I had a fling with my boss’s son; pink, scented resumes; and more

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

1. I had a fling with my boss’s son

Within the last two months, I got a new job in my hometown and moved back there. I’ve been at my job about a month now and LOVE it. It’s a great culture fit and I really enjoy the work. However, I’ve run into a little snag. I went to lunch with my boss (Dwight) and my boss’s boss (Pam).

I hadn’t spent a lot of time with Pam previously, so we were chatting more about our personal lives. Pam is much older than I am, close to my mom’s age, and was mentioning that her son just moved to a different city for a new job as well. Through this discussion, I came to realize that I had a very brief fling with her son about two years ago. I’m assuming she does not know this (and I intend to keep it that way!) but I now feel supremely awkward around her. Should I just try to put it out of my mind? Any advice on how to compartmentalize this rather embarrassing situation?

Yep, try to put it out of your mind! There’s a good chance that it’ll never come up between her and her son, and if it does, she’ll probably assume that you still haven’t made the connection yourself. It doesn’t have to be a big deal! People have flings, and this was long before she was your boss.

Also, it might help to de-sexualize it in your head — reframe it to yourself as “I hung out for a bit with Pam’s son, long before I worked for her.” And in fact, if it ever does come up, that’s how you could frame it to her too: “Oh, we hung out a few times! How funny — small world.”

(Also, it feels like this has to have been the plot of a Kate Hudson movie at some point.)

2. Should I tell my boss my coworker doesn’t really need two weeks out for surgery?

I have a coworker who is consistently out of office. She yearly takes more time than is allotted, even though she has 30 years and is wanting to retire. Is it wrong of me to expect her to show up?

My boss doesn’t seem to be addressing it even though I’ve complained because her workload falls on me routinely — and our workloads as it is are vastly different. (I’d say my workload is at minimum 80% more than hers, with only one pay grade/title step difference.)

Here’s the thing — she’s been out most of last month and now this month. She took vacation knowing she had “surgery” coming up two weeks later. This surgery has her out one week and working from home one week because of inability to drive due to medication.

The thing is, she told me that her surgery is a simple breast cyst removal. I’ve had that done. It’s needle aspiration, out-patient with a less than 24-hour recovery with no harsh meds that would inhibit driving/working. So she’s milking two weeks out of this by not being honest. What do I do with this information?

If I weren’t so sick and tired of holding her load for the last three years, I would do nothing. But it’s the fact that she routinely takes above our allotted time and it falls on me to pick up her slack without ever a thank-you (in fact, if I don’t do her work say on Friday and let her catch up on Monday, she will moan and complain that I didn’t do her work Friday. Forget the hundreds of times I HAVE done her work.) She’s entitled, selfish, and lazy. I’m overworked, overwhelmed, almost on burnout, and here she’s going be out two weeks milking a less-than-24-hour procedure. Do I take this information to my manager or not?

Nope. You don’t have enough information about what’s really going on; it’s possible she’s having more serious surgery than what she told you (and just didn’t want to reveal it to you), or that there are complications you don’t know about, or that you just don’t have all the details. More importantly, you really don’t want to be in the position of judging what other people do and don’t need for their health; it is squarely Not Your Business.

But there’s a part of this that is your business: your workload. If covering for your coworker is causing you workload problems, you should talk to your boss about that — you don’t need to just take on more and more until you break. Here’s advice on what to say when you do that. And if your coworker complains to you that you’re not handling her work for her, you can say, “I don’t have the time to do it. Sorry!” Maybe followed by, “If you need it covered, you should talk to (manager).”

3. Unfair difference in summer Fridays

I work for a small company with four offices in in the NJ/NYC area. Every summer we enjoy a “summer Friday” policy where we get out early on Fridays. However, each office seems to have different rules about when it gets out. My office (in NJ) releases employees at 3 p.m.; the Manhattan office releases employees at 1 p.m.! Of course, this feels unfair, and is a tough pill to swallow. Especially when on Fridays, two of the NYC employees routinely work out of our NJ office (because it’s more convenient for them, commute-wise) and they leave at 1 p.m. … so they adhere to the rules of their home office but work out of our NJ office. Do you see where I’m going with this? It sucks to see them leave extra early!

There have been efforts in other ways to have all four offices be on the same page with consistency with standard days off for holidays. However, when it comes to summer Fridays, it seems that upper management is leaving it up to the each individual office to decide for themselves, and it just plain sucks. Is there any way to bring this up without sounding like a whiny baby? Should I just suck it up? Is this just a lousy policy and it *should* be more consistent, but there isn’t a way to bring it up to management without making me sound whiny?

It’s not unusual for different offices to set their own policy on things like summer hours. I can see why it feels unfair — especially with those two NYC employees leaving early from your office— but it’s going to be better for your peace of mind to just write it off to “different offices, different rules.” You can certainly try asking, “Could we try having the same summer hours as the NYC office this summer?” But if the answer is no, then this probably it is what it is. (One thing that might help in reframing this in your head is to remember that if the NYC office didn’t have a better set-up, you’d probably be more excited about your summer hours. It’s still a great thing to have, even if it’s not as great as theirs are.)

4. Bringing in branded items from other companies

I’m starting my first full-time job this summer, but while interning I’ve accumulated quite a few branded items (mainly t-shirts, water bottles, and bags) that I use all the time. My question is whether I should avoid wearing/bringing items with other companies’ logos on them to work. I’m guessing wearing a competitor’s t-shirt to my current company would be unwise, but what about companies that are in the same general field but don’t compete? Or companies that are in entirely different field?

Yeah, don’t bring in stuff with competitors’ logos, but otherwise you should be good to go.

5. Pink, scented resumes

You have said time and again that it is better not to be too gimmicky in your quest to stand out, and that you should stand out on the merits of your work. So my question is, given that, how do you feel about Elle Woods handing out a pink, scented resume in order to give it a little extra. Would it be over the top of someone actually tried it? I think it comes across as adorable in the film — but that might not be the right side to present to a hiring manager!

You don’t want a hiring manager to think you’re adorable! You want them to think you’re excellent at what you do. A pink, scented resume says that you’re out of step with professional norms. Of course, so does a lot of other job seeking behavior that gets rewarded in movies and TV. (Hello, Rory Gilmore.) Hollywood is terrible at this stuff.

{ 448 comments… read them below }

  1. LadyL*

    What, a pink scented resume is a no go? What’re you going to say next, that filming a professional video in my bikini isn’t cool either?

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I’m designing a line of faux fur panties. Can I ask my coworkers to buy them?

        1. Nicelutherangirl*

          I knew there was a joke somewhere in that comment that I couldn’t find, but if I kept scrolling down I’d see that someone located it. I tip my hat to sb!

    2. Ann Onimous*

      Depends on the job really. You better be using that video for your Harward Law School admission!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Elle Woods came up just yesterday in the thread on video thank you notes!

        Confidence is well and good, but job seekers should rein it in and tell themselves: “I am not Elle Woods. I am not Lando Calrissian. I am not an adorable labradoodle. Just because something would work for them doesn’t mean it would work for me.”

        1. I prefer tea*

          Maybe not, but as a quiet person, there are totally times when channeling my inner Lando Calrissian or Elle Woods would be helpful. Just for the confidence boost – not the bridge-burning impropriety part.

          And now I really want a list of everyone I shouldn’t imitate but would love to.

          1. Amber T*

            +1 for channeling your inner Elle Woods or Lando Calrissian (or whichever confident person floats your boat). I’m a huge fan of faking it til you make it when it comes to confidence.

            I don’t, however, recommend channeling your inner adorable labradoodle!

            1. Sunny*

              My daily mantra is “Be your best labradoodle self today.”
              I’m happy and adorable every day at work, and have only been reprimanded twice for peeing on my coworkers’ shoes.

              1. Amber T*

                You know what? Next time my office’s Fergus annoys me (which, according to my watch, will probably be in the next 5-7 minutes), I think I’ll just chew on his shoes. You’ve inspired me, Sunny. Thank you.

              2. teclatrans*

                And to think I told myself I would not read the comments today. What would I do without you guys making me snort-laugh-giggle?

            1. Liz*

              You know, it’s winter here, and there is a VERY well-dressed lady in my building who is absolutely rocking a cape .

        2. alannaofdoom*

          I’ve just gone off on a mental tangent trying to come up with a portmanteau for “adorable labradoodle” (though since labradoodle is already a portmanteau I guess it’s a rare double portmanteau!). At the moment I favor “adoradoodle,” but “adorabradoodle” does have a certain lyricism to it…

    3. Jemima Bond*

      Is your company holding the usual employee tighty-whitey competition again this year?

    4. SaraV*

      Shouldn’t they all know I was in a Ricky Martin video? It shows my interest in music.

    5. RJ the Newbie*

      Well, I was going to film it in my orange bikini, but whoever said orange was the new pink is seriously disturbed!

      1. Katherine*

        It is also worth pointing out that Elle Woods got the internship because the professor wanted to sleep with her, not because he was impressed with her- he clearly did not take her seriously.

        1. tangerineRose*

          And most of the early part of the movie had a general theme of how naive Elle was.

  2. Alldogsarepupppies*

    #1 as long as she doesn’t insist you go to family counseling with her and her son – your golden.

    1. Comms Girl*

      My God, if there was ever an update I desperately want to read, that’s the one. I’m genuinely concerned for that OP – hopefully we’ll have an update at some point.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Oh yeah. I had managed to put that one out of my head. Damn I hope she’s ok.

      2. Lil Fidget*

        Actually Captain Awkward also wrote a separate response to that letter, dealing only with the emotional strain. I hope OP saw that one too, as it was well done (as usual).

        1. Michaela Westen*

          She did, I saw her thank you to Captain Awkward. At least she knew it was there so I assume she read it!

  3. LouiseM*

    #2, I totally get that it’s frustrating to pick up somebody else’s slack. I’ve been there too. But it’s so out of line to comment on someone’s medical procedures that as your boss, I would imediately lose all sympathy for you and it would really lower my opinion of you, to the point that I would not care about your disparate workloads. MYOB!

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I suspect that OP is so frustrated and has been so overloaded for so long that crawling out of that bottomless work pit seems hopeless. Seeing another coworker slack on productivity while enjoying ample time off in excess of their allocation would make me so frustrated and bitter.

      I think that’s a good reminder of why OP should not say anything about her coworker’s medical procedures. There’s several good reasons not to: OP doesn’t know enough to comment, it’s a huge boundary violation, and it focuses on the wrong behavior, which in turn undermines the validity of OP’s complaints about workload. But the fact that OP is even contemplating “outing” their coworker this way shows that OP’s compass is off, which is a really helpful sign that there’s a bigger, structural problem impacting OP’s effectiveness and wellbeing.

      So OP, concentrate on the real problem: you’re overloaded. Your manager has the ability to fix that, even if they won’t “fix” your coworker. If your boss is not willing to help you get your load down to a sustainable level, that’s a good reminder that you may need to start job searching. And finally, take your vacation, too. I suspect you’re feeling so buried that you’re not getting the breaks you’ve earned and deserved, and the burnout may be clouding your assessment of your options.

      1. Sam.*

        Oof, I feel for this OP. I theoretically have the same job as a coworker, but his position gets summers off and mine does not. He also uses lots of vacation time because there’s not much point in rationing PTO when you’re guaranteed two months off. He was off the entire month of December this year. Our positions weren’t balanced to begin with – I had the year-long projects and I had to cover his work in the summer – but my work quality and ethic is definitely higher than his. So in addition to covering him when he’s out, I’ve been given more responsibilities and pulled in on a lot of “his” projects.

        Not surprisingly, I’ve been burned out for ages, and at this point, him being out of the office for any reason makes me stabby. So when he leaves mid-afternoon at least once a week to deal with something that came up with his kids, I admit I feel very resentful. I have to consciously remind myself that I don’t actually object to people leaving early to deal with family responsibilities, and that it’s the burnout and pre-existing frustration that makes me react that way about him. OP needs to keep that in perspective, too, but I know it can be hard when you’re that deep in the resentment.

        OP should definitely talk to the boss about workload. If there’s no change on the horizon, it may be worth starting a search. That’s what I ultimately had to do, unfortunately. (About a week left in this job and then I’m free! Huzzah!)

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Good Grief… no wonder you’re burned out. That sounds like a really crappy situation to be in.

        2. As Close As Breakfast*

          Oh boy, that actually sounds pretty awful! So glad you’re getting to move on! Situations like you (and OP) have described are SO HARD. For me, I can logically and objectively ‘get it’ but still get stabby on an emotional level! Like, objectively I would understand and accept without issue that coworker’s position doesn’t work summers. That coworker gets PTO and is completely entitled to (and should!) use it. That people, including coworker, have issues that come up that they have to go take care of. And yet… and yet, I would still feel VERY STABBY on a regular basis.

        3. selena81*

          I really hope OP will manage to take a step back: while her frustration is justified (imo) it will just make her look bad to tell boss THE WHOLE TRUTH.
          Occasionally covering for a co-worker is no problem in a healthy workplace, but if it gets to the point of ‘doing 2 jobs’ then that IS vary valid reason to complain regardless of any suspicion about co-worker deliberately slacking it.

    2. Lynca*

      I agree completely it’s MYOB and not appropriate to bring up to a manager.

      But that it would immediately lower my opinion of the worker to the point of not caring about the workload issue? That would be terrible management. Even if the OP up and left, that situation needs to be officially resolved because you will burn out any other employee in that exact situation with that kind of disparity. It’s something the manager does need to address regardless of feelings towards the employees. And what the OP should focus on solely resolving so they don’t burn out.

      1. Yorick*

        If the employee comes to me complaining about the coworker milking two weeks out of surgery, I’m going to think they’re just a busybody. If they do that and then bring up workload issues, I’m going to wonder if that’s just a cover for their nosiness about the coworker’s health decisions.

        But if they come to me and say that they’re having trouble managing their workload because they often have to cover for the coworker, that would be totally different.

        1. Lynca*

          It’s best if the OP never discusses the leave and makes it purely about how to handle the workload. I think everyone is in agreement there. I don’t think anyone disagrees that it won’t have an effect on perception of the OP if they did bring it up. It would. I’d think the OP had their head screwed on backwards if they came to me about that.

          I just pause at “lower my opinion of the worker to the point of not caring about the workload issue” and don’t think it is an appropriate response for a manager. That strikes me as just plain wrong. Equally as wrong as being a busybody about someone’s use of leave.

          1. smoke tree*

            I agree that that phrasing sounds off, but I assume she meant something more along the lines of, “it would make me lose all faith in your judgment so I’d be more likely to dismiss your workload complaints as well.”

            1. It's Pronounced Bruce*

              Yeah, I would be more suspicious of the veracity of the workload complaint if it came only after some much more invasive and inappropriate comments. I wouldn’t dismiss it outright, but I would be more inclined to believe that the LW just had a weird personal issue with this coworker and would therefore scrutinize their later complaints with a skeptical eye.

              This is why it’s always important to present your problems well in the first place. It’s understandable that you might have a lot of feelings about this situation, but as with everything you have to be selective about what stays part of your inside voice and what’s worth sharing.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        I get it. It’s not the greatest management possible, but I get it. I had a situation a few years ago that was similar in some ways. It was a housemate situation, not a work one. But the housemate who was “right” on the facts was banana-pants insane in her choices of what issues to raise, and when and how to do it. She would do things like pounce on me the very instant I walked in the door from work to complain that Bad Housemate moved her soda six inches to the left of where she put it, in a tone that suggested she thought soda-moving was a violation of the Geneva Convention.

        Now, Bad Housemate was actually bad. But the constant petty complaints created a lot of smoke and noise that made it harder to see the actual problems. Some of that is on me, of course, not to be able to see that “OK, even if A, B, and C are trivial nothings, and even if she raises the issue of D at a stupid time in an over-the-top manner, D actually is a problem.” But she could have been smarter in how she raised issues. Since the person writing in is in the analogous position to my Nice Housemate, that’s the advice she’s getting.

        1. Susan Sto Helit*

          I had a housemate once demand to know, really really early on into our living relationship, if I’d been in our other housemate’s room, because she remembered his door being open and now it was closed. Like /obviously/ the second the house was empty that’s exactly what I’d do. It was the weirdest thing. I was kind of on eggshells around her for the entirety of the tenancy.

      3. Safetykats*

        The thing is, it’s not even the manager’s place to decide how much medical leave an amployee needs. A manager can absolutely ask for a medical justification or assessment – from an actual medical professional – but absolutely cannot decide that an employee needs only x amount of time before coming back to work.

        What the manager can do is handle the workload issues better. And perhaps insist, if an employee takes what seems like excessive time for medical issues (and has no remaining paid time off) that time be managed as short term disability or FMLA. Either will require a medical assessment for justification of time off and return to work.

    3. Susan Sto Helit*

      I’m a bit confused about the surgery thing – where I live, I can self-certify for up to a week away, but any longer than that is going to need a doctor’s note. A week off for surgery, plus a week working from home, would definitely require something like that. So it would be impossible to ‘milk two weeks’ – if I’m getting two weeks, it’s going to be because my doctor told my company that was what was necessary.

      I guess it’s possible she’s been told to take a week off on medical advice, and has added the work from home part of her own accord. But it’s just as possible the OP doesn’t have all the information, and this really is necessary. Either way, you don’t want to get into questioning someone’s medical needs. What happens next time the OP is sick? Will that be up for debate as well?

      OP should sit down with her boss and ask that they discuss a strategy for handling the workload when one of them is out. Failing that, try to reframe it mentally as the ‘team’s’ work, not one person or the others. You work your set hours and you do as much of the ‘team’ work as you can within your hours. Then you stop, and go home, and don’t worry about any more of it. You’ve done your part. If anything isn’t getting done that isn’t on you, that’s down to there being insufficient people on the team available for the level of work needing doing.

