I don’t want to pick up my boss after surgery, my coworker is on a PIP, and more

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

1. I don’t want to pick up my boss after surgery

My boss mentioned today that he will be having a procedure done that requires anesthesia. He added that he might need my help to get home after the procedure (he moved to our city for this job and his family lives several states away). He also told me that he tends to get a little loopy/goofy after anesthesia and experiences memory lapses, as most people do.

Am I right to feel that post-surgery transportation is asking a little much of an employee? I want to be helpful but also don’t want to put myself in a bad situation. I’m wary of going to a colleague’s house alone especially when they aren’t themselves because of the effects of anesthesia. As background, I’ll add that he is an older man and I’m a younger woman. We work together well but aren’t close outside of work. I know he is closer with a handful of other people we work with and spends time with them outside of the office. And can you suggest a tactful way of declining to help?

Sometimes if you’re new to an area and don’t know anyone there yet, a coworker might be your only option for something like this, which is a hard situation to be in. In theory it’s not unreasonable to ask this of a coworker if you have reason to believe they’ll be comfortable with it. But that last part is key; you have to really think through whether you have reason to believe the person will be comfortable with it (not just whether you, the asker, would be comfortable with it — which sounds like what your boss is doing here).

But why is he asking you, rather than the people he spends time with outside the office? Is it because he’s your boss and not theirs? If so, that’s icky — this isn’t a work task he can delegate. Is it because you’re a younger woman and thus he sees you as in a natural helper role? If so, also icky. In any case, you’re not the obvious choice here, and it’s totally reasonable to decline.

The easiest way to decline would be to have a conflict on that date. If that’s not feasible, you could try a simple “I can’t do that, sorry! Maybe Bob or Cecil can help.” Or, “To be honest, I’d feel awkward doing that because you’re my boss — maybe Bob or Cecil can help.” (If you use the first and he asks why — which he probably won’t, but he might — then your answer could be the second.)

2. How should I handle my coworker being on a PIP?

I’ve read all of your posts about handling being put on a performance improvement plan (PIP), but what do you do when your coworker gets put on one? My direct counterpart (we’ll call him Phil) is on a PIP. We are essentially a two-person cross-departmental team, with 100% of our work being on projects that only the two of us share. Phil doesn’t know that I know, as his boss accidentally let it slip to another coworker, who told me. It has made it very awkward sitting across from him every day while knowing this secret, and I fear walking in one day and being surprised to find his desk empty.

In addition to the fact that I like and respect Phil as a person, I’m getting stressed because I will be very directly impacted if he does not complete the PIP. I know that him being on a PIP is none of my business and is not something that I should’ve been told by an outside source in the first place. However, I’m struggling with not being able to acknowledge with anyone (nor to be able to fully prepare for) a change that could have such an impact on my day-to-day work. How can I best support Phil for the unknown duration of his PIP without it being obvious that something’s up, and how can I best prepare myself and our outstanding shared projects for the possibility of him not overcoming the PIP?

Pretend you don’t know. Seriously, that’s the best thing you can do here. You’re not supposed to know, and there’s no reason that you should know. Your coworker did Phil a disservice by sharing it with you. He deserves privacy around this and he’s presumably having a pretty stressful time at work right now; don’t make it weirder for him by letting on that you might know. If he wants you to know, he’ll tell you.

You’re right that it will impact you if he’s fired, but people leave jobs all the time, sometimes without much notice to their colleagues, and people make do. If it happens, you’ll talk to your boss at that point about how to adjust your shared projects. But until that actually happens, all you can do is continue on as if you don’t know this information.

3. Is it too “political” to respond to this email?

I work for a small company where everyone knows everyone, just about. We’re allowed to get deliveries to work and lots of people take advantage of this. Recently a load of people had Amazon orders not show up (as in the driver marked them “delivered” at X time, but there’s nothing there). Sometimes this means they’ve messed up the address. The email thread includes someone saying: “Sometimes drivers mark things as delivered when they need to hit a target but can’t be bothered to do the delivery in time. So it might show up later on in the day or the next day. You should complain even if it arrives.”

This *really* rubs me up the wrong way. It’s well publicized that Amazon drivers have unrealistic targets for the number of deliveries and are barely paid minimum wage (including being docked pay for missing deliveries), so if there’s a complaint it should (in my opinion) be about Amazon’s working practices, not about getting the driver in trouble. (And yes, the driver either made a mistake or lied, but if you want the delivery to always be guaranteed then don’t buy from a company with shady working practices). We live in an affluent area and everyone at my company is paid well.

I can’t think of a way to reply without being massively passive aggressive (e.g., just sending some news articles about Amazon drivers). Is there a way to respond diplomatically or do I just suck it up?

I think you’d be fine replying to that with, “There’s been a lot of news coverage of how Amazon works drivers to the bone and gives them unrealistic targets for number of deliveries, while paying barely minimum wage. So I wouldn’t encourage people to complain as long as packages show up later that day; it’s a tough job under tough conditions.” But I wouldn’t go further than that, with sending news articles and so forth, because at that point you’d be commandeering the email list for something people haven’t really signed up for in this discussion.

4. Making a special request for a staff photo

I’m hoping to get some outside perspective. I was just informed that my work will be taking professional photos of a bunch of positions, including mine. The problem? They take them from the left side, which is the side of my face that has a lot of scar tissue from a childhood accident. It’s not like I’m walking around with a very noticeable deformity (though it is visible enough for some people to feel the need to comment on it), but when I smile, very deep creases and puckering appear on that side of my face, and if I wear lipstick, I essentially have to redraw part of my lip. My family says I’m being overly self-conscious, but I don’t want the photo of me that gets put in a yearly publication or sent out to other organizations that I routinely work with to be one that draws attention to the fact that I have a scar and that it causes half my face to smile differently than the other half.

