hair extensions at work, can I ask for my old desk back, and more

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

1. Hair extensions at work

I was asked not to wear hair extensions at work, in an casual office setting. My hair extensions are clip-in, but they’re real human hair, they’re professionally dyed to match my own hair color (natural color, no unnatural colors), and they blend in seamlessly. The only reason anyone can tell it’s not my real hair is some days I wear my hair short and other mornings I choose to place in my extensions. (Clearly I am not able to grow a foot of hair overnight.) This seems personal and rather ridiculous. The request came from a manager who had no reason other than stating, “Well, we all know it’s not real so it’s inappropriate.” Am I crazy or is this overstepping?

This is a little like the fascinating Michelle letter of last year!

I think it’s probably overstepping, although like that letter, it depends on how conservative your workplace is. In an office that placed a high emphasis on conservative appearance (some parts of law or finance, I suppose, but I’m just guessing), frequently changing from very short hair to very long hair and back again, from one day to the next, might be a thing that feels out of sync. But in lots of other offices, it wouldn’t matter one bit. (And to be clear, this is only about the frequent switching it up; if it were just about extensions in general, it would be a non-issue, period.)

Ultimately, your manager can tell you to stop doing this, whether you or I think it’s reasonable or not. But you can push back on that if you want to, although you’d need to decide how much capital you’re willing to spend on it. (One addendum to that: If you’re from a racial background where extensions/wigs/weaves are common and your manager isn’t, I think that changes the calculus, and in that case I’d spend more capital on this and explicitly point out the different demographic norms.)

2. Applicant made weird demands for interview timeline

In a recent period of hiring I came across plenty of slightly strange (and some more than slightly strange) things that applicants felt the need to include in their resumes or cover letters. None confused me more than the below, which to me reads more like a logic puzzle than a statement of availability. For context, this was at the very bottom of a four-page resume under the heading “Availability for Interview”:

“I would be available for an interview only within a period of let’s say four days and preferably sooner, from the time of receiving the formal shortlisting email notice. This also means that I would not be available for the interview in case the email notice is sent to me earlier than four days prior to the interview date. The time periods include also weekends.”

I just have so many questions! It seems like the applicant wants as short a time as possible to elapse between being shortlisted and being interviewed, but I’m at a loss as to why. And why is four days the magic number? Am I missing something?

Even if it were more of a straightforward statement, I would find such a thing rather presumptuous on a resume. Maybe in a cover letter if your availability will be unusually limited in the weeks following applying for a job, but in a resume like it’s a blanket requirement of yours regardless of the timing of the application? It just seems off, or maybe that is overly rigid of me?

Noooo, this is quite weird. You are not being overly rigid.

I also like that he himself is very rigid but then says “let’s say four days,” as if he’s just thinking up the number on the spot.

He is weirdly demanding and out of touch with the norms of humans, and you should reject him (but only within a period of let’s say four days and preferably sooner).

3. Can I ask for my old desk back?

A year ago, I took a temporary role at another location in my company (same city.) It was always known that this role was temporary. While it was likely that I would return to my original role, that was never a guarantee.

When I started at the company, they were going through a big ergonomics push and they were encouraging new employees to complete a health screening that would then allow us to order supportive office chairs, better keyboards, etc. I did it for the chair, but they also allowed (and encouraged me to get) a sit/stand desk. This is just a small extra desk that fits inside the cubicles and can hold two monitors and not much else.

When I changed jobs, I was able to take my chair but not my desk because the place I was going to had a fancy new open floor plan where all of the desks were fully sit/stand. Eventually someone else took over my old cubicle as well as my sit/stand desk.

Now I’m going back to that job and I really want my desk back (it’s simple enough to move the desk from cube to cube.) I currently spend over half my day standing and I have terrible posture when sitting, so standing really helps my neck (which has issues due to a previous surgery.) It only helps because of the posture thing, so I don’t think this raises to the level of ADA accommodation. However, I feel kind of petty for asking, mainly because almost no one in that group has sit/stand desks. Soon after I got mine, they stopped allowing ergonomic furniture orders. Apparently, I just got really lucky with my timing of when I was hired.

My current thought is to simply ask the other employee if I can have my desk back, but not to push the issue if she says no. I’m also worried that even asking might make me sound petty, because she never had an option to order one. What’s the best way to approach this without coming across as whiny? I’m not always the best at avoiding social land mines.

Unfortunately, I think it’s probably hers now and you don’t really have dibs on it, just like you wouldn’t if she had inherited your old office space or your old keyboard. It moved on when you moved on.

The most you could really do is to ask her — with genuine curiosity, not in a tone of possessiveness — how she’s liking it. If she responds with enthusiasm about it, you definitely need to back off at that point. But if she says she doesn’t really care for it or doesn’t use it that much, at that point you could say something like, “If you really don’t like it, I’d love to take it back and use it again.”

4. When multiple people are selling Girl Scout cookies

I hope this is a pleasantly low-stakes question. Is there a general consensus about how coworkers should handle it when more than one wants to bring Girl Scout cookie order forms into the office? If there isn’t, what do you recommend?

We generally leave fundraising order forms in a common area, both for people’s convenience and to keep everything low-key. Should cookie-offering coworkers leave out their forms together, and communicate their hope that people ordering multiple boxes will split their orders? (Almost everyone orders multiple boxes.) Or should co-workers agree that one person will take the early orders and one take orders from the procrastinators? What’s a good way to avoid popularity contests and treat everyone equitably?

I pondered this and determined that I have no opinion on it! If anything, I’d come down on the side of being laissez faire about it and just letting people handle their order forms however they want, as long as they’re being low-key about it and not pushing cookie purchases on their coworkers. Anyone have strong feelings to the contrary?

5. Using the STAR format for interview answers

I have a question about interviewing techniques. I recently made it to the very final stage of a lengthy hiring process for a great job. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the position. I asked the recruiter if there was any feedback she could share from the hiring team, so that I can make myself a more attractive candidate in the future. She shared that while the overall feedback was great, for future interviews I should be prepared to answer questions using the STAR format (wherein the candidate states the Situation or Task, the Action they took, and what the Result was).

The ironic part is, in preparation for the interviews, I did write out some STAR-format interview responses beforehand; I even took my written responses to the interview with me, in case I needed to refer to them at some point. If it matters, none of the interviewing managers asked me to respond in STAR format. They asked questions in a straightforward manner, like this: “Can you talk about a time when you worked well with members of another department of team?” and then gave me time to answer. Should I have literally said each cue word (‘Situation,” “Task,” “the Action was…” “the Result was…”) during the interview?

No, no good interviewer will expect you to do that on your own without any prompting, and it would come across a little strangely — like announcing “I am going to use an interview technique I read about now.” It’s true that using STAR-format answers is a very common piece of advice about interviewing, but it would still sound stilted to spell it out that way. The idea is that you give your answers in that format because it covers each of the key pieces of info an interviewer will want to hear and will produce stronger answers, but not that you need to have special allegiance to those particular cue words.

I suspect that the recruiter’s feedback meant that you weren’t giving your interviewers as much info as they wanted about some of those elements, or weren’t conveying it clearly enough. A lot of candidates are pretty vague about exactly what their role was in things they discuss in interviews, and even vaguer about the outcomes or results. To me, the recruiter’s feedback says that they wanted a clearer discussion of those things.

{ 575 comments… read them below }

    1. Carpe Librarium*

      I mean, if it was three days, that would be perfectly understandable,
      “Then, shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out!”

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then haveth thou thy interview with thine applicant, who, being qualified your sight, shall ace it.

      1. Penny Lane*

        The atrocious sentence structure is enough to ding this candidate. It’s just so pretentiously wordy.

        Leaving aside the ridiculousness of the whole thing, a normal person would communicate this request as something like “I can make myself available on short notice, but only for a period of 4 days.”

        1. Kittymommy*

          So much this. I read it a couple of times and I’m still not entirely sure what this applicant is stating!

        2. zora*

          Yeah, this is definitely a sign that this person has trouble writing clear, concise sentences. So, if you need this position to do any writing, that is a reason to reject them right there.

  1. Ramona Flowers*

    #2 My first thought is that he’s taking some sort of drug that takes four days to leave your system and added the requirement of no more than four days notice either to try to throw you off the scent or because he can’t go more than four days without a fix or, perhaps, he was high when he wrote it.

    Or maybe he just has a thing about fours (it was a four-page resume! Four! Pages!)

    1. Magenta Sky*

      I think it’s more likely he’s had unsatisfying experiences with flakey interview practices, and is trying to be assertive.

      My response would be “I’m sorry, but we don’t have an open interview slot in the time period you’re available.”

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Oh yes, like that time someone wanted to add a note about only wanting to be interviewed if you weren’t wasting their time or something like that. It’s like putting a sign up that says Caution: Gumption Ahead.

      2. Anion*

        Mine would be “I’m sorry, but this position is currently only available to let’s say people other than you.”

    2. Artemesia*

      Yeah. Mentioning in the cover letter that one will be out of the country most of April but are available in May for interviews is one thing, but having oddly weirdly specific ‘rules for interviewing me’ — who needs a PITA like that on the team.

      And the drug thing? Maybe. Who needs that on the team either.

    3. LouiseM*

      Wow, you got all that from the letter? Seems like you’re letting your imagination run away with you. It’s strange, but there are many explanations for strange behavior other than “trying to hide a drug habit.”

      Personally, I think it’s more likely that this guy just got some bad or overly general job hunting advice, like “if they suggest an interview date more than a business week after they email you it means they’re more interested in someone else.” Also, those sentences were clearly not written by a native English speaker so maybe something got lost in translation and the candidate thought they were being clearer.

      1. Mad Baggins*

        I agree the drug thing is speculative, but where are you getting that it was “clearly” not written by a native English speaker? Could just as easily be a native speaker but a poor writer.

      2. Jenny*

        After re-reading it, I think you’re right about a non-native speaker (not that this changes how strange it is). Using “in case” instead of “if” in the second sentence and saying “include also” instead of “also include” read like a non-native speaker. I’ve spent lots of time teaching and living/working with non-native speakers of different levels and backgrounds, and you really start to pick up on these little phrases.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I agree that it sounds very much like a non-native speaker – a poor writer who speaks English fluently and a non-native speaker make very different types of mistakes. (I also proofread a lot of documents written by non-native speaking colleagues).

          *Plus* really weird ideas about interviewing. I don’t think it’s just a translation issue.

        2. OP #2*

          Yes, they are a non-native speaker. I know this for sure because there was a half-page table further up the document detailing all their (very impressive but irrelevant for the job in question) language skills.

          1. Samiratou*

            So, does anyone know of any countries or job cultures where a long resume and interview availability would be more of a norm?

            I’d have a hard time believing it, but there might be a tiny bit of room for benefit of the doubt if it’s a culture shift and not just general cluelessness.

            He sounds high maintenance either way, though.

        1. Anony*

          I don’t see why that would necessitate a four day window (including weekends) between being contacted for an interview and actually coming in for one. If anything, it would necessitate a minimum notice, not maximum.

      3. Jam Today*

        Up until recently I would have agreed with you, and then I had the extraordinary experience of working with someone who we all assume was on some serious mood-altering medications during the interview process (or maybe just double up on the dose of something he normally takes) because when he showed up on the job he was a TOTALLY different person, I mean really off the rails. He was fired pretty quickly after that, and his very small department was left reeling because they had all interviewed this guy and it was like someone from a parallel universe showed up once they hired him.

    4. OP #2*

      So glad I had finished my coffee before I read your comment, Ramona!
      It was four narrow margin’d, word dense pages too…

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I love this. Having just watched The Bletchley Circle, in which WW2 code breakers solve the pattern of a serial killer: What initial circumstances would make this resume the expected outcome?

  2. Kevin Malone*

    #4 – personally I’m all in favour of making them wine and dine me in an effort to bid for my orders. I love cookie season.

    Oh the Spring time thinks that it’s the best,
    And Fall time thinks that it’s the best.
    Cold time has, kind of a strut,
    And Valentines thinks that it’s the best. But gather ‘round peeps, I’ll tell you the truth;
    Nothing beats the cookie season,
    That’s the truth!

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      But Valentines is right in the middle of cookie season. I’m struggling right now to ration out all my Valentines candy and my GS cookie boxes.

    2. BurnOutCandidate*

      My Girl Scout Cookies ordering hierarchy:

      1) Order from coworkers in my department
      2) Order from coworkers in other departments that I work with regularly on other projects
      3) Order from coworkers I don’t know and don’t interact with

      1 and 2 typically suffice for my GS cookie needs. I have rarely gotten to #3.

      1. Elise*

        This makes sense. I did bring my daughter’s order form to work and left it on the “food” table for interested parties in my department. Word got out from there, and I had a few people who know me/my daughter from another department seek out the form. As I assume most people are like you, I didn’t bother with the break room for the building, though I did see someone else’s sheet there.

        I think it makes sense to just leave out the form and let people decide for themselves. I did notice a few people ordered a few boxes from each of us to spread the love so that was nice. Just don’t make it a “thing.”

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        My cousin’s kid is a cookie dealer. I get what I need from her and tell everyone else “sorry, I’m stocked up.”

      3. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Yes, I have a similar hierarchy: 1) Neighborhood kids 2) Friends’ kids 3) Coworkers’ kids.

        EXCEPTION: there are 2 types of the s’mores cookies, depending on which bakery services the girl scouts in that area. I happen to prefer the sandwich cookies to the chocolate-covered ones, so I will seek those out. So if my neighborhood girl scouts or friends’ kids don’t have them, I will skip right to coworkers for those particular cookies.

      4. The Rat-Catcher*

        My practice has been to order from my own department. When there are two (as with last year), I split the orders. If there are too many for that to be practical, I go with whoever has the least on their sheet at the time.

        But I was also that Girl Scout that went door-to-door and did weekend after weekend of booth sales, so these parent-orders-from-work are basically freebies for them and they probably shouldn’t be complaining about the fairness of it or lack thereof.

        1. Loose Seal*

          A lot of troops really discourage the door-to-door sales these days for safety reasons.

          I get where you’re coming from because I used to get soooo mad that my mom wouldn’t take my form to her office because she said it would build my character to schlep myself around the neighborhood selling those hateful cookies. But today isn’t the same day as when we were young (e.g. she also let us drink from the water hose and I don’t even think our car had seatbelts and the other back-in-my-day things the memes talk about).

      5. PlainJane*

        My hierarchy: order from every available Girl Scout. Order all the cookies. Eat all the cookies. Complain about stomachache to unsympathetic husband who at least has sense enough not to respond out loud.

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Me too. Especially since now you can pretty much buy the exact same cookies in the grocery store for half the price. If the point of selling girl scout cookies is teaching the child the “5 skills”, then they have to sell me the cookies, not their parents leaving a form on a table. I’m not talking about some elaborate performance, but the child needs to make an appearance (with permission) and needs to be the one taking my money and making change. That’s the point of the program. I’ll happily buy a box I don’t need from each girl scout that makes some effort.

      1. Tough Cookie*

        Same, one of my co-workers brings her child in once or twice during lunch break or early and she approaches people at the coffee maker. The young child has a sales pitch prepared and handles taking down orders, names and collecting money. She also follows up with hand-written short thank you notes each year. Everyone ALWAYS orders from her instead of the sheets left randomly on a table, or an email from mom or dad to the entire office. Many co-workers hang the thank you notes in their cubes and anticipate her very adorable in person “Sales-Calls” to us each year.

      2. miss_chevious*

        Just goes to show how people are different. Under no circumstances do I want to be sold by someone’s kid at my office unless there’s a scheduled place and time (that I can avoid). I will certainly buy from girls on the street or the grocery store or who are going door-to-door, but at work? Put the form on the bulletin board and walk away.

    4. NamesArentEverything*

      Angela’s cats are cute. So cute that you just want to eat them. But you can’t eat cats. You can’t eat cats, Kevin.

  3. Kc89*

    Did the letter writer say the applicant for #2 was male? It’s a bit jarring seeing “he/him” when I don’t see that in the letter, I’m so used to defaulting to “she/her” on this site

      1. OP #2*

        As it happens, it is a man (or at least the person’s name is a typically male one). But I had to go back and re-read my e-mail to see if I’d included he/him anywhere in it! Funny how we’ve all got so used to the she/her default here.

      2. soz*

        I just wanted to say how much I love the fact you default to a man. And this shows how our expectations change – here I would expect unknowns to be a women, but in the rest of the world a man.

          1. fposte*

            The convention on AAM is to default to the female pronoun. I think soz is saying that it’s interesting even with that convention that Alison ended up with a male pronoun here.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            There’s a bunch of research showing that when people picture a manager, they picture a man — because people’s default for authority figures is male. Some readers have said that after a lot of reading here, when they picture a manager, now it’s a woman (because I default to “she” here).

    1. A Random Reader*

      I noticed the same thing and found it a bit off/odd for norms on this site. It may be an innocent choice (mistake?), but at quick glance feels a bit sexist (no trying to stir the pot, just being honest), especially considering the norm on this site is general she/her/etc.

      I know that I am not up to date on norms, but I personally try to use “they/them” etc. vs. any label indicating a gender (any gender). For me, it’s an easy way to not make gender assumptions.

  4. sacados*

    I was actually thinking probably that the first non-italic paragraph is actually supposed to be the last part of the question and is just formatted wrong, so it mistakenly looks like the start of Alison’s answer.

  5. JamieS*

    OP #2 I’m thinking the logic behind 4 days is so the time between being emailed and the interview date isn’t any longer than a standard work week. So if he’s emailed Monday the interview is no later than that Friday.

    1. Willis*

      I wonder if it has something to do with timing around asking off at their current job. But no matter the reason – it’s weird to write on a resume, horribly phrased, and already on top of a 4 page resume! No thanks!

      1. with a twist*

        This was my assumption as well – he has some kind of schedule at his current job that he’s trying to work around, or they have a window for time-off requests. But that still doesn’t excuse his horrible phrasing or the strange, presumptuous way he put it on his resume.

      2. JamieS*

        I could be way off base here but the way it was written gives me the impression the applicant is from a non-native English speaking country so I’m wondering if there’s maybe some culture differences at play here. I can’t think of any countries where a 4 page resume or that kind of disclaimer is the norm but that’s not to say none exist.

  6. Circus peanuts*

    Regarding letter 4, as a former Girl Scout, I hated seeing the best seller awards go to the girls whose parents sold the cookies at their office rather than those girls going door to door or manning cookie booths. Unless the actual scout asks me themselves, I will not buy any. The lesson of girls can do anything if they put in the effort is lost when the parent ends up selling the cookies.

              1. Blue Eagle*

                My suggestion is to allow the sellers to post a note in the break room (or other approved space) that they are selling GS cookies and anyone who is interested can come to their work cube and fill out the form.

                That way the forms are not out in the open for everyone to see which seller they are choosing to buy from.

            1. RB*

              Yeah, the environment for that sort of thing is actually better now, despite people’s misconceptions. People can be really misinformed about violent crime and public safety.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yep, statistically it was far, far more dangerous for kids to go door to door (or run around the neighborhood or walk to school alone or you name it) in the 70s than it is today. Violent crime of every kind has gone down, and violence perpetrated by strangers against kids is way down. A kid is much more likely, unfortunately, to be abused by someone her family knows than by a stranger.

            1. Say what, now?*

              I think part of that is the hyper-vigilance of parents today. We don’t let our kids go running around unaccompanied as much. If we did I think that you’d see a spike in crimes against children again. They’re just too trusting.

              1. Natalie*

                I’m not sure that tracks with the stats – crime of all kinds has gone down, in multiple areas around the globe.

                1. LBK*

                  I think Say what, now? is saying that crime went down because people started being more vigilant. It’s like saying that you don’t need vaccines anymore because polio has gone down – it went down because of the vaccine. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to use the vaccine anymore.

