my boss killed my plant, CEO wants everyone to donate their pay back to the organization, and more

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

1. My boss killed my plant

My office is windowless, so when I left for my two weeks’ vacation I asked my boss, Jane, if I could leave my miniature rose on the wide windowsill in hers while I was gone. She said sure, and agreed to water it a few times as well.

When I got back, however, the plant had been returned to my desk and was in an advanced state of dehydration. Jane told me that it had fruit flies, which quite reasonably bothered her, so she took it out of her office — but then she left it in the dark and didn’t water it, and it has since become obvious that it’s not going to survive.

To be clear, it doesn’t bother me at all that Jane didn’t want to deal with the fruit flies; they irritate me too and I’m aggressively swatting them as fast as I can. But it does bother me that she neglected the plant to the point of it dying. I mean, this is a grocery store miniature rose and I even have a cutting from it that’s prospering, but still. She killed my plant, and didn’t even apologize; she seems to think that she doesn’t need to because of the fruit fly issue. What now?

Well, there isn’t really a next step here. It’s pretty likely that Jane just forgot to water your plant once she wasn’t seeing it in her office every day, as opposed to malicious neglect. Yes, she should notice it’s now dying and apologize, but who knows, maybe she’s not a plant person and hasn’t even put it together. In any case, it’s not the kind of thing that makes sense for you to escalate with her in any way. You can’t force an apology or get her to confess to plant-slaughter; just assume you shouldn’t leave plants or other living things in her custody in the future.

2. Our CEO wants everyone to donate a percentage of their pay back to the organization

I am a director in a mid-size nonprofit. I report directly to the CEO. We are going through some service delivery changes and restructuring that are not 100% popular with the staff at every level.

Recently, the CEO rolled out the “opportunity” for employees to donate a percentage of their paycheck back to the organization, via a letter talking about what an honor it should be to support the company in this way, and assuring everyone that it would not affect their job in any way if they don’t choose to. She asked us to forward to our reports. I did forward the email once, without comment, to my team. Meanwhile, I was feeling a lot of pressure to contribute, so I selected a small amount to be deducted from each paycheck.

I do support and believe in our mission, and do give back in a number of ways. I am very fairly compensated in my role, but we have a lot of entry-level direct service workers who don’t make a ton of money. I do not feel right asking them this or even reminding them. I sent it out once and that’s all I am going to do. The CEO has sent another email, asking us to tell our team that we are contributing and that they should, too.

This whole thing leaves a bad tase in my mouth. Not only is it unfair to assume that everyone wants to donate to a charity that is also their employer, but I believe it opens us up to scrutiny from staff about how all money is used (such as conferences, etc.) It’s not the same as being able to buy stock in a company where you get dividends, and we have been known to do layoffs (and recently) and I don’t like the implication that this would somehow save everyone from that. Is this a normal thing?

It’s not unheard of, unfortunately. (This is one way nonprofits can be very different from other employers.) It’s gross but not uncommon.

It’s one thing to give staff an opportunity to donate, but it’s really inappropriate to pressure them to — at any level, but especially with lower-paid workers. Some (not all) nonprofits have an ethos that employees should donate to support the organization’s mission, which overlooks the fact that they may be donating simply by virtue of accepting less than they’d make working at a for-profit (and even if not, any work that’s above and beyond could be thought of as a donation in support of the organization’s mission).

Depending on what kind of rapport you have with your CEO, you could explain that you shared the initial request but you think continued follow-up will put a bad taste in people’s mouths and be counterproductive. Or, if you don’t feel like you have the standing to say that, you could just quietly ignore it — or if you can’t get away with that, you could forward it on with a clear “Jane asked me to share this request with you, but this is entirely up to you.”

3. Who gets to keep the travel voucher if you’re bumped from a flight for work?

My new position requires that I do a fair amount of travel. As an avid traveler outside of work as well, I am fascinated by a recent story in the news where a woman was given a $10,000 travel voucher for being involuntarily bumped from a flight.

While this woman was traveling for personal reasons, I’m wondering what the ethics would be if she had been traveling for business? If she had been bumped from her flight while on her way to or from a business trip, would she be entitled to keep the voucher for personal use? Or would she be expected to hand it over to her company for future business travel? After all, the company would be paying for the original ticket.

My business trips mostly take me to a small regional airport that is only accessible via a layover through a very busy hub. While I’ve gotten lucky so far, every time I’ve been delayed getting out of my home airport and have JUST made a really tight connection. It’s only a matter of time before I get stuck in the middle of my trip, or end up on an overbooked flight. Of course I would never volunteer my seat if I needed to make it to a business meeting or back to my home office, but in the hypothetical event I was involuntarily bumped, and negotiated compensation from the airline, what should happen to the travel voucher?

Companies sometimes have policies on this that would require you to hand over the voucher (including, I believe, if you work for the government). In companies that don’t have a policy, I’d say that ethically it’s yours if you were personally inconvenienced — for example, if you had been scheduled to get home at 7 p.m. but getting bumped meant you didn’t get in until 8 a.m the next day. That said, it’s smart to check with your employer if you’re unsure how they’d want you to handle it.

Also, $10,000?! That’s surprisingly enormous.

4. The school where I got my degree is closing

I graduated a few years ago from a small private college and still live in the area. While it isn’t a top tier school, it has a good reputation and offered a strong program for my degree. I’m currently employed but job searching.

The school has just announced that it’s closing. The circumstances are not great. Apparently they just signed new faculty contracts last month, and new students were accepted for the fall and offered generous financial aid packages. The president even received a significant raise recently. And now the school is shuttering with very little notice because of financial issues. Students are scrambling. Parents are crying and angrily protesting in public meetings. The story is being closely followed by local and regional news outlets and it’s pretty much a scandal.

I am concerned that having a degree from this school will reflect badly on me as I job search. I’m not sure if it would look worse to take my degree off of my resume/be vague about my academic background. My field does require a degree, so I’d be disqualified for any position I want if I don’t present at least some information. I’m not sure how to even tactfully discuss the situation if it comes up in an interview. What to do?

Don’t take the degree off your resume! The school’s financial problems don’t reflect on the value of your education or your degree. Sometimes schools close — not often, but it happens. That doesn’t render the degrees they granted worthless, not at all. If the school had a good reputation for academics, that’s what matters. And if an interviewer asks you about it, it’s likely to be as small talk or to express sympathy, and all you’d need to say in response is something like, “I was so sad to see that. I had a great experience there and think it’s a real loss.”

{ 613 comments… read them below }

  1. Tony Stark*

    #1 – is Jane actually aware the plant is dying? Since there’s no real way of saying this without sounding like a dick: it’s a flower that someone forgot to water. This is pretty far down on a list of things that shouldn’t really matter tomorrow.

    If however you did tell her that it’s just about dead, then sure, maybe some degree of a mumbled “oh sorry” is expected.

    1. LNZ*

      You would be suprised at how invested some offices get in plants. I have a very over dramatic Peace Lilly that wilts and droops constantly and will look like its on deaths door after every three day weekend and coworkers have litterally stoped mid step when walking by to come into my office and comment on the plant or express concern about it (also to comment on how fast it perks back up after watering)

      1. Marillenbaum*

        This is what happens with Albertine, my cyclamen. She gets hella droopy when she needs more water, but is back to rights within about 30 minutes of a good watering. It’s also a useful way for me to make sure I don’t overwater, which can be a problem with houseplants.

        1. Naptime Enthusiast*

          I love that you and LNZ know your plants’ “behavior” like some people know their pets.

          1. LNZ*

            Its so funny cause new people at work by don’t know the plant does that and have actually said omg what did you do to it on see the plant looking like its dying.

        2. LNZ*

          I normally wait for mine to get moderatly droopy if I’m very busy at work so when it droops a little my coworkers will start worrying but I’m like nah its fine its just having a small temper tantrum.

      2. kristinyc*

        My peace lily does that all the time too… but that being said, I’ve left it for 10 days while on vacation, came back and watered it a ton, and it was fine the next day. I’ve had it about 5 years, and I love how resilient it is. :)

        1. LNZ*

          Yeah, the only time i actually have worried for it was when i got sick and missed work on a Thursday, then we had a four day weekend. I had been planing to water it before the weekend so it was pretty dry when i went home Wednesday and i was so sick I didn’t think to ask someone to water it. My office also has no natural light so it was 4 dayz of no light for it to.
          The plant survived that but a few of the flowers turned brown.

      3. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

        Peace Lillys are such total drama queens.

        I had a co-worker come to me frantic because her boss’s Peace Lilly that she was caring for had drooped. A big drink of water fixed it right up.

        1. LNZ*

          Mine just survived a 1,650 mile road trip in a packed car. They are amazingly resilient.

    2. xyz*

      This is why I refuse to look after other people’s plants, or in extremis tell them they leave it with me at their own risk and I’ll try to look after it, but I’m probably going to kill it. Even in cases where I’ve really diligently tried to keep plants alive and done everything to the letter, I’ve wound up killing them.

            1. Business Cat*

              I killed a “lucky bamboo” plant…how many years of bad luck is that?

              1. Katelyn*

                I had aloe commit suicide… it never really established a root, so when it grew it would topple out of its planter! I tried potting it in a bigger pot, but that just meant it fell over but stayed in the pot…

              2. laylaaaaah*

                I once had a cactus IMPLODE on me after a week. To be fair, it was a cheapo student one, but still.

              1. Mrs. Fenris*

                I killed a rosemary bush in a container. I think I overwatered it. I have another one now that is thriving planted in the ground, in Georgia where rain is feast or famine.

            2. Kate*

              Bamboo is actually a real diva of a plant. I recently rescued two cacti and a bamboo plant from the dumpster in my apartment complex, and shortly thereafter, the bamboo started to turn white on one side, so I googled proper care for it. Apparently it was getting too much sun, so I had to move it. I also learned you should only water it about once a week with distilled, not tap water, and apparently I’m supposed to be rinsing the pebbles once a week, again, with distilled, not tap water. I think sometimes people think they have the black thumb when really certain plants can be terribly high maintenance. In conclusion, my bamboo will probably die too.

              1. Amber T*

                Interesting! Mine died because I did absolutely nothing to it for months (whoops), but I’m happy all those scornful “you killed BAMBOO?” remarks I received are unfounded. Kind of.

          1. General Ginger*

            Same. I’ve killed a cactus. The only plants I’ve not killed are the oat grass tubs I get for my cat. She kills those just fine on her own.

        1. Kittymommy*

          All the plants I want dead (freaking ferns in my yard) will it die bur the ones I actually (sorta) pay attention to, no those die if I look at them wrong.

          1. Chameleon*

            Same here. Anything I plant dies almost immediately but anything I yank out of the ground comes back!

            1. Decima Dewey*

              I bought a pricey violet for my backyard. It bit the dust. By contrast, a common violet I dug up from a vacant lot thrived, with more plants appearing each year.

              1. RadManCF*

                Those violets are almost weeds… I had an acquaintance tell me a story of somebody he knew who gave up on tending his lawn, because the violets took care of themselves, and he could just mow over them when they became too unruly.

              2. Someone*

                I’m not surprised. Garden varieties are bred for their looks. Wild plants are bred for survivability.

                If I ever do have a garden, I plan to plant lots of my favorite wild plants there – they are going to be a lot more hardy and genetically robust than the plants you can buy.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          A coworker and I water one professor’s plants each summer when he goes back to his home country for three months. One plant started dying and we couldn’t fix it, and coworkers sister is executive director of a place that has its own greenhouse, so we sent the plant to the “hospital” for the summer and let it be cared for by the professional gardeners in the greenhouse. It was returned to us in glorious shape!

        3. jo*

          *hand up*
          I can’t get plants to thrive, and I hate it, because I really like plants! I content myself with vases of cut flowers.

      1. Lady Blerd*

        We have a couple of spider plants on our windowsill and I am in no way implicated in their care as I have plenty of failed attempts at keeping plants at home. Luckily they are very hardy and have survived extreme neglect and I will think to water them if their main caretaker is absent for an extended period. That said,they now thrive to the point of having spidlets and seeing how they are so low maintenance, I brought a few of it’s babiesto my place. I do think they are perfect for absent minded/lazy home gardeners.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          Ooh, I should get some of those! My mom had a spider plant in the house where I grew up, and that combination of pretty+I can’t kill it is very appealing.

        2. Fiennes*

          Zizi (or ZZ) plants need little light or water and are virtually unkillable. I say this as someone who travels a lot for work and whose home gets poor natural light in most rooms. You can (& in fact should) let a month or more pass between waterings. If you like the idea of plants but haven’t had tons of success with them in the past, try a Zizi!

          1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

            My ZZ plant is thriving– in fact, I had to split it about 6 months ago because it got so big! I water it every three weeks at most, and it just keeps growing. It’s the next best thing to plastic!

          2. Courageous cat*

            Yeah, I have one of these for the past year and a half and while it doesn’t grow, it doesn’t ever really die either. I think I’d have to not water it for a full year before it died.

        3. Turquoisecow*

          I’ve killed a few spider plants, actually. I’m not sure what the plant I currently have is called, but I’ve literally forgotten to water it for months at a time and it perked right up shortly after I remembered it existed and started watering it again. It gets a lot of sun, so that helps. And I got a little glass ball that waters it for me for a week or so, I just need to remember to refill it periodically.

      2. Antilles*

        Same here. And it’s entirely possible the boss is the same way…but if that’s the case, then you need to be completely and explicitly clear upfront that I Am Not a Plant Person, no, no it’s not “so easy” and etc.

      3. CityMouse*

        I have been “looking after” someone’s plant for over two years now. I think I have had it longer than she did.

      4. Aiani*

        I too am a plant killer. I don’t want to be but I am. Leave me your pets to look after and they will be happy, I’m good with animals. Leave me your plant and it will probably die. I stopped buying plants for my own place a long time ago.

    3. Susan Sto Helit*

      This is why I only keep cacti/succulents in the office. They can stand quite a lot of neglect. They do die sometimes, but I just replace them when necessary.

      1. CMart*

        Funny, I just noticed my tiny, flowering cactus I’ve had for just over a year is now a sickly pale green-orange the and flower has shriveled.

        I thought I’d be safe with a cactus. Poor Norbert.

        1. Liz*

          We had a cactus that looked dead for years. We were about to throw it out when it suddenly bloomed…

          So unless it’s entirely shriveled and brown and molding, it might still come back!

    4. Penny Lane*

      I hope it’s not a shock to OP that some people aren’t plant people. Unless you gave me a list of very explicit instructions, I’d probably kill the plant as well. I don’t garden or keep house plants. There’s no point.

      It’s a grocery store plant. Move on. A little too much drama.

      1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

        Even with very explicit instructions, I still seem to have the ability to kill any plant in my care.

        And yet… every other year or so I try to get a plant for my home or work station thinking to myself “this time will be different!”. It never is…

        1. peachie*

          Same here! It’s a bummer because I like plants and it really doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult.

        2. many bells down*

          I thought when I moved to Washington, I’d be better off because we get rain here (unlike California) and things grow like crazy. My first batch of daylilies all died. My second batch … I planted 8, 2 are growing, so small victory.
          I also planted a bunch of lavender at my old house that seemed to be doing great … and then the landlord decided to sell and ripped it all out after we moved. I’m still mad at myself for not attempting to transplant it.

    5. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Perhaps Jane is waiting for an apology from LW. “Sorry I didn’t give you a heads up about my plant being infested with fruit flies when I asked if I could leave it in your office.”
      LW1 should be content (and as surprised as I am) that Jane didn’t put the plant outside the building.

      1. LW#1*

        I didn’t realize it had flies when I left, is the thing. If I had I would of course not have asked her to keep it in her office!

        1. MLB*

          Still need to let it go. It was not a priority for your manager. It would have been nice of her to apologize, but it’s not something you should let fester. I get it, my manager treats the plants in our office like her children, but if the plant was that important to you, you should have left it with someone that cared about it as much as you do.

          1. Seriously?*

            I think Alison’s takeaway is correct. In the future, do not leave plants in her care. You can leave it where it normally lives and get one of those things that slowly dispenses water over time to hold it over. It would be nice if the boss apologized for not watering the plant, but it isn’t worth confronting her over.

        2. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Two things:

          1. I have one of those supermarket mini roses and it seems to me like they’re pretty hard to keep alive. It’s possible that I *overwatered* it and that’s why the buds have dried up (seems like a weird reason but that’s what a google search revealed) and maybe your boss did too.

          2. Overwatering a plant can cause it to develop fungus gnats, so that’s likely what they are and not fruit flies (this also happened to me once). Again, your boss could have overwatered without meaning to or maybe you did before you left and the gnats didn’t develop until you were gone.

          3. The little supermarket mini roses are, what, $3-$5? That’s cheaper than a lot of cut flower bouquets. I try to think of potted plants as just bouquets with dirt so when they die I don’t get too upset.

          TL;DR: your boss may or may not have killed your plant. Go buy yourself another one, because flowers are awesome.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            That is an important point. Supermarket potted plants aren’t actually meant to live for *that* long, so it quite possibly was on its last legs anyway, and there was some unfortunate overlap.

            1. LQ*

              I get supermarket potted plants for just this reason. I know they aren’t going to live that long and I know I’m going to kill them but mostly I get them to stay around for a month or two which is way longer than a bouquet so I feel like success, greenery.

              Never ask me to watch or water or tend a plant. It will die. Even if I follow the exact rules. (And I say this as someone who killed moss. Oddly I grew up on a farm and did fine there but in my apartment or at work? death to plants.)

              1. Turquoisecow*

                My outdoor plants are doing okay. Maybe because we have a sprinkler system. My indoor plants? Not so much.

            2. Kate 2*

              Mmm . . . Supermarket potted plants are a special variety of plant with a ticking death clock. I have bought all my plants at the grocery store, and all 7, including 3 mini roses are alive now, 5 plus years after purchase. They really aren’t that hard to keep alive.

          2. Someone*

            Overwatering causes root rot. As more and more roots die, the plant loses it’s ability to absorb nutrients (and, to some amount, water) sufficiently. Dried up buds wouldn’t surprise me – though I suspect it was also to save energy. Flowers are expensive, energywise.

            I convinced that overwatering is the main cause of death in potted plants. The symptoms appear much later than with mere wilting, and it’s oh so easy to do. Instructions like “water once a week” are crap, the amount of water a plant requires is largely dependent to the amount of sunlight it receives, and to some amount dependent on humidity and temperature (I think). Most of my plants need only small amounts of water in winter, but will swill water like there’s no tomorrow in summer. In summer, my watering is mostly reduced to “water whenever the plant looks droopy”, but in winter I have to be REALLY careful to check the soil first (should be dry on the surface and slightly moist underneath, but never wet) and check that there’s no excess water in the cachepot. Else I’m gonna misjudge and kill a plant.

            I don’t think too much of supermarket plants. They are often kept in bad conditions: too much water/too little water/too much humidity/air too dry (and often mixtures and alternations of those)… that weakens the plants and promotes fungi and pests. Additionally, the target group is impulse buyers who purchase them because they are pretty, NOT because they are easy to keep alive. The plants I’ve seen in supermarkets are not the plants I’d recommend; they are either difficult to keep alive at all, or difficult to keep in the state in which they are sold**. They really are just bouquets with dirt that can survive a bit longer. Admittedly I still buy some plants in supermarkets if they seem nice, but I try to be careful. I side-eye those mini-roses – they seem to be marketed as gifts and nothing else.
            *quick google*
            Apparently those things are just twigs of roses stuck into earth. They aren’t grafted like garden roses and thus have the pretty flowers but not the hardy stem and roots. They also have the susceptibility to pests and fungi like many rose cultivars.
            …would not buy.

            Regarding the letter, the “fruit flies” really make it sound like the pant was overwatered. They are a typical symptom of wet earth. I get that the LW is sad about the plant (myself I get very attached to plants), but I can also see that their boss would have been at a loss as to what to do with it. Besides, those things are annoying! I usually get rid of them with the aid of those sticky yellow paper rectangles they sell here, plus letting the earth dry. That usually settles it within a week or so.

            * In temperate climates, the venus fly trap is great if you are good with following instructions but still struggle with plants. All it wants is a place with lots of sunlight, a constant puddle of low-mineral water to sit in (rainwater, distilled water or cooked water), and the occasional insect. It can deal with occasional lack of water; and for longer vacations putting it into transparent plastic bag ensures that not too much water is lost.

            **I swear, kalanchoes are the worst. They look super pretty in the shops, but the sunlight we get here in Germany is nowhere near enough for them. To grow in that pretty, compact, large-leafed way they need insane amounts of sunlight – else, they will grow into long stalks with small leaves (I will hand it to them, they ARE hardy and I’ve still got mine from years ago, but they are hardly aesthetic). And they won’t flower just like that – they need to be kept in the dark for some time to stimulate flower production.

