open thread – February 2-3, 2018

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

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

{ 2,302 comments… read them below }

  1. suspension retention*

    I’m off work today but no by choice. I got a reprimand and a one day suspension at work and now I’m thinking I need to find a new job. What happened was I have a co-worker who was diagnosed with cancer. She mentioned to a few people she started a blog so she wasn’t annoying people with cancer talk all the time and her family and friends could read what’s going on with her. The blog is called “Jane’s” cancer fight. I got into trouble for calling her out for using the word fight in her blog because it implies people who died from cancer are losers who lost the fight when it is hardly the case. I was just wanting her to check her choice of word and do better. She complained to our boss about me to her boss and got other people to complain too. I wasn’t trying to upset her but I just wanted to bring attention to her choice of the word fight. She says her support group of people who had or have cancer or lost someone to it picked the title. Since I admitted to HR when asked that I’ve never had cancer myself or had anyone close to me have it [I have had acquaintances and co-worker’s who’ve had it but never any family members or close friends] and I’m not close to Jane, I was told I have no right to question Jane and no idea what I’m talking about. I didn’t intend to upset her by pointing it out. When I come back after my suspension I will be sent to a different team away from Jane and since the job/pay/location of the office are the exact same I have no legal leg to stand on. I’m feeling a little dumbfounded it went as far as a suspension. Do you think I’m right to be dumbfounded or did I cross the line? I have an issue with her word choice and not her. I’m using my suspension time off to look for a new job but I just wanted an outside perspective re: my situation and her choice of word. I’ve never been disciplined at work like this. Everyone at work thinks I should not have called her and no one is talking to me unless it is about work.

    1. Bad Candidate*

      I’m not sure it necessitated a suspension, but I don’t think you should have called her out either.

      1. Murphy*

        ^ This. I think you were wrong to say that to Jane, but your company’s reaction seems a little extreme.

      2. Samiratou*

        Agreed. It was out of line to comment on it, but it sounds like it got taken waaaay too far. It should have been a “this wasn’t your place, please don’t bring it up again” and apology to Jane and everyone moves on.

        1. Jesca*

          Yeah, I was wondering about their kind of nuclear response as well.

          OP, were you just called in and told this the first time management brought it up to you? Or were you told after at least one initial discussion?

          1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

            Or, OP, did you double down in justifying why you did it when called out? I would suspend someone if they dug in after I brought up an issue

        2. Snark*

          That’s probably what would have happened if Suspension Retention hadn’t doubled down on it with HR.

            1. INTP*

              Same. Suspending and then re-distributing her for one dumb comment would have been overkill, but honestly, I can see why they wouldn’t force Jane to work alongside someone that continues to be antagonistic about Jane’s verbiage about her cancer. (I know OP isn’t trying to be antagonistic for the hell of it, she’s probably thinking of the feelings of people whose cancer is terminal or whose loved ones have died, but that’s how this kind of thing is going to be perceived.)

            2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

              Me too. Is they said to HR what they said here, I can see why a suspension happened.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            Yeah, calling it out in the first place is pretty…outrageous. Then doubling down with HR is extra bad. I can see where this happened if they felt like they weren’t getting through to you. I’m not sure I would have given you a suspension, but they had to do something to ensure you wouldn’t do this again and steps 1 and 2 went nowhere. That’s how it sounds to me anyway.

      3. MuseumChick*

        This. Suspension Retention, you were in the wrong here. You don’t tell someone with a major, life threatening illness what words they can and cannot sure to describe what they are going through. I do think they went a little far if this is the first, and only time, you have done something like this.

        1. Emi.*

          I agree, but even so, it sounds like you’ve burned a lot of bridges so it’s probably good that you’re looking for a new job—not because this one is so unreasonable, but because you seem to have blown it up.

            1. serenity*

              The bridge with management? Or with colleagues? Cause I think, as far as coworkers are concerned, that bridge is gone.

                1. HRM*

                  I think it’s possible the bridge with coworkers could be rebuilt with a sincere apology and the passage of time, assuming this is the only incident and something like this never happens again.

            1. Emi.*

              Right, but “Everyone at work thinks I should not have called her and no one is talking to me unless it is about work” sounds like the end of your work relationships.

      4. INTP*

        This. Calling her out was definitely wrong. Suspension and moving you to a new team seems over the top for the original event – but, while I don’t know the entire sequence of events, I’m wondering if that wasn’t their original decision but was made after you stood by your words rather than admitting you were wrong to call her out and apologizing immediately.

        1. Amy S*

          I’m guessing the move was due to the 1.) Doubling down and 2.) creating a better work environment for Jane.

        2. Safetykats*

          I’m wondering if this is the first time something like this has happened. It sounds like it had to have gotten pretty out of hand, if “nobody” is talking to OP. But being transferred on top of being suspended sounds like the conversations HR had with the rest of the group led them to believe the relationships weren’t reasonably repairable – and that doesn’t generally happen based on one bad interaction.

          OP, I would take a good look at how you’re interacting with your coworkers. Maybe try hard not to be “calling out” anybody in the future. While there are situations in which it might be reasonable to insert yourself – for example, if a coworker is doing or saying something that is hurtful or damaging to another coworker – it really sounds like you’re just calling out people you don’t agree with, and in ways that may be hurtful or damaging to them. Since you can’t see that, your best bet is to try to silent if you can’t be supportive.

      5. puzzld*

        As a former cancer patient… I hate the “fight” and the adulation that sometimes goes with “cancer survivor” but I would NEVER tell someone they are doing cancer wrong, writing, speaking, treating. This is Jane’s cancer and if the fight metaphor works for her I’ll help her strap on her boxing gloves.

        The suspension and reassignment may have been over the top, but we don’t know the context. Have you sad insensitive, inappropriate things to Jane and/or others before? Anyway, yeah, I’d be thinking about looking elsewhere because you may find this tough to live down. Especially since you don’t seem to “get” where you went wrong. If you were sorry and able to sincerely apologize for a totally tone deaf incident OK. But you seem to be doubling down.

        1. TV Researcher*

          Same boat. I was diagnosed in May and find it uncomfortable to hear myself described as a fighter, especially because a co-worker passed away from cancer about six months after my own diagnosis. And I didn’t fight my cancer better than she did. I just got lucky in that I got a “better” type of cancer.

          But, then, I also hate when folks use the word brave to describe my situation. But, I guess the difference is that I get to decide what words to use to describe my situation and I’d be miffed if someone told me that the word I used to describe my situation was wrong.

          To the OP, I’d just apologize and keep my head down.

          1. Geillis D*

            I’m so sorry to hear about your co-worker, and wishing you an easy-as-possible route to recovery.

            I hope I’m not being tone-deaf (please tell me if I do) but as a mother of two very small former preemies, I have the same reaction whenever preemies are described as “fighters” or when their parents are “strong” and “brave”. My kids did not fight any harder than their NICU mates, who sadly didn’t make it, or survived with life-long disabilities. I wasn’t any stronger or braver than their moms.

            On the flip side, a family member was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and made the decision to not pursue treatment. That does not make them cowards, I have the utmost respect to their decision.

            For some reason it’s incredibly difficult to grasp that bad stuff will happen to people with no rhyme or reason, and there’s enough survivor’s guild as it is, no need to stoke it. But again, everyone is doing their own thing.

            1. Safetykats*

              I think people just apply the words that seem to work for them. When my aunt decided, after her cancer retuned following many years of remission, that she was not going to go through chemo again, she told us she “was tired of fighting.” She lived the rest of her life on her own terms, which takes a hell of a lot of courage.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s like the rule here about not jumping on letter writers for not using the exact perfect words that convey the exact perfect tone. Is Jane a friend who asked your input on the title before it went up? Then you can share your thoughts. Is she a work acquaintance who didn’t ask your opinion of her cancer vocabulary? Then you can have the thought in your head, and don’t need to share it with Jane.

        3. Anon Accountant*

          Same here. Cancer runs in my family and some relatives have said “fighting cancer” because it made them feel more “powerful” against their illness. If using those terms make someone feel better or helps them cope with a devastating illness then use them.

        4. nonegiven*

          You tell yourself what you have to, to get through it. Not everyone has the same needs for self talk. Sometimes you need the pep talk, sometimes you need a tranquilizer and Garbage cranked up really loud.

      6. LBG*

        Agree, this definitely falls into the “not my circus, not my monkeys” category. Why you thought you had any stakeholder claim to do this is beyond my comprehension. Why do people “care” so much about things that are so disconnected from themselves is a real point of confusion for me.

        1. Annoyed*

          Because they think they need to “check” their word choice and “do better.”

          I know we aren’t supposed to jump on the LWs and I’m trying here but I am seething with wanting to grab her, shake her around, and literally scream “who do you think you are?”

          One conversation one day where I said my son “died” someone not even remotely connected to me, or him, and who wasn’t really even part of the conversation proper was “triggered” by the word “died” and insisted I should say “passed/passed away” instead. Really? GTFHO!

      7. NNFN*

        Seriously. Also, there’s a difference between commenting on her word choice and “calling her out” on her word choice. Now I may be picking at word choice, but calling someone out sounds very adversarial.
        Commenting on it could have been done in an appropriate manner. I’d still question why you thought it was necessary, but if you felt strongly about “fight” being a hurtful word to use there are ways you could bring it up.
        I don’t think there’s any appropriate way to “call her out.”

        1. ContentWrangler*

          Also, it’s way over the top to find it necessary to “call out” something as insignificant as the title of a women’s personal blog meant mainly to serve as a journal and update for family/friends. This isn’t some national charity called Cancer Fight awarding gold medals to those who beat cancer. This is a woman dealing with a difficult disease who just wanted an outlet. You want her to check her choice of words and “do better”? You should check yourself.

    2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Sorry to say I do think you were out of line by taking this up with Jane. I’ve heard people object to the “fight” terminology, but I think there are appropriate times/places/venues to raise it, and with a coworker who actually has cancer is not the way to go about it, especially when you yourself have never been in her or her family’s shoes. I think a sincere apology to Jane is in order.

        1. Jesca*

          Well and one word can have multiple meanings depending on the context. Not every time the word “fight” or “battled” is invoked does it suggest the person is a loser for not “winning”. We can’t go around fighting all of the idiosyncrasies of the English language or we would never get anything else done! We just don’t have a word to describe someone fighting off a disease.

          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

            Yeah, I have no issue with “fight” myself, but I can see why people with personal experiences with cancer are sometimes sensitive to it. But it’s not the place of a non-cancer-affected person to tell a cancer survivor to “do better” on their word choice, in any case.

            1. Coalea*

              Yeah, I agree that the OP was totally in the wrong to question Jane’s use of the word “fight,” and the the “do better” comment really took things over the top for me. Completely tone deaf.

          2. Anon for this*

            Exactly. in fact OP is being offensive in a way by saying that people who lose a fight are “losers”. Is OP saying that fallen soldiers are “losers”? Is op saying that people who do their best but come in second are “losers”? It could certainly be taken that way.

          3. Triplestep*

            Yes, this is what I was thinking. I do get why cancer patients and those close to them might not appreiate having the word “fight” applied to their treatment, but “loser” is not the opposite of “fighter”. Not sure how we arrive at the implication that those who died must be “losers” if those in treatment are “fighters”.

            Regardless, the OP was out of line, and the reaction from the employer tells me there may have been other problems there.

            1. ExceptionToTheRule*

              After pondering this overnight, this is as true an observation as there is on this thread. We’re all going to die. Life is a terminal condition. Dying is not “losing” at life.

      1. Typhon Worker Bee*

        Came here to say the same thing. I think it’s fine to call out journalists, hospitals, physicians, researchers, charities/fundraisers, and others who use that terminology (I 100% agree with you that it’s extremely problematic), but not people who are in active cancer treatment.

        1. focusfriday*

          Right. In my work, we publish things about life with cancer, and we’re very conscious of avoiding those phrases. When dealing with a patient story, though? People can use their own words to describe what they are going/have gone through. And as I understand it, this was your co-worker’s personal life, so not something where your feedback was requested or–clearly–wanted. If I were dealing with cancer and a co-worker went out of their way to tell me I was doing it wrong, I would be upset.

    3. selina kyle*

      It does seem like you might’ve nit-picked word choice on someone who is already going through a lot.

    4. Laura*

      “Calling out” someone who has cancer over their word-choice on their personal blog seems very ill-advised.

    5. Grouchy Old Lady*

      eek! This is a tough situation. Their reaction seems very extreme but I wasn’t there. I would have thought an apology and a “don’t do it again” would be enough. I think you crossed the line in the away. You didn’t mean any harm but someone is going through presumably the most difficult time of their life and you criticized part of their coping mechanism.

    6. Trout 'Waver*

      Nitpicking word choice is against the commenting policy here because it just never goes anywhere productive.

      In your case, we have a real world example of why it’s a bad idea in general. I think you did cross a line on this one.

    7. Penny*

      I think you crossed the line. You’re nit-picking something that’s in her personal life. If it was an article for your work, yeah that’s something to bring up. But nothing something about her personal life.

      Also lots of people call it a fight against cancer; it’s not an uncommon phrase. A friend of mine had cancer and she said it quite regularly. And even as a friend, I would not have corrected her because it’s her life, her medical procedure, she can call it whatever she wants to encourage herself.

    8. Amadeo*

      So this was a personal blog she happened share with you and had little to do with work at all? I suppose it’s possible that Jane may have overracted, but I think with a new cancer diagnosis she’s going not have the bandwidth for shenanigans right now, and your nitpicking of her word choice for her personal blog was kind of uncalled for. You’re free to disagree with her word choice, but I think it was over the top to ‘call her out on it’, at work. I’m also curious as to how you went about this since it resulted in a suspension and, of all things, a relocation.

      Dude, it’s her personal blog, she’s just been diagnosed with cancer, leave her alone. She can use the word ‘fight’ if she wants to.

    9. LKW*

      You wanted her to check her choice of words when it’s her fight, her cancer and her life?

      You do not need to express all of your thoughts and get everyone to see your “side” of things – especially when it’s not work related.

      Clearly this wasn’t some softly tossed comment – you upset her to the point where you received a suspension and they are moving you to a completely different team.

      I think you’re not telling the whole story and your part in this.

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        “You do not need to express all of your thoughts and get everyone to see your “side” of things – especially when it’s not work related.”

        Oh my God, THIS. My mom used to say two things when I was growig up:

        1. We have private thoughts for a reason
        2. Not everything that goes through your head has to come out of your mouth

        Honestly, it’s such an insensitive and unkind thing to nitpick the word choice of someone who has cancer, combined with your company’s response to suspend/move you I have to wonder if they saw this more as a pattern of behavior rather than a one-off situation. If so they would have done well to point it out to you before this, but I think it’s worth reflecting on how often you’ve “corrected” co-workers like this in the past. It may well have been the last straw for them.

        1. Health Insurance Nerd*

          “Not everything that goes through your head has to come out of your mouth”

          I kind of love your mom. This is such a good saying.

            1. Pretend Scientist*

              Not quite the same, but Judge Judy says something in a similar vein: “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason”

        2. anonami*

          Haha, my mom said something very similar to me but I was in my twenties. She may have put it while I was younger but I have no recollection of this.

          Her way of putting it, though was just because you have a thought anonami does not mean that you have to share it

      2. Youngin*

        “Clearly this wasn’t some softly tossed comment”

        I 100% agree. It seems like there is more to the story or maybe some negative previous history we don’t know about. It seems weird that her comment (while unacceptable, rude and unsympathetic) warranted her being removed from her department and a suspension

          1. Luna*

            I mean if they are willing to tell a cancer patient to “do better” when talking about their own cancer I don’t even want to think about all the other words they probably take issue with. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if there had been other complaints.

      3. Anonyna*

        “You wanted her to check her choice of words when it’s her fight, her cancer and her life?”
        This. This 1000x. OP, it takes a person secure with themselves to the point of fault to tell a cancer victim how they can cancer victim better. I’m floored that when a coworker is talking about their fight for their life, all you can muster up is “your wording is offensive”. I’m actually not surprised you’ve been moved to another team at all; if I were Jane I’d want to be nowhere near you. Humility and empathy are useful tools in both personal and professional life; perhaps you could gain some while apologizing to Jane and trying to make things right with management and coworkers.

    10. Parenthetically*

      Wow. The correct response to hearing about that is either polite silence if you can’t think of anything constructive to say, or a kind hope that her blog will be helpful to her and others. The correct response is definitely not to “call her out,” apparently publicly no less, especially not when by your own admission you have zero personal experience of a battle with cancer, over a euphemism.

      1. WonderingHowIGotHere*

        All that went through my head was that scene from Bambi where little Thumper was made to quote his father
        “If you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

        Come on, if a baby rabbit in a 75 year old movie can get it, surely professional adults should too.

    11. Nervous Accountant*

      You did cross a line. It’s one thing to discuss it in an anonymous thread (maybe it’s coem up here in open threads, I’m not sure) but to say it directly to someone who’s battling cancer is…..Pretty out there.

    12. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      In my opinion, yes, you crossed a line. Yeah, you could totally interpret that title as the way you are, but it’s nitpicky and unkind. So why do it? Your best bet right now is to sincerely apologize, wish her the best, and then leave her alone. Since you currently do not understand why you were out of line however, you need to work on that. That said, they over reacted as well, unless you were really more obnoxious about it that you make it sound.

      1. Jaguar*

        Yeah, this is my suggestion. Spend the time coming to the realization of what you did was wrong and why, and when you’ve gotten there, make right with Jane by offering her a sincere apology. This is how you fix the situation.

    13. Likely*

      Honestly, what you said was really insensitive. My grandmother has cancer, and it really is a fight every step of the way for her. She feels like she’s at war with her own body. She has had to force herself to eat when she could barely keep anything down, and when she’s undergoing treatment she looks hollow and drained all the time. It’s not like she was assigning the word “fight” to anyone else’s experience with cancer – just her own, because it feels that way. Calling her out like you did is extremely invalidating of her experience, and it’s no surprise it was so upsetting.

      As for whether you should have been suspended, well. I kind of understand that too. It seems like your relationship is primarily as coworkers – not as friends – and you came across as attacking her about a very personal, already upsetting health situation when it would have been far more appropriate to stay out of it.

      1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

        This comment captures everything I wanted to say on the subject. +1.

        And wishing the best for your grandmother!

      2. EddieSherbert*


        I lost my brother to cancer and I don’t mind the “fight” terminology. We used it all the time with him because it was an accurate description for his situation, and we don’t see him as a “loser” for passing away. Just unlucky.

        Good vibes for your grandma!

    14. fposte*

      I’m not overfond of the trend to call it a “fight” myself, and I understand the differentiation you’re making intellectually; I also know you’re feeling a bit stunned right now. But in real life that differentiation is not one that matters, and she doesn’t have to “check her choices” or “do better.” You told a cancer patient she was talking about her disease wrong, and co-workers are mad at you because that was a considerable unkindness to somebody ill and it makes people uncertain about what else you’d consider more important than other people’s feelings.

      It’s not enough not to intend to upset people. This doesn’t impact your work, and it doesn’t impact you at all anywhere near the way it does her; even if you were an authority on the terminology, which you’re not, it’s madly inappropriate to “correct” her. What I’d do if you were one of my staffers could be any number of things, but you were way out of line.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          My mother died of cancer in early May after being diagnosed in late February. 10 weeks from diagnosis to death. My brother took the “you’re not fighting hard enough route” and got himself written out of her will for being an insensitive jerk. And was then surprised by it.

          1. Snark*

            I can see the place of fear of impending loss that welled up out of, but actually saying it to the person…..yeahhhhhhhhh, that gets you written out.

              1. Lora*

                A disappointing number of people think like this. Which is why I don’t share any medical stuff with a lot of people, including folks I used to count as friends.

              2. Kelly*

                Sorry for your loss. It’s hard losing someone that fast.

                My mom died from cancer in 2016. She had been in remission for over a year before it came back and had spread beyond the original site. The doctors caught it beginning of July, although in retrospect the signs where there starting in April that it had come back and she died first part of October. The last month was the worst because it was obvious that nothing was working and it was only a matter of time. We didn’t expect everything to happen so suddenly.

          2. paul*

            Someone made a similar comment after my gramma passed; I thought I was going to have to bail mom out of jail to make the funeral.

          3. a different Vicki*

            I’m sorry for your loss, and for your brother’s cluelessness–both in saying that, and in being surprised that your mother reacted the way she did.

        2. Triumphant Fox*

          There is something so incredibly tone-deaf about this situation that I’m not really surprised at the suspension. It’s telling that HR asked OP about any stake with regards to cancer – Any relatives/friends/animals suffering or having lost the battle with cancer? No? Ok, then.

          OP seems to be treating this as an intellectual issue, when it is fundamentally not. Digging in your heels and confronting to a suffering person to the point where you’re both judging them (Do better!) and questioning the very way they understand their own suffering is a serious signal to management. The thing is, OP didn’t apologize, confess to HR that this was misguided and doesn’t have an emotional reason that explains this inappropriate behavior. In that situation, I get why serious action was taken and this person was removed from working with Jane.

          Cancer (and chronic illness in general) is also SO impacted by the energy/support/attitude of those around you. As a manager, I can imagine wanting to create an environment that was as conducive to my employee’s recovery as possible and removing someone who was actively questioning/challenging/judging that employee from the situation would be on that list.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            I think HR was being very sensitive here… realising it was a pretty horrific thing to call out someone fighting cancer for word use (and she IS fighting cancer because that’s how SHE defines her own situation) … but also wanting not to be harsh if OP was dealing with it herself. Their response would have been very different if the answer was “my mother has cancer, she isn’t going to get better and gets very upset by that word…”

            Then they’d probably have gently explained why you don’t behave like this, and could have been able to smooth things over with colleague (“I know, she was wrong to say it, but here is context… are you ok if we have a word and leave it there?”)

            1. CEMgr*

              Yes, I think you’re right, HR was being compassionate by looking for an angle that could possibly mitigate the offense. And didn’t find one.

              1. Anna Held*

                I disagree. Everyone needs to be treated equally — it shouldn’t matter who that person is, or what their experiences are (or are willing to discuss with HR), it’s about what they said and how they said. And HR should absolutely know this! If OP had lied and said she’d lost her beloved grandma to cancer, would it all have been OK? I don’t know why they pried that much into it in the first place. I’m surprised it wasn’t just a reprimand once the OP had admitted she’d said it. Why ask about relatives at all?

                I think everyone’s overreacting. Maybe OP is 100% at fault, but maybe it’s a toxic environment and the OP chose a very poor way to push back (it happens, and it’s clear people don’t always realize they’re in a toxic environment). OP, time for some soul-searching as well as job searching. But this might be for the best in more ways than you realize.

                1. McWhadden*

                  Context always matters. It is not remotely logical to treat everyone the same as you are suggesting.

                  If OP had lost a loved one to cancer her objection would make more sense with that context. She would have heard Jane suggesting her loved one just didn’t fight hard enough. That is needed context. It would make OP’s otherwise baffling actions somewhat understadnable.

                  But OP didn’t she just wanted to correct a woman facing the prospect of her own mortality about the words she chose.

    15. JokeyJules*

      I don’t think you should have “called her out” either. She didn’t ask for your opinion on her choice of the use of the word, and that wasn’t your business to call her out on.

    16. Been there*

      It was probably not a good choice to call her on it. But I lost my dad to cancer and wholeheartedly support the effort to get people to stop using “fight.” My dad didn’t die because he didn’t fight hard enough, he died because cancer sometimes kills no matter what.

      1. anna green*

        Yes! 100% agree. My mother in law died of cancer, and I feel the same way. And yes, it was also not a good choice to call her on it.

      2. Snark*

        Sure. But if that framing makes sense to the patient, and they need that adversarial relationship with it to get through, that’s their choice. Where I think it makes sense to push back on this is with well-meaning others try to impose that framing as a pep talk. A good friend of mine died of pancreatic cancer, a variety that is basically not survivable, and he had friends and family that were like “YOU GONNA BEAT THIS THING WOO” and he’s like “No, actually, I’m probably going to die sooner than later, so please cut the shit, thanks.” And they needed the callout. But I would not dare demand a cancer patient “do better.”

        1. paul*


          I’ve framed some of my health issues as fights. That doesnt’ mean I think I’ll win; god knows I’ve lost physical fights too, can’t win every time. And with anxiety it’s more a long running stalemate where I fight to keep it in check.

          But it’s a framing that works for me and if someone tells me not to use it, the hell with them.

        2. Been there*

          Not sure where the “do better” quote came from. That was not in my comment anywhere, prehaps you misplaced your reply.

            1. Been there*

              Ok, got it. I wouldn’t dare call a cancer patient on that either if that is how they need to frame. I was just trying to point out how the warrior/fighter stance around cancer feels to those whose loved ones don’t make it. I understand people saying it doesn’t make anyone a loser, but it honestly feels that way sometimes, like they just should have fought harder. It is just hard, cancer sucks.

              1. Snark*

                It does suck. And like I said, I totally share your reservations with that narrative and framing device, as it’s commonly understood.

              2. Jesca*

                I understand. trust me I soooo do. But the warrior stance isn’t about any of us. It is about the person going through it.

                1. Been there*

                  If that’s the stance THEY choose. Many people pushed “fight it” “you’ll beat this” on my dad.

        3. Jesca*

          My sister-in-law is dying of cancer. My siblings, their significant others, and myself are all very close. The first time around it was a “fight” to her. The first time it came it back was less of a “fight” mentality and more of an “be aware that not all the stats presenting are accurate for cancer survival”. This last time, it is more of a “live the life you have while you still have time” mentality. (from diagnosis to now it has been like only 4 years). None of those responses are wrong as it is a personal choice. Just like you can’t tell a person with cancer to “suck it up” or “fight it”, you also cannot tell them not to look at it like it is a “fight”. They are the ones going through it and it is their choice in how they chose to label it.

      3. Observer*

        I agree with you. I commented on this just this week (on the post about a cancer survivor who invalidates everyone else in the place.)

        That doesn’t make what Suspension did at all appropriate. There is a time and a place for efforts of this nature. And calling out the cancer patient WHEN SHE IS JUST STARTING HER TRIAL is so far from the right place, that it’s “in a galaxy far, far away”. And then the OP seems to have doubled down on it – there was clearly a conversation with HR about it, but no apology. And, the OP still doesn’t see that she was out of line and STILL thinks that it’s ok for her to expect a cancer sufferer to “do better”.

      4. Spider*


        Kind of a funny story in retrospect…. My mother died of cancer a few years ago and loathed any kind of “warfare” terminology about her illness, and she was very open about this –she was a dyed-in-the-wool anti-war pacifist and was deeply uncomfortable with analogizing her experience with cancer to a soldier in combat. Not surprisingly, she was adamant that the phrase “battle with cancer” not appear in her obituary.

        She was also an active member of a Unitarian Universalist church full of other dyed-in-the-wool anti-war pacifists, to the point where the whole congregation frequently marched together in protest marches during the early years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

        After she passed away, I wrote her obituary for the newspapers, her college alumni bulletin, and her remembrance card for the memorial service at her UU church, and of course I respected her wishes regarding terminology. I hadn’t realized that the UU church would write their own obituary for her in their newsletter, and guess what their opening phrase was? JUST GUESS.