                2. fposte*

                  @LBK–but Natalie’s saying that crime even against non-helicoptered people–aka adults–went down a similar amount in the same period.

              2. Parenthetically*

                There’s pretty good research that helicopter parenting had nothing to do with a drop in violence against kids — that it was just part of a larger societal trend that happened well before helicopter parenting became a thing, and that helicopter parenting had economic factors and the 24-hour panic news cycle at its root — and that helicopter parents are aiming their hovering and worry at things that aren’t statistical threats. There are real harms associated with helicopter parenting, as well.

              3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                But, like, it was never more common for kids to be harmed by a stranger than by friends/family. Stranger danger was always a myth.

                1. Say what, now?*

                  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a myth. It still happens just not as often as familiar attackers.

              4. TootsNYC*

                I don’t know that I agree you would see a spike–but I also know that parents are getting an overwhelming message that they can’t let their children out of their sight.

            2. Hiring Mgr*

              What about the creepy clowns/Killer clowns? My kids don’t get further than 50 ft away from me these days due to the danger.

              1. HR Caligula*

                Hey now! As a chartered member of the Kreepy Klown Kommision I take offense. It is in written in our charter we do not assault OR abduct kids that are within 75 feet of their parents.

          2. Windchime*

            When Girl Scouts come to my door (in my family-oriented neighborhood), there is always a parent standing back on the sidewalk. That way, the girls are safe and they are doing the work of selling.

      1. Troop Leader*

        You’re required by scout policy to accompany your girl on door-to-door sales, and signing the cookie packet means you promise to do so. Bless my husband’s patient heart.

        1. soon 2be former fed*

          This is what I did, in freezing cold weather no less. It was quite inconsiderate to have cookie sales in January in metro Chicago.

      2. C.*

        They can work the front-of-the-grocery-store circuit! That’s what I did in the 90’s, and I always buy from them now because I remember how miserable it was (I swear, I was always in the group that ended up working the rainiest Sundays)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That’s how I always buy my cookies. I like to talk to the Scouts, and I love watching their sales tactics, especially when it’s been a while since anyone came up to them and they’re kind of punchy.

          My very favorite of all time was when the Girl Scouts and their moms set up a table in the student center at my university. Those kids were sassy as hell and so much fun.

          1. Naptime Enthusiast*

            I never understood why local girl scout groups didn’t actively sell at my (large, open-campus) university. They would have made a KILLING!

            1. Ugh*

              I once encountered some girl scouts on campus while walking to class. I wanted cookies but also knew I shouldn’t get any, so I was glad I didn’t have any cash on me.

              Aaaaaaannnnndddd then they informed me they could take credit cards (one of the moms had one of those card readers that plug into your phone).

              The best part (besides the tasty cookies) was that the TA showed up to class with several boxes himself.

            2. C.*

              I asked some scouts about that once and they said that (at least at my college) the permitting was a pain in the butt if you are an outside group wanting to sell something. You’d think they would ease the rules for Girl Scouts, but I’m guessing it’s a slippery slope thing.

            3. Marillenbaum*

              We have a Girl Scout who sells on my campus! She’s a high schooler (and I love when girls stick with it that long) and she and her mom take Venmo, so I don’t even need to get my wallet out. It’s magical!

            4. Nolan*

              I once encountered a girl scout troop who’d gotten a booth in the dealer’s room at a sci-fi convention. They were one of the more popular vendors in the hall, to no one’s surprise

              1. LizB*

                I was at a gaming convention this weekend, and the local GS association had gotten a table and was having different troops staff it in shifts — I saw girls of every scout level selling over the course of the weekend. They also put a flier in attendee packets advertising the hours the table would be open. Super smart idea.

            5. AnotherAlison*

              The best day ever was when we left Keystone resort after a day of snowboarding and there were some girls selling cookies out of their parents’ trunk in the parking lot. Yassss! Give me all your cookies.

            6. IT Dweeb*

              Oh man this is a great idea, I’ll have to tell my nieces about it! (Hopefully there won’t be trouble with the university allowing them, though…)

            7. Pathfinder Ryder*

              Your school’s permissions, probably: I was still in Rangers (like Ambassadors, going from Wikipedia, but going up to your nineteenth birthday rather than grade-dependent) in my first year of university, and when I tried just carrying a box around and selling to people who were interested, I was told only university clubs are allowed to sell stuff on campus.

          2. Sarah*

            In college the Girl Scouts showed up at a 3-day-long Ultimate Frisbee tournament that had free beer for all 3 days. They had a white van full of cookies and walked around with a little red wagon full of cookies.

            We bought enough cookies to send the troop to India that year.

          3. Jadelyn*

            In the area where I live, on a stretch of less-populated town between two heavily populated urban centers, there’s a really popular back road that goes through some subdivisions when the main highway is clogged up. On really bad days, though, the subdivision street gets just as stopped-up as the highway.

            And on one of those days, sitting in traffic in the middle of a residential neighborhood in an attempt to avoid sitting in traffic on the highway, I saw an enterprising kiddo who’d set out a table on the sidewalk in front of her house and was selling cookies and bottled water to the drivers stuck on the road. I went ahead and bought a box of thin mints and a bottle of water, figuring since I was stuck anyway I might as well have snacks. I bet she made a killing that day!

            1. Blah*

              This is actually super common in big cities in developing countries. Traffic gets so bad nobody is moving, and the vendors just walk between the cars so occupants can resch out the window and buy stuff. I’ve seen it in Mexico myself, and seen tons of videos of it happening elsewhere. Vendors load up with all sorts of snacks and drinks, and just walk between the cars sell

          4. Rebecca in Dallas*

            My running club has long runs on Saturday mornings and this one very intrepid Girl Scout sets up her table right next to our clubhouse!

        2. SpaceySteph*

          I always buy from the girl scouts at the grocery because I remember having such a good time doing the cookie booth and I want them to have fun, too. In cookie season I carry extra cash so I can always say yes when I’m asked. But only by girls, not by their parents.
          I also remember when people would hand my mom the money and she’d always tell them to give it to the kids so we could learn, so I always talk to the kids and hand the $ to the kids. Sometimes I do have a bit of fun with them by making them explain to me the cookie types, even though I definitely know.

          1. Windchime*

            I always ask the kids what they recommend, too. I have my favorites but then I buy a “recommended” box as well.

      3. Jayn*

        Last one to come here was accompanied by her father (she did all the selling, he just stood by the sidewalk). She’d also been told not to go inside. I wish more did it—I’ve seen one in the four years I’ve lived here.

        1. Amy*

          When I did it in the 80’s and 90’s my friend and I walked from door to door while one of our mom’s followed along the road in the minivan. They were able to keep us in sight but we still did all the selling ourselves.

      4. Observer*

        Not just “these days”. My parents weren’t helicopters, by any means. But, this was just NOT on the table.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Yeah, I’m 32.

          My parents weren’t helicopter parents. I think when I was very young I was allowed to go to the neighbors by myself.

          Then a kid in my grade was abducted and murdered while he was door-to-door fundraising. (I don’t think ultimately the situation had anything to do with the fundraising, but it was what he was doing at the time, and the early speculation had been that it might have been someone trying to steal the money he had collected gone wrong.)

          No more door-to-door fundraising after that. I don’t think any parents in my district allowed it.

          This was in 1997, so a good 2 decades ago.

          Also, practically, I wonder how many people are home to sell to at a given time anymore, anyway? Maybe there are more because more people work-at-home now. But I would guess that there are probably less stay-at-home parents. And those that are (and parents that work outside the home) are probably shuttling their kids to soccer practice or piano lessons or tutoring sessions most days. And a lot of adults work late, and have appointments and social activities afterwards.

          1. Loose Seal*

            I’d be less apt to buy at home but maybe I’m weird. I’d hear the knock and peek out to see a GS. If I didn’t want to go thru the house to get my purse, I’d just pretend I wasn’t home. When I’m already at the grocery store, intent on buying things, being asked by a GS at a table in front seems like no big deal.

            I feel like I’m not expressing that well but perhaps you guys know what I mean.

      5. matcha123*

        I went door-to-door. My parent was with me. I did it while delivering newspapers. No parent is sending their child into a strange area by themselves to sell cookies…

      6. Not a Blossom*

        When I was a kid and went door-to-door, a parent came with me. My friends’ kids have the same set up.

      7. Not a Morning Person*

        The Girl Scouts in my neighborhood have a parent along. Dad pulls the wagon with the cookies; Girl Scout rings the bell, makes the sale and exchanges cookies for payment. Yay! I don’t have to leave the house and I get instant gratification. We’re all happy.

    1. JamieS*

      I can respect that viewpoint but it can also be argued that the whole practice of selling cookies reinforces gender roles (focusing more on domesticity) rather than teaching girls they can do anything. However I think moral stances on Girl Scout cookies selling is a bit strong for this blog and irrelevant to the question. Also I need my Thin Mints and my coworkers are my hook up.

      1. Circus peanuts*

        It helps with learning how to ask strangers for something you want, how businesses work, how to staff a booth, counting money and giving change, etc. It mostly taught me that hearing the word no wasn’t the end of the road and to go out and try again.

        1. JamieS*

          Yes but why cookies which are a traditionally domestic item? Why can’t the girls sell camping equipment such as flashlights and canteens? For the record, I’m not actually opposed to selling the cookies. I was a top seller in my day and I actually sold them not my parents. Not to mention the cookies are delicious. My point was that there are plenty of things about the practice that people can take issue with but it’s not really something to take a moral stance on on AAM since it wasn’t the point of the OP’s question.

          Also the booths I’ve seen had an adult doing a lion’s share of the work especially the logistics (booth staffing, cookie supply, actually selling the cookies, etc.) so I don’t think there’s really any escape from too much parental involvement. I’m also not sure it really teaches how the average business is ran but we can agree to disagree on that.

          Anyway I’ll end my part of the conversation here so I don’t go down a derailment rabbit hole.

              1. kible*

                way back when cookie sales first started, they actually did make them! they had a really cheap sugar cookie recipe so that anyone could buy the goods and make a profit.

            1. curly sue*

              My better half is still bitter 40 years later because his sister sold cookies and the Boy Scouts had to sell manure. “There’s just no way to follow up on ‘have some thin mints’ with ‘and some sheep dung!’ and close a sale.'”

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Yeah. Of all the things sold by all the student fundraisers, Girl Scout Thin Mints are the only one I actively want AND can’t get anywhere else.

              1. a1*

                Oh, but Walgreens has knock-offs, and their Thin Mints, Tagalongs, and Samoas are as good as the real thing. (I just did a podcast about that recently).

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  *shakes head* I have tried the others, off season. They are different. (I can’t speak for any other flavors, as I only like Thin Mints.)

                2. a1*

                  The knock-off Samoas are almost 100% dead on, both in appearance and in taste. The big difference with the Thin Mints knock-off (Mint Thins at Walgreens, iirc) is the cookie isn’t chocolate, but I thought they tasted pretty similar. There was enough chocolate coating and mint flavor, but I just like Thin Mints whereas I love Tagalongs and Samoas.

            2. Anion*

              Yes. I can always use a box of cookies. I cannot always use another sleeping bag (in fact, we already have two so don’t need more. Ours are Tauntauns!)

          1. Penny Lane*

            Because cookies are an impulse item that appeal broadly and flashlights and canteens aren’t because they aren’t interesting except to people who camp and who happen to be out of those items. That seems rather obvious. Can you imagine how few flashlights and canteens you would sell outside the grocery store?

            1. Koko*

              Yes, and there is a reason they don’t sell them year-round. It drives up demand when people can only buy them for a limited time. Same reason Disney doesn’t sell copies of all their old films, they have to bring them “out of the vault” for a limited time.

              People can buy flashlights or camping gear anywhere, anytime. They have to wait for cookie season to buy Girl Scout cookies, and you can only get them from a Girl Scout, not a store.

            2. JamieS*

              Those were example items I thought of off the top of my head not literally a suggestion on the exact items they should sell.

          2. nnn*

            Theory: cookies are consumable, so people who are in the market for cookies will need more again next cookie season. (Or, perhaps, later the same day, depending on how quickly they succumb to temptation)

          3. Socks*

            I have bought many, many boxes of girl scout cookies. As I do not camp, I would not, by any means, buy girl scout camping equipment. I can think of a LOT of reasons they sell cookies in particular, which have nothing whatsoever to do with gender roles.

          4. Lindsay J*

            Yeah, when I was a girl scout the parents did pretty much everything having to do with the booth. All we really did was yell t0 (at?) people that entering and exiting the store that we were selling cookies. I can pretty safely say I learned nothing about business from selling cookies (and very little about sales, really). It was pretty clear to us at the time that this wasn’t about teaching us things, this was about the fact that the troop and our council needed money to exist and to set up all the cool things that we were able to do, and that selling the cookies would get us that money. (And that if we did a good job individually and sold a lot we could get a prize). Though I’m going to bet this varied a lot by troop, and I could see ways that the troop leaders could have used this as a teaching tool that mine did not.

            Though I would imagine the answer to the “why cookies?” nowadays is that they are more universal than camping equipment, are consumable, and the markup on them is – I assume – pretty high.

            Not a ton of people go camping on a regular basis. Those that do are probably going to buy the high-quality gear that they researched and decided on, rather than whatever troop 207 is shilling in front of the Albertsons. And even if they do buy them, you’re probably only going to sell one to them per-person this year, and then none next year, because you only need one flashlight. While cookies you can sell multiple boxes a year every year because people eat them up quickly.

            Though I can definitely see an argument for selling something different. Maybe environmentally friendly items like reusable shopping bags and water bottles or something (but then, shopping is also a traditionally women associated thing). In marching band we sold chocolate, pizza kits, and some other stuff like that.

            But really, people like the stupid cookies, people look forward to them coming out every year, and they’re one of the few “direct sale” items that don’t really have any sort of scorn attached to them. They Girl Scouts would be kind of crazy to turn their backs on the good thing they have going now.

            I always sold a ton just going to family members and other adults that I knew. (Neighbors that we knew. Family friends. Parents of non-scouting friends. Parents of people on my soccer team. Coaches. Teachers. Etc.) My parents never took the sheet to work with them. (My mom was a teacher and most of the other teachers brought from their students. My dad was a restaurant kitchen manager and didn’t want to pressure his staff to buy cookies they probably couldn’t afford.)

        2. Colette*

          Girl Guide leader here. We don’t have the same sort of incentives you have in the US, and my girls sell some cookies as a group, but I also just want to get them sold so that we have the money and can do fun things. Girls these days are busy, and if they don’t sell them, I’m happy to have the parents take them to work. It’s a lot less work for me and it reaches an audience we won’t reach otherwise.

          1. nonymous*

            I had neighbors that did it about 5 years ago. In my current area it seems to be pretty common for parents to push them on social media, but at least the girls participate by making a little video. I have one acquaintance who’s daughter will man the comments section when people reply with their orders. They also post where/when they will be selling at tables. I don’t know if there’s a social media badge, but she should definitely earn it!

            1. Lindsay J*

              Huh, I wonder if it changed recently, or if it varies by local council.

              I was under the impression that they were not allowed to sell directly online, but that they could post something like, “It’s Girl Scout Cookie time! Contact me for details!” and then take orders through private message.

              1. Delightful Daisy*

                I bought from the daughter of a colleague. She has an official website set-up. You can choose direct ship or hand delivery. Hand delivery has to be approved by the parent.

      2. Shop Girl*

        My Co op sells GSC from a shelf in the store. The troop, which is picked by lottery, must provide an approved rack and must sign a contract that they will refill the rack at certain times on certain days. They are responsible for inventory and invoicing the store. They have to come to me with their count and we check it in like any other vendor. They also must table in person at least twice during the season. This gives the girls a lesson in how selling your product to a business works.

        1. Lindsay J*

          That’s really cool. We never did anything so official, and would probably have learned a lot more from that.

      3. Allison*

        “Also I need my Thin Mints and my coworkers are my hook up.”

        Basically this. I don’t see in-office cookie sales as helping the kids win, so much as they help the parents’ coworkers get cookies!

        1. TootsNYC*

          After I’d sold 11 boxes of candy bars from the desk in my office, and the school fundraiser ended, people came and said, “Can you just go to Costco and get some candy bars, and sell them from your desk?”
          The years after that, I would buy like 20 extra boxes at the end of the fundraiser and keep a box on my desk year round.

          My colleagues treated it like a public service. I didn’t lock my desk, and I’d come in on a Monday to find $13 stuffed in the envelope and 10 candy bars gone, if the IT team had been working over the weekend.

      4. Hibiscus*

        Oh I don’t know. I used the occasion of my niece’s first cookie sale year to initiate her into the family activity of salesmanship (3rd generation!) and the Nordstrom “4 Be” customer service and sales strategy.

      5. Forrest*

        Those little monsters stand right outside my metro stop to hawk their wares. Trust me, they’re not learning about cookies. And sales isn’t a traditional role for women – traditional gender roles would mean they wouldn’t be out working.

        And who the hell buys camping equipment that much? They make $700 million from their cookies and most people will buy cookies over camping equipment. And cookies are gone within a week and then you need to buy more. You buy a flashlights or canteen and you’re set for a few years if not life.

        I’m sorry but that’s ridiculous. It’s like trying to be PC just to be PC.

        1. Anion*

          How dare girls identify a market for a product, and decide to sell that product in a clever way that drives up demand (i.e. only once a year)? So sexist!

      6. BananaPants*

        Dude, I’m an actual Girl Scout, as is our older daughter. The girls doing the selling of cookies don’t think it has anything to do with reinforcing gender roles, so maybe stop mansplaining to us that it does?

        1. Marthooh*

          If you mean JaimeS, I think she was GirlScoutspalaining: “For the record, I’m not actually opposed to selling the cookies. I was a top seller in my day and I actually sold them not my parents. Not to mention the cookies are delicious.”

        2. SineNomine*

          Why would you leap to the commenter mansplaining things instead of a difference of opinion? I mean, even ignoring the fact that she mentions that she was a girl scout, that seems like a hell of a leap considering what was said and a complete lack of assuming good faith.

      7. LiveAndLetDie*

        If they were baking the cookies themselves, I’d see your point, but they’re selling merchandise. It’s teaching them to handle money, it’s teaching them sales techniques… there’s nothing about buying and selling that is inherently about gender. Boy Scouts sell popcorn, after all.

    2. GovSysadmin*

      Fortunately for the Girl Scouts whose parents work in my office, I love cookies, and end up ordering a couple of boxes from each of them.

    3. Bea*

      It’s a fundraiser and in the end money goes to troops, so as a former scout myself I’m just buying to support a kid doing something productive and positive. So I’m fine buying from whomever is doing the peddling.

      Granted I’ve never worked with a parent of a scout, I just look for the booths to pop up and praise the Lord they got Squares so I don’t even need cash anymore.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I buy them at the table outside Walmart. There is always a table. I never have cash anymore, but they usually have Square or something these days. So I can nicely refuse any parents asking me at work, and not get caught in the middle of their competition. And I can buy directly from the Scouts themselves. The only drawback is I might not get Thin Mints, but trefoils are my favorites anyway.

      *was a Girl Scout; will always support even though attempting not to eat cookies*

      1. Agreed*

        Thanks. Yes, I couldn’t see why this comment would have 56 replies, and then I realized it had devolved into parenting and crime commenting, oy vey!

    5. Featherless Biped*

      I had a colleague who actually handled his daughter’s cookie sales in a way that addressed this problem. He took down a list of everyone who said they would like to order cookies, and then he had his daughter call up the individuals on the list and make the sale herself. So basically he just generated the lead, and then had her come in and close the sale! I thought this was a neat middle ground.