            1. GH in SOCal*

              I am bookmarking it and this whole thread! I’m a Darwininan gardener — I buy stuff that looks pretty, and whatever survives my benign neglect I get more of. Lots of great idea here for the casual gardener.

            2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              I have been lucky with the kalanchoe, I suppose. I have two that have been around for years, and while they are kind of leggy they still flower. I never thought of putting them in the dark for a while to stimulate flowers, though. I might try it!

            3. Wired Wolf*

              I use fabric smart pots for my pickier plants, and it’s fairly easy to tell when they need water by lifting the pot. I also have a no-frills digital moisture meter which helps a lot.

          3. Nita*

            I think they are actually outdoor plants. I’ve tried to grow them indoors and they never lasted long, and then one year I gave up and planted the mini rose outside. Now it’s gotten nice and big, blooms every year on my birthday, and my only worry is making sure to remind my parents to NOT cut the flowers off it to give me a bouquet – they’re much better on the plant where they belong!

            1. curly sue*

              I did the same thing with one of my supermarket mini roses, and it’s turned into a gorgeous full-sized rose bush outside. It seems much happier out there than on my windowsill.

          4. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

            OP#1: I agree with a lot of the indoor plant advice here. Miniature roses are fussy and not good office plants. They are also pretty cheap, and easy to replace if you are in love with the idea. Fungus gnats (they are not fruit flies) thrive and reproduce in moist soil, and people tend to over-water indoor plants, creating a great fungus gnat habitat. The OP should let this one go.

            Kept indoors in the office, your miniature rose had a good chance of dying anyway. An office is like a dim desert: zero rain, low humidity, mostly low light. Get an office plant that will find those conditions acceptable. Find that “plant person” in your office (there is usually one person into plants or gardening), and next time you go on vacation, ask him/her to take care of your plant.

        3. dawnhawk*

          Regarding the Manager, I’d agree with everyone else. Let it go. You do have a cutting which is great.

          Regarding the “fruit flies” (and/or fungus gnats depending) – clean out all debris from the pot (leaves etc.), make sure your pot is well draining so you aren’t overwatering – then go find some mosquito dunks (you can get them at most gardening places – they are pucks you normally put in standing water to kill mosquito larvae), you won’t need much for a single pot. Crumble a bit off one of the pucks on top of the dirt (go ahead and cover if you want) before you water the next time and leave it. Every time you water the plant the dunk will dissolve a bit more. The gnats will eat it in larvae stage when it’s moist and die. No larvae, no adults to make eggs.

          It will take a few weeks, replace the crumbled dunk as needed from the rest of the puck. Because the little guys breed like it’s no bodies business and you likely have generations of them on the go, but they will die as you continue to keep each subsequent generation in the larvae stage.

          Swatting the adults does no good. They breed immediately upon becoming adults and start the next generation, but the time they are flying around it’s too late.

          I do this now on ALL houseplants because often times anything you get from a nursery or store is already infested and once one plant has them…they all have them.

        4. What's with today, today?*

          The letter contradicts the statements in the comments OP:

          “To be clear, it doesn’t bother me at all that Jane didn’t want to deal with the fruit flies; they irritate me too and I’m aggressively swatting them as fast as I can. But it does bother me that she neglected the plant to the point of it dying.”

          Were the flies there before, or are you still keeping the dead, bug infested plant in your office.

          1. Kate 2*

            She also said in her letter that when she got back it was dying and now it looks like it definitely won’t make it. Those statements don’t contradict at all. Sometimes you can save a dying plant with a little extra care, now, after a few days or whatever since she got back, it definitely is gonna die.

        5. Specialk9*

          Yeah, that was my thought too. You asked someone to do you a favor, but accidentally infested their office. You didn’t do it on purpose, but you should still apologize, and totally understand that that is why your plant died.

          Alison’s answer is appropriate for if you *hadn’t* infested someone’s office. If they just neglect it (for reasons other than bugs), you move on and spend another $5 at the grocery store.

          If you are this attached to your plants, you are responsible to pay to find a solution – a self watering pot, one of those glass water bulbs, or paying someone to come over and water (I had this job in high school, twice daily water and spritz, I kid you not- good thing too, the furnace glitched and the house would have burned down without me there to notice!).

          1. Wired Wolf*

            I use a system called “Blumat”; they make single-plant spikes that can accept a liter soda bottle. That lasts about a week depending on how humid/dry the environment is (it releases water based on the moisture level detected in the soil).

        6. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          extrapolating from that…(because I just finished a two hour project and I need to be silly)
          Theory: your boss watered your plant with a cup that had juice or soda in it and hadn’t been totally rinsed out. She ended up creating a fruit fly swamp in your plant.
          And now you have a half dead plant with bugs.
          And you have to let it go. She’s your boss. Your stuck.

      2. Foon*

        I know that different offices have different cultures, and I know for a fact at my office that as soon as word got out that a plant was infested with any type of bug there would be immense pressure to have the plant discarded or removed from the building immediately. If I put myself in LW#1’s shoes, I can easily imagine coming back to the office and my manager saying “That plant you left with me was infested with fruit flies so I threw it away for you”.

    6. another STEM programmer*

      Also, like…I work in a windowless office. My philodendron is just about the only thing that makes my office not a horrible cave of soul-draining darkness. It’s a cutting from a plant that my mother in law has had for over 30 years. If someone killed it I would be PISSED.

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        But … generally, if someone kills a plant, it is accidental. No one is out to destroy your plant. If you leave your plant and ask someone to water it, you are taking the risk that it won’t be cared for in the Exact Way You Require. That’s the nature of asking a favor – especially one that involves plants, which for some people are just plants and not the sole light of their life in the office, so they aren’t laser-focused on its survival. And then other people love plants but have black thumbs and despite their best efforts, plants in their care die.

        TL;DR: if a plant is really super important to you, don’t fob its care off on someone at work, and if you do, you really can’t then be angry at them if the plant does not survive.

        1. Fiennes*

          I think this is overly harsh. It’s not “fobbing off” to ask someone to water a plant during an absence; what would be the “more responsible” alternative here, taking it on the trip with you? Hiring a sitter? Come on. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be disappointed that someone you asked for a small favor, who then promised to perform that favor, failed to follow through.

          While I don’t think this is a massive crime—people forget, and OP needs to get a new plant and move on—I also don’t think OP’s actions and disappointment are unreasonable. Painting her as irresponsible is totally unwarranted.

          1. kb*

            I think Jesse’s comment was more of a response to Another STEM programmer (who said they would be pissed if someone killed their plant) rather than directly to OP. Disappointment, some sadness, and frustration are completely normal in the OP’s scenario. But if you’re going to be *pissed* that your plant dies, you should probably pay for someone familiar with plants to care for it.

          2. Jessie the First (or second)*

            Yeah, that “fob off” sounded harsher than I intended! But it’s a favor, and a $3 dollar grocery store plant isn’t going to be seen as a really big deal. You water it a few times (which the boss did! That’s why it develop fungal gnats – because *she was taking care of it*!). Seeing massive bugs changes the deal, and for a $3 plant, why would she think she had to focus energy on saving it?

            If it matters more to you than that, then yeah, you have to figure out a different alternative. Bring it home, hire a house sitter who can check your mail/water plants/make sure the stove is off.

            It’s not that OP was irresponsible – it’s that her response after is unreasonable because it was a favor the boss would not really have any way of knowing was as big of a deal to the OP as it apparently was to OP. (She is not unreasonable because it is a big deal to her, to be clear.)

          3. Jessie the First (or second)*

            And yeah, I’m reacting in the first place to AnotherStem, who is talking about being super angry. Which is weird.

          4. Elizabeth H.*

            I agree. I would be annoyed if I asked someone to water my plant and they killed it. Overwatering (which is obviously what happened here) is so easy to do so I find that more understandable though. I think that an exceptionally thoughtful person would probably have dealt with the fungus gnats appropriately rather than just dumped and ignored the plant, but that it’s not unreasonable that the letter writer’s boss did not do this. I don’t think there’s anything to be done about it but I get being annoyed.

          5. JB (not in Houston)*

            “what would be the “more responsible” alternative here, taking it on the trip with you? Hiring a sitter?”

            Yes. Hiring a plant sitter would be the more responsible alternative if you are going to be *pissed* if the plant dies while you are gone (which is the comment Jessie was responding to). It’s a plant, and it’s personal, not part of your job. So asking your coworker to take on the responsibility for keeping it alive when you’ll be actually angry if it dies is not something you should do. If it’s that important, you need to find a professional to take care of it in your absence. It sounds ridiculous to have to take your plant home for a plant sitter while you go on vacation, but if you are that attached to your plant, you shouldn’t fob it off on your coworkers whose job it isn’t.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I think the problem with plants is that they’re closer to pet-sitting than to storage of inanimate objects, but they don’t get treated with the seriousness of pet-sitting. I understand the desire to make it seem like the care is NBD, but if you’re leaving this thing with the expectation it will be cared for, you have to make that clear, choose appropriately, and offer some kind of compensation. Otherwise it’s likely they’ll just be supply overflow stored in somebody’s office.

              (And I say this as a keen gardener, but I really don’t like and won’t reliably care for indoor plants, and I wouldn’t accept the care of one while somebody was out.)

              1. Lehigh*

                Not the LW; another STEM programmer said it about themselves, and that’s what this sub-thread is responding to.

        2. another STEM programmer*

          sure, and I wouldn’t leave my plant in the care of someone who doesn’t already show evidence of being good with plants in the form of a bunch of healthy plants in their office. If you leave a plant with someone who doesn’t do plants and it dies…well…what did you expect? That said, just because I’d be pissed doesn’t means I’d really do anything about it. There’s no next step really, other than make yourself a mental note not to ask that person to watch your next plant for you. I understand how OP feels, but I don’t think there’s anything that can be done about it.

      2. peachie*

        Ooh, do philodendrons do okay with basically no light? I too have a windowless office, and it’s pretty drab; I’d love to have a plant, but I get basically no natural light. I can see about half a window from my desk, but it’s a good 50 feet away.

        1. Clorinda*

          Yes, and also try snake plant (AKA mother-in-law’s tongue). I have some 20-year-old snake plants that occasionally, I confess, have gone months without water. Nothing stops them.

        2. Queen of Cans & Jars*

          Yes, absolutely! They come in different varieties, and I think they are legit pretty, unlike a lot of indestructible plants. :)

        3. Specialk9*

          You want a pothos plant. It’s the one that’s everywhere but nobody knows the name. I murder plants, and have never managed to kill my pothos.

        4. another STEM programmer*

          they do AWESOME with no light! I have 3 lamps with 40 watt bulbs (no overhead fluorescent lights) that I keep on in my office only like 8-4 M-F and mine is flourishing.

        5. SarahTheEntwife*

          Yes! Pothos are practically indestructible and thrive on shade and artificial light. Spider plants are also good for those conditions, though the babies can get kind of messy over time.

        6. Princess gmo*

          No plants really do “okay” with no light – it’s just a matter of some dying more slowly than others. But the good news is, you can pick up any lamp with a CFL and place it near your plant. It will mimic the sun and you’ll have a happy office plant! Snake plants, ZZ plants, and pothos are all hearty choices.

        7. LW#1*

          I have a full-spectrum bulb for my plant (and also for me because windowless room and I get a little squirrely without enough sun), but I didn’t want anyone to have to remember to turn the lamp on and off every day.

      1. peachie*

        Fruit flies are the bane of my existence (also a good, if harsh, reminder that there’s something I forgot to clean properly [it’s always the drain]). Those little vinegar traps work wonders, though! But they do smell pretty bad.

        1. Chameleon*

          “Those little vinegar traps work wonders”

          Or, as I find out everytime they get in our house, so do glasses of red wine.

          1. Juli G.*

            Fruit flies are annoying and I am NOT wasting wine on them. They can buy their own.

    7. Kaybee*

      OP1, I’m really sorry about your plant. It sucks to lose something that’s really important to you. And I’m sorry your boss didn’t apologize.

      My office has a lot of people who are talented with plants. When they are out of office, they always make arrangements with the other plant people to look after their plants instead of defaulting to the person closest to them in the org chart, seating plan, or personal relationship. I think that’s probably what you want to do going forward.

      I do want to point out, though, that even among this group of people who are really good with plants, they still bring the plants that mean the most to them home when they’re going to be out and make other arrangements for their care instead of leaving them at the office. One of my colleagues has a plant that belonged to her late mother, one of the few possessions she kept after cleaning out her mother’s house following her death, and you bet she takes that home and leaves it in the care of a family member when she leaves town. It’s not just because she wants the plant to be alive when she comes home (though she does) but because she acknowledges that it’s an unfair burden to put on a coworker. I think that’s a wise attitude not just about plants, but about anything that’s meaningful to you in the office.

    8. essEss*

      I might be in the minority, but if your rose plant has a fruit fly infestation and you knew about it (which it sounds like you did from your comment), you should NOT have left it in the office to continue breeding the fruit flies while you were gone. Our office had a plant that was infested and it was miserable dealing with the constant bugs until we could get the plant company to replace it (our plants are supplied and maintained by an external company). You may be attached to the plant, but it sounds like your boss did not want to keep supplying water and nutrients to the bugs.

  2. phira*

    OP#5, if you’re talking about the school that’s closing in my area (campus is being purchased by another university and that plus the planned usage of the campus is being majorly protested by literally everyone), I absolutely cannot imagine that it would reflect badly on you for going there!

        1. Lizziebeth*

          Yea it’s the rub of going to a small school…

          I went to a small all women’s college and they started accepting men to stay solvent. It wasn’t great, but it was better than the alternative

          1. TheVet*

            My alma mater did the same. The women’s college portion (day, traditional) is still for women. I only had one man in one of my classes there because he was graduating and that was the only time it was offered.

            1. Lizziebeth730*

              My small women’s college was Emmanuel… basically next door to Wheelock… Wheelock, Simmons, Emmanuel, Wentworth, MassArt and Mass Pharmacy were in a consortium together.. the Colleges of the Fenway.

              My husband is a WIT alum and we always joked they should just merge, become Fenway University so that we could all just yell ” GO F U!”

              1. Kat*

                Simmons alum here! The undergrad school is still women’s only but the graduate programs are coed.

      1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

        WHEELOCK IS CLOSING?! Oh my stars and garters, that was my first teaching position…

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          They’re merging with BU. A co-worker of mine went there and she’s pretty sad about it.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yikes, I didn’t know about Wheelock and I live in Boston. I guess I live in Boston under a rock.

          …my rock was nice.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*


              To be fair, the Mt. Ida thing is all over the news but I don’t recall seeing much if anything about Wheelock. I only know because of my coworker who went there.

              1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                I think the difference is Wheelock is merging, so as far as I understand, no students have to scramble to find other colleges to go to all of a sudden. Everyone who is at Wheelock now can be there next year too. No newly-admitted kids are SOL. So, sad, but still veeeeerrrrrrry different than Mt Ida.

      2. amanda_cake*

        I work in higher ed and there has been a lot of talk about Mount Ida in our professional community. I feel bad for everyone. Student leaders, athletes, etc. No real plan. When Sweet Briar announced they were going to close (they ultimately didn’t) part of the reason for the early announcement was so students could get their transfer plans in order. Not a worry for amount Ida, since they were bought out but I wouldn’t want to go to the school that bought them so I would be scrambling.

        1. Seriously?*

          The cynical side of me thinks that maybe the lack of notice was to force them to go to the other school.

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          But it is a worry! Mt Ida was bought, but the Mt Ida students are not admitted to the purchasing school (which is UMass Amherst). Mt Ida students do actually have to figure out a transfer option.

          UMass has promised the students they can go to UMass Dartmouth – but Dartmouth does not actually offer some of the majors that Mt Ida had, so kids in those majors are stuck and need somewhere else to go. And of course, it’s just not the same place, and there might be kids who need to stay in the Newton area for one reason or another.

          1. amanda_cake*

            I guess the impression I was under (based on information from colleagues on both sides of the desk) was that they could go to UMass Dartmouth with automatic acceptance. Without this perspective, it sounds like they have a new home and wouldn’t necessarily need to transfer.

            I have heard of a lot of schools working out agreements for Mt. Ida students (extended deadlines, agreements to honor coursework completed, etc.)

            I don’t understand why they are not being offered to attend UMass Amherst, but are being offered UMass Dartmouth.

            1. Erin*

              And also Dartmouth is hella far from Newton! That would be a terrible commute for people who got apartments there and such. Also, isn’t UMass Dartmouth a commuter school? What would the kids who planned to live on campus do?

              1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                UMass Dartmouth has dorms. It’s UMass Boston that is the commuter school. But it is far, and some students may live at home or have leases, so a Dartmouth dorm isn’t possible. (And of course, there’s the whole “not the same majors” problem!)

                1. Lizziebeth*

                  I work in the disability field and I know a lot of “Turning 22″ kids who go to Mt Ida. They live at home, take the Ride to school and need somewhere close. I feel for those kids. I did my MA at UMass and honestly I’m kinda pissed at them for this ” oh you can just go to Dartmouth” nonsense

      3. Bigglesworth*

        I don’t think we should guess what university this is. It might compromise the letter writer’s anonymity. I say this as someone who wrote in about a higher ed issue and a ton of people tried to guess which school it was. Fortunately, no one got it right, but I was worried that people I know would figure out it’s me if they guessed correctly.

        1. amanda_cake*

          This is a fair point. For me, the value in this conversation that has been started is less about guessing which school but more about discussing the problems that an academic institution closing has caused. As someone in higher ed, I feel the pressure every day because not bring in a class (for example) could be the nail in our coffin.

        2. Specialk9*

          Yeah it feels like trying to pull away anonymity. I hate when people guess where someone works or goes or lives. (And it’s against the commenting rules.)

        3. Lies, damn lies and...*

          For those of us in massachusetts, the Mt Ida thing is in the news everyday. And the similarities in the letter to the situation are surprisingly similar (financial situation, late notice, no arrangements). Also, it’s a total mess and it sucks. Regardless of which school it is, this shouldn’t reflect poorly on the OP. In fact, Mt Ida has received good financial ratings from the feds to date…

      1. all aboard the anon train*

        Ha, my first thought was it was either the Mt.Ida-UMass merger or the Wheelock-BU merger.

        The whole Mt. Ida deal is a mess right now. UMass Amherst bought them, but students get admission to UMass Dartmouth, and UMass Boston is angry they were cut out of the deal. I feel so bad for all the current or incoming Mt. Ida students.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          And there are programs at both schools (Mt Ida and Wheelock) that don’t exist at the new school (UMass Dartmouth or BU), so the students in those programs are doubly scrambling. It’s such a mess.

          But I don’t any of that would reflect badly on graduates of either school!

        2. Case of the Mondays*

          For those not familiar with the Mass system, the various branches of the state university have different levels of prestige for whatever reason. UMass Amherst is considered the most competitive. UMass Dartmouth is far easier to get into.

          1. Specialk9*

            That’s true at enough state schools I know of that I have a tentative hypothesis that it’s generally so at State schools with multiple branches.

          2. Evan Þ.*

            It’s the same way in North Carolina, Illinois, and Washington – I wouldn’t be surprised if every multi-campus university has those differences.

            1. cryptid*

              They’re different universities in the same state system, not a university with many campuses. UNC (the flagship in Chapel Hill) isn’t UNCW, just like Cal isn’t UCLA even though they’re both part of the University of California system.

              1. doreen*

                The University of North Carolina website refers to it as a single university with many campuses -“The University of North Carolina is a multi-campus university”, “The oldest public university in the nation, UNC traces its roots” etc . The University of California and the California State University are two separate public universities, each with multiple campuses. UCLA is part of one, and Cal State LA is part of the other.

                And forget SUNY – they have the both the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State, which I’m sure causes a lot of confusion.

            2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

              Yes, this is the same deal as the SUNY and CUNY systems in NY. (Also, SUNY and CUNY are completely separate systems, just to confuse everyone more!)

      2. Lora*

        I thought of Mt Ida, but also Burlington closed a couple of years ago. Antioch had a rough few years for a while and Sweet Briar was in dire straits until alumnae donations started coming in. St Joseph’s Indiana is closed too.

        I actually don’t think it’s a terrible thing – tuitions were going through the roof to pay for a lot of admin make-work stuff and perks that were not related to education in any way at all. Some of the financial schemes to support the perks, other than plain old tuition increases, were quite aspirational. And in the larger schools, it can be hard for students to even access enough of their classes to graduate on time – back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was in grad school, it was routine for students to delay medical school applications and work on a Master’s in the meantime simply because there weren’t enough class seats for them to get all the classes they needed to graduate. Once they were juniors they could sign up for graduate level classes (big state school), but there was no guarantee they’d be able to complete the sequence of classes required for their majors. For example if they’d had Organic Chem and Physical Chem, that was enough to qualify to enroll in Masters level Chemistry courses even if they had another two years to go finishing a Biology major because the Bio classes were booked up. And in the meantime, keep racking up the student loan debt.