        “After a long battle with cancer…”


        (My mom would have found this funny, though, so I didn’t mind…too much!)

        1. Samata*

          I think that memory will make you smile for many years. The ironic ones usually do when you look back.

        2. Typhon Worker Bee*

          A late online friend, the much-missed Jeanne Sather, wrote her own obituary to avoid this kind of language. She wrote some lovely posts about that process, but sadly the blog archives are no longer available.

          Some related quotes & posts I managed to find:

          ‘Let’s start with the cliches: “Died after a long and courageous battle with cancer.” Everyone who dies of cancer is automatically brave. Read the obituaries, you’ll see what I mean.

          Notice all the military metaphors and male imagery? Why is that?’

 (scroll down to Soapbox #5: the Language of Cancer)

          ‘No one ever dies after a “brief, cowardly skirmish” with cancer, she said laughing in a recent interview. But she’s still hoping for a better alternative, maybe “lived well with cancer,” or “died after her long dance with cancer has come to an end.”‘

          (I miss Jeanne. I started reading her blog after I got a new job in a breast cancer research department, and was suddenly working on clinical research projects for the first time, rather than just lab-based science. I wanted a patient’s perspective, went googling, and found a treasure trove of thoughtful writing about cancer that changed a lot of my thinking.

          When the internet’s good, it’s really really good).

          1. Triumphant Fox*

            “Died after her long dance with cancer” … I just love this in a way I didn’t expect. Thanks for sharing.

            1. StevieIsWondering*

              LOVE “the brief, cowardly skirmish” and “dance with cancer”; those made me laugh.

      5. Jaguar*

        Some fights are unwinnable. Describing a fight with cancer doesn’t imply that if someone dies from it they didn’t fight hard enough. In a literal fight, you can fight twice as hard as your opponent and lose. I really don’t understand this sensitivity to describing going through treatment for something as a fight.

        1. Typhon Worker Bee*

          Part of it is that the “fighting” language from family, friends, and the media can pressure some people to opt for more aggressive treatments than they might be truly comfortable with. Sometimes it’s in a person’s best interest to make the most of the time they have, and start thinking about palliative care a lot sooner, than it is to go through extra rounds of very debilitating treatment with poor long-term success rates. There’s some research out there about how doctors and other medical professionals with poor prognoses tend to opt for fewer rounds of treatment than the general public – they know that in some situations, less is more.

          This is all of course hugely dependent on the specific diagnosis and the individual person. My FIL chose the acceptance/palliative care route, because he’d seen friends go through horrible side effects for treatments that would buy him a few extra months at most. It was the best choice for him and for the family.

          1. Jaguar*

            Okay, I can understand that. Thanks.

            Speaking to the broader conversation people are having, though, I don’t think it rises to the level telling people what they should and shouldn’t say. All language is persuasive and interpretive. One person’s freshened the house up is another person’s doing chores. Telling people what language to use because some people might make the decisions they otherwise wouldn’t seems like a poor standard. (I know you didn’t make any value judgement on whether or not to police other’s language)

          2. ExceptionToTheRule*

            This was my mom’s situation. One doctor who didn’t want to do any chemo & one who was willing to try something. All chemo did was make Mom sick. The cancer still spread like ditch weed in the spring. She isn’t any less dead and I’m left wondering how much chemo may have shortened what time she had left.

            HOWEVER, it made Mom feel better to try and there was no way I’d have said anything that would have taken away her hope.

      6. Kelly*

        My mom passed away from cancer and I also don’t like the term “fight”. I have family that uses that term and when they do, my response is a succinct “cancer sucks”. The one family member that uses that term does have a tendency to latch on to anyone with an illness or injury and try to play caregiver, regardless of how the person feels about both her and their illness.

    17. Susan K*

      Yes, you were out of line for arguing about her blog’s title. This poor woman has just received some of the worst health news a person can get and is preparing for a really rough time, and nitpicking the way she describes it is pretty insensitive. I can definitely understand Jane being upset about it. I don’t think using the word “fight” is at all offensive to people who have died from cancer (and I do have family members and friends who have died from cancer), and it is a commonly-used term for people being treated for cancer.

      Now, whether or not the discipline was warranted depends a lot on the circumstances. If you just said once that you didn’t like the title of her blog because of the implications about people who have died from cancer, that probably wouldn’t warrant disciplinary action. It sounds, however, as though you may have argued extensively and/or repeatedly about this, which may have made Jane feel harassed about her health problems, and I can see how your manager and/or HR would sympathize with her and want to protect her from being attacked for this.

      1. MsM*

        Or at the very least, they might not have wanted Jane to decide she was being harassed and the company wasn’t doing enough to prevent it.

      2. Rat Racer*

        This! OP, I think we’re missing a lot of the context around what your interaction was like with Jane. We can all acknowledge that it was unwise to nit-pick Jane’s word choice on her personal blog. But your question isn’t about whether you were in the wrong, it’s about whether your company over-reacted.

        When Jane went to management did you back down or escalate? I think the legitimacy of your company’s reaction really depends on the nature and dynamics of this conflict.

    18. DCompliance*

      “I got into trouble for calling her out” …your own words. Why would you feel the need to call her out? If you felt so strongly about this, you should have least approached her in a more delicate manner.

    19. AP*

      You were very rude to someone diagnosed with cancer, and is trying to come to terms with it via a blog, by nitpicking a word choice and telling them that they were wrong to use a word you disagree with.

      At the very least, your timing was very, very poor. But poor timing and what comes off as telling someone that their way of coping with a cancer diagnosis is ‘wrong’… well, I don’t really think this discipline is out of line, though a bit on the harsher side of the bell curve.

      This is the sort of thing where you might just eyeroll and move on, if you feel strongly about it. You’re in a professional environment, is it worth picking a fight over someone’s word choice in a severe life event? It’s poor judgment.

    20. The Person from the Resume*

      This shouldn’t be a work issue because you should not have called a co-worker out about the name of her personal blog at work.

      You called what you did “calling out” that seems harsh for a woman with cancer. And it also sounds like you doubled down and argued when she didn’t agree.

      Maybe work overreacted; maybe work didn’t. Your details are too vague to guess but suspension should not be for something mild so someone (other than Jane) thought you pushed too hard on someone who’s fighting cancer. Note: “Fighting cancer” is a common usage. Like fighting a cold and other similar usages

    21. it_guy*

      Of my Mom’s 7 brothers and sisters, everyone has had or died from cancer, so I don’t think the word choice inappropriate, because they are literally in a fight for their lives. I don’t think it was appropriate to call Jane out, but I feel it even more inappropriate to take it to the level of a reprimand.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        There is a war between life and death going on inside a person’s body. What else would you call it? Some people win fights, just like some nations win wars. Not really sure what you hoped to accomplish by telling her to use a different word.

      2. neverjaunty*

        …you think reprimanding someone for “calling out” a cancer patient is worse than the “calling out” itself? Really, why?

        1. Samata*

          I took it as it_guy saying taking it to the level of reprimanding Jane for her word choice, not the reprimand the company laid down, but I could have misread it.

          1. it_guy*

            What I intended to say was the word choice of was not out of line, so I didn’t see a problem with it. Calling out Jane wasn’t appropriate, and reprimanding the OP wasn’t appropriate.

            A trifecta.

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              Reprimanding was absolutely appropriate – and probably HR are looking at protecting themselves – they cannot allow cancer patients to feel bullied by colleagues.

    22. ExcelJedi*

      To be honest, depending on how you ‘called her out’ – that is, if it was as confrontational as that phrase sounds – I would have probably suspended someone, too. If you just mentioned it to her once and let it go, I think that was really bad judgement but not suspension-worthy.

    23. Shoe Ruiner*

      I think your company’s reaction was extreme. I think you are allowed to have an opinion on word choice regardless of if you or someone you love has had cancer – you are allowed to think through things and decide how you feel about them. This idea of “well you never went through X so you don’t get to have an opinion” really bugs me in all circumstances.

      And I think it was inappropriate and insensitive for you to call out a coworker. Consider time/place/manner/relationship and what there was to gain from saying something.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Nobody is depriving anyone of simply having an opinion. What a strawman.

        1. Natalie*

          I think it’s coming from this portion:

          Since I admitted to HR when asked that I’ve never had cancer myself or had anyone close to me have it […] I was told I have no right to question Jane

          which *is* terrible logic, since having personal experience with cancer isn’t remotely the point. The OP’s correction of her coworker would have been inappropriate no matter how much personal experience with cancer OP had, since it’s never a permission slip to tell someone else how to frame and approach their own experience.

          I get what Shoe Ruiner was reacting to because I rolled my eyes a bit at that part too. But regardless, it’s a bit of a red herring since it sounds like the OP has bigger issues to deal with at this workplace.

          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

            I know what part of the post it’s coming from. HR wasn’t having this chat for OP simply ~having an opinion~, it was for “calling out” Jane. It was valid of them to ask about OP’s own experience, since, while it would be inappropriate regardless, knowing that background would help HR better understand how the situation arose and figure out how best to respond.

            1. Natalie*

              Eh, disagree that it was relevant in the way it was phrased, but there’s also not much benefit in pulling apart language we’re hearing third hand. I just didn’t find Shoe Ruiner to be constructing a strawman argument, that’s all.

              1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

                Strawman may not have been the correct rhetorical term, but framing it as OP not being “allowed to have an opinion” is patently absurd.

                1. Shoe Ruiner*

                  Hi! I think my frustration with that part of the post overshadowed the point I wanted to make, which is that not every opinion needs to be shared. Did not mean to derail the conversation or distract with absurdity.

                2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

                  @Shoe Ruiner, sorry I didn’t respond to your post in full and that my initial reply was flip. I appreciate the point you’re making about the distinction between having an opinion and sharing an opinion. I agree that a loved one with cancer shouldn’t be a get-out-of-screwup-free card, but I can understand why HR would want that background when figuring out how to address the situation without trying to shame OP for having an opinion on something outside of their experience.

                3. Shoe Ruiner*

                  No need to apologize, it’s all good. I hurt my point by burying it under some not-necessarily-related frustration, I see that now.
                  Thank you for that perspective on where HR might have been coming from – I definitely did not give them the benefit of the doubt there.

          2. Nita*

            Maybe HR asked this question to figure out if there were some extenuating circumstances, for example whether OP had their judgment clouded by losing someone to cancer.

            1. Shoe Ruiner*

              That’s a good point, I didn’t consider that angle. I interpreted it with less-good intentions which may not be fair.

            2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

              This is my thought, and if OP had lost a loved one to cancer, HR might have made them aware of an EAP, for example.

              1. Anony*

                If something has affected you personally, you are more likely to have an emotional reaction and not necessarily exhibit good judgement. HR probably would have handled the situation with more compassion if that were the case. But it generally isn’t a good idea to have an academic debate with someone who is personally affected. It is likely to come off as callous.

            3. Bostonian*

              Yep. I interpreted that as HR determining if OP personally felt offended/hurt by Jane’s word choice because of something personal.

              1. Annoyed*

                Even if OP was personally hurt by Jane’s word choice, it is Jane’s personal blog.

                OP has no stake, no standing, no place regarding Jane’s choice of language. Full stop.

                OP way overstepped with the misguided idea that their opinion should matter. It does not.

                Considering the long missive trying to justify things to us, I can only imagine the floor of the HR office has gouges in it from how firmly OP’s heels dug in when reprimanded.

                If I were Jane I wouldn’t want OP anywhere near me again, ever. The transfer is a good thing.

            4. CEMgr*

              Yes, I agree that this is a likely explanation. HR was acting out of compassion and looking for possible mitigation of the OP’s actions.

          3. Shoe Ruiner*

            Thank you! Yes, that’s what I bristled at. I think my frustration at that overshadowed the rest of my point. I agree with the other points being made that not every opinion needs to be shared. The way I wrote my post ma have distracted from that point, which was not my intention.

          4. Slartibartfast*

            I think HR was looking for reasond to cut OP some slack. If they had a family member who had cancer and loathed the term, that would frame a reason to react as strongly as OP did to the word choice. It would also be a patch of common ground to rebuild bridges on.

            1. Aunt Piddy*

              That’s what I was assuming. Then HR could say to Jane, “I’m so sorry, Suspension retention recently lost their mother to cancer and she is especially sensitive to that kind of imagery right now,” or something similar. Instead it’s “Wow, Suspension retention decided to harangue a cancer patient over the wording of her personal cancer treatment blog for no reason other than semantics.”

            2. Bagpuss*

              Yes, I wanted to suggest this, it sounded to me as though they were looking for any extenuating circumstances.
              (we actually had a situation recently where we made a decision not to sack someone because we took into account their personal circumstances and the fact that those circumstances were likely to have affected their judgement. It was easier for us in that the victim in our case was one of the business owners, not an employee, which meant that they were aware of the surrounding situation,and also that they were involved in the decision about the outcome)

          5. Someone else*

            I think the point of asking that wasn’t that the outcome would be terribly different, nor that having personal connections makes the OP’s remarks more appropriate. I think the point was they may have communicated with OP slightly differently after asking. Like if it turned out to be one person with cancer quibbling with another person with cancer’s phrasing, then the discussion is maybe slightly softer, and about how you get to use whatever terms you deem appropriate for your own disease and leave other people to theirs. Or maybe they would’ve cut the OP some minor slack if it turned out this was more of a riled-due-to-own-personal-trauma-and-blurted scenario. It’d be a very subtle difference since the issue is still boundaries, but if there were some underlying reason (such as “I also have cancer and find that language upsetting”) I could maybe see it going in the direction of “that’s understandable but this is still unacceptable”.

          6. Akcipitrokulo*

            I think hr may have been lookung for mitugating factors as they wouldn’t have been harsh on someone who was objecting because of personal experience and dislike if the word from that.

      2. Snark*

        “This idea of “well you never went through X so you don’t get to have an opinion” really bugs me in all circumstances.”

        You can have an opinion on anything you please. But if that opinion is to police and invalidate a cancer patient’s word choice, having never faced a terminal health scare yourself to understand what headspace they’re in, the best choice is probably to keep that opinion firmly to oneself.

      3. Observer*

        Except the company didn’t tell her that she doesn’t get to have an opinion. They said that she doesn’t get to push her opinion on someone else!

        1. fposte*

          Yup. And pushing it at work about somebody’s private-life terminology about an experience that is legally protected. I suspect the suspension might be a reaction to fear of a hostile work environment claim.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I was thinking that, too – cancer is covered under the ADA, if I’m not mistaken. The company may be protecting themselves from a harassment claim by Jane, by demonstrating that they thoroughly disciplined the offender. More of a CYA than mere necessary discipline.

            1. Misa*

              Yes I was thinking this too. It feels like there is more to this story but regardless I can see enough here that HR likely felt it was important to take firm and clear action to protect Jane and themselves as a result.

      4. Not a Morning Person*

        Of course we all have opinions; we just don’t express all of them because we use our judgement on whether those opinions will be welcome, helpful, useful, or just cause ill will, hurt, or drama. I’ve heard it expressed as “Keep your opinion to yourself” and “Least said, easiest mended.”

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Also if your opinion is “the grandboss is ugly and incompetent and I wish he’d keep his red sports car away from everyone else because it’s just showing he’s having a mid life crisis” then assuming sharing that at work wouldn’t have consequences is naive to say the least :)

      5. Shoe Ruiner*

        I must have come off wrong, I didn’t realize. I really bristled at the part of the original post when the OP’s company asked if they or anyone they loved ever had cancer. I don’t think that matters in terms of how they acted. I agree they shouldn’t have called out their coworker, that was my last point. I wanted to say that both things can be true – you can think a thing, and not have to say a thing.

        1. Lalaroo*

          I think most people read the first part of your comment and got upset, then replied without reading the rest. You clearly wrote that what OP did was inappropriate and insensitive, so the only way the replies make sense is if people didn’t see the last bit.

          1. Shoe Ruiner*

            Thank you – I sort of buried my point under some frustration (for unrelated reasons, I am pretty sensitive about having opinions shut down) and I think I hurt my point in doing so. I can see why it happened, this is a really sensitive topic.

      6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        There’s nothing about Suspension Retention being not “allowed to have an opinion” on this. Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you’re entitled to express it, and when you are not a cancer patient or close to any cancer patients, telling someone how they ought to frame their fight with cancer is in incredibly poor taste.

        Some opinions need to stay inside your head, at least while you’re at work.

      7. Violet*

        I don’t think that HR asking whether the OP or any of their friends/family have been through cancer was intended to determine if they could have a dissenting opinion. If Jane and OP were my employees and I asked OP this question, I would be trying to riddle out if the OP may have had such an extreme reaction because they were dealing with the loss of someone from cancer, and they were acting out due to grief – which might have meant that they would have been sympathetic and not suspended the OP.

    24. PR for Now*

      Woah, yeah, you leaped over the line. The biggest sticking point is that you’re not close to Jane and she is a coworker. Whatever your opinions are on her word choice in her personal blog about her cancer journey, they’re not welcome or needed. Navigating a cancer diagnosis and treatment is a super personal thing, she’s probably feeling vulnerable and your criticism of her word choice was hurtful to her. Sometimes being compassionate means keeping opinions to yourself and lending a listening ear. Good luck in your job search.

      1. Snark*

        A very, very close friend or family member might just barely be able to bring this up, if they approached it delicately and as a thoughtful and listening-heavy discussion. Maybe. A coworker’s standing to police a cancer patient’s word use is nonexistent.

        1. fposte*

          And even then, you don’t “call them out,” because they’re not making a mistake. They’re using a terminology that could be worthy of discussion, if you thought that discussion could be valuable in some way beyond merely convincing the other person of what you thought.

          1. Snark*

            Yep, exactly. If you thought that framing was – purely by way of example – not serving them well emotionally and were concerned that every time their condition worsened they were beating themselves up for not “fighting it” well enough, or something, then a close friend/family member could thoughtfully and sensitively bring it up. But “check your choices” and “do better” are not – not not not not not not NOT – part of that discussion.

            1. Jesca*

              Exactly. The person going through it gets to look at the way that works for them. If you see they are looking at the “fight” mentality like it is “win or I’m a failure” as opposed to “doing all I need and CAN do” type of thing, then yeah I think a conversation to reframe it then is warranty. People look at the word “fight” differently. A lot of times means “I’m going to do everything I can” but accept the outcome.

          2. Rat Racer*

            Yeah, what do you mean by “calling someone out” OP? Did you casually mention over email that her word-choice was problematic or did you confront Jane publicly leading to a heated argument?

    25. paul*

      You nitpicked someone’s word choice about dealing with an illness while they’re dealing with that serious illness. Yeah…I’d be side eyeing you too.

    26. Snark*

      Yeah, I’d take the administrative smack on the hand and the social fallout as a learning and personal growth opportunity, because calling out a cancer patient on how she chooses to frame her treatment and recovery period is staggeringly out of line. No, you had precisely zero right to question her or call her out on her language, regardless of how other cancer patients and survivors feel about that language as applied to their own situations. She has a right to use whatever word she deems best to frame her fight, recovery, struggle, or whatever it is, because it’s HERS. Your policing of that was aggressively sanctimonious and crashingly inappropriate, and I have no doubt she found it intensely upsetting, and am not surprised that your coworkers are aghast. And while suspension is a pretty strong reaction, I think one was merited, because you were far out of line.

      1. Snark*

        And if you can do so sincerely, you need to apologize to Jane thoroughly, specifically, and without qualifiers like “if I offended you.” And not in the “if I feed apologies into the machine, eventually it’ll drop me a forgiveness, right” mode of apology – you might not repair your relationships with these coworkers or with Jane. You just need to own and express contrition for the offense you caused.

    27. Temperance*

      I do think you crossed the line. She has cancer, and is calling her battle a fight. That’s fine! She gets to do that! You do not have cancer, and have never had cancer.

      It absolutely does not mean that people who die from cancer or related issues are “losers”. Sometimes, there are no winners.

    28. Undine*

      It sounds you doubled-down when you talked to HR. “I have an issue with her word choice and not her” is nowhere near “I’m really sorry she has cancer and I didn’t mean to say something that makes it harder for her to deal with it.” This was a time to just keep it to yourself. They may have concerns that you don’t understand how serious this was and that you may do it again.

      It also sounds like you’ve alienated your current coworkers to the point that it would be difficult to keep you on the team. Moving you to a different team could be the best thing for you, since working with people who don’t want to speak to you could be pretty horrible.

    29. Alpha Bravo*

      Yes. You were out of line. My spouse died of cancer and his last months absolutely were a fight. Not a fight to “beat” the cancer. That was not a battle he could win. He fought for more time with his family. I promise you this was no “loser.” This was a battle-scarred warrior who died fighting. Please learn from this, and in your own words, do better.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In a similar idea, my husband pulled out all the stops to try to regain his health. He even went as far to get into a therapy pool to try to help his body along. The man did not swim and avoided pools all his life. I have never seen anyone work so hard and cast so many of their personal fears to one side in order to regain their health.
        Honestly, OP, I think if he heard someone debate the word fight, his response would be “Word choice is chump change. There are far bigger issues to deal with in every moment of every day.” In other words talking about word choice indicates the person seems to have no idea of the severity or the magnitude of the problem and all the work that is involved here.

      2. Where's the Le-Toose?*

        Not a fight to “beat” the cancer. That was not a battle he could win. He fought for more time with his family.

        It’s not very often someone can get me to tear up at my keyboard. Very well said.

    30. Tuesday Next*

      Yes, you’re entitled to your opinion. No, you should not have “called her out”, or made any comment at all. It’s 100% none of your business. You owe her an apology.

      Your suspension seems a little over the top, unless there’s something else going on that you haven’t shared.

    31. Semi-regular*

      Well apparently I’m in the minority because I don’t think their reaction is extreme, in fact, I would have fired you if it were up to me. I think your tone of not understanding what you did wrong came across in the discussion with your manager and probably led to the suspension decision. In my opinion, you were appallingly wrong. You’re entitled to your opinion and you’re entitled to voice it, but sometime your freedom of speech comes with consequences.

      1. Luna*

        Yeah I mean I’m not sure if I would have fired them, but this just shows staggeringly bad judgement. A suspension seems reasonable. I would be worried that a) they somehow thought this was okay to say in the first place, and b) that they did not immediately realize how wrong it was and offer profuse apologies.

        1. President Porpoise*

          Yep. That’s were I’m at too. If I was this person’s managers, I would never consider them for future leadership opportunities. The show of poor judgment and people skills would be a disqualifying factor. I would suggest finding a different job where you haven’t poisoned the well.

      2. Anon Accountant*

        I’m 100% right with you. I don’t find HR’s reaction extreme at all. I agree the tone of not understanding where suspension retention went wrong and doubling down lead to the suspension.

      3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        I don’t think it would be extreme if OP got fired over it either. This is one of those things that’s just so staggeringly inappropriate that firing on the spot would be completely warranted.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Also a good point. Have you said something that’s gotten you in trouble before? Perhaps this isn’t the first instance of needing to know when to hold em and when to fold em.

        1. Rainy*

          That was my first thought–this wasn’t the first time but their manager really wants it to be the last.

          Unfortunately, especially given the tone of their post here, it probably won’t be.

    32. BethRA*

      I think others have explained the problem with your comments to Jane and your response to HR quite well, so nothing to add there, but I do think it would help your work situation if you could genuinely, sincerely apologize to Jane. And not a “I’m sorry IF what I said offended/hurt/upset you” but “I’m sorry that I DID offend/hurt/upset you.” It won’t make everything right, but it will go a long way towards helping Jane and your colleagues move on.

    33. Amy S*

      You way crossed the line and owe a huge apology to Jane. I guess I don’t understand the issue with the word “fight” as it relates to cancer (or any other medical issue). I don’t think it really implies that those who die are losers who lost the fight. My father had cancer and literally fought for his life every day for two years. He passed away, but that doesn’t mean the fight didn’t happen or that it was a waste and he lost. Cancer sucks. Apologize.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Right. The thought would never cross my mind to tell someone how to refer to their cancer in the first place, but I wouldn’t think twice about the word fight either. You went too far.

      2. Natalie*

        There has been critical discussion of that framework, but a little more nuanced and complicated than the OP has presented it. But regardless, I’ve never known anyone who enjoys discussing our use of metaphor around illness to advocate for “calling out” individuals for their personal word choices.

    34. OperaArt*

      I was at my oncologist’s office yesterday for my 6-month post-treatment checkup.
      If someone had said that to me during my treatment, I would probably have gone nuclear on them. I was facing my own mortality every day, while going through exhausting treatments and feeling like ****. Someone who’s never faced this nitpicking my word choices at that time? BOOM!!!

      Now, they would get icely polite.

      Yes, you crossed a line.

      That said, your workplace’s reaction is excessive. However, if they’d left you where you were, I expect people would be treating you very differently than before.

      1. Emma*

        I’m also a survivor– I’m two years cancer-free on Sunday! And yeahhhhh. People said some ridiculous things to me while I was in treatment, and I somehow managed to keep my cool. But if a co-worker had nit-picked my word choice for a PERSONAL blog, I agree, I would have gone nuclear!

        1. AnnaleighUK*

          I just showed this to my big sister, who beat cancer, and she said ‘If I’d had that said to me I’d have backhanded her so hard she’d have ended up in China.’ And congrats on two years, Big Sis will be four years in April. Make sure you celebrate!

    35. Cher*

      A suspension sounds extreme, except when it’s for a “difficult” employee. My guess is that you might be the sort of person who shares her two cents on a lot of things that don’t affect you or aren’t your business. Am I close?

        1. Gilmore67*

          Yeah, I am thinking that too. And the fact that the OP doesn’t seem to ” get it”. The OP is still insisting that they can just say what they want. OP is ” dumbfounded” as to what happened.

          And in the post the OP is wanting from us, to affirm or deny that Jane’s word choice was wrong. OP just doesn’t get it. OP is still targeting the word choice and being with OK with their actions about it.

          OP, can you weigh in? Why did you feel it was OK to challenge Jane? And not about that you just don’t like the word choice. I mean why you feel it is OK to just challenge someone the way you did?

          I am truly very curious.

    36. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      Yes, you absolutely need to start job searching immediately. It’s going to be very difficult to continue working there. Take this as a lesson learned and move on.

    37. Elizabeth H.*

      Probably it would have been better not to say anything to her because it really offended her. I agree with you that the ‘cancer fight’ thing is unfortunate wording. Personally, my opinion is that it was wrong of Jane to complain to your supervisor and encourage others to complain. She should have just told you that she was offended and moved on. Her blog wasn’t work related, your comment to her wasn’t work related, and her reaction to what you said wasn’t work related. I think your company overreacted, and I don’t think that what you said was crazy. She has perfect right to think you are an asshole but it just seems like interpersonal drama to me. I realize I’m in the extreme minority on this, but that’s my opinion!

      1. ket*

        If everyone had just moved on after the initial exchange, I would agree with you, but it sounds like the OP pursued things to the point that Jane was justifying the title and the OP was saying the justification wasn’t good enough. I’m betting that Jane would not have reported the following: “I don’t like the word “fight” for cancer because it makes me feel like people who die are losers.” “My support group of cancer battlers suggested it. “Ok.” (move on)
        However, “I don’t like the word “fight” for cancer because it makes me feel like people who die are losers.” “My support group of cancer battlers suggested it. “Your cancer support group is also wrong. Do they want to feel like losers if they die?” “Um, I really feel like I’m in a battle, and now with you my coworker.” “Well you’re wrong, cancer isn’t a fight.” There’s a lot of extra dig, dig, dig going on here.

