two fans so if I have to, I can get air from both sides! Just last week I stripped down to my tank top and worked the entire afternoon at my desk that way, and just redressed when it was time to leave. Caveat: we have a very casual office, so wearing a tank top with wide straps is acceptable.

    To combat the fogginess, I keep notes and lists all day long on a steno type tablet, crossing things off as I go, even simple things that I know I should do each day. It really helps to keep things straight if I’m having a particularly foggy day.

    Thankfully, I work with a lot of women, some my age, and some older who have been through this, so everyone understands.

    Hang in there!

  26. Anon for this*

    We have the pressure to donate a cash amount that we give the cleaners every year in my building. Except in our emails it is called the holiday “offering”. We can’t use school money to give a bonus or gift, so I guess I see why we do it, but calling it an offering seems oddly condescending when we a) I am pretty sure the cleaners are on the same page scale as the admins (I am an admin) and b) almost all the admins are white and all the cleaners are black or Latino. I feel lk!e it allows us to feel good about ourselves by giving someone charity who doesn’t really need it or at least doesn’t need it any more than we do! I probably would feel better if they did not call it an “offering”. Yes they use the quotes around offering in the email.

    1. Anon-MD*

      “but calling it an offering seems oddly condescending…” “…who doesn’t really need it or at least doesn’t need it any more than we do!”
      Would you feel a little less resentment and condescending if the cleaners (with the same exact job) were ‘white’? Whatever the background for your feelings, don’t donate if you really don’t want to or can’t afford it.

      1. JulieBulie*

        Actually, it sounds as though Anon for this is speculating that the organizer wouldn’t be doing the collection at all if the cleaning staff were white.

    2. Orlando*

      To be honest, when you said “offering”, the first thing I thought was “ceremonial sacrifice”. I.e. an imposed routine that puts a meaningless strain on your resources, in order to appease some arbitrary higher powers.

      So, uh… I guess if it makes you feel better, you can think of “offering” in that sense, thus making the emails hilarious in context?


  27. Another Day Another Dollar*

    #2 — Our office used to take up a donation for the two cleaning ladies every Christmas, so maybe this is an office culture thing. (It was a government office and they were not going to receive a bonus from their employer for the holidays (nor were the office staff)). Everyone in the offices they worked in was asked to participate, though, (but certainly didn’t have to), and the administrative assistant only suggested an amount if you asked how much. Is the receptionist new to your workplace? Is it possible the office was doing this in the past but have broadened who is asked to contribute?

  28. Temperance*

    LW2: my floor takes up a collection every year for our file clerk and our mail/package delivery guy. The difference is that a.) it’s two people on my floor who run it, b.) the invitation goes out to everyone, and c.) there is no judgment if you can only give $5 or not at all. It’s not a “bonus” so much as us thanking them for the work they do for us.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      This is kind of weird though! Just pay all staff members a living wage, don’t ask some people to donate out of charity to someone who works (I assume) full time?? This is like when they have people donate sick days … give your staff adequate leave so they don’t have to beg from their coworkers!!

        1. Lil Fidget*

          Does the file clerk not work for your company? Maybe that’s what I’m missing. I believe it’s kindly meant, but to me, there’s something different about this in an office setting for an employee, versus a tip for the mail person or a hairstylist or cleaners at the holidays. I think I’m biased here by my own experience when I first started out as a lowly under assistant to the secretary, I would have felt terribly ashamed if people had put together a collection pool and given me an envelope of cash at the holidays, although I was not making a living wage. I worked for them, they should have paid me more, not expected my coworkers to compensate me out of pity!

    2. myswtghst*

      It’s not a “bonus” so much as us thanking them for the work they do for us.

      When I’ve been involved in these types of gifts before for our cleaners and security guards, this was exactly the purpose. It wasn’t to offset a bonus they weren’t going to get, or even a judgment about how much they were paid, but a way for my coworkers and I to show our appreciation for the people who made our lives better at work.

  29. hbc*

    #4: If you can pull it off, I would turn it into a friendly joke before you get too frustrated. As in, “Huh, and here I thought I was giving you the wrong answer. There go my evil plans to sabotage your career.” Or “I hope it doesn’t surprise you that I was right.” Or “How about you just tell me when someone says I’m wrong? Because I’m already operating under the assumption that I’m right, or I wouldn’t have given you the information.”

