{ 1,049 comments… read them below }

    1. Sail On, Sailor

      Too cute! Maybe for Halloween, Alison can put their faces on pumpkins. And on turkeys for Thanksgiving, and so on…

        1. Smol Cinnamon Roll

          We do not eat cats for thanksgiving. We feed cats turkey so they can give thanks and get fat like the rest of us!

        2. Sail On, Sailor

          Oh geez, somehow I missed the turkeys-with-cat-faces! How did I miss that?

    2. MissDisplaced

      Gave me a good chuckle!
      It’s so silly… but who doesn’t love cat faces?

    3. Courageous cat

      I especially love how grave they look for the situation. The calico looks like he/she is about to give a news report on a bank robbery.

  1. Thankful for AAM

    I am in a professional master’s program and for the course starting next week, we post our resume, get feedback from the professor, and fix it based on his suggestions. I don’t know if this will be amazing or a mess but I so look forward to sharing with y’all!!
    Question tho, I have not updated it based on AAM suggestions. Do I try to update it before I send it to him?

    1. Sarah G

      Yes, I would! Why not put forth the best you can do, just like with any other assignment? Even though you will be getting feedback from the professor then editing it again, it still makes sense to improve it as much as you can before submitting it, which could also make a better first impression. Good luck!

      1. Almost Violet Miller

        I agree with Sarah G. Also if your prof gives you industry-specific advice, it’s better when you can already apply to his suggestions to something already polished to the max. (If not and you don’t find his feedback useful, well, you already have a CV ready.)

    2. BeenThere

      My daughter had to do this and the advice the professor gave was so very off the mark! I told her to do what she had to for the class and then trash the resume and use the right format to get a job!

      1. Justme, The OG

        That was my experience last semester as well. We also had to do a functional resume for the assignment. Which I haven’t used in over a decade.

    3. Retail Gal

      Two nights ago, husband and I are discusssing what we’re going to do for the 4th…
      Me: “Well, I work Wednesday, but only in the morning…”
      Him: “Wait, you’re open on 4th of July?”
      Me: *boggles* We’re only closed on Christmas and Easter!

      I’ve been working there 5 years as of yesterday. Oh, to work a “normal” job where you get Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day off. ;)

      1. Shop Girl

        The best way to fix it is for all the people with the day off to not shop. Shop your heart out in the 3rd but don’t shop on the holiday. I hate when people say “Oh it’s a shame you have to work today”.

        1. SarahKay

          Or perhaps take any refunds in on the holidays, but don’t buy anything new. Drag down their profits for that day, to make them think it’s better not to open.

          1. Autumnheart

            Yeah, that’s not going to happen. July 4th is not a very significant holiday, sales-wise. Companies are no more going to decide to close on July 4th because profits are down than they’re going to decide to close on August 23rd because profits are down.

        2. Formica Dinette

          Yes! On holidays I only patronize businesses where I can tip, and then I tip heavily.

    4. Audiophile

      My sister is in college and had to create a resume and cover letter. I helped and when her professor asked who helped her, she said her sister. Supposedly, the professor was not impressed with my format and asked if I had ever had an interview or a job, something like that.

      Present your best rwsume and see what the professor says, but if it’s bad advice definitely don’t follow it.

      1. G

        I totally get this. I volunteer at a local school to do an interview evening with students aged 15 -16. It’s a fine line between giving useful advice and not contradicting all the advice the advice given by teachers and therefore undermining them. When this in reality is such a small part of their syllabus it’s not a top priority to get right.

        1. Audiophile

          I found it amusing, more than anything.

          At that time, my sister had held 1 or 2 jobs, which makes it a little difficult to create a strong resume. I’ve held quite a few jobs in the 10 years it’s been since I graduated college. It was a small percentage of her grade, she just needed a bare bones understanding of format and a way to gauge what to include.

    5. Artemesia

      Absolutely make it the best AAM version you can do. I have given feedback on writing often and the quality of the next version depends on the quality of the first. A sloppy piece of writing will get help to make it a C+ version — a terrific piece will get feedback that can take it to an A from an A- (just grades as shorthand for quality here). A great resume will get industry specific fine tuning whereas a less competent one will get much less useful feedback.

      And of course don’t assume an academic’s advice is any good. It might be but there are lots of people who advise on resumes who don’t have a lot of real world experience that is up to date. (if he notes you lack and objective on your resume for example, that is a clue that the rest of his feedback needs a grain of salt)

  2. Nacho

    Anybody else working tonight? I’ve got a great view of the fireworks from my top floor office window.

      1. wingmaster

        Or what I was saying was that I am trying to not come into the office until Monday…if I can get all my work done today

    1. Tau

      Well, yes, but not sure it counts because I’m not in the US and it’s not a holiday here.

      Although I am a bit jealous – for one, we have a full day of meetings which I’m not looking forward to, for another, Germany lumps loads of holidays into May and then my state has nothing at all until October. I feel like we could really use a public holiday in summer!

      1. Marion Ravenwood

        Similar here in the UK – we get two bank holidays in May, one at the end of August and then nothing til Christmas. I think we have one of, if not the lowest number of public holidays in Europe.

        1. dragon flame

          In NZ we get all our holidays at the start of the year and then nothing between June (Queen’s Birthday) and October (Labour Weekend), which also happens to be the miserable winter months. I wish they’d invent a holiday just to break up that block.

          1. Cathie from Canada

            Our winters are too long and our summers are too short so I will always love the Saskatchewan premier (Lorne Calvert) who in 2006 declared the first Monday in August to be a provincial holiday. Much of the rest of Canada has since followed suit.

            1. orangesparkle

              The Civic Holiday (August long weekend) has actually been in place since the 1960s & 70s in most Canadian provinces… has it really only been in place for 10 years in SK? That doesn’t seem right.

        2. Bluesboy

          Bear in mind though that your bank holidays are better than in some other countries! I’m in Italy and we have more than you…but except for Easter Monday, they are all fixed to dates. Which means 5 out of 7 fall on weekends and you don’t actually get the day off.

          Whereas in the UK if one falls on a weekend (like Christmas Day) they just add an extra day off the year after, so you get the same number of days off!

          We have 11 national, plus one local, for 12 total, so on average 8.9 days off per year. You have 8, so we win…but not by as much as you think!

          1. Bluesboy

            “they just add an extra day off the year after”…obviously I meant the day after…

            1. asdfasdf

              Brazil is interesting on how we handle holidays. There are plenty and all of the Catholic movable one’s. If a holiday falls on Tuesday or Thursday, Monday or Friday are days off too. That’s when people travel, 4 days off to go to the beach. Even the government will “make a bridge” between the holiday and the weekend. It’s not law, but it’s very widespread.

              1. Blue Tuna

                That really depends on the employer – I am a Brazilian government employee and the only holidays we have are the official ones. If it falls on a Thursday, too bad – unless we take a vacation day, I still have a to work on Friday.

        3. Tau

          Germany varies – between eight and fourteen days depending on where you are. I’m in one of the states with fewer and occasionally ponder moving to Augsburg to profit from maximum public holidays including two in August. No make-up days for ones falling on a weekend, either, although we do have three fixed-weekday ones that will always be off (Easter Monday, Whit Monday/Pentecost and Ascension Day, which is a Thursday).

          True story: my mother grumps about reunification happening on the third of October. She thinks they could have done it a few months earlier so we could have had our national holiday in the summer.

          1. Miso

            Don’t forget Easter Friday!
            I mean, I totally want a summer holiday, too (it’s nice when the May holidays are in June sometimes, like last year), but I feel like we can absolutely not complain about public holidays here in Germany.
            I wish they’d give us reformation day permanently though, that would be sweet!

    2. Susan K

      I’m working tonight, but I’m in the basement so there will be no view of any fireworks.

    3. HR Expat

      Even after 3 years abroad, it’s still weird to work on 4th of July as an American. Although I have a laugh when everyone wishes me a happy Independence Day!

      1. Birch

        I’ve completely lost track of the holiday feeling at this point–originally American, worked in 2 different European countries for the past 7 years and now celebrate 3 sets of holidays. Always working on Thanksgiving and July 4th, but I get more time for Easter and Christmas, and several local holidays. Plus not getting back to family for most holidays. I think you just eventually realize that you have to create your own holiday feeling. It’s freeing but also sort of a weird sense of responsibility that if you want it to be something, you gotta do it yourself.

        1. HR Expat

          Absolutely. I had my own little celebration for Thanksgiving, but completely forget about most of the other holidays in the US. I only remember them when I get out of office messages from my American colleagues. And I think Facetime and Skype are probably the best tools for holidays with your families so that I don’t miss out on milestones with nieces and nephews.

          1. Mad Baggins

            Same. I actually forgot about the holiday until someone reminded me, and with the time difference I don’t get the reminder until July 5 anyway.

            And I definitely forgot about Labor Day and Memorial Day and Veterans Day….

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

        Yeah, it’s always a bit weird to be an American in England on the 4th! I usually get a bit of ribbing (good riddance, happy see – you – later day, etc). But although I’ve been here nearly 15 years, I still have at least one family member who expresses surprise that it’s not a holiday here…

        I’m not feeling very patriotic these days but I will have an American beer or something for dinner in honor of the day.

    4. LCL

      I’m working today. I have worked nights on July 4, and made sure I was at the remote site that had a good view of the fireworks. Have fun!

    5. Falling Diphthong

      Waaaaay back when, my husband’s office was on the Charles across from the Esplanade, and they opened every year for watching the Boston Pops fireworks from the roof. It was awesome.

  3. Persephone Mulberry

    I posted in the Friday open thread about whether to contact job B (phone interview stage) because I believed I had a pending offer from job A. I sent an email Monday morning using some wording I found courtesy of an AAM search, and didn’t get a response. Should I be worried I shot myself in the foot?

    (To add insult to injury, the email that was so effusive that I was sure it was setting up an offer phone call actually led to a “we offered the job to someone else and they accepted” call. Employers, please don’t do that.)

    1. Sarah G

      I don’t know what your email said, so it’s hard to say, but the lack of response is not indicative of anything. Even if you don’t get job B, that doesn’t mean you shot yourself in the foot.
      That said, although the misleading email from job A is really aggravating (sorry that happened!), I wouldn’t have contacted job B without a firm offer in hand from job A, an offer that I was confident I’d consider accepting. I get that you thought you’d be getting an offer (and again, the misleading email sucks!), you didn’t know the terms of the offer, and without something concrete, I would have waited.
      But try not to overthink it — just something to consider for future reference. Also, I think the misleading email from A warrants (kindly worded) feedback of how easily misconstrued their email was, and that it would be a kindness to rejected job candidates to just email the rejection rather than get “set up a phone call” to deliver the rejection.

    2. Juli G.

      If you’re in the US…there was close to no one in my office on Monday (except me and the others on my team who are underwater). And not everyone put on their out of office because “everyone’s gone”. So I think there’s lots of hope left.

      1. Email fluff

        There is being positive and encouraging and rejecting. Then there is the misleading rejection too. So sorry. That happened to me with a “we thoroughly enjoyed” meeting you, your many “leadership experiences” are an “excellent fit with us.” “I would love to speak to you about the director position.” (Afte what I thought was a very successful interview, for a job I believe (my opinion only I guess) I was more than qualified for. They offered me a lower position which would have been a step backwards from my current job – not even lateral move. Internal candidate. It is not the rejection, that stinks on its own, it was the wording used in the email. Don’t use the word “love” to talk @ the position I am about to reject you from. (I think I dodged a bullet, 4 of the folks I interviewed with left within four months (long notice requirements). I also learned that lesson @ offer in hand, no matter the flowery language they email you. I almost gave notice, but didn’t. Just told a friendly coworker who then I had to tell meh.

    3. Frustrated Optimist

      I definitely think there’s still hope for the job you followed up on! Please keep us posted on that one.

      But the company that wanted to set up a time to talk so that they could tell you they rejected you? That is horrible. Any reasonable person would have expected that to be a job offer phone call, even knowing what we know about not getting your hopes up, etc.

    4. neverjaunty

      Nah. If you’re in the US, it’s holiday week and a lot of people are either literally or figuratively checked out.

    5. Triplestep

      I’m going through something similar. Offer in hand that I’m not that excited about, but would take if they offer more money, and three other jobs that may or may not be interested. One of those seemed to have stopped communicating with me, but then feverishly came back to life explaining that everyone I’d need to meet is out this week. The other two may be experiencing the same thing, but I sent both work samples and then heard nothing, so I’m not sure if they’re interested, or laughing at my submissions! This week is tough in the world of job searching. I don’t think its an indication you shot yourself in the foot.

      And sorry about the misleading e-mail. There’s been a lot of talk here lately about how people get rejected (e-mail vs phone call) and its just so hard to believe how bad at this some companies are.

    6. Bea

      OMG they emailed you to set up a call to tell you that they were going with someone else…I can’t even. We had this conversation here recently, I’m team don’t-call-for-rejections.

  4. Grand Mouse

    I love the picture!
    How do you stay motivated? I have ADHD and I listen to music to help focus but I dread every day even though there’s nothing wrong with my job. Thanks!

    1. Me too

      What kind of music do you listen to? I have ADD and have trouble staying focused, and classical music helps me concentrate! I’ve also read that classical music in general helps with concentrating and learning. (You’d want something light and mellow like Chopin, or Mozart piano concertos, or Vivaldi, Bach or Corelli, not something energetic and forceful like Beethoven or Mussorgsky.)
      If you’ve been listening to other music, try classical and see if that helps!

      1. Grand Mouse

        I listen to soundtracks primarily which are uplifting and sort of classical? I need something stronger than classical to keep myself going but I’ll see about something like Beethoven. I used to listen to trance music to get me in a good head space. I’m thinking more like rituals or thought patterns? That could make me more motivated to go to work and keep going. Thanks!

        1. Mimosa Jones

          I’ve heard of people using video game music to help them focus. It makes sense because that music is designed to be part of the background and yet encourage you to keep playing. You can find it on Spotify and other services probably have it as well.

          1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup

            I find binaural music helpful. Look for “beta” or “focus.” There is a ton on Spotify. Use headphones in the “right” ears.

            Pomodoro is great… I also like Habitica.com’s ADHD community, and the Habitica model is super-helpful to me. I won’t care about myself, but I will go to great lengths to help out my ridiculous little avatar!

            1. Clorinda

              Pomodoro is AWESOME for tasks that I hate but have to get done and won’t go away on their own. Housework, grading papers …. Set the timer, work all out for just that bit of time, and then check in on AAM for five minutes! You don’t have to do all the work all at once.

          2. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant

            Yeah, I have the soundtrack to the strategy game Stellaris saved on Spotify for when I have to do work that I really have to think about. I’m a huge fan of instrumental classical music, but sometimes I get distracted when I try to use it as background music for getting work done. (Being an amateur classical musician may have something to do with that.)

            I’ve also found YouTube videos with some background music from puzzle games extended to 30 minutes: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors has good music for this, as well as some of the later Ace Attorney games (the earlier games have shorter/more repetitive tracks, and the sound is more chiptune-y).

          3. TardyTardis

            I strongly recommend any music by Nobuo Uematsu, the person who did all the Final Fantasy III music (Owzer’s Gallery is one of my favorites).

        2. foolofgrace

          Bach’s mathematical properties are kind of trance-like. Chopin’s complicated pieces seem very good for the intellect. Vivaldi is cheerful and uplifting.

      2. VictorianCowgirl

        I have adult ADHD (or as my therapist calls it, anxiety) and when I’m too scattered to listen to my everyday music which can sometimes end up jangling my nerves, I’ve discovered that dubstep is excellent for me. Also, rainy day ambient sounds. Classical puts me straight back to piano lessons as a child.

      3. iseeshiny

        For me I listen to pop music in a language I don’t speak but like the sound of. If I can understand it I listen to the words and end up singing along instead of focusing, but if it’s in like Spanish or Bosnian it works more as background music.

      4. Autumnheart

        I listen to audiobooks, but that only works well when I don’t have to pay close attention to reading copy. If I have to read with my eyes, then reading with my ears creates interference.

    2. Birch

      Use the Pomodoro technique! There are several mobile and desktop apps that you can use. It sets a short work segment (usually 20-25 mins) where you focus on completing one task. Then you get a very short break (2-5 minutes) and complete another cycle. After so many cycles, you get a longer break (10-15 mins). It forces you to focus on getting one thing done at a time, and I’m always surprised at how efficient I am. It’s also the BEST for people who are arousal procrastinators like me and work best with a deadline. It’s like setting many tiny deadlines and plus, you get to check off tons of stuff that’s completed!

      1. Marion Ravenwood

        I swear by Pomodoro technique when I need a Get Stuff Done day. I actually find that after a few hours when the breaks come round I run out of things to do!

      2. Envy Adams

        Oh wow, I used this technique as a child to tidy my room (my mum wouldn’t help me, she’d say “Well it’ll just get messy again”), I had no idea it had an actual name! To be fair I thought I made it up. I would break down the tidying into tiny chunks like “pick up rubbish” “put laundry in basket” “tidy that corner” or whatever, then write down how long I thought it would take, then time myself. It made me race against the clock!

    3. Thankful for AAM

      I love the idea of the Pomodoro technique described in this thread. That seems right on target for your question. Not sure if this is as on target but I find it really helpful (tho I don’t have ADD). http://bulletjournal.com/

    4. DanaScully

      I have sensory issues and I love white noise to block out the office. Mynoise dot net is a great free website with loads of background noise machines. Sometimes I play just white noise and sometimes I play the radio on top of it. It works well for me. Good luck!

      1. Amadeo

        I use MyNoise pretty much every day. So much so I’ve given them some money and use the super generator and magic gen features too. I LOVE it.

    5. Hello Doggy

      There is a collection that I listen to on spotify” Klassik zum entspannen”.( German title, so classic is with a K). It has very easy, smooth classical music, that works well as a background noise.

    6. Matilda Jefferies

      Another person with ADHD here. I listen to talk radio – CBC in Canada, which I believe is similar to NPR in the US. I listen to the local station, over the FM airwaves, at the actual time that it’s broadcasting. I find the content familiar enough that I don’t really need to listen to it most of the time, and the rhythm of the various shows, news breaks, etc, helps me structure my day. (For example, I know I need to start winding up what I’m doing when the afternoon show comes on at 3:00.)

      I do all of my planning on paper, and only use my Outlook/Google calendars for events that need to be shared with other people. I’ve tried a ton of different agendas and planner systems this year, and ended up with a personal system that’s a hybrid of “Passion Planner” and “Panda Planner” – both have free PDF versions you can try if you’re interested.

      Yes, to the Pomodoro technique! Other times, I take a blank piece of paper and write the word FOCUS at the top, followed by the *one* thing I’m supposed to be focusing on in that moment. Then I draw a line underneath, and any time I have a random thought or idea that isn’t my main focus, I write it down underneath the line and get back to my focus task. That way I don’t lose the random thought, and I also don’t go chasing it down the rabbit hole.

      I think the thing with ADHD is that we all need multiple tools in our toolboxes for focus, because none of them are going to work all the time! I love these posts on AAM, because I always learn something new or come up with another idea to try for next time.

      1. Daphne

        OMG at the “focus” page split into two. I’m always writing to-do lists and random thoughts down but end up with 3 guddled bits of paper or horrendous notebooks that I then hate referring to (well, attempting to)! I will also check out those planners.

      2. Marion Ravenwood

        I do the ‘writing down my distractions’ things too! Usually it’s stuff I want to Google/look up on Wikipedia. I feel like anyone ever read it they’d get some very weird insights into my brain…

    7. LilySparrow

      I combine Pomodoro with treats. I have a chart with 10 minute segments. If I fill up 3 squares, I get a prize (usually sometime like a cup of the “fancy” tea or playing a favorite song.) If I fill up 6 squares, I get a better prize, like a piece of chocolate or a dance break.

      And thank you for asking, because I need to pull this tool out and use it again.

    8. Triple Anon

      I tend to focus on the big picture – my long-term goals and fears. If I’m feeling grouchy, I think about my fear of losing my job and not being able to support myself, or other negative consequences of not getting things done. If I’m in a good mood, I’ll think about all the good reasons to do a great job and be nice to everyone. How that will lead to more opportunities both for myself and others in my life.

      To be honest, I also have a competitive side. I use that to motivate myself. I try to channel it into productive things and not act competitive in an obvious way. I keep it to myself.

      I’m trying to get more positive about all of this. It’s probably not healthy to motivate yourself by thinking thoughts like, “I could lose my job today!” and, “I need to be more successful than my high school bully!” (or whatever). That stuff works, but I think it’s toxic. I’m trying to stop thinking those kinds of thoughts and instead just be positive – doing good work and being kind to everyone really does lead to a lot of good things, and it’s a healthy thing to think about.

  5. Loose Seal

    Happy Fourth!

    So, my cat. He’s not quite a year and a half years old and we were at the vet yesterday for his shots. We had left him for the day at day boarding and asked if they could clip his nails too while he was there (something we do at home every month but hey, why not get them to do it?). When my husband dropped my cat off that morning, they made him sign a paper agreeing to sedation for the cat because of “how he is.” The cat, not my husband. I didn’t find out about this until we were on our way to pick him up that afternoon.

    While we are there, the vet comes to talk to us and she says, kind of hesitantly, “Yeah, your cat is awful and I don’t say that about many cats.” She says his behavior is well beyond other cats’ behavior even considering he’s at the vet. I’m still not sure what kind of behavior he displays that is so bad except that I know he has this terrifying wail that he makes when he’s getting his nails trimmed. And he spits and growls at them. No one was bitten. No one was even scratched. Of course, that could just be because they sedated him immediately.

    So, I don’t know what to do. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a kitten/teen cat and I have ascribed his frisky behavior to that, thinking he’ll calm down at age two or so and start to be a lap cat then. Now, he does attack feet that happen to stick out of the covers (which is terrifying at night but also sort of cute) and will only consent to be petted when he wants it (he kind of reminds me of a toddler who will consent to mom’s hug for a second and then wiggle away determined to do something else). The worst thing he does is attacks my glasses when the light bounces off of them, which has sometimes resulted in a claw catching on my face, drawing blood. He is always fine when the housecleaners come; he will follow them around if I let him. We’ve also had a lot of people in the house to get quotes for a remodel and he’s always right there wanting to rub up against them.

    He literally sleeps in my arms every night so I know I’m biased as to what I consider his sweet disposition. I want to be open to what the vet says and I definitely don’t want to be a tiresome pet mama who thinks her precious wiggums is so wonderful that everyone else should think so too but I just don’t see what the vet is talking about. They strongly encouraged us to put him on Zylkene, which is a calming agent of some sort. I’m supposed to report back next week to let them know how fast that pill changed him into a cuddly cat.

    Cat people, am I really off base? Am I protesting too much that my cat’s fine, just young? I figured I’d do the pill and just see what happens. I can always take him off of it.

    1. CrickettheCat

      I think this is my first time commenting here, but as a fellow cat person, I just had to.

      Re: kitty pills. Without having met your cat or researching the medication at all, I’ll just say this: I wouldn’t do it. If your vet’s main concern with the medication is that it makes your cat more cuddly, it sounds like she isn’t being respectful of the fact that cats have different personalities!

      I am biased FOR SURE because my beloved cat was kind of a jerk for about the first 7-8 years of her life, but now at age 11 she is super cuddly and sucky (still very playful, though!). Our vet comes to us rather than having to pack up a screaming cat and take her in, and she still screams when getting her nails done by the vet (I usually do them one at a time over the course of a day, haha!) And gas to be sedated to have blood drawn, etc. But our vet is super kind and reassuring and lovely still!

      Anyway, this is a bit rambly, but I feel super protective of every cat and their weird personalities, and it sounds like your get is just not a good fit.

    2. Catherine

      I would really try a different vet next time baby needs his claws did and get a second opinion then. The glasses thing is deffers something you want to train him out of, but the claw-cutting behavior sounds totally normal. The cats I’ve had before put up a hell of a fuss but the vet techs always burritoed them right up and had them done in a flash despite the screaming, hissing, and spitting–never any talk of sedatives!

    3. Sc@rlettNZ

      Yeah, I would definitely try another vet. My wee girl (who weighed all of 2kgs dripping wet) hated having her nails done. She used to carry on like we were trying to amputate her leg with a blunt spoon.

      Klaus, our big ginger, is a total smooch at home (although he’s not above growling or nipping if you do something to displease his majesty). He loves people, regularly visits the neighbours and accosts complete strangers walking past our gate, demanding pats and adoration.

      Take him to the vet though, and watch out. He is a total nightmare. He’s a big, strong cat (almost 9kg) and they struggle to hold him if he doesn’t want to be held. About two years ago, he shedded the poor vet’s hand when the guy was attempting to vaccinate him. This practice then started sedating him as a matter of course whenever I took him in. I switched vets and have found a woman who just knows how to handle him – last year at vaccination time there were no dramas at all.

      I would definitely seek a second opinion before resorting to drugs. You cat just sounds like a normal, playful cat.

    4. Another thought

      I would recommend researching Zylkene — there are a lot of reviews on Amazon. It seems to be a non-addictive and pretty benign dietary supplement, which makes me less concerned than if it were a pharmaceutical. The active ingredient is “alpha-casozepine, an ingredient derived from milk protein that has calming properties.”
      Remember, this isn’t only about your cat’s behavior, but also his well-being, so it may be worth considering. That said, getting a second opinion is a good idea too, especially if you don’t trust that particular vet; if she actually said, “your cat is awful,” that’s really unprofessional!

      1. Loose Seal

        I didn’t take offense at the way she said it. We are in there a lot with our dog (who is a delight) and I think she just thought she could be frank. Ordinarily, I appreciate frankness in all medical staff but the lack of details about his behavior is really what’s giving me pause.

        Heh, pause/paws. The holiday has barely started and I feel punchy already.

        1. Clorinda

          Some cats just go nuts at the vet. Kitty could have shown a side of his personality that you’ve never seen. My grandmother had a cat who was the sweetest snugglepuss in the world, a genuine love-kitty, the kind who rolls to show you his fluffy tummy and really wants you to rub it, and the vet actually snapped at my grandmother and said, I quote, “Love-kitty my foot, that’s a god damned cougar!” So, maybe he needs meds at the vet but not at home.

          1. Mbarr

            Ditto for this. When I was little, my dad and I took our 2 cats to the vet. In the waiting room, Fred (the cat, not my dad) was super chill, completely relaxed, meanwhile Barney (yes, Flinstone references) was petrified and kept trying to run away. (At home, both cats were normally very relaxed.) Well, the moment we took them into the waiting room, Barney calmed down, but Fred LOST HIS MIND. They had to put a muzzle on him and get 2 people to hold him down for his shots. It was insane.

            Sounds like your fuzz bucket is more active than other cats, but otherwise normal.

            1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup

              Yup. As a former bather at a groomer’s, I can’t count the number of dogs whom we knew to be complete sweethearts at home (or when we boarded them) who had so many colorful and innocuous-looking warning stickers on their card that it looked like a Twister pad. We did everything we could to make the experience less stressful for them (or give them less opportunity to undo our work or eat their leashes or whatever their particular case was), but some dogs just can’t find the grooming experience enjoyable, and we know not to judge them based upon their reaction to that very particular set of circumstances.

              It does definitely sound like your cat might prefer a housecall vet, if you have such a treasure in your area, though.

              1. Wendy Darling

                On the other side of the grooming coin my dog is an absolute screaming, flailing demon when I try to do anything involving his feet, but is a perfect angel for groomers. He’s seriously so good the groomers barely believe me that he’s so awful at home. I’ve tried everything. It’s just easier to pay someone else to trim his nails and foot hair.

                1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup

                  Yes, and I can’t bathe my own cat or get her in a carrier, despite being an absolute BAMF at my former place of employ. Pets, it turns out, are weird— almost as weird as humans.

          2. neverjaunty

            Sure, but shouldn’t the vets be describing this specifically? “He goes nuts and tried to bite anyone who got near him” is one thing, vagueness would worry me.

        2. Another thought

          Ok, well that gives it some context, and it sounds like you have some history and familiarity with this vet, which makes a difference. Ultimately, it makes sense to do your own research on Zylkene, whether or not that includes getting a second opinion if needed, and decide what is best for your kitty and what makes the most sense. You can use this vet’s recommendation as one piece of information but not the only decision-making factor.

    5. Bagpuss

      I think you absolutely need to ask what behaviour they are talking about, if they haven’t been specific, but yes, definitely get a second opinion before turning to drugs (for you or the cat!) Also, if the behaviour is only an issue when he is at the vet, that ounds like an argument for considering sedating him if he needs medical treatment, but not medicating him long term.

      1. Alex

        Definitely this. Ask or you won’t know. My two cats don’t even knock things over or eat people food at home, but my most quiet one is a terror at the vet. I don’t know if she had a bad experience (they’re rescues), but just the sight of the vet made her so crazy she tore a claw out of her front paw trying to get out of the cat carrier once. Now they give her klonopin before each visit and I only take her in when absolutely necessary.

      2. Pet sitter

        +1

        Definitely get specifics and a second opinion.

        I’m going to be blunt about the behavior…

        Sometimes – very rarely – cats behave very differently with their owners than they do with other people. A cat who wails when you try to clip his claws may be a cat who wails, pees, and tries to bite when someone else tries to clip his claws. The worst bite I ever got came from a cat whose owner was “shocked,” who didn’t understand why at least three previous pet sitters couldn’t work with her cat anymore.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          Yeah, this is a good point (and I’m not sure it’s all that rare, either). My cat is one of these, and even with a sitter who lived with us for half a decade, she’s standoffish and sometimes aggressive. If a vet told me she had to be sedated for things like claw trimming (which she absolutely doesn’t need when I do it at home) I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

        2. Loose Seal

          This is what I’m afraid of. That I can deal with his wailing because he’s my baby kitten but that he’s a monster to everyone else and I’m to tone-deaf to believe it.

        3. media monkey

          i agree – we have a now quite old (sob) cat who sits under our hedge coming out to get petted and love up the ankles of everyone who walks past. until the second they step into our garden/ her territory when she turns into a hissing spitting bundle of fur. she is all cuddles with my husband and i and tolerates our daughter, but never scratches or bites – she is all mouth and no trousers (is that an expression in the US as well?). She will see off 4 large dogs from the garden but runs away from moths and daddy long legs in the house. she hates the vet with a passion. cats are weird. oh and she really hates anyone loud. so she is fun with both our mums, but hates my father in law and sister in law.

    6. Marion Ravenwood

      Honestly, your cat sounds quite a lot like my cats, though mine are older (they turned seven in April, but have mellowed a LOT in the three years since we got them). So I might be biased, but I’d personally go to a different vet and see if that makes a difference, or if it’s something that only affects the cat when he goes to the vet.

    7. Bryce

      Some of that sounds similar to how my cat was. He liked to play rough (and I was fine with it, mild hand scratches and some chewing but not biting; he learned my limits and the main issue was when he’d play with people who weren’t me) and attacked my feet almost every night for thirteen years. Occasionally had cuddlebug moods but mostly wanted to be in the same room as me perched on something. When he was indoor-outdoor (transitioned him to indoor-only later) he was a stalker, definitely had a lot of energy he’s use up roaming the backyard tall grass. And when he was unhappy or just wanted attention, you knew it; had a yowl that could bring the house down and a regular chatterbox at all times. The vet considered him a sweetheart, though, mainly because he got nervous in new places and so would be sitting still on the table worried.

      Every cat is different, this is in no way guaranteed, but the main thing I found for training him was consistency. I avoided being too variable in how rough I let him play, and kept the same tone of voice for the same reactions. Cats may not understand “no” but they can learn to understand sounds the same way we learn to translate their communication. When he played too rough I made sure to say “ow” and then play would stop. Pretty soon he knew where the line was, and the only time I had to worry about actual injury was if I tried “hand under a sheet, pretend it’s a critter” games; he didn’t recognize it as me and so never figured out how much force was okay in those games so we wouldn’t do it much.

      None of that helps you figure out how to handle the cat with other caretakers, I can’t help there, but if you decide not to use pills and still need to curb some of his enthusiasm, maybe some of that will work.

    8. TL -

      I’m inclined to think the vet has a point here. He plays really rough with you (drawing blood is way past what I consider reasonable, especially at well past a year) and I’m guessing he’s a lot worse behaved around people who aren’t you – my kitty certainly is. Also, vets see a lot of animals – unless she’s really new to her practice, I’d be more inclined to think the problem is the kitty.

      I don’t know if medicating is the right answer, but you should probably look at setting clearer boundaries (screeching when your cat hurts you, using a spray bottle of water as discipline, for example).

      1. beth

        Eh, my cat’s drawn blood before on accident. If my hand is too close to a toy (or if I play the ‘hand moving under the sheet’ game and make my hand into a toy–this is stupid of me but it’s an adorable game and I’m a sucker), it’s easy for a claw to catch me accidentally. Cat play has a lot in common with cat hunting, and cat claws are naturally pretty sharp; it only takes one small poke to draw blood. He’s not intentionally targeting me and he stops when he realizes he’s caught me instead of the toy he wanted. I don’t consider it a behavior problem; it’s just a thing that happens sometimes, part and parcel of having a non-declawed cat around (especially since I’m forgetful about trimming his claws).

        If Loose Seal’s cat is intentionally targeting human body parts and drawing blood, that is a bigger concern. But I think the problem is the ‘targeting human body parts’ factor, not the play style itself. That can usually be solved by making sure there’s a variety of toys around and setting some time aside for interactive play (via things like strings on sticks, where human body parts are a couple feet distant from the fun end of the toy).

    9. sheworkshardforthemoney

      My favourite cat was a complete terror who had to be re-homed because of a move. She fell in love with her new owners and they couldn’t believe my stories of being stalked and hunted down just for kicks. I’d visit her in the new home and she was sitting smugly in the same chair as her new owner, purring and giving my friend looks of adoration.

    10. Officer Crabtree

      My mother had the exact opposite cat. She went to the vet one day to get something, and they showed her this sweet, cute stray cat someone brought in a few days before. (They take in strays and try to rehome them.) They all said she was the loveliest cat in the world, and my mom took her home. The friendliest thing on the planet until day 2 when she just went insane. She was so aggressive, that we had to keep her in a makeshift cage under a table in the living room for a few days. We couldn’t let the other cats in the living room, because she completely flipped out. After a while she calmed down a bit, but still went ballistic whenever she saw another cat. After about 6 months she started to venture out of the living room. But she would just go into the hallway, stand there for a minute and then run back.
      Eventually she became much calmer, and would even allow us to pick her up, but it took about 15 years before she allowed another cat to touch her. And it only happened once.

      I think she was abused by her previous owners and they just dumped her somewhere when they couldn’t handle her. Or maybe she was the result of some crossbreeding with some species of wild cat. Poor thing. She died last year of diabetes.

    11. Elemeno P.

      I think it can be both. I have a cat that is both a snuggly, sweet little baby and also a vicious monster. It depends on how she’s feeling at the moment. She usually just growls and hisses at the vet, but this last time she wedged herself in a corner and lashed out so much that they had to pull out the feral cat gloves (which they felt very bad about until I asked if I could put them on and kept laughing as she attacked my now-impervious arms). They didn’t even do anything to her- they just weighed her! Later that day, she crawled on my chest and purred like a rocket. It’s just how she is.

      You could always get the pill and just give it to him when he’s going to have a stressful day, like going to the vet or moving; no need to give it to him all the time if he’s normally fine with you.

    12. Thankful for AAM

      I would follow up with the vet to find out more details about what concerns them and ask if there are any behaviorist bets in the area.

      We had a vet say something similar about our rescue doggy and he referred us to a behaviorist. It was very helpful and has allowed us to manage our doggy and his quality of life much better.

      Our baby is a love with us but shows signs of abuse, trauma from so many homes b4 6 months old, and mental illness. Which means he is terrified of hands and will bite any that move near him. And we got a new vet who works so hard with me to make his visits better.

      1. Loose Seal

        We did call the animal behavior people at the University yesterday and they say they really only work with cats who have had an abrupt behavior change, like suddenly peeing outside the litter box.

        I am going to call them again tomorrow and try to be more insistent about getting an appointment. Thanks for this suggestion.

    13. Your Weird Uncle

      I highly recommend getting a copy of ‘The Trainable Cat’ by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis. It’s not about teaching your cat to do tricks (although you definitely can do this and they give you tips on how), but more about practical solutions for preparing your cat for eventualities like taking pills, going into his or her carrier, taking car rides, staying calm at the vet, etc. I got mine as a library book but I recommend buying it because it’s full of information you’ll want to read again. There are also lots of tips in there about how to reduce stress at the vet in general.

      Your cat sounds exactly like my sweet little Verny – terror by day, cuddlebug by night. :)

      1. Foreign Octopus

        Thanks so much for this!

        I’ve been really struggling with my cat (adopted, one year this Saturday) to get her to accept the things I need to do – clean her eyes, clean her ears, cut her nails – so this seems like it might help.

        I’ve just bought it off Book Depository :) Here’s hoping it’s €12 well spent!

        1. Your Weird Uncle

          Oh yes, I think you will find the book very helpful! The tips and suggestions do take a long time to implement (because, well, cats) but they are very useful. Good luck with your kitty!

    14. The Other Dawn

      It sounds to me like your cat needs a lot more play time to get some of that energy out. He needs his energy to be focused and expended. I don’t know if your cat is breed or a “mutt,” but some breeds are very high strung/have a lot of energy (Bengals), while others are very docile (Ragdolls, most Persians). You can play with him more or try different kinds of solo toys.

      Also, if you’re open to it, another feline friend may be what he needs. Some cats really like to have friends, while others are loners. The first kitten I got after my husband and I moved in together was a total jerk. He liked to destroy stuff, bothered the crap out of us 24/7, among other things. Then we got another kitten and he became a totally different cat literally overnight. He was calm, stopped destroying things, and interacted with us at a normal level. He focused all his play on the new kitten.

      I’d say no to meds. Just because a cat acts out at the vet doesn’t mean he needs to be medicated. Cats behave very differently at the vet sometimes. A few of mine are crazypants when I try to brush them or clip their nails at home. So I ask the vet to do it when I bring them in for other things and when I ask at the end of the day how they behaved, “Oh, they were complete angels! I could anything with them!” And vice versa. Ones that are calm at home become beasts once they get into the carrier and to the vet’s office. Now, if you’re having a lot of behavioral issues or ones that are more severe, like the cat really is a danger to people, and it’s not resolved by more play, trying to train him out of certain behaviors and things like that, then it might be a good idea to try meds. But I wouldn’t jump right into that.