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          I didn’t exactly get that impression that it was a prolonged dig, dig, dig. I don’t really see any evidence about that one way or the other. OP wrote ” I was just wanting her to check her choice of word and do better. She complained to our boss about me to her boss and got other people to complain too. I wasn’t trying to upset her but I just wanted to bring attention to her choice of the word fight” – it’s impossible for me to tell whether they had a prolonged exchange about it or if it was a brief interaction like what you are assuming Jane probably wouldn’t have reported, three sentences. Who knows? If OP can clarify, maybe we can form more accurate judgments :)

          In short I interpreted “I was just wanting her to check her choice of word and do better” as OP explaining his or her *motivations* rather than paraphrasing the conversation.

      2. Forrest*

        I’m taking the “Jane encouraged others to complain” with a grain of salt. If I heard someone “calling out” my coworker with cancer about how to talk about her cancer – again, *her* cancer – I would say something without needing to be encouraged. Especially when it’s something my coworker created because she felt like she was bothering people by talking about her cancer – and then you come along and tell her she’s not even doing that right!

      3. IntoTheSarchasm*

        I think Jane should have taken OP out in an appropriate manner. Personally. Telling a cancer patient to “do better” at anything is insensitive, work or not. I think suspension/reassignment is too much unless there have been other incidents. But not everyone is wired for confrontation.

      4. soon 2be former fed*

        Elizabeth H., I couldn’t disagree with you more. The incident took place AT WORK, making it relevant for HR to intercede. Now you are down on Jane too? Damn, Jane can’t catch a break. There’s more than meets the eye here, OP likely has disrupted the work environment before.

    38. Eye of Sauron*

      So I’m going to leave the cancer/fight thing out my response, not to minimize that aspect of the issue, but focus elsewhere.

      I have to ask why you would comment to something that really has no impact or bearing on you at all. To be fair my response would be the same if you called out a coworker for wearing white after labor day, their choice of flowers they are telling you they planted in their front yard over the weekend, or who they choose to root for in the next really big sport event.

      ” I was just wanting her to check her choice of word and do better.”

      Your statement here is aggressive, and I am getting the sense of social justice warrior from you. I could have the wrong impression, but this is the vibe that I’m getting from your OP. I think I would recommend that you use this experience as a point of reflection for you and your future interactions with people. To put it bluntly, it’s not your place to tell people they should ‘check their word choices and do better’.

      If I were Jane, yeah, I’d be livid. If I were your coworkers I wouldn’t talk to you about non-work things as a preventative measure against hearing more of your opinions on my non work life.

      1. Snark*

        There’s nothing wrong, and a lot right, with being a social justice warrior. But all warriors, whatever they’re fighting for, need to have a keen sense of whether a given hill is worth dying on. This one was like charging a Japanese trench on Iwo Jima with nothing but a knife.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Eh, sometimes it *is* your place to tell people they should check their word choices and do better. Like the “mulatto” letter from the other day. Silence in the face of harmful language is not a virtue in and of itself.

        But what I get from the OP is that in their zeal for getting people to “do better”, they forgot that judgment and compassion also need to factor in the equation. It’s less a question of “ugh SJWs, stay out of things” and more “this was really not the right moment to be a SJW about this particular topic”.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yes. It’s not a binary situation, it’s a ‘use good judgement’ situation.

          Like, for example, if this had been someone putting up a ‘save the tatas’ banner at work for breast cancer awareness, that would warrant a discussion of “hey could we maybe not use that language” based on reasons that are ultimately rather SJ-based. But given the combination of a) this wasn’t work-related, b) the terminology of “fight” against cancer is well-established linguistically and while there are people who don’t care for it, it’s not widely considered actively offensive, and c) you are not someone cancer-adjacent for whom this is personally troubling, and Jane is,/I> personally in a struggle against cancer, and d) you’re not even dealing with how she talks about cancer in general, but how she’s discussing her own particular experience of having cancer, this all adds up to DON’T GO THERE.

        2. Eye of Sauron*

          I don’t think that this falls anywhere near the line of racist, hateful, prejudice speech that most would agree to ‘call out’. I think that’s part of the problem. The OP is somehow unclear on where that line is.

          I’m trying to not project onto the OP, (and probably not doing a very good job at it) but I’ve encountered people who fancy themselves as the moral authority of all they hear. These people are cut from all different cloths and represent all different perspectives and stances. The thing they share in common is their need to project what they perceive as right and wrong and to have all those around them comply or die trying.

          This is why I attempted to take the cancer/fight verbiage out of my answer, however I probably should have left it in there. The bottom line is that OP was out of line and will probably find themselves out of line in the future if they don’t take this opportunity to learn.

        3. soon 2be former fed*

          I can think of no situation where taking a pass on calling out racist behavior is warranted. It’s wrong all the time. But this situation is not nearly so clear cut. The arrogance of OP here is astounding. Her zeal for getting people to do better was totally misplaced, because Jane was not NOT doing better, if that makes sense. OP was being a nosy busybody with an excessively high opinion of her own opinion. Frankly, she needs to learn to shut up.

        1. ket*

          I understand what you’re trying to say, but maybe we could just say “self-righteous” or “fake moral superiority.”
          Agree that it reminds me of the straight colleague telling a gay colleague they must say/must not say “queer,” or a white colleague explaining to a black colleague how Black History Month should be observed, or a hipster telling a hunter about the real spiritual value of hunting your own venison :)

      3. OhNo*

        I was coming down to say just this thing! There’s a lot of social justice rhetoric in the original post, which pinged my radar. OP, it’s good to be aware of word choice and to encourage others to think about their word choice when language might be problematic or harmful.

        But you missed a big rule for this kind of thing: if someone is in the affected group and using the word to describe themselves or their experience, then you don’t critique it to them unless they ask you to. You don’t get to decide what labels they put on their own personal experience.

        If it helps in the future, keep the circle theory in mind. The person affected is in the middle, and there are circles around them with the closest people nearest the center and more distant people further out. Criticism, heavy emotions, and concerns about how this affects you only go outward, never inward. You don’t tell a person who’s sick how inconvenient their illness is for you, and you keep your criticism of their choices for discussions with your own circle of friends and family.

    39. Elizabeth West*

      Suspension, I think yes, your criticism, based on no personal experience, was pretty insensitive. I’m not going to flog it as to how and why; other commenters have already done so.

      I think now you should concentrate on doing your best work on the other team. Keep your discussions focused on work, and be polite to your new team members. If anyone brings it up, I wouldn’t talk about it — just say something like “This was discussed with HR and I’d rather just move on now.” If you feel like you need to keep job searching, then that’s fine. Keep it to yourself. If you need to vent, do it outside the company and not to any coworkers.

      The fact that they intend to reassign you means they probably won’t fire you remotely, though it could still happen. But you’re walking a VERY thin line — if they went so far as to suspend you, that means they’ll be watching you for any more problematic behavior. It’s much harder to job search when you’re not working because you’ve been fired than it is while you still have a job. Good luck.

      1. Samata*

        I really think that even if Suspension did have experience with a cancer diagnosis or a close relative/friend with experience, it’s still insensitive.

        We don’t all handle illnesses the same way. A civil discussion/debate is one thing, calling someone out and encouraging them to “do better” when referring to their own struggle when they have just been diagnosed with a major health issue is never ok.

        And I realize we all have moments, but usually in retrospect we realize the error in our ways. I don’t know that OP is there yet. I do hope they read the comments though, and do some searching and understanding of what lead to the blow-back from this one comment.

    40. bunniferous*

      Well, my rule in life is the person dealing with the issue gets to choose the language. If you or a loved one had cancer they probably would have handled this differently.

      I assume the reason you are hung up on the word choice is that some cancer sufferers have shared that they do not like the terminology of battle and that absolutely is a valid viewpoint. The issue here is that in pushing back on that you are hurting and/or offending an actual cancer patient. I think you did not think this out thoroughly before you chose to say something.

      But look at it this way-the company did you a favor by giving you a fresh start with a new team. If I was on your original team this incident would probably have made me look at you differently.

    41. D.W.*

      You should not have mentioned it, but HR was heavy handed with the suspension.

      It is a fight. Her fight with cancer, and there a winners and losers in every battle. I’ve heard it said of many people that “so and so lost the their battle/fight with cancer”. Her use of the word does not demean those who unfortunately succumbed to the disease.

    42. Nita*

      That’s an incredibly petty bone you chose to pick. Really… way to kick someone when she’s down.

      As for HR’s response, was it a one-time comment you made? Did you repeatedly argue the issue with Jane, or say it in a very rude way/turn it into a personal attack? If it was the former, it does sound like your company overreacted. If it was the latter, you’ve gone from insensitivity to a serious lack of judgment, and no decent HR department would want to keep you on your original team.

    43. Fake Eleanor*

      You were so insensitive about how you handled a language pet peeve that you got called to HR. For upsetting someone with cancer. (Who will totally be writing about this on her blog!)
      When you were talking to HR, you didn’t back off or apologize. You decided to keep digging.
      You’re welcome to have opinions about the language people use when talking about their disease. But given that you’re, by your own admission, not part of that community, the people you can safely have that conversation with are other people who are not part of that community. That’s basic respect for the relative differences in your situations. Save the theoretical discussions for the theorists, not people in the thick of things.
      I can’t say whether or not you deserve your suspension, but your own telling of this tale doesn’t make you look good and doesn’t demonstrate that it was a wild overreaction.

    44. NW Mossy*

      As to why your employer’s taken this to a reprimand-and-suspend place, I can think of a couple of reasons. One, it likely violates company policy to behave this way towards colleagues, because of the venue (social media), the topic (a health condition), or both. Also, when Jane brought the issue to the attention of her manager (possibly also yours? can’t quite tell from how you worded this) and HR became involved, you reacted defensively and focused on justifying why you did what you did rather than accepting that you were wrong.

      Right now, you’ve burned a lot of relationships, including Jane, management, HR, and colleagues. They’re showing you that you’ve burned them by pulling back from their previous level of engagement with you to a more defensive and chilly posture. You’re probably right that some of these relationships are not repairable, or at least not repairable enough to make it comfortable for you to work there any more.

      Going forward, I’d encourage you think about what drove you to say this to Jane. Also, this is a good time to start recognizing that at work, there’s a big difference between being objectively “right” and being effective in working with others. You prioritized the former over the latter in this case, and you miscalculated badly.

    45. Jadelyn*

      When you say you “called her out”, what exactly do you mean? Did you publicly harangue her about it? Harshly criticize the word choice vs gently noting it? The fact that the company responded in a fairly extreme manner makes me wonder if perhaps it was a bigger scene than you’re presenting it as.

      That aside, even if you were being very gentle about it, you were absolutely over the line. You approached a coworker who has a serious, potentially fatal illness, purely to scold her about the word choice she uses to describe what she’s going through. That’s unacceptable behavior. This is not like someone using a racial slur where you *need* to call it out because it’s a major deal to let it go unremarked. This is a small, and frankly intra-community, point of contention in terms of how something is framed linguistically.

      And the intra-community part is relevant, too. You’re not a survivor, you haven’t lost anyone close to you. You’re not part of that community at all, so why on earth do you feel like you have not only the right, but the duty, to jump in the middle and start giving your opinion? HR asked you that because if you were speaking out of personal grief or anger, that would contextualize your response – even if it’s still not okay and you’d still have needed to apologize to Jane, like the miscarriage letter we had a week or two back, it would’ve made it much more understandable. But, lacking that personal connection, it just comes off as a massive overreach, inserting yourself into something that is frankly none of your business.

      I get the sense that you felt like you were stepping in to do the righteous thing, being the voice of those who weren’t present to speak for themselves, and in the abstract that’s a noble ideal, but sometimes, compassion needs to take precedence over righteousness. And that’s where you went off the rails here.

      1. Observer*

        I get the sense that you felt like you were stepping in to do the righteous thing, being the voice of those who weren’t present to speak for themselves, and in the abstract that’s a noble ideal, but sometimes, compassion needs to take precedence over righteousness

        What makes it worse is that they were essentially acting as though they were the voice for the person they were “calling out”. Nothing noble about. Talk about invalidating and silencing people.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yeah, as noble as “being a voice for those who aren’t present to defend themselves” can be, “speaking over the voice of someone who’s standing right the hell there as you’re talking” is a very different beast.

    46. Emmie*

      What was your reaction when your manager discussed this with you? Others have sufficiently addressed the timing and appropriateness of your comment. I could see a manager re-assigning an employee if his / her reaction to the conversation was angry, hostile, and the employee was unwilling or unable to repair the relationship or see another’s perspective. I’m not sure you have to leave the company. Perhaps a genuine humble apology tour with some emotional distance from your reassignment might help. High quality work, and impeccable professionalism with your new and old teams would help too.

    47. Observer*

      This must feel like a pile on. I’m going to try not to repeat what everyone else has said.

      I just want to highlight something. I suspect that the suspension was not just because you made a single comment. But because you make it clear that you think you have the right to police other’s word choices in contexts that are totally not your place, that you project a stereotypically self-righteous social justice warrior vibe that’s especially hard to deal with when its directed at someone who is supposedly part the group you are trying to “defend” and you just would not back down. The who post makes it clear that you STILL don’t get it. So, in a sense, your company did you a long term favor because they kind of smacked into asking the question

      1. Eye of Sauron*

        Why is it that someone comes along and says what I was trying to say, but they do it so much better!

      2. Manders*

        Well said!

        I’m a part of some social justice-oriented circles filled with young and eager people, and while it’s awesome that they have so much drive to focus on making the world better, sometimes there needs to be an understanding of the difference between lofty goals and the real, imperfect world we live in. It’s like calling out people who describe their own struggles with mental illness using the word “crazy,” or refer to their own sexual identity or race with terms that were once slurs–the group of people who are experiencing a difficult thing get to decide the language they want to use, and a person who’s not in that in group is going to come across as incredibly rude if they try to lecture that group about how they’re allowed to talk about their own experiences.

        1. Serin*

          My kid, who’s a college freshman, says, “You deal with problems as problems. You deal with people as people. People are more important than problems.”

        2. Fiddlesticks*

          Yes! Honestly I read this (agog), and I thought immediately to Tumblr’s approach to social justice — which is almost always the wrong approach toward social justice.

          1. teclatrans*

            Yes, and I thought about the posts I have seen criticizing “call-out culture.” I keep thinking OP might have been influenced by that culture.

    48. A Fighter's Daughter*

      My mother died of cancer after several horror-filled years of increasingly futile experimental treatments. She willingly submitted herself to this because she wanted to stay alive for her four young children. (And while this wasn’t her first consideration, she also went into it all knowing that even if it didn’t save her life, it could teach the doctors things that might help them save lives in the future.) I can assure you that it was very much a fight. I can also assure you that precisely no one thinks she was a loser.

      Your employer’s reaction was OTT, but you absolutely owe your colleague an apology.

      1. CEMgr*

        I am so sorry for your painful loss. She sounds like an incredible and determined woman and her caring spirit is an inspiration.

    49. Mother of Cats*

      Dude, it’s not too late to make this right. Tell Jane that after some time of reflection, you realized you were out of line and apologize.

    50. Delphine*

      I think you crossed a line here, but I wonder if there were other instances where your coworkers felt you had made aggressive or insensitive remarks, and this was just the final straw? It’s moving you to another office and team that makes this feel like the conclusion to a long-term issue.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        I agree. I don’t foresee a comment like this just coming out of the blue. It seems indicative of a certain type of personality. Perhaps some prior insensitivities/inability to play well with others has occurred to the point that it got management’s attention and this was indeed the last straw.

    51. Lissa*

      Oh gosh. “Do better” is a snappy Internet response to people saying problematic things. Using it in real life, especially towards someone who’s going through something that you aren’t, just comes across as incredibly condescending and lecturing. It sounds like you’re put yourself in a position of telling her not just what to do, but also assuming that you know what “better” is. I know there’s been a lot of pushback against “fight” lately, but to a lot of people, it still makes sense to frame it that way, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The pushback should be against making everyone use that term, not against anyone doing it.

      I can tell you’re dumbfounded because you thought that you were taking the side of good and right here, but I have to agree with the majority – yes you did cross a line. You were “correcting” someone on their own experiences, which is not a good look.

    52. AnonAcademic*

      ” I didn’t intend to upset her by pointing it out. ”

      I think you just learned the hard way what the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” really means. And I agree with others that if you do not take this chance to soul search, you risk repeating the same pattern again.

    53. My Pops Had Cancer*

      Yeah, you crossed a line. It’s actually none of your business – especially where you don’t have/haven’t had cancer or anyone close to you have it, you really have no right to decide how someone chooses to go after their cancer battle.

      I think the suspension was fair.

    54. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      Yes, you were out of line, and yes, I think they went too far.

      1) Not work related, you don’t really know Jane, and from your comments it seems like she didn’t make this statement about her site to you specifically?

      Based on what you said, it seems like your previous team was pretty much done with you, so HR may have moved you anyway. The suspension seems a bit much, but that’s just because to me I would have thought they would have required a sincere apology to Jane instead of a suspension (perhaps a writeup if you kept doubling down). I’m not sure what the suspension was supposed to do at all, unless it gives them time to clean out your desk and make sure that you aren’t near Jane.

      Is suspension what they do at your office before formal write-ups or notes to your file? Maybe that’s why it was a suspension.

      I’ll have to find that link on circles of comfort. In short, if people are experiencing some dramatic significant life event like that, comfort into the circles that are more closely affected, concern and comments like this one outward to people not as affected.

      1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

        Ah, it’s called Ring Theory.

        “When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘This must really be hard for you’ or ‘Can I bring you a pot roast?’ Don’t say, ‘You should hear what happened to me’ or ‘Here’s what I would do if I were you.’ And don’t say, ‘This is really bringing me down.’

        “If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.

        “Comfort IN, dump OUT.” ”

        Link here:

        1. Manders*

          Yes, this is such a useful guideline! I think about it a lot, and it’s definitely helped me be more compassionate to my friends.

          My one very minor quibble is that this particular piece doesn’t go into detail about what someone should do if the dumping out is happening constantly, or is all directed at one person who’s becoming overwhelmed themselves, or is turning into a pattern of lashing out (like the case of Amy from earlier this week). But other writers like Captain Awkward have covered that in detail.

          1. Observer*

            Sure. But the idea was in reference to relatively “normal” situations. Also, the essential concept works even there, but obviously needs some tweaking.

            I don’t think that it’s really relevant to an “Amy” try situation, because no one is complaining to her. Not just out complaining to her about HER issues, but generally not even THEIR issues.

    55. senatormeathooks*

      I think you did cross a line, but at the same time I am dumbfounded as to the extreme response of your employer who, quite frankly, needed to stay out of a non-work-related disagreement between two employees, and HR had no excuse to ask you if you’ve ever had cancer. (I stand by this provided this situation didn’t impact your jobs directly).

      Did you comment your opinion with her word choice on your own time (like on the blog) or during work hours? Either way, and once again, I don’t think you should have bothered to call her out on it, not a hill worth dying on – dragging in your boss and employer into this (as you described) is very strange to me.

      1. fposte*

        The thing is, the employee can still be legally on the hook for possible harassment even if it happens off the clock.

          1. Natalie*

            Oh, there is a typo in fposte’s comment which I think might be causing some confusion:

            The employER is responsible for stopping prohibited harassment, even if it happens off the clock. That’s why the employer had to address this.

          2. KellyK*

            I think fposte meant that the *employer* will be on the hook. “Let the employee deal with it” doesn’t really help in that case.

        1. fposte*

          As people have caught, I meant “employer,” not “employee”; my apologies for the confusion.

          If one of my staff is harassing another member of the staff based on their race, religion, disability, or other characteristic protected by law, it’s still a legal problem for my workplace even if it’s happening outside of the workplace. I don’t know if they had to take *this* action, but they definitely had to take some action.

    56. Radius20*

      I’m glad they suspended you and relocated you. I had a coworker who felt the need to express her opinion on everything, whether it concerned her or not. She used to constantly nitpick my wording on things, and what I used to always think, but never have the guts to say, was “mind your own freaking business.” Since the blog she was created wasn’t even work related, it really seems that you had no business offering any opinion or criticism of her. It is truly none of your business. You should have just been supportive of her battle against cancer (no matter what words she prefers to use to describe it). Do you understand how unsupportive it is to point out she may want to use another word because of how many people lose their fight against cancer? Think about it if you were in her shoes, is that what you would want to hear? Or would you just want 100% support, knowing your life could be in danger of ending too soon.

    57. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      In the vein of trying to be helpful to the OP, here are my comments and advice:

      She mentioned to a few people she started a blog so she wasn’t annoying people with cancer talk all the time and her family and friends could read what’s going on with her.

      1. OP, did Jane tell you directly that she was starting a blog or did you hear about it through the office grapevine? If Jane didn’t tell you directly, tracking her down to tell her that you thought she used a poor choice of words is exceptionally petty. Going forward, don’t get involved in conversations that people aren’t having with you.

      The blog is called “Jane’s” cancer fight. I got into trouble for calling her out for using the word fight in her blog because it implies people who died from cancer are losers who lost the fight when it is hardly the case. I was just wanting her to check her choice of word and do better.

      2. I think everyone above has covered the fact that you were way out of line. There is probably nothing you can say or do to make Jane and your coworkers like you again. Jane deserves a heartfelt apology. But I’m not sure your employer will allow you within 100 feet of Jane to deliver it. Nonetheless, if you are really interested in making amends, I might suggest something like a $250 (US) donation in Jane’s name to a group doing cancer research or a hospice that helps cancer patients.

      She complained to our boss about me to her boss and got other people to complain too.

      3. If you called Jane out in front of all your coworkers, Jane didn’t need to get other coworkers to complain about you. This reads to me like you’re blaming Jane for you getting in trouble. Nope, that was all you.

      I wasn’t trying to upset her but I just wanted to bring attention to her choice of the word fight.

      4. Unless your employer is paying you to be the office’s grammar police, Jane’s choice of words was none of your business. The lesson here is that when things don’t involve you at work and they don’t make your work life more difficult, leave them alone.

      She says her support group of people who had or have cancer or lost someone to it picked the title.

      5. You must see how important the name of Jane’s blog was to her. She shared with her cancer support group that she was writing a blog, and the support group came up with the name. Jane’s “fight” wasn’t something Jane thought of out of left field. Her support group felt it was a fitting title based on their interactions with Jane. And you tried to take that meaning away from Jane because you didn’t like the word choice. That’s pretty arrogant on your part OP. You need to be more sensitive to your coworkers going forward.

      Everyone at work thinks I should not have called her and no one is talking to me unless it is about work.

      6. This is the proper punishment when people cross the line at work. You’ll just have to live with this one.

      1. Natalie*

        Regarding your first point, IMO it would be fairly petty even if Jane had told OP directly. Leaving aside the very fraught nature of this, when people tell you about their hobbies or whatever, they aren’t generally soliciting comments on the fairly superficial aspects of said activity.

      2. Observer*

        On your #5, there is another piece to this. A whole group of people with close experience with cancer say that this language works for them, at least in the context of Jane’s situation. Yet, OP, with exactly ZERO direct experience with cancer feels the need to call it out on the basis that it hurts the very people who chose that language.

        OP, you need to recognize the arrogance and absurdity of your position.

    58. Bea*

      I get it…but as a daughter of a father who miraculously beat cancer I would have snapped back at you as well. It’s a term cancer patients use. And likening those who lost the battle as losers isn’t what is done. They’re literally at war with the disease and yes, it defeats millions and precious few beat it.

    59. Beachgal*

      You crossed the line. If you did not agree with the word fight, then you should have closed out of the blog. I just lost my mother to cancer and you can believe she was fighting every single day. Next time just keep your opinion to yourself.

    60. Akcipitrokulo*

      TBH… harsh, maybe. Unreasonably so? No.

      She gets to use the word fight. It is HER fight, in HER blog, and you were in the wrong.

    61. Weyrwoman*

      This part really sticks out at me: “I didn’t intend to upset her by pointing it out.”

      As I’m constantly having to tell my mom when we argue (she has tone/word choice issues), what you intended doesn’t matter once someone else’s feelings have been hurt.

      I’d take the time to do some serious reflection on your history with Jane and the other coworkers. Have you previously taken it upon yourself to be the word police? To question others’ word choice on social justice or similar issues and informed them that they can “do better”?

      This is not workplace appropriate behaviour. At all. It’s very possible that Jane’s complaint, as many others upthread have mentioned, is coming on the heels of other complaints and hurts, and is the most egregious so far.

      Think back on your past interactions and conversations along these lines, and try to imagine how you would feel if someone decided that you couldn’t use the word “dumbfounded” ever again, because to someone (not them, and they aren’t tied to anyone on-spectrum) decided that the word was insulting to Aspie/Autistic persons, and then told you to “do better”. I have a feeling your answer to this would be “oh, omg, I need to stop saying that”. This is not necessarily the correct answer.

    62. Casuan*

      Suspension retention, your suspension does seem like an extreme response to your calling out the wording of a personal blog, which makes me think there are other factors involved in your suspension. There might not be, you’ve asked for feedback & that’s my impression of how your managers reacted.

      It seems that you’re not so much caught up in the word “fight” as you are with the implications that when one dies then one is then a “loser.” Hopefully your comment was meant to encourage your colleague in the sense of keep-at-it-and-stay-with-us, although I’m not certain this is the case.

      The thing is, you called someone out for using a term that is common vernacular for illness. Much like how a physician or an attorney “practise” medicine & law, one “fights”a cold or a serious illness such as cancer. So you were nitpicking a word that was properly used.

      The other thing is that cancer (& any illness, especially long-term) really is a “fight.” This can be difficult to understand if you don’t have personal experience with a severe diagnosis. It’s a fight to determine the diagnosis, it’s a fight to manage scheduling & attending appointments, it’s a fight to drag your body to walk 5 steps to the bathroom, it’s a fight to deal with the many side-effects of treatment, it’s a fight to process all that is going on & to explain things to others, it’s a fight to worry that you’re stressing out your loved ones & it’s a fight to accept that they’re willing to help you in any way possible & at the expense of their own needs just because they love you…

      Cancer can be sneaky & spread & even when it’s eradicated it can come back with a vengeance.
      So you fight again. And again. And when you don’t think you can fight any more you realise you still have fight left within you. So you continue the fight. Your loved ones can help you so very much although when it comes down to it you really are alone. The fight isn’t just physical- it’s psychological & for some it’s spiritual.

      We all die, suspension retention. By your logic that makes us all “losers” because we’ve lost our lives.

      The biggest thing…?
      We did what we were designed to do. We lived. We loved. We were loved. Eventually our bodies declared enough & we died.
      We didn’t lose. We triumphed in life because we fought for the things that mattered to us.

    63. Marvel*

      You don’t get to decide how Jane defines her own experience.

      I would have done the same thing, if I were your manager.

    64. Piano Girl*

      Just curious – what word would you have used???
      I am watching my younger brother battling cancer (and yes, it is a fight, and he’s not giving up) and I cannot imagine anybody telling he or his family how to title his blog. I’m just grateful to be able to read it and keep up with his treatments.
      It’s a fight for all of us. Our mother confided in me that she cannot imagine a world without him. Oh, how heartbreaking to have to think about burying your child. That alone is a battle.

