open thread – February 23-24, 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.

{ 2,112 comments… read them below }

  1. Meeeeee*

    What’s the (unprofessional) thing you are tempted to do at work?

    Mine: Part of my job involves sending applications to the government, including a CD-ROM of files. I desperately want to rickroll one of the submissions with a video file of “Never Gonna Give You Up”.

    1. Murphy*

      I get a lot of people asking me for extensions to deadlines and I refuse politely, but sometimes I just want to go “lol no”.

      1. Batshua*

        When I first started working phone, I *really* wanted to answer the phone like “Yo dawg, ‘sup?”

        I’m really proud of myself for never ever ever doing that.

        1. LQ*

          One of my directors apparently thinks my pleasant phone voice sounds so different from my normal voice (it does) she’d get flustered and confused when she called me that she said when she calls she wants me to answer “What’dayawant?” Which I do now and it makes her laugh every single time. (She once called laughed and said, “no that’s all I needed” and hung up.)

      2. Someone else*

        Mine is similar. So frequently people will ask questions and I’m really tempted to say “that is not a thing”. But I don’t.

        1. PM Punk*

          I get this irrational urge to just slam the phone down at really inappropriate times when people call me. This urge was particularly strong back when I worked as a reporter, but it still pops up every now and then in my PM role.

          1. Specialk9*

            When I was a kid in church, I was SO worried that I was going to put my foot out and trip people as they went up for communion. I had never done it, never did do it, but I was always convinced that my mental tricks were all that prevented me from turning the communion line into living dominos. So weird.

        2. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

          I often get questions by email that I am so, so tempted to answer in the form of a “Let Me Google That For You” link.

      3. designbot*

        I get the opposite, a lot of people asking for things on ridiculous timelines, and then they want everything to be perfectly researched, cross-referenced, and ready to go, and I just want to be like, “oh, because I had So. Much. Time. to check all the issues, riiiiiight.”

      4. Yami Bakura*

        In response to an article asking “how can we make ourselves lean?” (in the business sense), I was seriously tempted to comment “Lose weight.” I still hate business speak, but man, some of the buzzwords we had this decade were really off the wall.

        1. Antilles*

          In order to make ourselves lean, I recommend we optimize the use of the company exercise facilities. Studies show that personnel which properly utilize these facilities are often more lean, leading to more desirable outcomes.

          1. Yami Bakura*

            In order to achieve our strategic objectives, we will improve and empower our core competencies by exercising our physical cores.

            1. Djuna*

              “Working our core” gets said a lot in my workplace. It always makes me do that rapid-blink, slight headshake thing.
              We are not a gym, though we have started offering yoga classes to employees so I guess people can work their actual cores alongside their jargony ones now?

        2. Working Hypothesis*

          My immediate reaction would be, “Stand approximately a foot from the wall, with your back to it. Incline your upper body until it rests against the wall. Allow your weight to rest in your shoulders.”

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I spend a lot of my day replying to client emails. There are SO MANY things I want to say but don’t.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        To expand, the emails I bite my tongue over the most have to do with market losses.

        “I thought this was supposed to be a good fund!! Why did it lose money??” Um. Because. That’s what happens in the stock market sometimes?
        “I’m not sure I want you managing my account after all.” Well, it’s a self-managed account, so maybe look in a mirror.
        “I am a Certified Tax Professional and I can tell you that wash sales are supposed to work like [insert flagrantly wrong information here].” A) is that a real title because I’m not sure, and B) I am a licensed investment advisor and I’m gonna bet on my license over yours any day when it comes to investment stuff. There are plenty of CPAs I’ve dealt with who are really not familiar with the ins and outs of how investment income is determined.

        (Nothing against CPAs on that last one; the ones I’ve dealt with are generally awesome at the stuff that’s more firmly in their wheelhouse.)

        1. King Friday XIII*

          Certified Tax Professional is totally a real thing. I was one in college because I took an evening class from H&R Block and working for them paid better than food service. It’s not the most competitive certification ever, more like a driver’s license for taxes.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Hah, all the more reason for me to feel justified, then. My broker/advisor licenses were brutal to get, and our pass rating on those exams is abysmal. I think out of the 25-30 people I started with, 4 managed to pass both required exams.

          2. TardyTardis*

            Try getting a certification in Oregon–80 hours of instruction, a test that less than half the people pass, and lots and lots of fees. (why, yes, I did pass my test at 89%, but mainly because I read *really really fast* and was able to check my answers fairly quickly, it was an open book test).

        2. Guitar Lady*

          Yeah, that’s not a thing. There is no national or governmental body that certifies Tax Preparers. In fact, the IRS tried to implement a certification program and was stopped by lawsuits claiming it was overstepping it’s authority. H&R Block may claim it’s preparers are “certified” but they are certified by…H&R Block, and as someone who worked for them, that’s totally meaningless.

        3. Anonymous for this...*

          I am a “Certified Tax Volunteer” in my state, and I have to say that it means very little. I can fill out a 1040 with a little more confidence than your average joe, but if I have to fill out too many schedules, I’m screwed. Go to a CPA people.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        Ah, yes. I have one particular client person who is very inexperienced, yet he’s been tasked with handling “managing” us for one piece of scope. It’s been particularly difficult to get across the difference between what we could do and what we are contracted to do. I’ve been nothing but professional and nice, but it’s so hard.

        1. Arjay*

          I’m someone who works for “that guy” and I apologize oh behalf of all those guys out there. As his support staff, we know he’s ridiculous and we try to advocate for sanity, but it’s hard to get through to him internally too.

        2. PM turned Director*

          I’ve actually said, in this scenario, “As much as I want it to, your business need does not create a contractual obligation for me. The Statement of Work in the contract creates a contractual obligation for me.”

      3. Annie Moose*

        I’m a web developer, and part of our job is to wrangle the clients who are supposed to be testing stuff. And sometimes… sometimes I just wonder what happened to the client’s brain when they were looking at a ticket.

        Case in point: On Valentine’s day, I sent over a spreadsheet of sample data for the client to review. (results from running a particular process) About half of the results were from, say, January 30, and the other half were from January 2. In my comments when sending the spreadsheet to them, I even pointed out a couple that were over 30 days old, because that was a key part of testing this ticket.

        Nevertheless, it got kicked back to me because I supposedly hadn’t included data that was older than 30 days. How you can subtract January 2 from February 14 and get less than 30 days, I do not understand. (no, unfortunately I do understand. Instead of actually looking at the days, they just saw all of the data was from January and assumed it was wrong)

        I had to take a very long tea break before I could trust myself to respond politely. If this was one time, I’d be willing to chalk it up to a simple misunderstanding, which is fine! Misunderstandings happen. But these “simple misunderstandings” happen on almost every single ticket, and it just makes it really obvious the clients aren’t reading what we’re sending them. We are pouring our hearts into making this application work FOR YOU and you can’t even read two sentences explaining it before blaming us??

        (bonus additional story: the ticket later got kicked back for a 100% completely unrelated bug on a search screen [note: the original ticket was for a backend process with zero connection to any form of search] which somehow?? prevented them from testing??? even though I tested just fine in the exact same environment despite this apparent world-ending bug??????)

        1. Lucky*

          I am a lawyer, not a software or web developer, but I’ve fallen into a hybrid product owner/implementation manager role for our contract management system, and am the person many users go to when they don’t know/refuse to learn how to use the system. I’ve had people insist that they tried to do X and ‘the stupid system just won’t work,’ not knowing that I can peek under the hood and see every step they’ve taken in trying to do X. So, I’ve had the satisfaction of responding “Becky, I can see that you haven’t logged on for over a month. Go back and log in and actually try X this time.”

          1. Antilles*

            That’s a stunningly common issue in IT. Goes something like this:
            Caller: (Describes issue)
            Me: Did you do this common fix that works like 95% of the time?
            Caller: Oh yeah, I tried that first.
            Me: Really? Well, how about trying it again?
            Caller: I’m telling you, I already did that.
            Me: Just humor me and do it again please. Right now, just as a favor.
            Caller: Whoa! (awkward tone of voice) Uh, not sure why it didn’t work the first time.
            Me: (silently thinking) That’s because you didn’t do it the first time, you liar.

            1. Millennial Lawyer*

              I always do it the first time and there is just some magic IT people have. Magic to make me look stupid.

              1. Specialk9*

                Oh yeah me too. I really did do it the first time! And then I get mad instead of grateful because I look like a liar, but I’m also actually grateful, and arggh.

            2. Jake*

              Yeah, your assumption is wrong. I’ve had this happen to me on the caller end twice. Both times I had tried resetting the router or computer, and it didn’t help. Then IT asks me to do it, and it works. I’m not a liar.

              1. Someone else*

                A lot of times when I encounter this (as the support person) the issue is the person *thinks* they did it, but actually what they did was slightly different or in the wrong order. So they’re not lying, but they’re also wrong that what they before that didn’t work is *exactly* what Support then had them do that worked. But it’s often not productive and/or impossible to figure out what the difference was in how they tried it the first time because when we walk them through the exact steps and they do it and it works, the person still feels that they had done the same thing to begin with.

            3. AJ Pre K*

              That used to happen to my fellow cashiers when I used to train them. As soon as I would walk over to fix it, the register would magically start working. And I mean magically. Nobody would do anything except me glaring at it and it would work. I would tell my cashiers that the registers were used to me threatening to throw them out the window if they didn’t behave!

              1. Easily Amused*

                When I was in grad school learning a very technical/computer related field, this phenomenon became so common that, when I had an issue in the lab, I started asking any nearby fellow student “can you please come over here and watch me do this so it will start working”. I swear it worked 98% of the time… damn computers.

          2. Jennifer Thneed*

            tip: when they really have tried to do something, and they SHOULD know how: make them sit down and do the thing while you point at the screen and say “now push the Enter key”. Make them do the actual typing. It really will help: it will help them finally learn, and it will help you get more time without being bugged by them.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I actually did this once.

        I didn’t teach at a school but at a language academy. I was horribly sick with the flu (think muscle aches, blinding headaches, lethargy etc.) and I had to go in for a one hour lesson at the end of term to “babysit” the children who turned up. I put my Netflix on (in English), told them not to talk, and I fell asleep.

        One of them very kindly woke me up at the end of the lesson and wished me a merry Christmas.

        I then spent two hours walking home when it normally took me 20 minutes.

        Not the finest day I’ve ever had.

        1. A tester, not a developer*

          Last week my son’s 6th grade French class was a viewing of Spiderman 2. In English.

          Apparently the poor teacher had a migraine and there were no subs available.

          1. JessaB*

            Damn, Marvel movies nearly always have a French track, at least put the French track ON and pretend yes?

            1. LavaLamp*

              Eh, we used to watch movies in my 10th grade French class and the teacher would just hold up some large attendance cards when the racy scenes would come on and joke with us that they were doing naked yoga.

              That teacher was actually awesome.

              1. copy run start*

                Tangental: I had a teacher show us some movie in high school that had a brief glimpse of full frontal male nudity. Obviously he needed to cover it up.

                Before the movie started, he explained that he’d failed the previous class by thinking he could use a piece of paper to cover it up, but he was using the projector so he ended up having the genitals projected onto the paper. For our class he wisely decided to just use the TV screen…

                …and promptly forgot all about the scene!

                1. Specialk9*

                  “And here is a piece of paper perfectly outlining the genitals, just in case you wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t tried to cover it up.”

    3. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      I work with huge spreadsheets and business records to be produced in court.

      I just want to edit something to put “f***” or “s***” in one of the blank Xcel cells.

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        I did something similar with a spreadsheet once as a joke on a coworker, luckily the joke was well-received. And luckily that spreadsheet was never sent to anyone else!

        1. anon scientist*

          I made a joke about a foreign leader (a scary one) in a tracked changes comment in a draft of a report…and then one of the people that was supposed to be editing the report shared the document to a whole other meeting, that included representatives of that government! I had him retract the document pretty quickly, and I made sure to tell everyone else that the report draft was confidential!!! Ugh, no one ever said anything, but holy moly.

          I don’t make jokes in writing anymore.

        2. Bea W*

          My dad did a similar thing with a set of plans (mechanical engineer). Before he sent them off for QC he wrote something like “Wakeen is a weenie” and shrunk it down into this tiny speck so that it wasn’t obvious to the naked eye but knowing as a normal part of the QC process someone would discover this abberant speck and zoom in to investigate.

          He thought it was hilarious. Luckily, his co-workers shared his sense of humor. I don’t think he got in trouble for it, at least not in any major way.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            When the pressmen at my father’s newspaper weren’t happy with management but not unhappy enough to strike, they attached the publisher’s name in a headline on the obituary page. Also they inserted into the inside pages of a news story: “{Publisher’s Name] wears elevator shows.” Publisher was seven feet tall.

            As far as my own job is concerned, there are days when I’m tempted “embrace the teachable moment.” Lesson to be taught: don’t piss off the librarian who can end your computer session in a handful of mouse clicks.

        3. Aardvark*

          There is a record in our CRM that exists for Reasons, is hidden from most users, and only three users in the organization besides myself know about it. I once attached a humorous (work-appropriate) comment to it to the effect that it was really really lonely and wanted some company…and timed how long it took for anyone to notice. (419 days.)

          1. Live and Learn*

            I had to test out a custom application submissions tool before we ingested large amounts of data. To do this I had to create a bunch of dummy records to test the ingest and reporting functions. I got tired of making up names off the top of my head so I input records for all the characters names I could think of played by Johnny Depp in movies. I didn’t know they weren’t going to delete them later. My boss figured it out one day when she pulled a report that included Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, John Dillinger and Jack Sparrow among others.

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              I used to routinely use characters from the comic “Love and Rockets” for test data in classes I was teaching. I thought someone, sometime, might get a chuckle. But now that comic is ancient history and nobody will ever notice that Esperanza Glass and Perla Chascarillo are in my spreadsheets.

              1. Comics Nerd*

                They’re still making it! (At least as recently as September 2016 – and it was a free comic on Free Comic Book Day last year, so not too ancient). There’s still hope!

      2. Snow*

        We once got a spread sheet at work where all changes to Wolverhampton (UK town) had been changed to Wolverine – we still have no idea who did it as the spread sheet was one that went back and forth between internal and external departments or even when it had happened as we then checked a few older versions of the it in the archive where it was the same. We found it way more amusing than it technically was.

        1. Free Meerkats*

          Several of our Standard Drawings for Construction Standards, freely distributed internally and externally, had “{City} Pubic Works” in the title blocks. Looking back, they had been that way for close to a decade.

          1. Triplestep*

            AutoCAD user here. I have done something like this, although not quite as egregious. It’s never been great at handling text, but earlier versions of the program were much worse.

            1. copy run start*

              I found an upside-down pentagram in an AutoCAD drawing a few weeks ago. I have no idea if someone had the drawing rotated and drew a star for Reasons or if that particular property is the actual home of the Anti-Christ and Satan gets his internet from us….

      3. bee*

        Oh, I’ve done this! I just type in the blank cell using white font. There aren’t a lot of people looking at my spreadsheets though – so there isn’t much risk.

      4. circus peanuts*

        I work in a library and I used to be the weekend night supervisor in an academic library in the early 90’s. They had told us that they were getting rid of the card catalogs soon and everything would be computerized “real soon”. I had a typewriter and blank cards for the catalog and I made up fake titles and books and filed them in there and waited for the card catalogs to go away. The card catalogs have been whittled down, but they are still there. With my fake entries . . . I don’t even remember which ones they were anymore, the only one I remember was putting an author name in of John Jingleheimer Schmidt and the card also says to see John Jingleheimer Schmidt as well.

      5. CarrotCake*

        I once did this on a school paper. But about my teacher. I literally felt ill when I got it back with ‘See me after class’ written on the front. 1000/10 do not recommend. I still feel ill about it over a decade later.

        I’ve since done other stupid things, but that will hopefully remain the worst.

      6. Alli525*

        A former boss was a totally laid-back jokester, and once hid an easter egg of some kind in one of his spreadsheets, mostly just to see how thoroughly any of his clients used them. One day we got an email out of the blue from a client – for the first and only time in THREE YEARS, someone had found the easter egg. So we mailed him a signed headshot of my boss with a silly note and some sort of company swag as a reward. That was one of my most fun days at that job.

    4. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      Every time someone complains that their “data isn’t right,” and I know 100% that it’s not because of an error on my part (and 95% of the time, it’s because they have bad data management practices), I just really want to respond with, “Well, it’s your shit data, you do something about it.”

      But I don’t. Oh the day.

      1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

        Well once I got so fed up of someone who kept asking me the same thing over and over (I was on reception). I said ‘Good Day Sir’ then turned away. He asked me again I turning and shouted ‘I said Good Day Sir’ (ala Gene Wilder from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

        It felt sooooo good.

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

          That is amazing! Oh how I would love to do that.

          My ultimate career goal is to retreat further into the depths of IT so no client can ask me these things again. I can’t fix your bad data entry, people!!!!

        2. Elizabeth West*


          I love it when you can use movie quotes IRL in context. I got to do it one time at OldExjob, right around the time The Dark Knight came out. I’d seen that film eight times in the cinema and everyone at work knew I was obsessed with it. I even had a quote contest going with the FedEx guy, which I won. :)

          I was in the back office filing stuff in the client files. I usually did this by scooting my chair around from cabinet to cabinet, instead of bending down to reach the lower files and killing my back. There was a rug over the carpet with a tendency to wrinkle, and it kept catching my wheels. I complained about it to my supervisor. She said yeah, it was annoying but BossWife didn’t want to spend the money on a better rug or to replace the carpet.

          I said, “It’s not about money…’s about sending a MESSAGE!” in my best imitation of Joker’s voice. Then my supervisor and I cracked up, LOL.

        1. Triplestep*

          Me, too, but with higher-ups. EVERYONE thinks they are a designer. No one wants to hear that their ideas wont work due to unsexy things like, you know, building code. ADA compliance. Just plain lack of space. I have learned to say “oh, great idea … I will try that!” And then wait an appropriate amount of time to say “aw, it did not work due to (fill in the blank with something I already knew.)

          This is not to say we can’t factor in other people’s ideas. Just that people tend to bristle at being told immediately that their design ideas won’t work due to some mundane reason even if I can see it from a mile away.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I used to be a data analyst for a crap company with crap data practices all down the line. Their data was just not appropriate for the kind of analyses they wanted me to do — they weren’t collecting the right stuff, they were collecting it super poorly, their demographic data was out of date, they had data smeared across multiple formats but none of them were really appropriate, their versioning system was “user_data_2017_realone_final2.xlsx”… you name it, if a thing could go wrong with data it was wrong with this data.

        Every time I got yelled at for not being able to draw firm/any conclusions from the hot mess they called data I had the urge to be like, “Garbage in, garbage out, assholes.”

        1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

          That is 75% of the departments I worked with at my university. Constantly changing degree plan codes, reusing codes for various things, no timely or accurate data entry of any kind, and would not inform everyone of changes that were made, so it was a constant battle of “well MY numbers don’t match THEIR numbers.” No shit, Sherlock. You all have different definitions for the same thing and no one will agree on anything, even after YEARS of meetings about the same stuff!

          I’m in a more behind the scenes role now (ETL development instead of reporting) and I’m sooooooo much happier. There’s a nice layer of report writers/analysts between me and the end users.

        2. analytica*

          [insert gif of child laughing and then suddenly starts sobbing]

          But yes, this. I have felt this before.

        3. Bea W*

          When people insist on arguing with me about database and electronic data collection design and proper training and usage of those things, I get ornery and issue a blunt warning about “Garbage in, garbage out”.

          If they’ve failed to heed the 1st warning and later complain about the quality of their data I get to say it again but with an “I told you so!” tone.

          Seriously, do not make this hard. Collecting usable data does not have to be this hard! Garbage in, garbage out. Simple rule. Follow it!

    5. Amber Rose*

      Abuse my label maker for great evil.

      Sarcastically ask people if they’d like to buy a dictionary along with the part name that they’ve horribly mangled, or the complete system they asked for right after saying they were just looking for parts.

      Blast “Die Motherf***er Die” over the speakers. It’s my favorite angry song.

      1. Ann*

        The other engineers in my office sometimes steal my label maker to make silly labels (eg labeling the microwave “microwave”). I don’t mind as long as they’re not using the expensive label maker, since the rolls for that one are $8 per foot!

        1. Liane*

          I don’t remember the company, but a laboratory supplier I sometimes ordered from years ago, would send free calendars with a comic featuring a “cast” of oddball lab scientists. The lab counters in these comics had tons of drawers and cupboards, all labeled (not unusual in labs). BUT, the labels ranged from typical lab stuff (“Magnetic Stir Bars,” “Thermometers”) to WTH (like the one with a drawer each for various holidays from well known like Christmas to lesser to “probably imagined by someone who didn’t use the hood and inhaled chemical fumes”).

      2. Trout 'Waver*

        First thing I did with our label maker was print of a “label maker” label and stick it right below the display.

    6. Chameleon*

      I just had a couple students cheat on an exam and I kind of want to write them an email with the subject line “say goodbye to your A, idiots”

      1. Artemesia*

        If one cheated off another or they collaborated on the cheating, grade the papers then give them half what they earned – half each since it was one effort.

    7. ThatGirl*

      I’m in a customer facing role and sometimes I just want to tell people they’re idiots. Because honestly. But no, I am always professional and polite.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        God, I don’t miss those days. I was on the verge of saying the same thing at least twice a day.

    8. Leah*

      Sleep on the couches in the reception after lunch, blanket and pillow and all. I pray that my next job offers some sort of break room…

    9. Lore*

      I do a lot of proofreading and manuscript editing, and constantly fight the temptation to add a sentence to a particularly egregiously awful piece of prose–either a totally random non sequitur to see if anyone is reading this garbage, or an acknowledgment that it’s awful and I tried my best to make it better.

      I figure if I’m ever ready to go down in flames, I’ll try it with a high-profile or notoriously difficult author and see how long it takes to be busted.

      1. shep*

        I did a brief stint as a contract editor for a small but reputable (at the time) publisher, and the founder herself set up a phone call with me to explain how passionate the author was about the book I was about to edit, and how she just needs a little help with grammar.

        I thought it was weird. Then I got the manuscript.

        It was an ABSOLUTE train wreck. I can only assume said author was a family friend, or the founder owed her money and couldn’t pay, or SOMETHING. Oh my goodness. No amount of editing, short of scrapping the entire thing and getting a completely different person to write it, was going to save that manuscript.

        I had to ask for an extension and then ended up white-knuckling my way through it and immediately submitting my resignation along with the “edited” manuscript.

        Coincidentally, a year or two later, several authors and contract editors came forward about not having been paid yet for their work, which yielded even more horror stories about the workings of this press, and the borderline abusive behavior of the founder.

        Whew. I am SO glad I got out of there when I did!

        1. shep*

          (Also out of morbid curiosity, I dug out the old edit letter I also sent the author, and OH MY GOODNESS did I ever put so much time and kindness into that thing. I don’t even know if it made it to the author, and if it did, I imagine it fell on deaf ears.)