Am I being unreasonable in wanting to make this request? I fear I will get push back from some management (because my photo would be different than everyone else’s) and the photographer (because he comes in and sets up everything for photos from the left side). To add to the worries, I would be quite embarrassed if the person that was organizing the photo session told my coworkers about my request (not maliciously, there’s a lot of idle gossip and chit chat at my work) or, worse, felt the need to give me a pep talk on self love. I guess I’m torn on if this is something to worry about or just vanity.

No, it’s completely reasonable to want to take a photo from your other side! You don’t need to make a big deal about it. You can just tell the photographer, “I know you’re photographing people from the left side, but I have a lot of scar tissue there from an accident. So let’s take mine from the right and then, if they want them to be consistent, we can flip the image.” That’s a thing they can easily do. If you get any push-back, you can say, “Because of my accident, I’m really not comfortable having the focus be on the the scar tissue, but I think this plan will solve it nicely.” Because it will.

I hope you don’t get preached to about self-love, but if you do, you can shut that down with a withering look and a “That’s really not something we need to address here.”

5. I don’t want to hire a former employee, but he’s being pushy

I work in higher education. We are currently interviewing candidates for a position requiring specific technical and artistic skills that will be co-managed by me and a colleague, “Jane.” The job will involve helping students learn how to use software and equipment in our departments, as well as providing coverage for our customer service desk.

One of our candidates is “Dan,” who worked in both mine and Jane’s departments as a student employee. We know that he has all of the technical and artistic skills required for the job. But Jane and I have supervised Dan before, and so we also know that he has absolutely no people skills. In my department he mostly did computer-related tasks, but everyone here sometimes has to work at the customer service desk. He was not willing to do that, and even balked when asked to watch the desk for a couple of minutes so a staff person could help someone else. Jane said he was the same way in her department, which is directly responsible for working with and training students on technology. He never smiled, barely spoke to anyone, and just didn’t seem to even be happy to be here. And while I would never demand that someone fake happiness on my account, a person working with students needs to at least look like they want to be there. Otherwise, the students will be afraid to approach them for help.

Dan applied for this new position, and has emailed Jane and me, along with my supervisor, to follow up. Yesterday he emailed me directly to ask about our progress.

I have no interest in hiring him because I do not think he will do a good job. I’m frustrated because he’s being very pushy and seems to be trying to bypass the HR process. When he emailed us earlier, we told him we were going through the applications and had not started interviewing yet. I feel obligated to communicate with him since he did work here before, but I don’t know how to explain my reservations to him. Also, I’m thinking that if it were anyone but a previous employee, we would simply tell them to wait for the process. It would be inappropriate for them to try to bypass the process and constantly email us asking for updates. So should it be different for him? What, if anything, should I tell this person? And how should I handle situations like this going forward?

It’s fine to just say, “We’ll be in touch as we’re moving through the process. We have your application and you’ll be contacted as we’re moving forward.” And then if he still keeps contacting you after that, it’s fine to say, “I’m not going to be able to give you further updates outside our official communications with candidates, but you’ll certainly hear back from us.” And then if he still keeps contacting you after that, you really don’t need to respond.

That said, there’s also no reason that you can’t be straightforward with him now that you don’t think he’s the right fit for the role. You could say, “Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the right match. This position has a heavy customer service component, and based on our previous work together, I don’t think it’s as strong of a match there as we’re looking for.” (If your university has very rigid rules around communications with candidates, as some do, then you can’t do this … but if it doesn’t, I’m all for being up-front unless you think doing that would invite debate from him. If either of those things are the case, then you’d just stick with the blander language from paragraph one.)

{ 525 comments… read them below }

  1. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – Your best defense is that it isn’t safe. You are physically much smaller and lighter than him. If he starts to go down, you won’t be able to stop him. You may both get hurt.
    Suggest that it is far safer to have someone his own size escort him home.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Exactly what I was going to say. “I’m not sure how much help I’d be! I couldn’t lift you or even help you walk depending on how loopy you do get.”

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Totally agreed.

      Also, it doesn’t sound like he even asked her—he just told her that he expects her to be his support if he needs it. Can he truly not arrange a ride from Uber, or with literally anyone else? Telling a subordinate that they may have to pick you up or help you sounds dangerous for both participants, and it also seems a little inappropriate because of the power dynamic involved.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Most surgical centers won’t release to a Taxi or Uber. They want to release to a real live person that will be responsible for them. In fact, the last time I went in for out-patient surgery I had to sign a release that a friend was picking me up. Otherwise they wouldn’t do the surgery.

        1. Aphrodite*

          And, depending on the type of surgery the center may require that whoever picks him up is able to stay or at least be available to him that day. You may find yourself more obligated than just for a ride home.

          1. Zombeyonce*

            Just imagine how awkward it would be to not only have to help your boss into their house after surgery, but put them to bed (which pretty much everyone does when getting home after surgery). No thank you.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Yeah, awkward! Especially if he’s loopy or whatever mood he ends up in. After he had his wisdom teeth out, my son was staggering around and not able to walk very well at all, but he also stubbornly and belligerently refused to be assisted with walking. I was walking behind him ready to catch him while he teetered all over the place scowling at me.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Oh, yeah — and I gave him a pain pill as soon as we got home, but two minutes later he didn’t remember taking it, and I ended up having to count the pills to him to prove to him that he had taken one. He’s usually such a calm person, but something about the anesthesia really brought out a belligerent streak in him.

          2. nnn*

            That’s really a problem with how the system is set up! The norm should be for surgery centres to care for patients until the patient is able to go home to bed without being babysat! If someone walks in not needing babysitting, the medical team’s job isn’t done until they’re restored to that condition.

            1. tara2*

              Right?! What happens if you go to get this procedure and you just legitimately don’t have anyone at all that could take care of you? What happens in that case?