    He probably thinks he’s giving you a pat on the back (being proven right is a good thing, right?), so pointing out that it’s not as helpful as he imagines will probably get him to stop talking about it.

    1. Former Hoosier*

      I agree that it may just be his personality but I would reach a tipping point as well. This drives me nuts. I used to work for a women who stood over me as I typed her memo (and I mean literally typed on a typewriter). One it didn’t improve my accuracy at all (I was young) and Two I just kept thinking why didn’t she do it herself if she had time to stand over me while I was doing it?

  30. Elizabeth H.*

    This isn’t workplace related but it reminds me of what I did this month re. our apartment cleaners. I have 2 roommates and I’m in charge of coordinating and paying for our monthly visit from cleaners. I’ve been incredibly busy with a work project and didn’t get around to checking with roommates beforehand so I just tipped them ~30% of the monthly fee and wrote the note to my roommates that I realized it was an unexpected expense I hadn’t run by them first and I was totally comfortable just getting the normal contribution from them. Not the greatest approach but I wouldn’t do it at work.

  31. OP2*

    I am overwhelmed by the number of responses from readers! Thank you so much. I’ll respond to the comments throughout the day.

    Thanks for the advice AAM. Glad you agree that it’s a business expense. One thing I want to note is the email actually wasn’t addressed to all women.

    I’ll approach her today and ask the question whether she’s approached someone for the company to cover the expense. I’m surprised the advice doesn’t include me going to HR about it – good to know (i was about to do it!)

    Thanks again.


    1. The Other Dawn*

      It seems to me like she’s asking certain people either because she feels like those are the people that are least likely to complain, or she thinks they’re the highest paid, or both. Others have mentioned that possibility that she’s keeping the money for herself. I think it’s a possibility, but doesn’t seem likely to me; however, after reading AAM for several years I’ve come to realize that there are some really nutty people out there and it seems like really nothing is out of the realm of possibility.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      My first thought, also mentioned upthread, was that she did ask everyone, just in a series of emails. The message being addressed to a cross-section of people increases that likelihood. Any chance the email was conveniently organized by your alphabet group (say, your last name is Smith, and your message included the 20 people with last names from Robinson to Tyson)?

  32. Menacia*

    OP4 – I have to deal with this same situation except for the fact that it’s my *husband* who does it to me! I am an IT professional, and so is my husband’s (male) friend. He will ask me a computer-related question, I will give him an answer, and he will then go to his friend to ask the same question! He always comes back to me to let me know that “Sam gave me the same answer..”! I don’t know if it’s a guy thing or what, but I can absolutely see a difference with men asking women questions and needing confirmation from another man, but not the other way around. Actually, I’ve had many instances where I would provide the answer, and it would be ignored because some men feel the need to do things their own (wrong) way…sigh.

    I’m feeling very snarky this morning!

      1. Zathras*

        I think “manswering” is that thing where you state answer with supreme confidence even though you don’t know the answer.

        (I kid, I kid! Actually, I have warned several friends that if I say “I’m pretty sure it’s X” I am very sure and can back up my answer, but if I answer quickly and confidently with no supporting detail they should probe deeper because I probably have no clue what I’m talking about. And I am not a man.)

        Which makes me wonder – OP4, do you typically state your answers with confidence? Because I am often guilty of using phrasing like “I think that printer over there prints in color” when I know for sure and in fact just printed something in color there 10 minutes ago. It’s like my brain wants to factor in the outside possibility that the company randomly replaced the printer in the last 10 minutes.

    1. Miles*

      I’d definitely go with the snarky response if you don’t work together. Call him out and if you talk about non-work stuff don’t let him live it down (but in a humorous way) until he has learned his lesson.

    2. Go Blue!*

      I have a female co-worker who egts this all the time. People ask her questions and she answers them (correctly) but the asker feels the need to get an answer from a man. Drives her nuts!

    3. Same Here*

      Yup. Last week my husband tried to tell me that a URL is the same thing as an e-mail address. I have a graduate degree in tech, while he teaches elementary school. Sure, buddy, you know best.

    4. AKchic*

      Call your husband out on his ish. Seriously. Why did he waste everyone’s time if he was just going to go to his friend to double check you? Does he not trust you because you have a uterus? Does he trust his friend more because he has the same man-parts?