        2. Fact & Fiction*

          There is a reason I had to start declining requests to review manuscripts after I got published. If it’s a fellow pro or a friend I know can write, that’s one thing. But too often in the past I was getting things that were so far past my ability to help with a little feedback that it was stressing me out. I love to help but man…There’s just no good way to give helpful feedback when something really is that atrocious. Either I just can’t help, or they’re someone who doesn’t REALLY want actual criticism. I remember I donated a critique in a charity auction once and the winner flat-out raged on me and I was like NEWP!!!

          1. shep*

            Yeah, I made the [recent] mistake of agreeing to trade work with a friendly acquaintance at work, who would often wax ranty about other people’s inability to string written words together. I thought, “Oh, X knows at least a little about what they’re doing.” NOPE. Their work was…not good. They seem totally oblivious to this fact, AND seem to think their own critique of my work was pretty valuable. (It was VERY MUCH not, at least stylistically.)

            I like this person, but I don’t want to trade work ever again and as basically the most conflict-averse person ever, I’m struggling to come up with a way to tell them without hurting their feelings. Totally simple in theory; in practice, I’m horrible.

            Anyway. I totally commiserate.

            1. Fact & Fiction*

              I feel you! You mayhave to pull the “Oh my gosh I’m too busy to exchange work for the next (EVER!) I’m so sorry!” line.

              Also WTF autocorrect – no I don’t mean busybody and Nextel! I didn’t even typo!

        3. Former Border's Refugee*

          Was this perhaps a once respected publisher that took it’s name from a geological formation?

      2. Alex*

        I manage copyeditors/proofreaders, and we have one who totally does this (the snarky comments about the quality of the work, not a random non sequitur).

        It doesn’t get back to the person who wrote it, so we just think it is funny.

        1. Fact & Fiction*

          Haha I used to do the same basic job. Without putting the snark in print. Super tempting sometimes.

        2. Lore*

          Oh, I do it all the time in the manuscript. The temptation is to write in something in, like, second pass, when no one but me sees it later and it will end up in the book!

      3. Another editor*

        Some things I find myself wanting to say in my comments:

        “WTF does this even mean?”
        “I don’t even know where to start with this”
        “Why do you hate the Oxford comma so much?”

      4. valc2323*

        oh, man, I reviewed a report that a grantee had submitted that actually did have the words “I don’t think anyone at actually reads this so la la la asdfasdfasdfasdfasdf”

        Yep, we read ’em, and evaluate the merits of your program based on what you send in. Say goodbye to your funding.

    10. Mananana*

      Because I believe our employee evals aren’t useful (or even read that closely) I listed one of my accomplishments as “Mananana is Queen of All She Surveys”. It went through my rater (immediate boss) and senior rater (grand-boss). Neither noticed it, so my official, federal gov’t evaluation lists QASS as an accomplishment. And it’s signed by a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army.

    11. Sheila's Assistant*

      My boss is the exec assistant and office manager, and people bug her all day long with stuff they make seem like an emergency, but end up being something that could easily be emailed like ordering a calculator. If they can’t find her, they come running to me, “Where’s Sheila, where, where where is she?????” One exec wanted to know exactly where she was and I finally said she was in the ladies room. He barked, “well how long will she be???” Boy, you have no idea how much I wanted to say, “it depends if it’s #1 or #2, how long does it take you?”

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork*

        Gaaah I hate it when people do that. I used to work in instructional design, and there was this professor who would call at 7am and demand to speak with my coworker, who always started at 9am. She knew she started at 9am, and her meetings were never scheduled before 9am. But Prof. Impatience would bark at me, “But where is she??? Why isn’t she here?? We have a meeting!!!” This professor also would email us on the weekends to say, “I will meet you at 730am” and not bother to verify that with us, and then get angry when we didn’t show up for these “meetings.”

        1. Argh!*

          One of my reports has an earlier schedule than the rest of the staff. My boss’s admin never fails to call with a question that only that one person can answer about 10 minutes after COB for them.

      2. Batshua*

        I had a person who thought he was my boss bang on the door while I was in the single person bathroom and demand to know if I was in there.

        What was the emergency? Paperwork. Paperwork that wasn’t even time sensitive. I reported him to my supervisor.

    12. Ten*

      Today is my last day at a job I’m very happy to be leaving, and I so badly want to tell certain people exactly what I think about them. But I will refrain. I’m not usually too tempted to be unprofessional, except in that way.

      1. Trillion*

        Who hasn’t fantasized about that!? “Screw you, screw you, you’re cool, screw you, screw you to hell.”

        It kills me how, when someone quits, suddenly their opinions about the company and its practices don’t matter any longer. Exit interviews are, at best, a waste of time. But worker who leave are just “quitters” who are disloyal and deserved to be shunned. Just dismiss their revelation that the manager is abusive and the internal politics are harmful and Jerry isn’t following procedure for sensitive data.

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        One of my colleagues likes to say that if she wins the lottery and quits her job, everyone at school will get an identical envelope. The people she likes will get a ticket for a cruise, and the people she can’t stand will get a note saying “bite me”.

      3. Bleeborp*

        OOh this is a fantasy I’ve definitely had. I had 2 part time jobs for a long time and I was hoping to (and eventually did) go full time at one place but I had all kinds of ideas of who I would tell off at each job. At the job I left, of course, I didn’t tell of the person (I do still fantasize if I ran into her in public what I’d say…she’s one of these people who seems very sweet and motherly but is actually a manipulative, hateful person; it’d feel so good to tell her that I see through her facade!) At the job I did get, I didn’t want to tell off a coworker but I work at a college and there are various student groups that table to promote themselves and there is one that I disagree with vehemently and I fantasized about just upending their table and yelling at them that they are spreading harmful lies. I still think about it every time I see them on campus! Not very professional so unless I quit because I win the lottery and can burn all professional bridges, I probably won’t be doing that.

    13. Recently Diagnosed*

      My job involves describing the details of my company’s onsite security to potential clients in agonizing detail. I want so badly to write about how we have a fully functional moat and drawbridge, water fully stocked with both crocodiles AND piranha. In order to be allowed in, you must first have your father and mother insulted by a man with a clearly fake French accent.

    14. Spooky*

      I don’t know if this counts because I actually did do it, but I’ll share anyway:

      When I was a freshman in college working in a psych lab on campus, I made a list of my top ten favorite test subjects who had ever come in and hung it on the wall by my desk (not in a public area, only employees could see it.) To give you some idea, my top favorites were “Cheeseburger Pants Man” (the guy who showed up to the test with 9, count ’em, 9 cheeseburgers stuffed in the pockets of his cargo pants. Polished off all of them by the time the test was over) and “Melon Guy” (the guy who showed up with a massive watermelon twice the size of his head, asked for a plastic spoon, broke the melon open on his knee, ate the whole thing during the test, and handed me a pile of dripping rinds on his way out. Psych labs are wild, y’all.)

      Looking back, I can see why this was a horrible idea, but at the time I literally could not understand how it was problematic at all.

        1. Ghost Town*

          Totally agree – learning all about office management, strategic relationships, professional etiquette, and so on.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        Okay but have you ever clicked over to AAM while forgetting that you were projecting your screen on a very boring video call? #guilty

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Fortunately the screen projection is always from the Art Department, which isn’t me. I do check settings carefully if the cat is trying to help, of course.

    15. Bea W*

      Nap in my cube.

      Like everyone else, what I say in my head and what comes out of my mouth or my keyboard are two entirely different things. I quite frequently have wanted to reply “Oh hell no.” to unreasonable requests and “Are you effing insane?!”, “WTF”, “Whatever.”, “Sorry, I’m all out of f*cks today”, etc. and a variety of memes expressing similar sentiments.

      Insert random unrelated things into documents to see if anyone is actually reviewing them.

      1. Polaris*

        My cube is situated such that if I did this no one would be able to see me, and there’s actually quite a lot of space underneath. It’s very tempting sometimes. I have a colleague who did do this, but it was less “napping” and more “curling up in the dark because migraine”.

      2. Ten*

        Once I had to loop in my boss on a particularly aggravating series of miscommunications between my office and our sister site in a different state. After they changed their story for about the tenth time I privately emailed my boss the Steven Colbert *headdesk* meme. I think it helped both of us.

    16. Cube Ninja*

      In my role managing wage garnishments, I regularly get to say things to external contacts that aren’t necessarily unprofessional, but are entirely too satisfying when talking with ornery people.

      “Whether the check is written for $2 or $200,000, it doesn’t change the cost of the check.”

      “That’s fine, I’ll indicate that you’re refusing to implement this garnishment and my legal department will follow up with you.”

      From external contact, “How do I know this is legitimate?”
      Response usually indicates our agreement w/ Federal gov’t, court precedents and our orders include the relevant legal statutes.
      “Well I just want to make sure you’re legitimate.”
      Response: See above re: legal. :)

      My personal favorite was the lady whose employment we verified and she called about six different people before landing on me. Her issue was that the person we spoke with was apparently authorized to verify employment, just not HER employment. I told her directly that was an internal issue for her company because we have to rely on employers, you know, not lying to us. :) Our complaints department told her the same thing after she took it to director level.

      1. Marthooh*

        Re: people who want to know if you’re legitimate – you DO keep a copy of your parents’ marriage license on hand, right?

    17. Addison*

      I kind of want to reenact the end of the Devil Wears Prada book when Andi just goes F** YOU, MIRANDA!! F** YOU!! and leaves, but to my entire workplace. I suppose I could be pragmatic and just serve a few select individuals with this treatment before I execute a grand stormout, but honestly just bleating it through a megaphone would be fine too.

      Alternatively, sometimes I want to do that “I quit” music video that one person put on youtube, where they filmed themselves dancing and partying at their empty workplace and uploaded it the next morning. That would be so nice. But I’d probably accidentally violate hipaa in there somewhere, so maybe I’ll just stick with the profanity. It’s safer.

    18. Cute Li'l UFO*

      -Feeding condiment packets into the industrial shredder
      -Sending the entirety of the “You lose, good day sir!” speech from Willy Wonka to the team responsible for continually throwing me under the bus and blaming me for assets done wrong before I started that contract

      My art director was absolutely fed up with how that team was treating me (look at me! I’m the contractor! I’m expendable!) and really really wanted me to go through with the second one.

      I drove home on my last day whoopin’ and hollerin’ like Howard Dean in 2004.

      1. Argh!*

        “-Feeding condiment packets into the industrial shredder”

        I’m so glad I wasn’t drinking soda while I read that! *LOL*

    19. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      Being snarky with the team next to us. I’m tempted to give them bibs, since they behave like 10 year olds (tantrums included).

    20. Elemeno P.*

      I give a lot of presentations in person and online via screen sharing, and I always want to drag a cute picture or video onto the screen when I’m done.

      When I know my audience well, I give in to this temptation. My last presentation ended with a video of a dog licking the screen.

    21. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      I have lost count of the number of times, when someone has come to me complaining that their expected figures don’t add up, that I want to scream in their face “THERE ARE 31 DAYS IN MARCH, NOT 30! And the reason your forecast is wrong is down to DAILY RATES! Which you should know because you have worked here and submitted this forecast to me every month for FOUR YEARS!”

      *sigh* it’s been a very long week

      1. Umvue*

        “THERE ARE 31 DAYS IN MARCH, NOT 30! “

        Wasn’t there a Parks and Rec episode where this was a major plot point?

    22. Odyssea*

      When people tell me that the computer/printer/copier is broken or not working, and really it’s something they’re doing/not doing, I just want to yell,

      “It’s not the computer, it’s you!”

      But I don’t, even if I’m think it inside.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My husband used to repair copiers. He always said, “You don’t fix the copier, you fix the person running the copier. He said that he did not really do true repairs anyway, most parts you unplugged the bad and then plugged in the good. He called them “plug and pray” parts.

        1. MissLibby*

          Our repair person doesn’t repair ours either….he tells me it is the humidity (summer) or lack of humidity (winter) and that I just need to fan the paper. We go through several weeks of jamming, calling for service, him showing up so he can tell me whether the air is too humid or too dry before he will change out a part or pretend to. Last fall we did this for several weeks and one day another technician responded and removed the paper clip stuck inside that had been causing the machine to jam for weeks.

      2. nonymous*

        A former coworker used the acronym PICNIC “Problem in chair not in computer”. He gleefully trotted this out when describing the issue in front of the person, often with the unsuspecting soul nodding along in a “Gosh! K is so smart to solve that problem, and he thinks it’s fun like a picnic! what a gem!” manner

        1. curly sue*

          My father used to use ‘PEBCAK’ – Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard – for the same thing.

    23. NJ Anon*

      We had a dick coworker come in and shut the door of the office he shares with someone else. I put a “DANGER – QUARATINE!” sign on the door.

    24. Grandma Mazur*

      Take my cats into work. Especially when they were at their cutest and most inquisitive, between kittenhood and fullgrown cathood.

    25. Shark Lady*

      The team that sits next to mine always complains that my team is too loud, yet they often have group huddles that involve clapping and cheering. I really want to bring in an air horn and blast it at them the next time they do that.
      Also, there are several people to whom I’d really like to say, “Sorry (not sorry), but if you can’t get your work right we will no longer be processing your transactions.” Because nothing makes my day like hounding the same team over and over to fix their mistakes.

    26. Teal Green*

      Every time I’m fed up with my job, I picture quitting by throwing a pile of paperwork in the air and shouting “Peace out, bitches!”

      1. LimeRoos*

        +1 to Ed Debevic’s. So sad it’s gone :-(
        And agreed it would be amazing to snark away at people sometimes.

    27. paul*

      Any time I have to work with the state government I get an overwhelming urge to torch all the bridges after a few days.

      1. CarolynM*

        This morning I had a mutual admiration society meeting with one one of my good payers – I was sending her an updated statement after I had chased down an elusive credit she was legitimately owed and we went back and forth 5 or 6 times about how much we appreciate working with each other.

        Meanwhile, in another e-mail I was battling a pants-on-head-stupid douchecanoe who was 48pt bold ALLCAPS red text yelling at me about how dare I place his account on credit hold for an invoice I had specifically warned him had to be paid by {date} else he be placed on credit hold … first warning (if you don’t want to count the invoice we originally sent them as some sort of notice we expect payment by a certain date …) was sent a month before {date} when the invoice was already 30+ days past due, second warning 2 weeks before {date} … but I am The Worst (TM) for putting him on hold for no reason and giving him no warning of the reasons I am accused of not having in the first place.

        I have freakishly thick skin, but there are some days when I could weep with sweet relief just talking to a decent customer who remembers that I am human, or at least close enough to human not to treat like utter garbage. All in a day’s work … I didn’t choose the AR life, the AR life chose me! :)

        1. Paquita*

          Fellow A/R person here. We receive both checks and electronic payment. Most customers send emails letting us know what the payments are for. Occasionally we need to contact one and ask for remittance information. All we have is a date, name, and amount. Customer will say please give me one of the invoice numbers, or the check/ACH number, or whatever else. Argh! ALL WE HAVE IS DATE NAME AND AMOUNT! You need to provide the other information TO US! And NO we cannot just apply the money to any open invoices, this creates a bookkeeping nightmare when you come back and try to say that’s not what I really meant to pay.
          And no we can’t tell you everything you paid for the last five years and send all the supporting documents.

    28. Thing1*

      I once came *this close* to making a “that’s what she said” joke in front of an entire class of students (college freshman mostly). I probably could actually have gotten away with it, but I’m glad I didn’t. The weird part about it is that I don’t make that kind of joke–that was probably the only time I’ve ever really wanted to, so I’m still not sure where it came from.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        Every once in a while someone just tees it up for you so perfectly that it is difficult to resist.

        I actually usually don’t hold it against people if they make the joke after I have unknowingly laid all the ingredients before them, even if it’s a joke I would normally object to, because I am too familiar with the urge to make the perfect (but inappropriate) joke.

        1. Thing1*

          In this case I was actually the one who set it up–I was talking mostly to myself while trying to figure out how to get one of the student-supplied USB sticks to emerge from its protective casing, and, well. . . (that lab was terrible, students would bring in their own USB and then be standing there lined up waiting while I tried to figure out how the cap or sliding thing or whatever worked on every weird USB they’d bought.)

    29. Wendy Darling*

      I work on chatbots for large corporations — the little helper boxes that pop up in the corner on a website all “What can I help you with today?”

      I have so many urges to be brutally, inappropriately honest.

      “Why is it so hard to change this thing about my account?”
      “We make it hard on purpose because we make more money if you don’t change it.”

      “I got a late fee because you didn’t get my payment before the due date!”
      “No shit Sherlock, that is HOW THAT WORKS.”

      “I liked the old version better!”/”I’m going to boycott you because you advertised on a show I disapprove of!”/”You’re a bunch of crooks!”
      “Thank you for submitting your feedback into this black hole where no one will ever read it except maybe the person our company contracts to to keep this soulless chatbot running, rather than wasting one of our customer service reps’ time with it, because we totally do not care.”

      1. Trillion*

        Oh man, brutal honesty is like my #1 unprofessional fantasy.

        “Why did the system [do that]?”
        “Did the click the box that said [make that happen]?”
        “Did you think the box was a lie? Can you read words?”

        1. Wendy Darling*

          My mom is not computer-literate and I have had this conversation with her almost verbatim.

          “I updated Windows and now all my stuff is gone.”
          “Did you click the box that said it would remove all your stuff?”
          “Uhh, probably?”
          “Soooooo why do YOU think all your stuff is gone then?”

        2. Alli525*

          I once had an anonymous tumblr to post screenshots of the dumbest emails we got. (I of course blocked out any identifying details.) It was incredibly cathartic.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I always wanted to insert something like this into reports I edited:

        “I know this setting will generate more fee income but for f*ck’s sake don’t do this to your customers I don’t even know why we engineered it run away run away. “

    30. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Tell people to read their f’ing email.

      Honest to God. 90% of my day is answering emails that require me to forward and/or attach an email string that they were too lazy to dig for. (If I’m feeling particularly catty, I may forward each one separately…)

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I have definitely replied to emails asking me questions that were already answered by highlighting the answer and saying “see below”.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I’ve had people email me being salty about me having not answered some question of theirs and I’ll send them the email I sent them two weeks ago with the answer in it, with the answer highlighted, and be super concerned about whether their email is working correctly since they apparently did not receive my email.

          Spoiler: Their email always works fine, they’re just blaming me for their inability to keep up with their own inbox.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            There are few things I love more than getting to send the concerned “Oh, did this not make it into your inbox, here’s another copy” response.

          2. Jules the Third*

            I am way behind on my inbox, but I make it a point to search for the relevant topic and check whether I’ve gotten an answer before I go back again.

          1. Ree*

            At OldJob, if I didn’t get to write, “Per my last email” at least once a day, my life felt kind of…incomplete.
            Like, why did I even bother?

            This feeling rarely happened because….NO ONE READS THEIR EMAILS so I got to say B&^%$ DO YOU READ??!!?? multiple times a day and that made me soooooo happy. LOL

      2. cathammock*

        So much this. The worst are the angry emails, with the entire team plus my boss and grandboss copied, demanding to know why I failed to send the thing I was supposed to send and that I definitely sent preemptively to avoid things like, you know, very public attempts to announce that I’m not doing my job.

        I’ve offered to escalate their “not receiving emails” problem to IT a few times, and somehow the original document just sort of magically shows up after that.

      3. Fact & Fiction*

        God bless him or her, but I had a client where I used to work who I had to re-send emails to him or her ALL the time. This person could never keep track of the projects that’s we’re like, their job to track. Drive me batty.

      4. zora*

        The departments in our corporate headquarters apparently never retain anything, because we have literally the same conversations every month.

        I REALLY want to say: “We had this exact conversation last month, why do you keep asking me the same question?!? Have you ever heard of the concept of WRITING THINGS DOWN?!??”

        1. Jules the Third*

          gah, having that problem with someone right now, except that I also handed them written documentation. So frustrating!

    31. Kathenus*

      Years ago there was an all day strategic planning meeting at one of our two locations. Most of our managers went to that location for the meeting, but three of us needed to stay on site in case of problems, so we were video conferencing in. The sound was terrible, so we could hear maybe a third of what was being discussed. And the video quality wasn’t great either. We began amusing ourselves with a bunch of items, and ended up putting an inflatable dinosaur with a glow necklace and hat on it in front of our camera to see if anyone even noticed on the other end. It was there for over an hour. Nope, not a word. We were on mute because we were getting pretty punchy and laughing quite a bit by that point.

        1. Kathenus*

          Done! A match made in heaven. I was lucky that the two coworkers I were with that day were fun and wacky too.

      1. Lipsy Magoo*

        I like the fact you just happen to have an inflatable dinosaur with a glow necklace in the office………….

        1. Kathenus*

          Well, we had an inflatable dinosaur, and a glow necklace. We just decided to play dress up. We also had a toy that was kind of like a flying saucer with a flashing light in it that we were having fun throwing around the room. Pretty sure it ended up with the dinosaur in front of the camera at some point too. Like I said, it was an all day meeting.

    32. Trillion*

      I make training material for HR Technology, and have to use fake pictures and names to replace real pictures and names. I like to pick a theme for the document (like superheros: Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne; or US presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson).

      Lately I’ve been using mammals and have been tempted to use a skunk, donkey, or warthog for people I don’t like. Even though no one will ever know, I’m afraid I could slip up and someone would find out (“Why is did you pick a buzzard for the Payroll manager?”). So I stick to neutral animals like horses and lions.

      1. KR*

        One of my favorite things in my IT job was to include my desktop picture on screenshots for tutorials/instructions. My desktop picture was my beautiful cat.

        1. Trillion*

          Or leave really fun “tabs” open in your screenshots of your browser!

          [Company Software Icon] Log in Page
          [Google icon]super cute kittens
          [Bing icon] best batman villains

          1. Jennifer Thneed*


            I’m going in to about a year of making presentations to people before I work on their documents. Many documents, many presentations. I suspect I’ll be seeing some of them every single time. I hope I get easy-going enough with them to be able to do this kind of thing. (Or the dog licking the screen video. Stuff like that.)

      2. hermit crab*

        I helped design a reporting system for a government permitting program, and all my test users are U.S. first ladies. The documentation has screenshots of, like, Eleanor Roosevelt’s semi-annual report and the error message that Abigail Adams received when she didn’t complete all the required fields.

    33. Anonymous, thanks*

      We’re allowed to have a drink at work on Fridays at the end of the day, which makes me tempted to drink at work at other times, but I don’t! Don’t want to abuse the nice perk they’re giving us.

    34. Anon for this one*

      My deputy and I are about to close on a really big deal for higher ed/state government, and I so, so badly want to announce it to a super loud soundtrack of Cardi B/Bruno Mars “Finesse.”

      Yeah, we got it goin’ on, got it goin’ on
      Don’t it feel so good to be us, ay?

      1. TaterB*

        I am fully in support of this one. I know the choreography, so I would like to offer my services as your backup dancer.

      2. Fact & Fiction*

        Bruno makes fun dance music! I do a couple Zumba routines to his stuff. And Jason Derulo. Can I be backup dancer number two?

    35. Jadelyn*

      When Excel is being fussy about letting me save files I have been known to append “fuck excel” to the end of the filename to distinguish it from the older version, then go delete the old version and rename the current version to not include the profanity. I only do it because I immediately go in and fix it, so I highly doubt anyone will happen to click into that specific folder during the approximately 10 seconds it has that filename.

      Other than that, just telling off managers who are being dense about something.

