asking to work from home when it’s really hot out, happy hour hurt feelings, and more

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

1. Can I ask to work from home when it’s really hot outside?

I have a question about asking to work from home in extreme heat. I live in a very pedestrian-friendly city and do not have a car. I have a 15-minute walk to work, which is a huge perk, except during the summer, when the weather in my city is very hot and humid all season long. We are in a particularly hot patch — temperatures in the high 80s/low 90s by 9 a.m., with 70-80% humidity, and a heat index of 100+. I’m not asthmatic, but I find the air hard to breathe. My morning commute is miserable; even if I take the nearby bus, I still have to walk a couple blocks to get to the office, and just those few blocks leave me so drained and in a bad mood. There is virtually no parking near our office, so everyone commutes by public transit or on foot or a combination of both. Taking an Uber or cab every morning would add up to over $200 a month, at a conservative estimate.

Is it fair to ask to work from home on days when the heat index is over 100 degrees? The management team allows everyone to work from home on Fridays in the summer because it’s such a slow season. I made a joke about this to our number two person and she didn’t respond at all — it was like she pretended not to hear me. Was I overstepping the line?

Well, maybe. There are so many hot days during the summer that in a lot of areas, this would be like asking to work from home every time it rains. That said, this kind of thing can be office-dependent. If you’re in an office that’s really flexible about working from home and your area doesn’t have a ton of 100+ heat index days, then maybe. But if you’re somewhere where extreme heat is just a normal thing that happens during summer, then yeah, it’s probably not really a thing you can do very often, lest you look like you’re making too big a deal of relatively normal weather. (That obviously changes if there are health conditions in play.)

2. Avoiding hurt feelings over happy hour

My coworkers and I enjoy getting together for drinks/dinner every now and then, usually once a month. Typically it’s just a small group of the same six or seven people (out of a team of a dozen) and it’s never a formal thing, usually just happens spontaneously like “oh hey it’s payday on Friday, let’s go for beers!” e’ve never excluded anyone from joining us and usually make our plans known to the whole team. However, there’s this one guy, I’ll call him Fergus, who is very difficult to work with but seems totally oblivious to this fact. He spends all day complaining about his boss and his job to anyone who will listen, makes a lot of casually racist comments (one recent example: assuming that a coworker from X ethnicity knew everyone else of X ethnicity in our small city), and is generally not a fun person to be around.

The problem is, he doesn’t seem to get that his behaviour is problematic (despite being told this by nearly everyone at one point or another), and he’s REALLY eager to hang out with the rest of us after work, to the point where he sulked for a couple days after finding out a few of us had gone out for drinks the previous Friday without explicitly inviting him. He’s overly sensitive and gets frustrated easily, so even the most mild criticism or pointing out a minor mistake will send him into a tailspin of cursing under his breath and griping to everyone within earshot. It’s exhausting and makes the rest of us uncomfortable.

I don’t want to be a part of clique-ish behaviour, because I know how much it hurts to be excluded, but at the same time I’m constantly cringing at the stuff Fergus says and does. My coworkers feel the same way, but we don’t want to be jerks because at the end of the day, we still have to work with this guy. Despite how annoying he can be, his work is solid and he’s a key part of our team. We all WANT to get along with Fergus but he makes it very difficult.

We don’t want to exclude Fergus from our after-work socializing, but his presence makes it a lot less enjoyable. Is there a kind, gentle way to approach the guy and explain why we don’t want to hang out with him, or should I just be blunt and honest about his behaviour? Being frank with him has worked for me in the past (he hasn’t gone off and complained about me to others), but this might cause a meltdown if I’m not careful.

You’d be doing him and everyone else a favor if you were blunt and said something like, “We don’t want to exclude you but we don’t want to listen to complaints about work the whole time either — and you also need to lay off the weird racial comments.” (I worry that last part will invite debate from him about whether what he’s saying is racist or not, but if that happens, it’s okay to say, “I don’t want to debate this with you. I’m just telling you how it’s coming across. If you don’t want it to come across that way, lay off those comments.”)

Beyond that, a good rule of thumb is that you can hang out with coworkers outside of work without inviting everyone as long as the number of people assembling is smaller than the number of people on your team who aren’t invited. In other words, it’s fine to hang out with people you’re personally close with without inviting everyone. But once it’s open to a majority of team members, it does become cliquish and hurtful to exclude others. At that point, it becomes a situation of “tolerating annoying coworkers is part of the package if you’re doing a work happy hour.” This guy is a little different because of the casual racism, though, which is why I think your best bet is to talk to him.

3. Teased about last name

My wife and I occasionally encounter a problem with our last name. It’s the kind of name that was much longer back in the old country but was shortened in America, and now is identical to a word you would use to describe a certain kind of unpleasant person. Most people are nice enough and don’t say anything, but too often we get comments like “Oh, that doesn’t describe you at all” or “You should change it to something nicer.” Lately, a woman in my wife’s office building has taken to commenting on our name every single time they see each other. How do you tell someone to drop it?

To some extent, this is just people being people — being weird and thoughtless and awkward, often at the exact time that they’re attempting to reach out for human connection! It’s similar to what’s behind the obvious “you’re really tall” comments that tall people get.

So I don’t think you can stamp it out entirely, but certainly when someone won’t let it drop, that’s tiresome and you can say something like, “Hey, it’s time for us to have a new joke” or “okay, I think we need to retire that comment at this point” or “objections registered, let’s move on.”

4. I have IBS and my manager is hassling me about my bathroom use

I have IBS, specifically the kind that makes you have frequent diarrhea. My manager (shift supervisor so there are three tiers above her) today told me if I take another bathroom break, she would send me home and write me up. I’m not comfortable telling people as it’s a rather embarrassing issue. Can I just say I have digestive health problems? Are they even allowed to ask me about my health condition? Are they allowed to discipline me for using the bathroom once an hour when I bust my butt working so hard? I just feel like it’s a little ridiculous for me to have to tell them about it. I maybe go once an hour on bad days, every three or so hours on the good ones. I never go if the rest of the staff needs me, or if we’re busy. I make sure everyone and everything is fine before I go and I never take more than 10 minutes. I just don’t feel like I need to disclose private medical information just to avoid getting in trouble for using the bathroom.

It’s ridiculous that they’re policing your bathroom usage, based on the frequency and duration you’ve described here. But they are legally allowed to tell you that you need to be at your desk more, if they don’t realize that there’s a medical issue involved. Because of that, you’re likely to get the best outcome by explaining that. You don’t need to give details, though; it’s enough to just say, “I have a medical issue that on some days means I need to use the bathroom more frequently. Should I make an official request for formal accommodations?” Actually, you might want to skip that last part and just go ahead and make the official request, since your manager is already taking about sending you home (!) and writing you up, and it’s smart to protect yourself formally.

5. At what point do I ask to be paid for off-the-clock phone calls?

I am a manager at a company I really do love. The job is enjoyable, I like my coworkers, no complaints there. I also would say that I take myself seriously when it comes to doing my job. However, I am non-exempt and I have reached a point in my career where I feel this is interfering with my actual duties and professionalism. Since I’m collecting my pay by the hour, how do I professionally handle all the calls that come my way? I don’t mind answering a few quick off-the-clock calls, but the past few months have had my fires-put-out whilst off-the-clock at several hours a week. There are days here and there where I avoid making plans because I predict I will found myself on the phone. I have made my own personal goals of claiming I’ll avoid my work phone, but the effort never lasts. Is this ever appropriate for a non-exempt worker? If not, at what point do I demand payment, quietly clock in, or even have a discussion about moving to a salary?

The point where you expect payment is whenever you do any work. That’s what the law requires for non-exempt workers, and right now you’re putting your company in legal jeopardy by not logging that time.

Start logging it, immediately (as well as any past time that you can credibly reconstruct). And go talk to your boss and say this: “I’ve realized that I haven’t been logging the time I spent answering calls outside of work, and legally we need to. In the past month, I’ve spent X hours on calls outside of my normal work hours, so I’m adding those to my timesheet and just wanted to flag it for you.” If your boss objects to that, the solution needs to be that people stop calling you outside of your normal hours, not that you work it unpaid.

Also, it’s not necessarily to your advantage to move to salary (assuming you also mean exempt, and assuming you legally qualify to be made exempt, which isn’t up to your company), since it may just mean working more hours for the same pay (or close to the same pay). The big issue here is just getting you and your company in compliance with the law.

{ 638 comments… read them below }

  1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

    #2 – It’s the kindergarten birthday party rule! It comes in handy in so many situations. I work at a performing arts organization that deals with students and amateurs, and we use that guideline often when dealing with auditions and casting. When possible, we aim for the number of callbacks (for instance) to be 50% or less of the total number of performers auditioning. For instance, we have dance teams of around 10 people, but that number is a guideline. If 14 people auditioned, the team could be 7 or fewer, or 14. We wouldn’t cast 10 people in that case. If 40 people auditioned, having 10 people cast would be no problem.

    In our case, it would be different if we were casting professionals, and we also have other instances where everyone who tries out can be part of X activity, but we have other activities with a high bar to entry, and we’ve found that guideline works well for us to reduce hurt feelings — then, at least, people feel disappointed because they didn’t make it, but not because everyone else made it and they were the only one who didn’t.

    1. RainbowGrunge*

      Dang, I wish my 5th grade lacrosse team had been like that. I tried out for the team in 5th grade. 16 people made the team, 2 people (myself included) did not. It was the first time any of us had picked up a stick and tried the sport…I guess the other girl and I didn’t catch on during the 1 day tryout quickly enough. Nearly 20 years later, I am still salty about it.

      Ended up getting the hang of field hockey very quickly and played through all of middle and high school (and into college). The assistant Field Hockey coach was the head Lacrosse coach (who had cut me), and I think I managed to go my entire field hockey career without saying more than 10 words to her.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I had the same experience when I tried out for my middle school cheer squad. All but two girls either made the squad or were made alternates, it was just me and one other girl who didn’t get picked at all. Let me tell you, it does not do wonders for your ability to fit in during the most awkward years of your life.

      2. A Username for here*

        It depends, though. I’ve been on (and worked at) swim teams where a few kids who turn out for tryouts simply don’t swim well enough to safely participate in practice, ex: can’t put their face in the water, can’t continuously swim a lap, are dog-paddling, are wearing a floatie.

        In those cases you’d end up with exactly that scenario, 3 out of 25 kids being cut. On paper it seems unfair, but there’s a very valid reason why those 3 kids were not allowed to participate.

        1. RainbowGrunge*

          I feel like with swimming it makes sense since there’s a safety issue. Can’t join a swim team expecting the coaches to teach your kids how to float/doggy paddle.

          With a 5th grade lacrosse team though? I don’t know, like I said, I’m still super salty and I am near 30 now lol

    2. LaSalleUGirl*

      I have nothing substantial to add, but I had to tell you that I LOVE your username!

    3. Vicky Austin*

      Hi there, Polly! How have you been? I heard you’ve been hanging out with Zachary Gray. Stay away from him, you’ll just get hurt.

  2. Lurker*

    Moving to salary doesn’t guarantee you will be exempt from overtime. Your position can be salaried, non-exempt.

      1. Seriously?*

        But since those terms aren’t interchangeable it is important to note the distinction. Not everyone realizes that some salaried positions do still require overtime to be paid.

      2. OP Fifth*

        I actually realized the error immediately after sending in the email. I had been chatting with the spouse about a bump in his salary, so chalk it up to word error of whatever was on the mind.

  3. Snooge*

    Ha, here in Southern California, if people were only allowed to work from home when it rains, WFH would be barely be available 3-4 times a year (depending on what you count as “rain”)

    1. Rosemary7391*

      Whereas in Glasgow you could do away with the office altogether if everyone worked from home when it rains!

      I actually do work from home quite frequently when it’s hot. Our office is a greenhouse and my flat is made of thick stone walls. I don’t have to ask to do that though. I don’t need to interact with anyone else so no one cares.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Summers like we’re having right now is one of the primary reasons I will only leave when they put me in the ground. I can deal with 9 months of rain in exchange for “not the east coast, not the south” summers most years.

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            Seattleite transplant sweating it out in Sacramento here…I concur. There’s nothing better than a Seattle summer.

            It certainly beats this 100-degrees-for-three-straight-months thing.

            1. MamaCat*

              Hello from one of those little towns surrounding Sacramento! Thank goodness for that Delta Breeze in the evenings, amiright?

    2. Anne (with an “e”)*

      Ha… In Atlanta, GA if people worked from home because of the heat the entire city would instantly solve their traffic problem.

          1. Mananana*

            Fellow Phoenician here. I’m feeling particularly salty this monsoon/haboob season. Don’t know why, as I’ve lived here all my life, but the heat/humid combo is NOT making me happy.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      Yeah, that was my reaction too. Along with “I think I know where Alison does NOT live”, which is the West Coast.

      Funny story: I grew up in Los Angeles, where it rains in the winter. ONLY in the winter. So, to my child understanding, we got rain when other people got snow. Makes sense, right? Fast forward to my 20’s when I started reading gardening magazines and they kept having this mysterious phrase: “you may need to irrigate in the summer if it doesn’t rain”. If it DOESN’T rain? What is this mysterious voodoo? It NEVER rains in the summer, and you ALWAYS have to water.

      At some point, it dawned on me that in some parts of the country, it rains year-round. Please stop and re-read that. I had to learn that in some parts of the country, it rains all year long. In California, you can leave something outside the house and it won’t get rained on for months at a time. At least, in the parts of California that aren’t along the Oregon border. :)

      And what’s the deal with that? It’s this: The Pacific Coast has Pacific Rim weather patterns, which means they’re based on a wet/dry cycle, rather than a hot/cold cycle. (My wife and I get sick of people talking about not knowing what season it is here, and we like to turn it around: how does anyone know when it’s winter, when it just rains all year round?)

      1. SoCal*

        The so called rain in the winter in LA is usually very, very mild and I rarely ever need an umbrella. I’ve been living here for nearly two years and I think I have used an umbrella twice and I could have gone without it.

      2. Vicky Austin*

        I wish I lived in a place with weather like So Cal. I live in Massachusetts, where the winters are disgustingly cold and the summers are disgustingly humid. We do have amazing foliage in the fall to make up for it, though.

      3. Violet Rose*

        Grew up in Orange County – glad I’m not the only one who thought this!

        It was a genuine shock to my system when I did a spring semester abroad in Japan (I was 19 at the time). Not only do they have real seasons (and are very proud of this, as a general cultural trope), but they have a rainy season in *June*. And it’s still hot. Because it’s peak summer.

        Walking home through a hot rainstorm in June after sundown completely changed my understanding of weather, seasons, and climate. Bonus fun: the first time it rained while the sun was out I, I got really excited (“This NEVER happens where I live!!!”) and the locals thought I’d lost my marbles.

  4. Celeste*

    OP#1, can you come in to work earlier in the summer? Maybe even be a bus rider in the summers just because of the air quality. Even if it means hanging out for an hour, it could be a much cooler walk in, and that could help a lot. I also suggest budgeting for an Uber for the very hottest days if you aren’t able to go in early for whatever reason. Sometimes just being able to break things up a little is helpful. Even if you can’t afford it every day, it seems like a great way to get through the worst days.

    1. Mrs. B*

      Coming in to work early was going to be my suggestion too. It’ll give you some time to soak in the AC, maybe enjoy a cool beverage, freshen up if you need to. If it’s already a slow time of year and you can swing it maybe it’s also a good time to take the occasional day off here and there. As someone who is also fortunate enough to be able to walk to work (and home for lunch) I can completely relate to how draining even a short walk in extremely humid weather can be, but as MDH likes to remind me some folks (like himself) have to work outside on days like this, so count your blessings.

      1. Mrs. B*

        Also, a quick add to my previous comment. If you find you are extremely drained, you may want to talk to your doctor. A while back I was getting very fatigued throughout a normal day and it turned out my iron levels were so low I actually needed a blood transfusion. I never even realized how sluggish I had become until my levels were back up to normal.

        1. There is a Life Outside the Library*

          As someone who just found out that I have pernicious anemia…yep! Explains a lot of things. Obviously walking to work in 100 degree heat IS taxing, OP might want to make sure they don’t have any other issues compounding the misery.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Yes. OP, I type this as someone with a couple of health issues that would make the walk in thick air tough, and 15 minutes would still be okay. If you don’t know of any underlying health issues, it might be worth getting checked to see if something underlies the fatigue, and you didn’t notice because it came on slowly.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              I’d hesitate to jump to health issues too quickly. Early last week in DC we had a couple of days where the weather really was just oppressive, with humidity levels that meant it was difficult to be outside for many people. I’m pretty healthy, and I found I couldn’t be in the sun for more than a minute or two without feeling off and my (fortunately mostly shaded, 15-minute) walk to the Metro made me way more tired than usual.

              This week we’re back to highs in the low 90’s and more typical humidity levels (high, but not like swimming though soup to walk down the street), and I’d laugh at anyone who wanted to work from home due to weather – this is just DC in the summer. But if someone had come to me last Monday and said “I’ve been getting light-headed outside today, and the weather is supposed to be worse tomorrow, so could I work from home?”, that wouldn’t seem outlandish.

              The way I’d think about it is that you shouldn’t ask to work from home on account of weather more than maybe 5 times a year. We see this with winter weather on this site, too – people who want to work from home when it snows are told that they have to be prepared to deal with whatever level of snow and ice is considered ordinary in their geographic area. Save the requests for the really bad days.

              1. pleaset*

                It’s one thing to be uncomfortable while out in the very hot/humid weather. I’m quite fit and feel pretty miserable in that weather.

                It’s another for those feelings to frequently persist for a time after being inside in the cool. That’s a sign of a problem – perhaps dehydration, perhaps an underlying health concern.

                I agree with you about saving requests for really bad days.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              (Also, I just made the connection from downthread–I recently lost a young relative to an unsuspected pulmonary condition, the symptoms only recognized as such in hindsight. So yeah, if you’re feeling really crappy from a 15 minute walk that your coworkers shrug off with “yuck, humidity,” don’t think “I’m too young for this to be cardiovascular.”)

    2. A*

      I walk to work too. And in summer, I shift my hours to come in earlier and leave earlier. I also walk to work during snow and rain storms. But I will take an Uber on really bad snow or rain days.

      For the heat, I just leave earlier and take a cold shower when I get home.

      Since OP’s manager completely ignored her joke about working from home home, I wouldn’t push it.

      1. Monsters of Men*

        I LOVE the heat. I can walk for hours in 30 degree weather. I walked the entire isle of Manhattan last year in 35C weather! But I ALWAYS have a hat, some cold drinks, and sunglasses. It’s important to make sure you’re also standing up straight and wearing good shoes, especially shoes that let your feet sweat.

    3. Ashley*

      I agree with coming earlier. I too commute 10-15 mins in hot humid weather. (Washington D.C.! )
      If it’s really hot, I wear a hat or bring an umbrella. It looks crazy, but having that shade helps a little. Also, one trick is to soak a scarf or bandanna in water and freeze overnight. When you go out for your walk, you can tie it around your neck so that your body will feel much cooler. It has really been a lifesaver when it gets really hot.

      1. OP*

        Hi all! OP here. Thanks for the ideas and the validation (that’s really what I was looking for, haha). Coming in earlier is a good one, although I’m not sure it would translate to being able to leave earlier (our management is a bit weird about that). I will definitely try the frozen scarf/bandanna trick! In re the health concerns, I do feel back to normal after time inside, but as it’s time for my physical, might as well get things checked. As an aside, I have the same issue when it’s really frigid out — the commute is terrible.

        1. xkd*

          “It’s only 15 minutes” – I find that focusing on the fact that it is a short amount of time helps. (When I had an hour commute I broke it up into 15 minute pieces – worked really well)

        2. peachie*

          I have similar commuting issues and I just got something like the cooling scarf mentioned–it’s basically just a sleeve with ties that holds a long, skinny ice pack. It’s not fancy and doesn’t eliminate heat-related unpleasantness, but it takes the edge off.

        3. I Herd the Cats*

          Another poster from a hot, humid city — if any of your commute involves walking in the sun, please consider a Coolibar umbrella. My commute on foot is about 30 minutes each way and it’s changed my life.

          1. GradNowLawyerLater*

            Yes! I’ve spent a lot of time in Japan, and there EVERYONE uses UV umbrellas in the sun, especially as the summers are really hot and humid. Not just regular, but UV. The temperature difference is astounding.

        4. Willis*

          I read that as “frozen banana,” which sounds tasty but less effective. More seriously, I have a frogtog which is a cloth that you wet and then it stay wet/cool for awhile. Also have a bandana from REI with gel beads inside that stay cool after soaking in cold water. Both are helpful in the heat!

        5. drpuma*

          I’m a frequent pedestrian in a horribly humid East Coast (US) city, and I make a point to always walk on the shady side of the street. Would, say, an 18-minute commute be worth it if it meant you were walking on a block with taller buildings (and more shade) or could detour through a park? Also, my favorite thing about summer is making cold brew coffee overnight in my fridge – super easy with the bottom half of a French press I plunge in the morning. I’m sure this could work with iced tea too. Good luck!

          1. OP*

            I do extend my commute to walk in the shade (and make cold brew too). It only helps so much :-(

      2. Kallisti*

        I commute by bicycle, most of the time, and I recently bought a buff to get wet and then wear under my helmet. Let me tell you, it’s a game-changer! I actually got it about week ago on one of the days Guacamole Bob was talking about upthread (I’m commuting from VA to DC) — it was 94 degrees in the morning, like you’d expect, but on the way home it was 98 with a “feels like” of 111! Having that extra little bit of water evaporating makes a huge difference, even when it’s just normal hot.

    4. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

      I worked with someone who had a lot of difficulty when the heat and humidity got really bad (in DC), and while he didn’t have a *specific* medical condition, he was miserable enough on the worst days that not only did he take an Uber to or from work on those (fairly rare) days, his manager was actually fine with him expensing it to the org, because they wanted him in the office. And this was very much not a culture of expensing that sort of thing (the manager in question didn’t even expense her own lunches while travelling for work). It’s worth a conversation with your manager, I think, about ways to deal with those very worst days. Accommodation might be easier than you think, especially if you approach it like “I have an issue, and I’d love to explore possible solutions with you” rather than seeming demanding or high-maintenance. Good luck!

      1. JJ*

        I’m in Texas and I see a lot of walkers with those Shaper Image neck cooling necklace things, maybe try that? I’m quite healthy, but from the North and the heat/humidity here is difficult to adjust to, so if you’re in a place where this is unusually warm (or it’s only like this in high summer) your body probably just hasn’t adjusted. HYDRATE before you leave and after you get to work. The umbrella thing is a great suggestion too…I also have an old-timey collapsing hand fan that I feel no shame in using. Also definitely pin your hair up if you have long hair and wear lighter clothes (natural fibers) then change into your work clothes at work.

    5. sleepwakehopeandthen*

      On the really terrible days in summer, I come in at 6. Because that is the time that I want to walk outside in. Sometimes I get straight to work, sometimes I mess around on the internet for a while (also my work has much better AC than my apartment). It is lovely. Also I really enjoy getting to leave work at 3 on those days (or being SUPER productive when I leave at the normal time–but I have a very flexible work-at-your-own-pace research type stuff).

    6. chi type*

      My recommendation is to really crank your A/C while you’re getting ready for work to the point where you’re kind of uncomfortably cold. Then the heat feels good, at least for the first half of your walk.
      This admittedly works better with the heat in winter. (Yay Chicago, worst of both worlds!)

  5. mark132*

    @LW2, if the guy is difficult to be around at work, I can clearly see why you don’t want to socialize with him off the clock. There aren’t any magic words you can say that are going to magically smooth this over. I would avoid getting drawn into any discussion and promise him nothing.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Yeah, I think I wouldn’t be saying “we don’t want to exclude him.”