      And take a holiday, or at least some time off. If you’re getting close to burnout then you need to care for yourself as well. At least from the sound of it, your company should be understanding about it!

      1. Goldensummer*

        Its also possible that OP isn’t working with all of the facts. There are needful conditions that can make routine procedures take longer in execution or recovery. I react poorly to anesthesia and it takes me 48 hours after a routine colonoscopy to feel comfortable enough to drive a car. This is a MYOB for sure.

        1. SoSo*

          Yes, this is a very good point. OP probably doesn’t have all the facts. They don’t know how big the cyst is, the location, if there are multiples, the surgical approach by her doctor, etc etc. Nor does she need them, because one’s medical situation is no one else’s business. All these things factor in and just because OP had a similar situation doesn’t mean that the coworker will have the same experience.

          That said, I have a terrible sensitivity to prescription pain meds, and they make me really dizzy/loopy. I’ve had mole removals that required higher dose pain medication for a few days after (and several stitches from the incision in a very sensitive area) and I didn’t feel comfortable driving during that time frame. Even though I wasn’t at home on bed rest, it still made traveling to/from work difficult. Same with the few weeks after I had knee surgery- I was cleared to work, but the Vicodin they prescribed made it impossible to stand or drive without getting woozy. Long story short- people have different reactions. The coworker’s medical situation is not the issue, OP’s workload is. They should definitely address that with their boss ASAP.

          1. Margo the Destroyer*

            Also from my understanding, it also depends on the kind of cyst. Some can be done like hers, but the solid ones would need surgery.

        2. Seriously?*

          Yes. I have a history of reacting poorly to anesthesia and having weird complications even for routine procedures. I had laparoscopic surgery to remove my gallbladder and ended up in the hospital for three days. Sometimes there area also two different ways to do a surgery, one that is simple and one that requires more recovery. The simple procedure is not always feasible if there are other medical issues or if it is an unusual case.

          1. TrainerGirl*

            So true…that happened to me as well. When the surgeon opened me up, they realized that my gallbladder had adhered itself to my liver and pancreas…took an extra 2 hours to peel it off. I ended up being out for 2 weeks and had coworkers saying, “So and so’s wife had laparoscopic surgery and was only out for 2 days!” I don’t think a lot of people understand that they’re not necessarily getting the whole story, and folks will say that they’re having something different because they don’t want to reveal what they’re actually having.

        3. Kelly White*

          I had foot surgery on my right foot when I was in my 20’s, I had the surgery on Thursday- and was back at work (on crutches) on Monday. I was out of the cast in 5 weeks and able to do weight bearing about a week after that.
          I had the exact same surgery on my left foot when I was in my 40’s. I was in a cast with no weight bearing for 9 weeks. The bones were not healing correctly. There was talk of having to have another surgery. I was out of work for almost 2 months. It was hellish.
          I had a vacation scheduled for two weeks after I came back. it had been booked the year before. I couldn’t change the dates, or get refunded. I went.
          Being home recovering from surgery was not a vacation. Did it cause my co-workers to have to pick up my slack? Yes. Did I feel guilty? Yes. The timing was certainly not ideal, and had I known the outcome, I probably wouldn’t have had the surgery- but, timing is almost never ideal. Did I pick up slack for co-workers when they had unexpected issues? Yes. Did it suck sometimes? Yes.

          1. many bells down*

            I had two surgeries 6 weeks apart for the same issue. Took me longer to bounce back from the second. Heck, it took me longer just to come out of the anesthesia the second time.

        4. Canarian*

          I agree OP isn’t working with all the facts and definitely shouldn’t talk to the boss about this based on the information we (and OP) have.

          I wonder, though, if instead of just naming the procedure, the slacker coworker had confided “Oh it’s an outpatient procedure, I’ll be right as rain the next morning. But I figured I’d take as much time off as I can get, even if I don’t need it!” if that would change the calculus for whether to approach the manager?

          1. It's Pronounced Bruce*

            Honestly, I still wouldn’t. It’s still getting into the weeds when the LW’s actual issue is being disrupted in one way or another by having to regularly but unpredictably cover someone else’s work. She has to focus on that rather than making it about her coworker, because the solutions she’s asking for are all going to be on her end.

            You could potentially note it later on in that conversation with management if it was actually pertinent to bring up in context, but overall it’s not gonna solve the LW’s problem for them to know that. That means volunteering it out of frustration over the work itself is veering into petty territory even if the coworker was blatantly admitting to doing something shady.

            And hell, it might not even be shady even if they were saying they would be fine right away. People are not required to give you all the details about their medical status, and in fact many people will lie to you about it just to make the conversation more comfortable. I do this with my coworkers, as far as they know I’m a picture of health when I actually have a very serious progressive illness that requires constant vigilance from me and will eventually be impossible to hide. I’ll also block off the max time I might need for something health related just in case I end up needing it, since it’s easier to come back early than to try to arrange for more coverage when you’re already not doing great.

        5. MamaGanoush*

          Right, and the co-worker may not have told the OP the whole story. I’ve had co-workers I had zero desire (and zero professional need) to share “the whole story” with, so they got, “Oh, I have to take my son to some doctor’s appointments” and not “My son is now allergic to his chemo and we’re testing whether these other drugs can manage the allergic reaction so he can get the chemo so he doesn’t die and we need to do this with a nurse watching him” and that’s why I’m taking a lot of time off. (My son has been off chemo for three years — yay!)
          In addition, the co-worker may be taking the extra time *unpaid* (btdt too).

      2. Temperance*

        I disagree with the “team” mentality here, because that would just lead LW to not complete her own work, which could cause her issues.

        1. Susan Sto Helit*

          I guess it really does depend on the company, and the team itself. My team, for instance, we all have projects that we’re individually responsible for – but if someone is out sick, or is overwhelmed and needs help, one of us will step in (generally whoever volunteers). But we won’t be doing two jobs – we’ll just be reprioritising our own workloads, so something non-urgent gets pushed back in favour of doing what is urgent, no matter who is ultimately responsible for it.

          I guess the difference between my team and the OP’s though is that there’s plenty of give and take, whereas her situation is all give and no take in return and that isn’t sustainable.

        2. Perse's Mom*

          Agreed – or the super fun different baseline expectations. If OP doesn’t continue to do most of the coworker’s job on top of her own, she may suddenly be considered ‘underperforming’ or ‘not a team player.’

          A boss who’s so oblivious to extended absences resulting in work being dumped on an already overworked employee… that seems to me like a manager who would punish the already overburdened employee for making the boss do their job.

      3. not really a lurker anymore*

        I am dealing with situational depression. It’s usually controlled by my meds but there was a point when I went to see my primary care doctor for a cold/cough issue and asked that she give me a note stating I needed 3 days off. She never even blinked at the request and signed off on it. She’s been seeing me for 7+ years so there is some history.

      4. Annie Moose*

        If OP is in the US, whether or not you need a doctor’s note is entirely up to your company.

      5. Amber T*

        When I needed two weeks (10 business days) off for surgery, I could take five consecutive days, but then I’d need to go for short term disability for anything further. It was the end of the year and I had vacation days banked, so I ended up using five vacation days for the second half. I asked HR if they needed anything from my doctor and she looked at me like I had a second head.

      6. Michaela Westen*

        Upthread it was framed as OP’s work and colleague’s work.
        I would do my own work first, then as much of colleague’s work as possible, during my regular work hours.
        If this isn’t what OP’s been doing, maybe discuss it with the boss so they understand what’s happening.

      7. TardyTardis*

        Although I had a cyst sucked up and gone and was back at work later that day, before the (local) anesthetic had worn off–I worked for a culture where arriving with 101 degree fever was a mark of honor. Everyone was like that there (it was said, ‘don’t call in sick to month end, don’t call in dead to year end’). I took vitamins like mad there. Someone trying to get two weeks for the same procedure would have to have one hell of a doctor’s note to get away with it.

        Yes, there are many good reasons I’m no longer at ExJob.

    4. Phoenix Programmer*

      Op should also realize that age makes a big difference in healing rates.

      Getting put out for wisdom teeth removal was nothing when I was 22. Getting put out for an upper Endo scope when I was 29 – it took me a week to stop feeling the anesthesia and I did not feel safe driving.

      Besides age impacting recovery rates – coworker can be allergic to medicines, have a more serious chat than you did, be going to a doctor who performs it differently esp if you did not live in the area when you had it done. Many many valid reasons for this to take longer than yours did.

      1. CatMom*

        I was JUST going to say this. She mentions that her coworker is older than she is and near retirement age, and the difference between having surgery in your 60s and having it in your 20s or 30s is massive. Even if her doctor is just being cautious, there is still no reason to assume she’s milking her time off.

      2. only acting normal*

        Also anaesthesia is not one uniform thing. Different anaesthesiologists will have subtly different methods, drug mixes, approaches to different surgeries and patients. There’s a reason is a specialism.

    5. Pollygrammer*

      While I agree that commenting to her boss that she thinks her coworker is scamming extra time out of her procedure is a really, really bad idea, I don’t think it’s ridiculous for OP to think that the proven slacker is being a slacker.

      1. Seriously?*

        I agree, but the only thing she should talk to her boss about is how untenable it is for her to do both her job and her coworkers job. Maybe they need to hire a temp. Maybe they need to put some stuff on the back burner for those two weeks. A solution needs to be found that does not involve the OP doing two jobs. And if the solution is not free and easy for the boss then maybe she will examine those PTO requests a little more closely and not grant a vacation right before a surgery.

        1. TardyTardis*

          I so hear that. I had to do extra work to cover for a new employee who somehow thought she was my supervisor and nearly had my real supervisor convinced of it.

      2. Colette*

        I don’t think it’s ridiculous, but I also don’t think it’s helpful. Even if she doesn’t say anything to any0ne else, framing it in her own mind as the coworker slacking will lead to resentment, and she’ll be less likely to treat her kindly. That’s not good for her coworker, nor is it good for her. That’s the kind of thing that can affect her reputation with people who see the unkindness and don’t see the full picture.

      3. It's Pronounced Bruce*

        I’m not sure that the LW knows she’s a slacker, though. She says she’s often gone and that management is ok with it. As far as the information the LW has, there is no way to tell if the coworker has an arrangement with their boss for an entirely legitimate reason or not.

        What the LW needs to do is talk to their manager, because I would almost guarantee you that the manager thinks they’ve managed to put up a perfectly nice setup since no one is telling them otherwise. Coworker may be grousing when things are unfinished later because management has assured her that things will be handled while she’s away. And maybe she’s a turd. We don’t know, but importantly here it sounds like the LW doesn’t know, either, which is why they need to talk to their boss about their difficulty with getting the work covered before they delve into despair at the unfairness of it all.

        1. Anne*

          OP here- the co-worker is a KNOWN slacker-like call in because it’s raining too hard type. Come in late, leave early- I swear in the last few years she hasn’t been an entire week in office working once. The issue w/her milking that time-and no-the boss didn’t ask for a letter from Dr- is that she had already been gone a week vacation and then the following week was in the office ONE half day and so basically she was out almost an entire month. 3 days were for an in-town conference meeting that was actually one evening and one day. She’ll position days off and work from home days around every holiday to get the good time off months in advance so I don’t have a chance. I have taken note-she exceeds time off by 1- 2 weeks every year. She slacks continuously at work, pretends to not see e-mails, pretends to be busy so things she’s supposed to get at that week aren’t done after each day. The ‘work’ needs to get done. The boss has consistently ignored or minimized my requests for help w/the load-even though he’s admitted the load is unbalanced. It’s been years, I’m actively searching other positions because of it, and he knows this. He even will sometimes ‘joke’ about whatever reason she’s out that day- she comes up with every excuse in the book. It’s poor management, plain and simple. Thanks for the tips on not discussing the medical issue. Quite broken and worn out – it’s affected my mental health.

  4. SusanIvanova*

    “You don’t want a hiring manager to think you’re adorable!”

    Or the opposite of adorable – you don’t want to trigger their migraines! Or even just annoy them. Mom had the migraines, so I never built up a tolerance.

    1. sunny-dee*

      Yeah … most of the issue with using Legally Blonde as a reference point is that she was treated as a joke within the movie. Even Hollywood wasn’t trying to pass it off as a good idea. It is literally the punchline to a joke.

      1. Annie Moose*

        And Elle had to work hard to prove herself DESPITE all these marks against her, because they made people take her less seriously.

      2. KR*

        Though pink scented resumes are a bad idea, Elle’s total sense of confidence, can-do attitude, impeccable sense of style, and optimism are great things to take note of!

  5. LouiseM*

    #3, the different hours in the New York office affects you…how? This is not a lousy policy, it’s a generous one that a lot of office workers would kill for. You would sound whiny if you brought it up at all and might jeopardize the perk for others. If the NYC workers leaving early dumped a lot of stuff on your plate, you would have a legitimate complaint, but if your only complaint is that you get out early but they get out even earlier, you should keep it to yourself.

    1. LovecraftInDC*

      I agree that nothing good can come of complaining about it, but I also understand the frustration with disparities in working conditions, particularly if you’re doing the same job. I worked in a satellite office for a major investment bank, and we got basically no ‘fun extras’ while the group in New York got tons. It definitely hurt morale, as it made us feel less valued than the other employees (of course, we were; the whole point of the office was to hire operations workers for a lower salary than what the NY employees got paid, and make up for lack of talent with greater numbers). Sometimes equalizing silly policies is an easy way to improve morale.

      People want to feel equal to their coworkers, and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable desire.

      1. Mad Baggins*

        Yes, I agree completely. I think at least asking NYC workers to keep the same hours as NJ while in NJ in the name of optics is fair.

        1. Ciara Amberlie*

          “I think at least asking NYC workers to keep the same hours as NJ while in NJ in the name of optics is fair.”

          If I were an NYC worker, that would be a no go for me. I’d presumably agreed to the job on the NYC terms, which involved leaving at 1pm on Summer Fridays. I’d be pissed if I was asked to work longer than the hours I agreed to, because other coworkers, who agreed to work different hours, couldn’t be an adult about it and accept that not everybody gets the same deal.

          1. Susan K*

            Well, they’re allowed to work out of the NJ office for their convenience, to cut down on their commute, so I don’t think it’s out of line to say that they can work out of the NYC office and go by the NYC Friday schedule, or work from the NJ office and go by the NJ Friday schedule, but they don’t get best of both worlds.

            1. Harper the Other One*

              OP #3, maybe you can reframe this a bit for yourself. You’re focused on the Friday departure time, but there are probably a ton of advantages to working in the NJ office that affect you every day, right? I’m not from the area but based on what I’ve heard, I imagine your commute takes significantly less time, parking is cheaper, etc. Those are kind of “invisible perks” – they’re there, but because it’s your normal, you don’t necessarily think of those.

              If you think about it that way, does 2 extra hours off on summer Fridays seem like something you’d give all those advantages up to get?

              1. Humble Schoolmarm*

                I was wondering about traffic too when I read this. Do the traffic patterns in NYC mean that if you leave at 3 you’ll still get home at the same time, just with an extra 90 minutes of all the problems (environmental and otherwise) that come with it? If so, then the perk needs to be bigger to make it, uh, perkier.

                1. RJ the Newbie*

                  As a NYC commuter who lives in NJ I can tell you that the traffic at 3:00pm on summer Fridays is equally as bad as it is two hours during official ‘rush’ hour. Those two hours make a difference. If I were in that NJ office, I’d make a case for keeping the same summer Friday hours as the NY office.

                2. Brendan*

                  I live in NJ and work in NYC. If I had this rule at my office and left at 1, I would get home at around 3, if I were lucky. If I worked in my company’s NJ branch and left there at 1 I would get home at like 1:45. It’s a major difference.

              2. SarahKay*

                But the problem with reframing it is that the two NYC heads are getting all the NJ perks, plus an extra NYC one.

                So I do sympathise with OP#3, and agree that it’s not entirely fair, but I think that despite this, OP#3 has to just let it go.

                I don’t think any good can come of raising it with the managers; best case is she’s ignored, worst case is she gets a name for being a complainer and everyone loses that perk altogether.

                1. Seriously?*

                  It makes me think of the fairness experiment done with monkeys a few years ago. The first monkey was very happy to be given cucumber as a reward until they saw the other monkey getting a grape for the same task. https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2014/02/27/283348422/that-s-unfair-you-say-this-monkey-can-relate

                  It is very natural to be upset by an unequal setup and I can see why it would be a morale hit, especially when you see the NY workers leave the NJ office.

              3. E.*

                “there are probably a ton of advantages to working in the NJ office that affect you every day, right?”

                I don’t think that’s a fair way of looking at this. We don’t know where OP lives or why. Companies shouldn’t say “Well we think living/working in this town is more pleasant than this other town, so they have to work more hours to make up for it.”

            2. Rusty Shackelford*

              I don’t think it’s out of line to say that they can work out of the NYC office and go by the NYC Friday schedule, or work from the NJ office and go by the NJ Friday schedule, but they don’t get best of both worlds.

              Agree. Taking both the perk of working from the NJ office *and* taking the extra NYC summer hours feels like unfair double-dipping to me. But I don’t think there’s anything the OP can/should do about it.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Double-dipping is a great way to put it! I like this! But yeah, I don’t see a way to resolve this, either.

            3. Kittymommy*

              This. Those working out of a different office play by different rules, but the two out of the NJ office and wanting to leave at the NY times? Nope, if you’re in the Jersey house, you follow them.

          2. Temperance*

            Then you can work out of the NYC office instead of the NJ one, even though it’s more convenient for you to work out of the NJ office.

