I resent my coworkers for having full-time work, rejecting a job applicant for being rude, and more

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

1. I resent my coworkers for having full-time work

I’m writing because I’ve recently been growing more and more resentful of my coworkers. They do the same work as I do, but full-time, where I work part-time. This really bothers me, as we have literally the same job descriptions, so our work is the same, and to make it worse, I am the only one with a relevant degree. This is of course not the fault of my coworkers — they deserve full-time work and are not in charge of my hours. (My boss knows I want full-time hours.) But recently I can’t even interact with them without wondering why they deserve full-time pay and health insurance and I don’t. Obviously I’m trying to get full-time work, but it’s … not going well. How do I manage this in the meantime? We have a luncheon coming up and I’m genuinely worried I’ll say something bitter that I regret.

I’m sorry — this sucks and sounds frustrating. It also sounds like you know intellectually that your coworkers aren’t to blame for this (since they aren’t!). Could you reframe it in your head from “I resent them for having what I deserve too” to “I hope to have what they have, but we’re in different situations right now”? Because really, it’s very unlikely that this is about who deserves what and more about things like timing and luck of the draw. Also, remind yourself that they’re not the ones who set your hours; your employer is, and it’s something they have no control over. Sometimes in a situation like this, it can also help to imagine how you’d feel if someone you love was in your coworkers’ shoes — you presumably wouldn’t want them to be resented or spoken to bitterly when they hadn’t done anything wrong. It can also help to think about who you want to be — you probably don’t want to be the person who gets bitter toward colleagues, or especially who is known for being bitter toward colleagues.

I think this is similar to other situations where someone else has something you want — whether it’s a relationship, or kids, or money, or so forth. You’re allowed to feel disappointed and sad that you don’t have what they have, and you’re even allowed to privately feel jealous sometimes, but you’ve got to balance that against knowing that they’re not the reason you don’t have the thing you want.

I hope you find full-time work soon!

2. How can I tell a job applicant we rejected them for being rude?

I work in retail and we accept applications in person. It’s a great vetting tool to see how applicants introduce themselves to the sales staff. When an applicant looks down on sales staff or is otherwise pushy or rude to them, we treat that as a “red flag” signal to not proceed to the interview stage with the applicant, even if they have the experience and skills on paper for the job.

We send form rejection emails to those applicants. When they reply and ask for feedback as to why they were rejected, how can I politely tell them we do not interview candidates who are rude to our staff?

I’d recommend against it. First of all, this is exactly the kind of feedback that’s most likely to result in a rude response in return. Second, you’re not obligated to provide feedback at all (although it’s a kindness if/when you’re willing to do it), but there’s especially no obligation when someone has already been rude to you. Third, this isn’t the kind of thing someone should need to be told. It’s one thing to say, “we’re looking for candidates with more experience in puppetry” or “having your mom call on your behalf didn’t come across well,” but people really shouldn’t need to be told “don’t be rude to other people.”

That said, if you want to do it (and frankly I could see wanting to do it on principle), you could say, “We care a lot about how applicants interact with our staff when turning in their applications, and are looking for candidates who are warm and polite.” (You’re almost definitely going to get rude responses back though, because that’s how this tends to go.)

3. Dealing with a contentious coworker during a knowledge transfer meeting

I was recently promoted. Unfortunately, the only other internal contender for the job is being laid off (sadly, my company has been undergoing a lot of restructuring over the last couple of years.) More unfortunate is the fact that my colleague — let’s call her Cersei — has decided to act in a very contentious manner following the delivery of this news, including walking out of the workplace upon hearing the news, threatening legal action for constructive dismissal, nasty emails to myself that infer the company chose the wrong incumbent, and ignoring meeting invites/important emails before her last day of work. Naturally, this is all making her exit from the company a very difficult process.

The new manager I am reporting to has requested me to arrange a “Transfer of Knowledge” meeting with Cersei on her last day of work next week so that she can presumably pass on any unfinished projects, tasks, and any other information I’d need to know from her so I can take it on following her departure. Based on her behaviour thus far, I am very nervous about this meeting.

Do you have any tips in handing a contentious departing employee (who is a peer and not a subordinate?) In the case that Cersei should choose to ignore my meeting invite, or otherwise act inappropriately during the meeting, what is a good way to go about getting what I need from her in a professional manner? Secondly, aside from asking her about the obvious unfinished business questions, are there any other good inquiries to ask a a departing employee before they leave?

Can you have Cersei’s manager in that meeting too? It’s possible that Cersei will be more restrained in any bad behavior if her manager is sitting right there, especially if she wants a reference from her. Or not! But it’ll at least up your chances. (And you can frame it as the manager just needing to be in the loop — not as a “we’re watching you” kind of thing.)

Also, move that meeting up! Do not schedule it for her very last day, because if she doesn’t show up or you don’t get what you need, you’ll be out of time. Schedule it for at least a few days before her last day, if not more, so that you have a buffer in case anything goes wrong — and also because if it’s her last day, it’ll be a lot easier for her to blow the whole thing off.

As for what you want to know, I’d keep it very streamlined out of respect for her clear unhappiness with the situation — mainly status of projects, and think through those projects ahead of time so that you know what details you want to ask about.

(And what’s happening here is one reason why companies often have laid-off employees leave immediately.)

4. Telling a coworker I won’t discuss her partner’s personnel issues with her

I work for a smaller company, and was hired to do financial-related work, but my position has morphed into handling many HR-related duties also. I do have some background in HR, so I’m aware that a certain distance should be kept with coworkers when working in HR. But I became somewhat close with a coworker, “Mindy,” before I started taking on HR duties.

Recently, we hired Mindy’s boyfriend “Mork.” It’s not a call I would have made, but I was not involved in the hiring process for this position. She has been wanting to be very involved in the process of processing him as a new employee, but they are not married and they have no legal responsibility (that I’m aware of) to each other. At first, it was very simple questions like “Does Mork have to make an appointment to get X?” or “How long does Mork have to bring in X documentation?” (general new hire procedures that everyone could access the information to) but lately the questions have been very different.

For example, he added direct deposit and there was an issue with his bank account. I told him, and about five minutes later Mindy was in my office asking details of what was wrong. We had received some correspondence from the state unemployment agency, and I had to ask him about what the notice said and, again, not five minutes later, she was in my office asking what the notice said, etc. Both times, I approached him in private to ask about these things, and so I presume he went and told her to deal with it. She has mentioned that she helped him fill out some of the new hire forms, documents, etc. But that’s their arrangement. That means nothing to me, as I have to deal with him, not her on these issues (and vice versa.)

The first time this came up, I told her that it was an issue that he had to address, and the second time, I was a bit more direct and said, “I can only discuss this with him,” but she then just reframes the question, asks different questions, etc. I still don’t answer her questions, but I just find it uncomfortable that she feels she should be entitled to the information. What gets me especially nervous to talk to her is that they have broken up before on very bad terms, and I do hear about some drama in their lives when she wants to talk.

Do I need to have a conversation with him? With her? Both? If I do, what is the verbiage? Or should I continue to address it as it happens? If not, should I go to their managers and ask them to have the conversation? I don’t want to jeopardize the working relationship I have, but I also want to abide by ethics and confidentiality.

The next time it happens, say this: “I can’t discuss an employee’s information with you, regardless of your relationship. I’m never going to be able to answer these kinds of questions for you. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear enough about that.” Then if she continues, say this: “Hey, I really cannot talk to you about another employee, so I need you to stop asking me these sorts of things.” It would be pretty odd if she pushes on after that, but if she does, then you can move to, “I’ve told you several times I can’t discuss this kind of thing with you, but you’re continuing to ask. What’s going on?”

{ 467 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann Furthermore*

    OP 3, if the knowledge transfer meeting happens, have Cersei’s manager there as Alison suggested, and make the best of it.

    If it doesn’t happen, it won’t be the end of the world, although it will probably create more work for you in the short term. But chances are you’ll still be able to piece things together. I am a month into a new job, and my company is in the midst of transferring jobs here from another city. Not too many people opted to relocate, which means a ton of people have left, or will be leaving soon. So just about everyone is a new hire… anyone who’s been there more than about 6 months is considered an old-timer. And we are figuring things out together as we go along. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s a fuster-cluck, but we’re muddling through.

    1. NotUrAvgHR*

      Thanks, Ann! I am OP 3, and I appreciate the “not the end of the world” sentiment–I’ve been stressed about this and of course that’s negatively skewed the situation a bit for me more than it likely should. Really, if my meeting invite goes ignored (or even if I’m on the end of rude behaviour) the company isn’t going to shut down. We’ll go with the flow and we’ll figure it out. On your other point, luckily my new manager is Cerise’s current manager, so it was an easy ask to have him at the meeting as well.

      Best of luck with your new job! I hope the relocation is going smoothly as it can and that soon enough, you’ll have a steadier staff with some growing tenure!

      P.S. “Fuster-cluck” made me laugh! I am adopting this into my vocabulary going forward….

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Yes! You’ll figure it out and maybe the processes you develop will be better and more efficient than however uncooperative employee handled them anyway.

      2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        I would proceed in your own head as if you won’t get anything out of her in the way of knowledge dump. That way if you do, it will be added bonus. I’ve found that people cut the guy who takes over a lot of slack when they take over for a departing employee.

      3. Samiratou*

        I would definitely move up the meeting to as soon as possible, if you can. Waiting until the last day isn’t wise–not just because she might not show up, but because you might have follow up questions, etc.

        My company is consolidating tech teams to certain locations and laid off 25 people at one of our locations last year and it sucked big time, for everyone. The had to do knowledge transfer, and they sent a lot of people from our location to theirs pretty much right away to do knowledge transfer–some were there for weeks.

        I wouldn’t expect much, even if Cersei were a willing participant, because it’s just really hard to know what’s going to matter, and the stuff people tend to think about transferring are the easier things to find out. Just make sure you’ll have access to her machine or any server files you might not know about. Good luck!

      4. Artemesia*

        Wow talk about burning a bridge. One of the things that is most likely to affect a reference is how someone behaved on the way out. Even if she were a pretty good employee who would have gotten a good reference, this behavior would burn that entirely. Who wants to hire someone who behaves like this?

      5. Ali G*

        My past job had a lot of turnover (i.e. people being there one day and gone the next with no explanation. I called The Rapture) and often we were scrambling to figure out who was doing what, where were the files etc. If you haven’t already, ask IT to copy all her files and emails onto a server that you have access to. That way if she is uncooperative you at least have a starting point for figuring out your priorities when it comes to her work. Good luck!

        1. TardyTardis*

          We had a big RIF like that in my OldJobBusiness one year, and it was scary for everyone. Some of us had a lot in the ESOP and were fairly confident that the company was not going to be writing a lot of $50,000 checks–and since the RIF was in mid-spring, there were many sick jokes about Passover.

      6. Anonymoose*

        If she wasn’t being such an a-hole, I would totally suggest a kind version of a come to jesus with her. Because, honestly, how does she expect to get her next job? She can kiss this experience goodbye, all to try to throw her weight around when it really doesn’t matter anymore.

        Ugh. Just remember to breathe. You’ll get through this mostly unscathed and I’m sure your manager appreciates your professionalism through this. :)

      7. PlainJane*

        I’m dealing with the aftermath of a somewhat similar situation (I was promoted to replace a low-performing employee who was demoted and chose to leave rather than accept the demotion). She refused to have a knowledge transfer meeting and left virtually nothing behind. We’re figuring things out and muddling through. It’s frustrating but, as Ann said, not the end of the world.

    2. irene adler*

      One thing that the manager can do to help assure Cersei shows up for the last day is to withhold giving her the final pay check until end of the last day. And make it an actual check – not a direct deposit. Yes, company cannot withhold her pay, so if she bails out prior to last day they would have to mail her the last check. The final check would then be reflective of the missed hours.

      They did this at a company I worked at – long ago. I got a big lecture on how they had to adopt this practice because otherwise folks were skipping out on the last day. This was after I was honest and corrected them regarding the vacation hours I was due (they hadn’t taken out the two vacation days I took a couple of months back). So my check is held until end of my last day. But the next employee who quit was given his check before midday. So what does he do? He never returned after lunch.

      1. Roscoe*

        That just seems so petty though. Like how much can they screw over one person. She got let go and now they want to screw around on her last check?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah — that’s not great. And if she’s used to direct deposit, giving her a live check has the ability to mess with her banking if she’s assuming the money will be in her account that day and then it’s not.

          What’s more typical in cases where the person isn’t leaving immediately is to tie severance payments to a smooth transition, which is both reasonable and provides an incentive for decent behavior in the final days. Although really, you need to be really thoughtful about whether you can have a laid-off person stick around or not. In many, many cases, it’s better to have them leave immediately (while still paying severance) because so many people find this period difficult to navigate (both the laid off person and their coworkers).

          1. soon 2 be former fed*

            My daughter is in her layoff period now. No problems, she appreciates her full salary during the sixty day notice period and keeping her benefits until the last minute. The OP situation is more likely due to the promotion situation. My daughter was only there eight months, so no severance, she had the least seniority, and she wants a good reference. Not all layoff situations are fraught because the person getting laid off is bitter and resentful. She does wish the company had been forthcoming about its financial condition eight months ago (the layoff is for financial reasons only), but she isn’t angry about it. Stuff happens.

        2. Kathleen_A*

          I think a better carrot-at-the-end-of-a-stick is to remind Cersei (subtly and nicely) that she might want a reference someday. And how you act during your notice period is part of what will determine her reference. It shouldn’t be the only indicator, of course. Her entire work history should be considered, but the closing days of her job should legitimately be considered as part of that history.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Yes, that’s what I did with a former employee. I can’t say that it worked, but I think it’s a legitimate thing to do. Cersei may or may not care, but that’s on her; she’d be tanking her reference all by herself.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              Exactly. I tried this with a former employee too (he hadn’t been laid off – he’d just given notice), and it also didn’t work, but that’s because he knew full well I wasn’t going to be the one who actually gave the reference, and he was counting on that fact. And the other thing he was counting on was that our supervisor, the guy who would be giving the reference, was on medical leave during WhatAreYouGoingToDo-FireMe? guy’s notice period, so he wasn’t there to see WAYGTD-FM?’s sloppy and unprofessional behavior. So it won’t work in all cases, but it will in others, and honestly, a reminder would be in Cersei’s interest as well as the OP’s.

          2. JamieS*

            I’m a little torn on the idea of giving a bad reference if the employee was an otherwise good employee prior to being laid off. On one hand I realize there’s an expectation of professionalism even in the face of bad news like being laid off. On the other it just doesn’t seem right to me to give a bad reference to someone who reacted badly to abruptly losing their job (especially if they’d just been up for a promotion) if they’d otherwise been a good employee.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              As I said, I don’t think an all-out bad reference would be called for if she’s been a good employee up until now. But I do believe it’s perfectly fair to consider it as one factor in that reference, and man, her conduct right now is…pretty bad.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                I agree. It’s fair to include this in the overall picture.

                The person I was dealing with gave her notice and had huge issues with being organized, which is really important in my highly-regulated industry. I told her she needed to clean out her desk and get everything into the right files, find missing reports, etc. during her notice period, otherwise it would a factor in any reference I give. I guess she either couldn’t do it or didn’t care (I tend to lean towards the not caring), because she basically dumped the entire contents of her desk into the shred bin, and we only found out weeks later when the EVP needed the shred bin opened because he thought he accidentally tossed an original document. That’s when we found all the reports that were missing, stamps, live checks from customers, original loan documents, and lots of other stuff she threw in there. Given the industry I’m in, that would be a big red flag to a future employer.

            2. Roscoe*

              I agree. Its kind of hard to keep up a good face when you don’t know how you are going to be paying your bills in a month or so. Like of course, if you got fired for cause, but they gave you notice, I get it. Or if you quit, and then left in a blaze of glory, I get it. But if you are laid off, but they expect you to keep working for a few weeks to get your severance, it seems just not right to let those last couple weeks color your reference of them.

              1. Kathleen_A*

                But…she’s also still getting *paid*. I mean, she’s not working out these last few weeks out of the goodness of her heart. And her employer could have made her leave that day – many would – but instead they are giving her a paycheck in return for her continuing to do her job. To paraphrase your last sentence, it’s just not right to accept a paycheck while undermining the work your employer is trying to do.

                And an additional thing is, what she should be working for besides a paycheck and that severance check is a *reference*. A *good* reference. That’s the other thing that her soon-to-be-ex-employer can do for her. That she’s so bitter than she can’t seem to remember that is…well, it’s bad.

                1. Roscoe*

                  I’m not arguing about whether she should work. My only argument is that I don’t think your last 2 weeks after basically being let go should color a reference. If I was a great employee for 2 years, and then my last 2 weeks when you laid me off I was a bit pissy, don’t just disregard those last 2 years. Losing a job is a BIG DEAL.

                  I also don’t agree with those saying you have to bring up their behavior the last 2 weeks

                2. Kathleen_A*

                  “A bit pissy”? Sure. I can sympathize and, at least to some extent, overlook that. But I think “walking out of the workplace upon hearing the news, threatening legal action for constructive dismissal, nasty emails to myself that infer the company chose the wrong incumbent, and ignoring meeting invites/important emails” goes beyond “a bit pissy.” She’s really acting out, and yes, that would absolutely color my opinion of her.

        3. Safetykats*

          A lot of states require an employee to be paid out any remaining compensation in their last day, provided that they have given a minimum notice of that last day. The same is true if you’re laid off. It’s far from screwing you over – it generally means that you get paid earlier than if you had to wait for the normal payday, and sometimes it’s quite a large check – for example, if you are being paid out for accrued PTO.

      2. Lizzy May*

        That seems quite mean spirited to me. She’s already being laid off and now she’s being given the chore of dealing with a physical check rather than direct deposit. That’s a lousy way to treat someone. I know it’s allowed but it’s not compassionate. Cersei isn’t making the best choices along the way but layoffs are harder for the person leaving than those staying behind and not making things harder still is the right way to do business.

        1. Teapot PR consultant*

          Responding to Kathleen up thread.

          It’s not acting out to take action to protect your legal rights.

          1. pancakes*

            She isn’t protecting her legal rights by ignoring emails, sending nasty emails, etc. To the contrary, if she does intend to take legal action, she’s hurting her own case by acting out this way. It’s not as if judges are impressed by childish behavior, and it’s not as if being melodramatic or bitter will create a viable legal cause of action for her. Maybe that works on reality shows, when someone wants their character to stick around longer, but that isn’t how employment law works.

          2. Kathleen_A*

            I don’t believe I said she was “acting out,” Teapot PR Consultant. I used the phrase “a bit pissy,” which I admit isn’t much better, but I used it only because I was responding to Roscoe’s post, which used that phrase. But I would say that Pancakes has it right in that while some of this could be construed as protecting one’s legal rights, some of it is just childish and unprofessional. I have no idea if her rights have been violated, of course.

      3. Brett*

        I would think treating Cersei like that would go a long ways towards her winning her constructive dismal lawsuit. That kind of behavior indicates that this is really a termination and not a temporary layoff.

        1. Jessie the First (or second)*

          Constructive dismissal lawsuit…. I don’t think that means what you think it means. There wouldn’t be a lawsuit about it, she’s been let go, so no one would be arguing that she really quit (constructive dismissal is when someone quits, but it should actually be categorized as a dismissal because the job duties/pay/location/terrible treatment/whatever happened). Do you mean wrongful termination or something?

          1. Brett*

            The original letter says that Cersei has threatened legal action for constructive dismissal (presumably this is not the US, but maybe Canada).

            I’m assuming the layoff is a temporary layoff, making it possible for them to report Cersei as a voluntary separation if she is unavailable to work at a later date. And then she is arguing that the temporary layoff is not a temporary layoff, but a constructive dismissal because she is being forced to wait indefinitely without pay or quit.

      4. SusanIvanova*

        When my whole team got laid off they kept a few of us for a 2-month “transition” – though they hadn’t even found any replacements yet (amongst many other dysfunctional things, upper management thought engineers were fungible and couldn’t figure out why people weren’t jumping at the chance to change jobs). People with normal layoffs could take new jobs any time; if we left, we had to leave all the extra severance behind – something like 4 months salary.

        If I’d gotten a job during that period, I’d have been out of there without a second thought.

        1. Cercis*

          I had a similar situation in my lay-off. 3 month lay-off notice (July 3 – September 30). If we didn’t stay until September 30, we didn’t get any of our severance (I think mine was something like 4 weeks of pay, not a lot but pretty significant). July 3 was my first day of maternity leave and I actually had to come back to the office to get my paperwork and notice. Had I known that we were for sure getting laid off, I’d have waited a week or so to take maternity leave (baby was actually due on the 9th and came on the 13th – I worked up to the the day before my first baby was born, so it’s not like I couldn’t have, I just was tired and wanted to spend a little time with my other child while it was just us).

          I’d cobbled together saved sick leave, vacation leave and short term disability to have almost 11 weeks off. I ended up having to go back for 2 weeks or so. By that point, most people had left for other jobs and we had no work. It was awful. I hadn’t job hunted because job hunting post-partum was too difficult for me. It was supremely stressful.