      I get the same ish with my vehicles. I’m the backyard mechanic. Our suburban died (starter went out). Stopped in to visit my grandma and my uncle was there (feel free to eyeroll with me). I was telling her I couldn’t stay long because I had to go work on my truck. Sure enough, I got the lecture of how it couldn’t be my starter, it was my alternator. Um… yeah. I’m the one working on my truck, I know what is wrong. Thanks for improperly diagnosing it sight unseen. Now I’m getting calls daily about how I need to have him come over and check it out or let one of his friends come look at it. I have mechanics if I want a professional to look at it, not bored tweakers.

    5. Miranda*

      My husband used to pull something similar on me, it wasn’t completely sexist, because his mother is on the list of people he’d take input from. I think in his case it was more thoughtless jerkishness, because once I pointed out that needing to get other input apart from me on what felt like damn near everything was hurtful and how would he feel if I never took his word for anything, even stuff he’s personally worked with/studied, he stopped. I’m sure it also helps that I’ve worked on adding less qualifiers to my input when I know what I’m talking about. ( As I then have to consciously remove qualifiers from this statement, blast it that habit is insidious)

  33. nnn*

    If I were OP in #4, instead of dissuading him from double-checking with other people, I’d be tempted to dissuade him from asking me in the first place. “Why are you wasting both our time asking me these questions if you’re just going to go ask other people anyway?” (Not necessarily strategic, tactful, etc., but that is what I’d be tempted to say.)

    1. AKchic*

      That would be my temptation too. Call him out hard and fast. I think there’s a gendered issue going on here as well, and he isn’t liking the answer a woman is giving him, or he’s trying to fact-check her to feel superior (hoping to catch her wrong at some point, maybe?), or just doesn’t trust her answers in general. Calling it out and bringing it to his attention that it happens every single time and that the LW is not only aware of it, but is done with it will hopefully put a stop to it.

  34. Melody*

    OP #5–I went through peri-menopause at 24 and then went into full menopause at 27. All natural. First, I will say that I had about 25 of the 30 symptoms one can have with peri-menopause. I did not take HRT during this time either. It does get better. Once your body settles into full menopause, things won’t be as bad.

    What was difficult for me was the brain fog–I had always had a great memory, never had to make lists, etc. For that, I just had to learn coping strategies. Now, it’s so ingrained that my desk is littered with sticky notes full of lists. I have notes galore on my phone also. Now, I don’t even remember (ha!) what it was like before my brain fog. I have found that massage helps with migraines and hot flashes. I also had cold flashes in addition to the hot flashes, so I would dress in layers.

    Telling your boss that it’s a medical condition works. It is.

    1. Kate in Scotland*

      I had no idea that brain fog could be a perimenopause thing until a bunch of people mentioned it here. I just turned 40 and if I follow the pattern of other women in my family I’d be expecting things to kick off about now. I’m on a pill where I don’t have regular periods so who knows what’s happening there. But I’ve completely lost the ability to do anything without a timer and a reminder. Hmmmm.

  35. nnn*

    If OP #5 finds that “I’m dealing with a medical condition” doesn’t feel like enough information, she could say “I’m dealing with a medical condition that takes some trial and error to figure out how to manage.”

    Still no specifics, but it communicates to the manager that you’re working on it but don’t yet have a timeline for when things will be back to normal.

  36. MCM*

    3. Can I wait to give notice at my job?
    You need to protect yourself financially in this situation first. I would not even give them a 30-day notice since they have a habit of pushing employees out early. Their past behavior and conduct outweighs any consideration you can give them. Can you afford to be without a paycheck for two weeks, if you give two weeks’ notice? Then give them two weeks’ notice. If they complain, state their history of pushing people out once they give notice has made you leery of notifying them earlier.
    If you cannot afford the loss of two weeks’ pay, and if you expect them to would make life harder on you. I would be tempted to give them 2 – 3 days’ notice.
    Employers and managers that treat their employees with disrespect cannot expect full consideration when the employees are leaving.

    1. PersephoneUnderground*

      Agreed- or, more strictly, since they have a history of pushing people out after a week, that’s how much notice to give. 1 week, and use Alison’s language about how they seem to prefer a shorter notice period so you’re just following that.

  37. CBH*

    OP2 – wow what a predicament to be in. I admit I haven’t read through everyone’s comments yet but had a few things come to mind. Sorry if any of this is a repeat.