      1. Thlayli*

        I’m with you. I’m baffled as to why OP even thinks the word “fight” implies the word “loser”.

        Like many people I have lost a loved on to cancer. She fought, and I very definitely don’t think she was a “loser” because she died in the end. I find OPs description of someone who fights and dies being a “loser” really offensive the more I think about it. I really don’t get where she is coming from.

        I can understand someone like the anti-war activist mentioned upthread being offended by the term “fight” or “battle” with cancer. But I just don’t see how someone who fights but doesn’t survive could be considered a “loser”. The two words aren’t related. Lots of fights don’t have a winner. Lots of “losers” never fought anything.

    65. The Strand*

      Hi Suspension Retention,

      I kind of understand what your thinking might have been. My husband doesn’t really like people referring to veterans as “heroes”. He’s a veteran, and he and his crew literally saved several people’s lives – but that’s what they were trained and paid to do. It makes him very uncomfortable and I’ve heard it from other veterans – also that they think some of the heroes are the ones who didn’t make it back. However, neither my husband, I, or the veterans I know will generally criticize someone to their face for using that kind of language, because we understand that civilians who do that are well-meaning, they are trying to be kind, they are trying to show gratitude. Sometimes the civilian is a military family member who feels strongly that their service member isn’t being respected (all you have to do is check out the national news to see why, e.g. that crummy teacher in Pico Rivera). Still, I don’t criticize them, because I don’t have any more ‘right’ to the correct use of the language than they do. What I do have the right to do is to ask them to use language in a respectful way. To your office, your challenge of Jane seemed like you were telling her you had more ‘right’ than she did, to define what she’s going through.

      It sounds like you felt defensive about Jane’s blog, and it could be from watching other people deal with cancer, even if they weren’t close to you. Or perhaps you have strong feelings or ideas about how and when people should implement words. You might want to explore whether there have been other incidents where you unknowingly caused conflict or hurt feelings because your strong ideas about what “should” be, interacted with the cultural norms of other people around you.

    66. Former Retail Manager*

      Cancer kinda trumps most everything and requires the utmost sensitivity. It’s not a time to debate or correct someone’s word choice. It’s her life she’s fighting for….so yeah it is a fight. You should have kept your mouth shut and I think the suspension was well deserved. If you’ve never stared death in the face, you have no right to make such a ridiculous remark to someone who is likely going through one of the toughest things they’ll ever face. Please get your priorities in order and show a little compassion to your fellow man.

    67. Artemesia*

      Well you are wrong. Lots of people undergo a lot of misery ‘fighting’ cancer and a lot of people ‘win’ i.e. are cured after arduous therapy. I am about to become one of them I hope (the winning part). I understand your point that cancer is not ‘one’s fault’ and a failure to be cured is not a moral or personal failing — but it is a lost battle. And what would possess you to pick at the words of someone facing something this scary and ‘correct’ her language?

      I think a suspension is an over reaction, but the behavior is pretty awful.

    68. Ladylike*

      I agree with others who have said you shouldn’t have criticized Jane. She can call her blog whatever she wants and in all honesty, it doesn’t really affect you. Live and let live.

      But, the company is being ridiculous to make this a work issue and suspend you. They should told you the topic was upsetting Jane and asked you to refrain from talking about it at work. Only a pattern of continual harassment should warrant such a drastic disciplinary action.

    69. nep*

      Excuse me if repeating as I’ve not yet read every comment here — but: Jane gets to call it whatever she wants. Period.
      Not dissing your sensitivity and your objection to the word *which doesn’t happen to work for you*, but that’s the bottom line. Sounds like it was a case for taking a couple deep breaths and thinking things through before speaking.

    70. Kuododi*

      OK…. I had cancer approximately 25 years ago and personally the whole “warrior, fighter” trend chaps my hide…but that’s my issue and not for me to impose on the world at large. If Jane wants to describe her recovery process as”purple pumpkins”, that is completely her business and not open for your involvement. You really stuck your foot in something that was completely none of your business!!!!

    71. Weak Trees*

      I get that this may have seemed to you like a natural thing to do because it’s a common thing online (including on this site, where “check your privilege”, “do better”, “have some empathy”, etc. appear dozens of times in any given post), but it’s pretty inappropriate to use any of these actual phrases at another person in real life. They’re helpful to societal improvement when used as internal guidelines, but as pithy verbal barbs at a real human, they only come across as condescending, clichéd, and unnecessarily antagonistic.

      My own mother’s 20 years with cancer could only be truthfully described as a fight – a physical struggle to stand, a battle of weakened muscles against gravity, an arsenal of drugs decimating disease and organs alike in targeted strikes – so my opinion differs from yours. She did lose, but damn it she fought like a beast. However, if it was really important to you to say something to Jane, I think a better approach would have been a quick, gentle aside to her later, maybe along the lines of “I’ve heard that people can find the framing of cancer as a fight hurtful. Are you sure it’s the word you’re most comfortable using?”

      Still, I’d personally opt for setting my own preference aside in the name of not kicking her when she’s down.

      As for the punishment, it does seem overly harsh from your telling. It may be that your tone was more aggressive than you realized, you’ve rubbed your coworkers the wrong way multiple times already, you doubled down with HR in a particularly aggravating way, or any number of other things we can’t tell from this. But what’s done is done. I suggest continuing your job search and keeping your head down and your thoughts moderated in the meantime.

    72. Lauren R*

      The main question I have is how long was it from the time of the comment to the time of the actual suspension? At first it seems like you made the comment and then were pretty immediately suspended – but then you say that none of your coworkers will talk to you unless it’s work related, which kind of makes me think this played out over the course of at least a week or maybe more. Otherwise I’m not sure how you’d really have time to be impacted by your coworkers’ distant behavior.

      The length of time you have been digging in your heels on this is really significant to me. Making one comment and getting suspended and moved to a different team that day or the very next day is perhaps extreme. But if you had a longer stretch of time to be aware that Jane was upset and you kept holding firm rather than trying to fix it and make nice with everyone you offended, even if you don’t agree with their view, then I think you need to accept that this is 100% on you. At that point, it seems you could have easily apologized and backed off but instead you’re still arguing your position. I don’t agree with the comment you made and think it’s an awful thing to say to someone dealing with cancer but people make unfortunate comments like this without it becoming an incident; it’s when you continue making the comment that it ends up being a problem.

      You are entitled to your opinion but at work the most important thing is being able to work effectively with others. They didn’t suspend you because of what you said. They suspended you because keeping you there was more trouble than it was worth. You’re there to work and you could no longer do that effectively when you’d managed to anger everyone on your current team. When you move to your new team, learn to pick your battles and save your personal beliefs about others’ personal lives for when you get home.

    73. Anon please today*

      As someone who just had a double biopsy this morning (one on each side), I’m with you on this. I hate that word and if I do get cancer and people use that word around me, they will be barred from visiting me. Also the word “battle,” even more so, and for the same reason. It really rubs me the wrong way. You were right to say something but it sounds like you had the wrong audience for those comments.

      1. Observer*

        Why was she right?

        I’m curious about your thinking here. I get that you do NOT want anyone to use that language with you, and I also understand why. That’s totally not my question.

        But do you think it gives you standing to tell someone else how to frame if for themselves? Do you think that you have the RIGHT way, and therefore it’s ok to call out others, regardless of their personal framing and need? Or are you just SO DONE with hearing that language that you want to hit back regardless of context?

        1. Anon please today*

          Hi, I just saw your question — I don’t usually participate in the open thread Fridays or the weekend free-for-all thread. I would say that it’s definitely the latter of the two scenarios that you posed.

    74. Student*

      I’ll spell it out for you.

      When YOU say: “I got into trouble for calling her out for using the word fight in her blog because it implies people who died from cancer are losers who lost the fight when it is hardly the case.”

      What SHE hears is a very unwelcome reminder that SHE might LOSE her FIGHT against CANCER and DIE.

      You might as well have started reading off mortality rate tables to her. “Oh, you have Atrocious Cancer, Stage 17B phase 2.1? Well, you have a 30% chance to die of it in the next year according to Wikipedia. On the upside, there’s a 70% chance you’ll still be around for the next company Christmas party!”

      It’s not that your data is wrong, it’s just that it’s beyond useless, to the point of being offensive, to the person you brought it to. She either survives this or dies. She does not have to worry about whether her blog title offends people who have other family members who have already died of cancer because she has a bigger worry – actually dying of cancer.

    75. Pearly Girl*

      ” I was just wanting her to check her choice of word and do better. ”

      This is so crushingly condescending on your part. What gives you the right to comment on someone else’s response to their own medical situation? Why are you the arbiter of her word choice in this case?

      Seriously, you should have minded your own business and kept quiet.

    76. MsVader*

      I would have done it one better. I would have fired you. Why? Because your judgement and complete inability to take responsibility for the situation denotes such a grievous lack of awareness and critical thinking skills that you would invariably put the company at risk. Your lack of foresight and common decency meant the company had to spend money on relocation and phone calls and meetings to alleviate the harm you put towards your colleague.

      You even refer to “Jane” as your colleague which suggests you don’t have a close personal relationship with her which means you have even less of a reason to “call her out”. You seem very self important and it would be good for you to reflect on that.

      Further, your lack of empathy is a huge risk as there are few jobs where you don’t have to demonstrate this quality at some point. Even if you are lucky enough to not have ever been personally affected by cancer, it’s common enough to know what impact it would have on a person which should have made you really pause before taking your colleague to task over word choice.

    77. MassMatt*

      I’m trying to be kind, OP, but it sounds from your letter that you really don’t think you did anything wrong and that the company overreacted. I believe there is probably a reason they went to this step, probably by your being argumentative in the HR meeting.

      Have you apologized to Jane? You should, unless contacting her would bring her more pain, and you should mean it.

      Looking for another job is a good idea, a 1 day suspension may not be a career ender (I don’t know your industry or company culture) but it sound like your relationships there are damaged beyond repair.

    78. sympathy*

      First, I’m going to call *you* out on your *ableism*. As a person who doesn’t have cancer, you have the privilege of being able to treat living with cancer as some intellectual debate.

      Jane doesn’t have that privilege. Serious sickness and disability are not theoretical debates to Jane – they’re her life now. You do not get to “call her out” (or anyone else who’s sick or disabled) by judging their lived experience and their coping strategies froma a place of relative health-privilege and finding it wanting.

      Seriously, knock it off. Never discriminate against people who are sick or disabled like that again.

      Now. the practical advice: Apologise. Sincerely!

      “I’m sorry I said what I said. I had no right. I recognise that I hurt your feelings, and I admit that I was wrong. I’m not asking you to forgive me. I just wanted to say, I’m really sorry.”

      That’s it. Don’t justify, excuse, argue, explain, or defend yourself – you’re not apologising if you’re still arguing your case for why you were right all along, or trying to say it wasn’t that bad, or that they shouldn’t have overreacted. Absolutely do not use any ‘if’ statements – you said it, it was offensive; Jane was hurt by it; those are all hard facts.

      Accept that you had no right to say what you said. Accept that what you did was wrong. Accept that you hurt Jane’s feelings. Accept that your intentions, arguments, justifications, defenses and excuses are utterly and totally irrelevant here – so don’t mention any of them! Accept that your workplace were right to call you on behaving so insensitively to someone who is ill.

      Don’t try to apologise unless you can accept all of that. There’s nothing worse than someone who’s lying their way through mouthing empty formulas to get out of a mess they made. Don’t do that.

      If you can accept that what you did was wrong, and understand why it was wrong, then maybe add something like, “I hope you and your group do really well with your fight against cancer” to your apology – but only if you can say it sincerely and really mean it.

      I recognise this will be hard for you. I suggest finding aplace to express all your emotions and hurt feelings in a big old mess, so that you can keep them away from Jane, your work, and keep the apology itself clean and straightforward. Don’t bring your emotions into that; it’s not Jane’s job to comfort you over a mess you made. Especially don’t demand or expect forgiveness or a fresh start.

      Learning to admit you were wrong is a valuable life skill and how to apologise gracefully is an essential social skill. Think of this as an opportunity to learn and grow and become a better person.

      Other people will gift you with their respect, until you do something unworthy of respect; then you have to change to prove you deserve to get their respect back.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Thank you for saying this. You’ve put in words what I wanted to and couldn’t. Thank you.

    79. McWhadden*

      Jane could die. No matter how good her prognosis is there is a much higher percent chance that Jane will die than there is for you. The fighter v. loser distinction isn’t an abstract for Jane. It isn’t some moral issue. She could be one of the people who loses this fight. She is very aware of that. She chooses to use the word despite knowing she could die.

      That’s her decision. That’s her right.

      If she were in recovery for a significant amount of time then *maybe* it would be OK because she would be putting herself as a “winner” compared to the “losers” but that isn’t what is happening. She is looking at the potential of death right now. And, trust me, is very very aware that she could lose.

      You crossed a line. A one day suspension is a fair punishment to make you reflect on how. I would just apologize.

    80. Anonymous for this blog*

      You argued semantics with a woman fighting for her life – that was never going to end well.

  2. Off to HI*

    I’m finally taking my first real vacation away from my new job! Anyone have any out-of-office message pet peeves? Do you check work email on vacation, and if so, do you ever respond before you’re back at work?

    1. selina kyle*

      Don’t check it unless you have something super pressing on the horizon! (I’d ideally say don’t check it at ALL but depending what level you’re at that might not be something you’re comfortable with.) Enjoy your vacation, set up an Out of Office reply on email.

    2. LKW*

      I leave different messages that allow people to know whether I’m checking email. I will include statements like “I will not be checking email” or “I will have limited access to email” or “I will be checking email”

    3. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      First, Yay for your vacay to HI. With regards to the out of office message. Just be sure to remember to set it up. Not sure about where you work, but where I work, it’s like going through hoops to get one set up for someone who forgot to do it. I don’t answer emails while I’m on vacay. However, I do let my colleagues know that they can contact me via my cell phone if there’s an emergency or something I need to know about ASAP.

    4. Trout 'Waver*

      I spend 5 minutes a day while on vacation checking work e-mails. I very, very selectively respond, though. Five minutes a day on vacation saves hours or days when I get back to work. Plus it’s more relaxing to me to know what’s going on than the anxiety of being blindsided when I get back to work.

      As for pet peeves, don’t make it cute. Just the facts.

      1. A.N.O.N.*


        It doesn’t take much time/effort to check (not respond, just check) once every day or two. In the event that something major comes up, it’ll be so much easier to deal with it right then and there than to let it snowball for a few more days and have to deal with it then while also catching up on everything else.

    5. grace*

      Depends on the office! I booked a vacation in October months ahead of time that turned out to be the worst possible moment, and my manager still told me not to worry about the project — but I stayed up to date on emails from external vendors, and forwarded where necessary over the long weekend.

      I’d def recommend setting one up, but if you want to make even less worry for yourself, designate a person or something to do for requests/concerns. (IE: Please refer to Susan for project 18.)

    6. Nervous Accountant*

      I personally check bc I’d rather know what to come back to than to be in the dark. The latter is way more stressful for me. I was away during the holidays and responded sometimes. This time I was away for 3 weeks bc my father passed and I was out of the country. For the most part, most coworkers and clients were ok but every time I’ve been out I had 1 client angry I was away and coworkers email me work questions. For the latter it really upset me to see questions from them.

      If this happens to you, and it’s not something only YOU know and can help w, ignore the email. Put in the msg that u won’t be checking.

    7. CatCat*

      I do not check work email on vacation. My supervisor has my phone number if something really urgent were to come up.

      For out of office messages, I make sure they include when I will be back and who to contact in my absence if immediate assistance is needed.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        I will check if it I want to – if there is some benefit to me, but otherwise, I leave it until I return and know my boss will phone/text if she absolutely needs my assistance on something. Otherwise I just leave an away message with my expected return and the office general phone line if they can’t wait that long (which they normally have no problems with).

      2. Ama*

        Yes. Both my boss and my direct report have my cell phone and I make it clear to both of them that I won’t be checking my work email — unless they really really need my help, in which case they can text me and ask me to look at something. But I can trust both of them to know the difference between a real work emergency (which rarely happen in my job at a point when I’d feel comfortable going on vacation) and “hey I can’t find this file.”

        I could *not* trust my last boss to know the difference — in fact I used to joke that every time I flew somewhere on vacation, I’d get off the plane to find two text messages from my boss “Hey where is X?” and “Never mind found it.” So I would tell her that I probably wasn’t going to be near my phone very often so I may not see her texts, and then I’d tell a trusted coworker that if there was a *real* emergency, coworker could text me and then I’d know I really needed to respond.

    8. Persephone Mulberry*

      My only real pet peeve with OOO messages is when people forget to change them back after they return.

      It is helpful if you can give a specific instruction for a caller who needs their matter dealt with more immediately, i.e. “if your issue is time sensitive, please press 0 and ask for Chris / please press 9 and dial ext 321 for Chris.”

      1. K.*

        At my last place of employment, I called someone and got her voicemail. Her outgoing message said she was on vacation and would return on May 15. This was in September. I was like, “I saw her in the other building earlier today though? Huh?” And it cut off after the outgoing message – I couldn’t even leave her a voicemail. I emailed her instead.

      2. Someone else*

        I always set my OOO to start and stop automatically on specific dates and times. So if it’s an hour before I’m back, it’s still on, but it turns off automatically as soon as my workday begins. I work in a different time zone than most of my colleagues and clients. I’ve taken to not only saying the date I’ll return, but also the time including timezone, because for a while there every time I came back from vacation I’d have an email from some annoyed person at 5am and then 6am, the one at 5am with some normal work email, the one at 6am complaining that my OOO said I was back TODAY so why was my OOO still on and why had I not responded yet? Not suggesting you’d do that of course, just your peeve reminded me of that happening, since I make a point to ensure it’ll turn on and off on its own, and I still get flack.

        1. Artemesia*

          I always set mine to turn off at noon of the day I returned to work, so I would have the morning I came back to clean up any small disasters and catch up.

          1. Ten*

            A former coworker of mine did something similar: she set hers an hour or two before she left on the day before being out to tie up any loose ends and make sure she didn’t get thrown into anything at the last second.

    9. C.*

      At my last job, I got a lot of daily emails (menu from the lunch place in the lobby, conflicts check, etc.) so I would go in every day and just delete those so when I got back into the office to really look at my email I wouldn’t freak out over the number of unread messages, but I wouldn’t click into anything substantive. I was lucky in that I 1) worked with people with good boundaries who knew I was out and wouldn’t bug me and 2) my job was such that i was hard for me to do anything out of the office anyway since it was more hands-on, so other than make me get on a plane, they were stuck

    10. K.*

      I do check email on vacation but I limit it to 10 minutes/day max and I never respond. I more do it so that I’m not completely flooded with emails when I get back.

      My biggest out of office pet peeve is when people don’t do them! That was common at my last employer, so you’d reach out to someone and not hear back for days and not know why.

    11. Yorick*

      I don’t use them unless there is no way I’ll check. I don’t respond during vacation, but I look at the messages.

      I kind of don’t like OOO messages when other people use them, but I realize that’s crazy. I have to send John this email, I can’t opt to not send it to him, and it doesn’t make sense to sit on it for a week until he gets back. I don’t want to get a message back and think it’s a response and then realize it’s an OOO.

    12. Not a Morning Person*

      Offer a contact for urgent issues, and make sure that person/department is aware and accessible and not also out of the office! I have had the experience of calling the back up person…and that backup person was also out of the office. Frustrating!

    13. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      If your vacation runs M-F and you’ll be back the following Monday, the earliest I would check any email would be the Friday afternoon.
      Of course this depends on your role. If you have underlings, they should probably have a way of getting in touch with you earlier, but only if it’s URGENT (read: the building is on fire) or particularly TIME SENSITIVE (read: need a response by Wednesday or the building will be set on fire)
      If you don’t have underlings, and only managers, I wouldn’t check email until Sunday night so you have time to transition back to work. Anything URGENT or TIME SENSITIVE should already have been dealt with by people in a higher pay grade. But checking on Sunday night gives you the ability to get up to speed on any changes, gossip, etc., before Monday morning.

    14. Little Twelvetoes*

      In my opinion, to truly have a vacation, you should not check your work email. I only will check if I am expecting something in particular. Otherwise, I setup an out of office message which informs the person of who they can contact (my supervisor or coworker) in my absence. That contact has my cell phone number so that they can reach me if something cannot (or should not) wait (for example: “where is the Penske file?”).

    15. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Just include the pertinent information such as how available you will be (not checking messages vs limited to once per day), the expected return date, and who to contact if they need immediate assistance.
      Mine usually says “I will be out of the office with no access to email and will return MM/DD/YY. If you need immediate assistance contact A for this or B for that otherwise I will respond upon my return.”

    16. Eye of Sauron*

      Try to have alternative contact(s) in your OOO, even if only for urgent or time sensitive things.

      Which brings me to my pet peeve. If your backup is also not going to be there for part of your time off, make sure you mention their backup. Nothing more frustrating than getting an OOO that says to contact Jane for urgent matters, only to get an OOO from Jane telling you she’s out of the office. (Totally understandable for unexpected sick days and things).

      Here’s what I do…
      Thank you for your email. I will be out of the office 2/1-5, and will not be responding to email or calls. For urgent or time sensitive issues, please contact the following:

      Jane 2/1-3
      Fergus 2/4,5

    17. SarahKay*

      Make sure that your out-of-office message doesn’t refer people to someone else who is also on vacation. This is my biggest pet peeve.
      I’m a single point of contact for my department within my site, so I do check my emails daily in case of metaphorical fires but only respond to said fires, or really quick questions that I know I can help on and others perhaps can’t.
      The other thing I do is to give my personal mobile (cell) phone number to the site manager and my direct manager, both of whom I trust not to abuse it and only call me if there’s a real problem. But that’s definitely a case of YMMV depending on your mangers.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        I purposely just put the general phone line for this reason. Co-worker won’t be on vacay while I am, but if she gets sick or has an emergency, she might not be available. Whoever picks up the phone will know where to direct them if they call in looking for me.

    18. Karen K*

      I was just on vacation. In spite of watching the number of new messages continually mount throughout the week, I did not check. I left my programs in the experienced hands of two of my colleagues, who had my private contact information in the case of an emergency. I trusted them to handle the mundane. My only real pet peeve about out of office messages is when people forget to turn them off! I can set start and end dates and times, which is awesome, but others either don’t know you can do that, or like to drive people crazy.

    19. Alice*

      I like to include info in my away message about how to schedule something with me when I get back. That way, even though people can’t get advice from me right away, they can book something in our calendars and feel satisfied that some concrete step forward has been taken. Obviously this depends on having a good calendaring setup with Outlook or Calendly or something….
      Also about calendars in a different sense — I’d suggest blocking off some time in your first few days back to triage and respond to all the email that will have built up.

    20. Jadelyn*

      If you’re hourly, any time spent on email needs to be logged as paid work time, just FYI.

      That aside, hell no. My immediate manager and my team have my cell # and know they can text me if something is truly going up in flames that they can’t put out without my help, and I trust them to make the judgment call on whether or not to bring me in. If they don’t contact me, I assume they’re doing fine.

      I will sometimes check my email the night before my first day back at work, just to give myself some idea of what I’m going to be walking into the next day, but I don’t respond to anything.

      Re out of office messages, just make it clear when you’ll be back and who people can turn to for stuff that can’t wait! I honestly don’t care if someone tells me they’re on vacation, at a conference, out of the country…I don’t need to know that. Just tell me when I can expect a response or how to get what I need from someone else while you’re gone.

    21. Healthnerd*

      I think it really depends on timing, your position and office culture. For a long weekend (most often visiting family or friends), I will put an OOO but then check in occasionally to see if there are emails I can give a quick response to. For more extended vacations (which sounds like yours is), I do not check emails and remove the temptation to do so. I will unsync that mailbox on my ipad (my phone uses separate email apps for work vs personal email) and I make it very clear in my OOO that I will not be responding to emails until I return. For these, I almost always list another point person in case their is an emergency. I also update any frequent contacts that I will be out of the office and who to contact. I dont want a work emergency (that most often can wait of can be handled by someone else) to ruin a relaxing vacation. Again, this is all very dependent on your office culture and expectations.

    22. Blue_eyes*

      I do check my email on vacation, but next month I’m going on my first vacation where I won’t be able to check my email for some stretches (traveling internationally and will only have email when on wifi).

      I usually include something like “If this is an URGENT matter, please contact Jane at jane@company dot com”. Jane can’t actually do much of my work, but she is familiar enough to triage anything urgent and decide whether it’s worth calling me, our boss, or someone else.

    23. willow*

      And you can definitely put a name and email and phone number of an associate they can contact in your absence.

    24. LAI*

      My pet peeve is away messages that say “your email is very important to me”. Because that’s obviously not true! You have no idea what I’m emailing you about in advance so you can’t say whether it’s important and just saying that EVERYTHING is important means that obviously NOTHING is…

    25. Book Lover*

      I just say when I will return and give contact info for secretary in case something can’t wait and has to be addressed by someone else.

      I do check my email while away, but I have asked that I not be messaged with things that will upset me and can’t be handled while I am away (complaints, fortunately rare). I typically only answer if not answering could result in more work for me down the line (typically scheduling issues).

      I get irritated by out off office messages that say ‘I will have limited access to emails’ – that is a given, otherwise you wouldn’t have out of office on. And I don’t love the ones who say they won’t be back if they win the lottery, but these are minor nitpicks.

    26. MLB*

      Depends on the type of work you do, but when I’m on vacation I’m ON VACATION. I don’t check emails AT ALL, and we all back each other up in my office so if it’s super urgent my manager knows how to get in touch (but it’s never happened). Since you’re new, maybe ask your boss about expectations, but it’s your time off and you shouldn’t have to worry about work while you’re away.

    27. Susan*

      Hawaii is so fun – have a great time!

      I agree with others before me re: message including backup contacts, being clear on your availability for reading email (strong vote from me to not look while on the actual vacation – too easy to stress), and if possible setting expiration of the message in the email system if supported.

      I go on vacation starting next week (yay!) and realized that I own a lot of recurring meetings. I will be going through calendar and setting them so others can modify/delete as needed. Might want to check that, as well as things like document permissions, that people know where file ‘X’ is…

    28. Shark Lady*

      I do not check email AT ALL while I’m on vacation. My boss and my counterpart have my cell phone and will let me know if the building burns down. Everything else will have either been handled by them in my absence or can wait for my return. Of course, I’ll come back to 1000 unread emails if I’m gone for a week, so I do have to set aside time to go through those.
      I always say that I won’t be checking email and give the date I’ll be back, my department email distribution for general inquiries and my boss’s contact info for escalations.

    29. ModernHypatia*

      I do an internal out of office message, but I also get a non-trivial number of questions from people outside the institution (and I live in fear of the ooo message doing weird things in mailing lists. Apparently I can’t get over that happening in something like 1997.)

      So I dip in for five minutes every day or two, and forward anything relevant to people who can deal with it, or sometimes do a really quick “I’m on vacation, I’ll be able to look at this when I’m back in the office on X” (where I give the day after I’m actually getting back.)

    30. Ramona Flowers*

      Okay so I misread this as asking if you have an out-of-office message pet and was basically imagining a dog guarding your desk for you.

