updates: telling a candidate I have cancer, the diabetic coworker, and more

Here are updates from four people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. Telling a job candidate that I have cancer (#3 at the link)

I’m a hiring manager who wrote to you about sharing with a job candidate (Jane) that I had breast cancer, wondering if I’d overshared. That job was put on hold, so we didn’t hire anyone. I spent the next few months going through chemo, losing my hair, wearing a wig, experiencing painful side effects, then undergoing surgery, recuperating, seeing my hair growing back, next undergoing weeks of agonizing radiation, starting to feel better, then having a scary setback due to an infection. All of the treatment is now behind me, and while some side effects may be with me for a long time, I’m feeling a lot closer to normal.

During the radiation, I got the position approved again and recontacted Jane. By this time my appearance was very different! Jane was extremely kind and wanted to know how I was feeling. We ultimately didn’t hire her for other reasons. But I think I safely can say that sharing my cancer news during the original interview with Jane was not off putting to her. As I mentioned in the comments, the company is a healthcare provider, and Jane has many years of experience in the industry. Maybe that made my health disclosure seem more ordinary.

Thank you for your reassuring answer and for the kind support from many commenters. And get your routine mammograms! Mine saved my life.

2. I work the night shift with a creepy coworker

I really appreciated your advice and the advice from the comments. Some of the comments asked about my coworker possibly having aspergers/social awkwardness, it definitely wasn’t that. I was definitely getting the creepy vibe. I read The Gift of Fear, as many recommended, and I’m so grateful. I actually was reading it one night at work when he was asking more inappropriate questions, which I just kept giving blank responses to (“sorry, so caught up in my book”, “really, I’m focused on my book”), and he came over and started really aggressively grabbing my shoulders. Really, while I was reading The Gift of Fear. I wish I could say I had an awesome and fearless response but I legit froze. The facility was primarily for severe schizophrenics (who never made me worried about my safety!), and one of the clients walked in at that moment. He must have noticed my fear, because he immediately started yelling “get out now! Get out now!”. He was very paranoid, so even though it wasn’t out of character, I took the chance and ran outside. Coworker followed, but the very large client stood in front of the door after I ran out and didn’t let coworker follow. I spent the rest of the shift away from coworker, quit the next day, and let the manager know of my worries for safety problems for the clients because of him. I don’t know what ended up happening with coworker, but I made sure management would keep the amazing client protected. I would have weaked our without your advice and the advice of your commenters. I can’t say thank you enough.

3. Urging my severely diabetic coworker to get treatment (#3 at the link)

Maybe some of your readers would be interested to hear an update about my coworker with the A1C over 17. After I figured out what to say, I wrote down the name of an endocrinologist with an excellent bedside manner that I had seen several times, and when nobody else was around (in our open floor plan), I slipped next to her and whispered that IF she chose to see a doctor, I recommended this one, and I encouraged her to see *a doctor.* She choked up just a tad (I think she was touched!) before she said that she sending her blood work results to a doctor she trusts in another state and I left it at that. I hope the doctor she trusts isn’t a quack, but I’ve intervened as much as I feel I could.

Before our conversation, I’d see her eating Hungry Man frozen meals for lunch, with the occasional two or three liter diet soda. (Yes, liters.) When she went out, I spied fast food drinks in her hand after lunch. Now she is apparently making some serious efforts to eat better. She keeps a jug of water at her desk – no soda, not even tea (sweet tea is popular in our region). Recently, I spied her eating carrots and celery at lunch. I still see fast food drinks in her hand, but for all I know, she’s eating their salads. I’m not going to judge – it’s challenging to change habits, particularly when one is hungry. I am most proud of her for resisting the numerous cakes, cookies, donuts and candies that various people have brought to our department. Her self-discipline has been better than mine on that score, and I’m hoping she is making progress. But I’m not going to bring up her health in conversation again.

4. Interviewer asked me which job requirements I don’t meet (#2 at the link)

As expected, I received a rejection email for that role – they claimed they had decided to go forward with more qualified candidates. Given how niche this field is, it would be truly impressive if they had managed to identify not just one, but *several* more qualified candidates.

Anyway, I ended up accepting another offer in a different location, and will be starting my new, in-house job soon, after 2.5 years stuck in a fairly toxic organisation that’s a really bad cultural fit. It’s a more senior role with major company you have almost certainly heard of. Interestingly, I just found out that the person previously in my new role was a key client of the firm that rejected me, and it will be up to me to decide whether to continue that relationship. I admit I’m curious to see what their proposals look like. In other words, if you are in a small field, be nice to candidates as you may end up pitching to them!

Ultimately, I suspect they just decided I was most likely too expensive for them, which is probably true – I’ve had to negotiate hard to keep my current compensation when moving to this industry. I don’t hold this against them, but I don’t understand why they were so weird about it.

{ 203 comments… read them below }

  1. RabbitRabbit*

    Sounds like good results all around basically – and #2, I’m glad you had a kind client to run interference for you!

  2. Lily*

    The story about the client who helped save LW from the creepy coworker brought me to tears. So glad she was able to get away and nothing worse happened.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Huh. I just checked the email addresses, and the person who submitted this update is the same person who submitted the original letter, so I’m not sure!

      1. aonymous*

        I was OP #2. At the time I posted that creepy coworker took FMLA leave due to a family situation, but I wasn’t aware of that. Unfortunately he returned, which led to this update.

        1. Robbie*

          Ah, thanks for the clarification. And I am sorry you had to go through that creepy-ass nonsense. May your future co-workers be professional and non-creepy!

        2. skeptical*

          Thanks for the clarification, OP #2!! Makes sense. Sorry to doubt you, and sorry you had to deal with this person for a second time – it honestly sounds awful, and major props for sticking up for yourself and for your client.

        3. Mary*

          While you’re here, OP2, you have NO NEED to apologise for this:

          “I wish I could say I had an awesome and fearless response but I legit froze.”

          This is a normal reaction! The idea that we should respond to abuse or violence with an awesome snappy comeback which puts the abuser in their place is a really toxic and victim-blamey one. It’s great to ~fantasise~about being Buffy – and occasionally people do manage it – but when that gets suggested as a realistic response it’s basically suggesting that abuse wouldn’t be a problem if only we were all sassy enough. Your response was the totally normal human one, and don’t ever feel ashamed of it!

          I’m glad you’re out of that situation and well done for doing what you could to alert management to the problem.

          1. eplawyer*

            Yeah, while it would have been poetic justice to whack him with the book, your reaction was perfectly normal. God bless that client who saved you. He didn’t have to block the door but he did.

            1. Ruffingit*

              Having worked with severely mentally ill people before, I find it interesting that many schizophrenic people have a tremendous innate sense of danger. They can often read a room like no one’s business and immediately know that something is off or wrong. This is totally anecdotal of course, just what I’ve seen over the years in the field.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            Yes! Freezing is a very, very normal response. (Also thinking of really good things to say 3 days later.)

            Thank heavens there was a very large, very paranoid schizophrenic around, willing to read vibes and speak up. (In sentences I never expected to type….)