          I’ll always be convinced that the extra long lay-off period was so that most people would find other jobs and they wouldn’t have to pay the severance. It just felt like they were twisting the knife that way (we were being laid off so they could close our branch, but we were welcome to apply for the jobs replacing us in North Carolina – for about 75% of our pay).

    3. anycat*

      i was set to do a knowledge transfer with someone and they ended up dumping stuff on my desk and walking out. the more advance notice the better – and i agree with dragging the boss in.
      again – i had to build things from scratch, but in a way it was good because i got to do it the way that i wanted to (and had input and buy in from higher ups). blessing in disguise?

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I am so sorry you’re going through this. It sounds like you know, logically/rationally, that your coworkers have no real influence over your employment status.

    There are a couple of red flags in your letter: mentioning you’re the only one with a “relevant degree,” describing full-time employment as something a person “deserves,” and noting that you may be unable to rein in your feelings of bitterness/resentment. These all sound like bright flashing lights that you’re under a great deal of stress (it sounds like it’s financial and related to your health care). You already know you need full employment, but the fact that this is brimming over worries me a little bit, because there’s a strong chance it could seep into other aspects of your life.

    You are obviously valuable and worth full-time employment and benefits. But your level of employment is entirely controlled by your employer and their needs/goals. Your employer’s financial/staffing decisions don’t reflect on you or your worth, and it’s important not to internalize your frustration by beating yourself up for not having full-time status. I don’t have a lot of advice for how to shift your mental-emotional process around this, but I think some meditation (or if feasible, counseling) could really help.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I came here to say I saw the same sort of things. The focus is on worthiness in a self esteem type of way. That is going to create envy, especially if you see yourself as more worthy than others.
      The attitude may already have crept in, been noticed by your boss, and has the potential to sabotage your future.
      I’d reframe several things:
      You have a job when others don’t
      You have the potential to have what the others have because of your skills and degree (Hooray!)
      Your degree probably gives you a broader skill set for the future
      In short, you are well placed for great things. Be glad for that.
      In the mean time find ways to bring joy and value to others.
      Bonus points if you can make your team stronger. (Because focusing on others keeps the focus off yourself)
      In short, stop comparing yourself to others and instead compare yourself against your own goals. This will help break the envy cycle.

      1. Sarianna*

        The mention of the degree as a justification for being better than coworkers rubbed me the wrong way. Having the skills to get a fancy piece of paper =/= having the skills to be good at a given job. Someone who’s been doing the job, who understands it and has gained experience and expertise in that area, may not need the degree unless it’s required to advance. (Of course, some fields require it–wouldn’t want someone without the right education and licensing to be designing a bridge–but it sounds like OP’s doesn’t.)

        1. Specialk9*

          Well yeah, but I totally get why it highlights the disparity. Having the exact right degree for a job is actually a big deal, especially if others don’t have it. Of course we all know people who rock in a position without that degree, or without any degree, but it does highlight that employment decisions do feel arbitrary.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            However . . . if her resentment is showing, she may be blowing her own chances at getting a full-time position if one opens up. If she goes full-time, is she going to keep harping on her degree and how she should be manager next?

            And having the exact right degree for a job is not always a big deal. Sometimes it is; sometimes it just feeds the attitude we’re seeing here, that somebody “deserves” something that somebody else has. I technically have the exact right degree for my job but, honestly, I could have learned the same skills with pretty much any decent college education, regardless of discipline.

          2. Colette*

            The thing is, if the coworkers don’t have it, it’s not a requirement for that job. It might be related, but that doesn’t mean much. Someone who’s studied agriculture might have insights into how food makes it to the supermarket that others don’t have, but they’re not more qualified to be a cashier. Someone with a degree in computer science will have more of a background in theory, but they might not be a better programmer than someone who is self-taught.

          3. Jesmlet*

            I think it only serves to highlight the disparity if they also have the same amount of experience in the field, which we don’t know. If they have a couple years of relevant experience more than OP, then dwelling on the degree will make OP more resentful than she should be.

          4. Not a Morning Person*

            It can feel like it was arbitrary, but what’s an employer expected to do? Fire one of the full time employees to put the new applicant with the exact right degree in their place? I know that’s not what is being suggested, but in the case where a part time employee is resentful of the full time employees, the full time folks were most likely there first. It’s not their “fault” and if they are doing the job and doing it well, then the degree is just icing on the cake. It might be arbitrary if all the employees applied for all their positions at the same time and the one person with a relevant degree was relegated to the one part time position. But we don’t know that’s how the hiring was done, so it’s not useful for the OP to feel like their experience and education don’t count or to feel resentful of the folks who are employed in the full time positions. It’s absolutely frustrating to want that full time position that doesn’t currently exist. It is also unhelpful and potentially damaging to let that frustration turn into jealousy that can spill over onto the people who do have the full time positions. It’s not about them; it’s about the OP and how the OP can work to reframe their attitude. It is something that can be easier with help from a counselor, so if that’s an option, then please seek that out. Good for you to know that your feelings aren’t going to help you and to reach our for ideas to help you! And good luck in finding full time employment!

        2. Anne (with an “e”)*

          @Sarianna, I completely agree. Depending on the field, sometimes experience and seniority are worth much more than a degree.
          OP, I recommend a few things:
          1. Don’t compare yourself to your coworkers. Come in, do your job to the best of your ability with the best, most positive attitude possible.
          2. Look for another job, either part time work to supplement the job you already have, or full time to completely replace your current job.
          3. Try to look on the “glass half full, as opposed to glass half empty” side of things. You have a job. There are probably numerous people out there who would love to have your job and are jealous of your situation.

          Best wishes to you, OP.

        3. the oracle of damariscotta*

          guess what, @sarianna: a degree is not just a “fancy piece of paper.” it’s actually a real qualification that enhances your skill set. that is not to say there are no alternative paths to acquiring that skill set, but it is completely fair for the employee to be miffed that the company refuses to recognize her qualification.

          1. Sarianna*

            My distinction was that the skills to get that qualification are not necessarily the same as the skills to do well in a role. Some people do very well in an academic/theoretical environment and badly in a practical/hands-on environment. The expectations can also be very different. I did not claim that the degree is not useful–just that it does not directly correlate to being good at a job.

            Relatedly, I myself have two adjacent degrees to my current field, the specialization of one which literally carries the same text as my current role, and I would say it hasn’t been at all useful other than to get me in the door here.

      2. Lance*

        Bonus points if you can make your team stronger.

        This, I think, is what I’d focus on above all else. Never mind what they have that you don’t, never mind what you have that they don’t… rather than any of that, what can you do to maximize your contributions (especially if it’s cooperative efforts with other members of the team, that could conceivably take the edge off by seeing them more as ‘co-workers’ than ‘people who have something I want’)? Not only would it hopefully improve your morale, but it could help make a stronger case in the future for giving you full-time status.

        1. Artemesia*

          There are two possibilities here:
          1. bad luck; there are no full time openings and when there are the OP would have a great shot but not now.
          2. she has been judged less desirable as an employee and so management is not that interested in moving her to full time. This might be unfair or a reaction to what they see as her attitude or work.

          It is probably the first, but let this attitude show and it could rapidly become the second. The OP really needs to be seriously looking for a full time job elsewhere as well as being as helpful and desirable a team member as she can be where she is. Both of those are likely to have a happier outcome either where she is if a job opens up or a new opportunity occurs elsewhere.

          Good luck — it is miserable to know you could do the job but not be able to get the full time gig.

      3. Lil Fidget*

        I really empathize with this OP, it’s so hard to keep your eyes on your own paper when you feel like everyone around you is doing better, *especially* when the reason feels arbitrary. I am struggling with this right now too and it sucks, it’s not the kind of person I want to be, and I’m not really sure how to fix it. My current solution is to try to pull back / avoid the people who bring this out in me, but that’s not really the solution long term.

        1. Pashenka*

          Me too – I am on a term contract with an entire building of full time, pensioned employees. It’s good to read that other people struggle with the bitterness too, especially when everyone is talking about their benefits and how many weeks of vacation they need to use up this year (I don’t accrue vacation).

          I think the important thing is to not feel bad about being bitter – it’s totally an unfair situation, and feeling cranky and left out is a normal reaction. I remind myself, I chose to take the term job, and it was an improvement over my previous employment. The best thing to do is to set my fears and doubts aside and do the work, because that’s what gets us a good reference and a leg up elsewhere. Or so I hope. The main thing is we can commiserate here quietly and let off a bit of steam, and that’s important.

          1. Pashenka*

            and by “good to read” I mean, reassuring that I’m not alone feeling like a Craig Crankypants because other people have visible job and retirement security and I do not.

          2. selena81*

            I’m in the same boat.
            It’s so frustrating when the people around you mindlessly talk about their job-perks that you don’t have grrrh. And you feel that you have to put up a happy face so as to not alienate you managers (as opposed to the fully contracted who seem to be constantly complaining)

            it does help a bit to check my privilege: the cleaning staff in our office is in a worse place then me

          3. Anxa*


            The absolute worst for me was all of the employees talking about their vacations and plans for the holidays, when all I could think of was how lean that week was going to be due the loss of paid workdays.

      4. Michaela Westen*

        If you have an activity that makes you happy, be sure to do it! The happiness and contentment will make you feel better at work.
        If you don’t have such an activity, try things you think you might like until you find it. There are usually low-cost ways to do things (take classes, go dancing, etc.) if you look for them.
        Getting involved in music and dancing made me very happy and turned my life around. :)

    2. Cat Lady*

      I understand the advice here, but if OP truly needs health coverage or it is detrimental to them to be without coverage and full time employment, it seems a bit hollow to tell them to be grateful. If they don’t really need coverage right now and are taking advantage of that fact to work part time for some other reason this line of advice makes more sense. But if this set up is hurting OP in the long run, it might be better for them to start looking for other job opportunities instead of just sucking it up and being grateful for what they have.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m really confused—where did I say OP should be grateful? That’s certainly not the intent of my comment!

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I inferred that gratefulness would help. And I stick by that. You can be grateful AND be moving forward to another job. They aren’t exclusive. In the mean time, the OP has income coming in.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            BTW, I have personally found that an attitude of gratitude really does change my outlook. It makes me relaxed, easier to work with, and that opens up opportunities.
            Then again, I actually spent some time in UN refugee camps and have seen how bad it gets. It radically altered my outlook on how much privilege I actually have.

            1. Clare*

              Not having full time work is a legitimate problem for many people. There is no need to dismiss the LW’s issues and claim she is secretly really privileged.

              1. Mom MD*

                She has issues that are legitimate but her negative attitude is palpable and this may not be escaping her superiors.

                1. Morning Glory*

                  I don’t think that an anonymous letter the OP wrote to AAM – to help her deal with an emotional state that she is aware is unhealthy and unfair – means that she has a negative attitude at work.

                  In this and other comments, you’ve been really unsympathetic about what sounds like an exhausting and unfair situation. Why?

                2. Sunshine*

                  Morning Glory, the LW mentioned that they were concerned about saying something bitter at an upcoming luncheon, and they struggle to interact with their colleagues without resentment. That, to me, certainly sounds like someone bringing the negative attitude into the workplace, and impacting their team and office environment. I would not be surprised if this was feeding into why the LW is part-time.

              2. LDN Layabout*

                I don’t think that’s what Engineer Girl is saying? Something can be a legitimate hardship and it can still help to think internally: It could be worse.

                I think the crux of it is ‘internally’. No one wants to hear from outside ‘oh it could be so much worse’, but if I’m stuck in the office at nearly midnight because someone else made a stupid mistake, I find it does actually help me to explicitly tell myself: It could be worse, at least I’ll get TOIL and when I show up tomorrow to do the essentials, my manager won’t kvetch if I go straight home afterwards, whereas other jobs don’t have those perks.

                If the LW wants to keep from being bitter publicly, changing thought patterns can help.

                1. Specialk9*

                  I dunno, “but UN refugee camps reveal our privilege” is both totally true – and an issue close to my heart – and also dismissive of the fact that in the US (an assumption) not having health insurance harms and kills people. And it cascades – can’t afford a dentist? Try getting a good job with bad teeth, it’s really hard. Have an undiagnosed illness that makes you utterly fatigued? Good luck bootstrapping.

                  It’s not envy for fancy apartments and cars and purses, it’s being scared about whether one can live safely and healthily.

                2. LBK*

                  Yeah, this is such a capitalist line of thought – maybe I’ve been spending too much time on socialist Twitter but it’s so weird to think that a decent paycheck and access to medical care are something one must be worthy of instead of things you can/will literally die without, and that people should be grateful for any scrap of sustenance a corporation doles out to them because it could always be worse.

                  That being said, it goes both ways. Yes, the OP deserves those things, but so do the rest of her coworkers. I’m curious about how it ended up that she’s the only one who’s part-time – were the rest of them already working there and the OP got purposely hired on as part-time because they didn’t need another full-time employee? Something about the framing of his is odd, unless she and others all interviewed at the same time and the rest got hired full-time while she didn’t.

                3. LDN Layabout*

                  Specialk9 and LBK: I don’t disagree with either of you on the principle of the matter, but it’s a coping method that could help the LW while they look for new work.

                  Expressing that fear and rage in the wrong place, such as the workplace, will hurt the LW so it’s about finding a way to cope and channeling it into something productive; like job searching.

                4. Lil Fidget*

                  I feel like the idea of a gratefulness mindset is not the same as telling yourself “it could be worse.” To me, during the hardest times of my life I’ve been able to find something, like a pretty day or a bird building a nest or a puppy, that I can appreciate and that does make me feel better / help me put things in perspective. But thinking, “I’m lucky to even have a job without benefits at all, there are people starving other places” whether true or not, has never helped me. It’s more like trying to shame myself for feeling bad, which doesn’t work. (Also, people who are starving aren’t helped by my doing this either).

                5. Luna*

                  yeah, it comes across a bit like the “at least you don’t have cancer and an eating disorder” coworker. Telling someone “at least you aren’t in a UN refugee camp” isn’t that helpful.

                  The LW clearly realizes she shouldn’t show her feelings to others, that’s why she is writing in, to try to avoid that. Job searching is hard and can really take a toll on a person mentally and emotionally. LW, you are not a bad person for feeling what you are feeling. Finding good, stable employment is really difficult- it doesn’t mean anything about your skills or self-worth. Keep searching and eventually you will find something; in the meantime do your best to keep a smile on your face at work, even if you aren’t feeling it inside.

                6. LBK*

                  But thinking, “I’m lucky to even have a job without benefits at all, there are people starving other places” whether true or not, has never helped me. It’s more like trying to shame myself for feeling bad, which doesn’t work. (Also, people who are starving aren’t helped by my doing this either).

                  Same. If anything it just makes me more depressed that as shitty as I’m feeling, there are a lot of people who are doing even worse. Hooray!

                7. smoke tree*

                  I actually do sometimes find it helpful to remind myself that the thing I’m feeling sorry for myself about is actually really petty in the larger scheme of things (this only works if it actually is petty). But even so, it just annoys me when other people bring out the old “well at least you’re not starving.” It’s hard not to make that patronizing.

                8. Engineer Girl*

                  I suspect none of the people have actually been in a refugee camp and have seen how horrible it is. It will make you grateful for everything. Everything. There are no doctors so health insurance is moot. Your house is a tarp. Even potable water is a challenge, yet here in the US we flush our toilets with it.
                  Someone else telling you “it could be worse” is annoying as all get out. But **telling yourself** I have this, and this, and this makes you grateful.
                  The OP is dealing with an attitude problem that could prevent future employment. It’s absolutely important that you focus on positives.
                  And don’t complain to others too much as that will make you feel worse. It creates a victim mentality. Instead focus on building the future to create hope.

                9. neeko*

                  Engineer Girl, you are acting like it’s impossible to feel grateful that you aren’t in a dire situation but want a better situation at the same time. Come on. This is a bit extreme.

                10. Engineer Girl*

                  Funny, I said exactly the opposite. I said it’s possible to be grateful and still want to look for a better job.

                11. Engineer Girl*

                  I also stated that being grateful was what worked for me.

                  BTW, I have personally found that an attitude of gratitude really does change my outlook.

                  That means that I’ve also been in bad situations and been frustrated and had to find a way that worked.

              3. Falling Diphthong*

                One of my standard anecdotes on here is about the contractor at a company going through financial difficulties. Her bosses wanted to make her full-time, but the higher-ups wouldn’t approve it. This dragged on. And on. And she stopped being a great worker, and became someone who dragged in and did the minimum while radiating resentment. And the people who would have given her glowing references at the start of this process gradually became bleah references. Eventually she was laid off in a round of financing problems. So my default advice to people frustrated at dangled hopes of betterment that never materialize is to start looking before you are radiating resentment at both your current managers (your references) and your would-be new ones.

                It’s not clear if OP is seeking full-time employment somewhere other than her current company, but she should be. And trying to reign in any bitterness and resentment because that stuff makes people not want to entangle themselves with you–purely as a strategic move for OP, with no vibes of the universe stuff needed.

                1. Say What, now?*

                  So true! Don’t burn those bridges before you even cross them!

                  But also think of it this way, OP, if you allow yourself to says something angry/bitter to your coworkers you could even lose the part time income you have coming in. You need to bury that resentment or redirect it into energy spent weighing options and job hunting so you don’t lose what you’ve got.

                2. Michaela Westen*

                  Also, job hunting will make you feel like you’re doing something about your problems and eventually pay off.

      2. Mom MD*

        At least she has income coming in while she’s looking. It sounds like she was never hired for a full time benefitted position to start with. So why such anger?

        1. FD*

          Well, just because someone has income doesn’t mean it’s enough to cover their expenses. And it can be pretty demoralizing to have to take a job that isn’t what you want (in this case, it’s a paying job but doesn’t have enough hours or benefits they want/need) but is all you can get at the moment.

          You can see how someone might become frustrated when they had to take a job that isn’t really what they need, and yet other people that they think aren’t any better at the work or more qualified than them have the same job, but with the hours and benefits they were hoping for.

        2. Julia*

          I know, right? She doesn’t get to complain before she has at least cancer and an eating disorder!

          … Or, like most people, OP1 would like to be financially independent and stable and have health insurance.

          1. Lara*

            And by ‘you’ I mean people in general. It’s tough hearing people casually chat about frivolous expenses when you can barely afford groceries. It’s your problem, and they’re not being well off ‘at you’ but it can sure feel that way sometimes.

            1. Baby Fishmouth*

              +1, so much. I’ve never been in poverty, exactly, but I’ve had my finances be reeeeallll tight before, and it was exhausting to maintain a pleasant demeanor when people were telling me about the new dress they got, or their vacation coming up, or even a fancy meal out. It also was really hard to stay pleasant in social work situations, when we’d go out to lunch or have a potluck or contribute towards somebody’s baby or retirement gift. $10 here and there a few times a month was no big deal to anyone else, but it was to me – and for most of those, there was no getting out of it unless i wanted to be deemed ‘not a team player’. It was a lose-lose situation.

              It can be really hard when you know everyone around you is doing fine, financially, and you are struggling to make ends meet, even though you’ve done everything ‘right’.

          2. selena81*

            poverty (and job insecurity) also saps energy, which makes it more difficult to follow all the ‘find a better job’ advice

        3. Specialk9*

          I’m assuming you’re actually an MD, so “why such anger” to someone struggling at part-time pay comes across as kind of callous.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I don’t know if that’s entirely fair. Plenty of people with good salaries are struggling. There are MDs with $500,000+ in student loans. Residents also don’t make that much money when they are first starting out.

            1. Lara*

              Pointing out that an M.D. has a better salary than a part time admin worker is not unfair.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I think that’s a bit unkind/cold. The anger (which I suspect is a byproduct of frustration) is totally justified. Being stuck in a position you need to get by when you really need full-time employment, plus the fear/uncertainty of not having benefits for an emergency situation, is exhausting, stressful, and low-grade terrifying.

          The part that makes me nervous for OP is that that OP is describing their anger in “self-esteem terms,” focusing on whether a person is deserving or undeserving of employment. I worry about that internalization, just because it can have a corrosive impact on OP’s emotional well-being, work performance, and interactions with coworkers. Insofar as OP can try to reframe or redirect some of the resentment and bitterness that’s building up, I think it will help OP cope while they seek employment that meets their essential needs.

          1. CocoB*

            “Totally justified.” Doubtful…. OP presumably accepted part time when hired, so it appears nothing was unjustly kept from them or taken away. (Not enough info in letter to judge.) The only justification for anger (at management) would be if OP was passed over/discriminated against based on race, gender, age, etc.

            1. selena81*

              for all you know this could be a black woman in a workplace full of white men, who ‘does not want to blame everything on racism’

              or maybe he is not, and just thinks that even a young/white/male employee has a right to be protected against crappy managers

          2. selena81*

            I am worried that she’ll spiral to a point where she concludes that her co-workers got their jobs by means of nepotism and her degree (and growing resume) mean nothing. Once you are in that state of bitterness it is very hard to (pretend to) be the kind of upbeat enthusiastic person that managers like hiring.