    -I’m thinking timid or busy admin was put in charge of a collection. Rather than asking everyone for a donation and keeping track of who gave what, she (?) just emailed people she knew. I’d be offended by that but that’s just me.

    -Can you “play dumb”? What I mean is when she comments about a $5 DONATION, say something like gosh a $5 from 100 people in the office would be almost $250/ cleaning person. That’s a pretty nice bonus. Almost calling her out on not emailing the whole department, it’s voluntary and her responsibility/ in charge of the project to come up with a bonus,

    -Are you close enough to any of the higher ups that you could mention this in passing? I was thinking when you see one of them getting coffee you could state what a great idea to consider the cleaning crew part of the team but why isn’t the company handling this expense? or is this donation in lieu of donating to the company’s charity of choice.

    While I believe everyone’s heart is int eh right place, something seems shady to me on the selective email and donation amount.

  38. Amy S*

    OP #4, perhaps it’s just me but it seems like it would be more effort to have these lengthy conversations with him about why he’s asking you a question and then asking someone else. If it were me, I’d give him a quick short answer and when he comes back to tell me I’m right either don’t respond or just say something like “yep.” Sure, it’s annoying and I’d probably roll my eyes a bit, but not worth having some weird conversation where I pretend to be confused. If you’re a woman and he’s a guy and he’s asking other guys to verify your answers he’s probably sexist. I’d call him out on that instead of pretending to be confused by what he’s doing.

  39. Lil Fidget*

    OP #1, just in case you’re unclear, when Alison says “way outside the range” I want to give a little more context of what I’d say that looks like, because this is exactly the kind of thing that would have tripped me up when I was first starting out. It’s kind of a percentage thing, but not exactly. I’d say if you’re under 5K different, don’t worry about it, unless you’re brand new entry level making something like 30K. Chances are they are not going to be horrified by this difference and will assume you’re “in the ballpark” and proceed. You may or may not get that 5K but they won’t be horrified. I wouldn’t mention it.

    If you’re anywhere around a salary of 100K (which I think is unlikely from someone who would ask this question, but don’t want to assume) I’d say the “don’t even worry about it” number might go up to 10K.

    Anyone want to disagree with me? I’m in the nonprofit field, I’d assume things are different other places.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      I think this is a good breakdown of the “don’t worry about it” levels. If their range is $90-100k and OP said $110-120 that starts getting a little iffy, but honestly, even having sample salary ranges to look at, it’s really hard to hit a target only 5% or 10% wide. It’s also not a fair game when recruiters tell you “it depends on experience” and won’t give numbers when you ask for their range rather than provide your own. Of course it does, but there is still a range, right? I should start responding with “it depends on the tasks and environment” because of course it does.

      I would hope that if OP’s number was a little higher than the salary range but the company was still interested, that the recruiter/interviewer might address that in the moment. Something like, “Hmm, our positions tend to pay $X (or OP’s number less some amount), is that something you’d still consider?”

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        It’s also not a fair game when recruiters tell you “it depends on experience” and won’t give numbers when you ask for their range rather than provide your own.

        I know this is preaching to the choir, but this ridiculous dance really irks me. One time I was interviewing for a middle-level job as I was leaving a director-level position. One place I interviewed with absolutely refused to give me any kind of ballpark range on salary at all. I told them I knew I would be taking a pay cut but wanted to get some even vague sense of what that cut would look like. They absolutely refused. Couldn’t even give me a plus or minus $20K range. No range at all. Just wouldn’t tell me anything. I mean, there is a budget for the position, right? The budget may be flexible, but there is one. And, if there isn’t, just tell me “You won’t need a pay cut at all, because we can pay anything. We have no budget.”

        Many of us good candidates are perfectly willing (under the right circumstances) to work for a lower salary than we desire, but you will lose us if you keep playing games.

  40. Yorick*

    I wonder if OP4 has a tentative tone when he/she answers questions? Maybe they give the coworker the impression that they aren’t sure of the question, and that’s why the coworker reports back?

    Because that’s the only reason I can think of to report back that a different person confirmed the answer. If I simply didn’t trust that my coworker knew the answer, I would ask someone else but not go back and tell them about it.

  41. Oxford Comma*

    LW #5: I read this. I stopped. And then wondered if I perhaps had penned a letter to Alison, because this? Is me. Most of my colleagues know what’s going on, but they’re young and I know it baffles them when I start tearing off suit jackets or working with windows open in December.