              Kind of reminds me of when I went to get a replacement birth certificate after I lost my original one(WHY did I keep it in my wallet??). Looked up the required documents for getting a birth certificate in Ontario and you need an affidavit from someone who’s known you for at least 5 years or something like that. But I had just moved, and frankly I move all the time, and didn’t really know anyone not related to me for that long. Other option was a member of a “trusted” profession, like doctor. Except my doctor didn’t feel like doing it. It seemed insane to me.

              Luckily, after a while I realised that I wasn’t actually born in Ontario, and would be needing to apply for an Alberta certificate, and they were basically like “Oh, well… here you go!” and mailed it one to me. I forget what I needed for it, but it was not nearly as grueling/impossible a task.

              1. nnn*

                That same thing happened to me! (birth certificate in wallet, wallet stolen, in Ontario so had to get an affidavit)

                What ended up happening is my mother filled out the form, got a neighbour in a trusted profession who had known my parents since I was a baby (and therefore technically had known me since I was a baby) to sign it, and then overnighted it to me so I could sign it.

              2. Myrin*

                Right?! What happens if you go to get this procedure and you just legitimately don’t have anyone at all that could take care of you? What happens in that case?

                Dunno about the US but where I live, you stay in the hospital (for up to 24 hours, I believe). As far as I’m aware, they aren’t allowed to throw you out but are legally obliged to provide you with a bed.

                1. Bibliospork*

                  In the US, it depends on the surgery. I’ve had three surgeries (gallbladder removal, two knee ligament replacements) at outpatient centers. There are no beds to stay in. I’m always out of there a couple hours after it’s done. They don’t do the surgery if you don’t have someone to take you home.

                2. Cat Herder*

                  In US. My child had a number of outpatient surgeries, with anesthesia. Sent the kid home with us. Didn’t want him in the hospital anyway, frankly, because that’s where the scary infections are.

                3. Rusty Shackelford*

                  In my hometown, the surgical center (not a hospital, no overnight staff, no beds) will literally not do the procedure if you don’t have someone in the waiting room. You have to point that person out to the staff before you’re even allowed to undress. Even if you’re not going under general anesthesia (in my case, it wasn’t even “twilight sleep,”) you aren’t allowed to have someone “come pick you up.” They have to be there waiting with you. So, unless that person presents themselves to the staff and then bails while you’re having your procedure, it’s not possible to get the procedure and then not have someone who can take care of you.

                4. McWhadden*

                  @Rusty So, people who have nobody in their lives also can’t get basic medical care? That doesn’t seem right at all.

                5. Rusty Shackelford*

                  @McWhadden Yes, it does make things very difficult for people who don’t have any local support system, so I’ve got a lot of sympathy for the LW’s boss.

                6. Yet another Kat*

                  Even infections aside, hospitals are TERRIBLE places to recover from surgery. I’ve had multiple inpatient and outpatient procedures, and it’s much easier to recover comfortably in your own home, than somewhere where there are beeping machines, people taking yours and your roommate’s vitals several times during the night, and residents on early morning rounds. I’m very grateful to have had all the medical care I’ve needed, and to all the personnel involved in my hospital stays, but inpatient recovery is a necessary evil, best avoided if not medically necessary!

                7. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  I imagine it is that in case something goes wrong there needs to be a person that can make major medical decisions for someone else. The hospital is not going to take the responsibility of trying to figure out what the patient would want to be done in an emergency.

                  If people are admitted to a hospital on a routine procedure (outpatient) where recovery can be done at home safely under another persons supervision, it would dramatically increase the cost of the procedure.

                  If someone has no one they can rely on I imagine you could hire a home health assistant for the recovery period. I think this would still be cheaper then being admitted and recovering in the hospital when all you need is just bed rest.

                8. MsChandandlerBong*

                  Here, at least at our local hospital, they won’t do the procedure. Or they’ll do it, but they won’t give you the drugs. My mother-in-law was scheduled for a colonoscopy, and for some reason she didn’t ask my husband or me for a ride, so she planned to take Uber. The hospital said her only options were to cancel the test or have it done without the sedation. She inquired about staying overnight, and they said no–the insurance won’t pay for it.

                9. Rusty Shackelford*

                  I imagine it is that in case something goes wrong there needs to be a person that can make major medical decisions for someone else. The hospital is not going to take the responsibility of trying to figure out what the patient would want to be done in an emergency.

                  I don’t think so, or they would specify that it be next-of-kin or someone with medical POA. In my case, they just wanted a warm body who would promise to stay in the waiting room and drive me home. In an emergency during a medical procedure, there are established protocols – no one’s going to run out to the waiting room and ask your ride what you’d want done. (And in the case of detached outpatient surgical centers, their emergency protocol is to call an ambulance and take you to a real hospital.)

                10. Mephyle*

                  I imagine it is that in case something goes wrong there needs to be a person that can make major medical decisions for someone else. The hospital is not going to take the responsibility of trying to figure out what the patient would want to be done in an emergency.
                  No, I agree that it’s not that: it’s to avoid the situation where the patient promises that someone will be there to pick them up, but no one is there, either because the promised caregiver flaked, or because the patient lied.

                11. batman*

                  I had to get a very minor outpatient surgery where I was under sedated, but not completely, and I was able to have a friend drive me there and home. It wasn’t for medical emergencies, because she doesn’t have POA (although I left my cell phone with her and so she could call my parents or aunt if something happened).

                  I think the doctor’s office is liable until you get into a car. I told them I was fine to walk out on my own, but they had to take me down in a wheelchair. And I was completely recovered from whatever sedation I’d had. I was able to remember where my friend parked her car when she couldn’t and I was the one who’d had surgery! They wouldn’t even let me get into the car on my own, the nurse had to hold onto my arm until I was seated in the car.

                  I get why they do it, but it’s a huge problem for people who don’t have a support system. I don’t know what I would have done if she hadn’t offered to drive me.