      1. Erin*

        Hahaha I used to do something similar in college, naming papers saved on my computer things like StupidF***EnglishLitPaper.

    36. Lora*

      Throw something very heavy and/or sharp at my sexist colleagues.

      Failing that, throw my copy of Perry’s Handbook at people who ask me questions they could easily look up the answers to themselves, but they felt compelled to interrupt my flow.

    37. MRK*

      I’m a manager in a retail business and the 3 big ones I must resist are:

      1. Laugh in the face of ridiculous hagglers and tell them to get the hell out of my store.
      2. Give my actual response to the painfully, painfully obvious questions we get from customers, instead of the polite answer
      3. Ask people if I “look like a fucking tour guide?!” when I get asked extremely generic “what should we do/eat/see” questions simply because I work in X city

      1. Pieforbreakfast*

        I was a picture framer for many years and the hagglers were the worst “is this the best price you can do?” Oh, you only needed to ask! I will totally give you the super-secret cheaper price.
        I clearly remember telling a guy who used the “so and so place quoted me a ridiculously low amount for the project” gambit, “That’s awesome! You should totally go with them! Deals like that don’t come around very often!” and handed him his stuff. He just stared, and asked how quickly I could get the project done.

      1. PoetRocker*

        I did use “halp” once in an email where that *should* have been fine/funny…and someone corrected it for me! :D

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I know I’ve said this here before, but during a very protracted and frustrating go-round with the accounting team at Exjob over a stupid edict they put on us, AwesomeBoss sent me an email that was just a picture of a book cover–“The Little Engine That Said ‘F*ck It.'”

          Best boss evaaaaaahh.

    38. The Senior Wrangler*

      I set the till to print a smiley face just before I left my job at a petrol station. I haven’t been back to check whether it’s still there.

    39. Kate*

      My job could be done 100% remotely, but my company doesn’t allow telework. My boss works in a different building. I’m tempted to see how long I could get away with just not coming in. I’d still do my job and adhere to my normal hours, just not at the office. Everybody who works near my cube has plenty of meetings and travel, so it’d be at least a few days before they noticed anything.

    40. Lipsy Magoo*

      I mean I sometimes sit in meetings and wonder… if I got on the table right now and started beating my chest like Tarzan, and screaming, would they even notice? would they stop droning on……….

      But I mean I don’t want to actually do it, it just crosses my mind :)

    41. Banana*

      I work in a field where people get REALLY stuck on minute details. It is kind of our job to do so, but the emotional attachment people get to getting Their Way greatly outdoes the actual importance of the detail, in the long run. When the crap starts hitting the fan about something so minuscule that only we will notice it, I just want to stand up, wave my arms and say “NONE OF THIS MATTERS!!!! NONE OF THIS MATTERS AT ALL! THERE IS FAMINE, DISEASE, POVERTY, AND WAR IN THIS WORLD! OUR TINY LITTLE LIVES DON’T MAKE A LICK OF DIFFERENCE!!!!”

      1. Polaris*

        “Our little lives don’t count at all!” and then someone would have to tackle me before I started doing the rest of Les Mis.

      2. paul*

        I’ve done a less extreme version of that when we were trying to work on cross compatibility between other agencies for how we collected client demographics. I said something something like “We’ve now spent X man hours in this meeting deciding if we should save it First, Last or Last, First. Why is this so painful?” There were two people dead set on F,L and one dead set on L,F and I just did not give a damn.

    42. Oxford Coma*

      I regularly have to restrain myself from reciting all or part of the Billy Madison decathlon speech.

      What you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

      1. Lipsy Magoo*

        I work for someone who taught me this ditty, as she has wanted to say that to people a few times here :)

      2. Jiya*

        I have crafted so many polite ways of saying this at work. And I’m happy to be polite! But…yeah, the sentiments above would not be inaccurate.

    43. Ms Mad Scientist*

      I had someone from another lab use our space as her personal conversation area. Lengthy conversations. Every day. Despite speaking to her and putting up signs asking people not to have their personal conversations in our lab.

      She’s moved on, but I was sorely tempted to go to her bench and have a loud conversation. About something gross.

    44. Cruciatus*

      So, this is not on a grand scale, but my replacement kinda did the thing I wanted to do when I worked in that department. I saw K (replacement) earlier in the week and commented about her being able to escape the desk (since it’s a front desk job). She said yes and then started chatting about the office and how miserable she is. It’s the supervisor there, she is a micromanager and she can be cool one day and then awful the next 10 and you just never know which one you’re going to get. When I worked there I even posted here about the letter she wrote me about all the ways I was sucking (as an attempt to help me). It wasn’t work stuff, it was things like “chatting too long with faculty” (you know, the people we WORK FOR IN THAT DEPARTMENT). Gah! So my replacement also got her letter recently–like my supervisor saw her text something, and this and that and nit nit nit nit pick pick pick pick. So my replacement wrote back to this email from (allegedly) the director and (definitely) my supervisor (mine was an actual letter, but K got an email) and nitpicked all the shit the supervisor does that she doesn’t get called out for! She was in IDGAF mode! It wasn’t professional but I LOVE THAT SHE DID IT. She’s still coming in to work as I saw her today! I don’t know what ramifications there will be. The supervisor really does make that place suck. It could be a totally nice place to work (though stressful) but she just adds to the stress constantly. K told me when she was venting to me that she’s in her 50s and doesn’t need to get paid so little to put up with so much shit from supervisor. Amen. A-freaking-men.

      1. Ten*

        I would love to read that exchange! Witnessing mean people being put in their place is universally satisfying.

    45. Delphine*

      Nap in my office. Every Ramadan I lament that I can’t just close my office shutters, duck under my desk, and have a 30 minute snooze.

    46. lnelson1218*

      At a previous job tell a SVP (where the s stood for spoiled, stupid and screaming) to stick it where the sun didn’t shine and walk out saying on the way that since he knows everything, he should have no problem doing my job too.

      Ah, one could dream, I got laid-off before I got the chance. Alas (and it probably would have happened)

    47. Caledonia*

      I work in higher ed so mine would be something to do with either people thinking they are qualified and aren’t OR people who are qualified but who apply after the deadline.

      THE DEADLINE IS ALWAYS, ALWAYS IN JANUARY, PEOPLE. Also, you can’t class yourself as international if you are y’know British or from Europe.

    48. Sparkly Librarian*

      Break into song. I am a children’s librarian, so I can usually get away with that, but this past week I was confronted with a circumstance where it would have been unprofessional.

      A patron comes to the desk and asks about entry-level positions at the library. My boss is out, so I’m temporarily in charge. I explain the basic hiring process (coordinated in City headquarters, not at my small neighborhood branch) and print some forms for her. She also asks me if there’s an exam guide to help her practice, and while I’m looking that up, she asks if I know any memory tricks for “the sections of the alphabet”. I ask for a little clarification (maybe she’s talking about how books are shelved in various genre locations? Dewey?) and her response is sonething like, “What order the alphabet goes in. Like, a song or something?”

      I am pretty sure I stared at her and muttered, “the, um… the song” before my customer service face kicked in and I was able to say, smiling, “Oh, my favorite alphabet song is good for that! Sometimes I find myself humming it while I’m shelving.” (Not true.)

      But I REALLY wanted to put on my storytime face and belt out, “A B C D E F G….”

      1. PoetRocker*

        I’ma librarian, too… and I always sing the alphabet song while shelving! Usually not at the same spot I’m shelving – just on repeat :)

        1. Rainy*

          I used to file and I just couldn’t stop myself from singing the alphabet song on repeat, although sometimes I could manage to shift it sideways into Twinkle Twinkle.

    49. Anon For Obvious...*

      As part of my work I do the occasional piece of equipment maintenance for McDonald’s. Some of their restaurants have a self-inking stamp which reads, “McVoid!” which is presumably used for stamping documents. The “M” in “McVoid!” is the McDonald’s logo. I’m sooooo tempted to steal one of those stamps!

    50. Lynca*

      Roll around the building in my office chair so I don’t have to walk. Sadly it will stay confined to my office.

    51. Librarian Ish*

      We have a couple of long hallways between the cubicles. I have an almost irresistible desire to do cartwheels down them.

      Please note: I cannot do a cartwheel.

      1. Bea W*

        I can do cartwheels and it is so hard resisting this temptation or the temptation to do handstands in my office. I HATE being chained to a desk all day.

      2. Jiya*

        Same, in my old building. I’m talking long and wide hallways, so I could full-on fall sideways and not hit a wall. Never worked up the guts to try it, though, even when I was one of maybe three people in the building.

    52. JanetM*

      I want to post passive-aggressive signs, with the top two being “This is a picture of the CIO making coffee. If he can do it, so can you” and “Flush the d*mn toilet.”

      1. Michael Carmichael*

        We recently acquired a non-flusher. I just posted a sign in our restroom that said PLEASE FLUSH THE TOILET AFTER USE with a picture of a smiling toilet giving a thumbs up. My assistant came to me alarmed because he had found the file on the server labeled Things You Should Not Have To Ask.docx and he thought it was a directive for him.

    53. Archivista*

      I… actually did this one. While working on a database for a private library that’s extremely specialized, rarely patronized, and full of very old books and documents (and, therefore, anyone was unlikely to ever see this), one of the records/summaries included the words “who lives, who dies” and I added about five empty lines and then “who tells your story?”

    54. Butch Cassidy*

      My job involves weekly conference calls for coaching customer service supervisors to make sure their standards for their associates are in line with ours. Each of the groups I work with has at least one supervisor whom I absolutely adore because they care deeply about the work, are whip-smart, kind, resourceful, etc. I wish I could tell them how much I appreciate them.

        1. Butch Cassidy*

          I guess I worry about playing favorites? Like if there’s one supervisor out of 20 with whom I work and I obviously love, what does that say to all the others?

          1. Jules the Third*

            Send an email to them / their managers stating, ‘I really enjoyed [specific thing] about our training – thank you for being so engaged.’ or something like that. If you can point to specific, business-oriented things, it is totally professional. And if you’re concerned about appearances, sending it in the email bypasses that.

            In the training, you could say ‘yes, that answer really gets to the core of what this training is trying to do’ or similar positive feedback.

    55. Alice Ulf*

      In my old position, applicants used to call me all the time to ask their number on the waiting list. After about two years, I had to constantly fight the urge to tell them, “Every time you ask, we send you back to the bottom of the list.”

        1. StrikingFalcon*

          I’ve done this! I was working somewhere where we had a standard estimated completion time of 2 weeks. Someone got REALLY pissy about how it “wasn’t two weeks worth of work” and wouldn’t accept that there were other customers in front of her. The thing was, we weren’t that busy and it was easily the shortest item in the docket. We could have had it done within the hour, and might have if she was nice about it. But she wasn’t, so it was put on the bottom of the pile.

          But then, there was also the time where I literally had to tell someone “every time you call me, I have to stop working on your order to answer the phone. I WILL CALL YOU WHEN I’M DONE.” She showed up in the store 15 minutes later and hovered at the doorway until I finished -_-

          1. Someone else*

            I once was doing a project for a client on the weekend, they were paying extra for this, and they’d been told the work would take all day. 45 minutes after I was supposed to start they emailed and asked for a status report. I didn’t respond because I wasn’t looking at my email, I was doing the work. They kept asking for updates pretty much every hour, until four hours later I finally looked at my email, not because I expected anything on the weekend but more out of habit since I hit a sort of normal stopping point. I had to rope the PM into it (even though he wasn’t expecting to have to “help” on the weekend day) because I was worried they’d be furious, but we also reallllllllllly didn’t want to set the precedent that we’d give them hourly updates throughout the course of a 7 hour process because doing so would turn it into a 10 hour process, and I was too irritated to be sure I wouldn’t say something to the effect of “I can do the work as fast as possible and tell you when I’m done like we told you would happen, or I can waste both our weekends by stopping constantly to tell you that I’m still doing the work. Which would you prefer?”

    56. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

      There are sooooo many snarky emails I have drafted and deleted. One of them was, “I can see you calling me an idiot further down in this email thread. Who’s genius idea was it to loop me in?”

      1. Rainy*

        In my last role, I had two direct reports (let’s call them Mary-Kate and Ashley) who ended up having a screaming fight in the hallway a week before the grant they were employed by moved to another department (I took a lateral move to stay in my current department, so they were also leaving my reportage, thank god), because Mary-Kate had sycophantically agreed with someone over email that Ashley was an idiot piece of shit (for doing her job!) and then six or so emails later looped Ashley into the email chain without removing any history from the email, so Ashley read down, saw what Mary-Kate had said, and went and literally screamed at her in the hall.

      2. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

        Oh jeez, wrong “whose!” Ha! Listen, I may be an idiot, but don’t copy me in an email about it! :)

    57. only acting normal*

      Not me, but when my brother worked in retail a rather vague and distracted customer exchanged an item of clothing they’d bought the day before for *exactly* the same thing, same size everything. He did point it out and ask if they were sure (and checked there was no fault with the return), they just looked at him blankly. So he processed the exchange and as they left he said “See you tomorrow!” :-D

      For me. I’m fairly convinced no-one much ever reads more than the abstract/summary of our reports. I’m tempted to put an Easter egg deep in the text somewhere: something whimsical or funny, a movie quote maybe, nothing profane. :)

      1. Ten*

        Once or twice I included movie references in college essays just to amuse myself. I don’t think my professors ever noticed – they never commented, at least.

    58. Sled dog mama*

      Delete all the old crappy forms and replace them with the updated ones I’ve been trying to get approved

    59. Booknerd*

      I want to add bogus check-outs of “50 Shades” plus monster overdue fines to the accounts of the judgemental library patrons who think we should only have religious fiction and Nancy Drew books in the library.

      “Why, Mrs. Whatsis, it looks like your account has been stopped until you pay the $27.50 you owe in overdue fines for “50 Shades of Grey” and that Lorelei paperback where women have graphic sex with animal shape shifters. Will that be cash or do you want to use your debit card?”

      1. Lissa*

        I did something like this when I was a “library helper” in grade 6 to the girls who were bullying me, with toilet training books…

    60. Polaris*

      Sometimes I want to send a thank you card or chocolate to the lawyers who actually send out the documents I draft in a timely manner, as opposed to the ones who let them sit for months while I send multiple reminders that are ignored.

    61. Arjay*

      I’m a liberal arts person working with a lot of science-y people. Most of them aren’t familiar with the Melville story of Bartleby the Scrivener. I can only imagine their blank stares when I finally succumb to temptation one day and respond to an asinine request with a totally deadpan “I would prefer not to.”

      1. Chameleon*

        I was just talking about writing a modern Bartleby where he answers everything with “nah, bro.”

    62. Weyrwoman*

      I work in an email-based support environment, and I’m always super tempted to just write back “NO” in the biggest, reddest font possible when a customer asks a very obviously not-okay ‘hypothetical’.

      1. London Calling*

        I ask for a lot of documents to be sent to me via email – we have our own address and it ends .london. I can guarantee that at least once a day I’ll recite the email address to a supplier, there’ll be silence of two beats and then I’ll be asked, ‘Uhhh, is that uk?’ So far – SO FAR – I have resisted the urge to say, ‘Listen, idiot, if it was I’d have said, wouldn’t I?’ but it’s getting stronger,

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

      Oh…so many things but this month I’d love to be able to tell off some of the patient’s I deal with. My job involves verify coverage with their health insurance, obtaining authorizations, etc. Occasionally I’ll verify coverage and find out that their insurance requires them to use another provider or that the service isn’t covered at all. This month six different patient’s have threatened to sue the company I work for, me personally, and Obama because their company issued insurance doesn’t cover the service or they need to use another (equally capable) provider because of insurance mandates. I would just love to say “First, Obama has nothing to do with your company issued policy. They didn’t get this on the exchange. Second, good luck with that law suit. And Third – complain to the people at your office who have the power to make changes with your insurance. I can’t change your insurance. If I could we’d all have universal health care but given that you want to sue Obama, I doubt you’d agree.”

      Ohhh…that felt good just typing that out. :) Cathartic. Welp…back to the tranches for me. hopefully the next patient who yells at me won’t get to me like before. :)

    64. Justme, The OG*

      I really really really want to blast some profanity-laden rap music. The faculty around me are gone right now, so it might be

    65. What's with today, today?*

      Ha! I’m on the radio five hours a day in a small town with lots of fun small town politics. You just can’t know how much shit I want to talk.

    66. Angela*

      Love this question!

      Mine: Sometimes, I would love to curl up under my desk and take a nap. Give me a yoga mat and a blanket and I’d be nice and cozy!

    67. Aleta*

      I have wildly fantasized about, when a customer calls and immediately leads in their order, just going “Sure thing, we’ll get that right out to you!” and hanging up. It was more annoying when we had a paper ticket system and I didn’t want to write anything down until I knew they were in zone and they’d get annoyed when I asked them for their complicated order again. Now there’s a digital system that can accommodate it, but not all digital systems can! The one we had at a certain freaky fast sandwich shop was VERY strictly phone number –> name and address –> order.

    68. Environmental Gone Public Health*

      Ask the homeowners/contractors who call to ask why the (swearing) permit isn’t (swearing more) ready yet???! whether they legitimately believe that their project is the only building project in the entire county. Well, did you ask your designer if they sent in the required design? Because I don’t have one. Or, they sent it 15 minutes ago, and I have 10 ahead of you in queue.

      There are also many days that I’d love to write “are you f*cking kidding me???!” on some designs that get submitted to me. Fun fact: water doesn’t flow uphill. You cannot put a septic system in that is supposed to somehow gravity flow the effluent uphill. That’s not how gravity works. Yet I have some designers that take 5-10 revisions of me telling them the same thing over and over again.

    69. Teapot librarian*

      I sent a survey yesterday and desperately wanted to say “it’s short enough that you can do it while you’re in the bathroom.”

    70. Triplestep*

      After I learned what the Dunning-Krueger effect was (I believe we talked about it here) I really, REALLY wanted to send a link about it to someone at my last job and say “Thought this might interest you …”. It just explained so much!

    71. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      omg… so many things.

      I do hiring of part-time remote employees, so we do a phone interview, a skype interview, and then online training before they’re up and running. I can’t tell you how many times I will invite someone to a phone interview (send an email and leave a voicemail), wait a couple days, send a second invite by email (and sometimes a 2nd voicemail as well) before finally send them an email to close the loop. SOOO many people reply to that email with “yes, I’m still interested”.

      You didn’t read my email… you didn’t respond to the AT LEAST 3 other communications I sent you… Sometimes I want to reply with something equally unhelpful like: “Good for you” or “Sorry not sorry”

      I do not do this ever… but man the temptation!

    72. Kelly S.*

      I just noticed the links to previous posts. I must say I’m intrigued by Nerf gun battles in the office. ;)

    73. JustShutUpAlready*

      Tell the evil diva drama queen who sits next to me, who spends hours snickering, grunting and howling on personal calls bitching about how she hates her job to JUST F***KING LEAVE and make us all happy!

    74. hiptobesquared*

      I work in IT and for sure sent out a fake spam email and last time I used the Hampster Dance as the link. I’m totally going to rickroll them next time.

      1. This Daydreamer*

        Ha! I use that as my alarm clock. It’s the only thing I’ve found that is guaranteed to wake me up.

    75. KTM*

      Whenever I get changing requirements from a PM or customer, after I’ve already done a ton of work and now will have to redo it, I always want to shout at them during the meeting/phone call “Once again, things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY” a la Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer

    76. strawberries and raspberries*

      Yesterday the only thing that got me through the day was listening to the backmasked version of “Stairway to Heaven,” and I so so so wanted to play it out loud instead of with headphones, but it would have vindicated the coworkers that already think I’m a devil worshiper, so.

    77. Catherine from Canada*

      I work for a company that makes fiber optics equipment. There are rolls of fiber all over the place. I want to snap one – just one!

    78. brightbetween*

      Back when I worked in a library branch, we would do announcements over the PA to notify patrons that we were closing (“the library will be closing in 15 minutes…” etc). At closing time, we did one final announcement — “Thank you for visiting the library. We are now closed, we will reopen at…”. I always wanted to tack on “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!”

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Those were very fun in already-empty branches. I clearly recall singing, “The library is shut! The library is shut! We scream and shout — You must get out! The library is shut!” over the loudspeaker. We also had a young patron who would hang around until the final announcement so he could warn anyone left that they would be eaten by vampires, etc., if they did not leave on time.

        1. This Daydreamer*

          When I was still working at the bookstore, I had a manager who once said, over the PA system, “Attention all employees. You have five minutes to get to the break room before we release the attack dogs.” I think all of the customers had finally left for the day…

        2. TardyTardis*

          Our library has a tasteful gong which is sounded first fifteen minutes till closing, and then five. You don’t want to hang around too long after that one, you get put to work…

    79. Slippin' and slidin'*

      This week? Scoop up all the %^(*&^ snow that my boss is too cheap to have plowed and dump it on/around his car. Box him in. We’ve had 2+ feet of snow this week, the business is down a quarter mile lane from the road (where no street parking is allowed) and he just thinks we should all buy SUVs like he does. Because a guy who is too cheap to plow the lot at his business also pays crap wages, too.

    80. Argh!*

      My job involves a small amount of writing. I write about the same amount for the web as for internal customers. My boss nitpicks everything I write for internal customers but doesn’t even look at what I put on the web. One time I’d accidentally dragged and dropped half a paragraph into a different paragraph. My boss never noticed.

      So… I’d love to write “My boss is an idiot” in the middle of a paragraph to see what happens, but of course, it’s the web. Can’t do that.

    81. Cedrus Libani*

      Ever since I started my job, my work phone has received 2-3 calls per day (EVERY SINGLE DAY) from the same telemarketer. They’re selling some sort of trade magazine.

      Fortunately, phones aren’t really used in my office, so nobody else calls me. I’ve turned off the ringer. But I’m sufficiently annoyed by this point…if I wasn’t working for a giant corporate entity that’s touchy about its public image, I’d be having some fun with these calls. I desperately want to transfer them to one of those phone lines that makes non-committal noises of agreement on an infinite loop.

    82. Anonymous for this fantasy*

      I work at a large natural history and science museum, where we have elevated walkways on two floors in our work area that overlook the public floor below us. I fantasize about taking a squirt gun and shooting water at people below me and then ducking so they can’t see me. My after-hours fantasy is to run around with my co-workers and have an enthusiastic squirt gun battle all over the public floor and in the aquarium. That would be so awesome.

    83. G*

      I get really tempted to bring my phone into the kitchen to use it to play music. A lot of the time we don’t get the radio however we always do after 8 and at that time of the night it’s always playing classical music. Classical music is okay but it’s not exactly motivational when there are a whole load of tired employees. There needs to be something more up tempo playing.

    84. This Daydreamer*

      My job now is so laid back that there isn’t much temptation. 95% of the job description is “Be there in case the phone rings or a resident needs something.” So, it’s 5:30 in the morning, and I’m taking a break from doing beadwork. I’ll watch some Doctor Who when I’m done reading here.

      I had some fun with my old bookstore job, though.

      One time, there was a sign in the back that was waiting to be displayed in the cafe. It was a massive picture of a slice of carrot cake with thick icing and had everyone drooling. The store manager was especially vocal about it making her hungry and she wished it would be moved away from the door to the staff area where she had to keep walking by it. She didn’t actually move it, of course. So I did. When she found the poster on her desk, she hit the PA system with a very sarcastic “Thank you, Daydreamer”. What? She wanted it moved and I moved it.