  42. Rachael*

    Letter #4.
    I had a coworker who double checked everything I said and she did it for two reasons.
    1. She thought that she was right, was disappointed that she was wrong, and then would try to find someone whose answer validated that she was right in the first place.
    2. Would listed to what I said and then ask the manager the same question, but then use parts of my answer to seem like she had all this technical knowledge and be, like, “Oh, so I WAS right and knew the answer. I should trust myself more”.

    I stopped answering her questions after that. I directly asked her why she asks me first and she didn’t have an answer. Unfortunately, she was using it for evil and knew that the jig was up.

  43. KeepLearning*

    I once put a dollar amount as a minimum on an application, and during the interview learned it was $500 above the maximum pay. After the interview, I called HR as I hadn’t heard back within the timeframe I was expecting. HR said, “We didn’t meet your minimum, we thought you weren’t interested.” I said that I was interested, and they made the offer on the spot. So a follow up to HR to express your continued interest in the position could be helpful, and hopefully they will bring up the salary if they think that is a barrier to hiring .

    1. Lil Fidget*

      Ooh, this is a good point OP – if you framed your ask as “the minimum,” that may actually change the answer in this case. Usually the minimum is not even considered the offer you want (it’s the lowest you’d even consider, like to even continue talking), so if they are below your minimum by even a small amount that may put you out of the running. To be fair, I don’t often have jobs ask for this. It’s not really a great question to ask. But if they asked your *desired* salary, which is more normal, I stick with what I said above.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      That is ridiculous of the company. They obviously had identified you as a top candidate but were put off because your stated minimum was a tiny fraction above their salary offer? They interviewed you knowing that! HR fail for not offering anyway, interviewer fail for not clarifying whether your minimum was negotiable (since it was on the initial application, not during the interview itself).

      I’m glad it worked out for you, but I’m irritated on your behalf that you almost missed out on this opportunity had you not done their job for them by following up.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Well, most employers want to feel like you’ll be happy with the salary they can afford to offer. This offer was below the lowest amount KeepLearning stated they would even consider. If they were $500 off the *desired* salary, no problem – but any amount below the *lowest possible tail* means that you’re not in the same place. Their desired salary is probably more like 5K+ above my offer! I would be leery of making an offer to someone knowing they are going to want / need more – I’d worry they would be looking to leave quickly or would be advocating for big raises, and if my budget is tight, it’s not going to work out.

        Note, however: this is the reason I hate the “minimum salary” question and a wrongheaded one to ask. Also, very difficult for the employee to answer without underbidding themselves terribly.

  44. AKchic*

    #4 – I really have to wonder if gender plays a big factor into this. He tried to make you his work wife already before you put up boundaries, so I am going to assume you are a woman. He second-guesses all of your answers and openly tells you about them in the context of “well, you were right” as if to say “well how about that?” or if he were doing you a favor to actually fact-check your answers for you.
    It’s time to call him out on it and shut him down. It’s not going to stop until you do, and even then, I don’t think it will stop right away.

    #2 – I don’t trust this collection. It’s not hard to email 100 people all at once to solicit donations for an outside cleaning crew. And why isn’t the company doing this on their own? Follow Alison’s advice. Something smells rotten here. Especially when you mentioned her raffle thing. Chickie-poo has an issue.

  45. Betty (the other betty)*

    #5 I hesitate to give medical advice, but recommend you get your thyroid checked if you haven’t already. Some of your symptoms can also be thyroid related, which can in my experience can mix in with the hormone changes of peri-menopause.

    I experienced some of those symptoms as a result of incorrect dosage of thyroid meds a few years ago. We were able to mitigate the symptoms by getting my meds in check. (Now I’m actually in menopause and experiencing them again, but so goes life.)

    1. Competent Commenter*

      I second that it’s good to make sure you’re addressing any other cause of your symptoms. For example, maybe the hot flashes are (duh) menopause, but maybe the brain fog isn’t. I really freaked out when I started having brain fog symptoms—and actually my doctor never talked to me about this potentially being menopause, so huh. I’m actually feeling a lot more normal and very comforted by reading all these comments about it.