      I’d be WANTING to exclude him. And I’d be making sure that the next several happy hours were 3 or 4 people, and then we’d be sure to never speak of them in the office after that, so that we could say, with some credibility, “It’s just a few friends who happen to work together.”

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Yep. It’s not a work event. There is no reason Racist Jerk Guy needs to be included.

      2. Vicky Austin*

        “And I’d be making sure that the next several happy hours were 3 or 4 people, and then we’d be sure to never speak of them in the office after that, so that we could say, with some credibility, “It’s just a few friends who happen to work together.”

        I like that idea.

  6. Greg M.*

    oh my god, why is it so hard to get people to drop a “joke” like my boss wouldn’t stop calling me a nickname I told him I hated for over a year when I finally told him to eff off. (the fact that I have a job where I had 0 consequences telling him that should tell you why I didn’t go to hr, so you don’t need to suggest doing that)
    oh and no, you don’t need to know what the nickname is.

    as for dealing with it, basically stonewall 0 tolerance. “drop the issue” “no I said drop it” “this is inappropriate, stop it” with increasing amounts of steel and ice in your voice. If you’re in the sort of culture where you can get away with it a good solid “I told you to knock that the eff off right the eff now” to shock it out of them.

    1. many bells down*

      My given last name was similar to a notorious make of car. There was a teacher in high school who thought it was *hiiiii laaaaarioussss* to call me after the car, every goddamn day. I wasn’t even in his class.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I have a middle name that is one of the “theological virtues” and had a headmaster (!!) who insisted on calling me “Olympias No-Virtue Epiriot” even at my graduation. He thought he was SUCH a card!

    2. MamaCat*

      I grew up with a last name that was pretty easy to make fun of, but almost everyone made the Same. Joke. No one can spell my current last name, but at least no one makes that joke!

      1. Justme, The OG*

        My kid tells me about all the stupid jokes people make about our last name. And they’re the same jokes that kids were telling me 30+ years ago (yes, kiddo and I have the same last name). You would think that kids would at least have new jokes.

      2. Rockhopper*

        My husband grew up with a last name that is pronounced like a slang “naughty” word. He would get drunk calls in the middle of the night with the same tired jokes (back in the days of landlines and telephone books). He changed his name legally before we were married, as he didn’t want our children to have to live with that.

        1. Artemesia*

          I had a colleague years ago whose father was an immigrant from Poland with one of those complex all consonant name and he changed it to the name of his foreman so he would have an ‘American name’. Alas the name he picked was one that is easily slurred into an unpleasant anatomical part. His kids were in grade school and started to get the same gross jokes he had lived with growing up and he noped right down to the courthouse and changed his name back to the difficult to pronounce Polish so that it ended with his generation.

          1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

            This story just reaffirmed everything I love about America. Holler polack at my name? Forget you, we’re going back to no vowels.

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            My surname at birth was German* and because of the fact that I grew up in the dark ages of the 1970s came to be associated with a certain stoner/porno cat.

            There are also only about three ways to spell it, the most common and default way being the way my, and the cat’s name were spelled, though people still manage(d) to get it wrong.

            I got married at 16 and was ever so happy to have a ‘normal’ (think Smith, Jones, Peterson, Johnson) type of last name. I will never change it.

            *I would also get an occasional ‘nazi’ comment for some reason even though I was born ~20 after the end of WW2… Nothing original to say I guess?

        2. Kelsi*

          My last name can also be used as slang for genitalia. Growing up, my dad got out ahead of the jokes by being the one telling them himself, but I was never the kind of person who could really make that work for them.

          1. Kallisti*

            My maiden name was Johnson and that used to drive me crazy. Like, it’s the second-most common last name in the United States, are these people making penis jokes to everyone they meet named Johnson? I have three Johnsons in my office alone!

      3. kristinyc*

        I married into a very common British last name that a very famous fictional spy from books and movies has. EVERYONE I’ve ever introduced myself to with my name has either made a comment or joke about it…except when I went on vacation to London last summer.

        As soon as I get pregnant, I’m planning on making a “swear” jar for my desk that’ll say “No, I’m not naming it James,” and people who ask will have to donate to the college fund.

        1. Vicky Austin*

          A woman at my church is a college professor, and the first year she taught, one of her students had the same last name as you, and his first name was James. When she asked him, he told her that he was born the year before the first movie came out, and he’d been getting those kind of comments his entire life.

          There is also a man at my church who has the same first and last name as a famous comedian, and he is constantly telling people that yes, it is his real name, no, he is not the other person with that name, nor is he related to him.

    3. Knitting Cat Lady*

      I’m a naturalized German citizen. Before that I was an Austrian citizen. I’ve lived in Germany since I was one year old.

      In 12th grade, in the first lesson of the year, our social studies teacher asked everyone who they would vote for in the upcoming general election.

      I told him that I wasn’t allowed to, so it didn’t matter. He assumed that I was too young and asked who I would vote if I were old enough. I told him that age wasn’t the issue, nationality was.

      This is how he found out I was Austrian.

      Germany, especially the southern parts, have a ‘tradition’ of Austrian jokes. With the punch line that Austrians are stupid.

      The teacher proceeded to make Austrian jokes in every lesson.

      I hoped that he would get bored eventually.

      He didn’t.

      So, after two months I went to him and asked him this:

      ‘So, Mr. [Teacher], if I were from Turkey, would you constantly make jokes about Turkish people?’

      Teacher was surprised that I was offended by the jokes.

      Who knew that calling them stupid a few times every lesson could offend a student…

      He was an over all shit teacher, but tenure meant that as long as he wasn’t caught fucking a student or doing alcohol/drugs while teaching there was no getting rid of him.

      1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        When I lived in the UK, there were a lot of Irish jokes. And not good ones. Memorably I was once compared to a terrorist. That one I escalated.

        1. only acting normal*

          Being Welsh I can confirm that sheep jokes (as told by English people) are hi-lar-i-nope. :-|

          1. media monkey*

            and the scottish jokes. about heroin (thanks trainspotting!), also sheep, being mean, blah, blah, blah…

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              Aaaand you’ve just confused a bunch of Americans who don’t understand that “mean” is another word for “stingy”. Used to be true here, too, but time marched on. (We also don’t use “dear” for “expensive”.)

              (I *just* listened to an episode of Lexicon Valley where John McWhorter talked us thru the evolution of “mean”. At some point it meant “average” (which we still have in maths) and at another point it meant something else and, well, just go listen to it, because he’s the best.)

          2. ballpitwitch*

            Sounds like Wales is gets the same treatment as Alabama in the US.
            But oh, how I love the incest jokes the moment people find out I grew up there!
            So funny, guys. SO FUNNY.

            1. Massmatt*

              Worse, I knew someone from Alabama, a white guy (which is relevant), and the thing that really bothered him was the assumption of racism. Not just KKK references, but as in people he barely knew felt comfortable going off on racist tirades etc they’s never risk saying to a stranger because they assumed he shared their views. Nope! Racism, it’s not just a southern thing!

              1. Lala*

                I too am from Alabama, and people who make those kinds of assumptions are the WORST. The only good thing is, they out themselves as racists (so I know to avoid them going forward) and I’m able to ask them why on earth they thought I’d share their abhorrent views.

                Racists are everywhere, unfortunately.

              2. Anne (with an “e”)*

                I can confirm that this attitude is pervasive. I am from Georgia. When I lived in Spain (of all places) I had to constantly explain that, no, not every one in Georgia is a racist member of the KKK.

              3. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

                Hahahaha, I had a similar problem for much of my life, being from Idaho, which spent a decade or two being most famous for having the headquarters of the Aryan Nation. They’re long gone so the jokes have finally tapered back down to being 100% about potatoes. I can live with that.

              4. The New Wanderer*

                Definitely not limited to the south. In my experience living all over the US, you just have to be a white person for some other white people to share racist things with you, expecting you to feel the same way. Ugh.

              5. RUKiddingMe*

                I have Roma on both sides of my family.

                Both sides (separately) settled in Appalachia for generations before moving west.

                Cue “Gypsy” jokes (more like character assassination…oh gypsies…tramps and thieves) and “hillbilly” (durrrr…inbred, uneducated, toothless, simple-minded) jokes.

                Until they put gypsy and hillbilly together then they jokes get really funny.

            2. Kallisti*

              I have cousins from West Virginia, and one of them is a professional public speaker. When his sister got married (in a different state) she asked him if he’d get a license to perform the ceremony and he was honored, obviously. Then during the ceremony he made a joke about how he was hesitant to agree, because he didn’t want to be a man from West Virginia who married his sister, but he decided it was worth it in the end.
              I’m not explaining it well, but it actually was super funny.

              1. bonkerballs*

                As another native West Virginian, I would also find that funny. But there’s a big difference between making silly jokes about the stereotypes of your own group than making them about someone else.

        2. Another Irish person*

          Oh man don’t get me started. I’ve had a bunch of people giggling at me when I mentioned the university I did my PhD at because “its so funny to think of an Irish university awarding PhDs”.

          They keep it well under wraps most of the time, but the idea that Irish people are stupid and/or terrorists is still pretty engrained in the British mindset.

          But I shouldn’t complain – it makes it pretty easy to intimidate people when you mention your family’s ties to Sinn Fein lol.

          (Disclaimer I am not personally a fan of Sinn Fein.)

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            My history Master’s was about Sinn Fein. Not relevant to anything other than your mentioning it. I rarely ever get to tell anyone. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      2. Mystery Bookworm*

        I feel when you push back, the jokers often position you as easily offended, when the reality is more that’s it’s incredibly dull to hear and respond to the same joke over and over again.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          ‘Yeah, that’s still a side-splitter even after hearing it a zillion times! Thanks for the opportunity to give a forced laugh so you don’t think I’M the one being a jerk!’

      3. General Ginger*

        Ugh, I’m so sorry. I can relate; I’m a former Soviet in the US, with an (apparently) unpronounceable last name. The *so hilarious* jokes about both my name and supposed political affiliation were bad enough for years. Now I get the *even more hilarious, just so freaking funny* election sabotage jokes. Good times.

    4. London Calling*

      I have a surname that was part of the title of an iconic TV programme back in the late 1950s. I can’t tell you the number of people who have called me by the name of that programme and continue to do so as if they are being hilariously original each time.

      1. EPLawyer*

        My original first name is found in many nursery rhymes. I was over it by kindergarten. After that, they got a “Wow how original” done with heavy sarcasm. I changed it legally mostly just to escape the comments.

        1. AnotherJill*

          I’m told I have a good death stare, which I’m pretty sure came about after being asked “Where’s Jack?” for the millionth time.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Yes, highly recommend the Silent Death Stare. You can keep it up, too, through iterations of it’s just a joke” and similar. Though usually people will eventually mumble “I guess you hear that a lot, huh” and you can say yes, you do, and then move on.

          2. Pebbles*

            I developed the “Go-F-Off” look after getting “Can I be your Bam-Bam?” as a pickup line too many times. I liked the nickname too much to ditch it, and everyone knew me by it to the point of introducing me as Pebbles rather than RealName to other people, but some of those other people thought they were just SO clever.

      2. Annie Moose*

        I’ve had some success with a very dry “Wow. You are the first person in the history of the world to come up with that joke.” Makes people realize that they’re not nearly as clever as they think.

        By a cruel twist of fate, both my first and last names are susceptible to really obvious jokes. Luckily once I got out of high school, most people stopped commenting on them (and started just mispronouncing my last name instead).

        1. MtnLaurel*

          That exact phrasing works for me. Sometimes they say , “Really?” Then I say “no” and they feel dumb. Mission accomplished.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        I share a surname with a reasonably well-known movie character, and I just gave up and decided to embrace it. When I have to give my name for an appointment or callback, I’ve simply started telling them “LastName, like Movie Character”. It usually gets a chuckle or a comment about how that will be easy for them to remember.

        My first name is unusual and has one specific cultural reference, which I have heard ad nauseum for my entire life. That irritates me more than the last name one does, particularly since everyone who mentions it seems to think they’re the very first person to have noticed it.

        1. Chameleon*

          When we named our daughter an unusual name, I knew there was a specific cultural reference but thought it would be too old since it was from the 50’s.

          Nope. :/

          1. BF50*

            Something similar happened to a friend. :/

            When we were naming our children, my husband casually mentioned every name to his most immature arse of a friend. We eliminated a lot of really good names that way. But I’d rather be annoyed with husband’s friend for “ruining” the names I loved than the alternative.

            1. Blueberry*

              Your husband’s friend sounds deeply annoying, but, I’ve heard advice along those lines about picking out children’s names: “pretend you’re a schoolyard bully and consider what jokes you could tell,” etc.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              I’m 55 and its way outside my reference frame. One would think that no one really remembers it other than a few really old people.

            2. Chameleon*

              It’s Ripley, actually. Apparently there was a revival of Ripley’s Believe it or Not in the early 2000s.

              1. Airy*

                Is that better or worse than Aliens references, which are what I chiefly think of for the name Ripley?

                1. Chameleon*

                  Well…since we named her after the character from Alien, we don’t mind that reference too much.

        2. Persimmons*

          My surname is mildly generic, and people tend to ask if I’m related to a fictional character rather than to one of several celebrities. As in “Wow, are you related to Hannah Montana?” rather than something that makes sense, like Joe Montana. No, I’m not related to someone who doesn’t exist, thanks.

        3. Who the eff is Hank?*

          My last name is the same as a famous Captain, so I tend to say “Blackbeard, like the Captain”. Some people are amused and it helps them know how to spell it. Every once in awhile I get asked if people made jokes about my last name as a kid, but it’s my married name so thankfully I didn’t have to live with it through childhood. My husband was not so lucky.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            At a temp job I worked, there was a guy named Jack Dempsey. When he called people, he liked to identify himself as various boxers. I guess embracing the joke is a way of coping.

      4. Red Staplers are awesome*

        My father shares a name with a very famous musician who died right around the time I was born. Growing up when people heard my last name and found out my dad’s name they’d ask “Your dad is THE Famous Musician?” I finally got to the point where I’d just say “He is to me.” and generally people would drop it. But seriously, I just told you I was going to lunch with dad and famous guy has been gone for twenty years. What do you think?

        1. Thlayli*

          My father has a friend who’s surname is Lennon. All his life he had the nickname John. He even called his business “John Lennon Teapots”. Don’t know if it boosted teapot sales though.

      5. bonkerballs*

        My name sounds very similar to a famous person’s name (like Bram Pitt vs Brad Pitt for example) and the amount of people who ask me if I’m sure my name isn’t *actually* Brad is astounding.

    5. Nic*

      I have a last name that is a type of insect that most people are not a fan of. The usual heckling has happened to me all my life. However….

      I have the unique situation where people refuse to pronounce or spell my name correctly “like the bug” unless I specify. For example, if it were “roach” they’d give me “roche”. I can always tell if it’s someone who doesn’t know me because they get it wrong.

      1. Artemesia*

        When faced with a name that will be obscene or unpleasant if pronounced correctly, I always hesitate as many people cope with that by having a difference pronunciation. Cue Azzweepay from SNL. It is one of those things where now if I have only seen a name in print that is going to be embarrassing to get wrong, I just ask them to pronounce it first. Every Koch I know has pronounced it differently but none of them has pronounced it ‘cock’.

      2. TheBeetsMotel*

        I have a client who I’m pretty sure has given their last name the “Hyacinth Bucket” treatment (it’s a name for a stereotypically unpleasant animal). I roll my eyes a little at having to pronounce it in the blatantly gussied-up way they insist it’s naturally pronounced, but then thank my lucky stars I didn’t have to to through school with such a name, too.

      3. Gumby*

        There was a Mrs. Roach who was the third grade (IIRC) teacher at one of my elementary schools. Super nice family, and I don’t think any of us made fun of their name (though I am sure they heard about it a lot) but I remember thinking “That is one instance where I would absolutely have refused to change my last name when getting married.”

    6. Anonnymouse*

      Yes. I usually think Alison walks on water, but her advice this time was off. This is not just people being people. Maybe the FIRST time, but every day? Nuh-uh, this person is either desperately clueless or a total jerk, and in either case your advice Greg is exactly right.

    7. Sarah*

      Add one letter to my last name and it’s slang for a body part nobody needs to mention in a professional (or even social) context.

      I’ve found what works best for me is a very bland, “Oh, wow, never heard that before,” while doing literally anything but making eye contact. Almost like I’m embarrassed for them for having made the joke.

      Otherwise, a solid “Eff the eff off with that joke” works wonders.

    8. Nicole*

      My last name is 1 letter off from a well known American actor…I wish I had a dollar for every time somebody asked if we were related. It would be nice if people actually paid attention when I say or spell my last name and notice that it’s NOT the same.

    9. RoadsGirl*

      I have a cousin named Ariel. Ariel is a revered family name of several centuries.

      Guess what movie came out shortly after she was born and guess her elementary school life?

      1. BF50*

        There was a kid named Forest on my cross country team in high school. He lasted the season after the movie came out, but he sure wasn’t running the next year.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        A friend of my son’s told me how Forrest Gump came out when they were in middle school (yeah ok I knew that). Her name is Jenni. Guess how middle school went for her…

      3. Blueberry*

        My name is similar to a song that was popular when I was in middle school. Ariel has all my sympathies.

    10. RainbowGrunge*

      I dated a guy who had a last name that…well…was terrible. I don’t know how he made it through his teen years. Basically it was an adjective combined with a term for male genitalia….think something like “Gloomypenis”….every time I met his “friends” we heard some variation the same joke- “Hey RainbowGrunge, have you found out if it was actually gloomy yet?” or “Hey, is he a ‘Happypenis’ today?”

      I couldn’t bear the jokes and it wasn’t even my last name! He told them all the time to knock it off and they would for a day…before the jokes would start back up. He was super self-conscious about it. Saying he’d looked into getting it legally changed and how if he ever got married he’d take on his wife’s last name so his kids wouldn’t be subjected to the same “torture”.

      He moved across the country for a job a few years ago and we lost touch, save for the occasional “like” on social media, I can only hope that he isn’t subject to these incredibly inappropriate jokes at his workplace.

      1. SavannahMiranda*

        I cannot imagine what the real last name was, but I have to give you +10000 for your stand-in.

        “Gloomypenis” is going to have me laughing at my desk all day.

        1. Alli525*

          My guess is something like “Saddick,” which would reasonably be pronounced (slightly) differently but once it’s written down/spelled out, all bets are off. Sounds like a total nightmare.

          1. Kallisti*

            My dad has a friend whose surname is “Glasscock” and they call him “Crystaldick.”

    11. TootsNYC*

      I think you can start with something milder: “You keep saying that.”
      “You keep saying that.”
      “You keep saying that.”
      “You keep saying that–it’s getting old.”
      “You keep saying that–it’s getting really old.”
      “You keep saying that–do you have any idea how boring that is?”
      “You keep saying that–please stop.”
      “You keep saying that–I’ve asked you before to stop.”

      THEN you can say, “Eff off!”

    12. The Other Geyn*

      I have a fairly common Chinese family name (it’s pretty much the Chinese equivalent of “Smith”$ that also happens to be the last name of one of the three prominent Asian-American Hollywood celebrities. Got a lot of “are you related?” when I was in grade school.

    13. Book Badger*

      My last name is one of those no-vowel Eastern European names. It’s actually phonetic, but Americans just panic when they see too many 4-point Scrabble letters (think something like Vltavsky).

      If I never hear another joke about how it lacks vowels, it will be too soon.

    14. Aitch Arr*

      My maiden name is shared by Cher’s late ex-husband and is the stage name of the lead singer of a famous band.

      I couldn’t change it fast enough when I got married.

    15. NiceOrc*

      Yup, some names just bring out the sniggering juvenile jokers! My father’s mother’s unmarried name was Dick, and it was very difficult getting through the annual “trace your family tree” assignment at primary school. Though they had a reunion a while ago, and Dad showed me a great photo of them all standing on a hillside laughing. I asked what they had done to get everyone to laugh, and he said, “we just shouted the family motto – ‘We’re Dicks and we’re proud!'”

  7. Lioness*

    You mentioned that nearly everyone commutes by foot or public transportation, so it’s going to look really out of place for you to work from home on really hot days. Even if it somehow was approved, once others find out, it’d “if she can do it, why can’t I?”

    1. Washi*

      Yeah, I think this definitely a factor, and in some office cultures (absent a medical issue) I think it might look overly…delicate? for OP to ask to work from home on all hot days, if this is just what the summers are like and everyone is dealing with the same thing. But if OP’s other officemates are also miserable, maybe they could ask as a group about a more general WFH policy; since they already have that option on Fridays, it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to at least ask about.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I thought the same thing, plus, they’re already getting one day/week at home. I work in DC, so I know the oppressive heat/humidity that OP is talking about – last week was pretty bad here. Absent a health issue, I wouldn’t personally allow it, lest the floodgates open for everyone else to request and/or complain.

      It’s up to the employee to find a reliable way to get to work. I don’t personally care if people bike, walk, rideshare, metro, carpool, or drive, but I need them here consistently for their scheduled hours.

      1. Alli525*

        This exactly. I’m in NYC and also suffering from this disgusting humid heat (and limited to public transit), but all of us are in the same boat. I can’t say it didn’t cross my mind that it sure would be nice to be able to work from home during a heat wave (I’m able to do so during blizzards) but it just wouldn’t make sense, so I will continue my vampire-skulking-in-the-shadows-of-buildings strategy. I’m also fortunate that my office is pretty relaxed so I don’t have a super-formal dress code – today I’m wearing a tank top with a sheer sleeveless blouse over it (no bra, hooray!) and no one notices or cares.

      2. Seriously?*

        Since they already do work from home on Friday, it might be helpful to establish a track record of being extra productive when they work from home. If the OP can show that they actually work better from home then the manager would have more reason to grant it as the OP could propose it as a more mutually beneficial thing. It would also allow it to be granted without opening the floodgates.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          What if everyone else could demonstrate the same thing? If you have a performance problem that prohibits someone from working from home, that’s one thing. If you have a crop of strong performers, you can’t tell one of them that they’re extra-productive and can do it and then tell the other good employees that they can’t – to do that would mean that you don’t think they’re productive at the level of their peer and it doesn’t do a lot for morale. Strong performers tend to be highly productive whether at home or in the office, and the people that aren’t strong often don’t recognize their own weaknesses (and, in my experience, will fight you tooth and nail for every single perk offered to the people outpacing them).

          1. OP*

            It took a long time for us to win the privilege of WFH Fridays, so yes, realistically this probably wouldn’t happen. It was more a question of how inappropriate it is to ask at all, not as much if they should accommodate.

    3. Liz*

      This. And I said it as someone who regularly walks the 3 miles to work even throughout a Southern summer. I take cold water with me, try to wear fabric that breathes, don’t wear a backpack on both shoulders (makes my back sweaty), and stop by the restrooms as soon as I arrive to run cold water over my wrists and elbows to help me cool off. You can also get cooling wrist bands that you soak overnight in the fridge and which help (my husband uses them).

  8. C Average*

    I have an unusual first name that people constantly comment on. At a past job where I was getting the same questions repeatedly, I actually wrote up an FAQ (“Were your parents hippies?” “YES! Thanks for asking. They met in the Bay Area in 1968 and they drove a really groovy Volkswagen bus.” “I had a dog/goat/cow/bunny with your name!” “Yes, I share a name with many of our animal friends. Weirdly, they never comment on that. It’s just the humans who do.”) I handed out copies to people who commented on my name.

    1. BookishMiss*

      I like you. I have a drawing explaining how to say my name that I hand out to people who persistently mangle it.

      1. Future Homesteader*

        Both of you are fantastic. I have what should be a really easy name (it’s a letter off from an extremely common one), but for some reason people just *murder* it because they’re thrown by the lack of “a” at the end. Trying to figure out if there’s a drawing I can make, or what my FAQ would look like: “no, it’s not a nickname for ‘Common Name,'” and “No, you don’t pronounce the second letter, just like with Common Name.”