      Another day, I arrived for my shift in the middle of a sudden downpour. I didn’t mind it so much, but the guy in the parking space next to mine seemed a bit upset when I paged him. “Attention customers, if you drive a BMW, license plate xxx xxxx, you might want to put the top up.” Too bad about those leather seats.

      Finally, there was the incredibly frustrating day when I was the only one at the cashwrap and no one was responding to my pages. Even worse, I kept on inadvertently answering a phone call when I tried to page for help. The entire store was treated to the PA message of “Head cashier to the front, please. Head cashier to the front. Manager to the front, please. Manager to the front. Manager line one, please. Manager line one. Fergus line two, please. Fergus line two. Customer service line three, please. Customer service line three. Customer service to information one, please. Customer service to information one. Customer service to information two, please. Customer service to information two. Customer service to children’s, please. Customer service to children’s. Any available cashier to the front, please. Any available cashier to the front.” How I got through the whole thing without a single stumble I will never know, but it paid off. The entire line of customers who had been glaring at me cracked up. All of the sudden, I was not the only employee in the store any more. There was a swarm of coworkers who rushed the front desk and all of the phone lines were picked up. And I think that’s when they started having me do the dreaded closing announcements.

      Oh, and there was the one and only time I picked up a cell phone at the cashwrap, again with a long line. Nobody seemed to mind. “Thank you for calling a cell phone left at the front desk at Barnes & Noble. This is Daydreamer. How can I help you?”

    85. Miles*

      I used to work in a sound archive (think library for old music, just not self-service) Sometimes when we got a large donation of materials that included a bunch of duplicates of stuff we already had too much of, my manager would play Frisbee with the dumpster using all the 78`s we had to throw out

    86. Triple Anon*

      When working with kids, I get really tempted to just stop being the Responsible Adult and act like a kid. “Yes, your homework sucks. Yes, let’s watch funny videos instead. It is more fun. Ok, we can have a food fight. No, I don’t care if you use foul language. I won’t tell your parents.” Argh, but they are paying me and I would get in so much trouble if anyone found out . . .

  2. Where to find part-time remote work?*

    Has anyone here used platforms such as Flex Jobs or Virtual Vocations? Did they work for you? I am looking into applying for remote, part-time jobs so I can get more experience in what I think I would like to do in my next job. Before shelling out money for these platforms though, I wanted to see if anyone in this community has used them or if they had any tips for searching for remote, part-time work!

    1. Chupalupe*

      WeWorkRemotely tends to have the best reviews in my opinion – but it depends on what kind of part time work you want to do. Skip UpWork entirely, it’s very hard to make it on there.

      1. Izzy*

        Someone recommended Upwork to me for free lance editing work. After I spent a lot of time creating a profile and submitted it for approval, they denied my “application” because they already had enough editors. Then they sent me an email asking if I already had clients, inviting me to join Upwork if I could bring my clients with me (so they could pay me through their platform instead of directly, and UW would get their cut). Right, why would I want to do that?

    2. anna green*

      I had a subscription to Flex Jobs for a few months when I was looking. If you can get the intro deal, its not that expensive and might be worth a try. One thing I found was that some job listings on Flex jobs are still active on that site, but when you look them up on the company site they are old and inactive. The field I was looking in didn’t end up having too many remote options so it never got me anywhere really, but I felt like I learned about different companies/jobs I wouldn’t have known about. So I think it depends on whether you can afford / get a deal on the pricing.

    3. Roja*

      I got my last job through FlexJobs. I figured I’d pay for a month’s access for $15 and if I didn’t find anything by the end at least it was only $15. I think I found the job in less than a week.

    4. Samata*

      I am commenting mainly for easy reference, but am looking for the same type work. I have a FT job but am looking remote PT jobs to gain more experience in my field, too. I have had the same questions about paying for Flex Jobs.

  3. Anonymous Educator*

    Anyone else with a humanities (or similar) background working in tech (broad umbrella term that could cover tech support, database administration, programming, etc.) experiencing imposter syndrome? How have you dealt with that?

    1. BeepBoopBeep*

      Holy Moly, I did not know there was a term for my over-dedication to my work. I went to look this up and the definition fit me to a T. I do not work in tech, so maybe my answer isn’t relevant. I am a project manager/operations director that oversees customer service and a website, so maybe it is.

      I guess I don’t deal with it- but you’ve made me reflect a little bit, so thank you. I definitely tend to judge my less-than-productive coworkers (most of the time it is justified because they never meet deadlines). I could ease up a bit though.
      Really, thank you for posting this, I was not aware of this term at all.

      1. Teapots for Llamas*

        Oh, man. I’m trying to get into a different industry, in a tech-heavy area. I’m reading job postings and terrified about this. Intellectually, I know that the jobs that I am looking at are positions that use my skills. If I get one of those jobs, I will update you on that!

    2. Turkletina*

      Yep! I work as a (say) teapots project manager. It’s a job that combines technical skills — automatically finding and correcting errors in the design and execution of the teapots, manipulating the colors and design elements that are available to the teapot builders, etc. — with project management — being in constant contact with the freelancers who build the teapots as well as the client-facing project managers, managing quality, budget, and timeline for multiple teapot-types, etc.

      I definitely have imposter syndrome related to the technical parts. Even when I’m feeling like I belong in the role, I tend to frame my skills as “I’m really good at writing a script to find structural problems with the teapots, but that’s too specific and not a real skill that people are hiring for”. That’s maybe strictly speaking true, but in another job I’m sure I could learn quickly to write a script that finds problems in coffee pots or fish tanks. I wish I could believe that!

      What actually helps me is to focus on the parts of my job that I KNOW I’m good at. I have a humanities PhD and did A LOT of teaching in grad school. So when I need to train new teapot builders and teach them about the very specific nuances of our process, I am fantastic at coming up with examples and anticipating questions. So I can tell myself that even if my technical skills are garbage (they’re not; that’s the impostor syndrome talking) I’m worth keeping around because I do have real skills that other folks with a different background might not have in the same quantity.

      If you’re coming from a humanities background, remember that knowing how to think about and approach problems from different angles is a real skill! In a lot of tech work, it’s extremely valuable to be flexible and considered in your approach, especially when it allows you to anticipate risks and problems before they arise.

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        “If you’re coming from a humanities background, remember that knowing how to think about and approach problems from different angles is a real skill! In a lot of tech work, it’s extremely valuable to be flexible and considered in your approach, especially when it allows you to anticipate risks and problems before they arise.”

        Performing arts major here, working far away from her original discipline. Thank you so much for writing this. I’m going to copy and paste your entire response and email it to myself.

        1. Turkletina*

          Aww, this made my day! I’ve struggled a lot with recognizing my own value as an employee and I’m so glad my experience can be helpful for someone else. :)

      2. Mbarr*

        This! I’m a History major, and I’ve worked in medical industries, tech industries (as a Tech Writer), and now I’m in a Finance industry. I know I lack a lot of the technical know-how my coworkers do, but I bring a much more varied skillset to the team that offsets their one-mindedness at times. Plus, you can pick up new skills along the way that you’d never learn in our Humanities education…

        1. TardyTardis*

          But history makes it easier to spot it when governments are trying to default on a bank a la Fugger et al. Then again, using a bank to finance the purchase over the Suez Canal over a quiet weekend has its charms, too.

    3. ExcelJedi*

      Oh my goodness yes. I have a research psychology background (BA & MA), and about half my job is tech/database work and the other half is analytics. Whenever I’m working on a database, I wonder if they shouldn’t just get someone with a CS degree for this (even though my work is solid and I’ve had great reviews at all the companies I’ve done this for).

    4. Higher Ed Database Dork*

      Ooooh yes. I have a BA English and I work as a database developer. I love what I do, my bosses are very pleased with me and tell me I do great work, but I constantly feel like I’m always behind in what I should know. I learned all my tech stuff on the job – I’ve had some training classes here and there, but I’ve never done anything like “IT infrastructure 101” or programming fundamentals. I feel like my knowledge gaps center around not knowing basic IT infrastructure (like basic networking/firewalls, hardware, etc), and programming best practices. I got into this work by starting out doing para-IT application support and then slowly migrated into IT proper.

      I deal with it by reminding myself that the kind of knowledge I crave comes with experience and time – and that it can be learned. What my bosses like about me are things that aren’t easily taught – a good work ethic, helpfulness, and the ability to see the big picture. We are all aware of my knowledge shortcomings, but they’ve told me time and time again they appreciate that I’m a solid, hard-working employee, and all the technical stuff can be taught. And they are teaching me, so it’s getting better.

      So when I feel like a piece of crap next to the IT dude who’s been programming since birth and knows all there is to know about IT, I just remind myself that 1) different person, different path 2) knowledge takes time to acquire 3) I have many valuable skills – skills that were developed by doing my English degree, like critical thinking – and those help me to acquire the knowledge and skills I need.

    5. Roza*

      Goodness yes! I have a social science background and got somewhat “teched up” in grad school, but just don’t have the same depth of knowledge about and comfort discussing some things that my coworkers who always studied math/engineering/physics/etc have. I’m transitioning into a tech lead role and have to manage the efforts of people I think are waaaay more qualified to be doing this than me, and it is often terrifying.

      One thing I’ve found helpful is to really focus on the teapots I’m tech lead for–rather than thinking about whether I’m the right one for the job, think entirely about how we can make this teapot line as awesome as possible and how Math Wizard Colleague X and Genius Programmer Y can make that happen. Often this involves delegating a lot of decision-making to them. At the end of the day you got this job for a reason, and if you focus on outcomes the skills that got you the job will shine!

    6. Katriona*

      YES. I work for a software company and part of the reason they hired me was my non-techy background (so I can spot things that might be confusing for end users) but when we’re in internal meetings I always feel a few steps behind. I don’t really have good advice for dealing with it, but I’ll be watching this thread with interest.

    7. Coalea*

      Not exactly what you describe, but similar! I’ve recently been assigned to a team where literally everyone else has a PhD in microbiology, molecular biology, biochemistry, etc. I have a BS in a social science and an MPH. The last “hard science” course I took was biology when I was in high school back in the 1990s. I feel woefully inadequate! I try to focus on the things I do well, and volunteer for tasks where my background won’t be a hindrance. I have been very upfront with my colleagues about my knowledge gaps and have asked for additional guidance when needed. To be honest, it kind of sucks at the moment – but I’m hopeful it will get better with time!

    8. You're Not My Supervisor*

      YES. SQL Server DBA (new to this position, formerly a Tech Writer) who has a degree in writing, of all things. I deal with this on a daily basis.

      Don’t have practical advice for you, just wanted to commiserate.

    9. Polaris*

      Not tech, but I have a History and Archives degree and feel so weird working at this law firm doing nothing related to any of my degrees.

    10. DC Limey*


      I have a Theatre Degree and I am a programmer.

      (I also have a Masters in Computer Science, though.)

    11. QA tester*

      My degree is in linguistics with minors in editing and political science but I work as a software tester and have done tech support.

      I haven’t really had much impostor syndrome, sometimes I feel a little of it when I look at the job requirements for QA jobs (both internal and external) which usually require CS degree or something; I feel like if I had applied for my current job now rather than 5 years ago I wouldn’t have gotten an interview based on the qualifications they now put in the job posting. But I love my job, just had my yearly review from my team lead and got a “consistently exceeds expectations” rating. I am well respected in my work place and got a promotion last year (with a nice raise). When I do occasionally feel that maybe I’m out of my depth I usually stop, take a breath, remind myself that while I may not know everything I am qualified for my job and that it is ok to ask questions in order to fill in the gaps of your knowledge/skills to further develop your qualifications.

    12. Hey Anonny-Nonny*

      When my imposter-brain takes over, I just write a phrase that my therapist gave me over and over. After telling her how personally invested I was in every word I wrote for work, she told me, “You know, all they want is the project done. It’s not a judgement of you or who you are. They don’t care how you feel about it. They just want it done and on their desks.”

      So, I just write, “All they want is the project done” in a word document 5-30 times and then do my best to get on with it.

      (And yes, I’m pretty much in your exact situation! It is not easy!)

    13. IT Squirrel*

      *waves* yup, massive case of it over here!

      Not humanities, but I have a design degree, then accidentally ended up doing HR support for a while, before I got my current job doing teapot security because someone left, I was interested in the job and had an aptitude for it, and it was easier/quicker for my employer to move me over and train me up than go through the hiring process!

      I had no formal tech training; everything I know has been learnt on the job and even though my employer is hugely supportive and I’ve been given lots of training, I’m still painfully aware of how much I don’t know, and how much of that is basic IT knowledge (just like Higher Ed Database Dork) which I feel like I should just know already!

    14. Zathras*

      Yup yup yup. Humanities BA, and I work in a very technical role. I just had my performance review and every year I am surprised to discover that what feels to me like flailing around blindly falling over things is perceived by my boss as me kicking ass at my job.

    15. theletter*

      yes, very similar similar situation, and I felt out of my depth, especially since, during the first year, I was often accused of not knowing how to do the job – but then that guy was fired. Turns out he didn’t know what he was doing.

      I now often meet or work with people with CS degrees who don’t know skills/tools that I’ve learned on the job.

      It’s helpful to stay fearless with new technology – a lot of stuff is new enough that people who graduated with a CS degree five years ago wouldn’t have covered it in school. A lot of stuff can be picked up with some tutorials online. I’ve found that people with humanities degrees are great at finding patterns, and great at seeing the big picture in the small details. We’re great at asking tough questions. We belong in technology – and technology needs us.

    16. AccidentalIT*

      I’m not sure if this will help you, but I have an undergraduate and a graduate degree in the humanities, and I found myself as an accidental IT professional for the field I got my graduate degree in. I *loved* it, and I was pretty good at it, even though my background was not IT. I was a very hard worker, and I guess I’m also reasonably intelligent, so I was able to figure most things out and make it work.

      But I always felt like I was holding our organization back. I never was able to let go of that. BTW my mentor, who retired and I replaced about a year after she hired me, was in the same boat, and I always sensed that she felt the same way. She was well respected though, and I have learned that I was also vwell respected.

      Anyway, I love my field and there were lots of other things I wanted to experience, and so when another position I had been eyeing came open, I took it. I had spent 5 years in IT. I was asked to assist in hiring my replacement, which I did gladly. I was disappointed that my boss did not interview a couple candidates I recommended and thought would be good because their asking price was a smidge (outside his comfort zone (but totally reasonable and worth it, he was a cheapskate), but we had a few others. ultimately IT in this org required a knowledge of IT, but a willingness to branch out and understand the particulars of the organization, which I did well. My boss ended up hiring someone who was solidly IT (I recommended very strongly hiring two candidates, the one he hired and another one in addition to this one who had more skills related to our field, and explained why…). It has not gone well. All my peers are unhappy, and I’ve heard many times that they miss me in that role.

      I don’t regret it, but I do miss it. I loved it. I love what I do now too, but I wish I had given myself more credit. A greater diversity of knowledge outside of IT actually made me better at that job than I realized.

    17. FroYoYo*

      When you do something and do it well, write it down. Review when you feel low to remind yourself you got this!

      Since you name mentions Educator, I’d also say that you should apply the growth mindset for intelligence. It’s not that some people are born good at tech and some or not. Everyone can study up to become an expert at it, including the people around you. You know more than you think, more than some, and you’ll catch up to those who know more than you.

  4. BeepBoopBeep*

    My future spouse has a job where we possibly could be moving around quite often. I have been thinking about leaving my current work environment because 1. it is stressful and toxic due to the gossipy and small nature of the company and 2. because no one takes responsibility for their own work. I have been debating searching for only remote/telecommute job openings. My experience with people working from home is that they don’t get nearly enough done, but it might just be because the people i work with are frankly, bad employees. I am worried that I am only moving from one bad situation to another. (I am a project manager/ operations director) Does anyone have remote positions with companies they like? Do they experience culture problems, or deadline issues? Are positions like this hard to get? I am also assuming remote companies to their due diligence when it comes to hiring, but someone, please, please enlighten me!!

    1. Chupalupe*

      I’m a full time remote worker and a project manager as well funnily enough! I think it helps when the entire company is fully remote (my department is 100% remote, entire company is about 80% remote) – people are held more accountable because everyone’s always focused online vs. forgetting about those out of the office. I’ve had a couple of issues with slacker coworkers, but I think no more than I’ve had at previous in-person positions. I definitely have a lot more regular “check in” meetings with colleagues (not just my boss) than other jobs which really helps keep your key contacts on the ball.

    2. Currently Job Searching*

      An important thing to consider is if you would be happy (and productive) working from home full time. Some people do very well and others feel isolated or have too many distractions.

    3. Turkletina*

      I am a remote project manager, and I love it. We don’t have deadline issues (though we’re a global team in a global company, so sometimes “Thursday” means different things to different people). I wouldn’t really say that we have culture issues, either. It can be hard to get to know people, and it takes a long time to really feel like you’re part of the team (with a full understanding of how other folks fit into the team, too), but I’m honestly not sure how to avoid that in remote work.

      I went through a pretty normal hiring process. I had interviewed (via Skype) for a different remote position that I wasn’t a great fit for. When my position became available, they reached out to me and asked if I was interested in interviewing. I went through two Skype interviews (with my direct manager, the director of our department, and another manager), did a technical assessment that took about 2 hours, and responded to some written situational questions. They asked me a lot of questions about whether I thought I could thrive in a remote position, and were very honest about the challenges of working from home. I think that any reasonable company will be consciously looking for someone who’s suited to remote work.

    4. Emmie*

      A significant portion of my coworkers and I are remote. It does not feel any different from my last position where I was mostly in office with 2 days remote. I still never met people in person who were a few floors down from my desk when I was in the office. The biggest thing, as someone else pointed out, is if you are suited for remote work yourself. It is isolating. You have to make significantly more effort to collaborate with your coworkers, so they know you are present and available for work. You must build your reputation when others won’t see your work, or see you personally. It is very difficult to turn off my work when it’s in my home. I love my job. But, some people have a glorified vision of what WFH is really like.

      1. NacSacJack*

        This – It is very difficult to turn work off. My work desk is in my basement across from my couch and TV. I’ve come to realize this week that I have been avoiding watching TV because when I’m down there I can see my computer, which I usually leave on (locked, of course). This is very annoying to me and adds to my stress.

    5. Leela*

      I’ve worked in several offices that do lots of remote (or even all under certain circumstances) employment. My impression is: individuals can totally function as well at home as they do in the office (although don’t always), but the team will never reach its maximum potential this way. There are things that just don’t get brought up naturally when everyone’s remote, and that sense of connection never builds as much as it could.

      I love having the option to work from home if there’s an appointment/something that needs to be done, especially now that many people don’t have the luxury of living that close to where they work, but I don’t prefer working that way and I don’t think it’s wise to have a fair amount of the team work this way either.

    6. Hey Anonny-Nonny*

      It really depends on what you do. For me, WFH is invaluable since I can just turn off the internet connection when I need a 2-3 hour block of time to concentrate (with advance warning, of course), and blast through the majority of my work in that time. But, I work in tech and we don’t really communicate face-to-face anyway; everyone uses chatting apps, even if you’re sitting right next to the other person…so WFH fits the office culture to a T!

    7. SJPufendork*

      Ah! This is one I can contribute on. I am actually an operations director in IT. I’ve managed various configurations of remote teams for going on 20 years. My current group is 10 people and everyone (including me) is 100% remote. we are the only 100% remote group in the large multinational who do our type of work and, based on current measurements, we are the 2nd most productive. I love it.

      The biggest challenges hiring wise is finding people who are 100% committed to working from home and understand that this means we have to be wholly cognizant of deadlines and productivity. So, I try to only hire people who have previous WFH experience and I want people who believe that they can be more productive both individual and as a team working that way. Anyone who thinks that people or groups will always get more work done in an office isn’t someone I want working for me.

      The other “soft” thing I probe for when I’m hiring is communication skills. Since we’re all remote, we all need to be prompt with emails, assertive in status reports, and willing to pick up the phone. If someone has a problem or question, they have to be willing to raise it proactively and not wait for me to ask “what is the status of the X?”

      Based on what I see, the positions are indeed out there and, at least in my experience, compensated very well. The biggest challenge I see is finding out who has them and what level they are hiring at (all of my folks have 15+ years of experience).

    8. HelenofWhat*

      I’ve had mostly or partly remote jobs at varying points in my career, and I’m moving into one where I’ll be remote with the option of working from an office not far from home. I really like escaping the commute! I can take breaks to stretch on a yoga mat by my desk or sweep the floor while I contemplate an issue. Video calls are a possibility so I still shower & dress. I’ve never had an issue with me or coworkers getting things done. Of course, I’ve had very visible assignments and would have had a tough time not doing things like updating the website or answering help tickets that others on the team could see. The more transparent the work is, the more likely people are going to hold themselves accountable. You also hope people are ambitious and excited about the work they’re doing.
      I also liked my teammates a lot, we chatted on instant messages often and advised one another and shared gifs & funny customer stories. Since you’re a project manager, I imagine your job involves a lot of conversations with others, so hopefully that minimizes isolation. When interviewing, keep an eye out for signs of dysfunction and ask lots of questions about how people communicate and what expectations are around evaluations and accountability.
      Definitely check out the recent thread about making remote work tolerable. You’ll want to think about the whole “not being required to go outside” thing.

  5. Bad Job Refugee*

    My last job was a short term job that went badly. Long story short, my boss said some racist things and I made an HR complaint. That made my boss go ballistic and tell the rest of management I was making BS complaints because I was a low performer. HR wasn’t acting on my boss being a lunatic, so I found a new job and quit on the spot.

    The problem is that my new job is a couple of blocks up the street from my old job. So I’ve run into former co-workers a few times. I’m not comfortable with telling them the entire story about what happened with my boss, so what should I do?

    1. K.*

      I would just stick to polite pleasantries and keep it moving. If they ask why you left, keep it vague. “I found a new opportunity.”

      1. Bad Job Refugee*

        Cool. That’s what I’ve been doing, if I talk to people. Sometimes I keep my head down and leave my headphones on, but other times I say something generic like “it’s too bad it didn’t work out at Acme Co, but I found a new job that I’m really happy at. Everything good with you?”

        1. K.*

          I think that’s a fine response! Doesn’t go into more detail than you want to share, and changes the subject.

        2. Doodle*

          This seems totally fine, especially if accompanied by the shrug I described below. “It’s too bad it didn’t work out” is delightfully neutral phrasing.

    2. Doodle*

      I think there are two basic strategies:

      One is to tell the truth, but a more limited version of it. “I wasn’t comfortable with the way HR handled a complaint.” or “I made an HR complaint when Bob said ‘X’ and ‘Y’…” and then trail off and let them figure out the rest.

      The other is to treat it like you would in a job interview — say almost nothing bad about the old job. “Oh, yeah, I miss y’all at Teapots, Inc. too [even if you only miss that coworker], but I’m really excited about my new job glazing for Teapots R Us.”

      Just remember that the co-workers don’t need the whole story — they probably just miss you. But if you do think that knowing that they work for an unrepentant racist is good for them, it might be valuable to give them some version of the truth.