        4. Anon In Comradery*

          I’m really upset that you had to leave your job instead of creepy co-worker losing theirs. I was attacked at work once when I was 19. I was so scared and all they did was separate me and coworker after the assault. (I managed to get away before anything happened, but he pushed me into a closet and tried to shut the door – I was sitting on a chair with wheels (at the time I was wearing an ankle brace for an injury) and he rolled the chair into a utility closet trying to assault me, in an area of the lab where nobody was or would be for a few hours. I managed to keep my bad leg in between the door and the latch so it couldn’t shut and then I was able to get him off of me and away)
          I ran crying to the other building and explained what happened, and in hindsight I’ve always regretted not pushing for more action / not calling the police / not getting legal advice. But I was young and afraid and on my own and needed my paycheck.

          It didn’t work out, for me. I was so afraid at work from that point on, and so angry at how it was handled that I was fired not too long after for saying something really nasty (mean nasty) to my manager in front of the entire staff. Again, in hindsight, had I not been so young and afraid and knew how things worked better, I would have handled this differently, and they all would have had consequences and I wouldn’t have lost my paycheck (I did get unemployment after this, thankfully!) I’m sure the big pharmaceutical company I was employed at wouldn’t have wanted the bad press that could have followed this.

          But like the other poster said, your reaction was human and mine was too. I’m still working on forgiving myself for feeling like I could’ve handled this (and a prior full-assault) better, because I am playing the victim-blame game with myself and that’s not fair. I hope you are too. I hope they got rid of him and that your former clients have people working with them who are good people, not potentially dangerous creeps.

          I hope you have or will land on your feet soon as far as work/income goes!


          1. Anon In Comradery*

            I wanted to add that my assailant’s behavior started out along the same lines of your creepy co-worker. Excessive attention/questions. Then commentary about my sex life. Flirty advances and sexual commentary. I usually avoided him after I got the creep vibe, but he sought me out a lot to have “conversations” where I usually felt cornered. Then it progressed to the physical attack.

            About a year later I ran into him in a parking lot of a grocery store. I was with a friend and he tried to approach me to speak. I thought I was okay at that point and he and it hadn’t been on my mind, but had a PTSD flight response when I saw him.

            Needless to say, you were right to follow your gut on his progressively creepy behavior and I am glad that nothing worse happened to you.

        5. Candi*

          I want to reiterate -freezing in response to threat is normal. It’s great when you have a safe place to hide and need to be quiet. Not so much when fleeing is the response needed but your brain got its wires crossed.

          Fright, flight, or fight, or freeze, fight or flight -sometimes the brain doesn’t grab the most useful one.

          And that’s not your fault. Ever.

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      Yeah I was confused by that too. I guess they were maybe put days for a while then came back?

      1. skeptical*

        Hopefully not the case, but I can see the temptation to do some creative fiction writing! Assuming not the case, I’d be interested to hear the explanation from the letter writer.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s always possible, but it would be a pretty odd thing to feel compelled to do; it’s not like there’s any glory or excitement in having a fake update printed. I suspect there’s a more prosaic explanation.

      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        That must have been an unpleasant surprise for the LW when he returned. Sorry she had to leave her job, but glad she made it out safely and sending safe thoughts to the client

    3. chica*

      yeah, I was really confused by this as well — the original comment update said he’d been let go? Weird

  3. ClownBaby*

    OP2- I read I writing prompt not too long ago that was something like “A person takes a new job working the overnight shift in a mental institution. The patients there try to convince her that they are, in fact, the orderlies/doctors/guards and that the new employee’s coworkers were the true patients”… while a fun prompt, seemed totally unrealistic…but after reading your original letter and now your update, how sure are you your creepy coworker was who he said he was????

    -just kidding, obviously- ;)

    Glad you got yourself out of that situation!

    1. a girl has no name*

      I think that’s actually the premise of a creepy movie I watched once. I think it’s called Stonehearst Asylum.

  4. Natalie*

    Holy crap, LW 2, that’s so scary! Good for you for trusting your gut and your client for being a stand-up person.

  5. Sunshine Brite*

    #2: So glad you were able to get out of that situation! I really hope the management finally listened to you and didn’t punish the client at all for inappropriate actions towards staff.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’d drink to that.

        (OP’s update gave me literal chills. Thank all the stars individually and by name for her client.)

      2. Strawmeatloaf*

        Yeah really, the guy just committed assault on one of their employees! I would bet that if she hadn’t run out (thanks fight or flight!) that he would have actually really hurt her!

        I might have called the police once I thought I was safe (maybe, not sure how I would react in that situation), but I really just hope that management did something, such as fire him and warn potential other employers about him (if possible).

        1. Woodswoman*

          Yes, this was physical assault, not just something unpleasant, and could be rightfully reported to police. Letter writer #2, this was of course your decision about how to respond, and it’s great to hear you stood up for yourself and the client who protected you when you reported the incident to the manager. Congratulations on keeping yourself safe. It saddens me that you had to leave your job. In my imaginary world, management would have gotten rid of him instead and you could have stayed.

  6. Matryoshka*

    OP #3, it is nice if you to care about your coworker. I would encourage you to try not to pay too much attention to what other people eat and drink. I find that when others are overly interested in what I consume, it is very off putting. You should eat what you want! And others will, as well.

    1. cheluzal*

      Sometimes it’s pretty obvious if you see them and have working eyes.
      LW said she’s not bringing it up; that’s good enough for me.

      1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

        Yeah, it’s really not difficult to know your colleague’s eating habits without trying hard to spy on them. I can tell you a lot about my coworkers’ lunches even though we don’t talk much about those sorts of things around here. It’s just a consequence of our “eat at your desk” culture.

    2. Annabelle*

      Yeah, I was going to make a similar comment. Obviously the LW’s coworker had/has some serious health issues, but the idea of someone “spying” everything I eat at work is kind of horrifying.

      LW, your heart is clearly in the right place here, but I would urge you to pay less attention to the specific things people around you are eating. Food can be really personal.

      1. Lemon jello*

        Yeah the word spied made me feel a little uneasy. Like catching sight of an animal in the zoo doing something unexpected or adorable. Just along with the overall tone and the amount of detail op had about coworker’s eating habits and the spying bit felt off.

  7. PJ*


    There’s a fine line between concern for one’s co-worker and policing their behavior. #3 has jumped up and down on that line, smashed it, and gone far beyond its boundaries.

    As someone who has had Type 2 diabetes for a number of years (and manages it well) I also am very suspicious of the comment that the co-worker has an A1C of 17. I’ve never heard of anyone having one that high, as most ranges are between 5 and 14.

    1. Anony*

      Well the A1C level was what the coworker said after ordering her own tests and self-diagnosing, so it is very possible that the number is wrong. The LW is not policing her food and after giving her the name of one doctor, didn’t bring it up again. I don’t think that she has “gone far beyond” the boundary between concern and policing. Right up to the line maybe, but she seems aware of that.

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      Yeah. OP3’s update was a bit off-putting. OP says she’s not judging what her coworker eats, but then makes a remark about spying on her food habits.