                12. Jayn*

                  Rusty: I’m glad that wasn’t the case when DH had to go in for a procedure (we had an infant, so it would have really sucked to have to stay in the waiting room that long.) Honestly even for people more settled this kind of sucks, because I doubt we’re the only people who hardly know anyone normally available during normal business hours.

                  I do think it is mainly having someone to at least watch over the person though—DH’s aftercare instructions included “don’t let him make any major decisions today”.

                13. nonymous*

                  @Rusty It probably also protects the medical center from ppl like my mil who, after being told that she would need to be released to a caregiver due to anesthesia ahead of the appointment, still showed up for the appointment on her own! This despite having adult kiddos in the area ready and willing to spend their sick leave time performing this care. sigh.

                14. Rusty Shackelford*

                  @nonymous – It did feel very much like a case of “someone did something stupid, so now we have to codify not being stupid.”

                15. Not Rebee*

                  “If people are admitted to a hospital on a routine procedure (outpatient) where recovery can be done at home safely under another person’s supervision, it would dramatically increase the cost of the procedure.”

                  In the US we have a hugely inflated view of what medical procedures and services actually cost. I am sure that even adjusting for this there would be a cost difference, but I’m not sure that it’s necessarily going to be a dramatic one.

                  Essentially, insurance companies decide how much actually gets paid out, so hospitals, doctors, and other medical professionals charge exorbitant amounts so as to get as much as they possibly can from insurance. They know they won’t get what they bill, but they hope that the higher they bill the larger the amount insurance will pay. Unfortunately, most patients think that their medical procedure actually cost that large amount of money and that their insurance company is getting them a crazy discount for the service. I know that’s how I thought about it when I had an outpatient procedure done; the total charges from all associated doctors and facilities were upwards of $23,000 and thanks to my insurance I paid $175. Now, I’m not sure that the procedure cost as low as $175, but I’m sure it didn’t really cost $23,000 either.

                16. grey*

                  I needed my wisdom teeth out and the dentist was adamant that I had to have sedation. I had no one and I finally decided about calling up an at-home nursing office to find out if they offered one time help and just paying for that. Thankfully I found a different dentist that just did a local and it was completely and utterly fine. Like I have no idea why the first dentist was insisting on sedation at all.

              3. doreen*

                If you don’t have someone, you speak to the staff when you’re setting up the appointment and they will come up with something. That something may be hiring a home attendant for the day , or having the procedure at 7 am and staying at the center until they close at 4 (rather than leaving 30 minutes after the procedure is finished), or having the procedure at a hospital (but still as an outpatient) rather than a freestanding center so that you can remain as long as necessary for you to recover well enough to get home in a cab.

                1. Guacamole Bob*

                  In the cases of more significant recovery time, sometimes people can go to a rehab center (not the drug and alcohol kind) instead of straight home if they can’t be on their own and don’t have anyone to care for them at home, but don’t need full hospital facilities. It’s common with elderly folks who make require help for longer after surgery with things like dressing and bathing – it’s like temporarily moving into an assisted living facility. I don’t think it’s commonly used after outpatient procedures, but it’s definitely part of the answer to the question of how the system accommodates people who don’t have a support network.

                2. Sunshine on a Cloudy Day*

                  Unless the staff doesn’t feel like being helpful and expresses incredulity and ridicules you for not having someone available to escort you home. The phrase that sticks out most vividly (when this happened to me): “so you just moved here with [insert medical condition] and don’t know anyone at all?”.

                  Just saying – in the US I don’t think there’s any consistent legal standards/obligations surrounding this type of situation. Hopefully the facility will be prepared with a compassionate/helpful response, but be aware that you may be on your own in researching and finding medical transport or a home health care attendant or whatever is necessary in the situation.

                3. schnauzerfan*

                  doreen is exactly right. There are several different options they can offer to “orphan” patients. LW’s boss should consider one of them. I certainly wouldn’t want one of my coworkers dealing with me after a procedure. Odds are good I’m going to be sick and or goofy and no one needs to be dealing with that.

                4. Chinookwind*

                  Sunshine on a Cloudy Day, you described my experience with the ward nurse when I went in for surprise surgery for kidney stones. Why was it a surprise, because my high school french didn’t include the words for “double J stent” and “laparoscopy” and I actually had to get a nurse to translate for me and have them give me time to drive my car back home and take a cab back as I thought I was just going in for a follow-up because my stones hadn’t passed. After, the nurse got more and more condescending about why I didn’t know anyone who could drive me (I don’t remember if this was in French or English as I was still woozy). I literally preferred risking my life by going home over spending anymore time with her around.

              4. Pommette!*

                It is a badly set-up system. I’ve had to delay surgery for that reason before – the problem was minor but the procedure was nonetheless medically necessary. The whole process was miserable, adding embarrassment to an already unpleasant situation. “No, I really don’t have any friends or family here who could help. Really! Please stop asking!”. Luckily for me, the situation was temporary (I subsequently moved back to my home town), but there are so many people for whom it’s not. And let’s face it: asking colleagues is only an option when you have a good relationship with them and are secure that doing so won’t imperil your job! (Or, apparently, when you are their boss).

                As a side note: from what I hear of friends and family who work with homeless persons, lost and “irreplaceable” birth certificates (and OHIP cards!) are a huge problem.

              5. Persimmons*

                When my MIL died, the bank wanted her death AND birth certificates to take her off the mortgage. Getting a birth certificate for a dead person is like being in a sci-fi sketch comedy.

              6. Turtle Candle*

                I have had a couple of friends go through this (long story, but they both are in industries that move them around quite frequently; their friends and family are mostly non-local most of the time). One of them flew her sister out to help. The other hired a home health aide for a day, basically, through a service. Because yeah, in both cases, they wouldn’t even begin the procedure until the person was there in the waiting room.