      2. Your Weird Uncle*

        I would love to see this. (Currently wondering how I can sketch out the pronunciation of my oft-mangled name.)

        1. Artemesia*

          I hadn’t thought of that. I probably could do that as part of my name is a concrete object. It ought to be easy — that concrete object plus ‘er’ how hard can it be? Yet at least half the time people mispronounce it in several different ways.

          1. JeanB in NC*

            I get that a lot – my last name has 5 letters and the first 3 are an extremely common thing. And yet I get all kinds of pronunciations. I think it doesn’t help that I actually have a little difficulty with the sound in those first letters, so they are hearing it wrong, plus it’s just not a common name. In fact all of my names are mispronounced or spelled wrong more often that not. I get Jane, Joan, Dean (!), etc., all the time for my first name.

    2. Nat*

      I love your FAQ’s! They gave me a good chuckle. And you reminded me of a time a classmate from college casually mentioned that she grew up on a commune when telling an anecdote.
      My teacher said, “Wait, what? Back up! You grew up on a commune?”
      And she said, “My name is Gaia, of course I grew up on a commune.”

      The deadpan delivery of it just killed me. The teacher was a super hippie, btw, and had total respect for commune life, but I think she just didn’t expect it to be mentioned so casually at a tiny, preppy New England school.

    3. Karma*

      Oh I can *so* relate. My first name is Karma so I get asked if my parents are hippies (No) and then I get the inevitable good karma/bad karma jokes and often a few bars of Karma Chameleon by Boy George sung at me.

      1. Vicky Austin*

        I hope no one calls you a bitch because of your name.
        I actually know someone with a female dog named Karma, and naturally, she often says, “Karma’s a bitch.”

    4. roisin54*

      That is awesome! My real name is normally a diminutive for a longer name, plus it’s an unusual spelling. I’ve thought about making business cards or something explaining it and your FAQ sounds great. My mom’s argument that it’s all my dad’s fault would be a hilarious part of it.

      I had one boss that spelled my name wrong consistently and that pissed me off so much. For the entire time she was my boss she did not spell it right once, even though our names are part of our email addresses so the correct spelling was literally right there! Normally the misspellings don’t bother me because I’m so used to it, but as my boss she really should’ve known better.

      But at least she didn’t insist on using the long form of the name like one of my high school teachers. 20-odd years later and she still refuses to call me by my actual name whenever I see her.

      1. Kelsi*

        My poor aunt Peggy has spent so, so many years trying to get people to understand that her legal name is NOT Margaret.

      2. JustaTech*

        Why do people do that (not spell your name correctly when it’s literally part of your email address)? I understand making a typo once in a while, or spelling it wrong the first time they send me an email (my name has a variant spelling that drops the last letter), but when I’ve written my name several times in an email thread, why can’t they be bothered to get it right?

        This is why I try really hard to get people’s names right in emails, because it bugs me so much when other people do it to me.

        1. Alli525*

          I constantly struggle with being furious at this – I emailed you first and I both signed my name AND it’s in my signature! Plus you can be sure I spelled your name correctly. UGH. (“Alli” just has too many variants, and don’t get me started on how anyone could see “Alli” and pronounce it like the famous boxer’s name.)

          1. roisin54*

            I feel you. In all the years I’ve corresponded with people via email, only one of the many people who’ve spelled my name wrong (despite it being in my email address AND my signature) has ever A) apologized for doing so and B) spelled it correctly in subsequent emails.

            I think there’s probably a psychological reason for why this happens, people expect it to be spelled a certain way and their brains just don’t process that it’s spelled differently. But I, having this issue with my name never being spelled right, am particularly cautious in this area and I always double-check any names before I respond to people.

            Despite all my harping on it, it really only bothers me when a co-worker or boss gets it wrong after being told how to spell it correctly. No one who isn’t related to me has ever spelled it right so it’s one of those things I’ve learned to put up with.

        2. RainyDay*

          I go by a diminutive of my name personally and professionally. At my first professional job, my email address was fullname.lastname, which of course showed up as Last Name, Full Name. I introduced myself as Diminutive. I signed my emails as Diminutive. My signature had Diminutive, as did my business cards. Still, professional contacts outside the office called me FullName. It. Drove. Me. Nuts. I’ve made it a point to ask for my email address to be Diminutive in jobs ever since. Thankfully, it hasn’t been an issue at all! But I’m extra sensitive to others’ preferred names because of it.

        3. Gumby*

          Back in the olden days when we used these things called checks to pay for things (ask the nearest octogenarian to explain it to you), one of my friends had her checkbook stolen. It was extremely easy to prove when the copies of the checks were returned (banks also used to *mail them back to you* after they cleared) – the person had misspelled her name. The same name which was spelled correctly in the top left corner of the check.

        4. Vicky Austin*

          My last name is frequently mispelled, so I chose an email address that consists of my first name + the first three letter of my last name (those three letters typically aren’t the ones people get wrong) + the month and date I was born. My previous email address consisted of my first initial + my last name, and I wasn’t recieving emails because people were spelling my last name (and therefore, my email address) incorrectly.

    5. RainbowGrunge*

      Hahaha, that is awesome. I dated a guy with a last name that was super easy to make fun of…who also happened to be 6’8″ (had Marfans)…he had these business cards printed and would hand them out to people who commented on his height it happened so much saying something like “6’8″. Yes, really. No, I do not play basketball. Or Volleyball. Weather’s fine. Thank you.”

      I am 6’2″ so when we were together we also got a lot of comments about making tall babies, super inappropriate. I have a comment above where I talk about his last name…basically people just constantly made jokes about our sexlife. It was awful. I do think people just look for some sort of easy icebreaker (revolving around names or physical attributes) and don’t think/realize how often the person must hear the same thing and how annoying that is.

    6. Kivrin*

      My maiden name was originally German, with one of those Ellis-Island-Americanized spellings. My graduate advisor (who was French), absolutely could not bring himself to leave out the ‘d’ in the “-dt” ending. Until the group meeting after a few years, when I snapped. In front of all his graduate students, I asked, “[advisor], how long have I been working for you?” We figured out that including time in undergrad, it was about four years. I then asked, with as little snarky tone as I could manage, “Do you think it’s time to learn to spell my name yet?” He never got it wrong again.

    7. smoke tree*

      I can’t win with my name. My first name is common as a women’s name in a couple of countries, common as a man’s name in many others, and where I live not common at all, although it is very close to some common (men’s and women’s) names, but apparently not close enough for anyone to be able to understand it. My last name is a very unusual eastern European name that has been butchered through the immigration process and absolutely no one can pronounce or spell it correctly. Apparently many people assume I’m an elderly, intensely eastern European man based on my name combination (this is not the case).

      1. ECHM*

        I am an English speaker living in the U.S. My first name is Greek, but spelled the same way as a Spanish name with a slightly different pronunciation. Most people, when addressing me for the first time, use the Spanish pronunciation. I’ve decided that should I ever have kids, my rule is not to name them anything that can’t be spelled correctly and pronounced correctly the first time in their native language.

  9. Not Norman*

    Male with surname Bates. If I had a dollar for every “Master Bates” joke…
    Though my favourite was when my workplace (a TV broadcaster) started running the “Bates Motel” TV series and distributed some advertising material to everyone’s desk. It took me just half a day to accumulate about 30 of them that people kept leaving on my desk. I still have the one where someone lovingly added the word “master” above the “Bates Motel.”

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      See, if I knew your sense of humor and if the situation were right, I’d ask you questions about the status of your mother on occasion. Make a thing about making sure you weren’t near any knives. The master thing is pedantic.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        That’s not what “pedantic” means.* Or are we done playing with the corpse of “literally” and on the quest for a new victim? (Yes, I know we’re not supposed to get hung up on word choice here but I super don’t understand this usage.)
        *Correcting someone’s use of the word “pedantic”: admittedly the most pedantic thing I could do.

  10. Daisy the Cat*

    #4: FMLA was made for people like us. I also have IBS (have had for 30+ years) and take my bathroom access very seriously. I would make sure upper management knew what my manager was saying and if upper management didn’t shut it down I would be looking for a new job ASAP. As a side note, I retired last year and haven’t had hardly any bad days since. Hmmmmmm. Job stress sucks!

    1. Uyulala*

      When I switched jobs a few years ago, my IBS issues became way less. Stress can definitely be a factor.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      I would suggest going straight to HR and ask for accommodation through them. That way they are on alert for retaliation.

      Right now the OP isn’t protected because the manager and HR don’t know. So they absolutely need to get it recorded.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think the ADA may be a better fit for OP, as they’re not taking time off or requesting intermittent leave—they’re just asking for medical accommodation. (I know some folks request intermittent leave to handle everyday, treatment-related breaks, but OP’s breaks are individually and cumulatively pretty brief).

      OP, if your employer is covered by the ADA, then I agree with Alison that you tell your manager your restroom use is related to a chronic medical condition, and ask her if you should request formal accommodation. At that point, the law requires that she either back off or begin the iterative ADA accommodation process. Making the request has the added bonus of protecting your from any retaliatory, adverse job-related action (e.g., writing you up and sending you home).

      1. Artemesia*

        Agree. You have a hostile boss, so get ADA accommodation from HR and have them inform him you have this accommodation.

        1. Free Meerkats*

          Make the first notice to HR an email with the subject line, “ADA accommodation request.” BCC your personal email as well so you have proof that it was sent and when it was sent.

          And make sure you include in the body the supervisor’s threat.

          1. Alli525*

            Why would you include the threat in an initial “I need accommodations” email? I thought you couldn’t consider it a hostile work environment (in this sort of case) unless the supervisor was already aware of the condition requiring ADA accommodations.

            1. Pibble*

              I can’t speak for Free Meerkats, but I’d be including it in the context of “I’ve not asked for this accommodation before because it hasn’t been an issue, but now that the boss has made this threat, I need to ask for formal accommodations” (obviously not in that exact language!). It’s partly how I write, but also partly so that HR can be on alert in case the boss is going to be unreasonable about it (I’d say the boss has an above-average chance of being unreasonable about it, given that they issued the threat in the first place).

            2. Free Meerkats*

              You include the threat because that’s the reason an accommodation is needed. If the supervisor was being reasonable, she wouldn’t be making the request. She wants to be able to poop when she needs to poop without worrying about still being employed.

              If you bury details in the body of the email, the claim can always be made that it wasn’t clear it was a request for accommodation. This is the same rationale why lawyers will always tell someone reporting a hostile work environment to use the subject line, “Report of Hostile Work Environment.”

      2. WS*

        +1. My partner has the same kind of IBS and, while she’s now her own boss, it’s been a problem in the past. Take it straight to HR, do not try to go through the manager without HR being forewarned because retaliation is possible if the manager feels it’s a power struggle. Also, if you’re feeling stressed about your bathroom breaks, it’s only going to make things worse!

      3. Daisy the Cat*

        Mine used to be so bad that I would occasionally need time off from work “can’t leave my bathroom just yet.” Luckily it was well documented in my medical records, so once a manager was aware of it, there wasn’t much they could do about it. (I worked for the government.) And truthfully, it bothered other people to talk about it more than it bothered me–once I got used to talking about it (when I got older). Actually, it took me so long to get diagnosed ( I was in my 30’s) that I found it a relief when it finally had a name.

        1. lazuli*

          Some states have employment protections that cover even smaller businesses, too, so it’s worth checking state laws if you’re in that position.

    4. Trace*

      I’ve got this too. Thankfully it’s not ever been an isssue at work with endless trips to the bathroom but it can be so annoying having to run there all day long. If it ever became an issue with work I would reveal all to my manager. They can deal with it, it’s so unpleasant and stress makes it worse. I wish there was some solution to it just a magic formula to not have it anymore.

  11. AcademiaNut*

    I can sympathize with the OP#1 – I live in a big city, where it’s 36 C (95 F) and humid from mid June to mid September, and I take the bus and walk to work. And I’m not built for hot weather.

    If you’re walking in the sun, a sunshade really make a difference (google “Taiwan sun umbrella” for examples). Have a cool drink as soon as you get to work (or home). Take a small battery operated fan to help you cool/dry off. When you get home, immediately sluice off in a cool shower. When you get to work, slip into the bathroom, and whip down the sweaty parts with a damp cloth. And drink lots of water.

    If you get hot weather all summer, I’ve found that too much (or too intense) AC actually makes things worse, because your body doesn’t get the chance to adapt itself to the heat. So at home, I keep the AC to the minimum I can tolerate, and supplement with fans. (At work, the AC doesn’t go below 25C/77F and is usually a couple degrees above that).

    The heat does tire me out, more so than the chilly winter weather, so I plan for being less active and sleeping more in the summer, particularly for the first few weeks of heat.

    1. a good mouse*

      When I lived in Shanghai, I was surprised at how common umbrellas were to block the sun because you almost never see that here in the States. Pretty soon I was embracing it too. It really does make a difference!

      1. a good mouse*

        Also if you live somewhere very hot that tends to storm in the afternoons, like Florida, you’ve already got your umbrella with you.

        1. Kitchen Witch*

          No one except noobs in Florida carries an umbrella with them. It is always safe and dry at home or, in the car. Lived there 21 years and had several, barely used. Yes, even when it rains every afternoon kinda funny really.

          1. Elemeno P.*

            Really? Everyone at my Florida office has a home umbrella, a car umbrella, and a work umbrella. Going back in the AC after an afternoon storm is not very pleasant.

            1. MarsJenkar*

              If I were a hot-weather person, I wouldn’t look out of place in your office! I live in the Midwest, and I subscribe to the three-umbrella system you describe.

            2. Fiennes*

              We’re like that in New Orleans too—umbrellas in multiple locations—and I’m increasingly seeing them used for sunshade too.

          2. CoveredInBees*

            WHen I lived in FL, you could basically time the afternoon rains to start at 2:30. After lunch break but before going home and it certainly dampened your enthusiasm for leaving early.

          3. a good mouse*

            That has not been my experience living in Florida, but maybe we lived in different areas. For us, the noobs were the ones who didn’t think to pack an umbrella just because it was bright and sunny and cloudless in the morning.

            1. Decima Dewey*

              I’ve seen some people carry an umbrella on hot cloudless summer days. Bringing their own shade with them.

          4. Dankar*

            That was my experience, too! I just ran out for lunch before the afternoon rain started. And if I happened to be caught out, I just waited the 15 minutes for it to storm itself out.

            I laugh now because I have to bring an umbrella on rainy days. It doesn’t rain as hard as in Florida, but the storms in my current location drag on for hours!

      2. Blue Cupcake*

        I agree an umbrella totally helps. You see it a lot in ethnic neighborhoods in the US but I carry one everywhere when it’s sunny. Who cares if I get weird looks. I’d rather be comfortable.
        Back in the day, women knew what they were doing when they carried parasols.
        Remember the shopping scene in Pretty Woman? Vivian walked past a woman with a large paper umbrella and she looked so chic.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Once in a while I’ll see someone on campus carrying an umbrella as a parasol, and I always think what a good idea it is. I never remember to do it, though, and it really is fairly uncommon.

      4. Sarah in Boston*

        Ever since I visited Shanghai in August in 2010, I have been a firm proponent of the sun umbrella. I still have and use the one I bought on that trip! Admittedly, that’s mostly been on other trips since Massachusetts is usually quite so hot that I need it.

    2. Just Employed Here*

      I thought the advice was to drink hot drinks in heat, such as tea, so as not to have the body use energy on heating the (pretty extremely, from its point of view, if its been refridgerated) cold liquid down when it enters your system.

      It feels like a strange idea, but I’ve felt it work when visiting really hot places.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes! Brain science backs you up; hot drinks on hot days help you cool down :)

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Hot drinks make me sweat more. This is cooling if the sweat evaporates, less so when the sweat simply rolls down my body and is soaked up by my clothes.

          1. TootsNYC*

            and according to a story in Runner’s World:

            drinking colder drinks when you’re really overheating and oversweating should reduce your sweat rate without compromising your cooling power

            So for our OP, colder drinks would be BETTER, so she doesn’t get as sweaty on her way to work–and her temperature situation will be unaffected.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        Disagree. Whether or not your body uses “energy” doesn’t change the fact that heat makes you hotter and cold makes you colder.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          I should have been more specific (I hadn’t had any coffee yet…): your body is heating up to compensate for that oddly cold thing you ingested, leading to you being hotter. As opposed to drinking a tepid or warm drink and not having that shock to the system. That’s the theory anyway.

      3. sacados*

        Well…. sort of.
        There have been some actual scientific studies about this and it’s only in really specific circumstances and for a slightly different reason than you mention.
        The reason it feels like it works is because hot drinks make you sweat, and then when the sweat evaporates your body cools down.
        *If* however, you are in a really humid climate or some other situation where your sweat won’t actually have a chance to evaporate, then drinking the hot drink really does just make your body temperature hotter than you were before.

      4. Massmatt*

        But your body also uses energy cooling the hot tea to body temperature. And cooling takes more energy than warming. Unless you are drinking tepid body-temperature tea then you are making yourself hotter drinking a hot beverage.

        There is a reason people find cool drinks refreshing when they are hot, go with your instinct!

        1. Just Employed Here*

          But there are plenty of cultures where people specifically drink hot drinks in the heat, so some of our instincts do seem linked to what we are used to (and what ads we’ve been trained by?)…

          1. Perse's Mom*

            But also local climate! Summer heat translates directly to humidity for much of my state; sometimes I leave my apartment or work and it’s like walking out a door and into a swamp – hot and muggy and barely breathable. Hot drinks would just make the situation worse!

      5. TootsNYC*

        The major point of drinking is hydration, not temperature regulation.

        I read once that cool water was absorbed by the body’s cells faster than tepid or warm.

        I thought what I read had said “refrigerator temperature,” but I ran across this, supposedly from the Camelbak website:

        -Drink cool water, which is absorbed more quickly by the body than warm or very cold fluids. NIOSH and ACGIH recommend drinking water of 50 to 59 degrees.

        And of course, the biggest thing is to drink whatever temperature is enjoyable to you, so you will drink more of it.

    3. Screenwriter Mom*

      I heartily second that! You can find “SPF Umbrellas” or “Sunbrellas” or “Sun Umbrellas” at Coolibar and at Amazon. I also very much recommend some of the SPF clothing–it’s actually really cooling. Here in LA I use a white sun-protective scarf around my shoulders (I wear a tank top, then add or change into a blouse when I get where I’m going). Fingerless sun gloves. But the sunbrella is the best idea–it actually creates your own little pocket of shade, lowers the temp almost 10 degrees underneath it. Also: carry an ice-cold bottle of water, sip as you go, hold it against your neck.
      I also agree with the point of wiping yourself down when you get to work. I myself often carry a fresh bra/underwear or even a fresh tank top, and a washcloth; go to the ladies’ room, mop yourself off with the washcloth, (you can also bring along a travel-size bottle of baby powder to freshen up); change underwear, put on the fresh tank top, or the blouse that you brought along). You can also pour ice water on the washcloth and put it against your neck.
      At home, just instantly strip down and take a cool shower and have something lightweight to change into. You’ll feel much better.
      Sorry, my heartfelt sympathy from another heat-hater!!

      1. CoveredInBees*

        Baby wipes are great for this if you don’t want to carry a damp washcloth around all day. You can get unscented ones. I use them when camping (and, yes, I carry them back out with me to dispose of properly).

        1. Artemesia*

          Baby wipes are a great product. They are cheaper than similar (identical) products marketed for adults. I use them as a bathroom wipe and they are cheaper than regular wet wipes. They are also great for travel spit baths — I always have one of the very small packs in my purse on a plane for that quick neck/pit etc bath before landing after a long miserable night on the plane.

          1. Smol Cinnamon Roll*

            I found a love for baby wipes after my grandson was born. Those things come in handy everywhere and with dealing with almost everything.

      2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        All good advice! And another: if you have to haul a lot of things back and forth get a wheelie bag/briefcase. It’s got two big bonuses: A) You won’t have a backpack or shoulder bag up against your body, making you all sweaty. B) It’s less work to carry. When it’s really hot, even those few pounds will make a difference.

        Also, somebody above mentioned freezing a wet bandanna, but that doesn’t last that long. You can google “ice bandanna” and find waterproof ones that you can fill with ice. The nice ones look like a jaunty french scarf. Ice on your neck and a sun umbrella overhead, and I bet you will be so much cooler and happier!

    4. misspiggy*

      This is brilliant advice. Also, allow more time for your commute and deliberately walk slowly (don’t just slow down when you feel your body forcing you to.) If you’re feeling breathless and faint when you arrive, sit quietly for a few minutes while drinking quite a bit of water.

      1. Houstonite*

        I live in Houston, where temps over 90F with more than 85 percent humidity are common throughout the year. I second the sun shade. I recommend half-filling a plastic bottle with water and freezing it every night. When I commute in, I put more water in that bottle for drinking and find that the half-frozen part allows me to cool myself via wrists and neck. Finally, linen-blend clothing is a must in this climate.

          1. Artemesia*

            When we travel in hot places, I always freeze a water bottle half full and then top it off and put it in a bath mitt and then that into a plastic bag before it goes in my purse. It keeps water cool for hours and the terry mitt and bag keeps it from weeping in my purse. We always stay in apartments so we have at least the freezer compartment of the refrigerator.

    5. Karma*

      I live in an Australian city where summers days are very regularly over 100F. Luckily it’s usually not humid but it’s still like living in an oven. Although an umbrella doesn’t help with the humidity you’d be surprised how much it can help to take the edge off the heat.

    6. Alli525*

      *Battery-operated* fan is a great suggestion. OP or others may not be aware that fanning oneself with a fan (or errant CVS coupon, as I am wont to do) isn’t as effective because the motion speeds up heart rate.

      I have a battery-powered fan that’s attached to a water bottle so it will spritz misty air at me through the fan blades. It’s wonderful, although moreso for sunny days in the park, vs. being even more damp when I arrive at work.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        I have a lovely hand-fan that takes very little work at all to create plenty of breeze, and it’s been seeing a lot of use recently. Really, I hardly have to move my hand at all. I think it matters a lot how the fan is designed. (This one doesn’t collapse, and I don’t know if that’s relevant.) It’s got a bamboo frame with paper stretched over and is roughly the size of an oversized table-tennis paddle, only much lighter of course.

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

    #3. I have a similar problem. My maiden last name is German (Löse) and when Americanized it lost the umlaut. I was teased/bullied mercilessly throughout elementary/junior high school. It was so bad that after I divorced, I kept my ex husband’s last name for20 years until I had to go back to my maiden name for employment compliance reasons (LOL…..).

    It still happens, and I face it head on. “Do you really think I’ve never heard that before? You’re not original.”

    But it is a co worker so some delicacy is necessary. Maybe redirecting the conversation or refusing to address that subject? Sometimes, people understand a well-placed “look” of the “Here we go again….” variety.

    1. David H.*

      Yikes, I usually see German umlauted vowels get Anglicized to add an ‘e’ (so Löse would be Loese), just like Münster becomes Muenster, and so on.

      1. Tau*

        This is the standard German way to handle it when you don’t have umlauts available (vowel-with-umlaut vs vowel-without-umlaut are different sounds, so ignoring the umlaut changes the pronunciation and can change the meaning of words), but I see the umlaut simply dropped a lot of the time in non-German-speaking areas. My mother’s last name has an umlaut and when we lived in the US she had to really fight to get people to spell it with “ue” instead of “u” if they saw it with the umlaut.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          Also, this is the German style of handling umlauts if unavailable, but the Scandinavian/Nordic/Baltic way is just to drop the umlaut. So if an ä is part of a German name, it would make sense to write it as ae, but if it’s part of an Estonian name, it would be a…

          I seem to remember that URL’s and email addresses were also written with these subsitute letters (so Loese for Löse) back in the day, but that it’s not the standard anymore. Do you think this is the case? (I’m not in a German speaking country anymore.)