        1. Candi*

          Spying and spied don’t just mean ‘prying into secrets’. They also mean ‘noticed’. Which is how I assumed the LW was using it.

    3. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      Most high values are in the 7-14 range, but in my experience (prior job) looking at a population with poorly controlled diabetes, 17 isn’t inconceivable. I’ve seen some pretty wild values including 30+ (mostly in patients that were not diagnosed until they went into kidney failure and didn’t survive)

      That said, I agree that it really wasn’t the LWs place to make medical referrals or to be so closely monitoring their coworker’s eating and drinking habits now.

      1. Kuododi*

        When I was diagnosed with diabetes….(officially…by an actual MD in a hospital lab….not this self-diagnosis the co-worker is doing.)…my A1C clocked in at 7.5 and my internist had a hissy fit. I also have no thyroid so I’m a metabolic disaster. This was a recent diagnosis so still trying to get sugars in line but have excellent internist and endocrinologist to work with.

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          Oh definitely. 7.5 is quite high and your internist was right to throw a hissy fit. The extreme values I am referring to were those of people who never went to the internist and ended up in ERs with symptoms, so they were gravely ill and a solid percentage were diagnosed at time of death.

          1. Kuododi*

            Oh my yes…. I’m working with the Dr’s and keeping tabs on the sugars, taking the meds, policing the carbs etc. DH keeps reminding me this problem didn’t appear overnight and won’t resolve overnight. The sugar’s are trending downward so I am working on being patient.

      2. caryatis*

        It’s hard not to notice a coworker’s eating habits when you happen to eat around that person. I know that my coworker eats oatmeal for breakfast, for instance, even though I never made any particular effort to find that out. The diabetic coworker is actively destroying her body, so obviously it would be particularly noticeable (and heartbreaking) to watch.

    4. voluptuousfire*

      I did a conversion on diabetes.org to what that would read and its a blood glucose number of 441. That’s bad. I’ve seen higher though. My mom was T1 and ended up having a stick finger reading of IIRC, 1000. She had been shot up with glucose by an EMT when she slipped into a diabetic coma in her sleep after having incredibly low blood sugar due to a stomach virus. They gave her the glucose shot to get her back. That was very, very scary.

      1. Paquita*

        My DH was diagnosed T1 at age 11. His sugar has been anywhere from 0 (zero) to 1500. Several doctors have told him he should be dead.

    5. nonegiven*

      It’s not like it tops out and can’t go higher. It’s not good, it’s very bad. Switching to diet soda even in amounts someone doesn’t approve of, might bring it down pretty fast.

    6. Annabelle*

      I also found the boundary-less tone of the update pretty offputting, but her A1C could have genuinely been that bad. My MIL’s was at 16 at one point this year.

    7. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      That doesn’t seem that high to me for a person with poorly controlled diabetes. It is in line with patient readings I would see on record review in my old job where I was looking at people who were getting diagnosed in the ER

    8. sympathetic*

      Really?? I don’t think she’s doing anything inappropriate at all. She noted that the coworker is eating healthier, and applauds it. She notes that she can empathize with how hard it is to eat healthy or change eating habits, and says the coworker is doing possible even better than herself. She’s clearly concerned for the coworker, probably mixed with a normal amount of human awareness and curiosity about the people around her, and wanted to share with us that this person with severe health issues is now supposedly seeing a doctor and also making choices (e.g. switching to water) that will help her out.

      1. Safetykats*

        She is apparently cataloging how many cookies, candies, and donuts her coworker eats and comparing that with her own consumption. That’s not normal. Actually, it seems to indicate that the OP herself has a pretty fraught relationship with food, which is probably what is driving her obsessive concern with others’ eating habits. There is also a hugely inappropriate level of involvement expressed in stating that she feels “proud” of her coworker for the changes she has made. It would be appropriate to feel proud of a friend or family member – someone who was looking for your support or involvement – but it also displays way too much involvement in the life choices of a casual acquaintance or coworker who is not also a friend.

        Think about it this way – if you thought a coworker was keeping track of everything you ate or drank at work would you call that healthy concern? Or would you call it invasive and stalker-ish? I would be going straight to my manager and HR.

        1. Kate 2*

          But they ARE friends. I wouldn’t tell a coworker about my medical issues, which OP’s coworker did.

          Please remember the rules on here about BEING KIND and not armchair diagnosing.

          1. Safetykats*

            The original post says they have “a good rapport” but not a lot in common. That doesn’t really sounds like friends to me – it sounds like coworkers who chat amicably. If they were friends, why would she have to slip the woman a note at her desk? Why not just chat outside of work?

            1. Candi*

              Even the best of friends don’t always know when they’ll be able to meet outside of work. Life happens.

              Slipping the note quietly when no one is around keeps as much privacy as possible while getting the information to her as soon as possible while avoiding as much gossip as possible.

              Most humans are kind, caring people to those they know. The reason the LW wrote in to Alison in the first place is she wanted to know what she could do about the situation.

        2. Anion*

          It’s not “appropriate” to be proud of a non-friend or family member who’s made some good changes in their life?

          I guess I’m doing “proud” wrong, then, because I’m constantly proud and pleased and excited for even random strangers who say they’ve made some positive changes in their lives. Should I strive not to care, then?

          OP’s coworker has a life-threatening illness, and is finally taking steps to treat it properly. Given that it’s life-threatening and the OP is a good person who cares about others and does not want her coworker to die, of course she notices the changes, and of course she can’t help noticing when the coworker has a soda or whatever. She’s not judging, she’s not “keeping track,” she’s not saying anything, she’s just noticing. If I had an acquaintance with severe diabetes, I’d notice if they had a sugary soda, too, in the same (not mentioning it) way. (Along the same [but more serious] lines, if I have a coworker with a severe allergy, and I knew a snack had that allergen in it, I’d notice if they picked one up and started to unwrap it; what am I supposed to do, let them eat it unknowingly and possibly have a serious reaction?) We can’t go through life with blinders on. All we can do is what the OP is doing, and keep our mouths shut, and be pleased when we see something good.

          I could see your point more if the OP was actually saying “I’m proud of you,” to her coworker. But she’s not, she’s saying it to us in an update in which many people expressed concern. She’s allowed to feel proud of her friend or coworker or anyone she wishes, honestly. Nitpicking her pride seems a little harsh to me.

      2. skeptical*

        Yeah, I mean, you make a good point – she might be struggling with her own health or diet, and that concern might be outwardly manifesting as an unhealthy interest into her coworker’s diet. Definitely possible. But I’m leaning more on the side of the comment “Kate 2” left below – it seems completely likely to me that they eat lunch in the same lunch room, and/or have desks near one another, and of course the LW is going to be able to see what their coworker is eating. You said she’s “cataloging” the number of baked goods her coworker is eating, which makes it sounds like she’s rushing back to her desk to add some tally marks to her hidden notebook or something – I doubt her interest is that extreme. When I read the update, I took it as a possible reassurance to all of us that her coworker is taking measures to lower her blood sugar levels and is unlikely to slip into a coma, which is great news as far as I’m concerned. So many people here seem to think it entirely offensive if their coworkers notice things about how they live their life – isn’t that just what it means to be a primate? We’re social animals. Living in communities where we keep an eye on each other is what makes us strong – ESPECIALLY when the letter writer is clearly making a point to not make her coworker uncomfortable or rub things in her face, and was writing in a tone of “here’s my update, readers: things have changed for the better and you can probably stop worrying about this person, yay!”