                1. grey*

                  Yep, home health aide is what I would likely have to do if I ever had to have an outpatient surgery.

              7. Chinookwind*

                Had that happen when applying for a passport as a military wife. Dh was away on training, I had moved at least every year for the last 10 (including before I met him) and was currently in a province where I had no family and only a job with a temp agency and unable to find a family doctor to take me. When I explained this at the agency, it turned out that they had a procedure in place where I had to sign an affidavit or some other paperwork because it wasn’t an heard of occurrence.

                As for leaving a hospital after surgery, I ended up outright lying to the nurses during shift change about having a ride and calling a cab. I only realized later that I was lucky I had no adverse reactions and was lucid enough to walk up 2 flights of stairs. When you are new in town without a support system, you learn to become self sufficient quite quickly, especially if you don’t speak the local language fluently.

            2. Magneta Sky*

              If only life were so simple. Under this plan, outpatient procedures involving a general don’t exist, and the same procedure as an in-patient will cost an order of magnitude more. Medical professionals want the patient to have hours to recover, and preferably a good night’s sleep, before they drive or do anything else that requires good judgment (including dealing with a taxi driver).

              Plus, of course, hospitals are full of sick people. If you’re in for a surgical procedure, and have to stay overnight, your chance of catching something contagious goes up astronomically. (I know a guy who caught the swine flu in the hospital.)

              The last time I was under a general (the only time it was planned in advance), they didn’t tell me that beforehand that a taxi wasn’t acceptable, and there was no way I could possibly have arranged a ride on literally minutes notice. They took it so seriously the doctor drove me home himself rather than reschedule.

              1. Magneta Sky*

                What happens then is that you talk to the staff about it, and they help you figure something out. They take this very, very seriously, for well founded historical reasons.

                In my case, the doctor who did the procedure drove me home (and made sure I made it in the door) personally. The only other choice was to reschedule.

                1. Yorick*

                  They will not always help you figure something out, except to reschedule the appointment. They’ll just say you have to find someone.

                2. Mpls*

                  Yeah – I would say that your case (doctor driving you home) is probably more of an exception than a generally available option.

                  I mean, you can definitely ask if the staff knows of options, but I also wouldn’t expect them to help you figure out all the details.

              2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

                When I’ve had outpatient surgery with general anesthesia, the rule was that I needed to get someone to pick me up AND to stay the night at my place (I lived alone then). I was aware of this for a long time before the surgery and managed to get a friend to be with me. If I didn’t get anyone then I would have had to stay the night at the hospital and go home the following day.

                1. missc*

                  I once took an afternoon off work to help a friend who was having a medical procedure – she had to have a responsible adult collect her from the hospital (even though she was taking public transport to get home rather than driving) and she then had to have someone stay with her for a few hours. So I went to the hospital, we travelled back to her place together, and then I hung around until late evening when she was ready to go to bed. I had no problem doing it, but she was a friend – I’m not sure I’d be comfortable doing all of that for a boss or co-worker, especially if I didn’t have a great deal of everyday contact with them!

                2. schnauzerfan*

                  There are services that will provide a CNA or Home Health aid in these situations. You need to set it up in advance and yes, there is a cost, but much less expensive than having the procedure done inpatient. The one that we have used charges $25 per hour with a three hour minimum. They can drive you home or ride with you via Lyft or Uber, get you settled, etc. Local options include Visiting Angels and Comfort Keepers. They can be engaged for longer term deals as well, say you need to go to PT or need assistance dressing wounds or some such thing. Your insurance, if you are so lucky as to have coverage may help arrange and may even pay for it. Your EAP may be able to help set you up too.

            3. Les G*

              Even if you were right about the system, it doesn’t change the fact that the boss is resolving his problem badly. Try this on for size: I think the U.S. immigration system is set up unfairly, but if the boss wanted OP to marry him so he could get a green card, he’d get no sympathy from this guy. See where I’m going with this?

            4. blink14*

              Generally in the US, hospitals want you out quickly due to rampant infections, especially staph. In many cases, it can actually be more dangerous to stay in the hospital and be exposed to things like staph. Insurance companies also often have limitations on what they pay for hospital stays, but overall, most health care professionals, at least in my experience, don’t recommend staying in the hospital for longer than necessary due to the infection level.

              In the past 3 years I’ve had 2 surgeries – a major one that required general anesthesia and about 6 weeks of recovery at home (months of total recovery), and the second surgery was done outpatient with local anesthesia and required a couple of days recovery.

              I was released same day for both surgeries. The major surgery nearly required being transferred to a rehab center, but I was able to recover at home.

            5. Dragoning*

              Hospitals are expensive and uncomfortable. I don’t want to be trapped there if if I have any way of getting home, thanks.

              They need that space for someone else.

            6. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

              There are paid services in some areas that you can use for this kind of thing.

            7. azvlr*

              Oooh! I can answer this, perhaps. My SO and I were in a car accident last year. He’s disabled and requires assistance for most daily tasks. Although he broke his neck (again! – It was actually minor this time, but seriously dude, stop breaking your neck!), and had some cuts on his head, there was no reason he would need to stay in the hospital. However, I had broken my arm, so I couldn’t do his normal care tasks.
              They immediately moved him to a “skilled” nursing facility – which is far worse than a hospital. Please don’t put your loved ones there! He was there for a few days when we had a major dispute with one of the nurses over his care. The nurse bluffed that she would kick him out, we called her bluff and he was home that evening. I digress.
              I don’t think you need to be the one to escort him home, but if your boss truly has no support system in his new town, he should have someone to assist him post surgery. If it must be employees, two people should go.

          3. Saskia*

            Exactly this!

            I have both been the person who had surgery, and the driver / carer for people after surgery.