        5. EULurker*

          I’m sorry to say this, but I am so glad that you are not my doctor. o.O
          I’ve been a lurker the past few months, and your posts regulary seem to be as not compasionate. I do hope I am wrong and that you just visit this blog when you need to let off some steam. But your reactions can be pretty hard :-/

      3. Colette*

        She should focus on what she has because it will help her. She needs to work hard and treat her coworkers well so that she keeps the job she has and has great references for the next one, whether it’s moving to full time work where she is or moving somewhere else. Focusing on what she doesn’t have is a good way to be resentful, and that will give her worse options than she has now.

        1. Jesmlet*

          Yes exactly, OP is asking for help on how to manage her feelings and to not say anything bitter or resentful. Changing your outlook is one way to help with that. I’m really not understanding all the push back on the idea of optimism and gratitude.

          1. Lara*

            It’s probably because the people telling you to ‘be grateful for what you have’ are usually doing so with a full bank account and a comfortable lifestyle. It’s a lot harder to be grateful for what you have when what you have is a bunch of debt, an empty fridge and a broken car.

            1. Jesmlet*

              Probably true, but then again, none of us in the comment section know what others have in our bank accounts so I would never judge someone’s opinions based on assumptions I’m making of their privilege.

                1. Jesmlet*

                  Absolutely fair point then. My original comment was simply addressing the anti-gratitude comments on here.

            2. selena81*


              i get really really annoyed at rich powerful people who think poor people should work hard for low pay ‘because it is good for their character’.
              these would be the same managers constantly talking about monkeys and peanuts: how about building some character themselves?!

            3. Gazebo Slayer*


              And those people rarely get told to be grateful for what they have. “Be gRaTeFuL!!” is a message almost always aimed at people who have a lot to feel justifiably angry about, and a way of shaming them for their anger and telling them to sit down and shut up.

          1. Not a Morning Person*

            I agree a command to be grateful would actually increase my resentment. We are all entitled to our own misery. But as was said above, if I can get into the frame of mind to tell myself to focus on what I have, then it can be helpful. And that seems to be the main form of this advice, figure out for yourself what you can find to say to yourself to help overcome that resentment, and not a command to be grateful. Besides, advice it what people come here for.

          2. Lara*

            Well yes. Poverty is really, really hard and people telling you to be grateful for what you have are demanding extra emotional labour on top of that. It doesn’t come across as helpful. It comes across as “Your misery makes me uncomfortable, so pretend to be happy. Also your poorness is your fault and would go away if you cheered up.”

            1. Lehigh*

              I understand that under normal circumstances, but the OP is specifically asking for tips on managing her emotions. So those tips would seem warranted–not for our comfort, but because she has a stated goal (managing her resentment and bitterness so it doesn’t impact her relationship with her colleagues.)

              1. Lara*

                No, I get that. This situation is just a bit real to me atm – I should probably step away from the thread ;)

            2. Gazebo Slayer*

              Lara, this is one of the best comments I’ve ever seen! Wonderfully insightful and so very true.

    3. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      I normally always agree with your comments PCBH, but I have to admit (and this isn’t just addressed to you, not by a long shot) that it”s wearing on me to see commenters recommending therapy/counseling for Every. Single. Little. Thing.

      Therapy is expensive. It’s presumptuous to assume everyone can afford it (and so many readers here, including this OP, are underemployed and unemployed). And for all that cost, it doesn’t always work. There are many qualified therapists out there, but sadly, also a lot of quacks.

      1. Music*

        It’s also not actually expensive? I’m sitting in a subway now looking at ads for two separate programs for low-cost therapy — one an app with a $10 fee and one a city program for low-income workers. Propagating The idea that therapy is too expensive keeps people from seeking it out and learning for themselves that there are many many ways it is made affordable for people who need it.

        Try it.

        1. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want*

          1. An therapy app is nothing like actual therapy

          2. You’re in the subway? Most people don’t live in NYC and the like – cities which have the money and population to sustain such programs. Where I live, there are only a few therapists within reasonable distance – and the cheapest one starts at $150 without insurance.

          It’s really condescending to assume that people who want therapy just need to ‘look harder’!

          1. Atalanta0jess*

            There is research supporting the use of online/computer programs, and that they can be as or even more effective than face to face therapy. I wouldn’t dismiss computer based therapy out of hand. There is also empirical support for the use of CBT based self-help books.

            Therapy can be inaccessible to people for a number of reasons, it’s true

            1. Atalanta0jess*

              oops, didn’t finish –

              Therapy can be inaccessible, but it’s hard to know without knowing details of a person’s situation whether it is or not. Some places have great low cost or free alternatives. (Not exclusively big cities either!) Some places don’t. I think it could be valuable to suggest that x may be useful, but there are also other alternatives such as y and z (where maybe y and z are computer based and CBT self help).

          2. Anxa*

            This reminds me of a post a saw on social media a few years ago that said something to the affect that if it’s easy to look a county website or a nonprofits lists of services and think that there are so many options for the poor and struggling to find help, whereas if you’re poor and struggling you just see a long list of phone numbers to slug through to find out there is no help there for you.

            For example, there are 3 dental clinics where I lived, but I never qualified because I had no kids and the others weren’t taking new patients.

        2. owlie*

          propagating the idea that the way therapy is accessed right now is exactly fine with no drawbacks is nonsensical. it can be expensive (city program in a place with a subway? not likely accessible to people in rural places), it can be hard to make the timings work with one’s schedule, and while app-based therapy exists and may be useful, is not a silver bullet.

          i agree that therapy as a solution for everything is not always feasible.

        3. Specialk9*

          I paid $150 – 200 per hour for therapy, and only 1/5 accepted insurance. Most therapists never bothered to call or email back. On the open market (ie not university or special refugee program or hospital program) it’s really expensive.

          1. Specialk9*

            Also, therapy transformed my life, and helped me sort through my abusive relationship and how not to end up there again. Every penny was worth it, but many people don’t have those pennies.

            I’m hugely aware of my privilege and it saddens me that our health system doesn’t routinely do: dentistry, mental health, and post-birth pelvic PT.

        4. Morning Glory*

          Curious if you’ve tried it? Seeing an ad is not the same thing as having an experience, yourself to know whether it is worthwhile, or if there are any hidden catches.

          OP does not have health insurance, and there are often miles of red tape to get low-income subsidized services like mental or physical healthcare. I know this from my personal experience growing up below the poverty line.

          1. FD*

            Unfortunately it really depends on the area. In my area, I had to get mental health treatment in a situation where I didn’t have much income. It was pretty easy–I had to prove my income with a couple of pay stubs and it was determined what I had to pay per visit, which was about within the range of what I could afford with the entry-level service job I had. If I had had lower income than that, my care would have been free.

            I suspect this is one of those cases where more affluent cities tend to have a better infrastructure for this kind of thing–I bet it would have been another story if I lived in a poorer or more rural area.

            1. Decima Dewey*

              My health insurance will pay for therapy. At one designated provider. And there’s a limit on how many visits I can have. But my prescription insurance will happily pay for Zoloft, Prozac, Wellburtin, etc.

          2. myswtghst*

            This is a good point – for someone who is already struggling, it can be hard to find the time and energy to locate and get access to low cost or sliding scale mental health services.

            Plus, even if one can get access to those services, they’re often limited in terms of the type of care they get, the provider(s) they can work with, and more. When my husband went down that road in the past while uninsured, even with me acting as his advocate and doing a lot of the leg work, it was a struggle because the providers he was able to get access to were overworked and overscheduled, and we couldn’t really “shop around” for a therapist who would be a better fit.

            So while I agree that we shouldn’t make it sound like therapy is inherently difficult-to-impossible to access, I also think it’s worth being realistic about access (especially without insurance).

        5. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

          $10 (and that’s just to get started) still might be a lot for some people! Not only that, there are waiting lists to contend with and other things – not every therapist is for everyone, for starters.

          Like, therapy is great. I’ve razzed my own therapist a little when she’s quipped that she thinks everyone can benefit from therapy (of course she would, that’s like me saying all llamas should be perfectly coiffed), but…in a lot of situations it does help. But even though they’re more available now, there are still the inevitable barriers to entry.

          Plus, therapy is best when you have an issue that you need to work through, and it seems like in this case, OP1 doesn’t have much to work on. She’s resentful of being PT, yeah…but it’s also a perfectly legitimate reaction to her situation. She doesn’t seem to be self destructive. Not to be flip about it, but sometimes stuff happens, and it’s normal to not be totally content with everything.

          She could probably benefit somewhat. But the cost/benefit ratio is questionable.

        6. Grapey*


          There’s a difference between therapy for longstanding traumas/severe psychological problems and a ‘simple’ talk therapist you can unload on. Sometimes I don’t want to tell my best friends every aspect of my personal problems.

        7. tusky*

          If I had a nickel for every time I hear someone say “X is not actually expensive” and then list an amount of money that is greater than zero…Could we all just accept that (a) “expensive” is relative and (b) cost almost always includes things other than the specific price paid for a good/service (just to name a few, in the case of therapy: travel expenses, lost wages due to taking time off work; cost of a phone/data needed to use an app). Offering suggestions on how to access lower-cost therapy is great, but dismissing the reality that it can still be expensive is not helpful.

          1. myswtghst*

            +1 to (b)! Providers who work on a sliding scale are often in high demand, which can mean waiting weeks for an appointment, and having to schedule that appointment at a really inconvenient time and/or location.

        8. chomps84*

          This is ridiculous. If someone is paying $10 for a therapy session it’s because someone else is subsidizing it. My therapist charges $175 for a 50 min session. I’m lucky that I get reimbursed for $165 of that, but therapists are professionals who have either a master’s degree or a doctoral degree and they charge people accordingly.

      2. FD*

        It’s true that it doesn’t always work, and it’s unfortunately true that there are many bad therapists out there. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful.

        Let’s say that someone said, “Man, I don’t know what’s wrong. I’m in pain all the time, sometimes it makes it hard for me to get through the day.” It would be reasonable to suggest that they start by seeing a doctor, wouldn’t it? And yet at the same time, many people who have chronic pain have gone through several doctors and many tests and treatments that didn’t work before finding something that did. Some people find that medicine isn’t able to help with the pain, and they have to learn to manage it in other ways.

        Therapy isn’t a cure-all, but it can be particularly helpful if you have patterns of thought that aren’t helpful or are harmful to you. It’s often hard to identify those from the inside, and harder to change them without someone to assist you through the process.

        It’s also true that it can be out of reach for many people, but in many areas, there are also many programs that offer low-cost or no-cost therapy. Of course, the LW might not be in an area where that’s available or might be in an area where the quality of those program is poor. But that doesn’t make the suggestion itself a bad one.

        1. FD*

          (That said, I’m kind of with others that are unsure about the benefit in this specific situation, if the LW isn’t dealing with other generalized symptoms such as depression or anxiety.)

          1. Luna*

            I think it might help for the LW to have someone to talk to about this- that could be a friend, family member or a therapist. If nothing else just to get all the negative things she is thinking and trying not to say out of her system.

            If there is a friend/family member to talk to, maybe start with them but limit the amount of time- tell them you need 10 minutes to vent about this to get it out of your system, then after that 10 minutes is over change the subject.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            The important thing to remember is that therapy is not just for folks struggling with mental illness. It can also help if you’re stuck in a pattern or a negative thought process. I suggested it because of OP seems to be stuck and spiraling, and it could help to have a safe person to just vent to without having to worry about being judged for your reaction. And that person might also be able to help OP shift their thinking or develop additional coping strategies as they continue to search for full-time employment.

            1. LBK*

              Yeah, I’m of the belief that pretty much everyone in the world could benefit from therapy in some way, mentally ill or not.

        2. Anon for this*

          Second the rec. to look for low-cost therapy. I’m having increasingly greater anxiety over a transitional period in my life right now and found a therapist. First one ever. When I did, I found 1) that many therapists in my area don’t take insurance anyway, 2) many therapists work on a sliding scale, so you pay more/less than your income, and 3) sometimes a therapist is willing to be flexible and drop rates even lower, depending on their availability/your need. May be worth calling around and seeing if there’s an option for you.

          It’s a relief just to have somebody to talk to.

      3. Amaryllis*

        Yup. I sunk over a decade into seeing almost a dozen different practitioners, from counselors to psychiatrists, and it was a complete waste of time and money. Never again. Therapy is bullsh!t.

        1. LBK*

          It’s a shame it didn’t work for you, but therapy is pretty much the reason I’m alive right now, and I’m sure that’s the case for many people (probably many people on this very site). Please don’t trash it because it wasn’t right in your situation.

        2. neeko*

          Therapy has saved my life. It’s not bullshit just because it didn’t work for you.

      4. Rat in the Sugar*

        I think that’s getting into “not everyone can eat sandwiches” territory. Yes, therapy is very expensive and many people have trouble affording it, but that doesn’t mean that no one should ever make the suggestion. If we only suggested things that everyone who is under- or unemployed was sure to be able to afford there would not be much to suggest.

      5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s totally fair! I’m a big fan of counseling (I think almost everyone needs a safe, confidential space in which to vent and navigate situations where they’re stuck), but I hear you that it’s often expensive, can be difficult to find a good counselor, and is not for everyone. In some communities, there are low-cost and pro bono counseling services, but I agree and understand that there are many communities without those services and that without insurance, therapy can be cost-prohibitive.

        To me, this seemed like a situation where some kind of reframing would help OP cope, but it’s definitely not the only strategy, and it may not be a helpful one for OP.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          I’ll add to this general idea. Many places of faith (churches, synagogues etc) have staff that has some counseling training and experience. I’ve found that to be a helpful resource a couple of times (and not a good resource at all once) when I was experiencing stress and anxiety for one reason or another. They should refer you to local professionals that they have a relationship if things get out of their depth.

      6. smoke tree*

        I say this as someone who can’t afford therapy, but I still think it can be helpful to bring up. For every person who doesn’t like therapy or can’t afford it, there are also people out there who might not think their issues are “worthy” of therapy or otherwise wouldn’t have considered it. It would be unhelpful to harangue letter writers into getting therapy, but since we don’t know all of the details of their lives, I think it can be just as unhelpful to assume no one can afford therapy as it is to assume that everyone can.

      7. Michaela Westen*

        I grew up in a medium-sized city and have lived in a big city since age 22.
        There are always therapists, and many are available through programs that make them affordable.
        The biggest obstacle IME has been finding a *good* therapist. One who understands what I’m saying. One who actually helps instead of making me feel worse. One who has the experience to be good at what they do.
        It can take a few tries to find the right one. Cost and training don’t determine who is a good therapist. Like most things it’s a combination of experience, training, and talent.
        I went to a social worker who was pretty good in 1999-2000 and put me on the path to getting free of my mother. I went back to him in 2013 and he wasn’t great – he seemed stressed and distracted. I tried a PhD with a lot of training and a big office in a rich part of town and she was a clueless, self-esteem-undermining nightmare. She had book smarts, not people smarts.
        Then I found another social worker who is everything I need. She is talented and competent and knows exactly what she’s doing.
        So my point is even when therapists are available, it can take some doing to find a good one.

    4. Bookworm*

      Agree. The resentment is misplaced–the OP stated that it’s not the co-worker’s fault. It is a concern better brought up with the boss.

      I’m sympathetic because I’ve been there (my work really didn’t even meet the PT quota my boss stated but he didn’t seem inclined to really get going on other projects he’d bring up) and would advise that maybe it’s a reflection on the workplace. If it makes the OP that upset then maybe this particular job is not a good fit (which is not bad on the OP, just that maybe this organization doesn’t know how to be more efficient in doling out work or its hiring practices, etc.).

      1. Specialk9*

        I’m sure they know it’s not a good fit. I’m also assuming if they could get a good fit with full pay and benefits they already would have.

    5. Nervous Accountant*

      Oh gosh, this whole letter and post brought back so many memories for me for when I was seasonal at my current position (but working 55+ hrs like everyone else). It’s been 4 years since I started working there and 3 since I was made permanent. It’s rough. The advice here is wonderful. Goodluck OP I hope there’s an update on thisone.

  3. Junior Dev*

    1, are you applying for other jobs, or seeking out other career-enhancing things like freelance work, attending networking events, or volunteering?

    I wonder if it might make you feel better to spend the time you’d like to be working but aren’t, working on things that would get you closer to a full time job. Often resentment can come from a place of feeling powerless and if you can make a concrete plan to put (say) 10 hours a week into activities that will get you closer to your goals, it could help. I specify the time because when you need a new job, it’s easy to feel you can never do enough to get it; but having a set amount you do each week (with maybe a mix of activities, not just job applications, but some that feel productive regardless of how others respond) could make it feel manageable and sustainable rather than a huge overwhelming impossible task.

    1. Chaordic One*

      I agree with the advice from Junior Dev. You really need to be applying for other full-time jobs. When you find full-time work you’ll probably feel a bit better about things in general. When you leave I’m sure that your current employer will be understanding about the reasons why if you can keep your emotions under control and behave professionally.

      1. Specialk9*

        Oh yeah good point! Networking events can be really helpful. If you’re in a city, Meetup has events. Most industries have professional associations – if you contact them and volunteer to help you may get a free membership.

    2. Gem*

      When I was really bitter/angry at my job, I funneled that anger/bitterness into getting a better job and doing an internal ‘in yo face, losers’ when I got one. Petty? Yes. A better way to use that energy than fuming at people who had no control over my situation? Also yes.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Yeah focus on how great it will feel to quit and how much your employer will miss you / regret that they didn’t invest more in you to keep you on. It IS petty but I found it extremely motivating when I was feeling ill-used by my job.

      2. myswtghst*

        Same. Once I realized that the only way to get what I wanted out of work was to leave my last employer, I put my energy into things that would make me a more attractive candidate as I applied for jobs. That meant taking some free online classes (yay Coursera!), updating my LinkedIn profile, resume and cover letter (using the resources here), and really doing some research on the types of jobs available in my field, so I could be choosy about what I applied for and knew what my skills were worth.

        Getting a shiny new full time job is a great goal, but it’s also a BIG goal. In my experience, it’s a lot more productive to break that down into smaller, more achievable goals to focus on now, to pave the way to the big goal and to redirect the energy that’s being focused on resentment now, if possible.

    3. AII*


      Work part-time at job above, and part-time finding a full-time job. That you are working part-time means you have good options for interview times.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes. OP, I can’t tell if you’re trying to find full-time work somewhere other than your current company, but you should be. People can get fixed on one job–if current job knows me best, current job is my best prospect for becoming full-time, over some other company that doesn’t even know me. But current job lacks the money/work/will to make you full-time.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Or fixate on jobs in an ideal industry.

          Look, I know we all want the “dream job” but sometimes hours and benefits need to come first. I’ve totally taken jobs in areas that weren’t “my industry” because I needed full-time work and they would pay me to do it.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            Agreed. Sometimes we all get fixated on something that starts to color our view of the world. Another job FT/Benefits, can give a different perspective and breathing room to refocus efforts into the next better job.

            It sounds trite, but I really believe in the idea of each job I’ve had and will have is a stepping stone to the next… sometimes it’s been necessary to step off the path I was on in order to continue forward.

    4. A Nickname for AAM*

      “Spend the time you’d like to be working but aren’t” is a bit silly. I was once a full-time part-timer. My company held me at 32.25 hours, 15 minutes shy of having health insurance in our state/organization at the time.

      When you factor in the fact that I was working some split shifts (two commutes a day, long loitering periods) and irregular hours (late night followed by early morning followed by midday shift that took up my whole day when all was said and done), I didn’t have any more free time than I did when I finally transitioned to full-time and got a regular schedule. Yeah, there are benefits to irregular hours that 9-5s don’t have (grocery store on a Monday afternoon! Laundromat at 8 am on a weekday!), but it certainly didn’t give me any extra time to job hunt, because by the time I was done with work, I still didn’t have the time to look for jobs and apply for them without rushing and making mistakes.

      1. CDM*

        OldJob was 35 hours a week, part time, no benefits.

        CurrentJob is 37.5 hours a week, full time.

        The ‘benefit’ of having Tuesdays (mostly) off at OldJob didn’t really outweigh the disadvantages of working every Saturday. And, of course, I was replaced by someone FT with benefits, after working under three different directors who all told me they wanted to make me FT, but management wouldn’t budget for it. Why pay for benefits for someone who can accomplish 40+ hours worth of work in 35 hours and takes any time off unpaid?

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, in addition to moving up the meeting, I would recommend breaking the meeting up into multiple days. It’s easy for her to bail on you on her last day or be otherwise unavailable. It will be harder for her to do that if she knows her manager will be there and it’s a transition that occurs over several times.

    Also see if you can get IT (or someone) to copy her hard drive. If she’s this bitter, I suspect she’ll try to trash files that would make your work-life/transition easier.

    1. Willis*

      Definitely agree on copying her hard drive or otherwise securing her files sooner rather than later.