        1. Say what, now?*

          Actually, I think you hit upon a solution to the issue at hand. You could have people sign up to buy cookies and leave their contact numbers. The two people selling cookies could just split the list in half and both go from there. No visible competition, no active selling that would pressure colleagues who didn’t want to buy anything into buying things. Great idea, Featherless!

      1. Penny Lane*

        Featherless Biped – I wouldn’t like that solution. I like to do things efficiently, and having to listen to the GS do her spiel (because I’d feel compelled to be polite and let her do her thing) has just added a layer of complexity I don’t want to a process that I can easily take care of in one minute flat by jotting down my name, order and phone number/email when I’m in the break room. I wouldn’t appreciate people making what could be an easy “check one thing off my list” into a Thing.

        1. Miss Betty*

          We had a mother who just brought in boxes of cookies and set them on her desk, cash and carry. It was wonderful! The troop got funds and we got Thin Mints, no paperwork, no waiting. She took care of whatever necessary paperwork she had at home. Unlike just about anything else people might try to sell at work, Girl Scout Cookies basically sell themselves.

        2. Anion*

          Agreed. I hate to sound grinchy, but while I appreciate the idea behind making the kid do the work herself, I’m busy at home and would find this so unnecessarily complicated and time-consuming (and prone to error; what if she misspells something, or makes one mark when I wanted two, or whatever? I have no way to check that over the phone) that I would look elsewhere for my cookies.

          There should be plenty of opportunities for the child to learn to be independent and self-sufficient in her everyday life, honestly. If she’s at cookie-selling age she should already be on her way.

      2. Bea*

        Nooooo sales callsssss!!! I would loath this method. I know all about the cookies, it’s not a pitch, I know I want them, no selling involved.

        I like the person who took orders but had the girl deliver them at the office.

    6. Hobgoblin*

      Ugh yeah, that always bummed me out. My dad would go with me and another Girl Scout when we sold cookies. It was a really valuable experience and I’m glad my dad was willing to spend a few afternoons trudging around with us.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Here’s the thing: As a person actually delighted to buy Girlscout Thin Mint cookies (I assume they contain opium), but almost no other fundraising item, I don’t care about the personal growth experienced by someone attempting to try and sell me something. Either I want what they’re selling, or I don’t. Which is why the cookie booth outside a local business, the Boy Scout tree lot by the tire place, or the form at my husband’s office are ideal, and the door to door approach as off putting as it is for any other product. (Once or twice a year grown adults come to the door and ask me to sign off that they did so in a professional manner, as they turn their life around and take responsibility and so on. I don’t know what that’s about, but after the first one they got the “Not interested, closing door” response I give telemarketers.)

    8. Penny Lane*

      I can’t be bothered worrying about requiring the actual Girl Scout to ask me. If I want GS cookies, and there’s an order form in the break room, then I’ll grab my pen and order them. Life’s too short.

      And as for the “problem” of competing orders — the early bird gets the worm. If I already ordered my cookies from coworker A, well, I guess coworker B who puts the order form out a day later is out of luck.

    9. Gaia*

      Our office buys a lot of GS cookies. Both for the office as a whole and individuals buying from parents. We have a really solid system. The office admin finds out who has kids selling cookies and divides our office order evenly amongst them all. Then, each employee who wants to buy signs up with a total of boxes on a sheet and that gets divided among all the GS from the office. Then, the GS actually come into the office and deliver cookies and collect payment.

      Over the years this has worked really well to ensure we are not putting pressure on anyone to buy and also ensuring direct reports aren’t pressured to buying from their manager’s kid, etc (there was some weirdness early on. It was a thing). And we all get cookies – even if you don’t want to or can’t buy them yourself. Wins all around

    10. Z*

      So much this. It still irks me that Christy beat all of us every year b/c her daddy did the work for her. I had to walk door to door and do all the telephone sales, too. Mom would just hand me her phone book. I won’t buy for any Girl Scout who isn’t doing the selling herself. And I encourage the letter writer and coworkers to examine what their daughters gain by having the parents bring in the order forms.

      1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        The way I look at it, the value in buying GS cookies (or any other fundraising snack) isn’t to teach the kid X skills, it’s so their school or group actually has the funds to take the kids on a field trip or to camp or whatever the actual fundraiser is for. I couldn’t care less who’s doing the actual selling as long as the kids get what they are aiming for- especially when kids are fundraising for SCHOOL related activities, which should be covered by the damn school not having kids hustle door to door/in booths/in front of stores.
        *still miffed that Proposition 13 killed so much school funding and we stopped getting field trips and other fun extra curricular extras after 1978*

    11. Purple Jello*

      This was a problem. They’re not allowed to go door to door without an adult/responsible person. I was only available on weekends, and most of our neighbors had already been hit up for cookies. Plus then I’m the one who has to go back with the girls to deliver and pick up the funds. Same thing with booths. I didn’t have time to support them, and it seemed in our troops at least that if your daughter worked in a booth, that a parent had to be there.

      Much easier to leave the card at work on the table in the break room and let anyone who cared to sign up.

      On the other hand, I do get your point. When the daughter of the owner of the company I worked at started selling cookies, the orders to my girls went WAY down.

      1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        My mom hated these kinds of fundraisers for similar reasons. She was not ABOUT to let her elementary school kids go door to door by themselves due to the risks (this was the 1970s, it was expected kids would go alone) and hated having to waste HER time to go with us. She also felt that it was the responsibility of the school/org (and the adults in charge), not the kids & their families, and that the administrators who chose these methods were making other people do their work for them, as well as making them impose on family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers to buy expensive and overpriced candy or crap out of a sense of guilt or obligation.
        Now that I’m as old as she was then…I can’t say I disagree with her.

        1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          Oops forgot a line!
          *It was the responsibility of the school/org to raise their own funds and not pass the buck on to the kids & their families…

          In other words the head honchos are shirking the work responsibilities they have to provide funding and making the kids & their families provide that work for free.

    12. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I have a No Soliciting sticker on my door, if anyone comes to my door selling anything, I won’t open. Most likely won’t even come to the door. Mainly for the reason that I do not have the time or the energy to argue with whomever wants to sell me the Greatest Thing that I do not want it. Also, most of the people who come to my door want to tell me about our Lord Jesus Christ, and I am good on that front. Been there, done that, paid the dues, left 9 years ago. I imagine most people operate like that these days, so going door to door would be a waste of time. “Front of a grocery store” seems like a great alternative.

      1. Woahh*

        We have “no soliciting except for school or community products” sign. The people who are shilling for their personal deity see the no soliciting, and neighbors, the local troop, and the high schoolers in the next development seem to see the smaller print.

    13. Muriel Heslop*

      Totally agree! My dad was the boss so I wasn’t allowed to send my cookie sheet in with him – he said people would feel obligated. He made me go door-to-door in the snow. Alone. #gumption

      We have lots of kids go door-to-door in our neighborhood with wagons filled with cookies. A parent is usually tagging along. I always buy from them. At work, people just leave sheets in the breakroom and I occasionally will buy from kids I know personally.

    14. many bells down*

      Ugh I’m with you. I was a girl scout in the 70’s, when we still went door-to-door, and my parents insisted that I sell them myself because “builds character!” And yet, every year the awards went to the kids whose parents did all the selling for them. Soured me on the whole GSA experience, honestly.

      1. Anion*

        Yep, me too (among a few other things that soured me on GSA, but most of those had to do with my individual troop leader).

      2. PlainJane*

        Ditto. I still remember coming in second-place in the annual cookie sale competition – to a girl whose mother sold them for her. *grumble*

    15. Oxford Coma*

      Right? Everyone knows the smartest Girl Scouts get dropped off at the local colleges to walk the dorm hallways on Saturday nights. Munchies FTW.

      1. Woahh*

        Loved/hated when we lived in the Greek neighborhood. Apart from large amounts of chalking and party busses, the Girl Scouts knew to come during their chapter meetings and Thursday/Friday nights.

    16. Kathryn T.*

      Here’s the problem: nobody’s home during the day, and nobody wants to answer the door in the evening.

  7. Ramona Flowers*

    #3 It sounds like some other people ordered these desks, so could you ask around more generally to see if anyone has one they don’t actually want? Not everyone loves these (I couldn’t use a standing desk even if I wanted to for health reasons) so you might find there’s one going spare. That said, only ask if you can make it low key – if it’s a sore point due to them stopping then perhaps not.

    I would at least try to get your current workstation set up in the best possible way – check your monitor height and chair height for example. That can make a big difference.

    1. Say what, now?*

      It’s not the cheapest thing out there but there are a few you could purchase off of Amazon for around $100. I know it’s not ideal to be buying your own out of pocket but on the plus side, if you had to move again you’d be able to take it with you. Here’s one that looks to fit dual monitors:

      1. KayEss*

        My last workplace didn’t allow any purchases of office furniture outside of their approved (incredibly expensive) vendor, and included equipment converting a desk into a standing desk under that umbrella.

    2. Purplesaurus*

      This is a good suggestion. If allowed, and if you have the funds, you could also buy your own. There are some fairly inexpensive tabletop solutions.

    3. nonymous*

      when the ergonomics person came by, she just used books and paper reams to set the right heights. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

      1. teclatrans*

        I always used books and paper reams under my monitors (I am tall). But for standing height, that seems like a lot of unsecured items stacked in each other, with a pricey piece of electronics perched atop?

    4. machiamellie*

      My thought is for OP to just ask her manager for a new sit/stand apparatus at her new cube. Is there a reason she can’t do that?

      1. Coveredinbeeees*

        That’s what I was thinking. The letter writer should approach this in terms of “when I was in this office previously, I had a sit/stand desk that really helped my productivity/posture/stress/(insert reasons here). Is there a way that I could get one for my workstation now that I’m back?” and leave it up to the manager whether that means that the person who inherited the desk has to give it up, or they order a new one.

    5. Hey Nonnie*

      Wouldn’t ergonomic equipment fall under OSHA, though, if not ADA? Especially since there’s a pre-existing medical condition (the prior surgery) involved?

      Personally, I would ask my manager about it — framing it that way — before I’d ask the recipient of my old desk. If your current equipment is causing you pain (or other medical symptoms — for me, a straight, non-ergo keyboard will make my fingers tingle if I type on it long enough), that’s a problem, and I’d think it’s THEIR problem too, from a liability standpoint. As I recall, awareness of how office work puts a strain on the body really came to the forefront when carpal tunnel syndrome / repetitive stress injury got all over the news in the early 2000s.

      Also, while I’ve had some absolutely crappy employers, I’ve never had one say no to ergonomic equipment when I asked for it.

      1. Witty Nickname*

        Yes – my office started providing sit/stand desks for anyone who asked for them. But they only had a limited budget for them each year, so there was a long waiting list. The one way to get moved to the top of the list was to get a doctor’s note saying you needed one for medical reasons – my teammate got hers within a few days of making the request that way. I finally got one when we were acquired and had a huge number of layoffs, so suddenly there were a lot available.

  8. Fortitude Jones*

    I didn’t read #1 like the Michelle letter at all. Nothing in it indicated to me that the OP was switching up her appearance multiple times a day, just that some days her hair is long and others it’s short. If that’s the case and the extensions truly are blendable with OP’s natural hair color, then yeah, I don’t care how conservative the company is – the manager is totally out of line. It’s a weird thing to single somebody out for. Are they telling people with long hair not to wear their hair up in ponytails too because that presumably also changes the length and the look of the person’s hair and face. If the hair was some distracting color or somehow fell outside of a specific dress code policy, I’d get it. But this sounds like something else (strange and possibly petty) is going on here.

    1. paul*

      Yah. I don’t think it’s something I’d personally spend much capital on but I’m not particularly invested in my hair…but I definitely would think less of the manager for freaking out over it.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I would push back on it because a) my hair is none of anyone’s business, especially if they’re not paying for it and b) what other arbitrary thing is the manager going to make an issue out of next? And her flippant, “Well, we know it’s not real, so therefore, it’s inappropriate” bit probably would have gotten a, “Girl, what?!” out of me before I knew what I was saying because it’s so dumb. Like, who said that? Is that in some etiquette book I don’t know about?

        I’m sorry, but this manager has something against OP – this is not about hair. OP, I would ask her what her real problem is because I have a feeling that even if you do follow the directive to stop changing your hair on your own time, she’ll find something else to nitpick later.

        1. Emily Spinach*

          Like what if the letter writer wears mascara some days but not others and then people find out her eyelashes aren’t naturally that long? WHAT THEN??

          1. Lumen*

            Reminds me of the ‘makeup is FALSE ADVERTISING’ complaint we’ve all heard. Like… um… do you really think people have no pores and smokey eyelids? Is object permanence still just out of your grasp, too? Beauty products aren’t LITERAL magic.

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            Right? Or the manager just might decide makeup altogether is inappropriate since it’s not natural. It’s dumb. If she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t have to wear extensions like OP – problem solved. I’m just really struggling to see how any of this is the manager’s business.

          3. sam*

            even moreso, would they tell a man who wore a toupee the same thing?

            Or anyone who was wearing a wig because of hair loss?

          4. Lindsay J*

            Yeah. What if she paints her nails or gets tips sometimes but not others? OMG we all know that your nails aren’t really that color.

          5. Oxford Coma*

            I’m imagining LW maintaining steady eye contact with Wacky Manager while reaching down to snap the heels off her shoes, then saying gravely “NOW YOU KNOW MY TRUE HEIGHT.”

          6. RB*

            Or false eyelashes some days but not other days? Or padded bras some days and camisoles other days? I really hate this policing of women’s appearances.

        2. Trillion*

          What’s next? No acrylic nails? No lipstick? Why are you covering yourself in fabric?? We all know your skin isn’t blue polyester!

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            And no cast on that broken leg. Because you might take it off tomorrow. And then where would we all be? Won’t someone think of the children? Where can I get some pearls to clutch?

              1. eplawyer*

                You win.

                This is a weird problem the manager has. I would definitely push back — especially if there are demographic issues at play.

                Hair extensions made from real hair and a natural color? No problem. Fakey looking tacky ones well yes. Because tacky is never good for the office (I know, who decides?)

                1. Say what, now?*

                  I’m thinking it’s this rather than the manager having a personal vendetta. She thinks it’s tacky because the hair extensions she’s used to are the variety you’d find at a pop-up Halloween store. If she stepped back, understood the quality and disassociated from the idea that extensions are part of a costume she’d likely reach a different conclusion.

        3. LAM*

          Or if someone dyes their hair. Mine fades gradually so no one really notices until I show up after getting it redone.

          And the red I do just passes as natural, only because they don’t see how purple/cherry red it is outside (depending on the sun). Under our lights, it looks brownish-red.

        4. Colette*

          I would definitely not recommend asking the manager what her real problem is – that’s really combative and likely to cause problems for the OP.

        5. Say what, now?*

          Whoa, let’s not get the OP thinking that her manager is out to get her with only this as evidence. It might be that her manager is just someone who doesn’t understand what hair can mean to a person. Maybe she has some weird puritanical hair thing. If this is the only thing that your manager has said against you I wouldn’t go looking down that rabbit hole.

        6. Jadelyn*

          Are you telling me that I wasn’t born with holes in my earlobes from which I regularly hang shiny things to adorn myself? Quelle horreur!

          (Me being the petty jerk I can sometimes be, I’d be tempted to look over the manager’s personal presentation and start pointing out how much “not real” stuff is involved. Does she wear makeup? Perfume? Jewelry? I mean, if “we know it’s not real therefore it’s inappropriate” is the standard, wouldn’t we be able to take that to its furthest extreme and say that everyone must come to work in the nude with absolutely no adornment or grooming at all?)

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Is there a dress code in this place? If not, why does it matter who ‘knows’? Is it possible one person made a comment and this manager has blown it out of all proportion?

      Aside from a race issue I can think of lots of other reasons that would make this dicey to comment on (eg what if someone was recovering from cancer or a religious married Jewish woman who wears a sheitel) but even if it’s just because you want to then why on earth would anyone care?

      OP, you said it was *a* manager and not *your* manager – how senior is this person and what does your own manager think about it?

      1. Tuesday Next*

        Hehe yeah. “You are only allowed to wear that sheitel we interviewed you in. The shorter / longer / blonder one is off limits!”

    3. seejay*

      Yeah, this is where I am on this. If she’s not changing it in the middle of the day and is deciding in the morning on whether or not to put the extensions in, it’s no different on deciding to wear a hat one day and not on another, or wear big earrings one day and tiny studs, or glasses vs contacts. Some people like to change their hairstyle up a bit with a bit of hair additions and IMO, extensions aren’t that big of a deal especially if they’re the same colour (and natural to boot).

      Someone in the office has a bug up their butt about it.

      1. many bells down*

        My hair is really fine – but it’s also really curly. When it was long, and I wore it down, I appeared to have a *spectacular* amount of hair. But, pulled up into a bun or a twist, with all the volume compressed out of it, it looks like I have about 1/3 the amount of hair. I could see someone thinking that I’d “augmented” my hair on days it was down, because the difference is so much.

      2. Bostonian*

        I feel the same way- it’s not any more obvious/distracting than wearing an updo one day, followed by wearing it down the next, OR glasses vs. contacts.

    4. Yada Yada Yada*

      I think it really depends where you live and what caliber company you work for, in addition to industry. I can see it being kinda unprofessional. Can’t really articulate why, and I wouldn’t tell an employee to stop doing it, but it comes off as a no-no to me for some reason.

      1. Lumen*

        I think that is why it needs to be questioned, though.

        Disclaimer first, I am not suggesting that you (or the OP’s office!) has this specific problem, and I don’t mean to get off topic, but it reminds me of a friend who has been doing a podcast with her mom, and one of the things they’re getting into a lot is white privilege. They had a conversation where her mom said something similar about people wearing religious headcoverings. Her mom couldn’t really explain why, but it bothered her, it seemed like a bad idea, it made her uncomfortable, et cetera. So her daughter (my friend) pressed her, and asked ‘why’ a lot, and they worked out where those feelings were coming from and whether or not they were a valid reason to treat someone differently or make rules about who can wear what on their heads.

        This doesn’t mean her mom is a terrible horrible no-good very-bad person, or that we are all secretly terrible horrible no-good very-bad people if we go “whoa, that seems weird to me”. It just means that we need to ask ourselves ‘WHY does this thing seem weird to me’? Not under the assumption that we are wrong to be bothered, but that we should be able to articulate why rather than just going with what our emotions are urging on us. Going with our gut is for making personal decisions… not for rules imposed on others. For that, we need to dig in and figure it out.

        Again… this is not in any way meant as an attack on you, Yada Yada Yada! Or the OP’s workplace. Just a general explanation of why I think it’s important for us to examine these reactions we have.

        1. Yada Yada Yada*

          Yes, I hear you and you raise good points for sure. If a man wore shorts to work, it would be noticed! But then again, women can wear skirts. So why can’t a man wear shorts. I don’t know! Somehow shorts are seen as too informal, especially on men, but we don’t have a good reason why. So I do take your point that there are many biases at play when it comes to hair and women, especially with race and religion as factors, too. I’m not saying that can’t be at play. But couldn’t it also be that hair extensions in this example are the equivalent of male shorts?

          1. Say what, now?*

            Men don’t shave their leg hair and most women do, I’m guessing that’s why. Just like many offices ask men to be clean-shaven or groom the heck out of their facial hair. Perhaps if they used beard wax to keep their leg hair in place it would be more professional?

            In seriousness, I can think of one reason but it may not even apply to the OP’s job. If this is a service role where people come in ask a question, get an answer and then come back to follow up they may not remember her name. It may be that they’re saying “I was helped by a woman with short hair last time” but then it’s a question of was OP wearing her extensions or not that day, or could it have been someone else? But if that were the case why wouldn’t the manager cite that as the reason?