    31. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      No real pet peeves, and nothing to add on the email part, but something I learned from my vacation:

      With the time zone difference (depending on where you are from) you may not be able to respond in a needed and timely manner. Might be best to opt for “will not be checking emails”. Takes the pressure off as far as you feeling like you have to.

      My cell service was poor in the area I was in (I was wandering around Oahu) so while I could call checking my email by phone and responding took forever… I finally just gave it up for a bad job and checked at the hotel. If I remember correctly I might have updated my out of office to reflect not being able to check and notified my boss I wouldn’t be able to respond like I thought I could.

      Note that service on the island was generally good, my companions had no issue. It was just me. Maybe it was a sign I shouldn’t have been working. :)

      Enjoy your vacation!

    32. Windchime*

      Congratulations! I just got back from 10 days in Hawaii and it was glorious.

      And no; I don’t check work email on vacation because…….I’m on vacation. My boss knows I don’t check and she certainly doesn’t expect me to. If there was an emergency that only I could solve (not likely!), then I hope she would text me and I would hop online and take a look. But I don’t really have the kind of job where that’s necessary.

    33. Oilpress*

      Pet Peeve: Do not list an alternate contact in your out of office message unless you have discussed this with them beforehand and they are actually able to help cover what you do.

  3. Bad Candidate*

    Hello, AAMers. I had an interview this week that went well enough that they asked me back for a second one this coming Wednesday. First interview was with the hiring manager. Second one will be with team members, but the hiring manager will also be there I believe. What questions should I ask them? I’ve already asked about culture, goals, and management style. This is a new role so I can’t ask the “magic” question.

    1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Ask them what they are looking for in a fellow team member? Is this a new role for you or for them? if it’s a new role for them, ask them why the role was needed and what their expectations are for someone in the role 3-6 months down the road and then a year from now.

    2. Rat Racer*

      Or how about the career trajectory of this role – what could it potentially grow into? You can also ask broader questions about team growth and company strategy, if you have them.

    3. Anna*

      Since they’re team members, you could ask about how they collaborate on projects or where they see the new person fitting into the team.

    4. Emmie*

      What kinds of work will be assigned to the new position? Who is doing the work now? How will that transition be handled? How do you see this position helping / interacting with the team? What kind of advice can you give me about the position? What does a successful team member look like here? What does good performance look like? What are some big changes you’ve had as a team, and how did you handle that? (I’ve held several new positions. They evolve so much, and it impacts other people’s roles too. You want an idea of how they handle that.)

      1. designbot*

        ^ I like these. They seem most likely to help you suss out if you’re be relying on a specific person a lot (and then assess, are they someone you click with, or someone who rubs you the wrong way?), or if there’s no plan in place about how to include this new role.

    5. JD SAHE*

      Depending on the type of job, and your industry, it may help to figure out why things are structured how they are or ask them how they are planning on coping/changing things based on X. I just did a round of interviews, and I found that when it came to the last four employers, I went with the group that had the most well thought out plan for how they were going to reflect the big change coming down the pipeline in our industry – but i was also very interested in how each employer had divvied up the responsibilities. Is your manager just a manager, or are they the subject matter expert? How do you account of new or learning employees?

    6. The Ginger Ginger*

      The questions – What will a typical day/week look like for this employee? and How will you be measuring success for this employee? – are REALLY helpful always, but with a newly created role it will also tell you how deeply they’ve thought about the part this new position plays on the team and how they’ll be gauging performance. Both things that will majorly impact you if you take the position.

      They may not have every answer, and of course, a new role will always evolve somewhat, but you want them to have put some time and serious thought into the position going into it. You don’t want to find you don’t have enough work, or you have too much work, or the work is so scattered that it’s hard to complete successfully.

      1. Future Analyst*

        +1. Agreed: you’ll want some sort of indication that they’ve thought this through thoroughly. Otherwise, everyone could hold disparate ideas of what they want out of the situation, and everyone ends up unhappy (which wouldn’t be your fault, but definitely your problem). Good luck!!

    7. periwinkle*

      You can still ask the magic question! Just re-frame it to acknowledge that it’s a new role with some uncertainties around it.

      Something like this: “Based on the needs that prompted the creation of this role, what kind of results would you expect a successful performer to achieve over the next two years?” (followed by) “What would that person be doing to get those results?”

      I hear this called right-to-left thinking (yay corporate jargon) but it’s basically the model for my work: define the ideal results first and then figure out how to get there.

      1. o.b.*

        My version of the “magic question” is “What is the most important skill or trait someone needs to succeed in this role?” Totally applicable to all roles, old or new. Even if they haven’t thought about long-term deliverables (which they should have! they did make a position for it!), they’ll have thought about what kind of employee they’d like to hire

    8. nep*

      (What’s with the handle? Good candidate!)
      Congratulations on getting this far. Well done.
      I would ask an interviewer: What would be the most important task or set of tasks for me to really master and excel at as soon as possible…Something along those lines.
      All the best. Look forward to an update.

  4. Sunflower*

    I’m looking into applying for some sales/recruiting jobs that would be partially commission-based. I’ve never worked in this type of role and am wondering what questions to ask and what to look for in job postings to make sure the job is legit and the pay/breakdowns are on par with the industry average. I have absolutely no clue what kind of questions to ask or what numbers I should be looking for.

    1. ChicagoRecruiter*

      Most reputable staffing/search firms are very up front with how their compensation works (salary vs draw, commission plans, etc.). They are used to explaining comp plans to candidates so you won’t be out of line asking what the comp break down is.

    2. gabih*

      Maybe ask for an example of what your KPIs would look like? Also, be careful of roles that promise boatloads of OTE, especially if there’s a huge base salary/OTE gap. This obviously will depend on what industry/role you’re going for, but you want them to have realistic expectations of you.

    3. theletter*

      you’ll want to ask about training and onboarding, and what support you’ll receive then.

      These jobs are great if you like being on the phone, building relationships with with people, and you feel, at least a little, driven by money.

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

      You might also inquire about how commissions and client information are handled after you leave. Often in sales and recruiting you have put in a significant amount of time building relationships that may take time before they finally result in a billable deal. If you’ve put in all of the work bringing in a client or setting up a sale, but for whatever reason leave the company before the final invoice is paid — do you still get your commission up to a certain time frame — maybe a year? Is there a clause that you have to cease any business contact with clients and hand over all their contact information, or do you retain the ability to take your clients with you?

  5. Quitter*

    Quit my toxic job. And my boss’s reaction confirmed I made the right choice. This is going to be the longest two weeks ever!

    1. Penny*

      Congrats! I did the same around this time last year and it felt so damn good! Good luck with your last two weeks!

    2. Archie Goodwin*

      Wonderful feeling, isn’t it? Knowing you’re out the door from a place like that.

      Many congratulations, and I wish you all happiness in the future. :-)

        1. Quitter*

          We’ve gone through some tough times so I stuck it out. Got through everything got our department in excellent shape running smoothly, its our slow time now……But I’m leaving him in a bind and he demanded I stay longer.

    3. rldk*

      Remember Alison’s awesome language for the transition period with a bad boss – I linked a story in my username. If your boss is hostile or otherwise makes working two more weeks unfeasible, they’re sacrificing the professional courtesy of the notice period.

    4. Slartibartfast*

      Keep your eyes focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. They can’t hurt you at this point. Don’t forget you have the option to just walk away.

    5. Lady Phoenix*

      I am glad you left.

      I recommend maybe planning something special at the end of that 2 weeks (tickets to see a show/movie, a vacation, something awesome) so that it will give you an extra treat for seeing those 2 weeks off.

      Also I find that looking forward to something awesome helps makes the 2 weeks go faster and smoother.

      1. einahpets*

        Yeah, the night after I gave my notice I booked a fancy resort hotel for the week after I leave near a local themepark. I’m taking my kids and just going to be a kid myself for a few days!

    6. einahpets*

      I gave my notice this week too! The last two months I have been told multiple times that I was going to be part of a layoff, and then HR gave us an hour-long timeframe of when notices would go out. The director of our department sent an email AFTER that hour to say “by the way, our department was not effected by the layoffs”.

      When I gave my notice on Monday my manager was confused on why I’d be upset. I have been here for 6 months and for a third of that time I’ve been told it was a good idea to be looking for a new opportunity. I’m done. I have an offer at a place that is much more stable.

  6. Pros and Cons*

    I need help with the perspective of pros and cons of your jobs. I know social media is a big filter because of course the people I follow aren’t going to blast their employer on the Net but it can be frustrating to see the constant ‘wow, I love my job/greatest job ever’ online. Like I’m super envious of my friend who works with dogs and posts daily dog photos but I also know she is outside a lot no matter the weather and the work is only part-time. So can you all share the pros and cons of your jobs?

    I’ll start: I’m administrative support to a specials events planning team.

    – Work is definitely more interesting when you’re discussing center pieces and prize wheels, and there is always something new to work on, it’s never repetitive
    – Flexible hours and can work from home
    – Much more friendly coworkers than my last job
    – Researching a wide variety of interesting topics (upcoming events, unique gifts for clients)

    – Open floor plan (oh man, how I hate this)
    – Private company means less holidays
    – Despite the ‘fun business’, it always comes back to money, which gets tossed around a lot thanks to working so closely with our big bosses
    – Short timelines mean we’re always at max capacity, always in a busy season
    – It’s weirdly a little disappointing to create these fun and interesting events and not be able to actually take part in them

    So care to share your specific pros and cons?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Pros: Close to home, pay is good, company is well-respected and in a fun business. My boss is great, as is her boss; my coworkers are all nice-to-tolerable. Some flexibility with hours and a boss who would totally understand if I needed to leave early or arrive late. I can take on projects I find interesting. Cool freebies from time to time, nice, new, comfortable work environment. Great coffee available.

      Cons: Despite a company culture encouraging occasional to regular work from home, I really can’t (customer-facing, expected to help answer phones); things are slow to change and departments don’t talk to each other well (I’m trying to help fix that actually); November and December are extremely busy and it’s hard to get a lot of time off for holidays. We really need 1 or 2 more people in this department but it probably won’t happen.

    2. LKW*

      Pro: dealing with family issue so I am working remotely until I decide not to work remotely. Did not ask for this permission – told them this is how I’d be working.

      Con: Typical day is 12+ hours right now. Ah the joys of global teams!

    3. RManager*

      Caveat: I’m not on the US.

      I’m a regulatory manager (of processes, not people).

      – Flexible hours, can work from home in bad weather/when I have appointments
      – Salary is amazing (at my company but we’re generally relatively high paid)
      – Lots of interaction with different functions
      – Organization abilities are a big plus and I haz them
      – Eye for detail is appreciated rather than being taken as nitpicking
      – Variety! Often I don’t know whats happening that day.

      – Hours can he really really long
      – If something goes wrong hours are even longer
      – The work experience is hugely dependent on whether your colleagues are capable / know how to do their job, i.e. lots of dependence on other people
      – So. Many. Meetings. (and deadlines, but I don’t mind deadlines so much)
      – The variety surprise factor has a flip side, because so many things can go wrong

      1. Ms. Meow*

        I’ve actually had a conversation with my therapist about this yesterday. I’m a Lab/Project Manager

        – Amazing coworkers
        – Understanding management (both my boss and her boss are great)
        – 40 hour work week with sporadic, but minimal, overtime
        – Flexible working time/location (including adapting schedules for appointments and WAH options)
        – Comprehensive benefits
        – Great salary
        – Short commute
        – Great 401k matching

        – Very few options for upward mobility
        – I find a lot of the work to be boring
        – Emails that warn about upcoming emails and then further reminder emails afterward
        – Poorly run meetings
        – Disconnect with company objectives and goals
        -* Hiring freeze that has left several groups running bare bones for over a year
        -* IT issues out the wazoo
        *Those last two have a lot to do with M&A activity which bigwigs say will improve ~soon~ but they’ve been saying that for months

        1. IKnowRight?*

          I found talking with a therapist about this stuff super helpful. It’s how I moved on from a low-paying “dream” job to something that fit my values and goals better. Good for you for discussing this with your therapist.

          1. Ms. Meow*

            Thanks! I actually started in therapy again because my general malaise about work manifested into depression. The pros of my job are a really rare and fantastic combination, but the main con is that I simply just don’t like what I do. But I’m terrified of a “grass is always greener” situation. I’m starting to apply for jobs but taking it slowly, and I’m being sure in exactly what is required for me to be happy and satisfied.

      2. Arlene*

        Program Director in a non-profit:
        -the programming and mission is near and dear to my heart
        -much of the work involves nurturing relationships and collaborations with partners around the state
        -always learning, reading, exploring new content
        -organization has a strong reputation, does a lot of impressive work
        -full time job with benefits in this field are hard to come by
        -job is close to home
        -good benefits
        -mostly reasonable workload

        -paternalistic, condescending, controlling CEO (my supervisor)
        -never had a job with less autonomy (see above)
        -internal culture is silo-ed, defensive, lacking in accountability (see above)

    4. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      I’m a database developer at a large state university.

      – I have good bosses – my biggest pro. They treat us like adults. I have set work hours, but if I’m 30 min late because I just couldn’t get the toddler out the door, no one cares. My manager trusts me to get my work done. We have weekly team meetings, but he’s not a micromanager or a hands-off manager – he does the right amount of managing!
      – I have a good team. They also treat me like an adult. I’m a young looking woman and I didn’t come into IT from a traditional route, so I have a lot of gaps in my knowledge. They are helpful and friendly and I don’t ever feel like I’m being talked down to. But they are also rather introverted like me, so we don’t overshare or talk each other to death – our personalities mesh well.
      – Pay is great for my skill level and what I do, largely thanks to my manager.
      – I have an actual career path and goals that I’m working towards, thanks to my manager.
      – Our division has a good CIO who share many of my same values (I mean, I think he’s good…obviously biased!).
      – Excellent benefits – my health insurance is amazing, I earn 10 hours vacation each month (and it goes up with my state service tenure), I get additional sick pto.

      – I am in a cubicle, which isn’t the worst, but I used to have a nice private office with a big window in my old job and I miss that.
      – I have to be in the office every day, I used to do 60% telecommuting.
      – Like any organization, there’s a lot of blame shifting that goes around when problems occur. I think our CIO is trying to work on this but it’s a difficult cultural problem to mitigate.
      – my commute is long since I have to drop my toddler off at various babysitters, but this will likely change in the future – I just live in an area that forces me to have some roundabout routes

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        I will add that my bosses let us telecommuting occasionally for things like the plumber coming over, or a bad weather day, or when everyone lost their minds about gas availability in DFW, etc. So it’s not totally banned, it’s just something we can use within reason.

      2. Weyrwoman*

        I’ve been a woman in IT myself and I’m wondering what the “traditional route” looks like?

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

          Most of the people I work with came into IT because they did some type of CSE or Infosys degree in college, got a specific “IT” job (not just like para-IT department or something) right out of college, and worked their way up. I’m at a university so a lot of people did start at the help desk or entry level positions here, and then worked their way up. That’s what I consider “traditional”. In my instance, I got an English degree, messed around in a few different jobs with some “IT” elements (graphic design, instructional design, data analysis), but was never part of “IT proper” until this past year. The “traditional” people seem to have a much better grasp of overall IT infrastructure (networking, security, hardware, etc.) than I do. Like if I put in a firewall request, I often miss ports or some other necessary piece that for everyone else seems to be second nature.

    5. Lore*

      Production editor at large publishing company
      –tons of variety and lots of interesting projects to work on
      –generally flexible schedule as long as deadlines are met, and ability to work from home on a case-by-case basis
      –smart, engaged, articulate coworkers
      –lots of free books
      –respected company with good benefits

      –industry as a whole is lower-paying than many of the things people with my education/seniority could be doing
      –my position in particular is on the “low-glamour” side of the industry–lots of responsibility with not a lot of authority
      –very stable workforce which means few opportunities for promotion or advancement
      –truly terrible office space redesign a few years back has us in workstations very poorly suited to the nature of our work

        1. Lore*

          It’s a blessing and a curse. The piles are taking over my apartment. And my tiny, tiny cubicle. I think I’d have to not leave the house for two years just to get through the backlog on my iPad, let alone the piles.

      1. Penny*

        I’ve very interested in getting into editing and am very curious learn more about it. What is your background and what do you do on a daily basis in your job?

        1. Lore*

          I am not the kind of editor people usually think of–the kind who buys books from agents and works with authors on developing them. I’m a production editor, which means I handle all the logistical and content aspects of getting a book from manuscript to bound book–copy editing, proofreading, interior design, legal clearances and text permissions, working with the author to make sure all their late-stage changes are incorporated, etc. I don’t do all of those things for all of my projects–that’s why we hire a ton of freelancers!–but I supervise, coordinate, and “polish” them. I’m usually working on 20-30 active projects in any given month, so my days involve some combination of: following up with authors/editors/management on the whereabouts of materials I was supposed to have, hiring freelancers and trafficking work to them, prepping Word files to be imported into InDesign and to be copyediting, reviewing proofs and collating author and proofreader changes into master sets, reviewing jacket/cover copy or mechanicals, reviewing ebooks, database management, and just generally putting out fires. I’m also sort of the “team lead” for some of the digital workflow tools we use, so sometimes I’m either training or troubleshooting with that kind of thing.

          I got into this kind of work through freelancing–I had a part-time job in grad school at a publishing and research project where I discovered I had the innate skills you need to proofread (I can teach someone how to mark proofs, but it’s very very hard to teach someone to see like a proofreader if it doesn’t come intuitively) and learned the markup. When I left school, I was temping in the admin side of publishing and picked up some freelance proofreading and editing; that combination got me an entry-level job at a scholarly publisher. My leap to trade publishing was a lot of right-place-right-time–I had a friend at one of the big houses, someone in her department left, and my combo of database work, proofreading/copyediting, and early forays into digital publishing made me a good fit for the position. I’ve been moving around the same company ever since.

      2. nep*

        Sounds terrific, all in all. Free books.
        Hi, Lore. You recently suggested how one might find you on LinkedIn. A lot of editors came up and I’m not sure how to find you…Could you offer another tip? Thank you

        1. Lore*

          If you google the exact string I used (editor, writer, proofreader, copy editor) + LinkedIn, I am the first person who comes up, and my handle is part of my name.

    6. Landshark*

      I’m an adjunct professor at a community college.

      My college has several campuses that I can commute to, so I don’t get the feeling of being cooped up in one building, I’m doing what I love, my department and the college are very supportive of my colleagues and me, teaching adults is way more fun than teaching kids.

      I’m still only part time (hoping that will change within the next year or two!), things like enrollment change by the semester so much that I’m busy some semesters and basically free others (right now, I only teach one class because my classes are heavily loaded for incoming students in the fall), and changes in leadership at the college mean dramatic shifts in course offerings, college protocol, and future goals and paths for the college, but we’re mostly just along for the ride, for better or for worse

    7. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Pros: Easy commute; not too stressful; interesting co-workers; learning new technical aspects of the job; a few perks (some of the senior people will buy breakfast and/or lunch )

      Cons: open floor plan (I would give just about anything for a cubicle); Long hours; unable to telecommute

    8. TeacherNerd*

      — I don’t have to work in an office.
      — No ridiculous 9-5 office hours.
      — I get to work with teenagers. I love me some high school kids!
      — I’m home by 3:15 each day because I work 4 1/2 miles from home.
      — I get to chaperone high school dances.
      — supportive colleagues, administrators, and parents
      — I earn enough to travel internationally every summer if I want to (not that I do travel internationally every summer). And no, I don’t mean Canada or Mexico when I say “international” (ain’t nothin’ wrong with Canada or Mexico).

      — I have to be up at 6 a.m. (Boo!)
      — More to do with others’ attitudes; for example, people think teachers always have the “summer off.” (I do have the financial flexibility to not actually have to work summers, but I’m over 40 and childless, so I don’t have the same financial obligations others have.) I’ve also had students ask me how I can afford to travel. I don’t know how poor people think teachers are, but many of us go interesting places, like national parks and places on the other side of the globe.
      — micromanaging parents who think I hate their kid or blame me because the kid is failing because the kid doesn’t turn in the work, etc.

      1. Portia*

        I’m a teacher, too. :)
        -Mostly I get to focus on material that really interests me, and I can change material whenever I want to keep myself from getting bored
        -I love my students and seeing them learn
        -Summers off, holidays, spring break, etc.
        -I have my own classroom and enough prep periods to mentally recharge
        -Very supportive administration and parents
        -I’m usually home by 4:00 and (sometimes!) get to use that time to enjoy other hobbies
        -This year I have WAY too many students so I’m buried in grading. I constantly feel behind and semi-panicked. Administration understands it’s a problem but definitely isn’t able to fix it this year. If they don’t fix it as promised next year, I will really have to go to bat for myself on this. Ugh.
        -As a result of the first point, I take a lot of work home with me.
        -The pay is okay but not stellar. I know I could make more at a different school, but I really like my school.
        -I am “on” all day while teaching and, as an introvert, feel totally wiped out by the end of the day.

        On balance, the good outweighs the bad for sure. I really like my job.

    9. KR*

      Pro: I get to travel, short commute, flex my hours to a certain degree, bring my dog to work if I want, I have a great manager, the pay isn’t too shabby, and the company is big enough that I get a lot of benefits/swag/perks associated with a big company. I don’t have to dress fancy for work and I don’t deal with customers, which is great.

      Con: I really don’t like my office. My office chair is uncomfortable, the lighting is harsh and gives me headaches, the way my desk is set up (which is like the only option to work with our stupid floor plan) leaves me stuck in a corner with no room to spread out, and one of my co-workers can be seriously loud. I so wish I had a cubicle or office to myself instead of a big open space for the three of us. It’s in a shopping center too so there’s always random people walking by and music bumping and noise from our neighbors. Also, most of our team is remote which makes certain aspects of my job so much harder.

      1. KR*

        Re reading this my main complaint is clearly my office. Honestly if I could get some natural light instead of the awful overhead lights it would make my job 1000% better.

    10. Lora*

      I’m a professional geek for pharma (process development – somewhere between science and engineering).

      Pay is good. Decent, anyways. Benefits decent for a US company, we usually get three weeks of PTO and good health care, dental, life insurance etc. I have a nice middle class lifestyle.
      Job is really important. I make drugs for curing lots of horrible diseases. Have put multiple drugs in the clinic from Discovery. Worked in Discovery for a while. It’s a calling, not just a job.
      I’m in a hotspot for the field, so they generally treat us respectfully. Like adults, in any case. Safety and environmental regulations are mostly adhered to. I manage my own time for the most part.

      I’m in a hotspot for the field, and there aren’t many. The other major one is on the west coast. It’s not a good idea to move anywhere not a hotspot, because if you get laid off in a merger/acquisition (which happens about every 2 years if you’re in a major company) you won’t have anywhere to go and you’ll have to move again. Housing is a problem as a result.
      Our marketing departments are basically Satan incarnate. I’ve sat through a lot of company-wide trainings that were part of a massive multi-billion $ settlement (penalty) for Marketing Screwed Up AGAIN.
      Very white male dominated. Very sexist, much racism.
      Occasionally get asked by employers to do something shady for them. Professional ethics are tested with depressing regularity. Sometimes we are able to work it out – a senior QA person leaps to the rescue, the offending manager is fired or demoted, sometimes the manager actually listens and chooses a different course of action. Very rarely we are not able to work it out and then I find another job.

      1. Bea W*

        This sounds very much like my last employer. I frittered so much of my life away in Marketing Screwed Up AGAIN trainings that had nothing to do with my job function. They were also the main cheerleaders of the company’s PAC and started actively recruiting and sending out political action alerts last year telling employees which bills they should tell their elected reps to support/not support. *barf*

        1. Lora*

          Oh god. My first employer after grad school was really good about keeping politics out of the office and never mentioned anything to us unless it was in the news, and even then it was like, “this Supreme Court decision happened, and here is how it will affect us” or “this tax bill happened, and here is how it will affect us”. The company that bought us was very heavy-handed in contrast, fussing at us to donate to their PAC and all kinds of political crap about who we should vote for, to the point that we all stared at each other and asked, “is this legal?” even when they were telling us to vote for the person we would have voted for anyway.

          Answer: yes, it was legal. But creepy and intrusive.

    11. BlueWolf*

      Some things can be both pros/cons
      -Good benefits and salary
      -Mostly predictable work load/schedule
      -Almost never need to work overtime (non-exempt with set schedule), no after-hours work from home or answering emails if not at the office
      -Coworkers are nice
      -Good location
      -Hour long lunch

      -Not necessarily the most intellectually stimulating/meaningful work
      -Set schedule means having to use leave for any appointments (no flex-time)
      -Communication from the top seems a bit lacking
      -A lot of turnover in staff

    12. Amadeo*

      I am a web specialist at a US university in the main marketing office:

      – Extra holidays (that week between Christmas and New Year’s is so lovely) and shortened hours during the summer (who knew that an hour a day can make such a huge difference?)
      – All of our work is internet-based; I’m supposed to technically be in the office every day, but if I am sick or there’s more than a couple inches of snow (I have a longer commute than others) I have the unofficial option to work at home so long as it’s just once in a while
      – Salaried, nobody cares if I’m 10 minutes late
      – Awesome coworkers and occasional opportunities to learn a new skill

      – I’m in the marketing office. Ultimately we answer to the university president. Sometimes there’s A LOT of pressure to get something done, or get a result we can’t entirely control (i.e. enrollment numbers)
      – We’re beholden to the whims of the state’s government with the budget. We just suffered a RIF because of it.
      – Academics. Most faculty are quite reasonable, but there are a few with some superiority problems because of their education
      – See con #1 it’s occasionally feast or famine. Lots of projects can come in with very tight deadlines indeed, or we have to mine the site for redesign projects for something to do.

      1. Anon here*

        This has never happened to me on AAM before but I’m almost entirely certain we work for the same employer! Your description of the holidays and state budget cuts made me go, “hmm…” and then when I clicked the link in your name and saw where you’re located… I don’t know where else you could work. Super weird, and also a little creepy.

      2. KayEss*

        I’ve worked in marketing at universities and OH GOD THE ACADEMICS. I actually know someone who transitioned from a faculty role into a staff support role and was like, “you know, I never believed when I was faculty that faculty could be the problem… but faculty are absolutely the problem.”

        Worked for a while at a university with a large, prestigious medical school and learned that the only thing worse than faculty is faculty who are also (medical) doctors. Always kind of wanted to work somewhere with a big law program to see if faculty who are also lawyers could top that!

    13. CheeryO*

      I’m a regulatory engineer at a state agency.

      Pros: pay is good; PTO is fantastic; good health insurance; a pension; 37.5 hour workweek; the work is varied and interesting most of the time; atmosphere is generally laid-back, and we very rarely have tight deadlines; most of my coworkers are very smart and incredibly passionate about what they do; lots of flexibility to get out in the field as much as we want, on whatever schedule we choose; my boss is fantastic.

      Cons: small contingent of deadbeats lumping around until retirement, at which point they will make more in a year from their pension than most people make working full-time; a lot of paper pushing and bureaucratic nonsense; no budget to replace ancient computers/printers/etc.; having to prioritize projects based on politics; having the shots ultimately get called by people who have no idea what actually goes on in the real world; things can get incredibly slow since there is only so much proactive work we can do; no free anything, ever; culture is very much ~like a family~ with the line between work and personal life waaay too blurry at times.