      I feel like a lot of it is to do with age and possibly excess energy that needs to be exhausted. Good luck!

      1. tangerineRose

        I adopted a young cat so that the young cat I already had would have a playmate, and it worked well – it took them time to get used to each other, but they’re both friendly kitties. Jackson Galaxy suggests that when someone wants to adopt a kitten, they adopt 2 kittens to the kittens can entertain each other.

        1. Loose Seal

          I tried so hard to convince my husband to get two out of the litter when we got our cat last year. He never had cats before living with me and was not convinced of this. We’ve since talked about adding another cat but since I want to foster kittens, we’ve held off so that the house isn’t overly full of fluffy critters.

          Our cat does play with the dog a lot, jumping out to ‘attack’ him and playing with the dog’s tail as he lays on the bed. It’s not the same as two cats tearing through the house but it is something. We also have lots of toys for the cat, laser pointers, stuffed catnip toys, and motorized toys. We also play the ‘hand under the sheet’ game (which we call Bed Rats).

    15. Environmental Compliance

      Am not a cat person, am horse person, but will echo getting a second opinion & getting the specifics.

      I usually clean my gelding’s sheath myself, but will have the vet do a full cleaning as well once a year. One vet I had insisted on sedating any gelding for this because all geldings kick. I refused the sedation and got a different vet. My horse falls asleep by himself for sheath cleanings. The same first vet wanted to float my horse’s teeth, though he had no points or even areas that could maybe become points. My policy with all vets is that they should be able to tell me details & a “why” when medication or procedure is suggested. If they can’t do that, I’ll try a new vet. I will get whatever medical attention my animals need….if they need them.

      Also, FWIW – my horse is specifically trained to let me poke and prod anywhere without any more fuss than pinning of the ears and an occasional side-eye. If he was in pain, he’d flinch. If he really did show touchy at an area, and for safety we’d need to sedate him – he’d get sedated. But I don’t appreciate when it’s the first action without any determination of applicability.

    16. Courageous cat

      You’re not off base. Even the sweetest of cats can turn into real freaks around vets. It sounds like yours may be one of them. That’s not abnormal by any means.

      As for how he is with you: cats can also swipe/bite sometimes, especially if a little provoked, and that doesn’t make them bad or problematic cats. That’s just how some cats are.

      It’s very different from owning dogs, I think, where it’s your responsibility to train problematic behavior out of them. You can do that to some extent with a cat, probably, but thinking of my late female cat.. in some situations, it doesn’t make a difference. They’re just gonna be how they are, and that’s okay (unless it’s painful or violent or whatever).

    17. beth

      Your description of your cat’s behavior sounds like he could use a little more stimulation/playtime in his life (if you wear him out playing with toys, he won’t need to make his own fun chasing feet and glasses reflections), but probably doesn’t need a daily medication type thing.

      It’s very possible that his vet behavior is extremely different from his home behavior, though. The vet is a strange and stressful environment. Most cats behave differently under those circumstances; based on the vet’s perception of him, it sounds like maybe yours reacts in a more extreme way than most. He might benefit from an as-needed calming or sedative medication specifically for vet trips. But I think it’s irresponsible for the vet to assume you’re seeing the same problems at home and prescribe a daily med without even checking whether you need it first.

    18. MissDisplaced

      Hmm. I’m leaning towards ‘try another vet.’
      I have a big 18lb. male who can be QUITE a handful when he’s scared or spazzy. I can’t hold him, and sometimes he digs in with his back claws (he’s declawed in front-came to us that way) but he’s not a biter. My ‘hubs and I regularly clip those toenails, and he’s fine. At the vet, he can be really hard to get in/out of carrier and yowls like you’re murdering him (overreaction much?) just getting a little shot. But my vet has people experienced in the holding of cats for procedures, OR my husband does the holding for the vet as he’s more familiar with the reactions and is the ‘holder’ when we do things at home. They have never had to sedate my big kitty yet for routine things like exams, but probably would for teeth and/or more invasive procedures.

      I’m not saying your vet was bad, but perhaps they had inexperienced staff?
      It’s a skill to hold upset cats!
      The best thing I think you could do as well is to continue to acclimate your kitty for routine procedures like nail clipping, flea treatments, grooming, and general body inspections. The more you do this handling at home, the easier it will become for kitty at vet. It’s not magic, because most cats will still stress about going to the vet, but it should help some.
      There is also this thing called Cat in the Bag cat carrier and Top Performance Cat Grooming Bags that may prove helpful for vet visits. Maybe someone has tried it?

      And I don’t think your cat sounds ‘bad,’ but he either needs more much play with a wand toy to wear him out and use up his excess energy and/or a bit more discipline when he attacks your glasses and feet. You do need to put a stop to the glasses thing especially (to him it’s get the light), but no cat should be after anything on one’s face. That needs an immediate removal and redirect. I wish you luck! The good thing is he’s a young cat and you can train some of this out before the bad behaviors become ingrained.

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl

        I LOVE the cat in the bag carrier! We used it with our previous kitty and it was great. Vets loved it, and he was much calmer with his head out and able to look around than he was in a carrier (but he was not a freaker-outer regardless).

        We have yet to try it on our two new kitties. They’re pretty skittish (and still warming up to us; we only got them a couple weeks ago) so I’m not sure how they’ll feel about it. They might prefer to be able to hide in a normal carrier. But kitties that aren’t scaredy-fraidy-cats seem to be fans.

    19. Freelance Accountant

      My cat is like that – an easygoing snugglebug at home, and a terror at the vet. The vet has a note in his file that he is “non-compliant”, which is their euphemism for “total asshole.” He growls and fights them, and requires 2 vet techs to hold him down for any procedure (blood draws, nails, etc.). At home he loves to cuddle, is friendly and curious with visitors, and is just an all-around sweetie. He’s had some pretty serious health issues and has spent more than the usual amount of time at the vet, and he’s just decided that he DOES NOT LIKE IT. He’ll tolerate the usual checkup, listening to his heartbeat, checking his ears, etc., but anything beyond that becomes a fight.

      I wouldn’t give my cat pills just because he hates the vet’s office. If he’s fine at home (and my cat is, his bad behaviour is very specific to letting the vet know that he DOES NOT LIKE these medical procedures) then I might consider some valium to chill him out just before a vet appointment.

    20. FelineFine

      My “tweenager” cat is the sweetest thing ever – unless you try to clip her claws. Even knowing this, I wouldn’t allow the vet to sedate her solely for this purpose. There’s always a risk with sedatives and to me it’s not worth it simply to clip claws. With time and more effort on my part, she will start to chill out and the task will become easier – sans sedatives.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        Yeah. I’ve clipped the claws of my sweet pillow pet since she was a kitten, and she has no problems with it. But the scraggley stray that adopted my spouse as an adult was not happy about the trims at all. So I put treats in my hand as I cut, with a treat before, during, and after. And now she comes running when she sees the clippers. She still doesn’t like it, but she very much wants the treats.

    21. I Love Thrawn

      My Toby is an orange male, another lovebug at home. At almost 14 he is getting quite a rep at the vet when he goes in, just has had enough med. treatments. I don’t think your vet should have called your cat awful. Trips, vets, all that is much harder for cats than for dogs. So many reasons why it might be a problem for them. I’d try another vet if I were you, see if you get that reaction. Just a nail trim, something simple, see how it goes.

    22. Marthooh

      I am a cat person only in the sense that I admire them from afar*, but I would certainly want to know what the cat’s “awful” behavior is. If the vet is talking about something that only happens when he’s there, maybe he only needs medication when he’s there.

      —-
      *Because allergies ;^;

    23. Kittymommy

      I currently have 4 cats and 2 foster kittens (& have fostered tons of cats in the past few years) and I’d probably try to get more specific information about what happened. I have one car who as she has gotten older, she had calmed down a lot. She used to be such a terror and would just stand on the back of the recliner for the sole purpose to sway at me when I walked by. I have another who is a day for love bug, but if you try to our her in a carrier she may send you to the hospital (having to evacuate for the hurricane was not fun). But it it’s hard to know how serious the issue is and if needs are needed without specifics.
      Before trying the pills you may want to try some calming sprays on the market. They have helped in the past with some skittish fosters I’ve had.

    24. VictorianCowgirl

      Does your cat get enough exercise? As in exhausted panting totally wiped out exercise twice a day, and games for the mind? Sounds like she needs more. Also, many cats are 180° different at the vet than at home, it’s totally normal. If you are happy with your cat she might just need a little sedation at the vets. That’s normal too. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right and I suggest getting a second opinion. Some vets aren’t good cat handlers and bring out the worst in them.

    25. A Username

      I think you need to find a vet that specializes in cats.

      I took my cat to the vet when she was 8-9 months old and she was really hyper, wiggly, and feisty. The vet thought she was a behavior problem, because in order to get her shots and ear cleaning she needed two people to put her in the Burrito and hold her down. But on the other hand, she was a rowdy hyper kitten who strangers were poking with needles and shoving extra-long q-tips down her ears.

      She was a handful, but she’s settled down as she’s aged, and the vet was wrong. She’s not a behavior problem, she’s a cat.

      1. blaise zamboni

        This is a great option if it’s available for you. My cat has never been aggressive at the vet, but she’s easily spooked and would have dramatic mood changes for a few days afterwards. My (wonderful) vet opened a cat-only clinic next door to the general pet hospital, and after taking my cat there, her attitude towards the vet completely changed. The exam rooms in the clinic have cat shelves and scratching posts for kitties to clown around on, and the vet brings in “cat tv” (clear boxes with crickets) to calm and distract the cats during the exam. Plus the vet is very obviously a cat person who understands and respects cat body language. It makes an enormous difference for both my cat’s comfort and my own.

        1. Bureaucrat with a Side of Coffee

          Wow – blaise zamboni, that sounds amazing!! I wish I could find a place like that around me for my little furballs.

          1. Detective Right-All-The-Time

            Try searching for a “fear free” vet – they generally will have cat specific rooms, with the calming hormone sprays going, a cat-only waiting area, won’t try and force your cat onto a cold metal table and instead do the whole exam sitting on the floor with them, etc.
            It can be a little more expensive, but I haven’t found it prohibitively so. I have a very sweet guy who is pretty okay with the vet, but he still had to be held down by two vet techs while a third drew blood to prep for a procedure. The fear free vet definitely helps with the more traumatizing experiences for him, because he gets to explore, gets lots of treats, and is mostly just getting petted while the vet does a stealth exam.

    26. Friday

      Team find a new vet. I think most good vets know to expect that the sweet pets people bring in are generally going to be a bit bananas at the vet because they’re freaked out. My outgoing siamese, all eight pounds of her, goes into full fight mode, trying to flee and snapping at the vet during the teeth exam part. And my big tabby turns into an inert lump of animal which is actually really good for an exam because he’s like a play dough cat. I’d side-eye any vet who saw these two messes and thought that’s how they are back in their house.

    27. Loose Seal

      Thanks everyone for your comments! I would have replied more but I have Pink Eye and it hurts to look at screens too long. We got some really good ideas from this page. I’m going to start asking around for recommendations for a new vet.

  6. Struggling niece

    I’d love to get people’s input on something I’m dealing with. If you’ve had a family member whose serious illness turned them into a complete jerk, I would love to hear how you dealt with it.
    My aunt, with whom I’ve always been close, was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer over a year ago. She is pulling through, all things considered — finished chemo a while ago, the cancer is stable (not completely cured, but stable and asymptomatic for now), and she is quite active and robust. (She just returned from a month-long European vacation during which she was walking up to 8-9 miles a day). In fact, she remained relatively active throughout her treatment — she didn’t work, but stayed busy hiking, doing fun activities, etc. She was on very new chemo that had milder (albeit still very sucky) side effects.
    I want to give some context about myself — I am a social worker and work with people who are disabled and dealing with serious illness, and have had a career in homeless services, including working with people with severe mental illness and addiction issues — I have a big heart and am as caring, patient, and compassionate as they come.
    Okay, so here is the tricky part — and hear me out before you jump to any conclusions — the cancer has turned Aunt into a selfish, self-centered, entitled, inconsiderate person. She has always had a streak of self-centeredness and selective thoughtlessness/inconsideration, but overall was a loving, open person whom I adored and admired. Now she has turned into a person whom I still love, but often don’t like or respect. I get that someone dealing with a serious illness is going to have challenges, and will need to be self-centered at times, but we are talking about behavior that beyond the pale.
    Example: Aunt and I live in the same town, and the rest of our family lives on the other side of the country. So I offered to throw a benefit for Aunt; she has health insurance and savings, and a husband with income, but still this has been a financial strain. Aunt accepted my offer enthusiastically, and then proceeded to plan her own benefit. Okay, no problem, except she chose a venue and a date without checking with me, and then *told* me the date, without asking if I was available. Well, I was going to be out of town for a long-planned celebration of my mom’s 75th b-day, and Aunt wanted me to change my plans and cut my trip short to come home for her benefit! And then, when I didn’t change my travel plans, Aunt repeatedly told me how disappointed she was in my choice and guilt-tripped me about it. Even though she had tons of friends helping with all the planning and preparation, donating food and cooking, etc.
    Even though I couldn’t be there for the benefit, I reached out to friends and acquaintances to solicit items for a silent auction, drove all over town collecting said items, and assisted with a few other preparations for the event. This was all during a period where I was burning the candle at both ends at work with a ton of deadlines (which she knew), but I hardly got a thank you for any of this. In fact, the night before I left for my mom’s b-day celebration, she repeated to me once again how disappointed she was that I didn’t change my travel plans!
    This is just one example of her overall behavior. Since I am the only family member who lives near her, I don’t think most of the rest of the family (my two other aunts, etc.) are really aware of or have been affected by these changes. My mom (Aunt’s older sister) knows of course, and is very upset and feels protective of me around it, but also is more familiar with this selfish side of Aunt as she has seen it manifest in other ways over the years, although it has amplified since the illness.
    To top it all off, Aunt’s husband is a horrible person and sociopath (I’m not exaggerating) who hates me and certain other friends/family of Aunt’s for no apparent reason, and has sent me cruel, viciously insulting, attacking emails that Aunt doesn’t know about (because I am afraid of him, and what he would do if I told her), and has also gone into Aunt’s phone and blocked my number at least twice without her knowing; she was wondering why I wasn’t returning her calls; I eventually figured out what happened and called her from work. Aunt’s Husbant mostly treats Aunt very well, and doesn’t show her this side of himself, except that he has alienated some of her friends who won’t have anything to do with either of them because of his behavior. So my relationship with Aunt is further complicated by Aunt’s Husband. And she is so out of touch with behavioral norms that talking to her about any of this won’t help.
    Okay, if you made it this far, I’d welcome any advice about sick family members turning into jerks, and/or psychopathic husbands of family members. Many thanks!

    1. wayward

      Try to set firm boundaries about what you will and will not do, and don’t let yourself get guilt-tripped.

    2. On Fire

      I have no advice, just hugs if you want them. Kudos to you for being so patient and understanding with your aunt. During the last … oh, almost two years of his life, my dad was extremely selfish. He had always had certain tendencies to self-centeredness, but I think most humans do. But while the cancer was destroying his body, it also ate at his personality. He became querulous and fearful, mostly because he was no longer able to care for himself. Vulnerability does strange things to a person – they try to seize onto anything they CAN control, because there’s so much happening that they CANNOT control. Hang in there (and be extra careful about your uncle – I think you should talk to *someone* about his behavior/messages, just so that someone knows).

      1. Jersey's mom

        I will add, go to the Captain Awkward blog. She works with difficult interactions with family/friends/unpleasant strangers. There a few years of blog archives, which may provide you some help with your situation. She’s very good at helping people identify the root concern and then supplying scripts for readers to use. I think her blog will provide you with a lot of assistance.

        It sounds like you’re getting a lot of crap for trying to be a nice, generous, helpful person while you are coping with your own life. It’s OK to distance or disengage from people who demand that you be at their beck and call. Best of luck to you, and remember, taking care of your own emotion health comes first in this situation.

        1. Struggling niece

          Also, thank you for the Captain Awkward tip! I am familiar with the site but didn’t think to check it out in this context, but will do so!

      2. Struggling niece

        Thank you, On Fire and Jersey’s mom. Good observation about seizing onto things they CAN control because there’s so much they CANNOT control. I will try to remember this moving forward, as most likely there will be a time when she is sicker and more fearful than she is now. And also, there are a few people who have seen her husband’s emails to me and are aware, including my therapist and my other aunt (they are the ones who said he’s a psychopath!). I don’t think he will physically harm me unless I were to show Aunt the emails, and then I don’t know what he’d do.

      1. Anon attorney

        This is much harsher than I would have put it, but I don’t disagree with the sentiment.

        I’m particularly concerned about your remarks about your aunt’s treatment. You seem to be implying that because her treatment wasn’t too arduous (as far as you know) she isn’t justified in having difficult feelings. Even if she had a relatively easy ride through chemo, stage IV stomach cancer is generally incurable. You don’t say how old she is, but it doesn’t sound like she’s elderly – so she is coming to terms with the fact that her life will not be as long as she, like all of us, probably assumed. She may well be angry and feel like this entitles her to put herself first. Frankly, if so, I agree – it does. And I nursed a family member with stage IV cancer who became increasingly focused on himself – because he was dying, sad, and terrified.

        Not to say that you shouldn’t have boundaries about what you will tolerate. All of us should. But her entire perspective on life will have radically changed. I don’t quite see that pressing you to attend an event that you preferred not to be at is the most heinously selfish act of all time. I feel frankly rather sad for your aunt who is coping with the diagnosis, asking you for help and all you and your mother apparently seem to be able to do in return is rail about how badly YOU are being treated. Maybe her uncle is a psychopath but maybe he isn’t, but being unpleasant to you is not a diagnostic criterion. It could equally be the case that he’s trying to protect his wife from people who aren’t truly able to support her. The diagnosis will also have blown his world to pieces, but we don’t hear about that from you – only how he makes you feel.

        Not to psychoanalyse an Internet stranger, but you rail against her apparent selfishness while describing a very self oriented perspective yourself. Some research into projection might be of interest, or if you have a therapist this may be worth mentioning.

        I wish your family well. I say with every possible kindness – this isn’t about you.

        1. Struggling niece

          You are making a huge amount of assumptions. Of course this isn’t about me. But yes, this post itself was a self-oriented perspective because it’s an online post that is both venting and seeking input/support. That’s like telling someone who is talking to their therapist that they’re being self-centered because they’re talking all about themselves.
          Second, being focused on oneself is different from, and can exist independently of, than treating others unkindly. Someone can be self-centered but still be gracious. I have a close friend with cancer who just went through a double mastectomy, and she wrote me a note that said she has “been moved to tears of wonder by the magnitude of your kindness and the depth of your heart,” and that she couldn’t do this without me. That made me reflect and ask myself, “Am I a better friend to her than I am a niece to my aunt?” And after some serious thought, I recognized that no, I am not a better friend than I am a niece. I have done everything for my aunt that I’ve done for my friend, and then some, but for everything I do for my aunt, it goes into a bottomless pit, where she just pushes for more and more, makes me feel like I’m never enough, until I am depleted and struggling to set boundaries. And she has a huge support system (she’s 66), including many retired friends who don’t work and make lots of time for her, so she doesn’t depend on only me.
          And she didn’t “press me to attend an event I preferred not to” — she pressured me (multiple times) to change my travel plans and abort my MOTHER’S 75th BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION in order to host a benefit that I offered to organize but for which she chose the date. And then expressed frustration and disappointment when I didn’t do so.
          As for her husband, I gave one small example, and he is not just “being unpleasant to me,” and also this preceded her illness. My LCSW therapist read his emails and said he’s a psychopath, my other aunt (who is very sick aunt’s sister and they are very close) read his emails and knows him, and said he’s a psychopath, so that is not my own label. And he is actually getting in the way of her supports — her dear friend who took her on an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii was “trying to buy her love” according to Husband, and he was so vicious to friend and friend’s husband that they emailed my aunt, and said that if Husband ever tries to contact them again, they are going to call the police. Also, when he blocked my phone in Aunt’s phone, then left town for work (as he often does), she was trying to call me to come over and help with some stuff, but I was leaving voicemails that were going into her iphone’s blocked vm folder, so she thought I wasn’t calling her back. Thankfully I figured out what might be going on and called from my work phone before the time period she needed help.
          And I was with my aunt a lot during her treatment, so “as far as I know” is quite an assumption. She herself is the one who told me the side effects were milder, and I witnessed this. She didn’t throw up, she didn’t lose her hair, but as I acknowledged the effects were “still very sucky.” My only point was that this is not someone sick in bed and needing full-time care, which would be a different scenario and different context. Also, I am a therapist myself (who works with many people with stage IV cancer and other serious illnesses/disabilities), and I have a therapist, so I don’t need some internet stranger to tell me to research projection or to make heap load of assumptions about who I am or what the facts are. In fact, my therapist has commented similarly to blackcat’s comment below, “An asshole with cancer is still an asshole.”
          I imagine that you are bringing a lot of your own baggage to your response and making this about your own experience, rather than addressing what I actually wrote. You may want to work some of that baggage out with your therapist if you have one.

        2. Basis, also a Fed

          I interpret this letter very differently than you do. The LW very much DID want to attend the event – not only was it her idea, but she spent a lot of time and effort getting ready for it even though she couldn’t go. The aunt scheduled the event at a time when there was already another family event planned – it had been planned for a long time, and it seems likely that the aunt knew about the other event, because it was a birthday party for her own sister. Why would she choose that date?

          And she didn’t just “press” her to attend, she tried to make her feel guilty and also didn’t express appreciation for the work that LW did for the event.

          1. Struggling niece

            Thank you, Basis. I have never posted anything like this, and I probably never will again, as I am not sure all the judgment is worth all the good insight and support. On one hand, I know the people who are judging are bringing their own baggage and/or assumptions, and I don’t take it personally. Still, it is frustrating to see people misinterpret, put words in my mouth, and make so many assumptions. Especially as someone who already has a tendency to question myself and be hard on myself.
            One of the more critical posts down-thread says that I am forgetting my aunt’s agency, that she didn’t want me to plan the benefit (not true), and that I “blamed her for changing the plan” (also not true), and that I was upset because she wanted to plan her own benefit (not at all true!), and then said, “There’s no need to show her the nasty emails from your uncle, but it would be good for you to talk to her about the fact that he is has told you to stay away from her, and ask if that’s what she wants.” I have no idea where they are getting any of this, but especially the last part. The opposite is when it comes to her husband. Despite all his nastiness, he has basically said the reason he doesn’t treat me worse when he sees me, or in public (he doesn’t acknowledge me, but also doesn’t yell and scream at me), is that I am so loving and helpful to Aunt and so important to her in her life. Anyway, I appreciate you coming to my defense here. It is frustrating to come here thinking, “Maybe I will get some good insight!” and to be attacked and judged by some people who I guess have nothing better to do than try to make me feel crappy about myself.

      2. blackcat

        An asshole with cancer is still an asshole.

        An asshole married to another asshole is still an asshole.

        You don’t get to be an asshole just because life sucks.

    3. sheworkshardforthemoney

      I feel for you. A close friend was diagnosed with a chronic life threatening illness and her doctor told her to take special care of herself. So my friend stopped doing everything, she would hand her husband her phone to place calls (this was before smart phones). Although she was robust and nothing physically really changed, she made everything about her. Her only interest became her illness. Not surprisingly, supportive friends drifted off and her son chose a school on the other side of the country. I lessened my contact because I was tired of calls asking me to take time off work for errands that she could have easily done herself. Whenever I visit now I give her 30 minutes to talk about her illness and then turn to other things. Whenever she tries to steer back, I ignore it and keep going on about something else.
      Your aunt has a history of selfish behaviour, my advice is to pull back on your involvement. It’s not like she is being abandoned to the wolves. It sounds like she has a good support network going. Take care of yourself.

    4. Bagpuss

      I’m sorry that your aunt is treating you this way. You mention that she has always had a streak of self-centredness. I think that it is fairly common, when people are ill or otherwise under stress, that they behave like themselves but more so – possible because they have less energy for self control, or simply that they have less time or energy or spend on other things so their poor behaviour is more obvious, as it isn’t softened by the nicer side of their character as it would normally be.

      You can’t change your aunt, so I think you need to focus on self care. Decide how much you can do for her, and assume from the outset that she will be ungrateful and likely to be complain, and factor that in when you decide how much, and what kind, of help and support you can give her.

      I think the situation with her husband is more difficult. Again, you can’t change him,and you can’t make Aunt decide to leave him or see him as an abuser if she doesn’t.
      You can decide what you tell her.
      If you think she doesn’t know, then you could show her the e-mails and say “I don’t need you to talk to uncle about these, I just need you to be aware that he has been sending them to me and to others, and it’s part of why people feel less able to be around him or to help you out”
      If you are not comfortable giving her details, it is still OK for you to say “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to [insert thing she wants you to do]

      In relation to his blocking your number, if you don’t feel you can tell her, treat it as an accident – “Aunt, I’ve been trying to call you and keep getting number unavailable, then I got through when I called from a different number. Can you check and see if you accidentally blocked me?” That way, you identify the problem and she can fix it, but you don’t need to say anything about it being her husband if you feel that that would cause issues for you or for her.

      I am not clear from your comment whether she is still going on about the benefit – if she is, I’d suggest maybe a broken record approach – pick a response, maybe something along the lines of “I’m disappointed that you’re criticising me for not cancelling my plans for you. As I’ve explained, my plans were for Mum’s birthday and were long-standing and not something I could cancel short of a major emergency. Moving forward, if there’s something you’d like me to be here for, please talk to me before you set a date, to check if I’m available”
      Other responses can be things like “I’m sorry to hear that ” or “I’m sorry you were upset, that was not my intention” .

      But ultimately, I think the answer if that you can’t change her or her husband, you can only change how you respond, and how much of her behaviour you are prepared to tolerate. I personally would lean to telling her that her behaviour is hurtful, but that part is up to you.

      However, distancing yourself because you are being treated badly is OK. Having different amounts of time and energy to spend on her , because of other depends on your time and mental and emotional energy, is OK.

      Do what you can, and what you feel comfortable with, and remind yourself that you can’t make her happy, or appreciative. You can’t even help her with her husband unless she wants and ask for help.

      1. Struggling niece

        Bagpuss, thank you for your input. To respond to your advice about the phone blocking, that is exactly what I did! In fact, the second time I did it was right in front of Husband! I mostly avoid him when I can, but we were at the theatre to see a family member in a performance, and were all seated together. Aunt mentioned she hadn’t heard from me in a while, and I said “Didn’t you get my text and my voicemail message last week?” And when she said no, I helped her find her ‘blocked number voicemail folder’, and sure enough, there was my message. And so she said, “Oh, that’s weird, it must have somehow gone back to the old setting like when you got randomly/accidentally blocked last time.” And we made an agreement moving forward, that if she is ever wondering why she is not hearing from me, the first thing she will do is check to make sure I am not blocked in her phone!
        As for the emails, I can’t show her, for two reasons. First of all, the email that by far the worst and longest email is SO bad that I am afraid it would damage their marriage, and despite everything, I know her well enough to know that I am *positive* he brings a lot more good into her life than bad, and that he is an important source of support — he seriously has two personalities. He is kind to people he likes, and loving towards the people he loves, but has a weird animosity towards a long list of people who somehow rub him the wrong way, and he is viciously cruel to those people. No one in my extended family is fond of him, but they all tolerate him, and to my knowledge he doesn’t have the same hatred for any other family member other than me (but a number of aunt’s friends). I think I am more of a threat/target because I live in the same town, whereas the rest of the family lives at least 2000 miles away. The other reason I can’t show Aunt the emails is that I don’t trust her to not talk to him about them, and in fact given how extreme the emails are, I don’t think it would even be fair or reasonable to expect her to keep it from him, and although he hasn’t overtly threatened me, he is so volatile that I wouldn’t put it past him to show up at my door and threaten or hurt me physically or otherwise (like slash my tires). So he knows I won’t show her, and he uses that to his advantage.
        However, Aunt knows he is a problem, because her friends have not minced words. One example — a friend was so upset that she not only stopped coming around, but moreover said that she would call the police if Husband ever tried to contact her again! Also, if I walk into the room and Husband is there, he literally won’t even look at me or acknowledge my presence. So she knows. And we spend time together without him. I tried once in the past to reach out to him and “fix” things — really made myself vulnerable — and it kind of sort of worked briefly but no lasting effect. That’s a whole other story though.

        1. Mad Baggins

          I’m sorry you’re going through this. This sounds so difficult for you.

          Just to comment on one thing: you said “So he knows I won’t show her [the emails], and he uses that to his advantage.”
          Isn’t this an advantage for you? You have a nuclear weapon that would cause pain to your aunt and damage her marriage, yes. But on the other hand, HE is the one who sent a message that could damage his marriage! And YOU are holding the key to Pandora’s box! Shouldn’t HE be the one quaking in fear of the day that you decide to reveal those and ruin his marriage and reputation?

          I don’t think you should actually show your aunt the emails if it would make you unsafe and escalate the situation. But maybe you can change your perspective from “he’s holding me hostage and can threaten me and there’s nothing I can do” to “he has sent me the weapon of his own undoing, and I hold the power to wield it”. Maybe this will give you the confidence to set firm boundaries with him. I think you’d be perfectly within your rights to cut off contact with him entirely, only see your aunt when he isn’t around, and if they ask why you can say, “You know why.”

          Picture yourself with a printout of those emails in a wax sealed envelope, and you can wave it around as blackmail. I’m not saying actually do this, but maybe it will help you feel more powerful in this situation.

    5. HannahS

      I can’t comment on the husband (never had anyone in my life quite that terrible, thank heavens), but as for your aunt…this whole situation reads to me as her wanting you more. Regardless of how well she’s doing now, she’s still dying and her husband sucks and I suspect that you might be the closest loving person in her life. You don’t mention if she has children or other people who could step in as primary caregivers. I’m not saying you have to accommodate it. But you know how, when kids are sick, they cling to their moms and scream when she lets go of them to go to the bathroom? It sounds like that. Sick, scared, clinging to one person like a tether, desperately trying to regain some control of their environment.

      So yeah, you have to set boundaries for your own well-being. Your relationship with your aunt has changed and will continue to change as her illness progresses. I think you have to expect that she’s going to become more difficult, because something terrible is happening to her, and pretty much no one becomes more polite,more reasonable, and more accommodating when they’re suffering. Now, you can’t have the same power dynamics you had when you were just aunt and niece, because now you’re caregiving. But obviously, you can’t be the mom in the analogy and NOT go pee sometimes. I’d say, pretend you’re that mom dealing with a suffering, unhappy child–not in a condescening way, but in the sense that you’re more forgiving of her proverbially clinging on to you and expecting you to solve things while never letting go of them even though that’s impossible. Gentle “I know you’re unhappy that I can’t come over right now, but I have to do groceries. I’ll come see you on Saturday.” “I know you’re disappointed that I won’t be there for the benefit. I wish I could come! I’ll come see you when I get back and hear all about it.” Find someone to talk to about your frustration, because not only are you taking care of someone you love who’s becoming more difficult, you’re also in the process of losing someone important to you. Your grief and your needs matter too.

      1. Email fluff

        +1000
        You matter and you are normal ( not selfish, not mean, not on caring) for setting boundaries. Please please do so. Ignore those of us who are judging. We are struggling with a coworker who has a stage four cancer diagnosis as well. It’s been five years and they’re doing extremely well but we know what the outcome will Eventually be. It makes boundary setting extremely difficult, those on the outside see the persons without the cancer being selfish (wish our company would hire someone to pick up the slack because it’s been years – would be so much less of an issue if it wasn’t all about them and they did not take last minute vacations that the rest of us have to come in and cover while they’re out in Aruba or climbing a mountain, running a race)

        We also have to be healthy and live and have boundaries. Do what you can, and also do what you need to for your family and yourself. I recommend writing some of the comments down in a little journal that you can refer to you before you meet up with her. Practice in the car so it becomes more routine. The outside world may judge you, wrongly. Practice. Say these out loud. This can help.
        Good luck and sending boundary vibes your way.

    6. Thankful for AAM

      Run. I mean, you don’t need to engage with them much at all. I get that this is a relative but that does not mean you are all going to get along or like each other very much.

      Don’t reach out or engage with her as much as you would if her hubby were not a sociopath and she were not so selfish. You already did what works for you with your travel for moms bday, keep doing that.

    7. Clorinda

      There might not be a lot you can do, Struggling, considering the husband’s behavior. But you do have the benefit of some really relevant professional experience here. Supposing a relative of one of your clients came to you, described the situation, and asked you what they could do–how would you advise them?

    8. Anonymiss

      I have had a very similar experience with my dad, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which he thankfully got under control with the right drug cocktail. But then shortly after he divorced my mom (overall a good thing as their relationship wasn’t the best and contributed negatively to both their mental health).But then he started dating, and started in on a new relationship with a woman who he later married. Some combo of him “living his truth” and “living for himself” and psycho step-mom (seriously, she is like a real life evil step mom) he’s become a person who doesn’t have a relationship with his own children, or any of his siblings. His whole schtick is that he ‘deserves’, and ‘has earned’ our unadulterated attention and he just wants to sit on his throne and have us come to him, make him a priority etc. He is now so entitled and narcissistic that we don’t even want to be around him. My only advice, since we’re still in the midst of figuring this out, is to keep communication going but set boundaries. If it’s healthier for you to maintain contact with phone,or only speak to her once a week do that. But just recoginze you can’t change her, because this might be the new her and if she’s fine with it, then just take a step back from her. Guilt trips only work if you let them. You didn’t do anything wrong and you know it. So don’t engage and try and convince her that you’re in the right, because you won’t win. So just don’t engage in those convos.

    9. Temperance

      Struggling, it’s clear that your heart is in the right place. There’s a saying that I like that applies in these situations: don’t set yourself on fire to keep yourself warm.

      Have you forwarded his scary emails to the rest of the family? I would honestly be sharing them with everyone, including her, and announcing that I would take a step back from caregiving. She’s married, so she clearly has resources besides you.

      1. Struggling niece

        Thank you. I have shared the emails with a few select people, but cannot share them with Aunt because I’m afraid it would damage her marriage, and she is getting a lot of important support from Husband. Also, I wouldn’t trust her not to confront Husband about the emails, which could have dangerous consequences for me. She realizes he has problems/issues but is in denial about the extent of them, and I’m sure part of that is that she believes he would never actually harm me, and I’m not sure that even seeing these emails would help her recognize that he is dangerous. (There are no overt threats, although there are plenty of cloaked/implied threats.)

      2. boo bot

        I agree on sharing the emails with other family members if you can. Sunshine is the best disinfectant, as the old saying goes.

    10. Girl friday

      Please, please have her go to the doc for a scan to make sure it hasn’t spread to her brain. Brain-affected people can’t evaluate their own behavior.

      1. Struggling niece

        Good point, but she’s had lots of scans, just had one last week. Her cancer has not metastasized beyond her stomach, and a tiny bit on her peritoneum which was eradicated with the chemo. Her lymph nodes are clear. No brain mets.

        1. Girl friday

          Just understand that it is a tricky situation: she may not be telling the truth or understand what the truth is. Plus she may be hanging up the phone and telling her husband, “Struggling niece called again, I can’t stand her,” or similar. You just don’t know. It’s her issue to deal with as best she can. It seems she does not want you to take a large role, and that should free you up for other things.

    11. neverjaunty

      She has always had a streak of self-centeredness and selective thoughtlessness/inconsideration

      That’s really your answer. It’s just gotten worse – and I would not assume that her husband is as sweet as pie to her when nobody’s looking.

      You aren’t obligated to subject yourself to her bad behavior, or to her husband who actually scares you, because she’s sick.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This, this. OP, please do not assume you know what goes on behind closed doors. She may be mean because she is treated like crap when the door closes out the world. Her husband may be wearing her down and down.

        I am concerned that he scares you. And I am concerned that he does not like you. I wonder if your aunt is allowed to have friends for any length of time. Perhaps your relationship with her is the problem for him.

        You are a social worker, so do you have a friend at work who would look at those emails with you and help you get an accurate gauge of how much of a problem you have OR she may have? My best advice here is to tap your at work network. Chose people whose opinions you SUPER respect. This can be just two people. Talk to them separately. Make note of what they say. Most importantly, make note of where they agree, where they both say the same thing. You get two professionals, unknown to each other, telling you some of the same points, those are the points to pay attention to.

        I did something similar when someone in my life turned mean. I can’t explain in full here but there were lots of other things going on along with the meanness. Both professionals said, “Distance yourself, before you end up dead.” Neither professional knew I spoke to the other one and had no way to ever find out.

        It broke my heart in a hundred places but I distanced myself. I will probably never know if I made the right decision or not. But it was a life decision for me and I was very much aware that I would have to live with myself, knowing that I decided to distance myself. I felt solid about some of the decision making process because of talking to my trusted people. I don’t think anything makes us certain in situations like this. I would expect you to say that you have some haunting doubts in years to come. So I will conclude with this thought, IF you start to believe you will become injured or worse, get out. Right away.

    12. Anon Sympathizer

      I feel for you. I don’t have any advice but when I was a child, I had a relative get VERY mean when seriously ill. This wasn’t even someone I was close to, the kind of relative I saw every year, once a year, my whole life. This person was diagnosed very late and was basically dying by the time they even knew they were sick. I called, as one does, and was treated to a rant of apparently everything I’d ever done or said (which was mostly what I hadn’t done or hadn’t said) to offend, annoy or displease this relative in any way. Apparently, I was a totally horrible relative.
      Except I wasn’t. I was a child, had nearly no control over the things they were complaining about, and would’ve pretty much needed to be a mind-reader to realize I was creating all these impressions they chose to lay on me. They’d never criticized me about any of this in person or given me any clue before. They’d been holding resentment against me for years without my being remotely aware of it. But it was apparently crucial to this relative to spend their last conversation with me, ever, making sure I knew before they died that they thought I was horrible. I was in middle school at the time, btw. I was so stunned and confused I basically just stood there and listened, and didn’t know what to do with my conflicting feelings to either defend myself or say “I don’t need to listen to this rant, I get the point, you don’t like me, goodbye” and not wanting the last thing I ever said to have been that, so I waited until they were done.
      I mention all of this in response to your experience because when I told friends or other relatives about what happened, trying to make sense of it, every single one of them said Relative “didn’t mean it” and “was miserable and in pain” and that they were just angry about everything they were experiencing and not really at me…which I didn’t really believe at the time, but it was such an overwhelming chorus completely certain that “sick and now a very angry jerk” was a thing that either it is, or that’s what people say to make you feel better when you get old off by a terminally ill person.