      If the knowledge transfer is something that could be done in writing, maybe the OP could ask Cersei’s manager to have her do a bulleted list of project statuses ahead of the meeting. It could help streamline the meeting if OP has something to look at beforehand. And then if she ignores the meeting request, doesn’t show, or is prickly/unhelpful in the meeting, at least OP would have something to go by.

      1. Ama*

        Thirded on getting her hard drive — and if your office and/or Cersei herself are more likely to keep things in paper files, start moving those over as well.

        I’ve mentioned this before but I had a boss who knew she was about to get fired (although in her case it was for cause, not a layoff) and she destroyed a bunch of paper files and tried to wipe her computer. IT was able to recover most of the computer files but she destroyed a bunch of invoices no one else knew about (part of the reason she was being fired was claiming credit for work that she was paying others to do) that only existed on paper and two years later we were still having vendors pop up asking for payment for them.

    2. JamieS*

      Agreed on asking about getting her files. In addition OP should consider other ways to get any other info needed. It sounds like Cersei is more or less already done there so I have serious doubts her manager is going to have any influence on her whatsoever and there’s a pretty decent chance the knowledge transfer either won’t happen or will be unproductive.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      This is a really great idea. I just recently transferred out of my department, and my manager was the one being nasty about it. She was the one who had to take over all my work, and she scheduled my “transfer” meeting late afternoon on my very last day. Part of my old position had a lot of complicated regulations and it was something she had never really learned, but she just ended up coming over and taking the files for it and leaving. That was the meeting. She had no intention of helping out with the rest of my work or learning how to do that part of it. But she had no time to ask any questions because then there I was at my last day.

      1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

        Wow, that’s classic cutting off your nose to spite your face. I wonder if she’ll ever call on you in the future for help (sounds unlikely).

    4. NotUrAvgHR*

      Thank you, Princess CBH and all who’ve replied to this stream! OP 3 here. Getting IT involved is a REALLY excellent idea and Cerise’s hard drive would very much have a lot of information, templates, processes, etc. that I’d need for my new role going forward. I’ve already texted my boss about this and it sounds like it’s something we can do. Also, getting her boss to attend the meeting was an easy ask because he is also my new boss. And lastly, the bullet-point list is also a great suggestion which I am going to action. Thank you all again!

      Also, something I should have thought to include in my original post is the fact that despite Cerise’s unfortunate behaviour, it’s very unlikely that she will bail before her last day of work. As this is a layoff, the company has offered her a severance package–if she decides to fade out before her last day, it would be considered a voluntary resignation and she would lose her entitlement to that package. So while I’m certain she’ll stay on until the end, she’s really just taken on a “foop it all” attitude and has been doing the bare minimum until then.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, that’s good to know that she would lose her severance package, so she has incentive to not bail the last day. As for the meeting, if she doesn’t reply to the invite or otherwise makes it so she’s “not available,” I’d say to pick a time and just head over to her desk, along with the manager, and tell her you’re there to do the knowledge transfer and then sit down and do it. If someone was ignoring me and something needed to get done, I’d corner them so it HAS to get done. (But that’s me.)

      2. tangerineRose*

        If she finds a new job that starts before her last day at this job, she might bail early.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Oy, OP#4. Mindy is violating all sorts of boundaries. I don’t have great advice—I agree with Alison entirely—but just wanted to offer my sympathy.

    1. Clare*

      Not just Mindy, but also Mork! He needs to stop sending in his girlfriend to take care of his stuff. I think OP should also speak with him and make it clear these things are his responsibility to handle.

        1. BRR*

          Yeah it doesn’t sound like the LW knows for sure if he knows or not. In addition to Alison’s advice I would suggest the LW talk to him him and treat it like he doesn’t know.

        2. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

          He must know, Mindy appears in the OP’s office within minutes. So Mork is using his work time to chat with Mindy about his work problems. Personally, it sounds to me like Mork has learned helplessness which is one of the most infuriating things going.

          1. BenAdminGeek*

            Yeah, I’m developing a real “pox on both their houses” attitude towards both Mork and Mindy based on the dynamic and actions here.

            Though in Mork’s defense, he’s not from this planet and it’s probably confusing for him.

          2. Lehigh*

            He’s certainly telling her what’s going on, but we don’t know if he’s saying, “Can you look into this for me?” or “Oh, x is happening, I’ll have to look into it” and then she’s taking her own initiative. I think it would be helpful to the letter writer to talk directly to him.

        1. Julia*

          Or abused partner alert? How would we react if this was happening the other way around?

          1. Yorick*

            I don’t think we have any reason to suspect abuse, just that she tends to handle things for him

            1. bonkerballs*

              I don’t think we have enough information to suspect she takes care of things for him, just that she’s inserted herself where it’s inappropriate. It’s entirely likely that he’s simply mentioning to her something that he found out about that he has to deal with and she’s taken it upon herself to show up at HR and ask questions. No way for us to know he’s even aware she’s doing it.

          2. Magee*

            I got that vibe as well. Especially when OP mentioned the previous messy break up. We shouldn’t always assume abuse, but I would caution the OP to just keep an eye out.

          3. CM*

            While it’s good to be aware of abuse as an issue, having your girlfriend in HR fill out paperwork for you is not a warning sign. There’s no evidence that he is trying to control her. I think we would react the exact same way if it were the other way around.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I think the suggestion is more that she is controlling him.

              Technicality–his girlfriend isn’t in HR, beyond the sense of physically standing in the actual HR person’s office. And this would be a bizarre level of helplessness–what’s his plan if he has a job at a company where a current girlfriend or mom isn’t employed?

              1. Amber T*

                There’s also a middle ground between him being a helpless asshole and her being a controlling monster. He could be asking “Hi girlfriend, HR said this, could you help me since you’ve been here longer?” and she agrees, or he might have mentioned he needs to do stuff in passing and Mindy offers to help because she’s close with OP. I spent time teaching my boyfriend about investing yesterday because he asked, and he helped fix my computer last week because I asked. We’re partners, we do stuff for each other. In this context, it’s not appropriate at work – Mork needs to be the one handling these things. But we as random people on a forum have so little to go on from a letter (there’s really no description of Mork), so I’m surprised that it’s swinging to such extremes.

                1. Luna*

                  Except that according to the LW Mindy is showing up in her office only minutes after the LW tells Mork he needs to do X,Y or Z. It’s not like the topic is coming up in casual conversation between two partners while at home. It seems pretty clear from the LW’s description that as soon as she tells Mork about some issue he needs to handle, he immediately runs to Mindy to ask her to do it for him. How else would Mindy know so quickly?

                2. Amber T*

                  @Luna I had a problem with my bank yesterday that’s gonna cause me some headaches with work, and the first thing I did when I found out was text my boyfriend (just along the lines of “ugh Bank is doing this, so work is gonna need this”). It can very well be a normal conversation between two partners. I think it could easily be “Work says this form needs to be filled out/there was an issue with my bank, would you mind helping out?” or “Work says this” “Oh, I know OP, do you want help?”

                  I agree that it’s inappropriate that Mindy is trying to handle *work stuff* for Mork, and that Mork needs to be working directly with OP. But I disagree with the automatic assumption that the relationship between Mindy and Mork is bad (abuse/manbaby) just from what we’ve been given.

              2. e271828*

                I can answer that! He’ll bring forms home for her to complete. Health insurance, tax forms, all that jazz, he’ll have his “PA” do it, because he can and she will.

        2. Joielle*

          Ha, that’s what I thought too. Like come on, be an adult and do your own damn paperwork. What would he do if he were on his own?? Sure, maybe HR tells him about a problem and he goes back to his partner and asks for help figuring it out – but at a minimum, he has to be the one to communicate with HR. That’s just being an adult with a job.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I agree Mork should handle his own paperwork. But he may see it only as Mindy stepping in as the ‘experienced’ employee helping him out, since she has already been through the process. (And if they are in a relationship, it’s because she looooves him and she’s so sweet.)

        Yeah, lots of boundaries being blurred here. This week’s theme continues. I have a feeling there may be a follow-up to this letter in the not-too-distant future.

        1. Fleah*

          Yes, Mindy is blowing through boundaries. But calling “abuse” or “manbaby” seems unkind at best.

          My husband has MANY skills and paperwork / logistics is not one of them. I can imagine a situation where I would want to step in and help, even if not explicitly asked to do so. I take on a lot of our household paperwork because I like doing it, and I’m good at doing so quickly and accurately. I also help with his self-employed paperwork (when asked). It’s just a matter of preference and skill set.

          Now I would definitely stop when told to by HR, so obviously I’m not a Mindy here. Which is entirely my point. Let’s maybe focus on advice for OP and not speculate on the nature of their relationship.

          1. A Nickname for AAM*

            My husband is a professor, who upon his recent hire, was sad that spouses couldn’t come to the benefits meeting.

            He came back from the meeting with a stack of brochures and books about retirement plans, health benefits, life insurance benefits, and shoved them at me to “read them and tell me what to sign up for” because he had exactly zero idea what they meant.

          2. pleaset*

            My wife helps me a lot on some things, such as this benefits and investments, for which I am thankful. She is far more knowledgeable than I am.

          3. OrangeFloss*

            Another thought could be language barriers. The OP didn’t mention whether or not Mork is a native speaker of their business language (so it’s easy to assume he is). My husband isn’t a native English speaker and tends to rely on me to do a lot of the English processing (all our medical offices call my cell phone for his stuff, he takes photos of notices posted at work and asks me what they mean, etc). I would _never_ go to the HR at his job or interact with his coworkers on his behalf, which means things take twice as long because they have to come from his company to home then back to his work, and if he didn’t get enough of exactly what they said I have to prep him with questions to ask. If we worked at the same company, I can see it seeming easier to just drop by, no matter the usual office protocol. If it’s something like that Mork and Mindy should be going to HR together.

          4. myswtghst*

            Same. I love my husband, but paperwork will not ever be his strong suit, and I’d much rather help (on the down low at home, obviously, not by going to HR on his behalf) than clean up after him later.

            “Let’s maybe focus on advice for OP and not speculate on the nature of their relationship.”

            Yes, this please.

    2. OP4*

      I am OP4. Thank you much. Alison gave good advice. Hopefully, she will be receptive to it.

    3. Popped Chips*

      Sounds like Mork is unloading a whole bunch of emotional labor onto Mindy, which is annoying in general, but horrifically inappropriate in a work setting!

    4. ggg*

      Can I just say, thank you for using names from a TV show I have actually seen. I am the last weirdo to have never seen Game of Thrones and the names always confuse me.

  6. Tiger Snake*

    #3, I think you’ve forgotten your final piece of power in this conversation. And its a very effective power. You have an office., and you get to control who is in the office.
    I’d use something like Alison’s response. But, after she’s tried to rephrase the same question, I would also say “Since you didn’t have anything related to your work to discuss with me, I need you to leave now.”

  7. Cobol*

    OP #3 I’m sorry you’re going through this Cersi is definitely in the wrong, but I’m a bit surprised your company is handling it this way. She’s losing her job, and it’s not out of the norm that she wouldn’t work well with the person who got the job instead. This of course isn’t your fault, but it’s an understandable emotion.

    Is there any way your manager can do the meeting? Not just attend, but actually be the one who conducts the meeting. Assuming Cersi doesn’t blame them it might be the best solution.

    1. Jennifer*

      I don’t think Cersei has any motivation whatsoever to “behave” even if her manager is there, under the circumstances. I would expect and plan for the worst here, i.e. she gives you no information, quits in a huff or otherwise doesn’t show, or throws a giant shit fit instead.

      1. Annie Moose*

        At the very least, having her manager in there (who I believe is LW3’s new manager) will cover LW3 if she’s not able to get very much or any information from Cersei!

        1. myswtghst*

          This is honestly the primary reason I would try to have her there – not because I think she can control Cersei, but because she will at least have the background knowledge to try to push the conversation in a productive direction, and will now have born witness to LW3’s attempts to get information, so she can provide appropriate support following Cersei’s departure.

      2. Jesmlet*

        Her motivation (as a reasonable adult human) should be at the very least to preserve a relationship that she’ll need moving forward. It’s unfortunate for her that she doesn’t understand that though so realistically there’s nothing OP can do besides include the manager as a buffer.

    2. Mallory*

      Yes, this. I was laid off and given 2 weeks notice with the expectation to transfer knowledge to my replacement. It was the worst 2 weeks of my life. They got me to do it by giving me a fat severance package contingent upon the transfer so I sucker it up. Everyone I worked with was shocked.

      1. NotUrAvgHR*

        I’m sorry to know about your layoff, Mallory. OP 3 here. I essentially knew that if I didn’t get the promotion, it would be me who was laid off and I was dreading the feeling of having to finish out my role with everyone knowing about it. I am sorry you had to go through that, and–despite the way Cersei is behaving–I am sorry she does as well. She was also offered a severance package (last I heard she was also able to negotiate a higher offering as well) but it’s not doing a lot in the way of encouraging her to act civilly.

        1. Not in US*

          I’ve been laid off a few times – I used to work in an industry known for layoffs. If you hadn’t been laid off, you hadn’t worked in the industry very long. The first time, they had me come in for a day or two to sort some paperwork and clean up a little but it was very short – it might have been two days and I had seen the layoff coming, so it was ok. Not fun, but everyone got through it ok.

          The second time I was laid off, I was expected to work for another 2 or 3 weeks. That didn’t go so well. It was really hard. My boss actually pulled me aside and commented on it – that’s about the time I broke down in tears and told her I was 3 months pregnant. She got a little more understanding after that and I got a little more professional again but it was HARD. The company folded about 18 months later – it wasn’t personal but it was really hard to navigate.

    3. NotUrAvgHR*

      Thank you, Cobol, Jennifer, and Mom! Luckily, Cerise’s manager is my new manager and it was easy to get him to agree to being there to (as he called it) “mediate.” Unfortunately, he’s also been the recipient of her poor behaviour since her layoff news was delivered, and I guess that does have a lot to do with the fact that she blames him for not sticking with her and choosing someone else for the promotion. Like Cobol said, it’s the wrong attitude to have, but I can of course understand why she’d be upset at losing her job.

      New manager and I have talked and neither of us expect this to go smoothly, but at least he’ll be there and we can say we gave it our all to get what we need from her.

      1. nonymous*

        well, since she clearly doesn’t seem interested in doing her job between now and last day, could you skip the “should happens” and just start handing off duties now? I could see this working for the org in a few ways.

        – Cerise bails before her official last day. Some % of responsibilities have already been passed for you. Less scrambling.
        – You work through transferring responsibilities before her last day. The company graciously allows her to leave a few days early with pay. Drama ends earlier.
        – The “transition meeting” on the last day only has to cover a few trivial issues, plus cake and well wishes from anyone who still likes her.

  8. Kirishima*

    OP #2, I get the urge to give feedback, particularly when someone’s been rude/detrimental to their own search. But I agree with Alison – it’s best to just let this one go. Chances are that the applicants are already aware of their own rude behavior, or if not they won’t be particularly bothered by it.

    I’d just be glad the applicant revealed their true nature before getting hired!

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      Part of me agrees to let it go, but if OP decides to go ahead and give this feedback, I’d just like to remind everyone how much we love crazy updates here in the AAM commentariat

      1. Serin*

        Seconded! I love to read about rude people that I don’t have to deal with myself.

      2. Anonymoose*

        Not only that, but once it’s said – you’ve let the cat out of the bag. I’m sure LW#2’s store isn’t the only establishment that has this exact policy (in fact, this is used in the corporate setting too: don’t be a dick to the receptionist, idiot).

        Once you inform the candidate that they’re being watched from the moment they step inside the store, they’ll start behaving differently – but only enough to get the job, not to holistically change how they react with the world at large. So do the next employer a favor and ignore the urge to inform the candidate that their behavior makes them unemployable.

        Pass it forward and all that. ;)

    2. Narise*

      My concern is that these applications may come to the store to discuss in person or worse confront the person who they spoke to previously.

      1. A Nickname for AAM*

        Crazy people are never worth dealing with. I’ve had to manage both customers and entry-level workers, and they just aren’t.

        People who will be rude to you will allege discrimination. They will misinterpret and lie and say you did something bad to them (you were rude, you were disrespectful, you didn’t listen, you didn’t follow protocol, you made a mistake.) They will go to your boss with their half-cocked non-reality and expect restitution.

        The best thing you can do with that sort of person, when they display themselves to you, is to get them out of your space as quickly as possible with minimal interaction.

      2. myswtghst*

        Oh, this is such a good point. If someone is so lacking in self-awareness that they are rude when applying in person for a job, I can definitely see them putting the blame back on the person they were rude to, rather than owning their behavior, and that could lead to some uncomfortable confrontations.

        If OP#2 does decide to go down the road of sending this feedback to candidates, I’d also recommend they come up with (and communicate to their staff) a very clear plan for how to deal with it if these people do come back into the store. Hopefully it won’t happen much (if at all) but it’s definitely better to be prepared in case it does.

    3. Michaela Westen*

      I’d like to disagree here. As I’ve mentioned before, I have bad parents. They did not teach me to be polite, or nice, or pretty much anything, and their combination of verbal/emotional abuse and neglect set very bad behavior examples.
      As a young adult I was rude and didn’t know I was. I saw some people didn’t respond well to me, but I was used to that and thought it was just life. I wasn’t trying to hurt or offend anyone and I was trying to get along.
      I would have made faster progress if more people had corrected me.
      So depending on the type of rudeness, I think it would be a kindness to correct the applicant. If they seem hostile or angry, maybe not take the chance. If it seems like rudeness is their normal behavior, they may be like me and it may be worth doing. :)
      My life experience has taught me the paradigm that it’s “rude” to correct people can actually be a form of elitism. How is a well-meaning person supposed to make progress without correction? If a person has the misfortune of bad parents, does that mean they deserve a bad life?
      I’ve seen people refrain from correcting a person who wasn’t raised right and then laugh at them or criticize them. This is elitism pure and simple. Personally, I don’t associate with such people. ;)

      1. Mark132*

        Foregoing correcting people is less a form of elitism, and more simple pragmatism. Offering advice to strangers is frequently taken very poorly.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I think it depends on the situation and relationship. If someone with power over me – boss, colleague – corrected me I felt intimidated, afraid they would punish me.
          If someone who didn’t have power over me did in a non-antagonizing way, I took it under advisement. It helped a lot!
          I was thinking if OP wants to try correcting, maybe phrase it in a positive way. Like “we need people who are more polite” instead of “you were rude”. That wouldn’t seem antagonizing.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            P.S. – One time I was corrected by someone who had interviewed me, and another time by someone I had been working for as a temp. Both times I was surprised, which is why I remember it. And both times it helped.

        2. Ozma the Grouch*

          While I agree with many of your points, I think in this situation it has to do with the level of the relationship. It is much harder (and often less appropriate) for a stranger to approach a person about their behavior than it is for someone who knows them. The person doing the calling out has to be willing to deal with the resulting humiliation factor, and the fact that humiliation can land both ways.

      1. Videogame Lurker*

        Perhaps he needs more WAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!
        *shuffles back to her friends contemplating Warhammer 40,000 tactics*

    1. Anon Accountant*

      I got that impression too. My neighbor couldn’t read and relied on others to help him. He was ashamed and only a few close people knew.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        I don’t understand why a person of any age doesn’t just learn to read, unless they have a learning disability that prevents it? It would only take a few years and they’d have it the rest of their life!

        1. Observer*

          Well, there is the answer right there, most of the time.

          Also, for a lot of adults finding a way to learn to read is not so simple both emotionally and logistically.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I understand emotional barriers, and at some point a person has to decide: “this will not hold me back anymore!” and address the problem. IME it’s never as difficult as I thought it would be.

            1. Observer*

              I hear that. But it’s not so easy to just dismiss it.

              Beyond that the emotional barriers are only one piece of the issue.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                I don’t have any experience with this and I know everyone has their issues… but if there is one thing that a person can do to help themselves, it’s learn to read! I think it would be worth any effort to overcome the emotional and logistical barriers. My 2 cents. :)

    2. Knitting Cat Lady*

      Depends on what they actually do for work.

      But it is a possibility.

      Considering just how often people in the supermarket have asked me to read their shopping list to them I wouldn’t be that surprised either.

    3. Chaordic One*

      I wonder if English might be his second language and if, perhaps, he might have some problems with it.

      1. Cat Lady*

        Even if Mork can’t read or English isn’t his first language, that doesn’t mean the OP has to put up with Mindy trying to pry into his private information, even if he is ok with it. OP is HR and has to follow protocol, as much as I would sympathize with Mork if one of those things is behind all this. At the very least I don’t see why Mork couldn’t accompany Mindy when she is interrogating the OP about HIS employment. It is totally out of line for her to be doing it without Mork present, and no wonder the OP feels uncomfortable.

    4. SS Express*

      I didn’t pick that up while reading but now you mention it I think that may be the issue. My FIL has a theory that literacy rates are much lower than we realise, and often behaviour we see as stupidity or weirdness is actually the result of not being able to read well: ignoring signs and instructions, asking about things that have already been addressed, not being able to figure out things that seem easy to look up, responding to texts or emails in a way that doesn’t really address what the other person said. It would definitely explain a lot in this case – not only that Mindy is filling out his forms and gathering information for him, but also the fact that she’s going around acting on his behalf: perhaps she feels protective, or she may be trying to help keep it under wraps.