      1. Natalie*

        I like your first suggestion. I understand not wanting to get into it, but personally I would be concerned that Boss was spreading around a lot of garbage and negatively affected my reputation. Mentioning the HR issue at least gives them a clue that there was more going on than just you supposedly being a poor performer. And it’s perfectly professional and factual.

        1. Bad Job Refugee*

          You’re right. My old boss may be trashing my reputation at the old company; that’s a legitimate concern and I worry a little bit about it.

          But I’m not that worried about it, because 1) I was there for less than half a year, so I don’t even need to put the job on my resume, and 2) it was one of those megacorps where people tend to spend their entire careers, which really cuts down on the number of people who will ever hear about it. It sucks that I’m probably informally blacklisted from working there again, but I’ll be able to have a decent career in spite of that.

          Also I think I mentioned it in another comment but he actually emailed a bunch of people to say I lied to HR about him to cover up for being bad at my job. So anyone who’s reasonable will sympathize with me, and anyone who’s not reasonable was always a lost cause anyway.

          1. Natalie*

            I mean, people do talk to folks at other companies and reputation can matter beyond just getting hired somewhere. But since he was very public with his nuttiness I think you’re probably right that pretty much everyone that witnessed it can figure out who’s the poor performer here.

            1. Bad Job Refugee*

              You’re right. But what can I do about it?

              If he really wants to covertly tell people I suck, or I make fake/vexatious HR complaints, I don’t see what I can do about it. Unless someone directly tells me “we didn’t hire you because your old boss says you make fake HR complaints.” Is that overly defeatist?

              A couple of people at that company were sympathetic, and I figure that if I absolutely needed to get some sort of reference from it, I would plead my case to them.

    3. Naptime Enthusiast*

      How much do they know from your former boss’ POV? If they don’t know anything, you could be very vague and say you couldn’t pass up this other opportunity. If they know there was drama of some kind, you could say there were some personality clashes that weren’t going to go away, so you looked for other opportunities instead.

      1. Bad Job Refugee*

        I think most people actually know.

        After I made my complaint, my boss sent an email to everyone in management saying I was trying to make excuses for being a low performer. And, he CC’d me on the email. That’s why I said he was “being a lunatic.”

        Unfortunately most of the office kept their heads down or fell in line behind him. He’s one of those people with a reputation of being a temperamental rockstar. Can be really difficult to work with, but so much knowledge that he’s never going to see any blowback for weird/bad behavior. Unless he punched someone in the office or something.

        I don’t want to bring it up again though, because I don’t want to get a reputation as a weird bitter former worker.

        1. Doodle*

          If people actually know (and reasonably should know that their boss is not. a. good. guy.) then I think my advice changes a little. You can definitely do the “excited to work at new company” bit, but it might seem like you’re overcompensating. For people you actually care about, I’d sort of shrug and tilt my head and say, “Oh, you know” or “Yeah, what ya gonna do?” and then change the subject. Kind of a “wink wink” that shows that you know the boss is badmouthing you, but you’ve moved on?

          And then you can transition to talking about the new job, or the weather, or that new flavor of scone, or whatever.

          1. Bad Job Refugee*

            So most of the people in that office were lifers. They were either with the company for 10+ years or 10-15 years older than me. A lot of people who knew about what went down adopted an attitude of “this kid needs to toughen up.”

            Honestly I don’t think it’s worth interacting with those particular guys if I run into them. They’re going to have negative feelings about me no matter what. Might as well say “I’m okay, in a rush. See ya.” if I need to say anything at all

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Not something to say out loud, but the rebuttal to “this kid needs to tough up” is “you need to expect a professional behavior in a workplace” (OR “If you wanna work in a s-hole, you have that prerogative and I will not interfere there.”)
              The toughen up thing is pretty lame, worse yet, it’s a crutch for allowing abusive behaviors to continue rather than calling people out on their behavior. These people are tending to perpetuate the problem.

              1. Bad Job Refugee*

                Yeah. I didn’t bother saying anything because I didn’t think a response would improve anything. My internal reaction was “okay, this is proof that this job can’t work out. Need to resign myself to that now to make it easy and hopefully avoid extended unemployment.”

        2. hbc*

          I don’t think you’ll get a reputation as bitter if you can say something calmly that is entirely believable. “He said some racist things, HR backed him up, and it became clear I wasn’t going to be happy there.”

          But if you’re worried, you can be more vague without it being a problem.

    4. Murphy*

      You can tell them that you don’t want to get into it and you’re trying to move on. You can say it a friendly way. “Oh, let’s not get into all that. I’m glad that’s over now!”

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Anecdotally, whenever people suggest real zinger comebacks in the comments here, they strike everyone else as bad ideas that convey the opposite of the “I’m beyond this” intended.

      I would channel old Miss Manners’s advice to the person who did not initiate the divorce–conveying that you are quietly pleased at the way things turned out is going to beat any in depth explanation of why the other party stinks, any zinger, etc. “Boss and I just weren’t going to see eye to eye” if it comes up.

      1. Bad Job Refugee*

        Yeah, I keep up with a guy who left another old job. While he’s smart, happy, and had legit grievances with the place we worked together, he just sounds so transparently bitter whenever we talk about that company.

        that’s why I want to keep it brief and pleasant. I’m glad that “I’m OK, found a new job I like, I hope you’re OK too” is generally seen as acceptable.

      2. Lissa*

        The thing with the zingers is that in my experience, they rarely have the intended effect. The audience is usually confused, uncomfortable or annoyed depending on the situation. It’s a nice fantasy but wouldn’t be all that satisfying in practise most of the time.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think you need to tell them anything. If anyone specifically asks, then I think something like “I raised concerns with HR about some unacceptable behaviour, and chose to leave as a result of the response” – and then firmly changing the subject, would be fine.

      I also think you would be OK to say “Why do you ask?” – if it seems they are just gossiping or trying to make conversation, you can just say, “It was an unpleasant situation and I’d rather not discuss it”, if there is another reason, for instance they are themselves being bullied or suffering retaliation then you might at that point decide to tell them a little more – it’s possible that someone might ask because they were in a similar situation and wanted advice

    7. KR*

      Maybe something like, “Oh it’s a long story but my current job is going great! I have to go finish a TPS report/head home/get to a meeting.”

  6. Anonymous Lady*

    Lately, I’ve found myself wondering where the line is between coincidence and systemic discrimination. I’m a woman in a male-dominated field, and I don’t like to play the gender card because I realize that women have it better now than ever before. When I was younger and more naive, I actually believed that gender discrimination was mostly a thing of the past, but I’ve increasingly come to notice the subtle ways it’s still a widespread issue.

    I’ve been in my job for five years, and in that time there have been 12 managers in my department (including my boss and grand-boss). Only one was a woman, and she was demoted to a non-management position four years ago — not for performance reasons but because of a company-wide downsizing. She was replaced by a man from another department whose position had been eliminated. Ok, so it’s a male-dominated field, and I’m sure there are more male candidates than female, but 11 consecutive male managers seems like more than a coincidence.

    My company talks the talk about diversity and equal opportunity, and I’m fairly sure that nobody is consciously deciding to discriminate against women, but I strongly suspect that they are subconsciously biased. When a manager is hired, there is a strict hiring process that is intended to be fair to all candidates. The hiring process, however, takes several months, so an interim manager (chosen at the whim of the hiring manager) is appointed in the meantime. By the time the hiring decision is made, the interim manager has a leg up on everyone else because he now has several months of management experience. Unless he has done a horrible job, it would be foolish of the hiring manager to choose anyone else for the position. In the last five years, 100% of the appointed interim managers have been male and 100% of them have been selected for the permanent position.

    This has been bothering me more lately because I have started to try to move into management, and I feel as though I am not getting a fair shake. Three times in the past year, one of my peers, Joe, was offered the opportunity to become interim manager, and he declined it all three times. Coincidentally (or not), our grand-boss is good friends with Joe and wants to help him follow in his footsteps. Although I’ve expressed interest in a management position (I applied for the permanent position the last two times there was an opening), I haven’t been offered the interim position. I have twice as much experience as Joe and better performance in every measurable way, but he is considered to have better “soft skills” than I do (for example, he is often praised for showing leadership by pushing back on management decisions, but wouldn’t you know, when I do that I’m just an abrasive shrew).

    I certainly can’t prove that I’m not getting the same chances as men just because I’m a woman, and I’m sure management has what they believe are good reasons for their selections every time they appoint a man as an interim manager, but I am really starting to think that when it’s time for them to select an interim manager, it doesn’t even occur to them to choose a woman because women don’t fit their mental image of a manager. But if I even raise the issue of gender discrimination, everyone is going to say that I’m trying to get an unfair advantage by playing the gender card!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Well, if there is systemic discrimination (subconscious or not) against women in a male-dominated work environment, that would be quite typical and definitely not the exception to the rule. In fact, your workplace would have to go out of its way to fight society’s scripts.

      But if I even raise the issue of gender discrimination, everyone is going to say that I’m trying to get an unfair advantage by playing the gender card!

      This itself is already systemic discrimination. Men can feel that their gripes are legitimate, because they’re individuals, but you have to feel your gripes are not legitimate because of your gender. Do you have any male co-workers who are woke-ish, who can help you identify and work on problems? Perhaps that would take some of the emotional labor off of you and also get rid of this idea that fighting sexism is only looking out for your self-interest.

      1. Anonymous Lady*

        I don’t think any of the men would really support me on this, because it’s not overt discrimination, and they probably have the same view that I did before I was really in the middle of it — that women get the same opportunities as men nowadays. I have heard men making comments about women who have been promoted, like, “She got the job because she has big boobs,” or “She fills a quota.” It is also true that many of the women here expect and get some special treatment, like getting men to do tasks they don’t want to do, and some of the men are already bitter about that (“She can just bat her eyelashes at the IT guy and he’ll print the TPS cover sheet for her.”). Incidentally, I am unattractive, so I do not get any advantage by batting my eyelashes at men or wearing a low-cut shirt.

        1. WellRed*

          If you work in a place where a. men make such comments, b. women do take certain advantages (not clear if that’s the case or its the men complaining unfairly again) and c. it has you making comments about batting your eyelashes, then you work in a place that is messed up and probably does have more overt discrimination then you realize. I mean, you know these throwback back comments about boobs aren’t a thing at most decent companies, right?

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          If men say these sorts of things at your workplace, that isn’t subconcious discrimination, that’s quite overt gender discrimination and borderline sexual harassment (particular the 1st and 3rd remarks):

          “She got the job because she has big boobs”
          “She fills a quota”
          “She can just bat her eyelashes at the IT guy and he’ll print the TPS cover sheet for her”

          I would say if you don’t want to take any immediate action because of fear or retaliation (which is illegal, but it’s a real thing that happens), at the very least document everything big or small that bothers you, with exact dates/times, locations, and who said what and what people’s reactions were. You may never use that for anything, but if you need it, you’ll have it. And it may even be just for your own sanity that you aren’t imagining things.

          1. Anonymous Lady*

            Well, the people who have said these things are non-management employees. I have never heard anyone in management (i.e., anyone with any hiring authority) make this type of comment. The comment about big boobs has been said about one specific female manager who, quite frankly, I don’t think was qualified for the job. However, a man with a similar lack of qualifications was hired for a similar position a short time later, and nobody suggested it had anything to do with his looks!

            1. Anonymous Educator*

              But whether they’re in management or not, their comments contribute to the work environment and culture.

            2. Science!*

              Even though the comments are coming from non-management employees doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. A lot of a company’s culture comes from the top, I bet they’ve heard that before because they seem pretty comfortable saying those things. At the very least they have (pretty) good reason to believe that saying “she fills a quota” won’t get them in trouble.

            3. Natalie*

              I’m not sure if you’ve heard the phrase “hostile work environment” before – it gets used incorrectly a lot, but you’re describing an actual one. It is a category of unlawful discrimination. It does not have to come from management, but management has a responsibility (legally and morally) to put a stop to it.

            4. KTM*

              Yikes. If ANYONE said that at our company there would be major repercussions and likely a firing. I feel like from some of your comments you may have been normalized to a lot of things that are Not. Okay. due to your particular workplace experience.

            5. neverjaunty*

              Anonymous, it’s heartbreaking, isn’t it? To think it’s 2018, and you know you can do the work, and you have a mentor who’s sort of helping you, and wanting to find reasons you’re being passed over when Joe gets a free hand up and the dudes are making sexist comments and…

              It’s tempting to wish that maybe your workplace is different and you’re overreacting, because if that’s true, you can maybe control the outcome and you still have a shot. I’m sorry to say that it isn’t and you can’t, not at this place.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Keeping a log book at home is a great idea. Write down a few of the things that happen each day. Trust your gut to pick the correct things to write about. Over a period of weeks you should notice patterns as you review your log book.

            I did this with a toxic boss. The first thing that happened was she dialed back on her behaviors, I guess she could “smell” the log book or something? The next thing that happened was I started seeing patterns in her chaos. She was fond of saying, “I never said that.” So I decided to repeat back instructions to her the moment she gave them. Later when she told me she never said to do x, I would say, “This is why I repeated it back to you and you said, “Yes, do x.”

            I went through numerous other problems in a similar manner. It won’t take long for the patterns of behaviors to jump out at you. I would build a plan to deal with that particular behavior. You may decide it’s not a fight worth fighting or you may decide to do something about it.

            1. Natalie*

              With this kind of group, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out “flirting with IT” is actually just being normal level polite or possibly even churlish but in possession of breasts.

              1. Zathras*

                Or standing there while the IT guy flirts inappropriately with you, because putting up with it is the only way to get what you need.

        3. Temperance*

          That’s straight up overt sexism. The default at your workplace is that men are qualified, and that women flash their boobs to get what they want. Women at your shitty org are just “quota fillers” or undeserving.

          I might be tempted to point out that, sure, Jane flirts with Bob in IT to do tasks, but John the Manager keeps giving Joe opportunities because they’re golfing buddies or whatever. See how they respond.

        4. She Persisted*

          @Anonymous Lady, if the quotes you list here from your male co-workers are accurate, you could very well be in a “hostile work environment”. I’ve linked to the EEOC page on this in my username. Here’s the info from their website (I’ve bolded what I feel applies to your situation):

          “Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation,ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:

          The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
          The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
          Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.

          I strongly encourage you to start documenting these “comments” privately. Record dates, times, names and a description of the incident. Then spend some time reviewing both the legal definition of hostile work environment and your company’s written policies regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. If you choose to lodge a complaint, you will need to follow all of the companies reporting procedures (even if they refuse to) whether you choose to keep your complaint within the company or file a public complaint with your city/state civil rights office.

          Your promotion situation is at best questionable and, at worst, heinous. However, you will have a very hard time proving discrimination without more direct evidence like an email outlining why you were not selected for a promotion or someone on the hiring committee making an overtly sexist comment within earshot of several witnesses. In my opinion, you won’t get very far with this complaint as presented so far (even though I completely agree with you that this is discrimination, intentional or not) and risk damaging your reputation with the company.

          I’m sorry you’ve found yourself in this situation. I wish you luck on getting the promotion you deserve.

    2. Temperance*

      Have you had a chat with your boss about your interest in one of the interim management positions, and asked what you can do to get one? I might then slide in there that Joe is getting a lot of opportunities that you would also like.

      1. LKW*

        This – women are coached to believe that hard work is all that it takes for a merit based promotion. Men are coached to tell management what they want. So if men are in leadership positions and they are following the established pattern that people who want to move up ask to move up, then by not asking then they have no idea that you want it. A good mentor/manager will ask people – “What do you want” or they’ll say “I think you can do this.” but again, if these guys haven’t seen this behavior, then it might not occur to them to follow a different way of managing.

        1. ket*

          While I agree, the poster says she’s applied twice for these management positions. It is striking that Joe is chased down even though he’s stated out loud that he is unwilling, and the poster will get a line like, “You never said you were interested! I thought those two written applications for the position were just…. … … you fake-saying you were interested…?”

    3. LCL*

      Looking at it from outside, it seems your company is using the interim manager positions to game the hiring process and hire who they want. Hopefully someone with experience on how to deal with this institutionally will post with real advice. My only suggestion is to stop worrying about what other people say about playing the gender card. When you raise the issue about discrimination, raise it in a way that has a better chance of success. That way is what the other posters will provide, I hope.

    4. Lynca*

      When you say you have expressed interest, have you directly discussed moving into management as a goal with your boss? In my job that’s a discussion we do have with our supervisors. And that discussion boils down to what do you need to do in order to be considered? I might even ask why I wasn’t considered and talk proactively about professional development to help me be considered in the future.

      Also the big problem I run into is mentorship. My bosses don’t tend to mentor the female staff, only the male staff. There are also few opportunities in my field for mentorship for women or at my current job.

      1. Anonymous Lady*

        Yes, I have discussed moving into management specifically as a professional development goal. My manager has given me advice/things to do (he had me take a management aptitude test, gave me a book to read, had me meet with a career development specialist in HR, made me the lead on a project so I can develop leadership skills), but none of it has given me any more opportunities. Also, Joe did not do any of this before he was offered the interim manager position (although he has taken the management aptitude test since then).

        1. LKW*

          Yeah – I made a comment before I saw this so yeah -it’s time to move on. You are working with a bunch of bigots.

        2. As Close As Breakfast*

          It sounds like 2 problems at this point. 1) Your grand-boss’s relationship with Joe is (almost assuredly) resulting in Joe getting opportunities (that he may or may not deserve, I mean really, even if he deserves it, why do they keep offering him the position after he’s turned it down several times?) 2) After Joe has turned it down, then the (not so) overt sexism is coming into play when they are offering the position to the next choice. The ‘Joe’ part of this definitely sounds like a combo friend-potism and underlying sexism.

        3. StrikingFalcon*

          Would your boss be willing to be the person to put your name in front of the higher ups and push for why you are qualified? I read an excellent article recently (Why Men Still Get More Promotions Than Women, by the Havard Business Review) that showed that it’s not that women lack mentors, it’s that they lack sponsors – people willing to put their name in front of the decision makers. Joe obviously has one. Link in the name.

    5. Buffy*

      I believe there absolutely is! In fact, I’m taking a graduate course now on Women and Leadership and it is CHOCK FULL of research that demonstrates the impacts you’re speaking of. (Did you know that women make up 50% of middle managers but only 3% of the positions higher?)

    6. Tuxedo Cat*

      I’ve faced this to some extent, except I didn’t bother raising the issue. I had already raised an issue (with some colleagues) regarding race and that was met horribly. We used the kind of language people suggest in this blog, and it was met really badly. This was higher ed, in an office that allegedly was for equitable education.

      I think some of other folks here will probably have good advice on scripts you can use if you want to raise the issue. My personal suggestion would be that if you are interested in management and moving up, is that you find a job at another company and one that supports women. Even in male-dominated fields, those companies can exist.

    7. neverjaunty*

      It is not “playing the gender card” to wonder if you are experiencing sexism, open or otherwise. (The greatest trick an unfair society ever played was teaching us to gaslight ourselves.)

      I am not aware of any male-dominated profession that is free of bias, let alone unconscious bias. Don’t doubt yourself; let yourself see what’s right in front of you. These dudes may intellectually think women are capable, and they’ll blab about “diversity” to their last breath, but they’ll always find some “logical” reason to justify their own bias.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      It sounds like you work for my former company. Huge international company paying lip service to diversity and yet staffed to an extreme degree with white males at all levels of management. The telling thing is how it makes the news when they promote a woman or minority to a leadership role. The other telling thing is how layoffs seem to affect women/minorities more than white males (not just the one I was involved with, but my own group’s diversity percentage went way down after mine). I had 13 first level managers and 5 second level managers during my decade-long stint – only one was a minority, zero were female.

      So, yeah. It continues to be an uphill battle until the percentage near the top starts moving toward 50% male/female and much more representative for minorities.

    9. Kj*

      Might you do better by looking for a management position outside your company? Frankly, your company/department seems to suck at equality. Thus, I’d suggest you update your resume and start looking for other opportunities at other companies. I might also be sure you are involved in your professional society and try to get some leadership roles there. I also might seek out a mentor who is in a leadership role in your field.

      You shouldn’t HAVE to do any of this. But from experience, sometimes leaving is the only way to get the pay and promotion you deserve. I sadly have found if you suggest that sexism is at the root of something people do, they get defensive and that won’t help you at work. I think you need to leave.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        And even it’s not sexism (it is sexism), if people have you slotted as “not management material,” you definitely have to go somewhere else for the promotion.

        1. Anonymous Lady*

          Yes, that is part of my dilemma. It seems that I have been labeled as “not management material,” but I don’t know if that’s because I’m legitimately not management material or if there’s a discriminatory aspect to it. Maybe if there were a woman here who had more management potential, she would get the opportunities. There are a couple of men in my department who apply for every promotion and never get an opportunity, either, and from my perspective, it’s for obvious reasons — they are poor performers with bad attitudes (they will only do the bare minimum they can get away with) — but they are always surprised and think it’s unfair when they don’t get promoted. I would look pretty stupid if I made accusations about discrimination when everybody else thinks there’s a legitimate reason I’m not getting promoted. I don’t think that’s the case, because I know I’m regarded as a top performer, and management has no problem giving me more responsibility in my current role, and I scored pretty well on the management aptitude test, but I can’t really be sure that there’s not a legitimate thing holding me back.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            In this case? It’s definitely discriminatory! But you don’t have to make accusations and you can still look for a job elsewhere, no? When you get a better job somewhere else, that will be the proof for you.

          2. RainyKeyboard*

            Personally, I would talk to your manager about the specific, most recent role and push him on why you were not put in as interim. Then I would continue to press for specifics about what it’s going to take to get you there and every time you see another person chosen, ask why you were not considered. Finally, I would candidly ask him if he thinks there is a path for women into management in this organization? Cite statistics (ex: 50% of jr level employees are women, but 95% of the executive team are men). Express your concern about the process from opening – to interim – to promotion could be a barrier for women. And…see what he says. Essentially you are asking him to examine what he has always considered the status quo and to articulate where/if you are falling short in your work. This isn’t a one and done conversation.

            The reality is that there likely is sexism going on, and unfortunately as a female leader, I have experienced some degree of this in every organization I have ever worked for. In my experience, pushing on specifics helps. What also helps is seeking advice/advocacy from other female leaders, especially if they have been lucky enough to break into the top.

          3. As Close As Breakfast*

            I get what you’re laying down. It’s like pre-imposter syndrome! But it truly sounds like you at least have potential for management potential! And here is why I think so:
            1. You’re actually wondering if you do. This is a level of self awareness that many people lack.
            2. When you expressed your interest to your boss, he didn’t shut you down. True, his advice and actions haven’t gotten you anywhere, but it doesn’t sound like he tried to dissuade you. Doesn’t sound like the HR specialist shut you down either.
            3. You have been given more responsibility, including project leadership experience. If that project went well (or even just ok) that’s a good sign.
            The only way you’ll ever really know is to get the opportunity to do it, right? And it seriously sounds like you will need to look elsewhere for that opportunity. Try to remember, that if you get a management job offer, at the very least it means that they think you have management potential!