            1. Ciara Amberlie*

              Nope. If I’ve been approved by my bosses to work out of the NJ office, on NYC hours, then my coworkers’ jealousy has nothing to do with that. The deal is between my and my employer. If they want a better deal, they can ask for it. But don’t try to take away the perks of others.

          3. Brendan*

            “I’d presumably agreed to the job on the NYC terms, which involved leaving at 1pm on Summer Fridays.”

            You also presumably agreed to the job on the NYC terms, which involved… working in the NYC office. The NJ office is accommodating these NYC workers once a week for no other reason than their own convenience, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect those workers to adhere to the rules of the office they’re actually in.

            1. Roscoe*

              I don’t know. I took my job knowing that I could work out of other offices (for example we have one in Miami). If I have set hours I work, I don’t think that just because I’m in Miami for a few days working out of their office that it means I’m supposed to change my hours.

              1. Magee*

                But these aren’t “set” hours. From the way I read it, the NYC workers aren’t coming in two hours early to make up for getting to leave two hours early. Both NJ and NYC workers are coming in at the same time (let’s say 8am) but the NYC workers leave at 1 and the NJ workers leave at 3. That means that ever Friday the NYC workers only have to do a 5 hour work day while the NJ workers have to do a 7 hour work day.

                While I do agree that the OP probably can’t complain about this without sounding immature, that is a big perk the NYC workers are getting that the NJ workers are not. It’s totally justifiable for the OP to feel slighted.

                1. Roscoe*

                  Sure, but who is to say that the employees didn’t take the job knowing that their summer hours meant they got to leave at 1pm. That is definitely a selling point for some companies, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were told about that perk when they got the job. So in that case they are “set” hours.

                  Again, I work in a company with multiple offices. I’m not going to assume every. single. office is run the same way and has the exact same rules

            2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

              I’d kind of expect people to adhere to whatever rules have been established between the employee and their managers rather than the managers of the satellite office.workers? Aren’t work hours and location the business of the employee and their boss and not their co

              1. Roscoe*

                Exactly. Like if my manager is fine with me doing X, I don’t have to default to the other offices manager’s preference

            3. Ciara Amberlie*

              As I said above, if my boss approved me to work out of thr NJ office, but keep my NYC hours, then I don’t see the problem with sticking to them.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I understand the frustration, but this seems like step 1 of the future story of Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, where management concludes that if people are going to complain then they will just close at 5 on Fridays (or 6) and there, it’s all equal.

        1. Seriously?*

          Yep. Complaining about getting out two hours early because others get out four hours early is a good way to get rid of summer hours.

          1. puzzld (I see there's a Puzzled here, I am not that Puzzled)*

            Yeah. We used to have flex summers where staff could work 4 1os or 9 9s or whatever as long as your area was covered. Many departments had only the one summer admin, but several departments could combine coverage so llamas would cover both llamas and alpacas, then tomorrow alpacas would cover both, etc. Worked fine, until it didn’t. One or two admins would get stuck trying to cover the whole campus, or someone would take leave and not bother to cover…

            We still have flex summers, but the schedule has to be approved by the great grand bosses office and there’s really no flexibility left.. basically people can maybe take a short lunch and leave 1/2 hour earlier, can’t even stack those 1/2 hours to get an afternoon off. So yeah, this is why we can’t have nice things.

        2. Kathleen_A*

          Falling Diphthong’s thought was mine as well. If you whine too much, you could lose what you’ve got – and leaving a little early is much, much, much better than nothing.

          My company has a “summer days” policy that basically gives us a specified number of extra days off in the summer. These days, it’s pretty uncomplicated. You know how many days you have, you know you have to take them before X date in September, and you schedule them just like vacation days and get supervisor approval and all that.

          But before coming up with this system, we used to have a much more complicated system in which you were supposed to accrue hours and bank them, but: You could only bank them for Y number of weeks before using them, and you could only use them on Fridays, and you could only use 1 per pay period, and if you came in early so as to accrue some extra hours for banking purposes, you were supposed to work during that time, not just gossip and sip coffee, and you were also supposed to……..on and on and on. It was a mess, it was also extremely easy to scam, and it was not particularly workable for those, like me, who (due to various deadlines) have a lot of Fridays that are simply impractical to take off. Under the old system, I was never able to use all of my summer days.

          I didn’t complain too much because while having 3-4 extra days off isn’t as great as having 5 extra days off, it’s a great deal better than no extra days off at all. But a lot – a *lot* of people did complain to such an extent that we almost lost the program. Fortunately, management likes the extra days off as much as the rest of us do, so they figured out a way to restructure the program so that it was easier and more workable. But losing the program was a real possibility for a while there, and the reason is that management really hates it – and you can’t blame them – when employees take a nice little perk and turn it into A Controversy.

          So my advice to you, OP, is to not turn this into A Controversy.

        3. smoke tree*

          Yeah, from the employee’s perspective, I don’t think there’s any way to raise it that doesn’t sound petty and risk annoying management. But from management’s perspective, I think it would be worth considering whether the disparity is necessary enough to be worth the potential morale issues, particularly because of the NYC workers making it more obvious. Human psychology says that it would make sense to consider whether they could match the NYC schedule, or explain the reasons for the disparity to the NJ team. This sort of thing is just destined to bother people.

        4. TrainerGirl*

          Yeah, I can see it. At an old job, I got more sick leave than some of my teammates, because I worked part of the week in Washington D.C. and there was a law mandating the number of days for those who worked in the city. My coworkers that did all of their time in the VA office were upset, but they never had to make the commute that I did. Make sure that things are actually unfair before you complain that they are.

      3. Magee*

        I agree. I think a lot of people are jumping on OP #1 for being whiny. It’s not unreasonable to want to be treated the same as your coworkers.

        At my work, my manager allows my entire team to leave at 2:30 on Fridays before holidays with the expectation that you don’t take lunch. This is a nice thought, but since my set hours mean that I come in about 1-1.5 hours before my coworkers, I am essentially just taking my lunch break at the end of the day. No real perk for me. Some days it can feel a little unfair that my coworkers get to work a 6 hour work day compared to my 7.5 hour work day, but I know complaining about it won’t get me anywhere. I still get to leave an hour earlier than I normally do and there are some employees here that don’t get this perk at all.

        1. oranges & lemons*

          On a similar note, I’m a remote worker for a company that has a culture of going on day trips in the summer. If you work in the main office and want to go on the trip, you get to go with a full day’s pay. If you can’t make it for any reason, you just work the full day instead. I get why this is the case, it’s not like it’s a real vacation day, but it is kind of hard to sit at a desk all day knowing that all your coworkers are off having a good time.

        2. SWOinRecovery*

          Unless there’s a real coverage issue, I would recommend pulling an MLB (comment below) and dipping out at 1:30. Even if there is, maybe you can enlist a work friend to cover that last hour? Every office is different, but I was in such a bureaucratic system that we all learned to apply logic and take care of ourselves without asking permission.

        3. Kathleen_A*

          I am not actually contending that the OP *is* whiny. What I’m saying is that it would be oh, so easy to *sound* that way when complaining about this. It might be possible to discuss this without sounding whiny, but oooh, will she have to be careful. It’s very, very difficult to say anything like “How come they get to leave at 1 while we have to work until 3?” without sounding as though you’re whining.

      4. Jady*

        Echoing these thoughts. I think a lot of commentators are underestimating just how much of a morale hit something like this can be.

        Every job I’ve had has been a branch from the headquarters office, and all of those jobs have had the problems that OP feels.

        The worst instance for me was the HQ throwing a party for the company profits. The HQ got to take half a day off on a Thursday and all of Friday. Our office had no celebration and worked full hours both days. We contributed to those profits!

        It’s not just about being ‘whiny’. It’s about being a valued and appreciated employee, having your contributions acknowledged. And feeling compensated fairly, not just in salary but also benefits.

        Assuming their summer hours are only June-July, these NYC offices are essentially getting an extra 4 full PTO days, by leaving early at 1pm for 8 weeks.

        That would be a huge hit on my morale.

        To OP#3 – the reality is that it’s unlikely to change. But if you have direct access to The Right Person who can actually do something about it, I’d absolutely raise it. You’d probably need to go with the mindset of “I noticed this fact, can you explain why there is a difference?”

    2. Allison*

      I could also see OP being frustrated if their job required communication with people in the NYC office, and once they log off for the day there isn’t much they can get done, so the last two hours are super unproductive.

      1. myswtghst*

        Yep. I think there are two ways the OP could potentially bring this up, and either way, they’d have to do it once and then let it go, and would need to focus on the broader work-related impacts of the policy disparity, not the emotional “it’s not fair” reaction.

        The first option would be along the lines of Allison’s comment – if the NYC office leaving early means that the NJ office can’t be terribly productive during those last 2 hours, it might be worth pointing this out to see if the NJ office can also leave at 1pm.

        The other would be to point out that the optics of summer hours working differently for different offices could create some issues with morale, while being aware (as others have pointed out) that there may be some (perceived or real) advantages to working out of the NJ office that were already taken into account.

    3. Shirley Keeldar*

      I don’t know if this is the same at your office, but when I worked in NYC (lo, these many years ago) and we got to leave at 1:00 on Fridays, we had to work an extra hour Mon-Thurs to make up the time. Are your NYC colleagues doing that? If they put in the time for the first four days of the week, they’d feel entitled to leave Friday at 1:00, no matter where they were working.

    4. epi*

      Yeah I really did not understand this letter. There is no good way to bring this up without sounding whiny because it *is* whining. This OP wants to take a perk away from their coworkers, just because they are jealous. I don’t think this is that different than the various busybody coworkers who have been written about here over the years who track other people’s hours and tattle and complain about schedules they don’t understand and are none of their business.

      The OP has a few reasonable and professional options open to them. They could make an effort to get their nose out of other people’s schedules, and reset their idea of what is and is not their business. They could make a case to their boss that they’d like to try out that schedule and propose how they will make that work.

      They could find a new job where they aren’t so desperate to get out a half day early every week, and so resentful of their colleagues, that they track other people’s hours and feel terrible that they have to be in the office even slighly longer than anybody else.

      1. aNon*

        I think this comment is a little rude. Telling them to ‘get their nose out of other people’s schedules’ and to ‘find a new job where they aren’t so desperate to get out a half day early every week’ is really rude phrasing and seems to be a fairly un-generous reading of the OP’s letter. They aren’t getting their nose in other people’s schedules when they are clearly seeing people leaving early from their office because they are considered NY employees instead of NJ. I notice when my coworkers leave early but it doesn’t mean my nose is in their schedule. I just have functioning eyes and happen to notice it, especially when it’s consistent. And if other departments are getting a perk that mine isn’t and that upsets me, it doesn’t mean I hate my job and need to find a new one. It just means that I can see an inequity and it doesn’t seem fair. Whether fair matters in work is a whole other matter.

    5. MLB*

      At my last job the normal office were 8-5. I asked my manager to work 7-4 because of my commute and she agreed. On the day before a major holiday, our office would close at 3 so I would leave at 2. I never asked permission, I just did it. It may have seemed unfair to the others, but I came in an hour before anyone else and probably got more work done because there was nobody in the office yet to bug me.

    6. MamaGanoush*

      LOL, I read #3 and thought, summer Friday hours? What are summer Friday hours? You get to go home early every Friday in the summer? Daaaaaaamn! Wish I could do that.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        Right? My job is government and public facing. I’m here until the department closes for the day. End of story.

    7. Thursday Next*

      Coming to this late, but just as a data point: it takes me 2-2.5 hours to *get out of NYC* on Fridays. Sadly, there have been occasions where it’s taken even longer. And I really do mean, to make it juuust past city limits. Fridays in summer are the worst for outbound traffic. A 1 pm end time is a kind acknowledgment of this reality (and it’s not a universal perk).

      Now, this doesn’t address the issue of NYC-based staff working in NJ while abiding by NYC hours, but that’s between them and their supervisors.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, definitely no scented pink resumes (but I suspect you already know that :) ). If nothing else, think of all the people with allergies or smell sensitivities who would find the perfumed resume nauseating. And honestly, if you imagine it happening in real life, it’s really not adorable (I would argue it’s not adorable in the film, either, but I am a curmudgeon).

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Also, by the GG reboot (and honestly, 2-3 seasons before that), it became clear that Rory Gilmore is an entitled monster.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Rory is the absolute worst.

        A good rule of thumb for life is “if it’s a major plot point in a movie or TV show, you should avoid doing it in real life”.

      2. DontSendYourKidstoHudsonUniversity*

        Rory is the worst and she never would have gotten into Yale…

        1. DontSendYourKidstoHudsonUniversity*

          Ok, so she probably would have because of, you know, nepotism. I still find her infuriating as a teen/college student because her mother thinks she’s so smart and together all the time. As an adult, I HATE her. Like c’mon go wait some tables, or find another steady income stream while you figure out your dream job.

        2. Jen S. 2.0*

          Rory probably would have gotten into Yale, but my biggest problem with that entire applying-to-college storyline was Lorelai’s complete ignorance that you don’t just apply to one school, get in, and go there. Even if she dropped out of high school at 17, Lorelai was the daughter of rich people and was attending a private school, so she would have heard something about the mechanics of applying to college. She was **flabbergasted** when Rory admitted that she had applied to three or four schools. Whaaaa? Even students who are 100% qualified to get into Ivy League schools don’t always get in to the one of their choosing. Any decent prep school like Chilton with any sort of decent college advising would never let a student, even the valedictorian, apply to just one school. Even if it really was Harvard or bust, she still would’ve applied to a couple of other Ivies (and Chilton would have told her that she SHOULD apply to Yale, if only because of the family connection), and then somewhere like Amherst or Tufts as a backup.

          And NO ONE mentioned this to Lorelai???

          1. Jen S. 2.0*

            Seriously! Lorelai acted not only shocked, but downright insulted that anyone on the planet would even entertain anything other than the idea that Rory would apply to Harvard and only Harvard, and then she would obviously get in.

            This is never called out on the show, but while Lorelai did not go to Chilton, she probably went to, like, Hartford Country Day Academy or something (making that up, but you know), where the college application process is likely a THING. No one ever mentioned safety schools and reach schools to her, not even when she was a junior in high school herself and thinking about college? She or her friends never visited colleges? Even as the free spirit she was, the idea that even the smartest ones and hardest workers apply to a few colleges surely passed in front of her face.

            And how did she get through 3 years as a Chilton parent — dating a teacher, even — with no one disabusing her of this Harvard-or-bust notion? She and Rory did no college visits other than that one road trip where they crashed a class? I mean, it was even a plot point that Paris got rejected from Harvard (for Reasons, but still).

            At a minimum, Rory should have applied to Harvard as her first choice, Yale because her alumni connections helped her chances, and the journalism program at Columbia. Then as safeties maybe the journalism program at Northwestern, and Wesleyan (close to home).

            I love you, Amy Sherman-Palladino, but get it together.

            (Somewhere, my high school college counselor is very amused right now.)

        3. Michaela Westen*

          Even before the Yale thing, I was disappointed that her rich grandparents stepped in and made it easy for her. Don’t relate at *all* to that and it was a plot fail, taking the easy way out.
          I tried watching the reboot and the combination of rushing and personalities made me stop after the first episode.

      3. oranges & lemons*

        I don’t think I would find Rory nearly as annoying if everyone in the show wasn’t constantly falling all over themselves to tell her how wonderful she is, in spite of all evidence of her actual behaviour.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      I’ve only seen bits and pieces of that movie, but I agree that I’m not so sure it’s adorable.

      Moreover, a lot of things that are supposed to be sympathy-causing or endearing or cute or fun or just what you do in TV and movies are at worst unrealistic, and at best terrible in real life. See:

      *stalking / pursuing a woman who tells you no such that you wear her down and she goes out with you

      *banging your assistant

      *Breaking every medical rule on the books in order to save a patient / breaking every legal rule to win a case

      *Spending what seems like all damn day every day in your favorite coffeehouse when you supposedly have a full-time job

      …and all of that is before you get to the long list of things that might not be terrible, but are seriously unrealistic, like villains who speak to each other in the moviegoers’ native language, interns who can hack a whole office VPN and series of secured files with a thumb drive, supposedly broke people with unrealistically huge apartments, people who live in New York City or LA but apparently only know anyone of their own race, gangs of well-mannered villains who dance around threateningly but attack the hero one by one, villains who monologue just enough that you figure out their plan before they kill you, rain storms that start immediately after the first clap of thunder, parking spaces in the city right in front of your destination such that you never have to circle the block, pastries that always come in pink boxes, L-shaped sheets that come up to the waist of the man but the armpits of the woman, guns that never seem to need reloading, homely girls who take off their glasses and shake out their hair and suddenly become supermodels, and people who decide to dance in the streets and meet a whole bunch of randoms who already know all the steps to the dance.

      Scented pink resumes that get you the job belong on those lists, somewhere above the pastries in pink boxes, but below banging your assistant.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        All births starting with waters breaking like someone had turned a tap on, usually followed by the baby arriving immediately after you’ve made it to the hospital. Heart attacks always being a sudden sharp pain in the chest and nearly always being fatal. All women always having sex with their bra on. Passionate kissing inevitably leading to intercourse. People saying everything they type on a computer out loud while they are writing it. All software programs looking all bare and simple, with just some green text on a black background.

        1. Mookie*

          The re-appearance of a childhood acquaintance you never got on with probably means they’ve been planning to kill or ruin you for a very long time; you’ll hear why, at length and in aggrieved tones, later on. If you’re a heterosexual man, I would keep your suspiciously perfect partner away from all fridges. Gangs of giant, anthropomorphic, sentient lettering run riot in some foreign countries and never let you see anybody’s shoes or chin, it’s quite strange but you get used to it and it’s a nice distraction from how tinny or woody everybody sounds. Sean Bean is not long for this world and never will be, so don’t get your hopes up.