      1. Mad Baggins*

        Oh, this is very interesting! I never thought about it that way. I can see why Mindy would want to help cover for him, just to make his life easier.

        If this is the case, however, the solution would be for Mork to ask Mindy, “what does this policy say,” and then deal with it himself, or ask OP, “hey, I’m not good at legalese/corporate-speak/computers, what exactly do I have to do here?”

      2. Media Monkey*

        my FIL only learnt to read when my husband was about 10. he had developed loads of tricks to hide it and lots of people didn’t realise. he is good at maths so could manage money/ banking/ bill paying and had a white collar job. i would imagine if Mork’s job is office based (not sure that was specified in the letter) that would become fairly obvious pretty quickly.

        1. Annie Moose*

          My mom works in a special ed classroom with a wide variety of kids (ranging from actual cognitive impairment to more minor learning difficulties), and a TON of those kids, even the ones that most people think are “dumb”, have extremely good coping strategies to cover up their difficulty reading or doing math. They’re great at working out the context and guessing what something says by looking at pictures, for example, or when answering a question as a group, they’ll say it just a hair behind everyone else.

          She says it’s impressive! Not super helpful when your teacher is trying to help you learn to read because it makes it harder to judge your actual skill level, but a great example of how the human brain compensates for things it’s not as good at.

          1. Artemesia*

            A friend of mine had a son who managed to convince teachers he could read till about 4th grade. She was a teacher and still didn’t realize the kid couldn’t read because he was so good at memorizing and using picture cues to give the illusion he could. He was smart and verbal. Once she figured it out she put him in a special school for kids with learning disabilities and he did learn and eventually graduated from a regular high school and college and has a decent job — but he was smart and no one really knew he was severely dyslexic for a long time and thus he didn’t get the help he needed to be able to really read until it was almost too late for him.

      3. gecko*

        That’s a fascinating theory! Or at the very least, I think many people who would be counted as literate have a much harder time reading than they’d ever let on.

      4. Bagpuss*

        I wondered about that. OP, would it be possible within your org. for Mork to give you explicit, signed authority to deal with Mindy about routine stuff?
        I know that we have had a couple of instances with staff where the employee has given explicit consent for us to discuss things with their spouse/partner. In one case it was due to our employee having mental health issues, and it meant that the spouse could discuss accommodations needed and also be made aware of what we were telling the employee (as the employee would, when unwell, not take in information well).

        I think you would need to have a private conversation with Mork and make clear to him that it is not the norm and that you would not generally discuss anything at all with Mindy, as it is not her business, but if *he* wants you to do it that way, he can chose to authorise it (and to withdraw that authorisation at any time)

        Of course, it may be learned helplessness or laziness on his part, or controlling behaviour on hers, but it might be worth thinking about the other possibilities.

      5. Collarbone High*

        An adult literacy program coordinator once told me that about 35% of adults in D.C. are considered functionally illiterate, and I realized that could explain a lot of puzzling interactions.

      6. Half-Caf Latte*

        I know the OP has responded to these suspicions, but for those interested in this in general:

        Here’s a link to a video from the AMA about health literacy. People who can’t read, but are respected church deacons, professionals, and otherwise accomplished adults. One woman had a hysterectomy without realizing it for fear of having her illiteracy exposed.


      7. TardyTardis*

        We had a friend ‘lose’ a letter that we sent him with a check in it, and we’re fairly certain it was because he couldn’t read (all his club reports were oral, and he had someone else in his chapter do all the paperwork).

    5. TL -*

      Could be that. He could also be used to Mindy taking care of all the boring bits of living and he just does the more exciting stuff – it’s a very common gendered pattern, where the women take care of all the details and the men just worry about the big ideas.

      Either way, the OP just needs to tell Mindy it’s inappropriate and Mark needs to talk to her. I’m sure the OP is able to answer Mark’s questions if he hasn’t read it as well as she’d be able to answer Mindy’s questions (who also hasn’t read it, seems like.)

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Or Mindy could be the sort that has a habit of swooping in and doing everything for him, maybe because of anxiety, maybe because she doesn’t trust him to handle it himself. We’ve seen examples on this forum of people applying for jobs and writing resumes for their partner, for example – this may be the same sort of behaviour.

        But ultimately, it doesn’t really matter why. The OP is not allowed to discuss Mork’s work details with Mindy, and Mindy needs to accept that. I would also suggest that the OP needs to completely back off on any sort of personal relationship with Mindy. If you’ve got two coworkers who have previously “broken up on very bad terms”, and at least one of whom doesn’t understand reasonable professional boundaries, you want to be really careful not to get caught up in the drama.

        On the off chance that Mork has some sort of disability that means he is unable to communicate with HR on his own, then *Mork* would need to seek accommodation for that himself.

        1. Parenthetically*

          “Mindy could be the sort that has a habit of swooping in and doing everything for him, maybe because of anxiety, maybe because she doesn’t trust him to handle it himself.”

          This was my first thought, because I fight against this dynamic in my own marriage — because of both anxiety and not trusting my husband. It’s a problem, I’m working on it, and it would NOT be helpful to have a coworker indulge it in the slightest.

    6. KayEss*

      I have a ton of panic attack-level anxiety centered around paperwork and bureaucracy, as well as a complete inability to evaluate and choose between several complicated options (like health insurance policies)… but my husband is very good at those things, so I just punt to him whenever possible. I’ve never tried to have him interface with my job’s HR because I know that’s inappropriate, even for a legally recognized partner, but Mork may not.

    7. pleaset*

      Yes. Or perhaps the language in the workplace is not his native language and he can’t read it that well.

      I’m extremely high-skilled in English reading, and even I have trouble with understanding a lot of benefits information in English – which is my native language!

    8. Windchime*

      Yes, that was my first thought. I have a close friend who used to be married to a guy like Mork. Great guy, great father, hard worker–and functionally illiterate. In retrospect, he probably had a learning disability but when he was a kid, learning disabilities weren’t really acknowledged so he just somehow drifted through school. Anyway, my friend would have to fill out his employment applications and basically do any paperwork for him. He has been gainfully employed in a manufacturing plant for years so he manages but it was a difficult thing for him.

    9. Jennifer Thneed*

      Yes, that was pretty much my first thought.

      Like SS Express’s FIL, I also have a theory that many people are only functionally literate. Many people can get by okay, but are not comfortable with reading, don’t read for pleasure, have trouble comprehending complex sentence structures when written. A good friend of mine coached a stranger thru using an ATM and it became clear to her that he was not literate or numerate at all, but had to memorize the sequence of actions to get his money. (She’s a rabbi and has worked as a teacher.)

      It is really hard to have this conversation online, because by definition, people who are reading online are good readers who can read for pleasure. And because people tend to think that whatever they, personally, are good at is easy to do, because it’s easy for *them*. My example: I’ve been reading since before kindergarden, I write professionally, I read so easily that I read things without realizing I’ve started to, I see typos in writing that that I’m not actually reading consciously. (I consider that last my Unhelpful Superpower.) It’s very hard for me to imagine having trouble receiving this kind of information from the world around me, but I can read statistics and learn facts. And since I write professionally and have done technical training, I have to be aware of how many people are not going to be able to quickly look something up if I don’t explain it well.

      There is a wonderful book by Shaun Tan, called Arrival, that gives a feeling of how it is to be illiterate. It’s linked in my username. It’s a picture book for adults about the immigrant experience, and it’s short, as a picture book should be.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Amazon suggests that it’s a longer book than I’d remembered. I’m not sure where my copy is or I’d check right now.

        1. WolfPack Inspirer*

          It’s longish, but it’s not long. Longer than a traditional 32 page/16 spread picture book. Maybe 50-75 pages max? I love Arrival and it’s a beautiful work of communication.

    10. Michaela Westen*

      Yes, that was in the back of my mind. Or he’s way to dependent in other ways!

  9. mark132*

    LW#2 there is a saying “no good deed goes unpunished” while certainly an exaggeration. Any feedback you give has almost no direct upside for you (except perhaps karma). As well as some downside, though unlikely, it can be used against you in a complaint for discrimination, or simply as a reason for the rejected candidate to use in bad mouthing your company.

  10. Been There, Done That*

    OP #3–I’ll be thinking good thoughts for you. I walked into a similar situation a few years ago, only my Cersei was demoted rather than laid off (it would’ve been a mercy if she had) and has a track record of not sharing relevant/important information I need to do my job. I hope your manager is more on top of the situation. Our manager has supported my Cersei’s hissy fits and pouting sessions from day one.

    1. NotUrAvgHR*

      Thank you, Been There! I’m OP 3 and I appreciate your kind sentiments. My new manager is Cesei’s current manager and luckily, he has taken her behavior for what it is and, from what I’ve seen, has been firm when needed. Per the advice of Alison and many here, I’ve gotten him to agree to attend the knowledge transfer meeting. I’m relieved and I hope it will make a positive difference.

  11. Bernard Andrews*

    #1 – I’m going to be blunt: there are many scenarios I’ve dealt with where someone has had “the relevant degree” and they don’t know what they’re doing, whereas other “unqualified” people have had more of an idea.

    I’m definitely not trying to say this is you, but having a degree doesn’t necessarily confer the experience or knowledge that your other degreeless peers have.

    At any rate, keep at it! You have a job, and if you’re doing well at it you will either get given a full time position, or be able to find full-time work elsewhere making use of your degree!

    1. MakesThings*

      Yes- I have a Master’s degree, and I can’t think of how it would help me in most work situations. Most of the things we learned in class were either very general, or super, super detailed. My thesis was on one specific thing that my job doesn’t deal with.
      Today, i would say I’m relying a lot more on the maturity and self-respect I gained in grad school, not the actual knowledge.

      1. Enough*

        The receptionist and my first job asked what it meant that the boss had a PhD. I told her it meant he knew a lot about one thing.

        1. BenAdminGeek*

          That’s a great explanation! And also why I decided not to go to grad school for history.

        2. Hera Syndulla*

          The receptionist and my first job asked what it meant that the boss had a PhD. I told her it meant he knew a lot about one thing.

          Lol, yes. Great explanation.
          But also, a person with a PhD has an analytical mind and has cultivated certain skills that can perhaps benefit her/him in the workforce.
          While a PhD thesis itself and knowledge gathered during the research will probably not come in handy in most jobs (in some jobs it will), I just want to say that it is still quite a feat to complete one.

      2. You don't know me*

        I have an MBA and due to unfortunate circumstances, I find myself now working in an entry level job in an only slightly related field. That degree means nothing here and doesn’t help me at all, except maybe that I’m a little quicker with spreadsheet work and more professional in my written communications than some of my coworkers. But I’m glad to have the job and try not to think about the wasted money on that useless degree.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Sorry a little late here – this is going to get worse. From the combination of employers requiring degrees for entry-level jobs and most people going along with that, everyone will have a degree and bachelor’s degrees that aren’t in a professional specialty will soon be useless for getting jobs, if they aren’t already.
          Ever since I can remember people have been under the impression MBAs would get them better jobs, and ever since I can remember there have been many MBAs who did not get better jobs.
          I’m sorry you got caught in this.

    2. Liz*

      I am guessing this could be in a library where the degree is often a requirement for full time jobs. It does not mean you know more but it is often required. So for all the full time folks to not have the degree can feel out side of norms and unfair.

      Librarians often do better finding work if they can move.

      1. LaurenB*

        This sounds so much like a library situation! I know people who have gotten stuck in those “foot in the door” part-time library assistant positions for years, just because libraries are not really growing institutions so you’re literally waiting for someone to retire, but when someone retires in another institution there usually is someone waiting in the wings so it’s tough to jump ship. It can be so hard and I sympathize with the OP – basic health coverage isn’t a problem here, but I’ve seen people waiting for years to be able to have a baby so they can get a mat leave. (Incidentally, three people in my current workplace have left about a year after finally being offered a full-time job for just this reason. I’m expecting to hear that’s it’s just not worth hiring full-timers because they just go on leave…)

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

          Yep. And as someone who does a lot of hiring for staff positions and basically no hiring for librarian positions; it sucks. Let’s say we have several positions open which don’t require anything beyond high school and you have MLS people applying along with others who have retail or admin skills. There isn’t really much chance for advancement. I and the one other librarian have about 10 years till retirement and neither of us plans to leave. It’s most unlikely we’ll be able to add professional positions. There’s always the chance that a Whippoorwill style disaster will hit*, but let’s hope not. Do you hire someone who may well be dissatisfied and resentful of their co-workers, do you give someone that foot in the door, or… and of course the MLS doesn’t mean you’ll be the best person to be a glorified receptionist.

          *see link in my name

    3. Amber T*

      I agree, but I also get the frustration behind it – if you graduated near the time of the recession, there was a lot of pressure to keep going to school and get a higher degree, because those jobs will still be there, you’ll still be okay, you’ll have better chances with a higher degree. More education = better prospects. The reality is – nope.

      (Years ago, when I was two years out of undergrad, I went on a first (and only) date with a college senior who was about to graduate and go straight to grad school. He asked me if I had plans to go to grad school, and when I said no, he asked “why, don’t you want to do something with your life?”)

      I do think it’s great that OP recognizes these feelings aren’t right, that logic-brain knows their coworkers are deserving and it’s not their fault, it’s just that feelings-brain is being a jerk. It can be hard to separate those two, and acknowledge that you need to.

      1. Bella*

        I think there’s such a focus on the ‘More education = better prospects’ message that it can feel like a personal failure when it doesn’t work out for you.
        If X promises a 98% success rate, being in the 2% really sucks. The general view of X becomes “it works!” and your one of the few voices going “no, it doesn’t!”

  12. Lilo*

    For LW1: I know this is hard, but it is absolutely crucial you keep your feelings of resentment to yourself when at work and be pleasant with your colleagues. The reason being that if you don’t. You could hurt your own chances for a full time job, either if one at your org comes up or by hurting a reference a coworker or supervisor could give (people talk). Your ability to be pleasant in this situation is an investment in your future. Keep that in mind.

    1. RedstateMotherJones*

      The point of hiring temps is to scapegoat someone for the valued employees’ mistakes. That company has no intention of making your permanent. Find a middle or senior manager who takes an interest in you, build a relationship with them, get a reference, and get the hell out of there.

      1. Chocolate lover*

        OP doesn’t actually say she is a temp. She could be an ongoing employee, but part-time.

        Thankfully when I was a temp, I wasn’t scapegoated for anyone.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        The point of hiring temps is either to temporarily increase the work force during a surge in work, or to get around labor laws by classing your employees as ongoing temps so you don’t need to give them benefits. I’ve never heard of a Little Prince scenario where the temp is there so that when a permanent employee messes up people can say “Oh dear! It was secretly the temp. Darn temp…”

        1. ExcelJedi*

          It’s rarely a Little Prince scenario, but I’ve definitely seen FT employees (who have more face time with managers, better relationships, etc.) work that narrative successfully – in poorly managed companies. The relationships tend to win out, and temps or part time people are left with the fallout of mistakes.

        2. Colette*

          In my experience, it’s often because it’s easier and faster to get approval to hire a temp. Permanent hires can be put on hold by reorgs or planned layoffs. Temps are easier and faster to get approved.

        3. Clisby Williams*

          That’s my experience. I temped a lot during graduate school, and really liked it. (My temp jobs were really temp – like at most a few weeks, so there wasn’t much room to blame me for anything.) I met interesting people in different fields, got paid way above minimum wage, and said goodbye at the end.

      3. Bagpuss*

        I have to say, as an employer that has *never* been why we’ve hired temps.

        If an employee is making mistakes, valued or not, we want to address that issue and stop it happening again.
        If we hire temps it is because we need short-term cover or additional support. And we have several permanent, full time employees who originally worked for us as temps, because if you have the opportunity to hire the person whose work you already know, and who already knows your systems and processes, it make a lot of sense to do so.

        1. Clisby Williams*

          That is exactly the case in the temp jobs I had – it was unusual for it to last more than a week. (Just as an example, a law-related organization was having a weekend conference, and hired me to work full time for 3 days doing whatever admin-type support they needed; and then to type up a couple of reports.) They certainly weren’t hiring me so they could blame me for mistakes by non-existent admin staff.

          I got a job offer via one of my temp jobs – I would taken it in a heartbeat if it hadn’t precluded my spending a summer in Germany interning for Stars & Stripes.

      4. LBK*

        What on earth? I’m sorry you’ve had such a miserable time temping but this is far from universal and it’s a weird view to keep pushing so conclusively.

    1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      This!! I’m surprised that didn’t make it into the answer, but OP4 doesn’t (just) have a Mindy problem, they have a Mork problem!

    2. CatInTheLap*

      My thoughts exactly. Especially if Mork appears to be telling Mindy to do this on his behalf. If he has a problem reading or filling out forms, OP could offer to help with those. I don’t know what kind of job this is but we frequently get people in the library who need some help with basic stuff on the computer. I don’t think they are all illiterate although some might be. More likely some kinds of processing disorder. Without forcing a disability disclosure , OP could offer assistance. And tell Mork that Mindy can’t be his emissary (unless she’s his wife or his lawyer, I suppose…)

      1. OP4*

        Yes, I think I will have a word with him. Perhaps the next time an opportunity comes that I know he’d flock to Mindy about.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I definitely think this has to be part of the answer. Mindy needs to know that you will never be able to answer questions about another employee to her, even if she’s dating that employee; but Mork also needs to know explicitly that sending Mindy to you about his stuff is not gonna get him anything useful, and he needs to stop.

  13. RedstateMotherJones*

    I’m concerned that people are missing a few major items in Op#1’s letter. I’m also in their shoes. Temp work is *designed* to run people’s confidence and qualifications into the ground. An implicit part of the job description is being demeaned in front of full-time employees and being treated poorly (unpaid off the clock hours and in some cases physical abuse are the norm for white collar temps where I live). Often the more credentials you have the more a threat you are perceived to be to the real employees. Hell, I’ve had a paramedic stop treating me when a relative who showed up informed them I’m a “temp” (managing a $10M endeavor but hey…)
    And please don’t start with the networking shaming. $50 a pop is a lot to ask of people on a precarious income , as is spending every damn night away from home. To say nothing of the fact I’ve had an “employer” go ballistic on me for “looking for a new job”… while temping.
    Chin up, OP. Remember it’s a mind game and do what you need to do to get the hell out of that situation.

    1. Tangoecho5*

      There in nothing in OP 1’s letter to indicate they are a temp worker. I read it as they were hired for part time work and are now resentful they aren’t working full time.

    2. hbc*

      I’m sorry about your situation, but I think you’re projecting. First of all, nowhere does OP say that she’s temping. Plenty of places hire directly for part time work. That can be for both good and bad reasons—having not enough work for three employees but too much for two, specific hours that need coverage, dodging benefits, etc..

      Also, temp work isn’t some nefarious plot designed by a sadist. It may end up being demoralizing to a lot of people, and it’s abused by a lot of companies, but no one is actually saying, “Let’s get another temp, I haven’t destroyed enough people’s confidence this quarter.” Yes, employers might be looking for an employee who’s easily disposable and treat them like furniture, and coworkers might take advantage and make them the blame dumping ground, but it’s not by design.

      I know it’s hard to keep a positive (or even neutral) mind if you’ve been jerked around, but the good places that are truly temp-to-hire won’t keep anyone who walks through the doors with the unspoken prejudgment that they’re terrible people.

    3. only acting normal*

      Not all part-time work is temp work. It sounds like the OP is permanent, just not full time.
      (No argument that temp work does suck in a lot of workplaces – been there, suffered that.)

      Note to cheap employers: just because the law doesn’t *require* you give benefits to part-time staff (or even temps) doesn’t mean it *prohibits* you from doing so.
      Signed, A part-time, permanent employee with a company pension and other benefits.

      1. myswtghst*

        Yes to your note! We do temp-to-hire (the goal is to convert temps to full time employees after a probationary period, and managers are rewarded for high conversion rates) and the company we work with to source and manage the temps offers benefits the temps can take advantage of until they convert.

    4. WS*

      This is certainly one possible read of the situation, but not one that I ever experienced while temping. I’m sorry that you’re going through that, but there’s no indication that OP is suffering actual abuse at work.

    5. Chocolate lover*

      I’m sorry you experienced that, but that’s definitely not universal to all temp jobs. I was treated well at the few companies I temped at, and one long-term assignment created a job for me. That wasn’t originally planned for it, but they realized they had a genuine need and thought I was good at it.

    6. Jj*

      Oh my goodness. I’ve never had a temp job (they’re not commonplace in my field), but I hope I never do if half of this is true. That seems… wrong…

      1. Lindsay J*

        It’s not true. It’s possible (unlikely, but possible) that this one person had this experience. However, the vast majority of temp jobs are nowhere like this.

        1. RedstateMotherJones*

          Thanks for saying I’m not telling the truth about my own experiences Lindsay J.