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I would upvote this.

          I also don’t think OP is in any way jumping up and down or trouncing on a line. Maybe folks are reading the update in isolation? It seems pretty clear from the original letter to this one that OP put a lot of thought into the approach.

        2. Mints*

          Yeah, I notice what my coworkers have for lunch, for the coworkers that eat in the breakroom at the same time as me or have cubicles near me. I literally never comment besides “that smells good!” or “Is that (takeout) from Place?” And I couldn’t tell you how often Wakeen gets McDonald’s more specifically than “sometimes.”

          It read to me like OP was genuinely concerned, especially in the first letter. And this was an FYI update, not “I’m tracking it in order to give her advice”

        3. Candi*

          If they’re in an open office plan, the LW may know more about their coworkers’ eating habits then they ever wanted to.

    9. Oolb*

      That A1C value is based on the LW’s calculations and the coworker measuring her own blood glucose. Speaking as a Medical Laboratory Technician who runs HGB A1C tests everyday, it is wildly invalid. I’m cringing just reading about this.

      1. Candi*

        The question is, is it invalid high or invalid low? If it was actually higher then that, as discussed farther up the page, that woman could have been headed for disaster.

      2. BananaPants*

        Back when the original letter came in, a friend of mine who’s an actual board certified endocrinologist said that the OP was all kinds of wrong on her attempted single blood glucose measurement to A1C conversion. A1C just doesn’t work that way. They gave detail that I can’t remember now, but the message was along the lines of, “People who are not medical professionals shouldn’t be firing up Google to interpret lab results this way.”

    10. BananaPants*

      It was none of her business, many of the commenters here told her it was none of her business, and she went ahead and continued to smash through those boundaries anyways.

      It baffles me that so many AAM commenters who would be livid if a coworker did this to them are applauding her for “helping”.

  8. SechsKatzen*


    You say you aren’t judging what your co-worker eats but then why are you paying so much attention to her nutrition choices? Maybe it’s just the tone but this still seems invasisve and really, it’s not any of your business what your co-worker is eating.

    1. Kelly O*

      That was off-putting to me as well.

      I have Type 2 Diabetes and this is why only two people in my office know.

      I often get an unsweetened tea or diet coke on my way in the office. What I eat or drink is not my co-workers’ business, however well meaning they may be.

      OP comes across as judgy to me personally, and if I was the co-worker in question I would be bothered by the intrusion. Saying that you’re not judging doesn’t make it so. Her lunch is not your business. Nor is her A1C. Or her weight.

      1. designbot*

        Right. Saying you’re not judging doesn’t go far if the fact that you’re paying so much attention is a form of judgement in itself…

        1. Mookie*

          Exactly. Expressing “pride” (that the co-worker Did What You Said / Wanted Her To) is, in fact, a judgment. This is not about you or your feelings, LW. You don’t need to monitor this co-worker.

    2. Kate 2*

      I mean if you have working eyes it isn’t “paying attention”. If I walk into a coworker’s office and see they are eating tuna fish I can’t help that. And if that coworker tells me she has a tuna fish allergy and keeps going into anaphylaxis, I am going to sit up and take notice!

      1. Matryoshka*

        And remember the amount. And report about it to others. Noticing and moving on is one thing, but adding it up and feeling proud ( or disappointed) is another, more problematic thing. In my opinion.

      2. Safetykats*

        Comparing a chronic illness, like diabetes, to an acute issue like anaphylaxis is conflating two really different things. And yes, noticing exactly what kind of sandwich a coworker is eating – and keeping track day after day – is intrusive and inappropriate. And absolutely judgemental.

        1. caryatis*

          Noticing what kind of sandwich a coworker is eating is “intrusive and inappropriate” and judgmental? Okay then. I can tell you’re a little insecure about your eating habits.

      3. Candi*

        Unfortunately, there are some people (raises hand) whose minds work in a way where we notice and catalog, whether we like it or not, and can present a rough estimate on a moment’s notice.

        It sucks. :(

    3. AshK434*

      This is the 3rd thread that has pointed this out. I believe this is now considered piling on so can we move on?

    4. bearing*

      This is an update. Updates exist because we AAM readers want to hear how the stories turn out. We seem to like details in updates—even when obtaining details might require the OPs to be a bit nosey to provide them. I read this as the OP just trying to give AAM readers what we want: such details as OP could report while not going far out of her way.

      I don’t think we can simultaneously cheer to hear detailed updates, and castigate OPs for providing them.

  9. Preppy6917*

    LW2: “Some of the comments asked about my coworker possibly having aspergers/social awkwardness, it definitely wasn’t that. I was definitely getting the creepy vibe.“

    I’m glad you got out of an uncomfortable and inappropriate situation, but vibes aren’t facts.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      And neither is internet armchair diagnosis. I am very sick of fuckers who wave off creepy shit just because the person may/may not have a mental disorder.

      I got e-stalked and threatened with rape by someone who claimed to have a mental disorder and his white knight matyr who was using him to make her look good. It was such bullshit because apparently my safety was supposed to be trumped by rape fantasies.

      1. Preppy6917*

        I didn’t armchair diagnose someone; I also didn’t decide that someone couldn’t possibly have a diagnosis because of my “vibes”.

        1. Observer*

          She didn’t either. She stated that what he was doing was definitely not just the kind of awkwardness that can come with something like Asperger. That is a perfectly valid judgement to make.

          Given his further behavior, which was TOTALLY not related to anything like Asperger, it’s amazing to me that you think it’s ok to try to invalidate her judgement.

        2. KAG*

          Maybe he had the flu? Or sickle-cell anemia? Or Crohn’s Disease? I’m sure he has some medical diagnosis; everyone does (even if it’s just being boringly healthy). One’s vibes are what one must go upon without access to the other party’s full medical records (and may that day never come!)

        3. myswtghst*

          It’s not that he can’t possibly have a diagnosis because of “vibes” – it’s that even if he does have a diagnosis, it doesn’t matter because he was doing creepy boundary-violating shit that doesn’t get excused by a diagnosis.

      2. DArcy*

        Aspbergers / social awkwardness is in any case irrelevant — the coworker is being creepy and having a mental disorder does not excuse that.

    2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      His behavior was a fact and it was full on creepy. Her vibe was correct as they so often are.

      1. Preppy6917*

        Behavior is a fact, but “creepiness” is not; it’s an interpretation of someone else’s behavior and is subjective at *best*. Lots of good men and women are unfairly labeled “creepy” because someone *else* felt uncomfortable.

        Again, I agree that this situation was inappropriate, and I’m glad the OP got out of it, but that sentence struck a nerve with me.