    1. Triplestep*

      I immediately jumped to “Mt. Ida” when I read “While it isn’t a top tier school, it has a good reputation and offered a strong program for my degree.” Mt. Ida has a strong Interior Design program (related to my field) but so does UMASS Amherst, so those students should be OK, IMO.

      While it does sound like the whole thing was handled poorly, I think a lot of the consternation has to do with the fact that Mt. Ida was a a private school and UMASS is public. Some Mt. Ida students and their families no doubt wanted the cache of a private education, and now will be associated with a public one. I don’t agree with that thinking, but I do think that’s part of what people are upset about.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Or the individual attention of a small college, which is hard to find at a university. I went to a smaller private college than Mount Ida. I don’t care about the private school name, but I have a lifelong history of academic problems and didn’t want to be one of a hundred kids in a class and have an advisor I could never reach.

      2. Luna*

        I think that’s an unfair assumption to make. UMass Amherst has a good reputation. But it is a totally different atmosphere than a small private school, and that is a big factor when choosing what college to go to. It isn’t just about the quality of education, it’s a place you have to live for four years.

      3. NotThatGardner*

        actually, i think it’s more than that – UMass Amherst bought the *property* but is only offering that current students can be admitted to UMass *Dartmouth* — a totally different set of issues.

        1. VelociraptorAttack*

          Oh, that’s interesting. I had somehow missed that in what I read about this. That’s definitely a mess.

    2. Ugh.*

      I work in higher ed in Virginia and while I wasn’t here when Sweet Briar was going through this whole thing, the impression I’ve gotten is that the news was never met with anything but sympathy for alumnae or students. OP probably has very little to worry about.

      1. Curious Cat*

        I thought of Sweet Briar, as well. (Although Sweet Briar is still open thanks to alumni raising the ~12 million to keep the school open).

  3. Enough*

    #5 – It happens more than you might think. I found references to 7 closings in the last 5 months alone.

    1. Say What, now?*

      I feel like it’s happening more in recent times. Part of it may be to do with mismanaged funds but I think that overall enrollment is down since kids are more aware of what it means to take on that kind of debt.

      1. University Employee*

        Although mismanaged funds may be the case at some schools, the major problem is the the college landscape is changing. Less kids are going to college full-time (i.e. campus-based liberal arts schools) and instead opting for trade schools, community colleges, or online degree programs that allow them to work at the same time.

        Big name private universities, colleges with good endowments, and public universities will be fine, but smaller private colleges are in trouble. I see college closings becoming far more common in the coming years.

        1. INTP*

          The rise of online schools also brings up another problem for small private colleges – people outside the local area that see them on a resume assume they’re for profit online schools. My small private school was highly rated and reputed in its region, but when I moved across the country, it held zero significance and I was also asked a few times if it was an “internet” school. I’ve warned the younger members of my family about making sure their school carries name recognition where they want to work because otherwise it’s meaningless, no one is going to Google your school to see where it ranks if they haven’t heard of it.

        2. another STEM programmer*

          I work at a small private liberal arts college, and yep to all of this. It’s a real concern.

        3. Bigglesworth*

          I wish more people realized this. Although not currently working in education, I’m still fairly plugged into the community. The largest group of undergraduate students are non traditional students – aka adults returning to finish a degree. Although many campuses build appealing amenities for traditional students (dorms, gyms, rooftop pools, etc.), the money makers are those who are fitting school in around work and family. My old workplace started offering programs to non traditional students about 30ish years ago and the president said that these programs were the reason the school was still afloat.

        4. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          I think people are also opting in larger numbers for public universities because they tend to cost much less than private universities of any kind- at my large public institution, enrollment has increased quite a bit each year.

        5. Specialk9*

          “the major problem is the the college landscape is changing. Less kids are going to college full-time (i.e. campus-based liberal arts schools) and instead opting for trade schools, community colleges, or online degree programs that allow them to work at the same time.”

          I think it’s largely glorious, though am bummed for the people caught up in the industry re-org. But those are beautiful trends for students from a debt reduction stance, and encouraging skilled trades rather than mindless enrolling in white collar education.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My husband’s workplace was at risk, for a number of reasons including money mismanagement and lack of a state budget for two years that was holding up grants for students that they needed to attend.

    1. This Daydreamer*

      I give a fair amount to my non-profit workplace (in kind donations), but I do so by choice and would really resent it if they tried to pressure me into it, especially since I really don’t make that much money.

      I’m luckier than the LW. I just properly met the director for the first time and she was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t want a receipt for the small donation I was dropping off. She even asked for permission to use what I was donating for a specific use (which just happened to be what I’d had in mind for the first place!).

      1. Seriously?*

        It is especially gross if they are pressuring people making minimum wage because essentially it would push them below the minimum wage at that point while technically not doing anything illegal.

        1. Maude*

          This. When I worked at an entry level non-profit job a paycheck “donation” could have easily put me below minimum wage.

        2. JM60*

          I agree.

          Plus, ‘voluntary’ suggestions aren’t very voluntary if people are feeling pressured to donate (even if management genuinely intends for it to be voluntary and don’t consciously hold it against people for declining). It’s why hourly workers ‘voluntary’ working off the clock is (and should be) illegal.

        3. a name*

          The nonprofit I work for does this. They have an annual fundraising campaign and all staff are pressured into accepting payroll deductions as a form of donation. And participation is tracked! When I was entry level it drove me nuts: I accepted way lower pay and working conditions to work there and was then hit up to give some of it back? No.

          Now that I’m a manager, I supervise these staff. They are mostly part-timers, students who need the money and adults who aren’t qualified for better jobs. They are supporting themselves and sometimes families, not working for beer money. So when time comes around to take donations, I tell them that I understand and do not expect them to contribute, that staff participation is valued more than the total dollar amount, and that if they decide to contribute, they can go on their payroll portal and cancel at any time if they change their mind. This increases participation, because people don’t feel pressured or defrauded: they know their $1 or $5 donation will be respected and valued, and that only Payroll will know if they’ve cancelled their deduction.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I work for a nonprofit. I’m not really unfairly paid but reality is that I don’t make enough even to rent a basic apartment in the general sorta-kinda area of my job. The fact that I’m willing to tolerate a horrible commute is my contribution (on top of generally being a good employee). Unless and until I can afford to live near-ish my workplace and still save for retirement, I don’t consider myself to make enough to give back financially.

    2. Innocent Bystander*

      I was recently pressured into donating to my employer (a small non-profit, whose vision I don’t even believe in.) Causes a lot of resentment among employees.

    3. Not So Recently Diagnosed*

      This may not technically be great advice, but…as an employee, I always felt as though the person I was most interested in pleasing was my immediate boss. OP2, if you end up unable to keep from forwarding more emails, if I were your employee, I’d appreciate you telling me that you personally did not expect me to contribute. Knowing my immediate boss didn’t think badly of me for not contributing would take 90% of the sting out of it. You are also their first line of defense when it comes to layoffs. While you may be powerless in the grand scheme of things where that is concerned, you will comfort your employees if they know you will fight for them if the time comes and they haven’t contributed to the donations.

      To be clear, you should not HAVE to do this. You should be able to push back and avoid it all together. But if that’s not an option, then being up front about your obligation but lack of support would do a lot for me as an employee of yours. YMMV.

      1. Amber T*

        This is a really good point. Also – would you know if they donated any percentage of their paycheck? Because I could see that as another source of resentment – I’m donating X% to impress my boss and they don’t even know about it! (That wouldn’t be fair on you anyway, but it’s something that could happen regardless.)

      2. Luna*

        Completely agree. Also OP, if you aren’t comfortable saying that to your employees in writing, maybe mention it next time you meet with them in-person.

      3. Ama*

        Yeah, my non-profit employer has ramped up the encouragement to participate in the fundraiser that’s local to our main offices (we do a version of these across the country; it’s always been an option for staff to participate but this year they’re offering incentives specific to internal staff). It isn’t required, but it is also happening in concert with the non-development departments’ busiest periods of the year and there’s definitely been some grumbling over the weekly emails asking us to take on yet another project (especially as most of us are in non-fundraising jobs because we are not particularly good at or interested in fundraising).

        I have made it very clear to my direct report that it is entirely up to her whether or how much she participates, and that if she feels pressured to do more than she’s comfortable with or to work on this outside of office hours to come tell me and I will have her back (she’s one of the few non-exempt employees in the office which is a whole other issue).

      4. Specialk9*

        “you will comfort your employees if they know you will fight for them if the time comes”

        This is such an important part of management! Not enough is said about that. My new manager went to bat for me hard – it didn’t work, but he gained so much loyalty from me for the effort and care.

    4. epi*

      I agree. I never give to the nonprofits I work for because I am already giving them the majority of my time. There aren’t enough hours in the day to match that for some other organization. So the other causes I care about get my money.

    5. CoveredInBees*

      Seriously. I’ve worked in social service-focused non-profits which are particularly underfunded and would be pissed if they had asked for me to donate part of my salary. I started looking at for-profit jobs and found out that my more than full-time nonprofit salary was a part-time salary for similar work. Sigh.

    6. De Minimis*

      Mine always asks people to give during our yearly campaign, but it’s just a single request with no pressure, and many choose not to give. That’s the way it should be done. It’s great if people want to do that, and I can maybe see having more pressure on people at the higher levels of leadership to participate, but not the rank-and-file employees.

      But I’ve seen other nonprofits behave like the LW’s employer, and it’s one of the biggest things I dislike about the nonprofit sector.

  4. Let’s get Visible*

    About the airline bump $$. My company has a policy that I cannot accept any vouchers, or volunteer to be bumped when I travel for work. It’s a clear cut offense to do so

    1. Emily Spinach*

      What would your work do if you were involuntarily bumped, though? That’s, I think, more germane to the letter writer’s question.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        In the US an involuntary bump has specific compensation amounts. It’s up to $1350 cash not $10000 in vouchers.

        The two are quite different.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          It should also be noted that airline math is funny. Vouchers are pennies to the dollar AND highly restricted so a 10k voucher might not be as good as hard cash.
          The restrictions are why many companies hate them. It’s hard to use them for business flights.
          Under the law, they must provide cash unless the passengers stated otherwise.

          1. Noah*

            Work for an airline, most oversell vouchers are actually as good as cash on the airline. They have no blackout dates or fare class requirements. The only real restriction is they are only good for one year.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              My personal experience does not line up with this. I know that I volunteered on a Thanksgiving flight for a 2 hour delay. When I received my vouchers they had blackout dates for… Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. This was NOT disclosed until I was off the plane and at the gate. I was young and too timid to push back.

              Many times vouchers are run against a full fare instead of a discount fare. So they have less value than you think.
              It’s highly dependent on the airline.

            2. Not a Mere Device*

              A credit for XXX that is good only for flying on a specific airline within the next year is worth less than the same amount of cash–which the airlines know, or they’d be willing to give the same amount of cash. Even the most flexible credit only useful if the person needs or wants to fly within the next year, on a route that airline serves.

              Even in terms of business travel, you might be going to a conference that isn’t in the same place every year, or have been meeting with a potential client who decides not to do business with your company, or such. Or something like a job interview–yes, you or the potential employer paid for the ticket, so your current employer doesn’t have a claim on the voucher, but if you don’t get that job in New City you may not be making that trip again within the time limit. Nor can you decide that United treated you badly, you’re going to take your money and fly JetBlue instead, because that voucher isn’t cash, you can’t spend it at a different airline, or on a rental car.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yeah—the woman who was bumped for $10K was not an involuntary bump. The article is confusing because she was involuntarily bumped from Flight 1, but she was then reseated on another flight (Flight 2). There are all sorts of rules about whether you get compensation if you’re booked onto another flight within X hours of the flight from which you were involuntarily bumped.

          Flight 2 then solicited people to volunteer to be bumped, and the woman received $10K because literally no one would give up their seats except for her. It’s uncommon but not unheard of.

          (If my employer paid for the travel, they would retain the value of the voucher. There’s no rules against volunteering to be bumped, but you cannot pocket any of the “benefit” of a voluntary bump that results in a voucher.)

          1. Ana NY*

            Again, it’s not possible to NOT get a voucher. The law requires it and vouchers can only be given to the person flying in their name. The airline cannot make it out to anyone but the one who presented their legal ID at security. And the law requires the airline to give the voucher to you in the circumstance of bumping or long delays. So ignore your company/organizatyion because (a) what they’re demanding is completely outside of what is legally permitted, and (b) there is no way they can know even that you did get a voucher (except if they presume correctly that both you and the airline complied with the law-which should be encouraged. Now they CAN (and should) require you not *volunteer* to be bumped if you’re then going to be late for your work travel objective and meeting. You shouldn’t benefit from volunteering for something that derails the purpose your company’s paying you to travel for. But otherwise… none of their business. If you’re on your way home on a Saturday and instead of getting back at 2PM agree to instead be bumped to get home at 7PM that day (when you don’t return to work til Monday)… go for it! And don’t tell anyone. there is no ethical breach in doing what you wish for your personal time when it has no impact on your employer in cost or otherwise. Plus, there is no way they can know you even did this. Ignore them if they demand otherwise or gently explain the law.

            1. Wither*

              This isn’t a realistic approach for most employees, though. Companies can and do require you to use the voucher for future business travel on their behalf, or to hand it over so there is no possibility of it looking inappropriate. Refusing to comply is not going to be a reasonable solution for most poeple in those situations.

              Suggesting that people ignore their companies policies on travel is reckless and thoughtless.

            2. AcademiaNut*

              In my job, we have to give them our boarding passes after a trip. So yes, they would know we didn’t come back on the booked flight, and want to know why (this requirement would also catch various type of travel fraud, like booking a ticket, cashing it it for something cheaper and pocketing the cash, or simply not going on the trip).

            3. Snowglobe*

              They way I interpreted the article (and her twitter posts), she was involuntarily bumped, but the airline wanted her to sign something saying that she volunteered, even though she didn’t. Instead of giving her the cash that she was due, they offered her a $10,000 voucher to sign that she volunteered.

              1. DoD scientist*

                I work for the federal government (US). The policy is if the bump is involuntary, the government gets any of the offered compensation. If the bump is voluntary, the employee can keep it. I do not know anybody that has ever gotten involuntarily bumped while traveling on a government contract ticket.

                1. BlueDog*

                  It makes sense. Voluntary bump usually results in an airline voucher in the travelers name.
                  Involuntary bump is usually paid out in cash (or a check).
                  The government probably can’t use the voucher. But it can use the cash.

                2. ButtercupDC*

                  The reason for the counterintuitive policy is that an involuntary bump while on government travel means the government is on the hook to pay for any accommodations and a per diem for the time you were delayed. Volunteer to be bumped and you’re on your own, but you get to keep the voucher. The form of compensation probably also factors into this for sure, but since the government pays a set fee for travel between two given cities, it’s all the same to them whether you come back Friday night or Saturday morning.

              2. Noah*

                The airline will always try to get you to do that. They will offer a larger voucher if you will say you were volunteered. Otherwise they have to write a check. They also have to give you a printout with your rights regarding oversell situations.

            4. Seriously?*

              Even if the airline issues a voucher, you do not have to keep it. It is a stupid policy, but it isn’t illegal.

            5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I understand that the law and the practicality of vouchers are different from whether I could get away with taking them. But as a state employee, the optics look terrible if it could be argued that I was secretly pocketing vouchers (and using them for personal gain) for tickets originally bought with taxpayer money. I’m ok with my employer’s policy, even if others might find it unfair.

          2. Specialk9*

            Of course, on a United flight, if nobody volunteered to be bumped, they’d just choose someone (likely someone brown) and have the cops drag them off the plane, and kill their dog while they’re at it.

      2. Gatomon*

        Well I certainly wouldn’t want to be bumped for free… this is place where personally my ethics might waiver a bit. If I missed the last flight out of my typical connection, it would be at least the next day before I got out again. Unless the employer has a policy of paying for the additional hotel stay, additional meals, etc. and not charging me for the additional day off, I think that’s unfair to expect no one to accept vouchers. (Though I understand them not allowing employees to volunteer.)

        I got the idea somewhere that people are bumped based on who checked in last if there weren’t any/enough volunteers, so I always check in online as soon as it’s possible (usually ~24 hours before the flight leaves). So far it’s worked for me.

          1. MK*

            I am assuming the airline decides who gets bumped, correct? If so, they can decide it’s better for PR to bump the latecomers.

          2. Seriously?*

            I don’t think that there is only one criteria they use. I believe they take into account fare, check in and transfers. Their goal is to do what will make people the least angry and cost them the least money.

          3. Lindsay J*

            It depends on the airline, but it usually takes into account both fare class and check-in time.

          4. But you don't have an accent...*

            And airline status. They’re usually not going to bump their top tier elites.

        1. Seriously?*

          Generally if the airline bumps you (involuntarily) they pay for a hotel and meals. At least that has been my experience.

      3. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        If I get involuntary bumped, I just pass on the voucher. I still have to wait for the next available flight, but no compensation.

        1. uh huh*

          If you get involuntarily bumped, you get a check, subject to specific FAA guidelines. If you are voluntarily bumped, it’s a voucher.

    2. Ana NY*

      That policy is at odds with the law, that says the airline MUST give you a voucher in specific cases. But in any case, there’s no way your employer can knpow that you received one. I would personally ignore them in this, or point out the law. The airline can ONLY give a voucher in the legal name of the person bumped—NEVER to a “company”. So there’s no such thing as “giving the voucher to your employer.” You can’t. Period.We’re talking here about vouchers for flight delays and bumping though. If you missed a flight that was rebookable or refundable, then THAT kind of voucher or funds would and should go to your employer. A company that tells you to “refuse” a voucher or “give it over” to them needs to be educated about how these things work.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You can be required to hand it over so that it can be used for your future business travel (or if you have no future business travel it will cover, they can still require you to hand it over so that there’s no appearance of you improperly benefiting from something your employer paid for). Some employers do require that.

        1. Lindsay J*


          For involuntary denied boarding, cash compensation is required and in specified amounts. The airlines will offer vouchers in higher amounts to try to avoid paying out the cash, but if the passenger wants cash they need to offer cash. Cash payouts are required by law, and this is being scrutinized lately.

          There’s no legal requirement for airlines to ask for volunteers for voluntary denied boarding first, but, in practice, almost all do. (Because it’s easier and better PR to bump people who are willing than people who really need to get where they need to be.) And those will almost always be vouchers, not cash. But, as that is voluntary, you don’t have to volunteer.

      2. Antilles*

        I think the key here is to remember the *intent* of the policy. The purpose of “cannot accept any vouchers” or “all vouchers must be turned into the employer” is to avoid personal enrichment from company travel and the appearance of impropriety.
        It’s not really about whether the company can use the voucher or not. Let’s say that the voucher is in Jane Smith’s name and is not transferrable to the company. The company can still require it to be turned over to them even though they can’t use it. It’s not really about the company actually using the money (though they could certainly require you to use it for your next trip if you travel often), it’s about avoiding the perception of “Jane Smith made $800 for avoiding a meeting”.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Exactly this. And in my experience, most companies understand how bumping and vouchers/cash work. The issue isn’t lack of education about the law of bumped flights; it’s about appropriating a benefit you would not have received but for your employer’s role in paying for your tickets.

          Perhaps frequent flier miles are a good analogy. Some employers allow you to claim miles for travel that the employer pays for, while others do not allow you to claim those miles. Is it legal for you to claim the miles? In most cases, yes. But can the employer still place limits or demand that they receive the miles, instead? Absolutely.

          1. paul*

            Not letting people claim miles just seems petty in a churlish sort of way. I know it’s legal, but it seems really crappy.

            1. essEss*

              I worked for a company that allowed employees to keep miles. It was horrible to try to do travel arrangements for one of the employees. He would make me look for the combination of flights that would give him the most personal miles. So he wanted maximum connecting flights and a bunch of other tricks for maximum points that took a lot of extra time to research before he would accept a final travel arrangement. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to tell him to book his own travel since I had to do it for everyone in my office.

              1. Totally Minnie*

                My current org gives people the option of claiming miles, but to do that they have to book and pay for the flight themselves and submit a request for reimbursement. If you don’t want to do that, the finance department will book your flight but you won’t get any airline points.

                1. Lars the Real Girl*

                  But that’s not how airline miles work….whoever files receives them on their account. Who paid and how has no bearing on miles earned.