          1. starsaphire*

            And oh, my goodness, in our grandparents’ generation, things were even nicer! Why, giving birth was a simple matter of getting all the men in one room with brandy and cigars, putting all the women to work boiling water, and then there’s one tidy little baby cry, and suddenly the new mother is laying in a nice clean bed, perfectly coiffed and made up, holding a six-month-old baby and smiling beatifically.

            Plus all the women wore high-heeled sandals and could spontaneously break out in either complex harmonies or a perfectly coordinated dance routine that involved lifts, spins, and multiple props. A kiss was practically a marriage proposal, and everyone spent 100% of their time either in nightclubs or in palatial homes where everything was beautiful.

        2. Ophelia*

          I was genuinely shocked when my first kiddo arrived in just such a fashion, as were all the medical professionals, hah!

      2. Clorinda*

        That settles it. I am officially leaving this reality and relocating to Medialand. It all sounds great except the L-shaped sheets–that’s just silly.

      3. Michaela Westen*

        I’ve always assumed the sex-related ones are because of broadcast laws. I watch a bedroom scene where the woman is wearing both a bra and a top and remind myself “in real life she wouldn’t be wearing that”

    3. Kate*

      And if it is adorable, it’s because the character is being fully herself- it’s her own natural, personal style. Copying something you saw in a film is the exact opposite of that.

      1. MK*

        I couldn’t agree more. This falls into the category of “eccentricities”, which someone who is genuinely like that might (might! A lot of people pay a price for being unconventional) get away with it, but to do it only for the attention is going to come across even more badly. It’s the difference between “this candidate is not a good culture fit” and “what were they even thinking”.

      2. jean marie*

        Agreed. Part of what makes the moment charming in the movie is that she clearly enjoys the pink scented resume. She might think it “gives it a little something extra” but Elle Woods is not Tracy Flick, and this is not a gimmick she’s using to get attention at all costs. She likes pink, she likes perfume, what could be wrong? It’s terribly naïve, of course, but endearingly so.

        Also, I would argue that, in the movie, it actually does hurt her, even though it “works”. Her professor hires her as an intern but does not take her remotely seriously, despite the good work she’s doing. Considering his behavior toward Vivian and even his client, the dude is obviously a sexist in general, but in signaling her obliviousness to professional standards, she definitely gives herself a harder row to hoe.

        SO happy to be discussing this.

        1. Boo*

          Me too!!

          Also, while Elle does eventually prove herself while being her pink perfumed scented self, she has to do it by being ten times better than not just her peers but her actual boss. So yes, she is eventually valued as she is, but she has to be ten times more successful before anyone will take her seriously.

          1. Liane*

            Whereas, the standard, according to the cliche, is that women should only have to be “twice as good as a man.” Elle really needs to follow the more recent business cliche of “Work smarter, not harder.”

        2. Parenthetically*

          Genuinely breathed a sigh of relief when dating my now-husband and discovered he could quote from Legally Blonde because he’d seen it multiple times. It’s like How To Tell A Dude is (Probably) Not Sexist: he doesn’t get why a guy wouldn’t like Legally Blonde.

      3. Julia*

        Plus, it’s unique when one person does it. If a whole bunch of people do it after seeing the movie, it’s not unique anymore.

      4. Parenthetically*

        Absolutely this. A pink, scented resume is Elle to the bone. Women can be themselves and like what they like while also being competent and successful — without needing to undermine other women or see them as The Competition. That’s the whole point of the film.

        1. tangerineRose*

          “Women can be themselves and like what they like while also being competent and successful” This! That’s what I really enjoyed about this movie.

    4. Liane*

      I don’t recall seeing the movies, PCBH, but know some bits. Isn’t Elle already a walking menace to those with dog allergies, since she takes that chihuahua *everywhere*? (Although hers presumably is better trained and cared for than the ones that get into AAM posts.)

      1. Temperance*

        She’s definitely not a “walking menace”! She doesn’t take the dog everywhere, either. He’s around a lot, but it’s not like she brings him to class or places where he’s not welcome.

    5. Michaela Westen*

      Pink maybe, in certain situations or fields (selling baby stuff? Fashion design for little girls?)
      Perfume absolutely not, never ever ever.

  7. LovecraftInDC*

    #2 I agree with Alison completely here. I’d be curious if there is a reason you haven’t already brought up the disparity in workload with your boss. I’ve been in situations like this, and in my experience the boss is generally unaware of the disparity, or if they are, they aren’t aware it’s something that bothers you. Particularly given the age difference, your boss may think they’re doing you a favor allowing you to pick up a bunch of extra work and distinguish yourself. Obviously, they aren’t, but they may think they are.

    1. JamieS*

      I was thinking the manager assigned the OP the extra work so would be aware of the disparity. After a quick reread, I’m not sure that’s the case so OP should definitely bring it up.

      1. Mark132*

        Often it’s not really “assigned” simply that the less lazy and or more competent employee naturally accumulates more work.

      2. ArtK*

        It’s pretty common for a manager to not know the full current workload for someone. That’s why the OP (or any other employee in this kind of situation) needs to speak up. Manager probably assigned the extra work figuring that the OP would say something (or just put up until she collapsed.) Managing your own workload is very important.

        Alison’s link has a good script. I also use: “I’m already working on A, B and C with deadlines X, Y and Z. That’s taking up all of my time right now; how would you like me to prioritize the new tasks E, F and G? Is there anything that can come off the list?”

        This makes the manager aware that the workload is getting too much and it engages the manager in thinking about what’s really important. Too often, the most important thing is whatever came up most recently.

        1. myswtghst*

          This is a great point. My boss and I meet once a week and talk about my current projects / workload, but if I don’t speak up, she won’t necessarily realize that I’m overwhelmed, especially if I’m informally taking on tasks from an absentee coworker. Framing it as “with coworker’s planned time off coming up, I wanted to touch base with you about how I prioritize my workload” is a great way to start a potentially very productive conversation.

          OP#2 – As hard as it is to do, the best thing you can do for yourself is to try to stop focusing on the reasons for your coworker’s absences, and to focus instead on what your boss can do to help you effectively manage your workload. Accept that the absences are going to continue apace, and talk to your boss about what your priorities should be so you can prevent/recover from burnout.

    2. MK*

      It’s also not clear to me whether the OP was assigned the work. And, in general, I think people in this situation (as is shown by many letters to AAM) simply assume they have to pick up the slack, and many times their managers don’t even realise there is an issue, because the work gets done. I realise in some cases you don’t haqve a choice; if you are a shop assistant and your coworker isn’t there, you have to serve all the customers that come in. But if, say, you process files coming in, you don’t have to kill yourself trying to get everything done; let the non-urgent work for your coworker to come back to.

    3. Pollygrammer*

      OP could probably point out the volume of time she’s been having to cover. “A day or even a week isn’t too much of a burden, but four weeks in two months is really putting me past my limits, and I’m feeling really burned out. Can we talk about how to make this work, and which of coworker’s tasks can be deferred until she gets back?”

      If nothing else, if there’s work that can wait and that coworker can do when she gets back, she really, really has to do it, not complain that is wasn’t done in her absence.

    4. Chatterby*

      She does say she has complained many times and her boss has done nothing.

      At this point, I am in favor of just….stopping. Stop filling in, stop picking up the extra tasks, stop covering for the coworker. Things don’t get fixed until they’re broken, so the LW needs to widen the cracks until her boss can see how bad they are.

      If she’s officially assigned to provide coverage, or the boss ever said “do this”, she should cover her butt by giving a head’s up along the lines of:
      ” I can’t cover A, B, or C for Coworker while she’s out. I am going to prioritize X, Y, and Z tasks assigned to me, but A, B, and C, will have to wait until Coworker returns and can complete them.”

      This can then be segued into: “My workload is not sustainable. Coworker is dropping balls and I’ve been catching them in time, but I am not going to be able to continue that much longer. Once Coworker is back, we need to set up a meeting between all of us to discuss how to handle coverage while she’s out in the future, whether it’s hiring in temporary help, having people in other departments step in, or extending deadlines.”

      That is, of course, the responsible way of going about things, but the passive-aggressive just-not-doing-it followed by a baby-faced “but that’s Coworker’s task, you’ll have to ask her” is also effective once you’ve stopped caring.

  8. Amber*

    #4 This doesn’t apply if you work in the game industry. It’s a small industry and everyone one of us has worked for a competitor and wears the t-shirts, jackets, etc from them to work. It’s not weird or frowned upon at all, it’s very normal. In fact, doing so shows you have a bit of experience in the industry. The exception to this is never wear it to a job interview, or while representing the company publicly (such as at a gaming convention, on a live stream). Like Alison said, other industries probably don’t like this but it’s very normal if you work in the game industry. This might also apply to other geek industries.

    1. many bells down*

      Hah I was going to say the same thing. 90% of my husband’s wardrobe is shirts with games he’s worked on. And he buys another one every time his company offers some new apparel. Some of them are even bonus geek points because they represent an obscure or niche game.

    2. clancularia*

      I doubt it’s true for higher ed either–I work at a university and my water bottle has the name of the college I attended on it, and it didn’t even occur to me to think of that as being a “competitor.”

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I’ve got all sorts of conference swag from various universities and research facilities, and yes, it’s definitely not a problem (the silver alien-shaped pen from Los Alamos Labs was one of my favourites). I wouldn’t wear a Harvard sweatshirt to a Caltech interview, though, and at a conference I wouldn’t wear branded clothing from another institute because it might confuse people.

      2. Julia*

        I guess the difference may be that colleges aren’t usually for profit, and the people in them wouldn’t transfer to Harvard just because it’s on their TA’s pen. (Obviously, Nintendo customers won’t suddenly buy Sony just because the tech guy wears a Sony shirt, but I guess it’s seen as more in competition with the other?)

      3. Alli525*

        Most colleges/universities do not “compete” directly with each other – each institution will have a list of “peer schools” (ask your communications or admissions departments, they’ll have it if you’re curious) that are similar to them and often get applications from the same students. You are definitely fine unless you have swag from a school that is considered a “rival” – but that’s usually more of a sports thing anyway, and you would probably know it was a rival school because students will talk about it with disdain or contempt.

        1. Beanie*

          Very much this. I’ve seen FSU clothing in UF research labs and visa versa because while they will absolutely ridicule each other’s teams – when it comes to the research everything is collaborative.

          1. WonderCootie*

            FSU med students can get FSU tshirts in UF colors. It’s kind of hilarious around here.

      4. Yorick*

        Mostly, but if you wore or used something with the rival school’s logo, people might be upset (mostly pretend upset, but some people would be legit upset).

        1. Snargulfuss*

          Or even the rival school’s colors. There is a certain color that I CANNOT wear to work without getting some serious flak.

      5. Wells*

        I work in Higher Ed, and it’s true for my office. A mug for a school across the country you used to attend would be fine, but a mug from a local school you used to work at raises eyebrows. We don’t take it too seriously, but my boss herself stopped bringing in a mug with a “direct competitor’s” logo after someone mentioned it to her.

    3. Eliza*

      I’d say that applies to most creative industries in general, partly because it’s important to know what your competitors are doing and to be able to see which of their ideas have value, and partly because *not* doing things that way would require a level of brand loyalty that the vast majority of human beings just don’t have. If you work in the music industry, you probably love music and nobody’s gonna think less of you for listening to bands that are signed with a competitor’s label. If you work in TV, of course you watch shows on other networks than your own. Competitors might have differences of opinion on how to do things or not get along on a business level, but there’s still a shared appreciation for the content that gets produced.

      1. Eliza*

        Having said that, I’d add that there are still limits. There’s a difference between a piece of merchandise promoting a specific product under a competing brand and one promoting the brand itself, for example.

      2. Elemeno P.*

        Yeah, it’s also true in the theme park industry. We visit our competitors all the time because we’re human and theme parks are fun! We even have a friendly relationship with our local competitors because a family flying to the area to visit one of us likely means a visit to all of us. My very tiny department always gets small gifts for each other when we’re on vacation, so we all have merch from all sorts of theme parks around the world on our desks.

      1. essEss*

        Reminds me of the time that my company was courting a major soda manufacturer to get a contract to do some website work for them. They removed all the (company-supplied) competitor soda pop from our company fridge the day before they had the soda manufacturer big wigs come visit our office.

        1. RB*

          This rings true to me. I worked at major Fortune-50 soda company for many years and it would have been absolutely verboten to use or carry anything with the name of the other major Fortune-50 soda company on it. Everyone knew this. The competition is fierce between those two companies. Other lesser competitors’ merchandise would have been frowned on as well.

      2. oranges & lemons*

        I used to work for a telecom company and I don’t think it would have gone over well there, either. Of course telecom company merch isn’t the kind of thing the average person is itching to wear.

    4. Keyboard Cowboy*

      FWIW, that’s true in software too. We all wear shirts from our college, our old companies, blah blah. It’s sort of a cred thing.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Yeah, in software at a casual office wearing freebies with someone else’s logo is not a big deal.

        I think part of this is because “software” is such a broad term that a lot of software companies aren’t competing against each other for customers. (Employees, yes, customers, no.) It’s pretty common in my office for people to wear the T-shirts we got free when attending conferences – especially if they have a neat graphic or a clever saying on them.

        That said, there are limits. No logos except for your own company’s when representing your company in public. No direct competitor logos by themselves (this would be the wearing a Coke shirt at Pepsi scenario). However, if the competitor is a sponsor of a conference, and their logo is one of many on the official conference T-shirt, that’s OK – the shirt is understood to be promoting the conference, and thanking the sponsors by making their logos visible.

    5. Susan K*

      Yeah, I think this depends on the company/industry. I work in an industry where it is very common for people to wear or use branded items from other companies in the industry. But you should wait until you’ve been there for a while and see if other employees are doing this before you do it.

      1. Ophelia*

        I think time is a factor, too – I work in an industry that is project-based, so using a mug from a project you worked on six years ago, regardless of institutional affiliation? No big deal. Using a laptop bag branded with a current competitor’s logo? Probably would raise eyebrows.

    6. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      Also, academia is pretty cool with it, so long as you don’t diss your own/current team. I usually buy one piece of exercise wear from any school I teach at, one shot glass, and a lanyard for my ID. If all goes well, my colleagues will only ever see the lanyard.

      1. Abe Froman*

        So if you come into work wearing sweat pants and holding a shot glass your co-workers should be nervous? Sounds like a scene from Bad Moms or something.

        1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

          I’m a teacher, and we’re technically in loco parentis, so…your analogy works.

    7. curly sue*

      Same goes for theatre and animation. Wearing swag from previous studios / shows / movies is a very common thing and often a great conversation starter and networking tool. My better half’s wardrobe is probably 50% show swag.

    8. MissGirl*

      My friend worked Nike where it’s completely verboten to wear a competitors’ brand. All of our college swag was made by a competitor so she had custom stuff made for the week we played their local university.

      1. AthleticsAnon*

        YEAH– came here to say that in some university environments this is definitely a HUGE no-no. I work for a collegiate athletic department and I would never hear the end of it if I wore a rival school’s t-shirt or even brought in a mug with the name. And we absolutely cannot wear clothing made by rival apparel providers.

        I point this out because– none of this is official in our handbook. It’s just rigidly enforced on the social side through teasing. So my advice to LW #4 is to pay close attention to how people react to things. Even if they make a light joke it might be their nice way of saying, “hey, don’t do that”

    9. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

      Also not really applicable in my industry (finance). People often wear shirts or carry bags with logos from their previous firms(s). If anything it’s a status thing “look I used to work at prestigious firm x”, but mostly it’s just not even noticed.

      I’d say this is pretty “know your industry”, so definitely proceed with caution at first or when new… but I suspect that it’s not quite as universally an issue as Alison’s answer indicated.

    10. Polymer Phil*

      This is definitely an industry dependent thing based on the other comments. I don’t really have any fierce rivals – my company does business with a lot of companies that are also our competitors, and re-selling each others’ products under our own labels is a very common practice. I’ve got plenty of conference swag from competitor companies, shirts from former employers, etc, and it’s not a problem in my industry.

    11. Lora*

      We like to bring previous job swag to work in Big Pharma too. Not uncommon to see warring Pfizer vs Merck cliques in any given third company. We especially like to show off our swag from particularly famous projects or especially ill-conceived morale building efforts. I miss the Suicidal Goldfish motivational poster they once plastered on the walls: it had a pic of a goldfish leaping out of its bowl to certain death and said something about never knowing where innovation will lead you.

      Pfizer has sadly made YouTube take down the Company Song video for Excel And Exceed, which will never stop being funny. Yes, young people, there was a fad in the late 80s for companies to have motivational theme songs custom written for them. It was a different time…

    12. Elizabeth West*

      My padfolio has Exjob’s logo on it. You can’t really see it, as it’s stamped into black leather but not gilded or anything. It’s a perfectly good padfolio and I’m not going to ditch it just because I don’t work there anymore. If anyone asked me about it, that’s what I’d say.

    13. Breadwinner Mom*

      I was going to say the same. This seems like it would only apply in large conservative corporate fields where people tend to be hired by one company and stay there for decades, seeing all other companies in the field as a “competitor”. (Like working for JanSport and carrying an EastPak backpack or something?) As someone in the entertainment industry, where freelancing is common and folks tend to move around every few years, this would not be a big deal at all. I work for a large cable network and our PA has a Hulu branded water bottle. That’s not even remotely a big deal. We don’t really see Hulu as a “competitor” even though I suppose in a way they are. Certainly not on the level of having some sort of distrust of people who’ve openly worked for a different large entertainment company.

    14. Glenn*

      When I was at Google, my boss would sometimes wear a Bing shirt to work. He once had a conversation with Eric Schmidt while wearing a Bing shirt. But he didn’t actually like Bing or ever work for MS (as far as I know) — he just did it for the irony points (and he is supremely competent, politically savvy, and well-liked, so he had no problem getting away with it.)