          1. Birch*

            This is getting off-topic, but I wonder if Scandinavian/Nordic/Baltic names in different areas follow different ways for omitting the umlauts? I recently came across a distinctly Finnish name that was spelled in an English publication using the ‘ae’ substitution, e.g. if the name was Vuorimäki, it was spelled ‘Vuorimaeki’ which is so many levels of weird and made me go on a 20-minute hunt for why on earth she chose to spell her name like that in that particular publication. The only thing I could find was that she spent a while working in the UK. I’ve never seen any other Finnish names transliterated like that, though. Generally they just drop the marks, since ‘ae’ and ‘oe’ aren’t diphthongs in Finnish.

            1. Nanani*

              Well the thing with names is, they’re personal. People can write their name however they please, absent some government regulation, and even then if you aren’t actually filling out paperwork that needs to match some official data you can do whatever you want.
              Even more so when moving across countries and languages.

              So, this spelling is probably “because she liked it that way best”.

              1. Birch*

                Oh definitely I agree that it’s personal–the thing is, it’s spelled correctly everywhere else, including on her professional and personal pages, and it’s a common Finnish name and she is actually Finnish so at least by consensus there is a correct way to spell it (as I said, there are letter combinations that don’t exist in Finnish, so generally a non-immigrant would not misspell their own name in their own language). So it came up as a weird blip. My question was if it’s a UK thing to default to the German way of dealing with umlauts–maybe someone else was in charge of proofreading and used a different standard.

            2. Just Employed Here*

              Well… Last time I’ve seen Finnish names spelled like that was back in the 80’s when sports results systems in international competitions couldn’t cope with umlauts (making skier Pirkko Määttä’s name a heck of a lot longer than normal!). And of course in the “techie” bit of our passports — higher up on the page, where a human will read your name, it’s spelled with umlauts, but below it is written in this “German style” for machines to read.

              Maybe Dr Vuorimäki had spent time in Germany previously and gotten used to this style?

            3. Jennifer Thneed*

              (You probably know this, but Finnish is not a Germanic language and isn’t related to the other Scandinavian languages.)

          2. Lily*

            it is the standard in German if for whatever reason you can’t put the umlaut, e.g. in mail addresses etc.

    2. Artemesia*

      I know a family from Germany where some of the members changed the spelling of their name so the pronunciation stayed the same e.g. they became ‘Tall’ and others kept the spelling and changed the pronunciation. ‘Thal’ so there were cousins who were ‘Tall’ and who were ‘Thal.’ With Loese, one option would have been ‘Lersa’ or ‘Lerse’ although with the latter people would pronounce it Lerz. My son in laws name is one that has the original German pronunciation mangled in the US.

    3. Raphael*

      I was wondering (and please feel free not to respond if you’d rather not), what are employment compliance reasons? In Canada, you can adopt your spouse’s name upon marriage without paperwork. I don’t believe you have that option on divorce, so I was wondering how it works where you live.

  13. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, definitely record the time you’re spending on after-shift calls. As Alison noted, your employer is required to pay you for all time worked (the calls count), and failure to do so opens them up to significant legal liability. Tracking your time will also tell your employer how much time your position actually requires, which is important for them to know as they work through staffing, budgeting, and classification of different positions as either exempt or non-exempt.

    1. Tim C.*

      One easy way to track time is look at your phone records. There should be date, time, and phone number connected all recorded for you. They may even spring for a company phone if it is often enough. Otherwise apply the charges to your income tax deductions.

      1. Anon from the Bronx*

        Those “unreimbursed employee expenses” are going away in 2018 unfortunately.

        1. Natalie*

          And even before then, a couple of phone calls wouldn’t have been deductible anyway – you could only deduct the amount that exceeded 2% of your gross income and most people never reach that floor.

  14. Kiwi*

    OP#4, your manager really needs to know you’ve got a health problem, especially if you have days where you spend a 6th of your time in the bathroom. It sounds like you’re managing the situation very responsibly, but if I had a staff member doing that, I’d be trying to figure out how to tactfully ask about their health, just in case they were taking me for a ride by slacking off in the bathroom.

    1. only acting normal*

      I once worked with someone who was fired for disappearing to the bathroom all the time. However, it was justified because he was going there to take naps when hungover (not for a medical issue).
      At this point OPs manager genuinely doesn’t know which situation it is. If they were threatening a write-up *after* knowing it was medical, then they’d be an a-hole, but they don’t know yet. It’s embarrassing but at this point OP needs to share the info.

      1. Loose Seal*

        I read your sentence as saying it was justified that he needed to be in the bathroom because he was hungover and jeez, that’s perfectly understandable! It took me a while on this early morning to see that his *firing* was what was justified.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. I see no reason not to mention that there’s a medical issue that requires frequent use of the bathroom, especially since it has gotten to the point where OP is going to be sent home and written up. No need to get into the details. I get not wanting to divulge exactly why she’s in the bathroom a lot, but I’m pretty sure OP wouldn’t want to lose her job over it. Just say it’s a medical condition and that’s it. If the boss is still wanting to limit bathroom use and write up OP, then that boss is a jerk and HR needs to get involved.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      It would be nice if OP’s manager went to “is there something going on healthwise?” rather than start with threats. (There’s a reason for the social rule that you start with “Gosh I hope nothing’s wrong” when someone is late, so if they have a sympathetic reason you aren’t the person who yelled at them for being hit by a car and thereby inconveniencing you.) But even on just a social level, if you’re absenting yourself (leaving, being late, etc) enough that people notice and are perhaps inconvenienced, it makes sense to mention it’s a health issue. Lots of small behaviors are rolled with if someone has a context for why they happen, but grating if their comrade just keeps wrinkling the social rule without an explanation.

      1. Alli525*

        OP’s letter made me wonder if she works at a call center or another type of workplace that is notorious for heavily policing its employees’ bathroom breaks, which would make the manager’s response more understandable (not justifiable).

    4. Anon for this*

      My IBS can cause me to get incredibly nauseous to the point of throwing up, which at its worse made it impossible to leave home in the morning. When the symptoms first started and I was in and out of doctor’s appointments trying to get a diagnosis, I was really stressed about asking my boss for some flexibility because he wasn’t a very sympathetic person. My mentor at the time suggested that it’s better to get formal protection in case the situation started to impact my work, so I’d be protected. It took some paperwork with HR and my doctor, but I was eventually able to just inform my boss that I had a medical condition and needed, per my doctor’s orders, accommodation for intermittent leave moving forward. (I’m not sure how common it is to have intermittent leave allowed under FMLA, but my company had a structure where you could take an hour off here and there as needed)
      I didn’t ask for his permission, I just very politely informed him that this was necessary. To his credit, he was very professional about it all. It was such a huge relief to be able to call in on my worse mornings and say I needed to take an hour or two. I was much less stressed overall and that helped my symptoms get better as well.
      Obviously your case is different, OP#4, and as others have mentioned, FMLA may not be the route you need since it’s not like you need long periods of time off. I’m just hoping by sharing my story I can encourage you to get whatever formal accommodation needed, because just having that on file can help you mentally know your back is covered.

      1. schnauzerfan*

        Here, we’d start with an ADA request for an accommodation. One of many possible accommodations might be intermittent leave, either FMLA leave or just regular sick leave. But the employee/student must request the accommodation and preferably request it before it gets to the point the supervisor is considering disciplinary measures. We try to be really proactive about the ADA accommodations… it’s in everybody’s interest to have appropriate accommodations in place.

  15. SusanIvanova*

    #2 – Some of that doesn’t just sound like reasons to avoid your coworker outside of work, they sound like things that HR should be aware of – racial comments are definitely on the list of things in the training for my company that I happened to be doing today.

    1. CM*

      Could you really go to HR with the kind of microaggressions that the OP is talking about? I think it would be a rare company that would take it seriously if you said, “Bob called me by the other Black coworker’s name again,” or “Bob assumed that because I’m from Pakistan, I know everybody else from Pakistan,” or “Bob complimented me on my English.” Incidentally, I really like Alison’s script for cutting off debate on these issues and I’m going to use that.

      1. neverjaunty*

        It’s a longstanding pattern that hasn’t changed if you tell him to knock it off. Any sensible HR would want to be aware of this so they don’t find out about it, say, in a lawsuit.

      2. SavannahMiranda*

        If enough people went to HR about it, or if they went in as a group, then yes. Absolutely. Allison’s advice of speaking up in numbers seems especially relevant here.

      3. Observer*

        If it’s a pattern? Definitely. “Fergus keeps on calling me the wrong name. And it is ALWAYS the name of the only other black person in the department.” Is a real issue. Especially if it’s part of a list such as “Fergus keeps on making assumptions about my abilities based on what blacks are supposedly good and bad at.” “Fergus repeatedly expects me to know people I have no connection to because we are both black.”

        That starts becoming the kind of pattern that any competent HR is going to worry about, because you get into the issue of pervasiveness.

      4. SusanIvanova*

        According to the training I did yesterday, yes. Example situations ranged from the clueless to the malicious, and were all “If you aren’t sure, you can report it and let HR sort it out.” And if there’s a pattern, no question. But this is is one of the large, long-established companies that learned a long time ago not to brush things off.

  16. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    OP 1: I wonder if there is a co-worker who does drive and you’re on their way? Maybe splitting gas costs. Or, on very hot days an Uber Pool or Express (where you walk to a stop) might be an affordable option if it is available in your area. If you are such a close walk it should not be very expensive, if you have room in your budget.

    1. Les G*

      Eh, I’d be wary of asking to carpool. How many letters have we had about carpooling troubles, like someone who doesn’t want to drive their coworker but feels obligated? Yes, folks should grow up and learn to use their words to say that they don’t want to drive their coworkers. But until folks stop being afraid of direct conversations I like to make it easy for them by not asking questions I fear they can’t say no to.

  17. Everdene*

    *Sigh* last names! There are about 3 jokes about my last name that are constantly recycled, it gets really tiresome. As my grandmother said to me about 20 years ago, the worst thing is they all think they are original!

    However, over 30 something years I have become rather attached to defending my name which is why I posted on a recent open thread asking for advice around not changing it when I get married next year. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and embrase the name, but I can empathise with your wife so much if it is constant from the same person. I suggest a bored looking eye roll or ‘really? Same *joke* again?’ type reaction. Don’t make it any fun for her to keep commenting. Good luck!

    1. Teapotty*

      My last name is often mispronounced and/or mispelled even when I have spelled it out. It has a silent W in the middle which seems to confuse people who say it to rhyme with bowels. I then ask if they have heard of the actor Peter Bowles and would they call him Mr Bowels? Sometimes you need to shock folk.

    2. What's my (last) name?*

      What was the consensus of the thread on changing your name? I’m also not sure what I’ll do. My last name isn’t fantastic, but you get attached. And my partner’s last name is the most common name out there, which I’m not keen on. But hyphenating them would make the childish jokes even worse…

      1. Chameleon*

        I will say that out of all of my married friends, I am the only one who changed my name (although I made my maiden name into my middle name and use it on things like my signature and my credit card). No one has ever made an issue of it with any of them, even when they have different names as their kids. Then again, I live in Seattle–your mileage may vary in places with less tolerance for deviations from the norm.

        1. TootsNYC*

          did you see the story about the YMCA exec (Sylvia Acosta) who got a ton of shit from a Customs and Border person about having a different name from her kid?

      2. Artemesia*

        I changed my name in a first marriage over 50 years ago that I ended after 3 years and took my name back. I have been married 45 years now and kept my name. Most of this time I lived in the south where it was quite uncommon 45 years ago and so got hassles (I well remember the Senator who said ‘Dr. Artemesia, I have read about people like you and Mr. Smith in magazines, but I haven’t ever met any.’ literally except for the name specifics). Now it is not that uncommon in the south either although people often assume it is a late marriage as it is more common for older women to keep names at marriage than young ones.

        We hyphenated our kids. It was not really a problem and the kids actually liked it. Our son’s birth certificate was filled out with his father’s name because the people at the hospital were hostile jerks and we didn’t actually get a copy till kindergarten when we discovered this. We just registered him with the hyphenated name at school and let it ride because I thought he might like the option when he grew up of having a ‘normal’ name. When he was 21 he asked us to get it legally changed to the hyphenated name which we did. Our daughter was always good with it and when she married she and her husband created a new hyphenated name with her maternal name and his name (paternal name).

        FWIW in my husband’s huge family of siblings and my small family where about half of the marriages involved a name change and half don’t, none of the women who kept their own name have divorced and all of the women who took their husband’s name have divorced. Anecdotal but makes me laugh when people say — as they did often to me in the early days — ‘ people who don’t take their husband’s name are not committed to the marriage (or ‘don’t love their husband’ or ‘don’t respect their husband’ or ‘how can he let you do that?)

      3. neverjaunty*

        There’s not really any reason to take his name unless it would make you genuinely happy to do so. After all, it seems from what you’ve said that if anyone’s changing names it makes more sense for it to be him.

      4. Teapotty*

        Yes, my partner has one of the most common names in the world! Great for hiding on Facebook in plain sight. There’s some advantages.

      5. Temperance*

        You honestly don’t have to change your name. I love that I didn’t, and I sometimes make the snarky comment that we *both* kept our “maiden names” (that phrase needs to DIAF).

        It’s BS that women are still expected to change their name and men are not.

      6. Turquoisecow*

        I changed my name basically because I didn’t have any emotional connection to my name. I grew up surrounded by my mom’s side of the family, who have a different last name from me because my mom changed her name.

        My dad’s relatives were distant not only physically but emotionally as well, and they don’t share a name with my dad. He doesn’t know (or care) who his biological dad is, but he wasn’t formally adopted by his step-Dad so he has a different last name from his (half-)siblings. I didn’t feel any sense of connection to that side of the family or desire to keep that name. If I’d had my mom’s maiden name, I might have felt differently.

        My husband’s family name is shared with a somewhat famous, rich and powerful family but he is not actually related. A few people have made comments on the matter, but most are not harsh. The only time it has been an issue was when I was making comments on a Facebook page (after changing my name) and people who made snarky comments chose that as a topic.

      7. Double A*

        I did not change my last name for several reasons: 1) I have an awesome name an all name changes will be a step down in awesomeness. 2) I’m in my 30s, that’s a lot of life I’ve lived with this name. 3) I’m attached to my family that all has this name. 4) I do not want to deal with the paperwork of dealing with a name change.

        My husband has a perfectly fine last name, but see point #1. I actually think if he took my last name his name would improve, and he’s not that attached to his last name, but points 2 and 4 also apply to him. I actually want to blend (not hyphenate) our names for our kids, his name then my name, but he thinks the blend is dorky, so he wants to hyphenate with my name first, which I’m okay with.

    3. Nicole*

      I’m getting married next month and I’ve never considered changing my last name. It’s got it’s annoying parts (mentioned above) but it’s been my name for over 30 years and is part of my identity. I see no reason to need to change that.
      Also my fiance’s last name is very obviously French, and I am not French. I don’t want to deal with “Oh, you’re French?” for the rest of my life.

      1. Artemesia*

        I have a friend whose father was French Canadian and the name ended in ‘eau’. so he changed it in the US to end in ‘o’ to make pronunciation easier here. Now everyone asks if it is Italian.

    4. Kelsi*

      I feel the same way! As much trouble as my last name has given me growing up, when an ex and I were talking about marriage, I realized I *really* didn’t want to change it. I mean, I don’t want to anyway because the whole “woman takes the man’s name” thing skeeves me out, but I also wouldn’t be open to choosing a new name that both I and my spouse take (as some friends of mine chose to do). It’s part of my identity now.

    5. Book Badger*

      I’m on the same fence about changing my name. My name is super complex and hard to pronounce, not to mention that it’s at the end of any alphabetical list… but very few people have it, and dang it, I’ve gotten used to defending it. Boyfriend’s name is incredibly common (think Smith or Jones). I used to think I’d LOVE to have a common name that no one would have to spell or mispronounce, and I HATED my last name… but then I think about changing it and I can’t think about being called something else.

      To solve this problem, Boyfriend has semi-seriously proposed taking my name, since he likes my name better than his.

      Me: But our children will hate us! They’ll be at the end of every line that’s done alphabetically!
      Him: It’s because they’re saving the best for last!

      1. GibbsRule#18*

        I thought I was going to keep my (troublesome) last name when I got married at the ripe old age of 51. At the very last minute (applying for the marriage licence) I decided to take his. He would have been totally fine either way. I still am not sure about my motivation, but it was a pain in the butt changing it everywhere. We had the same last initial so I joke I didn’t have to changes my monogram. Like I would ever monogram anything.

        My maiden name was very close to describing someone who is engaged in a coital act. I actually had one substitute teacher who called me the “bad” name, leading to much hilarity from everyone but me. My sister and I did the thing where we made the jokes before someone else could. I could tell by the expression on someone’s face that they were about to go there and we went there first.

  18. Dally Forth*

    I have a friend who was sometimes the brunt of racist jokes from her husband’s family and faced stupid comments like “just joking” or “you need to toughen up” when she tried to explain how inappropriate the joke was. She decided to stop fighting back and just play dumb. She tilted her head to the side, frowned as if she were concentrating hard, and asked people to explain the joke step by step. The game very quickly lost its fun.

    I have used this to great effect when people tell inappropriate jokes. “Oh, blondes are supposed to be dumb? I didn’t know that. How come?”

    1. The Original K.*

      Yes, this is an effective way of confronting racist or sexist jokes, especially at work. “I don’t get it. Why is that funny?” Forcing people to spell out clearly and aloud that the joke is funny because Asians are supposed to be bad drivers or whatever often takes the wind out of their sails, and odds are good they’ll be more reluctant to state a brazen racist stereotype at work, especially if other people are around.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It doesn’t necessarily sound like these are jokes though (based on the OP’s example) but rather clueless comments that are more like microaggressions.

      1. Anna Badger*

        Still works for microaggressions!

        I don’t understand, why do you think [colleague] would know [other person]? But that doesn’t make sense, just because they’re both from [country] – [country] is very big, I don’t understand, can you explain?

      2. ket*

        Still might work. “Oh, why would Deepali know Ajay? Do you think they do some activity together?”

    3. Like what even*

      This is suuuch a good strategy that I’ve adopted recently too. It’s lovely to watch people squirm.

  19. Jemima Bond*

    LW#3 – inspiration for you: I worked for several years with a well-respected ninja assassin, whose surname is a very commonly used slang term for, er, a gentleman’s trouser-snake. I never once heard anyone – colleague, client, or member of the public – comment on it. So I reckon he got good at shutting it down (he would have done a good few years in a very public facing role where the customers are often mean to you) and/or people got over it. I reckon it will tail off for you too if you shut it down; word will get around that you are not amused and you’ve heard it all before.

    I reckon for repeat offenders that are colleagues not clients, you could reasonably employ a deadpan “yeah I’ve never heard that one before”. With stony face.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I knew a guy at university, a friend of my ex, with a rather unfortunate combination of first and last name – one possible short version of his first name, and his last name, both had connotations with the same part of the anatomy as the guy you’re talking about. He used to get around it by using a different version of his first name which didn’t have quite as bad a connotation.

      I can’t remember now people making comments to his face that often (although I can remember people laughing at it behind his back) but I think that’s how he would have responded to it.

      1. I am who I am*

        Reminds me of the congressional Rep for NH in the late 80’s / early 90’s: Dick Swett.

        Yup, full name Richard, but always went by Dick.

        1. General Ginger*

          Useless fact: an opponent tried to (unsuccessfully) stop them from listing him as Dick Swett on the ballot in one election, because legally his full last name is hyphenated with his wife’s, Lantos-Swett.

          1. KayEss*

            I wonder if a “humorous” name can actually be an advantage in a close race, since people who are otherwise uninformed about the candidates might vote for you on a lark.

        2. Nicole*

          There’s a mailbox in my old neighborhood in Manchester that still has a VOTE DICK SWETT sticker on it.

        3. Who the eff is Hank?*

          I have an extended family member named Richard Large. He refuses to go by Richard or Rich. Only Dick.

        4. EvilQueenRegina*

          There used to be a special school headteacher here who,through choice, went by Dick Aird.

      2. smoke tree*

        The author of one of my math textbooks was named “Randall Dyck.” You kind of have to wonder what his parents were thinking.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I know this is counter to the point of letter #3, but I had a good giggle yesterday when I was reading some city council meeting minutes for work and came across a pair of unusual last names. I read Commissioner Jester’s response to Mr. Porn’s presentation. I sent a screenshot of the document to my husband. He thought it was fake. I apologize to all of you with unfortunate last names. I’m 14.

      1. General Ginger*

        One of my high school science teachers really doubled down on his name — Thiery, pronounced “Theory”, in an “I’m Mr. Theory, and yes, I teach science” way. I found it pretty amusing.

        1. Artemesia*

          I have known several Thierys and it was always pronounced Terry — Theory is kind of cool.

          1. General Ginger*

            Now I’m wondering if it was meant to be pronounced Terry, but he really leaned into the Theory-Science idea to the extent of changing pronunciation!

          2. smoke tree*

            I’ve always heard it pronounced “TEE-air-ee” but the only people I’ve met with this name have been Francophones. I’m guessing “Theory” and “Terry” are anglicized versions.

      2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        They sound like a Quentin Tarantino movie characters :)

      3. rldk*

        But the most important part is you’re just sharing it privately – it only becomes an issue when you say it to the person (or like #3, continue to keep saying it). I definitely always have the thought when I seem uncommon/entertaining names, but I make sure to not bug the owner of said name with my definitely-not-original joke.

      4. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I got into a fit of giggles with our college accountant once because we were working on a contract and the man’s name was Harry Beaver. I bet he never hears any jokes about that. /s

    3. Inner child*

      My middle school guidance counselor’s name was Dick Cox. As a kid, I thought he was crazy to go by that, but now I wonder if he was just trying to head off 200 13-year-olds’ sudden joyful realization of how one might shorten Richard.

  20. Crystal*

    #1 is bringing me back to my youthful days in downtown HTown (ask me about my Enron days!) which was smart enough to build a tunnel system for this very reason.

    1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

      And Calgary, which is not an official sister city to Houston, but which sees a lot of commuting between the cities, has the elevated version! +15s, covered walkways between buildings (+ 15 feet above street level) that connect most of downtown. More for the cold than for the heat, but it does go both ways!

        1. Chinookwind*

          Yes – there is nothing like taking a 30 minute lunchtime walk through downtown Calgary without stepping outdoors once. If you plan it right, it can include (indoor) gardens and a pasture of (ceramic) cows. Edmonton has the same thing and it is a life saver in the winter and the 3 days of extreme heat in the summer.

          Around here, I have an ongoing argument over not making the office too cold because I don’t want to give the floor guys the chills by having them walk from a super hot outside to a cold inside (and the office guys can just suck it up and wear lighter shirts whereas the floor guys are wearing layers of PPE)

          1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

            I live right across the street from one of the connected buildings, and while I don’t work right downtown, I often have meetings or do shopping/errands in the downtown core. In the winter, I’ll dash across the street with no coat on and be set for my day without dragging around the extra layers.

            (This Christmas break, when it was -20 and I was off work and needed to get out of the house, I did that quite a bit. Planned a Starbucks run all the way across downtown so that I could get out and go for a walk.)

      1. Pebbles*

        We have a “skyway” system as well in my Minnesota city to connect the downtown buildings. My northern Minnesota college had tunnels between all the dorms and teaching buildings. Our way of living in the cold is to either avoid as much of it as possible or to embrace it with snowshoeing, skiing, and snowmobiling!