    10. Lora*

      “Only one was a woman, and she was demoted to a non-management position four years ago — not for performance reasons but because of a company-wide downsizing. She was replaced by a man from another department whose position had been eliminated.”
      “In the last five years, 100% of the appointed interim managers have been male and 100% of them have been selected for the permanent position.”
      “I have twice as much experience as Joe and better performance in every measurable way, but he is considered to have better “soft skills” than I do (for example, he is often praised for showing leadership by pushing back on management decisions, but wouldn’t you know, when I do that I’m just an abrasive shrew).”

      Your company is indeed biased. Whether they intend to be biased or not is irrelevant, the fact is they are acting in ways which result in biased outcomes. It sounds from your other comments that you are not going to get ahead at the company; your manager may be giving you well-meaning, reasonable advice, but if you do the things that are supposed to put you in line for a management position and then none of those things actually yield a management position and Unqualified McN00b gets the job without doing any of that, then yeah, your manager is essentially blowing you off.

      You’ll probably have better luck being hired into a management role at another company. And I guarantee the folks at your current company will be surprised when that happens.

      First job out of grad school was at a huge company you’ve heard of. I had the most technical projects of anyone in the department, and then was told I was somehow not technical enough. After one of my very successful projects which was supposed to be a rockstar project got killed by senior management, they offered a male colleague a project with a promise that this would make him a rockstar. He said he wouldn’t take it because 1) he was overloaded already and 2) he frankly didn’t believe them about the rockstar thing. They were aghast and said “but but but this is a very hot field right now with–” and he replied, I saw what you did to Lora’s project and that was bullsh!t, no way. Of course, “oh but it would be different FOR YOU!” Really? Why would it be different for a man?!? Hmmmm?

      My next job was in a management role. My direct manager was not surprised but senior management was. Why, I don’t even have an MBA! What is this sorcery?!?

    11. Bacon pancakes*

      Ugh. That is super frustrating! I am also a woman in a male-dominated profession. Until recently, I was the only full-time, permanent female on staff in an office of 10. Recently another woman joined full-time, perm… the secretary. Who was employed for almost 20 years as a seasonal clerk, then as part-time only. I have sat in my office and listened to people voice their displeasure about me being hired (my job requires a BS. You don’t have one so stop saying you should have my job) and that I am not qualified (I also have a MS and six years of field experience. I am qualified). Our customer base regularly acts surprised when I answer the phone as the Head Llama Wrangler and I have had more than one ask to speak to “one of the guys” or “when (guy) gets in from the field tell him to give me a call”. It is frustrating.

    12. A tester, not a developer*

      I wrote a long and detailed reply, but then IE ate it, so here’s the short version…

      My company has put in a mentoring program specifically to link up women and/or minorities with our (white, male) senior leadership. There’s been recognition that a lot of promotion in our organization comes from one senior person telling another about ‘how great a guy Joe is’. Sadly, a lot of them seem to think that if they mentor a man, everyone knows it’s professional, but if they speak positively about a woman, it must be because they have pantsfeelings for them. Eww…

      Maybe if you approached it as looking to create a more formal mentorship program, that would help you and other women get a toehold in the interim manager/ ‘I know a guy…’ network?

    13. Thlayli*

      It seems like there is a mix of reasons why there are more men in management positions. Some are not discriminatory (male – dominated field means there are simply more men) and some are discriminatory (man being applauded for good leadership when woman doing same thing is accused of being an abrasive shrew). If you want to address this you need to make sure you steer clear of blanket accusations that can be explained away by non-discriminatory reasons and focus on the discriminatory ones. For example don’t say “my last 12 bosses have been men” because that doesn’t prove anything and can potentially be explained by a combination of the high male/female ratio and random probability. Also in my experience and in general women are more likely to choose to let their career take a back seat when their kids are young. For example taking long maternity leaves or career breaks, working shorter hours etc.this is of course a valid lifestyle choice (I myself took 2.5 years off when I had my kids) but it absolutely impacts your career and contributes to the lower number of women in management positions.

      If you decide to raise it in a general manner, rather than specific to you yourself you can frame it something like “20% of our llama groomers are female. But only 5% of llama grooming managers are female. I am concerned that this may be a symptom of unconscious bias among the selection committees.”

      But you can definitely address the specifics that relate to you personally. For example “I’ve noticed that there is a tendency for people to applaud male colleagues for pushing back on management decisions, however when female colleagues including myself have pushed back on a management decision We have been criticised for it (examples).”

      Also, I don’t know if someone actually called you an abrasive shrew either to your face or behind your back, or if you were you exaggerating, but if that was actually said then I think you should absolutely raise that with HR. That is an unacceptable thing to say about a colleague and is a sexist insult.

      I haven’t read the other responses since I’m low on time today so apologies for any duplication.

      1. Anonymous Lady*

        No, nobody has actually called me an abrasive shrew (not that I’ve heard, anyway), but I do pick up on that attitude when I question something — as though any response I get is just to appease me, as opposed to a response to Joe where they actually address his concern. And although I make sure to be respectful when questioning something, I have had comments on my performance review saying that I have been disrespectful towards management, although they cannot give me any specific examples.

        1. Lora*

          “I have had comments on my performance review saying that I have been disrespectful towards management, although they cannot give me any specific examples.”

          YES. They should be able to give examples, and the examples should be pretty clear cut.

          Have gotten quite a bit of hand-waving “oh you have sharp elbows” at jobs where I was being perfectly professional but requesting data to support a given conclusion rather than some rando’s feelings about it. Also have gotten attitude about treating a manager higher in rank *as an equal*: literally, I said, “in my experience, when I did this at MegaCorporation it’s actually been XYZ, can you explain how you got ABC?”

          You aren’t going to win at this company. Look elsewhere, you’ve been in Piggyland long enough.

        2. GG Two shoes*

          I know you said that they say he has better, “soft skills than you” have you ever asked them to clarify that? I would be interested to hear the answer to, “I would like to move into management and I know that you said before you thought Joe has soft skills I don’t have. I would love some suggestions on how to improve on this. It important for my career that I can grow and I feel like I don’t have that opportunity right now.” Then, depending on the answer, you could see pretty clearly if it’s legitimate (some folks- of both genders- do need to work on soft skills) or if it’s a gendered response. If it’s gendered, you could do the “play dumb” role- as in make him explain, in detail, how your soft skills aren’t as good as Joe’s. It could clearly be a bias that he doesn’t realize he has until he is there explaining it to you in real time.

          I’ve seen this work when someone says, “oh I thought you would want to do that” i.e. help clean up, take notes,etc. Then you say, “oh, why is that?” They probably won’t say, “because you are a woman” they will try to think of a different reason and when they come up blank it makes them realized they were showing gender bias.

        3. designbot*

          One thing to remember about general broad-based comments about attitude and soft skills is that they can be true and still be gendered. For example I got called ‘prickly’ in a performance review, and I felt like I could see where that was coming from, it felt like a criticism I should own. However as weeks and months went by, I realized that yes I am a bit prickly, but so are plenty of other people (men) who manage to succeed just fine here. I think it’s fine to address this in some ways, like say “it was my impression that management usually values feedback, but somehow my feedback is being taken in a different way than say Joe’s. His seems appreciated and acted upon, but mine is dismissed and now I’m hearing that you value me less because of it. Can you help me understand the reason for this different reaction?”

          1. ket*

            The difficulty with some of the responses here (on getting more feedback on what needs to be changed in the poster before she’ll be “management material”) is that because she’s the one asking, there will always be something new that needs to be changed. There’s a lot of research that shows that people change the criteria for a job based on the demographics of who applies. You can look up “constructed criteria” to find some studies on this. The writer needs to change companies, or she needs to push so hard they can’t deny her. The soft approach of, “what can I work on?” will lead higher-ups to every-more-convoluted post hoc justification of why she’s not management material, and the only way to cut through that will be to document, document, document everything including criteria for promotion for others and then threaten a lawsuit. I’ll post links to some studies in my next comment.

            1. designbot*

              That’s why I wouldn’t recommend ‘what can I work on?’ We can ALL work on something. The key to me is understanding why the things they tell her to work on are holding her back, when they haven’t held back others.

            2. Oilpress*

              I agree, and I vote for changing companies. If she concludes that she is being discriminated against then it’s time to leave. Why stick around for more punishment?

    14. Mbarr*

      It’s called the Glass Elevator effect – men get pushed to be promoted even if they don’t want to be. :(

      I myself am very conscious when I notice a lack of female leaders in my organization. In my previous job, nearly every leader in my department was female, and they were kickass. I miss my old team…

    15. only acting normal*

      Yeah. You’re not playing the gender card THEY are.

      I was once young and naive and thought we were pretty much there with equality. It took a few jarring experiences to disabuse me of that, but I am thoroughly disabused. True things aren’t as bad as they were – I’ve never worked anywhere that someone would openly put hands on me sexually for example. But I’ve seen soooo many mediocre men succeed over stellar women it’s horrifying. I’ve worked in a professional office with nudey posters on the wall. I’ve been subject to jokes blue enough to *literally* make a sailor blush. I’ve had two much older male colleagues compare me unfavourably to the stripper they saw at an exspensed night out. I’ve been called “my little girl” by a boss. I was held back from promotion for 3 years by toxic grandboss, while he openly credited my work to a male subordinate, then promoted a barely competent male colleague in my stead (more than one person came and shared their horror with me at that one). I’ve watched junior men get the plum technical programming jobs while I was pushed toward project management (which I loathe doing with the passion of a thousand suns). I’ve inherited the same programming work years later and boggled at how rubbish their work was. I’ve seen a man put in charge of the equality drive at work who has some *serious* issues with gaslighting and scapegoating an older female colleague for his failings. I could go on, but this is depressing me!

      You are not imagining it. The only thing to decide is where you go from here.

    16. Jules the Third*

      ‘Abrasive shrew’ is kinda a text book example of sexist appraisal. If those words were used in a review of your work, that is a huge red flag indicating sexism. If that was written anywhere, or part of your official review, then that means the reviewer wasn’t afraid of the sexist language being noticed or censured by their bosses.

      The whole letter does indicate you’re facing sexism. Not the ’11 male managers’ but the words being used about women in the company. The manager part is *probably* part of it, but without the words backing up the *reason* for why you’re not being considered, it’s hard to get proof of the sexism.

      In most fields, there are some companies who ‘get it’ and would be happy to hire you and work with you towards a mgmt role.

  7. minhag*

    I’ve been job searching for the past six months and have gotten some pretty tough rejections. Friends are being supportive but I’m getting rote responses that don’t really help. Sometimes, they say self-esteem boosters, like “You’re great! You’re smart and capable and don’t let this get you down” or, it’s an appeal to fate, like “This just means that job wasn’t right for you. You will definitely get another offer soon.” That doesn’t help because there is definitely a non-zero chance that I will not get an offer, sooner or later.

    Does anyone here have a unique or unusual approach to getting rejections? Anything that makes them laugh or cheer after a rejection?

    1. Kay*

      I am in academia, where it’s not uncommon to apply for every single open job in a hiring year and never hear back from most of them, so it got to a point where even receiving a rejection at all felt like a perverse victory! I ended up creating a Rejection Bingo card with a big reward for myself if I got bingo. It had a lot of the tropes (“strong applicant pool”, “proceeding with another candidate”) and some weird, academic-specific ones thrown in, but making it into an activity helped me let go of the specifics of the rejection and see it as just part of the process.

      1. Sydney Bristow*

        When applying at a gazillion firms as the end of law school was approaching, I also made it a game. My friend group was going out to dinner celebrating every time someone landed a job so I made them go to dinner with me when I reached a certain number of rejections. (I was trying to move across the country and get a job so my search was a bit different than theirs).

    2. Trillion*

      I cry then drink. Then get angry for a little bit. Then hit the job boards.
      I don’t have a healthy way of dealing with things.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Ha! Are you me? I do the same thing (and add chocolate – I eat lots and lots of chocolate).

    3. ginkgo*

      I’ve only been job hunting for a month or so, but I’m also finding that pep talks aren’t that helpful for exactly the reason you state. I know I’m smart and capable and DESERVE a great job in my field of choice, but I may not get one, for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with me. It helps me more to know that I will be okay even if things don’t work out the way I want. (In my case this is true – I have savings, I have some opportunities for work that won’t get me where I want to be in life/career but will keep food on the table, I have survived far worse.)

      I don’t have a specific response to rejections that’s helpful, but I’ll be watching this thread in case others do!

    4. Buffy*

      Sorry to hear about the rejections. I went through many years of stinging ones but have thankfully landed a job I really love. I came across the quote, “You’re never a loser until you stop trying” that really resonated with me.

    5. Tuxedo Cat*

      I’m in the same boat you are.

      I do something like take a nap or go for a walk. I’m getting more numb to this, at this point, because it’s happened so often.

    6. Ms. Meow*

      Since rejections are usually form letters, I just imagine a robot is rejecting me. “I guess I couldn’t please the robot overlords” makes me chuckle and feel a little better.

    7. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I just try to believe that everything does happen for a reason, and not getting a job does mean it wasn’t the right one for me at this time in my life. It’s hard when it’s a job that seems perfect and I really, really want it, but I go back to what Alison always says – there is no dream job, and every job I’ve had that looked amazing from the outside ended up being bad in at least one way. Maybe try to remember all the ways in which that job probably sucks?

    8. nonymous*

      Maybe focus less on the rejections (easy for me to say!) by creating a pleasant ritual around the application part, so that it doesn’t feel like time wasted if you get a rejection. When I had a crappy job that made me feel like a loser, I would drive in a little bit earlier to visit the library around the corner.

      I mean ideally you’ll get a job, eventually, but in the meantime application/interview time == premium chocolate snack or a trip to the lys or checking out a new hiking trail. My husband and I do this thing where if one of us is putting in long hours at work (and job-hunting totally qualifies!) the other one uses the same amount of time to do chores around the house. So if one person spends 2hrs working on applications, the other half will vacuum or mow the lawn or fix that squeaky door. Job hunting with no reward is pretty unpleasant, so it’s a nice trade off to get a pass on some other unpleasant life duty.

      1. Ten*

        That’s a great arrangement! I imagine it would also be really good for your marriage too, teaming up to support each other like that. =)

    9. Jennifleurs*

      I 100% sympathise. I went to 12 interviews last year and 2 so far this year and no success with anything. I understand people are trying to be encouraging, but often they are come across as cluelessly relentlessly positive, which is draining to deal with.

      I tend to get upset, spend a day fighting the impulse to quit my current job on the spot, and angrily spam applications for new vacancies. Often this does actually lead to more interviews! But then I don’t get them. *sigh* I am working on my interview technique but it’s really difficult – I have that strand of perfectionism where if you know you can’t do it right first time you get anxious about doing it at all.

    10. k*

      I saw an artist who did an art show of all of her art application rejection letters.

      It was exhibited at the gallery I was on the board of, and it made me feel a lot better about my own :). And also made me be like, I don’t have enough of these, I should be trying for more opportunities (and I’m sure you are already applying for tons of things, that was a personal reflection I had, not advice for you).

      I was also really glad I did co-op in my undergrad because you just had to write so many applications that you didn’t have time to worry about ones you were rejected from because you were onto the next 10 applications.

    11. Triple Anon*

      Ugh. Those cheerful rejections are the worst. They sound so condescending. Just say, “You were not selected,” and get it over with.

  8. Onnnnn*

    Removed — I’m sorry, I tried to leave it up with a note that this wasn’t the place for this discussion, but people kept leaving responses anyway so I’m removing the temptation. (For people who didn’t see it, the issues was politics and guns.)

  9. Nervous Accountant*

    Re the slacker coworker.

    1. I gave her a return and gave her a phone call (clients schedule appts so we either take htem or distribute them). I found out she passed a return along to someone else, just so that she wouldn’t have to take the call. I asked her why she did that. She wouldn’t admit it st first but when I showed her it shows a history, she said she didn’t know she was supposed to take calls. I had made a very clear note that the call was to go over tax information/tax return that SHE WAS WORKING ON. I told my manager, he didnt’ buy that excuse, and we emailed her a warning. She again said she didnt’ know she was supposed to take phone calls.

    2. A client had a Q about his taxes. She asked me the question, I answered. She still didn’t get it, I told her I’m going out to lunch and lets see wheN I get back. My expectation was that she would google or figure it out somehow. 4hours later, she asks again. it literally took 30 seconds to find the answer to her question—there was no reason the client had to wait 5 hours for a response.

    3. I gave her a payroll and we just integrated to a new system. I told her that one of the supervisors in charge of this whole project can help her. He said “I went over this in training”…..she was there. for all of them. I was not (vacation then bereavement). I told her she should have known this bc she was IN THE TRAINING. She laughed it off.

    After a year, my manager finally agrees wiht me that she’s trying to weasel out of work on purpose. We have another person on our team who seems to be doing this (maybe I’ll post more about her later). I’ve documented tf out of this person but I have no power or standing to fire her.

    1. Bea*

      She’s lazy AF but I’m also concerned she’s in a position she can’t handle if she’s defaulting to not trying to figure things out and letting things sit for others to deal with.

      I’ve seen so many people screw up in accounting because they’re out of their element it’s unsettling.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I’d say she’s fairly good at accounting. She has her CPA but she has 0 social skills, and based on that appointment switch, lacking in integrity as well. Idk if there’s any accounting jobs for people who hate communicating w others…for us here that’s a huge part of th job.

        1. Natalie*

          Oh, in my experience it’s a popular (and not totally inaccurate) stereotype that accountants hate communicating with others. My professors will literally always make comments on it when they assigned us to group projects.

          Here’s a joke I heard from a recruiter I work with:
          “An introverted accountant looks at her own shoes when talking to you. An extroverted accountant looks at your shoes.”

          1. Bean counter soup*

            An optimist thinks the glass is half full. A pessimist half empty.

            An accountant thinks it’s too big.

          2. Nervous Accountant*

            Haha. I’ve heard those too but honestly no one in my office is like that. Majority of us are gregarious. We deal w clients all the time. Our work events are never boring. Can’t say anyone here lives up to the boring stereotype.

            1. Natalie*

              It hasn’t really been my personal experience either, at least as far as interacting with other accountants goes, but it does seem to be more common with clients and/or colleagues in other departments (if you’re in house).

        2. Bea*

          If I had a dollar for every licensed professional who does bang up well for exams but sucks at doing their jobs in the real world, what a rich woman I would be. Licensed professionals can still be bad at huge portions of their occupations.

          Lots of bad doctors fall into this gap but people don’t question their abilities because they graduated and have their medical licenses.

          1. MissCPA*

            agreed. We have had a few licensed CPAs in my small office who did well in school, got licensed with no problem, but just don’t perform well. It sucks because they interview so well but they don’t deliver in the office!

          2. Wordy Nerd*

            It’s like the old joke: What do you call the person who graduated last in their class at medical school? Doctor.

            1. Nervous Accountant*

              Hahaha. My acc professor had a variation. “What do you call a CPA who scored 65 vs a CPA who got a 95? “

              “CPA. (And he probably had more of a social life)”

              (I’m not a CPA)

        3. Close Bracket*

          > Idk if there’s any accounting jobs for people who hate communicating w others…for us here that’s a huge part of th job.

          General comment on this, not aimed at your situation:

          Like engineering, accounting a job that makes use of systemizing skills. A study on the jobs of the fathers of people on the spectrum found both engineering and accounting to be overrepresented. Given that parents of people on the spectrum commonly exhibit spectrum traits, I wonder if there is a higher-than-typical percentage of accountants who are really bad at communicating with others.

    2. Samata*

      I work with one of these. She is an “oh yeah, I forgot”-er and a “I didn’t realize that was an option”-er….A Serious Work Diverter. After 2 years of my boss telling me I was exaggerating & making mountains out of mole hills she had to work a few projects directly with her. Now she gets it. Still not doing anything, but at least now she is seeing it and I am confident is at least documenting and making steps towards realizing she is not a good fit.

      So, no advice. Just commiserating. It’s a hard position to be in.

      1. Rebecca*

        Oh, I’m in that boat. My coworker, who is supposed to be helping me, is one of these. Avoid, deflect, don’t do, whatever…but she sure has time to talk to her family members multiple times per day, deal with personal issues, surf Facebook, monitor things for sale on the local sell and swap site, and take every possible minute of accrued time off as soon as it posts. It is so frustrating! My manager’s response? I have to keep reminding her to do things. Why? She was hired to do a job! She should just do it!!

    3. Close Bracket*

      > I told her I’m going out to lunch and lets see when I get back. My expectation was that she would google or figure it out somehow.

      This calls to mind the questions that Allison gets sometimes from a manager at their wits end with a direct report where Allison will ask, “Are you SURE you’ve been direct with them?” In this case, you left her the out not to do any research on her own by telling her you would revisit it after lunch. There’s nothing to document here, except maybe that she didn’t come to you directly when you got back.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Well I’ve said it to her directly several times that she should be more proactive about researching and finding the answer before coming to us or waiting on us to give her an answer.

  10. TW*

    Speaking to a role that I left off my resume…I posted last week about this but didn’t get any bites however I have an interview today that I’m really excited about! The position has the same title as a role that I had a few a years ago but I was only at that role for 8 months so I don’t list it on my resume. A lot of the experience would align with the position I’m interviewing for today but is it weird to speak to it? I left because of a better job offer. I do have the position on my LinkedIn account which I noticed the hiring manager looked at yesterday. Just wasn’t sure what was recommended.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      If the experience is going to make you a stronger candidate and if your strongest answers to their interview questions will be from experiences at that role, you should absolutely talk about it. You can say, “I was actually a Teapot Analyst at Acme Corporation back in 2015 — I left it off my resume since I was only there for 8 months — but my experience in that role blahblahblah.”

      Clearly they like what they saw in your existing resume, so I think having directly matching experience should be a bonus to them, so long as you can explain that you left that job on good terms.

    2. Jessie the First (or second)*

      Not that this helps, but why did you leave it off your resume? I leave jobs off mine sometimes, but never if I think that a particular job in my history matches up well with a job I am applying for. (I don’t send the exact same resume to all employers – often I do, but a job I frequently leave off I will add back in if it seems relevant to a job posting).

      So I guess going forward, before you submit a resume make sure you’ve considered whether the resume has on it the things you’d want to talk about in an interview.

      If it is on your LinkedIn and the manager looked at it, she may ask you about it, in which case you can just mention since your time there was short you left it off your resume, but it was a really valuable experience nonetheless and will help you with this job because (and then why). Perhaps that kind of intro to it will work even if manager does not mention it.

    3. Close Bracket*

      It’s now the end of the day, how did it go? I hope it turns into an offer. For the future, if someone has looked at your LinkedIn profile, it might be weird NOT to bring it up. They know it’s there, and they might be wondering why it’s not on your resume. Some people question things like that.

  11. Nervous Accountant*

    I’ve increasingly become curious about this, bc this happened literally 5 times this month alone, when its usually 2-3x a YEAR.

    Why does someone request a female accountant to work with?

    Anything that involves a physical presence (therapist, doctor, physical trainer, etc), I would understand. I don’t see them face to face so there’s no physical presence there.

    IME (and trust me I was nice and understanding in the beginning but after my experience for 3 years, I’ve come to this conclusion)….I feel like they (male and female) request a female so they can bully them around. Case in point, the dingleberry client from a few weeks ago.