        2. Creag an Tuire*

          Also, I imagine if you tell the airline “Sorry, my employer does not allow me to volunteer to be bumped or accept a voucher, if you bump me I’ll need the cash and a written statement that I was involuntarily bumped, so sorry to be a bother but don’t want to get fired you know?”, the airline will probably keep looking for somebody else to “volunteer”. Which, I suspect, is also the intent of the policy.

    3. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

      Anecdotal data point (and this was some time ago): My dad went on business trip when I was kid (domestic – just a 2-3 hr flight from our home) and somehow managed/ended up being bumped 3x’s within that single trip. I believe he received vouchers for three round trip flights (probably up to a certain amount). Money was pretty tight in my family, but because of those vouchers my parents were able to take our family of four to Disney World.

      In terms of work experience: I used to book a lot of travel, and every company I’ve worked for did not have any specific rules/policies about this, but all would have let the employee keep the voucher for personal use. I’m guessing this is somewhat dependent on industry – I imagine government agencies or non-profits would be way more strict about this.

      Personal opinion – if I were involuntarily bumped on my way home (so was caused to return home later than anticipated), I would be pretty upset if I was not allowed to keep the voucher for personal use. Now if I were involuntarily bumped on my way to a work destination (and particularly if it caused me to miss work responsibilities/meetings) I’d be pretty ok with turning it over to the company. That probably sounds like an odd stance to take and doesn’t align with policies companies might have (I imagine companies with applicable policies would just have a simple stance – give the voucher up or keep it), but its just kind of where I stand on a personal/gut level.

      1. Seriously?*

        It makes sense. The difference is does it affect work time (and thus your employer is the one losing time) or personal time (so that you are the one losing time). Whoever “owns” that time should be compensated.

      2. Antilles*

        That makes perfect sense to me. If you’re delayed on your way there, you’re generally missing out on ‘company time’ – even if you aren’t heading straight to the office, it’s still time that you probably would have (partly) used for the company in some way.
        Whereas on the way home, I’m typically heading straight from the airport to my house, so it doesn’t affect the business at all, that’s all my personal time.

    4. OP 3*

      Hey everyone, OP 3 here. I’m actually traveling for work today (almost missed my flight due to power outage on the AirTrain, but luckily just made it), so I haven’t had a lot of time to read through the comments yet. Looking forward to reading and responding!

  5. CJ Record*

    For #5: as the school moves through the closing, there will be a procedure that preserves the records in some way that will allow for proof of enrollment. It’s often the state board of education (assuming US) that picks up the details. I would strongly recommend ordering a short stack of transcripts, just in case, to have on hand, though!

    1. Elemeno P.*

      That is a good plan! I never thought I would go to grad school, but I ended up going 8 years later and had to get transcripts from my college. It would be good to have some on hand in case you need them in the future.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Yes! Definitely get several copies – both official and unofficial.

      I had to provide proof that I graduated from high school for my new job. It would have cost me $20 to get a high school transcript expedited and have it in hand in less than 7 weeks. I was able to obtain an official college transcript for free in less than a week and it worked.

      You never know when you might need that information.

      1. University Employee*

        That said, I’m sure there will be a procedure in place. IMO, it seems logical that either the college that bought them out will handle it or the board of ed will.

    3. Mrs. Psmith*

      I was coming here to recommend the same thing. Also, perhaps grab some screenshots of news articles about the school closing so future employers won’t think you just made it up (because those types of interviewers are out there, spreading their weirdness).

    4. Seriously?*

      Getting a locked PDF is good too. Those are generally accepted as official transcripts.

      1. KL*

        That really depends on the group requesting the transcript. A job may accept it, but at my institution we wouldn’t accept it as official if it was sent to the student first.

        1. Antilles*

          What would your school do after OP’s institution closes though?
          Maybe there’s a special procedure, but every time I’ve had to order an ‘official’ transcript sent anywhere (including grad schools), I’ve called up my university’s office. Obviously, that’s not feasible for a closed institution (no, they’re not paying people eternally to deliver transcripts), so how would you handle that?

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Here in Massachusetts, at least, the state department of education (I think?) will assign another college to keep the closed ones’ student records.

          2. Judy (since 2010)*

            The transcripts from one of my degrees are obtained through National Student Clearinghouse. So it’s outsourced.

        2. Seriously?*

          I’ve used it for grant applications. They only accept ones that are locked, not a regular PDF. If it has to come from the institution directly, stocking up on paper transcripts won’t fix the problem.

        3. fposte*

          The thing is, it won’t hurt to get it; maybe she’ll run into a situation where it isn’t enough, but it’s not like it’s taking up important space in the mean time.

  6. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    #5 also I’d say if you’re searching locally, the employer should hopefully know it’s a good institution or was when you went there. Don’t take it off. A campus of my college closed and they did and do have arrangements for those alumni so I’m sure you will have similar resources

    1. LouiseM*

      Great point. I know some people who went on the academic job market after the institution they were affiliated with (basically an interdisciplinary center within a large, well-known university) shuttered. It was awkward, but when they were interviewing with other people who were sensitive to trends in higher ed, they encountered a lot of sympathy.

    2. limenotapple*

      I work in higher ed and not only would I not judge the OP, I’d have significant compassion for them. College is such a big investment in so many ways. This would suck.

    3. LibbyG*

      Yeah, OP5, you’re still part of an alumni network. The value of your degree rests mostly in how your fellow alumni perform, particularly in the field for which it is known. I don’t think a (poorly handled) financial crisis diminishes the value of your degree. If it were an academic fake-grades kind of controversy, then it might, but I think people know about the financial squeeze facing small colleges, especially in the Northeast where there are declining numbers of HS grads.

  7. DMR*

    #2 – please speak up on behalf of employees! Your intuition that this is awful is right. Your letter is giving me flashbacks to my old employer’s United Way drives. Rumor (that was repeated every year) was that annual funding from the UW took into account how many of us donated, and we’d had 100% participation for more years than I remembered. It’s horrible to be watching every penny and then be told by someone higher up in the org that you really should donate.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes. I hate that the “donate back x%” tactic is a common practice for some nonprofits—it’s coercive and problematic. OP#2, if you’re able to raise the issue, I would. It’s not ok to pressure people this way.

      1. This Daydreamer*

        If they really want that percentage, than they can pay that much less and deal with the consequences of having a harder time attracting employees. Once you pay the people who work for you, it’s up to them what to do with the money!

        1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

          Exactly. Be straightforward in the interview. We pay 10% below market to allow or assist our employees to budget their tithing more effectively. Own it.

          1. Is pumpkin a vegetable?*

            I don’t get it. Do you mean you pay 10% above market? How would paying below market help with budgeting for tithing?

            1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

              They are already assuming your contribution by paying you less.
              And if that is why non-profits are doing that, they can say so.
              “This job typically pays $50K. We offer $45K because we are looking to hire people who are able to take less home and leave more with the organization.”

              1. Michaela Westen*

                They already do that – nonprofits are notorius for using their status as an excuse to pay less.

                1. naanie*

                  This; that’s what makes non-profits asking their staff to pay money to their workplace so gross in my opinion.

        2. JM60*

          I agree.

          I’m addition to being coercive, it’s also dishonest and expensive. Perhaps I’m wrong about this, but wouldn’t employees have to pay taxes on the money that they tith back to their employer (or is there a way to do pre-tax donations)?

    2. ENFP in Texas*

      A company I worked for had an annual United Way Drive, as well, and also strove for 100% participation – but by participation, they meant going to the site and either making a donation, or noting that we chose not to make a donation. They didn’t necessarily want 100% of people donating (though they wouldn’t have complained!) they just wanted 100% of the employees to at least visit the site and check a box.

      1. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

        Yeah, this was the case for my old company as well. They just wanted participation by us making an active choice.

      2. This Daydreamer*

        Even with a program like that, I’d be worried about my boss knowing that I checked the “no” box.

        1. Temperance*

          The people managing the campaign can see who donated and who didn’t donate, but no one else can. Of course, if your boss is one of those obnoxious UW types, he/she could just ask the campaign managers about their staff.

          1. FWIW*

            I was told this by the UW person too, as I called them to verify that no one would know whether/what I had donated. It’s now a few years later, and I just learned that our boss was given the names of everyone who donated, what they donated to, and the amounts.

        1. Forking Great Username*

          I’m thinking this is the kind of thing that unfortunately could apply to many different companies.

      3. essEss*

        Not my old company… it was 100% donation. I filled out the form and specifically declined to donate. My boss came to my desk and informed me that he was going to change my form to show a $1 donation because I was messing up our donation percentage for the department. I stood up and told him that I chose NOT to donate deliberately for personal reasons that involved the United Way in particular and that if he changed my form to donate my money I would be filing a formal complaint over his head for taking my money without my approval.

    3. LadyL*

      We just had this conversation on the post about competitive food drives, about how many workers with seemingly “good” jobs are still facing things like food scarcity, struggling to pay bills, etc. It’s frankly disgusting for a business to pressure it’s employees to donate money they may not have to give. It’s almost like a roundabout docking of their pay, but worse, because the employee has to pretend it’s their choice and they’re glad to do it. Charitable giving should never be done out of fear.

    4. WS*

      I was working for a (large and well-known) non-profit as a temp and they pressured even the low-paid temps to donate! A manager would come around with a literal tin and shake it at us.

      1. Chocolate lover*

        A literal tin?! That’s beyond ridiculous.

        My organization solicits donations from staff during specific campaigns, but it’s done through university wide emails and not on a personal level or involving bosses and their direct reports. I do know other organizations where the managers are instructed to “persuade” people or even outright coerce them, including going to people directly and asking, as you mentioned.

        I refuse on principle and ignore them.

      2. Mookie*

        Shaking a tin in a situation like that should earn them a coin, preferably in foreign currency and of low value. Bonus if the currency is obsolete.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          I would probably end up doing this: not out of pettiness, but because I don’t sort all the coins in my purse and I would think “Hey! Great excuse to dump out these coins I never remember to use!” Eastern Caribbean coins have almost certainly ended up in my local coffeeshop tip jar by mistake for the same reason.

        2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Isn’t a traditional Victorian schoolboy trick to put a button in the tithe plate and pocket the coin?

      3. Gotham Bus Company*

        If the boss has a tin in one had, then the other hand should have a receipt book (with the organization’s name and logo pre-printed).

    5. Wonderland*

      Yes, we have the same United Way drive here, there is a lot of pressure to donate.

      I’m also in a situation right now where I am *required* to be on our company Political Action Committee’s board because of my role in the organization. Being on the board requires a contribution by the employee. Everyone else is a volunteer on the board. I would rather be tarred and feathered than participate if I wasn’t required to do so. Plus I find some the candidates we support to be reprehensible (good for our business, not aligned with my personal beliefs). I’m currently just trying to stay under the radar by not making a contribution and not saying anything, but suspect I will eventually have to suck it up and do so to not cause a scene. It is very irritating, but I can afford it, so probably not my hill to die on.

      1. Sara without an H*

        This is disgusting, and I admire your maturity in handling it. At least you can take comfort in casting your vote for the opposing candidates.

    6. Irene Adler*

      Holy cow! A co-worker of mine talked about something like this at a prior job. I figured this was one company gone mad. Now I see this is a common occurrence.

      When co-worker was hired they made the point that 100% of the employees have signed up for an automatic contribution from each paycheck to United Way. He balked. They pushed. He said that the 100% figure was admirable, but he preferred to donate to other charities (which he named). They pushed more- don’t want to ruin the 100% figure. He remained firm and would not donate.

      They weren’t happy with his choice not to donate. So he asked them if they considered the charities he donates to as less important than United Way. That shut them up.

      1. Pickaduck*

        LW #2 : Wow, thank you all so much! I guess I am glad (?) to see this isn’t an abberation. Our CEO is awesome in most ways – I think just a bit tone-deaf here. I will take this fine advice.

  8. Gaia*

    OP #4, I was in your shoes. I graduated from a small school that had a good reputation but closed in scandal (also financial reasons, also with almost no notice). I find the biggest impact this had on me was my ability to get transcripts (they will be transferred to your state department of higher education office where you will be able to request copies as needed – I recommend requesting several copies and keep them on hand just in case you ever need proof of your degree).

    Employers haven’t really care for the most part and, those that did connect the dots were more curious than anything else. I wouldn’t worry about this. Smaller schools close surprisingly often and it often goes hand in hand with scandal. People will not hold this against you.

  9. It’s All Good*

    #2 – my first job out of college was supporting and implementing fundraising and membership software. Every single client asked me to donate to their cause and appeared to be offended if I didn’t respond in the positive right away. I got the impression that they thought I got the whole hourly rate and I could afford to help the cause.

  10. Cornflower Blue*

    #1 Sorry to hear about your plant! My guess is that your boss just doesn’t realize how important the plant is to you, since most people would just think of it as decoration rather than a living thing you have put effort into maintaining. I’d suggest just letting this go, since if you push about it or sulk, you’re going to risk being thought of as weird or petty.

    Hope your cutting grows well :)

    (Caveat, I have no office plants but my father is very into gardening and throws fits if people forget to water the pots when he’s away.)

    #2 Definitely please speak up for the employees! Sometimes HR promotes worthy causes (usually a kid in hospital or floods) that we are all encouraged to donate to – AND THEN SOMEONE COMES TO OUR SEATS, ONE BY ONE, to make sure we donate. As in, they have a checklist of names where they write down how much we gave and they work their way through all 90 people on our floor.

    It’s incredibly awkward for me and makes me feel bad if on that particular day, I don’t have any cash on me. I also even feel bad if I don’t give enough compared to the other employees, it’s just really stressful especially since I am trying to save up to move out of my parents’ place.

    1. Gatomon*

      My current employer hands around an envelope to collect cash for retirements… I never carry cash. Ever. So I always feel like scum when it comes around and I have maybe 2 pennies to give. I wish they’d at least send an email or a heads up in the morning, at least I could get a $10 bill at lunchtime.

      I used to work somewhere where they collected $2/month from everyone for cash-giving occasions and doled it out based on a formula for the occasion and time the person spent there. I actually liked that system much better.

      1. Amber T*

        Hello fellow non-cash carrier! I found it was a great excuse to get out of randomly giving money when pressured (I do donate when I can, but after I’ve looked into the cause and into my budget). I was walking down the street last summer and was stopped by someone saying “hey, would you consider donating to X?” Whoops, sorry, no cash. “That’s ok, we take card now!” Well, whoops…

          1. Amber T*

            Would have been a good response too. I think I just awkwardly shuffled away.

    2. LNZ*

      Honeslty if someone at work did that to me I would give $0 out of spite (and maybe donate to the cause privately if i wanted to)

      1. Seriously?*

        Me too. Not out of spite but out of protest. If I wanted to donate I would not want my donation to be used to shame my coworkers.

        1. Seriously?*

          Actually, it might be worthwhile to talk to some coworkers to push back together. If you don’t want to tell them directly to stop coming around to your desks, you can organize your own collection, put money into an envelope and say that it is the donations from X department and you are not comfortable telling who gave what.

    3. Gotham Bus Company*

      If a company can hire a dedicated employee just for charity collection/enforcement, then it can afford to donate directly to the cause without extorting employees.

    4. Michaela Westen*

      Wow, that’s awful! And offensive! I would be out of there ASAP. I get *very* reactive when people try to force things on me!

    1. JS*

      For real. Imagine having your work environment be so ideal and chill, perfect job, perfect salary, all perfect so the biggest complaint you have is your boss neglected your bug infested plant. I’m actually jealous of OP LOL!

        1. JS*

          I’m assuming if someone was so angry/upset/hurt over the plant that they took the time to write about this to Alison then everything else must be peachy. Otherwise OP needs to get things into perspective. Not that they shouldn’t care about their plant but this overall should be a non issue in the bigger picture and reeks of #firstworldproblems.

          1. Alice Ulf*

            This is definitely the sort of comment that will discourage others from writing letters in the future. :/

            1. JS*

              I can’t control what others chose to do. I am not dismissing them from caring, I am putting it in perspective based on all of the issues Alison gets on the regular. Not everyone is going to have terrible coworkers and a lot of issues are #firstworldproblems.

            2. LouiseM*

              +1. Most of the problems people write in about are “#firstworldproblems.” The entire premise of the website is that people in white collar jobs in developed countries need advice about those jobs…

              1. JS*

                Perhaps #firstworldproblems wasnt the exact term but a lot of people in white collar jobs put up with a lot of BS because they can’t afford to lose those jobs (given the poor economy and non employer health care of this first world country) or they are trying to find employment so when they seek advice it is not for issues so trivial.

          2. Galatea*

            well sure, if you assume the worst possible reading of someone’s intentions and circumstances, you can totally dismiss the problem.

            For the record, the sense I got from the letter is that this is the most recent of a long string of things, but this is also the “safe” thing to be upset about. There’s no more evidence for my interpretation as there is yours, but similarly there’s no more evidence for yours than there is mine.

            Additionally, “my boss destroyed something of mine” is, even in a good relationship, something that can be fraught.

            1. JS*

              There is no real problem here is the issue. Sure this could start a good conversation on what expectations you can put on coworkers during your absence for non work issues and the policies around your things getting damaged/thrown away at work when something goes wrong. But as far as OP upset there was no real apology or contrition is a bit much.

              You are assuming this is a generally absent minded or callous boss like I am assuming OP must not have any other more important issues at work if this is the thing that is upsetting her the most about her boss (they gave no mention of any other issues or string of incidents). I am not assuming any ill intentions of OP. They are entitled to feel what they feel, I am just making a comment that this doesn’t rank very high on the scale of workplace issues and hills to die on as far as getting the resolution you are looking for.

          3. Jessie the First (or second)*

            People do not always write in about their worst problems. I’d wager they often don’t, in fact. It’s highly likely that this is one irritant for the OP and she just doesn’t know what to do with it – not that this is literally the biggest problem she has.

            I mean, I once wrote in for advice (wasn’t published) but it was not The Biggest Problem I had. Not by a long, long, long shot.

            1. JS*

              I doubt its highly likely if she didn’t give any other context. It’s different if this was a generally uncaring boss but we get no other context. I am saying though if she failed to mention any other problems, even problems that could relate to Boss or work, it’s more likely this is in fact biggest issue.

              1. Jessie the First (or second)*

                She’s talking about her boss, and this is a little issue she has that she doesn’t know how to handle.

                Maybe she has a coworker who constantly insults her – but she doesn’t need to write in for advice, because she knows how to deal with it and HR is addressing it. Maybe she is regularly excluded from the coworker lunchtime trip and she feels excluded – but she doesn’t need to write in for advice, because she knows how to deal with it. Maybe she is underpaid – but she doesn’t need to write in because she knows the ins and outs of why and is working to get somewhere better. Maybe her job is so tedious she goes numb with boredom – but she’s not writing in because there is nothing to do about it.
                None of that would be in a letter about her plant dying because it’s not relevant to her plant.

                Or, you know, you could decide the OP is shallow for having a “perfect” like and everything is perfect for her and she isn’t deserving of advice and we should mock her for it. But that seems obnoxious to me.

                1. JS*

                  The little issue doesn’t need to be handled. Even Alison said there isn’t a next step here. We could play the maybe game all day. If the issue is any of the ones you listed then still her problem is her not recognizing the plant issue isn’t an issue and is just a sprinkle on a host of bigger more deeper issues. Alison didn’t go as far as to dig deeper so I don’t know why you think I should LOL.

                  I never said OP is shallow. I say over and over her feelings are valid, it’s just that people with bigger issues and problems tend not to focus on small non-issues. That’s it. I even said I was jealous of that. Don’t see how that is mocking her.

          4. Lara*

            Or that she’s focusing on the plant because she doesn’t know how to address more serious issues. E.g. getting upset about post-its when you’re really mad about mass layoffs.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      There’s also an unspoken rule of never bringing things in to work that you’re not willing to lose.
      Because someone can/will destroy/steal/lose your stuff.

    3. LouiseM*

      Come on, this seems unkind. The OP is obviously upset about this and I don’t think it warrants a flip response. Anyway, some people are more bug-friendly than others so this may not be as cut and dry as you think.

      1. LNZ*

        Also gnats arent even that gross. They are more of an annoyance than anything.
        But yes everything about this post is very unkind.

        1. This Daydreamer*

          Well, they are kinda gross (to me, at least) but there are better ways of dealing with it than letting the plant die.

          1. LNZ*

            Thats fair, i was mostly objecting to the person’s tone intheir comment. Just seems needleslly mean. Even LW1 was like fair enough on the boss not wanting a gnat infested plant in her office.

            1. This Daydreamer*

              I agree. The LW obviously really liked the plant and the boss should honor that.

              1. Temperance*

                Meh, I think this is on the employee. It’s fine to ask the boss to mind the plant, but really rude not to mention the fruit fly infestation when making the ask. It’s like asking someone to check on your cat, and not mentioning that your cat has a gross contagious disease.