  9. nnn*

    For #1, if you met Pam’s son through some medium other than a dating app, that might be useful information to include in your script, or hold in reserve for follow-up questions.

    “Yeah, I know him from pub trivia” or “He was in the same class as my cousin” or “We played in the same ultimate frisbee league” or anything comparable that’s true.

    Basically assemble everything that’s true and innocent/unremarkable into a mental file, and reframe it to yourself based on the contents of that file. And if the topic should ever come up, draw your responses from that file.

    1. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      This is a great idea! You could also say something along the lines of “him? That was so long ago, I barely remember!”

      1. Thlayli*

        This is probably not a good idea. The most likely way boss will figure it out is if her son mentions it to her… which would imply the son definitely remembers OP.

        It might come across as pretty dismissive to say “oh I barely remember him” if the son has such a strong memory of the fling that he brings it up to his mother years later.

        1. Mad Baggins*

          I’d say avoid it not because the son might mention his pining feelings to his mother, but because as you say, it’s dismissive of her son! Instead why not adopt that vague and misty tone Miss Manners always recommends and say something like, “Oh, yes, what a nice guy!” or “Yeah, he’s great!”

    2. CM*

      I’m curious about the nature of this fling since it seems so embarrassing to the OP. But for professional purposes, saying they were friends, they briefly dated a few years ago, or they knew each other back in Cleveland would be fine. OP#1 just needs to practice saying it without blushing!

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        While I don’t think dating someone is embarrassing (unless there’s a backstory that wasn’t shared), but I can understand the OP’s reluctance to want this to get out. Mostly because she’s a peer to Pam in the work context (hierarchy aside) but dating Pam’s son puts her on the level of Pam’s kid. I wouldn’t want to be in the ‘kid’ category with my coworkers.

        1. Birch*

          Agreed. I’d go with “Oh yeah! We met back in Cleveland a few years ago. Nice guy! So, about the weekly reports….” Keep it breezy and positive, and don’t act like there’s anything scandalous or embarrassing, and no one will care. Breezy positive stuff is super boring!

      2. Lily Rowan*

        I have a related experience that I am SO GOOD at breezing past now — I met a guy on a dating site and we were FWB for a while. No romantic interest, but actually friendship that we’ve maintained. Come to find out, he was married. And he’s now a minor public figure locally, so I see him around. It’s gotten to the point that my mother is Facebook friends with him, which I find mortifying, but I keep all of that to myself.

      3. Lindsay Gee*

        coming from a small town, people around the same age dated in the same circles and it wasn’t weird. Likely you knew the person’s parents or sibling or cousin from work/school/volunteering etc. so there was always a connection. I don’t know how small your town is OP, but even where i live now (smallish city) I am still astounded by how ‘small world’ it feels when I randomly come across connections to people.
        I wouldn’t stress. You ‘hung out’ or ‘were seeing each other for a bit a few years ago’. End of story. It was two years ago and clearly not serious enough to meet the parents. I wouldn’t worry about it. Pretend you don’t know unless you accidentally run into them and let it come out organically.

      4. nnn*

        It might also be that sometimes parents are weird about people who have had sex (I’m assuming that’s what “fling” implies) with their children, so it could lead to a generally awkward interpersonal situation with Pam, rather than the fling itself being objectively embarrassing.

  10. Miaw*

    Oh dear. Don’t follow what the hollywood is doing. Otherwise you’d think having sex in the file room with your co-worker is a good idea. Or hiring a lawyer without a college degree just because they impressed you during an interview

    1. Thlayli*

      Guidance for life – if it’s happening in a comedy – take it with a grain of salt!

    2. Lindsay J*


      Like, in my last set of resumes I had a resume of a guy who is apparently a professional rugby player from New Zealand.

      He wasn’t as qualified as other candidates and had an inconsistent job history, so based on his resume he wouldn’t make the cut.

      I was half-tempted to bring him in anyway because I was curious about the professional rugby playing experience. Then I realized that was something a character on Friends would do. And that that meant that obviously doing that would be a really poor, unprofessional decision.

      So I didn’t do it.

      Take whatever Hollywood is doing, and do the exact opposite.

  11. Espeon*

    OP2: Alison is right. My exact thought-process from headline to end was –
    1. No!
    2. Oh, I get it, been there…
    3. But it might actually be more serious and she wouldn’t want to share that so, unfortunately, no.

    People like this drive me crackers, and I have literally described one of my current coworkers as entitled, selfish and lazy to my manager also.

    The real problem here is your workload however – in my experience, I get to BEC with a shitty colleague less because of them alone and more because their behaviour is impacting me in a real way and/or my employer is not doing anything real to rectify it.

    I have found that the way your workplace handles the problem tells you everything you need to know at this point; When you bring up the workload issue (you need to if you haven’t yet) do they apologise and fix it, or do they brush it off, offer platitudes but do nothing, or punish you for addressing it? If it’s the first one, you’re all good, if it’s any of the others then I’d be looking for a new job. Workplaces like that don’t change, like a bad boyfriend, they’re not interested in changing as long as they’re getting what they want.

    Good Luck OP!

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Urgh yes. At present my department is drowning in work. There were 2 of us doing the work I specialise in, but the other person left, and the recruitment process is dragging on. I am now doing my job and a large chunk of Other-Person-who-left*’s job.

      Fortunately my boss and line manager are both sympathetic, but they spend most of their time wizzing in and out of meetings too, meaning I have to cover their phones and take messages, which then need following up when they return.

      *And you might not be surprised to know that after Other-Person-who-left handed in their notice, they started coming in later, leaving earlier and taking long lunch breaks.

    2. Thlayli*

      It’s easy to blame the coworker who is taking time off, but the real problem here is that lack of back-up plans for when people are off. I’ve seen this lots on this site and on mom-comment sites too. It’s like “Jane is out on maternity leave AGAIN. Selfish Jane doesn’t she realise I have to pick up her slack”

      If coworker is out sick regularly, you shouldn’t have to do her work. Your employer should have a plan on place to adequately cover sick leave / annual leave / maternity leave / FMLA leave / whatever type of leave. If your employers plan is “OP will do two jobs at once” then that’s the fault of the employer, not the fault of the coworker.

      TLDR: Don’t blame coworker for being out a lot, blame employer for expecting you to do two jobs when you are only being paid for one.

      1. Lindsay Gee*

        I’m totally with you on the maternity leave thing and taking leave in general if you are entitled to it/need it for medical reasons… but coworker shouldn’t roll into work on Monday demanding why her work hasn’t been done by whoever was covering her work for the time she was out. She shouldn’t have to thank the person profusely, but just expecting her entire job to be done for her while gone is ludicrous and out of touch. So I agree that its definitely an issue that they need to have more of a plan to deal with coworker leave. But i also think this coworker is an entitled, lazy ass.

  12. Works till five all year round*

    Op 3 you do not want to be the person who either lost NYC their generous hours (yes, working in NJ to milk it sucks for the rest of you) or got everyone’s restricted, especially as NYC and NJ traffic is so different.

    Getting paid for time you’re not working is a sweet deal and if you approach it wrong, management may decide it’s not worth getting squabbled at about. So take Allison’s advice and for the love of 3pm Friday departures give it a shot but don’t make it an INCIDENT.

    1. Naptime Enthusiast*

      I think the traffic is probably the reason for the disparity, honestly. Getting out of NYC at 3PM doesn’t help all that much, but 1PM would make a huge difference.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Also, what are the odds that the NYC office tends to work longer hours throughout the year?

    2. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Slightly going to argue that NJ traffic is THAT much different from NYC in some areas! If I had to guess, LW3 works in Jersey City or Hoboken (they’re in a satellite office to the NYC one and convenient enough to NYC that a couple of New York employees work there) and things can get crazy. Trust me, I know from experience.

      …on the other hand, summer is actually the best traffic-wise for me. But that’s because school is out and I’m in an area with a LOT of schools around.

  13. Comms Girl*

    I wasn’t aware of that amazing “Work Questions from Friends/Jane Austen /etc” – are there more like that? If so, could someone post the links to those? And can there be morr soon, please please please Alison? I really enjoyed it :)

      1. CM*

        Rereading the Gilmore Girls thread is making me so happy. Don’t get me started on Rory!
        I also agree with the Elle Woods fans who commented that Elle’s unique approach didn’t work well for her either… she got into Harvard Law with her stellar LSAT score and impressed everyone with her hard work, but she had to overcome the cutesy impression she made with her perfumed pink resume.

        1. Tardigrade*

          Yeah, Elle got into Harvard Law despite her resume, not because of it. And she worked to change her attitude about a lot of things to stay competitive – trading in fluffy pen & paper notes for a laptop, swapping her California wardrobe for east coast fashion, etc.

  14. MommyMD*

    I wish I could leave two hours early ONCE let alone once a week in the summer. Appreciate this. It doesn’t matter when the others leave. Make an issue and you all will be working to six.

    1. pleaset*

      Once again AAM reminds me that my workplace is far more reasonable than some others. The suggestion that just *asking* about the disparity to get more time off has a realistic chance of resulting in the benefit being cut? Not where I work.

      That kind of retaliation sounds quite petty, and suggests that the underlying decisions are pretty capricious.

      1. pleaset*

        Perhaps I’m misreading, and by making it an issue you meant bringing it up repeatedly in the same year.

        But pointing it out once and asking if it could be done in the office too? Fine where I work. Even bringing it up once every couple years as summer comes up.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      I only had a workplace with “summer hours” once. I was a temp–paid hourly. It sucked.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Ah, the ol’ “must be nice.”

      Yep, it IS nice that some people get Summer Fridays as a perk. They can appreciate it while also being bummed about a disparity between offices, and they’re even allowed to mention the disparity without fear that Boss Man is going to twirl his moustache and say, “Oh yeeeeeeah, well now you’re working until SIX! Muaaahahahaha!”

      1. Pollygrammer*

        You get to leave somewhat early on Fridays AND you don’t have cancer and an eating disorder? Obviously you should never complain about anything ever no matter what.

  15. Espeon*

    OP5: Wouldn’t it be nice if we could inject more personality into our CV’s? Mine would be pink and glittery with unicorn stickers and a photo of my cat enclosed. Unscented as I get migraines.

    1. Jemima Bond*

      Who else is a scrapbooker? Imagine what delights we could achieve! Im thinking patterned background paper (=I’m colourful), distressed inked edges (=I’m mature), a pocket with a hidden mini-book (=I’m full of surprises!)…

      1. Chocolate lover*

        I am! Though I actually like the aesthetics of resumes as is, I wouldn’t decorate it.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      Have you seen the My Little Pony Resume? (Link in username). Even if it’s fake–and it genuinely might not be fake–it’s a work of art.

    3. Drew*

      Mine would totally be an LCARS from Star Trek: TNG.

      Which is why I am VERY GLAD that the advice is “Really, don’t do that.”

  16. Copper Boom*

    #4 – I absolutely agree with Alison that all competitor logo’d items are a no go. As for branded t-shirts from other fields, I’d suggest you feel that one out first. While it’s fine to bring in a water bottle, some companies don’t like logos of any kind on clothing unless it’s their own. If your company has a dress code, it should be detailed in there. Otherwise I’d suggest seeing what your co-workers do and following suit.

    1. Akiwiinlondon*

      I was going to say this also.

      I think shirts/apparel can be seen as an endorsement for a brand, while a pen, notebook, waterbottle is more ‘I got this functional free thing’.
      If anyone has an issue with x company and comment on it you can always say “oh yea I just like the pen” if you don’t actually want to defend x company.
      But still avoid competitors.

      Depending on the industry you might find lots of people using branded things, if you’ve managed to accumulate them yourself it probably won’t be uncommon.

      Once you get the feel for the company you might figure out dress code and what companies may go over well or not for your company/industry.

    2. Naptime Enthusiast*

      I work in an industry with 3 competitors total. If someone came from a competitor and wore a branded shirt or brought in a coffee mug, it would be very weird. But if someone came in from a completely different industry (or a customer!) and had a polo with OldJob’s logo, it would be kind of cool.

      This makes me realize if I ever leave my company, friends and family will inherit dozens of mugs and t-shirts!

    3. Beatrice*

      Where I am, competitor logos would absolutely not fly. And depending on which site you work at and in which role, we have to be really careful with customer logos, too. We have customers who compete with one other, who also like to be generous with branded freebies. You might love your fancy Kramerica, Inc. pen, but you can’t use it while attending a meeting with Vandelay Industries, for example. It definitely requires some thought before customer meetings.

  17. H.C.*

    The 1st one actually reminds me of the Uma Thurman/Meryl Streep/Bryan Greenberg flick “Prime” tho Meryl & Uma were in a therapist-client relationship

  18. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    I’m struggling to think of a work situation where any kind of branded clothing would be ok, tbh.

    1. SusanIvanova*

      Software, or any place that’s similarly casual. I work at $OSCompany now, but used to work at various $ImportantSoftware shops, and the only thing I wouldn’t wear would be $RivalOS. Not that I have any :)

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            In that case, I’d go with the advice to start with neutral things, work in non-competitor things, and observe what the others do. Wear your resume is fine if the established people do it, but not something to try and establish as A Thing in your first week.

    2. Star*

      From my own understanding it’s common in a fair few places. My partner works in game development, where people constantly wear clothing associated with games they’ve worked on / other geeky clothes. A friend works for Big Tech Company, and branded clothing seems pretty normal there too. A family member is a graphic designer for a sports team, so they regularly wear branded clothes (and not just for the team they work with, but branded sportswear like Nike, Adidas, etc.) It’s perfectly normal in a lot of places.

    3. krysb*

      Right!? In my experience, in most office situations, shirts with graphics and/or logos are against dresscode.

      1. Anononon*

        Some offices are pretty casual. I work in a law firm where staff can wear tshirts.

      2. Bea*

        I giggle because I’ve never had a dress code. I keep moving places and quickly build a business wardrobe thinking it may be the time I have to stop wearing jeans, tees and sneakers. Nope. Even when I had walk ins, I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I’ve always been one step away from needing to shimmy under a desk or sitting on the floor fixing something.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Exjob’s was, but that didn’t stop people from wearing sports shirts and they had sports-themed t-shirt day. The nerds just wore their nerd shirts the rest of the time because we gave no f*cks. Nobody ever said anything. I stopped worrying about it when I had to go to the HR person one day to ask a question, and she was wearing a Big Bang Theory t-shirt.

    4. Mookie*

      In addition to examples above — badges of honor for having worked with / for competitors — where clothing is functional or specialized, like sportswear for sports therapy, athletic training and conditioning (excluding sponsored wardrobes, obviously), workwear for outdoor jobs and manual labor industries (beyond PPE), performing arts, industries where ‘fast’ fashion and self-consciously branded athleisure clothing is the preferred uniform, even displacing ultra-casual staples like jeans.

    5. Lynca*

      I do a lot of outdoor field work and it wouldn’t be unusual to see someone in a branded t-shirt. Carhartt, Columbia etc. are fairly common.

    6. Lontra Canadensis*

      When my husband moved to a different teapot company, the polo shirt with his previous employer’s small embroidered logo became mine, since I’m in a different field (widget engineer).

      Then he changed careers, and my new winter coat is hi-vis yellow with the name/logo of a trucking company, plus there’s a spare hard hat around the house that’s better than the one my employer provided 20+ years ago. :)

    7. Trout 'Waver*

      I work in a STEM field and it’s super common for equipment vendors and raw material suppliers to give away branded swag including t-shirts. Those are fair game to wear in the lab. Our dress code is about safety (long pants, closed toe shoes) rather than appearance.

      1. Bea*

        I have trucking and lumber supplier shirts for days. That’s also who used to supply all our pens, I’m cheap and didn’t need to buy post its much either. My favorite is still my branded highlighter pens.

      2. Birch*

        STEM too–Conference totes are my absolute favorite. I love using the weird ones just to get people staring at me trying to figure out why there’s a picture of a brain and a caption in a foreign language on my tote bag! Other great conference goodies: flash drives, nice pens, notebooks.

    8. Bea*

      Manufacturing. Unless you’re in outside sales, we rarely see anyone and dresscode is silly when attached to a production warehouse.

    9. Bowl of Oranges*

      Not all branded clothes are super casual. A few places I’ve worked have had branded polos and branded button down shirts. How casual they look depends on what else you’re wearing with it. Some were treated as uniforms, some were not.

      To be fair, though, I think it would be weirder to wear a branded polo to another job than it would be to wear a branded t-shirt.

      1. Parenthetically*

        My husband has a really nice branded polo from his work. He never gets rid of clothes, so I’m sure he’ll wear it to future jobs when we move to a different country!

    10. Temperance*

      Booth is a developer, and he has tons of (super ugly) branded polos from his companies.

    11. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I can think of a lot of places where polo shirts is acceptable, a lot of companies give out logo’d polos to customers and people collect them from previous jobs.

      I’d say they are pretty common in the workplace.

    12. curly sue*

      Academia – school shirts and fleeces often get a pass with business casual. Also anything performing arts or entertainment production-related.

    13. Karo*

      I work in a very casual office and coming in on a regular day wearing a t-shirt branded with a company’s logo wouldn’t even be blinked at.

    14. cattle kate*

      Different regions, fields, work cultures! I wear tshirts – sometimes branded – and jeans to work most days. I’m a scientist who works at an NGO in a rural town. When I first started I wore khakis or dress pants every day (I wasn’t in the field that week) and quickly realized that as long as I wasn’t wearing dirty cutoffs to staff meetings, I was probably ok in terms of meeting our office standards for attire! It really just varies, and honestly the vibe of our office wouldn’t make any sense or fit our mission if our office had a firm business casual dress code.