            As well as the safety aspects for LW (with a ‘loopy’ and ‘forgetful’ Boss in his home with nobody else there) and the safety aspects for Boss (he needs a person accustomed to handling adults after surgery) I’d like to raise some other considerations.

            Depending on the instructions for care after the procedure, LW may find herself staying at the home of Boss for 24 hours, assisting him to the bathroom and performing other duties more suited to a friend or a nurse.

            In addition, if LW does collect Boss from hospital, she may be legally considered responsible for his wellbeing in the 24 hour period following anaesthetic. LW may have to make decisions if something goes awry for Boss, like calling an ambulance, and checking on wounds or dressings.
            This is a big responsibility and completely inappropriate to ask of an employee!

            I strongly recommend to LW to refuse point blank, both in person and in writing, and request a read receipt for the email. Just in case Boss tries to pretend he ‘didn’t know’ that LW wasn’t going to do what he told her to, and tries to manipulate her because he doesn’t make alternative plans.

            1. pleaset*

              “I strongly recommend to LW to refuse point blank, both in person and in writing, and request a read receipt for the email.”

              A read receipt? Seriously?

              This is escalating a request from a person in need and from a boss. It will appear quite hostile.

          4. OP 1*

            This is a great point – I had been thinking of it as just a 30 minute transport but depending on how things go this could be a much longer and involved commitment. This makes it easier to decline!

            1. Kathryn T.*

              If the procedure he’s having done requires an extensive prep the day before (ie if it’s a colonoscopy), he’ll also be starving and dehydrated when he comes out. You’ll need to feed him, because he’ll lack the facilities to successfully or safely feed himself (can’t use the stove or sharp knives, can’t temember that he can’t) and will need to initially go slow to avoid shocking his completely empty system.

              I’ve been the colonoscopy ride twice, and both times it ended up being an 8 or 9 hour commitment all told. And that was with me leaving the soonest I felt barely comfortable doing so.

            2. Duchess Anesthesia*

              My husband had outpatient surgery, a minor procedure, that involved anesthesia. When I picked him up, he was nominally out of the anesthesia, and he was able to walk, but he had forgotten a folder in the outpatient surgery center’s office. I went back for it and when I returned to the car, two minutes later, he was gone; he had decided to go for a walk to clear his head, or something, and I had to run around the parking lot trying to find him. He was not himself for hours, and he wasn’t aware that he wasn’t himself. I would not want to cope with that with a stranger—or with an employer!

            3. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

              Yeeeeaaah, OP. You really do need to say no to this because (and this is the only reason that matters; everything else is noise): you are not the best person to handle this. In my teaching days, I once was in a situation where I was acting in loco parentis for a student who had to go to the ER and then needed a grownup with her the rest of the day. She wasn’t any bigger than me, really, and I had a hard time lifting her off the toilet. Do you want to be lifting your boss off the toilet? No, no you don’t, even if you are strong/big enough to do it.

            4. Totally Minnie*

              I know no one likes to think worst case scenarios with medical procedures, but what if he were to start showing signs of a complication and needed someone to call and ambulance and make decisions regarding his care? That’s really not a situation you need to be in as his employee. It’s a lot of responsibility that he’s asking you to take on.

            5. Annoyed*

              Also if you have to take unpaid time off of work for this it rsmps up the ridiculousness of Boss’ “request.”

              Decline and suggest he hire a private duty nurse/CNA/home health aide for the day.

        2. Safetykats*

          Actually, depending on the procedure, some surgical centers want someone there the whole time the patient is under.

          The point about being physically able to help out is a good one though. My husband, who is about a foot taller and weighs about 80 lbs more than me, had a root canal a few months ago. He is claustrophobic, and so has sedation dentistry. I wouldn’t have gotten him into the car without the dental assistant, who was also a big guy. I also could not get him out of the car and into the house by myself; I had to call my dad to help. And then, of course, the first thing he needed was the bathroom, but he was too loopy to manage that alone. Definitely the boss’ help should be someone of comparable size and weight, and preferably someone of the same sex.

          1. Alia*

            My experience has been that it’s not just when the patient is under. It’s all the after care. I’ve never had a family member released without someone signing on to be their carer for 24-48 hours. Sometimes even if it was just a local.

        3. Yorick*

          When I had my wisdom teeth out, I had to have someone in the waiting room the whole time or they wouldn’t do anesthesia.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            Same. I has the “twilight sedation” for my wisdom teeth removal and I was a wreck when I left the office, babbling incoherently and terribly disoriented. I was glad the oral surgeon’s policy required me to have someone there the whole time because I really, really needed help.

            Comparatively, I was much more lucid after the general anesthesia I had for my appendectomy! By the time I was released, I was in good shape and didn’t need much help. I was lucid, I could walk, I could go to the restroom by myself, etc. The only thing I didn’t want to do was drive, because I needed to rest my stomach muscles and not twist.

            I guess my point here is, it’s hard to know how much help is going to be needed.

            1. dlw*

              My experience is the same as yours. I recently had the twilight sedation for an endoscopy/colonoscopy and was totally loopy afterwards and have almost no memory of what happened after the procedure (don’t remember the doctor coming in, don’t remember getting dressed, don’t remember getting into the car)(I do however remember waking up during the colonoscopy). It was a good thing my mother was there. However, for my thyroid surgery a few months ago, I remember everything after waking up, could walk just fine and totally could have driven myself home. I didn’t even lay down when I got home, but spent the evening watching tv.

            2. blackcat*

              Fun fact: Many redheads are difficult to anesthetize.

              When I had my wisdom teeth out, rather than mess with a more complicated anesthesia cocktail, the doctor just gave me a crapton (as much as my body would tolerate) of Versed. Versed doesn’t actually knock you out most of the time–other drugs are used for that. What it does do excellently is prevent you from forming new memories. So I’m sure I had the procedure with inadequate pain relief, and I have zero memory of the procedure AND the entire rest of the day. Nada. No clues. I mean, I’ll take it! Local anesthetics do absolutely nothing (the entire -cain family does nothing. Novocain, Lidocaine, etc). But yeah, it was important to have my mom with me the entire time.