      1. CheeryO*

        Darn, that’s a lot of negatives! I really do like my job most of the time. More positives would be our downtown location by the waterfront, large offices, and random holidays that a lot of people don’t get (President’s Day, Election Day, etc.).

        1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

          Managing attorney for the State of California:

          – Being a public servant. It’s rewarding, meaningful, and I’m so proud of what I do.
          – Fantastic health insurance, dental, and vision
          – Defined benefit pension plan, including for new hires
          – 40 hour work week 10 months out of the year
          – Some of the best people I have ever worked with in my entire life
          – Civil service job protection

          – The bureaucracy is the worst. Worse than the bad boss in Dilbert or Lumbergh in Office Space. Just mind numbingly awful.
          – 2 months out of the year my agency is working 6-7 days a week. And I’m salaried exempt.
          – While the number of weak performer employees in our office is quite few, the amount of paperwork needed to either reprimand or terminate them for sub par work is agonizing. It takes forever.
          – Civil service pay scale means no matter how hard you work, you will get the same raise as the person who is just meh and the same raise as the office slug. And then once you top out on the pay scale, you only get a raise when there is a salary COLA. You might get three COLAs in a row, then get no COLAs for 5-6 years. When this next COLA finishes in July, we probably won’t get another salary COLA until 2021-24.

      2. anoncanon*

        I was wondering whether another state worker would chime in. I’m a regulatory inspector for a state agency.

        -Great pay and health insurance.
        -40 hour workweek that is fairy flexible for us field workers. We generally have to start between 6-9am and finish from 4-6pm and we can flex (within reason) throughout the pay period to hit our hours.
        -I determine the majority of my days unless there is a meeting.
        -Interesting work and I get to work with a lot of different, but related, industries.
        -My good coworkers are very good at what they do and are very thoughtful.
        -My office is my home and we are provided state vehicles and computers. Office days mean no in person communications, which I personally enjoy.
        -I could conceivably retire in this position and I’m in my 30’s (assuming there aren’t massive state budget cuts and/or I don’t end up hating the position). Personally, I like this because I do not enjoy job hopping and I also do not live in an area with high job opportunities.

        -No more pension plan within most of our state agencies, but when the regulated industry is angry with me they often bring this up first (that I’m a lazy pension leech). Pensions haven’t been offered to new employees since the 90’s.
        -Definitely some deadbeats tinkering around. Or if they aren’t a deadbeat, they are extremely inefficient.
        -So slow to change. Even when we do have changes, our division in particular is horribly inept at recording policy and procedure updates.
        -Bureaucratic nonsense for sure. Due to stupidly rigid position descriptions, we lost out on promoting one of either two great employees for an important position. Instead, we hired someone who has never been in regulatory work and the repercussions are felt all.the.time. Upper management has lost a lot of our (already low) respect.
        -Some days can be very slow because often our work is reactive instead of proactive. No one wants to admit this and personally I feel guilty when this happens because I am a state employee.
        -My work team in particular has a “we’re a family” vibe, which I do not like and I often have to be the grouch
        of the group and push back.

        1. Your Tax Dollars at Work*

          I work for the state government too! I don’t know if I’m the person to ask about this because I…sort of hate my job, but here we go!

          -Short commute! My last job had a 1.5 hour commute each way, and now it’s only 20 minutes, on a bad day.
          -The satisfaction of serving others, blah blah blah
          -The actual work I do is awesome, researching policy, writing legislation, prepping statements. It’s exactly what I want to be doing.
          -Sorta flexible hours and great overtime benefits. For every hour I work overtime, I get a half hour of vacation time.

          -Politicians are nuts. All of them. No exceptions.
          -The pay is low
          -I can’t actually /use/ that great overtime benefit because my boss won’t let me take vacations from January to June, I’m not allowed to take more than a week of vacation at a time, etc.
          -But I have to work tons of overtime! Nights, weekends, holidays, you name it, there’s an event that day and I have to work it.
          -Even though I “work for the state” I can’t unionize because politicians don’t count as “employers” or something.

          1. anoncanon*

            Eesshh…luckily I don’t often interact directly with politicians. If I ever did (and it could happen) is when I am interacting with them during their “normal” job which falls under our agency’s regulations. I’ve heard from my coworkers that this can be super aggravating because they try to use their political sway and we just want to say “yeah, okay, well I’m here to inspect your business right now.”

            As for vacations, luckily we’re able to use our time, but some bosses barely look (or care) about workload to the point that work can come to a screeching halt in July and December because so many people in the main office are away.

    14. IKnowRight?*

      I work for a small nonprofit.
      – We’re a relatively rare beast: a unionized nonprofit! Therefore I’m pretty well compensated, even for the expensive city I live in.
      – We’re small (13 people serving an international community), so I’ve had the opportunity to take the lead on lots of stuff I’d never done before. I’ve seriously leveled up my skills in 3 years.
      – It took some staff turnover and culture change, but I like everyone I work with now.

      – Open floor plan. Burn it with fire!
      – My boss is a micromanager….who lives in another state!
      – We have a reputation for being a ‘too little, too late’ activist organization, which I believe stems directly from con #2, the micromanaging boss.

    15. Free Meerkats*

      I’m an environmental regulator for a municipality (aka, Sewer Cop).

      + Other than some things that need to be done either monthly or annually, it’s nearly totally free form, I have no schedule.
      + The work is varied, a combination of field and office work.
      +I get to see really cool industrial processes. Ever seen a waterjet machine cutting titanium? It’s a fireworks show! I was in the Boeing plant the day they broke the wing off the 777 static test plane (planned, they need to see how much it will take).
      + If it’s nice outside, I can decide it’s a day to be in the field; if it’s crappy, I can stay inside and do paperwork.
      + My boss, his boss, and my coworkers.
      + My work location; I have eagles in the trees, ducks on the pond, herons in the wetland – all right outside my door. I have several trails for lunchtime walks right outside the gate.
      + Reasonable pay and excellent benefits.
      + Office kitties!

      – It’s nearly totally free form with no schedule. This works for me, some people struggle with it.
      – I have to go into industrial areas I really don’t want to. High noise, chemical hazards, physical hazards, odors, monkeys in cages.
      – Sometimes I have to enter sewer manholes. Usually not all that bad, fresh sewage smells like dirty dishwater.
      – Sometimes when it’s crappy outside, I need to be out there anyway. Rain, snow, wind, heat, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes when it’s beautiful out, I have to be inside.
      – Certain other coworkers, who shall remain nameless.
      – My work location, the pond outside my door is a half-billion gallons of partially treated sewage.

    16. Erstwhile Anon*

      — I can bring my kid to work
      — it pays money
      — I enjoy some of what I do
      — I like my coworkers
      — it’s part-time

      — I would rather be staying home with my kid
      — my boss, whom I really like and appreciate in a lot of ways, is not skilled at setting standards and then helping his staff meet them. He’s a visionary and a spit-baller but execution and follow-through are not his strengths. He also tends to micromanage conflict which has been a continual source of frustration.
      — pay is ridiculously low but we can’t afford to go without

    17. Red Reader*

      I am a remote lead for a remote team of medical coders. My personal pros and cons are all specific to the “remote” parts of that statement.

      Pros: I’m currently sitting in a big armchair with my dog (ok, so she’s whining to go outside and chase squirrels, but usually she cuddle-naps) wearing fleecy pajamas and barefoot with cheesy crime shows playing on Netflix and I’m about to go raid the fridge for WHATEVER I WANT for lunch. I didn’t have to take time off when the furnace guy came out on Wednesday, or when my cleaning lady comes on Tuesdays. In order to be at work at 7, I have to get up at like 6:50, and when I clock out at 3:30, I’m in my living room with my knitting by 3:32. Because I’m not tied to office/building access hours, I can flex my schedule to work literally any time I want, including holidays, to conserve my PTO hours. A tank of gas lasts me for-damn-ever.

      Cons: I have a big wardrobe of work clothes that I don’t want to wear at home because puppy fur, which means my closet is full of clothes I rarely wear. I don’t get a lot of face time with my higher ups because they’re all on site, or with my reports because we’re not. I occasionally realize that I haven’t left my house or vocally spoken to someone I don’t live with in three or four days. (Luckily I have housemates, so I at least talk to humans semi regularly, not just the dogs.)

      Some people who work from home have problems with other folks not respecting that they’re working – I’ve mostly been lucky there at least.

      1. Sas*

        I like your comment. I always had a couple of questions about medical coding. If you could help, great, don’t have to. Do most work from home? People say that, but I saw somewhere where a lot work in the office, as in a hospital? What kinds of qualifications do people usually have for this type of position, anything really specific? And, do you have any links to companies that might be better than others for offfering these kinds of positions? Thank you ahead of time.

    18. lady bird*

      chemical engineer here

      – great (and I mean great) pay and benefits right out of college
      – 9/80 work schedule (work 9 hour days with every other Friday off)
      – get to work in a onesie jumpsuit and no makeup
      – my company hires large groups of college graduates so we have a strong group of young people/friends to work with
      – flexibility to change jobs and locations to find something that interests you

      – sometimes very long days – working 7 AM to 6:30 PM has become somewhat regular
      – if a vital piece of equipment goes down, it’s non stop work until it’s fixed. like 24/7 hours. I almost had to cancel a pre-planned flight/vacation once
      – It’s not something I’m super duper passionate about but the money is too good to justify quitting when I’m not sure what else I want to do
      – high stress, always too much work and not enough people to do it

      1. lady bird*

        I like the concept of this post. On social media I post about the fun aspects of my life (concerts, trips, new car, etc.) but not about how I’m working 11.5 hour days in a stressful environment.

        1. NacSacJack*

          I have come to realize Social Media is your own PR platform. As any PR person will tell you, gotta craft the message.

      2. PX*

        Pretty sure I used to work for the same company, although in an office, and for sure. Seeing what site engineers had to go through if a machine broke made me pretty glad I wasnt one of them. I definitely love being able to leave work at work!

    19. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      – I enjoy working with money
      – Right now I’m doing all written communication, which I enjoy and am good at
      – Digging deep for research is fun!
      – Well-paid, good benes
      – Employer-sponsored licensing

      – Lots of restrictions on what I can say or do even off the clock
      – Employer gets to monitor a lot of my financial activity for regulatory compliance
      – Unending massive bureaucracy because combination of being tightly regulated + high ethical expectations + gigantic multi-armed firm = enough red tape to wallpaper a skyscraper
      – Heavily male environment, a lot of clients get condescending and rude when dealing with women in finance

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Oh right, and more-

        – Tax season is six months long

        – Company caters meals multiple times per week through most of tax season, and it’s almost always delicious

    20. Boredatwork*

      I work in finance at a big company –

      Complete autonomy
      Flexible hours
      Private office

      I work a ton of hours (60+)
      No room for upward growth (in title)
      intense sink or swim culture

      overall it’s a very good job, and all of my mangers treat me like an adult and leave me alone to do my work. The intense performance culture works well for me and I thrive under pressure (and when rewarded monetarily for success). Definitely not the job for everyone, and not low stress.

    21. Bea W*

      My current job at this specific employer (not indicative of my field)

      – It pays the bills
      – Good health plan
      – Large office with a giant window
      – Tech support is a billion times better than my last employer
      – Overall a great organization doing good things.
      – Decent raises

      – Horrible commute
      – Working remotely is not a thing
      – GrandBoss is a micromanager who doesn’t know what she doesn’t know
      – Inadequate infrastructure to fully support needs of my project.
      – Bored!
      – Cafeteria is 3 city blocks away and in house kitchen facilities aren’t great.

      I’m looking for another job. Unfortunately the commute and the GrandBoss (especially the GrandBoss!) make this one intolerable. :(

    22. Recruiter*

      -meeting LOTS of fascinating people
      -good opportunities for upward mobility and earning potential
      -the company I’m working for has a really good training program
      -office in the center of town, lots of big windows, lots of light
      -great pension scheme + rewards
      -company mentoring programs

      -huge open plan office (my BANE)
      -super-high turnover (60-70% first-year turnover in my company)
      -limited PTO, which, when your job is this stressful, hoo boy do you need
      -lots of illness? I don’t know if this is just my office, but about 50% of people here have basically been sick since Christmas, but they’re all dragging themselves in because, see above about PTO
      -disconnect between long-term needs and short-term drives to increase immediate sales (e.g. one of our best candidates almost left our agency because one of the other consultants here screamed at her to ‘just take this placement already!’ and implied she’d lose her current placement if she didn’t)
      -I’m in Education recruitment, so every few weeks I have to get up at 5 a.m. to take the 7 a.m. before-school shift.

    23. Maya Gold*

      I’m a researcher at a nonprofit.

      – super interesting work that is incredibly timely and meaningful to me
      – wonderful coworkers who are smart, hardworking, and very dedicated to what they do
      – an AMAZING boss
      – pretty good benefits–in June I’ll be up to 14 vacation days + 12 sick days + 3 personal days + the week of Christmas Eve – New Years off
      – salaried–technically 9-5:30, but my boss is super flexible
      – the hours are very very consistent
      – lots of opportunities to grow/explore new things/fields

      – the pay is noooot great, especially considering COL here
      – there’s a certain amount of office politics/personalities
      – the org is highly niche, and while it’s something I’m interested in doing now, it’s not what I want to do with my life–I’m worried about my ability to translate my work here into another job/field when I decide to leave this one.

    24. Spider*

      — The field I’m in and work I do is wholly aligned with my personal values
      — Very good salary here compared to the industry standard
      — Great benefits package
      — I live within walking distance of my office, so if I drive, my commute is literally 4 minutes.
      — Get along with most of my coworkers, and have become outside-of-work good friends with two of them
      — I’m constantly learning new and interesting things
      — Very low-stress job
      — Unionized, with a pretty strong union

      — The job itself is completely superfluous and makes me feel like a character in a Chekhov play, spending years of my life doing meaningless busywork.
      — My office is a post-hoc construction made of metal walls that don’t go all the way up to the ceiling, situated in the middle of an open floor collaborative workspace that can seat 100 people, so the noise level can be ridiculous. Right now there are only two people in that space, but I can hear their conversation clear as day. Earphones are saving my life.
      — No opportunity for advancement
      —- I have a Master’s degree (required for the professional positions) but am in a paraprofessional position
      —- There is a stark cultural divide here between professionals and paraprofessionals, which is particularly irritating since there are a lot of us paraprofessionals with our Master’s degrees and years of experience.
      —- Strong union means us paraprofessionals are forbidden from doing professional-level work, so we don’t get the professional-level experience required to become professionals.
      — I am bored to death.

    25. Joanne*

      I was a tech writer (contractor) for a federal agency.
      – Learned a lot about the agencies under us (FEMA, TSA, USCG, etc)
      -Learned a lot about government writing
      -Upgraded my Microsoft Office skills
      -Got to work with people who were in the military at one point
      -Worked with a very public facing division of the agency
      -Went to a lot of various places to support sector meetings and met sector chiefs
      -Met high-ranking officials

      -Youngest one there. The next youngest was in their 30s
      -Came in during the hurricane response, so I spent the first month in training
      -Learned the jobs of both admin assistants and tech writing, so I floated doing both
      -Got a lot of job experience for my first job out of college
      -Very micromanaged. I had to report to a government liaison who would talk to the government officer in charge and she would bring back assignments for us to do.
      -No talking/mingling with federal officers unless they initiated it
      -there was an official training course I didn’t take until December. I have the handbook at my office cube and notes about the agency. I did meet one of the military’s teachers (the people who create education courses for the military) and a lot of state agency officials
      -no performance plans (for my company anyways) and little to no time to meet with the managers

    26. Fiona*

      Assistant film editor!

      Pros: Exposure to really cool projects, I work with extremely nice people, it’s fast paced but people are flexible/understanding of life events, as long as you have coverage for your work.

      Cons: Unpredictable hours, late hours. (This is tough. Sometimes I’m not home until 10 PM or later). My role is reactive, meaning when someone needs something, I get it to them ASAP. Therefore, it’s not possible for me to work on my own schedule or control my own time. I am responding to others’ needs. Not the fault of my employer; that’s simply the nature of this type of job.

      Both Pro & Con: I don’t have the software/hardware at home to work remotely. The con is that I have to stay at the office late. The pro is that when I leave, I truly leave!

    27. Roja*

      I’m a dance (ballet and modern) teacher and a transcript editor, both part-time.

      – a lot of flexibility
      – I get to learn a lot of random stuff as an editor
      – knowing that the transcripts I produce help people who need them
      – working with kids/teens is great and watching those lightbulb moments as they progress is the best feeling
      – knowing that my dance knowledge and experience is very needed where I am, so I make a big difference
      – no commute (for my editing job)

      – no benefits and work level is not guaranteed (for the editor job)
      – pay is low for teaching in my area; standard rate here is what I was making straight out of college at my first studio
      – very long commute (hour each way) for teaching
      – not a lot of dance in this area, so there’s no one except my boss to talk to about my field. It’s very isolating.

    28. Ama*

      I run a grants program for a medical research nonprofit.
      Pros: I get to learn about cool science a lot and talk to really smart people doing the science, and it’s usually science that’s going to really help people.
      I work for an org that really understands that it is only as strong as its employees and that compensation, promotion and a good work-life balance are all key ways to keep those strong employees around.
      My opinion is really valued here and I can have frank conversations with our CEO about workload, timelines, etc. and also have a lot of authority to create or refine new processes within my department.

      Cons: I’m now going into my fifth year here which is long enough for the annual cycle of regular projects to start feeling routine and sometimes never ending.
      As supportive as my org is, we’re still a nonprofit, so there’s only so far the budget can stretch on staffing, and the busy times of year can be pretty intense.
      Also because we’re a nonprofit there are certain times when donor or advisor wishes have to be appeased and that can be really stressful and aggravating. (This org is actually better than most about trying to maintain some boundaries but that’s only reinforced how unavoidable this is in this sector.)

    29. Medical Librarian*

      – I get to work with thoughtful, talented researchers and students.
      – While faculty end up knowing “almost everything about almost nothing,” I get to contribute to, and learn about, lots of different projects.
      – I get to help early-career people who are so grateful for very simple things.
      – I never have to grade anything again!
      – In almost every case, library-oriented software is worse than similar software designed for wider audiences.
      – Every academic library expects significant involvement in professional organizations without full reimbursement of the associated costs.
      – It’s vanishingly rare for me to read a whole book for work.
      – Remember how Matt Taibbi said Goldman Sachs was a “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”? Well, scholarly publishers are vampire squid extracting money from science/academia and perverting incentives to conduct good research.
      – It’s hard to maintain my work-life balance when my collaborators (faculty and students) work 24/7.

      Some academic librarians would complain of not being respected by faculty. That definitely happens sometimes, but to be honest it’s really very rare among accomplished researchers, who tend to value skill sets that complement their own.

    30. Kath*

      I’m a technical person with a small mining company (I work on projects outside mine scope) that was recently purchased by a private entity.

      – I work in the corporate office in an actual city.
      – the work is very interesting and varied
      – I have a lot of autonomy in my position
      – my department has a “nook” with walls on all sides and an entrance (the rest of the office is open concept, bleh!)

      – I don’t have a lot of people to work with or depend on, our group is very small
      – I am the only technical person of this type in the company, so no one to talk shop with and get perspective on
      – longer commute than previously
      – I have to travel more than I’d like for longer than I’d like – mine sites aren’t that much fun to travel to

    31. The Turkey is My Spirit Animal*

      I work as professional staff in higher ed (non-teaching position).
      -Generous paid time off
      -Mission of institution is very positive/ contributes positively to community
      -Coworkers are mission driven and good people
      -Health benefits are very good (used to be excellent, but still quite good)
      -Easy to see the impact my work makes
      -Covered free parking

      -Pay. It’s terrible, unless you are faculty or administration.
      -Opportunity for advancement is nonexistent unless someone retires or dies.
      -Resistance to change aka “but this is the way we’ve always done this” syndrome
      -Ugh. The bureaucracy/ politics.

    32. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m an IT nerd and work with my company’s software to integrate it with ERP systems.

      – Pay is very good.
      – I get to work from home 3 days a week (love this)
      – It was a new direction in my career, and I’ve learned a ton
      – I have a great boss
      – It’s a very small company so there’s much less corporate political BS than at big companies
      – Working for a very small company means I get to do a little bit of everything and I’m not pigeonholed.
      – My schedule is very flexible, so I can do things like drop my daughter off at school, meet friends for lunch, or step out for appointments during the day

      – The small company atmosphere means that there are a lot of firedrills where everyone has to drop everything to work on this or that project
      – The software my company makes is very powerful, but there is a steep learning curve with it. This stuff would sell itself if we could make it easier to use. I’ve mentioned this many times but nothing ever happens. The developers and CTO are very technical and so immersed in the product that they can’t step back and look at the big picture.
      – Even though I only have to go into the office 2 days a week, it’s about 27 miles from my house, so it’s a long commute. However, this is offset by the fact that I can go in early and scoot out early to miss the worst of the rush hour. This is more about me preferring to not have to leave the house if I don’t want to.
      – There is some travel, which is fine, but the travel policy is super stingy. Like, we’re all supposed to fly Southwest, but I prefer United because I have premier status with them, plus 540,000 lifetime miles. I can usually find a United fare that is the same or less than Southwest, so I’ve been able to get around that. I also prefer to rent cars from Hertz or Avis, because they’re so convenient and easy to work with, but that’s frowned upon because they’re more expensive than others. I get it — small company, we have to be careful with how money is spent, but it’s still annoying.

    33. Overeducated*

      Interesting exercise!

      -Generous sick leave and can usually get approval and encouragement to telework when sick (which I am today, so I’m appreciating this)
      -The people are great – generally all friendly, knowledgeable, care about their work and like working collaboratively with each other
      -The material we work on is fascinating and I’ve learned a massive amount in my time here
      -Lots of training and professional development opportunities
      -Selfishly, my job is a good foot-in-the-door/networking type position to get to long term goals

      -Things take a long time and take a lot of approvals. A lot. Sometimes projects just never make it all the way to the finish line and fall through the cracks because people who don’t care about them have to approve them, and they just…never…bother, no matter how little time it would take and how many reminders you give them.
      -Cubicles, no windows
      -Being brought on as X Manager to “innovate” and think of “creative new ways to do X” and such and then finding out your leadership and organizational structure are really not supportive of doing anything different is…disappointing. Especially when they really weren’t doing X at all, so your major accomplishment in year one was a report on why and how they should consider doing X.

    34. Ingray*

      I’m a manager in a youth outreach program and I also do outpatient therapy for the same company.

      -the work is never boring
      -it feels good to help the community and get paid for it, I especially like managing because I can support people who are doing great work
      -coworkers are almost all really kind people
      -flexible schedule

      -can be very stressful
      -pay and benefits suck, I have a master’s and have been in the field for 10 years and 2017 was the first year I made more than 50k
      -coworkers can be crazy, a lot of people enter the field because of their own mental health problems, this especially sucks when one of the crazy people is your boss

    35. Weyrwoman*

      I work on a team of people that function similar to forum administrators/mods, but it isn’t for a forum.

      – generous WFH/sick/PTO policy
      – generous bonuses (seriously. I love this bit)
      – casual nerd office, I wear jeans every day and have Elder Scrolls statues on my desk
      – moderately friendly coworkers (my team seems to select for sarcastic jerks)
      – free healthcare and other massively helpful benefits
      – frequent food catering for other teams means there’s always free leftovers somewhere
      – I spend most of my day telling people that we can’t take their business anymore (I like this)

      – there’s a bit of a thought-police/groupthink atmosphere, makes it difficult for those of us who don’t fit all the way (like a miscut puzzle piece)
      – open office
      – IT’S FREEZING IN HERE (the office temp is controlled by the building owners, which isn’t us)
      – internal jobs seem to be aimed at specific individuals, but officially are open to anyone with quals
      – the team I’m on seems to be forgotten about a lot, which means we don’t hear about things until after they affect us.

    36. mooocow*

      I’m a data scientist working in e-commerce in Germany

      * excellent salary and benefits
      * 35 hour work-week (I have a part time contract) with super flexible hours (I can take entire days off and manage my own time as I see fit, as long as I don’t disrupt the team)
      * My tendency to Have Opinions is seen as ‘taking initiative’ rather than ‘being a pain in the ass’
      * Lots of autonomy and opportunity for working on my own projects
      * Extremely good atmosphere and wonderful co-workers
      * short commute, mostly through public parks

      * There’s a certain level of creative chaos in the whole company that sometimes gets on my nerves
      * My boss’s communication style can be annoying at times (though he’s great in many ways)
      * A certain (too high!) proportion of my job is boring stuff I’m overqualified for (though there’s space for prioritizing and cherry-picking tasks according to my preferences, so it’s not too bad)

    37. LAI*

      I’m a higher education administrator.

      – I’m exempt so flexibility in hours, including the ability to work from home occasionally, excellent work-life balance and good benefits.
      – I get to work with college students and 99% of them are awesome.
      – Great co-workers and a fun, relaxed, collegial environment.
      – Lots of independence and the ability to self-direct my work with little oversight.
      – Getting to work for a cause (education) that I believe makes a positive difference in most people’s lives.

      – Dealing with endless bureaucracy. Seriously, I have to “submit a ticket” to do almost anything, and then it will take 3 days.
      – Limited opportunities for professional advancement. You pretty much have to look for a new job if you want more money or a better title.
      – Shared offices! Fortunately, I’ve managed to avoid these for most of my career but many co-workers have them. I always ask about this before accepting a job and it is a factor in my decision making process.

    38. ChrysantheMumsTheWord*

      – I work for a non-profit that has a mission I believe in and a CEO that is mission-driven and acts with integrity.
      – My job is 10-minutes from my home, which allows for a great work-life balance.
      – Co-workers are friendly & helpful
      – My stress level is zilch. I’m good at what I do and feel comfortable with the work that is given to me.
      – My skills and abilities are recognized by my superior and other high level managers and directors.
      – My job is much less challenging than my prior job and provides less learning opportunities. I like to get pushed out of my comfort zone at work and definitely miss that.
      – The pace of my job is unpredictable and I can have 3 weeks where I’m struggling to find work, only to come in to 3 days of absolute mayhem.
      – My coworkers are friendly, but I wouldn’t say they are friends. It can be lonely sometimes.

    39. periwinkle*

      Human resource development for a mega-major corporation…

      * Pay is solid, health benefits are good, educational benefits are astonishingly generous.
      * I work with some incredibly smart and dedicated people including (at least at my level) excellent managers
      * I get to work with people from across the company in a variety of roles – it’s a great way to learn the big picture stuff
      * My role allows for a lot of autonomy and variety, especially since I tend to get the non-standard projects which require me to be a matrixed team all by myself – I love this

      * It’s a bureaucratic, risk-avoiding, huge corp with a middle management culture of “change is bad, doing what we’ve always done is safe”
      * Because of the company size, it’s hard to find information unless you’ve built up a good network. I had to de-introvert myself to create that network, ugh.
      * Process, process, process, so many of the damn things getting in the way
      * “We need training. Here’s a 50-slide PowerPoint deck. Each slide is crammed with a brain dump of words, illegible screenshots of forms which we insist stay even though they provide no information, a bunch of watermarked stock photos we found on Google Images, some outdated links to non-existent files, and a bunch of awful Microsoft clip art. Go make this into a course, our senior VP expects it to be available online by Tuesday.”
      * Parking sucks at my campus. When I’m lucky and snag a spot at the lot closest to the gate, it’s a mere 1/2 mile walk from there to my desk across asphalt and concrete. There are opportunities to be run over by a forklift or truck on that walk, including inside the building.