                1. LW#1*

                  The fruit flies hadn’t manifested when I left. I’d never have asked if they had!

                2. BPT*

                  But LW#1 – once the fruit flies did manifest it was kind of up to your boss what to do at that point. Sure, it would have been nice and a huge favor to keep taking care of the plant (especially as someone who just does not deal with bugs), but honestly if there was a plant in the office that was bringing bugs in I’d ask that person to either take it home or throw it away. Since you weren’t there, she did basically a nice thing by just putting it away and getting the bugs away from other people. I don’t blame her for not wanting to continue to keep up the environment that is spawning bugs.

                3. Elizabeth H.*

                  I think it’s really unlikely that they’re actually fruit flies unless you had a plague of fruit flies in other locations in your office (like the kitchen or trash cans). They are probably fungus gnats which come around when someone overwaters the plant so your boss probably didn’t do a good job of watering appropriately in general and that’s what caused them. They are not a big deal AT ALL, but I understand being a bit grossed out by them.

        2. Bea*

          No. They are gross AF and set off my panic attacks due to having some bad childhood memories of poor kids getting bullied for having any kind of flies/insect in their home. We lived in a rural area and still there was no remorse.

        3. essEss*

          We had an infestation of gnats from a plant in our office. It was more than an annoyance. You would go to take a sip of your soda or coffee or water and you would swallow a gnat. You would be working intently at your desk and suddenly inhale a gnat when you breathe in. You would try to eat your lunch and would keep waving off gnats trying to land in your food. A single infested plant can cause a big impact in the office. Normally an infested plant would get thrown away and sealed up in a plastic garbage bag but the boss chose not to feed the bugs in order to minimize the bug problem but give you a chance to deal with the plant when you got back rather than throwing it away.

      2. Lynn*

        We had some plants in our office develop bugs. I’m one who gets eaten alive by mosquitos and whatever bugs these were must have also loved me. I was constantly swatting or scratching until the issue was fixed, but it was maddening for weeks. I still get concerned when I see plants in the office for fear of a repeat. I should *not* have to put up with that at work.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I work in an historical archive and we are not allowed to have plants specifically because of the potential to attract bugs. It’s actually considered ideal not even to have trees planted too close to the outside of the building.

        2. Elizabeth H.*

          It’s incredibly, incredibly rare for insects or pests that live in indoor plants to bite people. Insects that bite people feed on blood/mammals/vertebrates. Insects that infest plants feed on plants; they are totally different species of insect. There are a couple very rare exceptions but I think it’s not correct to avoid indoor plants because of biting insects – it doesn’t really happen.

      3. JS*

        I mean no one is saying OP shouldn’t care about their plant but overall should be a non-issue and shouldn’t be making an issue of whether or not someone looked after their bug infested plant or apologized for not doing so. It’s a plant not someone’s cat or dog. OP is lucky it wasn’t thrown away because that’s exactly what I would have done. I’m not bug savvy and seeing one is one thing but an infestation I would have assumed to have a potential to spread.

    4. CityMouse*

      That stuck out to me too. Did OP warn boss about that? Because I would find it super irritating and be annoyed that someone let me bring their buggy plant into my office.

      I think it is pretty clear that once they moved it back, they forgot to water it every day. It happens.

        1. CityMouse*

          Good point. Definitely not my personal office, but if I was OP’s boss, I would probably ask them to take the plant home when they got back too. If the fly infestation was really bad, I think boss would not have been out of line to throw it out, if LW was gone for more than a few days to come back and deal with it herself.

    5. Temperance*

      I can’t imagine asking someone to put a bug-infested plant in their own office. Agreed.

    6. ExcelJedi*

      Came here to say this. I would be MORTIFIED to ask any coworker (never mind a boss) to look after a plant with bugs in it. I would take it home until I could remediate the issue, because I wouldn’t want to have the office with the bugs. I don’t understand why OP doesn’t see this as a bigger problem.

      1. Myrin*

        OP clarified in other comments that the flies hadn’t manifested yet when she left. (Which I actually think was already pretty clear in the letter itself – she wouldn’t need to say “Jane told me that it had fruit flies” if she’d already known about it.)

        1. ExcelJedi*

          Oops! I didn’t see the clarification (and didn’t read it the same way). Thanks for pointing it out!

        2. Bea*

          It’s not clear in the letter. It reads to me as she swats the flies super fast herself and that’s how she dealt with the issue prior to leaving the office. I had to reread after she mentioned not having flies when she left.

        3. What's with today, today?*

          The letter contradicts the statements in the comments from OP:

          “To be clear, it doesn’t bother me at all that Jane didn’t want to deal with the fruit flies; they irritate me too and I’m aggressively swatting them as fast as I can. But it does bother me that she neglected the plant to the point of it dying.”

          So either, the flies were there before, or she’s still keeping the dead, bug infested plant in her office.

          1. Myrin*

            I mean, she says that “it has since become obvious that it’s not going to survive”, so I reckon that she still has it (probably to observe whether it will get better or not), but that doesn’t contradict her statement that she didn’t know about the flies beforehand.

          2. a1*

            Or she’s swatting at them now. Which is how I interpreted it since it made sense that way in the context of the rest of the letter. But it’s irrelvant now since the LW has said a few times in the comments that she didn’t know. The flies weren’t there when she left.

    7. another STEM programmer*

      Yeah seriously! Maybe this is just because I’m sourthern but I would DIE OF SHAME if I was told that a plant I’d asked someone to care for had bugs in it.

  11. PlantsMagee*

    OP#1. Little off topic here, but it actually sounds like the plant had fungus gnats rather than fruit flies. Very common in indoor plants and look similar to fruit flies. They feed on dead/decaying matter the soil. This is actually aggravated by over watering. They’re harmless, won’t kill the plant, but very annoying.

    While I don’t think anyone should intentionally damage anyone else’s property, if I didn’t know about plants, I would assume the plant had a harmful infestation. And I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek out a plant expert to save a small houseplant that wasn’t even mine. Can you imagine if she had presented you with a bill for picking up various sprays or solutions to get rid of the fungus gnats?

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I was going to say the same thing! Fungus gnats just killed my crocus, and I am pretty angry about it. (I am pro-sticky strips, though, or leaving small containers of water near your plants to draw the gnats into drowning themselves. I really really hate them.)

      But agreed—it’s not reasonable to expect someone who’s “plant-sitting” to navigate the irritation and grossness that are fungus gnats. It’s not great that she let the plant die, but it’s not so offensive that it requires her to apologize. Especially because she may have thought it had an infestation, as you note, PlantsMagee. If the circumstances were different, I’d probably feel differently. But under the conditions OP #1 describes, I think it’s best to let it go.

    2. Excitable Sim*

      I’m dealing with a fungus gnat infestation on my houseplants right now and I too wanted to comment that it was probably gnats, and not fruit flies, that were swarming. The gnats themselves won’t hurt the plant or bite humans, but their larvae can eat the roots and destroy the plants. :(

    3. CityMouse*

      As someone who knows nothing about plants, I might have worried the flies would jump to my other plant and then never ever ever go away.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        As someone who had an office full of nice, healthy plants, and then had a coworker bring in a half dead gnat-infested houseplant….those little buggers can indeed spread. Getting them out of one pot is annoying, but doable, but 6 pots was much more annoying. I second the sticky traps, severely limiting watering, and the sand layer.

      2. KTZee*

        You are not wrong – I had this happen with some indoor houseplants and my experience was that fungus gnats are super hard to get rid of (I swear I tried every bug-killing, plant-safe spray known to man). I had to just get rid of all the plants.

    4. Kittymommy*

      Oh good point. I am not good with plants (excellent with animals though) and I probably would think that its infested and it wouldn’t occur to me that it could be treated.
      However, knowing myself I’d probably offer to replace it since it happened ok n my watch. Not saying Jane needs to though, that’s just me.

    5. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I have 10 plants on the windowsill, which I let dry out between waterings. The gnats were driving us all crazy. I felt guilty. So I inspected all the plants, including my co-worker’s one plant, and you could easily see the larvae in the soil of my co-worker’s plant. But he kept watering and kept it too moist, despite my advice to let it dry out. He then quit (unrelated) and took his infested plant with him. And after a few days, the gnat problem vanished. The gnats were never able to get entrenched in my many plants because I let them dry out between waterings.

      1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

        Correction to my above post: The gnat problem didn’t actually disappear quite so quickly (sorry, my exaggeration). It may have been more like a week, maybe a bit longer, for the remaining gnats to slowly die out.

  12. Espeon*

    OP1: I feel you – You asked someone to look after a living thing that you care for and brings you joy, they agreed, then when it got a little inconvenient they sacked the job off, and are probably giving the “It’s just a plant” vibe to boot.

    I suspect if you’d decided to just let it fend for itself over that time you’d be less upset, because you’d have accepted that it may well not survive, and it would’ve been your choice. Instead you feel let-down, and by someone who doesn’t appreciate why – AND this person supposedly has a measure of control over your life. Ugh.

    I’m a ‘plants and animals’ person and… I don’t gel well with people who don’t see the value in living things that aren’t human.

    I agree with Alison of course, there’s not a lot you can really do here, but to preempt and counteract the ‘get over it’ crowd that may form in the comments, I’d be pissed too.

    1. LouiseM*

      +1. There definitely is nothing OP can do about it, but I hope people won’t act as if this is no big deal when it clearly is to the OP (and to many others who consider plants friends)

      1. paul*

        If it’s that big a deal to make sure your plants are well cared for, don’t just rely on your boss (or for that matter anyone else) at work’s good graces to care for it while you’re out.

        If it’s that important to you, have an actual friend look after it or something.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, this. Find somebody who is also actively interested in plants to watch it for you, not just the nearest person in the office.

          I board my cats when I travel because I know my friends aren’t that great with cats and, as much as the cats hate the kennel, I feel much better knowing they’re in the hands of people who are trained to handle animals.

        2. Delphine*

          That’s great and all, but if a person says they will do the bare minimum for a plant (water it a couple times), then they should follow through.

        3. Specialk9*

          Exactly. If something is important to you, take responsibility for it. We’re not saying OP can’t care about her plant, we’re just saying that this level of caring means she needs to have a better plan.

          (Also that it’s unreasonable to expect someone to care for an infested plant, even if they otherwise would do that favor.)

          1. Kate 2*

            A better plan than asking someone you believe to be responsible and honest to dump a little water on a plant in their office 2x a week? Seriously? And so what if the plant was infested, it’s fine that she put it back in OP’s office, I would have too, but she still should have watered it there.

    2. Monica*

      Oh, come on. I’m a huge animal lover and dedicate a lot of my time to animal rescue. Forgetting to water a pot plant hardly makes someone a callous animal abuser.

      1. CityMouse*

        Yeah, I have killed a lot of plants. It isn’t that I don’t value them, it is just hard to remember the precise watering and so end up over or under watering them. On the other hand, a colleague left me a plant when she went on leave that somehow flourished because it apparently is totally fine with me dumping in whatever is left in my water bottle every day.

        I am an animal lover though. I actually can’t keep a plant at home because my cat would try to eat it.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

          I learned to keep any vases of flowers next to the sink, where a battle wouldn’t take out any video cards.

          1. CityMouse*

            Also, I pay huge attention to which plants cats can’t eat at all (like lillies) and make sure I have no vases of them or similar. He likes them enough it simply isn’t worth the risk to him.

        2. Oxford Coma*

          “Can’t be bothered to jump up and eat the plants anymore” turned out to be a good metric for when my older cat needed glucosamine chews. Healthy leaves = old, immoble cat.

        3. KRM*

          My jade plant seems to enjoy the fact that I dump the leftover melted ice cubes/coffee from my iced coffee on it. It’s about the level of watering I can handle as well. I promised an officemate who is on leave that I would ‘try’ to not murder her African violet. It’s going…OK so far?

          1. MK*

            Coffee is actually good for plants. Starbucks offers the coffee residues for free for people to use in their gardens.

            1. another STEM programmer*

              it’s good for plants that need an acidic environment. If your soil is already too acidic for the plant you’re trying to grow, coffee won’t help so much.

        4. Turquoisecow*

          My husband actually got me silk roses because one of our cats eats everything, so when he’d get me flowers, we couldn’t display them on the kitchen table, but would have to hide them somewhere the cat can’t get to them — and he gets to almost everywhere.

          Of course the damn cat chews on the silk leaves also. Sigh.

      2. Foxtrot*

        Right. This is a weird stance to take. Anything domesticated to the point of needing humans to take care of it has to come with a level of “it’s just a blank.” We’ve taken things out of their natural habitat to either do work for us or just be entertainment.
        I have cats, but it’s not really true to think any of that is more for the cat’s benefit than my own.

      3. Rat in the Sugar*

        Well, Espeon didn’t say that it did make the boss a callous animal abuser. I’d be a bit miffed in this situation too– imagine if it was something that wasn’t even alive, like my $5 coffee mug was locked in the dishwasher when I left, and then my boss agreed to wash it for me but accidentally dropped and broke it then never apologized. There wouldn’t be any point in pursuing it and the only reasonable answer is to let it go, but I wouldn’t expect people to be posting comments like “Well, sometimes people drop mugs so you shouldn’t have left it with her,” I’d expect something more like “Yeah it’s slightly annoying she didn’t apologize but it’s even pettier to ask for an apology so you need to forget about it.” Like, I absolutely agree that OP needs to just drop it, but I feel like a lot of comments are saying that there’s nothing for OP to even get annoyed over in the first place, which I do disagree with. (Especially since OP clarified they were not aware of the bugs before leaving).

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, that’s where I stand. And for what it’s worth, OP really does seem only “slightly annoyed”, as you put it – I see many people commenting like OP sent a passionate “I can’t sleep at night any longer and want to murder everyone who’s ever let a plant die” letter Alison’s way, when I read her as being understanding because of the flies but miffed because of the scenario itself (where she left something in someone’s care and then there ended up being no care), which I don’t think is particularly unusual or horrible. She asked if there’s anything else to be done here, Alison said no, and that’s it.

          1. HRM*

            OP is “slightly annoyed” yet wrote in to an advice columnist about this? Yeah. No. Sometimes stuff just happens and there’s not a big issue that needs to be worried over, solved or addressed in any way. In fact, that’s a lot of what life is. Let it go.

            1. Elizabeth H.*

              Clearly her letter has provided a lot of stimulation and interest among the many people who have commented on it, so it seems like it was a worthwhile contribution in that sense, no?

            2. Myrin*

              Well, OP wasn’t sure whether this was an issue “that needs to be worried over, solved or addressed in any way”, hence why she wrote in. And I can absolutely imagine writing to an advice columnist – especially if I’m a regular reader – with an issue that’s not a big deal to me but where I’m interested in hearing other perspectives. In fact, we’ve had numerous such letters in the past, including ones where the issue in question had already been dealt with but OP’s were still interested in hearing what others had to say about it.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I think it’s also not uncommon for someone to write in the day something happens while they’re really annoyed about it, and by the next day they don’t care so much. I’ve definitely seen letter writers say things in the comments like “I wrote this in a moment of rage but I’ve since calmed down.”

            3. JS*

              This 100%! You dont get “slightly annoyed” and take the time to write into an advice column. It’s OK wanting to get different perspectives but if you take the time to write in this is obviously something weighing heavy on you and thats OK to admit even if it would be a non-issue to others.

              1. Elizabeth H.*

                I completely disagree! A lot of people write into advice columns simply because they think it’s an interesting question, would provoke interesting reactions, or just because people really love advice columns for some reason. (For what it’s worth, a lot of people also send in FAKE letters – I don’t know how many Alison gets although I believe she has said that she has received some that she doesn’t print due to unrealisticness, but I know that Emily Yoffe as Dear Prudence mentioned that she regularly received obviously fake letters – which signifies that there are other motivations to write in besides the idea that something is weighing on you heavily) Definitely some people write in because they are really struggling with a serious problem, but I’m sure a lot of people write in just “for fun” also.

                1. JS*

                  But I mean even if its “just for fun” you are still investing energy into it by writing in. Either way its something you want to focus on/are interested in and discuss more of so you aren’t just letting it go like Alison advised. OP mentioned they were bothered by it and expected an apology, it was those feelings that drove the question even if they had calmed down.

            4. Forking Great Username*

              “Yeah. No.” is a pretty obnoxious response considering that your comment was totally you assuming that everyone else must think the way you do. Just because you wouldn’t write to an advice columnist about a minor annoyance doesn’t mean no one would. Sometimes people just want to check in with other stuff to see whether or not their annoyance is reasonable.

              1. HRM*

                Hi! What I was saying is that the OP sounds more than just “slightly annoyed” given the time investment to recount the story here. Could be a case of what Allison mentioned: really annoyed in the moment of writing cooling down to “meh” later on. Not that this has to be your filter by any means, but I read here through the filter of the manager and HR professional in a large company that I am. If these are the kinds of things that an employee gets concerned or questioning enough to seek counsel about, that employee may be setting themselves up for a frustrating professional life ahead of of him/her. That’s just and only my perspective. The overwhelmingly popular (in this thread) advice is still “let it go.”

        2. Bea*

          If she asked “am I wrong to be upset?!” most all of us would say “absolutely not! What a dick move.” However it escalated here, she doesn’t ask for validation, this was a “what can I do now?” question. The answer is “get over it and don’t ask her for favors again.” She didn’t do anything egregious enough to have a talk with her boss of all people.

      4. Kate 2*

        No one is saying it does! They are just saying that plants are living things too, which is a *fact*!

        You know there’s a saying, about how if you don’t have anything nice to say, maybe you shouldn’t say anything at all.

        1. Penny Lane*

          “Living thing” does not equal “important” though. If the OP had asked her boss to watch her Faberge egg and the boss dropped it, that would be more serious.

          This is like – oh, I don’t know, say the OP had a box of cookies and the boss accidentally knocked it to the floor and it got crushed. NBD because you can go buy another. Fungible.

    3. Drop Bear*

      Well, based on what the letter said, LW#1 didn’t actually ask Jane to look after the plant- she asked if she could leave it in Jane’s office and Jane said ‘Sure’. The only thing Jane agreed to do was to water it a ‘few times’ -which is hardly a comprehensive plant care plan. Also, an office full of irritating bugs that you have to keep aggressively swatting – as the LW says is necessary – is hardly merely inconvenient.
      I don’t think Jane owes the LW any big apology, in fact I think it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Jane to think that the LW should apologise for infesting her office with bugs by putting an unhealthy plant in there.

      1. Seriously?*

        Honestly, I think both are owed an apology. Jane should apologize for not at least moving the plant to another window and OP should apologize for the bugs.

        1. Tuxedo Cat*

          But what other window? If she thought the plant was infested with fruit flies, the boss probably wouldn’t want to make that someone else’s problem.

            1. Willis*

              But her office was windowless! (which makes me confused as to why the plant survived without sun on a regular basis at the OP’s desk but needed to be near a window when she was gone…)

                1. LW#1*

                  I have a full-spectrum bulb to keep myself from going weird through lack of light, and as a bonus it allows me to keep a plant in my office. I asked to put the plant in the window while I was gone a) so no one would have to remember to turn the lamp on and off and b) it would be a bit harder to forget to water it at all.

    4. MLB*

      Sorry but this is ridiculous. If the plant was so important to the LW that she wrote into an advice column about it, she should have made that clear to her manager and left it with someone who has the same passion about the plant as she does.

    5. Lehigh*

      If you feel that strongly about it, though, the onus is on you to choose very carefully whom you ask to watch your plants. Surely you don’t just assume everyone has the same attitude and attention to detail?

    6. Millennial Lawyer*

      I see where you’re coming from, but I would recommend a different kind of plant then maybe, or a succulent? Asking someone to watch over a plant is one thing but one that has attracted bugs and requires constant watering… that’s a little much to ask in an office environment.

    7. Cornflower Blue*

      I love animals and I like plants, but I hate hate hate hate bugs.

      If a plant someone asked me to look after had an infestation of bugs crop up, I would get it the heck away from me and not go near it again. Even just reading some of the comments above have my skin crawling.

      I’d probably be willing to replace it for them, if I thought it was my fault that it died, but there is no level of love that’ll make me deal with bugs. Even having to pick the occasional tick off my dog leaves me grossed out for hours.

  13. AJ*

    The next time you have fungus gnats in a plant (they are not fruit flies) the easiest way to kill them is let the soil dry out a little (normal amount of drying between waterings) water with a mixture of 4 parts water 1 part hydrogen peroxide. It will kill the fungus gnat larvae and won’t hurt your plant.