            1. Penny Lane*

              I think the comment about “hair extensions being the equivalent of male shorts” was meant to be conceptual, not a literal statement about how men don’t shave leg hair and women do.

              I can articulate why it seems unprofessional. Within the bounds of an upper middle class white milieu, at least, hair extensions are seen as things that kind-of-giggly, not-very-bright girls – the kinds of girls who idolize the Kardashians — think are really kewl and use to change their appearance. So they might be “forgiven” if they put them in and keep them in – but to take them off and on implies a kind of bubble-headedness. That’s why I think in a professional, upper middle class white milieu, the off-and-on comes across as unprofessional.

              I’m not saying I agree or disagree with this — but I think that is the general viewpoint in a more conservative professional setting. (And personal styles do have connotations — that’s why no one thinks full sleeve tattoos and multiple face piercings is a great look for the aspiring professional, though it may be just fine for the aspiring artist or musician.)

              I also want to be clear I am talking about “white norms.” I don’t pretend to know the cultural implications or ramifications for black women.

              Now, IS it actually unprofessional? I guess this gets into a larger statement about the extent to which one’s appearance varies day by day. No one seems to take offense if a woman wears her hair up in a ponytail or bun one day and down the next, or if she has pink nail polish one day and beige the next, but those are seen as changes that take a minimum amount of time and could easily be worked into a normal grooming ritual. Interestingly enough, women in the 60’s used to change their hair styles using wigs. There is a lot to think about here in terms of norms.

              1. Here Comes the Snide*

                I’d just like to say that the Kardashians have figured out how to market themselves and make a shit ton of money. They’ve given up a lot of privacy in exchange for this, but they seem fine with that. I don’t begrudge anyone idolizing them.

                1. NaoNao*

                  Thank you!! I personally am on the “let ’em live and have fun, life’s short” side and I tell people “If you idolize Wall Street Wolves, but not the Kardashians, or “hate” the Kardashians, you’re being sexist.” Most of their fame and fortune is built on their beauty/looks and their fashion and makeup/ perfume empire, and you know what? That’s okay!! Just because women are doing it in a traditionally female space doesn’t make it hateable.

                2. Penny Lane*

                  I don’t dislike the Kardashians because they built their empire on fashion/beauty/makeup. I have no problem with women doing that and I participate in the fashion/beauty/makeup industry myself. I dislike them because I find them vapid. Big, big difference. There’s nothing “sexist” about my dislike of them, at all.

              2. CmdrShepard4ever*

                I have to disagree with you about no one thinking full sleeve tattoos and face piercings are a great look for the aspiring professional. If they are competent, work hard and have good references I mostly don’t care what they look like. I will say the kind of tattoos the person has matters, for example if they had graphic, violent, or sexually explicit tattoos I would not hire them. Also if I am hiring for a front line position that deals with customers/vendors who I know are more conservative I might be more hesitant in hiring them.

              3. Anion*

                Hmm. I don’t know that I agree, necessarily, re the “Kardashian connection,” but I DO see how someone repeatedly changing from extensions to not-extensions could be seen as frivolous, or as if her personal appearance was maybe too important to her? Or maybe just kind of flighty and unserious?

                But I also note that her letter says her extensions are obvious because she couldn’t “grow a foot of hair overnight.” So I’m kind of wondering if the extensions themselves might just be kind of unprofessional? How long are they, you know? Dyed to match or not, we don’t actually know how these extensions look, and if they really look as polished and professional as the OP thinks. I know we’re supposed to take the LWs at face value, but in this case it is possible that the issue isn’t extensions themselves, but something about these particular extensions. Clip-ins usually aren’t used to create a lot of length like the OP describes because it’s hard to put that many of them in and have them look natural, much less natural and professional enough for the office. How short is the OP’s natural hair? Is there maybe an obvious line of demarcation in the back, or a spot where the clips are visible, or something? Usually for length-creating extensions you need to trim and shape them in for them to look natural, too. I’ve worn clip-ins, and I’ve worn nano ring extensions; each of them have a different look/use and each of them have different types of challenges to get them to look right (and to be maintained properly).

                I’m not saying that the OP doesn’t know what her extensions really look like (I don’t know, they could look fantastic and the mgr is just jealous or nitpicky), just that it is *possible* that they don’t look as natural and nice as she thinks they do, and the manager here is trying to find a way to get her to stop wearing them without having to come out and tell the OP that they don’t look right.

                1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  I know a number of people who have used clip in extension strips to add length to their hair, and they look fabulous- totally natural in color and blending. They were real human hair like OP describes hers, they were bought in a set, and very much meant to lengthen a full head of hair. One friend had any number of both false & real hairpieces that she wore both to work and to events, they allowed her to keep her hair at a manageable daily length & style while having the versatility of very long hair. She took good care of them, they lasted for years, and never looked cheap, fake, or ratty.

              1. NaoNao*

                I think visible body hair, yes. Visible body hair is usually something only your doctor or your intimates see, or is only visible during sports or very casual times (summer time sundress shows underarms, bathing suit shows leg hair).

                *Having* body hair isn’t the issue. It’s the visibility of it. It…brings to mind the body itself in sort of a forceful way.

                “Professional” dress is meant to erase your individuality and create a polished, sleek, almost “sexless” presentation. Body hair, although it’s great and we all love it, and you do you, doesn’t meet that brief.

                1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  If visible body hair is an issue no one ever told me about it. I’ve had visible body hair my entire life. I wear short sleeves to work on Fridays and show off my arm hair, and I have never covered my head when work or shaved it completely bald. I have never seen anyone completely cover up all visible body hair, I have seen almost all of my coworkers head full of hair.

                2. Lora*

                  Heh, I was thinking more along the lines of unbuttoned shirt with some gold chains on it. Arm hair is OK but I want to not see chest or back hair. Understand that it may be unavoidable for certain individuals, but trying counts for a lot on that score.

                3. Delphine*

                  I have super dark arm hair (thank you, South Asian heritage)–do I need to shave that to be professional?

                4. Genevieve*

                  The problem with accepting these professional dress norms without question is there are many people whose bodies are inherently outside the normal presentation. There are people who think natural black hair isn’t polished or sleek enough, there are people who think big boobs aren’t polished or sleek or “sexless” enough—but a black person should not have to put chemicals on their head, and a person with a large bust shouldn’t be expected to go to insane lengths minimizing them. I find this entire paradigm very…strange. We have bodies. It makes me think of them MORE to try and hide them. If I had a boss, say, who was very strict about body hair, I would 1) be annoyed, 2) be on the lookout for other subtle or not subtle sexism, and 3) be weirded out thinking about how much they were thinking about my leg hair or whatever

                5. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  Genevieve, out of nesting- but if I had a boss that was concerned about my body hair in any way, I’d tell them to EFF OFF. (For the record, I am a female human, and have not shaved legs or pits for more than 30 years.) Its none of their GD business how much body hair I do or do not have, and as long as what I am wearing is not violating any other dress code rules I won’t cover it up either. (Like if sleeveless is allowed I would refuse to either shave or put on sleeves if someone was unhappy over my armpit hair.)
                  No employer gets that much say over your body. PERIOD.

            2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              But so what? OP (or anyone else) could have totally natural butt length hair then decide to get a pixie cut, and it would have the same effect. Or if they dyed their hair a drastically different (but still work acceptable) color, or wore makeup/contacts/glasses some times but not always. I used to have a boyfriend that looked astonishingly different every time he *shaved*, and I mean friends of mine who’d only seen him numerous times with a 5 o’clock shadow were totally confused the first time they saw him fully clean-shaven (and he had quite distinctive hair & style!)
              I mean you can’t tell people “you can only wear contacts OR glasses because customers might not remember you” or “you can’t grow 5 o’clock shadow because the morning people don’t recognize you at the end of the day” would be ridiculous and overstepping, so how is the extension thing any different?

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            We have had great discussions here on the mystery of dress suit shorts for women. I believe some poor sales clerk at Penney’s got sent home because it was “unprofessional” even though she had bought them in the business suit section of that very store.

            1. Eye of Sauron*

              Penny’s used to have an extremely strict dress code. I worked at one in the early 90’s while in HS.

              Dress shoes, pantyhose, skirts/dresses for women
              Dress pants/shoes, button down shirt (maybe tie) for men

              It doesn’t surprise me at all to hear that someone was sent home for dress shorts.

            2. DumbQuestion*

              Way back in the olden days of 2006/2007 these types of suits were a thing at NY&Co. Someone wearing them resulted in our dress code being modified to explicitly state no shorts.

          3. SarahTheEntwife*

            Women generally can’t wear shorts either except in very informal offices. They’re not equivalent to skirts.

              1. Justme, The OG*

                That depends, is it a skort where you see the shorts in the back, or a skort where the shorts are completely hidden under the fabric of the skirt? And are shorts worn under skirts unprofessional?

          4. Purplesaurus*

            I remember this coming up on this site before, and someone said shorts are generally considered informal because they’re something only children wear (or only children used to wear, in a by-gone time).

            1. Yada Yada Yada*

              That’s it!! I remember this. There’s all sorts of norms in offices related to dress that don’t always make sense, that doesn’t mean they’re malicious

            2. Loose Seal*

              That’s funny because if TV or film wanted to show a hot delivery guy, it would almost always be a UPS guy in the brown shorts rather than, say, a really attractive guy in whatever it is the postal service wears today. So it’s funny to think that shorts aren’t considered professional but one company has made them so ubiquitous to their brand that it shows up in our media.

            1. SusanIvanova*

              Utilikilts are a fairly common sight in Silicon Valley. If I wore skirts, I’d pick those, because pockets!

          5. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            I don’t see men wearing shorts as the equivalent of women wearing skirts, though, but as the equivalent of a woman also wearing shorts. A woman wearing a skirt is the equivalent of a man also wearing a skirt (and I see zero reason for men not to wear skirts. Clothing doesn’t actually have a gender.)
            And there is zero reason for OP not to wear extensions.

          1. Here Comes the Snide*

            Because we have been culturally conditioned to accept any minor facial flaws men have and look past them.

            1. Koko*

              As it turns out, make-up is less about correcting flaws and more about, well…the next time you have sex, check out your face in the mirror right afterwards. That’s the look make-up is trying to mimic.

              1. Whiplash*

                My face after sex definitely does not look like my makeup face. My after sex face is generally a sweaty mess with mascara all over the place. It’s definitely not one with cat eye liner or golden eye shadow. I wear makeup to correct flaws and try out wild eyes hadow colors.

                1. Loose Seal*

                  Why do you think they developed smokey eye? Or smudgy black eyeliner on the lower lid? Lip plumpers? Those definitely mimic the sex-after-clubbing look.

                  I’m a sweaty mess afterward too. In the makeup industry, though, they call that dewy or something.

          2. NaoNao*

            Well, and men usually have more prominent and highly colored facial features, so their naturally long eyelashes (gr!) and darker lips, or naturally “shadowed” eyes by their cranial ridge, sort of is “nature’s makeup”. :)

            1. Cornflower Blue*

              Boys definitely look hotter with makeup. But if they wore it to office, they’d definitely be considered unprofessional over in my workplace, alas.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        In what industry is having, let’s say, chin length brown hair on Monday and then bra strap length brown hair on Friday unprofessional though? All that changed was the length – it’s no different than if OP was getting haircuts. I’ve worked in conservative fields at Big Name companies, and none of them would care about this. Would you get the side-eye if you came in with neon hair? Absolutely, but that’s not what’s happening here. OP seems to be making very minor, mundane changes to her appearance, and the boss is acting like she came to work naked.

        1. Yada Yada Yada*

          I totally agree with you that it shouldn’t be a big deal. But I don’t agree when you say you can’t think of an industry where it would be noticed. A top law firm in a large city, big banks, etc, it would be noticed

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            I worked in a large law firm with major banks as our clients (e.g. JPMorgan Chase, BOA) in a business casual environment like the OP states she works in. Many of us changed the length of our hair regularly – it wasn’t a big deal. Now, if we came in with technicolor hair, I’m pretty sure we’d get spoken to and told to fix it. But length was not something most people noticed or cared to comment on if they did (unless it was to ask where you got it done if they liked the look).

            I get that there are firms where appearance matters, but those places typically have strict dress code policies, and if OP’s workplace was one such place, she and her boss would have mentioned it. But since boss’s reasoning basically amounted to, “I just don’t like it, so quit wearing extensions,” I think OP is totally in the right to challenge that notion and ask why. If her hair isn’t breaking any documented rules or hindering her ability to perform her job, the boss needs to get over herself and let this go.

            1. Yada Yada Yada*

              Yes, OP can definitely challenge this and I don’t agree with her boss on this, it’s also interesting to hear your experiences. This kind of blew up, my initial intention was to point out that, from my personal experience, clip in extensions changed out frequently are not considered the norm in many office environments. Maybe it was too blunt. From my experiences, it’s just not a common thing for white women to do, although I do realize that every office is different

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                But as someone pointed out below, unless you’re running your hands through the head of every white woman you’ve ever met, you don’t know that it’s uncommon. Some people are better than others at blending hair so it matches, and that’s what OP says she’s doing.

                1. Yada Yada Yada*

                  You’d notice with your coworkers and friends, because on Wednesday suddenly they’d gain 5 inches and lose them again by Thursday. Walking down the street, sure, you wouldn’t be able to tell on a stranger

                2. Yada Yada Yada*

                  My comment somehow disappeared so sorry if this is a double post. I said clip in extensions changed out frequently are unusual in my experience. And the reason you’d know isn’t by running my fingers through friends’ and workers’ hair, it would be due to the noticeable fluctuation in length on a day to day basis. Although yes, walking down the street I have no clue if a stranger is wearing extensions

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  If I’m reading the letter correctly, the OP is losing a foot of hair one day and then adding it back the next. So I don’t think we can argue that it’s not noticeable; it sounds like she’s saying that it is very noticeable.

                  It’s the frequent, noticeable changes that’s the part that’s less common. It’s not about whether extensions, in general, are uncommon. I’ve edited my answer in the post to try to make that point clearer.

                  (And to be clear, I’m not arguing in favor of the manager’s stance — just trying to clarify where it might make sense to focus the debate.)

                4. Temperance*

                  Not calling OP out on this, but I have seen many other white women with obvious extensions that they thought were blended well when it actually looked kind of like a mullet.

                5. Penny Lane*

                  Fortitude, you’re right I wouldn’t know if the woman on the street had hair extensions. But I can see that while my coworker could have had 5 inches of her hair cut off overnight, she didn’t grow 5 inches of hair overnight. In other words, it’s not the PRESENCE of the extensions – it’s the off-and-on nature that is what is being noticed.

                6. Anion*

                  @Temperance That’s what I’ve been wondering, too (and I wrote a longer comment about that above, before I saw yours).

                  I’ve worn extensions numerous times, both clip-ins and nano rings, and there’s a reason clip-ins aren’t usually used to create that kind of length.

              2. Lovelycakes*

                I have work with someone who chalks/dyes strips of color into their hair. It changes often, although she does uses colors of the same family. It’s a large fortune100company, she is not in a client facing position, and it’s fine. Last year she was included in a video that promoted team culture.

                1. Say what, now?*

                  I think norms are absolutely shifting. I just don’t think they’re shifting at the same rate between different areas of the country/globe or different industries. Some areas are slower to accept new aesthetics.

              3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                The overwhelming majority of women I know who have used hairpieces or extensions (clip in or otherwise) are white. And wear them to the office. I would be suspicious that any place that frowned on them had an underlying current of racism, sexism, and/or classism.

          2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            But again, so what? I’m failing to see why coming in with the same conservative brunette hair every day (that just happened to be longer or shorter on some days) is in any way non-professional or note worthy in some way that would or even COULD be detrimental to business. I mean would you really even want to deal with customers or clients who are going to freak out if Jane from sales gets her butt length hair cut to a short bob or a pixie?
            Nobody should have that much control over how other people are “allowed” to look- NOBODY.

        2. Birch*

          I’m wondering if it’s the length that makes it a problem, because of some weird idea about long hair behind seen as more vain in our culture. OP said it changes the length by “a foot”, so it could be chin length hair one day vs. rib cage length hair, or it could be already super long hair vs. Magical Rapunzel looking hair. I could see either of those situations being a little off putting at first for someone who doesn’t get the same enjoyment out of hairstyling, but in any case the boss needs to realize they can’t control everyone’s appearances to their own ideal.

          1. Cousin Itt*

            I was also wondering if perhaps it’s the length that’s the issue. I could see super long waist/butt length hair being considered unprofessional in some settings, especially if it’s worn loose rather than tied back. Uncommonly long hair would also make the comment about everyone knowing it’s not real make more sense.

            1. Cornflower Blue*

              Cultural norms are fascinating. I live in a country where super long hair is the norm – I am the only woman on my floor (out of about 40) who has short hair. Everyone else has hair at least to their shoulderblades or waist, and more than 10 people have hair long enough to sit on.

              I think the only reason I’m even allowed to get away with short hair is because I only recently moved to this country so i’m getting the “she’s a foreigner, she doesn’t know our norms” treatment. Though I have had a lot of people hinting I should grow my hair out even though it’s far too hot for me to do that.

              Basically, short hair here is considered unprofessional/’trashy’. Long hair is a sign of dedication and commitment because let’s face it, long hair takes AGES to wash.

              Hair extensions and hair poofs (you put them into your buns) are relatively common here though, but slightly frowned upon. Hair being naturally long is vastly preferred. The OP would be getting in trouble for having short hair, over here, and be encouraged to keep the extensions in all the time to look more ‘professional’.

        3. sunny-dee*

          My first thought is that the OP isn’t fastening the extensions as well as she thinks. I have some friends who can do amazing things with their hair and makeup … and others who think they can but really cannot. At all.

          If the OP’s hair looks natural (and there isn’t some sort of weird effect going on like from buzzed head to waist-length hair), then the manager is way out of line. However, it could be that the “we all know it’s not natural” comment means … they can really, really, really tell that she’s using “amateur” extensions, and it looks bad or unprofessional.

          1. Meeps*

            This was my thought too, honestly we have a girl at work in that situation. I don’t think anyone has or needs to say anything to her as we’re a very casual office, but it is incredibly obvious when she is wearing her extensions vs when she’s not, and in a bad way.

        4. Arjay*

          We had an executive assistant to our C-suite leader who would change her look multiple times a week via wigs, extensions, styling, and color, and it was odd. None of the looks on their own was too extreme, but the variety and inconsistency was unsettling. It seemed … flighty? And as a representative of our leader and team, I do feel it left a strange impression.
          I confess I’m not good with faces to begin with, but it would seem strange, if I were here for a multi-day meeting, to be greeted by the same person who looked drastically different from day to day. I might not even be sure it was the same person.

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            One of my close friends had a *therapist* that only wore wigs and changed styles/colors/lengths all the time (note: if it bothered someone, she always wore the same wig afterwards.) My friend actually thought it was really awesome and it made her much more comfortable with her.

            My grandmother was a hairdresser (from the 1920s to the 1960s) my mom was a bottle blonde from age 12, almost everybody I knew went to beauty school to learn hair or nails. I am used to being around women & men who change their appearance all the time. I think that the idea of not taking someone seriously because they like to have fun with their hair or change it a lot to be totally bizarre. Why would that have ANYTHING to do with their ability to buckle down & work, or act polite and professional? What does it have to do with their output, capability, skills? Why do people take HAIR so damn seriously, rather than a person’s actual qualifications? I am baffled!

      3. Emily Spinach*

        Does it seem more unprofessional than other day to day changes related to appearance, like changing hair colors or styling your hair very differently day to day? I worry that the “unprofessional” vibe might correlate strongly with “feminine, cares about her appearance,” and I think if that is the case, it’s people’s views of “professional” that need changing, not her habits for doing her hair.