  21. TL -*

    LW2: It might help to call out Fergus every time he says something racist/inappropriate; very calmly say, “Fergus, that was racist/inappropriate/whatever. Please stop.” and then refuse to be derailed; go immediately back to the previous conversation. At most, say, “Okay, but I find it offensive, so please stop.”
    If he *genuinely* asks why, you can explain, briefly, and reiterate that you find it offensive, but don’t engage in a long conversation. If he just wants to argue, go back to above strategy. If he apologizes or gripes, just say, “It’s fine; just don’t say it again,” and ignore anything further on the subject. It really, really helps if everyone treats it the same way – brief acknowledgment of apologies/gripes and then change of subject. Do not spend any time listening to him dwell on his social shame.

    Then – and this is the trick – you honestly reset yourself every time you see him, with the baseline expectation that he will be nice and appropriate and treat any new offensive statements like they’re the first ones (which you will call out in the exact same way.) You’re never annoyed with him before he says something offensive, you don’t have a big-picture conversation with him unless he uses the same language multiple times, and he learns that his mistakes aren’t held against him and they don’t get him extra attention. Move the conversation along quickly, so he can’t dwell.

    I use this strategy on a nice but offensive and sensitive person in my department and they respond much better to me calling them out than anyone else. It’s to the point where one time, I just told them, “No more talking about Asians; too many racists comments. We’ll try again on Monday,” in a large group and though the moment was clearly super uncomfortable for them, by the time they processed, the group was already talking about driving again (yup) and they both stopped their comments and didn’t spend any time spiralling/defending.

    It is, however, a really exhausting technique, so I would only use it on someone you’re invested in building a good relationship with that doesn’t include offensive comments on the regular.

  22. Miserable Commuter*

    #1 — IMHO, it does sound dramatic/overstepping. The co-worker might have been pretending not to hear you because they didn’t know how to respond.

    Because my contract stipulates whoever is in it not to drive — long story — I walk 1 hour to work every day. In the summer, it’s 92 F/ 32 C (88 by 7:30am, usually) with 70-80% humidity and often rains (typhoon season). Just drink lots of water before and after you leave. Walk slowly.

    1. MsSolo*

      I was thinking something similar – my walk to work is around 45 minutes; 15 minutes is a distance where it would genuinely not occur to me that there might be a quicker and cooler way of getting there. LW1’s city must have some really good public transport (and general traffic) if that’s actually a viable option – too many years of British buses have taught me that anything under an hour’s walk is quicker and less stressful than twenty minutes at a bus stop (because at least one bus won’t come), forty minutes standing on an unair-conditioned and over-occupied bus crawling through heavy traffic, and then a ten minute walk to wherever I want to be because the bus stops are never in actually convenient places, and paying through the nose for the privilege. Little bit jealous, tbh!

      1. Les G*

        What’s the point of this comment? LW’s coworkers probably aren’t commuting in from your city so I assume they would deem the transportation situation in your city wholly irrelevant–which, indeed, it is.

        1. Baby Fishmouth*

          That’s a little rude – I think the point of MsSolo’s comment is to point out that commutes are all relative. I think in most North American cities, in particular, people tend to be fairly dependant on cars and AC, and many think of all types of walking in various types of weather as a big hardship* – it’s good to realize that it’s not unusual. A 15 minute walk is actually really not long – even in the heat, it shouldn’t require the OP to work from home, short of an actual health issue. Many people walk 15 minutes to get to and from their work parking lot, even if they drive.

          *Obviously, this is a generalization, but it IS true for a lot of people. I voluntarily used to walk an hour to work because I enjoyed it, but I had MANY coworkers tell me they felt so sorry for me having to walk, and couldn’t I afford a car or the bus?

          1. KarenK*

            “Many people walk 15 minutes to get to and from their work parking lot, even if they drive.”

            For me, you’re not far off. It’s about 10 minutes from my office to my car in the parking garage. Now, it’s all indoors, and there’s an enclosed walkway from the building to the garage, but it’s still a hike.

            It will get worse in the near future. They’re tearing down our employee garage to add a whole wing to the hospital, and our new garage will be about a half-mile away. If I’m lucky, I’ll be retired before this is completed.

          2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Yes! My husband has a 10-15 minute walk from the door of his building to his car, parked in a lot on company property.

          3. neverjaunty*

            “It’s all relative” doesn’t really matter. If you have a horrible 45-minute commute that’s creating a lot of stress and expense for you, it doesn’t help you or your gas costs at all for me to point out that commutes are routinely twice as long in my area, or to say that I personally enjoy the long commute because I get to listen to podcasts.

            1. Yorick*

              Well, it may matter to OP enough that she looks for a new job with a shorter walk commute. But “relative” DOES matter in an office where few people drive so almost all of them have to deal with the hot weather.

              1. neverjaunty*

                But in that case, the issue is office and local culture – not “Some people walk to work uphill in the snow BOTH ways, OP.”

        2. PersephoneUnderground*

          Hey, be kind! If the comment isn’t detracting from the discussion there’s no need to call it out like this. I have noticed a few comments like yours on the boards lately and they make me less likely to post a comment at all because I don’t want to get nit-picked like this. Really, in person would you answer a friend’s story about her similar experience to yours with “Why did you tell us that, no one wants to waste time on your story, mine is about buses not trains!” Even if the comment was slightly off topic, this response to it was rude. Let Alison moderate unless there’s something egregious that needs to be flagged.

          1. Les G*

            My beef is not that the comment is off topic. It’s that the comment seems to be telling the LW to stop whining because this random commenter would love to have her commute options. Well, who cares? The point of the letter is LW does not feel lucky about her commute, and “I’m jealous of your non-problem problem” is passive aggressive for no reason.

            1. Turquoisecow*

              Who cares if you don’t care? This is kind of the point of this site – people share their own experiences all the time, even if they’re not directly relevant to the OPs. Your comment here is coming across as overtly hostile to one individual when lots of others have done similarly.

        3. pleaset*

          It’s AAM where everyone chimes in with their own experience as if we’re building a database of anecdotes.

          I walk 2 minutes, then subway, then 8 minutes. Except when I drop my boy off at school, which has 15 minutes in the middle, with the subway portion split in two.

          Sometimes it is hot. In the winter is snows.

          My first name is very common, but still sometimes used in jokes. It’s awkward and I don’t know how to respond when that happens.

          I hate going to office social events after work.

          My monthly mortgage payment is around $2K which is very inexpensive. OMG I just realized that for some people that might be a lot. Sorry to be so inconsiderate. I guess it depends on how much someone makes and the general COL where they live. Not everyone can move, so don’t say that like it’s so easy.

          1. Les G*

            Sure, folks can and do share irrelevant personal stories til the cows come home. I do it too! My issue is with this poster using the transit situation in her city to say “actually, OP, I think you don’t have a real problem, but I’m going to just hint at that through this anecdote.”

          2. TootsNYC*

            as if we’re building a database of anecdotes.

            Yes! This is why I like to see comments like that.
            MsSolo’s comment wasn’t particularly mean or dismissive of our OP’s commute.
            And I find these “oh, my experience is different” stories to be helpful.

        4. Seriously?*

          It isn’t irrelevant. They are sharing how such a request would be perceived in their office. That happens all the time in the comments and can provide good insight into the general perception of a request or action. Their comment added to the conversation. Yours did not.

      2. Loose Seal*

        If the OP is in the U.S., there may not be great public transportation. A very few large cities here have reliable public transportation but most don’t. Sure, they have some buses and maybe a tram/subway system but it doesn’t go where you need it, when you need it. I live near Atlanta where public transportation is a complete joke. I really wish (without having any say because I don’t live in the taxable area) they’d invest more into its infrastructure because I’d much prefer to take public transport if I could get to where I’m going!

        1. Loose Seal*

          And I just realized that I’ve made my second comment this morning without fully procthe jist of what I’ve read. Sorry, excuse what I just said.

          Note to self: Back away from the keyboard until you fully wake up!

      1. Manya*

        Actually, it’s great exercise, and combats the office butt that so many people get from sitting for 8 hours at work.

        1. TootsNYC*

          and considering that I spend an hour standing or sitting on a subway car–it’s not that much worse in terms of time. I might prefer the walk!

          1. Miserable Commuter*

            There are definitely pros and cons, and totally depends on the person! After having done an hour commute by train (in another city) and an hour walk, I think I prefer the walk during fall/spring but would prefer the train in winter/summer.

        2. Clisby Williams*

          Yeah, my husband’s walk-commute is at least 2.5 miles each way. (I say “at least” because sometimes he takes a more roundabout way to get more exercise.) He hates “exercise”, as in going to a gym to work out, or running. Walking is it, and 5 miles or more a day is a decent amount.

      2. Star Nursery*

        Ooh it’s a surprise at first but I bet they have great looking legs and are getting some of their excercise in!

      3. Jennifer Thneed*

        You know, I commented already, but I need to address this because it’s rude.

        I think that an hour-long car commute is “nuts”, and I grew up in car-commute country! (and that’s one reason why I left). Lots of people here in AAM talk about how long their commute takes and an hour each way is not unheard of, so it must be the walking that you think is outrageous? Personally, I think it’s weird that people will drive to a gym in order to get exercise.

        My commute was once an hour each way, and half of that was a bus ride, with 15 minutes of walking on either end. So it was a commute and an exercise program all in one. Another commute I had was about a half-hour each way on foot. Another commute was about a half-hour on the train and another half-hour on foot in the mornings (in the afternoons it was warmer and the shuttle bus schedule was better aligned for me). Exercise is good for us. Why is an hour walk every day “nuts”?Do you really think that it’s a bad idea?

    2. MLB*

      I agree 100%. In the summer where I live, it averages 90 degrees with high humidity (many days will be over 100 with the heat index). I used to take public transit to work and while it wasn’t ideal, it was what I had to do. Use an umbrella, wear shorts and t-shirt to walk and then change once you get there, etc. It’s not much different than layering when it’s cold. Unless there’s a health reason to avoid the heat, LW is going to sound like a whiny child asking to WFH when it’s hot.

        1. Miserable Commuter*

          I work for a local city government where they’ll hire 30+ individuals from different countries going to different offices throughout the city. Someone got in a car accident one time, and the city decided no one holding that position could ever drive to work again. There is a network of trains/buses in our city, so, for most office placements, the average commute is about 20-35 minutes (most of it being public transit). Mine is 50/55 minutes walking and 10 minutes by train.

          We are assigned housing and office locations. You can reject the housing location, but it may cost you more than $4,000+ to leave it. Although my apartment is downtown, my office is pretty rural (think rice paddy fields, unpaved roads) and has limited public transportation office.

  23. Plsjustdont*

    THANK YOU Alison for including “comments on height” as an example of weird, thoughtless, awkward human behavior. PSA: Do NOT comment on a person’s height. I promise you, you have absolutely nothing original to say. Even if you’re framing it as a compliment, it’s rude. Asking someone if they play basketball counts as commenting on height. For the love of god, do NOT make a game with your buddies of guessing a person’s height. Doing so earns you a one way ticket to some corner of hell where everyone you meet comments immediately on your least favorite mole, or asks whether you’re a professional hot dog eater, since you “have the perfect build for it.”

    1. London Calling*

      Oh yes, comments on height. I reached the height I am now by the age of 12. Interminable comments from relatives along the lines of ‘My goodness, you’re tall, aren’t you?’ why yes, I am, and I do know, thanks. For the record, I’m taller than the average British woman but I’m not a giant by any means.

    2. Shannon*

      A lot of people are socially awkward and my being tall gives them a talking point. I’m 6’0″ sans heels which I often wear, I’m not going to get upset if someone comments on it. Now if I had a coworker or someone I saw regularly who repeatedly commented on it that would be different but fortunately in 40 years it’s never happened. I guess I’m lucky. As for family we’re all tall. My nephew is two and we can already tell he’s shooting up. Funnily enough just last week a man I have know 12+ years came into my office & towards the end of our conversation I stood up & he took a giant step backwards and said “oh, you’re tall!” & I said “indeed” and he said “I guess every time I’ve talked to you you’ve been sitting down.” Me: “Surprise!” I don’t think he’s going to hell.

      1. CM*

        I give people one freebie. I am unusually short, and I don’t blame people for blurting something out about it. It’s the regular commenting that is a problem — it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out that that if you want to connect with somebody, talk to them about something other than a physical attribute of theirs.

      2. Observer*

        This kind of thing is a bit different though – it’s a bit of a startle reflex, so harder to control. But most comments are not that way. And the jokes are definitely not that.

      3. KayEss*

        I’m about 6’0″ and hardly anyone comments on my height, except my short friends who can’t reach the drinking glasses in my kitchen cabinets. I’d react pretty much the same way you do–those comments are inane, but not annoying.

        My cousin, however, is something like 6’11″… and strangers on the street will literally stop him to say things like, “Wow, how’s the weather up there?” When you have a lifelong pattern of people approaching and interrupting you like you’re an animal in a zoo for them to gawk at, the same comments become less “tolerable awkwardness” and more emotionally incendiary. It’s not a huge leap of logic or empathy to realize that someone tall has probably heard anything you could think to say on that subject at least once before, and is probably over it.

    3. There is a Life Outside the Library*

      Yes! I am only 5’9″ and I still get comments about how I must have played basketball in high school. Dude, I’m not even that tall…

      1. Long time listener, first time caller*

        I’m 5’11” and I had been at Old Job about a year when a woman started who was a few inches taller than me. I had random people come up to me in the hallway just to point out that I was no longer the tallest woman in the building. Like it was a contest and I had lost and I was having my Tallest Woman crown taken away.

        1. General Ginger*

          I’m now picturing you coming over to New Coworker’s desk with a little rhinestone tiara, going, “this is now yours”.

          But seriously, what reaction were people hoping you’d have? Wow, yes, tall women exist, and some are taller than others, how informative, thank you for telling me?

    4. Grey*

      Same goes for calling short men “big guy”, as in “Hey, Big Guy”.

      No, your not boosting my self-confidence. I’m not a 3-year-old. Don’t talk to me like my height is something I’m feeling bad about. Am I supposed to hear that and think, “Oh cool! He sees me as a tall man! All this time I thought I was too short”.

      I’m mild-mannered, but if you call me “big guy”, I’m going to let you know what I think of you.

      1. General Ginger*

        Wait, that’s what the “big guy” thing means? I like it even less now; I thought it might have been some kind of weird backhanded thing about my weight that people were trying to spin positively or something.

        1. Grey*

          I don’t here these people calling taller people “big guy”, so I have to assume they’re only saying it because I’m short.

          1. Lord of the Morning*

            I’m exactly 2 meters tall (about 6″7″), and I’ve been called “big guy” thousands of times.

            1. Blueberry*

              That may not refute Grey’s point, though — the same thought processes go into calling you “Big Guy” as if you hadn’t noticed before and calling him “Big Guy” sarcastically.

    5. Annie Moose*


      I usually wear my hair up, and if I wear it down, I inevitably get comments from all corners about how long it is!!! and wow!!! and how is your hair that long!!!!! and it gets tiresome. Yes, I am aware my hair is fairly long. No, it’s not all that amazing, it’s just down to my lower back and I know women with hair down to their ankles. That is long hair. (and you shouldn’t comment on the length of their hair either)

      And for the record? The secret to getting long hair is to stop cutting it.

      1. Persimmons*

        People love to tell me to donate my long hair. Like I shouldn’t own a part of my body and need to be scolded into giving it to someone more deserving.

        They are always very surprised to learn that I don’t meet donation criteria. My hair is chemically processed, and also too high a percentage of gray. (I go into that spiel in the hopes that they at least learn a little something about the concept.)

          1. Persimmons*

            Gray hair does not accept dye as consistently as colored hair. Because it takes donations from multiple people to make one wig, they dye the lots as a unit to ensure a consistent color. Gray (and already colored non-virgin hair) gives unpredictable results that tends to fade and look shabby.

            1. JeanB in NC*

              Interesting. I’m growing my hair out now but it’s basically pure white at this point.

        1. Annie Moose*

          OH MAN, I somehow forgot about the “you should donate it” comments!!

          Look, donating hair is a wonderful thing and if that’s what someone wants to do, go for it! But I really like having long hair, so cutting it off–even for a good cause–would kind of defeat the purpose. And if they’re so thrilled about hair donation, they should do it themselves.

          1. Meg*

            I thought the leading ‘charity’ in the US for hair donations actually sold the hair, i.e. not using it for wigs, which they get the hair from places like India.

        2. Plague of frogs*

          When I had long hair, I countered this by telling them how much blood I’ve donated, and asking them how they stacked up (this was super rude of me, but they started it).

      2. Kat in VA*

        My hair at its longest was just past waist-length. I did a huge chop several months back and now it’s flirting with my bra strap.

        I got tons of “donate your hair comments” when I was younger. Now I get “Your hair is really long for your age.”

        Why yes, I’m approaching 50 and my hair is longer than most women care to deal with at my *advanced age*. Thanks for the unsolicited comment on my appearance and how ’bout ‘dem TPS reports?

        1. Pebbles*

          Lita Ford is almost 60. She looks awesome with long hair (and I just saw her in concert last week!). Those people know nothing.

        2. Epiphyta*

          I knew I would be keeping my new stylist forever when she said “I will make suggestions as we work together; if you do not like them, you should tell me to jump in the lake, because it is YOUR hair on YOUR head and it has to make you happy”. This was during a Devacut last month, which took two inches off my length. Midback, big Botticelli curls. I am 53.

      3. Observer*

        And for the record? The secret to getting long hair is to stop cutting it.

        That is actually not true. Many people cannot grow their hair past a certain length, and some can but the bottom tends to get very, very split.

        Not that people should be commenting about your hair, but the question is actually not all that stupid.

    6. Kittyfish 76*

      This also goes the other way. At toxic oldjob, you weren’t part of the in crowd if you were short. Family business of tall people, and if you were short, it was commented on. Finally, I commented back that their short comments made me feel bad, and boy did that put me on their crap-list. Glad I am gone.

      1. Kat in VA*

        Isn’t it amazing, the things that people can get snipey and cliquey and vicious about?

        I don’t care WHAT your hair looks like as long as (a) I can’t smell it because it’s dirty and (b) it’s not floating in my tea.

    7. Kj*

      And weight/size- I’m pregnant and I get SO MANY COMMENTS. I know I’m carrying in front and that I have a big bump. Thanks everyone, I do not need to hear it 10+ times a day!

    8. Thlayli*

      Meh. I am tiny and it doesn’t bother me at all when people comment on it. I quite like talking about my height.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Cool. I guess that invalidates all the comments from the people who don’t enjoy it. Thanks for sharing! :)

        1. Thlayli*

          I wasn’t replying to someone just saying she didn’t like people commenting on her height. I was responding to someone who was shouting in all caps that no one should ever comment on anyone else’s height ever.

          So yeah, I think the fact that In fact some people enjoy talking about their height is relevant info.

          If I don’t like someone asking me about my job, doesn’t mean I get to shout in all caps that no one should ever ask about anyone’s job ever.

          1. Audrey Puffins*

            My personal rule of thumb, which has never failed me ever, is to keep my comments focused on things the person has chosen for themselves. Hair length *might* be fair game, their jacket or bag is definitely a good shout, and height is completely off the table.

  24. Cordoba*

    It seems that every other person in the office can get there by walking or taking public transit; unless there’s a specific medical or practical reason why the LW should be treated differently than everybody else this request is unreasonable and it would probably color how I thought of them long-term if I were their manager.

    If the walk is that horrible and draining but this problem can be resolved for $200 a month I recommend that the LW save ~$50 each month year-round and then treat themselves to the luxury of an Uber to work on hot days through the summer.

    1. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

      It would also impact how I thought of the person if I was simply their coworker (not manager). I’d keep it to myself because as we have discussed here other people’s attendance isn’t the business of their coworkers, but it would still be noticed.

    2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I agree and was going to comment along the same lines.

      I get it, anything higher than 80 degrees and I get grumpy and whiny. Add humidity to the mix and I’m likely to swoon and moan. That being said, I know this about me and plan my commute/home/life accordingly (including moving from a miserably hot state to something more normal).

      The OP either needs to shell out for the Uber walk earlier in the morning to avoid the worst of the heat (even if it means having a cup of coffee or otherwise wasting time until their normal work time) or learn to live with the walk. I guess they could approach their manager once with the request, but it’s likely to look very odd and special snowflakey depending on their work culture.

      I’ve read a lot of good suggestions about minimizing the impact of the heat and the OP should look into some of them.

  25. Al who is that Al*

    #3 – I find staring straight at them and saying “How original, never heard that before” and for repeats “Still being original are we?” helps

    1. There is a Life Outside the Library*

      That or use their last name in a joke…and when it doesn’t fit, they will see that it’s stupid to joke about someone’s last name.

      1. Pebbles*

        I tried that once though. Guy wouldn’t stop making “jokes” with my last name so I tried one on him with his last name. I felt more awkward than him and he didn’t stop his “jokes”. YMMV.

  26. Glomarization, Esq.*

    When I’ve commuted on foot in terrible summer climates, I’ve liked to walk out of the house with a water bottle or travel mug full of ice water. Sipping it along the way helps keep my core temperature down and reduces my discomfort a little. Also I’d try to leave a little early. If the dew is still on the grass instead of in the air, then I’m not walking through it, ugh.

    Then when I get to work, I head directly to the bathroom, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and freshen up with some cool, wet paper towels before I head to my desk.

    A request to work from home because it’s too hot is almost certainly going to come across as unreasonable.

  27. SR*

    Regarding #2 (but really, a good chunk of items coming through here on a regular basis): the advice of Radical Candor seems very apropos (check out the site, the free podcast, or the book). It would be awesome to have the author on an episode of the AAM podcast!

  28. xms967*

    Re #3, ugh. I always figure that people went through schooling when they were young, and so have already heard every single name joke there could possibly be.

    1. PersephoneUnderground*

      Baha, this exactly. Also why I find it funny when older gentlemen apologize for cursing in front of me because I’m a younger woman (everyday ones like “excrement”). It’s a nice sentiment but elementary school took care of my “virgin ears” :p

    2. Bea*

      That’s because unlike the others these folks encounter, you recall school but eventually grew up to leave it behind. The people making these jokes are the same as the people who never matured passed the 10th grade :(

  29. LGC*

    LW1, I’m not a doctor, but I’m a little concerned that you deal with the heat so poorly that it ruins your day and you’re seriously considering taking WfH days. (The first is a guess. The second is your actual letter.) This is obviously very drastic, but I’d consider relocating if this is plausible for you. Or at least maybe mentioning this the next time you see your doctor.

    LW2, in your case you already know that being blunt works. You will feel like you’re being rude. Normally you would be rude, but 1) that’s the only way he’s going to listen, apparently and 2) he’s being racist (small r racist, guys) and also complains about work all the time.

    I’d consider saying that he’s always invited, BUT you don’t want to hear him complain about how chief llama grooming officer is such an idiot or remarks about how all the Moldavians in your city HAVE to know each other at the happy hour. Or at work.

    LW3 – just commiserating! My coworker has a first name with a couple of associations, one of them well known and very unpleasant. I can’t tell you how many times people have made jokes when I mention her first name. It’s not funny. I will seriously consider writing you up for it if you make another joke about it. That means you too, Mom.

    LW4, you shouldn’t weaponize your IBS against your terrible boss. But if you choose to do so, I completely support you in this endeavor.

    LW5…don’t let them use you like that. You may love your job, but they don’t love you back (nor should they).

    It’s a lesson I had to learn myself – the company’s first loyalty is to its own operations. They’re not employing you out of the goodness of their hearts. And that’s where you have power – as a non-exempt employee, they have to pay you for working (and further, even if it weren’t required this would be the right thing to do anyway). Don’t leave hundreds or thousands of dollars on the table just because you love the mission.

    (And I hope I’m not being too harsh! But also, LW5, you’re worth more than you think!)