      1. Melinda McAllister*

        The other option is to add a layer of sand to the top of the soil. This also interupts the circle of life (for the bugs, not the plant!).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’m picturing a tiny reprise of “The Circle of Life” choreography by the miniature rose, fungi, gnat larva, and any other tiny soil inhabitants.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              It’s a dark, dark song. All the moreso because it’s sung by the antelope.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      I’ve combined that with those yellow sticky traps after fungus gnats got into all *my* office plants after a coworker brought in a half dead house plant thinking I could rescue it. Those worked pretty well to knock the adult population down while the larvae dye off.

  14. JS*

    #3 You always keep it. I can see your company having a policy of do not volunteer to get bumped (as that can effect work travel plans) however they can’t stop any delays or airline actually bumping you. Besides, I am not sure about other airlines since I only fly Delta for the past 5 years (once on American when I was flown out for an interview, ew it was horribad) but Delta makes it so only the person flying can use the travel voucher. It is tied to your frequent flyer account. If the company wants to make you use it for future work travel that’s another thing as well. But they shouldn’t ask you to fork it over as its not possible in some cases.

    You can get delayed without getting bumped and most have the policy where if you get to your destination within an hour or two they dont offer compensation. How would your employer even find out you got compensated?

    1. Engineer Girl*

      You don’t always keep it. It depends on the company.

      A wise company will let you keep it because you’re the one being inconvenienced. But some companies don’t do that. And since they bought the tickets they make the rules.

      1. Geoffrey B*

        Uh huh. I don’t know if my employer has spelled out policy on this specific issue (overbooking is not a thing here in Australia, it’d only be relevant in the case of international travel) but we do have a rule that frequent flyer points earned through work travel can only be spent on work travel, and also some strict limits about what sort of gifts we’re allowed to accept in the course of our employment. From those precedents, I definitely wouldn’t assume that they’d be OK with me pocketing the money from something like this.

        When things go the other way and I incur unexpected travel costs – like the time I absentmindedly went to the wrong gate and missed my flight – it’s my employer footing the bill, so it would feel a bit dodgy to expect them to cover the losses but not to benefit from the rare, rare, rare wins.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          That’s actually quite a good point – if your employer covers the cost if you miss a flight, or have to cancel a trip at the last minute due to illness – then it’s not horrible for them to get the use out of any vouchers that you get.

          I do think that making people hand over their air miles is cruel, though, which I’ve seen happen. I work for the government, in a job that involves long haul travel, and frequent flyer perks are the only way you can get upgraded to economy plus (let along business class), or use the airport lounge, or the express check in, which makes the flight less miserable. My supervisor travels so much that he can share his economy plus upgrades with other people.

          1. Geoffrey B*

            Thankfully, my agency has a policy of business class by default for international travel (excepting NZ). They used to cover cost of a lounge membership for those who flew often, but I think that got cut due to budget restrictions.

            1. Geoffrey B*

              update: my mistake, it’s still there, although they tightened the requirements.

        2. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

          Oh – this is a REALLY good point. Hadn’t actually thought about the fact that the company covers any unexpected costs.

          I still think it’s best (if possible – I get that it might be much less doable in certain sectors/industries) to let employees keep the (minimal) perks of traveling for work (points or vouchers for being bumped), but thinking of it this way makes me feel a bit less resentful of companies that don’t allow for this.

          1. Geoffrey B*

            There’s an issue of perverse incentives here. If employees get to keep points from work travel, then they have an incentive to make inefficient/unnecessary travel choices that cost the employer more money, in order to optimise their points. IMHO, if you want to compensate employees for travel, better just to do that directly.

            In Australia, there’s also a taxation issue – if I was getting flyer points for personal use from my work travel, that would be considered a taxable fringe benefit. But I think US rules may be different on that point.

            One reason why I’m not fond of the idea is that it gives employees a personal incentive to misstake in decisions that should be made purely on business grounds – do I book unnecessary trips, or take more expensive options, in order to earn myself extra points?

            FWIW, under Australian law that would be considered a taxable fringe benefit.

        3. JS*

          Do you have a separate frequent flyer account for your job? Otherwise I would wonder the legality to have personal and business miles in the same account. You wouldn’t keep business funds and personal funds in the same account. Especially if those rules are made to follow some strict industry policy.

          1. Geoffrey B*

            No, we’re just expected to keep track of it. Not an issue for me since I don’t use FF points either personally or for work, but them’s the rules for those that do.

      2. JS*

        Theres no way for you not to keep it if its a travel voucher. Like I said you could use it for future work flights, but they couldn’t confiscate it cause its attached to your name and your frequent flyer number. That has been my experience.

          1. JS*

            They can’t even take it, its tied to your account. I’ve gotten a piece of paper confirming how to collect it online but its also in the system.

      3. Genny*

        Every company is going to be different, but I’m definitely a huge supporter of letting travelers keep travel perks like FF miles or travel vouchers. I can see having a policy of not volunteering to get bumped or capping the amount of comp time you pay out in case of getting bumped/delayed, but anything beyond that feels like nickel and diming.

    2. Geoffrey B*

      I’m not sure “how would your employer even find out?” is an appropriate answer to a question about ethics.

      1. Antilles*

        Also worth noting that in most cases, if you’re being bumped/volunteered for a later flight, it’s usually significantly later – like a couple hours worth of ‘later’, if not more. If you’re off by that much, they’d likely notice *that*…which very well might lead right into them asking “oh, they bumped you? did they give you a voucher?”

        1. JS*

          I’ve never known a work trip where you weren’t flown in the day before your meeting, conference, etc.

          1. Oryx*

            Then you’ve been lucky. I’ve definitely had work book flights for same day as conference starts and flight issues / delays caused problems

            1. Genny*

              That just seems like borrowing trouble, and that’s totally on them for their bad management/planning. Delays and cancellations aren’t exactly rare things in the airline industry, so why would you not plan for some buffer time?

        2. Bette*

          Whose company checks up on their employees’ flight times? That’s a company with not enough to do.

          1. Antilles*

            If you don’t show up to a meeting because you’re flying same day (which, in my experience is really common though I guess it varies by industry), then it’d be more surprising if they failed to notice your delayed attendance.

            1. JS*

              I think it would also depend on where you are flying to/from. Sure from NYC to DC or Boston is less than an hour, so in that situation its close by and a huge delay would be noticed but so many flights fly that route it is unlikely you would even get compensation since the rule is they have to get you there within 2-3 hours with delays and there are so many flights its unlikely to get bumped.

      2. JS*

        That’s the thing about ethics its subjective, there is no “appropriate” response.

        1. Seriously?*

          But generally a question about whether something is right or wrong is not determined by whether you would be found out. That just determines whether or not you will face any repercussions for it. (Which is not to say I think the employer should take the travel vouchers).

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            Agree. Ethics isn’t about caught vs not caught. “I broke into this person’s house and took their TV, but it’s okay because how would they ever know it was me?” is a ridiculous thing to argue, and I don’t find it works any better as an argument in the business/financial realm either.

            You can argue about whether someone/something has been *harmed* or not, which is sometimes related in a tangential way to whether one is found out, but the core issue would still be harm, not whether the person was caught.

            (Also, plenty of people/ethicists do not consider ethics purely subjective anyway – it’s quite a bit more complicated than objective or subjective)

            1. JS*

              Like I said in a previous comment: That’s assuming you think I think its unethical to take in the first place. I don’t think ethically the employer is entitled to it so not telling them about it would be ethical.

          2. JS*

            That’s assuming you think I think its unethical to take in the first place. I don’t think ethically the employer is entitled to it. Nor do I think someone should have as much loyalty to places of employment to volunteer the information (since employers rarely show you any at the end of the day to non vested employees).

            1. Seriously?*

              I wasn’t trying to argue the ethics of this particular thing. Just the idea that right or wrong is tied to being caught.

              1. JS*

                No I get you but I don’t think its unethical to go against an employers unethical rules, even if it means you are hiding it.

  15. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

    #1 – Alison’s right. There’s not much to do except feel your feelings and then move on. I get it though! It’s disappointing for someone to promise something and let you down, especially when it’s something that requires only a little bit of maintenance and then also not apologize. Your boss is probably just not a plant person (I’m also not one) and just sees it as an unfortunate oopsie-daisy.

    #2 – This reminds me of my old company that allowed optional donations for an employee assistance fund. We were never badgered into it, and I even donated to it, but it felt weird since it was a pretty big financial company. If we had been more pushed into it, I definitely would’ve felt resentment as a entry-level employee that earned slightly above minimum wage.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      I’d say something, if only for the sake of not letting it fester. Just, “I’m a little disappointed you didn’t water the plant or have someone else do it. It’s dead now, and I was fond of it.”

      1. Lynca*

        I disagree about confronting the boss about it. Not because I think the OP is wrong to feel how she feels, I love my plants too and would be hurt if they died through neglect.

        The reason I disagree because not everything warrants a cathartic release and this seems like needling your boss. Which is just a bad idea no matter how much better you would feel about it afterwards. The OP would still need to work with them.

        1. Clarice Fitzpatrick*


          I think if this was a close friend or relative, I could definitely say something like Traffic’s suggestion, but anyone I want to maintain more polite ties with, swallowing my feelings is gonna be the best route. Again, I don’t think LW should think this is petty per se, she’s 100% valid in how she feels and she shouldn’t feel bad about feeling bad. However, it’s gonna be best to treat this as just a practical point of knowledge to file away for the future than a wrongdoing. The stakes just aren’t worth it in this case.

        2. Specialk9*

          It infested the boss’ office, and apparently OP hasn’t apologized! It’s really reasonable not to water a bug ridden plant. My offices have required infested plants be removed in a plastic bag.

          1. LW#1*

            I guess I thought it was obvious that I’d apologized for not realizing the plant had bugs. My bad.

      2. Lara*

        I have a good relationship with my boss. If I said this to him he’d probably ask if everything was ok at home, and would probably think something terrible had happened to me. If OP doesn’t have a good relationship with her boss, she’s going to look silly.

        To be clear, what the boss did sucks, but the situation is not worth tanking a job over.

      3. CTT*

        My mom killed one of my plants while I was on vacation and I didn’t bring it up because I knew it wouldn’t accomplish anything, except make her feel guilty. I couldn’t imagine doing that with any of my supervisors, and I have good relationships with them.

      4. Lehigh*

        Nothing against OP’s feelings–obviously this is something she cares about and it is totally valid for her to feel upset! But if someone I worked with said something like that to me, I would mentally check the “do not do favors for this person” box in my head. Better for the OP to make a mental note that the boss is not a plant person.

        The boss tried to do something nice and failed. Guilting her about it is only likely to cut down her inclination to do nice things in the future, in order to avoid these kinds of awkward interactions.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I agree with this–boss tried and failed. Trying to induce more guilt is not a good response. (And wouldn’t be for a coworker or subordinate, either.) This is something where the broader lesson you draw is, next time you go away, you don’t ask this person to water your plants. It could be just as true for the neighbor who is helpful and pleasant in other ways–and so you want to preserve the relationship–but they failed at plant support.

          Come to think of it, I had this with someone who failed to feed our cat. They saw a car in the driveway, and so figured we were back, and didn’t call us or anything to check–they just didn’t come in to feed the cat, who was hungry when we got back a few days later. (Another neighbor, knowing we were gone, had used our driveway for overflow parking–something I would not expect them to track us down on vacation to ask about.) We didn’t ask the first neighbors to watch the cat again. (They did apologize. It wasn’t about adequacy of apologizing, but adequacy of putting down more cat kibble.)

        2. Delphine*

          If you say you’re going to water a plant and then don’t water it, you haven’t done anyone a favor, so you wouldn’t be checking any sort of box in your head.

          1. Lehigh*

            She watered it until it developed bugs. She was attempting to do the OP a favor, which obviously didn’t work out well. I’m saying it’s better for the OP to note that boss is not good with plants than to teach the boss not to even try to help her.

          2. Baby Fishmouth*

            I think that many of the plant lovers on this thread said that the source of the bugs is probably overwatering, not underwatering, so yes, Jane probably still did do the favor for the OP.

      5. Genny*

        I’m not sure I’d want my boss to think of me as that person who was way too emotional about a $3 office plant, which is what I think most people would think if someone said that to them.

  16. LNZ*

    Oh man LW2 I feel you. My last job was at a non profit with very intense internal fundraising, like a whole month dedicated to it. I hated it and didn’t give at all. It was also a place where the CEO was going on about how we each need to have “an attitude of gratitude”.
    Which incidentally has led to me never trusting employers that continually tell you you should be greatful for every little thing in life. It always feels like a set up for being taken advantage of or treated unfairly.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      I don’t trust anyone who’s always telling people to be grateful. They’re very often either taking advantage of others or the sort of people who scold others about complaining that they can’t afford healthcare because some other people are actually starving.

      Why are actually wealthy and powerful people so rarely told to be grateful? Why does that advice always flow downward? You don’t hear about anyone telling CEOs to be grateful.

      1. LNZ*

        It also jsut rubs me the wrong way when employers say it, because no employees shouldn’t be greatful they are employed by you their employment isn’t some favor you do for them, they deserbe to be fairly compensated for their labor.
        I hate this obsession with being greatful that our society has and it also feels like it ties into the annoying performative virtue crap you see so often in American Christianity

  17. Buu*

    #4 The school is probably swamped but double check you have all the documentation related to your degree you need before it closes. ( ie certificate/ proof of graduation). It probably won’t matter if you’re a long way out of school but if not it may still come up.

  18. Marlene*

    #2 I work for a non-public, non-profit school that serves disabled children. We too are pressured to donate back. Sometimes it’s in the form of purchasing or funding treats and events with our own money for the students. In another case, we are asked to buy tickets to a fundraising event for another organization, in spite of the fact that we don’t get paid for snow days or other school closings and we haven’t seen a full paycheck in months because of it. Nope, not doing it. I’m not paying $75 for a ticket when I’m scrimping to buy groceries this month.

    1. Pickaduck*

      LW #2 here… yes, this is what I’m talking about. Even if only the directors were asked to donate, (which still isn’t great,) pressuring Direct care workers into donating is just way over the line. Thank you for your thoughts.

    2. Laura H*

      I just want to say thank you for the work you do.

      And I’m appalled that your employer thinks this is okay. Best wishes and internet hugs to you and your coworkers!

    3. Tedious Cat*

      The (very expensive) law school where I used to work once tried to persuade us to put in the institution in our wills during an all-staff meeting. My reaction was to immediately text all my friends “lol these glassbowls know what they pay me.” Incidentally, several of said friends are alums who were Not Impressed. They’re unlikely to donate anyway for their own reasons, but this didn’t help. Bad optics can cost more in the long run.

    4. paul*

      I see this in the nonprofit I work for, and hear about it a lot in other local non-profits. It’s depressingly common.

  19. This Daydreamer*

    I have a low paying job at a non profit that puts me in the position of dealing directly with out clients. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it, but I would be very unhappy if they expected me to tithe part of my pay back into the program. I’m already dealing with crises by phone and in person, often in the middle of the night!

  20. Traffic_Spiral*

    For #2, I’d be tempted to find some way to anonymously leak the request and let the Wrath of the Internet fall on them. What they’re doing is shitty and someone should yell at them.

  21. Monica*

    I have a huge fly phobia. If someone asked me to water their plant (very minor request) and they infested my office with flies without telling me, I’d be freaked out.

    1. LNZ*

      Tbe flyz arent actually the issue though, they said in the letter they were fine with their boss not wanting it in their office. Its that their boss then put in in an office with no light and didn’t ever water it after agreeing to water it.

      1. Temperance*

        Honestly, I wouldn’t want to go near an infested plant. If LW asked me to do this favor, and I found bugs, I probably wouldn’t go near the plant again, and I would have shoved it in her office, too.

        1. LNZ*

          Right but you have a phobia, thats kind of understandable. The adverage person should be fine going into her office and wstering it for a few seconds or at least asking someone epse to do it.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            As someone who knows literally nothing about plants, I very likely would have assumed the fly infestation meant the plant was doomed and probably would have thrown it out instead of putting it back in the LW’s office.

            1. I hate bugs*

              Yeah, I would’ve binned it without thinking twice. Maybe got the OP a new throwaway supermarket rosebush if it occurred to me. I would not take care of a bug-infested potted plant – I don’t have a phobia, I just think it’s way gross. If anything, I think OP should apologize for bringing bugs into the office, knowingly or not.

          2. CityMouse*

            It depends on how bad it was. I am not remotely bug phobic but if something is seriously fly infested in an office I would either take it outside, if possible, or junk it. Flies do not belong in the office, for the comfort of everyone, and it needs to go.

            1. The Original K.*

              Me too. I definitely wouldn’t just allow it to continue to spread flies all over the office.

    2. I woke up like this*

      The LW has posted a few times that she didn’t know the plant had flies until after she got back from the trip.

  22. JackofAllTrades,MasterofNone*

    LW #1 – As a very avid gardener, who loves houseplants…. I cam tell you from experience that those are tiny rosebushes are REALLY HARD to keep alive (especially in an office setting). I have tried more times than I care to admit to dragging one to my office as a bit of cheer. It’s usually mites that are the problem, but they are not hearty, and there is an extremely good chance that your boss didn’t kill the plant. They just don’t seem to do well for long in a home or office environment.

    1. CityMouse*

      I am personally terrible with plants but my mom has a lovely rose garden and I remember her saying something similar, now you mention it. I think she got one of those as a gift and even she couldn’t keep it alive (and she has Christmas cactuses that are older than I am).

    2. Liane*

      I have at best a 50% chance of keeping these alive more than a few months*. I have a much lower chance of them blooming–with more than 1 bud–ever again. My current bunch, bought last year are odd, having survived winter and covered in buds.

      *transplanted into larger pots, kept outdoors, watered & fertilized, protected during freeze warnings, pruned & deadheaded

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      My mom planted one outside a couple of years ago, and it’s still thriving. Me? I kill one or two a year.

      1. CityMouse*

        I think some roses you simply can’t plant? It might depend on the location. I know in one of my 12 year old purchases I came home with a rose once but apparently it wasn’t the right kind for planting and I had to keep it in a pot in the deck. I do wish I had paid more attention while my parents were having me dig holes and spread mulch.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Oh, I don’t kill them all by planing them outside. I kill them inside and out.

    4. One of the Sarahs*

      Yes, I was going to say this – especially when they are bought from non-garden centre/nurseries, because they generally aren’t treated well in any stage of the process. Of course it’s possible to take a supermarket plant and nurse it back to health, but it’s a bit of a long shot.

  23. JackofAllTrades,MasterofNone*

    LW #1 – As a very avid gardener, who loves houseplants…. I can tell you from experience that those are tiny rosebushes are REALLY HARD to keep alive (especially in an office setting). I have tried more times than I care to admit to dragging one to my office as a bit of cheer. It’s usually mites that are the problem, but they are not hearty, and there is an extremely good chance that your boss didn’t kill the plant. They just don’t seem to do well for long in a home or office environment.

    1. Mookie*

      Yeah, virtually any variety of any species of rose, but especially a miniature hybrid touted as a “houseplant,” is not long for a world wholly deprived of natural light. (I’m not sure why, if it normally lives in a windowless room, it required a window sill for two weeks, but there you are.) But if you want to slightly prolong the short life of your next one, LW, and fear water stress in future, I’d suggest re-potting it with an appropriate growing medium for low-light and interior situations and sizing the pot up from whatever it was sold in. If you’re just going to use a cutting from here on out, I’d suggest a sterile mix, as well. But, mostly, I suggest looking into species that really thrive in these environments; they’re beautiful and infinitely more rewarding, and most love neglect and being left alone*.

      *same here

      1. LW#1*

        It was flourishing before I left–the “these things are hard to keep alive” part is a great deal of why I’m ticked off. It was…seven years old? I’m just glad I finally got a cutting to root.

        As said above, I have a full-spectrum bulb in a lamp for my own mental health, and it’s good for plants as well. I just didn’t want anyone to have to remember to turn the lamp on and off every day.

  24. Valegro*

    I used to work for a university in an extremely poor community. It was the major employer there. They would call, email and otherwise harass their minimum wage employees into giving donations. It was sick. This was in addition to charging massive parking fees, but campus police caring very little about the widespread car theft issue.

    At my current job (small company, dozen employees) we all have to donate to the owner’s birthday and Christmas present. It’s not optional and the boss gets extremely cranky if a birthday is missed. Again most of the employees are making around $10-12 per hour. I tried to stand up against it and got in major trouble. At the same time no one did a thing for the low wage employee having her first baby.

    1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

      That’s so gross! I don’t think I could deal with that and I genuinely admire that you tried to stand up against it!