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          I’m not getting your first point. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable in the way that makes you ping “this person is creepy” then they are, by definition, being creepy in that interaction. There is no fair/unfair to it anymore than it is fair/unfair to call someone loud/quiet, friendly/hostile, kind/unkind, etc as you perceive it in an specific interation.

        2. Nita*

          “Inappropriate” is a slight understatement. OP is lucky that she was alert that this guy’s behavior may escalate, and that her patient walked into the room when it did escalate. I don’t really see what questioning her gut instinct that the guy was a creep accomplishes.

          1. Observer*

            If the questioning doesn’t get challenged it gets to allow people to dismiss creepy behavior as being someone’s “personal and unfair judgement.” Notice that they think that lots of “good” people are being “unfairly labeled” because they are behaving in ways that make other people uncomfortable.

        3. Myrin*

          “because someone *else* felt uncomfortable”

          Isn’t that what “creepy” generally means, though? I don’t think someone’s behaviour can only be labeled “creepy” if they’re doing it intentionally to creep on someone – I thought it’s a word specifically to describe how someone else feels about another’s actions/words. I’m not a native English speaker so I could be very off here but I’ve definitely seen it used that way.

          1. Tuxedo Cat*

            My cat is creepy sometimes, because he sits under the bed and reaches up between the wall and the bed. It looks like a horror movie to me, a hand reaching up from underneath the bed.

            I don’t think the cat would interpret his actions as such; he thinks he’s playing a game.

          2. designbot*

            yep. I generally interpret ‘creepy’ as ‘boundary violating.’ We get that creepy vibe from someone usually because they stand too close, stare too long, hug too much… they disregard the boundaries that others can reasonably expect them to know about, whether through social norms, verbal communication, or physical cues.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            Yes, creepy is about the observer’s interpretation, and does not vanish if someone is legitimately following different social cues (e.g. how far away to stand) or otherwise not creeping on purpose.

            See the letter about the friend-of-LW who was convinced his coworker was playing out an elaborate romantic game with all her “leave me alone” and “no, I will not hug you.”

        4. Tuxedo Cat*

          I don’t understand why this is bothering you so much. We interpret people’s behaviors all the time: friendly, kind, creepy, mean, etc.

          He was being creepy, even if he didn’t intend to be so or didn’t see himself as such. It’s not like the letter writer just saw this guy across the room and labeled him a creepy.

          1. Anna*

            Yeah, being creepy is not something I get to decide for myself. If someone else tells me I’m being creepy, that means I was whether I intended it or not.

        5. Jennifer Thneed*

          But that’s what creepy means! It means that someone felt uncomfortable abour your behavior. It’s like “friendly” — it’s not a trait in itself, it’s about how a person interacts with another person.

          1. Aeon*


            His actions made that she got “creepy vibes” from him. And it was more than one action/sort of behavior. I would be creeped out as well if I were in her shoes (and have been creeped out by actions of others).

        6. Forrest*

          How is it *not* a fact she felt it was creepy? Are you arguing that the LW didn’t feel creeped out despite you not knowing her nor the guy?

          Feelings by definition are facts. “I feel sad” – that’s a fact because I’m sad. “I feel happy” – that’s a fact because I’m happy. “I feel creeped out” – that’s a fact because I’m creeped out.

        7. myswtghst*

          Your intent is not more important than the impact your behavior has on others, and if someone is perceiving you as creepy, it might be time to change how you behave. Truly “good men and women” are the ones who acknowledge their “creepy” behavior and change it, not the ones who double down on how it’s not their fault someone else was uncomfortable – especially if that behavior is unwanted physical contact.

          1. Nita*

            Exactly! I think Preppy here was trying to say that sometimes people get unfairly accused of being creepy and it destroys their careers/personal lives (in which case there’s no creepy behavior to change – they’re just left to pick up the pieces and hope someone believes them), but what this guy was doing in the original letter and the update is a million miles away from that situation.

            1. myswtghst*

              I think Preppy here was trying to say that sometimes people get unfairly accused of being creepy and it destroys their careers/personal lives (in which case there’s no creepy behavior to change – they’re just left to pick up the pieces and hope someone believes them)

              I’m curious – has anyone actually seen this happen when the person genuinely was not pushing boundaries / behaving in a creepy way? I’m not trying to be combative, but I feel like this is raised as a “devil’s advocate” type argument against labeling people as creepy but I’ve never seen it happen in real life. Every time someone in my circles was labeled as “creepy” it was a result of their behavior (and usually it was behavior at least one person had told them to knock off because it was creepy, which they kept on keeping on with after being told).

              1. Nita*

                No, I’m thinking of actual cases where this has happened, like Dan and Fran Keller. I’m sure I’ve read of others, but I can’t recall the details right now…

                1. DArcy*

                  Dan and Fran Keller were falsely accused of criminal behavior, not just “being creepy”, and there was a substantial conspiracy by the authorites to outright frame them. I do not find credible the claim that finding someone creepy has ever resulted in that level of consequences to an actually innocent person.

              2. Specialk9*

                Oh that’s a good question. I feel like I also only hear it from people who have a problem with boundaries, and / or have a stake in people not believing accusers.

        8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Ok, so the word “creepy” triggers you, even if it was appropriate in this context with this OP. That seems to fall squarely within the “no nitpicking” rule.

          It’s really not ok to chastise OPs for their reasonable and accurate word choices, and it makes it less likely for people to send in updates. OP should not have to relitigate why her assessment was valid.

        9. Panda Bandit*

          Creepy people NEVER want to accept that they’re being creepy.

          There was a forum I used to visit, where this one guy talked about going out with a weapon and picking fights with complete strangers because he wanted to hurt someone. He did other nasty things, too. He’d swear up and down that he wasn’t creepy and that there was no such thing as being creepy. According to him his actions were always completely justified.

          1. Becca*

            I don’t think that’s true. People can, in fact, come off as creepy because they don’t understand the norms. Maybe they have an intellectual or social disorder, maybe the norms are different where they grew up, maybe they just never got the memo. These sorts of people will be surprised to find out that they’re perceived as creepy and some will, in fact, take that to heart and try to do better. Some may choose to live in denial, because they’re human and people hate to face their flaws. Some may even choose to take advantage of it and use their disorder/home culture/whatever as an excuse. But for the first category (and in a way for the last, to let them know the excuses won’t fly) it’s worth pointing it out to them if you feel comfortable doing so. (That bit is key. It was, of course, not OP’s obligation to get over her fear and confront him on this. Her safety is more important. Also, I really don’t think the man in this story fell into that category anyway.)

            1. Candi*

              BUT… seriously, this is a big BUT….

              Multiple stories, here and elsewhere, have these accounts of someone not realizing they are being creepy.

              Then they are told in various ways that they are behaving in creepy ways.

              Guess what?

              The ones that don’t mean it BACK OFF. They change their ways, try to make up for their behavior and not repeat it.

              The creepers justify it, gaslight their victims, try to force the awkward on to them. It’s the ‘why can’t you take a joke?’ arrogance.

              This guy was clearly in category 2.

        10. cryptid*

          Sounds like this is striking a personal nerve for you. I’d almost say it’s a little…creepy how invested you are in defending this creepy guy.