          1. LBK*

            I don’t think people are necessarily saying that didn’t happen to you, but that it’s not representative of the general experience of people who have temped. We’ve certainly never treated any of our temps that way.

          2. Observer*

            Your experiences are what they are. Even if you are recounting them 100% correctly, they are totally not universal. And your interpretation of your experiences (ie “designed to”) are not fact.

          3. Clisby Williams*

            I don’t think anybody’s saying you’re not telling the truth. Others of us have had really positive experiences temping, and that’s true too.

            This shouldn’t surprise anyone – you can have a job with good pay and benefits and it can be soul-crushing. That doesn’t mean that permanent employment with good pay and benefits is ALWAYS soul-crushing.

            There are good and bad temp jobs, just like there are good and bad contractor jobs, and good and bad part-time jobs, and good and bad full-time jobs.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I temped for a while (granted, this was about 15 years ago) and loved it. I was never treated that poorly. I would best describe the treatment I got as friendly but removed. I think a lot of people have had decent temp experiences, especially those who take short-term temp work.

    7. Lara*

      I think it’s possible you’ve just worked for some terrible companies. Also report that paramedic.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        True. Once they start treatment they are obligated under law to continue until they are relieved by someone of equal or greater authority.

    8. Lara*

      Also, check out Meetup.com and Eventbrite – there are often cheap or free networking meets on there.

    9. pleaset*

      “Temp work is *designed* to run people’s confidence and qualifications into the ground. An implicit part of the job description is being demeaned in front of full-time employees and being treated poorly”

      Not where I work. We have a seasonal event, and most temps really enjoy working with us and leave on a high.

      Oh, and the OP is talking about part-time work, not temp work. She might a temp, but there s/he didn’t say so.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        This. We had temp work that was really project focused, but high level. The reality was was that we would get work requiring very specific skillets, but not everyday. When the job ended, if there wasn’t another one waiting in the wings with exactly that kind of work, we wouldn’t be able to keep that person on staff. What I noticed, though, was that if the person was really working well, our new business team worked very hard to get more business of that kind so we could have projects to sustain them. We were always eager for temps to become full time if we had the work, but sometimes that work didn’t materialize. It was hard too because the buying timeline from initially meeting to signing a project was often months long.

    10. Jaybeetee*

      I temped for years, and while it was a stressful time and some places were awful, I certainly was never physically abused, and I never thought of my positions as a Machiavellian attempt by employers to destroy my psyche (my positions were usually more the result of employers either being lazy or cheapskates, but not evil).

      Why on earth would a paramedic stop treating you after learning what your job was? Even if you were treated as a second-class citizen at that company, why would a paramedic care? That paramedic presumably has had to resuscitate addicts, homeless people, and criminals, but draws the line at temps?

        1. RedstateMotherJones*

          Again, I’m being questioned on my own experiences. Wow.
          The paramedic example – unfortunately there was an incident where several of the team needed paramedic assistance. They were instructed by a non-injured exec to focus on employees before me the temp, though I had the worst injuries.
          The job market here is tight and I live in a culture where income inequality is huge.

          1. pleaset*

            “I’m being questioned on my own experiences. ”

            I think it’s because you opened in this thread with generalizations that were so extreme (and generally untrue) that it undermines your credibility.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            This is still a case of the paramedic being bizarre. Unless it is the case that the paramedic was a nurse employed by the company and not a hospital/ambulance service? If I am in a traffic accident and tell the paramedic, my nephew, to stop with the triage and treating the worst-injured person because that person is a temp, and they actually listen to me and let a random bystander with no medical training tell them which people to treat first based on employment history (rather than a pregnancy, heart condition, etc that might bump someone up), the injured person has a lawsuit.

            1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

              This and it’s very very unlikely to happen. In an event where there are multiple injured there would be more than 1 paramedic. The exec could say all he wants but a paramedic owns the scene and would not take direction from some rando that wants to organize things.

              All patients will be triaged and then the most critical cases would be handled first, likely by the additional paramedics/EMTs that are on scene.

              Worse than a lawsuit, the medic’s license would be on the line.

              1. Perse's Mom*

                Only thing I could think of is if the ‘paramedic’ is actually a company employee who’s gone through first responder training. Would explain both why there was apparently only one, and why they would follow directions from a boss and not their medical training to help the most injured first.

            2. DArcy*

              Willfully improper triage prioritization constitutes a failure to follow the proper standards of care (which negates professional immunity from liability) and can potentially be prosecuted as patient abandonment.

          3. Lily in NYC*

            The paramedic thing sounded quite unbelievable until you provided much needed context.

          4. Lehigh*

            I think a lot of us who are/were agog are from the U.S. Here, none of that (demeaned, abused, etc.) has been my experience of temping. I’m also not familiar with the “$50 a pop” you refer to for networking. Can you let us know what country you are in?

            1. Natalie*

              Based on the username and all of their previous comments there’s no reason to believe they aren’t in the US, or at least claiming to be in the US.

              1. Lehigh*

                Yeah, the name did give me pause…but it just sounds like completely foreign norms.

            2. Gazebo Slayer*

              I’d be very surprised if someone who posts as “RedstateMotherJones” ISN’T from the US.

              Sadly, there’s a lot of messed up stuff right here. I’ve been a temp for years and I’ve usually been treated OK in those positions (or even extra nicely if they’re grateful to have the short-term help) – but some other people have had horrific experiences temping and I don’t doubt that for a moment. Especially in, well, the red states.

              (In my experience, working directly for very small businesses is where you get the real dysfunction. At least with a temp agency you know you’re getting a paycheck. I’m fortunate to never have been physically abused, though…)

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Yep, this is what I was trying to figure out how to say. Thank you for giving me something to agree to vs. having to find a way to form the thought myself :)

      2. Baby Fishmouth*

        Yeah, that was the part I thought was weird too – no it’s absolutely NOT normal to be physically abused at a temp job, and I absolutely cannot imagine why a paramedic would stop treating someone based on employment status. Can we get more context for that?

    11. London Calling*

      * An implicit part of the job description is being demeaned in front of full-time employees*

      No it isn’t. That’s a crappy employer, not temp work per se. and can happen if you are permanent as well. When I temped my agency would have yanked me out of any place that treated me like that

    12. You don't know me*

      This is a horrible situation you are describing and I’m sorry you find yourself in it. Please know that this is not the norm and not every where is like this. In my field, we use temps as a tryout. The intent is that they temp for three months and in that time we can see if they are cut off for the job. If they are, they get hired permanent. If they aren’t, we don’t renew their contract. Only twice in 5 years did we not renew someone. First guy brought his own laptop and worked on school stuff when he was supposed to doing work stuff. Second guy brought a brief case full of beer and would take extended bathroom breaks to drink up.

    13. PizzaDog*

      I mean, that might be your experience with temping, which sucks, but that’s not what it’s designed for at all.

    14. Not a Mere Device*

      I think this varies a lot depending on location; I’ve done some temp work in/near New York City, none of which involved physical abuse and in one case led to them hiring me as full-time staff, with benefits.

      Also, I don’t think in most cases temp work is consciously designed to break people’s spirit–but that doesn’t help much, when you’re working with an agency that finds it easier or cheaper to use people up rather than to treat them like fellow human beings.

    15. The heck?*

      I’m sorry, but this can’t be true. You can say all you want that it is, but it’s unbelievable. A paramedic would not refuse you treatment based on the words of your “boss”. If this actually did happen (it didn’t), then you need to sue the fucking pants off the company that provided the services. Like, yesterday.

      Also being a temp does not imply you are to be demeaned or treated poorly at work. That is nonsense.

    16. bolistoli*

      I have done plenty of temp work, and that was never my experience. Perhaps you’ve been with a crappy temp agency or an abusive industry (it that even exists)? I have been treated well as a temp, and got hired into one of my best jobs – healthiest environment I’ve ever worked in. Another temp job, sadly was to get around labor laws, but that was the corporate issue. I was treated with respect by my manager and coworkers, and it was an exciting, fun job. And I’m really sorry, but I have a very difficult time accepting that a paramedic stopped treating you because you were a temp. WTF? I’m so sorry you have had clearly terrible experiences. But your experiences are not nearly as universal as you think.

    17. Michaela Westen*

      “(unpaid off the clock hours and in some cases physical abuse are the norm for white collar temps where I live).”
      That’s horrible! I temped for 5+ years and never experienced anything like that! What kind of place do you live in? I’m so sorry you’re dealing with that!

    18. Michaela Westen*

      Based on my experience growing up in a fundamentalist area, I think this could have happened in the U.S.A.
      It could happen in an area that’s very fundamentalist and ignorant – and unfortunately those areas are growing.
      One of the basic truths about fundamentalists is, they have no respect. For anyone. They think it’s ok to abuse anyone who isn’t following their rules about how to live. They actively try to abuse/change or convert/drive away people who aren’t following the rules or people of other religions.
      There was a case where pharmacists at Target were allowed to refuse to provide contraception to customers because it was against their religious beliefs. I think the ACA changed that?
      Anyway, if the paramedic was a product of this ignorant controlling culture, and the boss told him RedState was an unbeliever, the paramedic wouldn’t have known any better since his culture taught him this…
      He or his company should still be sued, of course. Extreme action like that can sometimes wake them up, or at least scare them into being decent.

      1. Anonymous Poster*

        That’s utterly ridiculous.

        Disrespectful people come from all religions and political positions.

        This is an absurdly large brush to smear people with.

    1. Overeducated*

      Yup. Two people on my team were supposed to work through today. One decided Monday to take leave today, the other only came in for one day this week before jumping shop.

      1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

        I’m guilty of that. When I quit my govt job I gave a month’s notice and ran out the clock calling in sick almost every day to use up all the sick leave I had but could not cash out.

    2. NotUrAvgHR*

      Hi Mom & all! OP 3 here. It’s definitely a possibility that Cersei will gradually fade away (which I’ve definitely seen in other similar circumstances) … but a key factor here that I should have mentioned in my original post is that Cersei was offered a severance package, which is contingent upon her staying until her last day of work. In my jurisdiction, she’s not entitled to use vacation time during her notice period, and if she were to outright quit, she’d of course lose her entitlement to the severance. So she’s been here and will likely be here until her last day early next week, but of course she’s not been productive or helpful at all since she was put on notice.

    3. Gotham Bus Company*

      OP3 has already commented that Cersei will lose her severance pay if she doesn’t work ALL of her remaining time.

      1. KarenK*

        My main concern in OP3’s situation is not that she will receive no knowledge transfer, but that the knowledge transfer could be incomplete or sabotaged in some way.

        OP3, keep in mind that whatever you do concerning Cersei’s responsibilities going forward, chances are you will develop your own processes for completing the work. I took over a role from a colleague (she was not laid off, but found another job within our organization), and I do things completely differently from how my predecessor did them.

      2. London Calling*

        Which in my opinion is pretty shitty behaviour. Not only is she being laid off, she’s being told she has to work right up to the last minute with people who are keeping their jobs, and being held to ransom as well by being told to turn up and work or you don’t get your severance. She might not be handling it in the most professional way, but from her point of view she’s being used until the company has no further use for her at which point they’ll show her the door – all the power is on the company’s side and they don’t sound like they are being gracious or understanding about how this feels for her.

        1. Oilpress*

          Exactly. This all sounds like an exercise in trying to build as much animosity as possible.

        2. NotUrAvgHR*

          Hi London Calling, I’m OP3. I can understand why you might conclude this is shitty behaviour, but I can honestly say this is not the company’s intent. In my jurisdiction (which is outside of the US) it’s very common to instate a notice period in line with local labour legislation and expect that the employee work to the end (which of course is an alternate to terminating the employee immediately and providing the required amount of pay in lieu of notice.) The company chose to do it in this manner (and offer a severance package in addition to providing a notice period) because the expectation for Cersei were that she attend court to close out a legal issue (of which she had been dealing with over the last few months.) The company needed her to hold to the court date particularly because it was in another jurisdiction where the primary language is not English; at present, she is the only one in the department who can fluently speak this language.

          1. MostCake*

            My company won’t pay out your accrued PTO and illness bank hours if you do not work every hour of a notice period . I think that’s pretty much the norm in my area of the US and industry (hospital). Between the two, I’ve got well into five figures accrued and if they were in jeopardy, be certain I’d come in early and stay late every one of the notice days. The organization pays out accrued PTO hours at 100 percent, but illness bank at only 50 percent, but at my last place of employment they kept all of you illness bank no matter what. I was steamed when I left because I am so conscientious about calling in sick – thus I basically handed them six weeks pay when I left, so I felt cheated. At least with current employer, I will get half the hours paid to me.

          2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse*

            It’s still pretty awful. It sounds like the company is using her and spitting her out. “Here, you’re not good enough to keep your job but teach your replacement AND you better work every hour because we still need you but not enough that we’ll actually keep you.” She may be acting badly but the company is acting far worse.

          3. London Calling*

            The thing is NotUr, it might not be their intent but it’s very strongly how it comes across. When my ex was playing around and running back and whining that he didn’t mean to hurt me, my response was ‘I don’t know what you meant. I only know what you did.’ And that Cersei is being told she has to stay so she can represent the company in court because she is the only one who can do this makes this WORSE, not better. Your company really is getting every cents worth from her and being very churlish about it when it ought to be grovelling to her and asking her to do this as a last favour and doing everything to keep her happy. Frankly if I were Cersei I would be waiting for the day I can leave this company behind and I wouldn’t be complimentary about it when I told other people about my experience, either.

            Look at it from her point of view. She’s being made redundant, so she has no job and she’s probably scared for her future – and I can tell you from personal experience that being made redundant is a rejection and a deeply soul-sapping experience. She wants to move on but she can’t because the company that is tossing her out won’t toss her out until professionally it has drained her dry, and she has to come into this place every day and make nice. If I was an employee of your company watching how it treats Cersei I’d be buffing up the CV pronto and getting out of there, because this company sounds like it doesn’t give a damn about its employees.

  14. Mom MD*

    OP 1: I understand your frustration of not working full time with benefits. That may not become an available position. You were apparently hired part time. That is not the fault nor responsibility of your coworkers, even if you feel you are more qualified. If you say anything spiteful, all support for you will be rightfully gone. Be polite. If your work situation is not to your liking, start a job search. In life someone will always have more than you. Bitterness about it will only bring you down.

    1. CocoB*

      It does seem that OP1 was hired part time. What is unknown is whether OP was the most recent person hired in the department and a full time position is not yet available or in the budget. In which case, this is not at all about skill or degrees. Don’t make it personal.

      Or… If OP was hired with option of going full time later based on performance, etc., OP may not be meeting required bench marks for full time status and did not include that in the letter.

      It appears there may be more to the story… OP you say your supervisor know you want full time hours. What reason has your boss given you for your position remaining part time? That answer is key and should guide how you respond.

      1. myswtghst*

        I do think this is a good place for OP#1 to do some self-reflection about why they are not full time, and to really try to be as objective as possible about it. Taking a step back to think about what the situation was when OP#1 was hired (Was there any promise or expectation of a transition to FT? Was there an expected timeline?), to look at the reasons why others on the team are FT (not just having a degree, but also the timing of when they were hired, if they have relevant experience, and/or are consistently a top performer), and to try to figure out what it is that is holding OP#1 back.

        It’s possible there are valid reasons why OP#1 is not full time, and acknowledging those could give OP#1 something to work on (improving performance, gaining relevant experience, changing problematic behaviors, etc…) to help them get to their goal. It could also help them realize they’ll be relying on something like a coworker leaving to open up a FT role, in which case it’s probably time to start job-hunting. It’s also possible OP#1 will objectively analyze the situation and realize they are being mistreated (by their employer, not their coworkers), which would also be a signal that it’s time to start job-hunting.

        Regardless of why OP#1 is not full-time, though, it is worthwhile to focus on performing well in their current role to the best of their ability until they decide on their next step(s), because a good reference can be invaluable.

  15. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    #2 – The impulse to tell them is very understandable! I don’t blame you in the slightest. But here’s another idea: tell successful applicants that part of the reason they were chosen was because they treated staff well.

    Rude people don’t care and aren’t interested in listening. Unless a person wants to change, they aren’t going to take the feedback well. Instead, let your applicants and employees know that their respect for others is what got them recognised. Treat them with respect in return. That’s going to have the biggest pay-off for you. The rude people are just going to sap more of your time and energy: the more you tell they’re behaving poorly, the harder they’ll dig in their heels. Put your energy into the people who are worth it.

    Another benefit, although you might not see the results of this one, is that word gets around. These employees will tell people, “I got the job because I was nice to the people already working there.” It might click eventually that bad behaviour doesn’t pay off. If it doesn’t click, well, that’s not your problem.

    But believe me, I completely the understand the impulse to say, “You’d have got the job if you weren’t so deeply unpleasant on every level” except with more graphic descriptions. Have fun ranting to your friends about what you’d like to say, then reward the good applicants and employees.

    1. WS*

      The only situation where I wouldn’t necessarily just let it go is if your employee base is teenagers, which it might be in retail. Adults who behave rudely have decided that they’re entitled to behave that way and are unlikely to change via outside influence. Teenagers behave rudely for any number of reasons and sometimes a wake-up call does some good (and of course, sometimes it doesn’t!) Not that I think you should employ the rude teenagers, but letting them know that they made a poor impression might be useful to them whereas it wouldn’t be to an adult.

      1. Clorinda*

        High school teacher here: Yes, please do tell them. We tell them these things, but the more they hear it, the more likely it is to stick–especially if it comes with real consequences.

        1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          Do you have a script you can suggest? Both you and WS make really good points and I’d love to get an idea of how to best phrase the feedback.

          1. Clorinda*

            Well, blaming and shaming don’t work, that’s for sure! Also, adolescents tend to resent, very strongly, any imputation of immaturity, so don’t start with, “When you’re older, you’ll realize…” As with any feedback, specificity is good. “Rude” is vague. “We need people who know how to smile and respond politely, shake hands with others, say please and thank you routinely, and not sigh and roll their eyes at people.” These are all skills that can and should be learned and should be framed as such. I’m working with my own teenaged children on making eye contact and responding audibly to adults. For many kids, this does not come naturally!

            1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

              Sorry for the very late reply, but thank you for your response! I really appreciate it and will refer to it in the future. Hope you have a good day!

      2. Michaela Westen*

        Not just teens – 20 and 30 somethings may not have figured this out yet. I hadn’t. Yes, I was unusually slow.

    2. You don't know me*

      This is an extreme example, but I have heard of places where one of the interview questions is “what was the name of the person who checked you in” or something along those lines. It’s supposed to help determine how good you are with people and how much you pay attention to detail. I had a version of this happen to me. When I arrived for the interview, an admin type person sat with me first to make sure I had all the paperwork in order and had completed the required testing. Later, in the actual interview, they asked me who did my intake review and were impressed when I actually knew her name. Apparently a lot of people didn’t pay attention.

      1. smoke tree*

        Oh man, I would do so badly at that test. There’s only a 50/50 chance I’m going to remember even the interviewer’s name.

      2. bonkerballs*

        This seems like it would be an odd test. Like, I get the sentiment, but I could probably count on one hand the number of receptionists that actually told me their name when I’ve come to check in for an appointment. I know when I was a receptionist, that was certainly not something I did.

      3. The Schwa*

        That would be a nightmare for me. I am really bad with names. It took me way longer than I want to admit to know my coworkers names/know which person the name belonged to.

  16. AdAgencyChick*

    #3, good luck! The advice already given is good, and I think you also need to work with your manager to figure out what to do if Cersei is stingy with information or flat out doesn’t show up to your meeting.

    The problem is you don’t have a ton of leverage here. She doesn’t seem to care about what kind of reference she can get from your team after she’s gone given her other behavior, so I wouldn’t be shocked if she refuses to meet or is rude on the basis of “What are they going to do, fire me?”

  17. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    #1 – No advice other than what’s been given, but I’d like to add that a mark of good character is someone who recognises less-than-positive feelings and works to make sure they don’t translate into less-then-positive behaviour. What you describe is very normal and human, but instead of giving in, you’re looking for solutions. That speaks quite highly of the kind of person you are.

    Actually, I would like to second the advice about meditation. If you’re not doing it already, a simple meditation of even twenty minutes a day can help so much in gaining clarity and control over your emotions. It’s not a miracle cure by any means, but it can help you find focus and take the edge of the more harmful emotions. It can help take you from “Why do they deserve good and I don’t?” to “I am disappointed and that isn’t going away. But I will focus on doing what I can to change things in my own life.”

    Good luck and hope things work out for you soon!

    1. The Ginger Ginger*

      Yes, and this might sound a bit…..woo woo? but OP 1, you may want write a phrase or mantra (I can’t think of a better word than this, though I don’t really mean in the spiritual sense) to focus on while you meditate. It can be something as simple as “I choose to be a kind person who behaves professionally.” To something more complicated like, “I am working towards a full time job, my good work and positive attitude here will help me achieve my goals. I respect my coworker’s achievements, and strive to achieve the same success in my own professional life.” Or whatever. Something that breaks up that bitterness though spiral and actively reframes that pattern in your brain. It takes some practice, but you CAN be intentional about your inner thoughts; you don’t have to be at their mercy.