        1. Yada Yada Yada*

          Yeah, I’m not really sure why and people bring up all good points. I commented on the thread below before I saw these responses. At least for white women, I think that hair extensions have become popular relatively recently, which makes them more “trendy” than some of the other day to day changes you might make. I’m sure there’s also incorrect assumptions about vanity at play too. I’m not saying “ba humbug, I hate it when people wear hair extensions!” When done well I think they’re pretty and I would love to have longer hair myself. But even outside of work, I feel like clip-in type extensions are not universally accepted as a common thing for white women to do. It’s not like I would gasp and clutch my pearls, it’s just mildly to moderately unexpected in my experience. And I consider myself young and relatively hip, if that helps!

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I suspect there are many more white women around you wearing extensions than you realize.

              1. Yada Yada Yada*

                Yes, but not clip-ins that are worn some days and not others. But other more long-term extensions are definitely common, and I think rightly or wrongly they would get a different reaction in the workplace

              2. Gen*

                Yeah I’m with you PCBH on this. I’ve worked in majority white offices for 15 years and clip in hair extensions of this kind have been common across various industries- international banking, high value vehicle financing, government, charity. I know teachers and lawyers who wear them regularly. Normal ring bound extensions were much more common even than that, and in many cases you wouldn’t spot them unless the person told you. Most salons specialising here have offered them since the early 00’s so I really wouldn’t say they’re new or especially trendy

                1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  Pretty much the same experience here. Add a number of women in the underground music scene creating fabulous, eclectic hairdos with extensions of all kinds- for at least the last 20 years!

              3. Birch*

                This is why I think the actual length is possibly the issue. Well done extensions aren’t noticeable, except that many people use them to create super long hair that’s much fuller than a single head of real hair is at that length–it’s the fullness, not the color or application that gives it away. It’s a really obvious look and very classically feminine, and I think that’s the source of the “unprofessional” comment because it links the OP with young women who care about their appearance–three characteristics that are historically “unprofessional” (which is gross, of course).

              4. Jenny*

                I’m not saying nobody wears extensions, just that they aren’t the norm. And certainly not a style that makes their hair noticeably different on a day-to-day basis.

            2. K.*

              Not among the white women that I know. And really, white women have been wearing fake hair for decades. Not all those beehives in the 50s were home grown.

            3. Shop Girl*

              I live in a very mixed cultural and racial area. It is so common to see women of color with different extensions that it is unnoticed when their hair styles change often. White women might wear weaved extensions that you don’t notice but almost never change their hair length frequently with clip ins. It would be close to being called cultural appropriations if they did.

              1. sunny-dee*

                Yeah, the only time I can ever think of any of my friends wearing clip-in hair extensions is when they were going for an elaborate hairstyle (like for a wedding) and needed the extra length. And even that is really rare. It’s certainly not a daily thing.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                i think it depends on where you live and your industry, to a certain degree. Most white women I know routinely wear extensions (weave and clip ins) for length or for added volume.

                But there are certainly some who use their extensions (or wigs) to change length faster than a person could grow out their hair. They don’t do it every other day (unless you’re a Kardashian), but many of the folks I’ve seen switch it up biweekly to monthly.

                I think there are two distinct issues: whether it’s common for white women to wear extensions, and whether the frequency of length changes is an issue. I’m mostly pushing back on #1 because, from my experience, a significant number of white women (including fairly conservative and high-positioned women) wear clip and weave extensions.

                I think the frequency issue could matter depending on the job and workplace culture. But I’m not immediately sold on the manager’s rationale, especially if the work dress standard is casual.

              3. Fortitude Jones*

                It would be close to being called cultural appropriations if they did.

                No it wouldn’t. Cultural appropriation regarding hairstyles have nothing to do with length but with taking traditionally black hairstyles like, for example, Bantu knots that come from very specific African tribes and then calling them something else to be trendy.

        2. all aboard the anon train*

          Definitely. There’s still a tendency for more stereotypically feminine women to be viewed as shallow or high maintenance because they spend time on their appearance. It falls into the tendency for some people to assume a woman wearing makeup and a dress is less competent than a woman wearing jeans and a t-shirt, or that a woman is only putting time into her appearance to attract a certain type of attention.

          It makes me sad that in 2018 women are still judged for their appearance, regardless of what that fashion may be. It says more about the person doing the judging, I think.

          1. Yada Yada Yada*

            Unfortunately it’s the other way around, too. If you don’t do your hair and makeup, studies show you’re perceived as less competent. But as you bring up, people don’t want you to look like you’re trying “too hard” either. We can’t win!

            1. Marillenbaum*

              Or your boss tells you still look sick! Thanks, professor, that was just what I needed that day.

            2. Lissa*

              Yeah, you’re supposed to be “polished”. Conventionally attractive, but don’t look like you put any effort into being so. Must look feminine but not girly. Hair can’t be cut like a guy would, but can’t be too fussy either. Have skin without blemishes, but no obvious makeup

              (not that I’m bitter.)

              1. AKchic*

                We can’t win for trying. It’s never good enough (or enough in general). We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
                Too little make-up and we’re obviously depressed or ill.
                Too much make-up and we’re trying too hard or must have a “hot date” or trying to impress someone.
                Each person has their own standard of “just right” and it of course varies, but they each grade us when they deem it appropriate (which we never ask for) and remind us that “that’s perfect. Do it that way from now on” even though we’ve already received comments about it being too much/too little already that day.

                Did everyone note that at no time did we ever solicit an opinion on our make-up at any time? Yeah… we didn’t, but nobody noticed, nor did they care.
                Some days – smacking people with hard, full make-up cases is a serious fantasy of mine.

        3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          I don’t find it any more or less professional than wearing different CLOTHES every day.

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Could you elaborate on the “caliber of the company” or the “industry” element?

        I’ve seen people change hair length in conservative offices in pretty disparate geographies, and it definitely wasn’t seen as unprofessional. But then again, I’ve seen several federal judges do the same. The only distinction, in my experience, is that this criticism is leveraged disproportionately at women.

        So I’m trying to figure out if extension-changing is truly industry/geographically dependent, or if this is about an embedded/implicit bias that has to do with how we perceive women in the workplace. (I’m not arguing that that’s why you hold your opinion! Just trying to suss out the underlying rationale.)

        1. Yada Yada Yada*

          Industry, such as generally less accepted in law and more accepted at something like a startup, as Alison pointed out. By caliber I meant that a small family accounting firm in Pittsburg generally will be more lax than one of the Big 4 firms in NYC. I have friends who are discouraged from wearing cardigans to work because they’re not “professional enough.” So I really do think that there are some workplaces where having a different length of hair during the same week would be seen unfavorably in light of this! Although I do take your point that there are many more places than I realize where this would be no big deal. And don’t hate me, but I’m going to play devils advocate: if a man drastically changed his hair length every day, that would be looked at just the same, if not criticized more, than if I did it! Generally of course women are much more criticized appearance-wise at work, but we actually have much more room for variation when it comes to hair length, and typically hair in general

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            And don’t hate me, but I’m going to play devils advocate: if a man drastically changed his hair length every day, that would be looked at just the same, if not criticized more, than if I did it!

            Somehow I doubt this. Most people would probably chalk this up to the quirk of the male in question, but wouldn’t say a word about it because society as a whole gives men more leeway with how they present themselves. We may have more options as women, but that just opens us up to more scrutiny and vanity accusations.

            1. Yada Yada Yada*

              You are right that more variation opens the door to criticism, but I find the rest of that statement to be ridiculous. Brian from IT has hair to his ears Monday, shows up Tuesday with it down to his shoulders and you don’t think people would be whispering by the water cooler? Maybe I’m missing a joke? Women totally get heaps more criticism than men, but come on

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                Whispering by a watercolor is not the same as having someone, particularly a manager, come to you face to face and tell you explicitly to stop wearing your hair a certain way. Any time anyone makes a noticeable change to their appearance, I fully expect people will talk – that’s human nature. But would he actually be punished for it or called to task? It’s doubtful.

                1. Yada Yada Yada*

                  Agree to disagree on that one! Poor Brian would be in the bathroom unclipping his luscious locks faster than the morning pot of coffee ran out

              2. SarahTheEntwife*

                Yeah, in some ways in a very conservative environment a man might be more strongly criticized. That kind of attention to personal appearance feminine-coded enough that unless Brian is high-enough up to be untouchable, he’s at the very least going to be called out socially.

            2. MK*

              Eh, no. It’s true that men’s appearance doesn’t get the attention women’s does. But a man changing his hair length from day to day would probably be seen as a weirdo by the same people who think a woman doing it is inappropriate.

              1. Anion*

                Yes, the idea that men are never criticized or judged for their appearance, and that a man could change his hair length every day and no one would bat an eyelash, is a bit much.

                And I’ve known workplaces where facial hair was/is not allowed, hair longer than a certain length is not allowed, etc. A man in one of those environments could get spoken to for wearing a too-loud shirt or the wrong shoes, and called out for it by people who would never make the same sort of comment to a woman lest they be considered sexist.

            3. Penny Lane*

              I completely disagree that society as a whole gives me more leeway with how they present themselves.

              You know how there is that No-Shave November thing? I have many male friends / colleagues who participate – but they all feel compelled to “explain” that this is why they aren’t shaving and we notice their appearance is different. I don’t know any women who feel compelled to “explain” that they are highlighting their hair more blonde than normal, or wearing their hair in a ponytail one day and down the next.

          2. OskiEsque*

            I’ve worked as an attorney for 2 AmLaw 100 firms and extensions would have never EVER been an issue. Good grief. The legal profession is generally more conservative, but it’s not unreasonable when it comes to one’s appearance. Big law firms have all sorts of issues, but this is not of them.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yeah—I’m surprised by the argument that this wouldn’t be normal in a top BigLaw firm in a big city. Certainly changing your extensions every day would be odd, but changing your length weekly wouldn’t be abnormal, and clip-in extensions are pretty common among white female lawyers.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I agree that that would be odd in a more formal office. But if they changed weekly or biweekly, I think OP might even pass conservative industry standards. So if the issue is frequency, then I think it’s worth it for her to negotiate on that specific aspect of the request.

                2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  Well, clip ins by nature are removed at night, so she might just be wearing them part time, on days she has the extra time or has planned ahead. I still don’t see why that’s a problem, as long as it otherwise meets whatever rules they have in place for hair.
                  One of my office friends used to wear her clip ins to work on days she wanted to look extra dressy/sleek/professional- like for an important meeting or presentation. Her real hair wasn’t quite long or full enough for a classic chignon or updo but with the hairpiece/s they worked, and since she always looked
                  impeccable no one ever knew unless she told them.

            2. Penny Lane*

              Oski, the argument being made here isn’t that it’s a Big Deal to wear extensions in a conservative workplace. The argument being made here is that it is unusual for them to be **changed out** on a frequent or daily basis so that the wearer’s hair fluctuates dramatically day to day.

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                But if the only thing changing is the length, and it’s otherwise conforming to office rules, why would even a dramatic change make a difference?

      5. TrainerGirl*

        Is this the same type of “unprofessional” that I’ve often been told about, being a POC and wearing my hair in its natural state? Someone said this very thing to me…that they couldn’t articulate why, but wearing my hair straight, rather than it’s natural curly state was more professional. This is a very slippery slope.

        1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          Yeah I am sniffing something unpleasant in the “unprofessional” argument as well.

    5. Katastrophreak*

      This feels weird to me, too. I’ve had long wavy hair to short straight hair in several colors from white – blond to deep auburn at work and never been told it was inappropriate to change it from day to day.

      The only time I had hair restrictions was when working around food, and that was “braid it and wear a net”.

      1. sunny-dee*

        But were you changing it that dramatically several times a week? I think a dramatic change that you stick to is very different than frequent dramatic changes.

        1. Arjay*

          I agree with this. I’ll get a foot of hair cut off for donation and it’s drastic, but it doesn’t change again until it grows out another foot before the next big cut.

        2. Katastrophreak*

          Well, yes. Straightening it added 2″-4″. Bleaching it changed the color significantly. Coloring also changed the color. A layer cut highlighted the waves. Curling it gave it a much different look. Adding makeup or jewellery or changing my part was enough to get me a double take. This seems micro-manage-y.

    6. Jenny*

      Yeah, I was one of relatively few readers who thought the Michelle thing was odd and distracting instead of cool, and this seems very different to me. Unless she normally has a pixie cut and the extensions go to her waist, I agree that this isn’t a big departure from normal hairstyling habits. Are employees also forbidding from curling their hair on some days but not others?

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, if it turns out OP is changing her hair throughout the day, I would find it odd just like I found Michelle’s behavior odd. And I say that as someone who gets a new hairstyle every two to four weeks on average out of sheer boredom (and because my hair is fabulous and can do pretty much anything and look good). But I still wouldn’t think it rose to the level of an outright ban unless it was somehow affecting her job performance. Is she spending hours in the bathroom playing with her hair when she’s supposed to be in meetings or on client calls? Is she missing deadlines because the clips broke on her tracks, so she had to run to the hair store mid-day to replace them? Quantifiable, provable performance issues revolving around her hair would be well within the manager’s purview to address. Otherwise, she needs to take a live and let live approach and leave the OP to it.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree with all of this, including your question. I have curly hair, and when I straighten it, it looks completely different. People often don’t recognize me at first. At first glance, it’s a pretty drastic change. But if someone told me not to do it (or worse, told me to do it every day), I would find that a strange and inappropriate request. If someone asked me not to come back from lunch wearing a neon yellow wig and a totally different outfit, I’d find that a little more reasonable (well, maybe I wouldn’t if that were my thing, but still). Extensions that match hair strike me as a styling choice, just like blowing out my hair.

        I mean, my mother wears a fall. She has several different styles that she clips into her hair depending on the day and her outfit. She does this because she has very little hair and she sometimes wants to make it look fuller, which is a styling choice. Would this manager tell my mom to leave her falls at home?

        1. Shop Girl*

          This very true. My daughter has very curly (white girl) hair. When she doesn’t straighten it and especially in the humid weather it can be several inches shorter. She is makeup adept and alternates between contacts and glasses. She can be almost unrecognizable day to day.

    7. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yeah, I agree with this. While it may not be a very important hill to die on, it is super weird that the manager is coming down like a ton of bricks on it.

    8. Bagpuss*

      It seems very odd to me, too. I mean, I would, on a purely personal level, prefer that my employees didn’t do this, because I have a significant degree of face-blindness and so rely heavily on other things such as hair length/colour to help me identify people.
      But I recognise that that is *my* problem, not theirs. I wouldn’t dream of telling an employee they shouldn’t wear extensions, any more than I tell them, they can’t dye their hair or significantly change their hairstyles. At most I might warn them that I may appear to ignore them if I meet them in the street, because I won’t recognise them if they’ve changed their style.

    9. nonymous*

      The only time I’ve seen hairstyle be an issue in real life is when there were a lot of mild performance issues as well. She was a overweight white lady with long hair that was always in a ponytail, and while her work look wasn’t super polished, coupled with her chattiness about personal drama due to her teenage son and a slight performance deficit (not any worse than other people with her job title), and she was targeted for downsizing. They moved her position to a grant and when the grant ended, poof! no job.

      1. Lissa*

        How was the hairstyle an issue for her? Did it get brought up with her or did people just talk about they didn’t like her ponytail in the context of not keeping her on?

    10. Not a Blossom*

      I’ve been known to tuck my ponytail under, and people have thought I cut my hair when I did that. Would I not be allowed to do that?

      This boss is bonker balls.

    11. KimberlyR*

      I was thinking the same thing! The OP wants different styles each day, much like someone switches between bun, ponytail, and down. Who cares if its her real hair or not? If it is well-groomed, the manager should be fine with it. I think I would push back on this.

    12. Muriel Heslop*

      I agree. I’m a public school teacher and I have two colleagues who wear extensions and switch up their hair. No one cares. The Michelle situation was bizarre to me (though now that I think about it no one would address that at my school either – no one would likely notice. Maybe my school isn’t as conservative as I think it is!)

    13. MJ*

      I agree this is crazy. Would they forbid a chemo patient from wearing a wig because they knew it was fake?

  9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I am side-eyeing the manager—unless this was a midday change or super jarring (like changing from short to long several times in the same week), I can’t see this being a big deal in a casual workplace unless there’s concern about you being public-facing or somesuch. Extensions are pretty normal, even in law offices.

    (I know you have to follow the directive, barring a racial/ethnic element we don’t know about, but I think I’d be slightly annoyed if this happened to me.)

    1. Lumen*

      Yeaaaah this was my first thought too.

      But also… who seriously cares about this? Sometimes my coworkers have CURLY hair and sometimes they have STRAIGHT hair! It can’t do that by itself NATURALLY!!! *gasps, clutches pearls, suspects witchcraft*

      So I’m not sure why hair being longer or shorter is any bigger of a deal than that.

      1. Yada Yada Yada*

        I totally hear you but still disagree. It’s true that people change up straight/curly hair or jewelry, heel height, etc day to day and its NBD, but for some reason hair length is just…a thing. It’s silly, yes, but true in my opinion. I think it’s probably due to the fact that extensions are a newer trend than things like earrings. They’re also more typically associated (for white women) with younger women or teenage girls, even though that’s not really the case anymore, and so for that reason they still come off as less professional

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Can you explain why it’s a thing for you? Or why an association with “younger women” translates to “unprofessional”?

          (I’m not asking to attack you, but rather, to try to better understand why hair length strikes you as uniquely unprofessional.)

          1. Yada Yada Yada*

            It’s not that I think younger women are unprofessional, not at all. But things that are associated with teen girls or young women are pretty much universally seen as unprofessional, and that’s a whole other topic. Sparkly eyeshadow, pigtails (ok, that’s more like a childhood thing), ribbons around a ponytail, teen-looking jewelry, etc.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              But we’re not talking about rainbow hair or sparkly eyeshadow or ponytail ribbons. We’re talking about someone who has naturally colored, natural hair extensions that blend in without notice but for the fact that she doesn’t wear them every day. That’s pretty normal behavior among adults of all races, not just teens (and definitely not among young girls unless they’re competing in kid pageants).

              If I wear my hair in a ponytail as my form of work updo, is it less professional because teenagers also do it? Or if I get lash extensions? Or if I get my nails done? Or if I wear dangly earrings?

              1. Yada Yada Yada*

                Nope! None of those would be considered unprofessional by the vast majority of people. And I’m not saying it’s right. But I believe people do associate them with younger women, even though they’re not sparkly or whatever.

                1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  But then it is not the association with younger women that makes it unprofessional. Because there you have agreed that the things PCBH listed are not unprofessional and also that they are associated with younger women. So association with younger women isn’t the reason hair extensions would be unprofessional, right? What is the reason?

                  I’m just so curious about this because to me, use (or not) of extensions is just a personal style choice – like a decision to wear contacts vs glasses on a given day; to wear earrings or not; to wear makeup or not; to wear my hair down or up in a bun. All things that can change your appearance significantly from day to day, but that are perfectly fine choices to make and are not anyone else’s call to make.

                2. Yada Yada Yada*

                  I don’t think that the the things princess mentioned are associated with younger women. Painting nails, wearing earrings, and ponytails are all very common. That’s the difference. This goes back to the shorts conversation above. A woman wearing shorts to an office would generally not be typical, even if they’re the same length as a skirt. Dying your hair or wearing it up or down is very very common and therefore expected as a natural variation in someone’s appearance from time to time. Same with glasses/contacts. Wearing clip in extensions that change the length of your hair on a daily basis by about a foot is just not typical

              2. SallytooShort*

                I don’t think Yada Yada Yada is condoning it but I think she is absolutely right that things associated with younger girls are considered unprofessional and outside the work place as less than or bad. Even though teenage girls are often the first ones to pick up on awesome things like The Beatles.