    13. Artemesia

      This is a terminal diagnosis and although she is momentarily stable, that won’t last (most probably). I have a close friend who has a similar diagnosis. He was doing well for about a year and then two weeks ago things went downhill quickly and he is expected to die this week. Of course she is selfish — this is a terrifying diagnosis.

      You have to decide what you can do and you. certainly don’t have to change travel plans or whatever. But whatever it is you decide you can do, try to get past her unpleasantness and do it with a glad heart.

      1. Struggling niece

        “But whatever it is you decide you can do, try to get past her unpleasantness and do it with a glad heart.”
        I just want to say that that is good advice and is exactly what I’ve been striving for. She just got back from her European vacation, and a few days ago I took her out for a belated birthday lunch and gave her her birthday gift (her b-day was right before her trip so I hadn’t had a chance to celebrate yet). And she told her all about her trip over lunch, and we caught up in general, and had a lovely time together. I am doing my best!
        But the part where you say, “Of course she is selfish — this is a terrifying diagnosis,” — I think I make it pretty clear in my initial post that I am fully aware of that, and that I understand selfishness comes with the territory. Which is why it took me a year before I even recognized I needed to start setting boundaries, and that being selfish and being unkind/ungracious/manipulative are different things. I was willing to tolerate a lot of unkindness, because she is sick. But at a certain point, it became clear that being sick did not justify how she was treating me.

    14. LilySparrow

      It seems to me that in an effort to show caring, you are forgetting your aunt’s agency.

      She is allowed to want and not want things for herself, and you are allowed to want and not want things for yourself.

      She didn’t want you to plan the benefit. She wanted to plan it for herself. She did want you to attend.
      You were willing to do a lot of work on the benefit, but you were not willing to change your travel plans.

      All that is fair and well within everyone’s rights. She’s even got the right to feel disappointed that you weren’t at the benefit. She’s got the right to express that feeling. You don’t have the right to blame her for changing the plan, and she doesn’t owe you ownership of the benefit just because you suggested it.

      You also have the right to express your feelings, and to say what you do and don’t want. For example, that it’s hurtful to you when she harps about the benefit, and you don’t want to discuss it anymore.

      Your relationship with your aunt is only going to improve if you can separate her feelings from your feelings of ownership or guilt, and if you start telling her the truth about the obstacles to your communication. There’s no need to show her the nasty emails from your uncle, but it would be good for you to talk to her about the fact that he is has told you to stay away from her, and ask if that’s what she wants.

      1. Struggling niece

        Umm, my uncle has NOT told me to stay away from her, not by any means, so I’m not sure where you got that. In fact, he has told me (in so many words) that he would do his best to tolerate me when we have other family visiting and he has to be in my presence, and that he will “not read me the riot act” in front of others, because (and I quote — his words), “you unconditionally care for [Aunt] and to have helped her out in many ways that have not gone unnoticed… Your love, care, support, positive communication means a tremendous amount to her. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of you to [Aunt] in her life, and the appreciation she has for you.”
        So…now you’re thinking he sounds like a decent, sane person, but this was sandwiched amongst a very long email entailing all the ways I’m a horrible person, threatening what he would do if I shared the email with Aunt or with anyone, etc, etc. And then, after the above nicety, he clarified (for the record), “I do not take back anything else I’ve said, and still stand by the rest of my thoughts in this email.”
        Also, she DID want me to plan and host her benefit, aside from choosing the venue and the date, and was upset that I didn’t cancel my plans for my mom’s 75th birthday in order to plan/host her benefit. I didn’t have any problem at all with her planning as much of her own benefit as she wanted to — it was her benefit, and I wanted it to be whatever she wanted it to be. Except that in order for me to host the event, it needed to be date that I wasn’t already going to be out of town.
        I am most definitely not forgetting my aunt’s own agency. And I’m still really baffled about where you got the idea that her husband told me to stay away from her. Yes, he did the phone blocking thing, but I think that was just acting out on his part, and/or being petulant.

    15. Triple Anon

      I haven’t gone through this with a family member, but I have with close friends. Sometimes people start acting like jerks (or coming across that way) when they’ll severely or terminally ill. Things that can be at play: grief (grieving their own mortality, regrets, all kinds of things), the stress of the situation, all kinds of emotions brought on by the situation, dealing with how sick people are treated, disappointment in who’s there for them and who isn’t, side effects of medications and other treatments, pain, neurological effects of the disease (for example, a lot of diseases can affect hormone levels, which can affect how people think and act), extreme fatigue, malnutrition (not eating enough or not absorbing nutrients as well), and probably a lot more.

      So it’s really understandable. But as a friend or caretaker, it creates a challenge because you’re trying to be kind and empathetic to someone who’s being mean to you.

      I think you have to take care of yourself first. But try not to be judgmental or take things personally. Assume it’s because they’re sick unless you have a good reason to believe otherwise.

      It’s a really difficult situation, and I think there’s no one right answer – you have to handle it in the way that feels best for you. But you and your aunt have my empathy.

    16. MattKnifeNinja

      Your aunt is facing her mortality, and knows it’s when not if. It’s one long, drawn out goodbye. Everyone handles that differently.

      Sometimes the chemo drugs can give you brain fog and make you feel like garbage. Prednisone can cause personality changes. That happened with my mother who turned into an absolute nightmare on prednisone.

      While your aunt’s husband sounds like total jerk, his life is stressful. His spouse is one PET scan, CT scan, one biomarker lab value away from it all going horribly south.

      Also, you don’t know what your aunt is telling him. “OMG, niece Suzy wears me out.” Some men aren’t great at the social finesse game. I knew patients who had their spouses play the gate dragon. Blocking phone nunbers and restricting visitors because the patient didn’t have it in them to tell relatives and friends to back off.

      My father died from an astrocytoma (brain tumor). He was a total monster in his last year. Radiation, seizure medications, prednisone, surgery all made his furious and angry. He was hoping to drop dead of a heart attack, not a brain tumour.

      The oncology nurse told me this was his journey, and I had to respect it. It wasn’t up to my father to play a roll other people wanted. There was so much I wanted to or help, but my father didn’t want it. He wasn’t up to social niceties.

      If you can’t do something with a happy heart, and without thanks, don’t do it. Don’t take things personally. Really really hard to do. Those two statements kept me sane during my dad’s illness.

      Set up those boundaries, and when aunt’s husband derails let it go. His wife is slowly dying. No bigger punishment than that. You don’t ever have to interact with him after she dies if you don’t want. He treats her well, and I hope people let him know what a blessing that is to your aunt. Even jerks need to hear kind words.

      Cancer journeys are all over the map. Some are the happy warrior. Some are bitter and furious like my dad. They are all individual. Your aunt is stage 4. I would let all the previous nonsense go and focus on the moment. Yes, you want people to be grateful. You want them not to be creeps. When the crazy starts up, say you have to go and hang up. Delete those awful emails.

      You need to disengage, set up boundaries and don’t take it personally. That’s all you do.

      I wish you peace.

      1. Struggling niece

        MattKnifeNinja – A lot of my other responses address a lot of what you mention, in particular about her husband. But just ot clarify, Husband is not trying to protect her. His volatility far precedes her illness (he’s been this way since I met him 18 yrs ago), and he has pushed away people who are important supports for my aunt. She was trying to reach me so that I could spend a weekend at her place while Husband was going to be out of town, but she wasn’t getting my return calls because of the blocked number. (Thankfully, I guessed what might be happening and was able to reach her in time to be there when she needed me.) Once, when she happened to see his phone and see some rude texts he sent me (which were nothing compared to the emails), she told him that all she wanted for her birthday gift was for him to apologize for those texts. (I heard about the birthday request separately from my other aunt and from my mom, whom she mentioned it to — she didn’t tell me directly.). His response was to send me another vicious email, then tell Aunt he’d sent me a reconciliatory email. When she said, “Did you receive an apology from Husband? He told me he sent you a conciliatory email,” I lied and said he did. Because I am trying to protect her. Which is not what he is trying to do.
        She is not on chemo nor prednisone, and hasn’t been for almost a year now. And I’ve never required or expected thanks for doing kind things, but I do prefer/expect not to be criticized because the kind things are not enough. Through all this, I’ve maintained a warm, loving relationship with her, but just have learned to set boundaries too. I understand that you are trying to be helpful, but please understand that I get that she is dealing with something HUGE that comes with a ton of fear and emotions, and that I am doing my best to navigate being the best support that I can, while also maintaining self-preservation, and keeping a big secret from her because I know if she saw the emails from Husband it could damage their relationship irreparably, and could also put me in danger.

      2. Life hacks thread

        p.s. I’m really sorry to hear about your dad — what a horrible way to lose a parent, and what a horrible way to go.

    17. Struggling niece

      I just want to thank everyone for your thoughtfulness, validation, support, input, suggestions, and for sharing your own personal suggestions. I want to acknowledge each comment individually and will try to do that, but please know that it all means a lot to me, especially the validation. It is hard to talk/think negatively about someone who is struggling with something HUGE like advanced cancer. My instinct is to give everyone as much grace and tolerance as possible, especially someone who is sick or grieving or suffering, and it was a huge leap for me to recognize that some of what she was doing and saying was not okay, not even for someone who is sick, and that I would need to set boundaries. I also have struggled with depression my whole life, so none of this has been easy. I really appreciate that most of the comments are validating that what I’m feeling is okay and normal, and that some of you have had similar experiences. THANK YOU!

    18. WannaAlp

      Sorry you are dealing with this. Others have said lots of useful things, including setting firm boundaries and not setting yourself on fire to keep her warm.

      Another thing to consider: if you want to help, weigh up whether it is appropriate that that help should be given, and whether it should be you giving that help, and if so, consider that there is more than one way to pay for something. Sometimes the easiest way is with money.

      For example, if she was struggling to clean her house and insisted that you come and do it, then you spending your time cleaning her house (and possibly enduring a lot of negativity from her) is not the only option. Depending on your finances you could offer to pay for a cleaner for her. Or if it was emotionally hard to go there, and you had a friend willing to help, you might be able to get the friend to do some cleaning there and you clean your friend’s house instead. If you offer to pay for a cleaner for her, and she refuses, insisting on your presence, then you have every reason to refuse! You offered, she declined. She doesn’t get to insist that it’s done a particular way.

  7. Midwest

    If you get an offer for a job that will offer some good experience but has a lowball salary, is it a good idea to take it with no intention of staying very long?

      1. Midwest

        Maybe a year or two at most? Part of me agrees that good faith is important. The other part wonders what employers who pay lowball salaries expect.

        1. Erin

          I think it might depend on the field and the role, but for the most part I’d say that 1-2 years is fine. My first job out of grad school was like this; I got really great experience that helped me get my next job, but I struggled to make ends meet on the salary and left after a year. (Salary was not the only factor that caused me to leave, but it was an important factor.)

          1. Jersey's mom

            Ditto. I expect that people who take field technical jobs will be gone within a couple years. Generally low pay, long hours, but excelkent field experience for the resume and moving upward.

        2. Chaordic One

          Agree with the other commenters. If you were only going to stay for 3 or 4 months, then it probably wouldn’t be be worth it and you’d look like a job hopper, but a year or two is fine.

    1. Sarah G

      It depends. If I was unemployed and desperately needed the income, then yes, I would probably take it.

      If the experience is of a type that would be hard for me to find elsewhere, AND would likely help me move my career forward, AND the place seemed like a great employer other than the low salary, then yes.

      Otherwise, I would not accept. Going into a job with a lowball salary is not a good way to start things. I’ve done it, and regretted it, but thankfully my supervisor had advocated for a 15% higher salary between accepting and start date, so it turned out okay.

    2. wingmaster

      It depends. I would consider other factors of this potential job offer. From my personal experience, I took on my current job over one that would have paid me much more, but I had a gut feeling that I wouldn’t like the culture and work of the higher-paying job. I would also had to commute in god-awful LA traffic. Also, the company was actually just two people, which for me was something I did not want. My current job pays less, but there is definitely a lot of opportunity for growth…along with a 5-minute commute, a great benefits package, and a great group of people.

    3. Sherm

      Did you like the people you met at your interview(s)? Do you predict a harmonious relationship with your potential boss? Would you have adequate guidance? It’s hard to gain experience if the attitude from above is “Get to work, it better be good.” Any red flags?

      A job can be tough if you’re feeling resentful on Day One. I’m slightly underpaid where I am, but so is everyone, most folks here are nice, there’s tons of amazing, inspiring people here, and I believe in the mission (Yeah, we’re a not-rich not-for-profit). I think I would be fairly disgruntled if I thought they could pay me the “market rate” but chose not too.

      1. the gold digger

        I am still ticked off that my former job paid the guy they hired to replace me $17K a year more than they paid me. When my boss wanted to keep me, he asked if I would stay for more money – and offered me $2K more.

        BTW, the whole point of that job was to license new organizations to conduct my company’s training – and the new guy, in two years, did not issue one single license. Not. One.

        1. Midwest

          Was this perchance a situation where you’re a woman and the higher-paid replacement who didn’t actually issue any licenses was a man?

    4. Kuododi

      Back in the Dark Ages when I first finished my Masters at Seminary and was beginning my second Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, I took a job as a mental health counselor at my local state mental health ctr. The pay was obscenely low, just barely above my residency stipend. The work was crazy busy but it was the best learning experience I could have picked for that point in my professional life. The supervisors were very supportive of my goals working toward state licensure, and they gave me the schedule flexibility to make it happen. I can’t tell you what to do, however I would say just weigh the pros and cons, then arrive at the decision which is best for you. Best wishes.

    5. Mallory

      What are you giving up? Are you taking a pay cut?

      I’d only make this move if you are okay with staying in the role 3 years. Can you hop after a year? Sure! But life happens, so don’t make this move unless you can swing it finanacially for several years as you may not find a non-lowball role in the timeframe you think. We’ve had a really strong economy recently- it could bottom out. Or your industry could take a hit.

      If what you’re really saying is “is it OK to take this role then keep looking and hop when I can,”. Sure. But know that people will ask why you want to leave your curnrent role having only been there X months, and “the pay stinks” probably isn’t a strong arguement since you’ve only been there a short while.

      Perhaps the right approach is to talk with the would be manager at the new job about her salary expectations, and why this offer is low. It could give you insight into any growth potential (or lack of), and overall opportunity within the company.

      Signed, mom. ;)

      1. Midwest

        Thanks. The pay wouldn’t be so low that it would be hard to survive financially, but it would probably be way below average, even adjusted for cost of living.

    6. Anononon

      I did this with my first full time job after law school. I knew going it that it was going to be awful, but I did get a lot of good resume building experience. I started looking after a year and left at the fifteen month mark. It helped that this was my first job and that most attorneys know that tiny practices can be…special. I’ve been at my second job for going on two and a half years now, and I’m super happy. It also didn’t hurt that my pay literally doubled.

    7. neverjaunty

      It’s only a good idea if this is a field where the professional norm is “newbies are paid very little and then get some experience to take to a higher-paying job”. Otherwise, no. You’ll be kneecapping your long-term salary and getting experience you could have been paid more to acquire.

    8. Midwest

      Another issue is that lowball salaries can create their own problems — revolving doors and less-than-stellar employees. At my current job, I’m dealing with a mess created by a low-paid employee who’s also not too competent. So I’m not sure what I’d be walking into.

    9. Triple Anon

      A low-ball salary can be a red flag. Even if things seem great, I’d do some digging and assess whether this is a place where you’d want to be for two years. How valuable is the experience? How rare is it? Could you get it in other ways (volunteering, etc)? This will be guessing, but try to estimate the tangible long-term benefits of what you have to gain. So, a cost-benefit analysis, basically. Because taking a lower salary in exchange for experience is basically choosing some extra education (or contacts or whatever you would gain) in exchange for part of the salary that you should be paid. How sure of a thing is it, what are the risks, and is it worth it?

    10. Sam Foster

      FWIW, during my recent job search a professional career coach told me that being in a job for 5+ years put me at a disadvantage and I should be moving every 18 months.

      Personally, I think this person is putting a very narrow lens on it since I work in IT. This advice might make sense for a fresh out of school programmer but I’m director over several major systems that have 3-5 year road maps that’d be torched if people left every 18 months.

    11. Frankie

      I’ve had this work out both ways for me. One place I worked at intentionally “lagged the market” with their hiring and actively sought out people who would accept lower salaries. Outside of a few odd exceptions, no one internal really got decent pay or merit increases. So the time I spent there was not a great boost, BUT it was during a downturn and I was having trouble getting anything. So it got me to a better job. LOL, and although they denied me a very reasonable raise before I left, they went on to hire TWO people to replace the work I’d done, both paid more than me.

      Another job was a lowball job (but more due to bureaucracy and process than the intentions of the people I worked for) that turned into an excellent position when the timing was right a few years down the road. I stuck with it because it was a great group of people and really great work. It happened to work out really well for me.

      But I think it’s good faith to plan for at least 1/1.5 years at a place that’s otherwise tolerable.

  8. Kate

    Hi AMA! It’s my fourth anniversary with a dude I love who seems to have it all figured out. I’m about to graduate with a humanities PhD. Any tips to make this work?

    1. Elena

      Savor the ability to have options for choosing where you work; forgive him views that are probably more right-wing than yours, if you haven’t already; don’t let your sex life die; don’t let resentment bubble ever; when tempers rise feed yourself ans him before fighting; work to improve together.
      I can go on :)

    2. Birch

      What do you mean by “have it all figured out”? Is this a case of imposter syndrome because you’re humanities? If so, don’t let anyone put you down! Humanities are HARD and important. You’re getting a PhD! That’s huge! That’s an amazing accomplishment in any field, and you will be the world expert on your thesis topic. You know tons of things and you are a very interesting person because of that.

      If it’s about life logistics…. well… just realize that nobody actually has it figured out, and academia just forces you to recognize that.

      1. Dr Wizard, PhD

        Speaking as a humanities PhD, I suspect the OP of this thread may be asking how to establish a stable career.

    3. Prof

      What question are you asking? As another humanities (History) PhD in a long-term relationship (we made it through six years of the PhD and three-years post-PhD), I probably have some advice to share, but I’m not sure what you are looking for…

      1. Julia

        I’m guessing how to keep the relationship alive while possibly moving for a post doc?

  9. Life hacks thread

    What are you favorite random household hacks? Here are mine:
    • Sprinkle talc or cornstarch on oil-stained clothing before laundering (both side of fabric) — it absorbs the oil which then washes away! Sometimes takes a couple times depending how big the stain is.
    • Put not-quite-ripe avocados in the fridge 1-2 days before they are ripe enough to eat, and they will slowly ripen and stay green for many weeks! They might get soft, but when you cut into them, they’ll be perfectly green and ripe. I’ve even had them last over a month.
    • Add baking soda to water for boiling hard-boiled eggs, and they will be easy to peel! I’m not sure how much, but I throw in roughly a few heaping Tablespoons for good measure. I guess it breaks down the membrane that lines the shell. Anyway, it works!
    • If you need to make sure you remember to take something with you when you leave someone else’s home (like if your leftovers are in their fridge, for example), put your keys with the item not-to-be-forgotten, even if that means putting your keys in the fridge, and you will remember it.

    1. FD

      I just learned this one recently–for extremely stubborn oil stains, you can actually use 409 on clothes.

      If you have sensitive skin that reacts badly to products, you can use baking soda to exfoliate your face.

      Bread will keep for two weeks if you put it in a ziploc bag and store it in the fridge, although it will dry out faster. (This is a problem for me because I live alone and buy fresh bakery bread, which has fewer preservatives and therefore goes moldy in about week if left to its own devices. The drying is an acceptable trade off because I generally toast my bread.)

      1. Marion Ravenwood

        On the bread in the fridge note, if you have the space, I find that freezing bread in two-slice portions is a great way to save on waste. It does mean you have to take it out the day before if you want sandwiches, but it’s really good for toast.

        1. FD

          Hm that’s an interesting idea. Usually with a big loaf, I freeze half and then stick half in the fridge, and it’s good for as long as I need it.

          1. Miso

            Or you can just put it in the microwave for a bit!
            Sounds awful, I know, but it really doesn’t taste different. My ex and bis family always did it.

          1. Mbarr

            Ditto for this. Almost all my bread goes straight into the freezer, or it goes bad cause I rarely eat bread…

        2. LPUK

          I always freeze bread in slices – makes it easier to persuade myself to buy the good sourdough I really want if I know it’s not going to waste. Also there’s apparently some studies that say freezing bread changes the molecular structure in some way that changes it from a simple crab to what’s called a ‘green carb’ which is not so bad for you ( same which freezing/cooling and then reheating rice and pasta

      2. hollow exuviae

        I would advise anyone thinking of using baking soda on their face to do thorough research beforehand! Try googling “baking soda acid mantle” – it may do more bad than good due to the extremely high pH (your skin’s pH is naturally around 4, baking soda is 9). If it works for you, great! But I would definitely recommend looking into it. SKINCARE NERD OUT (haha!)

    2. Marion Ravenwood

      Similar to the cornstarch thing, I have found that in a pinch, washing up liquid (liquid dish soap) or liquid hand soap works wonders as an emergency stain remover, especially on anything greasy. You apply it to the back of the stain (as apparently this is where it’s least set), work in it and rinse out. I managed to rescue a dress I spilt chilli sauce down at my friend’s wedding using this trick!

      1. the gold digger

        Dawn. Dawn is the soap that works. Not Aldi imitation Dawn. Sorry Aldi – I love you and your chocolate and cheese, but your dish soap is not Dawn and it does not get the chicken grease splatter stains out of your husband’s sweatshirt. Only Dawn. Only Dawn.

        1. the gold digger

          I should add, “your husband’s favorite sweatshirt that you were wearing when he was out of town and that you got the chicken grease on and discovered that Aldi soap does not work so you ran to Walgreen’s at 10:00 at night because that was the only place open and you paid $4 for a tiny bottle of Dawn because you and your husband had disagreed several times in the pastover who gets to wear his favorite sweatshirt.”

        2. Triplestep

          I concur! I was my daughter’s hero when I got the salad oil stain out of her new cotton dress with Dawn!

        3. Woodswoman

          Dawn–and only Dawn–is widely used to wash wildlife that have been caught in oil spills. The company highlights that on their website.

      2. fposte

        I’ve actually found citrus cleaner to be the most effective on grease stains. Dawn is meh.

      3. Hamburke

        I also use Dawn with a toothbrush! We have the foaming pump (refill with a 1 pt regular Dawn, 3 pt water) which makes it easier to rinse out.

    3. Gem

      Make a paste out of bleach and baking powder, apply to grout with a toothbrush and wash out after some minutes (I’ve done 5 for really bad grout when I moved house). Shiny clean grout!

      Got expemsive bras that might get ruined by machine washing? Wear them in the shower, and hand wash them there. If you shower in the early evening, they’ll almost certainly be dry by morning :D

      1. Marion Ravenwood

        Yes to the bra thing! I do this with my sports bras after a run. And with tights in the winter as well.

      2. Middle School Teacher

        I put mine in an old pillowcase and just tie the top of the pillowcase. They can still go in the washing lashing but they don’t get banged around (and hang to dry of course)!

    4. Kuododi

      I happen to be in an area of the US where household ant invasions are a chronic problem during this time of year. (We’re particularly susceptible bc of the large quantities of dog food we keep on hand for the owners of the house.) If the little crawling monsters show up, sprinkle plain flour, talcum powder, or corn starch in their travel zones before bed. Next morning they will be dead and the flour can be swept up and disposed of.

      Also on a different topic, a little bit of toothpaste will get rid of acne blemishes. Just spread a small amount over the blemish after doing bedtime face cleaning, and leave on overnight. Next morning, wash off the toothpaste and the blemish will be gone. (Might take two nights in a row for some situations).

      1. Avis

        Most toothpaste is really not great for acne-prone skin. If you want something to put on a pimple overnight a hydrocolloid bandage is a much safer bet.

      2. Gaia

        Okay I missed where you wrote “ants” and I was super confused as to why home invasions were a huge issue due to dog food…..

    5. Bryce

      I cook up 3 pounds of ground beef at once and store it in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Keeps for ages, if you make sure to drain it well it’ll break up and thaw easily, and it’s much more usable for pasta sauce, soups, frozen pizzas, burritos et cetera than trying to cook it up fresh in the moment.

      In a similar vein, if you’re freezing anything with discrete parts like chicken, after about an hour go back in and pull the bits apart before they’re fully frozen. Keeps them from turning into one solid lump.

    6. Zaphod Beeblebrox

      Love the eggs one – I can never peel a hard boiled egg without half of it sticking to the shell.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I love deviled eggs and hated making them until I realized I could buy pre-peeled hard-boiled eggs in the supermarket. I am very kitchen-y– I bake bread, make my own hummus, pickle everything, etc.– yet I allow myself this indulgence. Every party must have deviled eggs now. I’m making some this afternoon.

        But yes, the baking soda trick does work. :)

        1. Email fluff

          Oh my simple and efficient. I’m a deviled eggs person and never thought to look for hard boiled in the store! Thankssssss

          1. AvonLady Barksdale

            You should find them in bags or trays right near the eggs. They can be a little pricey, but soooo worth the savings in time and aggravation.

            1. Arjay

              My store keeps them in the deli by the prepared salads and things. They come in packs of 2, 6, or 12. I completely rely on them for my deviled eggs!

        2. Triplestep

          I’m going to have to try this. I have been *steaming* my eggs to hard cook them instead of boiling and those peel pretty easily, too. And they always come out good without a gray ring around the yoke, which is why I started doing it. I start with eggs at room temp and place them over boiling water for 12 minutes. Let cool with the lid off.

        3. Anonymosity

          I buy those eggs a lot. Every time I try to make hard-boiled eggs at home, the white is too soft. I like them FIRM. It’s worth it to me to get them instead.

      2. Gaia

        I’ve tried every trick under the sun to get eggs to peel better and none worked for me.

        Until I got an InstaPot. I’ll never go back! These things peel like a DREAM.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger

      Oh! That last one reminds me of one. I normally take in shelf-stable foods or beverages for lunch at work, so normally they can stay in the car or right on/by my briefcase. However, if I have something refrigerated I really want to have, or I need to bring in something refrigerated for a work potluck, I’m at risk of forgetting, because at that time of morning I’m kind of on autopilot. However, the night before I try to take my work ID and hang the lanyard on the inside doorknob of the front door. That is my “string around my finger” to remind myself that I have something specific to do apart from my routine.

      1. tangerineRose

        I’ve written a note to bring stuff in the fridge and put the note on top of my purse.

    8. Alex

      Use cheap hair conditioner to clean glass shower doors. Use a damp cloth to smooth it on, no rubbing needed! Wait a minute or two, not so long it dries, and then wipe off with a wet cloth and rinse. Sparkling clean, no soap scum, no scrubbing.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

        If you use liquid soap on a bathroom mirror it helps to prevent it steaming up after a shower – wipe it on, smooth over, and wipe off. You sort of leave a film behind that helps prevent steam from forming. (Bizarre advice that actually came from a driving instructor in relation to the rear view mirror, but it obviously works with all mirrors!)

    9. Polly

      Baby powder will easily remove sand from your skin (beach hack) so you aren’t taking half the beach with you back home (or car!)

    10. Jersey's mom

      When I have a turkey or chicken carcass to boil down for broth, I pour the cooled broth into ice cube trays. Easy to store, and can take out the number of cubes you need for cooking. Have also used this for pesto, when I make huge batches in the fall when basil is cheap.

      1. foolofgrace

        I used to use ice cube trays but I’ve moved to muffin tins, especially for prepared soups (as opposed to just broth) and chili. They’re easier for me to wash (no dishwasher, my dishwasher is named “foolofgrace”). Once frozen I pop the out and put them in Ziploc bags (actually I use Food Saver bags). And when freezing chicken parts or pork chops, I lay them in a single layer on some foil to freeze, then pop them into a bag for freezer storage — they stay separate.

    11. Gaia

      I use a dab of Dawn dishsoap or Ivory bar soap on grease or oil stains on clothes. It works really well!

      1. Lillie Lane

        I will also use a squirt of dish soap (instead of laundry detergent) once a year in the summer on our sheets. We don’t have air-conditioning, and my husband sweats a lot, so our white sheets get really gross and funky from all of the body oils and sweat. The dish soap is the only thing I’ve found to get them close to normal. (Warning: this also suds like crazy, so you usually have to do extra rinses.)

        1. Marion Ravenwood

          On a hot weather note: I am finding my hair is getting horrifically sweaty in the current UK heatwave, and the only thing that’s helping is to whack in a ton of dry shampoo before going to bed. As you’re asleep, the product works its way in and the next morning you’ll wake up with your hair being a lot less nasty. I wouldn’t do this for more than a couple of days as I find my scalp gets quite itchy otherwise, but it definitely works in a pinch!

      1. Life hacks thread

        I’ve done it at least 50 times, and I do have to admit that once or twice didn’t really work for some reason. But still, those are pretty great odds!

    12. Melody Pond

      If you have half an avocado left over, or cut up avocado and you don’t want the exposed parts of the avocado to turn brown, store it in an airtight container with a couple freshly cut slices of onion. Something about the fumes of the onion (the same stuff that makes people cry) acts as a preservative, and the exposed flesh of the avocado stays fresh and green.

      I haven’t tried leaving my leftover avocado stored this way for much more than a day or so – but it definitely works great for saving cut up avocado for a couple days!

      1. Anonymosity

        I never tried that because I don’t keep fresh onions around–I cut them up and freeze them. But I found a hack that works, in a book I have that contains all the issues of the old Tightwad Gazette.

        Put the half avocado in a small ziplock bag, like snack-sized. Close it almost all the way. Stick a straw into the opening and suck all the air out–you’re basically shrink-wrapping the avo. Carefully pull the straw out and close the bag. The avo will stay perfectly green for at least a day. This allows me to eat half one day and half the next.

    13. alex b

      Ooh I love this thread! Here’s mine:
      To get rid of fruit flies:
      Fill a glass 1/3 up with apple cider vinegar. Put any fruit whatsoever, like a chunk of old banana or even frozen berries, in there. Add a spritz of dish soap. Cover with plastic wrap (just put the wrap on top and secure with a rubber band) and jab some holes in the top with a knife. This hack works miracles; vinegars fix everything!

      1. Struggling niece

        alex b – How exactly does this work? Do the fruit flies fly into the vinegar through the holes? Thanks!

    14. Life hacks thread

      Also, another “reminder” trick I use is to write a note on my bathroom mirror with a Dry Erase marker! Especially if I need an early morning reminder, like to get to work on time for an 8am meeting. Then I just wipe it off. Everyone who comes to my house and sees my mirror reminders always comments that they love this idea. :)

    15. Jaid_Diah

      I used colored rubber bands at the corners of the duvet cover to make sure the blanket isn’t sliding around inside the duvet. I think I’d seen a variant using binder clips, but I would feel the clip when I’m tossing and turning and be distracted…

      I got an LED strip that’s supposed to be mood lighting that one attaches to the back of the TV. Instead I stuffed it into a mercury glass jar from Michaels, which has gaps in the paint. The LED has a remote control and the jar now glows in a cycle of colors. I plugged it into my computer and it’s pretty cool. I even made one up to take to work and everyone who sees it really likes it. (I do turn it off when I leave, so it doesn’t attract attention from office thieves).

      1. Struggling niece

        How does this work? Do you bunch up the corner and put the rubber band around it?

        1. Jaid_Diah

          I make sure the corners match up and put the rubber band about and inch and a half down the corner. So far, the rubber band hasn’t budged. It’s a thicker band and green, so it blends in with the duvet.

  10. recent grad who has a job now

    Tips on making one-on-ones with your supervisor meaningful? What questions would be good to ask? What other things I can discuss besides updates, challenges, and feedback?

    1. Daria Grace

      Current and potential opportunities for professional development and career advancement is an important one to discuss sometimes

    2. Mallory

      If your manager has a lot on his/her plate, consider sending a status report the night or day before. Ideally highlight any open questions. Then review during 1:1.

      Eg.
      Project 1: in progress.
      Did X, Y and Z. Waiting on fergus to send me the X files so I can add them in. How urgently do we need this done (ie do i need to chase him or is next week OK?)

      Project 2:
      Targeting completion by end of July. See attached skeleton draft for deliverable.

      Project 3:
      Have emailed finance about numbers- no response. How to handle?

      Misc:
      – still need signoff on June expenses
      – PTO September 14&15?

    3. QualitativeOverQuantitative

      How often are your meetings? Mine are weekly, so I use the time to set priorities for the coming week, provide updates on what I’m doing for current projects, discuss possible future work, discuss things I may need him to raise with his boss (who he also has a weekly check-in with). I keep a simple Word document with an agenda of what I want to discuss during the meeting, and then during the meeting I add notes into the agenda. This allows me to follow up during our next meeting on what he said he would do or what he asked me to do. Typing it all out makes it feel like a lot, but I probably spend 5 minutes a week on everything (not including the meeting).

    4. Rhymetime

      I started a new position a couple months ago. My manager was pretty quiet without a lot of guidance in the beginning, so I eventually asked directly what his goals were for our one-on-one meetings. That helped a lot, and we’ve created an excellent relationship that I’m sure we will continue to build on.

  11. Daria Grace

    I’m aware that it’s convention to not say anything negative about your current employer when asked in job interviews when being asked why you’re leaving. I’m wondering if this many vary a little when your company’s cultural issues are very well known? My industry has been subject to a major, intensely covered in the media investigation by the government into illegal and unethical behaviour stemming from bad organisational culture. My company has been especially singled out for scrutiny. Would it be acceptable to say something like “there’s a few contributing reasons for me wanting to move on. One is that the company’s operations being headquartered elsewhere means there isn’t much opportunity for advancement without moving interstate. Another is that as recent government and media investigations have made clear, unfortunately the sector and company tends towards an unhealthy workplace culture”

    1. Daria Grace

      If it makes any difference, I’m planning to move to a completely unrelated sector

    2. Sled dog mama

      I would think that it matters if the role you are interviewing for is a step up or not. If it is I would use the wording about lacking opportunity for advancement.
      I also think that if you are looking locally there’s a high chance that your interviewer is going to be familiar with the this highly publicized investigation and is going to ask you about it so I’d be prepared to talk about it but not make it the primary reason for leaving, they are going to want to know if you would have stayed if the investigation wasn’t happening and why you stayed if you were aware of anything illegal or unethical and how you handled that knowledge. Well if I was hiring I would be asking these questions of a person leaving a company under investigation.

      1. Daria Grace

        Thanks. I haven’t personally witnessed unethical/illegal behavior, but I’ve witnessed the kind of dysfunction and pressure that could result in it so I believe what the investigators have found.

    3. Recruiter

      I interviewed a candidate leaving Wells Fargo last year. On her application, under “Reason for Leaving,” she put “What you see in the news is true.” That gave me a chuckle, and was the perfect explanation.

      1. fposte

        WF are really spamming with ads about their new rebirth in 2018 and how sorry they are. To me it’s just a reminder of how sorry they need to be.

        1. AnotherAlison

          My 401k is with Wells Fargo, which when all the news broke just left me thinking, “Come on. . .off all the options, we have WF.” Yesterday we met with our independent financial advisor and he commented that he was surprised we had them. There were better companies with better fee structures, and as large as my employer is, they should be able to essentially have the pick of the best. That did not make me feel better about being stuck doing business with them!

          1. fposte

            My mortgage is with them, and I’m just figuring that it makes more sense for me to stay for the few years when they’ll be extra-well-behaved than pay to move it.

        2. Marion Ravenwood

          My bus to work goes past the big shiny new Wells Fargo office they’re building in London every morning. I know plans for that will have been in motion for years, but it still feels like very bad timing…

      2. Chaordic One

        I believe that WF is having some problems attracting talent. I’ve seen help-wanted ads for lower-level clerical jobs at WF and the starting pay is slightly above market rate. OTOH, I’ve heard that they don’t treat their employees very well. Specifically I’ve heard that they monitor bathroom breaks and discourage you from going when you need to if it’s not during break time.

        1. J

          This is more on a corporate level, but in a city with large financial industry presence, I found out details on pay and benefits for what would have essentially been a lateral move into a WF position. Base pay was slightly higher but the bonus was less than half what I receive at my current org and they have one PTO bucket that would have resulted in a a total of 7-8 fewer days off per year for me. Didn’t get into details of their insurance and other benefits but overall compensation package was much worse.

    4. Anona

      I don’t think it’s necessary. You can reference it without being so explicit. Something like “I’m ready for a positive work environment.” “It was time for a change.” If it’s something in the news, people will get it without you spelling it out.

    5. neverjaunty

      If the government investigation and bad publicity haven’t made them rethink their culture, an exit interview won’t either. Stick to the bits about advancement.

    6. Triple Anon

      I think that if it’s been in the news, you can say a lot without saying much. For example, if news stories have referred to problems with the culture, you can say you’re looking for a company culture that’s more aligned with your views and values. Phrase things positively – what you’re looking for in a new job instead of what was wrong with the old one. People will read between the lines and understand, but you’ll come across as having a better attitude.

    7. CAA

      I think the “don’t say anything negative about your current employer” gets taken too literally sometimes. You wouldn’t be leaving this job if everything was sunshine and roses, so you need to explain why it is not perfect for you, and that very often does mean you will say something negative. You just need to stick to facts instead of opinions, and refrain from giving a laundry list of complaints.

      In your case, I would recommend avoiding the phrase “unhealthy workplace culture” as too generic and especially avoid applying that to the entire sector since you haven’t worked everywhere and really don’t know about all the other companies. It’s enough to say that in addition to the lack of opportunity for advancement locally, you are uncomfortable working at a place that has had ethics violations and broken the law by doing x and y, so you are looking for a change.

    8. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      I think it’s better to frame it as “don’t be negative about your current/former employer.” I mean, you’re obviously going to be talking about why you want to leave, not why it’s a great place to be, but your attitude should be really professional and neutral.

      I think your script is absolutely fine, as long as your tone and delivery are right. You’re stating a fact that happens to be negative, and as with a lot of professional mores, it’s really about making the statement without putting personal feeling into it.

  12. Shiny

    I’m American but on a work trip outside the country. I knew I’d miss out on the holiday when I OK’d the dates, and I theoretically could insist on a comp day when I get back, but then my backlog would just increase. How do others handle it when working internationally conflicts with benefits like paid holidays?

    1. Pharmgirl

      I work in healthcare, and my old company never closed for holidays. What they did was pay everyone 8 hours of holiday pay that pay period, regardless of whether you worked or not. So those that worked had an extra 8 hours in their paycheck. Maybe ask and see if this is a possibility, if a comp Day is not an option?