    1. Austin-ite*

      I agree with your response to #1. 15 minutes isn’t a long time. I live in Austin and it’s damn warm/hot from May to October. Fortunately I love the heat and am used to it. 15 minutes in the morning would be nothing, in the evening it would be a bit hot but I would just carry a cold ice water bottle with me.

      Obviously, I know everyone is different, but if heat is normal in #1’s city it would come across as weird if they asked to WFH on hot days when you only have a 15 minute commute.

      1. LGC*

        It’s not even 15 minutes – they say that they feel pretty unwell after a couple of blocks! (They didn’t say how many, but I assume that it’s a five minute walk or so.) That’s actually what alarmed me.

        Granted, I handle the heat relatively well (and I live in New Jersey, which was actually that hot last week), but it seems as if even being outside for five minutes makes you ill enough to think about staying home, there might be something medical. (And there may well be! One of my friends got heat stroke last year, and she had mentioned that even after recovering she was much more heat sensitive.)

        Like, I don’t know LW1. But it doesn’t sound like the summer is healthy for them.

      2. OP*

        LW1 here. Glad you consider 15 minutes in the heat to be nothing. You’re fortunate. That’s not the case for me.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Are you hurrying to work? That stress would make me a sweaty mess too! If you’re hurrying on the walk, could you plan it so you can take your time instead? That might help you stay more comfortable.
          Another thing that might be in play is allergies. If you’re allergic to pollen or mold and it’s in the air, that could make you feel sick. I have mold allergy and the best thing for me in warm muggy weather is to stay inside. I can go for brief walks (~2 blocks) if I don’t try to rush and have taken my medicine.
          If you think it might be allergies, see an allergist for treatment and medication. Meanwhile you could try wearing a surgical mask when outside and see if that helps.

  30. A*

    At my last job, a few of us would periodically get together for happy hour. One woman was left out after she started making gendered comments. If a man had a second or third drink, she would not say a word. But let it be a women to order a second drink (ie me) and she would start telling them to watch out and exercise self control because drinking too much isn’t ladylike. No one wants to be policed or insulted during happy hour so she no longer got invited.
    It wasn’t an official work happy hour so she was free to have her own ladylike happy hours after work.

    1. Kvothe*

      Ugh that would grate on my nerves so bad! It reminds me of a time when me and my friend were at a restaurant and got the oversized beer pints (because vacation) and we could hear an older lady two tables away scoffing at how unladylike it was….

    2. Bea*

      I’ve never been dainty or anything close to “ladylike”, I wish these people would try me. I’m glad you stopped inviting her, ick.

      1. A*

        Exactly! Who said I want to be lady like. I just want to enjoy my drink and share a few laughs with my coworkers before heading home.

  31. Feotakahari*

    #2 sounds suspiciously like Geek Social Fallacy #1. It’s not about being a “clique,” it’s about not allowing jerks to get away with being hurtful.

    1. Tim Tam Girl*

      100% this. And it’s compounded by being related to work (as opposed to a strictly social situation) so the pressure for socially-appropriate others to negotiate around his bullshit rather than call it out is even greater.

  32. QualitativeOverQuantitative*

    OP1-Commuting in high heat and humidity is the worst, but also par for the course in most areas. I keep a few things in my desk to help me freshen up when I get to the office. They make disposable cooling cloths that you press on your wrists and neck, a brush so I can redo my hair if necessary, and those oil blotting sheets they make for your face. Unless there is a health reason, asking to WFH because it’s hot feels high maintenance and not worth using your capital on.

    1. Chinookwind*

      The flipside is that, if OP1 is in a place like I am (currently Edmonton, AB), then I could see that one week we had in June which was so unusually hot AND humid that DH and voluntarily hid in the unfinished basement on the concrete floor with no furniture each evening as being bad enough to have to call in and ask for mercy and be allowed to work from home (especially if it meant being able to shift sleep patterns to allow you to sleep when it actually cooled off in the early morning until 9 am). When you go from friggin’ cold and 200+ days below freezing to less than a month later it hitting +40C, your body just can’t take the swing as easily.

  33. Some Sort of Management consultant*

    I just wanted to point out that some people handle heat better than others. Sometimes it’s caused by medical issues and sometimes not, some people just react badly to heat.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Alison’s advice, but it’s not always as easy as “walk slowly and drink a lot of water”.

    I have hyperhidrosis (I sweat REALLY much, basically) and take medications that are diuretic and/or affect my blood pressure.
    That means that while I can and do walk in very hot weather, I need to be very well-prepared to prevent dehydration and to keep myself fresh instead of melted in a puddle.

    Real life example: it’s about 25 degrees Celsius here right not, warmer than usual but not by much.
    I went shopping yesterday and tried on clothes and walked between stores. After the first store, I was so sweaty my hair was soaked and plastered to my head.

    Imagine me walking to work?

    1. Cordoba*

      If I was your manager I would definitely imagine you walking to work (or otherwise finding your way to the office) before I would imagine me letting you work from home absent a formal request for ADA accommodation.

      I’m a big proponent of WFH, honestly think that most parts of most office jobs could be done anywhere, and encourage all employers to let people work remote to the greatest extent possible. I still wouldn’t give one specific person the ability to work from home because they “just react badly to heat” unless there’s a diagnosis attached to that.

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        Oh, absolutely! But surely you can see why I avoid walking in the heat (and thankfully I can!)

        Like I said, I agree with Alison’s advice, I just wanted to give you my perspective.

    2. Alton*

      Yep. I think Alison is right that the OP may need to find a way to make it work if possible, but heat sensitivity can vary a lot. I have a hard time breathing in summer (especially since my seasonal allergies act up more) and there are days when just walking down the block for five minutes to put something in the mail is enough to trigger a really bad headache. It’s something I notice the moment I step out of air conditioning.

    3. Legalchef*

      Sure, but that’s not what the LW is talking about. I think everyone who is giving tips realizes that there are medical conditions that would mean that the tips won’t work or be as effective as they might otherwise. Presumably if there was an actual medical issue the LW would have mentioned it. The way the letter is written, it sounds like she just doesn’t like the extreme heat and it makes her grumpy (which it would for most people). That’s not enough to ask for special permission to work from home, since everyone who works there (and everywhere else experiencing a heat wave right now) needs to be out in the heat to some extent and is able to deal with it.

      1. Observer*

        Also, several people have explicitly pointed out that it would not be a bad idea to check with the doctor, if the heat really is that hard to deal with, ie being miserable or exhausted for an hour or more after getting into a reasonable temperature, rather than a few minutes to get back to yourself.

    4. an infinite number of monkeys*

      Yes, though in a place where the temperature is routinely very high during the summer, and a large number of workers commute on foot, nobody’s going to look crosswise at you for being sweaty. The daytime highs here typically reach around 90-100F from May through September. Where I live, most people commute by car, but lots of us take advantage of the office’s proximity to a really nice hike-and-bike trail during breaks and lunch. I’m pretty used to seeing dewy coworkers and quite often have a good glow going, myself. It’s just… not really an issue here. I don’t think it could be.

      1. Chinookwind*

        Yup – the correlation in Canada is that nobody cares about “hat hair” once it hits -20. We all know that we are bundling up at that point and no one looks good after wearing a toque and scarf.

    5. PersephoneUnderground*

      I think this is a good point- some people will be more likely to actually get sick from heat than others, diagnosis or not. People’s body chemistry varies so we have different reactions to extreme weather (I am thinking here of other situations where healthy people have varied reactions, like changes in altitude. On a trip to Peru I got the worst case of altitude sickness in our tour group despite being 20 years younger than anyone else). I think it’s on the person to try to find a way to make it work and push through if we’re just talking about discomfort since yeah, we all deal with that. But it’s also good if work can be flexible on the butts-in-seats thing if they’re set up to be. It’s more efficient to stay home and get all your work done than walk in and waste a couple hours recovering/pushing through before you can be productive if the heat really effects you, or actually making yourself sick and having to take sick leave.

      Other thought- early morning arrival plus siesta nap over a longer lunch plus leaving later to both arrive and leave when it’s a bit cooler? Also practical, it’s worked in hot countries for centuries so why not try it if the circumstances fit? Of course you’d need an empty office or something for naps, but that would be a great solution for me :) Yes, I know it’s unlikely to fly culturally but would still be awesome- I can fantasize right?

  34. Cassandra*

    OP1, are you able to bicycle? (I don’t want to assume — physical challenges, hills, could be lots of blockers here.) If so, a 15-minute walk could turn into 5 minutes outside plus a breeze. I won’t lie, sweat is still a thing on a bike, but it might help.

    1. Competent Commenter*

      I live in an area that’s very hot (up to 108) but not humid, so YMMV but I find that bicycling in heat isn’t bad as long as you’re moving. As my friend said it’s like bicycling into a hair dryer by you don’t get as hot as you’d expect because of the breeze you’re creating as you move. Stopping at a traffic light though…suddenly it’s like you’re in an oven.

      1. Washi*

        I live in an area that is both hot and humid, and I agree with this. I often bike 50-70 minutes home in 90+ degree heat, and find that much more bearable than a 20 minute wait at the bus stop. That said, my path home is mainly shady-ish bike trails. If OP is only a 15 minute walk from work, she probably lives in a traffic-y downtown core that is not very shady, and where she has to stop frequently at lights and experience the dreaded oven effect.

    2. Roja*

      Or a simple kid’s scooter? If you’re in a place that has smooth enough pavement, that’s a relatively inexpensive way to get somewhere that’s not as vigorous as walking (faster too).

      1. only acting normal*

        I used to do part of a commute on a microscooter! :)
        NB There are proper adult ones – I don’t think a kids’ one would be the right size or robustness for an adult.

    3. PersephoneUnderground*

      Ooh, this plus one of those ice-packs you Velcro around your neck could work nicely.

    4. LGC*

      …honestly, cycling might be worse! I’ve done it, and it can be a workout on hot days, especially if there are hills.

  35. MicroManagered*

    OP3: I have an odd last name too that people comment on a lot. (And it double-sucks because I’m going through a divorce right now and don’t even LIKE my married name!) I’ve taken to saying, in a very deadpan tone, “Do you know you’re the first person who’s EVER said that to me?” (with a look that means “you are absolutely not the first person to ever say that to me”).

    I’ve also found that when I make one of those comments without thinking like “Wow you’re tall”–because, like Alison says, people do this–I will follow it up with “and I bet nobody has ever said that to you before, have they?” It kind of breaks that tension and acknowledges that yeah, I just did that annoying thing where you comment on something really obvious, sorry.

  36. Temperance*

    LW1: I’m in the NE, too, and what we all do is sort of suck it up, wash our faces again when we get to work, and keep emergency deodorant around.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m usually not an advocate of “suck it up”, but in this case… well, we all kind of have to suck it up. Summers in New York are absolutely killer, and some days every single person in my office would arrive drained and in a terrible mood, but we all had to deal (and sometimes steer clear of each other). It’s the trade-off for living in a place with extensive public transportation and pedestrian commutes. A bottle of water, cold packs, minimal clothing, brief makeup touch-up in the elevator, etc.– all par for the course. I now live in a much warmer climate with a car commute, and the heat still makes me miserable. I miss my bus-and-walk commute, because even in the heat it meant I didn’t have to sit in traffic! Trade-off. But bottom line, I think asking to work from home because it’s too hot is not going to go over well unless the a/c is off at the office.

      1. Upstater*

        Please specify the area of NY you are talking about. While the city areas (there are more than one) have a lot of mass transit most of the suburban and rural areas do not. It would be helpful if you said NYC and not NY. There is a lot of New York North and West of the Tappan Zee

        1. Roja*

          Thanks. I also live in New York, not the City, and I was thinking, what are they talking about? Summers here are beautiful! Easily cooler than most other parts of the US, except even further north and the Pacific Northwest.

        2. BuffaLove*

          I live in Buffalo and assumed AvonLady Barksdale was talking about NYC. The rest of the state isn’t really relevant to the discussion since the culture is to drive to work (and the weather isn’t nearly as hot).

        3. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I suppose I figured people would assume I meant NYC, because of the mention of public transportation. I certainly didn’t mean any offense, and I’m a little disturbed, frankly, at the implication that I was being, I don’t know, city-ist or something.

        4. Massmatt*

          She did specify; an area with hot summers and good public transportation. What else is relevant? Even if you find her description does not fit your particular area, it applies to hers. No one is obliged to literally spell out their locations for you.

          1. Kat in VA*

            To be fair, it could also be the DC Metro area where the summers can be sweltering and the public transportation (compared to other areas I’ve lived) is quite decent.

      2. The Original K.*

        Ditto. I think the facts that there’s a bus OP can take and literally everyone in the office manages to get to work on foot or PT make this a non-starter, frankly. I loathe heat and humidity – I was legit angry all week last week when it was 98, 99, 100 degrees and humid. Like, mad at the weather. So I understand the inclination to reduce outside time … but the OP can do that by taking the bus instead of walking. Soak up precious AC on the bus, drink ice water during the ride and during the few-block walk, and head straight to the bathroom to cool off and freshen up upon arrival at work.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          “precious AC on the bus” bwahahahaa! Around here, while the commuter buses have AC, the local buses all do NOT. And if OP is that close to work, they’re probably not catching a commuter bus.

          Can sometime please explain to me why nobody opens the windows on a hot bus? (When they *can* be opened and it’s cooler outside.) When they’re glad when I get on and open them? Why oh why does nobody else do that? I get that this is just one more way that I’m kind of a freak, but I really wonder why nobody else opens windows.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I’m in Houston. High 80s/low 90s is a *cool* day in the summer, and I swear there are days that would convince you it’s possible for humidity to go over 100%. And it’s like this for like 6 months of the year, plus, often well into October. Requesting to work from home to avoid a 15-minute walk in it is just not a thing for people who don’t have medical conditions. People bring a change of shirt to put on once they’re in the air-conditioning and have dried out.

      Being out in the weather sometimes is the flip side of being able to brag that you live in a walkable city.

      1. MG*

        Oops, either didn’t refresh or just didn’t see your comment before I added mine to elaborate on the fresh shirts ;)

      2. OP*

        LW1 here. The air quality here can be really bad, even for people without medical conditions, and there are often advisories issued by the local government telling people–healthy people included–to minimize time outdoors as much as possible. Living in a walkable city wasn’t a brag, it was a relevant fact to the letter. No need for the snark.

        1. a1*

          I don’t see snark at all in @Dust Bunny’s reply. It reads more as commiseration to me, and describing their own experience (which a lot of commenters do – share their experiences).

    3. MG*

      I’m another North-Easterner who walks in the heat, and I take it a step further than face-washing and deodorant… On days when it’s already hot/muggy in the morning, I will walk in a tshirt and bring my nicer work shirt in my bag.

      I also keep a spare shirt in my desk drawer in case I find I need to go out mid-day on a hot day that I *didn’t* do this.

      Honestly, what makes me “drained and in a bad mood” (to use OP’s words) is less that I’m hot all day after walking – at least in our AC office, I regulate pretty quickly – and more that I feel gross sitting in a sweaty shirt long after I’m cool, or feeling embarrassed by my underarm sweat stains in a meeting, etc. Just putting on a fresh shirt makes SUCH a huge difference for me.

  37. Selene*

    A few thoughts on the hot and humid issue. I’m originally from DC and I think I know exactly what you mean when you talk about it being hard to breathe. I actually did get diagnosed with asthma later, but I’m not sure if that’s why. I figure you’ve probably already seen a pulmonologist, but if you haven’t, you might want to just in case.

    This could be a pain, but it might be possible to break up your walk by stopping somewhere inside in the middle to catch your breath. Could be more trouble than it is worth, though.

    Coming in earlier might be a good solution, as well. If that’s not commonly done in your office, you might tell your manager the problem you’re having and ask if you can come in earlier. If your manager says no, maybe she will have other ideas.

    This one isn’t particularly helpful, but I’ve suspected part of what makes the humidity harder for me is pollution in combination with heat and humidity. Again, not particularly helpful, but if you ever plan on moving for other reasons, it’s something you might take into consideration.

    If there are a few days a year where it is extra terrible, that might be worth talking to your manager about working from home for just those few days.

    1. BlueWolf*

      Yeah, yesterday DC registered a Code Red for air quality, which apparently means it was bad even for people without health issues to be outside, but especially at-risk populations.

  38. Alton*

    #4: Policing people’s bathroom use has always felt draconian to me, even if there isn’t a diagnosed medical condition. Obviously it can be different if someone is using “bathroom breaks” to socialize or put on makeup or something, or if it’s the sort of job where stepping away could sometimes cause serious problems or endanger people (like if you’re a surgeon or pilot). And sure, sometimes you might want to wait a few minutes if you’re in the middle of something. But how many people really use the bathroom more than they need to? People need to use the toilet. I feel like accepting that is part of employing human beings.

    1. MLB*

      Most of the time I would agree, but I used to work with a guy who would take a newspaper into the bathroom with him every morning and spend about a half hour in there – he told me he waited until he got to work purposefully. There are always people who take advantage of a situation. But I’m always of the mindset that if the work is getting done well and on time, it shouldn’t matter how much a person is using the bathroom or chit chatting (as long as they’re not disturbing others).

      1. Lexi*

        I think it also depends on what type of job is being done. The floor below mine is the customer service floor and the bathrooms there are made for it being a call center, so there are 40 stalls for women, as opposed to 2 on the other floors. However when I run down to use it I always hear at least one sleeper (ie snoring), and at least 2 phone calls coming from stalls. My co-worker and I were laughing about it before a meeting that our BM’s are being broadcast and my boss chimed in saying that they are having a real issue from CS where their job is to be on the phone and they log out of the system so they wont get calls while they are off and their bathroom breaks are going up to 10-25 minutes several times a day.

    2. sunny-dee*

      I think the issue is that the OP is using the bathroom significantly more than anyone else. It’s one thing to go once or twice a day (which is pretty standard), and another to go every hour, which is like 8-10 times per day. Even if it’s only 5 minutes each time, that’s still about an hour every day where they’re just gone.

      Absent any indication it was a medical issue (and apparently the OP has been acting like this is just normal), I could see it being frustrating or disruptive for the manager or other coworkers.

      1. General Ginger*

        I don’t know; I don’t have a medical condition pertaining specifically to this, but I go 5-10 times per day. That’s just how my body works, and always has. What am I supposed to do, not go, and potentially develop a medical issue? If my work is done, what is so urgent that it can’t wait five minutes without causing a disruption?

        1. Persimmons*

          This body of commenters seems to skew towards office dwellers, but there are plenty of jobs in which it could be an issue–customer service, hospitality, manufacturing…that’s why getting protection/accommodation is important.

          1. Persimmons*

            ETA: In fact, I recall a thread within the past couple of months about how teachers were intentionally dehydrating themselves because they couldn’t get classroom coverage to use the restroom.

          2. General Ginger*

            Right, what I’m saying though, is that I don’t have a medical issue for which I could get accommodation. I just need to use the bathroom.

      2. Katniss*

        I drink a lot of water, which is a very good thing! There’s no way I’d survive going to the bathroom once or twice a day: I’d be in pain often just from needing to pee. I go about every two hours and sometimes every hour. I think you’ll find a lot of people have similar experiences.

        1. sunny-dee*

          I’m sure there are, but the average number of times that people go to the bathroom is 5-7 times per day. That’s total. If you’re going significantly more than that, it’s going to be noticeable. That doesn’t make you a bad person or unproductive or whatever. It just means it’s noticeable.

          There may be a reason that this situation is more frustrating than others. Maybe there’s only one bathroom on that floor or maybe meetings have been delayed or maybe someone else is covering phones. Maybe the boss stopped by their desk five times in a row for a quick conversation and ended up having to wait every time and it was just bad luck. We don’t know.

          But in this situation, there is a medical reason which is not going to go away. If the OP is acting like nothing is happening when other people are obviously noticing a pattern, it’s going to come off as strange. That’s all. A two second conversation — “I have IBS, thanks” — and it’s over. But without that context, OP is just “person who is always gone from her desk and hangs out in the bathroom a lot.”

        2. Like what even*

          Exactly! I drink about 3 or 4 bottles of water a day while at work and would not be able to function only going to the bathroom once or twice a day! Luckily it doesn’t seem like we have any pee police in our office.

    3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I think it’s like anything else, the answer is ‘it depends’.

      One of my team’s previous manager used to make them write a note and leave it on their desk whenever they left it, with the time and where they were… “Fergus-Bathroom-9:42” “Wakeen- Meeting-11:00”. This was overkill and yes very draconian. (Manager was the definition of a micromanager and not the most stable person in the world)

      On the same token if you are in a job where your job function is monitored (any type of call center, one that you need to find coverage for even short absences (mfg line, reception, childcare worker, etc), then frequent bathroom use is a lot more organically noticeable.

      I also tend to think that some people start noticing things after something has happened. Someone earlier mentioned a coworker that used to nap in the bathroom because of hangovers, we’ve also seen and heard stories of drinking and drug use in bathrooms, or candy crush breaks. Anyone who has dealt with an employee doing those kind of things is probably going to be a bit more noticing than others might be.

      1. Alton*

        I feel like in most of those examples, though, there are ways for workplaces to accommodate people. It’s a cultural issue, and a matter of what workplaces want to prioritize. Sometimes it’s an issue of a workplace prioritizing profits and efficiency over the well-being and ability of their employees, or hiring the level of help they need. And honestly, as a consumer, I’d rather have to wait on hold a little bit longer or wait for a few minutes before being helped if it means that the employee who’s helping me has the chance to take care of their needs and do their job properly.

    4. Bea*

      I agree. It bothers me that I’m by the restrooms so I have learned everyone’s bathroom habits. I had a moment where I thought “oh again?” and wanted to punch myself for even knowingly registering it. I can’t imagine actually acting like it’s a big deal or bringing it up unless there was a coinciding issue with performance. “I noticed you’re away from your desk at least hourly, maybe that’s to blame for your performance slipping?” Otherwise, yeah it’s so strange and authoritative to track employees every move unless you’re in a few specific jobs.

      I have no gallbladder, some days I have to run for it. So I’m sympathetic to more than average potty breaks.

  39. It'sNan*

    #1. I’ve long held that if people can stay home when they think we might get a half a snow flurry, then I can stay home when it’s hot. I’m quite happy to drive to work in the snow, but can’t stand the heat. Bad weather is bad weather, and both can be dangerous. Unfortunately, my employer doesn’t see it that way, so here I am all summer. Ugh. I detest summer.
    Unless it’s health related, or truly dangerous, I think we’re stuck going outside.

  40. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    OP #3 – I sympathize! I have a two word last name (not hyphenated) which is challenging enough, but one of the words is synonymous with a certain slur against lesbians. I was very fortunate not to get teased about it in high school, but it’s problematic in other ways – my sister works for a religious organization with a very strong content filter, and when she first started work all of her emails were quarantined because they contained that word!

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      That’s kind of funny about the filter.

      The same thing happened with someone I worked with, as the client’s newly installed content filter was set a little too strong and quarantined all emails with a very common industry term. From what I heard it was chaos at the company until they fixed it. The word was an abbreviation for cumulative that is also slang for a bodily fluid but is also a standard measurement term.

      /end derail

  41. Rusty Shackelford*

    #1, maybe it would be better if you checked with your coworkers to see if any of them feel the same way. If a group of you said “We really appreciate our Friday WFH day during the summer, and since the heat makes commuting such a nightmare, we wonder if it would be possible to extend that,” it would seem less oooh, I’m a delicate little flower who wants to be coddled on your part.

    Full disclosure – I am a delicate little flower who does want to be coddled during the summer. No judgement here.

    1. MG*

      Ha, I am definitely someone who hates summer and would rather walk uphill both ways in the snow than in the heat. Maybe someday enough of us will speak up that we’ll get some allowances for heat the way others do for snow.