                It sucks but it’s true.

              3. SallytooShort*

                Actually, I think a great many places think longer nails or fake nails are unprofessional. I think ponytails are not considered the most professional hair style choice. Dangly or showy jewelry is very often frowned upon.

                All of these are great examples to me of how things associated with girls are frowned upon.

                Most places wouldn’t ban them but most places don’t ban extensions either. But none of these are considered as the height of professionalism in a classic sense.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  But this is where you get into race and class biases. I can get my nails done without getting acrylics, and it wouldn’t be inappropriate or less professional. The same goes for a properly groomed high pony, and the dangliness of the earrings is negotiable (see e.g., Sonia Sotomayor).

                  My point is that same standards of “professionalism” aren’t actually about professionalism at all, but rather, reflect gender and racial/ethnic and class biases that are worth taking a hard look at. We can acknowledge the limits and biases of current standards of dress and also push back on them.

                2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  “My point is that same standards of “professionalism” aren’t actually about professionalism at all, but rather, reflect gender and racial/ethnic and class biases that are worth taking a hard look at.”

                  Doubling down on this.

              4. Anion*

                But in fairness, we don’t know that they blend in without notice. The OP says they do, but for a number of reasons (which have to do with knowledge of/experience with hair extensions, not anything personal about the OP) I suspect they may not blend as well as she thinks, and that’s actually what the issue is here.

                We don’t know how short the OP’s hair is naturally, and we don’t know how long the extensions are, or how they’re styled, or how well-maintained they are in general (extensions can require a lot of maintenance etc. to look healthy and natural). This could have nothing to do with extensions as a concept and everything to do with the OP’s particular extensions.

                Assuming they look fantastic and nobody can tell the difference, and all other things being equal, my guess is that someone radically changing hair length on a whim like that just seems immature and thus a little unprofessional. Ponytails or dangly earrings don’t radically change the appearance, and getting extensions for length put in or taking them out isn’t a change most people make daily depending on how they feel that morning. It just seems…indecisive? Too experimental? Flighty. Attention-seeking or trying to hide from attention; like someone is deliberately and repeatedly trying to be looked at and noticed?

                I’m not trying to be rude or accuse the OP of anything, I’m genuinely trying to put my finger on what about it might bother me or seem unprofessional to me. I wouldn’t and don’t care if a co-worker came in with hot pink hair (I have been that co-worker more than once), but the constant changing is just a bit…much. It makes me think Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and MPDG is not a professional adult.

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                Yes, this.
                So is seeing things traditionally associated with non white women as a problem.

          2. Penny Lane*

            PCBH: It’s not that the association with “younger women” translates to “unprofessional.” It’s that the association is with a *certain kind* of younger woman – one who is overly trendy, and likely not very engaged in the world beyond appearance — she could tell you all about the latest hot club but ask her to name a justice on the Supreme Court and she’ll draw a blank. That is the *stereotype* that comes to mind.

            It would be interesting to know how people feel about eyelash extensions, which seem to be transitioning from the negative stereotype to a more neutral one.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              That seems so sexist to me that I’m having a hard time coming up with a reason why that stereotype should be reinforced or imposed on OP and other women.

            2. Jessie the First (or second)*

              The stereotype is a sexist caricature of a woman – I feel like it should not have to be said, but employers should not be dictating the style choices of their employees based on sexist stereotypes that are wholly unconnected with the actual person in front of them.

            3. Anion*

              Things associated with young men like this are also considered unprofessional, for the same reasons. A young man in a flashy suit or flashy jewelry, frex, or wearing more than one watch, or leopard-print shoes, or whatever.

              I think I might have just put my finger on what would bother me about this: Professional dress is not supposed to draw attention to itself. A professional appearance is not supposed to draw attention to itself. The constantly changing hair from short to waist-length and back again seems attention-seeking, and thus unprofessional (and that’s assuming the OP is correct about how natural and good the extensions look, which IMO is not guaranteed).

        2. Lumen*

          Sidebar: the first documented proof of hair weaves dates back to 3400 BC (Egyptians ahead of the game as per usual) and they were used in Europe until powdered wigs came into fashion. They’ve been around as long as makeup, high heels, earrings and… pretty much everything else we humans use to adjust our appearance for function and pleasure.

          I don’t think “it’s different, it just is” satisfies here. If someone wants to impose and enforce a rule on someone else (especially their body), they should surely be able to explain why.

          1. Yada Yada Yada*

            Yes but for white women definitely a newer trend, which Alison pointed out as well when she noted it would be much different if the OP were from a culture where this was common. I’m not trying to come off like I’m out to discourage people from wearing extensions! A lot of people were commenting along the lines of “how is this a thing?” and I wanted to point out that where I work and live, I could see it being a thing.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I don’t think that’s why Alison pointed out the cultural difference! There are different racial (and sometimes religious) challenges that women have faced when they have “non-white” hair.

              I think once you have 20+ years of white women routinely wearing extensions, it’s not as rare or as “new” of a trend!

              1. Yada Yada Yada*

                Yes, your first paragraph is what I meany. Alison pointed out it would be different if the OP was from a background where extensions/wigs/weaves are “common.” So replace newness with common and that’s pretty much it!

                1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  It would be different for non white women because then you would be discriminating against members of a protected class, for doing something traditionally associated with that protected class! It would be openly racist and possibly illegal.
                  Do you think it would be just as unprofessional if a non-white woman did it? And why or why not?

        3. Fortitude Jones*

          Extensions are not new, not even for white women. I had teachers who wore weave back when I was in grade school for fullness, especially when they were attending formal dress up functions, and this was twenty some odd years ago.

          Now, ratty, busted weaves are a thing these days and should be burned in the fiery pits of hell – but it sounds like the OP’s hair is very well maintained to the point that if her colleagues didn’t see her everyday, they wouldn’t even know the weave wasn’t her actual hair. So I don’t see how that would read unprofessional.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Yeah, I’m confused about the timing, also. I’ve seen “mainstream” white women wear weaves and extensions for 20+ years, particularly for formal occasions.

            1. Safetykats*

              Back in the 60s, my mom (and all her friends) had wigs. You wore a wig when you couldn’t get to the beauty parlor. And in the 70s they had falls, which were basically clip-in extensions. I know for a fact my mom wore hers to work. So no, fake hair for white ladies not a new thing – not by a long shot.

              1. Former Retail Manager*

                In the 60’s and 70’s, my mother had a decent collection of real hair wigs that she’d take to the beauty shop to be styled every few weeks. She kept them in a rotation. Different colors, styles, and lengths so yes, white ladies LOVE some fake hair. I’ve recently been looking into wigs myself because I like to switch it up so much. However, I think that white women, in general, aren’t as forthcoming with the fact that they’re wearing wigs or extensions, especially with people they aren’t close with. It seems to have some sort of stigma with it and is only now becoming so mainstream and openly spoken about that people will proudly admit to wearing extensions. I’d love to see it become no big deal.

                1. Anion*

                  I have a couple of wigs! I got them from Vogue Wigs (dot com); they weren’t too expensive and they’re very good quality–the only one that people know right away is a wig is the bright blue one, although I’ve had a few people surprised by that one, too. I recommend the place, if you’re interested in getting into wigs.

                  I don’t wear them often, but they’ve come in handy for me on days when my hair isn’t behaving or I’m too lazy to deal with it or I’m getting ready to bleach or tone so my hair is dirty or really brassy. Or if I just feel like something different.

                  I will say, though, that I don’t work in an office so I’m not wearing these vastly different wigs, in different colors and lengths, to a workplace where people see me every day. If I was looking for one for such a place it would probably be about the same color and length as my own hair.

              2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                My mom wore wigs in the 60s and early 70s, and also wore “rats” to puff up her rolls in the 40s! My grandmother always had some kind of fall or wiglet or added hairpiece/s of one type or another. Sometimes she’d give us the worn out ones to use for Halloween. None of this is new. I myself wore all kinds of crazy extensions -real hair, fake hair, and not hair- in the late 90s/early 2000s, and I knew a lot of other women who did similar.

            2. AcademiaNut*

              And they used to be called “switches” – popular around the turn of the (last) century. There’s a reference in one of the Little House on the Prairie books to a character wearing a switch that would come out if her hairpins were removed.

              1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

                Bonus points for Laura Ingalls reference! I remember that from the book, I had to look up what a switch was exactly. I’d never heard of them before. The scene took place when Almanzo was courting Laura and they were out buggy riding with friends. I haven’t read those books in 20 years but I still remember that chapter.

            3. Data Miner*

              Me and my sister wear a wig to work My sister has half a dozen she rotates; they’re all around the same color but different styles. I have one and at my old job I did bounce between wig and no wig (it’s a huge difference). People see what they want to see and don’t realize they’re wigs. However, I can VERY NOTICEABLY tell a difference in how people treat me and how I’m perceived with the wig on.

              OP, if you want to be snarky, start wearing wigs and change the style during the week. Tell them its for a medical reason (ours are) (kidding, not kidding) ;-)

        4. Mad Baggins*

          Why is it NBD for a woman to cut her hair from long to short and come in the next day with short hair, but not professional for her to wear extensions to go from short to long? What if she cut her hair short and hated it and started wearing extensions every day, would it be unprofessional? Is it the change or the extensions themselves?

          If it’s the extensions themselves then what about wigs? What about women dyeing their gray hair? Can women only wear their “natural” hair?
          If it’s the change, what about women who curl their hair or put it up some days but not others? Or wear red lipstick some days? Must women keep a consistent uniform every day?

          And ultimately, why? Is it so that the woman’s appearance is less distracting? At what level can we reasonably expect to focus on her work?

        5. Ree*

          Not to be nit picky or rude, but you say that changing hair from curly to straight is NBD, but changing hair length is…if I straighten my very curly hair, it lengthens it by about 5 inches. It’s a significant change in my appearance and it even changes the color(I think this has something to do with dimension and light hitting it?)
          And people do notice and say something whenever I do this, like oh you dyed your hair!(No,it’s just straight.)
          Oh your hair is SO MUCH longer, did you put in extensions?(No, it’s just straight)
          Your hair is lighter! And shorter! Did you get a cut and color?(No, it’s just curly)

        6. Whiplash*

          This strikes me as funny because my hair is naturally curly and falls to about chin length. If I straighten it, I suddenly have shoulder length hair. I wouldn’t want my boss telling me I can’t straighten my hair a few times a week just because the length is so different.

        7. Delphine*

          There has to be a better justification for singling out a woman who uses extensions than “it’s a new trend” or “its immature”–because those are subjective judgement. I don’t think extensions are new or immature. They extend the length of a person’s hair, and that’s it. They look like natural hair, feel like natural hair, the only difference is the length.

      2. Slartibartfast*

        Actually, mine does that naturally. If I blow dry it, it comes out straight. If I air dry, it looks like I got a perm.

    2. AJ*

      I think it’s a “noticeable change confuses me, and being confused makes me scared” thing or a “noticeable change makes me wanna look at you and I feel uncomfortable wanting to look at you” thing or a “purposeful change makes me assume you want others to look at you, and if you want others to look at you, you must feel sexy and that makes me uncomfortable / and I think that’s inappropriate” thing. Either way it’s not about the OP it’s about him.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yup, I could see any of those things being the root of the issue here, and as you said – that’s the manager’s problem. That’s why I would schedule a one-on-one with said manager and run through the questions I had above. Is this affecting my job performance in any way? No? Then, I’m going to continue to wear my hair as I see fit. Be as polite as possible when shutting this down, OP, if you choose to go this route.

    3. Lora*

      Me too. My mother wears wigs because chemo, and has grey, blonde, brunette, etc. although all similar shoulder-length styles. If someone told her she couldn’t change wig colors, she would be MAD.

  10. CookieMom*

    At my old office all the parents agreed to put out a single order form and split all sales equally among the Scouts. Coworkers weren’t approached a million times and no perceived favoritism or pressure from superiors.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        My suggestion is to allow the sellers to post a note in the break room (or other approved space) that they are selling GS cookies and anyone who is interested can come to their work cube and fill out the form.

        That way the forms are not out in the open for everyone to see which seller they are choosing to buy from.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      If you’re getting more than one or two order forms a season, then this is a great way to go. No competition over who gets the order form out first, or figuring out who you should order from.

    2. Traveling Teacher*

      I think that that’s a really nice way to handle it! Especially for people who don’t have another cookie hookup.

    3. Coooookiesss*

      Me too for great idea as that helps with removing any of the weirdness of bosses competing with employees on sales. Side note, I think that boss’ shouldn’t sell their kids stuff in an office when the only people that are being sold to are their employees. It should me sold on a peer level.

      1. Coooookiesss*

        Haha. “Me on a peer level”. Whoops, it was supposed to be “be”. My boss was selling cookies in our office and I found it unfair that it meant I couldn’t sell cookies as it would be competing with my boss.

    4. ExcitedAndTerrified*

      But… but… what if they’re not all getting cookies baked by the same baking company? There are excellent bakers and less-excellent-but-still-good bakers who do the girl scout cookies. I could end up with boxes of mixed quality using this method! And then I have to either eat the box of lesser quality cookies all in one go, in the hopes that the next box is from the better baking company, or consign myself to a week of eating inferior quality cookies.

      1. Meghan*

        There are only two different bakeries and they’re done by council region. If your workplace is large enough to pull in people from two different councils, then put out two sheets and split them that way. I have my own troop but if someone at my company had a girl with the other bakery’s cookies I would definitely be buying from her instead of ordering them online. The girls quickly become aware of the difference between bakeries when people start asking “where are my samoas?”

    5. Naptime Enthusiast*

      I like this option if there’s a single common area. I think what my coworkers do is put the sign up sheet in the table in the middle of their cube (we almost all have one), or they each put a sign-up sheet in one break room since we’re split up among multiple buildings and floors.

    6. hbc*

      I like this solution a lot. Of course, I like any scenario that does not have me feeling like there will be workplace ramifications for my choices, whether that be ordering nothing, ordering from the colleague I’m closest to, ordering from the kid that I’ve met, whatever.

    7. INTP*

      I think this is a much better idea than asking people ordering multiple boxes to split between different people. I’d probably just order from someone outside work in that case, I don’t want to have to track down three people to get three boxes of cookies!

    8. Annie Moose*

      This is how my office did it this year, and it was a great idea. (There’s only two Girl Scouts among us, anyway.) The parents had their daughters come in to the office and sent out a notice that if you wanted cookies, you could order them in the breakroom.

      I would say it was a low-pressure way to sell, buuut when you’re trying to refill your water bottle and the cutest blonde six-year-old you’ve ever seen is gazing up at you with an order form in her hand, it’s… really, really hard to say no.

  11. Ramona Flowers*

    #5 It’s possible you didn’t give enough detail about each situation, but it’s also possible that there wasn’t really a clear reason why they picked you. And it sounds like the feedback was secondhand (as the recruiter passed it on from someone else) so it’s possible they were just searching around for something to say.

    Missing out on a great job is disappointing. But please try to take heart that the feedback you got is that you were a really strong candidate – try not to let this affect your confidence. By all means polish up your technique for future interviews, but I doubt it’s the case that you missed out on the job due to how you structured your answers – it sounds like you just got pipped to the post. Don’t lose heart!

    1. Heth*

      I agree, it sounds like you were very close but perhaps didn’t give enough detail or some detail wasn’t clear, so not really down to not structure. I have found some interviewees spend more time on the situation and less on what they did and the result, which doesn’t always display their skills well, but as you say you prepared with STAR I’m not sure that would apply.

      I did once interview where I was told to give all my answers in STAR format. They had STAR and what it stood for written out so I could refer to it; it really destroyed the whole conversation for me even though, like you, it is something I often use to prepare.

      1. Gandalf the Grey*

        +1 to this, so many people get caught up in making sure we understand the entirety of the situation, when really its not about that… More helpful feedback here would have been specific STAR feedback. The meat of the answer should be in the actions, and should have multiple, meaningful actions that you took that created the result.

        Another tip I was given was think of it as STARR. the R’s being Result and Relate. Result and how your actions led to that, then, if possible Relate it to the role you are going for. This helps paint the picture of why your actions are meaningful and illustrates you could apply this approach with them.

    2. Samiratou*

      It sounds to me like maybe LW wasn’t as specific as the interviewers were looking for. A “tell me of a time when” question pretty much begs for a STAR answer, and if you’re answering the question you shouldn’t really even need to think about in STAR terms.

      I’ve had candidates when asked something like “Can you talk about a time when you worked well with members of another department of team?” would answer “I really work well with others” or something generic rather than saying something like “my last project to do x involved working with teams from departments a, b and c to coordinate requirements, deployment and testing, and the project was completed on time and has sold above expectations/is used by everyone/whatever success criteria applies”.

      So, I guess I would say to the LW, think about how you answered those type of questions, and if you had STAR answers for the ones you hadn’t prepared for or if you could have been more specific. It’s frustrating as an interviewer trying to suss out if a candidate has handled certain types of situations, or how they would handle certain types of situations, if they can’t give a specific scenario.

    3. Jana*

      Agreed. It’s very possible that the feedback was kind of a generic response that the recruiter would have given to any candidate asking for feedback. Often there’s a minuscule difference between the candidate selected and the ones rejected.

    4. Casuan*

      What Ramona said.
      Think of the STAR comments as being a suggestion for how to prepar for future interviews. Even if the interview isn’t formatted this way, it’s possible that the prep could help you in future interviews.
      Good luck!

  12. I Coulda Been a Lawyer ;)*

    I can’t imagine finding time in my day to add or remove extensions, but you should do you. I think the manager is out of line.

  13. Catherine*

    “Well, we all know it’s not real so it’s inappropriate.”

    Man, I’d love to hear what this manager has to say about my eyelid lift, then. Maybe I should glue them back into their original monolids before I go to work every morning? There are plenty of things about my appearance that are fake and still work-appropriate!

    1. Lumen*

      We all know that breasts aren’t all “really” uniform, smooth, and don’t move around too much, right? But it’s NOT wearing a bra that is considered inappropriate. Obviously the standard isn’t about what is ‘real’ or ‘fake’.

      Though in this case I wonder if the manager would be fine if the OP just picked one. You can have long hair or short hair but not both! For… uh… for reasons!


    2. Janice*

      Is it possible that the extensions don’t blend as seamlessly as the OP thinks they do? That maybe they are as obvious as a really, really, bad toupee or make-up like Mimi’s from the Drew Carey Show? Maybe “Well, we all know it’s not real so it’s inappropriate.” is a polite way of saying “They look awful”?

    3. the_scientist*

      I’m really kind of bothered by the manager here. I wonder what she’d say to the women of colour in my office who wear weaves and change up their style often, or who get long braids put in. What about women who wear smokey eye makeup? What about gel nails? WHERE DOES THE LINE GET DRAWN??

      What if OP got the bonded/glued extensions instead of clip-in ones, that have to be professionally tightened/fixed every few weeks? Would that make a difference? They don’t change as often as clip-in extensions, so does that make them more professional?

      1. Penny Lane*

        “What if OP got the bonded/glued extensions instead of clip-in ones, that have to be professionally tightened/fixed every few weeks? Would that make a difference? They don’t change as often as clip-in extensions, so does that make them more professional?”

        Well, yeah, of course it would, since this entire discussion has been about the idea of multiple/frequent/daily changes, not wearing extensions in general.

  14. doctor schmoctor*

    #2 doesn’t make any sense. It’s like he really doesn’t want a job.

    Let’s say, “no”

  15. Peter*

    One odd thing about letter number 2 (there are others!) is that it doesn’t even impose any actual time constraints on the person hiring. If they want him in for interview on 28th, they can still do that. They just need to save the email in draft until 24th. The only difference is the candidate gets less notice.