    15. Brand non-loyalist*

      I work in a newsroom and people bring in bags, coffee mugs from other publications they have worked for all of the time. No one cares.

  19. Leela*

    This is re: dating in movies and not hiring, but my guy friends ask me about stuff they see guys in movies/TV doing to get girls and there’s one thing I tell them in response no matter what the question is: the women are responding the way they are because they are SCRIPTED to. They are nonsentient characters with no say in the matter. Human women are not scripted to respond positively to whatever the IRL scrappy hero tries because IRL they aren’t scrappy heroes, they’re just some dude. Human women, as humans, are going to have their own thoughts about and reactions to what happens to them.

    I’d imagine it’s much the same with hiring managers.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I have this frustration re fight scenes. Like, being shot in the leg is actually a) very bad in terms of potentially hitting the large artery there; b) not going to prevent someone using their hands to cause trouble. It only works as a magical off device because the script says that the bad guy will drop his gun, be rendered incapable of using a detonator or phone, and not immediately bleed out.

      Weirdly, I have only seen the leg artery shot kill someone in Community, a light comedy show.

      1. Emi.*

        There’s also the almost-death barely averted by impromptu surgery in Black Hawk Down!

      2. Iris Eyes*

        Or how the main characters can magically keep going/fighting no matter what but henchmen are always downed with a single blow with no fear that they might re-enter the fight.

      3. Kate 2*

        Yep! My parents were both in the military and whenever I see people asking why the cops didn’t shoot the person in the leg or arm I have to resist the urge to capslock SCREAM at them. Over and over again I see it. This plus the idea that cops can just telepathically know whether the person waving the gunlike object around is a gun or not and going to shoot them. And the idea that all cops are bullet proof or wearing kevlar.

    2. Specialk9*

      I have this reaction to children’s books. There is this ridiculously adorable book called The Pout Pout Fish, *but* the glum mopey fish is fixed by a Manic Pixie Dream Fish (female) who kisses him without asking, and then HE goes around kissing all the other fish without asking. ACK!! It’s like an illustrated guide to “How Not to Need Consent, And Also Women Will Fix Your Problems Even If You’re an Unpleasant Schlub Stranger Because That’s a Woman’s Job”.

      I literally used a label maker to add in consent, and changed the manic pixie dream fish to a dude. I don’t care if it’s censoring books, I’m not teaching my kid toxic gendered stuff. (But I also love that cute polite Bluuubbb fish.)

      1. bonkerballs*

        At the preschool I used to work at, it was part of my job to go through every book that was ever donated to us to look for problematic themes like that. If it was too terrible, we would just get rid of the book, but if it was mildly problematic or something that could maybe become a teachable moment, I put a certain sticker on the inside so teacher’s would know they needed it was a book they’d have to think about with their students.

  20. designbot*

    OP2: I don’t get where your assumption that “removal” = needle aspiration comes from. I’ve had a couple removed as well, and had both needle biopsies and full excisional surgeries, and they’re really quite different scenarios. There’s a whole bunch of varieties to these things and a corresponding variety of ways that doctors handle them.
    To be fair, even the full surgical treatment doesn’t necessarily mean two weeks off is required, but I really want to push you to reconsider your assumptions. It sounds like they’re being heavily colored by your overall impression of this coworker as not pulling her weight.

    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      I was thinking of this as well. I’ve also had a cyst-like thing in another body part. I had a needle aspiration first but it came back in a couple of months so I had to have surgery too. Also depending on where in the world OP2 is and what kind of rules their particular office has, the coworker may need some kind of paper from the doctor to get paid for the sick leave. In that case it has to be real.

    2. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

      ´Also, people react differently to surgery!
      I had my gallbladder out last year, and before the surgery, I asked my doctor how long I should be off work:
      “3 days to 3 weeks”

      Well, that wasn’t gonna be a good answer to give my bosses, so I tried to find out what I could do to end up in the 3-day recovery group.

      And there was nothing. The doctor told me that there was no more precise answer to give, no way of telling beforehand. Some people just needed longer to recover, and that was that.

      1. krysb*

        I got over the actual surgery pretty quickly (I did milk it for work, though), but I haven’t been able to actually digest food well for the past 2.5 years. So I got over the surgery, but my body does not do well without my gallbladder.

        1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

          Oh, that’s bad luck and sucks!
          It took me 2 weeks to recover, but I felt better than in months when I woke up from the anesthesia.

          Body are weird.

          1. Anononon*

            My body was the exact same. About 1-2 week recovery, but the overall feeling “better” was night and day immediately after the surgery. It was amazing.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Ugh that sucks.
          I had the surgery the Wednesday before Thanksgiving that year and was back at work the following Tuesday, but BOY was I tired. It took another week for the fatigue to subside and my energy to return.

          I can still eat a lot of stuff but anything super greasy is asking for trouble. Which is fine, since that pretty much encompasses food I shouldn’t be eating anyway.

      2. designbot*

        Omgosh, same here! I had my gallbladder out plus a pancreatic cyst drained, and the doctor said 2-8 weeks, which was a range so large as to be completely unhelpful. My office had me prepare for the worst but I was back in 3 weeks. She could totally just be giving them the range given to her and not really know how much variation there is or what to expect.

      3. Case of the Mondays*

        So many medical things are like that. I had a procedure that had 2 parts. Part one was a recovery of 2 days to 2 weeks and part 2 was a 1 day recovery. I was better in 1 day from part 1 and needed several days from part 2. There really is no way of predicting a lot of this stuff.

        Also, recovery can also cause clothing issues. The cyst could be in a spot where she can’t wear a bra for awhile and she might not be comfortable going to work bra-less. Another procedure I had, I basically had to lay down for awhile. I could work from home just fine but I had an open incision that had to heal from an awkward position.

    3. Lehigh*

      I was looking for this response! No reason to assume the coworker is only having needle aspiration just from the term “cyst removal.”

      Plus everything others have mentioned about different bodies, extenuating medical circumstances, etc.

  21. Jemima Bond*

    LW3: I have a colleague who gets bent out of shape if she perceives that another colleague is getting away with something or reaping an advantage, even if it has no effect on her whatsoever. All it achieves is making her angry quite a lot of the time. Channel your inner Elsa and let it go!

    1. Mom MD*

      I agree. She’s worked up over it when she’s also receiving a nice benefit. It’s a different office. Don’t worry about it.

      1. BSAAML*

        Agreed. Not to mention, summer Fridays is itself a huge privilege (we tend to leave 6-8pm most Fridays, even in the summer). Just be glad for what you have – being paid (presumably) for weekly time off!

    2. Pollygrammer*

      I have a hard time believing that anyone wouldn’t find an extra two hours of work every week compared to others in the exact same job frustrating and unfair. It literally is unfair.

      Always easy to tell other people to “let it go” when you’re not the one dealing with it.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Thank you! I don’t see LW3 “getting worked up,” just noticing a difference that causes annoyance and wondering if there’s a way to address it.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          Not to mention it’s probably causing morale issues for everyone in her office, and not just her–this should be a genuine concern for her superiors. Perks can backfire if some people get only 50% of a perk. That doesn’t make the people questioning the unfairness brats.

          1. BuffaLove*

            Morale issues, really? I would assume that the city office gets an extra couple hours to make up for overall longer commutes or worse traffic on Fridays in the early afternoon. I wouldn’t bother bringing something like that up, not because Bossman is going to retaliate and take the perk away, but because there is a chance that it’ll make OP look a bit petty. Totally depends on the office dynamics, though.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Ahh, thank you, the reference totally went over my head when I read the letter. I was more of the British Office kind of person when both of those shows were running, so my knowledge of the other one is pretty spotty.

  22. Mom MD*

    OP 2: your coworker could very well have breast cancer and not want to tell you.

    If the workload is too much ask your boss what gets prioritized.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Wow, this is a good point and you’re likely right! I have a cyst. I was advised by the Dr to leave it alone and not do anything.

    2. MLB*

      That’s a bit of a leap, but as Alison said her medical condition is none of LW’s business. Not to mention, even if she’s having the same exact procedure as LW had, different people recover in different ways. I have a high pain tolerance. I had my gall bladder removed and didn’t need pain meds after surgery. The girl next to me had the same operation and was whining and moaning like she had been gutted. But all of this really is moot. She needs to focus on the workload issue and nothing else.

  23. Ruth (UK)*

    3. I feel a bit torn on 3 and we have a similar ish situation in my department where some people have much more flexibility than others (more holiday, can work from home, etc) but here it’s more to do with job role and function. I’m in an administrative role where I have the least in terms of these types of perks and it doesn’t bother me what others have cause I’m aware some people have better or worse conditions than me whether I can see them or not, whether they ‘deserve’ it or not and also there are people in the same type of job as me in different companies with different conditions.

    But some people do get upset about it. Because it’s visible in front of them they can see what they think they’re missing.

    What they have doesn’t take away what I have (or what op has) so on one hand I think they should let it go but on the other I get that it’s tough when it’s right in front of you that someone has a perk you don’t have for reasons that seem just like chance.

    Sometimes if I think about it in my situation I like to remember previous jobs I had with worse conditions/perks and compare myself in my head to whoever still works there instead of to others in my current department.

    1. Susan Sto Helit*

      I work a creative role where part of my job is to come up with new ideas, research new concepts and investigate what’s going on in the rest of the market.

      To people who sit near me and don’t do the same type of role, that looks like a whole lot of browsing the internet. People get upset that it doesn’t look like I’m working, because my work doesn’t look like their work. It’s an eternal problem.

        1. Susan Sto Helit*

          Think any industry which has clearly defined ‘trends’ (lots of visual/fashion stuff but also gaming, books, media etc) and there will be people doing stuff similar to what I do.

          I got into it by getting an assistant role, putting my ideas forward when invited to, displaying enough creative flair to be trusted to do more of it, and accepting that until you get to the top there’s not a whole lot of money in it, unfortunately. Unless you’re a Name, exceptionally gifted or very lucky, it’s much harder to get dollar amounts assigned to the value of ideas, and ideas people, than it is to people whose output is something easily measurable (ie sales).

          But, it’s fun.

          1. Haley*

            What field would you describe it as, like marketing/advertising? Could you give an example of what a title resembling the entry level position would be?

            1. Susan Sto Helit*

              I don’t really want to disclose my exact industry, but maybe some people on here who work similar jobs/have people at their companies who do similar jobs might be willing to share some potential entry-level job titles.

              1. Media Monkey*

                trend forecasting is something that people can get into from market research roles. there are trend forecasting agencies that you could apply to who i would assume have entry level positions. potentially an insight or research role in a media or creative agency could lead to that too.

              2. oranges & lemons*

                Book publishing can involve some of this work, but it’s probably easier to get if you work for a small company where everyone does a bit of everything. We do spend some time thinking about industry and cultural trends and how to take advantage of them, and if you have a good idea, no one will care if you’re an entry-level employee. However it’s not easy to do, and in terms of the average day, we spend a lot more time doing administrative and organizational work.

      1. Bea*

        Their problem is they have enough time to watch you work. They’re either checked out or overwhelmed and looking around wondering why you’re not. That’s so bizzare to me.

        1. Susan Sto Helit*

          Yeah, it doesn’t help that I sit near a break area so my screen was/is clearly visible to people getting coffee, using the printers etc. I’ve switched to a different setup now so at least the printer people don’t have a direct view of my machine, but I do miss the days when I was sat in a corner quietly getting on with things.

          1. Specialk9*

            I got a $50 privacy screen for my computer. It’s clear to me, but is opaque from other angles.

        2. Yorick*

          I don’t think that’s a fair assumption. It’s so easy to notice someone browsing the internet when you walk by or glance up from your own screen.

    2. Aleta*

      I’m a receptionist with set hours, and my predecessor HATED seeing all the exempt employees coming and going late and early. Like, c’mon, chill out, set hours are inherent in the role and you did sign up for this.

      1. Dan*

        Yup. I work in one of those types of jobs. And those perks have to be offered in order for employers to compete for top talent. Employers take them away at their own peril.

        Want my perks? You can have my student loans too, as well as the six years I spent getting the associated degrees and not being in the workforce.

  24. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

    Oh wowohwowohwow. You really, REALLY have nothing to do with your coworker’s surgery or how long she is off after.
    There might be anything from other health issues impacting her to her really being as lazy and entitled as you say.
    However, there is NO scenario where her recovery of your business.

  25. RedstateMotherJones*

    OP #2 – you remind me of the HR lady who informed me I didn’t need major surgery because she’d “been praying for (me).” Armchair doctors like you are what makes it so difficult – often devastating to finances and reputations – to have a serious illness or injuries in this country. You don’t know what other medical issues are at play or even if that’s all. I deflect and refuse to discuss my medical issues at work specifically because of the aggressiveness and arrogance of Angela in Accounting’s tendency to repeatedly and aggressively challenge my need for an assistive medical device. I sincerely believe that the bullying and stress from dealing with that nonsense made me sicker.
    Deal with the workload. Stay out of her medical issues. You’re so badly in the wrong on the latter that it undermines your legit case in the former.

      1. Bea*

        It’s a thing. I was treated to a “your dad doesn’t need chemo! Why poison yourself!! Just try this diet, my wife did and she’s cured!” spiel. Thank God he took the chemo. And radiation. And surgery. All the medical attention and cancer free four years later. I cannot handle “you don’t need that doctor, I’ve been praying/saw this vitamin that is exactly like chemo but without any side effects!!”.

        1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

          If one more person tells me to drink baking soda in water or tart cherry juice to “cure” my autoimmune disease I’m going to burn their house down.

          1. Specialk9*

            Good lord, not the tart cherry juice, the sweet cherry juice, from Trader Joe’s!

            But only bc it’s delicious.

            (And sympathy from a fellow sickie. I call them “just try yoga” people.)

    1. BuffaLove*

      That’s a little harsh. Yes, OP might not know all the details, and maybe it is completely legitimate (and it’s not worth getting involved in either way), but it’s fair to be frustrated by and privately side-eye someone who has abused the leave system in the past.

      1. Annabelle*

        But it’s not really fair to assume that you have any right to know the details of someone’s sick leave or personal medical information. It’s not really uncommon for older folks to take a little longer to heal, and the LW isn’t her coworker’s doctor.

      2. BSAAML*

        But even the assumption that their coworker has abused the leave system in the past is just that – a HUGE assumption. OP doesn’t know what else is at play, and with an attitude like theirs, I wouldn’t share all the details of my personal and medical life either. This is a case of MYOB – and, from a workload standpoint, take it up with the boss.

        1. Anne*

          It’s not assumptions- she regularly has ‘issues’ from a sore shoulder to a BEE STING (not allergic just sore) that she has called out for. She told me drained but didn’t want to tell the boss what kind of surgery. She has called in for PMS (and told me)- so I’m VERY well aware of how her medical issues are played up to take off-it’s ROUTINE. She is about 6-8 yrs older then me. I have even MORE physical ailments then she does-IBS, PMDD, Polyps removal a few times, fibroids, heavy bleeding, miscarriages, chronic bronchitis, chronic fatigues, I’ve had bad depression/anxiety- I’ve had a FIL and my dad die after a slow agonizing cancer death…..I have a HEAVY burden in life personally. Trust me, other then a day here or there for illness I get my butt into work because I have work ethic. She routinely complains about workload when she already has like 1/4 of mine-she is lazy, she is entitled, has no work ethic. Basically wants to retire and is taking advantage of the boss’s good will- but her constant absenteeism and lack of showing up and working WHEN there falls on ME -repeat-this has been brought up to-the manager before. This is not a one off- she routinely has done things like this for years. House searching went on for a year or so- would call in last min, leave early….one house purchased it was always workdays and hours her contractors could only meet w/her. Trust me-she’s a milker and selfish with NO remorse of how her being gone affects me-or doesn’t care. I’ve met slackers before in my 20 yrs working-NOTHING like her-honestly it’s quite gross.

  26. Another Sarah*

    OP 5 the whole point of that scene is that it’s not a good idea – it’s only adorable because Emmett is on the same weird pink and fluffy wavelength as Elle, but it didn’t help her get the job, and it definitely didn’t help her get the professor’s respect.

    1. Project Manager*

      I don’t know if Emmett was on her wavelength exactly…I thought it was more that he, unlike almost everyone else in the movie, didn’t immediately write her off because of her presentation. He wouldn’t put out a pink resume himself – he just was willing to give a second look to someone who did (I imagine her being attractive played a role in this willingness).

      Someone who was as aggressively pink and hyperfeminine as Elle would get similarly dismissed in the engineering world (where I work). I wonder sometimes if I’m hurting myself with my own presentation (no pink, but I wear skirts and dresses almost exclusively; we have plenty of women in the office and in management, but skirts are rare, and my female direct supervisor and her male direct supervisor both wear jeans frequently), but I get a lot of opportunities and have good, positive name recognition, so it doesn’t seem so. Which is good, because the only thing worse than wearing pants is shopping for pants.

    2. Temperance*

      Noooooooooo. 1.) The professor was just a straight-up misogynist, which is why he was treating Vivian like his personal assistant and Elle like a sex object, even though she was clearly quite intelligent. 2.) Emmett isn’t on Elle’s wavelength, which would be ultra femme, but he is respectful of her, and her intelligence and skill. She was top of her class at Harvard Law.

  27. lamuella*


    My go to is always that you want the content to be what stands out, not the format. As a hiring manager I have criteria in mind when I’m shortlisting, and anything that gets between me and those criteria is at best a distraction. Hence, the sort of resumes I’m looking for are those that deliver information in as clear a way as possible. No gimmicks, precise text, a readable font and size, and where possible black text on white paper.

    Your chance to impress with your personality comes at interview. The resume should be an efficient instrument to get you that far.