              1. Rainy*

                I had local only when I had some premolars out for my braces, and as always happens with locals for me, they put the whole amount in, do half the procedure, and then I say “Should I be feeling this? Because I am.” Then everyone has a giant panic attack and runs around waving their arms for a minute before shooting me up with twice as much to finish the procedure. Sounds okay right? Except the second lot of local always takes twice as long to metabolize for some reason, so then half my damn head was numb for the next ten hours.

              2. Security SemiPro*

                I’m also non responsive to local anesthetics! Its not a great super power! Medical staff basically don’t believe me until I tell them they are welcome to try whatever they want, I brought a book.

                Versed is fun. That plus valium and heavy pain killers has gotten me through a lot.

            3. anon for this*

              I was “the friend” for a friend who had her wisdom teeth out under twilight sedation. She woke up crying, confessed her love for me, tried to kiss me (I was not interested). We went home and I had to hide her credit cards to keep her from calling stores to buy random crap (pizza? a beehive? sign up for massage therapy school?) as well as making soft food/providing ice cream.

              If that happened with your boss, next day would be awkward.

            4. Annoyed*

              I had the twilight sleep thing a few years ago when I had hand surgery.

              Husband was there the entire time because 1) it was easier than him making two trips, 2) it was planned surgery (like two months out), and most importantly 3) it was required.

              Honestly I don’t know what I would do otherwise. Everyone I know works normal hours or else doesn’t have a car.

              Plus no one else was about to do all the stuff I couldn’t do (e.g. washing dishes) because my hand had to stay dry for two weeks. Yeah, showers were a whole other level of waterproofing prep.

        4. DJ Roomba*

          This was my experience as well – I recently had a “procedure” where I took an uber there but needed a ride home and I’d bet he’s doing something similar if not the same.

          But I think that is what a lot of commenters are missing – it’s a procedure, not necessarily surgery. For me, my procedure was a colonoscopy and all of the same exact rules applied (as would for an endoscopy or other non-surgical procedures that require anesthetic). I’m also new-ish to my area and when my first choice backed out a couple of days before my appt I definitely had coworkers on my list of people to ask, especially since the Dr would only do it on a work day so available people were scarce. And that could also be why he asked his employee – he knows her schedule and if the hour or so he’ll need her to take out of her day to drive to the medical center and drop him home would be too inconvenient. Maybe his other work friends are slammed at the moment or he’s already asked.

          I was told to have my friend stay with me for a couple hours after but I didn’t do that. I also didn’t need any physical assistance walking. I just needed a ride by someone I know because they would not let me take an uber. And I was having semi serious problems and needed to get this done.

          That said, I am a youngish female and totally understand LW’s concerns. Maybe you can get a clearer expectation of what is needed – will he be able to walk on his own? Does he want you to stay in his house with him after? I think clarifying exact expectations might put you at ease. And obviously having recently gone through the stress of this, I empathize with the boss and hope someone will be willing to step up and help him.

          1. Alia*

            Well, we don’t know what the actual medical procedure is going to be.

            But I’m giving you a counterpoint: I had a procedure with a local. They made my husband drive me home and sign to take care of me for 24 hours. So not all simple procedures allow you to leave.

            Second counterpoint: When DH had his colonoscopy, I had to drive him home and sign on to be a carer as well.

            So it’s not just procedure dependent, it’s also doctor dependent.

            We have no idea what OP would be signing up to do. Unfortunately, it should like she doesn’t either.

          2. AKchic*

            Even with a procedure, he knows he is being sedated, and he has admitted to being “loopy/goofy” while sedated and having “memory lapses” as well.
            That is not something any woman wants to deal with when handling a male boss she doesn’t know well. Or any male she doesn’t know well. Add in the power dynamics and you’ve got some other hinky stuff here that sends up red flags.

            1. church lady*

              That off-hand comment boss made about being loopy/goofy and having memory lapses jumped out at me like a deer out of the woods. It seems like a giant red flag, like perhaps, he’s done something inappropriate or weird in the past and he’s offering a disclaimer of sorts. People do and say all kinds of things under anesthesia, I’m just wondering why he proffered this explanation up so quickly.

              1. General Ginger*

                Being loopy/goofy coming out of anesthesia is incredibly common, though. English is basically my language these days, but not my first language, and every time I’ve had a procedure with anesthesia, I’ve woken up speaking my original language and got angry and confused when people couldn’t understand me (I had no idea I wasn’t speaking English each time). I’m having surgery in a month, and I’ve already warned the friend who’s going to be driving me home and helping me through initial recovery that this may happen, or that I might be super goofy in some other way. I really would give boss benefit of the doubt with that phrasing — though I do want to say, OP really should not have to drive the boss home from surgery. That’s an awkward situation for a boss-employee relationship, and I would absolutely bow out if I were the OP.

          3. batman*

            I’m sympathetic to the boss as well because I was in a similar situation several years ago.

            However, it’s pretty out of line for a boss to ask his employee to do this. There’s too much risk involved and the power differential is such that they may feel pressured to say yes.

          4. DJ Roomba*

            Agreed with what everyone has said – I was only encouraging LW to clarify her boss’ expectations, and also trying to help her understand why he may have asked her (Not because he’s creepy but because he needs someone and can’t find anyone else).

            Even if LW investigated further and found this request was minimal involvement/benign, if she feels uncomfortable she should still say no.

        5. Chaordic One*

          Most surgical centers won’t release to a Taxi or Uber.

          And it really is unfair to Taxi or Uber driver to expect to them to care for the passenger if he (or she) is unable to walk by themselves. Often the driver might be a physically small person or have health problems that prevent them from lifting passenger.