    1. OP #2*

      Yes! This was the part that really got me confused. Maybe this is someone who only performs well under pressure and wants to have as little time as possible to prepare for an interview?!

      1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

        Actually (and I’m speaking from experience, not armchair diagnosing the candidate) it sounds like anxiety. Like “4 days is the amount of time I can wait to talk to people before chewing my own arm off from worry about how I’m going to sound” which is even less professional than specifying your own wait time in a cover letter.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Or works himself into a frenzy of logic trees and needs to limit the time available for spinning dream scenarios.

    2. hbc*

      Yep, it sounds like he’s reacting to a particular situation and has come up with a really bad solution. Maybe the last couple of companies dragged out the hiring process and left him hanging for months. Maybe he’s got to take a relative to appointments that can’t be scheduled much in advance or five days notice on travel at his current job. Maybe he heard that being early in the interview pool makes you more likely to be hired.

      A company scheduling the interview early works out better for him in all these cases, but he hasn’t worked out that being a demanding weirdo doesn’t make that happen. I guarantee this guy is a pain to work with.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        He hasn’t worked out that being a demanding weirdo doesn’t make that happen.

        This probably explains a lot of weird applicant behavior.

  16. Ann Onimous*

    #2 This may be reaching quite a bit… but is it possible that the candidate added that to the end of the resume as a sort of verification that you actually read through the whole thing? It’s quite a bit childish IMO, but… who knows. Maybe the person figured that at that point, it’d sound like a fun/quirky puzzle? Heh.

    1. OP #2*

      Well I’d probably have appreciated a “Congratulations for reading this far!” I see that sometimes on social media… “If you’re still reading post a [insert emoji here] in the comments”.
      Maybe I’m supposed to send them an email with the code word (four, obviously) in!

    2. Antilles*

      That’s possible.
      Though as a general rule, any time you’re writing so much that you wonder “wait, is anyone still here?”, that’s a really good sign that you need to take a serious editing pass and evaluate if everything actually needs to be there.

  17. Akcipitrokulo*

    Re STAR… I was given advice (that seemed to work!) that it’s not just having the elements. It’s giving the weighting. A lot of people will give a very detailed situation, then a bit about the actions, and then a quick “and it turned out well” for the resolution.

    It’s more effective the other way around… brief summary of situation (the exact details of what had upset the customer are rarely of interest), then more on what you personally did, and then an impressive resolution.

    1. MicroManagered*


      When I prepare STAR answers for interviews, each piece is very detailed… but how I present the story in response to an interview question can certainly vary. Say the situation is that I had a very angry client with a complex problem that wasn’t my fault, and the fix entailed several involved steps over weeks. But say the question is describe a time when you solved a complex problem. I’d probably leave out that the client was angry but it wasn’t my fault and focus more on the steps I took. If the question is describe a time when a client was upset but it wasn’t your fault, I might leave out some of the detail on the steps.

    2. Armchair Analyst*

      It also helps to tie it into your resume/CV, and your linkedin. Make the results the same. The “how I did it” is the part for the interview. The “situation” is really not that interesting to most interviewers.

  18. Drama Llama*

    LW2: Whoa…+1 to too weirdly demanding. This person seems inconsiderate and oblivious to other people’s timelines, not to mention ignorant of social norms and how recruitment usually works in businesses. I would decline automatically.

  19. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

    I’m a woman with super short hair (No.2 ) and I maintain it every six weeks to keep it short. Long hair irritates me and the short style suits my face. That being said, I would push back very hard on the request to not use the extensions. Hairstyles are very personal and unique. Unless the LW is flipping her hair all day and leaving hair strands everywhere then the manager has no standing to demand changes.

      1. rosiebyanyothername*

        Omg! I need my Thin Mints. When I was a Girl Scout we’d set up a booth on Friday nights as the commuter train was coming in. We’d sell out in minutes!

    1. Meghan*

      If you have facebook, check with your friends list to see if any of them have or know a girl scout that is selling them by direct ship. That’s how I get the ones that aren’t available here.

    2. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

      This is the first year in a while that I haven’t been selling cookies. I bought my boxes at the start of the season from a friend’s kid and that has been it. I have to say it’s been glorious. Last year I spent over $150 during the course of cookie season on those dang things. My husband was notorious for taking a box from the booth sale stock and leaving me a note telling me to add it to our tally. This year I spent $32 dollars and that was it. :)

    3. SallytooShort*

      We had a woman who was selling cookie dough for her kid’s school fundraiser, which was pretty great. But no Girl Scouts. :( :( :(

  20. I Herd the Cats*

    #4 – We have a bulletin board in the office kitchen that we use for announcements, birthdays, people selling used backpacks or hosting rummage sales, etc. I put up a sign in there that says Girl Scout cookies — deadline X — see Adam, Fergus or Wakeen. That way there’s no public display of who’s buying what from whom.

    1. a-no*

      My work did a tally board last year (we only had two people selling) to make sure we could keep it fairly even.

      I also realized like 5 minutes ago both of those people no longer work here so no easy access cookies :(

  21. S*

    #2 – I wonder if that applicant might have a weird living situation, or be bound by some kind of strict probation rules or something like that. Maybe they’re dealing with curfews and/or having to ask permission in some bizarre way to leave the place they’re living?

  22. MLB*

    #2 – as others have said that’s a ridiculously odd request, especially in a cover letter. He’s assuming everyone he sends his resume to will want to interview him. If he has a legitimate reason for needing a specific timeline for interviewing, then that needs to be discussed once he’s contacted, with the understanding that his request may not be granted.
    #4 – I had a co-worker who brought in her niece’s girl scout order form every year. One year I bought from someone else and she tried to make me feel guilty about it. I always buy them from the person who asks (or I find out about) first. Most people I’ve worked with have just hung the order form on the outside of their cube. Outside of a casual “hey I have the form if anyone wants cookies”, people need to let go of the “competition of it all. If you want to sell your kid’s stuff at work that’s fine, but it’s very inappropriate to be pushy about it. It’s no different than a manager demanding that everyone on a team contribute money to buy a co-worker a gift.

  23. Meghan*

    I was thinking that the cookie order forms should be accompanied by a personal letter from the girl selling. At least, that’s what I encourage my troop to do.

    The troops sell cookies with a goal in mind, often trips. “My Brownie troop wants to go camping” or “My Cadette troop is saving up to go to a museum ovenight”.

    1. Penny Lane*

      As if that’s going to make a difference as to how many boxes I want! I don’t see the point. I don’t much care. I either want 10 boxes of Thin Mints for my binging pleasure, or I don’t. Theoretically, of course.

      1. Meghan*

        Yeah, it’s more for those people who maybe just wanted 1 or 2 boxes but Oh these Darling Brownies want to learn about camping? Maybe I should buy some more!

  24. Hiring Mgr*

    I really can’t stand things like #1. I don’t even know exactly what hair extensions are, but who the f*** cares how long or short someone’s hair is, or if it changes? I can’t think of anything less important in a workplace..

    1. Oilpress*

      I agree with you, although I have had plenty of people comment on my hair (or lack thereof) in the office.

  25. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

    #4 – Former cookie mom here. At my last job there were several cookie selling parents and to keep it fair our manager asked us to make blank copies of the order forms which were posted in our break area. The names of the girls / sellers weren’t listed. What we noticed was everyone kept ordering from whichever sheet had the least amount of boxes sold at the time. By the time we were done we all had about the same amount of boxes sold so no feelings hurt. We also had co-workers who we were friendly with come up to us individually about placing their orders on the usual sheets, which was expected and allowed if done quietly.

  26. Lady By The Lake*

    LW#3 — It sounds like your company is open and responsive to ergonomic requests. If the co-worker likes the desk, why not ask the company for another one for you. Many companies are very open to that — good ergonomics makes better, more productive workers.

    1. MissLibby*

      We had this exact thing happen at our office. Everyone could get one, but they had to stay with the department since they were purchased from department budgets. Then they stopped buying them unless you have a doctor’s note so new people or people transferring in to a desk that didn’t already have one could not get one. We ended up just sending an email to our department to see if anyone had one that wasn’t using it and have been successful in meeting the need. I later found out from our office services department that they had several stored in the basement from people that wanted them but didn’t end up liking them. All that to say, it doesn’t hurt to ask around as there maybe some of the desks around that no one is using.

      1. OP #3*

        I think I’ll put it out there that I’m looking for one, but I think they really were only available for a short time and it wasn’t widely known that anyone could just get one. The few other people (other than me) who had them were mostly managers. My manager didn’t even know they were available until she saw mine and put in a request for one for herself. Because there was never any notice that they were cutting it off, I don’t think there was ever a push to get everyone to order one for themselves.

        1. Just Me*

          I also wouldn’t rule out requesting it as an ADA accommodation. Disability includes a record of disability, and you mentioned a prior surgery. I might suggest getting a doctor’s note, if that’s a feasible option for you, stating that a stand up desk is recommended due to a medical condition.

        2. anonymouse for this*

          Depending on what country you’re in and what your office layout is like could you try buying a flatpack cardboard standing desk yourself? Could be an interim solution while you work with your HR dept to get a proper standing desk.

  27. Lady By The Lake*

    LW#1 — Does that go for men’s toupees too? Women who wear wigs or scarves after chemo? For that matter, barrettes, clips and other things that aren’t real hair? This is such a bizarre request that I can’t help wondering whether there is a disturbing racial component here.

      1. Penny Lane*

        What about them? I’m sure the answer is different when it’s short/moderate length nails compared to talon-like nails filed to a point with gold stripes and little scenes painted on them or whatever.

        I don’t know why we are dancing around the fact that certain styles (hair, nails, clothing, etc.) connote certain things about one’s level of taste and elegance or lack thereof. Style/fashion sends signals, whether the wearer is sporting a mohawk, a mullet or hair extensions in neon colors, carrying a handbag from Target or from Gucci, wearing Converse sneakers or Louboutin heels, dressing in a bohemian, preppy or goth style, accessorizing with a pair of little diamond studs or multiple eyebrow piercings. These are all meant to send signals and it’s wise to know how those signals are received by your intended audience. You may choose not to care and that’s fine but I don’t know why we’re supposed to pretend that nothing sends any signals.

        1. fposte*

          I agree, but I also think it’s good to interrogate how we determine the meaning of those signals. A lot of this is about class level and ethnicity practices with a dose of gender thrown in, which all deserve some critical consideration.

        2. RVA Cat*

          Just chiming in here since you’re mentioning brand names – it’s never reasonable for an employer to expect someone to wear clothing they can’t reasonably afford on what they’re paying them.

        3. Galatea*

          1. because there’s value in pushing back against assigning a meaning to something that doesn’t have meaning.

          2. additionally, because some of those assigned meanings are actively racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. Ex. certain hairstyles being considered “unprofessional” that just happen for no reason at all whatsoever to be hairstyles that match natural hair — afros, dreads, etc. Similarly, I know there are offices where heels, which are actively bad for your feet and posture, are considered “more professional” than flats.

          1. Queen Anon*

            I once worked for a woman who hated seeing traditionally black hairstyles on her employees and was always looking for a reason to tell them they couldn’t. Fortunately they always met the company dress code so she couldn’t do anything about them. Which made me so happy! She was a horrible person. (Her employees were CNAs, and her black employees were not just African American, but also women from Africa. Rwandan refugees, to be specific. I was so glad to leave there just because of her.)

        4. Marthooh*

          What’s the objectionable message being sent by hair extensions? The boss objects because everyone know the extensions aren’t the employees real hair. This is bad because…?

        5. Anon Librarian*

          Maybe it’s because taste/elegance is completely subjective? And you certainly don’t have to wear designer clothes in order to be elegant. As long as people are following the company dress code it shouldn’t matter.

          Now I think I’ll take my tattoos, Doc Martens, and crazy colored hair and go back to my professional job.

          1. Penny Lane*

            I never said anyone had to wear designer clothing to look elegant or that an employer needed to require certain brand names.

            It feels, though, that we are no longer “allowed” to find something unattractive for fear that it’s racist/sexist/whatever. What if I genuinely find long pointy talon nails with gold stripes tacky and ugly? I find them ugly no matter the racial background of the wearer but I’ll be excoriated as racist.

            1. Anon Librarian*

              Find them ugly. No one’s saying you can’t. But you don’t get to decide what other people wear or what is considered professional.

              You are well-within your rights to state your opinion on things, but guess what? People are allowed to disagree with you and states theirs. I haven’t touched the comments in a few days but I didn’t see anyone call you racist/sexist. I do find your tone to be pretty elitist, though.

      2. Bea*

        Some places have nail rules for conservative dress codes and health code reasons, depending greatly on the industry of course.

        Heck when starting out I’m still shy about my nail colors :(

  28. INTP*

    #4: Definitely don’t ask people ordering multiple boxes to split their orders between different people. That would be really annoying to have to follow up with multiple people, and I’d probably order from an outside work option instead.

    I think the key is that it needs to be a really simple solution even if it doesn’t result in completely equitable orders. If it gets so complicated that people sense it’s a sensitive issue, they might just order from elsewhere to avoid drama or awkwardness. I like the idea above about combining it into one order form and dividing the orders yourselves, or otherwise leave the forms in different locations, or cooperate with other sellers to agree on time frames for each persons form to be out.

  29. Revolver Rani*

    WRT #2, there are so many things weird about that note on the resume; the letter-writer and Alison identified some of them, but another that stands out to me is “the formal shortlisting email notice.” Is this an industry where the applicant can be sure this is a thing? It doesn’t map to anything I do when hiring.

  30. Samata*

    I haven’t read all the comments about the Girl Scout cookies yet, but one thing I loved than an old company of mine did was purchase a 2 boxes of cookies (or candy bars, or whatEVER) for each person in that office location. If you didn’t want you could give to others or in the common area.

    The goal was for the kids to be able to benefit from the sales that often come with workplaces but not have employees feel pressured to buy or pick a favorite. We were small, 25 employees, and each employee had up to $500 for such fundraisers so if you had a kid in Scouts and in softball, say, you could sell for both fundraisers. They basically did the same for everything – hoagie sales for adult softball teams, bake sales for community fundraisers, charity runs, etc.

    It wasn’t limited to kids activities, but kept the dynamic in the office from getting weird. I loved that policy.

  31. kristinyc*

    I work at Girl Scouts.

    The cookie sale is meant to be a program for girls to learn business skills. Yes, it’s also a fundraiser and very loved by most people, but they girl is learning customer service, money management, goal setting, and how to talk to people.

    I personally buy cookies from every GIRL who asks, but never from parents. I would love it if companies who have multiple Girl Scouts in their employees’ families made a policy where parents can bring their daughters in to sell cookies, but not allow the parents to just pass the order form around. When I was a kid, my dad took me to his office and I had to go around taking orders from his co-workers, and then I had to go back and deliver them.

    1. SallytooShort*

      Honestly, I respect that but I just want some Lemonades and I don’t care about the delivery method.

      And, in fairness, having the order form is far less disruptive for an office.

      1. kristinyc*

        Lemonades are delicious!

        But please consider this: Girl Scouts a nonprofit. For kids. If the kids aren’t learning anything from the cookie program – the cookie program can’t technically exist, because then it just becomes child labor. If the kids aren’t learning anything, the entire GS program – and all GS cookies – will disappear. Then no one gets the cookies, and the girls lose all of the great experiences they get the rest of the year because of the money they raised selling cookies.

        I personally learned about goal setting. I wanted to go to a 2 week horseback riding camp when I was a kid, and would only get to go if I sold 300 boxes. I learned how to set a goal and work hard to achieve it, which is a skill that has served me well throughout my career.

        If it’s not feasible for girls to come into an office, there are plenty of other ways to do it. I just want parents to make sure the girl is still heavily involved in the process.

        1. Lindsay J*

          They can learn plenty of things without physically being in the office in order to sell the cookies.

          In fact, as a girl scout, I did learn pretty much nothing from the actual sales part of selling cookies, whether it was by approaching adults I knew to sell the cookies, or by manning a booth. All I learned is that people like Girl Scout Cookies.

          And I don’t think it’s true that if the kids aren’t learning anything that it is just child labor. I did plenty of fundraising as a kid for the school PTA, for marching band, for soccer teams, for my high school class to put on dances and for our class gift, etc. None of them pretended to be teaching me crap. It was all about, “You like doing [soccer/marching band/whatever]. We need money to pay for [uniforms/snacks/practice space/whatever]. The best way to get this money is by fundraising, so go sell these [cookies/candy bars/wrapping paper/t-shirts]. or bag groceries for donations or wash some cars or stand out front of the store and beg for money” I can’t imagine that all of those groups were risking running afoul of child labor laws.

          Honestly, even my troop treated it that way. We did do a bit on goal setting, in that we identified how much money the troop needed to raise, how many boxes of cookies that translated to, and how many boxes per person that equaled. But that’s about it.

          (But, as I outlined below, there are plenty of ways to learn without physically going into the office.

          Before sending the order form in, the kid can estimate how many cookies they think they will sell by finding out how many people work there, how many people who are approached buy cookies, and how many cookies the average buyer purchases.

          The parent can bring the order form and the payments (back in my day it was pretty much all checks. I’m not sure how it comes in now) home and the kid can double check the math to ensure everyone has paid the proper amount.

          When the cookies come in, the kid can split up and label the orders before the parent brings them to work to be delivered.

          And the actual part of approaching someone and asking them to purchase things can be practiced on other adults who are not in the office, whether they’re family members or at a booth at the grocery store, or whatever.

    2. Turboencabulator Engineer*

      Unfortunately that can’t happen at many workplaces (including mine.) Families aren’t allowed in at all. Even for take-your-child to work days they have separate activities set up in public areas: they don’t actually allow the kids to go see where their parents work on a day-to-day basis.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah. Security and safety issues. We don’t even do “take your kid to work day”.

        Everyone on site needs to be badged, or escorted by someone who has appropriate privileges to escort and remain within 50 feet of that person at all times (and each escort can only escort up to 10 people at a time). And people being escorted must have a valid business reason for being there. I can’t bring my friend that wants to see my office even though I’m an authorized escort.

        Bringing kids on-site in order to sell cookies would be dangerous and violate company policies.

        And, you don’t need the kid to be actually there and physically selling the cookies in order to learn things like goal-setting.

        They can estimate that they need 300 cookies in order to go to horseback riding camp, and that Mom works with 33 people. Maybe look at their stats and see that one out of three people they have approached buy cookies, and the average person that buys cookies is going to buy cookies buys two boxes. So they can estimate that they anticipate selling 22 boxes of cookies at Mom’s work and so need to sell 278 other boxes of cookies. Which means they need to approach 417 other people.

        There wasn’t much to learn by actually taking the orders or actually dropping off cookies. Taking orders, people wrote down on the sheet what they were buying, and wrote a check for that amount. If they wanted to, the parent could bring the order form back to the kid along with the checks so the kid could do the multiplication and ensure that the right amount of money was collected. Delivering orders was pretty much counting boxes and handing the appropriate types to the appropriate person. Again, the kid could portion out and label the orders at home.

        There are plenty of ways they can learn without physically going into the office to take the orders or deliver the cookies. And honestly, physically being there and selling the cookies you don’t learn that much, other than “cute kid + girl scout cookies = automatic sales”. It’s absolutely nothing like running an actual business, or selling really anything other than girl scout cookies, which really do sell themselves at this point.

    3. Just a thought*

      My former boss brought his daughter in to go around and sell the cookies. It was not ideal. Everyone in my department felt pressure to buy the cookies and so did people that worked with my boss. He even got banned from the whole office email list for advertising that she was coming. My last year there, another parent complained, so there were 2 daughters going around selling cookies 1 week after I’d given my 2 week notice. They looked so sad when I said I didn’t want to buy cookies (because I wouldn’t be there when they were delivered).