    I guess I should be glad I’ve never had someone say “I only want to work with a man!” or “I don’t want to work with a Muslim.” But after my experience so far, I feel like they just want someone who they can push around. almost all the ones who ask for a female accountant end up being unreasonable to a point.

    1. Temperance*

      Oh that stinks. I typically request women because I want to balance out all of the tools who think that men are smarter/better with numbers, but I honestly never thought about someone requesting a woman because they wanted to be a douche.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I have one client like that but her job/business is about empowering women so I get that. The rest have just been super weird

        1. Lil Fidget*

          I would have initially thought female clients might well request a female accountant because money stuff can be very personal and intimate (“this income is from the married man I’m sleeping with, but it’s gifts right” / “my husband doesn’t let me see my w-2 so how can I file this?” / “I think I’m going to be filing for divorce this year but nobody can know this, how do I handle the tax withholdings if he’s currently supporting me”) but it sounds like your clients are unusual for that.

        2. Jaydee*

          I would similarly have thought that a lot of the women would either 1) want to support a woman in a traditionally male field or 2) would want someone they thought would be less likely to talk down to them or assume they don’t understand money or math. But it sucks if they are just doing it because they think they can push you around.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      One, that’s really odd, and two, since you never see them face to face, could your organization just pretend to assign them to a female accountant? Who never likes to talk on the phone?

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        Nah, we have to communicate by phone. No one is allowed to not talk on the phone (except for my incompetent slacker cw from above).

    3. Jess*

      I have requested female driving instructors, plumbers, etc because I look young for my age and tend to come across as ‘sweet’ and I’m totally fed up of being condescended to and patronised by middle aged men. Not all men obviously, but it happens often enough that if there’s a way to avoid it with a female who will talk to me as if I’m on the same level as them, I will.

      I’m really sorry you’re having a different experience with why people request you :(

      1. Lil Fidget*

        True if there is one woman in a very high likelihood of man-splain-y circumstance (tech stuff, car stuff) I would be more likely to want her. She may still condescend to me or have to explain it ten million times because I don’t get it, but I’ll feel better if it’s coming from her :P

    4. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      Diversity quotas? There are some companies that are so desperate to look relatable to everyone that would push rules like “all deparments must have a 45% of female, 20% PoC, 10% latino employees”.

    5. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

      I simply feel more comfortable hearing something from a woman than a man and they’re less likely to brush me off if I can’t fully explain what’s wrong. Case in point – my stove / oven has been acting weird. I couldn’t explain it – it was a strange noise that I knew was wrong – but it would only happen every so often. One tech that came out was a guy – sped through everything and said it was all fine – and was in and out in 20 minutes with the oven / stove on for like 15 of those minutes. I felt he didn’t listen to me at all and we were still having the same issue. Call back, request a woman tech, and she comes out. She spends 2x the time, fixes the issue, and was pleasant the entire time, and explained how I could explain the issue to a guy in case it happened again. The stove / oven has been fine since she came out to fix it. She got a five star review and a call to her manager to sing her praises.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I’m glad she was helpful and you had a good experience with her. I can see your point, but I personally feel that being professional and providing great service isn’t limited to gender.

        1. bohtie*

          You literally ignored the point of the entire comment just to be snippy about someone feeling more comfortable with a woman.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            I was not being snippy? This and a few comments above were helpful in understanding why people make certain requests.

        2. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

          I agree – I’ve had a number of techs out to the house for our AC that were male and wonderful – but I also wanted to give a point of view of why I’m more likely to ask for a woman. With the stove / oven, it was because I just didn’t want to possibly deal with the same guy again. With others, it just seems that I get nicer service. Now, I’m also nice and polite back, no matter the gender, but I feel more heard with a woman. It’s just how it is for me.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            I can totally understand that; ultimately everyone should be comfortable w the person they are working with. Thank you for sharing your experience, certainly didn’t mean to be snippy!

            1. AngelicGamer aka that visually impaired peep*

              It didn’t read as snippy to me, but more asking as clarification. :)

    6. Wolfram alpha*

      I feel like any client who requests a specific sex sfor any back office work is being sexist and yuck. It’s different if say, you prefer a female gyno or male proctor but anything else is just flag to me.

    7. Bea*

      Some women do not deal with men because of personal reasons. I think it’s rarely to be able to push anyone around, I’ve had bad experiences with both genders and I’ve rarely known an accountant of either sex to be susceptible to bullying given laws and regulations are the end all.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        They don’t bully over tax laws or rules that are set in ston but are more like…
        “I don’t get the warm and fuzzies from her, this person isn’t holding my hand enough, they’re not communicating well enough”

        In my case, the most recent ones were “I don’t care that she was away for a funeral, I should have been notified in advance!/I wanted to talk to her!”

        1. Close Bracket*

          > “I don’t get the warm and fuzzies from her, this person isn’t holding my hand enough, they’re not communicating well enough”

          That sounds very much like gendered expectations of women’s behavior. Women are expected to be warm and fuzzy and hold peoples’ hands and communicate well. Men are not expected to be warm or fuzzy or hold people’s hands, and they are given more latitude with communication. I don’t know why people ask for a female accountant in the first place, but gendered expectations of behavior are why they subsequently make those kinds of complaints once they get one.

          1. Nervous Accountant*

            Oh Don’t even get me started on that BS (not what you said but the expectations itself). Early on I was coached on being more nice and accommodating and flexible and give ppl warm and fuzzy and reduce their anxiety and bending over backwards and sugarcoating and being fluffy. Meanwhile, my (male) coworkers can straight up say no to a client and they don’t get in trouble.

            (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

    8. Armchair Analyst*

      I was a female paralegal. (well, I still am female…) Calling people who were owed money by our bankrupt customer.
      One lady only wanted to speak to a male attorney. Apparently, I yelled at her. I had no idea. People came in from down the hall to see what I was yelling about!
      And the other paralegal told me that she once had someone who only wanted to hear the exact same news from a Jewish Attorney.
      Ugh, people.
      (And I’m Jewish!) (But not a lawyer. And obvs. not a male…)

      1. Thursday Next*

        Someone actually requested a “Jewish attorney”? I should not have just taken a sip when I read that. Wow.

          1. Book Lover*

            I’ve seen that in medicine. They think they are being complimentary and not anti Semitic in saying how good Jewish doctors are and don’t realize how unpleasant it is for the doctor.

            1. LostInTheStacks*

              I remember a funny exchange on the TV show My Name Is Earl like that. The characters learn that their friend is in a coma, and one of them says she wants an opinion from “a real doctor. You know, a Jewish one.” The doctor replies. “I’m Indian. We’re the new Jews!”

    9. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      I personally request a female vet because my older cat does better with women than men. In accounting? Ego somehow.

    10. Blue Eagle*

      I request a woman whenever possible in male dominated fields so that management realizes that the public wants to see women in that field. Sort of like women empowerment – – – if I don’t ask to work with a woman, who will ask to work with me?

    11. LilySparrow*

      I think there is probably correlation between (a) people who are excessively nervous about being talked down to/”mansplained” and (b) people who are demanding and unreasonably aggressive.

      Not one-to-one. Plenty of reasonable people might be in group a. But I think group b people are likely to be in group a as well.

      In my experience, the most irrational, demanding people see themselves as very sensitive and vulnerable. They tend to believe everyone is trying to intimidate or take advantage of them, all the time, and the only way to protect themselves or get their due is to constantly escalate their demands.

      1. Betsy*

        In my opinion, the correlation is more likely to be ‘people who are aware that they might be condescended to’ and ‘feminists, or others who are aware of gender inequalities’.

        I’m pretty aware that I have a condescending co-worker (although he’s condescending to men too) and recently had to plan an event with a guy who was almost hilariously condescending, given our respective backgrounds in the area we were discussing.

        I have met the kinds of demanding people who think they’re extra vulnerable and enjoy that, so I know the kind of person you’re talking about, but I think they’re a small minority of people. However, most women I know have had experiences where they’ve been condescended to by older men, particularly, so we’re aware that this is a thing that happens.

  12. Lalaith*

    I had an interview yesterday. Yay! I’d really like this job, not least because it’s at the university where I got my Master’s degree :) But I’ve been going over and over the interview in my mind, and I think I may have botched the tech portion (it’s for a web developer position). I know there are things I didn’t explain well or forgot/left out due to nerves. Is there any way I can address this with them? Maybe in the thank-you note? I’m guessing probably not, but just wondering if anyone has managed to do it.

    1. [insert witty user name here]*

      Yes, I would email them and say something like, “Upon further reflection, I let my nerves get the better of me during our interview, due to my excitement for this position. I’d like to clarify what I said about XYZ…..” Keep it brief, but show your stuff and let them know you were a little nervous/excited. good luck!

      1. Bye Academia*

        I think this is too much information/sounds like an excuse. It’s normal for people to be nervous for an interview, but it isn’t really normal for people to cite it this heavily afterwards. It’s a little too familiar. I do think it’s good to reiterate excitement for the position and add in one (maybe two) pieces of info you forgot. Think through the most important point you missed saying during the interview, and focus on that.

        Something like:

        “It was great talking to you yesterday! I was thinking more about [specific topic], and I wanted to add [most important qualification]. After everything else we discussed, I am still very excited about the position and I hope to hear from you soon.”

        Plus anything else you normally add in your thank-you emails. Good luck!

        1. Sherm*

          I like this advice, and remember that 1) everyone else who was interviewed was nervous, and 2) these interviewees more than likely had brain freezes of their own. If you feel that they were impressed with you, there’s probably no damage control that needs to be done, but the note can always be used to reiterate your strong points. I know there is some good “thank you” advice in the AAM archives.

          1. Lalaith*

            Heh. I’m the first person they interviewed. I guess I can just hope that the rest have the same problems I did :-P

        2. LAI*

          Agreed with the second one. Don’t apologize – most people are nervous in interviews, and there’s a decent chance that you weren’t any more nervous than anyone else they interviewed. But yes, you can absolutely include new information in your follow-up email.

        3. Lalaith*

          That sounds good. All of it was fairly small stuff, though, I just feel like all put together it didn’t give a great impression. I think I ended on a strong note with the exercise they gave me, though. Crossing fingers! Thank you :)

  13. finding a reasonable boss?*

    My last few bosses were terrible at understanding how much time tasks actually take, when we had too much on our plate, and overpromising to their bosses. Talking to them never helped in the past jobs, and my current boss will acknowledge that I have too much on my plate, but will then go ahead and promise to her bosses that we’ll do things that add more to my workload. Last year I told her I would start looking for a new position if the workload was the same as/more than the past year, and she went into a meeting with her bosses and came out with a schedule for me that increased my workload.

    So — is this just how bosses are? I’m currently looking for a new position, and wondering if there are any questions or things to look out for in an interview process that will help me avoid getting into yet another situation like this.

    1. Longtime Listener, First time Caller*

      Maybe ask them a question about how they prioritize work for their team? How do they handle competing deadlines from higher-ups? Have they even been in a situation where their bosses wanted a deliverable, but their team was already overburdened? How did they handle it?

    2. hbc*

      Not all bosses are like that. I’d figure out a few questions to ask the hiring manager about their style*, and include something like “What did you do the last time an employee told you they were overloaded?” Or “Do you ever have targets set by you or those above you that your team has trouble meeting?” While no one will admit that they over-promise and pass on the stress, there will probably be hints one way or the other.

      *You definitely don’t want to make it the only question or they’ll infer that you can’t get your work done.

      1. JustinCase*

        “Do you ever have targets set by you or those above you that your team has trouble meeting?”

        This is a fantastic question. I’m hanging on to this in case I ever need it in an interview, thanks.

    3. Irene Adler*

      Might ask how the prospective new boss supports their reports.
      Then ask about different scenarios- how is the work load managed (planned vs. last minute scrambles vs. overtime to tackle things). Does the boss take an active role in your work tasks (such that they’ve done the work themselves in recent times)?

      Some bosses just think that if you managed your time “better” then you could tackle all the work assigned to you. So, might ask them for some time management tips to tackle the ever increasing work load your boss assigns to you. Sometimes it takes them actually digging into the work load themselves for them to see just how great the work load is.

    4. Ramona Flowers*

      You could also look out for any interview questions that cover this. In my interview for my current job, they asked: tell me about a time when you couldn’t get everything done, as they wanted to hear about how I would prioritise. That turned out to have been a really good sign.

      Not all bosses are like this but some are. I had one who used to say “well you’ll just have to make time.” Out of what, I just don’t know.

      Also be on the lookout for mentions of how they all stay late to get things done.

    5. LKW*

      No not all bosses, but when pressure is coming from above, it’s hard for some bosses to push back. I worked for someone who was the only one making the ridiculous demands. We figured she just wanted to show that she could make miracles happen. The clients would make a request -our boss would pass on the request and then without consulting us would demand it be completed by a certain date. We’d rush the work and the client would be like “Wow, I didn’t need this for another 2 months!” meanwhile all of our current work was being delayed.

      I asked her to stop multiple times but her ego was too big.

      1. WellRed*

        “it’s hard for some bosses to push back”

        Agreed, but it takes a special kind of talent for a manager to bring even more work back to the employee.

    6. Thlayli*

      Not all bosses are like this. Given that you’ve already discussed it with her, I think this is a case of “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change”.

      For comparison, when I get overwhelmed I go to my boss with a list of tasks on my plate, estimated time to complete (or time per week for ongoing ones) and a first attempt at priority order, and he helps me figure out the priority order and sometimes reassigns stuff.

    7. Finding a reasonable boss?*

      Thanks for giving me hope that not all bosses are like this. And thanks for some great ideas for questions to ask, I’m definitely going to keep these for my next interview. I’ve had a couple so far, and am hoping that one of them works out. I wish I had asked these questions though! Would it be weird to ask them even after they offer me the job (if that happens, fingers crossed)?

    8. Earthwalker*

      I realized late in my career that I wanted not only a good boss, but a good grandboss, something I eventually started asking about in interviews. A bully grandboss can make a good boss irrelevant by demanding that he make his team do more than they possibly can. A strong boss will push back, of course. But if he find that he can’t change anything, a good boss will resign, making room for a bad boss, and a bad boss will overcommit his team.

    9. Miles*

      I’ve had one boss so far that wasn’t like this. He actually looked out for his team and I think that made the difference.

      But it also depends on the management culture of the workplace. If it’s cliquey at all or if your boss’s bosses get upset when they get told ‘no,’ then the actually effective boss won’t get to keep that job unless e sells out eir team.

      As for how to know that going in, I’ve asked on here before and the consensus always seemed that the interview process is not the place for it.

      The only method that I’ve found that seems to work is to get a lateral promotion to escape the bad ones.

  14. Nervous Accountant*

    I’m losing my patience and I know I”m going to sound mean but I want to vent.

    I’ve been coaching a coworker for a few weeks now. Client feedback has been not so great. Some legit (that she’s not confident) and just ridiculous af (digs at her accent–whcih btw is perfectly fine, those ppl r jerks)… One client even said that they thought this was a scam and htey were talking to a call center rather than a real accountant. *ickkkk*

    Anyway, so a few days ago, someone calls in on the weekend (we work weekends during tax season but our billing and other depts are closed). She talks to the client and puts them on hold and asks me what to say. I coach her to tell them that our billing Dept is closed and we’ve created a ticket for them, and the client will be contacted during normal business hours. I got busy in my own work and didn’t listen to what she said but she puts them on hold again and says “are they open for the holiday?” I tell her to tell them that billing will reach out during normal business hours. Right after, she says “dept is closed, you have to call back later”… facepalm.

    I let it go. I thought she was new to working and didn’t have a lot of experience. That’s OK, I was there too, I used to have a difficult time as well…so I try to be sympathetic and remember I made mistakes too…..but then i found out that she has the same license as me, more prestigious and this is her second or third long term job. So I’m just face palm at all of this and finding myself more impatient with her. Which I guess is wrong but it feels like a second coming of slacker cowroker. I talked to my mgr about it and he was facepalm too at the exchange….he told me that it seems like she’s doing that deliberately to get out of doing work.

    1. UtOh!*

      Um, so what is manager going to DO about it if she seems like she’s doing it deliberately to get out of doing work?! Your manager sounds like mine…lip service in response to any and everything.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I know he would want to coach as much as we can, and if it doesn’t work then cut them loose…right before the deadline we can’t afford to lose ppl for small things like this.

  15. Lipsy Magoo*

    Perhaps I’m tired of the corporate culture and struggling in my current job but I’m very curious…

    I’ve been here two years and we keep introducing new visions/change management models and nothing is really working… we had a vision and employee recognition program and this was rolled out to all staff and the management team was surprised that people weren’t more excited…

    The recognition program has started to suffer not receiving nominations which then caused a big analysis that I’m not sure yielded anything… not sure where it stands at the moment…

    Then the management team worked on a change management model… and it was supposed to be rolled out to staff and they were supposed to get trained… there was a change management task force that was then disbanded by HR…

    And now there is a new model… that I assume will be rolled out soon…

    I have never seen this anywhere else, in the sense of all the focus on putting these things in place AND then not really following through completely. I’ve also never seen such a formalization of the process – in other places when change was needed it was addressed in a much more direct way.. perhaps it’s the dysfunction and my level of disgust with it that is coloring my view as well.

    Is this the way these programs/models usually go? Have any of these worked anywhere else and if so are there any best practices? The staff literally rolls their eye when they get wind of something new coming, in part I’m sure because they are usually out of the loop anyway.

    1. Dovahkiin*

      I work in corporate and in my experience…yeah. “Employee recognition programs” that aren’t tied to bonuses/extra PTO/real rewards that aren’t just your name in a newsletter usually face a lack of enthusiasm. As far as the formality goes, it sounds like your HR is taking employee morale seriously, but they’re trying to do it without a budget for things that actually makes employees happy (like stipends for fitness memberships or on-site childcare).

    2. Luna*

      Yeah employee recognition programs are not as great as they sound. Half the time it’s just a pat on the back or something meaningless. Even when there is real money at stake, there is a lot of favoritism involved in the nomination process and the programs can actually really damage morale.

    3. SpaceNovice*

      Sadly, dysfunction in processes can be pretty common. It sounds like this process is going to be incredibly dysfunctional, as the people affected are not being involved with it and it’s not being communicated very well at all. (You can already see this in how people are rolling their eyes.)

      Formalized processes SHOULD have feedback built into them to work properly. There should be training. There should be a contact for people to come to if they need additional 1-on-1 training or they find their item isn’t covered under the process. I don’t know much about formalized best practices, but I know what works: a process that is clearly communicated, documentation that is easy to fill out to complete a part of the process, makes sense for the organization, has gatekeepers that follow through on their parts, has a person that can modify/reduce pinch points, and provides status/information on work that is, was, or will be done that is easily accessible. Clear communication about any changes made to the process and when/where various meetings for the process are held is also important. Being able to create and query reports is essential as well, because there’s no point in having information if it’s not in a usable format. If all these things are done, people generally stop violating the process and will easily admit when they need help or if there’s an issue.

      These are all things that I did to make the process at one company work. Instead of violating the process because they didn’t have time to deal with it and get work done, people became very proud of their work. Time that used to be wasted wondering what to do would be saved by getting a quick answer or a solution from calling me on the phone. “You don’t know the process? That’s fine, let me log into the demonstration environment and show you how it works, let me know if you have any questions.” People don’t like feeling like idiots; they knew I respected them, so they came to me, and the process worked. I ended up tailoring reports and queries to give them actionable information as well as information they could report to their higher ups (“I closed 300 tickets this year, look at how awesome I am”).

      These sorts of processes are more common in companies that have mission critical (think: something horrible could happen if it was down) systems, have a system that the federal government is working, or if the company is big/established.

      Tl;dr: Yes, more formal processes are common in certain types of companies. Yes, this is a dysfunctional process being created because it’s not involving the people that will use it and is not being followed through. (Probably because they’re afraid people are going to react badly, so they’re unconsciously noping out of finishing it.) Yes, you should be at least annoyed. The design of a proper formalized process would not go this way at all in an ideal world. Your management is putting up psychological roadblocks that will prevent it from working well, I suspect. But if the right person is within the organization, they can shepherd the process into actually serving the people using it.

      Wow, this got long.

    4. DCompliance*

      Were the employees given the opportunity to have a say in what type of reward program they would like to see? Were the managers given say? How did HR respond to the fact that the change management task force was supposed to roll out this model?

      1. Lipsy Magoo*

        Thanks for asking… The employees were not given the opportunity to provide feedback before or even after the program stalled. Only a few people on the management team were involved in creating the recognition program, they also didn’t ask for feedback from managers before implementing.

        HR said that they would train all staff on the model but never did. When I asked why I was told they had been busy with other projects and now there is a new model. Laminated cards were just made up and like last time they are only for management.

        The model had been worked on and finalized on in our “Leadership Forum” which is only comprised of management and often ideas there don’t make it out to all levels.

        People are used to this way of operating but I find it very frustrating and discouraging that the “front line staff” (non-exempt employees) are so easily forgotten…

    5. Annie Moose*

      Oh my wooooord this is my old company. I had four managers in two years because they kept reorganizing our department. They’d introduce some Bold New Direction!! for the company, and three months later no one remembered what it was about. They constantly were talking about change management this and process alignment that and never bothered to actually try something for more than six months straight.

      Nobody ever had any clue what the actual processes we should follow were, because they kept changing all the time… so we pretty much would just do things the way that made sense to us on a team level, and pay lip service to whatever the hot new program of the day was.

      I have a lot of fondness for my old company, but as time goes on, I find I miss it a great deal less than originally.

      1. Earthwalker*

        Me too. Once Bold New Direction was announced and the Management of Change slide sets had been presented, no one ever followed up. People would be saying, “Wait, is this my job now?” and others saying, “No, that’s my job,” and “Is not!” “Is so!” Without any leadership after the big roll-out to settle such questions, people tended to gravitate back to the familiar, doing their old jobs as usual and recovering old working relationships. But they kept their new titles and threw around some Bold New Direction verbiage as cover for backsliding into pretty much the Same Old Way. It was thin cover but none of the change authors ever seemed to notice.

    6. Positive Reframer*

      It sounds like everything is being implemented from the top down. Which just makes people feel even less listened too.

      Overall, people want a way to provide feedback that will actually change something, or even if it doesn’t that they get some sort of an explanation why.

      As far as recognition of a job well done. I enjoy what my company does. There is a kudos area on our internal web page that allows people to give a shout out to coworkers who are going above and beyond (it is moderated prior to posting). Sometimes this comes directly from customer feedback. They also post articles and videos of things that people have been recognized for outside of the company. Yearly they re-post the ones that got the most likes/comments.

    7. Anecdata*

      Yes, and in my experience, 90% of the time continually rolling out new employee recognition programs is a band-aid over not getting the fundamentals of management right. If I know what my role is, what excellence looks like, what advancement opportunities are available and how to get there, am treated respectfully and compensated fairly, and get an occasional sincere kudos, I’m going to be perfectly happy without a coffee cup celebrating my commitment to Innovation and Integrity.

      And when you don’t have that, all the celebratory certificates and congratulatory gift cards in the world won’t make an engaged and happy workforce.

      (Of course, I’d definitely be happy having both – and some workplaces do.)