  28. Blunt and Precise*

    OP 1: Like Alison said, reframe it in your head as “I hung out with this guy for a while” and then ignore. Unless you and Pam’s son broke up on the worst of terms, I don’t think there’s any reason to be worried here.

    OP 2: NO. Big, ducking NO. You don’t know the exact circumstances of what kind of medical treatment your co-worker will receive and it is none of your business either. Here is what you can do to deal with the work load:
    1) Make your manager aware of both the general disparity in work load and the incredible disparity whenever your co-worker is out of the office, in particular one more time. There is a good chance your manager does not know that it’s an issue, or at least the seriousness of it. Be blunt and precise. “Boss, I would like to talk to you for a minute about mine and Jane’s workload. In general, I have X more tasks to do than her and I routinely have to pick up after her, adding Y more tasks to that. Three years of this have left me severely over-worked and burned out, so from now on, I’m not going to pick up any more of Jane’s slack. What could we do to fix the general imbalance here?”
    2) Follow through. Don’t pick up after Jane anymore. If this woman is trying to leech our energy, don’t let her, unless specifically ordered to do so by your boss. Practice saying “I don’t have time for that, Jane” and “if you need someone to cover your workload, talk to manager, Jane” and “No can do. I’m busy.” She will rage and moan and try to guilt-trip you into helping her. Stand firm. Bonus: you’ve already talked to your manager (see point 1), so if she tries to complain to them about you, tough luck for her.
    3) If your manager still refuses to see the problem or sides with Jane, start polishing up your resume and looking elsewhere. These people are not worthy of your time and energy.

    OP 3: Let it go. If it helps, try putting yourself into the shoes of your Manhattan office guests and ask yourselves if you would voluntarily stay two hours longer each Friday. Be honest with yourself. Also, and I apologize if this comes across this rude, consider yourself lucky that you even get to leave early on summer Fridays, even if not as early as your Manhatten colleagues. It’s a privilege, not a right.

    OP 4: I’d say check your company’s employee handbook. If your company doesn’t have one or the answer isn’t in there, maybe drop a quick mail to HR? “Hey Jane, I have a quick question: what’s the company’s policy on bringing branded items from other companies to work? I have tons of pens/cups/shirts I really like that have logos from companies like X, Y and Z on them and I couldn’t find any info in the employee handbook on whether I can bring them or not. Kind regards, John”. Remember, HR is not just there to help in a crisis – they are there to ensure compliance with the company’s guidelines.

    OP 5: Very definitely inappropriate and potentially self-sabotaging (I hate the color pink and I get headaches from strong scents, so a pink, scented resume would immediately go into the trash).

    1. Anon Today*

      ICAM with your comments for OP #2.

      Jane isn’t really the issue. It’s the work disparity that is the issue, and so I think if the focus is on that there will be a much more satisfactory resolution to the situation. And as you indicated if management isn’t willing to address the work load issue then at least the OP knows to start looking for another job.

  29. Oilpress*

    #2 – Snitching or even just complaining about a fellow team member to the boss is a gamble. If you take the gamble then you better be absolutely sure you are right, that you can convince your boss to agree with you, and that your boss will actually take action to improve the situation.

    That third part is where it often falls apart. I have had bosses agree with me about slacking coworkers, but they don’t correct the situation because they are too used to me solving the problem for them by picking up the extra work. From your boss’ point of view, there is no issue because all of the work is getting done. You have to let some stuff not get done so that corrective action is required. Heroism will not be rewarded.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Heroism will not be rewarded.

      Agreed. Your boss is not on your side. You boss is not on your co-worker’s side. Your boss is on the side of the business — and may well decide that the best result for the business is to get rid of the employee who complains about their co-workers.

  30. Jenna*

    I just watched that Gilmore Girls episode two days ago and thought of Alison the entire time. I swiftly pointed out to my daughter that Rory’s stunts were cringe-worthy– lest I become a Parent Who Gives Terrible Work Advice to Her Kids.

  31. The Original K.*

    I used to work for a company that had 1 PM summer Friday end times; my roommate at the time worked for a competitor that gave its employees every other Friday off. (To make up for it, you extended your departure time by 45 minutes Monday – Thursday, but you were usually there that late anyway so it didn’t feel like anything.) She told me once that she’d have rather done things the way my company did them, but she’d never have said anything.

    Since this is the same office, not competing companies, I might ask once if you can do things the way the NYC office does them, but if the answer is no, I’d let it lie and enjoy the two hours off. (I really miss summer Fridays.)

    1. Dan*

      Heh. I take my pick. Some days it’s early Friday, other times it’s every other Friday off.

  32. Indie*

    OP1, when I read the headline I thought you’d had a fling WHILE working for this boss! I think you can a) relax and b) put the weirdness you feel down to just having good professional boundaries of ‘I wouldn’t have if…’ But people have common sense and no one expects you to use a crystal ball when embarking on a fling. Even if the whole situation is somehow revealed this says nothing about your professional judgement because it wasn’t a professional situation. There also doesnt seem to be anything which speaks badly of your character in the outside-of-work sense, (think of the guy who ghosted his girlfriend or the interviewee who was rude to fellow commuters). I don’t think you have anything to fear or be embarrassed of here.

  33. What's with today, today?*

    Unless your co-worker calls and says they were to the doctor for a stomach bug, and ”are now being admitted for an emergency colonoscopy, ” don’t alert the boss. Yes, that happened at my job. Former co-worker didn’t get fired for that one, but did get fired the WEEK he said he was in a big city hospital nearby with a heart condition (which he had googled and described to our boss in detail). While he was supposedly in the hospital though(he wasn’t ever there), his truck kept disappearing and reappearing at his home on a main road in town, and he was seen in town grocery shopping and picking his kid up from school. This is a small town! And he just kept right on lying until the end. Needless to say, when asked for a doctor’s note, he didn’t have one.

    1. What's with today, today?*

      P.S. Co-worker was car shopping during the ”emergency colonoscopy.” There are no secrets on Facebook.

      1. irene adler*

        What? No “evil twin” excuse?

        Why do folks make it so easy to catch their lies?

  34. MicroManagered*

    #3 I work for a large university and it’s kind of customary for different departments to let their people out early the day before a holiday. Some departments let people go at noon, others at 3 or 4pm, and some don’t do it at all! It’s not a perk we’re entitled to, so we are certainly not entitled to complain about not-getting as much of this perk as another area. Not to be harsh, but suck it up. Don’t worry about when the NYC people are leaving your office. Be thankful you get to leave early at all.

    “The only reason to look in someone else’s bowl is to make sure they have enough.”

    1. Brendan*

      That thing about the bowl is a nice sentiment, so why aren’t the NYC employees looking at the NJ employees’ bowls and saying “Hey, why do they have to stay til 3 if we get out at 1?”

      1. fposte*

        It’s possible they are; it’s not necessarily something others would know. If they say it to the people working until 3, it doesn’t help and risks being annoying; if they say it to managers and the managers say “Yes, but we’re not changing it,” it’s not likely to be heard by the OP and her colleagues.

  35. Julie in Ohio*

    Re: #3, I wonder if any time-shifting is going on as well? For example, do people in NYC work an extra 30 minutes the other four days to be able to leave 2 hours early on Friday? That’s how my workplace’s summer hours go – it’s time-shifting, not just straight time off. And it’s all completely optional, subject to manager approval, which they always do unless there’s some business reason not to (ex: not everyone can take Friday off; it needs to be spread out).

  36. Boredatwork*

    OP – I’ll give you two examples. When I went through recruiting for public accounting I received massive amounts of swag. Once you pick a firm you really need to only wear/use their stuff. We had a party every year to off-load stuff.

    Now – I’m in industry, where I have zero issue using all the lovely accounting stuff I still receive. I would never dream of using a branded product from my companies direct competitor(s). In fact, there’s a very good chance it would be thrown away.

    The safe thing is to leave it at home, wait and see what your co-workers are doing.

  37. NoVA Nonsense*

    OP3, I totally understand why it feels unfair. I wonder if we work for the same company–we have offices in NJ, NYC, and Northern VA, and those offices get summer Fridays while satellites get nothing. A lot of companies don’t care to enforce rules across the board, and it makes the difficult, thankless parts of the job even worse when you know that even your employer doesn’t care. Try to be thankful you get such a cool perk, but the disparity is unfair, I totally get it.

  38. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    OP1 – it was a short-time thing. He’s no longer in town. You didn’t know his mother then, much less work for her! “we hung out one time briefly” is a great way to describe it, and won’t create any problems for you at work. Neither should it!

    OP3 – We had that issue at OldJob when BigCompany bought us. After being part of BigCompany for a while, those of us who had traveled to BigCompany HQ on business trips came back with the news that the HQ had a Friday release time of 3:30pm. We did not. We just sucked it up and continued not having early release, until BigCompany sold us to EvenBiggerCompany and it stopped being an issue.

    OP5 – oh god, no. There’s so much workplace sexism going around as it is. A pink scented resume (or really anything making oneself stand out as adorable) would just be adding fuel to this fire.

  39. Bookworm*

    No, no scented stuff. Some people have legitimate allergies or are really sensitive to that. I really don’t want to smell one coming, going or wonder why my desk smells like perfume only to find it’s a resume.

    Please, people. Please be aware of how much perfume/cologne you’re putting on. Or how scented your lotion/aftershave/body spray, etc. all are.

  40. So Very Anon For This*

    OP#1, I’m in an analogous situation with my circle of friends. While I was having a non-permanent but very fun and short fling with one guy, “Adam,” he was trying to decide whether to approach another woman, “Brenda,” for a more serious, long-term relationship. Fast-forward to today, and Adam and Brenda have been going strong for several years now and even have a child together. How do I act when I’m around Brenda? I don’t bring it up. Either Adam has told her about us, in which case I don’t need to tell her myself. Or Adam hasn’t told her, in which case what good would it do for me to tell her?

    Either Pam’s son has told her about the fling you two had, in which case you don’t need to re-inform her again. Or he hasn’t told her, in which case it will do nothing for you or her professionally to bring it up. And “professionally” is the key. This was a private, personal relationship of yours. You do not ever need to bring it up in the workplace.

    Though if there’s a company picnic or something where your fling shows up, it may be good to have something in your back pocket like, “Actually, we have met before, back in Previous Town. Small world!”

      1. voyager1*

        I gonna legit mansplain this for you /s

        Sons don’t tell Mom about their one night stands.

        OP serious all jokes aside, this is never gonna come up. And if you somehow run into the son he isn’t gonna say he had a one night stand with you in front of his Mom.

        Rest easy, enjoy the new job.

        1. So Very Anon For This*


          I had a fling who called up his mom and pretty much said he was going to ask me to marry him after we’d done the deed one single time.

          1. voyager1*

            Wait was his Mom named Pam? But on the upside you must have really made a good impression :)

            I guess I should have put a disclaimer that there is probably one guy out there that keeps council with his Mom about these kinds of things.

            1. So Very Anon For This*

              I guess! He was all, “OMG Mom I think I’ve found THE ONE,” and I was all, “Oh, uh, oh dear.”

  41. Temperance*

    5. I wouldn’t call Elle Woods “adorable”. She’s just hyper-feminine and 100% herself. Calling her “adorable” undercuts her brilliance.

    IDK, it’s one of my favorite movies and, seriously, part of the reason I went to law school. The film itself has a great message about women’s achievement and is pretty darn feminist, but most of her court clothes are super inappropriate and I wouldn’t copy that from her.

  42. D. Llama*

    Another casualty to millennial hook-up culture.

    But seriously, pretend it never happened. You’ll be fine!

    1. Bea*

      It’s not a generational thing. I guess you never read about the 60s and 70s…or 80s. Or 90s.

      W.T.F.making this into a millennial thing.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Seriously? It’s not “hook-up culture”, it’s just people getting to know each other in a lot of different ways; which is totally an acceptable thing to do now that none of us are under pressure to marry off at 18, produce enough kids so they can get the work done in the family business or on the family farm, and spend the rest of our lives working on said family farm with our spouse. It’s not a millennial thing. Every generation does this. It is nothing to be ashamed of or apologize for. Hopefully you were being sarcastic here?

      1. Thlayli*

        You have to put /s on your jokes here or people WILL assume it’s serious.

        Even seen people assume it’s serious with the /s

    3. NaoNao*

      And women trapped into marriages with men because they got pregnant from a one night stand or men marrying women they just wanted to have sex with or people getting married at 19 and spending 40 miserable years together or women marrying a man she’d been out with 6 times who turns out to be a gambler, drinker, or abusive monster is so much better?

      Hook up culture cuts both ways. It can be detrimental if your goal is marriage, children, and a household, which at a younger age is not the goal for most. But it also allows women to enjoy being physical and/or casually date men without being shamed into marriage with them, which is a huge benefit.

    4. SoCalHR*

      Ironically, studies have shown that Millennial are having less sex than other generations.

  43. Lalaroo*

    OP#5: As someone applying to law school, I’ve actually read a couple articles about Elle Woods, lol. One perspective that I thought was really interesting is that Elle was able to apply to Harvard Law with a video resume and come off as a total stereotypical blonde airhead and still get in because her credentials were absolutely unbeatable. She had a 4.0 GPA, and got a 179 on the LSAT – that score is spectacular! She’s going to be helping the ranking of any school she attends in both categories!

    The lesson in the article was that if you’re out-of-this-world amazing, you can indulge your eccentricities and express your personality. But if you’re not absolutely sure that you are, you better play by the regular rules and nix the pink scented resume.

    (Not that I think the movie was making that point, or that Elle Woods even realized she was doing something crazy out of the norm – it’s more finding a good lesson where none was intended)

  44. Dan*


    This gets more fun at a multi national when you have Europeans and their gobs of vacation doing long term assignments in the US.

  45. Roscoe*

    #2 Absolutely not! This is not your business. Just because you have had the same surgery, doesn’t mean her body will react in the same way. I had a minor surgery once. They told me what kind of pain to expect after and gave me ample drugs to deal with it. I had very minor pain. But, even though I probably COULD have gone back to work early, I still took off the doctor recommended amount of time. It sounds like you have some valid issues with this woman, but telling your boss that she doesn’t need time off (which frankly is ridiculous since my guess is you aren’t a healtcare provider) just makes you look completely petty and unprofessional. AS Alison said, go ahead and bring up how its affecting you, but leave her leave out.

    #3 This is just part of life. Hell, sometimes different departments in the same office have different rules for these things. You will come off whiny if you bring it up. There is no way around that. And your expectation that the employees of the other office follow your schedule just seems a bit ridiculous as well. Enjoy your summer Fridays. I don’t even get them anymore

  46. Kate*

    OP#2 Get back in your lane, seriously you are not working with all the information and you are not her doctor, or a doctor at all (webmd doesn’t qualify you). Don’t be the office asshole which from this you definitely are. I get that she is not working up to your standard but honestly after wanting to tattle on her for a medical procedure that you have determined what length of time she will need off, I question your ability to judge anything. This really just bugged me to my core that you would complain about this and have the audacity to think you should say anything.

    1. Temperance*

      This is kind of unnecessarily harsh. It sounds like LW is at BEC level with her lazy colleague, and yeah, I totally get how she could have hit the point where she’s like “and of COURSE Mildred is milking her medical leave”.

      Why does it bug you “to your core” that LW had this reaction?

      1. Roscoe*

        I agree with Kate though. If you feel that you can comment on someone’s medical procedures, you have lost all sense of rationality. Even if OP, in her mind, truly thinks she knows exactly how long a medical procedure will take (which if so, she kind of needs to get over herself), its still not her place to go to the manager about it. Its something that she can think if she likes, but shouldn’t verbalize

      2. Kate*

        How is it unnecessarily harsh. It doesn’t matter if this woman is not doing her job at all, that is another issue that the op should be discussing with her boss. But to go and decide that you know how long this woman needs off for a medical procedure, based on office talk and what you have had done as a woman much younger and most likely not with the same medical issues. So much so that you want to go and tell your boss she doesn’t need that much time off that is horrible, how does that not bug you on every level for this grade of pettiness. I get the OP believes mildred is not pulling her weight but this is so far above and beyond that.

      3. YarnOwl*

        As someone who has dealt with having to take time off work because of chronic health conditions or taking care of family members, I totally get why Kate made this comment. It’s extremely irritating to have people think they know everything about what’s going on or know better than you what you need.

        I totally get LW’s frustration, but to turn it into a “I know everything about this surgery and how long it will take her to recover” thing is not cool. LW should talk to their boss about what they DO know: that they can’t keep doing all of their coworker’s work. There’s no reason to bring her surgery into it.

      4. Annabelle*

        It bugs me to my core, too. I have a handful of related chronic illnesses that aren’t visible in any way. At previous jobs, I’ve had coworkers do the “is she even sick??” crap to me all the time, despite the fact that I always cleared everything with my boss and usually had a doctor’s note. I get being frustrated with a heavy workload, but you can’t just assume someone’s lying about their health because they’re annoying.

  47. Dust Bunny*

    1) WAAAY overthinking this. It’s not like you got the job because you’d messed around with Pam’s son, or were trying to get back with Pam’s son. It was before you worked here and you didn’t even know until now. If you all three live in the same area, the odds are pretty good you’re going to know some people in common. The person just happens to be Pam’s son. Let this go and stop worrying about it.

    2) Mind your own business. I cut my leg a few years ago and ended up taking a week off of work. The cut itself wasn’t bad, but the doctor didn’t want me sitting at a desk where I couldn’t keep the leg elevated to reduce swelling, so I ended up at home doing nothing. (Luckily, one of my medications made me sleepy so I napped through most of it.) One, this isn’t your call. Two, I can just about guarantee you that you don’t know the whole story. Butt out.

    1. essEss*

      I suddenly had a mental image of a requirement of the coworker needing to keep her…ahem.. “ladies”… elevated after the surgery.