      There are days when I don’t love my job or employer. Most of the time, though, it’s a good place to be.

    40. College composition teacher*

      * I’m on a very small faculty, so I have a lot of control over designing my own courses.
      * Flexible academic schedule! Also some three-day weekends for federal holidays (MLKJ day) and a few student events.
      * Community college means less (no?) emphasis on “publish or perish” – I can relax about my output.
      * I really do love working with students, seeing them improve over the course of the semester and challenging them to think in new and creative ways.
      * Largely an intellectual job. I get paid to write, read, and talk about what I’m writing and reading. :)

      * Community colleges don’t pay very well and this one probably pays less than most community colleges generally.
      * B/c of the unique features of my college, little room for professional advancement.
      * B/c it’s a small college, I don’t have any real colleagues in my department. I essentially work alone.
      * My boss and I get along . . . okay. Sometimes things go smoothly; sometimes, less so. My trust in him has been weakened over the past two years.

    41. SparklingStars*

      I’m a public librarian (cataloger).

      -Wonderful co-workers and supervisor ; simply the best group I’ve ever worked with.
      -Excellent vacation and sick leave – my more highly paid friends are all jealous of how much time I can take off. And I basically have no restrictions on when I can take my vacations.
      -Flexible(ish) work hours (only because I don”t work with the public).
      -Low pressure work environment ; very few hard deadlines that must be met by a specific day or time.
      -I never have to work more than 40 hours a week, and I only work on weekends if I volunteer for a special event (maybe 2 or 3 times a year).
      -Short commute (15-20 minutes each way).

      -Low pay (for a job that requires a master’s degree).
      -Sitting in front of a computer 8 hours a day can be tough at times.
      -Not a lot of variety in my day-to-day work (which is also kind of a pro, as I really thrive doing this sort of work ; I just get bored every once in a while and would like to learn something new at work.
      -Not many opportunities for advancement or moving into another position – I sometimes worry that I’ll be stuck as a cataloger forever.

    42. a nony mouse*

      Am children’s librarian.

      – part time work (20+ hours/week) and I get benefits (health, dental, pension)
      – high enough salary that I can afford to work 3 days a week
      – I only work one early morning a week, which is great because I am a night owl
      – not-exempt so my hours are very regular and no crazy long hours
      – I get to read interesting children’s books and explore YA lit for work
      – things I’ve done for work: teach myself to play the ukulele, sharpen my origami skills, learn about simple electrical circuits…
      – man, kids are adorable and way more interesting to work with than adults
      – reference work is so satisfying: helping someone find a book they really need, or teach them to download ebooks, or help a student assemble all the resources necessary for their homework/essay — it’s super cool.

      – I work every Sunday and half my Saturdays
      – problem patrons… the public library is an open door institution, and librarians deal with an amazing variety of anti-social behavior
      – working with kids is great until it’s flu season and I get sick EVERY SINGLE YEAR

    43. Dr. KMnO4*

      Visiting Assistant Professor in STEM at a small liberal-arts college
      -A lot of autonomy – while the department decides as a group what topics we will teach I get to choose how I will teach said topics
      -Low pressure research – I have a couple of undergraduate research students, we are doing small projects, we may go to a conference but probably not publish anything, but my job does not depend on external funding or publications
      -My own office – I have a fairly sizeable office that I don’t share with anyone and that I can decorate pretty much any way I want
      -Not dealing with parents – I’m in my second year of doing this and I have never been contacted by a parent, and even if I was I would not have to talk to them about grades
      -My students – I love working with undergraduate students. I love helping them learn, I love helping them figure out what they want to do, I love helping them grow and mature
      -Holidays – I don’t have to worry about whether or not I’ll be able to get time off at Thanksgiving/Christmas/etc. And my summers are largely open.
      -Housing – This, I think, is a quirk of my institution but I live on campus. The rent is low, the utilities are low, I have free wifi, there are free laundry facilities in my basement, and it is a 5 minute walk from my apartment to my office.

      -Sick days – They aren’t really a thing. If I’m very ill I can have a colleague teach my class, or cancel if I need to, but I work through colds and the like. I would have to be nearly dying to take off more time than a day or two.
      -Hours – This is part of my discipline, but I teach 210 minutes of lecture plus 180 minutes of lab a week for each section. Last semester I taught the night lab (7 to 10 pm! On a day that I also taught 8-11 am!). I also have high enrollments (88 students over 3 sections last semester, 56 students over 2 sections this semester). This leads to a LOT of grading.
      -Pay – I’m not on the tenure-track, so I’m paid by the class. I’m fortunate that I’ve had 4/5 and 5/5 contracts, and that my college gives me benefits, but the pay isn’t great and raises are not in our future any time soon.
      -Job security – the “Visiting” part of my title means that I’m on a year-to-year contract. Last February I was told that I would be offered a contract for this academic year but said contract did not get to me until June. I may or may not be at this institution next year, depending on how funding works out. I’m applying for jobs, but the academic market is not great even in STEM. Also my job security partly depends on my student evaluations. Thankfully they have been great overall, but I had a few disgruntled students last year. Probably the ones I reported for academic misconduct.
      -Academic politics – Professors can be petty, passive-agressive, agressive-agressive, territorial, cliquish, and more concerned about the appearance of fairness than actual fairness. There’s a bit of a clash between liberal arts faculty and STEM faculty at my institution right now. Also, everyone seems to use “Reply All”, especially in situations that do not seem to warrant it.

      Overall, I love my job. I love teaching at a small college. I love working with my students. It’s a ton of fun. It will be a lot more fun when I have some job security.

    44. Former Retail Manager*

      Revenue Agent (auditor) with IRS – audits small businesses (assets under $10 million) & high income individuals

      — Flexible schedule – Can come in between 6:00am and 9:30 as long as you work 8 hours
      — Work your own case load “independently” —- More to come on those quotes in the cons
      — Great pay and benefits
      — Fanstastic co-workers & manager (I’m lucky in this regard….this isn’t consistent from office to office)
      — Relative job security as long as you meet expectations
      — Telework up to 4 days per week, if you so desire

      — They say you’re “independent” but management involvement continues to increase with seemingly incessant reviews, case discussions, and manager approval required
      — Agency operates using antiquated systems that don’t communicate with each other and lengthy procedures to accomplish tasks that are considered simple and straightforward
      — Subject to the whims of Congress with regard to budget – We have lost tons of people but cannot replace them due to a lack of budget – Workload remains the same though
      — The expectations management expects you to meet, in terms of quality, are not always realistic due to the various quantitative measures that are also imposed; You can only have quality and quantity up to a certain point. After that point, you have to choose one or the other

    45. designbot*

      Pros: supportive leadership, great opportunity for growth with the company long-term, and good people generally. Lots of say in the work I do/authorship.

      Cons: not being part of the core business of the firm, so policies and leadership isn’t structured in a way that particularly makes sense for my team (but totally makes sense for 80% of the company). I have a lot of bosses, and learning to navigate that can be difficult. Also I think it’s time for a promotion as I’m bumping against the limits of my position, and that can be frustrating at times. Also also, we don’t know how to say ‘no’ or even, ‘yes, but not on that timeline’ to clients, so demands can be a little much at times.

    46. Middle School Teacher*

      Good question! I thought about this on and offensive for a while. (Note I am not in the US.)

      – autonomy in my classroom (our admin doesn’t micro-manage)
      – I work in a place with a philosophy that matches my own
      – kids are well-behaved and respectful (for the most part; we are talking about lots of teenagers in one place after all)
      – close to my house, maybe a 20 min drive most days
      – really great bosses, and I love most of my coworkers
      – tight staff, we hang out together outside of school
      – I can pursue my own goals (not admin, but other skills)
      – pay is on par with the big boards
      – I get cool opportunities, like international travel with students
      – a parent-run board means we are at the whim of their projects and desires
      – parents in general (the high-maintenance ones are extreme and can and will make teachers’ lives miserable)
      – sharing a building with an elementary school because their needs are different from ours and we are squeezed for space
      – benefits not as good as the big boards
      – hours can be crazy at certain times (report cards, interviews)

    47. Fortitude Jones*

      – The job is a 15 minute walk from my apartment
      – I like the people
      – I’ve relearned how to use some design programs I haven’t used in years
      – It requires using my degree

      – I have nothing to do most days, and my boss is being very cagey as to when I’ll be getting my next assignment. Therefore, I’m going to start applying for other jobs in this new field again to see if I can find something where I’m actually contributing something.

    48. DeeSocialWorker*

      I’m social worker and team leader
      Pros: meaningful job that helps people, there is always something new to learn or deal with, close to home, flexible hours and quite long PTO, continued education, working with clients (and institutions), possibility to travel for networking, great team and now great supervisor (the previous one wasn’t) and great and supportive organization culture, my creativity is supported
      Cons: sometimes I have to deal with child neglect, abuse, domestic violence etc, non-profit and social work salary could be higher, there is increasing amount of paper work, working with previous supervisor was stressing (and almost to a point of bossing from his side) and due to his bad management skills we still find things that are missing or not done even after four months, non profits in my country are now seen as parasites and enemy by increasing part of the public

    49. Akcipitrokulo*

      pros: interesting work, awesome colleagues and management that trusts us to do our jobs and really listens – also happyto invest in training and understands we probably won’t be here foreve and that’s ok. As a result, I’ve stayed in this job longer than any other and turnover in general is low!

      cons: 3.5 hours travel. wfh limited. can sometimes be boring. often frustrating when business does not agree to fix bugs.

    50. Research biologist*

      Love this thread – it is so fascinating to read about the day-to-day about other people’s jobs!

      1. Research biologist*

        Oops, posted too soon – I meant to contribute as well!

        I’m new faculty at a research institution, starting my own lab.

        – Intellectual freedom. I was hired to develop my own research program, which is exciting and intimidating (see below). But basically nobody tells me what to do and I get to pursue topics that I’m interested in.
        – Great colleagues – my department is very collegial and collaborative, and the atmosphere is so much nicer than many academic environments.
        – Excellent organization – it’s a prestigious place for my field with nice facilities and a lovely location.
        – Phenomenal support staff. Our admins are incredible, and make it as easy as possible to submit grant proposals, etc.
        – Lots of opportunities – I don’t want to get too specific, but I’ve already had one incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience here.
        – Tenure-track position in an era where they’re about as easy to come by as unicorn pearls. Fairly well-paid and good benefits, too.

        – Soft money in a miserable funding environment. There’s a lot of internal support, which is great, but also constant reminders that a core part of my job is to bring in grant money.
        – Stress. This is mostly coming from me, but basically, I got this tremendous opportunity and the organization is investing a lot in me. If I can’t make a go of it, it’s all on me, and I worry constantly that I won’t succeed. It is a field where you are constantly getting rejections, often with really rude comments (thanks, Reviewer #2), and it can be really hard to take.
        – Loneliness. My partner and I moved here a year ago and don’t have any local friends. It’s an area where there aren’t too many people our age, and those who are typically have small children and no bandwidth for new friendships.
        – The area is flat and mostly settled, so my preferred hobby of backpacking is a pain in the ass, and I hardly ever get to do it anymore.

        The pros far outweigh the cons, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity, but structurally it’s a job where you can never really relax and feel like you’re doing an okay job for any length of time. Wish me luck!

    51. kmb*

      I thought I would add, because my job is kind of like yours!

      I work at a science centre, where I’m a public programmer (person who figures out what activities visitors will do, supported by our facilitation staff, when they are at the centre), and I work mostly on our evening event series for adults, so my job is basically coming up with weird stuff for adults to do. This year we’re changing it up a bit, though, and other people are working on this event, and I get to work on programs for families.

      – I work on a team of super smart, super thoughtful people, and working there has been a lot like finding my tribe.
      – we get to push the boundaries with the content we do at these events, so there’s a lot of leeway to do really fun an interesting things, and encourage adults to play and be creative.
      – I really love the mission of my organization and the approach to being a science centre (inquiry based learning).
      – I have been sent to a conference, and now from that and former colleagues I have a network of people doing awesome things and a bunch of awesome science centres and other institutions
      – You have days in which things like 4 random dance parties in one day (we were having a dance party craze for a while), turning the 60′ slide into a waterslide in the park and going down it to see if it would be safe for visitors to do (no), running around with a gizmo one person can use to control another person’s arm (Human-Human Interface from Backyard Brains), are pretty reasonable things to have happen, so you have a lot of awesome memories.
      – they let me reduce my hours so I can do grad school, which was really really awesome of them and they did not have to do it.

      – I also don’t get to go to the fun events I run, but since I’m not running all of them this year, I could actually go to some!
      – my science centre is great at being a science centre, but not always so great at being an organization, so sometimes it does stuff that is really frustrating, and it seems all the more aggravating that it is otherwise such a great place to work.
      – some of the dynamics of the upper management team seem to have ended up making it not fun at all for my favorite manager, who got promoted to VP and ended up not liking and left. I miss her so much, she was a huge role model for me and I felt like she kept our culture alive. I am so glad she didn’t return to her home country and she’s still in our city.
      – My job is kind of actually making life difficult for coworkers in other teams (and the public programmers make life difficult for each other, but we tend to be pretty understanding about that) – I need to buy stuff on tight turnarounds, the things I make up run for one evening so there’s no time to train staff on it and they just have to run with it, it’s messy and weird and I often can’t confirm all of the exact details too far in advance because I’m working with a lot of externals, so even when I’m doing my job as well as I can, I’m kind of always making things more difficult for staff to make them more awesome for visitors. This leads to some kind of weird office tension sometimes.

  7. Susan K*

    The other day, I was looking up someone in the company directory and, due to alphabetical proximity, I noticed a familiar name: my ex-grandboss from my previous job. It turns out that he’s the counterpart to my grandboss at another branch in my company. I checked LinkedIn and he’s been there since October. Would it be weird for me to send him an e-mail to say hi? I didn’t work that closely with him, but I think I was on pretty good terms with him. He once gave me a promotion and substantial raise that I didn’t even ask for. I have no idea if he knows that I work for the same company (we are connected on LinkedIn, but he has lots of connections at many different companies). I don’t interact much with the other branches, but there’s a chance I’ll run into him at some point. I’m genuinely glad to see him working for my company because he’s a good manager.

    1. selina kyle*

      It seems fine to say hi and that you’re glad to be working with/around him again, I think that anyone reasonable would be flattered/happy to hear that.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If you have an ounce of doubt that he might not remember you or might lose the context for a second, you can briefly remind him how he knows you. “I’m Jane, I used to work for Bob Roberts at Teapots Are Us when you were [job title] there.” It’s so nice when people give little reminders, I wish more people would do that.

    3. mooocow*

      Definitely send an e-mail! If he gave you an unasked-for raise, he probably thinks you’re awesome and will be happy to hear that you work for the same company!

  8. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

    Two related questions:

    1. I’m in library school. I don’t want to work in a library, but rather a librarian-y/information-y type role in another type of organization. But I also want to work abroad. I’ve found several sites with international library positions, but I’m having a harder time knowing where to look for international informationy jobs. Anyone have any suggestions on where to look for those, or should I just focus on finding a library job? Living abroad is more important than not working in a library.

    One thought I’ve had was to look at large international companies (like Google, not that I’m particularly invested in working there but it came to mind), but while my skills are good, for most jobs they’re probably not unique enough to hire me over a local who won’t need the hassle of a work visa.

    2. If the answer to my first question is “Aim for libraries” (and I’m assuming it is, just hoping I’m wrong), would a two-week library placement be worth putting on my resume? I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been really struggling to find library experience while in school. It seems way too short to help me find a job. (Also I’m 80% sure I couldn’t take it without violating the terms of my visa, but that’s a separate issue. *sigh*)

    1. Angela B.*

      Archivist/records manager here. 1. You could try checking the websites of big international agencies–I know when I was applying I looked at archivist jobs with the UN, UNESCO, the World Bank, places like that. International corporations would also probably have postings for knowledge management stuff, although corporate is obviously not everyone’s cup of tea. You can also try international branches of universities, e.g., I feel like they’re always hiring at the American International University in Cairo. For archives there’s a great blog called archivesgig that will list international jobs along with all the domestic stuff, there may be a library equivalent! Ask around at your program, especially the people currently job searching. It might also be worth it for you to check out archivesgig just because some of the stuff they post is more on the knowledge management end,.
      2. At least until you have more job experience, you might as well list your two week placement–it’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing. I had a 6 week grad school internship on my resume until I got my current job, now it can cycle out because I’ve done enough other things. And if you really want to be more in the informationy side, there might be other things you’ve done that you can sort of massage into fitting that type of description.

    2. Sabrina Spellman*

      I would say that you should put any library experience on your resume. I went to library school, but never managed to find the time to get an internship or work experience while I was still enrolled. Now I work in higher education administration because no libraries would even interview me.

    3. misspiggy*

      If you want to work in developing countries, try Reliefweb and consider contacting Peace Corps, VSO and UN Volunteering. Volunteer placements of this type are good as a starting role, and are professionally respected and paid.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        Hm, interesting. A lot of the countries I’m interested in would be classified as developing. I’m a little confused by your saying that the volunteer placements are paid, though. Like I’d be a volunteer but still get a salary?

    4. Borgette*

      If you like data, there’s a niche of librarians who organize, store and query datasets for companies like Google. It’s a fairly rare breed, and they do some really neat work. Check out digital/data librarian work.

    5. Kath*

      Have you tried looking at data management for multi-national companies? You’d be surprised how much of a problem data management is for someone like BHP, and they do hire people specifically to address those issues. Once hired by someone like BHP you have a better change of transferring between operations!

    6. MarianCSRA*

      As for living abroad, military bases also have libraries (and probably other library-ish positions for which they hire civilians).

    7. blondie*

      What roles does one have or what kind of tasks does one perform as a librarian? What’s a typical day like?

      1. Corrupted by Coffee*

        That’s going to vary significantly, depending on the type of library, and even what type of librarian you are. For instance, I’m a reference librarian in the biggest public library system in the US, and I work mainly with the public answering information questions. Recent examples: someone trying to source when and where Muhammad Ali said a certain quote, kid looking for books on service animals, a woman asking how to apply for citizenship, a worker asking how to apply for a food handlers permit, how to find court records. I also answer a lot of tech questions: How do I do x in word/excel? How do I attach this to an email? How do I make a resume? I can’t get into my email. Etc. Round it out with social services and readers advisor questions: where can i find the nearest shelter, free tax prep, i’m looking for something good to read, I need historical fiction for a book report, I want a funny book on CD for my road trip.

        I also spend time on assorted other projects: digital readers advisory, book display planning and execution, computer class planning and setup, etc.

        Other librarians I work with do very different things. For instance, our teen and children’s librarians routinely give presentations at schools and community events, hold programs and connect with the community. They do much less reference. We also have digital and cataloging librarians who do no desk work at all. They work on our website, catralog and selection & ordering materials.

        In other places, librarians will be doing other things. For instance, law librarians will probably be looking up case law for attorneys, while medical librarians will concentrate mainly on medical issues. The national weather service employs librarians for their research, as does the art museum, the museum of flight, and the FBI and CIA. And that’s not even getting into academic or corporate libraries.

      2. schnauzerfan*

        I’d imagine my day couldn’t be much different than’s below. I’m an academic librarian at a small library. We’ve got one other librarian on staff, the director, and 7 other ft staff and 5-10 student workers. I’m the collections person. I decide (with varying levels of feedback) what we’ll subscribe to, what books we’ll buy. I spent a good part of last year setting up our new ILS. Spent 25% of my time doing webinars and conference calls planning for the new system. Spent another 50% of my time training/helping the rest of the library staff and our users prepare for the new system. But what I love is the archives part of the job. I assign scanning projects to our students, assign metadata to the scanned items… Get to dig through all sorts of cool old stuff.

  9. Jesca*

    I know sometimes people have been skeptical of whether or not a more unbelievable letter is actually real. I remember a few comments like this in regards to the pooping spy.
    Well something similar just happened where I currently work. I only know about it as I happened upon the “scene” minutes after it happened.

    So I have this very childish coworker (childish is the only word I can come up with to describe her) who recently RAN into the bathroom after someone pooped and started yelling that no one should be pooping in the bathroom and how disgusting that is and how the smell is just awful. She thought the woman she was exclaiming this to was the only person in there. Nope. Another coworker was in there doing her poop business at the same time!
    I found the other two women laughing (the poop patroller and the woman she was addressing her rant to) about it a few minutes later who then voluntarily told me the story. I did not laugh. “I said oh wow that’s really awful and how embarrassing for you”. That seemed to sober them up very quickly. And for once? There was no gossip about it that I had to hear about later.

    So haha yes! People are this bored/bananas/childish! I could not believe I had to witness something like that. And AAM scripts did work for me! I also know this woman has been put on a PIP for being disturbing to others and acting bizarrely – behavior she is now reverting slowly back to.
    I mean it was pretty mean, but then the other stories of this woman, what she has done, and what she is on the PIP for are so far more bizarre and worse …

    Also, she once developed some bizarre drama around me between me and her that I didn’t even realize was going on over something that wasn’t even real! I didn’t even know about it until her reprimand. So, that kind of gives some weird optics as well.

    Should I let management know of this issue, or just let my admonishment stand and let it go? What would you do?

      1. designbot*

        Mostly agree, though with the caveat that I’d respond honestly if I was asked whether I’d seen any more bizarre behavior from her, or someone asked ‘hey, what was up with that scene last week in the bathroom?’

    1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      I’d mention whatever I’d witnessed to mgmt. That’s just bizarre, and is really unprofessional. And yeah, truth is stranger than fiction.

      1. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        My reasoning: this individual has a history of out there behavior, right? They’ve lost the right to have someone ignore it.

        1. Jesca*

          I know. She is bizarre AND mean! Picture this someone who speaks all the time in a way that you would to a five year old. Then combine that with the emotional and social mentality of a middle school cheer leader. AND then add in extremely almost obsessive type of behaviors regarding other employees that she decides to latch on to. And it seems management checks her, she then stops for a while, and then flies right back into the bananas stuff with no real understanding that she is getting disciplined for being disruptive. It is everyone else’s fault.

        2. Starley*

          I’m with you on that. I think it was handled beautifully in the moment and normally that would be sufficient , but the past issues with poop patroller’s issues manufacturing drama with Jesca gives me pause. I would give my manager a heads up in case the water closet warden starts making things up again. It’s better to get out ahead of that behavior than be on the defensive later, IMO.

    2. Don't Blame Me*

      I agree with fposte. I think you handled it well in the moment and it doesn’t need to be escalated unless she repeatedly harasses people.

    3. Seal*

      I would be tempted to send an email to my manager, with a copy to the poop patroller, asking for clarification about whether or not it’s OK to poop in the bathroom because there seems to be some confusion about whether or not that’s allowed. Because everyone poops. If you can’t do it in the bathroom, where else are you supposed to go?

    4. Landshark*

      I wouldn’t bring it to management unless they asked. If you were one of the poopers, it’d make sense, but all of this coming from a secondhand conversation seems a bit tenuous. I’m glad the AAM script worked though; she sounds nightmarish.

    5. INTP*

      I think you handled it adequately in the moment and there’s no need to escalate it. You just don’t want to be the employee that tattles because someone was rude about pooping. If you are asked about her behavior in general, though, like managers will sometimes do to check up on an employee whose behavior has been a problem in the past, feel free to mention this incident as an example.

      1. Jesca*

        This is the way I was framing it in my mind as well. Like I may be more inclined to say something is she started running around telling everyone what she did and how funny she thought it was. She is big on making scenes to try to “innocently” publicly humiliate people.

      2. Turtlewings*

        Agreed — keep it in mind if you’re asked about how she’s been behaving, since it sounds like especially relevant info in her case, but I fear that bringing it up might (rightly or wrongly) make you look a little, ah, overzealous.

        Btw, much love for the “Wow, how embarrassing for you” line.

    6. Little Twelvetoes*

      The poop patroller and the pooper were laughing about it together? Or did I read that wrong and it was just another coworker who thought poop patrolling was OK? Either way, it seems to me like there is cause to be worried that people are normalizing the childish coworkers behavior. We had a weird coworker for a looooong time. And even though everyone recognized some of her behavior as outrageous, and she was reprimanded by her supervisor and manager, she would pull something weird again later. She has now retired and everything is so much better. I don’t think they realized the extent the impact of her toxic behavior. Sometimes, we don’t realize until it is gone…

      1. Jesca*

        Yes sorry. i was trying to come to some way of describing it. So one woman was already in the bathroom like washing her hands or some suchness. The one who was pooping was still in the stall. When the poop patroler ran in, she was ranting to the coworker washing her hands without realizing the pooper was still in the bathroom in the stall. The hand washing woman and the poop patroler were washing their hands. The woman who was the pooper kept silent. She is very quiet and shy.

        And ABSOLUTELY there are a few people here who have normalized her behavior. A few of those actually landed on a PIP themselves for disruptive behavior. It is a huge issue actually and something that is brought up to management quite frequently. Everyone outside of this odd group has expressed wishes that they be separated AND moved to different floors. It is not uncommon for it to get so bad that people snap out on them very loudly and very publicly. Because, if you ask them to stop politely, they become rude and even more disruptive. Unfortunately, it is only then that management does something.

        1. ContentWrangler*

          Okay so if I’m reading this correctly and this patroller and another woman were standing around laughing at another coworker for having a bodily function, then I think you could bring it up to management, especially if this person has had boundary crossing issues before. She seems to take enjoyment in embarrassing others, which is cruel.

    7. Anon on this*

      I would never dream of bringing it up to anyone, but the bathrooms at my work are right next to my radio studio, where i spend six hours daily. It is horrible when someone poops. Air freshener makes it worse(and none of the men use it anyway), shutting the studio door doesn’t help, and the shit smell lingers for at least 15 minutes. Again, I’d never say anything, but I’ve definitely had the urge to yell “Quit shitting in station!”

  10. Introvert? Extrovert? What am I?*

    How did you know if you’re more suited to a job around a bunch of people or if you’re more suited to an isolated job? I was very isolated in my last job as my work rarely crossed with anyone else in person. I could go most of the day without seeing anyone. And that drove me crazy.

    But now I’m in a job where I’m definitely interacting more with people, plus am surrounded by constant chatter for being in an open floor setting. While I enjoy the engagement, I come home exhausted and not wanting to talk to anyone. I find myself missing those quieter moments.

    So how do I figure out the kind of environment that works for me? I like working with people, I loved working retail, but those were for short hours. I think the full time engagement is too much for me, but I don’t want pure isolation I don’t think. What the happy medium?

    1. A Nonny Mouse*

      You’re an ambivert, or just in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum. Don’t go for an open office floor plan; don’t go for isolation.

    2. Goya de la Mancha*

      I’m an introvert, and as much as I would enjoy a solitary job or working from home, I KNOW that I would just end up a recluse. Being in my small office forces me to interact with others and then I can say without guilt at the end of the day that I’m done “peopleing”.