        11. Starbuck*

          That OP felt creeped out by this guy is a fact, though. It’s not up to us to interpret OP’s feelings.

      2. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

        That’s the thing, though — the LW had more than just a creepy vibe, didn’t she? From the original letter, the coworker was asking her about stuff like her sex life. That’s overtly creepy.

    3. Aeon*

      Sorry, but every time I felt “creepy vibes” from someone, I was right. Call it vibes, instinct, whatever you want, but above all listen to it.

      I think it is a way our body tells us that the situation isn’t safe. So listen to that feeling. (Better safe than sorry, as this example shows!)

      1. Specialk9*

        Emotions are chemical. People can smell as well as dogs (though with the same range, or inability, as individual dogs) but our brains actively suppress much of the stimuli we take in, in order to keep is sane.

        But psych studies show that people recognize and match to emotional (chemical) traces left in a room for several days, but because it’s at a below-perception level, brains confabulate a story to ourselves that makes sense. So people will walk into a room where yesterday a killer bio exam was held, and most people would report feeling anxious… But each one would have a different plausible story as to why they felt anxious.

        What I learned from that: gut instinct can sometimes be you smelling something of concern, without knowing. Listen to your gut. It’s not some foo-foo thing, it’s a biomechanical warning system to keep you alive.

        Though of course, sometimes your gut is telling you lies too, like if you are always afraid of people of a certain ethnicity, that may be racist societal programming. (As a woman, if I’m in a vulnerable position, I still listen to my gut.)

          1. Specialk9*

            Sure! I had posted this basic thing before and someone asked for the background reading, but life life’d me hard then. I hope that person saw this now!

            1. Specialk9*

              That was the person who felt responsible for their stepmother’s suicide. I couldn’t find it in the archives.

              1. Candi*

                I think that was in one of the holiday threads, where they lied to their manager about family illness to get time off for Christmas, and then blamed themselves when the stepmother committed suicide 18 months later. Not sure if it was ’16 or ’17.

        1. Candi*

          The Gift of Fear is useful for that, although it’s approached from the perspective of being afraid from all men rather than members of a certain race.

          Gavin de Becker has a wonderful point that if you are scared ALL the time, then you have no idea what genuine, warning fear feels like.

          I first read the book in 2001, and the idea of discarding all fear so that you could hear true fear and its message was liberating. (And incredibly stress-reducing.)

      2. Anna*

        The most hilarious thing about this post is that the OP was reading The Gift of Fear, which specifically talks about paying attention to that vibe as it’s something we developed through evolution.

      3. oranges & lemons*

        I also think a bit part of what makes someone come off as creepy is my observation of how they interact with others, and that’s usually pretty predictive of someone who turns out to be a boundary violator. If someone stands a bit close, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, but then if they keep doing other low-key violating acts, like aggressively seeking attention, not taking soft “nos” for an answer, etc, then I will probably assume they are a creep.

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      “Creepy” is a label for an emotion, and emotions *are* facts. “Getting a creepy vibe” is an emotional reaction. It’s a fact, in the sense that it’s a thing that really happened.

      If I’m frightened, or happy, those emotions I’m experiencing are facts about me, and they can influence how I react to something.

      1. Falling Diphthong*


        This thread has helpfully connected for me two of my modern-age pet peeves–arguing that people are having the wrong emotional reaction (e.g. “Groping is a compliment on your beauty!”) and arguing that intention trumps results.

      2. Specialk9*

        I generally agree with that the OP did an awesome job listening to their gut, and that this guy was creepy in action, demeanor, and that subtle perception people call into.

        But why do you say emotions are facts? I could see a fact being “X said they felt Y emotion” but the ‘saying’ part is the fact. I thought that kinda by definition emotions aren’t facts.

        I’m especially uncomfortable with emotions as facts given my psych background. I know how tricky our brains are, how often we borrow emotions from around us subconsciously, and the crazy high amount our brains lie to us every minute of the day. (And as I posted below, my psych background makes me trust intuition about people being creepy.)

        Could you explain more about what you meant?

        1. ribblefizz*

          Chiming in late, don’t know if you’ll see this, but the way I’ve seen it posited is that there’s no sense pretending you don’t feel a way you feel. Your ’emotions are facts’ in the sense that, if you feel sad right now even though there’s no objective, quantifiable, ‘official’ or ‘good’ reason to feel sad, you still feel sad. You don’t make much progress by pretending that you don’t feel sad*; you make better progress by admitting and accepting that you feel sad (it’s a fact: I’m sad) and figuring out a way to deal with it.

          It boils down to the choice between using ‘feel’ and ‘am.’ Which is the correct way to say it: ‘I feel happy’ or ‘I am happy’? For emotions, those mean the same thing. The feeling is the fact. But for ‘I feel wealthy/pretty/small/competent’ and ‘I am wealthy/pretty/small/competent,’ they’re not necessarily the same. The feeling of happiness, sadness, fear, love, whatever might be transient, might be completely misplaced, might be based on a lie, but you are, in fact, still feeling the emotion.

          *Arguable but for the sake of this conversation let’s go with it.

    5. Clorinda*

      A vibe is an emotional judgment made on the basis of factors not consciously observed. That is indeed a fact–OP’s emotional reactions are factually real.

    6. Candi*

      I really want to ask, what is your race and gender?

      Because of the very few people who tried to argue with me that creepy vibes aren’t actual warning indicators of trouble, all but one was a white male.

      This is anecdata, but it’s also indicative of my other observations, of the long-term results of the lowest difficulty setting and highest dominance that the fewest-numbered population of the planet gave themselves over a few hundred years. (Since not-white-male outnumbers white-male very handily.)

      Basically, white-male has had the least need of protective vibes and warning subconsious alerts in any given setting that involves other people. Bonus points if wealth is involved. It’s easy for them to discount it in others.

  10. Aeon*

    Sorry, but every time I felt “creepy vibes” from someone, I was right. Call it vibes, instinct, whatever you want, but above all listen to it.

  11. Say what, now?*

    OP #2, I am so happy you’re out of there. Frankly, I think that quitting was the best thing for you. I hope when you told your manager why you were quitting you explicitly told her that your coworker put hands on you.

  12. Specialk9*

    I’m bummed that you lost your job and creepy guy didn’t. That’s not right. But good for you for taking it seriously.

  13. Argh!*

    LW 3: Diet soda is not bad for glucose levels, and many Hungry Man dinners have a lot of protein. There are also healthier options in fast food restaurants. I hope you learned your lesson this time, but in case you didn’t realize it — your knowledge of nutrition and medicine is not as expert as you seem to think. Those of us who have been bullied by food nazis due to our weight have generally gone on many diets, counted calories, read up on carbs vs. protein vs. fat, etc. If your coworker was overweight, she is probably much more of an expert on these things that you. If someone with diabetes is well-managed with medication, they can indeed eat a cookie at the office party. It’s not for you to judge without a medical degree and a print-out of their latest blood test, and even then…

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think the issue was that OP’s coworker claimed she had diabetes (we don’t know if she did, but if she did, her blood sugar was scary high) and was not receiving treatment. That is, her health problems were not being well-managed, and OP was concerned about the lack of management because she cares about her coworker.