      1. Nacho

        Same for my customer service job right now, though we get to choose between 8 hours pay and 8 hours PTO if we work, and working on the holiday counts as overtime so we get 1.5x pay for it.

    2. Thlayli

      Not sure about American law, but where I live this is covered by legislation. If I had to work on a public holiday I would be entitled to extra pay (like overtime) or time in lieu. Can’t remember the details but I think it’s time and a half pay or a day and a half in lieu, at a minimum.

      You could ask for an additional days pay instead of a comp day if you don’t want to take time off.

      1. Ms.Vader

        Those provisions are usually when you are working in the same country – not sure it covers time spent in another country that doesn’t celebrate the same holiday. You can follow-up with HR to clarify your own companies policies. But you may experience push-back. I’m assuming that they are paying you some kind of stipend for being away from your home office so they may feel that covers the inconvenience of not being in the country for your holiday.

        1. Thlayli

          Nope. If im overseas for a public holiday, I’m still entitled to be paid as if I was working in my country for a public holiday. I have no idea how that would work in the states though.

        2. Mad Baggins

          If you’re working in another country long-term, your contract/terms usually stipulate what to do with holidays (do you take both? Host country holidays? Home country holidays only?). But if it’s just for a short trip, I would assume that I’m either A) too busy to take that day off (if it’s a week-long business trip) and would maybe ask to take that day off somewhere else or B) entitled to take that day off (if it’s like, a month-long trip), but I’d definitely double check with my home and host offices to make sure that’s OK.

    3. waffles

      Early in my career, I loved the work and the experience so much it didn’t matter to me. I just worked holidays and enjoyed the travel. I never traveled for work to a place that celebrated American holidays, and since I was there to support that team, didn’t matter really. Once I had more experience and more life obligations, though my company didn’t even provide comp days, I just started including my missed holiday in my subsequent vacation time. So for example, I’d add on 4th of July to my next vacation, or I’d take a Friday or Monday off during a slower period. I tried to use the days within a reasonable time, and was always genuinely ready to hear I couldn’t do that, but that’s how I made it work for me.

      1. Shiny

        That’s an intriguing idea. I like everyone’s idea of asking HR–we’re a tiny company and I’m pretty sure no law requires they give me anything. I do feel confident that if I asked my supervisor for a comp day, she would give it to me, but I’m fairly new in my job and don’t want to rock the boat too much. Especially since I was fully aware that I’d be working today–these are the dates that worked for our partners internationally, so I agreed to them. The way we do time, it will look like I worked a 16 hour day today, but that’s only for timekeeping purposes since I’m exempt (holiday hours are automatically added and coded into our timesheets). It’s so interesting to hear others’ experiences and suggestions, though, thanks, all!

        1. CAA

          You are correct that there’s no U.S. law requiring a company to pay an exempt person extra for working on a company holiday. It’s very normal for a company to give that time back though, and you should ask your manager how it’s typically handled in your company when you return since the bookkeeping methods vary. Sometimes they add a day to your PTO, sometimes they track comp time separately, sometimes they just remove the holiday hours from the timecard and then you have a floating holiday that has to be used before the end of the fiscal year.

    4. Triple Anon

      I don’t have much to add, but it must be interesting if you work for a company with offices in a lot of different countries and you travel between them for work. I wonder if some people try to plan their trips to maximize the number of holidays, and how companies handle the paid days off (if offices close for local holidays or just do things differently).

  13. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

    Happy 4th of July everyone! Hope everyone has a safe and sane 4th and if you’ve been drinking, remember AAA will give you a free ride home if you’ve had too much to drink!!!!

    So I have an update to the ongoing saga of “The CEO is in Africa and the president’s wife is taking over!” This is a juicy update and should provide some fireworks ahead of the actual fireworks!

    After the crap last Thursday, I fully expected to be fired on Friday. Nope, didn’t happen. Went home, had a good weekend, got up Monday morning and went into work. Looking at my email, there is an email from the President. The title of the email is “[Wife’s name]’s role” and the body of the email stated that the wife was now the administrative manager (one of the titles the president gave me the day I was hired) and she was handling office management/HR/overseeing of admin. Oh….and she was, effective 7/2, a W-2 employee. I knew I wasn’t long for this place. So ok, fine, whatevs. Next thing I know (I haven’t even finished breakfast yet), I’m getting an email from the wife stating that she had reassigned even more of my duties (remember the CEO wanted me to focus solely on accounting, inventory and shipping), to the tune of handing shipping off to one of the salesguys and the receptionist was now going to be invoicing customers. Sure! Makes sense!!! Have the receptionist do the billing instead of, ya know, the bookkeeper. Sure, that makes sense! No. No it doesn’t. I wrote her back and told her I was NOT handing off either one of those duties because I have an email in my inbox from the CEO telling me that I was to focus solely on those responsibilities. She fought with me over email until I forwarded her that email, at which point *dun dun* (guess what happened….go ahead, just guess!) she went running to the president (poor widdle princess wasn’t going to get her way so hers runs to her husband….waaaah!).

    Next thing I know, I’m in the president’s office and he is yelling at me. “I’m don’t want to hear any more about your duties, shipping, time card fraud or anything else! She has been with [the CEO] and me [the president] for 25 years and this is how it is! If I hear one more complaint out of you about anything you’re fired!” Alrighty then. I said, “Ok, I’ll just proceed with the avenues I have been” [referring to the complaints I had started filing]. He said, “You do that!” I said I would.

    I left his office, went directly next door to the sales manager’s office. Closed his door and told him from now on he was going to be dealing with one of the salesmen on shipping. [I knew he was not going to like that as he felt this one sales guy was a “country club kid” who didn’t want to get his hands dirty.] I noted to him that we would see how many more violations they could wrack up in addition to the ones I had already reported.

    As I left his office to leave, I opened the door and the president was standing right there. I literally ran right into him. He glares at me and says “Are you done?” I said yes and that I was just returning to my desk. “Good!” he said as he slimed his way back into his office.

    I got back to work, wasn’t paying attention to anyone or anything in the office. Seriously pissed. Next thing, here comes the president into my office, face completely red. “Did you tell [sales manager’s name] you were going to file complaints with government agencies?” I said no, I hadn’t said that. He said “Well he just said you did.” I said “Nope. Didn’t say it” (I’m kind of pedantic about semantics…..and I’m a poet!) He left my office, muttering about getting the SM in my office and getting to the bottom of this. Alrighty then. They come in and the president starts his cross examination. “Didn’t you tell me she [me] said that she was going to notify the SEC, Department of Labor and the IRS? She is denying saying that!” The SM looks at me and says “Didn’t you just tell me you were going to file those complaints?” I shook my head and said no, I hadn’t said that. He asked what I said. I said, “I didn’t say I was going to file those complaints; I said that I had *already* filed those complaints.”

    Well. The president completely lost his shit. “You already filed the complaints?” he screamed at me. (He was standing really close to me, so this was screamed right in my ear resulting my ear ringing for a day or two and he also covered the right side of my face with his nasty spit.) I confirmed I had, last week, when he told me to forget compliance. He then said, “Get your shit and get your little f*cking ass out of this office!” I laughed at him and informed him I was a whistleblower and he couldn’t fire a whistleblower BECAUSE they are a whistleblower. He opined that he didn’t give a shit about whistleblowers and what kind of protections I think I have he told me to get the f*ck out of his office. I continued laughing as I entered my office and started packing my desk. I continued laughing.

    About 10 seconds later, he comes in and says, “I told you to get your f*cking a*s the hell out of my office and if you don’t f*cking leave I’m going to call the police and they’ll take you out of here in handcuffs and put you in jail!” This made me laugh even harder and I told him that I was packing up my desk and he was welcome to call the police, I’d be done by the time they got here and if he would get his Just For Men colored hair out of my way I would have been done by now but by all means he was welcome to call the police, they would laugh at him also. (Side note: he looks just like Charles Krauthammer, if CK used Just For Men Jet Black to color his hair. Absolutely ridiculous looking hair.)

    He slinked out. I finished packing.

    On my way out the front door, I realized I had office keys. I turned around and went into the SM’s office. (This is great.) As I was entering, the receptionist was telling him “I have [the company attorney] on the phone for you.” I said to him, “Here are my office keys. Good, that’s [company attorney]? Why don’t you put him through to the president so he can tell the president exactly what the penalties are for firing a whistleblower.” I set my keys on his desk and walked out the front door, laughing, with my head held high.

    Then, I came home and finished filing my complaints, filed for unemployment and found me an attorney to represent me in my wrongful termination lawsuit. He is extremely optimistic we will win.

    I also filed a complaint with IRS for misclassification of employees, paying contractors under the table, as well as some other accounting irregularities I found. And I think we all know the IRS doesn’t play around. They only take complaints in writing so I had to mail that one in, so it will be a few days before anything happens on that front. I also contacted my friend, who is a city fire inspector, and he passed on some info to the building inspection department. They will be inspecting the offices and warehouse on Thursday. I expect they will have a nice, long chat about the unpermitted construction in the warehouse. It will all have to be torn down AND they are going to have significant fines.

    My ex boyfriend is now saying my middle name is “Napalm.”

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        *throws kiss at Thrawn*

        Oh I’m going after them big time. Obviously. :)

    1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

      Almost forgot to mention! I also posted a Glassdoor review on the company. Mine was the first and is the only review for the company. :)

      So as a question…..how common is it that applicants check Glassdoor on an employer before accepting a position? I mean, I always do it but, well, I’m weird. It is common to check employer reviews? I sure hope so! *evil laugh*

      They’ve posted my job on Craigslist, just saw it this morning. Wish there was some way to warn applicants besides Glassdoor.

      1. Loopy

        I read Glassdoor reviews on every company I apply with! I’ve not been reading Friday threads, where I assume this started, but I’ll need to start so I can hear the follow up!!!

        1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

          Ok, good to know I’m not the only one.

          Yeah, this is a Friday thread thing. Only goes back two or three weeks. All posts are under this same name. We are now at the point where their world has been destroyed, they just don’t know about it yet. We’re waiting for the fallout. Oh, and the CEO of the company is over in Africa right now. He’ll be back on the 17th.

      2. WellRed

        On craigslist, you can warn people about bad tenants and landlords, why not employers?

      3. Anonymosity

        I check them even if the company didn’t advertise the job on Glassdoor. Because of course I do. :)

        1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

          I do when they release the “Best Places to Work” list every year. See what the employees really have to say.

    2. Never Nicky

      Oh, that’s a fabulous way to go out – although I guess it’s not great being unemployed.

      Good luck with the lawsuits, and I hope to hear some interesting updates about the fate of the company!

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        It was fabulous! (And that is the perfect word to describe it….)

        I decided since I was out, I might as well “Go Big while I was Going Home”…..no holds barred.

        The next few months will be very interesting my life. And theirs. Anyone have any tips on how to handle this “job separation” in interviews?

        1. Sapphire

          Based on what I’ve read here, I’d probably just say you were let go as retaliation for acting as a whistle blower. I feel like any sane employer would be understanding and very sympathetic to that explanation (though maybe I’m wrong and it’ll make someone fear you’ll sue them next?). Maybe say “I reported employment law violations and was let go in retaliation”. Whatever pending lawsuit you have might limit how much you can say about it, though.

          1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

            Thank you Sapphire! I do like that wording, I hadn’t been able to find a delicate way of phrasing it. And I guess that’s because I have the same fear…..they think they’ll be the next one on the chopping block. Although, if they are above-board and following the laws (and, as you said, sane), and if they are reasonable when someone points out or questions something, they really shouldn’t have a problem with it. But again, that’s me and I’m kind of weird anyways. :)

            I’ve never noticed problems like this at the larger, more established companies (think “top 10 financial services company” type companies). They are over-compliant to the point of practically giving away the shop to their associates. This company was non-compliant to a fault and treated their employees like crap (no benefits at all except some vacay and some sick leave, but it doesn’t accrue during probation and you can’t use it till you’ve been there for a year, if you leave the office to go to a dr’s appt, you can only come back with a note, etc.). I kept thinking, “I’m 51 and I’m being treated like a kindergartner!”

          2. Temperance

            I would never use the phrase “reported employment law violations”. I would stick to the safety stuff instead.

              1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

                Thanks so much, Alison. I’m leaning towards “compliance and ethics” or should I just forget the whole ethics thing?

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I’d stick with compliance. You don’t need to make sure you’re being comprehensive. You just need to give them enough that they think, “oh, makes sense, okay.” Compliance will do that.

            1. Triplestep

              I also would not say ” … on retaliation.” It’s CLEAR that you were let go on retaliation if you just say “I reported some compliance violations and was let go”. Or “… I was let go as a result”.

              I can’t put my finger on why I think this is better, but it probably has something to do with the number of people running around in the world who badmouth former employers and point to “retaliation” when it’s just regular workplace interpersonal drama. “Retaliation” – although accurate here – is a loaded word. I think keeping the focus on the violations is what you want to do. If a potential employer’s eyes don’t bug out when you phrase it without the word “retaliation”, you probably don’t want to work for them!

              1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

                Thanks Triplestep. I think you’re right and those two words do make it sound more…..severe? I’m not sure, like you I can’t quite put my finger on it but I do agree.

            2. Sapphire

              Thank you for catching that. I wasn’t sure what the wording should be. I’ve had to explain a firing before, but not for that reason so I wasn’t sure if it was okay to be more explicit or more vague.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago

      Woooooooow.

      I’m guessing you haven’t heard from CEO since all this went down.

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        Nope. When I received the email about the invoicing and shipping being reassigned, I picked up the phone and called the CEO in Africa (I knew he was available as he had, literally seconds before, been on a call with the sales manager). I told him what was going on and he seemed resigned to what was going on (he said “There’s nothing I can do from over here!” Ummm, email? Phone call? HELLO?!?!?!!), he laughed and said he’d give me a good reference. I lost all respect for him and no longer felt sorry for him. (I was feeling a little sorry for him because it’s his name and his money but if he’s not going to step up to the plate and protect his money and his name, well, I don’t own that 3-ring entertainment venue and the simian entertainers are not mine either.

        I sent him an email when I got home and let him know what happened.

        And what was going to be happening over the next few weeks/months. I haven’t heard from him since.

        Ohohohohoh, when I told the president that I had called the CEO in Africa about the reassignment of my duties, he completely lost his shit and chastised me for calling the CEO. “How dare you go over my head and behind my back and call him!” (Over his head behind his back….wut?) I told him a) the company has an open door policy; b) the CEO had told me I didn’t need to go to the president first, I could always come straight to him with issues; and c) I did that because he [the pres] was completely incapable of being objective where his wife was concerned and I’m sick and tired of my duties being reassigned any time the CEO goes out of town. I then reminded him of last week’s conversation wherein I expressed dismay at having my duties continually reassigned any time the CEO left the office and The Wife came to town. I asked him if he forgot that. I asked him, again, if he cared one iota about how that made me feel in terms of my job. He mumbled something I couldn’t understand and told me to get the fuck out of his office.

        Pretty sure this was the first time the president actually thought that I would not be bullied around by him and his wife. I have never had the president of a company speak to me like that, tons of F bombs, assorted other swearing, just asshole behavior with no regard for a company he has zero financial stake in.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          Good for you! The CEO sounds weak and ineffectual. You’re better off not being involved in this drama anymore.

          1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

            I think so too. It was starting to affect my health. I had lost 4 pounds in 2 weeks, which on my frame is NOT good (5’5″, 103 pounds three weeks ago, 99 now–and it took me three years to get over 100 pounds and I worked hard to gain that weight *sideyeing my Oreos*. The CEO is a wimp who refuses to stand up to the president who refuses to stand up to his wife. So I stood up to the wife. :)

        2. Mickey Q

          Nepotism has completely ruined the company I work for. As a general rule it should never be allowed.

      2. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        My responses to you are not getting posted. I don’t know why. I’ve posted a response twice and both times it’s been eaten.

        1. Thlayli

          Some words trigger the filter and if your response included any of those words it gets sent to mediation. Since Alison is on a day off she probably hasn’t had time to check the mediation inbox yet.

          1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

            I bet that’s it. I can’t imagine what word I might have used that would send it for moderation but it wasn’t used in a bad manner, I was either just repeating something that was said or it is in context of a situation. Alison is very reasonable, so I’m sure she’ll understand.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

              Sometimes there’s no real reason for it. I’ve had totally innocuous remarks get caught by the automated filter.

    4. London Calling

      *My ex boyfriend is now saying my middle name is “Napalm.”*

      Nah, that doesn’t even touch the hem of your robe. Try ‘I am death, the destroyer of worlds.’

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        I wanted you to see that I have chosen a new screen name based on your comment and one other in this thread. :)

      2. Bryce

        Carthage read this entry and now doesn’t feel so bad about the whole Scipio thing.

        1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

          Oh no! I’m into da vino and don’t get this reference!

          1. Bryce

            Roman general Scipio sacked Carthage, razed the city and salted the fields in the Second Punic War.

            1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

              Thank you! Oh that’s awesome…..

    5. Kuododi

      Why is it I kept hearing the Darth Vader theme song when you were describing your epic confrontations with the president??? I’m sincerely impressed!!! Best wishes!!!

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        LOL, I know, right? He’s short, got those beady eyes going on….maybe that’s why? I guess they have been kind of epic (and you guys are reading a scaled down version of actual events). I do know that I’ve been scared shitless every.single.time. but am so thankful that my sarcasm and gift of snark did not disappear when I really needed them. One of my best out of Monday’s episode: “You really should stop taking legal and HR advice from your wife because she doesn’t know as much as you and she seem to think she does.” I told him that right after he fired me.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger

        I dunno, the “president” sounds more like Dark Helmet (from Spaceballs) than Darth Vader! Or maybe President Skroob….

        1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

          You owe me a new keyboard. Sweetened tea out the nostrils ruins keyboards, FYI. :) LOL…..

          Dark Helmet might be more appropriate, considering the height and the overall demeanor and manner of carriage. He also sounds like Rick Moranis at times. Good call!!!!

    6. Anne (with an “e”)

      This.Is.Amazing.

      I admire you SO much. Please keep us updated.

      Can I just say that I would love to be a fly on the wall when all these numerous agencies and lawyers show up to inspect/review/audit this company.

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        Awww Anne, thanks (and thank you, everyone else, for the support…..). I am so thankful for this community and the support I’m receiving. My parents are incredibly disappointed in me. They are old school and believe in company loyalty. I do too, but not at the potential expense of my liberty, thank you very much (what an odd statement on this day, July 4th, even tho I’m Cherokee so……).

        I SO want to be there when the IRS shows up. Or even just their letter. And the city, too. That was a HUGE concern of theirs, they knew they were/had broken the law and hoped and prayed every day that the city didn’t show up to do an inspection. My friend, the fire inspector, is going to keep me posted. If he goes along, he might can record that clandestinely (Florida, 2 party consent, bummer). I hope he does. I’d actually pay him to hear it.

        1. Thlayli

          If there is going to be an investigation you might need to be careful what you post online.

          I’m in awe of how you handled this situation.

          1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

            I’ve been thinking about that. I meet with my attorney tomorrow morning at 900 so we’ll see what he says then. It’s all factual, incredibly scaled down (no one needs to hear how many times the f word was used), and doesn’t contain ALL the details, but I’ll tell him I’ve been posting here and see what he says.

            And thank you. It was scary (I really can’t afford to be unemployed right now….I mean this is serious) but I’d rather be poor and free than have money and be in jail. Ethically, everything I’ve done had to be done. I figured, if he’s gonna lower himself (and he really did), I’m going to stay on top. So I just kept laughing.

            I mean, I let him keep me laughing.

              1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

                Thanks Jersey’s Mom, I do appreciate that. I’m down here in Floriduh, where employers are stupid. I envy y’all your cheese curds…..it’s kind of rare I can get them down here. You guys have good chocolate too.

                1. Jersey's mom

                  One idea, check out the Florida Power and Light jobs website, and other large utility companies. Most have call centers to work with customers. There’s usually some turnover, since, well, call center. But utilities generally protect their call center people better in terms of not having to listen to crap. But it may be a good in-between job so you have a paycheck coming in.

            1. Anon Accountant

              “Rather be poor and free than have money and be in jail”. I love this line.

              FWIW I was a whistleblower at an accounting firm when a partner tried to fire me because I wouldn’t commit fraud, perjury and refused to evade a subpoena issued to the company.

              I leaned back and you will too!! You’ll come back better than ever and land on your feet. You might even be doing happy dances on the way to your next job.

              1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

                Thanks Anon! I’m sure my feet won’t touch the ground….I’m really learning with this whole situation. It’s weird, when I went on my interview, there were no glaring red flags, nothing that screamed “Run like the wind in the opposite direction!” But after I got there, I found out that everything (not one thing, not two things, everything) he used to sell me on the company was a lie. I wasn’t happy about it, but figured “Oh well, I’ll help them out and we’ll get them where they want to be.” That was never gonna happen and I see that now.

                1. Anon Accountant

                  People like this are very good at “putting on a show”. They’re good at hiding their red flags and can charm you because they’ve had a lot of practice and “perfected” their show. Glad you’re out of there!

                2. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

                  To Anon…..

                  Yeah, I see that. When I heard him pulling out the same spiel for the new receptionist during her interview, I almost puked into my trashcan. Isn’t it like some form of sociopathy or something? It was like, presented so perfectly.

    7. PB

      This is amazing. “I said I had *already* filed the complaints” made me laugh out loud. Great story, and so well written! Congrats on getting out, and good luck with the job search and lawsuit.

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        That’s probably my favorite part, too. I just kept saying “Nope, not what I said….” because, ya know, it wasn’t what I said. When the president heard the word “already” his eyes bugged out….it was really scary but actually fun. I bet the receptionist is still wondering what in the world happened.

        1. Aphrodite

          Your ongoing story needs to have its own thread here. It’s amazing and horrifying and funny all at once. I admire your courage and your quick wit with what is going on. And I can’t wait to hear more! Much more.

          1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

            Thanks Aphrodite. It was amazing and horrifying and funny all at once to live it. And scary! I really think the president was very close to hitting me. In that situation, *I* would have called the cops and *he* would have been the one taken out to jail in cuffs.

            I can wait for him to go to jail in cuffs…..I’ve learned to be very patient.

            (Some day, let me regale y’all with my tale of how I learned about going scorched earth. In 08, I worked for a mortgage mitigation company. The FTC went after them and I cooperated. That one was gorgeous!)

              1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

                I’ll post it in this Friday’s open thread.

        1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

          Yeah, he probably thought he could still mitigate his damages. Once he realized that ship had sailed, he got angry. He’s not a good looking man when he is angry. Or at any time, really. But he lost it which is what got me laughing. I mean, as president of a company, I would expect him to have some self control and ability to control himself. Guess not.

    8. CatCat

      Wow!! OMG, glad you’re out of this place. Hope you get a sweet settlement out of this.

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        Thanks Catcat. Me too. I figure the IRS will recover a tidy sum….and I didn’t file my complaint anonymously!

    9. LittleMissCrankyPants

      Phucking A!!! The more the “little” people fight back like this, the less big companies can stand up. This is a marvelous tale.

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        Thanks CrankyPants, I feel that way too. I’m so sick and tired of these crappy companies down here (Floriduh) kicking their employees around, just because they can. This company took it too far and broke the law and then broke the law again when they found out I reported them for breaking the law. I am no shrinking violet.

    10. OhBehave

      The best update ever! I’m sure he thought you were a bit nuts as you laughed your way out of the office. I cannot wait for the next update!!!

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        Thanks OhBehave! I think he did think I was nuts because, well, his wife is sososososo smart and so is he (simply by association you know). Once it sunk in, he probably spent the afternoon crying. I was hoping the receptionist would call me (she said she would) but I would not be surprised if they either paid her off to lie for them (which is ok, the whole timeline is going to require a lot of explanation). What really works in my favor is that I was never written up, and just three weeks ago I was given a $2 per hour raise that was retroactive to my 60-day mark. The only feedback the president ever gave me (on the three times I requested feedback) was that they loved what I was doing and to continue doing it. Never a negative word, until the whole timecard fraud thing came up last week. He’s so busy defending his princess wife that he lost sight of his protection of the company.

        1. OhBehave

          I think I echo what everyone is thinking…..we would love to hear more about this crap-fest (let us get popcorn first though). But only if the attorney gives the OK to continue sharing here.
          Hopefully the receptionist can give you some insider info as to what happened after you left. I’m thinking about the CEO and when he gets back to work! I wonder if ole pres called him? Pres and his wife have such delusional thinking, I have a hard time believing the importance of this whole situation will ever sink in (until the handcuffs come out that is). There is no way they can hide any of what they’ve done. You can’t backtrack to fill in the blanks so to speak.
          In the meantime, firm up your journal with specifics such as dates/times/people involved and what was said. Any supporting communications will be needed to. I’m sure you’ve thought of this, but it’s a good reminder.

          Now have a nice slushy drink and prepare for fireworks – the real kind!

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

            Exactly. They really just.don’t.get.it. They are now struggling to close the barn doors after the critters have escaped. I’m sure the pres reached out to the CEO or vice versa, since I did send the CEO an email telling him what happened.

            I’ve got a document under constant creation right now where I am jotting everything, the strange crap, the illegal crap, when and how I notified them, their reaction, etc. The attorney told me to get that going immediately on Monday.

            I wanna sit and just eat popcorn but I’ll give y’all as much of a show as I am allowed to.

    11. periwinkle

      On the one hand, I’m glad you’re out the door. On the other hand, I’m sad that we’re losing a close-up view of the Consequences Avalanche that is barreling toward that office.

      Go big or go home, indeed. You are my hero!

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        I went big and then I went home! I love multitasking.

        I meet with my attorney tomorrow and will be putting him in touch with the agencies I have reported to. I will be asking him to keep me in the loop with everything. Depending on what he says, I may not be able to share much until the whole thing is over if even then. But I’ll find a way…..somehow.

        And I really want everyone to know, I wasn’t doing this to be a hero or anything like that. I really enjoy my freedom and know the s*itstorm that this can turn into for them. Due to my former status as HR person and Compliance Officer, I really didn’t want to go jail. Reporting them was the only feasible option I could find.

        1. OhBehave

          I get it. I once worked at a high school and the principal (new guy) wanted me to change the grade of a senior athlete. I refused to do so. I told him he would have to do it himself as student did not earn the grade. The principal was gone by the end of the year.

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

            Oh dear! Good for you for standing up to him! I was a band geek and it always bothered me the special attention the jocks got.

      1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

        Thanks, Aero! “Destroyer of worlds” still has me laughing hard. I called my ex and told him and he concurred that Napalm really didn’t make it.

        As an added sh’giggle, I called my birth half-brother (I’m adopted and found my birthfamily). He is a postmaster general in Pennsylvania. The company frequently uses USPS to ship packages and they use their own packaging and then pay like they are using the USPS provided boxes (flat rate priority boxes….one price, up to 70 lbs. as long as it fits in *their* box). So I reported that to Gary and he is going to use what power he has (which is significant) and get it so they can only use the USPS for letter mail, no more packages can be sent via USPS which is going to seriously compromise their ability to serve customers with PO boxes.

        This is me looking sad about that. :-)

        1. Anon for this

          Hey, absolute empress of awesome (what you’re doing is amazing), just a suggestion, avoid specific names and jobs, now that there’s a lawyer involved, don’t want anything to interfere with that lovely lawsuit in the future. All the best!!!

          1. BAL or BLA(h).......depends on the day!!!!!

            Thanks Anon! I am going to add “Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome” to my email signature!

            My half-brother’s name was not his real name, but I will def be more careful. I get so excited and I type 104wpm so stuff comes out before I know it! Gotta slow down I guess.

            I really wanted this company to succeed. I kept telling the CEO “If this company is successful, *I* am successful.” And I tackled my job and brought my A+ game every single day. I consulted the reddit legaladvice subreddit a couple of times for issues and really did everything I could to make them successful. I can’t do it if they are going to fight me on everything. I just wanted a job I could go to, do the best I ever could, and go home. I brought this job home with me, I’m still finding notes around about things I wanted to do (I plan on burning them tonight while I am setting off fireworks). I tried very hard and even had really difficult conversations, conversations where I was called names and received ignorant excuses for removing my job duties. My favorite was “[Other employee] needs things to do!” to which I would respond, “So do I and you are taking away so many of my responsibilities I don’t have much to do. What about me needing things to do?” The response from the president was usually something like “This is the way it is get the f*ck out of my office.” Oh okay, that’s a good reason. How professional……

          2. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

            I guess my first comment went to moderation but I’m not sure why.

            I have changed my screen name to include the title you have bestowed upon me for which I am grateful. :) The name Gary was an alias, but I will def be more careful. I get typing and then it’s just gone….gonna have to watch that. Thanks for the support, just trying to fight the good fight. And, like I told my mom, at least I can sleep at night and look at myself in the mirror. That’s very important to me. I like to sleep.

    12. Not So NewReader

      You rock.

      I wish you the best possible outcome on all fronts. Many employers would give their right arm to have a person like you on board.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome (formerly BAL or BLA(h)...)

        Thanks Not So NewReader! I sure do appreciate all the support. I hope to find an employer who will appreciate me. I’m so willing to work and give them all the knowledge I have for a steady paycheck and a modicum of respect. I’m even one of those fun quirky people who makes others laugh…..and that’s not a bad thing.

        (Note to all: I have changed my name……)

    13. Woodswoman

      I concur with everyone here that you are just stupendous! I wish I could take you out for a celebratory dinner, but that continent thing between us gets in the way. So I’ll just admire you from afar, and cross my fingers that you can share updates in a way that doesn’t jeopardize your legal journey. Your story is a real-life page turner.

    14. Annie Moose

      BLESS.

      This is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever read. You just kept giving them rope and they just kept hanging themselves more!

  14. Dramallama

    Some background – the industry I work in is typically very young and very relaxed which tends to lead to companies where employees socialise together a lot, drink together etc. This can definitely go a bit too far and veer into unprofessional territory, such as in my previous role where people partied HARD together, did a lot of recreational drugs, slept together, etc.

    I started a new role at a company which I like a month ago – everything seems to be going well so far, the people are welcoming and the role is a good fit for me. I don’t get the impression that my new place is quite like my previous company – but people definitely drink together a lot after work/at work sometimes.

    My actual problem: and the whole company will be attending their annual offsite next week, which will involve 3 days of activities, some of which are work related and some of which are social/fun. From what I can tell, every night will involve a LOT of drinking and partying and general mayhem – this happens every year and is very much expected. I will also be sharing a room.

    I’m not teetotal, and I do like to have a drink and socialise, but I’m feeling incredibly intimidated at the prospect of 3 days spent with partying with people who I don’t know super well yet (as I said, everyone is nice but I’ve yet to find any person/group that I really click with). I’m also an introvert – although I think people don’t actually realise this when they meet me as I do come across as confident and bubbly. Any advice for how to negotiate the offsite bearing this in mind would be massively appreciated!

    1. Daria Grace

      Going for walks can be a good introvert coping strategy, especially if you frame it as part of your normal exercise routine.

      A strategy I used with great success as a non-drinker living on campus at a party mad college was to become the group photographer. It gives you something to do, drunk people LOVE having their photo taken and people are less inclined to push drinks into your hands when you’ve got a camera in them.

    2. Humble Schoolmarm

      As a light social drinking introvert I feel your pain!

      Some things that have worked for me
      1- Keep your eyes peeled for other folks smiling quietly with the same drink in their hands for a long period. Not everyone at an event like this is going to be a hard drinker (although it can feel like it) and you might find yourself clicking with other non-partiers.
      2- Time your leaving for when the tone shifts from buzzy and fun to WOOO! If you leave before that, people will notice, but they rarely do once things get a little wilder.
      3- Non-boozy drink in a boozy container.
      4- It may be too late to try this, or it may not work in your industry, but you could pretend you don’t drink at all. My experience has been that my partying colleagues are pretty respectful of teetotallers but turn into a full on after school special with the light drinking crew (Teasing, ordering me booze I don’t want etc.). It’s like they can’t quite understand wanting to drink but not wanting to be plastered, especially when they’re three sheets to the wind.

      As for introvert space, Daria is right about walks. I would also look at the schedule and see what events you can safely skip (max one per day) and sneak out during transition times. You could say you needed a rest after all the fun last night or similar.

    3. MattKnifeNinja

      Non drinker.

      By the 3rd round no one will care if you’re drinking or not.

      I drink club soda with lime, cranberry juice with club soda and a garnish or diet Coke with lemon. I know people shouldn’t care what you are drinking, but the above looks like mixed drinks and will back the crazies off.

      Go have fun! You can have mayhem and fun, but not have to be hammered.

  15. Baby grad

    I’m a brand new grad in an office that typically doesn’t hire brand new grads, making me the youngest person in the office by about 10 years. In addition, everyone in the office is hyper-polished, both aesthetically and in their work. I am so stressed out about seeming young or inexperienced or even just frumpy. How do I convey “polished and capable” when this is my first full-time job and I DON’T have ten years of experience to go on?

    1. Daria Grace

      When it comes to aesthetics, you don’t have to spend a fortune on clothes or other elements of your appearance. Just make sure things are clean, fit well and are slightly on the conservative side for your workplace.

      As for the capable bit, being organised goes a LONG way towards making people think you’re capable. Some things to consider:
      – Be early enough to work that you’ve done whatever you need to do and are at your desk working by your official start time. Also be a couple of minutes early to meetings.
      – Keep your desk clean and organised.
      – Respond to emails reasonably promptly.
      – If you need to read stuff or otherwise prepare before meetings, make sure you’ve done it.
      – Have an organised system for keeping track of things you need to do. Ideally this would be one others can locate and understand if you’re away and they need to take over your tasks.
      – Meet as many deadlines as possible and if you think you might miss one, give as much warning as possible.

      Also, try not to talk yourself down. If your company has been willing to hire you despite you being outside their normal demographic, clearly they think you’ve got something worthwhile to offer them and are capable of the work.

      1. Susan K

        All good advice, and I have one more to add: put away your cell phone. Just turn it off and leave it in your purse or a desk drawer while you’re at work. It comes across as unprofessional and sometimes rude if you are constantly looking your phone (especially if you’re checking it while you’re supposed to be paying attention to something else, like a meeting or a conversation with someone).

      2. media monkey

        I have 2 pieces of advice (in addition to agreeing with all the advice above):

        – listen and take notes on anything you are being told/ given to do. there’s nothing worse than explaining something to someone who doesn’t take notes and then being asked all the things they have forgotten!
        – check with whoever is training you how they would like you to ask questions – are they happy for you to ask whenever something comes up, or to schedule in a daily catch up where you keep all of your questions til then, or to email rather than ask in person, or ask a colleague rather than your boss. of course this is very dependent on the nature of the work you are doing which it’s why it is good to ask!

    2. Sled dog mama

      In terms of appearance polish. Make sure that in addition to clothes that fit properly and are scrupulously clean, polish your shoes if they are a kind that can be polished but just make sure they are clean, I’ve found that when I notice someone is wearing dirty shoes or scuffed shoes is really makes their whole appearance seem less polished.
      Also hair, keep your hair clean and tidy, doesn’t have to be done fancy for long hair but make sure it’s brushed and in a style that will last all day, shorter hair should be out of the eyes (in most industries).

      1. Clorinda

        For some reason I’m reading you as female, perhaps it’s the word “frumpy.” Anyway, if you’re male-presenting, ignore the rest of this comment.
        Shoes: closed toe and heel. Low-heeled pumps or professional looking flats, nothing that looks like a slipper.
        Jewelry: wear nice earrings (pearl studs, small hoops)–people look at your face.
        Clothes: do a little online research about a capsule wardrobe. You don’t have to spend a fortune; you can get the basic suit secondhand if you’re a hunter-shopper. Make sure the suit blazer is fully lined.
        Good posture, and good luck! You’ll be fine.

        1. StrayLagomorph

          I’m a bit off-topic here, but I had to comment because Clorinda, you legit made me laugh out loud. I’ve never heard the phrase “hunter-shopper” before, but I love it! I’m a woman but I HATE shopping, so I’ve always seen it as some sort of horrible ritual to be survived rather than enjoyed. But I once went shopping with two of my sisters, and it was surreal: I felt like I was a nature documentarian studying wild and dangerous predators. The way they managed to hunt down prices and items that I legit otherwise would have never seen was amazing. It was like watching wild panthers–beautiful and a little scary. So your comment immediately reminded me of that, and also made me think that there should absolutely be different categories of shoppers: hunter-shopper, ambush-shopper, stealth-shopper, etc!

    3. Ranon

      Do not underestimate the power of the confidently asked question. Once I asked a coworker a question so confidently (because I was 100% certain I definitely didn’t know the information!) that by the time he finished his explanation he went “but if course you knew that already” even though I had just asked him the question.

      It’s okay to be inexperienced when you don’t have experience- the main thing you can do is be aware of the extents of your ignorance and resourceful in extending the extents of your knowledge.

    4. Thlayli

      Make a list of acronyms and jargon you come across that you don’t understand. Fill in what you can by googling. Then bring it to the person you are working with and ask them to confirm/fill in the rest. It’s very common for companies to get so used to their own jargon that they forget not everyone uses it. Learning the jargon really quickly will help you hit the ground running.

    5. Epsilon Delta

      I started reading a blog called Extra Petite and her suggestions really changed the way I approach my wardrobe. She has a few posts that show before/after with her wearing two similar outfits but one makes her look like a teenager and one makes her look 30. (Link to follow) She also models a lot of sophisticated work styles. There is also a post about “Confidence beyond Stature” which has a lot of great advice for anyone who feels like they look young – not just short people! Check out her blog, even if you are not “extra petite” because a lot of the advice applies to any body shape.

        1. Overeducated

          Aaah! Thank you for this link, from a short person. Not able to go replace/supplement my wardrobe too much but it looks like it might have some good styling tips.

        2. Effie, who gets to be herself

          Thank you from another petite person!! Her tips are super and simple to implement! Rectangular box shape lol :)

        3. Marion Ravenwood

          Another short person here saying thank you! I totally get the ‘looking boxy’ thing so this is really helpful :)

  16. Confused PM

    Does anyone here have any advice on learning SQL? Where do I start?