    4. Interviewer*

      This is how it’s handled in my office. She shows up with her sweet grin, gives me her spiel about her favorites and anything new, and I fill out the order form. I was raised by 2 former Scouts and I learned at an early age that those Thin Mints are life. This year, we had a second scout in the mix, and coworker dads let the girls work out a plan beforehand to split up the territory. Original Scout got one floor, Newbie Scout got the other one. Visitation days were communicated in advance, and afterward the forms were left in a strategic spot. (Several people ordered from both scouts anyway.) We have about 100 people in my office, and the total between both scouts landed north of 500 boxes. The delivery day was another opportunity to see their smiling faces. Everyone wins.

    5. Penny Lane*

      I was a GS, sold cookies, and was a Brownie (though not a GS) troop leader. It’s comments like this which were so frustrating about dealing with the organization. Your customers DON’T CARE about “building salesmanship /leadership skills” in the girls. They just want their Thin Mints. This is a good thing – you have a fundraising project that sells itself, so to speak. Don’t make it difficult.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, as someone who was a girl scout from kindergarten on through high school and who received my silver and gold awards, I really appreciated that my troop leaders treated the fundraising as fundraising, and left the learning for other projects where I actually learned things by design. (And most people in my troop stayed on through high school, and many of us got our silver and gold awards, so I think we were a well-run troop. I’m still in touch with many of the girls to this day, even if I didn’t really fit in with them at the time).

        I’m not sure what leadership skills I was supposed to gain from hocking cookies. And as far as sales go, the only thing that I learned about sales from selling Girl Scout cookies is that they are ridiculously easy to sell, and that selling anything else is an entirely different ballgame. They really sold themselves.

        I did learn that pretty much every organization needs money in order to run, even n0n-profits. And that things are sold at a mark-up rather than at cost to make money for the company. And we did some goal setting and stuff like that – the council would like us to raise this much money. That means our troop needs to sell this many cookies. Since there are 8 of us, that means each girl needs to sell an average of X/8 boxes for us to meet our goal. But from the actual mechanics of the sales process I learned very little.

        And for actual money management we learned much more from managing the troop’s individual funds from dues and stuff like that then we did from the cookie sales.

    6. CAA*

      I was a girl member for 11 years in the 70s and early 80s, and a troop leader for 13 years in the 90s and 2000s, so I’ve seen the cookie program over a pretty long period and from multiple perspectives. I agree with you that it benefits the girls in many ways.

      When I was the senior manager in the office and got to make the rules, I was worried about the optics of a manager bringing in a cookie form, even though everyone knew that I was deeply involved in GS and would ask me about cookies anyway. I talked with a few coworkers and we arrived at the following general rules: all fundraising stuff was left in the kitchen or on your desk. You could send one e-mail to the office, but not to the wider corporation. You could bring a child in once per fundraiser to deliver the sold goods and collect money, but not to do sales pitches around the office. This ended up working very well as people weren’t pressured to donate, but could if they wanted to. For myself, I did not send the office-wide email but I would leave a sheet in the kitchen. Most years I was the only GS parent, but even when I wasn’t, people would typically add to the sheet that had the fewest orders so things were pretty even. I did not bring my daughter in to deliver cookies because the logistics just wouldn’t work.

      My DH is more like your Dad. He would pick up our daughter from school one day and take her to work to get orders then bring her back to deliver them. However, DH is not a manager, and like you, he won’t buy anything for a kid’s fundraiser unless the kid asks him herself.

    7. Bea*

      I was a scout and learned nothing about business from the setup. I respect that it’s something many leaders would like to paint it as but in reality it’s cute kids saying “would you like to buy some cookies?” “thank you!” I’ve never in all my years see anything else go into it, the setup is far too simple to bring complexity of a business lesson into it.

      Kids do fundraising for a million activities. The only ones I see as a business building lesson is the car washes because they’re actually working their tails off. Not hustling well known popular products we all wait for each year.

      I too buy from any booth I stumble upon because the organization is great despite my bland experience in my youth because my troop leaders were not good to put it nicely.

      1. Lindsay J*


        I think my troop leaders were excellent. (Well, the very first Daisy troop I was in for a year was terrible apparently, but I don’t even remember that.)

        I was bullied pretty badly towards the end of elementary school and all through middle school. And while I never 100% fit in with my troop (many of them were more popular and boy obsessed while I was a goth tom-boy) I was accepted there. Nobody was ever mean to me there. And I’m still in touch with a bunch of those girls to this day.

        And pretty much all of us stuck through with Girl Scouts from 1st grade through high school, and a bunch of us got our silver awards and quite a few gold awards.

        I learned next to nothing from the Girl Scout Cookie sales, except that people like to buy Girl Scout Cookies.

        I can see how I could have learned more. Like with booth setup, our parents and troop leaders did all of that. If they had included us in the process of contacting the stores for permission to set up, or had us calculate – based on information from past years – how many cookies we anticipated on selling in a 1 hour time frame, and the popularity percentage of each cookie so we had an estimate of what we should bring out, or had us work out among ourselves which girls would man the booth when while making sure there were at least 3 girls there at all times or whatever, I might have learned more. Or even, “Okay, each of you needs to sell 125 boxes for us to meet our goal. Based on out past numbers, it looks like 1 out of every 4 people we ask buy cookies, and each person who buys cookies buys an average of 5 boxes. To sell 125 cookies, how many people need to buy from you? 125/5=25. Okay. So you need an average of 25 people to buy from you. And so how many people will you need to approach on average to get those 25 buyers? 25X4=100.” And then we could have set SMART goals that way instead of just generic “I will sell 125 boxes” goals.

        As it was, it was pretty much say, “Hi, would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?” *hand them the order form* *They mark off the cookies they want to buy and total up the order themselves.* “Okay, your order will arrive in 6-8 weeks”.

        Or, at a booth. “Hi, would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?” “Sure. A box of Thin Mints and a box of Samoas please.” “Okay, that will be $6.” They hand parent money. Parent hands them cookies. “Thanks!”

  32. KR*

    On 4… I like to buy from booth sales rather than order forms brought into the office because then the interaction is with the Scout and she gets the experience of selling something and handling a transaction. Also they look so happy when you buy from them. Try your local grocery store or emailing your local troop to ask about upcoming sales.

  33. Observer*

    #5 Perhaps you would benefit by taking a step back and rethink how you deal with situation that are not rigidly structured. It struck me that you didn’t use the STAR format even though you were prepared for it because you were not explicitly asked for that format. And that your first thought when it was suggested was to consider rigidly and literally spelling out the terms.

    If the STAR format is an appropriate format, use it even if no one asked for it. But using it does not mean that you must call out each piece by using the STAR. It just means, in many situations, that you make sure that you actually cover those pieces in a narrative fashion. So, for instance, to answer the question of “tell us about a time when you worked well with others” You could respond with something like “My manager asked me to work with Sally, who was a new hire and still getting her bearing, and Jess who had a reputation as being somewhat prickly and impatient with people who weren’t up to speed, on a report for the CEO. (That lays out your Situation or Task) Since I was the lead on the project, I assigned the tasks, and tried to give Sally tasks that would be within her knowledge but showed that I had confidence in her. Also, in our project meetings, I mentioned research about how reacting well to mistakes and misunderstandings improves performance and to keep Sally from getting too worried about making mistakes and to keep Jess from jumping down her throat. (That lays out your Action) We wound up finishing the report ahead of schedule and Sally thanked me for helping her be more productive.. (There’s your Result.)”

    It’s a good framework to use for a lot of narrative type questions. But it would sound really weird to use the specific terminology unless asked for it. But, you can use the framework in your head without using the terminology in your actual response. And I’d bet that that’s what your contact was getting at.

  34. Jubilance*

    #5 – My company is big on using the STAR format. A few months ago I was able to go through some mock interview sessions with 4 managers who gave me some great tips on doing the STAR method:

    *In my prep I was indeed laying out my Situation, Task, Action and Result, but in speaking I was having trouble succinctly setting up the Situation, and that was leaving me to rush through the later points. When you prep, practice speaking your answers and make sure you can spend an equal amount of time on all the point.
    *Also I wasn’t clearly saying “I had this TASK, I took this ACTION, and the RESULT was X”…some interviewers are looking for those signal words, and some interviewers aren’t good about asking follow-up questions to get to the information they’re looking for. The feedback that I received was that I was able to articulate my tasks. actions and results, I just needed to pre-preemptively include that information in my initial response along with those keywords.

    Before your next interview maybe you can try practicing with a friend or coworker to make sure you’re clearly calling out all of the elements of the STAR format.

  35. Sled dog mama*

    All I could think reading #1 was if it’s inappropriate because everyone knows it’s fake what would that manager do with my co-worker who wears a wig almost every day? We all know its a wig.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      And people wear wigs for a ton of different reasons. I see this as no different from people wearing different headbands or headscarves every day. Unless the wigs are, say unicorn blue and neon green. That’s distracting. I keep shaking my head harder and harder at this manager.

      1. This IS My Real Name, Darn It*

        Now you’ve got me thinking about Mrs. Slocombe from the classic TV show Are You Being Served? with her ever-changing rainbow of wigs! (While some aspects of that show have present-day-me cringing, it was always worth tuning in just to see what color her hair would be for that episode.)

  36. Althea*

    #5, definitely make sure that your “situation” descriptions are specific to one time something happened to you. It drives me crazy when I ask “tell me about a time when” and the answer is “generally I do X, and find it’s good to do Y.” It’s extremely common in my experience, and never comes off well – it makes a candidate look like she doesn’t have a lot of experience to draw on, can’t answer the actual question asked, isn’t reflective enough to utilize experiences and learn from them, and is a poor communicator.

    If I have to follow up with “I’d like you to tell me about one specific instance when this happened to you” or something along those lines, I often still get no specifics! The individual anecdotes are important. Anyone can parrot that they have a habit of reaching out to communicate after a workplace disagreement. Telling me the specifics lets me evaluate if you actually DO it, how you do it, and if you have reflected on the experience and used it to improve yourself.

    I’d reflect on if the interviewers had to ask a couple times to try to get specific with you. That might be an indication if your answers are really following the format or are too general.

  37. matcha123*

    #4, as a former Girl Scout, I say save your writing hand and buy directly from the girl. There are troops that will set up booths in front of grocery stores or inside shopping malls. I went door-to-door with my parent when I did my newspaper deliveries. I was also pretty shy and hated talking to people.
    I always saw it as unfair that parents would take cookie forms (and those school fundraising forms) to work and get hundreds of signatures for their kids and the kid would act like it was their hard work. Not fair.

  38. Antilles*

    #2: “In a recent period of hiring I came across plenty of slightly strange (and some more than slightly strange) things that applicants felt the need to include in their resumes or cover letters. “
    I hope I’m not the only intrigued by this. I mean, I can’t imagine anything weirder than Exactly Four Days, but if this was just the weirdest-of-the-weird, I’m intrigued about what other “more than slightly strange” oddities you ran across.

    1. OP #2*

      Well… :)
      I should probably save longer anecdotes for the open thread, but here are a couple of quickies for you!
      – the person who opened their cover letter with “I am PhD.”
      – the person who included a half-written patent application with their materials
      – the person who included “reading out the oath” as a college achievement, but did not state their major or their GPA
      – the person who included quotes from one of my papers (without citation!) in their cover letter
      – the person whose English skills failed them and who declared “I am indeed greatly inexperienced in the area of this job”

      It was a stranger-than-average bunch, that’s for sure!

      1. NaoNao*

        Oooh is this academia? Sounds like it might be! That was my thought on the “four days” requirement. Many academics and those in the running are totally fed up with long timetables and “can you fly out tomorrow night on your own dime to interview with us” type set ups that seem pretty rampant in the industry. Not saying you’re doing it, of course! But that could explain it to people who are wondering why the applicant might think it’s okay—because academia really does play by different rules when hiring.

        1. Lora*

          I used to see this in Big Pharma, and I still have people cold-calling me in not-very-big Pharma with cover letters that make it clear they have zero clue and are really overconfident in their English fluency.

          A lot of it, I chalk up to people not ever having a job either before or in college and just not knowing a blessed thing about how to get one.

  39. jm*

    RE: Girl Scout cookies
    Do what I do with my nieces — just order cookies from both girls. You will not regret having extra cookies, I promise.
    However, I could see ordering cookies from just one girl, if that girl’s parent purchased a fundraising item from your child. Sort of a tit-for-tat on kid fundraising. Or, if you don’t know one parent/girl at all, but are close with the other parent/girl, I would order from the latter.

  40. Kat*

    at my son’s first pediatrician’s office, the PA who worked with his doctor had a TERRIBLE haircut. I mean absolutely awful, like this fluffy mullet that was simultaneously feathered but also greasy from too much product. I could barely stop myself from staring the first time I saw her.

    but you know what? She was a great PA, very friendly and professional, even with her horrendous haircut. If someone can have hair THAT distracting and still be great at her job, I fail to see why OP1 can’t keep her extensions.

    related: none of my business how someone wears their hair. Obviously, she wore her hair like that for a reason – it was her preference. It doesn’t matter one bit that I think it was a hot mess and it certainly did not impact her work, although I did find it less than professional. My perception was not reality, and neither is this manager’s. Even if OP1’s hair extensions are secretly terrible.

  41. Manager Mary*

    4: Just leave the forms in the staff kitchen or wherever and then THE END! It’s no one’s business how other people spend their money or how many cookies someone else’s kid sells, and there is absolutely no reason it has to be “fair”!

    If I’m friends with Jane or our kids play soccer together or whatever, I can buy all my cookies from little Jane Jr. I don’t have to split the order and give half to Fergus–a person I barely know and whose child I’ve never met–just because little Fergussina is also selling cookies and both forms are in the kitchen.

  42. Baby, you're a STAR*

    Regarding the STAR question (and also, I was trained to use STARR, with the final R for ‘relate to the position you’er applying for’) – I agree that I doubt she meant literally use that format. I’ve had similar feedback saying ‘use this format to structure your answers better’, and it’s been extremely helpful. I’d do that in the future.

  43. Vivien*

    #4 – Former Girl Scout, experience from the 90s. My dad posted it in his office one cookie season. I won the top tier prizes for selling the most cookies. However, the next year the higher ups told him he couldn’t because he was in a manager position, and people might have thought they could get in his good favor by buying his daughter’s cookies. I don’t THINK my dad was pushing, since he just put it up on the bulletin board, but I think they might have a point.

  44. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #2
    If I came across something a bizarre as this on a resume, it would go in the circular file (or electronic circular file nowadays). Someone who puts something like that on a resume is really out of touch and seems pretty high maintenance and picky to me.

    RE: #4
    I think OP is way overthinking this. Just put all the forms in the common area and let people order from whomever they want. Done.

  45. LawBee*

    #4 – easy answer. Either buy one box from everyone or buy from the girl down the street who is actually selling them herself.

    I hate the whole GS Cookie thing, mostly because anything based on numbers sold is going to be biased in favor of kids with parents who work in offices or have the time to stand with their kids outside the local store.

    (Don’t @ me.)

  46. KT*

    I wear a wig every day and I have had to endure comments and weird looks at my hairline. They are completely natural colors, non-flashy, human hair. I have alopecia and this is the only way I feel comfortable. Leave me alone, coworkers! I tell people I trust, but those who sort of sneer and literally look down their nose at me can just live with the mystery. I am judging you for judging me.

    1. Checkert*

      I, too, have alopecia and wear wigs, but haven’t experienced any of the pain from others you have (in fact, most people I have met are jealous and wish they could change their hair every day). I’m sorry you’re dealing with this KT :/

  47. chocolate lover*

    I vote just hang up the cookie sign and let people do their thing. I understand the spirit of wanting people to order from multiple scouts, but I’d consider that an inconvenience as a buyer, and would only order from one (probably from the colleague I knew best.) I wouldn’t want to deal with making separate payments to different people.

    I wish I actually knew people who did sell them, but these days I have to wait until they pop up at the grocery store and train station.

  48. Kelly*

    #4: I never buy GS cookies at work. I put it on par with MLM products; if I want it, I’ll ask someone. My job is not the place to try and sell me stuff.


  49. Elle*

    #4 at my dads rather large office everyone would bring in their order forms and hang them on a central bulletin board. Worked great until one woman started crossing off people’s orders and adding them to her kids list. She was then banned from bringing in the cookie order form.

  50. animaniactoo*

    Re: Girl Scout cookies – I tend to think just leave them as normally would, and then ask co-workers to add their name to the list of whoever has the fewest orders.

    Procrastinators – depends on what you mean by a procrastinator. If you mean “somebody who brought their form in a day after 2 other people” I would not consider that a procrastinator, but it might mean you guys agree on a 2 day grace period for everyone to put up their order sheets and then people start ordering. If you mean “somebody who brought their form in 4 days after the other one” – I would not count on that person getting any orders in at your place. You can’t leave them up indefinitely – they need to be circulated to other people, and I would not skip ordering on the first one to make sure the 2nd person got an order for fear that they don’t remember to bring it and I miss out altogether.

  51. Goya de la Mancha*

    #1: Manager is out of line in my eyes. HOWEVER, because I assume that this place as the lovely vague dress code that most places have and says “no distracting hair styles/colors” it’s now left to interpretation of each person, thus manager feels completely in their rights. At OldJob that basically meant no rainbow colored mohawks allowed. CurrentJob, it means no non-natural colors, but styles are a pretty open (you could probably get away with a brunette mohawk ;) )

    There’s also the whole…what your boss decides, no matter how crazy….
    It’s their business. If they choose to portray their company a certain way *shrug*. I’m not a fan and think it’s ridiculous, but I also don’t think that employees get to dictate how they present themselves on company time.

  52. Cornflower Blue*

    All this is talk about Girl Scouts is really strange to me because I was a Girl Guide in Europe (we had Scouts & Guides, where boys were Scouts and girls were Guides) and we were never expected to sell any official cookies or have a cookie season. What we did do was when the school held bazaars or events, we’d set up a table and sell homemade goods usually made by our parents. Boys and girls alike had to man the stall and make sales/take cash/give change.

    I had the idea of stacking some of the treats on trays and taking them around to the other vendors to make sales to them because hey, if you’re stuck behind a stall, you might want a snack. It worked out really well and I really loved seeing people’s faces brighten at the prospect of yummy homemade goods!

    An American vendor selling sports caps was so impressed by my ‘gumption’ that he gave me a free Yankies beanie and volunteered discounts for any other Scouts or Guides that made purchases from him.

    tl;dr – let the kids sell the stuff themselves, it’s fun! Not going around desk to desk, that sounds a bit distracting, but maybe setting up a table for an hour or two at lunch if they’re able to be checked out of school by their parents?

    1. bb-great*

      Most Girl Scout troops do set up cookie tables to sell the cookies themselves as well. Usually busy public places like outside grocery stores, at the mall, etc. in the afternoon or on the weekend. There’s also a picture floating around of a particularly enterprising troop selling outside a medical marijuana dispensary…

  53. Checkert*

    OP1 I have alopecia and wear wigs to work because showing up looking like a reverse dalmation (dark hair, white spots) is more disruptive than wearing different wigs every day. That manager and HR would have a bad day from me if they said something about it, and I’m betting there would be a memo at the least by the time I was through with them. Hair that is natural looking but just different every day falls well within guidelines, and them trying to outlaw it is playing with fire. Medical conditions exist, but even that aside, if their dress code says nothing about hair length then they have no leg to stand on to begin with.

  54. Gay Drunk Patriots Fan*

    THE MICHELLE LETTER FROM LAST YEAR!!!!!!!!!!! Oh man. AAM good times!!!!

    **starts humming “Memories”; co-workers stare at me like a crazy person**

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