      I used to work at a small, family-owned, commercial real estate firm that got a TON of discounts/stuff from their tenants (think gift certificates to a spa in one of their buildings or boxes of cookies from a bakery). There were about 10 people working in the office – 2 (I was one of those two) were not family members/close family friends who had been working there for 20+ yrs. The owners daughters would take every item that came in for themselves and occasionally would distribute them to other family members/family friends, but never ever would they be given to myself or the other non-family employee. Logically – I totally understand that these items were the company owner’s to do with what they like, but emotionally it was kind of demoralizing to see the bosses daughter grab every spa massage voucher (the daughter who also lived in a *insert swanky zip code* condo for free and made a 6 figure annual salary for working 10-20hr per week) when I was struggling to make ends meet. Like even if just once a year she said “you know, Sunshine, you should treat yourself to a massage” I would have been thrilled and grateful.

    2. another STEM programmer*

      That owner’s gift thing is horrible! And super tacky. And there have been several columns on here about how birthday, etc gifts should flow down from management to employees and never the other way around.

  25. carlie*

    On donating to your employer – I’ve been told it’s because “% of employees giving back” is one of the main metrics that influences large and corporate donors. So it’s not about how much you give, but how high they can get the percentage.

    1. Sara without an H*

      True. I work for a small private women’s college. Our development office likes to be able to tell prospective donors that a high percentage of employees contribute to a scholarship fund every year. Contributing is “voluntary,” but the emotional pressure to chip in can be intense.

      The fund does, indeed, go toward student scholarships, so I agree every year to a small amount paid through payroll deduction. But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    2. amanda_cake*

      When I worked at the YMCA, departments would compete to see who could get the highest percentage of employees to donate. Childcare always wanted to beat aquatics. It is always horrible to be pressured to donate when you barely make above minimum wage.

    3. Genny*

      I’ve heard this statistic before when this topic comes up, but I wonder how true it is. I’m not in charge of seeking or giving donations, but it seems obvious that it’s a meaningless statistic. You’d think donors would be well aware that it’s 1) very easy to coerce lower-level employees to give and 2) easy to claim 100% participation when everyone gives $1/year. I just can’t imagine I’d be swayed to give more money because I heard 100% of employees give back to the org.

      I wonder if this metric actually works or if orgs use it because they don’t know how else to demonstrate their value-add/passion/dedication/etc., and they think this does it.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I’ve worked for many years getting donations from large and corporate donors, and that’s not actually a thing they care about. Board giving, sure. Staff giving? Not so much.

  26. J*

    #2 is a timely question, as we just got a new director at my tiny nonprofit, and she mentioned last week that she intends to ask all employees to participate in a payroll deduction donation to the org (“even if it is just $1/pay, I want to be able to say its 100% participation”).

    She is my new boss, so it’s awkward. But this is absolutely something I intend to use my standing there to fight. I make peanuts, I have never submitted for reimbursement, I am a .75 employee (reflected in my pay) but have been working basically full time for the past year. Hopefully I can just ignore the request, but given that it is my boss, I have a feeling she will pressure me until I am forced to explain my stance.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If they want 100% participation, they can increase your pay by however much they want you to donate so you’re still taking home the same amount.

      1. Uncle Bob*

        Increase pay by the amount she wants to donate AND round-up for taxes since almost nobody will donate enough to itemize this year.

  27. Nox*

    I’m rather surprised with the response to #1. This is the same site egos commenting base supports firing or have harsh opinions over bizzare situations like people asking for food money too much, the bird phobia guy or support a reformed school bully being blacklisted from an industry but are ok with this LW having to eat the loss of her plant and blame her for it. Nah, I would mention it to my boss saying “hey sorry about the fruit flies, that was unexpected but since you put the plant back on my desk in darkness it’s since died, I just wanted to let you know that in the future I would appreciate a heads up on if you need to pull out of caring for my plant so I can ask someone else because I invest alot of time and money into my plants.”

    You don’t get exempted cause it’s just a plant.

    1. Lara*

      Asking for food money is pressuring colleagues to feed you, and can be classed as solicitation of funds in the workplace.

      The bird phobia guy broke a woman’s arm and didn’t apologise until forced to.

      The school bully effectively ruined her victim’s childhood. And while I don’t want to be unkind, followed up by drunkenly yelling at her former victim in a restaurant. That doesn’t say ‘reformed’ to me.

      All of those things are worse than forgetting to water a plant.

      1. Lindsay J*

        And it wasn’t an expensive plant, or a plant she had a deep emotional connection with. It was in the OPs own admission a cheap grocery store miniature rose plant.

        I get that she liked it, but it’s not like she was physically or emotionally harmed, or lost something irreplaceable.

        It’s also not like it looks like the boss did this maliciously. She probably has a lot of other priorities other than watering plants (I can’t remember to water my own plants at times). And when it went out of sight it’s out of mind.

        If she had thrown the plant away I would expect her to replace it. If she had maliciously hacked it apart with scissors or something I would be upset just like I would have if a coworker smashed my mug or something.

        And the OP both has a cutting from the original plant, and can purchase a new one if she wants to.

        She theoretically could ask the boss to replace the plant or give her money to do so, but doing so risks her looking high maintenance or petty, so sucking it up and eating the loss is probably best in this situation.

      2. another STEM programmer*

        Yeah I’m with Lara on this, bird phobia guy is an ass, the victim didn’t seem reformed, and a plant is…a plant. Sure my office plant has a lot of sentimental value and I’d be mad if someone killed it, but because of how much I value it I’d be pretty careful about who I would ask to care for it. I’d ask the ecologist whose office has more plants than the Amazon and not the math prof with no plants, you know?

    2. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      So wait, are you suggesting that the boss should be fired for killing her employee’s plant? Because that’s what it sounds like.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      You go ahead and have that conversation with your boss and then report back and let us know how it turned out. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it led to a ban on plants in the office.

    4. MLB*

      You’re kidding me right? Apples and oranges here. If the plant was THAT important to the LW, she should have said as much, but according to her letter she only asked her manager to keep it in her office and water it a few times.

      1. PB*

        I agree. I’m a plant lover, but I see a world of difference between a houseplant dying and breaking someone’s arm.

      2. Millennial Lawyer*

        And then it drew flies (which she knew about) into her boss’ office!

        1. Myrin*

          OP said explicitly (in several comments up top) that she did not know about the flies.

          1. Specialk9*

            She knew about it when she was still mad enough to write in to an advice column. I suspect she’s cooled off and maybe rethought, but the flies change this equation a lot, into ‘oh yeah, you owe your boss an apology not the other way round!’.

      3. Delphine*

        It doesn’t really matter how important it was. It’s a living thing that’s now dead because someone didn’t give it water. The very least the boss could have done was mention to the LW that she had moved the plant/didn’t want to water it anymore.

    5. Turquoisecow*

      It’s a supermarket rose. Those things cost under $20. Complaining about the cost is not really the way to win here.

      1. WellRed*

        Right? Those things are stressed and not long for this world before you even bring it home (or to your windowless office).

    6. CityMouse*

      There is also an intent and harm thing. People should know better than to ask others at work and similar, but forgetting to water a plant is an extremely common human fallacy.

      For instance, when I was a kid, we went on a long vacation and a friend of my brother’s came in and cared for our less portable pets. The lizard was totally fine, but he messed up with the fish and a lot of them died. But we weren’t angry with him, fish tanks are tricky and if we had wanted high quality care, we wouldn’t have had a teenager do it.

      When you ask for a coworker to care for your plants, you are taking a knowing risk.

    7. Foxtrot*

      These aren’t analogous at all. The weirdest disconnect with this site is that prisons need reform because people and that bullies can never change and should feel bad forever. That’s not a plant, though. And it comes to personal responsibility. You want to eat lunch? Figure out a way to bring your lunch or money that doesn’t rely on coworkers. You want a plant? Figure out a way to keep it alive that doesn’t rely on coworkers.

      1. Lara*

        The key point with the bully story was that she was *continuing to bully* the woman she referred to as ‘Rockstar’. People came down on her hard because she a) wasn’t remorseful b) only cared when it affected her c) blamed the woman she had bullied for her misfortune.

        Plus there’s a world of difference between “solitary confinement causes mental health problems and is counterproductive” and “being blocked from a job by a person you were mean to is a natural consequence of being mean.”

        Would you want to work with someone who bullied you as a child and verbally abused you as an adult?

        1. PB*

          Right. It’s not “no bully can ever be reformed ever” but that “this particular bully is, as an adult, screaming at her victim in public.”

    8. I hate bugs*

      And then the boss would be right to laugh in your face, tbh. It IS in fact just a plant, and not at all a big deal.

    9. paul*

      If a losing a damn potted plant is as important to you as having your arm broken your priorities are FUBAR.

      If it *is* that big a deal to you personally, then take it home and have your house sitter water it while you’re gone.

    10. Bea*

      Sure, getting into a pissing match over a $3 supermarket plant with your boss sounds legit. OP would be eating new rules about what can and can’t be brought into the office if this escalated in most places. That’s how others can’t have nice things.

    11. circlecitybelle*

      Judging by the school bully’s update, she hadn’t really reformed at all. There was a tone of “it’s so unfair” both in her original letter and in the update. And she wasn’t blocked from entering the industry, just one network of it. I do think about her from time to time and I hope she gets the right kind of help and truly turns her attitude around.

  28. Ms. Meow*

    #3 – My company has a policy that we cannot volunteer to be bumped from flights related to work travel. If it’s involuntary, I’ve been told the policy to hand over the travel voucher so it can be used within the company.

    On the other hand, my brother’s company is much different. He travels 3-6 times a year for work. He uses a personal credit card to book all of his travel and is reimbursed by the company after the fact. As long as it doesn’t interfere with his plans (usually on the way home) he frequently volunteers to be bumped to get vouchers to use when his family travels. He sees it as the trade-off for having to use personal accounts for travel.

    1. Sled Dog Mama*

      My former employer had the same policy as your brother’s (almost). We were not supposed to volunteer if getting bumped could interfere with work. So volunteering on the return leg was ok unless I was headed to a meeting when I returned. Volunteering on the outbound leg was murky. In my case I had flown all the different options on my airline of choice to get me from point A to point B, because the fastest option to get there was still over our time limit for a half day of travel, I didn’t have to show up at the office until the next day (company policy was if the fastest option couldn’t get you there in under X hours it was considered a full day of travel, if you got there in under X it depended on the client). So sometimes I could volunteer out bound and hop the next flight (it also helped that it took a minimum of 3 flights to go point A to point B and airline of choice was the only commercial airline to fly into point B), several times I volunteered on the second of three legs and still made my original third leg.
      Companies should set their policy to acknowledge that either a)you can be voluntarily bumped and it won’t inconvenience them (only you) or b)you can’t be voluntarily bumped because it will inconvenience the employer but often airlines aren’t going to issue voucher’s that can be used by the company only by the person who was actually flying on the ticket.

  29. Oxford Coma*

    LW #5 If someone judges you for going to a school that closed, it’s probably a yellow flag anyway. See: the idiots who look down on my colleague’s PSU degree because she “should have known something was going on”. Sure, a woman in undergrad comp sci was privy to the inner working of the highest levels of a Big 10 athletic program.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      I’ve seen jerks harassing people online merely for being PSU alums. And I’ll bet it’s happening to MSU folks now too.

      People are awful.

  30. Naptime Enthusiast*

    #3 – a $10,000 voucher is a lot less expensive than another bad press story for airlines.

  31. Birch*

    I feel for office plant LW, but I can’t think of a way to approach the boss about it that wouldn’t end up looking really weirdly obsessive. In case anyone needs recommendations for good office plants, the ZZ plant (zamioculcas zamiifolia) thrives on neglect, doesn’t drop leaves, grows fast, and is a nice shape and colour.

  32. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

    About letter 2: The thing that confuses me the most about this – and I myself work for a nonprofit (although I think the most we’ve EVER been solicited for is the one time we got flyers for our Amazon affiliation) – is that…if they need the funding that badly, why are they paying you that money? It seems like it’d just be easier to pay $X-$Y instead of paying $X and guilting you into donating $Z.

    Okay, so I get the emotional reasoning, in that it attaches you further to the mission (although, yes, I agree, that’s totally gross). However, I also feel like begging your employees to donate to you is just signaling that you think you’re paying them too much money, which is not a good look. Like, I think the only exception is if LW2 works for a church where people are expected to tithe and her staff are members of that church, and even then I find it coercive.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      1. Because it’s not necessarily about the money, it’s about the “optics” of employees donating.
      2. Because if your job is worth $25K from any other local employer, they’ll have a hard time hiring people for $24K and considering that unpaid $1K a “donation.”

      1. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

        I actually did kind of acknowledge point 1 – by the employees donating, they have yet another stake in the nonprofit. (And you’re right if you’re referring to outward facing optics, but I feel like that’s a bonus.)

        Regarding point 2 – I kind of get it, but I feel like that’s extremely shady. You’re still being paid 24k in both cases, it’s just that in the latter case you got a higher rate and were asked to give some back.

        1. Doe-Eyed*

          At least in the latter case you can claim the donation on taxes and get SOME benefit from it.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Regarding point 2 – I kind of get it, but I feel like that’s extremely shady. You’re still being paid 24k in both cases, it’s just that in the latter case you got a higher rate and were asked to give some back.

          Actually, that seems backward from your earlier post. I thought you were suggesting paying $24K and keeping $1K instead of paying $25 and expecting a $1K “donation.”

      2. NW Mossy*

        And to your first point, that comes up in the private sector too when companies sell goods/services that can (at least in theory) be purchased by employees. You may be encouraged to show your loyalty to the brand by purchasing said goods/services in a way that’s noticeable to others, although there may be the benefit that you got it at a discount.

      3. Mike C.*

        Frankly, the optics are terrible. You aren’t going to keep good employees if you treat them like garbage.

      4. One of the Sarahs*

        But how does this give good optics? If I saw that in charity X, 100% of the employees donated back, I’d assume either it was very low amounts, or they were being pressured, and I’d think badly of the charity.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Apparently some donors think everyone who works at a “good” charity would be willing to donate to it. I guess it never occurs to them that people work where they can get work, and that doesn’t mean they necessarily support their employer’s mission, or can afford to donate if they do. I find it ridiculous, and I’d absolutely assume some high-pressure tactics were involved.

        2. The New Wanderer*

          My first thought, however unfair, is that a charity that brags about how all its employees donate to it must not get enough external donations to keep it going, so maybe external donors know they’re not so great. I mean, the employees already “support” the charity by doing its actual work! That says a lot more about their investment than a coerced buck or two.

          My previous super-large (for profit) company had an employee funded public works org. I happily donated to that for almost all of my time there, but I was very well compensated and had it to spare. If I was scraping by? No way am I going to increase my hardship because the company wants to look good.

        3. bonkerballs*

          The big donors who like these sort of optics are the same donors who want non profits to constantly be cutting back their overhead costs.

  33. TotesMaGoats*

    #4-Your school, and since I’m in higher ed I can probably guess which one, closing isn’t in the same realm as for-profit diploma mills closing.

    I would say having a good answer about it, if you are applying locally, would be helpful. Alison gave a good script.

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      Agree – lots of smaller colleges have been running into financial trouble in the last decade. It’s an *entirely* different issue than the for-profit school scams. Real, tax-exempt, small private colleges are simply seeing declining enrollment. Sane people understand that, and your degree is no less valid because of it!

  34. Goya de la Mancha*

    #1 – How do you keep the plant alive in a windowless office?! I really want to know this because I want a plant for mine! Also, some people, even with the best of intentions just have black thumbs. Plants just don’t thrive around them – your boss could be one of them. I would next time suggest you’re going to take 2 weeks away to bring the plant home and keep it with your others (I assume you have them at home that needed light/water as well).

    #2 – That is EXTREMELY generous of you to donate of % of EACH paycheck – no matter how small you say it is. I think you CEO (and others who ask this) is out of line. It’s one thing if you were doing a funding drive for the organization and forwarded the information to EVERYONE (public and employees) for a one time donation, but asking for repetitive giving from people who probably don’t make much themselves….SMH

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I had a pothos that did really well in my windowless cubicle. When I moved to an actual office with a window, it died. I think I had more artificial light in the windowless setting than sunlight in the office setting.

      1. paul*

        There’s been a pothos plant floating around our office since god only knows when, but well before I worked here. Apparently before my first manager worked here. It’s gone through three moves and I doubt it’s ever seen natural light, apart from when it was being taken between buildings.

        How the hell that thing has survived is beyond me, but I’m taking a few clippings when I move. I want some the Ur-Pothos.

      2. Elizabeth H.*

        That’s amazing that it did so well! I have two huge pothos and they definitely need the light to thrive.

        1. Specialk9*

          My pothos have survived both good light and no light. They’re amazing. The only plants I can’t kill. (Including succulents.)

    2. BadWolf*

      When I had an interior office, I had good luck with pothos and a lamp with a daylight bulb.

    3. You don't know me*

      I have a shamrock plants that thrives in my windowless office. It loves the florescent light that hangs under my overhead cabinet. I turn if off when I leave at night.

  35. Jim*

    OP #2, or others in non-profits – what about partnering with another non-profit in the community (perhaps something with a complementary mission) and cross-donating?

    1. Jessie the First (or second)*

      For direct care/front line people often making minumum wage, pressure to donate the scant wages they receive is bad form, whether they are being pressured to donate to their job or to another tax-exempt org.

  36. Annie*

    $2 a month seems like such a small amount that I wonder if they were matching it? That would work out to $24/year. And it just seems weirdly pointless, if half of the employees are mathematically guaranteed to get less or exactly what they put in. Plus you have to remember to actually donate $2/month.

  37. Bea*

    As a rule of thumb, if you can easily move a small flower like that from one office to the next, you should take it home on long weekends and vacation to not put that obligation on anyone at work. I would be far more understanding if it’s a giant potted plant that can’t be grabbed up and toted to your car easily. You did have to bring it in yourself.

    If you demanded an apology, as HR, I would deny it and say that you shouldn’t bring any more personal items that require care to the office any more given the circumstances. So seriously, you need to shake this off. I do feel sad a plant was neglected, I don’t garden but do know it’s a living thing and should be better respected but it’s your responsibility.

  38. C in the Hood*

    #1 – Fungus gnats aside, one thing that worked for me when I had an office plant & a coworker was caring for it was to schedule email reminders to water it. That worked!

    1. You don't know me*

      When I went on my two week vacation, I verbally checked with a coworker to see if she would water my plant while I was gone. Then I scheduled meetings on her calendar for water times so she’d get a pop up reminder to do it! She was nervous about killing the plant too so I left out water bottles filled withe appropriate amount of water and labeled for each day they were to be used.

  39. CraftyLuna*

    Re: LW #2,

    I work for a private school that heavily depends on corporate donations. Every year for our capital campaign, one of the selling points for outside donors is that we have 100% employee participation. Companies are more willing to support us if they know that we believe in what we’re doing. So, understandably, we all are heavily encouraged to donate.

    However, they don’t require a specific amount. We can make a one-time donation of a dollar, and it counts. Maybe your organization is in a similar situation, and just needs a token donation. If they actually are relying on employee donations to reach their budget, that would be concerning.

    1. Mike C.*

      Why does “we believe in what we’re doing” mean “pay money”? Is there seriously no other way to demonstrate that the employees care?

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        Especially when the staff are forced to donate – that doesn’t say they care, but that the management doesn’t care about the staff

      2. Michaela Westen*

        It’s spun by the marketing people. I can see/hear it now… I’ve never worked long at a non-profit, but marketing… :p

        1. Former Employee*

          Others have said that when they apply for grants that they may be expected to show 100% participation by employees.

  40. Case of the Mondays*

    I’m on the board of a non-profit. Unfortunately, 100% staff donation participation is a requirement for a couple of our major grants. The ones that keep the lights on. Management explains this to staff and tells them even a $1 donation meets the requirement. We just have to be able to say every staff member donated. They know that it comes from our funding source.

    Also, we recently did a staff survey where staff could offer suggestions to be included in our strategic planning goals. Management was not included in this survey. Some of the things the staff want are the very things people complain about on here which goes to show that you can’t please everyone. Someone asked for MORE fundraising from the staff as it gives them a goal to be proud of, brings the team together, etc. I was shocked. I had assumed the staff hated the donor’s 100% staff participation requirement yet here is at least one staff member requesting more.

    There was also a request for a biggest loser challenge, healthy eating classes and other things we normally bash on here.

    1. Bea*

      I’m not surprised at all by your case. This site is just heavy on work boundaries and they’re vocal about the amount of personal stuff an employer asks of you. However I’ve never had any kind of co-worker in my life who has the same feelings as the ones expressed here frequently. I’ve done HR so long and get asked to help with things that most others just wouldn’t deal with at a work level.

      Money is weird. I personally give more than $1 a paycheck to homeless people who ask, if it’s supporting a cause I’m involved in sure and I never see it, even better then I never miss it. Others will fight it for any amount of reasons and being told to do anything outside their actual job description is declaring war upon them.

      1. Mh*

        “However I’ve never had any kind of co-worker in my life who has the same feelings as the ones expressed here frequently.”