    I just moved to role on an operations team that uses SQL a lot to pull data (mainly using the free version of Postico to pull data our of our database, and Looker to create dashboards). I used to work as a data analyst and used SAS and Stata a lot, but those skills are rusty. (I spent the last 5 years working as a project manager). I get what SQL does, I just need to figure out the basics of how to use it. My company will reimburse me up to $1000 for professional learning, but I’m not sure what to ask her.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      I’ve used the following sites:

      w3schools.com (free but basic)
      datacamp.com
      udemy.com
      vtc.com

      The other sites charge but something like 20 or 30 bucks a month for access.

      Depending on your location there might be community event run locally, I’m in the UK and sqlbits and SQL Saturday are really good. Check out the sqlbits website as they have a load of the presentations from previous years there.

      1. SQL Learner

        Nothing beats real-world practice, but I agree with Apollo – the w3 site is pretty good for SQL basics. It even has live examples where you can run demos and even modify the query however you want and then re-run it. The biggest thing to watch out for with SQL is multiple versions (i.e. mySQL vs SQL server) which all have tiny syntax differences. Also remember that your real-world data is going to have quirks that you’ll need to work around unlike the practice problems. Good luck!

    2. Kate Daniels

      Check to see if your public library provides access to either Lynda or Treehouse–they’re subscription websites that offer a lot of professional development courses (including on SQL), but I have access to both for free through my library.

    3. nep

      I’ll be interested in answers here.
      I am fascinated by code, and no next to nothing. Lately I’ve been reading gobs of articles and success stories about learning code/the various languages.
      All the best. Keep us posted as to what works for you.

    4. LGC

      Honestly, I just referenced a lot on W3C when I was first learning.

      What’s probably been key for me is understanding our implementations. In our billing database, we have fields for the batch name (i.e., the name of that specific job), the project name it’s from (we have several different clients we process work for), the job step name, the account assigned to it, the start time, the finish time, the completion status, and various billing metrics. It’s called the billing database because it’s the authoritative check on what we can bill for, but I can also figure out where each shipment stands in terms of completion (since every batch name has a standard nomenclature), what specific employees have done in a specific time period, how much work has been completed overall on a project, so on and so forth.

      Project management also comes into it a little bit – I have to be aware of what is an issue and what will never be one. (For example, one step has to be manually entered in the database. Sometimes the other project managers forget to do so, which leads to the odd instance of the subsequent job step being listed as further along than the previous, even though the previous job step MUST be completed first without any exceptions. Fortunately, I can correct this pretty easily.)

      In your case, I’d take the professional learning offer, since it can explain SQL better than me! (Also, free $1000, man.)

    5. Someone else

      There is a book called Learn SQL in 24 hours that might be useful. It’s formatted as 24 one-hour exercises. It’s a pretty good introduction to the syntax.
      One thing I would say though, just to set expectations for yourself, everyone I know who uses SQL in their work mostly learned from actually using it. From people with CS degrees to self-taught. Books, classes, web tutorials: that’s only good for getting the syntax in your head. Actually being comfortable and functional comes from doing your real work, not sample exercises. I’ve dealt with many many employees who had JUST finished a college course in SQL, and they really couldn’t do any of the work any better than someone who never took a class but looked up the general syntax.

      1. nep

        Just the other day I was talking with one of the directors where I work–we were talking about no matter how much training we do for the computer system our organisation uses, it is only in doing, being on the job, that we’ve learned anything. Sure the trainings give a bit of an idea of what we’re looking at, and perhaps get us a little familiar with some terminology. But when it comes to actually doing a task from start to finish in real time for a member/client, it’s all learned while doing.

    6. Serious Sam

      Frankly, I simply found “SQL for Dummies” to be fine. Then read the reference manual for your implementation (mySQL, SQL server, Oracle, whatever) for the fine detail of the functions and types.

    7. Dr. Vanessa Poseidon

      Do you have a chapter of Girl Develop It nearby? They offer low-cost classes in several programming languages. I’ve found the classes to be high quality, and they would connect you with community that would be eager to help you as you learn on your own.

      I don’t know your gender, but note that GDI is women focused, not women only.

  17. Sled dog mama

    Enjoying my day off from office craziness, one of my coworkers put it best yesterday when she said I needed to stop trying to sit down because every time I do my phone rings with another fire that needed putting out.
    Very much looking forward to a day with the kiddo and dogs.
    Saturday I found a mammary lump on my 8 year old girl (life expectancy for the breed is 10-12). She’s got an appointment for biopsy tomorrow and I’m trying not to freak out about this. She’s my first dog and I have a lot of time, and energy invested in her training, not to mention just that she’s a great dog. I was hoping to get her back in the obedience ring and finish her title this fall. All my research says we’ve got a 50/50 shot that this is just a benign lump so im hopeful that it is but I work in human cancer care so that’s where my brain naturally goes and I’m terrified.

    1. Anne (with an “e”)

      I am sending good vibes your way. I hope it turns out to be benign.

    2. Dear liza dear liza

      Oh, good thoughts for your girl. It seems like many senior dogs get lumpy without serious consequence; here’s hoping yours falls into that pattern.

      1. Red Reader

        Yep, my old lady (she just gave me a dirty look — sorry, my grande dame!) has several benign lipomas around her hindquarters and belly, and Dr Bacon Lady says that as long as they don’t grow super fast, get super big or start to bother her, it’s perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. (My boss’s dog apparently has one the size of a grapefruit on his head, which I think is kind of appalling on several levels, but my boss and I do not always have the same opinions on pet care and there’s jack-all I can do about it.)

        1. Sled dog mama

          Oh gosh that poor dog, a grapefruit sized one has got to cause him trouble.
          I am particularly worried since this wasn’t present at her vet exam in February and I don’t remember feeling it when I bathed her in May

    3. Jersey's mom

      My 14 year old dog has numerous lumps, for a few years now. They’re essentially “fat lumps”. I hope your baby is as fortunate. My dogs nickname is now lumpy. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

  18. NeedClarity

    For two years, I have been a consultant for two different companies until Mar. when the project ended. I have been interviewing since April for FT roles, but been offered only consulting or contract roles that I turned down. I have a PT job for since 2014 lecturing in the evenings. I am startting to get concerned that I can’t pay my bills while I interview and land a FT role. I rather not accept a consulting or contract role, because they are short-term and would look spotty on my history. Should I just accept these short-term gigs to pay the bills? In this hot job market, will I be considered unmarketable if I haven’t found a FT role? I have always been interviewed and been to the “final round”, then it goes to someone more qualified. Thoughts?

    1. BeenThere

      Why not take the consulting roles and lump it all together on your resume as some kind of freelance? Can you even out a company name on it (NeedClarity, LLC or something?).

      I did something similar when the kidlets were young. I had three part time jobs, all work from home. I used the cover letter to explain. But I think having a steady stream of consulting gigs would be easier to show on the resume than my patchwork of PT jobs.

    2. Thlayli

      Absolutely take what you can get in the meantime. You don’t have to put it on your resume if it doesnt add anything. I never understood that idea that you should just interview and stay unemployed while you wait for the perfect job – you need money coming in! I worked selling mobile phone covers from a stall on the street after I finished my PhD till I got an industry job. It’s not on my CV or anything. But it brought in some cash for the Christmas.

      1. NeedClarity

        Thank you! I needed some reinforcement. I felt that I was losing out on getting the FT job I wanted.

    3. CAA

      Yes, take the short-term jobs. Working jobs that have a pre-defined end date is not job hopping. You just need to make that clear on your resume. I’ve seen candidates do either of the methods below.

      Independent Contractor
      – Company A contract from 3/15/17 to 4/15/18

      – Company B contract from 6/1/18 to present, expected end date 9/30/18
      ….

      Or

      Company A
      Project Management Consultant (contract role) 3/15/17 to 4/15/18

      Company B
      Program Specialist (contract role) 6/1/18 to present

    4. foolofgrace

      In my line of work, short-term contracts are the norm and are perfectly acceptable. Employers know that this is how it goes and I’ve never found it to be an issue. I’d rather have a few short-term contract jobs on my resume than a big work gap.

  19. anon lady

    I’m putting in my notice. I’m really apprehensive and anxious about it because emotions always run high at my office when someone leaves, and management often fans the flames. Tips for navigating any emotional fallout? I have already started working on a draft transition document so I’m hoping that can help.

    1. BeenThere

      Just breathe! People have left before and the place was still standing. Remind them of that if things get emotional.

    2. nep

      Just have it in your mind at all times that just because someone wants to whip things into a drama, no one is obliged to follow them down that path. You have no control over how others will behave, but you have 100 percent control over whether you are affected or taken up with it. Be matter-of-fact about things and keep your focus on what you’ve got to do to make the transition as smooth as possible for yourself and the workplace.
      Good luck to you.

  20. Kate Daniels

    A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to try to substantially downsize the amount of stuff I own because I had heard that it can reduce stress and anxiety. It has already made me feel more content and appreciative with what I already own rather than feeling envious of others who have something I don’t have because I no longer have the desire for more stuff as I’m working to clear my place out. I really like how I’ve been able to replace my urge to shop with trips to Goodwill and book collection drops to donate things–I decided to donate rather than sell because I think selling would cause anxiety. I also like how this project gives me a task to do (e.g., shred old papers, clean out junk drawer) and feel accomplished about each day. It has been painful to see just how much money I wasted on things over the years, but I keep telling myself that I am making a lifestyle change starting now to try to not be too bothered by the regret. So, for those of you who also suffer from anxiety and jealousy, this could be something that can help you, too!

    My next step is to get in the habit of regularly cleaning my apartment because I feel like this is something I should be able to do myself and I’d rather not spend money on a professional cleaning. Does anyone have any recommendations for websites or YouTube video series that break down cleaning into small tasks with tips for each task? I have looked at the Fly Lady website, but I don’t like the idea of getting 10+ emails a day through that program.

    1. Rebecca

      I’m contemplating an entire house cleanout, and you’ve given me such inspiration!

      1. Kate Daniels

        I hope you give it a try! I feel so much more relaxed in my apartment without stuff piled up everywhere–it makes it feel like I’m on holiday or something. I used to buy back-ups of everything, so I had like 5 or 6 extra bottles of shampoo and conditioner in my cabinet in addition to what was already in the shower, which was taking up valuable real estate (and of course, other bath products can go bad before I get around to using it). I’m looking forward to using all of that stuff I already have up because I think it is going to be much more enjoyable to go out and be able to try a new product once I use up my current product. My massive decluttering has also encouraged me to develop other healthy and environmentally friendly habits as well–for instance, I like the challenge of figuring out how to eliminate food waste by cooking some creative meals with food items before they expire.

        In the past, I would often spend holidays off from work like today looking through sales and shopping. I unsubscribed from all of those and instead went to a farmers’ market this morning to pick up some fresh blueberries and spent the day reading a book. I’ve had a very relaxing and enjoyable day off! I am excited to start spending my money on experiences instead of things.

        1. Nicole76

          I can totally relate to buying multiple backups of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash! Not only do they take up space, I start to get tired of them and want to try something new. I’ve recently vowed to work on using up my stash before buying anything new and from then on out not buying more until the current bottle is close to being empty.

          Also, to save space in the shower I bought a couple of travel containers that I put my shampoo and conditioner in which I only have to refill every two weeks.

    2. gecko

      I’ve always been fond of “unfuck your habitat” but that website is more targeted towards people who need baby steps—but, it is useful and offers tips for keeping a clean house in general.

    3. self employed

      The fly lady plus app acts more like a checklist rather than an annoying email dump, if you like the method but not the delivery.

    4. Quickbeam

      I am in your headspace…packrat here, undertaking a Kondo style home dehoarding. It has been a really wonderful experience. It’s like losing an anchor and being free to move. I love Marie Kondo’s book as well as the Swedish Death Cleaning concepts. I tried the Fly Lady thing but it wasn’t for me.

    5. Dawn

      Unf*$k Your Habitat is an amazing site. She specifically addresses how to clean in very small chunks, on a regular basis, and how to break down cleaning into small tasks so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

      1. Justme, The OG

        I feel like AAM, UFYH, and Captain Awkward all need to get together for some kind of project.

      2. Djuna

        UFYH also teaches you really good habits. I used it to help coach a hoarder friend through making his apartment much less of a fire hazard. I used to text him the list of evening things to do daily and then noticed I was doing them too. Still am!

      3. Annie Moose

        I have the UfYH app and I really like the daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal checklists she has. Unfortunately those lists aren’t directly customizable, but if you have things you want to do that aren’t on the lists, you can set up recurring to-dos.

        What’s good about those lists is that, for the most part, they’re not particularly overwhelming. It’s all stuff that really needs to get done, not a bunch of busywork: “wipe down your counters” (a daily task). “Vacuum/sweep all your floors” (a weekly task). “Clean out and organize your pantry” (a monthly task). I have a tendency to let stuff go and then do this big whirlwind cleaning, but when I use the lists, it helps me go, okay, I’m going to do X and Y today and Z tomorrow, rather than doing XYZ (and also ABC) on Saturday when I’m supposed to relax.

        (obligatory warning: yes there is uncensored swearing)

        1. Annie Moose

          Also, her 20/10 method (work for 20 minutes, take a break for 10 minutes, repeat) is AMAZING. A big problem for me is that I have this mental idea that any form of cleaning will take, like, an hour. But once I start doing it, it turns out that it actually only takes about five minutes to rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. (and about 30 seconds to scoop the litterbox, and ten seconds to put my shoes back on the shoe rack instead of kicking them off in the general direction of the shoe rack…)

    6. Kvothe

      Ok I’m also currently in the process of minimizing the amount of stuff I have and I found the book “The life changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo to be very helpful. Now in the book it basically recommends you take 2-3 days and just do it all at once but I’ve been doing it bit by bit because I find it more manageable but the method she has for deciding what to keep has also helped curb my shopping habits because I need to absolutely love something for me to want to buy it and bring it into my space.

    7. Jack Russell Terrier

      You don’t have to get all the FLYlady emails if you like it. I really like her approach too – the basics that should take an hour a week, the swish and swipe in the bathroom. Just study the way she breaks it down and then use the website itself for the weekly fifteen minute a day ‘mission’ deeper clean for one part of the house. You’ll probably find that you adapt her approach a bit too. I’ve also found her tools good quality.
      For example, I just got this from the website for this Friday.
      http://www.flylady.net/c/sp.php
      Zone 1: Mission #5 Friday
      Dear Friends:
      Today we are going to do that in the Dining Room and Entrance Way. Let’s go after the ceilings, light fixtures and window sills!
      Using a feather duster or dust rag get the window sills, the light fixtures, the dusties in the corners and the ceiling fan if you have one (remember to put something underneath this to catch the falling debris, one member uses an old pillow case and slips it over the blade and wipes so the dust stays in the case, I thought this was brilliant!)

    8. Aphrodite

      Apartment Therapy has several cleaning routines that work well for me. I love the annual January Cure, which begins January 2 and ends January 31 ( https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/search?q=january+cure ). It’s a fantastic month-long project that includes fun and camaraderie along with it.

      They also have Weekend Project all year ( https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/search?q=weekend+project ).

      You can sign up for reminders and you get only one per day. The projects are fun and the comments from fellow participants are great!

      Their site links at the top also offer a quick route to all their individual posts as well ( https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/organizing-cleaning ).

    9. Beth

      The New York Times did a “tidy home challenge” checklist earlier this year (it may just be available to subscribers). I found it straightforward and practical. If that’s not an option for you, then I second the Unfuck Your Habitat recommendations. UFYH has random challenges you can filter by duration, so you can do a quick 5 minute challenge while you’re waiting for something else. That feature also gave me a better idea of how long to expect tasks to take. I’ve also tried making myself a weekly checklist of cleaning/household tasks, but my first attempt was overambitious and I burned out. If you moderate your expectations that might work, though.

    10. Extra Vitamins

      One thing that works for me is to do one room at a time, and for stuff that doesn’t belong in that room, ( but you aren’t discarding ) put it in a box and deal with all those items after the room is done.

    11. Kate Daniels

      Thank you so much for your suggestions, everyone! UFYH looks like it is exactly what I’ve been looking for and I’m looking forward to checking out the other recommendations as well.

    1. BeenThere

      Wasn’t that about the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?! I’ve had people offer me food but that was bizarre!

      1. sue

        I must admit I don’t see why that is strange so long as it was a sandwich that already came in halves.

    2. Zaphod Beeblebrox

      I thought to myself earlier today – she really should meet At-Least-You-Don’t-Have-Cancer-Or-An-Eating-Disorder. The explosion would probably be visible from space!

    3. Princess Scrivener

      Oh my, Zaphod Beeblebrox; grateful I’m the ONLY one in my office space today, because I just spewed-snorted Pink Lemonade Spark all over my keyboard. Happy 4th! … And no. I don’t care for half your sandwich.

      1. ECHM

        Yes there is. It’s a July 3 story. I posted a link but it must have gone into moderation.

  21. Officer Crabtree

    Charity stuff at work
    So we have a group at work that does charity stuff, and every now and then they want everybody to participate in some event. Which is nice and everything, but…

    I feel it’s really more about having something to post on the company website, than actually helping the needy. E.g. for Mandela day this year, they are planning a competition where teams have to make 500 hotdogs or something, which will then be donated to some school. And sure, the kids will have something to eat that day, but what about all the other days of the year? Do we just forget about them? What do those kids think? Some rich people show up with food, and tomorrow we’re hungry again. But we feel great about ourselves, we had some fun, and we did A Good Thing. We’re so awesome. And we have the pictures to prove it. It feels selfish.

    I feel it would be much better to support the school throughout the year. Maybe help them set up a vegetable garden so they can feed themselves.

    Am I just being difficult?

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox

      Good moaning :-)

      It certainly would be better to do something more sustainable.
      Reminds me of an episode of M*A*S*H – Winchester donated some luxury goods to a local orphanage, who sold them to buy basic necessities.

    2. Bagpuss

      I don’t think you are being difficult but I think that you have a better chance of changing things if you can come up with alternative suggestions.
      From the companies point of view, this is in part about publicity, so think about that.
      I’m not sure on practicalities – are the teams making hot-dogs for the kids at school?
      Maybe suggest selling hot-dogs to raise money to fund meals for the next semester, speak to the school to find out what might work for them (I wonder whether something like cereal bars / protein bars which can be stored relatively long term might be a good option, for example – the school could then hand them out to kids who need them) You can still get a photo op when the cheque, or boxes of food, are handed over, and if the company wants the team building part they can set up a competition to cook / sell the highest number of hot dogs.

      You could also make other suggestions about longer term support. For instance, if you are supporting a school in a poorer area, ask what they need by way of supplies – have a book drive (fewer health code issues than making hot dogs, I’d think!) and present books plus (company branded if you like) pens and paper.

      The other way of looking at t is that even if the hot dogs are a stunt, if it means that kids who don’t normally get lunch, get lunch that day, it’s still better than being hungry every day.

    3. Colette

      I think you’re overthinking this. Yes, ideally you’d solve the problem forever, but sometimes trying to be perfect results in doing nothing at all.

      A vegetable garden takes ongoing effort (watering, weeding, harvesting, preparing the vegetables, etc.). Who is going to do that work? How big would a garden have to be to provide one meal for the school?

      If the kids are hungry, I doubt they’re going to complain that they are getting food, even if it’s not food every day.

    4. Thlayli

      I take it from “Mandela day” you’re in South Africa? I agree with you that there are probably more efficient ways for you guys to contribute. Perhaps you could all work an extra hour for free and the company could donate the hours salary to the school (or just everyone donate an hours salary).

      Or you could look into one of the many charities that take volunteers to work on community projects – Mellon educate is doing a building blitz in August and another one in November this year. Lots of people from my country go to South Africa to build schools and houses and have done for years, it’s a well established volunteer program.

      1. Temperance

        The one issue with this plan is that corporate philanthropy drives are typically done with company money on company time. I support that rather than taking pay away from employees.

    5. Temperance

      Chiming in as someone who works in a similar role to your corporate philanthropy team: yes, it’s absolutely about getting some publicity for helping the community, but I imagine many people on the team really want to help. It’s also good exposure for the nonprofits.

      When you publicize volunteer events and make them fun, other people want to get involved. While you’re thinking of it in terms of “these kids only get a meal once per year”, the school is seeing it as a group of potential new donors coming to check things out.

    6. Erin

      When I worked in Namibia, we sometimes got companies to sponsor school uniforms or stationary for our highest-need students, so if your company is looking for a more long-lasting project, that might be one approach. Donations of books for a school library or sports equipment (jerseys, balls, etc.) might also fit the bill. Both in Namibia and where I work now in the US, we’d also sometimes get food donations for special events, and you’re right that making and giving out hot dogs doesn’t address structural issues that contribute to food insecurity…but also, it makes special events more special when there’s food, and having those donations might mean that money the school or community would spend on food for the event could be used in a different way.

      Likewise, I don’t know that a school garden is the silver bullet for food insecurity, either. But, if a school (or some other group in the community) wants to build one and your company could contribute manpower, I bet that would be hugely appreciated! (We had the upper primary students [5th-7th grade] and many community members help with the labor for our school garden and our playground, and it was really challenging! I’m certain my principal and the teacher who spearheaded the garden project would have jumped at the chance to get additional help.)

  22. Bagpuss

    Just to add – setting up a vege garden is a nice idea, but you then need for the kids to have the facilities to harvest and cook the crops, people to maintain the garden or teach the kids how to do it, ongoing funds for tools and seeds and so on – I think if you wanted to propose something like that you would need to do some research first to see how it could work, and then suggest it.

    1. Birch

      Yeah I was gonna say this too. It is a good idea, but it’s a ton of initial expense and maintenance, and if you don’t have experts working on it, yield is going to be low and not make it worth the cost. I don’t have a better solution though, sorry. The idea of longer term support and asking what schools need is the best way to go, IMO. Maybe you could set up recurring events? Like a monthly volunteer day? You could have one meeting where all the ideas get thrown together so you have a list, contact local groups about how best to help them, and then that’s more structure.

  23. Sapphire

    I’ve been absent from the open threads for a while, but I just wanted to post a quick update: I got a job! It’s at the same company where I had a temp assignment, so I already know it’ll be queer friendly. The job starts on the 16th so I’ve had plenty of time to rest, and even have a weeklong vacation planned before I start.

    Thank you so much to everyone who gave advice, especially everyone who said my career wasn’t over after being fired. I may have had a little more trouble finding a job because I lost the reference for the longest job I’d had, but I’m so glad I didn’t give up.

  24. Larina

    I just received a job offer yesterday! I’m very excited, but also wanted some insight from anyone who has experience traveling often for work. I’ve never had to do work travel before, and it’s a significant portion of this job (50%).

    What is the good/bad/ugly of traveling for work, in your experience? I also have a husband, so I’ll be missing my spouse when I travel, which is my main hangup at the moment. Tell me all your opinions on traveling for work, and what makes it something you love, or something you hate.

    1. Birch

      Congrats!! We both travel for work–me (an academic) a handful of times a year to lots of very different places around the world, and him (a software consultant) domestically about 50-75% of his work time. Perks: you get to see new places and get compensated for it, so the experience is always valuable even if it isn’t somewhere super nice. Depending on where it is and how much non-working time you have, you can scout vacation spots, catch up with old friends, and take a little ‘me time’ to think about the wider world around you. That’s always my favorite part of traveling. The cons: it’s EXHAUSTING. Even if your company pays for everything and gets you nice flights and nice hotels, just the constant sense of motion and newness is really tiring. It’s hard to keep in touch with a partner sometimes, and you might miss events at home. Sometimes the travel logistics get messed up and you end up spending more time traveling than you were supposed to. It’s hard to stay healthy–you have to really make the time and effort for exercise, and it can be hard to find decent food options, especially if you have any restrictions. It’s also lonely.

      That all being said, as long as the logistics are taken care of by the company in a responsible way, and it’s not harming your home life, IMO it can be a good experience.

    2. WellRed

      I dont travel a ton for work but I like it. However, I have a company card and access to petty cash. There is no per diem cap on meals or anything, including alcohol ( I don’t abuse this by spending $$$$$$$). I don’t have to share rooms. I live close to the airport. Basically, we make it as easy as reasonably possible.

    3. Thlayli

      Plan plan plan! We had a company that would book our travel for us, and they clearly did not have the time to look into it in detail. They would just book the flight and hotel with the preferred provider, even if that meant flying 3 hours before I needed to and getting a taxi half way across the city to a hotel with no decent restaurants within walking distance.

      I would always set aside a half hour at least just to plan the trip – which times for flights, travel routes from airport to office, which hotels are nearby and which restaurants you can eat in. If you can save yourself an extra half hour travel, it breaks even, and often you can save yourself a lot more.

      Also, bring a good book. It’s nice eating alone in a restaurant with a book, but it’s a lot harder to use a smartphone when you’re eating with cutlery. Plus there are loads of times you’re not going to have the time to fire up the laptop or check emails. Finally, get yourself an eye mask and some earplugs in case of loud or bright hotel rooms.

      George clooney did a good movie about a guy who travels for work. Some good advice on packing and queuing in airport in there. I was watching it going “omg this is my life!”

    4. tab

      I travel for work, and what I love best about it is that it earns me airline FF miles and hotel points which I can use for vacations. I recommend spending at least a little time on each trip exploring the local area, even if it’s just a visit it a nice restaurant, or a walk at a park. I find it depressing if all I do is visit the plant and stay in my hotel. I also agree with Thlayli, that planning it yourself is the best way to go. Congrats on the new job!

    5. Lora

      Figure out how to get at least half the clothes and whatnot in your carry on. Your company likely has a “cheapest flight or have a good reason for an expensive one” rule, which means that at some point you’ll fly either United or American and they WILL lose your luggage. If you start with the assumption that your luggage will be lost, you can be pleasantly surprised when it’s not.

      Get as distinctive looking a big suitcase as you can for longer trips. Some very bright color, not black/brown, because you’ll be standing at the carousel with seven other people who all have identical black bags, and you’ll be sort of daring each other to open the one that most resembles yours and praying that there’s no sex toys inside. Luggage tags and ribbons get torn off all the time, don’t expect those to help.

      When you can, JetBlue or Delta in the US (Delta got a lot better past couple of years), Lufthansa or British Airways to Europe, Emirates is also good.

      If you are traveling internationally, go to your cell phone carrier now and get them to fix your SIM card and unlock the phone so you can take it to any cell phone store where you travel and they can set you up. Note: if you are white, and you only tell Verizon that you are traveling internationally, they assume you mean “Europe” and tell you you’re all set because they have coverage in Europe. Then you get to South America and find out that no, you are not all set. On the plus side, many many countries offer free WiFi to the public, so you can still use VOIP calling (Google Phone etc) and WhatsApp, Viber. Get those apps now, before you leave, because sometimes they don’t install properly overseas.

      Eat the local food when you can, at least a little bit. It’s usually much better than the tourist offerings or any version of American foods you might be offered. That said, different countries have different “biggest meal of the day,” so carry snacks to ensure you don’t get hangry in countries that have small lunches.

      Beware of taxis. Even the pre paid official ones like to take you to the ghetto and drop you off unless you pay them extra cash. Unofficial taxis are trouble. Some countries don’t really accept cards everywhere and you will need to carry a decent amount of cash, and there may be only a couple of international banks able to get cash withdrawals from your bank. Get a small wallet with some sort of strap attachment that you can hide in a pocket to hold cash and a copy of your ID, the hotel address and the consulate contact info.

    6. Jersey's mom

      I travel for a week or so several times a year, with a lot of 1-2 overnighters mixed in.

      I’ve discussed this with my DH, so we have reasonable expectations of each other. I ensure he has my hotel contact info and my flight numbers and info, along with my anticipated day/time I hope to be home. He understands it’s subject to change with weather, etc.

      If he has an emergency, he calls and leaves a message. I check phone messages 2-3 times a day. He can text me messages or photos of stuff, understanding that since I’m working, I may or may not be able to respond to texts. Same goes for me. So we have reasonable expectations of communication and, more importantly, when we expect the other one to respond.

    7. Nerdgal

      Have an extra set of toiletries, exercise clothes, etc that basically lives in your suitcase. That way you can pack and unpack in minutes and you will be less likely to forget essential items. Also, use the time you spend waiting in airports to catch up on chores like returning phone calls, making appointments, and so forth.

    8. Gaia

      I travel a lot for work and I love it. It is tiring, sure, but I get to work with new people and see different places. Deal!

      Here’s what works for me:

      1. I have a “go bag” that has travel toiletries (including travel appliances – I don’t trust hotels), a charger (and world adaptor), and headphones.

      2. I learned to fit 10 days’ clothes into a carry on. Seriously. It is a valuable skill. I’ll never check luggage again.

      3. TSA Pre check and global entry if your travel is international. Saved my patience.

      4. Take time where possible to enjoy where you’re going. Do something fun!

    9. media monkey

      assuming you are american – don’t assume everywhere takes AMEX. get a card with Visa functionality and a chip as you’ll struggle with Amex in the UK so i would assume lots of Europe outside of very touristy areas!

  25. Rebecca

    I have got to stop procrastinating and get moving today. I’d like to enjoy at least part of the holiday. But.

    My elderly mother will not pump her own gas. She’s physically able to do it, but she won’t because the gas smells bad, the nozzle thing is dirty, the fumes are harmful, whatever…so now the gas light is on AGAIN in her car. And because my Dad passed away and I’m an only child, I feel responsible for helping her. I have tried and tried to tell her not to let the gauge get so low, to no avail. And I feel guilty for hoping that she will actually run out of gas and be severely inconvenienced by it, because honestly I have other things I’d rather do than drive to her house, take her and her car for gas, and drive it back…and no, we can’t go to the nearest station, we have to go to the station where the gas points from her grocery store loyalty card can be used to save 20 cents per gallon. Argh.

    And I’m over the 90+ degree heat that’s plopped itself down over my area of PA lately. It can retreat to its normal resting place any time now!

    1. Kanade

      Could you try scheduling a set ‘gas refill’ day with her? At least if it’s an anticipated inconvenience, it’ll be easier to work around vs a random ‘I NEED GAS DARLING CHOP CHOP’ nightmare. You could say something like “Look, Mom, I really want to help you out with getting gas for your car. But it’s not reasonable to expect me to drop whatever I’m doing and drive you out of the way to the grocery store station. Can we make a set appointment for gas refills so I can plan around it and make the trip smoother?”

    2. nep

      Will she pump gas wearing gloves and a mask? Not being facetious–would those two things bring some relief to the point she’d tolerate the task?

      1. Rebecca

        Nope, already tried that. It’s embarrassing, she prances around and fusses like she’s handling radioactive waste or something. Ugh, she is so difficult.

        1. Temperance

          If your name wasn’t Rebecca, I would think you’re my MIL! My GMIL is such a royal pain in the ass. She needs constant attention like this, and we now can’t spend time with my MIL or have her visit with GMIL tagging along (which ruins it, because she’s too “frail” to do anything fun unless it’s something she herself wants to do).

        2. UtOh!

          Let her prance and fuss, just keep having her do it and that will eventually wear off..especially when she does not have an audience (you!). :)

        1. nep

          Right–I can’t think of any stations near me that offer full-serve anymore. (I think it’s a drag–should be an option for cases like this.)

        1. Temperance

          In PA, even at self-service gas stations, an attendant needs to come out to help anyone elderly or with a disability. She can play the old lady card and get help that way.

        2. Biscuits

          Don’t most stations have attendants? Not for pumping but for assistance. I know the Walmart/SAMs/Super1 near me all have someone outside at the pumps. They probably wouldn’t mind helping an elderly lady pump.

          1. nonegiven

            Four of ours only have the convenience store clerk who can’t leave the building and only until 11pm or midnight. Two are completely unattended. We have one that has a set of full service pumps but only until 5pm on business days. the rest of the time it’s unattended.

      1. Girl friday

        Most places have a handicapped button on the pump or she can go inside and request assistance. Some have handicap signs on the lanes. Maybe she is lonely?

    3. Sylvan

      Set refill day.

      Or don’t refill her gas and let her learn how to handle it herself. Encourage her.

      There is a small handful of things that my mom says she can’t do. But every once in a while, she will need to do one of these things when I can’t help, and the next time I see her, she will tell me all about how easy it was.

    4. Utoh!

      Interesting, she’s concerned about the dirt, smell and fumes only when she has to do the pumping? You have to get tougher with her, I agree with the face mask and gloves suggestion.

      If she can’t pump her own gas or go to a full service station, she should stop driving,

      1. Rebecca

        Much like everything else with her, it’s OK if someone else does it, but not for HRH. She also likes to give me “expired” food because she won’t eat it, as in, a block of cheese and today is the sell by date. She won’t eat it, but it’s OK if I do somehow. I take endless joy in needling her about that.

        1. neverjaunty

          Consider that the only reason you “feel responsible” for shoveling her shit (metaphorically speaking) is that she taught you to feel that way.

      2. Mad Baggins

        +1
        Also I don’t know how you manage not to reply “Well mother, you had no problem wiping my stinky butt as a child…that was pretty dirty and smelly. How’d you manage that?”

    5. Anona

      Can you just be busy a time or two when she asks for the help? It would be one thing if it was a physical problem, but it’s not. Are you worried about what would happen if she can’t get around? If you want to ease her in, try delaying helping her by a day or two when she calls. Just be “busy” with work, appointments, previous dinner plans, car repairs, whatever. If it’s really inconvenient for her, she may decide to try pumping gas. And if not, at least you’re breaking the cycle of needing to run over and help immediately, which isn’t reasonable.

      If you decide that you don’t want to do that, I agree that set pumping days are the best option.

      1. Anona

        And to best employ the “delay help” tactic, you need to be prepared that she will not like it, especially if she can’t do whatever it was that she wanted to do (misses a doctor’s appointment, misses a lunch with friends, goes without milk for an extra day). So if she gets really upset, I’d have a few suggestions for what she can do to solve the problem before you’re “able” to come over. Things like call a taxi (it can even be done in rural areas, it just takes longer) or a Lyft/Uber, or attempt pumping gas on her own with gloves.

        But if you don’t set boundaries, this will keep happening. Because currently she’s able to call you for help with this on demand. You’ve told her ways to be nicer about it, but she’s not interested. So I’d anticipate that she’ll keep calling you at the last minute unless you change your behavior.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          See, this is kind of the approach I would take, except that with my family, I learned to v-e-r-y clearly delineate the boundaries up front and then provide constant, neutrally-voiced reminders of them.

          But it really depends on the kind of relationship you have with your parents. I kind of had to become the parent at times in my early teens, and so I’m very used to quietly, rationally defying my parents when they threw fits as a survival technique. We survived that and had a better relationship when I was an independent adult, so I could have pulled this off if needed. But some normal parent-child relationships might not survive this kind of “disrespect”. Of course, it’s incredibly disrespectful of Rebecca’s time or value as a person, but lots of parents don’t see it that way, and some would see that “respect” (meaning fealty) being more important than having any sort of relationship with their child.

    6. Llellayena

      If you’re anywhere near the NJ border, maybe suggest she drive over there? Gas is usually cheaper and you’re forbidden to pump your own gas. And it is a nasty heat wave, ugh.

      1. Jaid_Diah

        A lot of roads into Jersey are toll roads. No sense in saving on gas when one is paying four bucks to get in or out of state.

    7. Temperance

      Why doesn’t she just go to a full service gas station? It sounds like she’s doing this to make you spend more time and effort on her.

    8. irene adler

      A scheduled “fill up day” is good. Probably your best option.

      Alternatively, given she’s a loyal customer of a specific gas station, can you arrange with the manager of this station to have one of his service persons fill up her tank (at the prescribed fill up day & time)? Maybe stop by once a month and tip that person? I know it’s a long shot, but worth asking.

      Or, can a neighbor take care of this with her? Again, for compensation. Could be a good one day a week job for a responsible high school student (with driver’s license).

      I know this is not due to an infirmity on your mother’s part. But one day, she may need some assistance. Will she expect you to perform all for her? Why not get her used to having someone other than you help her out?

    9. Jessi

      Pay a local kid to do it for her?

      Is there something like filled in your area? You input the cars details and then they come to your house and do it for you

    10. Lizabeth

      AAA membership – they will bring gas for a fee. But that means she has and uses a cell phone.

      But it saves you having to bail her out.

    11. neverjaunty

      Funny how your own mother is fine with YOU being exposed to harmful fumes, getting dirty, having to tolerate the bad smell of gas, etc.

    12. Lora

      I don’t have a sister and you said you’re an only child – must be an Old Lady From PA thing.

      My mom will pump her own gas, under protest, but she has a similar thing about food. She also throws away perfectly good food if it’s not her favorite brand or whatever, with the excuse that “it looked funny”.

      I don’t know of a good solution. I just told her, I’m too busy with work and chores and stuff, you aren’t supposed to drive anyway, I will be happy to help you with a transit pass so you can get the bus/train wherever you need to go.

      Maybe there’s some elder transit options? I told my mother, if you can’t pump gas you can’t drive a car. Miraculously she figured it out.

      1. Not So NewReader

        “I told my mother, if you can’t pump gas you can’t drive a car. Miraculously she figured it out.”

        Yep, yep. yep. There you go Rebecca. We have grocery stores with gas points here. (Honestly, that grocery store is more expensive, someone has to pay for all that gas.) There are only two gas places within 10 miles of me that will take the points.

        I don’t know if you are in NY. I am pretty sure here that they have not allowed unattended gas stations. This means she can drive to the station, go in and ask someone to pump it for her.

        She will have you do this for the rest of her life, if you don’t draw your lines. You could tell her that you need $20 in gas money to go over and do this task for her. That should chew up the 20 cent per gallon savings she has.

        The hard part here is that she is basically right, the fumes are not good for us. But I see no sense in piling all that pollution on one employee so they can bear the burden and we can go on with life. If we all pump our own that probably helps to spread out the risk rather than one employee bearing the brunt of the risk.

  26. 4th anon

    I’m sorry I think this is going to be long. I don’t really need anyone to read this, I just need to have it said.

    This sort of straddles work and my private life so…

    I’m socially isolating myself at the moment and overcompensate at work. I’ve gotten feedback at work that I’m too extroverted when actually I’m an introvert (I already turned that down so that coast is clear). But this has been going on for years and I don’t really see it changing.

    I lost contact with most of my friends when I graduated and I’m basically shit at making new ones (I think my old friends think I don’t care, I just don’t really know what to say, what would be too nosy or too much sharing, because I tend to overshare dranatically I rather say nothing at all that’s safer, I’ve been accused of not sharing what intersts me when always the topics were relationships and sex and that is something I simply don’t care about enough while the things that I do care about no one else can relate to). Actually I’m not making new ones at all, mostly I have no clue how. After work I just want to go home and play vegetable until the next day when I have to face people again.