      1. BananaPants*

        It was none of her business. NONE. The fact that she persisted in trying to force another adult to whom she’s not related to see a specific doctor, and went to the point of tracking her food intake in some detail, is really pretty disturbing.

        1. Nom De Plume*

          She didn’t do any of those things – you’re really distorting the facts here. She offered a suggested name of a doctor – how is that “trying to force”?! Nor did she track her food intake in detail – this is a dramatic paraphrase and pretty inaccurate retelling, honestly.

    2. Specialk9*

      I agree about not sideline monitoring food intake, or assuming expertise on others’ medical conditions or diets.

      With prediabetes, I was encouraged not to drink diet soda, because it actually does seem like it likely has an impact on diabetes. So you’re right, technically, but whether it spikes glucose or not is not as important as whether it is associated strongly with diabetes (independent of weight or fat).

      But even if it does cause problems, that’s neither OP’s circus nor monkeys.

        1. Candi*

          I remember reading part of the problem was the sweetness of the sugar substitute triggers the reactions in your body that are meant to deal with processing sugars. So the system gets a few monkey wrenches in it when no actual sugar comes down the pike.

          Not so good for your average person, but potentially disastrous for someone whose sugar processing is already futzed up due to something like diabtetes.

          For someone not diabetic (raises hand), I’ve taken to using roughly half and half, complex carbs as well as simple sugars. So for example, sucrolose and pectin-sweetened jelly on regular wheat bread. It’s been pretty good for my weight. (All the other sugar substitutes either give me massive headaches or upset my stomach for ages. Sucrolose it is.)

  14. lalalindz22*

    LW 3: As someone who is a type 1 diabetic for 17 years, and has parents with type 2 diabetes, I would have likely blown up at you a long time ago if you were my colleague. Two of my colleagues know that I switched to an insulin pump 1 year ago, and one would kindly ask how it was going. The second would make comments about what I was eating (like “should you be eating that?” when I had low blood sugar and was treating it with some candy), and I complained to HR. No one gets to tell me what to do other than my doctors, and especially not a colleague. It’s very nice that you’re concerned, but unless her behaviour is directly affecting you and your job (like she’s so sick she doesn’t come in so you have to work more), it’s not your place at all. I wouldn’t listen to friends or family making comments, let alone a colleague. She’s an adult, let her deal with it herself.

    1. AllTheFiles*

      People seem to make comments like this SO often to folks with diabetes. It concerns me that they clearly don’t even have the most basic idea of how it works.

      1. lalalindz22*

        People don’t understand how diabetes works, and I don’t expect them too. Many don’t realize there’s two kinds as well, since the media is so focused on type 2, which can be caused by poor diet, among other things, so it’s often perceived as the big, scary type that you can get if you eat crappy food and don’t exercise (not entirely true).

        But even if I didn’t have diabetes, it’s not right for anyone to question what I eat! Leave me alone, we’re adults! It’s really annoying.

      1. Reboot*

        I can’t speak for lalalindz22, but I’ve been put on an insulin pump in the last year and I don’t mind people asking how it’s going, because it’s still a pretty new piece of technology and they usually seem pretty interested. It’s less “report on your management of your diabetes to me, who has a right to know” and more “that’s a pretty big change, how is it working out for you”, if that distinction makes sense?

      2. lalalindz22*

        I was totally fine with my kind boss asking how my pump was going. It was indeed a very big change! She also sits near me, so she’s heard it beeping (when it’s time to change it), or seen me filling the pump with insulin, or testing my blood sugar. My family and friends do too, and it’s really nice. Whereas the noisy coworker was more policing me, and since she doesn’t even understand how type 1 diabetes works, it was really annoying. This same coworker also told me to go to her healer, and then I wouldn’t need my pump. I definitely complained about that to my boss.

        1. Cactus*

          This same coworker also told me to go to her healer, and then I wouldn’t need my pump.
          Oh wow. That would be really, really bad. Why do people think that things like that are remotely okay to say?

          1. Rainy*

            I once got a message from a woman on a dating site (my profile mentioned food allergies) who wanted to give me the name of her “healer” so that I would stop having food allergies. I declined. She then asked for a date, which I also declined. She then wanted to know whyyyy which I would usually have insta-blocked for, but in this case I told her: hanging out with people like you has a proven history of being detrimental to my health. Then I blocked.

            People have a lot of nerve, basically.

    2. Argh!*

      Even worse, being presumed to have diabetes or high cholesterol because of age & weight! The food nazi in my office wouldn’t shut up about me eating eggs until I pointed out that cholesterol levels are determined by genetics, not egg consumption, and that low cholesterol runs in my family. My DNA was none of her business but I felt I had to prove my point that way. I shouldn’t have felt like I needed to talk about it at all!

      1. lalalindz22*

        And what’s so bad about eggs? There’s so many differing opinions about diets and what not that people get really mixed up ideas, and nurse them until the bitter end. Eggs are delicious, and unless you were only eating eggs and weighed 1,000 lbs, why should a colleague say something? Even then, it’s still not their place to say it in the office! Maybe if your eggs were stinking up the joint… haha

        1. Candi*

          I only eat eggs in baked products and such because I get stomach upset if I eat them straight. You’d think I was murdering a puppy when I say I don’t eat them, even with the qualifier. Snort. Some people.

          (I think it’s the fat in the yolk. I’ve been having issues with digesting other fats and oils, too.)

          1. Close Bracket*

            Yes, you’ve got it right. Current understanding of blood cholesterol levels is that they are not affected much by dietary cholesterol, but are affected by dietary saturated fat. Egg yolks are loaded w saturated fat (which is why they are so delicious!).

    3. Sam*

      People seem to have overlooked the fact that LW wasn’t commenting on her food choices. Maybe noticing isn’t ideal, but she *kept it to herself.* I don’t see what else you can really ask.

      Also, anecdote: I used to work with a woman with diabetes. One day, a coworker brought in a box of donuts and offered it to her, and she blew up, because apparently it was irresponsible of coworker to offer donuts to someone with diabetes. Sometimes you just can’t predict how people are going to react.

      1. lalalindz22*

        Agreed, you cannot predict how people would react. I’ve had both sides of the coin: in grade school a rude girl in my class said I couldn’t have cake because I’m diabetic, in front of the whole class. And in my office now, we have birthday cake all the time, so I usually find out what kind of cake it is, and if I like it (like chocolate), I take some insulin so I can have a few bites, but I usually don’t finish the piece. If it’s something I don’t like, like carrot cake, I say no thanks. Most colleagues know, but some then ask questions like, why aren’t you having any cake? Then I just say I’m full from lunch, or going out to dinner and saving my appetite. I wouldn’t get mad at someone for offering something sweet though, because I love sweets! I just don’t always want to take a ton of insulin to eat some.

  15. Soupspoon McGee*

    Can we please stop criticizing and calling out posters and fellow commenters when they say or do something WE don’t imagine we would do in the same situation? The poster who was concerned about her diabetic coworker made observations that an awful lot of concerned people knowledgeable about diabetes would make. Hell, I would be noticing the same things. It’s not the same as going out of her way to snoop or spy, and noticing isn’t the same as crossing boundaries into commenting.