  48. Blue Cupcake*

    #5. Yes, Elle got the job but it turned out the professor/boss didn’t really take her 100% seriously. Remember what the jerk did later?
    No gimmicks. But If you must, at least send in something serious and impressive. Nothing pink or scented unless you’re sending in your original creation for a perfume company.

    1. Temperance*

      He also treated Vivian like a secretary, so it said more about his attitude towards women and their skills than anything else.

  49. Lady Phoenix*

    Op2: No no no no NO! I get you are frustrated but do NOT make any comments about your coworker. You don’t know what is going on with them and for all you know, it could be very serious.

    Instead, talk to your boss about the heavy workload and finding a solution to alleviate the stress. Maybe ask about a day off or a vacation.

  50. Whitebear*

    Keep in mind Elle Wood’s pink scented resume illustrates a few things:
    1. It reminds us that law school is still a totally new and different world for Elle and she does not yet completely grasp professional norms (she’s applying for an internship with this infamous resume).
    2. She already has a proven track record of being a strong performer, fast learner, and excellent student. Giving the pink scented resume to her prof was in some ways just a formality indicating she was intetested in the internship. Because Elle is a known quantity it matters less that her resume is gimmicky.
    3. (Spoiler) It’s revealed later on that her prof selected her for the internship because he thinks she’s hot/adorable, and not because of her credentials. Sadly in this case her prof never took her seriously anyway. He hired her despite the gimmicks and credentials because in the end none of it mattered. He was just a shitty boss hoping to hook up with an intern.

    1. Iris Eyes*

      And as a boss hoping to hook up with an underling, her signalling a lack of knowledge for professional norms especially one that skews toward “see me as a woman” probably made her stand out as an even better mark. After all if she doesn’t get the formatting for resumes is she going to know what physical boundaries are and how to enforce them? And as entitled jerks can do, he might have seen it as her wanting him (clearly you would send scented letters to a lover) and inviting him so he’s not at fault, she started it (in his mind.)

  51. M from NY*

    OP#2 When you’ve discussed with your boss did you frame it around your co-workers absence or your work load? If the former stop as you can see people tend to jump to defend others when the fall out doesn’t affect them.

    Make your point again but be very clear. Do not focus on her absence but the work load. Do not frame it as “I can’t” but instead ask for guidance on prioritizing an acceptable workload when she is out. Any thing you do for her means one of your tasks is removed. For example if you’re covering her weekly audit that takes 2 hours then you are not available to cover phones at lunch/breaktime (even if you’ve been doing report while covering phone) your goal is to alleviate your stress levels.

    Do not offer to cover your coworkers tasks unless directed (or urgent). She doesn’t care how this is affecting you so stop feeling like its your job to make her happy. Her complaining is HER business and its not your job to appease her.

    This is not about pay or levels. If you frame discussion wrong a minimal raise isn’t going to make work better so focus on what WILL make it better now (work load). How that is fixed (either temp or enforcing certain goals for coworker) is up to your manager. Now if manager is still unwilling to address then start looking for a new job. Don’t make threats just do what works for you knowing you are looking for new job. I made mistake many years ago of being “super employee” in a similar situation and was even denied promotion because they knew they would never replace me at salary I was being paid. When I quit I was eventually replaced by 3 people who all had higher salary then I ever had. Your manager may have to learn lesson about valuing a good worker the hard way also. Good luck!

  52. Higher Ed Database Dork*

    #4 – My former boss worked most of his career at IBM, so he had a ton of IBM stuff. He was really fond of his IBM polos, which were nice, but it was a little weird to see him wearing the IBM shirts so often. I don’t think I’d care about a water bottle or something, as it’s less “in your face” as a shirt is. Of course it didn’t help that he’d tell stories about working at IBM all the time – not just in a, “here’s a story from my old job” occasional way, but more of a “look at the fabulous job and life I had at IBM!” kind of way. It made us wonder why he left IBM if it was so wonderful. Another person had acquired a Facebook jacket somehow, and he loved wearing it, but again it was in a braggy way.

    All that to say, I don’t think an occasional branded item is a problem (certainly as long as you’re not bragging about it!), but since you are new you might want to stay away from them for a while just so people focus on you and your work, and not your stuff. Good luck with your new job!

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      I used to work there too. They do love their branded stuff. I had to throw a bunch out because my house was starting to look like an ad for IBM. Lame about all the bragging, though.

    2. OP #4*

      Thanks, this is helpful! Funnily enough, about 2/3 of my collection is IBM stuff, they just give out so much swag.

  53. Rachel Green*

    #3…When did Summer Fridays become a thing? The first I heard of them was in an episode of Younger. Is this mostly a NYC practice? That’s a pretty awesome perk!

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      “That’s a pretty awesome perk!”

      No Doubt! It seems that in my company everyone stores up their problems and dumps them on everyone else come Friday afternoon. I’m not sure when this became a thing, but it makes a person want to hide under their desk from noon on.

    2. McWhadden*

      I’ve never been lucky enough. But I know people who had this perk going back to 2003. Mostly friends who work in ad agencies but that could just be a coincidence.

    3. Thlayli*

      At my old job our Australian office had beer Fridays – beer in the office in Friday afternoons paid for by the company.

      Horses for courses.

    4. ENFP in Texas*

      I have 25+ years in corporate America, in the Chicago and Dallas markets, mostly for Fortune 500 companies but also a few smaller companies and a couple of startups.

      I have never heard of “Summer Fridays”. Is it an East Coast thing, so y’all can get to the beach?

      Seeing as how I’ve never had that perk, I think raising a stink about “Well THEY get to leave earlier than WE do” seriously runs the risk of the answer becoming “Okay, if it’s not appreciated for what it is, then no one gets to leave early.”

    5. Iris Eyes*

      Its a thing in my office for some departments because summer is off season and helps people get though the season where the might be woken up at 2am to deal with an emergency, or have to work thorough winter holidays.

    6. Ista*

      It’s been around for decades in certain industries like publishing–so it makes sense it was mentioned in Younger. Thinking back on my career, I think all of the companies I’ve worked with in NY have had some version of it, even if it was every other week or just a couple of hours. Getting out of town in summer takes time!

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      An OldJob had a semi-Summer Fridays, where you were allowed to work an extra hour Monday through Thursday, and a half day on Friday.

      When they announced it, I was already on a flex location schedule with WFH every Friday. So I requested this one too. It was glorious. Although I missed a lot of Friday workplace socializing, lunches and whatnot.

  54. McWhadden*

    #2 Totally empathize with your situation. I know you are rightfully frustrated. But, really, focus on the things that need to be changed to make your work life manageable. Even if you say something the boss almost 100% certainly won’t act on it (considering how much else your co-worker gets away with I doubt a medical thing will be where the boss decides to take a stand.)

    #3 My department got several people from another department. My department has always had strict rules about flex schedules (the rule being there are none) and working from home (feel free to do it at night after you leave but not in lieu of a work day.) But the new people had different arrangements in their old department. So many of them have flex schedules and often leave in the afternoon to work the rest of the day at home. They got to keep them but we can’t. It drives me a little nuts but at the end of the day there isn’t much to be done about it.

    #4 A friend works for a major sneaker brand (like Nike but not Nike) and they get in trouble if they wear ANYTHING from someone who could be considered a competitor. Not just shoes. But like if she wore yoga pants from Lulu Melon instead of the shoe brand’s she’d get in trouble. Even though the company isn’t really known for their yoga pants even if they do make some. (Yes, they can wear yoga pants to work.) Of course, that’s an extreme.

    1. Lindsay J*

      #4. An ex’s brother worked for Pepsi.

      When he was eating at a restaurant or anywhere in public and wanted a soda he had to specifically ask for a Pepsi/Pepsi product. If the restaurant was Coke only, he was allowed to drink the Coke. But in a convenience store with both, he was supposed to take the Pepsi and would get in trouble if it was found he did otherwise, even off the clock. (This extended to bottled waters, sports drinks, etc as well).

      I always thought it was a little crazy. He was a driver/distributor. I could see wanting higher level people to do so to show confidence in their company or whatever, but holding someone entry-level to the same standards seemed extreme to me.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        “Why did you leave your last job?”
        “I was fired for ordering a Coke in a restaurant, instead of Pepsi.”
        “You’re hired.”

        (And that’s why I’m not in management.)

  55. Allison*

    #3 It’s not a good idea to define “fairness” as “everyone gets the same amount of the same things all the time.” I can think of a few reasons why the NYC office gets to leave earlier, and it’s not just because it’s managed by a different decision-maker who picked 1PM as the early release time. If the company is competing with other companies for talent (engineers, strategy executives, financial analysts, etc.), they might want to tout the 1PM release as a perk, which might give them a slight edge over the companies that are closing their offices at 3. They also might just be aware that the traffic gets bad and the trains get crazy at, say, 2PM, so they want their employees to be able to get out and get home before that happens. Maybe it’s because that’s the time most people were leaving the office on Fridays in the summer anyway. Maybe most people stay later than the official office close, so if they set it at 1, people will start trickling out by then but the office won’t actually empty out until 3 or 4.

    And maybe none of the above is true for the NJ office, where they went “oh yeah, summer Fridays is a great idea, 3 seems reasonable!” Getting to leave work early on Fridays is awesome! Appreciate the perk for what it is, don’t compare it to a different office.

    1. Anon Today*

      As my dad noted to me many years ago. Fair does not always mean equal. Different people need different things.

  56. Oh Heck No*

    Re: OP#2:
    QUIT DOING HER WORK ON FRIDAYS. Let her come in and swim through the mess on Monday. If it’s not your job, it’s not your job. When she whines, answer, “I’m sorry. I had to finish my own work. You’ll need to take care of yours.”

    1. Seriously?*

      I would say quit doing any of her work that does not NEED to be done before she gets back. If it can wait, it will wait.

  57. YarnOwl*

    OP #3, my coworker had to have a breast cyst removal that was way more invasive than what you’re describing. The cyst was so big that she had to have reconstructive surgery when it was removed, and she was out of commission for a couple of weeks. There’s a chance that’s what your coworker is having done.

  58. pat benetardis*

    I work in a building where different departments have different policies for summer Friday’s. I have to have a plan approved by my manager stating what hours I will work to make up for leaving half day on Friday (total joke since I regularly work 50 hours/week). But ok, fine, I do a plan. The department I support (but don’t report to) does whatever they want whenever they want to.
    On the Friday before Memorial Day, half the bldg got dismissed at 1:00. The test of us have a European business head with no awareness of the US holiday and no early dismissal.
    Oh well, that’s how it is sometimes.

  59. Minocho*

    I don’t know why, but I keep reading “I had a brief fling with my boss’ pink, scented resumes”.

    It’s vaguely confusing for a moment, then I read the missing word and it makes sense again.

    You would think after one or two of these iterations, I would learn not to have that moment of brain disconnect there.

  60. Elizabeth West*

    I did that once. I worked in the rental office where I lived in college and went on a date with the boss’s son when he was visiting. It was long before Netflix and chill; we went to a movie and chilled. I think my boss would have liked to see me and her son get together (I would have to; he was cute AF), but he didn’t live there and their family moved away not long after. They were replaced with the creepiest couple I’d ever met in my life. Brr.

    It didn’t affect my work any, but I was lucky. The situation might have turned out less smoothly if he did live in the area and if we had dated for a while and broken up. I would never, ever, EVER do that now.

    Since this happened before OP even knew the boss, I wouldn’t worry about it.

  61. Anon for this*

    OP #2

    How many days your co-worker is taking is not your business or your problem. Even if she’s having the exact same procedure you had (and it’s very possible that you are not in full possession of all of the facts), you are not her. She may have other issues. Her doctor may have recommended a longer recovery period.

    I work with several people who enjoy much better health than I do. I have chronic insomnia. I suffer from chronic crippling migraines. There are other issues. I have overheard complaints along the lines of “why doesn’t she just take a Tylenol?” My supervisor knows my situation and how I’m dealing with it. If my supervisor has a problem, she’ll take it up with me.

    Talk to your supervisor about workload while she’s out. Stop picking up her slack. But the rest of it? None of your business.

  62. mAd Woman*

    Even in Legally Blonde, she gets the internship DESPITE the pink and perfume. Her competency had to overcome being out of step. The professor makes a face about it when she hands it to him, and in the musical version he says aloud that he would normally throw away such a thing.

  63. E.*

    I understand where OP #3 is coming from. It’s crap that people in the same company are getting different benefits, and this policy seems like it’s guaranteed to lower morale.

  64. Cormac*

    #4 It totally depends on your industry. In video games, we wear t-shirts from former games, former employers, ones we picked up at GDC or E3 for games or studios we love, etc. all the time. We get schwag at conferences, and some of that ends up on people’s desks. We also often have desk decorations that are from other people’s products that we loved (figurines, product boxes, Funcos. you name it).

  65. OP #2*

    I answered a few things as Anne because wasn’t aware how to reply/what name to use.

    Here’s the thing- I know she’s milking it-thanks for the advice. Here’s some of the things she has either not shown for, left early, came in late- Keep in mind these things happen every week for years-she has not been a full week in office since hired. We are about 8yrs apart-and I do in fact suffer from quite a few chronic illnesses -serious ones- and I still don’t take that kind of time off. The time I took a week unexpected was on 2 different occasions for miscarriage to which I was literally bleeding/cramping for weeks (they were missed/never complete and eventually had to take meds to complete. I have chronic insomnia, chronic bronchitis, IBS, polyps in colon, and quite a few other issues, including depression/anxiety at different times-I’m very familiar with ‘whatever other issues’ she might have because I have plenty more of them-health is not good and I SHOW UP. I’ve had to take time off for health, so I can empathize to a point because I don’t re-currently/consistently/weekly do this and stay out and my work falls on someone else. I’m considerate of others.

    She has called out for a bee sting the DAY PRIOR-not allergic she told me, was sore.
    For a sore shoulder, for a sore eyelid, feeling blah, didn’t feel like it, if I listed the excuses here you would shake your head-even the boss comments on the creativity of the call ins. Seriously-if you heard the excuses you would not be so indignant and take it personal or assume I am making bad assumptions on her needle aspiration. I’m well aware of how her time off played via FB-so NO I’m not wrong. My manager is wrong for failing to address it and require a medical note. He is wrong for failing to address the extra loads and work I have done day after day/week after week for years. It’s time for me to find something else. She’s protected age- and protected foreigner status. When she first started my boss addressed it incorrectly and would yell at her for these things or playing dumb in answering e-mails and such, she complained to HR-so there is a ‘lay low’ thing- personally I feel she’s on the ‘short list’ for when/if they make cuts in our department so they bid their time but in the meantime they have left me frazzled, resentful, burnt out and with zero sympathy for her anymore. We used to be friends even, but her severe lack of work ethic can KILL team morale.

  66. MM*

    I feel for you, this has obviously been going on for a long time and it has worn you out at the knees. The thing is though that your colleagues behaviour is not in your control. It never has been and never was. She is not going to magically change now that you are burnt out / severely stressed and at the end of your tether. Nothing you can do or say is going to change her behaviour.

    The only thing that is in your control is how you act and behave and from what you have written, it seems like you need to be putting your needs first and look after yourself as no-0ne else there is doing that. Not your colleague, not your manager or your HR either. Your boss managed her incorrectly from the get go and he is still managing the situation incorrectly as he has chosen to treat you like a work horse instead of managing the resourcing issue. So now you’ve got so run down, it’s making you unwell which is a really hard place to be when you are also trying to deflect all the extra work etc.

    You said above that when you are unwell you SHOW UP. Please stop doing that. Your company / manager is milking it and they’ll keep milking it unless you show them they can’t. I don’t know your situation but I was in a similar one years ago with a similar boss and he used to deflect resourcing requests by complaining about the lazy one – because it took the heat off him!! He would sympathise then try and guilt trip saying ‘what can I do, HR can’t touch her because (insert reasons) so we are stuck etc etc’ but in reality it was all about deflecting attention off himself to lazy one to make out she was the problem not him when it was his lack of management acumen and failure to fix the situation that was the problem.

    I think you said up thread you are looking for new work and that is great news! They don’t deserve you. the problem is though that when you get so run down, you run the risk of presenting poorly at interviews / grey in the face etc. If you are able to can you take a few days off? (any reasonable Dr would sign off on stress grounds) Disconnect from her on facebook – at the moment you are giving her free rent in your life by spending what is obviously stressful time for you tracking her. Please consider disconnecting as much as possible from her, she doesn’t deserve your time and attention and energy – you deserve that so that you can get the rest you need to move on to the next job with as much gas in the tank as possible. Control the things you can control – ie your life and if people ask you to cover, then just refer them to your boss and if your boss comes back, make him /them specifically tell what part of your job that you don’t have to do.

    If something terrible happened tomorrow and you weren’t able to work (and I hope it doesn’t) , your boss would be at HR an hour later filing for a new employee. You don’t owe this job such a huge part of your life when they have failed you over such a protracted period of time. This is an organisational issue and your lazy colleague is a symptom of this and not the cause. Please take care of yourself first and foremost and take some time off to recover if you can. One of the problems with being in a situation that grinds you down so badly over such a lengthy time is that you begin to think it is normal when it is really toxic. While your colleague may have milked the system (and I’m leaving aside all health stuff here), it is management that have let her do it and created the toxic environment that allowed it to happen. If they haven’t changed by now, they won’t. And when you find yourself a new job, you’ll be shaking your head in wonder that you ever thought this situation was normal. Best of luck and take care of yourself.

  67. ThatAspie*

    Life isn’t the movies. Notice the lack of talking cars, helmets with built-in prescription lenses, forcefields, and blue aliens disguising themselves as dogs. Yeah, things that totally work in the movies don’t work in real life. Unfortunately.

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