    I’ve never been very good at social things, I grew up among adults and never really learned to be among peers and I was a very serious, very smart child that grew into a reclusive adult. People think I’m weird and I’m weird even among fellow nerds which is so odd. E.g. let’s say I love Game of Thrones but I can’t relate to the show and prefer to read the books more as source material than as gospel and would much rather talk about Kal Drogo’s people than what Sansa has been up to. It’s hard to make people care actually pretty impossible.

    I don’t have a relationship and don’t really want one (except sometimes when I feel overly lonely and I know that’s no basis for a healthy relationship), as I’m not good at relating to people anyway an be see the don’t do well among peers thing. I’m too selfish and too scared and most times I think I deserve what I’ve got and at least other people can be happy. I don’t enjoy any of the things I used to and I’m aware I probably let myself slide into a mild depression (I can’t get therapy for financial reasons and time constraints). I consider other people a chore and really have to force myself to answer the texts of the handful of people who still talk to me at all. I have one close friend but I’ve been trying to break that friendship for a while because I think they would be better off without me.

    I’m fine being alone, I go to cafes and eating places alone and concerts sometimes.

    Today I was dinged at work for something related to my behavior that was absolutely my fault and I apologized for it. It also made me realize though that I probably don’t want to extend my contract when it’s up at the end of the year. The salary is okay ( would be okay for a 40 h week that I never have), but the commute it horrible and I haven’t found a way to be not weird with colleagues. I’m feeling myself pull away and everything annoys me here, the way no one can ever make a decision and stick to it for more than two days and how most of my work has to be scrapped because of new decisions and how I have to react to new things all the time. Usually my field is not like that, timelines here should be long and decisions made years in advance. I also see the ship sinking while the band plays on and I think for once I want to be in a lifeboat.

    So. I need a new life and new job.

    1. Thlayli

      1 it really does sound like you have depression. I know you say you can’t affoed therapy, but you might be able to afford medication? I really think you should give this some priority. Can you even afford to go to a doctor once and describe your symptoms? I think she will recommend therapy and pills and if you can even afford one or the other that will be helpful. There may also be other options eg EAP or charities like the Samaritans.

      2 the best way to make friends is to take an interest in other people. If you genuinely don’t want friends then ignore this, but you mentioned a couple of times that you can’t get people interested in what you are interested in. If you actually want to make friends, that’s the opposite of what to do. There’s an old saying “you can make more friends in ten minutes by being interested in other people than you can in ten years by trying to make other people interested in you”.

    2. Jersey's mom

      Have you tried searching for an online group that has a passionate interest in something you’d love to talk about? I’m thinking that if you could find a reddit group or blog where you can discuss things deeply and into the minute details, that might give you an outlet for intellectual discussion and possibly pull back on discussions with your co-workers?

      Also, this gives you the power to engage or disengage with other people commenting. You can also change settings to block people who are upsetting to you.

      And I agree, it’s time to talk with a therapist about your feelings and emotions. Someone trained and objective can help you sort out your issues, emotions and concerns and help you figure out a path forward.

      Zen hugs and I hope you find your path.

    3. Marthooh

      “I have one close friend but I’ve been trying to break that friendship for a while because I think they would be better off without me.”

      I think if you still like this friend, you should let them decide if you’re good enough. A close friendship is valuable in itself, and they probably don’t want to lose one.

    4. Not So NewReader

      It sounds like you expend a lot of energy at work and get home only to have no energy.

      This happens when we put too much energy into our work day. It sounds like you have a long commute on top of it all. Commutes are also exhausting.

      You mention stuff that annoys you and tired people can find themselves easily annoyed. I know when I am tired, I can tell my ringing phone, “Go AWAY!” I am not like that ordinarily.

      You might benefit from a check up, a slow heart or slow thyroid can weigh us down and make even simple things a real chore. If you don’t sleep well at night that might be worth a check also. Having relationships of any sort and making new habits at work or at home all require energy. And energy has to come from somewhere.
      Just FWIW. Discard if need be.

  27. Kanade

    Coming up in here with a job hunting question, but first I gotta mention how hilarious the picture for this open thread is! Happy 4th!

    Question: How long do you spend writing a cover letter? I think I’m definitely wayyyy too slow at writing them, it takes me a couple of days at best! And how do you guys tailor your letters? I feel like I’m completely re-writing mine each time and it’s definitely hurting me…Help….

    1. Violetta

      I spend an hour at most. I find if I spend more time than that, they lose my voice and sound too forced.

    2. nep

      Comes to an hour or two, I suppose–after walking away and coming back to it a couple times (sometimes sleeping on it if I work on it late at night).
      Try really focusing tightly on specifics in the job description and how your experience and skills line up with that. Also if you’ve got any anecdote that illustrates well why you’d be great in that particular position.
      Good luck.

      1. Kanade

        Is that 1-2 hours spent making your CL totally from scratch or changing a base template you made beforehand?

        1. nep

          Generally what I’ll do is bring up the last cover letter I sent out and straightaway rename it–so I’ve got my inside address and date and at least the format of the letter there, as well as some elements I might still use for the new one.

          1. Kanade

            Ahh, ok! I’m writing my first one totally from scratch (the job I have now is my first ‘real’ job and had its own application system without CLs) and I just can’t seem to get anything to come out well. I’m trying to make a ‘base’ letter that I can just fix up in an hour or two, but it’s rough, slow going. Thanks for your help!

            1. nep

              I see. It will be worth it, though. I do think the CL can help set you apart so this foundation you’re working on is worth the time and effort.
              I find it’s helpful to look at a bunch of samples–especially samples that really show some pluck and personality. Of course you want to have a grasp on the tone of the company where you’re applying and adjust accordingly. But find a way to shine through and really show how you have excelled at the skills they’re seeking; no one wants to read what sounds like a form letter.
              Good luck.

          2. nep

            (I should say, I pull up a cover letter either from the latest application or from an application for a similar job–the latter if there are elements I know I want to include in the current CL.)

    3. Anona

      I save all of my cover letters by job name. That way if I’m applying to a job that requires similar skills I can pull some relevant portions and reuse them. I obviously can’t reuse everything, but it helps to have a few bits here and there that I can pull.

    4. Triple Anon

      4 – 8 hours. Sometimes more. I find them really challenging. I know that some hiring managers just skim them, but I think a well written one can make a difference, so I try to do my best.

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      It takes me forever, sometimes a couple of days. Some of that is procrastination, and of course I’m not continually writing the whole time, but it’s really agonising for me. Also I have often applied for stretch jobs in tangentially related fields, or in totally different fields that I think I might be able to do, so it’s not standard or straightforward for me.

  28. Kvothe

    Has anybody ever gotten cold feet going into a new job? I’m finishing up tomorrow and starting a new job on Friday and now I’m second guessing myself (which I know kinda too late for that) but I guess I was just wondering if anybody else has experienced this? I’ve been in my current position for 4.5 years and the job I’m going to is offering more money and better benefits and less hours so I know logically it’s a better spot for me but yeah cold feet…sorry for the ramble!

    1. nep

      I reckon it’s pretty normal. We get comfortable and part of us loves comfortable and resists change and new challenges, and just being in unfamiliar territory–even though all of this is generally very good for us in the end. Hope all goes well. Keep us posted.
      And congratulations on the new job.

    2. Anon Accountant

      Yes and it’s normal. Changing jobs can be tough. Try to go in and remember you were once the new hire at your last jobs. Good luck!

    3. Kanade

      It’s totally natural to be unsure about a big change like this! But you’ve gotta trust that you’re making the best choice you possibly can with the information available to you. That’s all anyone can do. Best of luck on your first day!

    4. Courageous cat

      Yep, I have it right now! But I had it at my last job too, and even came home sobbing from just general discomfort the first day, but then was like 100% fine by the end of the week. It ended up being a great job and I loved all my coworkers.

      So cold feet are a thing, and it definitely doesn’t mean the experience is going to be bad.

    5. Loopy

      I went from being something like a big fish in a small pond to feeling like a goldfish in the ocean. Not only cold feet but my first week I missed OldJob immensely. I keep telling myself it’s okay to feel nostalgic and doesn’t mean it was a terrible decision. Change is hard. Being new is harder. Knowing nothing and having to learn and ask questions and make mistakes can make you long for the safety of OldJob, at least I did.

      I’m only a week and a half in and trying really hard to not evaluate the job at all until 3-6 months in. It might be a good idea to try and have the same mindset.

    6. Not So NewReader

      Cold feet OR sick to your stomach with head screaming NOOOO!?

      I have an exercise that I use. Think back to other times you had cold feet. Try to think of times where your feet were cold but everything worked out okay. Compare that feeling to the feeling you have now. How are the two feelings different? If you notice that “gee, this time my stomach is shaking and my head hurts because I am so up tight” there might be something to your worry. But if you are saying to yourself, “Why do I have this feeling every time I try to do something?” then I would say it’s just normal jitters.

      A couple of things to keep in mind:
      Self-checks are healthy and normal. We SHOULD question what we are doing and why we are doing it. It’s really a survival mechanism of sorts.
      You might have someone you are close with who would go over this move with you and help you to clarify things in your own mind.
      Know why you are doing this. Write the reasons down if you have to and post it on the bathroom mirror.
      Promise yourself that you will take good care of you. This means promising you that if the job sucks you will bail yourself out of that environment asap. Sometimes reaffirming our commitment to taking good care of ourselves helps to balance doubts and uncertainty.

  29. Incantanto

    Have a lovely fourth of July!
    As an englishwoman we’re all just hungover from the football yesterday so I wish we had a day off.

    1. Marion Ravenwood

      I’m still buzzing about that. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and it will have all been a wonderful dream.

  30. Anon Accountant

    Have anyone tried Healthy Wage? It’s where you commit to a weight loss goal in a certain amount of months. You contribute cash online monthly and record your weigh ins. The first and last are videotaped by you I think.

    When finished you can win a range of cash prizes, depending on the cash you contributed, weight goal reached, etc.

    I think it sounds interesting but wonder if there’s a scam. Reviews seemed to be positive. What do you think?

    1. Thlayli

      That sounds like a total scam. Why would you donate money? Who does the money go to? How is there any due diligence? What’s to stop me from putting in that I lost 20 stone and winning all the prizes?

      1. Anon Accountant

        The money is supposed to go towards cash prizes for participants when they meet their goal. If they don’t meet their goal in the specified time they don’t get their prize. The self taped first and last weigh ins are supposed to be “controls” on it.

        It almost sounded too good to be true.

    2. Mbarr

      I haven’t tried that one, but I did Dietbet several times (won a few!) and it seemed completely legit. I also liked that it made sure no one did unhealthy weight loss sprints.

    3. It’s all good

      I did DietBet once. The money pot is split between those that reach their goals (4% loss). I missed my goal by 2 lbs. I think I’m going to try again, it was a good motivator for me. Good luck!

  31. Jack Russell Terrier

    You don’t need to get FLYlady emails for the daily 15 min deeper cleaning mission. She has them on her website.

  32. nep

    Does anyone use Khan Academy? Just got into some of their computer programming lessons today. I’ve played around on code.org as well (K-thru-5 curriculum, thank you very much).
    What about freecodecamp? I find the forum there super helpful and interesting. Some great articles.
    Suddenly I’m obsessed with coding lately.

    1. Amadeo

      I’ve used freecodecamp and also CodeAcademy, but I don’t get to practice it often enough for the Javascript to ‘stick’. What helped me most was an actual Java class (another C language) and I can do/understand some very simple things like an averaging calculator with user input that I recently had to build for work. StackOverflow is also good reading, as people come in with questions and other coders answer them

    2. Middle School Teacher

      I’ve never used their coding but my colleagues and I use their videos all the time. The math is great, from what I hear from that department.

    3. Thursday Next

      The math is superb. It’s really evolved since its inception. My son has been using it for years and loves it.

      (Full disclosure: Sal Khan is a good friend of my brother and an all-round awesome guy. So I’m a bit biased. :=) I just love how he’s made this incredible, accessible math resource.)

    4. Kate Daniels

      I’m teaching myself how to code, too! I’m hoping to eventually transition to a WFH position in the future, and it seems like many of those type of jobs are tech-based. I’m using Lynda and Treehouse, though, because I can get these free through my library.

      1. nep

        How cool. Will look forward to hearing about progress. It’s intimidating, exhilarating, and gratifying all at once.

  33. nep

    How active are you on LinkedIn? What do you tend to post there, and is it all directly relevant to your current job/industry? Once in a while I’ll post pieces on there that are of interest to me, covering issues I care about…not really work-related. They’re things I’d put on Twitter or FB if I were on Twitter or FB, but LinkedIn is my only social media presence so sometimes I’ll share there. I do limit it though.

    1. Environmental Compliance

      I try to share a relevant work article or an article I’m very interested in about once a week. Sometimes up to 3 times a week. It’s stuff I’d also put on Facebook, but really because the topics are those I care about – I’m usually posting something about conservation or endangered species or water issues, the big environmental concerns. All articles are vetted. I don’t post from things that aren’t legitimate, known organizations (most of mine are from collegiate research groups or National Geographic for example). But I don’t put recipes or something like that up on LinkedIn, though I will on Facebook. It’s all at least field-relevant.

  34. Viola E.

    I posted a variation of this question over on the Captain Awkward forums, and it’s probably better-suited to that, but I’m curious about AAM readers’ take on this. It is decidedly non-work — happy holiday, everybody!

    TL;DR — Can anyone here share polyamory success stories? How does one come out as polyamorous?

    My partner, Todd, and I are polyamorous. We’re both on OKCupid, but neither of us have had much luck dating; he ends up exchanging hundreds of messages with women in different time zones, while I’m more likely to get a “debilitating crush” on someone I know personally.

    Current crush is Lee, a mutual friend of Todd and me. Lee does not know that I have a crush on him, nor does he actually know that Todd and I are polyamorous. The main problem is a) he doesn’t know, and b) he’s (monogamously, as far as I know) partnered already. His partner is coincidentally also named Viola, which has already led to some Hilarious Misunderstandings, so we’ll call her Hildy.

    Because of Hildy, I’m 99.9% sure that I do not have a shot with Lee, but I’d still like to “come out” to him/them. Just how do I do it?? And to whom? I’m closer friends with Lee, but I think this conversation would come more easily with Hildy, because gender and crush and blah blah blah.

    Also, does anyone have polyamory success stories — either of coming out or of what happened afterward? I partially just need encouragement; the only other polyamorous family we know is A Hot Mess, so they’re not really great role models.

    (And bonus points if you know where our names came from.) <3

    1. Ihmmy

      caveat: I’m extremely out about my polamory and this likely colours my perspective.

      Honestly why not just tell him about a silly or ridiculous date you or your other partner went out on? It opens the door to him asking. Or even just starting it off with “oh, so we opened up our relationship a little while ago and let me tell you about MumblerMan I went on a date with last week, it was so silly!” If you don’t make it out to be a Big Deal it’s less of a big deal for the other person to process too, generally speaking

      1. Melody Pond

        I agree with this. Come out about polyamory the same way you would come out about being partnered to someone – just casually bring up something polyamory-ish, whenever there’s an opportunity to do that in normal conversation. Maybe there’s a funny story to share with Lee about an OKCupid exchange between Todd and a girl he’s interested in?

    2. asdfasdf

      In my experience, polyamory is an unicorn. Someone’s feelings are going to get hurt eventually. I just wanted to be clear on what my stance on this is.

      Given that, I wouldn’t do anything about Lee. Crushes come and go, you just have to wait for it to pass.

      OkCupid can be used to find alternate partners, but it’s up to you to do the work – find people that sound interesting, contact them, set a date, go on the date. It is alottawork.

      From here it just sounds like you guys are being a lot more monogamous than you would like to admit. :) There is also nothing wrong with that.

    3. neverjaunty

      It is not wise to ‘come out’ to someone who you just so happen to have a crush on and are nurturing a hope of .1% chance of having a shot with. 1) note that you didn’t organically come out to him before the crush, 2) he (and likely Hildy) will take it as you hinting, and 3) well, you kind of ARE hinting, right? Because who knows maybe they aren’t monogamous and/or maybe Lee will be interested?

      There’s nothing wrong with being open about this, but let the crush go away first.

      1. Mad Baggins

        I agree, I’d be totally cool with a partnered friend telling me about their polyamorous relationship, but not cool if it came with a subtle hint of “do you wanna” and SUPER not cool if it was “actually not interested in you, but your partner.”

        1. Triple Anon

          I agree, but if you can find a non-hinty way of saying it, I don’t see the harm. There probably is a way. It would just take some thought.

  35. Just Me

    A couple weeks ago it was announced that my company is being sold. It was a really sad week. We have a great culture, awesome work/life balance (enforced by the CEO), slackers aren’t tolerated, lots of extracurricular activities, wellness committee, etc. I know people that worked for the new company…and I’m really nervous. I may or may not get a job offer. If I do, I’m worried about the culture of the new company and whether or not I’ll have the same work/life balance and that the job won’t be fulfilling, which is more important to me at this point that a salary.

    We’re all in the same state of limbo until the new company completes the staffing assessment, which will be in early September (earlier than I thought, so that’s good). I’ve talked to the team and I’m sharing everything I know as soon as it is shared with me, so I’m absolutely not keeping anyone in the dark about how things will go over the next six months; everything I know, they know. I’ve also talked to them about the reality of the situation, which is that the new company’s operations are an hour away, and IF we get offered a job and take it, we will all have to commute. I also told them that I’ve been through something similar and that the coming months will be really tough: no new initiatives; no new challenge; maintaining the status quo, knowing that the work will be handed off to someone else eventually (assuming we don’t get offers); business as usual, knowing the company won’t exist a year from now; being in limbo, etc. I have one person that’s pretty vocal about this whole thing, and very annoyed that the new company didn’t have all the staffing, systems, etc. figured out before the sale was announced. One of his buddies on the team tends to be vocal, too, which makes it more difficult. I get how he feels, but he also doesn’t see the other side of it, which is that the companies can’t do the staffing assessment, or all the other things, until the sale is 99.99% a done deal (they need certain approvals). There has to be Board approval and a whole host of other things in place before they can even get to an announcement. The others on the team are feeling anxious, but they get that this is how these things go.

    Any tips for keeping up team morale during these uncertain times? I don’t want to sugarcoat things for them, because the reality is that, if we get job offers, we are all going to be forced to choose between making that crappy commute or forfeiting severance. (There are some criteria around job offers, severance, etc.)

    1. Jersey's mom

      Oh man, this is tough. My company went through this a few years back.

      I don’t know that you can keep morale “up”, but I think you should focus on keeping morale from going completely into the toilet.

      When people complain, focus on the complaint and reiterate that you’re providing information as soon as you get it.

      If either company is providing any type of job search, early retirement, assistance with finding new jobs, etc, provide that to your employees. You may need to spend some time actively asking about these “benefits”.

      And expect some upset, angst and b1tching. But you’ll need to cut it off when it gets to be too much, because that is really what will damage morale – rumors and vague complaints about “what ought to be”.

      There will be a ton of issues that won’t be resolved until after the contract is signed. It will take months to years.

      This cant be sugarcoated, so try to get them to focus on work and personal preparation for their future. Oof, I hope you’re doing your own “just in case” prep.

      1. Just Me

        Actually, because of our industry and how things work, this will happen very fast. The deal is set to be closed after the required approvals, which will happen in early October. They’ve already gotten the verbal approval from the powers that be, so it’s just a matter of submitting the paperwork. We’re regulated, so this won’t drag on.

        I really should have asked how I can keep morale from totally tanking, because I know it’s not realistic for morale to be great right now. One person has basically thrown up their hands and said they don’t even care what they look like when they come to work because it won’t matter soon. I think she’s doing better after the talk last week, but I’ll need to watch her a bit and see how it goes.

    2. Liza

      That’s crappy. Sorry this is happening. Honestly, I don’t think there’s much you can do for morale with everything so up in the air and the potential negative effects of the buyout. If it were me, I’d want my manager to be honest and not sugarcoat anything but to also recognize the anxiety and uncertainty in the situation, which it looks like you already do.
      I would suggest telling the vocal team members that while they have every right to their feelings about what’s going on, it doesn’t help anyone on the team by constantly focusing on the negative stuff. Not because you’re trying to excuse the companies’ lack of regard, but because it’s very easy to go the place of how much this sucks which can really bring people down after a while and increase anxiety.
      Are there any activities your team could do together on a break, perhaps a book club, or board games, to take their minds off of the situation? Or going out for coffee or lunch together with the proviso that work not be the topic of conversation? It’s unfortunate that your current employer and the new one don’t seem to be doing anything to help morale.
      Given your own uncertainty, I commend you for trying to do well by your team. Not a lot of managers would be that thoughtful. I hope everything works out well for you and your team.

      1. Just Me

        Yes, the person’s work buddy tends to be very cynical and that’s rubbing off on him. It’s something I’ve noticed even before this. It’s just coming out more now that we have this going on. The good thing is that the other team members recognize it for what it is and don’t engage with it.

        I plan to buy them lunch here and there, check in with them individually and stuff like that. This is so new right now, so I don’t think that the companies are ignoring morale. We haven’t even had the project kick-off yet. My company, though, is doing some activities, such as a workshop for coping with change/stress, resume writing, and things like that. I expect in the coming weeks that the other company may do some outreach to us.

        One of the things I’m doing for the team is helping them with their resumes. Most haven’t had to put this particular experience on it yet, or haven’t job searched in many years. I also told them all that if there’s anything they want to learn from a general knowledge perspective in the department-not system-specific-then let’s get going on that, because they can bring that to a new job if they need to start looking, and it might help them get a better job offer.

        1. Jersey's mom

          It sounds like you’re doing all you reasonably can. Try to keep the focus on completing essential tasks and strongly encourage participation in the workshops and outreach.

          Squash the rumor mongering (it will happen) and keep your employees (and you!) Looking forward at what you can actively do to help/protect yourselves.

  36. En vivo

    Cassandra,

    I’ve been thinking about you and your marriage; I hope you’re handling things ok at work. Praying the best for you.

  37. Questioner

    What’s the name of the movie or tv show where the main female character has cancer and wants to wear a cold cap to prevent hair loss from chemo but then it really sucks so she stops wearing it, and she has a super awesome chemo friend who dies unexpectedly? I can’t remember it but I just watched it.

    1. Mo

      Jane the Virgin :) It’s Jane’s mom that has cancer, but everything else you described happens.

    2. Melody Pond

      Jane the Virgin! I freaking love that show!

      It’s all on Netflix – if you have the opportunity to watch all of it from the beginning, I’d highly recommend it.

  38. PB

    Yesterday, my first peer-reviewed article was published! One important step in achieving tenure: done! I celebrated with chocolate and wine. Today, I rest. Tomorrow: back to writing!

    1. LibbyG

      Excellent! I hope getting that first article published is like getting the first pickle out of the jar — that the next few come more easily. Either way, Tenure, PB is coming for you!

    2. Bibliovore

      yes, bravo! The whole tenure thing is so nerve-racking. Good job. Now get back to work!

  39. Amber Jappert

    We were talking about The Last Unicorn and I realized, jeez were movies depressing when we were kids. The Last Unicorn theme song can still make me weepy, and I remember some trauma from Once Upon a Forest with the badgers. And of course, Watership Down, which is debatably not a kids movie but was treated like one. Friggin’ Bright Eyes. I can sing it from memory because it’s beautiful but 8 year old me was not prepared for that much bunny suffering.

    As an adult, I appreciate that stuff more. It was beautifully done and written. I wonder if my parents realized that TV taught me to accept the inevitability of death.

    1. Ihmmy

      Last Unicorn is my absolute most favourite movie of all time. I watched it obsessively as a kid. After an 8 year break between watching it I could still speak along with most of the lines.

      Now my walls are covered with unicorns, skulls, and taxidermy. So, uh, yeah maybe a little dark. I also watched The Land Before Time over and over again, despite remembering sobbing at the start with great regularity.

      1. Amber Rose

        Land Before Time also made me cry a lot, and even as an adult I still like watching it sometimes. None of the sequels though. There are what, 13 of them? =P

        My favorite movie of all time is probably still Labyrinth (from third grade on nothing has topped it for me), and the funny story about that is that it’s been over 20 years and I’m still too creeped out/scared to watch the Fireys pull their heads off and pop out their eyes.

    2. Red Reader

      I loved Secret of NIMH as a kid. Went back and watched it a couple years ago and I was like WHO THE EXPLETIVES DECIDED THIS WAS EVEN VAGUELY APPROPRIATE FOR KIDS?!?! Also, what is even going on here with the Magic Mouse and psychokinetic rats? What?

    3. Triple Anon

      Yes, The Last Unicorn, Watership Down, Secret of NIMM . . . There were so many sad or otherwise upsetting cartoons made during that era (early 80s). I guess the idea was to be edgy and broaden the audience to include people of all ages.

      I haven’t seen any kids movies made in recent years. They’re probably weird in different ways.

      1. Amber Rose

        We don’t really have kids’ movies anymore. We have Pixar, which is family films, and then stuff like My Little Pony and the Smurfs that relies on selling toys. Admittedly UP made me choke up at the beginning, and Inside Out made me weepy at the end, but not in the “everyone dies” despairing kind of way that old movies had.

    4. SarahKay

      I remember a thread on someone’s blog about movies that people had been taken to as children because ‘cute animals!’ or ‘it’s a cartoon, of course it’s for kids!’ where, you know, the cute animals died horribly, were eaten, were orphaned and alone….
      Watership Down was one (agreed, so much bunny suffering), and a lot of comments around March of the Penguins, which made me decide not to watch it, ever! I think Bambi got a number of mentions too.

      1. Amber Rose

        Ha, Bambi. I still remember Animaniacs making fun of that, with Slappy Squirrel’s nephew just bawling his eyes out for days. I think a lot of parents had to deal with that.

          1. Amber Rose

            Eh, it’s not that bad. The rest of the movie is overwhelmingly positive and cheerful, almost disgustingly so.

            The worst one for me for tears was Brave Little Toaster. There’s a song from some old cars getting cubed in a junkyard that still haunts me. It’s called Worthless. That was a bit heavy. I think I cried through most of the movie. You’d think my parents would learn, but they also brought me to the theater to see Jurassic Park (I was five when it came out). I remember hiding in the bathroom.

    5. Anonymosity

      Watership Down wrecked me as a kid.

      I didn’t watch The Last Unicorn until I was an adult. That movie is WEIRD. I like the music, though. My soundtrack station has the album, and people request it every once in a while.

      1. Amber Rose

        I think Watership Down wrecked a lot of kids. Everything was so scary and hopeless and mean.

        I watched Last Unicorn so long ago all I really remember is being scared of the bull, loving all the music, and that everyone was just miserably unhappy all the damn time. Also the boob tree, because you don’t forget something that odd anytime soon.

        1. Becky

          Actually for me, I didn’t remember the boob tree from when I was a kid. It was only when I watched it again as an adult and I went “How on earth did I miss that as a kid?”

          1. Anonymosity

            This was me with “Night on Bald Mountain” from Fantasia. When I was little in the very late 1960s/early 1970s, they showed all the classic Disney films in cinemas–that’s how I saw them all. I dimly remembered seeing Fantasia but not those ghost things with the bewbs flying into the camera!

    6. smoke tree

      I really loved sad movies as a kid–the Fox and the Hound was a particular favourite, and My Neighbour Totoro (not exclusively sad, but has some pretty sad parts). Part of it was probably just that they had a depth of emotion that other movies didn’t have. I think adults tend to underappreciate how much kids connect with sad, scary or otherwise complicated stories. While obviously some content isn’t appropriate for young kids, I think it does a disservice to kids to only subject them to saccharine stories where nothing ever goes wrong. It’s not realistic and it’s also not very interesting.

      1. Amber Rose

        I like dark stories as long as they have some element of positivity to them. I don’t (and didn’t, as a kid) mind being sad if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. There just really wasn’t, in a lot of kids stuff back then. Basically everyone was unhappy and then the movie ended.

        Also I wasn’t prepared for gory. I have never been able to cope with a lot of blood, not then and not now.

    7. The Ginger Ginger

      I read The Last Unicorn book (that the movie was based on) as an adult and was delighted by the writing. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it! Especially if you have a soft spot for the movie.

  40. ThatGirl

    This is my first Fourth in roughly 10 years where we’re not going to my inlaws to laze around in the pool, day drink and eat grilled food. They moved in January (out of state) and we don’t know anyone else with a pool!

    So, we’re going to the movies at 2 and it’ll probably be a pretty quiet day off otherwise. While I like fireworks I’m not really up for crowds or rah rah yay America stuff right now.

    1. Plant Lady

      Fourth of July has never been my holiday. Too much of everything…heat, noise, bad picnic food and really unfortunate red, white and blue clothing choices. I’ll be staying inside with the cats, a book and maybe some ice cream. And earplugs.

  41. AvonLady Barksdale

    I have flies. I hate flies. They are mostly our fault, as our dog likes to hang out on the porch and we don’t have a screen door, but I won’t leave him out there with the door closed (we’re renting, and the hassle of putting in a screen door isn’t worth it). In the living room, the spiders get the flies (our house is very old and spiders tend to get in through the windows. I have learned to live with them and appreciate them for what they do).

    But in the kitchen, the flies are making me crazy. It’s about 3 or 4 at a time, and they’re not the worst in the world, but they are driving me insane. Fruit flies are easy; I have a vinegar trap that catches them, no problem. This morning I set up a homemade fly trap with a used soda bottle, some sugar water and some dish soap, but so far, nothing. Any other ideas? We’re thinking old-fashioned flypaper at this point.

    1. Zaphod Beeblebrox

      How did you learn to live with the spiders? I’d rather have no spiders and deal with the flies.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        They’re small. They weave webs in the window sills and I basically never seen them. At the end of the summer, I raise the blinds all the way and vacuum up the webs and dead flies. It’s an adjustment, but they don’t bother me at all. Plus, dead flies.

        1. Zaphod Beeblebrox

          Ah fair enough – I don’t mind small ones. It’s the big ones that freak me out.

    2. Green belt and suspenders

      Can you get a hanging screen curtain? They mount with Velcro and other low impact options (since renting) and you may be able to train the dog to push thru it. I have one and it works well and I take it down once summer passes.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I have a similar idea. The screen is on a tension rod and there are four or more strips of screen material hanging down. The tension rod is easy to put up and take down. And the dog can just push through the strips of screen material. It’s like plastic as opposed to metal so he can’t get cut anywhere.

    3. AeroEngineer

      This is going to sound crazy, but my father bought me a leather flyswatter for my birthday and it is literally the best fly swatter I have every used in my entire life. one woosh and dead, they don’t see it coming.

      One of the most useful birthday presents I have ever gotten.

    4. SarahKay

      I use the ‘Rentokil Fly Killer Pen’ (can’t find it on Amazon.com, but put those words in on Amazon.co.uk to see what I mean), which is basically a small tube of insecticide with a sponge on the top. It dispenses clear odourless liquid, and I use it to draw along the very top of the non-opening window, where the glass meets the frame. It’s generally poisonous, hence the line at the very top of the window to keep it out of reach of pets, small children, etc. If you clean the windows, be sure to wash your cleaning cloth afterwards, and rinse the whole window very thoroughly.
      Any insect that crawls on it will die (so if you see a bee on the window rescue it fast!) which sooner or later they all seem to. Then at the end of the day you just sweep up the corpses – a bit gross, but hey, they’re not buzzing round the room any more!
      I grew up in the English countryside so flies were a real nuisance in summer (cowpats = many flies) until Mum discovered this.

    5. foolofgrace

      I squirt them with spray cleaner and vacuum them up (hate touching them). I used to use hair spray but then you get hair spray on things.

    6. MuttIsMyCopilot

      I also rent, and got a screen “door” with a magnetic seam through the center on Amazon for like $20. It took a couple of days to train my dog to go through it, but no more flies, wasps, mosquitoes, or birds in the kitchen! It basically hangs with Velcro and thumb tacks, was easy to install, and shouldn’t leave any damage if I take it down.

    7. smoke tree

      Seconding the recommendation for a hanging screen door. It took about 15 minutes to install and fastens with magnets in the middle so it’s really easy to use (you can walk through it and it closes itself behind you).

      For the existing flies, when I was briefly living in France and got fed up with the disgusting number of flies in the kitchen, I used one of those electric racquet things. Very effective, even for the dozens of very annoying Mediterranean flies that like to land on you constantly. That’s one thing I really don’t miss about France.

    8. Not So NewReader

      I use the curly fly paper rolls. I was getting them inexpensively at the dollar store, but you have to hunt for them or ask for help.

  42. Someone101

    Happy fourth!

    At the risk of sounding like a complete fruitcake, I have this thing that has been bothering me for years. Does anyone else ever feel like there is something missing, like they are supposed to be somewhere else? It’s not in a ‘my life is boring I need some excitement’ kind of way, it’s more of a ‘there is a piece of me as as person that is missing’ kind of way. Context: I’m 30 years old, generally happy life, job, family; No one I’m close with has died, I have no abandonment issues. Just for as long as I can remember I’ve had this feeling like I don’t belong in my life, I’m supposed to be someplace else but I don’t know where. Google searches come up with things that are never quite right. It suggests skydiving or travelling but its nothing like that. And i always feel it the most in summer, its like i have a memory that is just out of reach. Its not wishing i was on holiday as i actually dont like the sunshine i prefer cold! Anyway sorry for the essay it’s just the strangest thing and nobody seems to understand!

    1. En vivo

      You’re not a fruitcake. I used to feel that way, and there was nothing ‘wrong.’ I felt as if there had to be more than ‘this’ ( meaning life). Was I supposed to go through life, life events, work, etc, die one day and that be it!? Haha :)). No matter how good life was, I knew that wasn’t it! I (and everyone else) am a spiritual being. Spiritual meaning ‘not seen’. Yes, you have a body, but you’re so much more than this shell you see. We long for the spiritual world, and without it, there is ‘something missing.’ Many go through life trying to fill the definite sense of void with so many other things, and it never works. My suggestion: explore your spirituality and see where it takes you. I wish you the best, and it’s good that you’re questioning this existence.

      1. Someone101

        Thank you! Is there anything you can recommend as I have no idea where to begin?!

        1. Oatmeal

          I see a spiritual director. They’re not counselors as much as they’re spiritual people who really good at listening and picking up on themes and patterns in a person’s life. You have directors that belong to a specific religion or tradition but also more general ones. If there’s a spirituality you’re interested in, that’s a good place to start! You can google spiritual director and city, and there’s also a big international association that lists people and explains more about the process. I see mine once a month and we talk for an hour, that’s it, and it’s completely changed my life.

    2. Amber Rose

      Yep. Almost all of those things are also true of me, although ever since my mom died I have felt a bit like a balloon with it’s string cut. I strongly get these feelings at night and while driving.

      I think it’s some part of you that is unfulfilled. A secret wish, a talent you never explored properly, that kind of thing. It just translates into a desire to be somewhere else physically, since being somewhere else in life is a weird feeling to translate. You don’t have to be unhappy with your current life to feel like you should be doing something else after all.

      I think I’ve more or less figured out what mine is, but there are complications. :/

      1. Someone101

        I’m sorry to hear about your mum, sending a hug your way. That’s a good way of looking at it, I’m going to try En Vivos suggestion above and see where that takes me. I hope whatever it is you have found works out for you!

    3. Llellayena

      Yep, I know exactly what you mean. It took me a while to get past that feeling myself and for me it involved grad school and a career change. You don’t necessarily need that though. Try a few new experiences instead. A book club, a screen printing workshop, a community college course, volunteer at a theater (acting, backstage or usher). Basically try things that give you a creative outlet. Eventually you’ll latch on to something that resonates. You’ll also meet a bunch of new people and might get insight into what you need from learning about them. Good luck!

      1. Someone101

        Hi! This makes sense as i am a very creative person and funnily enough I recently joined an agency that provides work as extras so this could be a great opportunity to see if that helps!

    4. Thlayli

      Maybe you had a vanishing twin. More common than people realise.

      Or maybe reincarnation is real and you’re looking for your soulmate or for something related to your past life.

      Or maybe you would be happier with something else in your life like religion or more cuddles.

      1. Someone101

        Hi Thlayli
        How curious I’ve Never heard of vanishing twins before and strangely enough twins run in our family and we are actually long overdue some.

        I did watch some documentaries on reincarnation and it was completely fascinating, however the sceptical side of me wouldn’t let me believe it!

        Personally I think you can never get enough hugs so this is a very real possibility!

    5. OyVey

      This is part of why I started reading and listening to lectures on philosophy. For personal peace, I needed a way of articulating my place in the world that was free of religious overtones. I write as a hobby and happened to stumble on the language games perspective (Ludwig Wittgenstein and others) relatively early on. their thoughts have helped me develop a personal philosophy. FWIW, American philosophy is heavily weighted towards behavioralism and I find European and Asian thinkers much more approachable.
      Wes Cecil, on YouTube, has several sets of lectures on thinkers and uses for philosophy. He’s a very easy speaker to follow and does an excellent job of presenting. He’s a good place to start if philosophy is at all intriguing to you.

      1. Someone101

        I love the idea of philosophy, my partner is American and listens to philosophy videos everynight; however I find the ones he listens to a bit too…pushy? I cannot think of an accurate word but it makes me feel like ‘if you don’t think this way, your not smart enough’. Perhaps pretentious? (Please note I am not criticising American philosophers, I think it’s a difference of cultural mindset) I will absolutely check out Wes Cecil, thank you for the starting point!

    6. JeanB in NC

      I felt that way a lot when I was younger, especially in the fall. I felt like I needed to go someplace but I didn’t know where. I’d say to myself “I want to go home” but I was home! I never felt like I fit with my family and I think I felt like I belonged someplace else, some other time, something! It did fade away eventually I guess.

      1. Someone101

        This is exactly it! It’s such a strange feeling, I’m so glad I’m not alone. Do you not feel it at all anymore?

    7. Not So NewReader

      You might want to check out memory cells. We have someone on this blog that works in this field. This is where we can have memories of what happened to our ancestors. It’s fascinating.

      I get haunting feelings sometimes, like I have been Here before. (Where ever Here is.) Or I get a sense of melancholy with no explanation, it’s as if it comes from a long ago time.

      It could be that you were switched at birth with another baby in the hospital. One in a million long shot, so do not panic. I am just acknowledging that there might basis for your feeling. But there is not a way to know for sure.

      FWIW, when I was in my 30s I felt like I had more pieces of me than ever, but I still felt like I was not completed yet. When my 40s hit, it was a totally different feeling. I felt like I knew who I was and what I stood for. By the time I hit my 50s, I was asking questions like, “Why do we have to wait so long to find out stuff?’ So it does get better. Each decade has its advantages and drawbacks.