      Anyway, I felt like I could no longer trust myself to accurately read any number, show up on time, remember to do things, etc., and didn’t think about menopause being the reason. I did get my thyroid checked and we started a low dose of medicine and it helped some. Then later I was diagnosed with ADHD, and Adderall helped a ton. And then I started taking Wellbutrin for depression and that helped with depression and anxiety and man, I am doing better! I still have brain fog issues, meaning I have to use a lot of cues and alarms and notes to not miss things, but overall I’m so much higher functioning. I mean, I struggled with attention and depression/anxiety symptoms all my life and had a ton of coping strategies, and always wondered what the hell was wrong with me, and now those strategies plus medication mean I’m a more effective, calmer and happier person (who still has brain fog).

      So, general advice is make sure you rule out/treat concurrent conditions. Because what’s worse than going through hot flashes and forgetting things all the time is also being depressed, anxious and having unchecked ADHD symptoms. :)

  46. Bea*

    #3 You owe them nothing but the minimum when they’re known to be hostile upon notice. I just came from a similar situation. They did keep me on for most of my notice period but cut me loose a few days early, then sent a brisk “FYI reminder all references are to be directed to HR” memo to my former staff. I laughed out loud hearing that, bless their hearts thinking I didn’t have a job lined up. I started early because of the early release.

    I hope you’re feeling much happier knowing you’ll be free soon. Best of luck on your new journey!

  47. Noah*

    “I think that’s really the next step here since they’re the employer.”

    Really, really don’t say this. I think Alison means that the company is OP’s employer, but that’s not clear and it sounds like she’s saying the company is the cleaning people’s employer. This is almost certainly not true and is going to lead to a semantic debate with the receptionist.

    1. AKchic*

      yes. oh deities major and minor, yes. I was trying to wrack my brain remembering the funny term and I couldn’t remember it. I remembered manswering, but I couldn’t remember askhole.

      I now lubs you for remembering the word I couldn’t. Thank you. *skips happily off into the sunset*

  48. MrsCHX*

    They’re hostile? Give a standard 2 weeks notice. If they push you out, great. You have a little time off between jobs.

    I’ve been in the position where I gave tons of notice (GREAT manager!) and where I kept a tight lip while cleaning up everything in my files/records, creating desk notes, etc and gave notice at 2 weeks.

  49. Carbovore*

    OP #4, I have also found a good strategy to just be less helpful and sometimes say, “hmm, you know, I don’t know!” (Even if you do.) Unless you think the person is testing you and doesn’t actually know the answers to their questions already or something.

    I have found this tactic particularly helpful when I got promoted recently from office coordinator to an assistant director–the new coordinator started using me as “her brain” and instead of ever trying to solve problems herself or retain info I’d repeatedly give her and teach her, I finally just started acting dumb and saying I didn’t know or would direct her to another resource (maybe a training session or an online resource). Believe it or not, it was actually very hard for me to do because I am a helpful and forthcoming person by nature but I realized I was creating my own anxiety by continuously coming to the rescue. Happy to say this problem has mostly resolved itself! The new coordinator stopped coming to me as much and now when she does come to me with a question, I’m not immediately agitated and can look at it objectively instead of being annoyed every time she asked me something.

  50. OP2*

    Just an update from today: I asked her about the company potentially covering the holiday gift. Company won’t do it because they are employed through a 3rd party. Hence, tips will be the best option. I suggested to pass around an envelope and ask others to do it (didn’t ask why it was just the 20 that she emailed).

    In the end, I gave $20 and signed the card. She said she’s already raised over $1000 total for 2 people.

    Thanks for everyone’s input!

    1. cheluzal*

      Wait, they get over $500 each?! Woah…
      I’m a teacher and we get NO bonuses, nor do custodians. For the first time in my 17 years, a colleague in the same building emailed all of us about a collection for our custodian because he “did such a great job.” I disagree. He won’t put my desks back after he moves them and does the same as every other one. He squicks me out and I’ve caught him sniffing in my desk (and not cleaning).

      I deleted it.

      1. cheluzal*

        Adding that sure they get a lot when sh badgers people’s donations. That is just…gross.
        If she said that to me, I’d snatch my $10 and turn heel.

      2. OP2*

        I know…and it’s tax free. Wish she had a number in mind and asked people to chip in to hit that number. I do hope the full $1000 gets to them.

        1. Bumblina*

          Ask her when she is giving the gift, and then after she gives it mention it to the cleaners when you see them. You’ll know by her and their answers.

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