      Good luck!

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        This is an excellent idea and can be so helpful. It’s so good to have something to switch to and break up the unhealthy pattern.

  18. Delta Delta*

    #2 – This crosses my mind: who defines “rude?” Suppose an applicant comes in, drops off an application, and that’s that. The person who receives it says, “well, she (insert perceived slight here), let’s put it in the bin.” Although that employee would likely be working with the new hire and would want to get a sense of the applicant, this method gives the employee too much power. The company may be missing out on good hires because of this screening system.

    That said, it seems self-defeating for an applicant to act like a jerk. That feels like common sense, which, if AAM has taught us all anything, is sorely lacking in some people.

    1. FD*

      These are people who work in customer service. If someone is coming off as rude to someone who spends 6-8 hours per day dealing with customers, they probably are being rude. You don’t last long in that field if you have a thin skin.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah this concern seems like a bit of a stretch to me. As long as the employees are reporting back on behaviors (she interrupted a customer and demanded I take her resume immediately) vs. impressions (she didn’t seem like she would fit in here) I don’t see a problem with this. It’s not even really a screening system, it’s just part of the reality that when you’re applying for a job, every interaction counts!

    2. Kate*

      From your post I feel like you never worked in retail. You would be very surprised at how many new applicants look down and are rude to Customer service when they turn in an application and even when they show up for the interview. I think allowing customer service to have a say in keeping out rude potential employees is a great way to give employees a feeling that they are important to the company and that the company takes their thoughts seriously.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Did a lot of time in retail. And restaurants. And a couple bars. I worked with great people. I also worked with people who found rudeness where there was none. It wouldn’t have been a good system to let those co-workers bin applicants based on perceived rudeness.

    3. NW Mossy*

      I think it’s a lot more likely that they’re selecting out people who are more likely to demonstrate poor service skills.

      Yes, rudeness is a judgment call. But if you trust the person reporting rudeness as one who gives reasonable, fair-minded assessments on this kind of stuff, it makes more sense to believe that report than it does to give maximum benefit of the doubt to a candidate that’s a total unknown.

    4. Observer*

      My experience is that the kind of person who listens to what the customer service people say, and who wants to find a nice way to give constructive feedback is not likely to give too much weight to someone who finds rudeness where is doesn’t exist.

  19. FD*

    #1- I think that for a lot of people, envy most often crops up when they feel helpless to move towards their goals. That’s understandable–when you feel like your goals are completely in others’ hands, you naturally feel resentful! It sounds like that’s the case here–you want full-time work but don’t see any way to get there.

    In that kind of situation, I’ve found it helpful to really drill down on what things I can control that get me closer to my goals. For instance, could you take on some freelance work or side jobs that would help relieve the financial pinch a bit? If health insurance is the biggest issue, are there any assistance programs in your area that might be able to help you get access to it affordably? Start the goals small so they don’t seem overwhelming. For example, “This week, I’m going to make one phone call to the county switchboard and ask about programs to help with health insurance.” Or “this week, I’m going to mention to one coworker that I’m interested in pet-sitting”. Focusing on what is in your power instead of in others’ power can make you feel much less helpless, and therefore less angry at others.

    Secondly, I personally find that it helps not to have too much free time. Relaxing is good, but for me at least, having long blocks of time just watching YouTube or farting around on social media makes me stew and makes me feel worse about things. Are there things that make you feel good that you could be doing? Hobbies? Volunteering (particularly if there is volunteer work you could do related to your field)? If you can frame working part time as having at least some good benefits for now (e.g. more time to spend on hobbies/volunteer work), even if your goal is to work full-time, that can help take some of the sting out as well.

    1. nonymous*

      I also find that (in addition to implementing a plan like FD describes) when work life is crappy, it is important to take the time/effort to identify what is going well in one’s personal life and acknowledge that positive. Does PT employment mean that OP#1 gets to spend more time with family/pets, engage in a hobby, eat home-cooked meals, visit the library, avoid traffic, volunteer, etc? Make it a point to exercise!

      Basically anything that lets OP internally reframe from “my life is crappy b/c Work. ugh, here’s another email from BobbySue” to “work is crappy, but after I respond to this email from BobbySue I get to do FunThing.”

      1. FD*


        It can be helpful to realize too that looking for the positive doesn’t mean that you have to ignore the negative! I think a lot of times people think that either you have to go “Ugh, everything sucks right now” or you have to go “Well I won’t complain at all or feel bad because other people have it worse.”

        It can just feel more empowering to think “Yeah, things are really hard right now. I want to get a full time job and I want to get benefits. But right now, I’m going to do [XYZ] to help with that goal, and I do have the opportunity to do [ABC].”

    2. annakarina1*

      I agree that I get bored with too much free time. I work full-time, and after work and on weekends, I usually like to work out, play bar trivia, go to the movies, read books, write about films, see friends, or attend some kind of social event. My eyes glaze over from watching a screen too much, and I can also get bored if I’m browsing through YouTube or social media too much. It is healthier to have good hobbies and outlets outside of work rather than spending time being jealous of others based on social media feeds.

    3. myswtghst*

      This is great advice. I coach entry level employees on career development, and one of the things we talk a lot about is effectively setting goals. So many people get so focused on the big goal that they look right past all the little steps along the way that will not only help them get to the big goal, but will help them feel more accomplished now.

      1. FD*

        Definitely! A lot of the time, I find people become overwhelmed because they think things like “Well, how can I ever write a 50,000 word book” or “How can I go from my $20,000/year to a $50,000 /year”. It seems like too much.

        But if you can break it down to, “Okay, can I write 1,000 words this week?” and “Okay, can I go from making $20,000/year to $22,000/year?” it seems way more attainable, and feels amazing when you see yourself making progress on it.

        Though there are parts of Dave Ramsey’s approach that I don’t agree with, I do think that’s the powerful thing about his debt snowball concept.

  20. Sarah*

    OP#3 I have been on both ends of this, I was laid off a few years ago, and I hope I wasn’t that bad. But I know I was bitter that they were keeping others and not me. I think most of us always see it as the company should keep the best worker in our own opinion and forget that there are other factors and other opinions of who the best workers are. Refrain from telling your co-worker that they will find a better job because it is very scary to lose your income. When I was on your end earlier this year to help myself I scheduled the meeting alone with my co-worker getting laid off and told her how shocked I was they were letting her go and that I didn’t know how the department was going to work without her, gave her my phone number email on a card to use for a reference if she ever needed one. I treaded lightly in the meeting trying not to ask to much. I went in thinking at most I was going to get only the bare bones on what needs to be done, because she has nothing to lose. I think empathizing with her, reiterating how good of an employee she is and offering up myself as a reference helped. She gave me more than I would have thought. So good luck this is never easy.

    1. ExcelJedi*

      This! I came to say that Cerci should be dealt with with empathy and support. She’s the one losing her income and whose life is being turned upside down. The fact that she’s asked to work for her notice period may be a necessity for the business, but it’s also somewhat cruel and definitely heartbreaking to her.

      I’ve been the employee who survived layoffs twice so far, and the main thing I’ve learned from it is to reach out and support those who are let go. In this world, money and jobs come and goes, but humans are important.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      If Cersei was behaving even marginally professionally, this would be the way to go, but she’s not. I think we can all empathize with her situation, but she’s started being obstructionist and unpleasant to work with to everyone, including people who had no part in the decision to let her go. She’s taking any possible good reference from anyone at this company and essentially lighting it on fire. As emotional and upset as Cersei must be feeling, that’s not how anyone should behave at work, and OP shouldn’t feel like they should have to give a pity reference or perform sympathy for Cersei. Yes, be as kind as possible, this is hard for C, but I don’t think OP can in good conscience offer a reference here. At best, if OP is honest in a reference, they can only say something like “Cersei did good work until the company had to lay her off. Then she was unhelpful and unprofessional during the transition.”

      1. Sarah*

        I’m guessing you have never been laid off, and never had that deep rooted fear of loss of your income. While I think Cersei is handling it badly, we don’t know what transpired between her and her boss prior to her lay off and for myself I am sure when it happened to me I did as badly as well. I am so glad the people I worked with overlooked my attitude after my layoff and only thought about the job I did before then. When they offered to be references, and got me in contact with potential employers it was so wonderful to be supported in my time of need and despair. At the time when they exclaimed their support of how unfair my layoff was and how my replacement was going to have a rough road ahead it was a boost to my severely gutted self esteem. I would hope that anyone taking a new position where someone is being laid off for you to keep a job would humble yourself to look past the person’s actions when leaving and receiving potentially financially devastating new that they would be the bigger person (and the one with a steady paycheck) and offer support. I can’t imagine not doing that for someone else after it happened to me, and I know for a fact there are others that do to and I am very thankful for them.

        1. The Ginger Ginger*

          I in fact have weathered a few lay offs. I’ve watched dear friends marched straight out of the building and into unemployment. They would have LOVED to been able to work out some type of notice period to give themselves time to transition. Cersei is getting severance and a notice period where she can both pull a paycheck while waiting for that severance to kick in and start job hunting. Layoffs suck. They’re scary, painful, and emotional. No one is asking Cersei to be happy or not scared, and heck, I would also be more than willing to overlooks some kind of attitude. But she’s being actively obstructionist. That’s where I draw the line. I sympathize, I empathize, but I still wouldn’t be able to give a good reference to someone who started actively sabotaging my work once they got laid off.

        2. Aphrodite*

          Sarah, that is the kindest, most thoughtful thing anyone has said here. I hope the OP listens to you. Maybe she ought to reconsider having the manager at the meeting. If it is just her and C, then she may be able to talk personally to her. And even if C doesn’t respond I suspect it will stay with her and be an important memory later on.

          You don’t have to do this, of course. And it may come to naught. And it may even result in your not getting information you may need from her but … it strikes me as the most humane thing possible in this bad situation.

  21. Roscoe*

    OP #3 I have to say, its pretty damn ballsy of your company to lay someone off (who was up for a promotion!) then expect her to happily sit down and do a transfer of knowledge. I mean I suppose they could make her severance (assuming she is getting one) incumbent on that, but it just seems so damn rude and tone deaf to do so. This is one of those things where they knew layoffs were coming and should have been a bit more proactive on knowing what she was working for. In her position, I probably wouldn’t want to either. The one time I was laid off, they basically said I could leave immediately, but said that since my severence didn’t start for a few weeks and I was still technically employed, they asked that I be willing to come in and help with these things if needed. That was a much better way to handle this.

    Anyhow, as for what you can do. I’d just ask her manager to conduct this meeting and see if you can stay out of it. No need for you to be the target of her wrath or even have to deal with it. The manager decided to lay her off, and they can deal with the consequences

    1. The Ginger Ginger*

      I don’t think it’s “ballsy” for a business to make a decision that’s best for the business (and the continued employment of the rest of their employees), then expect an employee to behave professionally – so long as the company continues to behave appropriately to the laid off employee(s) . Layoffs suck, but sometimes they happen, and sometimes they happen to super talented and qualified people. When OP says the only other person up for the promotion was Cersei, the kindest interpretation is that the employer were actually considering both. It could also be that Cersei was the only other person who applied, but she wasn’t actually a serious contender. Either way, they had 2 people who could do a job; they only needed 1. And given they’re doing massive restructuring any way, there’s no reason to think that the promotion (or lack there of) had anything to do with the layoff. Based on Cersei’s unprofessional response (if for no other reason), it is perfectly possible that there were reasons to lay off Cersei that OP doesn’t have insight into.

      An employer isn’t family, it’s not a friend. And an employee isn’t working at a company out of compassion and kindness. It’s a mutually beneficial business arrangement. Once the benefit is no longer mutual, on either side, the arrangement ends. You wouldn’t say it’s “ballsy” of Cersei to have accepted a new job and given 2 weeks notice then still expect the employer she’s leaving to behave well to her for her notice period; any resigning employee should expect that. This is the same thing in reverse. OP says in the comments that Cersei has been given a severance package, and if she’d taken advantage of it, actually being asked to work through the end of her lay off period could have been a huge opportunity to get herself a ton of good will and some kick ass references from her coworkers, and start a job search before she was completely unemployed. There’s no indication that OP’s company has been anything but professional in their dealings with Cersei through this lay off. So yes, they actually have every reason and right to expect Cersei to behave like a professional while she works out this notice period.

      1. Roscoe*

        We can agree to disagree here. When you are laying someone off without cause, a company should try to be as compassionate as possible. I didn’t really see that happening here. I’m not condoning Cersei’s behavior, but I do understand it.

        And plenty of companies DO just show people the door when they put in their 2 weeks. If they don’t, its usually because they want something from them, not out of a sense of professionalism. My last job I left, they kept me on because they knew it meant I’d close some last sales before I left, whereas if I just transferred them to someone else, the chance of it closing would go down. So they benefitted. Cersei doesn’t benefit at all here.

        1. You don't know me*

          I agree with “When you are laying someone off without cause, a company should try to be as compassionate as possible.”

          I also used to work at a place where when you gave your two weeks notice, you were told to gather your things and leave right then. They’d pay you for the two weeks but didn’t you want you talking to clients anymore.

        2. The Ginger Ginger*

          I don’t think we’re necessarily in direct disagreement here. And I’m also not saying I don’t understand Cersei feeling upset and emotional. But there’s also no indication that OP’s company isn’t behaving compassionately in this letter. Op has stated in the comments that the company is providing severance. And working out the notice period here gives Cersei the opportunity to pull a paycheck for a bit longer while waiting for that to kick in, jump into the job search before being fully unemployed, plus (theoretically) build some last minute good will/capital with coworkers during the transition that she could leverage for networking or references.

          I get that being laid off is a sudden and all consuming fear, and I would totally overlook Cersei being a little brusquer than typical or even down right snappish. No one’s expecting her to be bright and perky, that’s ludicrous. But to be downright obstructionist and unhelpful? That’s not only targeting employees with no responsibility for the layoff, it’s ultimately self sabotaging.

      2. LBK*

        You wouldn’t say it’s “ballsy” of Cersei to have accepted a new job and given 2 weeks notice then still expect the employer she’s leaving to behave well to her for her notice period; any resigning employee should expect that. This is the same thing in reverse.

        It’s not really comparable because a company will pretty much always be fine when someone quits but someone who gets laid off could be screwed for quite a while until they can find a new job. There’s really no good way to lay someone off; you can be as compassionate and professional about it as possible, but at the end of the day you’re still yanking someone’s livelihood out from under them.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Exactly. The power differential makes it a vastly different situation, always.

      3. Anna*

        My interpretation from that op and cersei were the only applicants for the job was that op was at a lower pay and probably amenities level (PTO, Bonus, etc) Which is the reason companies do larger layoffs. So I agree it is ballsy to expect Cersei to train someone to do the job she was laid off from when she was being prepped for a promotion but was suddenly asked to interview and then someone else was brought in.

        1. LBK*

          FWIW a knowledge transfer isn’t the same as training, it usually just means transitioning ongoing projects and maybe going over some specific processes that person covered. If one of my coworkers left they might need to show me how they ran a particular report, but I already know how to use the system and run reports in general – they aren’t really “training” me on their job.

    2. Oilpress*

      Yeah, it’s weird to expect cooperation from someone you are firing…unless you give them an extra financial incentive to do so.

        1. Kate*

          Severance does not make it ok. Cersei is pissed and she should be, its wrong to lay someone off you were offering a promotion to and then give the job to someone else that needs to be trained. And it is wrong of OP to expect this when she took her job.

          1. The Ginger Ginger*

            But that’s not what’s happening. Cersei’s not training OP. She’s being asked to transition her work. Those are vastly different things. And OP didn’t take Cersei’s job. It sounds like from the letter the company has been actively restructuring and downsizing, and in that climate, 2 employees applied for the same promotion, with the understanding that whoever wasn’t selected may be let go in the restructuring. That really sucks; it’s really scary; and it’s unfortunate that was the way it shook out for Cersei. But OP got the promotion through merit, and that’s not theft. Given that Cersei is receiving a severance package in exchange for working out her remaining time, OP is in no way wrong to expect that transition to go marginally smoothly. I’m sorry for OP that’s not the case. And I’m also sorry for Cersei to now be in the position of being laid off, but OP is not at fault here. And even OP’s employer isn’t really “at fault”. It’s just a crap situation.

            1. Kate*

              The first line makes is sound like she is taking her job “I was recently promoted. Unfortunately, the only other internal contender for the job is being laid off” If she wasn’t taking her job she wouldn’t need to be transition her work or be working for her manager, the work would go to her co-workers and its semantics to say that’s not training. We will have to disagree on the company being wrong, and on OP being crazy to think the transition will go smoothly.

            2. NotUrAvgHR*

              OP 3 here. I’m very appreciative of watching this particular thread unfold and being able to see both sides of the coin. Ginger Ginger’s most recent reply is pretty dead on in terms of some of the background: Cersei isn’t being asked to train me, she’s being asked to transfer her unfinished projects and any other information I need to know/systems I need to be aware of and obtain access to. In terms of the internal promotion, it was only offered to her and I because we were the only employees in our department who were qualified enough for it, and the expectation was set with us that the person who did not end up getting the position would likely be laid off … so we knew what we were in for. It was a very stressful period for both Cersei and I, and it also added stress to our working relationship (which was pretty decent before we were thrown into this “it’s you or me” situation.) As I mentioned in a previous comment, I tried not to be overconfident and tried to mentally prepare myself in the case it was me who did not get chosen … and the thought alone did make me feel crappy and bitter. So I don’t blame Cersei for feeling this way, but the expectation was set with her that she needs to use her notice period to close out the important items she had been overseeing (which is really not an uncommon expectation in my jurisdiction when someone is put on notice as opposed to terminated immediately with pay in lieu of notice.)

  22. You don't know me*

    A “Transfer of Knowledge” meeting on the last day of a disgruntled employee is not going to accomplish anything. Best case is she doesn’t actually show up on her last day. Worst case is she does and deliberately gives you wrong info. Regardless, none of this should have been saved for the last day.

    When I was going to be laid off I saw it coming from a mile away. Suddenly my manager was very interested in all my projects and making sure I had completed my team’s mid-year reviews a full month before they were due. He nailed down everything he possibly could. Professionally, I give him props for making sure my departure wouldn’t cause too many bumps. Personally, I’m grateful I read the writing on the wall and was prepared for the eventual redundancy meeting.

    1. You don't know me*

      I always hated reading that word in job postings but it did make me smile when I saw it here.

    2. NotUrAvgHR*

      I’m OP3 and this made me smile and laugh! After years of writing and approving job descriptions, words like “incumbent” make a permanent place in my brain.

  23. Employment Lawyer*

    Re Mork / Mindy:

    I think it’s worthwhile to be even more blunt.
    “Mindy, you must know that companies frequently refuse to hire employees who are involved, or prohibit dating, because they are afraid that it will cause people to cross boundaries and break internal rules. That is precisely what you are doing here. If you keep up this behavior it may affect you professionally.”

  24. Amaryllis*

    #3 I’ve never been laid off and not immediately “secured”. Usually the employee is called to the boss/HR and given the news, while IT is simultaneously locking them out of all permissions. It’s very odd to me that Cersei is still around to wreak havoc.

    1. pleaset*

      The immediate locking out in standard in some fields, but not in others.

      At this moment, my organization has someone who was told he is being laid off two months ago still working with us, in our finance department. His last day is next month I believe.

      We’ve had two big rounds of layoffs in the last 15 years, and both times the laid-off employees were able to work with us for a month or more if they wished. We certainly wanted that, as it helped with transitions. The odds of someone here trying to “wreak havoc” are very slim. People want good references. Severance pay helps too. And while they might be pissed about being laid off, there’s a benefit to all of telling people as early as it’s decided so they can plan themselves.

    2. You don't know me*

      This. The whole team knew when someone was getting let go because the manager would come to their desk and ask them to join him the conference room. He didn’t usually show his face and never met with non-supervisory staff unless it was bad news. Then they’d hear me (supervisor) on the phone with IT getting the person’s access revoked (had to be done before they left the building.) I tried to be subtle about it but you know how quiet an office can get when the people know something’ going down. Especially when the manager then came back to gather the now unemployed person’s personal belongings.

      Luckily when my time came, I figured it out about 20 minutes before it actually happened and I had all my stuff packed up and sitting on the corner of the desk. I also had time to email myself some personal files and contacts.

    3. Working Hypothesis*

      The last time I was laid off, I was invited to stay for two extra weeks to wrap up and say goodbye to my clients. It does happen. Of course I was expected to (and did!) act professionally — e.g. being polite and reasonably cheerful when dealing with clients or coworkers; not discussing the situation with clients except to tell them I’d be leaving, etc. But the fact that they trusted me to do that, and gave me a chance to wrap up my working relationships positively, went a long way toward taking the sting out of having to go at all.

  25. Xarcady*

    #1. Oh, OP #1, I hear you. I’m currently temping full time and also have a permanent, part-time retail job. The whole situation stinks.