      My suggestion is kind of woo-wooish. My suggestion is to know that there is something running in the background and decide that when the time is right it will be revealed to you. This could be 30 years from now. Or it could be 30 days from now. No way to know. I have seen some people wait their entire lives for explanations on some things. Blind acceptance can carry us though stuff until we find out what it actually is.

      1. Someone101

        I love this! I find all this kind of stuff so fascinating, I will definitely look into it.

        I agree, so many times I think to myself how different I am mentally now even just from a few years ago. It will probably be one of those things I discover what it is on my deathbed or at the very last possible moment lol!

        1. No Name for This

          I lean toward these kinds of thoughts as well. I felt like, through college, I was on the “right track,” and then for a lot of my 20s like I was “off track,” even though I don’t believe there’s an objective right/wrong track for anyone (unless, you know, crime or whatever is pretty wrong).

          I moved and made some pretty big shifts and things started to “click” a bit again–not, like, meeting some definition of success, but closer to feeling that “right” feeling. It’s hard to explain and I’m not sure that feeling will ever be 100%, who knows.

          Along similar lines, I was very sure I was adopted when I was younger, and had this really strong sense that I knew or had other parents who could still somehow get in touch with me. I was definitely born to my parents (and you can tell by my personality and appearance), but sometimes when I wonder whether past lives are real I think this could be a potential reason for that feeling. There are all kinds of stories of kids, when they’re REAL young, being like “remember the yellow house we lived in in Georgia?” or “remember when I was your grandmother?” that go beyond the typical child imagination thing. Pretty interesting and weird stuff, and seems like you can maybe have a “hangover” from a recent past life or something.

          That said…however woo-woo you want to get with it, I think when you feel off or like you’re supposed to be somewhere else…that’s a good time for reflection, meditation, etc., however that works for you. You can process through art or writing, or by keeping busy with more mechanical tasks while your brain kind of spins on the problem. If you approach this feeling with openness and a sense that you’re looking for guidance, something might come to you.

          1. Someone101

            Yes its strange how there could be nothing really wrong with your life yet it still doesn’t feel whole, an almost complete puzzle save for that one piece!

            I love the idea of reincarnation, and I Watch all kinds of documentaries and read articles on it. The ‘logical’ part of me thinks it cannot posibly be true, however I feel so strongly at the moment I’m leaning more towards the woo woo lol! Your story is so interesting to me, do you still feel that way about your parents or did it die down as you got older?

            I can be a dreamer so at times like this just ‘being’ and letting my thoughts take me wherever they want to go sort of helps.

    8. Chaordic One

      I don’t think you’re a fruitcake, but I don’t know how to explain what you’re feeling. I think that sometimes these are the thoughts of an intelligent person who is capable of seeing all of the different options, opportunities and possibilities that are available to them and to other people, and who finds it difficult to choose the best one. I wonder if you might have a fear of missing out because no matter what choice you make, you end up eliminating something else.

      I hope this doesn’t sound snarky, because I don’t mean it to be, but I used to have a coworker who, when we were stuck doing some crappy job duty would say, “I don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m really a princess, you know!”

      1. Someone101

        You know, this really resonates with me. My family don’t quite understand me because I have such a thirst for knowledge, I love to know everything. I read books upon books and listen to podcasts and lectures about anything just so I can know more. My family on the other hand are content with watching trash tv and reading gossip magazines. We are a bit like the family in matilda! It does really irk me when I see friends and family, even strangers, choose paths that I think are not the best they could choose. Ah this makes me sound really bad, like I think I know better than everyone else, It’s not the case but it’s so hard to describe! I love your story, I genuinely laughed! I didn’t read your comments as snarky at all, I thank you for taking the time to reply! As with everyone who has commented it’s been a really useful insight and I’ve learned a lot and got lots to look into!

    9. Fish girl

      I don’t know if it’s the same thing you’re feeling, but I’ve often felt “homesick” even when at home. And it wasn’t that I was yearning to be somewhere else necessarily. Just would get an intense feeling of melancholy, ennui, wistfulness, and generally feeling like I was missing something. “Homesick for a place I’ve never been” is how I’ve described it, but rarely have I found someone who has emotional understood that.

      But, what I’ve found is that other languages than English have a words that closely mimic that feeling to me! Which makes me feel less alone if whole cultures have invented words to describe this feeling!

      Here are the two I’ve come across that seem to fit the best. Of course, there’s no good direction translation and you can find lots of diff. interpretations across the net:

      -Saudade: “a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.” -A. F. G Bell

      -Sehnsucht: thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences (Wikipedia)
      and
      “That unnameable something, desire for which pierces us like a rapier at the smell of bonfire, the sound of wild ducks flying overhead, the title of The Well at the World’s End, the opening lines of “Kubla Khan”, the morning cobwebs in late summer, or the noise of falling waves.” -CS Lewis

      1. Someone101

        Saudade- this is the closest ‘proper’ description I’ve found that almost describes the feeling!

        What you feel is pretty much the same as what I feel, it’s funny how it’s so hard to describe it, that we can describe something as indescribable!

        I’ve always thought that English is such a binding language. In some ways i think despite all our technological advances, our ancestors were so much more advanced than us; mathmeticians and astronomers, builders of pyramids and philosophers/free thinkers. It makes me think perhaps what we are feeling is some part of our primitive nature subconsciously calling out to us maybe? I don’t know. I think I might look into older languages and see if I can find any clues there!

  43. Blue Eagle

    I’m excited for my cousin who just got a raise of 35% because her new boss went to bat for her. She had a lateral job change a couple of months ago but no raise at that time. We’re planning a big celebration dinner on Friday! Thanks AAM for all of your great job advice to help her get this raise.

  44. Persephone Mulberry

    Random work question: where’s the line between bartering labor for services and violating employment law? I’m thinking of things like cleaning horse stalls in exchange for board or lesson credit, or working the front desk in trade for yoga studio time, etc.

    I ran across a situation that was AFAIK clearly illegal (“paying” a combination of wages and credits for services to get around paying overtime – my jaw literally dropped that this person thought that was okay) but it made me wonder about the lower stake/more casual arrangements that are out there.

    1. Not So NewReader

      If you are interested in doing exchanges with people, you might check out the idea of time banking. The “currency” in a time bank is time, not money.
      I would not get involved in doing time banking with people who are on the payroll. That is just too muddy.
      Bartering is taxable.

  45. Money Money Money

    Looking for advice, perspectives, resources, or empathy for people dating/marrying across class/income differences.

    I grew up upper middle class, am very frugal, have a well-paid (for my industry) job, savings and no debt. I know how lucky I am, especially since my family is only one generation from poverty.

    The love of my life grew up in poverty, has a scary amount of student loan debt, and is in grad school living just above the poverty line for the next several years. No family support at all and he can’t afford to save much, as he can barely afford bills. He is very fiscally responsible, he just…has no wiggle room.

    We communicate the best we can about it, but it’s hard. Anything but necessities I pay for, which includes travel to family (big) and date nights (small). He doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder about it and I try to be tactful about what I offer. It’s very hard.

    Gender makes this even more annoying (I’m female), as waiters always, ALWAYS hand him the check. :\

    1. Thlayli

      I used to date a guy who has way less money than me. And we came up with a deal where we would each pay for every second date. So on my turn we would go out for a nice meal etc. On his turn we would do something fun that didn’t require money at all or only a little bit of money. It required him to put in a lot more thought and effort than me, but at the time that was fine cos I was busy in work whereas he had a bit of free time.

    2. Enough

      When my husband and I go out I usually pay. Rarely does the server give him the check. But I ask for the check directly. Also when they come to the table I put out my hand to take it if they don’t just put it on the table.

    3. LilySparrow

      Pulling your weight in a relationship isn’t just about finances. Does he put effort into the relationship on practical things that aren’t about money? Working out schedules, remembering your likes and needs, planning meals or activities, doing favors, running errands, arranging transport, and so forth?

      Does he put emotional effort into the relationship: listening, checking in, being considerate, managing his own emotional needs?

      I had a relationship with a large disparity in our socioeconomic backgrounds, and the reason it didn’t work out wasn’t about income. The underlying toxicity in his childhood that caused the family poverty also left him wanting to be taken care of in a holistic way. He didn’t take responsibility for anything, including his own job, feelings, housing, schedule, etc.

      The problem wasn’t money, it was dependency. If you feel that you are equal adult partners in the relationship, and that the relationship makes your life better in noticeable ways, then the money is just a circumstance.

      If you feel like he’s not bringing anything to the table and you’re shouldering too much of the relational work, then the money is a red herring.

      1. Money Money Money

        I think you’re right that dependency is a big issue.

        He actually takes the lead on a lot of household stuff, especially cooking which I hate doing. And he’s a good emotional partner, much better than I’ve had before. He listens and cares and remembers things.

        It feels a little like we’ve flipped the traditional script…I’m the breadwinner and he’s the homemaker. Not entirely, but close. And that can feel a little uneven and weird (dependent in both directions) even if we both consider ourselves feminists.

    4. Melody Pond

      When Mr. Pond and I moved in together, we started sharing the cost of basic living necessities (housing, utilities, food, shared transportation, plus some shared entertainment stuff). We shared the cost proportionately, based on our incomes – we still do that today. He has consistently earned much more than me, for the duration of our relationship.

      So, to use made up numbers, if I’m making $20K a year, and he’s making $40K a year, then in total we earn $60K per year, and my share of that is 33.33%, and his is 66.67%. So I’d pay for 33.33% of all our shared expenses, and he’d pay for 66.67% of shared expenses.

      Is there a way to do a similar type of cost sharing split between you and your partner, for the things you do together? The math might be a little more complicated if his primary source of income is loans or grants or stipends, etc., but I’d bet you could work out something similar.

      Or, alternatively, you could look at it from the 50/30/20 spending rule perspective. No more than 50% of your income on must-haves, no more than 30% on wants, and at least 20% on savings. Maybe your partner isn’t able to do much in the way of saving right now, since he’s still in school, but maybe you could be the one to pick up all of the discretionary “wants” spending, up until you’ve hit 30% of your income, and then stop? I’m assuming that he doesn’t have much room for a “wants” section of his budget at all, or if he did, maybe for him it would have to be capped at like 5% or 10% of his income.

    5. Dr. Doll

      Sigh. This sounds hard, and I think IS hard. I dated a guy once who made less money than I did because he was a couple years younger, no graduate degree; it was circumstantial, not a reference on his competence or masculinity, but he couldn’t see it. He haaaated it that I made more money. (He hated a lot of things about me. We didn’t last.)

      If your *values* surrounding money are similar, and it’s just circumstances that are an issue, I think frequent open clear communicating is the answer, as hard as it is. If the values are different — like, To Be A Man You Must Make More Money, or Debt Schmebt vs Pay It Off — then that is far harder to overcome.

    6. FutureLibrarianNoMore

      Why is it hard?

      I don’t ask that to be nasty, but I think for me, it was figuring out *where* the feelings were coming from. For me, it was a fear of not living the type of lifestyle I want to (and work very hard to do so), as well as the sense that as the female, I shouldn’t make more and should be ashamed of it for some reason.

      At the end of the day, we’re a couple. We’re planning to get married, but even if we didn’t, the money isn’t wasted. I get to share my income with someone who shares with me in other ways. When I was single, I would waste the money on lonely shopping. I can’t take it with me, so why not enjoy it?

      We’ve discussed in-depth our feelings about debt, money, and how we see our lives playing out. Sure, we can’t 100% guarantee that things will look like that, but that’s okay. Our goal is simply to be open and honest.

      1. Money Money Money

        I agree that I’d much rather share my income with him than keep it to myself.

        I think what makes it hard is that we both wish he were more financially stable — I’m not hurting myself financially by supporting him, but I am more anxious/cautious about money than I would be if I were dating someone in my income bracket.

        If he could just magically double his salary we would both feel less worried about the future.

    7. Elena

      I was in a sort of similar situation for a while when my husband was in school, the first in his family to do so.

      Make him an authorized user on your credit card and let him use that card to pay for things when you need to keep up appearances.

      Watch out for signs of resentment – “having a silver spoon in your mouth” type comments. Especially if you are from any kind of stock that can be considered self-made (e.g. immigrants or from nothing two generations ago). It’s a really delicate balance – acknowledging some blind spots you may have without surrendering the legitimate accomplishments you and your family earned.

      I tried to foster a “captain (him)/ first mate (me)” dynamic with my husband, which is still a work in progress but I like where we’re headed. He can make major decisions but also trust me in my domain and “anchor” me – so relieving me of some emotional labor…. It’s hard because you are more likely to be more financially lirerate, better traveled, etc. But it is essential that he have some aspect where he genuinely leads, something you admire him for.

      Good luck. It’s tough. :( But grad school isn’t forever!

      1. Money Money Money

        My partner is also the first in his family to go to school! I admire him so much for it, I had so much support to get to the same place. I admire his resilience and bravery a lot.

        And you’re dead-on about the blind spots as well. I catch myself being very careful about how I word things sometimes, to not live in my class guilt/defensiveness. It’s a lot of work.

    8. Nita

      Just sympathy from me, but no great advice. It’s hard. As you point out, the difference in family income often means a big difference in opportunities, whether you jump at the first available job or can wait for a better one, whether you have a network that supplies you with job leads, whether you pay down your loans quickly or deal with them for years… And you’re going to have differences in spending habits, ideas on whether you can hire help if you’re in over your head with something, ideas about what kind of risks you can take with your job/savings, ideas about child care and schools. It’s lead to some pretty painful situations for me.

      I wonder if your partner is open to you helping them financially in some way, for example if both of you start putting money toward the loans, or if you take on the household expenses while they job hunt. That’s just how serious relationships should be, I think – both people should pull their weight, but they should also lift each other up when one of them can’t. But I know not everyone sees things this way, and for some people it’s a big point of pride to always be 100% self-sufficient, relationship or no.

      1. Money Money Money

        Yes, pride is a big part of it. I would support him as much as he would allow — letting most of his income go to student loans, for example, while I cover other things — but ai don’t think he’s ready to accept that yet.

  46. Bigfoot is my spirit animal

    How can I cope with a coworker who has some sort of brain illness? I am looking for other work and at this point I don’t know if their problem is 1. mental illness 2. bad medication interactions (they have several serious chronic illnesses & many doctors and take a lot of meds or 3. a physical problem with their brain. Whatever it is I cannot work with them anymore due to their behavior. I used to like this person a lot but I have lost most of my professional respect for them and personally I just feel sorry for them. Their illness causes them interfere with my work and professional reputation though. I plan to leave as soon as I have about 2 months salary saved. I’m pretty sure the higher ups aren’t actually going to do anything about this person, even though their illness is negatively impacting their job performance.

    1. UtOh!

      Can you provide some more details about how they interfere with your work and professional reputation? Then perhaps we would have some suggestions.. Have you brought up the issues with your manager to assist you with working with (or around) your coworker?

      1. Bigfoot is my spirit animal

        Yes, manager & HR are aware. Coworker has developed extreme almost instant forgetfulness and sends super rude ranting emails to other coworkers and outside of proper chain of command, in which my name gets mentioned a lot in the context of “I demand X. Bigfoot can’t do X because you are doing Y”. Sometimes this is true, sometimes not but I know the proper way to advocate for myself. Coworker does too many other bizarre things to get into. I tried being dorect with coworker & they obviously did not comprehend the problem. Lack of comprehension is another symptom. It’s like I’m speaking to them in another language. This is super out of character for coworker. Anyway, some of my issues with them can be mitigated by (cover my behind anyway) restricting our communication to email so that there is a record. I was hoping for suggestions beyond that while also trying to be compassionate.

    2. Bigfoot is my spirit animal

      Let me try to explain more concisely with literary & cartoon analogies: the my coworker is acting like Dr. Jekyll turned into Mr. Hyde, who has memory problems like Dory from Finding Nemo (but without the nice personality or other endearing traits) with fairly regular Aggretsuko-like outbbursts.

    3. LGC

      Um…how do you know they have an illness? I’m not going to go into the phrasing you used (which…woof, dude), but in the second sentence you speculate that they might have one of three very different things that might be going on. I’m guessing that the end effect was a sudden change in Coworker’s personality which has made things difficult for you – and that’s really what you need to be concerned with, not whether they have a mental illness (like depression, bipolar, or schizophrenia), a neurological illness (like a brain tumor), or a bad medicine interaction. Or whether they just woke up on the Jerk side of the bed one day.

      In this case…address the behavior, not the fact that they’re Sick and Need Help. (You are their coworker, not their doctor.) What are the effects of their behavior on you? If they’re missing a lot of assignments, mention that and possibly offer to help. If they’re getting angry at you or they have violent mood swings (violent as in “sudden”), don’t reward the bad behavior. If they’re baking tons of treats for your office and offering you their half-eaten sandwiches and throwing tantrums when you refuse because of reasons totally unrelated to them because obviously their food isn’t good enough for you and your boss refuses to do anything about it, harass your boss to Fix It because it’s their job and also hi LW from yesterday.

    4. Thlayli

      I would say the best thing to do is talk to your line manager and/or HR. In that conversation you want to get across:
      1 coworkers behaviour has massively changed (if this is new). Coworkers behaviour is very concerning and you are worried that they are seriously ill (in case they don’t really realise the extent of the problem).
      2 state clearly that you don’t want or need to know coworkers private medical details, but out of concern you very much hope that they are under the care of a professional. Point out if you yourself got a brain tumour or became severely mentally ill, and you were in denial or unable to see how much your behaviour had changed, that you would hope HR would at least have a chat with you to make sure everything is under control. I know most commenters would probably disagree with me on this one, but if coworker is really in denial, and has not engaged with a medical professional about this, and it turns out they do have a brain tumour or something, a “you need to see a doctor” chat with HR could literally save their life.
      3 explain the problems coworkers behaviour is causing you,
      4 ask if there is anything they can do to help with these problems

      1. Bigfoot is my spirit animal

        I’m pretty sure they are ill because of a sudden and prolonged change in behavior that is radically different from how they have been for the many years we’ve worked together. I’m not sure where you guys got the idea that I want to be nosy about what is wrong but that’s not the case: I want to be respctful of their privacy. I’ve done all the suggested reporting to managers and HR and they aren’t going to do anything, which is why I’ll leave. Until I do leave though how am I supposed to deal with someone who has completely unpredictable behavior? I want to remain professional and I don’t want to add to the problems this person is having.

        1. Thlayli

          I didn’t think you were being nosy at all – in fact I got the impression from your letter that you hadn’t said anything to HR or management about the situation.

          Since you have already done points 1 and 2, my advice is just points 3 and 4 – tell your boss the specific problems coworkers behaviour is causing, and ask boss how they want you to handle it.

  47. Junior Dev

    I’m in the process of writing my first pitch for an article. It’s going to be about the ways people relate to security and technology (I have more specifics, just don’t want to share them here). I’ve already chatted on Twitter with someone from the magazine so I know the pitch is wanted and it’ll be in before the deadline.

    Any tips, things you wish you’d know, etc? I

    1. nep

      Congratulations.
      Are you familiar with The Open Notebook website? They’ve got a pitch database.
      Nieman Storyboard also has great articles about pitching, including annotated pitches. Super interesting and helpful.
      Good luck.

  48. Nervous Accountant

    This happened at work but its a personal thing but man was I super angry.

    I fill my rx at the pharmacy downstairs so I frequently pick up my insulin. I usually take it home except for the pens I need for the day. Well, first time ever I decided to leave the brand new just picked up packs at work b/c it was super hot. aaaaand that’s when the cleaning lady did a full clean. They were in a plastic bag so I can see why someone wouold assume it was food.

    Now, theres a sign that says “cleaning every friday at 5 PM” BUT many weeks have been skipped. and the weeksit does happen, there’s notice from our office admin. so I didn’t think anything of leaving it in there. Now I assume every Friday it will happen.

    I’m not blaming anyone but myself, I’m super angry at myself for forgetting it. Worse so was that when i call my insurance they said they have no overrides for lost/thrown out medicine, so….tough shit. I finally able to get it but jeez…I’m all about personal responsibility but the fact that if I wasn’t able to get it I’d be forced to go 20 days w/o any insulin scares the bejeezus out of me (I mean….I did have entire years when I didn’ take it but still now that I’m trying to fix my self I can’t go back to being so intentionally careless).

    1. UtOh!

      Wow, that is scary…don’t beat yourself up too much though, it happens to the best of us. Next time you do that also set a reminder for yourself, I do that even if it’s just food that I need to bring home. Even a post-it on my monitor or laptop (I put my laptop in my drawer every day and lock it up). And hey, you were able to get your meds, I’m sure you could even go to a hospital in an emergency? That’s the other thing, always have a back up plan for these types of emergencies.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        Yeah it never even occurred to me to have a backup plan. For some reason I assumed that insurance would have some override for it.. like it didnt’ even occur to me that they wouldn’t do that ya kno? The rep said that I could do a vacation override, so thats how I was able to gt it. Not to mention the $50 copay each time..so I’m out $50 precious $ due to my own stupidity. AKA the stupidity tax.

        1. Kuododi

          Just a thought….I’ve mentioned before about the significant cost savings by getting perscription filled at big box stores ie Costco. I have a few scripts at my local Costco pharmacy…some bc insurance won’t cover and others bc out of pocket is cheaper than insurance copay. The other nice thing is noone is telling me that I am refilling my script too soon. I just call in the refill and they take care of my request. I’d say it’s worth a phone call.

        2. Magnetic South

          At least you were able to get some sort of override. Insulin pens are NOT cheap!!

    2. Ihmmy

      Could you do up a sticky note to toss on your bag when you do have to store it at work, something like “this is an Rx please do not toss”?

    3. Not So NewReader

      Forgive yourself? Crap happens.
      I try not to think about the numbers of times I have paid the stupidity tax. I think the best we can do is vow not to make that particular mistake again and develop a concrete plan of what to do to prevent it.
      It’s $50 not $500 or $5000. Try to keep that in mind also. (Speaking as someone who has made $5000 mistakes.) I know, though, this smaller stuff can eat us up on the inside.
      At least you were able to get the insulin pens you needed, so you did something right there.

    4. Thlayli

      Wow that sucks. Maybe write on the outside of the bag next time? As others have said, at least it’s just $50

  49. Katie the Fed

    I’ll just leave this here:

    I’m having a hard time. I’m having postpartum anxiety and depression that came on late (like 5 months). I was doing fine and then suddenly…I wasn’t. My OB gave me a 30 day prescription for meds with a comment that I’m probably just overwhelmed, and told me I’d need to see a psychiatrist for any more. So I did last week and he adjusted my meds, and I found an in-network therapist. So I know it’ll get better but right now it’s so. goddamned. hard. This is miserable and isolating and I’m so unhappy and I can’t seem to get it together. Work is such a struggle right now too.

    1. Junior Dev

      Hugs. I’m sorry you’re struggling. Glad you are seeing a psychiatrist. One of my biggest struggles with depression is it makes everything seem about 10 timed harder than it otherwise would be, anything from work to cleaning to self-care to seeing friends. And it’s so exhausting.

    2. Foreign Octopus

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. I wish there was an easy fix so you could back to being good and enjoying your baby. Just know that no matter how your day ends it’s still a win because you go to the end of it. It doesn’t matter if it was a bad day or whatever, all that matters is that at the end of the day, you made it.

    3. nep

      So sorry you’re struggling like this. Great that you are seeking help as needed.
      Have you got loved ones who are supportive?
      Wishing you peace and healing.

      1. Bibliovore

        I am so sorry that you are going through this. I hope the meds kick in sooner rather than later.

    4. LCL

      I was wondering how you and baby were doing. I’m glad you were able to seek help. There is a subreddit for PPD that is still active. There are some hurting people on it, I don’t know if it would help. You are not alone.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago

      Sending you good vibes. I’m glad you reached out for help. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself time to recover. You made a whole person! That’s physically and emotionally exhausting.

    6. OhBehave

      I’m so glad you recognized PPD. I had it with my kids and it hit around the 3 month age of my kids. It is so hard to deal with in the beginning. Keep in mind meds usually take about 2 weeks to fully start working. It’s frustrating sometimes because you wait the 2 weeks and if something doesn’t work you get a new med and wait again. At this moment in time, do what you can to pare down what you have to do at home. It helps me to identify what is giving me the most stress at that moment. Sometimes with everything there is to do, just feels like a huge weight. If it would help, make a list of things that are weighing on you. For me, dishes almost sent me over the edge. Once I identified this I was able to put it into perspective and realize it was only dishes and that 10 minutes spent loading the dishwasher was all it took to relieve the anxiety. Can you rely on your partner for help? Communication is key here. Let them know that this is a difficult time for you right now. Please know this is not forever. Sending you good thoughts of understanding.

    7. Cobalt

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I had PPD and tried to struggle through on my own for FAR too long, so I’m so glad that you are getting help. Lean on your network as hard as you can. You’ve got this!

    8. Not So NewReader

      Aw. I am so sorry.
      We are here. Come back and tell us how it’s going for you.

    9. LibbyG

      This must be ROUGH! I hope you’re getting decent sleep (I wasn’t at the 5 mo mark), and I hope things get easier all around soon. Good on you for taking those steps.

    10. Observer

      You’ve gotten some good advice.

      A couple of other things. Firstly, you probably need to recalibrate your expectations about the baby, your household, etc. We have ridiculously high expectations about how things “SHOULD” be, and the effort to live up to them can make an enormous difference. If you can decide for instance, that it is perfectly ok tp NOT fold the laundry, or that your baby does not need to be in perfectly coordinated clothing all the time, or whatever your stress points are, it can make a HUGE difference in your mental state.

      Secondly, and related, is self care. That includes eating well, getting lots to drink, and getting some sleep (which means naps when you can, since the baby may still be waking you at night.) If your finances can handle this at all, that also includes getting household help.

      Before anyone jumps down my throat please note that I am NOT suggesting this *instead* of medication, but IN ADDITION to. Also, I’m familiar with PPD, and there is a lot of solid evidence that this kind of thing can make real difference in managing and recovering from PPD.

    11. Nita

      I’m sorry. Glad you’re getting help. Since it came on suddenly, do you know what set it off if anything? Any connection to returning to work? That can be so hard both emotionally and purely on a hormonal level…

    12. Thlayli

      Oh no. Poor you. I have ppd at the moment too and it sucks. Hugs and remember this too shall pass

  50. Courageous cat

    I got a job at an ad/media agency! It’s an open plan office and I’m an introvert but once I get to know my coworkers I feel like it will be okay. It’s going to have to be because most of the jobs I interview for these days are all open office. :|

    Anyone have any advice for the industry or open plans or anything else?

    1. MissDisplaced

      I absolutely HATE HATE HATE open plan offices! They’re too ‘effin bright with migraine-inducing low hanging lights you can’t turn off, and LOUD with no privacy to make calls to vendors. I simply cannot think, write or design in them (and that’s my job) and be productive. I actually quit a job that shoved me into open office because of all of the above.

      Invest in good headphones.

      I know employers are all moving to open-concept and it SUCKS. Absolutely NO EMPLOYEE ever asked for it, and they only benefit the company, not the employees.

      1. Courageous cat

        Not quite the comment I was hoping for, haha, but thank you for your input.

    2. ScotKat

      Open plan isn’t that bad. Mine is, and I’m an introvert, but there’s no problem. If you work in an office that requires a lot of communication and working together then open plan is actually good. I appreciate being able to just easily turn to a colleague and ask them a question rather than having to make a big deal of it.

      1. SarahKay

        Agreed, especially about how easy it is to ask someone a quick question – I can just glance over and see if they look busy, or deep in thought, or interruptible.
        I’m an introvert too, and I positively like my open office, to the extent that when I had the opportunity of an actual office I declined.

        1. Courageous cat

          This is really good to hear!! There is hope for me yet. All the search results on AAM about it were just dismal.

      2. Courageous cat

        That’s great to hear, that’s what I was hoping! I’m thinking back to my last office where I liked everyone but I had to get up and walk across the world to talk to them, and I would have loved to been in the same general space.

        Of course I’m sure it is equally horrific if you end up disliking the people you work with, but I like to think that’s less common.

    3. AeroEngineer

      Invest in good active noise cancelling headphones. They have saved me from going insane or getting annoyed at loud people so many times. I have a lot of work where I need to concentrate hard without interruption.

      I also dislike open offices, but so far it is the only type of office I have actually worked in :/

      Next office I will be looking for one that is either not open office, or has a good number of quite spaces to take phone calls and have quick meetings. Currently we have one meeting room which is shared (fought over) by the different teams in the company.

      1. Courageous cat

        Good call, I will definitely get some headphones. It is so tough to find normal office spaces these days, I do not know why.

    4. Thlayli

      I love open plan- but I’m an extrovert lol. Tips: buy a decent set of earphones and find some music that helps you concentrate. Figure out ASAP what the story is with meeting rooms / breakout rooms and how to book them, whether it ok to use them for telephone calls etc. Learn to “read the room”. Sometimes people are in a chatty mood, other times everyone in s particular group will be “in the zone” working hard. Figure out when to approach people with questions and when to let them work.

      Good luck

  51. Lcsa99

    So I would love to get input on what others would have done in our situation.

    Our fridge just decided to die on us. We had been having problems with it on and off (mostly with noise, but the line for the water dispenser kept freezing on an off as well) and late on Sunday we noticed that while the fridge section was fine, the freezer wasn’t staying cold. So we scrambled to find a repair guy and he came out Monday afternoon and replaced two parts for $450 (that’s including everything, and he also cleaned the fridge coils for us, which the previous owner apparently had never done). By time I got home that night everything was cold again and when we work up Tuesday a water bottle we put in the freezer was frozen solid, so he definitely got it working again. However, by the time I got home from work Tuesday night both the fridge and freezer were no longer working and everything was getting warmer.

    We ended up going out Tuesday night and buying a new fridge. My mother-in-law is saying we should contest the guys fee and stop the check but considering he absolutely got it working, we’re both assuming it’s just a comedy of errors and another part broke so it’s not on this guy. We also assume with today being a holiday he wouldn’t have been able to come back out until at least Thursday, which is why we didn’t have him come back out again.

    The fridge is pretty old, we aren’t sure how old cause it came with the home but to me, it made sense to just cut our losses and get the new one, but what would you have done in this situation?

    1. Mallory

      I’d call him today, tell him the fridge doesn’t work, and get him out to fix it at no cost (or refund your payment). Then sell it or keep it as a spare.

      I don’t know how nice a fridge you had, but I never would have spent $450 to repair an old fridge. Our new stainless French door fridge cost like $1200. If you’re talking about a higher end newish fridge, sure, but 15 year old dated fridge on its last legs wouldn’t have even gotten a chance.

    2. Girl friday

      Well, he might have been crooked and refilled the freon knowing it had a leak. And you probably should have gotten a new fridge earlier because it was being noisy, etc. So I would call this a draw. New fridges are always better!

    3. AnotherAlison

      If you didn’t give him a chance to fix it a second time, you should definitely pay him. It was working when he left, so presumably there was nothing left for him to continue to work on while he was there for the first repair. Also, you didn’t pay him to fix it, you paid him for a service call and his diagnostic capabilities.

      If he is an independent contractor type, you may be able to explain the situation and get the bill reduced to his labor and his cost on the part since you decided to trash the fridge, but that’s all I’d try for.

      I feel your pain. . .I had warranty work done by an appliance repair guy on my oven/microwave combo, and after 3 failed visits, my husband said screw the warranty fixed it himself. (But since my husband is an independent electrical service contractor, I also feel the pain from the other side.)

      1. Not So NewReader

        Agreed. My husband did tech/repair type stuff. If the tech had an opportunity to come back the second call might have been free. Or he might have said the fridge is done/over and offered you a bit of money back.

        There are so many parts to machines now. He may have checked the known failing points and found them to be okay. It could be something else failed that is not on the check list. It’s almost impossible to check everything.

        Don’t stop the guy’s check. That may put you in a legal situation you DO NOT want. I am not sure MIL is the best person for advice on this situation. Four hundred plus is not bad, really. I find that for anyone to come to the house and do anything the opening price is $200 and it goes up from there. People who travel to provide service have incredible expenses. If he ripped you off, it was not for that much. I don’t see a need to go after him.

    4. Sybil Fawlty

      I would have absolutely bought a new fridge. Once things start to break down, often it’s just prolonging the agony to keep trying to fix it.

      I think this is one of those times where the perfect is the enemy of the good (I forgot who said that!). Yeah, ideally, you’d get your money back, but that takes time and energy and the result would probably be the same (you’ll need a new fridge soon).

    5. Observer

      $450 for fridge repairs? You can get a whole new fridge for that kind of money. I would never pay that much for a fridge repair – even if I didn’t really like the $450 fridge I could get, it’s a more economical stopgap than fixing an old fridge that’s already been giving trouble.

      The only exception is if you had one of these huge and expensive refrigerators that cost in multiple thousands of dollars to replace.

    6. Thlayli

      I think you’re better off taking this as an expensive lesson. As others have said, $450 on repairs is crazy money. Think if it like a car – once it costs 50% or more of the current value to repair, it’s a write-off and time to get a new one.

  52. Jessi

    Does anyone have any advice for me about trying to figure out moving your partner overseas?

    For example I saw an amazing job pop up in Bermuda this week that I would love to take but I have no idea how to go about figuring out if partner would need a work permit/visa/ if they hire overseas workers etc. My industry is one where jobs will happily supply a visa for me – but not a partner (and in some cases are unable to offer that due to visa systems which of course differ from country to country).

    1. Mad Baggins

      Sir Google is your friend here, since it sounds like you already have the questions you need answers to. You may be able to sponsor your partner’s visa as a “spouse” visa to your working visa or similar, but that depends on whether you are legally married or not. Also some countries don’t recognize same-sex partnerships and won’t sponsor a spouse visa even if it’s a legal marriage in that country. If you do get a spouse visa, your partner may need to get separate permission to work. I think it would be incredibly difficult to bring a non-married partner (like a boyfriend/girlfriend), but common-law marriage might be a gray area.

    2. Thlayli

      Most country’s governments have a website that explains the rules about moving there.

    3. AcademiaNut

      Coming a bit late, but this is a frequent issue in my field.

      It depends on the country, the type of visa you are on, and the legal nature of the relationship. But your partner will need some sort of resident visa, unless they’re already a citizen of that country.

      In general, if you’re not married the only way they’re going to be able to move there is to find a visa avenue on their own – get a job that will sponsor a visa, or possibly go as a student, if there’s an appropriate program of study.

      If you are married, it’s very common for work visas to to have the option of bring a spouse (and minor children) with you when you move there (note that this may not include same-sex spouses, depending on local laws). However, that visa means they can live in the country, but may not allow them to work. Some visas allow a spouse to work, but you have to demonstrate that the money isn’t needed to support the primary visa holder (like a US J1 and J2 visa). Others specifically ban the partner from working. Others are not work visas, but if the partner can get a work visa independently, they can switch to that.

      The second issue is whether they can get a job. Where I live, for example, work visas are generally limited to specific fields, and have educational requirements. English teachers and highly skilled STEM types will have an easier time than other fields. I have a friend who was in Europe and legally allowed to work on her spousal visa, but couldn’t get hired, due to a combination of the recession, and lack of fluency in the local language (in general, if you don’t speak the local language reasonably fluently, your options are going to be a lot more limited).

      Along with the websites for that particular country, you should also check out any local ex-pat forums, where you can get an idea of some of the options and issues for people who have gone through it themselves. Government web sites will tell you what kind of visas are involved, but won’t be very helpful when it comes to the local labour market. If you get an interview, or a job offer, you can also ask the company what they would be able to do to help with a following spouse – some companies might be willing to hire spouses, or help them find work.

  53. Kitchen organization

    Our new house has lower cabinets that were built in place. They are not individual cabinets, but rather one shelf that divides top and bottom running across 10’ of cabinets on each wall.
    How do I maximize storage? Right now I just have a jumble of Tupperware in one cabinet, and three cabinets full of Misc Appliances. Three have a pull out basket on the bottom and I use that for kiddie plastic cups, and bakeware x2.

    Are there good organizers? I don’t need to store cups/bowls/plates- those are all in my uppers.

    Sort of like this, but the entire length of cabinet. https://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view;_ylt=AwrEwVqr6TxbZggAzdSInIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTIzaDhkaW42BHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1nBG9pZAMxZTA0MGU2MzFlZGEzOGJmYjEzYzM3NjhhZGI4MzA4NwRncG9zAzUzBGl0A2Jpbmc-?.origin=&back=https%3A%2F%2Fimages.search.yahoo.com%2Fsearch%2Fimages%3Fp%3Dbuilt.in.place%2Bkitchen%2Bcabinets%2Bno%2Bsividers%26fr%3Diphone%26fr2%3Dpiv-web%26tab%3Dorganic%26ri%3D53&w=300&h=208&imgurl=www.home-storage-solutions-101.com%2Fimage-files%2Fkitchen-cabinet-organization-organizer-set.jpg&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.home-storage-solutions-101.com%2Fkitchen-cabinet-organization.html&size=22.2KB&name=Instructions+For+Drawers+%26amp%3B+%3Cb%3EKitchen%3C%2Fb%3E&p=built.in.place+kitchen+cabinets+no+dividers&oid=1e040e631eda38bfb13c3768adb83087&fr2=piv-web&fr=iphone&rw=built.in.place+kitchen+cabinets+no+dividers&tt=Instructions+For+Drawers+%26amp%3B+%3Cb%3EKitchen%3C%2Fb%3E&b=0&ni=21&no=53&ts=&tab=organic&sigr=12ck9a7v4&sigb=143gl12nl&sigi=12t9j046n&sigt=11dor09p9&sign=11dor09p9&.crumb=TTdm460DGu/&fr=iphone&fr2=piv-web

  54. Cherry

    My work bestie is out of the office for the next 2 weeks and I AM SO BUMMED. I mean, I’m super happy that they’re finally on vacation, but yea I’ll be missing them lol.

    Anyone else have a work bestie? I’ve read here how important it is to have boundaries and I don’t disagree, but hey having a friend that you see everyday is pretty awesome IMO.

    1. Middle School Teacher

      Me! My work bestie is also my bff. She was away for a week on a trip with students and I missed her so much. And I was away for two weeks with students and I missed her then too.

    2. Red Reader

      One of the questions on our annual employee engagement survey is actually “do you have a ‘best work friend.” I have a couple. One has been to big open house type gatherings at my house, the other lives too far away (we’re all remote). The one who’s been to my house, her sons actually went to school with my two housemates.