        You cannot possibly know this. I imagine people here are much more vocal than they are at work about the things they dislike. Just because you’ve never had anyone say to you doesn’t mean they don’t think it.

        1. Bea*

          The rub is I’ve never worked for a large company and all my former co-workers have been a part of the decision process for team bonding. They are all loud and opinionated, they’re not shy. We still love each other and my boss went to the hospital when one of our guys lost his mom. So yeah I’m not “from here” in terms of not blurring professional and private lives. I know how they feel.

      2. Mike C.*

        You work in HR, those folks likely don’t trust you enough to express such feelings.

        1. Bea*

          They express a ton of their feelings and we talk freely to our bosses. I readily have told owners their ideas are bad or poorly thought out as well. Welcome to the small businesses where being fired isn’t likely because the owner isn’t a power tripping nutcase.

          I also do not work anywhere that goes by the idea that HR is to protect the company only. I protect the company by knowing the rules and go above and beyond for any worker.

          We do not make any events mandatory and we’re privately owned so we will never ask them to “reinvest” into the company.

      3. Quickbeam*

        I applaud employees who stand up for themselves against unreasonable expectations. My husband once was told he had to attend a mandatory picnic at his bosses house on a non-work Saturday. He went and put it on his time sheet. It never happened again, the boss got his head handed to him. He’s been doing this for years and no one ever asked to be paid before my husband.

        I’ve fought battles against mandatory events with alcohol and gambling, also against outrageous upgifting. If its wrong, its wrong.

        1. Bette*

          You can go, you don’t have to drink or gamble. Don’t spoil the fun for everyone else! Geez.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            Quickbeam says this is in the context of *mandatory* events. So are you saying it spoils the fun for other people if an event outside of normal work hours is not mandatory? If people who do not want to go do not have to go, that … spoils the fun?

      4. Lara*

        This may surprise you Bea, but some people can’t afford to donate $1 out of their paycheck.

        1. Former Employee*

          If I discovered that a person in my office could not afford to donate $1 per paycheck, I would try to find out what was wrong. Assuming they weren’t spending their money on alcohol or drugs or gambling it away, but rather had an unemployed spouse, an ailing family member or other situation that caused them to have zero discretionary income, I would try to get them some assistance, if possible If not, I would give them grocery cards or an occasional $100 (anonymously, of course.)

          1. Lara*

            Yeah when I was in that situ it was an unemployed spouse. The problem with stuff like that is you don’t want anyone to know. It’s ridiculous but there’s a lot of shame around poverty. Particularly when I was younger, I’d much rather have been known as ‘that woman who hates the whales’ than ‘that woman who has to go to food clubs’.

      5. Michaela Westen*

        I’m very reactive when anyone is trying to push/coerce/force something on me, whether it’s a donation or anything else. I *especially* hate being manipulated as marketers try to do!
        So no matter how reasonable it seems in the big picture, my first reaction is a hard no. I know I’m not the only one.
        There are times life seems to be a continuous stream of people and companies trying to put their needs on me, take my money, take advantage in some other way… I stand up to it to save myself…

    2. Mike C.*

      Unfortunately, 100% staff donation participation is a requirement for a couple of our major grants. The ones that keep the lights on.

      Why do your donors want to hamper your ability to retain good employees? That feels really toxic to me.

      1. paul*

        You’d be surprised and upset about the crap some grants require. Governmental ones, while heavy on documentation, aren’t particularly crazy about specifically what they require. But private ones can get just frigging delusional, particularly for the dollar amount involved. It’s absurd what some of them request for a low four figures grant…

    3. Onyx*

      I don’t think it’s that surprising that some people in your organization requested those things. The only reason they come up at AAM in the first place is because some people like them/think they’re good ideas to have in the office.

      The primary problem with fundraising, healthy eating classes, “teambuilding” activities focused on sports, etc., is not that those activities are inherently *bad*. The problem is when they are pushed on people who don’t want to participate, especially in their workplace where refusing/pushing back can affect their livelihood.

      At least one person in your office wants “more fundraising” among the staff, but what about the others? Anyone on staff can presumably up their personal donation if they feel so moved, so what would this fundraising accomplish except pressuring those who are already donating as much as they are comfortable with? At least one person wants a weight loss competition at work, but you can’t have a weight loss competition with just one person, so how are you going to ensure that nobody gets pressured to participate against their will or interrogated on why they are opting out? (And that’s aside from possibilities like encouraging unhealthy weight-loss tactics to win, subjecting someone with eating disorders to constant weight-loss talk at work, toxic gossip about who “should” participate because they’re perceived to be overweight, etc.)

      Most of these activities aren’t trashed here because they shouldn’t exist at all–they trashed *here* because they can cause huge problems when done *in the workplace.*

      1. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

        Yeah – I was kind of thinking along these lines in response to this comment. Depending on the size of the staff (and how many times these requests were repeated, but it sounded like these were one-offs, not like 50% of the staff was requesting it), the fact that one person wants more fundraising doesn’t really mean much and DEFINITELY should not be followed blindly.

        Like Onyx says – obviously a few people out there like them/think they’re good ideas/haven’t given them the full thought that they really need. If it were up to me, I’d paint the office purple and ban small talk – doesn’t mean HR or Corp. Services should listen to that recommendation.

        If you have multiple people requesting more fundraising – then sure give it some serious thought, even if you think it’s a bad idea because clearly your staff are telling you something collectively. However, if a single person made that suggestion (ie: suggestions generally discouraged by AAM), I’m going to kind of assume they haven’t fully thought it through (or thought about it from different angles). Just because Joe from accounting loves mountain biking, and it doesn’t occur to him that others might not enjoy mountain biking, doesn’t mean that there should be a mandatory mountain biking team building activity (on Sat, just for good measure).

  41. V*

    I work for a nonprofit that asked employees to donate for the first time last year (organization is 30+ years old.) The marketing director announced this in a staff meeting and was obviously uncomfortable doing it. I felt bad for her but I didn’t donate.

  42. MatKnifeNinja*

    Be lucky Jane didn’t toss the plant into the dumpster because of the fruit flies, and she bothered to keep it around.

    Fruit flies + indoor miniatures roses (which can be temperamental) is a tall order for a nonplant person.

    The boss should have told you no, and you take the plant home to get TLC from a trusted friend.

    I get it. I have cacti, and would never let a coworker care for them. They over water them.

    Now you know, move on.

  43. Longggg time reader*

    I work for a non-profit, of sorts, I guess (I hate when they spin that yarn…) . . . (Higher Ed…)
    ANYWAY, I am low-ish on the totem pole and my pay reflects such.
    For a very brief stint, I worked with the fundraising office. I was told by the director that “everyone is EXPECTED TO DONATE VIA THEIR PAYCHECK.”
    That’s nice.
    I was let go b/c I wouldn’t comply. “We don’t think you’re working out here.”
    Stick it, dude.

  44. Non-profiteer*

    I’ve worked in non-profits my whole career, and it is a normal thing for the org to make an ask for employee donations. It actually is something that donors (like, foundations) ask about – the rate of employee support. But they usually ask what percentage of employees donate, not how much.
    The good employee donation campaigns I have seen are ones where employees at multiple levels are asked to be spokespeople for the campaign (so it’s not the CEO asking, it’s your peer, and it’s not just one person, it’s a group). And they are focused on getting participation numbers up, not donations – so you are truly pitching in by donating $5, because you can be counted, without really having given up much.
    I consider this kind of thing part of working for a non-profit. But there are definitely best practices, and definitely orgs that do NOT follow said best practices!

    1. One of the Sarahs*

      Honestly, wouldn’t it just be better for management to give all the staff £5, if they care so much. If the charity has 12 employees, add £60 extra onto the grant amount asked for, as part of the admin costs, and ta-daaa! 100% employee contribution!

  45. You don't know me*

    1. That’s rude. There are so many other ways she could have handled this but she didn’t care enough to bother. Now you know what kind of person she is. And please disregard of all the people telling you to get over it. You’re allowed to be mad about this for a little while before you get over it. Lastly, Google ways to deal with the flies/gnats. I used to have little black flying bugs around one of my work plants. I don’t remember how exactly I got rid of them but whatever I read and did worked.

    1. paul*

      You’re allowed to feel how you feel, sure. But pushing back on your boss over this isn’t going to go over well, and this would be a truly bizarre fight to wage.

  46. Ann O'Nemity*

    Actually, I think the Fruit Fly OP needs to offer the boss an apology! Even if they didn’t know the plant was invested, it’s still a good move to apologize for the inconvenience and move on. Because if I were the boss, I’d be annoyed OP put their buggy plant in my office. Gross.

    1. CityMouse*

      I actually side with this. OP is lucky boss didn’t just chuck it in the trash. Bringing bugs into someone’s office in not okay and while LW makes clear they didn’t know, she still owes boss an apology.

    2. another STEM programmer*

      Totally agree! I would be super ashamed if I was told that I introduced bugs into someone’s office! That’s so gross!

  47. Forgot my earlier name*

    OP #4 – agree wholeheartedly with Alison’s advice and the other posters’ advice. Being part-time in grad school myself, I also thought of something else, on the off chance someone wants academic references for your closed alma matter. If you collaborated on any projects with former professors, or had a particularly good rapport with of any of them, it might be worthwhile to reach out to these profs to touch base and maintain the positive connection. May come in handy in the future, if say, you chose to pursue grad school or some future employer happened to be curious about your academic experience.

  48. Another Alum of a Closed School*

    LW #5 – I also attended a school that closed, but completed my degree at another institution. Alison’s advice is good, but here are some other things you should think about:
    – Find out who will be responsible for issuing transcripts/proof of attendance after the school is completely closed. In my case, the state board of education took this on.
    – Get official and unofficial copies of your transcripts from the school while there is still staff – this way you will have them in case you decide to apply to grad school/further higher ed.
    – If you haven’t already trashed old coursework, syllabuses, etc – hold on to it and store it somewhere, just in case. If there is no one to verify that you completed your degree, it’s a good idea to at least have the documentation to back you up.

    Sorry that this happened to you!

      1. Longggg time reader*

        Yes! I see it often as I work in higher ed.
        I just ordered myself another official transcript from Mt. Ida – and it was free.
        That’s was, at least, a bonus.

    1. Emmie*

      I have experience supporting schools as they were closing, and came here to say something similar. I have a few recommendations as well:
      – I agree with the recommendations to request official transcripts. I recommend 3 copies of them. When you receive the transcripts, keep two of them closed with the official seal on the outside. Future schools, or education verification organizations want official copies of degrees. You could provide one of these as a worst-case-scenario. Also, open one of the transcripts right away. Make sure it lists the degree you earned, your GPA (if your school has a GPA system), what the grading system was (the transcript key on the rear defining grades the meaning of specific grades like A-F, S, I, etc…) If anything is wrong, please correct that immediately.
      – Address any holds on your file. You have an outdated library fine? Pay it and keep the documentation.
      – Everyone is right. Another entity will maintain your transcripts for the closing school. It is usually the state board of education, but it can also be another school. School employees may not have this information now, but watch their website for information post-closing. Obtaining transcripts or degree conferral confirmation after closing could be a longer process, so that’s why you are advised to keep old official closed transcripts. (If you have to give one of those away, make sure you request a back up copy.)
      – Be kind to closing school employees. Many are loosing their jobs unexpectedly. They are dealing with angry students, upset alumni, and an increased workload. It’s not their fault. If you sympathize with them, let them know. I’ve known of a few employees – including directors and deans – who’ve stayed on post-closing without pay to support students and alumni. It’s horrible for everyone.
      – People are telling you to keep course syllabi if you have them. Sometimes people go back to school years after their degree. Future colleges may want to know the course objectives to determine course waiver requirements. For instance, an MBA may waive a few courses like Statistics or entry level accounting if you completed it as part of your undergraduate business degree. So, it’s helpful to have the syllabi or a copy of the course catalog for the time you attended. It’s hard to find these things, so do not stress too much if you don’t have them or cannot find them.
      – Your current transcripts may be in the school’s archive. Some schools archive all transcripts for students graduating 5 or more years ago. It may take a little longer to receive those transcripts from your school. So, do this today.
      – If you work in academia, I may up my official transcript request by 1 or 2. You are likely to get more requests for your official transcripts than others.
      I have a lot more advice, but don’t want to overwhelm the OP. I am happy to answer questions on this thread. I am also a regular commentor here, so feel free to ask questions of me in the future. I know that you may be stressed about the school’s reputation. As others said, lots of schools close. Some stay closed permanently. Some are purchased by other colleges at the last minute. It happens, and people understand. I have one coworker who attended a decades ago closed women’s college. She explained it matter-of-factly. She has her degree, she’s a good employee, and it didn’t hold up hiring at all.

      1. Emmie*

        One other thing: If you do not see a degree listed on your transcript, fix that as soon as possible. Your avenue for fixing it varies based on why it’s not there. Do not wait to fix this.

  49. Granny K*

    For the last letter, if this is the school in Boston in the US, my condolences. I have a friend who started working there last fall and had hoped this would be the last job she would have until retirement. Alas, she (and everyone else there) is on the job hunt again.
    It’s a sad and unfortunate situation.

  50. Quickbeam*

    Re #1, I’ve been growing roses for decades and have never had a fruit fly issue. Hmmm.

  51. Who the eff is Hank?*

    I work at a nonprofit and I believe very strongly in our work and mission (I wouldn’t work here if I didn’t). I support the cause by going above and beyond, working overtime during busy periods, and doing my best to make the organization better and more efficient– but I do not donate to my employer. They can have my labor and emotional energy, but my paycheck is mine.

  52. Indie*

    OP1, the minute you move a plant from its usual location, you risk it dying or getting bugs. Same deal with the minute you make it into a potted plant where it can’t fend for itself. If you want a plant to last you make a cutting and put it into the ground/permanent location in your home it can get used to; which you did, yay!
    Your boss probably assumes the officeplant version is reasonably disposable – will last a while until it gets buggy or killed by office environment.
    You assumed: bugs aren’t a deal breaker or reason to give up on it.
    You both assumed differently, but since your boss doesn’t want bugs around, I’d keep plants like that at home (simple plants or succulents could work) where you’d also be able to care for them. I don’t think she’s out of line, she’s just not on the same page as you.

  53. Professor Ronny*

    #2 I teach at a State university and they ask us to donate to the university all the time and they charge us for parking (in an area where no one else pays for parking.) So, as AAM says, this is not all that uncommon.

    #4. Get copies of your transcripts now so you will have them. Get multiple copies in individually sealed envelopes so you can provide official copies later in life if required. And, find out if your school will be transferring your student records to another school.

    1. anniemal*

      Im in staff at a uni like that.

      I save my donation for Giving Tuesday where we have challenges and grants from large donors to match or beat. Example: We get a donor that says “if you get 100 ‘gifts’ in the next 2 hours, then I will donate 10K” or something.

      So I save my very very small donation for that since it will go toward getting more.

      And yeah, they soak us for parking too.

  54. Just me*

    Get your official transcript! Multiple copies, including a digital file. I graduated 10 years ago, but there are still jobs that require your transcript to apply, mostly government civil service jobs, but some others.

    This will also help if you decide to go to grad school or any post-BA program in the future.

  55. Guy Incognito*

    I read the first one too quickly as “My boss is a plant” as in a spy.
    i need some sleep. Finals suck.

    1. Former Employee*

      Thanks for the laugh. I, too, need sleep because I had to get up really early today.

  56. RadManCF*

    #1 I’m an avid gardener of peppers and other nightshades, and I have the following bit of horticultural advice: As others have pointed out, the aviators with exoskeletons are most likely fungus gnats, which feed on fungus that results from the soil being overwatered. These gnats lay their eggs in the soil, which is why many people advise against using soil from outdoors for seed starting and other indoor uses. Pre-mixed potting soils and seed starting mixes are your best bet, as they are sterilized before sale. They also typically contain little to no actual soil, instead consisting mostly of peat moss or coconut coir, vermiculite, and the various macronutrients. Being based on peat moss or coco coir, they are also less prone to becoming waterlogged than straight-up soil also.

  57. saffytaffy*

    OP4, this happened to me, too- while I was an undergrad! Alison is right that you should leave it on your resume. All will be well.

  58. CristinaMariaCalabrese (do the mambo like-a crazy)*

    Fruit flies, fungus gnats, it doesn’t matter. I had a co-worker with a plant that was infested with these abominations, and she tried every single solution to get rid of them. In the meantime, the rest of us were dealing with these effing bugs that swarm around your face, dive bomb your food, and literally try to get in your eyes, nose, and mouth; it was disgusting. If I were the boss, that plant would have been in the dumpster. The OP should be apologizing to her boss for the infestation, not complaining that her plant is dead.

  59. Imaginary Number*

    The $10,000 was probably still only valid for one round-trip ticket at most, so while it seems outrageously high, it’s not like she’s going to get $10,000 is savings on future flights. At best she’s going to be able to fly first class on an overseas flight and have a very nice flight.

  60. Not a Teacher*

    OP #2, when I was a teacher, our school made donating more appealing by offering us jeans passes. For every $10 we donated to the United Way, we got a “jeans pass,” i.e. a free pass to wear jeans on a non-Friday day of the week. I agree that soliciting donations for your organization from your own employees is not the best idea, but if your CEO won’t give it up, perhaps you can make it slightly less gross by tying it in with some kind of perk? But of course that’s a slippery slope too… you wouldn’t want it to be anything that could be construed as buying in to favoritism or whatever. Don’t suggest better parking spots or window offices for people who donate!

  61. Erin*

    #1 – That sucks and I would be pissed but I agree with Alison – let it go and never put a plant in her care again. Sorry that happened to you, and good luck with the fruit flies.

    #4 – Oh gosh don’t worry too much about that. My husband has a degree from a for-profit shady school that closed and it hasn’t hindered him in any way.

  62. Delphine*

    LW #1–I’m sorry about your plant! Plants (and fish) are the type of living thing that people don’t really consider living–and so they feel much more comfortable neglecting them/forgetting to water or feed them. I’m not surprised that your boss forgot about it, but it is an unfortunate thing to happen. I wouldn’t push back–again, people just don’t care enough and it likely won’t change anything in the future. The silver lining is that you know not to trust your boss with a plant in the future.

  63. Liz*

    In these threads I always hear that “some donors want to see high levels of employee giving” – but I work in grant management and I have never been asked about employee giving by a funder.

    Who are these funders?? Please let me know, so that I never waste my time applying to them!

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Right?? I’m with you.

      I wonder if it’s the United Way itself — I haven’t dealt with them in a long time.

  64. Fern*

    #4, I tried looking through the comments to see if this was touched upon, so if it’s retreading I apologize. I work in higher education within a Registrar’s Office, and it is a good idea to get several copies of your official (unopened) transcripts for down the road, when a college closes another school is designated a keeper of the records. The keeper of the records is usually either the college that absorbs the other or if the college is closing all together either a local university or a university with a similar affiliation will take it over. I’m not sure if this information is communicated to alumni and current students, but say you need a verification of graduation for a background check, that college will be able to help you.

  65. kale*

    My boyfriend gave me a lovely little bamboo plant for my desk. One year, my bosses’ (husband and wife team) daughter was allowed to have a New Years party in our office (it was a trendy, small downtown office and it was probably a pretty cool party, especially for high schoolers). My plant ended up getting completely broken during the festivities and I found it in the garbage the following Monday. The bosses said they’d replace it or give me money to replace it myself, but they never did. It was years ago and I no longer work there, but it really bothered me and I found it quite rude.

  66. A florist*

    I’m a florist, and I can tell you with great certainty that those potted miniature roses die ALL THE TIME! I have a hard time keeping them alive in my store and I’m somewhat of a plant expert. They require a lot of light, frequent watering, but not too much water, and they don’t like being too hot or too cold. They are also an outdoor plant that has been coddled in a greenhouse to force it in to bloom for retail sales. If it’s not dead yet take it home and plant it outside, it’ll do much better I’m sure.

    1. LW#1*

      It was seven-ish years old and had never had a gnat problem before.

      Ah well, at least the cutting’s doing well.

  67. Dave*

    As for the airline voucher. The policy at my old company (a very large company 140,000 employees) the policy was we could keep the voucher. The complete policy was, we could accept a voluntary bump and voucher if it incurred no additional cost or impact to the company (in other words, if taking a bump caused you to get home 8 hours later, they were not going to pay for your meal, or if you had to reschedule a meeting, then you were not to take a bump). In the case of an involuntary delay or bump, then you kept the voucher they chalked any expenses up to a necessary cost of business travel.

  68. Kat*

    I work on resumes every day for a living and I see this all the time. For example, just today I had someone who listed on their resume “School Name (merged with Rutgers)”. I think you could do something similar on your resume/LinkedIn profile without any problems.

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