    I *could* go full-time at the store, but I dislike retail greatly and, more importantly, a “full-time” job at this store is 30 hours a week. This is not enough money for me to live on, and with the erratic retail hours it would be near impossible to get a part-time job. And a part-time job would be necessary to have enough money to pay rent, all the bills and save a tiny bit. Oh, and buy food and gas.

    But I’ve also been temping at the same company for almost four years now. At first, it was a lot of short projects–2 weeks to 2 months– and I knew the projects would end. Then it was 6 months every winter at one job, and short projects over the summer. Now I’ve been working in the same position for a year and a half.

    Clearly, they need someone doing what I’m doing. But they aren’t looking to hire anyone full-time to do the job. This company relies heavily on temps. There are people who have temped here for 8 years full-time and still haven’t been hired permanently.

    It’s hard to keep smiling when there’s a holiday and everyone else gets a long weekend and I’m looking at the loss of a day’s pay. Or over the November/December holiday season, when the company gives permanent employees lots of paid time off, and I’m looking at the loss of 6-7 days of pay in a 5 week period. Yes, it’s nice I get two days off at Thanksgiving. No, it is not nice that the manager comes around at noon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. and sends us all home and now I’m looking at getting only half a week’s pay.

    It’s hard to keep smiling when a client delays getting stuff back to us and I get sent home for a day or two until there’s work for me. Yes, I could use a day off. No, I really can’t stand to lose the money.

    It’s hard to keep smiling when you ask your supervisor if you can use them for a reference and they get upset that you are job hunting. And you fear that you have burned a bridge now and they won’t consider you if your job becomes permanent. And you are also not happy that your loyalty to the company is in question when you are “just a temp.” Want me to be loyal? Then hire me! But you can’t say that, can’t even hint that.

    It stinks that the job I really don’t like would like to hire me full-time and the job I really like won’t.

    What keeps me going is that even though I haven’t found a good permanent job yet, I know that someday I will. There just aren’t that many jobs in my field around here–employees at this company have commutes of up to 2 hours each way, because they can’t find anything closer. So I just keep plugging away. Thanks to this site, I’ve upgraded my resume and cover letter, and I’m getting interviews. No job offers yet, but someday that will change.

    My advice to you is to keep doing a good job. Don’t let your frustration show at work. See if you can find volunteer work that would increase your skill set. And apply for other jobs whenever you find something you can do. Don’t wait for the company to decide to make you full-time. It might happen, but it could take years. Instead of re-acting to your situation, be pro-active and do what you can to change things for the better.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      It takes a lot of goddamn nerve and entitlement to get upset at a *temp* for job-hunting.

      1. London Calling*

        Well, as we can see from the company that employs Cersei upthread, some employers have a shedload of entitlement and not too much awareness.

      2. JoJo*

        I’ve encountered that exact attitude. I had been unemployed for 3 months, no health insurance, interviewed for a job and they wanted me to start in two days. The temp agency’s attitude was “How dare you!” Sorry, I wasn’t going to lose the chance for a permanent job with benefits to give notice for a no benefit temp job.

        Ironically, the boss at the job understood completely, and even said, “you have to do what’s best for you”.

  26. essEss*

    “Mindy, if you keep attempting to access confidential employee data even though I’ve told you to stop, I will have to report this to your supervisor due to employee confidentiality policies. This puts your job at risk for violating privacy policies and puts my job at risk if I give you any information.”

  27. The Ginger Ginger*

    OP 3 – I know this doesn’t necessarily help with the stress piece of what you’re working through – BUT – if you are a little apprehensive about any attitude she’s going to pull in this meeting, this is the perfect opportunity to reframe your relationship to her ire to one of spectatorship. This attitude is so inappropriate and so unprofessional it’s almost fascinating to watch her burn her future reference to the ground. She could be setting herself up for a spectacular reference here, given she’s been laid off and not fired, but she’s making it so she can’t ever use anyone at the company going forward. It’s very unfortunate for her, but if you can just treat this whole thing with her as an interesting field study in the behavior of disgruntled unprofessionals (Homo Sapiens Fergusi), I think at least you’ll feel better. Good luck!

    1. NotUrAvgHR*

      Thanks again, Ginger Ginger! It’s interesting–I’ve had all sorts of difficult (to say the least!) conversations with other members of my workforce, but knowing that I have to have one with a peer in my department feels like a completely different situation. Before this, Cersei and I had a decent working relationship and I think a lot of my anxiety comes from the fact that she personally feels angry towards me for getting the position that could have kept her employed. I am saddened that it has to end like this and it’s hard for me to think about how to professionally **and empathetically** react if she goes off on me.

  28. Former Computer Professional*

    “Constructive dismissal’ is one of those terms (like “hostile workplace”) that get thrown around without it being correctly understood,.

    I’m not a lawyer, but in the US, I believe that “constructive dismissal” is when an employer makes a job so intolerable that it is impossible for an employee to complete their work. It has to be more than just dealing with bad behavior. It is usually something like ignoring pervasive and persistent harassment, or intentionally blocking the person from being able to get their work done.

    I read of a person whose boss “suddenly” decided to move their office. The new office had no computer (required for the job). Nobody would tell him when he’d get one and he wasn’t allowed to use any others. A few days of this might have been a simple mess up. After week or so, it was clear that it was intentional. Some companies seem to think that if they push someone around to get them to quit, then they’re free from paying unemployment. Instead, they not only will have to do so but may well be in lawsuit land.

    (And, sorry to be that jerk, but the emails *imply* that the company did wrong. Infer is “I guess it from what someone else said” and imply is “I suggest it to other people.”)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      To add to this, in the U.S. constructive dismissal isn’t illegal in and of itself (although it will generally make you eligible for unemployment in most states). To be a legal issue, it would need to be paired with unlawful conduct,
      like harassment or discrimination.

    2. Brett*

      I’m assuming this is Canada, where constructive dismissal vs layoff has some pretty significant implications.

      1. NotUrAvgHR*

        Brett, you’d assume correctly. OP3 here. Generally, constructive dismissal up here (and especially in my jurisdiction) entails that the employer significantly changed the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment–without their consent–to the point where they had no choice but to consider their employment terminated and leave the company as a result. I’ve found in my experience that companies can get away with CD if they offer a severance package.

        This certainly wasn’t the case for Cersei, and it surprises me that she would say this (especially since she works in HR and has had experience with warding off false CD claims from our workforce.) She was laid off permanently because her position was eliminated and put on working notice and provided with a severance package.

  29. gecko*

    OP1: this is a situation worth resenting. It’s just that your coworkers aren’t at fault; it’s your employer. You don’t need to change your psychology to be grateful for what you have, or treat your workplace as a meritocracy that will reward you for waiting patiently. You’re not acting entitled for wanting to make a living and saying, why can my coworkers have this and I can’t.

    The value of this immensely capitalist commentariat is, however, that they’re advising what your coworkers and employers want to see, and fulfilling that is the way to continue making your living. If you think you’ll be too bitter at the party, don’t go, or don’t drink. Try to focus on relationship-building with your coworkers–being social with them, and maybe eventually asking them about their careers–“did you start at part-time? How did you go up to full-time?” And perhaps eventually also moving jobs.

    It’s stressful as hell, and it’s so tempting to look at people who have what you want and resent them deeply for it. But in this case, the resentment is misplaced–direct it toward the people who have control over it.

    1. Colette*

      There’s not necessarily a person or people who have control over it. If there’s enough work for 140 hours per week, someone who wants to run a successful business will hire no more than 3 full time people with one part time person. That’s just how it goes. They’re not being abusive by scheduling the OP to work the hours she agreed to.

      Now, if they keep everyone part time to avoid paying benefits, there’s cause for complaints, but that’s not the case here.

      1. gecko*

        Yeah, that’s capitalism, and it’s worth resenting. I’m not saying the employers are being abusive–but that it’s their responsibility, not the coworkers’ responsibility.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Huh? I don’t understand this statement. Don’t businesses exist to make money?

            1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

              Yep, I got that, I was really trying to understand what gecko was getting at. Without capitalism there are no jobs.

              1. LBK*

                In the way our country currently is, sure. I think the point is that this is one of the detriments of capitalism – that it convinces people that having the things you need to literally be alive like income and health insurance are something you have to earn on merit.

        2. Colette*

          But their responsibility is to run the business well so that everyone stays employed, not to hire full time people they don’t need.

          1. gecko*

            Hmm, I think you’re talking about responsibility in terms of duty and I was talking about responsibility as in “who’s at the reins.” In terms of duty, a business’s responsibility is to make money; a compassionate & competitive business certainly hopes to keep its employees happy and compensated as they want to be compensated. What I’m saying is, I’m sure there’s a valid business decision preventing OP from working FT, but she doesn’t have to sit back and be grateful for what she has–it still sucks.

            1. Colette*

              I mean, yeah it sucks that’s she’s getting less than others for doing the same work – but that’s the job she took. It was her choice – and it was probably her best choice at the time, and it’s probably better than the choices she’ll have if she becomes openly resentful.

              And that’s why she should remind herself that it’s a choice she made, and that there are worse options. That doesn’t mean she should look for something better – of course she should – but she should be grateful for what she has, because it will help her.

              1. DArcy*

                I don’t think it’s fair to say a part-time employee is getting less than others for the same work — it’s the same *sort* of work, but it’s not as if the part timer is doing exactly the same amount of labor in 20-30 hours that a full time employee is doing in 40 hours.

                She’s getting fair pay for what she’s putting in, and her belief that her degree makes her “more deserving” of a full time position than the actual full time employees is . . . troubling at best.

      2. buttercup*

        I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what it is. I kind of related to this letter writer because in my last job, I worked full time on the same exact project as the full time employees…except I was paid as a contractor. I was paid way less than the FTEs with no health insurance. What kept me from becoming too bitter was that I was in the majority – this company’s strategy was to hire only 2 FTE and a bunch of low paid contractors to avoid paying the same costs.

    2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      ” the resentment is misplaced–direct it toward the people who have control over it.”

      I’m not sure that directing resentment at the employer is the best course of action for the OP. There’s nothing to gain from being resentful or blaming anybody. It will in no way help the OP gain their goal and will likely work against them. I highly doubt that someone is sitting there with their fingers in a steeple mwahuha-ing over their power to keep the OP at part time.

      If the OP is a good worker then I can almost guarantee that there is someone (or someones) sitting back lamenting they aren’t able to offer the FT position.

      1. gecko*

        I don’t think that an employer has to be Mr Burns for their decisions to feel crummy to OP–and that the employer probably is in fact bummed that their budget won’t allow OP at FT when she wants it. In fact, if she can understand her boss’s perspective and use that to feel less cheated day to day, that’s great.

        What I want to emphasize most is that it’s a bad situation for OP, and OP’s coworkers aren’t responsible for it and don’t deserve her resentment.

    3. Delphine*


      Personally, I know that if someone were to tell me to “focus on what I have” after I’ve expressed my frustration to them about an unfair situation, it would only increase my resentment. It certainly wouldn’t make it go away. LW has a legitimate reason to feel resentful. I think redirecting resentment in this case may actually help to mask it, especially if LW has a more formal relationship with her boss or upper management–it’s easier to let your guard down among your coworkers and let a bitter comment slip.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yeah, few things piss me off more than people invalidating and shaming me for my feelings. Especially when those feelings are reasonable. To me it’s like “but you have no right to object to anything ever because you don’t have cancer and an eating disorder!” And, as Lara astutely pointed out upthread, it’s demanding extra emotional labor from someone in a crappy situation.

  30. Sled dog mama*

    For OP 2 I wonder if adding a line to your form rejection email about how you consider the interview process to begin with dropping off the application would accomplish your goal. It would give that feedback to candidates who actually read the rejection (and are IME the ones likely to receive it well) and avoid responding to thise who would not receive it well. This would also serve to remind your applicants that when they are applying for a job all their interactions are important.

  31. PlantLady*

    OP#4 – Nothing to add, other than agreeing with a previous comment that you need to talk directly to Mork… But I did want to say thank you for the “Mork/Mindy” aliases. :)

  32. AKchic*

    Number 4 bothers me in a few ways, but also makes me feel some pity depending on what may be going on.

    Why? Because I’ve seen a few things play out before.

    Could Mork have some kind of low-key disability and Mindy is helping? Maybe he doesn’t understand paperwork and he asked Mindy to help? If that’s the case – I’m sympathetic. However, it needs to be stated, and Mork needs to be the one to actually state it.
    (True story, my husband has social anxiety and PTSD and his eye sight is so bad that even with glasses, he has a hard time with fine print. He also has no real grasp of legalese or medical terminology and because of many issues, he does not advocate for himself in medical or serious work situations. It took me years to figure out that he would rather pay a $10,000 mistake than call an insurance company. I am now his POA for most things and I take care of the behind-the-scenes stuff. I still make him schedule his own appointments (that’s just general apathy and aversion to scheduling) and we go over paperwork together at home before turning anything in.)

    Now, if Mork just tells Mindy that something went wrong and Mindy is the more dominant one in the relationship (nothing wrong there) and she, in her headstrong way decides to “take charge” and “take care of” the “issue” herself, then yeah, it needs to be shut down.

    And here’s the thing – it’s not OP4’s responsibility to find out what the situation is. It’s up to Mork to tell OP4. Not Mindy (because if there is an abusive element here – another situation I did not elaborate on, and really don’t want to because we don’t have enough within this story to warrant that kind of leap yet).
    Right now, as it stands, if it’s just Mindy trying to take charge, she’s setting Mork up to rely on her too much and enabling him to become co-dependent; which doesn’t really benefit either of them, or the company (especially if he starts leaning on her for work as well and she ends up overworked).

  33. ITisnotEZ*

    #1- How about something like, “You were not advanced past the first interview”. When they ask about not being called in for an interview, you can explain that the first interview was how they presented themselves when turning in an application. That should help the light bulb go off.

  34. Triple Anon*

    #2 – I was going to go with, “Add something to the form rejection email,” but I don’t think it’s necessary. It should be obvious that you need to make a good impression in person.

    However, staff could be coached to give people feedback on a case by case basis – if someone seemed well-meaning but misguided. A simple, “Hey, be nice! This is part of the application process. We all work together here,” followed by an opportunity for the applicant to ask what they did wrong. “You seem nice, but it’s considered rude to XYZ and we pay attention to that because we work with the public,” or something like that. If that kind of conversation is held in a friendly way, it can be helpful to people.

  35. RNL*

    A lawyer left our firm in pretty unfortunate circumstances (that involved addiction issues, cocaine residue on his desk (and blood on the wall), and a voicemail box full of calls from pay-day loan shops).

    A week or so after I was walking by and I saw our COO standing in his empty office, going through his shred box. I made some crack about being a pretty expensive clean-up crew, and he turned to me, white in the face, holding a bank draft for several hundred thousand dollars.

    1. RNL*

      Eek! This was supposed to be a reply to something above! It’s a decent story though.

  36. Bea*

    I have to baseball slide in here and say I flinched so hard at your comment about your degree making you more valuable than your coworkers, #1.

    That’s toxic and you’re not going to do well holding onto that idea.

    I’m a self taught, bootstrapper and whereas I wish I had been privileged to go to college, I didn’t. My vast experience, ridiculous real life knowledge and powerful personal goals to plow my way into the trust and respect of executive level offices is just as heavily weighed as your college degree.

    I flush college degree applicants all the time because they have no experience but can come across arrogant with this similar thinking pattern.

    Focus on yourself. What you bring and how to sell it, forge solid relationships, powder the right asses honestly. Prove yourself. Your employer needs a part time body and that’s their thing. You don’t need to be that when it’s hurting you do much. Just breathe and don’t turn into a bitter hardened heart, it’s a great disservice and you’ll find yourself eternally miserable.

    You’ll find a new job. It’s hard and it’s work but it’ll happen if you can put out positive strong interactions to the right company heads.

  37. Cassie the First*

    #4: There was a video that went public recently of a Port Authority commissioner (Caren Turner) who tried to intervene when her college-aged daughter and some friends were pulled over for missing/outdated registration tags. She demands to know why the car was pulled over. The officers tell her (very politely) that they have already explained everything to the adult driver, and that she can ask him (the driver).

    My guess is that unlike HIPAA or FERPA, there is nothing(?) that would prevent the officers for telling her why the car had been pulled over. But the way that she just showed up and demanded answers (at the beginning, she doesn’t explain what relation she has to the people in the car) was just so out of line that I think the officers felt it was well within their rights and responsibilities not to provide her with any information – even as an interested member of the public. If I were the lady’s daughter, or one of the other passengers in the car, I would have been beyond mortified and would have tried to get her to stop. Instead, she orders them to wait in her car and they ALL dutifully obey.

    Anyway, the OP should approach Mindy’s continual interference the same way the cops did. “I’m sorry, I can’t discuss this with you. I’ve explained the issue with Mork already and what he needs to do to resolve the problem.” Rinse and repeat. If Mork really needed help from someone filling out forms and such – could he get a financial power of attorney (even if that person is Mindy?)?

  38. NotUrAvgHR*

    OP3 here. I want to thank Alison and absolutely everyone for their input! I had no idea that my original post would generate this much discussion, and as I’ve mentioned in one of my above replies, I really appreciate seeing so many ways to view this situation. I’ve gleaned some really good insight and plan to use much of it during the meeting with my manager and Cersei next week.

    A bit more background information which I feel would be good to clarify in response to some of the comments I’ve seen:

    – Cersei and I were the only applicants for this promotion because we were the only two people in our department qualified for the job.
    – The expectation was set with both of us that the person who did not end up getting the role would be laid off as part of the restructuring we’ve been undergoing. This promotion was a newly-created role and the person who did not achieve it would have their current role eliminated, hence the layoff.
    – About the layoff, some people have questioned if this is temporary. In this case, it isn’t. In Canada (and maybe it works the same in the US–apologies, I’m not really familiar with your labour laws) you can temporarily layoff an employee (in the case of seasonal work) or permanently lay them off (in the case of job elimination) where the latter option is treated like a dismissal.
    – In my jurisdiction (which a couple of people correctly deduced is in Canada) it is VERY common to provide a departing employee with a notice period in accordance with their province of residence, which is an alternative to terminating them on the spot and providing the corresponding amount of pay in lieu of notice. Because Cersei had some important tasks to wrap up (including attending court in a non-English speaking jurisdiction, where she fluently speaks the other non-English language and is really thus the only person able to represent the company) before the company wanted her to leave. This is also why the transfer of knowledge meeting was planned for her last day, as she was supposed to be occupied with the court situation and completing her other immediately-crucial tasks.
    – In addition to being permitted to work out her notice period, Cersei is also receiving an additional severance package–which is not something she is legally obligated to receive, but something that the company wanted to offer her in good faith.
    – Something I wish I had mentioned in my original post, aside from asking how to professionally conduct myself during the transfer of knowledge meeting, is how I can **empathetically** do so as well. As I’ve said in some above posts, Cersei and I had a good working relationship before this “you or me” dynamic was forced on us, and I feel bad that she is angry and that a lot of her anger is towards me for achieving the promotion. I want to ensure I don’t act in a manner that makes it seem like I’m lording my situation over her, but I also don’t necessarily want to let her verbally abuse me or neglect to pass on her unfinished business to me because she is angry. From the comments, I’ve really developed a sense that I can control how I behave (and have a lot of good ideas how to maintain a proper empathetic/down-to-business approach) but not how she chooses to behave; there’s only so much I can do in this case and I know that we’ll find a way to keep the business going if we don’t get everything/anything we need from Cersei.
    – About a reference letter: although I’m not thrilled with Cersei sending me inflammatory emails, threatening legal action, and neglecting a lot of her work that she is expected to finish, I would be of the mind that she deserves a decent reference. I’ve worked with her for 3 years and know that she did her best in her role; if it means that it helps her find another job as quickly as possible, I’d want us to help her move on.

    Thank you to all again for your incredible insight! I’m feeling much more ready to attend next week’s meeting.

    1. NYC Weez*

      OP 3: One perspective I haven’t seen in the responses to you is that this is actually a great opportunity for you to streamline your processes and projects. Even if Cersei happily gave you all the info she has, it’s unrealistic to assume you can keep handling all of your responsibilities *and* add all of Cersei’s too.

      I actually think the only info you should be trying to get right now is a short list of critical/mandatory tasks. And by critical, I mean tasks that have legal/financial implications. Nothing else. If the CEO expects a report every Tuesday morning summarizing last week’s activity, that’s not critical.

      Then, once Cersei is gone, you have the perfect excuse to re-look at what you focus your energy on. “I’m handling X, Y and Z now, which are all mandated tasks. Can Jane find the information she needs in another way?” We’ve recently gone through layoffs and it’s funny all of the “must do” tasks that it turns out nobody really cared about. We wouldn’t have found this out if the people transitioning out had given us their ideas of what had to be done—it was only after we accidentally let it slide that we realized it wasn’t needed in the first place.

  39. Humans*

    OP2, I see that both ways. When I encounter a rude employer, I don’t want to work for them because if they are treating you like that now than how are they going to treat you when you get on board?

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