      (That said, I work for a public institution that basically does not close for anything barring serious emergencies – so it’s not like I could say I want to trade my “snow days” for “heat days” anyway!)

  42. Heat and WFH*

    Context is very important in regards to the heat question. IF excessive heat is unusual to your climate, and IF the logistics of WFH in your case are relatively seamless, and IF your work culture is incredibly flexible…maybe you could get away with it. Tiny, improbable maybe.

    Even though I actually do meet all those criteria, I still could never pull this off due to the context of my particular company. I’m an office worker, but my campus includes a foundry. If I complained about it being too hot to get to work when my coworkers actually spend their shifts pouring molten metal, my boss might die laughing.

  43. Ladyphoenix*

    LW2: Look up “Geek Social Fallacy.”

    You know Fergus is obnoxious and also racist. So why the h3ll would you want to do anything with hin beyond working with him (if even that).

    Racists, perverts, and general unpleasant people want to keep other quiet and “maintain the peace”, “don’t cause drama”, etc so that they can continue being awful people and have a group that condone his actions.

    If you happened to invite Fergus as well as that POC coworker who was being harassed by Fergus, what do you think will happen? Fergus will now act racist to the coworker except it will be off hours. Will you tell the coworker “Just let it go?” Or “Don’t let him get to you?”

    Nah, be direct. “Fergus, we don’t invite you because you’re racist.” And keep uninviting until he actually starts redeeming himself (Sorry is not a reset button, btw).

    And at work, CALL HIM OUT. Racists will ignore “hints” or small social cues. They know everyone hates what they are saying, but they DON’T CARE.

    So you have to be direct.
    “Wow, Fergus. That is incredibly racist. You should stop.”
    “Dude, that is really gross. Stop.”
    “Dude, stop being racist.”
    “I already told you to stop being racist. I will contact HR/manager now.”

    1. neverjaunty*

      Co-workers are in a different category than social friends, though. In a geek social circle you can stop hanging with Fergus at all; you can’t just decide to stop talking to a co-worker anymore if you dislike him. The problem here is a social event involving co-workers.

      Of course, shutting him down (and going to HR) is important.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I think then one other important thing is to clearly, clearly define these gatherings as “not work.”

        So, tighten the guest list, never ever talk about it at work. And then say, if Fergus brings it up, “It’s not a work gathering, Fergus; it’s just some friends. And you and us are not close; we colleagues, not friends.”

    2. nonegiven*

      Don’t call him racist, call him out for saying racist things. That way you’re calling out a behavior, not getting into an argument about him being a racist.

      1. tangerineRose*


        And maybe you can just tell him “The reason we don’t invite you is because you say things like that, and none of us want to be associated with that. If we’re hanging out with you socially, and you say something like that, people will think we agree with you – I don’t want that.”

  44. MTUMoose*

    Hi #3 I can relate in that my surname is an excel logic value. I have been dealing with jokes about it my entire life.

    As I have grown up I have learned to embrace it by trotting out the best (worst) Dad jokes about my name. By being a little punny it takes the power away from the other person and returns it to me. If someone does make a joke I just laugh and roll my eyes and then keep moving on with the discussion. If they keep going I tell the story of my middle school VP who suggested I find a partner with the opposite logic value so it could be a Logic Value / Logic Value wedding. I can use this example just to show how stupid those jokes are to repeat offenders of the name game without being in your face.

    End of the day I love my last name and enjoy trying to live up to the good side of it. Though for some reason people never accept that it is spelled like the common word and excel always capitalizes the entire word unless I use the apostrophe trick.

    What works for me might not work for you so feel free to shoot down people who make the same stupid jokes as much as you like. You have the Internet’s permission.

    1. RVA Cat*

      I wonder if something like “I’m only a Beotch to people who tease me about my name” might work for OP3?

    2. Raphael*

      I have gone through the list of Excel logical values, but I cannot think of one that might become a surname in English and has an opposite. Then I Googled it and found that True can be a last name. Pretty cool.

  45. Adlib*

    Yeah, the “you’re really tall” is a thing I get all the time. I usually just say “yep” and change the subject. It’s a weird thing to say since people seem to just be blurting out the first thing they think when they meet me.

    OP #3: I hope you have success with using Alison’s advice. I’ve had people make similar jokes about me for one reason or another, and while they sometimes are just trying to be funny or good-natured, it starts to hurt after a while. I know the feeling so good luck to you!

    1. BadWolf*

      It’s inescapable at the other end too. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard, “Gosh you’re short.” Or more odd, “Have you always been this short?” Like…I normally have a tall presence that throws people off? (and I’m not shrinking yet, although that’s my fear whenever they check my height at the doctor). Fortunately, I’m not short enough that people get into extra rude comments.

  46. blink14*

    OP #1: You should check in with your doctor, just to make sure there’s no underlying health issue for you, it’s possible you could have asthma that is only triggered by the hot weather. Heat and humidity are two of my major asthma triggers, and while I can handle 5 minutes of walking in extreme heat, 15 minutes feels like 30 and can make me feel like I’m trying to breath through a towel. I also generally overheat really easily as it is, which could be your problem as well. I also have had low B12 levels which made me feel sluggish and irritable.

    I think if the heat is extreme and unusual for your area, you have a reasonable request (or if you do have a medical issue). However, if it’s more normal for your city to have extreme heat days, your management may not take the request so well. This would be similar to asking to work from home when it snows – in my area, some snow is the norm and people are expected to come in to work, but high amounts of snow or major storms mean working from home. From your Uber estimate, it sounds like this type of heat is common in your city. I would suggest trying to get to work early and giving yourself time to cool down on the walk and/or once you get to work. Is there a coffee shop or cafe you could stop into on the way to get a cold drink? You may also consider changing some or all of your clothes after your walk to work – maybe switching out tops, changing shoes, etc.

    1. Iris Eyes*

      In my area we have high heat index (Heat Advisory) days but we also have Ozone alert days where anyone with lung conditions and those who are young or elderly are told to stay indoors or at least limit their exposure. Those might be good days to use as a starting point if your area has an air quality index program.

  47. Stellaaaaa*

    Some of the language in OP4’s letter makes me wonder if she’s working on a retail environment, not an office. If that’s the case, Alison’s advice needs to be adjusted. Things change if OP can’t be at her register and that forces her coworkers to deal with more customers or cleanup than expected. All of this really depends on whether OP is being paid for her time (retail) or general work product (office).

    1. Sarah*

      yes the advice would change if someone is having to cover for her each time. Not to be crude but it doesnt sound like this is a quick 1-3 minute bathroom trip, she may need to be in there 15-20+ minutes each time and if that is every hour its going to be troubling no matter what type of job she has

  48. blink14*

    OP# 3: I can relate! My last name is from a now mainly English speaking country, but derives from an old language. It is almost always pronounced incorrectly in the US, and a lot of people with the last name don’t even realize that the US pronunciation is incorrect. My family has always used the proper pronunciation from the originating country, but it is a battle to have it pronounced correctly. I pick and choose who I correct (for instance, the workplace) but I just kind of give up in certain situations. However, I do find it disrespectful if someone I’ve corrected several times keeps saying it the wrong way.

    One of the “funny” offshoots from the incorrect, US pronunciation is that the first part of the name can be exaggerated to sound like a derogatory term. Someone picked up on it in middle school and it followed me well through college. In certain circumstances, it actually became a well meaning nickname from a few close friends (who I know 100% are not using it negatively and would stop if it really bothered me), but in other circumstances, its been used in a really mean way. I’ve basically just told these people to F off.

    It’s never actually happened to me in a work environment, probably because the correct pronunciation I insist on is less likely to draw comparison to the negative word. When someone mispronounces the name and I correct them, I say something like “Oh, that’s a common misconception in the US that my last name is pronounced that way, but actually my family has always pronounced it this way, which is the correct way in X country”. In your case, I would explain to this woman next time that your family name was shortened from the original name and you would appreciate that she respect you and your wife by not continuing to draw comparisons. A few times of her doing this is one thing, but constantly doing it is disrespectful and rude.

    1. Cordoba*

      If the majority of people in the US who *have* that name pronounce it differently than you do I don’t know that you can say they’re incorrect. I hope you don’t take it upon yourself to correct them. Words often change pronunciation between countries and cultures, this does not make the pronunciation wrong.

      I’m well aware that my own last name is pronounced differently in the US than in the country from which it originated. I actually care more about how my US-born grandparents pronounced it than what anybody does in the Old Country.

      My name is often mis-pronounced and misspelled because it’s an unusual one in the US and has a few adjacent letters that are uncommon in English. I don’t care if people get it wrong unless it causes a practical problem. But if somebody told me that I was pronouncing *my own name* incorrectly I’d definitely tell them to go jump in a lake.

      1. blink14*

        I certainly do not take it upon myself to correct someone, as you have just taken it upon yourself to try to correct me, but I have met other people with same last name and there is typically a conversation about how we each pronounce it and why. Because of my own experience with trying to get my name pronounced correctly, I am very aware of pronouncing people’s name’s in the way they prefer, and I grew up with several friends who were first generation Americans and had tough to pronounce names.

        The original pronunciation was passed down from my ancestors who immigrated to this country in the late 1800s, and our family has retained that. The way it is pronounced has to do with both the speech inflection patterns from the original country, which are not replicated in US English (but are in other English speaking countries) and the way certain vowels sound like in the original language (which is still a live language). It is important to me to honor the way my family has always said the name, but also the heritage attached.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          > I certainly do not take it upon myself to correct someone

          But you said you tell people this:
          > Oh, that’s a common misconception in the US that my last name is pronounced that way

          And that counts as correcting people. It might be more true to say “That’s the US pronunciation but my family uses the old-country pronunciation”. It’s certainly kinder to the next person they meet with the same last name.

          This isn’t unique to your name. This has happened to TONS of US families. Lots of names from other countries are not pronounced here they way they were in the old country, even when the old country is in Europe.

      2. Antilles*

        If the majority of people in the US who *have* that name pronounce it differently than you do I don’t know that you can say they’re incorrect.
        This actually raises an interesting question that I’ve thought about quite a bit: Is it actually possible to mispronounce your own name?
        One argument would be that words have an agreed-upon correct pronunciation. If you used the work ‘mark’ as a noun, we all agree on what it sounds like. If you pronounced it with an X (“Marx” a’la Groucho), you’d be saying it wrong. So if your name is Mark and you’re saying it with an X, that would be incorrect.
        But on the other hand…if it’s your own proper name, don’t you get the right to decide how to pronounce it? It’s *your* name after all, so however you choose to say it is the ‘right’ way by definition.

        1. blink14*

          In this case (I don’t want to give my full name), there is an A that is pronounced as an I, and more emphasis is put on the first syllable. In the US, the A is pronounced as a long A, with emphasis on the second syllable. It’s due to a combination of the originating country’s general accent and inflection patterns, and the language it derives from, which uses a lot of vowels in the written language, but in actually speaking the language, usually at least one vowel becomes silent. In this language’s spelling of the name, there is an A and I together, where the A is in the anglicized version, but this A becomes silent.

          It’s all up to how a person chooses to pronounce their name, or how their family does. My family has always used the original version of the name, and will continue to do so. For what it’s worth, in the area I live now, which has a large population that derived from immigrants from the same country, about 60% of the time it is said correctly from the start, so the original pronunciation was used and known here, but evolved as people moved to different regions and also acquired regional accents.

  49. Guy Incognito*

    My real name is something super embarrassing, so I feel your pain, OP3. (It was actually used on an episode of the Simpsons as a prank phone call. Not kidding.)

    Lean into it. That was the best advice I got. “That doesn’t describe you” “You don’t know me in my office hours.” Seriously. The more you laugh about it, the less people want to say anything about it, because the novelty wears off real quick. This lady who keep saying something WANTS a reaction from you.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      JoeyJoeJoe Shabadoo Jr? (I’m kidding, I know that wasn’t a prank call but it’s my all-time favorite name on the simpsons).

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Ha, I got what you meant, no worries! I also loved when Homer changed his name to Max Power.

    2. Mrs. Fenris*

      My last name is a somewhat amusing food name. I ran out of witty replies to “oh, that’s a GREAT last name! Yum!” a couple of decades ago and now just say “Yep!” and smile. A famous actor has the same name and I get a surprising number of people who say “any relation to X?” That one irks me for some reason. “Not that I’m aware of, no.”

      A very occasional person will ask me if I’m related to someone locally with that name. That’s actually on the verge of being a painful subject, because it’s Fenris’s last name and our relationship with his dad’s extended family was not good. If the local person is distantly related to Fenris somehow, I actually don’t want to know about it.

  50. Jaybeetee*

    LW4: Commenting on an employee’s bathroom habits it like #1 on the Bad Boss checklist. I also have IBS, I’ve also had flare-ups when I was in the bathroom a lot…and I’ve literally only had one boss ever bring it up to me, at the Worst Job I Ever Had. And I’m someone who has worked customer service and all kinds of roles where it’s not necessarily easy to get away. Anyway, I think Alison has good advice on this one, just wanted to commiserate about the terrible boss that would bring it up.

    LW5: At a different OldJob, it was WFH, paid by the hour…but they wanted someone minding the phone line in the off hours/different time zones across the country (attached to our cells), and that responsibility would shift around weekly. So once every two months or so, for a week at a time, I’d be “on call” for the evenings, the previous Sunday, and the next Saturday. This was hand-waved as at most a few minutes of work, just pick up the voicemails, don’t rush to answer if you’re busy or out, etc etc. Then one time someone from across the country called riiiight at EOD their time (about 8pm my time) wanting a rather complex task set up, which resulted in a couple of hours of work for me that I never got paid for. I actually really liked that particular job overall, and they were usually pretty awesome, but that incident made me cranky. Again, no advice, just commiserating that off-the-clock work sucks.

  51. Lily in NYC*

    OP1 – It is not going to cost you $200 month to take uber if you are only using it on extra hot days. You calculated the cost if you took it every day. I am trying to be compassionate but I think it would make you look like a “special snowflake” at work. If you don’t have health issues you should not ask to work from home on hot days.

    1. alana*

      Especially if you’re taking UberPool or LyftLine, which any city with an urban core dense enough that you can’t park near work and public transit reliable enough that your 15-minute walk can also be a bus ride is likely to have, at least in the US. A trip of that length would be about $3 each way in DC.

    2. Like what even*

      If OP has any transit benefits, I’d look at see if those can be used towards uber pools and lyft lines. I know mine can!

  52. Dust Bunny*

    LW1: Bring a change of shirt if that helps (walk to work in a tank top and change into whatever is more appropriate once you get there) but otherwise, unless you have an actual health condition, where I live this would sound ridiculous. It’s hot and humid. We all sweat. But it’s not a weather crisis, it’s just the climate and it doesn’t get special treatment.

  53. Rivakonneva*

    I live in the Deep South, and right now it’s 90+ degrees with 90% humidity by mid-morning. Going outside to work is truly nasty, but it’s the tradeoff for no snowy/icy/dangerous roads in the winter. I just have to drink lots of water, rinse my face and wrists at lunch, and use my necklace fan ($4 at CVS) whenever I get a chance.

    That, and enjoy sending my Yankee relatives a picture of me happily sunning in the pool for Christmas. :)

    1. Book Badger*

      I worked a summer job in Chattanooga for two months. Didn’t have a car, so I walked half an hour there and half an hour back (it was about a mile and a half of sidewalk, so it was a fairly easy walk) unless it was raining, then I took the bus. I ended up getting legs of steel and was always there ahead of my bosses, who commuted.

      Thank God my office was very casual with clothes and I was only a clerk, so as long as I wore a knee-length or longer skirt and a decently modest shirt, I was fine.

    2. Mrs. Fenris*

      I live in the South too. Not far enough south to be in the pool on Christmas Day, by a long shot, but my goodness, I just spent 30 minutes outside pulling weeds and I just had to retreat into the AC. 50 years at this latitude and I swear, it’s like I forget how awful it is, every single year.

  54. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I have the opposite height issue at 5’1. My mother is 5’5, brother is 6’3″, dad is 6’1″. I am the shortest person in my entire extended family, except for my grandmother who is the same height. She was born right before the 1928 economic crash and did not get good early nutrition. Me? I have no idea. I just used to get annual x-rays for a minor medical issue as a kid and was told at 12 “yep, your growth plates are fused, this is as tall as you’ll get.”

    Please don’t ask me how I reach things or use me for an armrest! Please don’t go, “gosh, you’re tiny,” or “hi, short stuff!”

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Since I’m 5’11”, I’m always getting people that want me to reach stuff on the top shelf the grocery store, or people ask if I play basketball. It’s so annoying, but whatever. It’s not like I can change my height.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I find myself often having to ask! I don’t intend to annoy- rather, I really cannot reach said shelf without climbing onto the bottom one.

        1. Brandy*

          Yep and stores put stuff high and back on the shelves. I go grocerying with my mom and Im 4’11 and shes 5’3. Lots of times we have to ask someone to reach something for us. We try to reach as much as we can but sometimes ill stand in the aisle waiting for someone tall to come thru. Its not something I have control over, I cant reach it because of where the store puts it.

          1. Student*

            Grocery store factoid:

            If you ask a cashier or the front desk for assistance reaching objects, they’ll direct someone (usually a bagger) to assist you. This is good for one-offs, people with disabilities who need help throughout the store, etc. I was a grocery store cashier for a while, and this came up a lot with folks who are in wheel chairs or the motorized carts.

        2. hermit crab*

          Ha, yes, I’m about 5’2″ and ever since my neighborhood grocery store’s last shelf reorganization I am officially too short to buy canned chickpeas. I have no shame about climbing on the bottom shelf, though!

          1. Book Badger*

            I am also 5’2″, but fairly recently I helped an older lady reach the boxed mac & cheese since it was juuuuuust within my reach.

            …then I couldn’t get any of the other boxes for myself, since they were beyond my reach. A very tall guy offered to help me get those. XD

      2. Mrs. Fenris*

        We are a very tall family. My kids and I, in particular, are always being asked if we play basketball. This gets a burst of laughter from all of us. No. We don’t do team sports, or anything involving a ball. Nope. And for goodness sakes don’t recruit us for your game of pool volleyball. You will regret it.

    2. ellen*

      I’m 5’2″, my husband, roughly 6’6″. He calls me Shorty. He calls EVERYONE, including the odd person that is taller than him “shorty”, EXCEPT for this one lady that I know that actually has dwarfism. I need to add that there has to be a level of friendship before he will pull this, too. He’s not walking up to total strangers.

      1. Shorty*

        I am also short, and I was called “shorty” by a colleague at an old job many years ago. I just brushed it off…until his flirting got out of control and required management intervention. I was really confused about the whole situation. It turns out that calling a woman “shorty” is a come-on in his culture, somewhat like “babe”, and by not telling him to stop using that term, I was indicating that I was receptive to his advances. That was a weird lesson.

        1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

          Weird! When I was a kid, I was pretty short and my brother was quite tall. I started calling him “Shorty” to be obnoxious and then it just stuck. As we got older, we realized it had some other meanings, but… I can’t start calling him by his real name now, it just feels weird to me!

      2. Brandy*

        I need to do this. Find a tall man, so he can go grocery shopping with me. Id have soo many bags of cat food (top shelf always and pushed waaay back).

        1. Chinookwind*

          You can shop with the tall man and works great, but living with them is a pain. DH (6’4″) always puts stuff on the top shelf in closets (I thought they were just there for hanging stuff from) and at the back of deep cupboards. In order for him to sit comfortably, we have bar-height chairs and dining table which are a pain to clamber up to get anything from those shelves.

          On the other hand, he can easily shut off the smoke detector without having to drag a chair over, so there is that.

          What is funny is that I am taller than average (5’6″) so, when among other women, I am often the one taking things off the top shelves for them.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I’m 5’1.75″, and I joke that I married my 6’1″ husband for his height. (He married me for my body–my Canon AE1 camera body, which used the same lenses as his Canon.) One of my lines is, “Sweetie, come be tall in the kitchen.”

    3. Roja*

      I’m also 5’1″ and I second every word of this! It’s extremely frustrating. I’ll also add getting kids menus when I go out for dinner with my husband or the “what grade are you in?” comments from strangers. Please, people!

    4. Environmental Compliance*

      I am 5’2″ and have a very young looking face. The amount of times I get picked up (oh, you’re so little!! PUT ME THE FUCK DOWN BEFORE YOU REGRET THIS), get handed a kid’s menu (nah, drink menu please), or get called “little lady”……..augh. Or the “wow, you’re so short!” Uh, yes, I’ve noticed, thanks.

      Also, 6’4″ husband didn’t quite get why I insisted he go grocery shopping with me until the day that he saw me climbing up the shelves like a hooligan to get something. Now he also thinks he can hide candy from me on the top shelves of our kitchen cabinets….joke’s on him, because I can still reach them if I stand on the counter.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I threatened to, er, keep my brother in law from being able to have any more bio kids when he picked me up once- hey, I was perfectly at knee level with them because of how he lifted me!

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I have bruised a few sensitive parts and actually broke a nose from flailing wildly when a guy I didn’t even know ran up behind me and bear-hug picked me up. My feet happened to be perfectly aligned with the sensitive parts, and whilst flailing I had jerked my head back, and it met his nose. Apparently I was supposed to find the whole situation hilariously funny in some way. Oops.

    5. smoke tree*

      I’m 5’3″ and still get this sometimes. It’s not that unusual a height but apparently some people are really desperate for conversational topics. I also found that when I worked customer service, the same jokes and comments would come up multiple times a day, and it never occurred to anyone that they weren’t the first person to say it.

  55. EB*

    Re #1: I know a lot of people are saying suck it up, but does that work the reverse way in the cold? I had an incident a few years ago where I had a ~20-minute walk to work, no public transit options, no car, and at at the time I believe uber/lyft were not in our area yet. We had a heavy snow followed by several days of severely cold days. I mean wind chill hovering around -30 to -40 degrees. My boss was very much on team “suck it up” which was easy for her to say as a car owner. If you’ve not felt that cold before, let me just tell you, no amount of layering will cut it! I have proper winter gear, too.

    Maybe it’s climate change but this kind of weather is becoming more common every winter– I own a car now but have student interns that walk to work. I regularly call snow/cold days for them now! At least I can control that. I’m convinced our office wouldn’t close even if it was blown over in a tornado… we’d get the call that we could work from home finally, ha.

    1. Antilles*

      I think extreme cold gets a bit more leeway than extreme heat, but it really depends on situation-specific factors:
      1.) If everybody else is a car owner (as your boss was), they’ll probably be less sympathetic since it comes off as the consequences of your personal ‘choice’ to not own a vehicle.
      2.) How extreme is the weather? If it’s record-setting cold, then people will probably be fine with asking for a special exception. But if it’s something that happens rarely but regularly (“yeah, every winter we get a week or two where it gets like this”), then it’s a lot more reasonable to expect you to figure out some kind of alternative solution.
      3.) What are the school systems/local governments/etc doing? Most non-government offices don’t quite follow the local school closing recommendations, but if everything in the county is shut down, you’re on much firmer ground to push back on ‘suck it up’ than if everything is open.

      1. TootsNYC*

        1.) If everybody else is a car owner (as your boss was), they’ll probably be less sympathetic since it comes off as the consequences of your personal ‘choice’ to not own a vehicle.

        And I can see other people saying, “What’s your plan for when you need a car? Would you call in a favor from a friend or colleague? That’s your responsibility to figure out in advance.”

        And maybe even, “Couldn’t you ask one of us coworkers to pick you up for a day or two, or rotate among us if it goes on for a week?”

    2. MG*

      I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere bc I worked in kind of an unusual industry, but yes, the “suck it up” was the same in the cold at least in my situation – I lived in Boston for 10+ years, never had a car, and never had a snow/cold day from work.