    8. k*

      We have a non-monetary recognition program that actually works reasonably well – it’s called The Trophy of Great, and it’s a trophy, and it’s given out at the monthly all-staff meetings, and each person who gets it adds something to it and picks the next winner. It’s definitely not like “fair” or anything, but I guess since we all understand each decision is an individual decision, it’s not too like … fraught.

      Also, I think people try to give it to someone new each month, so it’s not like the same awesome person gets it all the time.

      We also had one on our department that was pretty cool – at the end of the year quarterly meeting, everyone drew a name and had to make and give the other person a creative / fun / silly award. Some people took it in different ways the first time we did it, but by the second time we were in the groove, and it felt nice to have to figure out awesome traits of people you may not always work with (though of course some people drew names of people they work with a lot). Sort of like Recognition Secret Santa.

      That’s just recognition programs. We do not have very good change management programs, even though we ought to, we’re based on design thinking principles. And our internal processes also suffer from not enough piloting or feedback. Sometimes they do try, though. Unfortunately when really weird things happen is when you need the processes and feedback most, and also when people implementing those things feel least secure and most like the just need to DO SOMETHING (or maybe we have a lot of bias-to-action people on our management team, and not so many bias-to-people people).

  16. Chameleon*

    Just a rant today: I’m currently an adjunct at a community college. Two (two!) full-time tenure track positions have opened at another local CC. One position is teaching the subject I have been teaching for the past two years, the other is in the subject I got my doctorate in. Both would pay nearly twice what I currently make. I also have an acquaintance who borders on a friend who works there.

    And I can’t make myself freaking sit down and write the damn application materials. URRGH. Self, why you have to be so lazy? (Or to be more honest, why do I have to respond to fear by avoidance?)

    1. Tara S.*

      I know the feeling, when you see an opportunity you’re actually excited about, and your brain just slams on the brakes. Sometimes I try and tell myself just to fill out the application, but you don’t have to send it. (Usually by the time I put it together I want to send it out, but somehow it takes the pressure off temporarily?)

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      why do I have to respond to fear by avoidance?

      Ugh, same. Overwhelmed by how much stuff you HAVE to do? The answer is to procrastinate, obviously!!!!

      I am kicking myself hard this week because I was scared of how much work I am responsible for and instead of doing some of the work ahead of schedule, I am now scrambling to get it all done by the end of the week.

      Anyway, I feel you, Chameleon.

    3. Kix*

      You can do it! It took me working with a career coach external to my organization to shake me silly and wake me up to the fact that it was time to leave #OldJob. This was around the time that a new opportunity opened up in a program I’d worked in previously and is currently managed by a previous manager who knows me and my skillsets very well. Long story short, I had to practically glue myself to the chair to get the application done, but it was worth the self-flagellation because I did get the job. I’m 100% happier in my new role, and I actually have a work-life balance now.

    4. July*

      I have a technique for this! I hire myself to do the job. If my job required doing some fear-inducing personal task for someone else, I could totally do it without a whimper. So, when this kind of thing comes up, I put on a blazer that signals “work” to me and say out loud the steps I need to take, referring to myself in the third person. It’s very silly, but it does create enough distance between me and the task I can get through it much more easily.

      1. JustaTech*

        I should try this. I used to have a terrible time with cover letters until I tried thinking about myself as someone else (who I liked) or (when it was really bad) as though it was a school report and “I” was a character in a book.

    5. Chameleon*

      One of my major issues, honestly, is that writing of any sort has always been painful to the point of pulling teeth for me. Even if I know the topic like the back of my hand simply putting it on (virtual) paper is crazy hard. So talking myself up (hard) in writing (harder) for something that is fairly high-stakes–yeah.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Try talking first indeed. To your cat or a pot plant or whatever works – I find that can really help me work out how to write something.

      2. hermit crab*

        I think we might be the same person! When I was a kid I learned that, as part of the mummification process, the ancient Egyptians would pull out a deceased person’s brain through their nose with a special hook. THAT is what writing feels like to me – pulling out your brain in a way that it is not supposed to go. I was one of those students who was always told they were a good writer, and perhaps I am, but oh it is just so so hard.

        But you can do it!! It’s ok that it’s hard. You will feel so good afterwards. :)

    6. Overeducated needs a new name*

      Oh man. “If I don’t bother to apply, they can’t reject me!” I know that feeling. It’s tough, maybe do some combination of carrot and stick (force yourself to do it but promise yourself a treat), and take it in small bites if it’s one of those complicated academic applications.

    7. Simone R*

      Are you me? Including the choice of username! Anyways, what has helped me a lot is knowing that I’ve always got this stuff done in time. It might be in at the hour of the deadline, but it’s gotten in, and it’s worked out for me! My undergrad and PhD applications were all finished at the last minute but were very successful. As it seems to have for you, since you have a doctorate! Accepting that the whining, grumping, and procrastination are all part of the process and not something to battle against has made me slightly calmer (if not happier). I will never be the person that has the application in early.

    8. Longtime Listener, First time Caller*

      Whenever I have a hard time getting myself to do something, I set timers. I love the Pomodoro Technique:

      I set the timer for 25 minutes, don’t let myself get distracted and buckle down and do it. Then I set a timer for a 5/10 minute break. Once it’s over, I set another 25 minutes timer and get back to work.

      Also, one of my favorite quotes that I repeat ad nauseum when I am avoiding work: “Nothing will make you feel better than doing the work.”

      1. Annie Moose*

        Going along with this, when I get paralyzed on something, I break it down to very small pieces and go, “OK, you just have to do this one tiny piece today.” (as in, something I can finish in five minutes) And when I’m done, if I feel like continuing, I can, but if I feel that I can’t, that’s OK–I got at least one thing done, and that’s a victory.

    9. Delta Delta*

      I’m way into rewards. You deserve a hot fudge sundae/massage/long walk with the dog, but only when you get your application done. At least, that’s how I get myself to do things I can’t seem to get started on.

    10. Reba*

      I know the avoidance thing well.

      Chameleon, don’t be afraid to let your excellence out! Show up for these cover letters! It’s ok to care about them, to feel weird about them, to write shitty first drafts!

      Wishing you lots of luck with the applications.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Are you sure it is laziness/fear?

      Sometimes when my gut says NOOOOO I need to listen to that. Take a minute to find out some background. Are other people truly happy there or is the place a hellhole.

    12. Roja*

      Ugh. This is totally me today too. I’ve done everything for an adjunct opening application except the cover letter, and I’m so terrified of it I’m putting it off. No words of advice, just solidarity.

    13. Jiya*

      Hey, you know what? You’re okay. You have a job right now, so you’re applying from a position of strength. If you get rejected, things will be no different than they are now. There are only upsides to filling out that application!

  17. Anonsy*

    Speaking highly generally, I have a stalker, but I am needing to look for a job since I’ve hit the ceiling at my current place/stalker knows I work here. I haven’t job hunted with stalker before. Any tips on how to do this?

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Instead of putting your resume/general information up for the world to see on places like Monster or Indeed or whatever isn’t sketchy these days, I would look at specific company websites. Most of them will have a ‘careers’ section where you can apply in a targeted fashion to specific jobs.

      I don’t know how much you know about your stalker — if you know where they do/don’t work, etc — but that’s a good way to keep a lower profile.

    2. PoniezRUs*

      Apply through recruiters that will hopefully keep your information confidential. Do you know who your stalker hangs out with? Are you able to avoid this person’s social circle that could potentially tip him off about job hunting (accidentally)? Keep your search quiet from your social circle too. I wish you the best of luck!

    3. Tara S.*

      I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. Maybe leave your address off your resume, in case they get ahold of it?

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Maybe use a temp agency/headhunter to help with your job search so your contact information isn’t being blasted all over the place.

    5. Curious Cat*

      In this realm but not directly job related — a good friend of mine had a stalker a couple years ago and was trying to switch apartments, so she used myself/other friends to be a third party and do her apartment hunting for her so there were no paper trails and she wouldn’t be followed. So, I’m agreeing with everyone else that you should try to use a third-party or very direct way to apply for jobs (i.e. emailing hiring managers directly when you’re able to/makes sense to), or using a recruiter. I’m sorry you’re going through this — it’s just a sucky situation.

    6. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Recruiter and direct applications are probably your best bet. Sorry you have to deal with a stalker.

    7. Tuxedo Cat*

      You could get a Google number that you just use for your job search. I haven’t had any luck with job boards so I don’t post there anyway, but you could leave off your address. If you’re worried about being followed to interview locations, I would make a point of scheduling interviews so that you leave from home to interview location.

    8. Bea W*

      I did this. I applied directly or through recruiters. I don’t make my LinkedIn current or old positions available to anyone who is not a connection. I did not talk about it on social media or online in general.

      My stalker did manage to find my new work somehow and get my direct desk phone number. I suspect he did that by chatting up the front desk or calling random people and pretending he had a wrong number. I assume he did the same praying on unsuspecting people at my old job until he found someone who was not aware of who he was. He also had access to some databases used by law enforcement. So that may have been another avenue of investigation, but more likely he just made a lot of calls and just kept spewing the BS and manipulating people until he got the information he wanted.

      He would have found out I left when he called and whoever was assigned my desk next picked up the phone. That’s pretty inevitable with a stalker. If you can, make your co-workers aware not to divulge any information about you. You don’t even have to tell your old job where you’ll be going if you’re afraid someone will accidentally spill the beans.

    9. Traveling Teacher*

      Speaking from experience: move abroad to a country where he doesn’t speak the language. Change your name if you can, too, without affecting your professional life!

      1. Traveling Teacher*

        This is the nuclear option, of course, but if things are getting more serious/dangerous, it can be something to seriously consider.

    10. neverjaunty*

      For your phone I recommend the Burner app. It lets you generate new and “throwaway” numbers and to block incoming calls you don’t want.

    11. MaltaKano*

      Ugh I’m so sorry. I’ve been there, too. I like the others’ suggestions – while job hunting, I just kept all my info off LinkedIn or any visible social media and just applied directly to the organizations. On my resume, I used an old home address in the same city, so the employer knew my general area, but my stalker wouldn’t have my new address if somehow my resume got public.

      My stalker was someone at my old job, starting up after I’d only been there about 9 months, and my company did a terrible job handling the whole thing. It was such an overwhelming part of my life – I had to move, work from home and remote offices, all while making time to meet regularly with the police and a detective our HR department hired – and half of the office was convinced I was doing these things to myself for attention! It was challenging not to mention anything about it job interviews, but I couldn’t well say “I’m leaving my job because a deranged coworker slashed my tires and follows me home,” and just cited professional reasons for moving on. Thankfully I found a job that was a much better fit in a new, wonderfully safe area. The police could never 100% identify the person, even though eventually it became pretty clear who it was, so she still works there. I hear from old coworkers that she still tells wild stories about me from time to time.

      My whole first year at my new job, I was petrified this person would find me and somehow ruin my new gig (a lot of what she had done was send letters to my bosses alleging all this bizarre “misconduct” I’d committed). Looking back, I should have given my new boss a heads up just in case, but I was so mixed up from not really being believed by my old company at first, so ultimately I didn’t mention anything. I didn’t want to seem potentially difficult. After about a year in my new position, I started to breathe easy, certain I am known, valued, and trusted here. Even now, though, I find it hard to talk about it at my new workplace. I know my colleagues believe me, but it’s such a strange thing that no one really knows how to respond, and so very few people ask follow-up questions or offer helpful support when I share that I had a stalker. I think people just don’t know what to say.

      All that to say – you’ve got this. It will absolutely get better. And, when you find a great new job, I wouldn’t be afraid to go to your new company and ask them to keep your name off anything public, just so they’re in the loop. Best of luck.

  18. Lavender*

    Had a bit of a weird week in the last week! The tl;dr of my questions are: What’s the right way to ask about work/life balance in an interview? Also, was this entirely on my mistakes or was this kind of odd?

    The backstory: Had an interview on Wednesday, first and only in person interview. They sent me an offer on Friday. I emailed with some questions over the 3 day weekend – part tell me more about the benefits you offer, but also I realized I didn’t get a chance to ask about work/life balance in the interview so I asked that too. (Directly: What is the work/life balance like?)

    The hiring manager and I set up a call for Tuesday and when I brought up my question about work/life balance the conversation turned quick. What I was trying to get an understanding of is how people work – is it more of a 9-5 or more of an 8-8 type of office, and if someone gets an email at 10 pm or on a Saturday are they expected to respond to it right away or is it okay to hold it until work time? I’m understanding that it was a salaried (not hourly) position and that hours change and sometimes there are occasional nights where people work late, and I’m fine with that, but I wanted to have an idea of the full picture before committing to the offer. The hiring manager gave me answers that felt very vague about how things are always changing and she expected everyone to get their work done. I did ask her if people ever take their work home with them and she said she’d be very concerned if people couldn’t finish their day at the office. All in all, it seemed reasonable to me, but she said my questions made her nervous about my candidacy and we ended the conversation with her saying “take some time to really think about if you want this position or not and let me know.”

    There are definitely more details that I’m leaving out (it’s been a whirlwind), but in the de-evolution of the conversation she also asked me: “What are you really looking for in a job?” “If you could have any job right now, regardless of circumstance, what would it be?” “If your current manager came to you in 6 months offering you a full time position, would you take it?” (I am a contractor looking for full time work. My attempt at finding something internally full time have not worked out, and I’m ready to move onto a new place. My current manager acted as glowing reference for me – because of the setup of the position, she knows I’m looking and is supportive of me finding something else.) The whole conversation only lasted about 15 minutes as well.

    I reached out to her the next day saying I’ve thought about it and would like to continue with the position, but she instead pulled the offer.

    I’m only a few years out of school, and I realize in hindsight that my questions could make me seem flaky, which was not my intention. I know there were probably ways to get a clearer answer with less scary questions, but I’m not sure what they are. I’ve had interviews with other companies in the past where they’re clear about the scope of the position, if there are required weekend hours or how long days normally are. In this situation, I was thrown off by what seemed like a pretty simple conversation with other companies turning so quickly. Have I been doing it wrong this whole time?

    Ultimately I know this outcome was for the best: I don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t want to work with me, even though I really need a full time job. There were also some things that weren’t my favorite, such as the fact that this is a less than 10 people company and her multiple notes about how the staff is “like a family,” but I thought I could handle it for a few years at least.

    Sorry that this is so long! What I’m trying to figure out is this: was this all on me, and I was fully in the wrong for asking about work/life after having already received an offer, or were her actions somewhat sudden and turning? What’s the best way to understand work/life balance in an interview?

    1. C.*

      From my perspective, I think asking directly like you did might have put her off, but she also handled it weirdly. Even though it’s such an important factor, it’s hard to get straight answers because everyone’s work-life balance is different based on what’s going on in their lives – you might be asking about hours, they might think you’re asking about PTO and ability to work from home. I think the questions you said you’ve asked in the past, like weekend work, what times people usually are in the office, are good ones to keep asking! But asking “What is the work/life balance like” outright is too vague and hard for someone to answer without knowing what sort of issues you’re concerned about.

      1. Anony*

        I agree that asking specific questions may work better (such as asking about what hours are typical and if you are expected to take work home).

        Overall I think you were right to ask. I also think they may have been right to pull the offer if they do not actually offer the work-life balance that you need. The way I read it, you were sending signals that you want a typical 9-5 (or 8-6) job and don’t want to have to work on the weekends regularly. It sounds like that was not this job. If you are not looking for a job that has regular (and reasonable) working hours, then you may want to try adding some more context to your questions. For example, if you are willing to work more hours but would need a higher salary you could bring it up more in the context of salary negotiation.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          You dodged.a.bullet. It might not feel that way OP, but her inability to answer (or even deal with) your questions means she doesn’t understand what work/life balance is about.

    2. Probably Nerdy*

      I’ve just asked directly before and no one had an issue – in fact mostly they were proud to demonstrate how great the work/life balance was. Like, “we know this is an issue industry wide but we are tackling it head on” sort of thing.

    3. Madeleine Matilda*

      I’m a manager and I don’t think your question was a bad one. My agency really values work/life balance so if a candidate for a position asked about it I wouldn’t find anything strange about the question. However, it’s possible the place where you interviewed doesn’t value work/life balance. To avoid a similar situation in the future, you might ask about the office culture, but really I think it is fair to ask about the things you did.

      1. Margery*

        I don’t think there was anything wrong in asking and I actually think you’ve dodged a bullet. What if you took it and ended up working 80 hours a week!

        Good luck with your job search.

    4. TheCupcakeCounter*

      Work/life balance was a big part of why I left my last job so I was quite blunt about it in my interviews. The response was mixed but I was blessed to be in a position where I could take my time choosing and I didn’t want to do it wrong. Current company does not even issue laptops and really feels like they failed you if you have to work more than 30 minutes past the “normal” leave time more than twice in a week.

    5. AliceW*

      I might be better and you may get a clearer response if you ask more specific questions such as how busy is a typical day? When are your busiest periods during the year? Is there a good ebb and flow to the workload? Are there important deadlines I need to meet daily, monthly, quarterly? Some firms want to hire young people because they are full of energy and are willing to work hard to prove themselves (e.g. okay with crazy hours). If that is what they were hoping for, your general questions about work/life balance might have scared them off.

      1. Safetykats*

        I agree that more specific questions are likely to be more effective and less easily misinterpreted. For example, you could ask what the normal working hours are, and also ask how often overtime is required. This is both more direct and more work-oriented than the similar questions you asked. In general, I think it’s a poor practice to ask these kinds of questions in a way that makes it sound like you want a special schedule, or don’t recognize there is likely a standard schedule. You can also ask about things like company support of community programs, policies on accumulation/use of paid vacation time, and things like that which are likely to give you an idea of whether everyone uses all their vacation every year or not, and whether the company supports employees volunteering on or outside company time. These kinds of things are work-life balance indicators.

        Note that it’s possible to research things like community involvement up front, which enables you to ask specific questions about things that are important to the company, which is always impressive.

        You can also always ask whether it’s possible to talk to someone at the working level about their typical workload or workday, which will give you an opportunity to ask these kinds of questions Of someone other than the hiring manager.

    6. DDJ*

      Ok! These are all the things I found to be flags:

      -things are always changing: if you like any kind of stability, this isn’t good. Most people will acknowledge that you can’t always know how things will go, but to just say “things are always changing” suggests a lot of upheaval.

      -she’d be very concerned if people couldn’t finish their day at the office – note that she didn’t say she’d be concerned if people couldn’t finish their work through a regular work day. When you asked about taking work home, she probably thought that if anything was left, you’d just stay at the office until it was finished.

      -my questions made her nervous – questions about work/life balance really shouldn’t make a hiring manager nervous. Unless they’re trying to hide something, or if they know that their work/life balance sucks. If work/life balance is important to you, then you need to make sure you don’t end up at a company that has no concept of it.

      -multiple notes about how the staff is “like a family” – combined with everything else, this is a 100-foot red flag. My guess is that long hours are normal, and no one is allowed to complain about it. And you will NOT be adequately compensated. Because I mean, you’re family, right? What’s money between family?

      I think this one may have been a case of the universe helping you out in making the decision for you that this would have been a terrible fit.

      In the future, no vague questions! Find out what you want to find out. If having a good work/life balance means getting your weekends off and not being expected to regularly work overtime, then focus your questions there. And I think you’ve almost nailed it with what you wrote: “is it more of a 9-5 or more of an 8-8 type of office, and if someone gets an email at 10 pm or on a Saturday are they expected to respond to it right away or is it okay to hold it until work time?”

      Those are great questions! And actually ones that I’ll keep in mind in case I end up job hunting in the near future. I’ve gotten really used to leaving work at work, and I don’t think I could move into an environment where I couldn’t do that. I don’t check my work email on the weekends. Yes, I do sometimes put in extra hours, and yes, I have occasionally come in on a weekend to meet a deadline. But those were one-off situations, and were in no way a reflection of the usual expectations.

    7. Wolfram alpha*

      Bullet dodged imo. Sounds like she did not want to answer truthfully that “you are expected to work late in the office on short notice frequently and wfh is frowned upon” and then tried to gaslite you with dedication crap.

    8. Someone else*

      To me, her response was red flaggy. She seemed to interpret your asking at all as some sort of…resistance, which from what you’ve said here, doesn’t sound like it’s the case. Her non-responses are also weird to me because different offices do things differently. Like her comment about being concerned about people not finishing during work hours…ok that’s a valid concern but also I’d sort of expect that to go hand in hand with a more 9-5 culture. If she were simultaneously stressing that it’s exempt and things change and you need to be available to do what needs doing…that’s a different culture than one where no one ever takes work home or works weekends. That’s a weird contradiction. The comment to really consider what you want is a logical one…but not when she evaded answering the question.
      I do think this is a tricky topic to get into because it should be reasonable for one person to just say flat out “so what’s it like here” without necessarily stating or insinuating a particular preference. I want this to be the sort of thing employers and employees can just discuss directly and then decide what’s a fit, rather than one side judging the other or guessing what the other preferred based on the question being asked in the first place. Asking shouldn’t be treated as some sort of hidden test, but in reality some people react that way.

    9. Lavender*

      Thank you everyone to your advice! I’m really glad that this didn’t end up working out for me now, and will definitely look to being clearer in future interviews.

      I think part of the fear I’m facing is that I worry if I ask too many questions about life outside of work in an interview and not just about the work itself it’ll seem like I’m only in it for the benefits and not the work itself (but that probably plays into a larger cultural conversation about how work is your life when you’re 25 and the pressure to make your career your identity). Just gotta find something that respects the balance!

    10. Espeon*

      Bullet-dodged on so many levels, Lavender!

      When I was last job hunting I interviewed at a fun-seeming company. They were offering flexible hours, I interviewed and asked about this, they were happy enough to invite me for a second interview, and then after the second interview they sent a seriously nasty email about me to the recruiter… saying what an awful person I was for enquiring about the flexible hours THAT THEY OFFERED IN THE FIRST PLACE. I think they actually called me ‘disgusting’. The moral of this story is, there are some weird and F-ing awful companies out there.

      I told the recruiter who helped me get my current job this story, and she basically guessed which company it was – apparently they’re notoriously horrid, and a lot of recruiters won’t work for them anymore.

    11. Jennifer Thneed*

      > her multiple notes about how the staff is “like a family,”

      Hugest red flag in the universe. If the *employees* say that, that’s one thing, but if the management says it, well, that’s bad. (Because nobody can really know what it’s like to work for themselves. It’s just a fact of our human brains.)

      I know it feels crappy that they pulled the offer, but try to feel good about it your escape. And search around in the archives here for horror stories associated with companies that regard themselves as “like a family”.

    12. Close Bracket*

      Something to think about in the future is asking to talk with your future co-workers. If the answer is no, that tells you something right there. If the answer is yes, ask them behavioral-style questions like, tell me about how you handle late night or weekend requests.

  19. NewVaca*

    How would you handle this situation? I’ve just been offered a position counter offered, and am still waiting to hear back. The recruiter followed up with me that they are still working on it.

    At the end of May, I have a trip booked. This is my first time countering an offer so in the past I’ve always just said ‘I just want hiring manager to know I have a trip in X months. If that’s ok with hiring manager, I accept/can start in two weeks’. But, since I countered, was I supposed to bring it up then with the counter, or not until I’m in a position to accept the offer?

    1. Emmie*

      I would have brought it up in the counter offer, but it’s not too late to correct it. I’d reach out today to tell them.