    There’s our ideal of how people should think and act up here, and then there’s the everyday reality of what everyone really does, for a million reasons, from fatigue and grumpiness to malice. When I figured out that the ideal rarely happens, that it’s something to aspire to, I was much, much happier with myself and others. Not today, though.

    Just . . . . Don’t second guess people who post here. It’s not kind or productive, and frankly I’ve limited my own comments over the last year because it’s not worth wading through the repetitive, hypercritical second-guessing to get to the gems that are also here.

    1. myswtghst*

      Thank you for this. I’m an observant person by nature, so I’d likely notice a lot of what OP3 noticed, especially for a coworker I’m concerned about based on information they willingly shared with me about their health. I wouldn’t comment and I would do my best to refrain from judgement, but it wouldn’t change the way my brain is wired to notice what’s going on around me.

      As far as we know, OP3 observed things which might be hard not to be aware of without obviously sticking their head in the sand or awkwardly ignoring the coworker entirely, and shared them here without identifying details as context for their update. The only active interaction with the coworker was expressing concern and giving a referral quietly one time, then letting it go, which I think was an appropriate response.

      Given that we often press letter writers (and those who provide updates) for more details, I can see why OP3 might have felt compelled to provide “supporting evidence” for her observations that coworker is taking positive steps, even if it feels like overstepping to us. So long as the observations aren’t noticeable to the coworker, or coloring how OP3 interacts with her, I think OP3 is fine.

      1. Myrin*

        One hundred percent this. I would notice basically everything the OP describes in her update just by virtue of working near the coworker/being close-by when she eats/randomly looking over to her. Also, people can generally do with their thoughts what they want and what really matters in the end is what comes out/affects others around them – as a small example, I regularly notice whether I find people I interact with handsome or ugly; of course that’s not very nice but 1. I can’t really do anything about that – I see the person and think “weird eyes” in a matter of seconds, and 2. I wouldn’t ever comment on anyone’s looks like that, that’s just rude! But I really hope people wouldn’t think I’m a horrible person just because of have these automated thoughts inside my own head.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Thank you for saying this! The strident tone in the responses reads as (ironically) judgmental and makes it less likely that OPs will send updates. Who would want to open themselves up to these kinds of attacks?

      I also can’t help but feel like folks are reacting to updates without reading the original posts—oftentimes the concerns they’re raising here have already been thoroughly discussed.

      The concern trolling, sandwiches, personal attacks and nitpicking have been increasing over the month. I don’t know if this is the usual “winter return” trend Alison has mentioned, but it’s exhausting, unnecessarily drives up the number of comments, and is derailing.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Thank you. Fifteenthing, or whatever number we’re on.

      I love the updates, no matter how mundane.

    4. Aeon*


      In fact, OP clearly states that the persion who is diabetic is doing better than she is concerning her self-discipline. OP just noticed it, and mentioned it because we readers of AAM asked for it. She doesn’t deserve to be crusified by us.

      1. Argh!*

        It seems LW still hasn’t disengaged from coworker’s health, though. The issue wasn’t whether the coworker was unhealthy but whether it’s proper for LW to say something about it. Not saying something is a good first step. The next step is not paying attention to other people’s business in the first place.

    5. Specialk9*

      Yes. Especially when it’s noticing things to be silently proud of the coworker, like passing on donuts in the break room.

      1. Argh!*

        Or has the coworker been shamed by busybodies into making a show of eating vegetables in full view and donuts in private?

    6. Argh!*

      “knowledgeable about diabetes” is too often self-defined and over-estimated. If you’re not an endocrinologist, then you are not qualified to talk about diabetes. If you’re not my doctor, I do not give you the right to tell me what to do about my health. Passing judgment on someone’s health issues is just as wrong as passing judgment on their relationship issues, money management, or clothing choices. At work, the general rule of thumb is mind your own business unless your coworker asks your advice, and even then it’s best to humbly admit that you are no expert and advise your coworker to consult with a real expert.

      1. Former Employee*

        The OP said she gave the co-worker the name of an endocrinologist, so she did exactly what you are saying should be done.

    7. Candi*

      Thank you!

      My mind totally works where’d I notice and catalog, and could rough estimate on a moment’s notice. Sheesh.

      (It bites, really. It’s not even that great for the retail work I did, since most of the stuff was irrelevant.)

      And then there’s those open office environments. Everyone’s food business is out in the open.

  16. MollyG*

    #2 I am disappointed that no one so far has pointed out that you should not have had to lose your job because of the harassing behavior of your co-worker.

  17. Turner*

    2 I’m glad you’re safe now and I’m glad the patient walked in that moment and protected you. I believe he knew what he was doing; to survive inpatient you have to develop pretty strong instincts about which staff are dangerous. He knew. I hope your next workplace is safe and that you can be in an environment where you will thrive.

    Also, to anyone tempted to armchair diagnosis in situations like this, as an autistic adult, if I am making somebody uncomfortable, I want them to do what they need to take care of themselves and feel safe. If they are up for it – then having an adult conversation with me like “hey don’t do that thing.” is something I respond well to. Because part of having good intentions is wanting people to feel comfortable around me. I don’t want anyone to ever think “oh well maybe Turner can’t help it so I’ll just stay here and be afraid.” Saying “Well maybe he just has aspergers maybe he’s just awkward” increases the stigma against autism. I don’t want people to make those kinds of allowances for me; I want people to set clear boundaries.

    As a woman, most of the times I’ve been secondguessing myself like “maybe they didn’t mean anything by it, maybe I’m making a big deal about nothing, maybe something is wrong with me, I’m not good at reading social situations because I’m autistic so maybe I’m wrong to be scared maybe it’s just me maybe maybe maybe”… my initial impression was right and it went badly. I don’t want to make anyone feel like that. I’d rather someone ghost me or have a difficult conversation with me than make someone feel like that.

  18. Newlywed*

    2 – I just want to say glad you got out of there.

    I have worked with some creeps, but the most recent one was a company with a super creepy guy who would exhibit similar behavior with the women in our office (and he was in his forties, so old enough to know better). He didn’t mess with me because I wasn’t remotely friendly towards him (I went out of my way to seem cold because I didn’t like his vibe). I observed most of his inappropriate attentions and touching directed towards my coworkers and they confided to me how uncomfortable he made them, but they were too afraid to say anything (he particularly liked to “prey” on younger women who didn’t have the work experience to understand that his behavior wasn’t normal). I finally said something to the HR manager discreetly. They monitored the situation and the guy was dismissed 30 days later. So the moral of the story is, sometimes when you’re the victim, it’s hard to speak up for yourself (I’ve also been in that situation) but if you see something going on where someone else is being victimized or someone is acting inappropriate, you can still speak up even if you aren’t the victim! Management needs to know, and your coworkers may thank you for it. Sometimes people don’t speak up because they think “surely someone else has already” but it’s very likely that no one else has because they might be too scared or feel like it’s not their business.

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