      And in fact, more often than not, the people who took the “unofficial” snow days (as in, the office wasn’t closed but they just couldn’t make it in) were the drivers! Those of us who walked and took public transit really did just suck it up while drivers were either more skittish and/or legitimately couldn’t make it.

    3. Roja*

      -30 to -40 F is extreme cold. I don’t know where you live, but we have pretty cold winters ourselves (upstate NY) and things do close when the high is well below 0, usually a few days a year. And that’s for temps like -10. I’m pretty sure if it was -40 the whole town would shut down…

      I can certainly say if I were your coworker and I knew you didn’t have a car, that would be an automatic carpool offer at that temp.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I went to college in southern WI close to Lake Michigan. We’d regularly get windchill temps of -30 with 40+ mph gusting winds. Campus never shut down. I still walked to class if it wasn’t icy, as did most students. We did not have public transit on campus. It’s really area dependent as well as being dependent on whether the conditions are abnormal IMO whether you’d be able to use the weather conditions as a WFH or office shut down reasoning.

        If we would have shut down for negative temperatures and/or a ton of snow where I worked in northern WI, the entire top third of the state wouldn’t have had any functions for a good chunk of the year.

        1. Chinookwind*

          “We’d regularly get windchill temps of -30 with 40+ mph gusting winds. Campus never shut down.”

          I wonder if the campus rules for cold weather were the same as the ones for schools in Alberta. Namely, they don’t shutdown in the cold (unless pipes had burst and made the building unsafe) because they don’t want to risk locking out the people who didn’t realize they were closed and force them to spend even more time outside (which then becomes a safety risk).

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Most likely. The only time we truly shut down was for water main breaks.

            Classes were also never cancelled campus-wide, which was school policy. Slightly frustrating when you’d walk the 20 minutes to the classroom in freezing sleet and howling winds….and you’d find a note on the door from the prof stating that they were cancelling that class. Some profs didn’t quite get the point of emailing more than 5 minutes before class started. Not entirely sure what the purpose of the school policy was.

          2. Pebbles*

            Yep, in 4 years I only remember one time the whole campus shut down, and that was due to a freezing rain storm in early April where the main water pipe burst AND some electric lines were down. No electricity and no water = no classes. Otherwise it was at the prof’s discretion. Some were better at informing the students than others such that we instituted the 10-min rule: if the prof doesn’t show up in the first 10 minutes of class, then class was cancelled.

        2. Traveling Teacher*

          +1000! “There is no such thing as inclement weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

  56. Ladyphoenix*

    I forgot to add for LW2:

    Fergus feels bad because he doesn’t get invited… So what? He’s a racist. He should feel bad and guilty. Don’t soothe the temper tantrum of a racist.

    He wants to throw the awkwardness on you guys, but don’t let him. He is an obnoxious racist and should be reminded that you don’t associate with obnoxious racists.

    If more and more racists and Nais (alt right, white supremecists, they are the same thing) were ostracized, disinvited, and shunned for being the assholes that they are—we’d hopefully have less of them.

    They are nothing but bullies who feed and get powered by an audience. Take away the audience and they run.

    1. boop the first*

      This is a downside to the internet – outright shunning probably comes with a worse result now, since racists can find each other and create a more accommodating and rewarding audience. It’s much easier to think of themselves as victims of “PC Bullies” these days since their environment can become so bubble-like. If I were to take the ostracize route (who wouldn’t?), it might be better to groom it into something voluntary on Fergus’ behalf.

    2. OP #2*

      This reaction is a bit extreme for Fergus’s behaviour. The dude isn’t a white supremacist or anything, his racism is the type born out of ignorance and laziness (he can’t be bothered to educate himself so he just makes assumptions about groups of people).

      Note that I am NOT excusing his behaviour here- his comments are ignorant and we do not let them slide. It’s like he doesn’t actually *understand* the problem with some of the things he says- when we call him out, he will apologize, but there’s always a “but”, you know? Like he has to justify what he said using a personal anecdote.

      Dealing with this type of casual racism is incredibly frustrating and draining on everyone because you just can’t get through to the guy. If he was an out-and-out Nazi or something, he would’ve been kicked to the curb months ago.

      1. Artemesia*

        But especially since you have tried to rein it in, it does give you leverage to say if he pouts about not being ‘invited’ — we have tried to get you to stop making racist comments and it hasn’t worked — we would be happy to have you join us but only if you can stop the remarks and stop the constant complaining about the job. We are doing this for a fun social break — don’t want to hear about the job and really dont’ want to hear constant racist comments.

        Missing stairs need to be stepped on or repaired or something and not allowed to blight happy hour.

      2. neverjaunty*

        The good news is, you don’t have to get through to the guy. Recommend cutting him off as the “but” – “Fergus, I don’t need your backstory. I don’t care why you hate Canadians. Just stop making comments about Canada to us.”

        And it sounds like it may be time to go to HR with his pattern of behavior.

        1. OP #2*

          We *have* had multiple conversations with the grandboss and HR about Fergus, they are the ones dragging their feet on this. He’s on the verge of being fired, but nobody with the power to sack him will actually make that decision.

      3. Fulana del Tal*

        OP you are excusing his behavior. Why is the standard for exclusion outright Nazi or sheet wearing klansmen. This is why people think “I have black friends, so I can’t be racist”. It doesn’t matter why he’s a racist, he doesn’t get it because he doesn’t care.

        1. OP #2*

          I disagree. His racist comments are more like microaggressions, as Alison and others noted above. I don’t excuse or condone his behaviour in the slightest, and to be honest i’m a bit insulted by this implication. I’m doing everything in my power to push back against the things he says, but the decision to fire him is not one I have the power to make. If I did, he would’ve been gone ages ago.

        2. Like what even*

          What? This feels unfair. OP says they all call him out when he does it, and while I think you’re right that the fact that he hadn’t reigned it in is a big clue about his actual beliefs, I do think there’s a difference between someone who has racist beliefs because we live in a racist culture and they haven’t done the work of examining that and someone who actively espouses white supremicist beliefs.

          (For the record, I still think OP should ditch this dude and feel no shame because he clearly does not care about saying racist stuff even after it’s been brought to his attention that it’s racist, but I don’t think OP needs chastising for not doing enough.)

      4. TootsNYC*

        Then really, just keep on not inviting him.

        Make sure that you guys lock down all mentions of happy hour in the office, and make a point of not necessarily all leaving in a group. And then say, “Sorry, Fergus, but this was just a bunch of friends. You’re a colleague.”

        1. OP #2*

          Yep, that’s the plan. It’s not gonna be possible to avoid hurting his feelings but really, he only has himself to blame here and I’m past the point of caring about the precious fee-fees of a grown man who throws temper tantrums :-P

        2. smoke tree*

          Yeah, at this point I think if he complained about being left out I would just say, “Fergus, we’ve talked about your racist comments on many occasions and they haven’t stopped. We don’t want to deal with them when we’re trying to relax.”

  57. boop the first*

    2. If being direct doesn’t work and coworker refuses to acknowledge his behaviour, maybe you could make happy hour less interesting for him? I have to wonder what would happen if you (as a group) flatly call him out on every uncomfortable comment. But I’d avoid shock reactions, since some people find that rewarding. If Fergus feels as uncomfortable as you guys do, maybe he’ll be less enthusiastic about joining the group.

    1. tangerineRose*

      Or maybe as soon as he says something awful, if you all get up as a group and walk away and find another table? Kind of “We don’t want to be associated with that” thing.

  58. OP #2*

    Thanks for answering my question, Alison!

    Since I wrote in, things have gotten even weirder with this guy. HR has advised his manager to have a second person present as a witness anytime he has to approach Fergus about an issue. I share an office with the manager so that second person is typically me (hooray).

    Unfortunately, because Fergus is good at his job and always on time/rarely misses a day, management is hesitant to let him go. Multiple people, particularly the women in the office, have expressed their discomfort with working around him, but because there hasn’t been a *specific* incident they could write him up for, and he’s just generally a weird/unpleasant guy to be around, he’s not about to be fired anytime soon.

    The weird racial comments aren’t often, and we DO call him out in the moment, it’s just he doesn’t seem to get that it’s not okay to stereotype people. On the upside, it’s very easy to get him to shut up/change the subject after telling him his comments are racist and unacceptable, so these comments are getting a lot less frequent.

    For the time being, Fergus’s behaviour is being monitored and documented, but we’re still feeling like we’re walking on eggshells around him (“we” mostly meaning myself and his manager). The slightest criticism or request to do something differently will set him off, and he still complains and rants to anyone who will listen.

    So, coming back to the issue of happy hour, I agree with the other commenters that we just have to keep calling him out on his bullshit and make it clear to him that he’s not welcome to join us unless he cuts it out.

    1. Ladyphoenix*

      Ugh. He needs to go. No amount of “good work” he does is gonna help if everyone is is suffering because of him.

    2. LGC*

      Oh man. Yeah, that’s rough. Fergus kind of sounds like the boss from yesterday – he just Doesn’t Get It unless you hammer him over the head.

      I’m probably going to get hammered for this, but…it also sounds like Fergus is a bit of a creepy guy. Does he have ANY friends? Are they cool? Can you enlist them to explain how he comes off as a creep? I think THAT’S the major issue – the fact that it’s specifically women refusing to work with a male is making me think “sexual harassment,” or a risk thereof. And unfortunately, he might need to hear this from a couple of men.

      (And this isn’t to say that he IS a harrasser! It’s just he’s being Icky and he needs to not be Icky.)

      1. OP #2*

        LGC: yep, he’s a bit of a creep. I’m one of two women who work with him directly, and while he’s not a sexual harasser and doesn’t appear to hold animosity towards women at all, he’s just got a vibe to him that makes me uncomfortable (though in my case, it’s the temper tantrums that bother me the most because I have been in abusive relationships with men who had anger issues).

        1. Artemesia*

          I don’t see how ‘going off’ and ‘having temper tantrums’ is not in itself sufficient for progressive discipline if he continues.

          1. OP #2*

            LOL in any reasonable workplace it would be, but our HR department is, well, not very effective at their jobs. Basically, management has an eye on him and the next time he has a meltdown, he’s facing discipline for it. What that will consist of, i’m not sure, but it feels like everyone’s waiting for him to quit rather than find a reason to fire him. His complaining has increased, and he’s been muttering about quitting, but he just won’t go away :-/

            1. LGC*

              OP2, I’m not telling you to quit your job…but quit your job.

              Okay, but seriously – I’m in agreement with Artemesia. His lashing out when criticized is…frankly concerning. And it’s pretty unacceptable, especially when his coworkers feel threatened by it. And HR is sitting on their hands by your account. I get that they’re waiting for another incident to happen, but I’m just unsure why he hasn’t been disciplined previously.

              (I have my suspicions – when I said Fergus reminded me of Cell Phone Boss from yesterday, I was thinking that a lot of people were writing off his odd behavior as autism. So that might be what’s up with your HR in this case. But – like Cell Phone Boss – Fergus is out of line!)

              1. OP #2*

                Nah, I actually LOVE my job! It’s a great workplace aside from crabby old Fergus and his temper tantrums. At this point we’re just crossing our fingers that he quits, while reporting all instances of shitty behaviour to his manager (who Fergus has an grudge against due to the manager giving him warnings about the behaviour…basically he’s mad at him for MANAGING him?!).

                1. LGC*

                  Are you sure you don’t groom llamas, OP2? This all TOTALLY sounds like something that would happen where I work.

                  (Apologies for bringing my baggage into this.)

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh, these details change things. I had the impression from the letter that it was “we’d like to include him but these comments suck” but this is very much “we don’t want to include him” (and understandably so). Given that, I would just continue on not including him and if he complains about it, say, “Yes, because of the comments we’ve told you to stop making.”

      1. OP #2*

        Yeah, agreed, we’re just gonna have to tell him outright that he’s being a jerk and if he pouts and sulks about it, that’s on him.

        If I was his boss I would have canned him months ago, but I don’t have the power to do so, and those who do are still hesitating. They’re keeping an eye on him now, but barring any specific incident where he definitely crosses a line, we’re stuck with him.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          So how likely is it that he would do something fireable at a coworker happy hour? Is that something management would take on or would they give the excuse that because it didn’t happen in the office they can’t do anything about it?

          It might be very bad advice fueled by one two many spy movies, but if you did allow him to be in a situation where it is likely he would do something that would get him fired, you want him gone that might be worth looking into.

          1. Ladyphoenix*

            Knowing how much they really don’t want him to go… chances are they will hand wave any happy hour affairs unless he:
            A) Causes a huge bar fight
            B) Sexual assaults one of the coworkers
            C) Admits he is a member of a hate group and goes on a massive hate tirade against coworker

            Otherwise, they’re just gonna go, “Eh. He was drunk. What did you think would happen?”

            1. Iris Eyes*

              The OP does make it sound like physical or sexual harassment/assault might be on the table with this guy.

              1. OP #2*

                Agreed. At this point, it’s entirely possible he might physically assault his manager, (who is also male) and we are keeping a really close eye on him for that reason (and also making sure Fergus and the manager/our other coworkers are never alone with him). Just today he was throwing stuff around and grumbling about god-knows-what, so the first thing we did was contact the grandboss via email to document yet another tantrum. Everyone in the comments seems to be fixated on the racial microaggressions, but this unhinged behaviour has become a way bigger problem than it was in my initial letter. He’s just a loon and we are doing everything we can to document, document, document so the powers that be can give him the boot.

                1. Observer*

                  If he was actually throwing things, rather than just slamming things on his desk, that’s a major deal. Not that slamming things on his desk is close to reasonable, but actually throwing things gets to “meltdown” and “string discipline” territory. Please make sure that when this stuff is being communicated to HR and the grandboss, that you are being CRYSTAL clear about what is happening. Not just “another tantrum” but specifically “throwing things”.

                2. Iris Eyes*

                  That’s a scary environment to be in, they may lose his productivity if he leaves but how much are they losing to these interruptions and stress from all of the other employees? I’m really sorry your management values their bottom line more than your health and safety. I’m sorry that this one guy is valued over the rest of your team. Are there any other directions you might be able to escalate this?

                3. OP #2*

                  Observer/Iris Eyes: yep we’re doing everything we can to get this guy out of here before he goes postal. He slams stuff around and grumbles to himself over the tiniest things and while he hasn’t gotten any more violent than that, I foresee it happening in the future. We had a temp who verbally threatened the manager a while back, and he was out the door faster than we could lock it behind him. Unfortunately we apparently have to wait until he does something egregious enough to merit firing his ass.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Yeah, the fact that you’re already confronting him about his behavior makes it a lot easier. “Fergus, you know how we keep telling you to stop doing X and Y? That kind of behavior is why we don’t invite you to hang out with us after work.”

        3. neverjaunty*

          Do document all of this for your own job security – not just Fergus’s behavior but management’s reaction.

          I bet I know what field you work in :(

      2. TootsNYC*

        I wouldn’t make it be about the comments. Just say, “It’s not a work gathering, Fergus–it’s personal.” And then LOCK IT DOWN at work. Never discuss it, don’t leave together. It has nothing to do with work.

        Even if you have to say, “It’s just some friends; you’re a colleague.”

        Let his feelings be hurt. He’s pushing himself in where he’s not wanted, and this is an opportunity for him to learn how to not do that anymore.

        It’s even OK for you guys to be a little offended that he’s pushing himself in.

    4. RVA Cat*

      The world is chock-full of people who somehow manage to do good work without being a jerk like Fergus. He needs to go on an PIP and managed out unless his behavior changes.

    5. Observer*

      I would also document all of his inappropriate reactions to correction. Assuming these corrections are being done in a reasonably civil manner (ie not “you idiot, what were you thinking?!”), going off like this IS a performance issue and a pattern of such behavior is a legitimate problem that management needs to address.

  59. Ladyphoenix*

    LW1: unfortunately, unless you have a medical condition, I don’t think your boss is gonna let you work remotely since you live so close.

    Summer heat is not the same as winter. In winter, you have ice, snow, huge banks of snow… generally super unsafe to walk in. Summer heat, you don’t have anything like that. The worse thing is being dehydrated, but that can be dealt with being plenty hydrated before and during your departure.

    I would ask if you could arrive at an earliar time and bring a change of clothes and a big refillable bottle of water. Mix a little coconut water for extra refreshness.

  60. BlueWolf*

    For #4, please do request an accommodation if you have formal HR. A friend of mine worked for a small business and his supervisor actually told my friend that he thought he was going to the bathroom to – for lack of a better way to say this – masturbate. My friend has IBS which sometimes means long and/or frequent bathroom breaks. This supervisor also treated him terribly in other ways and my friend was also just generally underpaid and overworked too. All of which just exacerbated any health problems.

    1. mcfly85*

      What?! That’s a crazy logical leap for that supervisor to make. Hope your friend wasn’t stuck in that job too long.

  61. mcfly85*

    I really wish society would agree that commenting on people’s names is just always rude, full stop. I grew up with a really unusual, but short/simple last name (that also starts with an uncommon letter), and a VERY common first name which meant I often had to go by Firstname Lastname in school. As a shy kid pretty much every adult I met interrogated me about my name. I know they didn’t mean to be rude, and usually the comments were just curiosity about my name’s origin (it was made up at Ellis Island, hence its rarity). A lot of the time comments from both kids and adults were also pretty teasing, too.

    I didn’t want or appreciate that attention, which happened constantly and publicly. I wish all the John and Jane Smiths would realize that.

    Commenting on someone’s name is just like Alison said, commenting on someone’s height. Just stop.

  62. ellen*

    In my state, we have already had several days in which it was advised to just not go out. We don’t normally get those days; I can’t remember a single year of having them when I was younger than 30, and I don’t remember having more than one or two a summer since then. Hot, humid, lots of allergens and molds in the air – I have actually had to double down, on doctor’s orders, on basic hay fever type medications, where I have never had hay fever before about two years ago. It all got bad enough that I was having severe dizzy spells, my doctor asserts that they were due to a “buildup” due to my allergies. I can say that it’s gone away, now. I think that, under those conditions, it might be ok to ask to work from home, although I wouldn’t because 1. I work in food preparation in 2. a room that is maintained at 45 degrees F, or I guess roughly 7 degrees C.

  63. officecat*

    Regarding OP1 – Allison (or anyone else!), would your answer change if it is 90 degrees IN the office? That is our case right now as we’re going through a heatwave and have a defective AC.

    Any opinions appreciated ! :-)

    1. Kittyfish 76*

      Many factory/manufacturing workers (my husband) have to work with no AC in the building and it is stifling. But they are still expected to work. Just like I am expected to wear layers in my office where I feel the AC is too cold. So I guess we all have to live with it.

      1. Alton*

        In the case of things like manufacturing or construction work, the issue can sometimes be unavoidable, and you’ll hopefully know what the conditions are like before you go into that field. That doesn’t mean that everyone, regardless of their field, just has to put up with it. I specifically decided not to pursue certain fields because I knew the hot working conditions would make me very sick. Being to work in an air-conditioned building was essential for me, so I would not be able to work if that changed.

      2. Observer*

        Sometimes that’s a legitimate problem. But sometimes it’s the bosses being jerks. Sorry, when your solution to the heat in your building is to station an ambulance outside your door, that’s not ok.

  64. Fabulous*

    #4 – I feel your pain. I’ve never been diagnosed, but bathroom issues run in my family. For me, it usually hits about 30 minutes after lunch where I’ll need an emergency bathroom break. And then again another 30 minutes after that for the next 1-3 hours. Which is just LOVELY when people want to schedule meetings right after lunchtime… *grumble grumble* But that’s another gripe for another day!

    Thankfully I’ve never been in your situation where my boss has commented on my bathroom usage, but I’ve definitely been worried at some of my past jobs that it would become an problem. Hopefully if you explain that it’s a medical issue and request accommodations from HR your boss will back the eff off, because why the heck is it his business how often you have to poop?

  65. Massmatt*

    #5 I agree with the advice on getting paid for your time, but it seems strange to me that you are on call so much that you are spending literally hours on the phone when away from the office and not making plans for your days off because you know you will get this many calls. Is this the case for your coworkers? You say you like your job and coworkers but to me it sounds like a warning sign of dysfunction. But maybe it’s leverage to use in your next negotiation for a raise? Good luck!

    1. Liz*

      I was in the same spot at one point in my career, and I don’t think it’s necessarily a red flag for dysfunction. In my case, the role I was in was evolving — it was becoming more critical and necessary as a function of doing business. I think you are spot on that OP #5 can use this as leverage, as I believe OP #5’s company might do exactly what my company did when I started claiming outside-of-work hours: they converted me to exempt. Because I’d tracked my work outside of business hours + calculated overtime pay for work >40 hours/week, I used that data to calculate my salary if I had been exempt, and then I negotiated them up $10K beyond that. Hey, if it’s critical, they should pay for it!

  66. I'd Rather not Say*

    #5 Find out if your company has a policy for this sort of thing. It’s stated in our employee handbook that we’re to be paid for (a minimum of) 2 hours if we’re called back into work. I realize these are phone calls in your case, but there may be a similar policy in place at your employer. Or maybe this is an opportunity to create one that would help you get paid fairly, while streamlining your timekeeping.

  67. STG*

    I feel your pain on the last name jokes/inappropriate comments! My last name sounds a bit like a particular racial slur. I discovered that in 2nd grade or so when I found some bathroom graffiti. Looking back, I bet that was an awkward conversation for my parents to have when I asked what it meant.

    I don’t have a good solution for you besides the suggested one. I learned how to shut it down pretty quickly but it was never fun to do.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I had a teacher named “Mr Bigot” and my childhood best friend’s mom is named “Gay”.

      I always felt awkward using both names.

      1. STG*

        Yea, I went to school with a guy whose last name was Gaylord. I think he got quite a bit more flack about his last name than I did.

  68. Beating the Heat*

    #1 – What I’ve done to get around it is to ask to work an earlier schedule (7-3 instead of 8-4). The heat is worse for me in the morning and at least if it is super hot on the way home, you can lay down and be in your home in the early afternoon. I have about an hour commute that involves a 25 minute walk and a hot 30ish minute train ride that I’ve actually fainted on.

    I don’t know if you can really justify wfh (if it isn’t something that is common in your office) for a 15 min walk. It is likely almost everyone else lives farther away from you and so if everyone else isn’t working from home, there really isn’t a justification for you to do it too.

  69. Sara*

    I think LW should just get Uber or Lyft on days when she really feels it’s too hot to walk (or take the bus and walk 3 blocks!). She says a month of doing Uber every single day would be around $200, which is far less than many people pay for car payments + insurance + gas + parking. Assuming the super hot days are, say, 2 days a week, she’s talking about under $100 a month. Well worth it to avoid the miserable commutes!

    1. tangerineRose*

      We don’t know the LW’s financial status and/or how badly $200 might affect LW’s budget.

      1. sarah*

        Sure, but getting to work is a basic requirement of having a job. Many, many people have commuting costs of >$200 month due to public transit costs, parking, car insurance, gas, car payments, etc. etc. And, the $200 is if the letter writer took an Uber to work every single day. If they limit it to just the hottest days, it won’t even be that high. If that’s really not possible, they are free to ignore this suggestion and instead take the bus and walk a couple of blocks. But I think it looks pretty out of touch to complain about what is objectively a VERY short and inexpensive commute, whether we’re talking about the walk, the bus + shorter walk, or an Uber.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          > Sure, but getting to work is a basic requirement of having a job. Many, many people have commuting costs of >$200 month due to public transit costs, parking, car insurance, gas, car payments, etc. etc.

          Sure, and those people know their budgets. It’s not kind to assume that any given person is able to add that much weight to their budget just because other people budget for it. You need to compare it to those other people having that much added to their costs to say it’s a useful comparison.

          (Overall I agree with you for this LW. I just don’t like when people throw around figures like they’re just numbers, when they’re actually the money a person lives on and we never know other people’s circumstances.)