    3. K.*

      I highly recommend the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. Even if you are an extrovert, it really helps people understand introversion – and that there are different levels of introversion, and that being an introvert doesn’t mean you hate people or that you can’t function around them. There is a section on introversion and work that includes questions for introverts and extroverts to ask themselves as they’re considering job opportunities.

      1. Nancy*

        I’d also read The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World, by Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D. She also offers advice to extroverts on how to work with and manage introverts.

    4. INTP*

      It sounds like your happy place might be somewhere in the middle – like work that involves interaction with others, but in an employer with a more private cubicle/office setup with less constant background noise? I find constant coworker chatter more exhausting than interaction with people for actual work reasons, though of course ymmv – you may also be happy doing independent work in a chatty open office.

      For me personally, I just always knew because I’ve been an obvious introvert since childhood. Most people are somewhere in between though, I think.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      When I work around a lot of people, I need more rest than if I worked with only a couple people. It seems to be a sliding scale. I enjoy the people but also crave the quiet time.

    6. Jillociraptor*

      Introversion and extraversion exist on a continuum, and aren’t fixed, fully closed categories. So, you can exist somewhere in between, and have different reactions to different kinds of interactions.

      Can you reflect a bit on your triggers in social interaction? You might find it helpful to start monitoring when you start to get that “get me out of here!” feeling. Is there a time limit for how long your energy lasts in a typical conversation? What are the conditions of the room or activity? From your comment, it sounds like lots of background noise is more draining, while personal interactions are more invigorating. Do you get more drained by highly structured or unstructured interactions? Personal or professional topics? With strangers, acquaintances, or closer friends? When you have to do a lot of talking, or when you have to do a lot of listening?
      With a little data like that, you can start testing some hypotheses and, hopefully, structuring your day in a way that feels more balanced.

    7. Overeducated*

      This may be really dependent on individual workspace layouts and teams. For instance, I moved to an open cubicle workspace last year, but it’s mostly very quiet because…it turns out my team is the only one that regularly talks to one another throughout the day about our work. I don’t think I could tolerate what is a fairly grim physical space if I were also isolated and didn’t have any interaction with others during the day, as many of my cubicle neighbors seem to be, so the team is key.

      It’s something I’m nervous about in probably moving to a new job soon but I couldn’t think of a good way to ask about it.

    8. Argh!*

      I like working with and around people during the day because I live alone. If I lived with other people, I’d want to deal less with people during the day. Curiously, I fall on the halfway point of the introvert/extravert spectrum.

      1. What am I?*

        This makes perfect sense to me. I have a roommate who is super chatty. If she’s not talking to me, then she’s on the phone with someone else. Or she’s watching TV very loudly. So even at home I don’t quite get the alone time recharge that I need. Luckily she’s planning on moving out in a few months and I don’t need to replace her so I’ll be able to get more recharge at home. Hopefully that will balance out some of the work overload.

    9. Totally Minnie*

      I agree with the people who are saying that you’re probably an ambivert. I’m one, too. I generally need more conversations than your stereotypical introvert and more alone time than your stereotypical extrovert. If you do a Google search for “ambivert,” you can find some good information and confirmation that you’re not alone in this.

      As for work solutions, I was in a job a few years ago with open seating, and I totally understand how exhausting it can be. One thing that really helped was taking walks on my lunch break. I would leave my phone and my iPod behind and just let my brain wander wherever it needed to. Give that a try and see if it can help you.

    10. Bagpuss*

      how long have you been in the new job? Is is possible that you are still adjusting?
      If not, then I’d agree to look for something in the middle – not open plan, but around others.

    11. Friendly introvert*

      One of the reasons I love being a librarian is that you interact with people, but the very nature of the job calls for the interactions to be as quiet and as efficient as possible. Co-workers are usually friendly people who like helping others, but they are also often attracted to the job because they prefer a quieter environment. There are always overly-chatty exceptions, and if you can’t stand crying children, a public library is not the place for you, but overall this hits the sweet spot for me of engagement/quiet/physical activity – I can always do a lap of the building looking for patrons to help or displays to refill when I’m feeling crowded in the back office. The circulation department has a lot more interactions, btw, it is more comparable to a retail environment. All of this is predicated on a fairly busy mid-sized library.

    12. sympathy*

      You mentioned intoroversion/extroversion, but there are also several other factors here.

      Do you enjoy talking to people, but hate being interrupted and having your flow disrupted? Is the background chatter low-level distracting you all day? Are you bothered by the lack of privacy in an open plan setting? Do you constantly catch sight of people moving around, and find that visually distracting?

      Here’s the top three tricks I can think of for you to try out: use headphones, put up do not disturb signs for part of your day, or go work in a quiet area for a break. People who have to work in open plan spaces have lots of tricks and coping strategies; try some out, and at least you’ll get a better idea of what’s bothering you about your new situation. Then you can work on it from a place of knowledge.

  11. CC*

    From the ‘cultural’ differences post yesterday, it appears that flex time is a very rare thing in the US? Is there a particular reason why it’s not more popular (apart from jobs where you need coverage of course)? It seems like most jobs can be done regardless of the hours kept?

    Also, for those who don’t already have flex, if it /was/ offered to you, what would your preferred hours be?

    1. Sled Dog Mama*

      I have a sneaking suspicion it has to do with the put in long hours to prove how hard you are working culture that exists many places in the US (not all thanks goodness, but enough).
      If you’re already there (and expected to be there all the time) what sense do flex hours make

      That said I do have a slightly flexible schedule, part of that is because a portion of my work must be done outside clinic hours and I’m expected to have a life so if I know I’m going to have to stay until 8pm to finish things up my supervisor has not problem with me coming in a bit later than normal.

    2. Goya de la Mancha*

      We have the ability to flex our overtime hours, but since we have customer facing duties, it’s so hard to make it work – or at least make those flexed hours meaningful for ourselves. Sure I could come in a half hour late one morning (assuming someone will be here to cover the office), but the half hour really doesn’t add anything to my day. It’s not enough time to sleep in, or get a few errands done, etc. Leaving early would be best, but afternoons tend to be our busiest time, so it’s hard to leave.

    3. Irene Adler*

      Not okay to let the inmates run the asylum, so to speak. Flex time gives the employees more control over their
      jobs than most managers are comfortable giving them.

      I rather like early hours, say 6 am to 3 pm.

    4. Jayne*

      In my area (academia), we have flex time without calling it by that title. For example, I got here at 6:30 a.m. to avoid other people driving on ice. I have a class at 2:30 and will leave after it is over. Yesterday, I worked twelve and a half hours on various projects. Sometimes I go home at 4 in order to get the chickens more water when it is freezing. So I don’t technically have flex time, since I don’t have a different schedule. However, I can flex my schedule. A nice side effect of no one caring what I do, as long as it gets done.

    5. MeM*

      Most salaried people I know have flex time to some degree, so I wouldn’t say that it is rare. In some cases, states have their own laws put in place to protect hourly personnel from being taken advantage of, to ensure that they are paid any overtime they are due. Often, these laws take flexibility away from the employees. When I first started working, salaried in Florida, I could take vacation in 1 hour increments. When I moved to California, I could only take vacation in full days. I thought it was my new company’s rule, but it turned out it was the state law (which has since changed).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. Here in NY, flex time is not looked upon favorably in the eyes of the law. I guess there was too much shenanigans in the past. You might find very small places using flex time on an informal, quiet basis, but medium to larger companies seem to steer clear.

    6. AliceW*

      Everyone I know has flex time. I think it is fairly common in the U.S. for certain industries and certainly at executive levels. My friends mostly work in law and finance. Many companies are global so you often have to jump on a call later at night or very early in the morning. Many of these companies don’t track your hours and your comings and goings.

    7. Spider*

      When I lived in the DC Metro area, I had flex time and it seemed like every job ad I ever saw mentioned flex time, as well. (I assumed it was due to the unpredictability of the horrible traffic in the area.) I LOVED it and wish I had it officially now — we have it “unofficially” in that we can make up the minutes we’re late in the morning by carving time off our breaks/lunch or staying late if we ask our manager, and that’s what I end up doing most of the time since I’m always late (despite living a mile away!) because it’s really hard to find close parking.

      My preferred hours back in DC were 8:15 to 4:45, which is coincidentally(??) the hours I work now, although I’m supposed to work from 8:00-4:30.

    8. Ann Furthermore*

      I have super flexible hours with my job, but it’s give and take. Like, I can leave for an appointment mid-day if I need to, but there are times when I need to be online very early to work with people who are in India. The timezones are pretty much flipped….they are either 11.5 or 12.5 hours ahead of us, depending on Daylight Savings Time.

    9. Naptime Enthusiast*

      We have flex time at work and while most people don’t use the policy from day to day, we set our schedules around it. We have “core hours” that we are expected to be in the office, I think 9-3, and we plan our arrival and departure around that. I usually work 7:30-4:30 with an unpaid lunch, my manager is normally in around 8:30, and my cubemate comes in at almost 10.

      We can also flex time within the week, so I could work 10 hours Monday and take a long lunch on Thursday or leave early Friday so that we still put in 40 hours each week for salaried employees.

    10. Flexitarian*

      I have flex time where I work in Healthcare. Not salaried. We can arrive anywhere between 7 and 9 am and work our 8 hours and go. But, we also have “make-up time” for up to 8 hours. So if I don’t want want to use PTO to take a day off, I can just work until as late as 7 pm to make-up the hours. So, I take every Wednesday off! I love it. First job I ever had with this flexibility. Plus I get 22 PTO days a year and will get 27 as of next year.

  12. Amadeo*

    I am so relieved you guys. We had our ‘restructuring’ meeting at work this week, Tuesday in fact, and I do get to keep my job. There’s going to be some shuffling and I’ll end up with a new manager to report to when the dust has settled, so that’s always got a little trepidation to go with it, but nothing I can’t survive.

    There’s nothing like getting that announcement that a reduction in force is coming down the river and then having to wait 3 weeks to get notification of how exactly that’s going to shake out, am I right?

    1. DDJ*

      Yay for you! Happy to hear that.

      My department has gone through several restructures over the last couples years. I went from being an individual contributor to managing people for the first time. In addition to my regular job! So basically…do your entire job, and also manage people.

      Then, there was a big shuffle, a bunch of layoffs, and then we were told “There are going to be more cuts, we’ll make the final decision and let everyone know within a month.” And then they set an actual day that that it was all happening. And then we got a message 3 days before “layoff day”: “Please ensure you are not scheduling meetings and are available during x time to y time.”

      So after THAT, we went through another restructure, and the people I manage are all different and their jobs are all completely different from the people I was managing before. So I’m learning about a whole other facet of the business. AND still trying to do my job! Because apparently they give you management responsibilities just on top of everything else. Why not, right?

      That was my very long-winded way of saying I empathize. And again, yay for you! I hope the new manager is awesome.

    2. Emmie*

      I am happy to that you were able to keep your job! I was thinking about your question and other’s answers when I heard an entire IT department was laid off nearby, and now 140 IT people are now looking for work in my major city. It reminded me that it’s a good idea to search when you hear that announcement. I’m sure those three weeks were very stressful. Congratulations.

    3. Jesca*

      OMG yeah it sucks. Only here, it has been like 4 months! No lie! And every other business area has completed their restructuring except ours. I still have no idea where I will be moved or even what I will be doing. The upside is though the restructuring isn’t due to funding issues but more of a response to customer feedback. Things got messy, confusing, and slowed way down under the previous structure. So everyone has a job! Just don’t know what that job will be! I am so glad you can now sit in relief.

  13. Cancer Crush Anon*

    I’ve had a week AAM. This is extremely identifiable so I’m on anon. Last Friday afternoon I not only found out that my dad’s cancer has returned after 20+ years of remission, but the freaking Owner/CEO/President of my company told me that he had a crush on me. Those words were used.

    I cried all weekend, told my boss on Monday and swore her to secrecy (our HR department is terrible) and thankfully my boyfriend’s brother is an employment attorney so if I get fired for not reciprocating or retaliation I’m going to be okay. Thing is, earlier that day I was singing his praises to a stranger so literally no one will believe me if this gets out. He is married, kids, church going, charitable, kind (yuck) and no one would believe me. I barely believe it myself and it happened to me.

    I contacted a recruiter and she is specialized in my field and we had a phone call and a meeting next week. My questions are:

    – How do I survive being at work right now with these extremely major things hanging over my head. My motivation is in the toilet and I keep excusing myself to cry. I have a mortgage and a dog and cannot just quit.
    – Do I tell potential employers that a senior manager made a pass at me during interviews when I am asked why I am leaving? This is a huge company and looks fantastic on my resume. People are going to ask, especially since I have a great relationship with my boss and there’s no other reason I’d be looking.
    – The recruiter asked me my desired salary. I told her bare minimum with phenomenal benefits I’d accept XXk, she said “Oh, that’s probably on the low end, you could do a little higher” did I just shoot myself in the foot? She seems like a good recruiter but now I’m worried.
    – What about direct hire vs contract to hire? Recruiter mentioned this to me. I’d be paid by the recruiting firm if I’m contract to hire and then I could maybe be hired on full time by the company I’m working for. She said that happens often and that they could negotiate benefits into the contract pay. Is this normal? I’ve never worked with a recruiter before.

    Sorry if I’m all over the place. This has been a week.

    1. Grouchy Old Lady*

      1. So sorry you are going through all of this. I would try and keep things as professional with the owner and avoid and non-work related conversation. Just do your best to get through it. Hopefully you find a new job soon!
      2. nope-come up with another reason.
      3. No, she’s a recruiter not employer so she’s going to work with your needs. She also wants to get you the best salary so she gets the best commission.
      4. I think direct hire is they are using a recruiter to find ppl for them to interview. If they hire one the recruiter gets a cut. Versus contract to hire is your more of a temp working but if they like your work they may hire you.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        3. No, she’s a recruiter not employer so she’s going to work with your needs. She also wants to get you the best salary so she gets the best commission.
        This usually isn’t the case in my experience. If recruiters are competing with other recruiters, they’ll try to lowball the employee so they are the cheapest option to the company doing the hiring. A lower commission is better than no commission. This is especially true for entry level positions.

        1. Previous Agency Recruiter*

          You are correct that this how many bad recruiters operate. Good recruiters do want to get the employee something she will be happy with. Most recruiters offer the employer some sort of guarantee and it generally lasts anywhere from 3 to 6 months. That means if the employee leaves (likely if they took a lowball offer) the recruiter has to give the commission back!

          This recruiter does sound like a good recruiter. They understand that if you are happy working with them you will also likely refer your friends and colleagues to them. Good recruiters success is built on long-standing relationships, often placing the same people over and over again throughout their career. Don’t let cynics scare you off a great way to get a job, but do carefully vet any recruiters you work with as they do represent you to the employer and it’s worth remembering that.

          Contract to hire can be a great way to get some extra cash up front – but usually doesn’t come with benefits. If you can be covered on someone else’s benefits but are able to negotiate the rate higher than the cost of that – profit! Then when you convert, it’ll likely be at a lower salary than the hourly contractor rate was because of the cost of benefits, 401k etc. The benefit of this arrangement for the employer is that they essentially get a try before they buy opportunity with you, it’s very easy to end a contract and much harder to fire an employee, even a new one. So you should also charge a premium for taking on the risk. The benefit for the recruiter is that they usually charge an hourly fee on top of what they pay you for the hourly rate and will then get a reduced percentage at conversion. That fee covers both the cost to employee you (payroll taxes, etc) and their profit.

          Hope this is helpful! I get really annoyed when I see blanket statements like this. Recruiting is a low barrier to entry market, so there are a lot of bad ones out there, but it’s also a really phenomenal tool in your toolbox as a job seeker. It’s absolutely on you to do your due diligence to make sure you are working with a good reputable recruiter, just like you would do for any other service.

          1. Cancer Crush Anon*

            Yes, that makes perfect sense, thank you for this information.

            She was recommended to me by a friend from high school in my field, and she seemed pretty knowledgeable when I talked to her. She’s young, but she immediately pointed out a few things I could put in my portfolio to help me. She also asked where else I applied and told me she has contacts there that she will reach out to and make sure they look at me. I felt good about her, I hope I wasn’t off base there.

            Unfortunately I’m too old to be on my parents benefits, and my boyfriend and I aren’t yet married (nor does he get benefits through work).

      2. I'm A Little TeaPot*

        ^^ What she said.

        Also, do your very best not to be alone with creepy guy, ever. Get your manager to help you here if you need to.

        1. Cancer Crush Anon*

          Thanks, she has already prevented that from happening once this week. Unfortunately the nature of my job I do have to be 1:1 with him occasionally. She told me she will not let that happen again, but as luck would have it….she’s out next week so I’m now panicking about that.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Is there anyone else who could legitimately be in the meeting with you?

            Make sure you meet in a room where you can leave the door open. If he closes it say “I would prefer the door be left open, thanks. It’s a bit stuffy in here.” If he won’t open it, open it yourself. If you feel unsafe, leave. You can say “I don’t think now is a good time to meet. Let’s do this later when Boss can join us.”

            I know he’s the CEO but you can firmly say “Please don’t speak that way/do that; it’s inappropriate,” etc. if anything happens.

            *HUG* I’d be your security if I were there. I could fake-take notes or something.

            1. K.*

              I would too. Actually, it’s kind of fun to imagine a phalanx of AAM commenters running security for each other where needed!

            2. Cancer Crush Anon*

              Ugh this is going to out me but the 1:1 time is in a sound proof room that NO ONE but me goes in. Or has a key to. It’s a recording studio so we can’t leave it open.

              Yes, my boyfriend’s employment lawyer brother told me to make sure I said “This made me uncomfortable. It was unwanted. Never speak of this again.”

              1. ContentWrangler*

                Maybe look up the laws in your state to see whether you need 1-party or 2-party consent to record conversations? Some states you only need one half of the conversation. And you can download discrete recording apps on your phone. Then you have proof if he does anything creepy in your 1:1. So sorry you are going through this!

              2. Nita*

                Call out sick for the day of the meeting, without telling anyone in advance of course? Have a “trainee” sit in on the meeting?

              3. Elizabeth West*

                That is good legal language and yes, you should do that. The longer you wait to shut it down, the tougher it will be.

                As people frequently say here, the awkward is on HIM, not you.

          2. Reba*

            Could you take some days off while she’s away? Call in sick? You certainly have ample reason to, aside from “avoiding office creep.”

            He was testing your boundaries, and your response is great — proceeding cautiously despite your distress. Talk to the lawyer ASAP, don’t wait for something bad to happen but proactively learn about likely outcomes and possibilities.

            I’m sorry about your dad and hope everything goes well for him.

            1. Cancer Crush Anon*

              Thanks, we have an awful vacation/sick time policy and I want to save all that I can for my dad if he has multiple surgeries or whatever. Taking unpaid leave is considered a disciplinary action and my boss’ boss is very black and white about that stuff. My coworker had the flu and went through his vacation time and my boss’ boss told me that according to the handbook, he’s supposed to write him up. I also can’t afford unpaid right now.

              Thank you, I spoke with him. He defends companies against women like me :) He told me what things they do to pick apart a woman’s argument so that I can be protected and how I can protect myself.

          3. Slartibartfast*

            Is it legal whete you are to have a tape recorder in your pocket? I might do that even if it isn’t

    2. SoooAnonymous*

      Honestly, I have no advice for you. I am going through a tangentially related situation and am curious if anyone has advice, so I’m just chiming in to comment so I can find this thread again later. I am so sorry that you’re going through all of this and hope that you take some time this weekend to take a second and gather yourself. Take a walk, take a hot bath. Watch a favorite movie and cuddle with a pet or your boyfriend. Remember to take care of you in the midst of all of this.

    3. LKW*

      Woof – that is a bad week.
      1. Cancer treatments have made leaps and bounds in 20 years – so before you freak out, give your dad’s oncology team some time to come up with a plan and some more information.

      I have to wonder if something else is going on – like dementia or a stroke. Seriously – who the hell sees all of these folks getting roasted over this exact behavior and decides to do this? I just wonder if he’s that clueless?

      1. Cancer Crush Anon*

        The worst part is he said it as a follow up to his statement on sexual harassment. He asked me if he ever made me uncomfortable and when I said no, he said good because blah blah blah blah blah I have a crush on you blah blah blah.

        But that’s seriously what everyone I have told has said “how stupid is he in this environment and after all that’s happened this year?!?!

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          What a creep. There’s only one reason to tell someone you have a crush on them. And it most certainly is not to check your own behavior.

          1. Cancer Crush Anon*

            It was selfish. Extremely selfish. He had 0 disregard for me and my feelings and what that statement would mean to me.

            1. Jesca*

              I agree. It was selfish of him. It was almost like he was using the sexual harassment scandals as a lead in the sexually harass you. No way a CEO should be hitting on an employee like that.

              If you find yourself alone, tell him flat out that it made you uncomfortable. If he continues, get up and leave. If you have the slightest inkling he will try to block your way out, then angle yourself to the door in a way where he cannot before telling him. If he doesn’t do anything other than apologize, then its a lost cause to try to move on with him as the CEO of a company you work for.

              Ugh this stuff sucks. It sucks so bad, and you have my deepest sympathies. Whatever you do, know that it is OK.

        2. The Ginger Ginger*

          WOOOOOW. How does he not notice that he ended his question about sexual harassment by sexually harassing you? Gross. I am so sorry this is all going down. Please yes, let him know that he made you extremely uncomfortable with that comment.

          What a total sleazeball. Hang tough, CCA. Do what you can outside of work to keep yourself taken care of so you can be there for your dad. Don’t let this jerkwagon get you down.

        3. Overeducated*


          Is that really what he took out of all this sexual harassment awareness: “wouldn’t want to harass my employees or make them uncomfortable when I hit on them at work”?

          I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

          1. Lissa*

            He was probably trying to go for some kindof plausible deiability. I had an old boss who would constantly say stuff like “Hahahaha, one day I’m going to get sued for all the outraaaageous things I say!” and bring up sexual harassment claims, how he “gets away” with things other people would get in trouble for, people “know he doesn’t mean it” etc.

            i’m so sorry this happened and I really hope this is the end of it. :(

            1. Overeducated*

              Yeah, I was phrasing that sarcastically, the idea of using sexual harassment awareness as COVER for sexual harassment at work is just so awful.

            2. Troutwaxer*

              Or maybe he’s been worried that his emotions towards the OP are obvious to her, (after all, the feelings are obvious to him, right?) and he is trying to be professional despite his feelings and he is worried about whether he is successful in being professional despite his feelings. (I might have had the same conversation for the same reasons when I was MUCH younger. Now I put a higher value on keeping my mouth shut and would have arranged things so I was not at the same sexual harassment training presentation as my crush.)

              1. Triplestep*

                I think it’s more likely that he’s being manipulative. Opening with a statement crafted to sound like genuine concern, and slipping the “crush” part in the middle. I’m guessing in his mind, if she feels similarly, they can then start planning their clandestine affair. If she does not return his feelings, well then … he’s just considerately asked her if he made her uncomfortable, didn’t he? He’s thinking “How can anyone fault me for that?”

                If there was a handbook for workplace creeps, I think this technique would be in it.

                1. Troutwaxer*

                  I think your explanation is more likely too, but I had some bad experiences in my younger day where my (admittedly clumsy) discussions of sex/romance were misinterpreted, so I thought I’d throw it out there.

        4. Close Bracket*

          Oh man. I’m sorry for everything you are going through. I am picturing you responding with, “Well, I WASN’T uncomfortable!” What exactly did he think the outcome of that would be?

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Oof. I’m sorry about your bad week.

      1. Would it be possible to take any time off? PTO or short term leave or something? Even just a few days to help you process things.

      2. I would not. Come up with something vague like “looking for new challenges” or “because of some family health problems, I am looking for something [closer to home/better hours/etc]”

      3. No. It is definitely in a recruiter’s best interests to get you the highest salary possible.

      4. Contract to hire is very common. It gives the employer a chance to see if you’re a good fit without having to pay benefits and all that jazz.

      1. Cancer Crush Anon*

        I’m taking PTO for my dad’s surgery. We do not have a good pto/vacation policy here. If I leave any of the miniscual vacation policy I use will have to be paid back and I can’t afford that. I want to save it for my dad’s surgery and if God forbid I’m still here in a few months.

    5. Chriama*

      So it might not be legal but if you ever have to be alone with him I’d record it. I would also be really no-nonsense with him. He’s lost his right to anything except cold professionalism. If he wants to play clueless and “hurt” I would tell him “what you said to me, as someone with control over my job *and* as a married man, was wildly inappropriate. Lets keep things strictly professional from now on, please.”

      Other than that, I would use the awkwardness as a cocoon. He’s not entitled to you pretending that everything is ok. You’re allowed to be tense and uncomfortable around him. Keep treading water and get out of there as quickly as you can.

      1. A Nonny Mouse*

        First suggestion is TERRIBLE. Don’t do it.

        Talk to an employment lawyer now. Not once everything hits the fan, not when your work product suffers from stress, but now. He (assuming it’s the brother) will tell you what you need to do to document this, how to protect yourself, and what to look out for in terms of retaliation.

        1. Cancer Crush Anon*

          Yes, I spoke with him. We are in a One party state and he made it very clear to me what my rights are and what my next path of action is.

          What I can say is he made it very clear to me that I need to say to the owner “That made me feel uncomfortable. It was unwanted. Never speak of this again.” He wants me to approach owner but I don’t feel I can do that. I will if it’s brought up.

          1. Observer*

            Please listen to your lawyer and approach it. You really want to avoid a “next time”. And you want to make sure that if he starts pulling stuff that’s possibly more “deniable” so that he could claim that he “didn’t realize” you have it on the record that he DID in fact know because you told him in plain language.

          2. Totally Minnie*

            I think your lawyer friend has a good idea when it comes to being proactive, especially since your boss is going to be away next week. You wouldn’t have to be confrontational about it, but I think letting him know you’re uncomfortable with the situation is definitely warranted.

            Say something like: “I need to postpone our next meeting until Mary gets back. What you told me last week made me very uncomfortable. I do not want to discuss that topic with you any further, and I would prefer it if Mary were involved in all of our meetings going forward.”

            Ask your boyfriend or your lawyer friend to practice with you so you’ll be prepared to deliver this in a professional way.

            I’m so, so sorry that you’re in this position. I’m on your side, CCA, and I’m pulling for your dad and his medical team.

          3. Close Bracket*

            I also live in a one party state, and I sometimes need to covertly record interactions for work. I bought a voice recorder and a clip on mic at Best Buy. I have two ways of using it: 1. I wear a tank top under a loose fitting button down shirt or cardigan and something with roomy pockets on my bottom half. The mic clips to my bra strap, the wire goes under my tank top, and the recorder goes in my pocket. 2. If I am carrying my purse, the recorder goes in my purse, and I clip the mic to a seam just below the top opening. My purse closes with a zipper, and I leave the purse slightly unzipped.

            I recommend practicing some scripts. “Boss, I want to revisit our conversation the other day. I would prefer that you not tell me any more about having a crush on me. I think it would interfere with our professional relationship. Let’s agree not to talk about it anymore. Now, about the TPS reports…”

            I am so, so annoyed on your behalf. That was a power play on his part, and you in no way deserve that. Nobody should have to deal with that.