    3. foolofgrace

      I had one, who also became my best friend. Then she dumped me for no reason I can figure, she won’t speak to me. I got over it. Her loss, etc.

    4. Courageous cat

      Yeah, I did and she just quit. I’m sure I wasn’t her bestie but she was definitely mine, haha. So I’m happy to be moving on to a new job soon because work is all the bleaker without her.

  55. MsChandandlerBong

    I’m at work, growing more resentful by the minute that I have to be here. Yes, I understand that there are some jobs where you have to work on holidays because the business depends on it, or you are saving lives, or whatever. This is not one of those businesses. I am an editor who reviews other people’s work. There is nothing due until tomorrow night, so there is literally nothing for me to do all day today. My boss wants me here because “there is always something to learn.” I am trying to fill 8 hours with reading a book on hiring methods and doing a training course on Lynda.

    1. Sherm

      Ugh, that sucks. Some bosses are weird like that. If that book and Lynda get tiresome, I consider the AAM archives a valuable learning resource :-)

    2. neverjaunty

      “There is always something to learn”? Sounds like what you are learning is that your boss is a power-hungry ass who makes you work on holidays simply because they can.

      1. MsChandandlerBong

        He’s not a bad guy. I think we just have different priorities. He’s the co-founder of the company, so his identity is wrapped up in its success/operations. I think sometimes he forgets that regular employees don’t have that connection. I like what we do, and I enjoy my job, but sometimes I just want to hang out with my family or work on my novel or whatever.

        1. neverjaunty

          He may not be an ogre, but I doubt he just absent-mindedly forgot that people do things other than work on the Fourth of July or that you are less invested in (and paid as well by) the company as he is. And he apparently isn’t the sort of boss to whom you can gently discuss ‘there’s no work today and I’ll be missing the holiday’, since you’re there feeling resentful?

    3. Earthwalker

      Holiday days when there’s nothing to do except try to look busy are the worst. If nobody’s around, and you’ve exhausted all your ideas of something useful to do, it seems like a good excuse to read a book, try writing some fiction, or, if the company doesn’t monitor it, surf the web.

  56. Nervous Accountant

    Oh man, we had to write up someone yesterday for a mistake he made with a client. It wasn’t so much his lack of knowledge on it but the fact that he didn’t respond to the client. He’d had multiple conversations w/ his mgr so a written warning was a last resort so to speak. I feel super bad for him just b/c I remember my first/only write up.

    OTOH there are others who deserve to be written up (*cough*lastweeks guy*cough*) but just get a gentle conversation or verbal warning. We dont’ do PIPs as far as I know, it’s mostly verbal warnings that escalate in to write ups.

    I hate it but I know its not my decision, it’s my boss above us who decides it. I’m not against having conversations first, b/c they have worked on some people, but…idk. maybe i’m being too harsh.

    1. LCL

      If management doesn’t have clear standards regarding what will result in a write up, they are asking for future trouble. The fact that management gets to decide who gets write-ups can easily become provable preferential treatment, whether management intends that or not.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        That’s what I’m worried about, preferential treatment.

        I have seen so many examples where someone deserved to be written up but was not. It’s each team lead/manager to decide who gets written up but it goes through my boss’s OK. If she vetoes, then no write up, just a conversation.

        For ex, a year ago we found out someone on my team wasn’t running the quarterly payroll forms, and yes he had been properly trained on it. That..oh god. I wanted to fire him or at least write him up. The best I could do was talk to my mgr, who agreed with me. But our boss turned it down saying it was his first mistake. (that’s a pretty big f*king mistake).

        The guy I wrote about on Friday who told a client that his manager ran out (refrering to me), I really wanted him to get written up. But again.. 1st offense and all.

  57. Allez Les Bleus!

    I have a FIFA World Cup related question for my fellow readers:

    My office has been World Cup obsessed. We’re in the US, but a lot of people are from other places and we’ve been bonding over soccer/football.

    A few days ago, some of us were watching the game over lunch, and in commenting about the game, one of my colleagues used a racial slur. I was taken aback and didn’t say anything in the moment, and I’m not sure anyone else heard it. This colleague is not from the US (English is his 3rd language), and I suspect that he has no idea the term he used was a slur- he was actually complimenting the player’s skill. Do I say something, or let it go? I’m bilingual myself and I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth unintentionally more than once, and I’ve appreciated when people have kindly brought my blunder to my attention. However, it’s been a few days and I don’t want to embarrass him by bringing up old news or make him feel uncomfortable. Thoughts?

    1. Foreign Octopus

      As it’s his 3rd language, assume that he doesn’t understand the term. I teach ESL and I’ve had a few students use the n-word as an adjective to describe black people because they’ve heard it in films but not grasped the context. I actually came to AAM and asked about how to deal with it and Parenthetically (?) had a good script. I’ll try and write it as verbatim as I can:

      “A few days ago, you used this word [word] and I just wanted to tell you because I feel you might not be aware but it’s a very racially charged word in the US and has extremely bad connotations. Many people will take offence when hearing it and I just wanted to warn you so that you didn’t use it again unknowingly.”

      Or something along those lines.

      Approach them privately and discreetly and let them know. It’s a kindness to someone learning a foreign language because context is key.

    2. Sherm

      Yes, I would bring it up. I know if I didn’t realize a word was a slur, I would be extremely thankful that someone alerted me before I said hurtful language again…and possibly wound up without a job.

      1. nep

        Agree. Let him know. Just make the focus on the fact that you care and respect enough to help him avoid problems.
        When I was first overseas, I started to do this gesture/sound because I heard it from people around me all the time; just picked up the habit. But I was using it incorrectly–it’s something that means basically ‘I call BS’ or ‘what an ass’ (depending on context–anyway, disparaging), while I was just using it randomly here and there sort of like ‘uh huh’/an acknowledgement. I was super grateful when a young man explained this to me. Granted in this case it was in the moment; I see the issue of trying to bring it up a few days later. But I think it’s worth the potential awkwardness. You’re kind to approach it this way.

    3. AnotherAlison

      Agreed that you should let him know. I find that even native English speakers don’t always know where some slang terms come from, and therefore don’t know they are offensive. An example would be that most people know not to say n-rigging, but they say jerry-rigging, which is a slur against Germans. I walked around as a kid saying eenie meenie miney mo and singing “do your ears hand low” and never knew the racist history/versions until I was older. Now I think, wow, my parents really should have mentioned something.

      1. fposte

        That’s a bit of a retcon with “jerry-rigged,” though; it seems to have been a cross-thread with “jury-built” and “jerry-rigged,” neither of which are ethnic in meaning.

        I think with Eeny Menie, you’re talking the existence of a variant, rather than a direct meaning, and there’s a foul and/or racist variant of so many things that I’m not sure it makes sense to bring them up every time. With “Do Your Ears Hang Low,” that’s more complicated; the lyrics are perfectly fine (if bowdlerized), but it’s the tune that comes from minstrelsy. I’d be more likely to prioritize a discussion about minstrelsy in general with Stephen Foster-type stuff that kids often tend to learn in early music (and heaven help the Kentuckians discussing their state song).

      2. Red Reader

        I had a guy deliver and install my microwave who kept insisting on referring to the shoddy DIY my house’s previous owner had done as “Afro-engineering,” in a very “wink wink nudge nudge if you know what I mean” fashion. After my third blank “no, I really don’t understand, what do you mean?” he finally stopped talking to me, except to tell me he hoped I’d be generous on the customer service survey they would be sending me that afternoon. “Oh,” I said, “I’ll tell them exactly how pleased I was with the experience.” He left looking a little green.

        1. fposte

          I only just encountered that phrase. I find the wink-wink nudge-nudge versions even grosser than their cruder ones, and I’m glad you scared him.

    4. neverjaunty

      He’s going to feel REALLY uncomfortable if he repeats it again to people who have some ability to impose consequences for it. It would be a kindness to take him aside and give him a private heads-up.

    5. Email Fluff

      Please tell him. Me = english 2nd language and I have stepped in the awkward poo too many times. Please help save us. I am FIFA obsessed too.

  58. Anonymous 176

    I just wanted to say that one of my colleagues has hanging in his office a painting of his ex-wife, naked.

    That is all.

    1. Triple Anon

      Ex. Naked. Office. That sounds like a heap of trouble. But I guess it could depend on the ex and the office. Plenty of questions come to mind, for sure.

      1. Anonymous 176

        This ex, apparently, was a painter. It’s pretty tasteful, and painted from behind…which still makes it artsy ex-wife butt.

        It was the first of his three ex-wives.

        1. Thlayli

          It’s a painting that she painted if herself and it’s artsy?

          I think it depends on how realistic it looks. If it’s a well-drawn picture or photo-realistic and actually looks like a woman’s behind, then that is totally inappropriate for an office regardless of who the pic is of. But if it’s “art” and doesn’t actually look like a woman’s bottom, then I wouldn’t be bothered by it, I’d just laugh at his awful taste.

  59. Wiley Coyote Suuuuuuper Genius

    So, I am having some issues with training my “puppy’s” off leash manners. She is a 1 year old, 95lb Saint Bernard/Newfoundland mix. She behaves perfectly well when on the leash (my 7 year old niece can walk her by herself past people and dogs and not have a problem), and she is good when in the yard – she obeys commands instantly to stop and come even if she is chasing a bunny/deer/other dog.

    The problem shows up when I walk her off leash at the park. I prefer to let her run free while I walk the bike path to give her extra exercise and work off some of her energy. She is good and responds to commands as long as there are no other people or dogs. Then, she will take off after them, sometimes stop and start back towards me, and then sprint away toward them and I have to chase after her. She isn’t food motiviated and is looking to get attention from the new people so doesn’t seem to care about attention from me. I am currently training her with a weak shock collar but 1. I don’t like using a shock collar and 2. I don’t want the collar to be the only reason she is responsive when there are other dogs.

    Any suggestions on how to fix this instance of her refusal to listen?

    1. LCL

      Good luck. A bit of Wikipedia shows Saints and Newfies were both bred for rescue work. Which means a dog that is driven to search out people and things. She’s not refusing to listen, she’s following her instincts. The best dogs I have seen at staying close off leash were herding types, Aussies and etc. Biology isn’t exactly destiny in the dog world, but knowing the breed history may give you an insight into what they may be good at, and not so good. And yes, there is always an exception.

      I would look for a trainer that is willing to work with you. What you are asking your dog to do is similar to what is asked of some hunting dogs. Some old school trainers are really harsh, don’t go to one of them.

    2. BRR

      She might also treat you chasing her as a game. Honestly, I’d be a bit irritated if a dog came up to me off leash in a place they weren’t supposed to be off leash (and I’m a dog person). It sounds like she wouldn’t need much training to correct this since she listens so well in other situations.

      1. Wiley coyote suuuuper genius

        Dogs are off leash all the time in this spot but I am aware of the annoyance and that’s why I want to train it. unfortunately, I can’t train it if she isn’t off leash. I don’t run after her but walk purposefully so she doesn’t think it is a game

        1. LCL

          It would be helpful to decide what exactly you are asking her to do in these situations. Do you want her to freeze? Or sit? Or return to you? Once you can break the behavior down into its discrete pieces you can start working towards it. It somewhat sounds like you are looking for a better recall. The standard old school technique for this was to put the dog on a check cord (long strong lightweight line) and let the dog walk out a bit, call stop and then haul the dog to a stop with the cord. I think with your dog you’d separate your shoulder before you ever got this method to work.

          If this was my dog, I would look for some basic obedience classes. If you wish to do it by yourself, try some basic find games in your yard. Plant something for her, ask her to go find it and keep her on a loose lead, when she finds it have her sit or stand. Graduate from that to finding off leash. Keep emphasizing the hold still part. If you can get her to stop when she finds something, you might be able to get her to stop later. That’s using her natural drive to help her understand certain ideas.

          1. Wiley coyote suuuuper genius

            I will try both actually! Thank you! The tow line would work fairly well as she has been trained to never pull. The rare times she has bolted on leash she reached the end and immediately stopped. If she feels any pressure on the leash, she moves to relieve the pressure. I appreciate the ideas

    3. Magrat

      Leash your dog when you’re in a public park. It’s simply rude not to. Chances are there are people and kids in the park terrified of dogs and to have a loose dog wandering around is awful. Also, what if your dog gets too close to someone else’s dog and gets bit? Why would you put your dog in that situation? It’s simply not safe and probably against the law as well.

      1. Loopy

        I commented but either it got eaten or is in moderation. Along these lines, I wanted to advise starting by getting your dog to stop advancing at the very least. I have a dog with is not dog friendly. We do NOT go to parks and public places ever because of his issues but it’s happened just in our neighborhood when walking him on a leash.

        He’s always in control, harnessed and leashed right up against my side but I’ve had dogs but very clueless to the signs he’s not welcoming them and come right up to his face. He’s very very good when dog is not right in his face though. He will sit and stay due to years of training. But if a dog comes right up to his face it’s very hard to prevent him from feelings unsafe.

        If you can keep your dog from getting any close to someone it could prevent a nasty encounter. Growing up as a kid our dog was sweet and harmless and we never considered this issue and she was often off-leash. Now I can’t believe nothing ever happened!!

      2. Mallory

        Oh please this. For your own dog’s sake leash her until she’s trained. My dog bit a stupid happy go lucky Newfie* because she ran over to my (leashed) dog who had issues with other dogs. Dog was ok but it could have ended so much worse.

        Do you HAVE to walk your dog off leash? One of my dogs was always leashes bc he had issues with other dogs (see above) but the other was always leashes because even though she was a people lover and would never hurt a fly, she would ignore me if there were people to say hello to or a body of water to jump in. And for that she got leashed.

        *i say this with love for Newfies. I had a golden/newfie mix growing up and she was the most chill, kindest dog in the world. But she was not going to win any intellligence competitions and all she wanted to do was Swim! And Snuggle People! She was 100lbs of pure love.

        1. Red Reader

          And then keep leashing her unless you’re specifically in a place designated as an off-leash area. Free ranging dogs in multi-use spaces are plain irresponsible owners. When I’m waking my dog-reactive hound on leash and avoiding the off-leash area because I know that she would not respond well to another dog approaching us, the last thing any of us need is a bigger unfamiliar dog galumphing toward me and mine, whether it will stop when its owner calls or not.

    4. nep

      Please give a thought to those of us who freak out around dogs running about, not on leashes. For me it puts a huge damper on any time spent in a park or walking. Not judging–just hoping dog owners give some consideration to this.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Oh my yes.
        If people and dogs are mixed together when one or both do not want to be mixed together, that is nothing but problems. It’s a similar idea to putting people together who do not want to be together. It won’t go well.

        I have friends who will not deal with dogs ever. I have another friend who is working her way up to perhaps meeting my dog some day in the future. (Notice all the vagueness there.) Then I have friends who say, “Where is the Little Monster, I need to see him!” People need to be able to chose the level of interaction or non-interaction.

        My motto is my dog is on a leash in public at all times. If people come over, he can stay in my bedroom while they visit if need be.

        Dogs do not have to bite to be deemed aggressive. In NY once you have been notified that your dog is deemed aggressive, then you are on the hook for all bills that dog incurs. And the next instance may mean your dog will be put down.

    5. Loopy

      I don’t know much about training but from another dog owner’s perspective I’d maybe advise at least getting her to stop getting closer to others first, even if she doesn’t come back right away. I say this as someone who owns a dog who is not dog friendly. If a loose dog gets too close to my leashed dog (who is right at my side, leashed, and controlled), it’s very unsafe. Often puppies don’t see/understand the warning signs *and* approach his face.

      Granted, we don’t ever go to any parks/public places because of this but he still needs to get walked and even in neighborhoods we come across dogs who are off leash and come right out of their yards. It’s very nerve wracking. However, growing up as a kid we had a sweet dog and she was often off-leash because she was friendly, we *never* considered the other dog being an issue (I can’t believe it never came up). So I wanted to mention it as a good starting place just to keep your pup from going closer in a case like that where at least her stopping will prevent issues/altercations.

    6. smoke tree

      It sounds to me like the problem isn’t really this one situation, it’s just that she’s only semi-committed to listening to you. As in, she’ll listen when it’s convenient for her, but she’ll ignore you if she thinks it will be more fun and she can get away with it. Pretty common young dog behaviour.

      It’s really hard to train a dog in an environment that is distracting and that you can’t control, and she’s already established a pattern of ignoring you in this park, so I’d suggest shaking up the routine. Let her run off-leash in quieter areas without people and dogs around, and practice your obedience training there. Take her to the park but on-leash, so she gets used to behaving well there.

      While she’s learning, it’s also helpful to focus on training when you’re out with her around other dogs or people. For example. When another dog comes along, take her off the main path and get her to sit and watch you until the dog passes by. The more she’s focused on you and knows she has your attention, the less likely she is to try to find entertainment elsewhere. Having her so well trained on the leash is actually a great benefit, because you can try her out in some areas, and if she starts misbehaving, she goes back on the leash.

      One thing I strongly recommend against is yelling repeatedly for her to come back. That’s counterproductive because it will just train her to ignore you.

  60. anon24

    Is anyone on here a yoga teacher? I’ve been thinking about looking into it but I’ve never even gone to a yoga class – I just do yoga at home and I really love it. I’d love to hear about the process and what a job as a yoga teacher looks like (can you support yourself off of just that or is it more of a side gig?)

    1. nep

      I’m not a yoga teacher but I’ve worked as a group ex instructor and personal trainer, and spent time around people in this line of work (including yoga). My take is, generally, you get out of it what you put in. Sounds trite, perhaps, but I think it’s true. If you really have a goal for yourself to live off of it, you could make it happen. If you love it and just want it to be a side gig, great too.

      1. nep

        I know that’s quite general… A couple things come to mind as ways people have built such a business: Think of online enterprises that could complement classes you might do at a studio–an app, getting an IG following. Think about whether you’d like to specialise in something (example–young people/connect with schools). Put yourself in settings where you might hear of opportunities to sub then eventually teach a class. Become a member of an association that lists yoga instructors in your area so you can be included there.

    2. self employed

      I know several, and they all have full-time jobs and teach only on the side.

    3. StudentAffairsProfessional

      I work as a group ex instructor and earn $18/class before taxes. Realistically I think you could only teach 4-5 a day, you need breaks in between. Everyone I know that teaches fitness does it as a side gig, or is in the fitness industry, like works at a gym or is a personal trainer. Maybe you could make more at fancy studios or if you had a lot of certifications (my friend who has many fitness certifications – group ex, 300 hr yoga, master trainer, personal trainer, etc. gets $30/class I think).

      1. Kuododi

        I had to do that with my private practice clients. When clients flake and I am an employee of a mental health ctr, I get the same paycheck regardless of the situation. When they flake on me as a private practitioner….it makes the difference between whether or not I can budget accurately for my bills. I have always worked with low-income clients so I would only charge a nominal no-show fee. Just enough to give a small pinch but not enough to make it a major hardship. As long as you make it clear in the registration information regarding no-show fee and policy you should be in the clear. Best regards.

    1. Thlayli

      I once drove a half hour to a students house (with a half-hour drone back) to be told “oh I forgot to call you. I have an audition so Im not going to do my maths exam so I don’t need the lesson”. Me being young and green didn’t ask for any money even to cover the cost of the petrol for the hour’s drive.

      I really hope she got the part!

  61. JHunz

    It is my birthday today, and one of the gifts I received was the Ask a Manager book. Looking forward to reading it!

  62. Mimmy

    I posted on Saturday about our 6 am flight for our vacation with my family. Well…that didn’t happen! We’d booked at cab the previous day to pick us up at 4:15 am. He was 10-15 minutes late. Despite telling the dispatcher that our flight was for 6 am, hubby felt he was driving a little slow until we told him boarding time was 5:30…THEN he decides to step on it.

    We get there, and the line for the skycap was looooooong and barely moving. When we finally got a little closer, he then announces, “if you have a 6 am flight, you have to go inside!”. We’re all like, “now he tells us!!!” We get inside, and we’d missed the cutoff for bag check, so they had to book us on a 9:25 am flight! Everything else was fairly smooth from then on – we were just super annoyed about getting up so early only to have those glitches that really could’ve been avoided.

    Not looking forward to Sunday – 4:15 pm flight with TWO transfers and an arrival of almost midnight, and that’s if everything goes smoothly. I don’t see us getting home until the wee hours. And I’m scheduled to work Monday. Uggggggghhhhhh.

  63. Mimmy

    But the lake house we’re staying at is nice. High ceiling, beautiful view of the lake. The weather has been hot but not oppressive – perfect swimming and water-sports weather. Today, though, it is very humid. So nice having everyone together – it gets a little crazy with 19 people, but it’s fun too.

  64. AnotherAlison

    I hope most people are home enjoying their holiday and this goes unanswered, lol! (I’m home, but spouse is out of town, and my son & I are waiting for the pool to open.)

    I am approaching peak frustration with my job, and I have no idea how to handle it. I’ve been with my company 13 yrs, and in my department for 4. I took a remote assignment in the spring to help start a new office. That was about the limit of direction I got on it. It took 6 months from when it was first discussed with my grandboss to actually get started on the assignment. In over 3 months, I’ve had two phone conversations with grandboss about my work. Right before I started (but two months after the assignment was confirmed), my department found out that my boss was being moved and a department manager of a different department was transferring to take the lead role for us. We also have an assistant dept manager who has been in the role about 1.3 yrs (~20 with the company). I was a finalist for that role, but obviously didn’t get it.

    My new boss officially started three weeks ago, and I was on vacation for 1.5 weeks and at the remote site 1 week during that time. I’ve talked to the new boss a couple times, but only briefly, and every time I do, I find out something new. (Note that I went to college with my new boss and he has been at the company 17 yrs, so while we aren’t best buds or anything, I already know him.) First, a very important candidate for our new office turned down the offer on Friday. I had to ask my boss what the status was. No one from HR or my department bothered to tell me. Second, we’re restructuring (again, did this when the new asst came aboard, too). My boss is also taking over a director position they were trying to fill from the outside, which has some other implications for my new office, but again, left in the dark. Then, I did the leg work to get us on a bid list and submitted a statement of qualification for a proposal that would be a big job in my new state. No one wanted to tell me that they’re going to have another junior PM out of the home office run the proposal.

    I am fed up with being on the outside looking in. I don’t feel like what I am doing really matters strategically (or otherwise) to my management, and I’m not sure what I’m doing. Meanwhile, my family is back in our home state. If I felt that this was the big career advancement move I was hoping for, it would be fine, but it’s a lot of travel back and forth and family stress for what feels like absolutely no reason now.

    Now I’m not sure if I should have a conversation with a boss at all, and if I do, is it my boss or grandboss? What do I actually want? (Honestly, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my company–it’s a great company that I really believe in, but I’m not sure it’s always been or will continue to be the right company for ME.) I’ve been in one industry 18 yrs, and it’s on the decline. My background is engineering and project management, but I’ve also been thinking, “Okay, if you leave this then let’s find something new you really like” (like a new field entirely). I have thought about toughing it out in any role, stopping my worrying about career progress and getting a part-time MS in statistics and analytics and just starting over in a few years (when one kid is out of college and the house is almost paid off). (The school thing is something I thought about a while ago, but I was never situationally motivated enough. I just fell into a career path after college & stayed there for 18 yrs.)

    1. Kathenus

      I think a restructuring and new boss is the perfect opportunity to try for a reset. Figure out what you want/need to do your job well, and meet with your new boss about trying to make some changes or add some structure to help you do your job more easily and be more successful for the company. Approaching it from the viewpoint of setting a successful foundation for the future might be easier and more successful than addressing it looking at problems from the past. Best of luck.

  65. The Other Dawn

    This is really just some venting, but feel free to comment if you want to.

    I’ve posted a lot about my back problems this past year and the pain I’ve been having. My back pain really doesn’t limit activity: I can work out five days a week, walk, etc. It limits sitting and standing in one spot, and also gardening now bothers it because of the constant bending. Not that I’m really a gardener, but I’m trying to maintain what was here when we moved in a few years ago. Anyway, I’ve decided for now that I’m not ready for surgery, although I may do it next year. Depends on some work issues and what the pain level is at that time.

    So, I’ve finally decided to give up on my garden that I’ve been trying to control for four years and start over mostly from scratch. I can’t deal with all the excessive weeding each year (there’s so much grass and now random trees sprouting and VINES! Vines everywhere!), and especially not now with my back. The constant bending is too much. I really want to have something that’s easier to maintain, and in order to have that we need to till it up and replant most of it. My husband’s back is worse than mine, so I can’t just ask him to do it for me. And I wouldn’t, anyway.

    I’ve done some weeding this year in small chunks and even that was a bit too much for me. I just can’t bring myself to finish it. Plus it’s just too damn hot right now. My sister was here this weekend and she’s very much a “doer.” She pretty much has to be on her death bed to not get stuff done. (I’m jealous, but annoyed at the same time LOL) I hadn’t yet cleaned up all the piles of dead weeds because 100 degree weather moved in, so it’s a bit messy around the garden and in a couple spots in the yard. She told me it looked like I started it and then just said “screw it” and gave up. Well, yeah, that actually IS what happened. LOL So I told her that because of the back pain it’s just too much right now, etc. and she keeps telling me all weekend how I need to put down weed fabric, mulch, do this, do that, etc. “Get a gardening seat.” “Kneel down.” She doesn’t seem to understand that it’s just too much for me to handle right now. (I’m also totally overwhelmed by the hedges behind the garden and all the vines that are in there. There are three hedges that have merged and, with those vines, it’s a big tangled mess.) I get that she’s someone who just keeps going no matter what (she has to be with FIVE kids and having to pay her bills, feed everyone, etc.), but it’s still annoying that she just doesn’t get it. We have a great relationship and she’s never been one to be critical or anything like that. I think that her being someone who doesn’t let anything short of death stop her from doing things is what’s causing her to not really understand that chronic pain affects people. Sure, I can power through the pain and I have lots of times, but I’ll really regret it for several days afterwards, and I’m choosing to not put myself in that position right now.

    How the heck do you make a “doer” understand that not everyone is like them? This is more of a rhetorical question, but if anyone has suggestions, they’re welcome.

    1. nep

      Sorry for your back pain.
      I don’t know that you can ever really make a super-doer understand not everyone is like them. Could it be that she is someone who needs to always demonstrate what a doer she is, and for her that includes showing she’s got suggestions for how you could also ‘do’?
      I’ve got a super-doer relative who doesn’t give me any recommendations about doing anything, but she does seem to have a need to always put out there front and center how much she’s always doing.
      All the best. Hope you’ll get some relief from the back pain.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Nope, she’s definitely not someone who needs to show it off. I think she really just doesn’t see how someone could want to or be able to get all the things done.

    2. AnotherAlison

      As a doer, I apologize on behalf of your sister. My sister moved into her house a year ago, and it looks like they moved in last week. I don’t say anything, but I also don’t go over there much because I’m like, “Umm. . .where can I sit down?” I genuinely don’t get how she can be so laid back. If there is a sock on my floor, all I can see is the sock. I think if your sister is giving you a hard time, since you have a good relationship, you could lovingly point out one of her flaws. Like, “I may not have a perfect garden, but at least I don’t micromanage the whole family, sweetie! I guess we both have our strengths.” My mom and her sister are the same way, too, and sometimes it builds up and my mom yells at her sister that “she knows how to drive” or whatever my aunt is trying to do for her.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Thanks! I’m definitely not that laid back. A cousin of mine and her husband are very laid back and every time I go to her house, which is five hours way so it’s usually a week-long visit, I’m always amazed at the fact that the wallpaper in the kitchen is still half taken down (it’s been almost three years since her husband started removing it…). I guess we all have different levels of “doing.” My cousin and sister are two different extremes and I’m kind of in the middle.

    3. LCL

      Its not that she’s a doer. It’s that she keeps making suggestions for what you should be doing. My sister’s husband is a doer. He can’t have a conversation for longer than 10 minutes without either going walking back and forth to the kitchen or other room to do something, or he will get a project and work on it while we are talking. We love him because he never asks us to do anything. Next time your sister starts in, tell her where the tools are and you can give her a list of what needs to be done. Or say ‘our parents ran our lives when we were kids, I don’t want that from you now, once through childhood was plenty.’

      1. The Other Dawn

        Had we not had a jam-packed weekend, I most definitely would have given her a list! She’d be a dream in my garden. But it was just an overnight trip and she’s four hours away, so that didn’t leave any room for anything other than what we had planned.

    4. Red Reader

      As a doer (but never one quite as bad as your sister seems to be!) I have no idea how to stop thinking other people need to pick it up. I’ve just learned to shut my mouth and mind my beeswax, hah. I don’t expect anything of anyone else that I wouldn’t also expect of myself, but that’s still not always rational.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Yes, it’s very obvious that she thinks other people need to step it up and do as much as she does, but that’s not realistic for some of us; she doesn’t get it. It actually caused some big problems with another sister–a HUGE procrastinator that moves slower than a snail–when we had to get that sister out of our parents’ house because it was sold (dad died earlier in the year). She’d gone up to NH to help clean the house out and help her pack and…it did not end well, as they are polar opposites. They haven’t spoken since.

    5. fposte

      She’s stuck in the advice-giver’s mode of “this thing is so easy!” But first, it might not be easy for you, and second and more importantly, even if it is easy, you *don’t want to do it and you don’t have to.* (I get this whenever I ask people about making coffee.) She thinks that if you understood these adaptations that it would clear the obstacles and you’d suddenly want to do your garden again. She’s wrong.

      Additionally, sometimes what happens in that situation is that you fall into defensive explanation, which tends to feed the cycle–to her, you’re saying “But there’s this obstacle” and she’s helpfully eradicating that obstacle; as a result you feel like she’s underestimating your physical challenges.

      Since it sounds like you otherwise have a good relationship, I might bring this up in a calmer moment. “Jane, I feel like you don’t hear me when I tell you that I don’t want to do the garden. If you want to go out and weed, godspeed, knock yourself out. But I’m not obligated to have a tidy garden or any garden at all, and I’d much rather the thing go to hell than spend time out there in July. Can you try to stop seeing that as a problem to solve?” She may be a doer, but she’s had to make decisions about what she won’t do in her own life too–everybody does–so maybe you can draw an analogy there.

      BTW, I love gardening, and even before my own back troubles, the garden was on its own from July to September. And I suspect my garden is smaller than yours, and I still think it’s too big and keep considering ways to lower the maintenance. Make it into something you can enjoy rather than an exhausting rock that will never make it all the way up a hill.

      1. The Other Dawn

        “…an exhausting rock that will never make it all the way up a hill.”

        This is exactly how I think of my garden this year! I’d been thinking it a bit last year, but now with the back pain I’m just done. Plus the vines are spreading and the stupid tree-of-heaven keeps sprouting (I read about this and apparently they’re very hard to remove and kill). I want something that’s vine-free, grass-free and much easier to maintain. I do plan to save some plants, though, like the lemon thyme, rose champions, hens and chicks, and phlox.

        1. fposte

          Around here, tree of heaven comes out easy if you get the seedling when it’s under a foot or so. After that, heaven better help you because nothing else will do much.

    6. LilySparrow

      Three words:

      “Be my guest.”

      If your weeds bother her that much, she can shut up and go pull them her dang self.

      I am well past the age where I accept anyone telling me what I “have’ to do, or what I’m ” supposed” to do, unless they are:

      A) A public authority with the force of law,
      B) My doctor,
      C) A paying client.

      If you invite her to go right ahead and take responsibility for all her lovely plans, and just keep repeating, “Knock yourself out.” “That would be great, thanks for the offer,” or “Sure, go right ahead,” she will drop it.

      I have used this on a number of busybody relatives, and it’s never failed.

      1. Tabby Baltimore

        And the “Be my guest” variant: “If it means that much to you, feel free to do something about it.”

    7. Kat in VA

      I am a doer – who has had 12 surgeries in total (that’s not a typo). Five of them have been orthopedic – three spine fusions in my neck, one knee cleanup, and a foot surgery to remove a tumor.

      People (mostly family but also friends) were very, very used to me being a doer, nay, The Doer™…so I was in the opposite position in that they were not used to me asking for help or outright refusing to do things I knew I wouldn’t be able to do. I even got some pushback because everyone was accustomed to me Doing All The Things, All The Time.

      But I had to learn – as you do – to push back on the pushback. “I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” “Nope, can’t do it.” “I’m really hurting so no.” You don’t need to apologize, justify, or quantify. If you’re hurting (or even if you’re having a good day) and you don’t want to Do The Things, you don’t HAVE to Do The Things. Period. This was simultaneously scary and liberating for me, to realize that for once, I had to put myself first.

      Protip – don’t power through the pain. It’s almost never worth the payback, and you may be doing more damage. And I am not a doctor – listen to your doctors – but based on my experience, and my husband’s experience, if they want you to delay surgery, delay it as long as you can.

      1. The Other Dawn

        I’m typically the Doer in my work life, so I know exactly what you mean in that it’s scary and liberating at the same time to depend on others, or take a step back.

        As far as surgery, the doctor left it up to me. I’m looking at lumbar fusion for a bulging disc that’s pressing on the nerve. Unfortunately he can’t do the easier surgery because there’s not enough of the disc for that to work (can’t remember what the procedure was). I had three rounds of cortisone injections and they didn’t work all that well, three weeks tops. Once I went for the surgical consultation I decided that my current level of pain doesn’t justify going through a fusion right now. I’m at a 3/4 most of the time and it doesn’t prevent me from doing most things. Once the pain level gets higher and it stops me from living life, then it will be time. Doctor agrees.

        1. Kat in VA

          Oof, I do not envy you. The husband had a microdiscectomy 20+ years ago, and the resulting instability landed him with the L4-S1 fusion he sports today. I had two of my neck fusions before he finally relented to have his back done, but he was working with pain levels of 6-7 on the regular (as was I, with the occasional burst up to 8-9, where you’re on the couch or in bed, just moaning and rolling around and in total misery).

          We’re both formerly athletic people (think snowboarding, rock climbing, rollerblading) and have busted ourselves up more than I can remember, so I pridefully think we might have different pain scales than the average “taking a walk” folks have. But even his got to the point where he would sneeze and be bedbound/chairbound for a month, unable to do anything without being in the most abject misery.

          Lumbar fusion, even single level (and if it’s the more extensive kind that you’re looking at, not “minimally invasive”) is a minimum of six months’ recovery time in total. He was back to work after, I think, around three months but it was slow going. As long as your doc agrees to wait, and you’re not running into bowel/bladder/walking issues, you’re right to hold off. Spine surgeries are no joke. (again, not like you need *my* permission!)

          I’m guessing if there’s only a little disc left but it’s pushing on your nerve, you’ll ultimately have a fusion with a disc replacement. I have that in one of the levels of my neck and while it sounds weird, it’s a plastic spacer that keeps the vertebrae at the proper height so that it’s not pinching down on the nerve. You might end up eventually with a foraminotomy in conjunction, where they enlarge the hole in the bone where the nerve exits through.

          I’m ridiculously knowledgeable about spine surgeries, given the five we have between us!

          1. The Other Dawn

            This is incredibly useful information to have–thank you! It would be an L5-S1 fusion. He didn’t mention disc replacement, but I’m guessing the spacer will be there and he just didn’t call it a replacement. He mentioned bringing the height back to where it should be. Yeah, knowing that it’s a minimum of six months to recover is what stopped me from doing it this year.

            I do get sciatica on the left side, but it doesn’t go below my knee yet and I’m not having any other issues you mentioned. My pain level I’d describe as: getting antsy about 10 minutes after I sit down, and very ready to get up at about 20 minutes. Same with standing. Movement actually feels good, even working out five days a week, although there are some days when certain movements pinch a little. Nothing that stops me, though. And I don’t do things like burpees or jogging. It’s the sitting at my desk (even having a Varidesk) or watching TV, etc. that is tough. And I do start tossing and turning about an hour before I have to get up for work. That’s really annoying, and the cortisone actually helped that part for several weeks each time, but not much else.

  66. The Other Dawn

    Thanks to the person who recommended Dietland in last weekend’s thread! I’m really enjoying it. There seems to be a lot going on, and I’m only three episodes into it so far. I’ve also added the book to my Goodreads bookshelf.

    1. Rebecca

      I look forward to each Monday’s episode! It’s been a very long time since I’ve been that interested in a TV show that I sit down and watch it when it actually airs. So glad you’re enjoying it!

    2. Enough

      I haven’t been able to catch it in real time. Unfortunately whoever’s job it is to put in on demand failed put the free version of episode 3 on there. Everything else is there. So I’m waiting.

      1. The Other Dawn

        Same here! I was so annoyed when I watched the first two, and then the third one could only be played if I subscribed to AMC on Demand. I went to the AMC website and was able to play it for free since my cable provider is on the list.

  67. I wish

    Work question – because I don’t have a holiday today.

    I get the chance to have input into a job description, but I probably don’t get to participate in screening/interviewing. One thing I’d wish for is for the new person to be easier to deal with than the incumbent. I’m wondering how to express this. Probably not in the job description for an ad/agency wishlist, but in the notes of what I hope the screeners/interviewers will consider. If I write things like “Personable, courteous, punctual, consistent” is that likely to make any difference at all or just let them see how the incumbent gets under my skin?

    If I did get a chance to participate in screening/interviewing, what could I do to look for evidence that the person (a) takes responsibility for learning a task/process and won’t need to be shown over and over again (b) transcribes reliably and checks work, and (c) has not only basic familiarity with common apps/tools but knows how to look up how to do new things with them.

    Or can I just write no ducks, no food stealers, hire Mary Poppins.

  68. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD

    It’s our first 4th of July as a married couple(!!!)

    Spent this morning buying a book for a toddler cousin (I consider nephew, since I fulfill the aunt role). Apparently they sell quantum physics for toddlers. Who knew? Ended up getting a planets book.

    Anybody notice friendships changing after engagement or marriage or other couple-dom? It seems like all my friends are having a 4th of July far away, or not being invited to a bbq. Is it bc we got married less than 2 months ago and they assume we want a quiet night to ourselves? I miss my friends :/

    1. Red Reader

      My first 4th married too :) we’re staying in with the housemates and the dogs (one of whom is terrified of fireworks). I worked this morning and then made many desserts – I’m leaving on a vacation without him dirt-early in the morning, so I made him a chocolate toffee icebox cake for him and a couple of key lime pound cakes to take with him to dinner with friends on Saturday. He’s in the process of getting the grill fired up to do burgers and brats and grilled sweetcorn :)

      I haven’t noticed too much change, but he and I have been together for almost five years and live with a significant chunk of my social circle. (Super introverted, me.)