        6. NorthernSoutherner*

          Sometimes they want to keep people overnight for observation, especially if you have some kind of condition that might be exacerbated by the surgery or anaesthesia.

          I was going to suggest to the OP that she request a second person to help. That way, she’s still present, but if the boss needs assistance getting into the house or (uhhhh) into bed, she’s not alone.

          If the boss questions the request, she mentions the above — getting him into the house, getting him squared away might be too much for just one person. There’s no way of knowing what shape he’ll be in until he’s post-surgery, so what might seem like nothing could turn out to be more complicated. If there’s *anything* untoward on his part, he’ll say never mind and turn to one of his buddies. And she wouldn’t have had to refuse his request.

      2. Myrin*

        Also, it doesn’t sound like he even asked her

        I actually think this provides a good out – OP, if he hasn’t directly asked you, you really do not have to react to his musings about his post-surgical self; I’ve had people tell me things like this before (where there certainly wasn’t an expectation of me picking them up) and I simply answered with something like “oh my, that sounds uncomfortable” or similar. If you feel like he’s sending you vibes without actually directly asking, please feel free to ignore those completely!

        1. Myrin*

          Ack, I somehow completely missed the second sentence, where it says “He added that he might need my help to get home after the procedure”, which is very explicit – ignore my comment!

      3. Been There, Done That*

        I noticed that too. With due respect to what may be a stressful situation for Boss, he’s out of line on this one, although sometimes workplaces that consider themselves “family” have a fuzzy view of the boundaries.

      4. JSPA*

        Nope. In fact, depending on the hospital, they wording may specify a friend or family member, not anyone who’s paid. While intended to avoid Uber… it may be a legal “out” for a direct employee, as well.

        FWIW, when i did this for a friend / boss, she puked (in a bag, luckily) in my car. And after a recent colonoscopy, i had a couple of split second absences over the next 7 hours. Not long enough to fall over, but long enough to pour hot coffee over my hand and the counter, rather than into the cup. That’s one sort of “loopy” to expect. And if it happens on stairs…your support person needs to be able to hold you in place for a moment.

        If his real work friends are not available, it would be a real kindness to make sure the procedure does not have to be cancelled. Perhaps you could ask to bring a family member or friend, so you have someone to talk to while the boss (mostly) sleeps. That’s assuming you have someone who’s available / appropriate.

        1. Sam.*

          My last surgery in similar conditions resulted in me throwing up for HOURS after I got home due to a bad reaction to pain meds. I’d recently moved to this city, and didn’t know anyone I felt comfortable asking to go with me/help over night, so my mom very kindly came into town to help out. And it was a good thing she did – I can’t imagine being that kind of a mess around someone who wasn’t a close friend, never mind a coworker.

          1. Seriously?*

            Does he expect her to use PTO or does he (wrongly) think this falls under her job duties?

        2. Not a Mere Device*

          When my spouse had oral surgery, they said he would need a “responsible adult of [his] choosing” to take him home, and they wouldn’t start without me there to confirm that I was an adult and willing to accompany him home.

          They were fine with us using a car service, as long as I was going to be in the car with him, help him upstairs at the other end, and stay there for the next few hours. (I “cheated” slightly and went to the supermarket for a few minutes for applesauce, guacamole, and other soft food—but the supermarket was literally downstairs from our apartment.)

          Spouse told me that some Microsoft people, in that situation, had asked other coworkers or even their bosses–they had only lived in the Seattle area for a few months, all of their friends/family were hundreds or thousands of miles away, and they had dental insurance for the first time in their lives. The difference is the power dynamic. “Boss, my family are all in Atlanta, can you drive me home from the dentist” is very different from “assistant, you will have to drive me home after I have anesthesia,” because the boss doesn’t have to worry about pushback if they say “No, here’s a number for the visiting nurse service” or “That won’t work, ask your dentist how they handle this.”

      5. General Ginger*

        I’m having surgery next month, and I’ve had to sign a form that specifically says a friend or family member will pick me up at the office; they won’t release to Uber/cab/public transport, and will not do the surgery if I can’t have someone personally pick me up.

      6. Collarbone High*

        Depending on where they live, some home health care providers offer this service. I hired a woman through a national home health care chain who drove me to the procedure, stayed the whole time and drove me home after. She was a certified health care worker and had the medical training to do things like lift people and recognize bad reactions to anesthesia.

        LW, I’d start by suggesting he look into this.

        Also, IME a lot of hospitals require that the person driving the patient home stay for the entire procedure, so this could require hours of your time.

    3. epi*

      I wouldn’t give any reason if I could help it. The OP is uncomfortable with this for multiple reasons so there is no reason to risk a negotiation.

      I would bet the boss isn’t asking others because he sees them as potential friends, and this favor as too much too soon. Whether for sexist reasons or trusting it to come off as an assistant thing or a one time favor to someone new in town, he perceives it as less costly to ask the OP. He will most likely go elsewhere if she refuses.

      If pushed, stick to reasons that are hard to disprove. Have unspecified plans you can’t break, need to be available on short notice for something else, know from experience you are not the right person for this without giving details, etc.

      1. Mookie*

        Spot on in your second para. This isn’t a “fun” task for the driver, so asking it of friends is an inconvenience and he fears resentment from the people who matter to him. He doesn’t mind leaving the LW with a bad impression. This one sounds like Chill Boss (who creates more work for everyone when he favors his friends) mixed with somebody who regards lowly nurturing tasks as existing within the purview of women. Also, I question what friendship means to hin if he thinks he can’t ask his friends. Is it because they’re men, and men don’t do this or shouldn’t have to if there are women present? Is he trying to avoid looking weak and drugged in front of people he respects?

        He should ask if his insurance will cover the cost of hiring transportation for his procedure.

      2. There is a Life Outside the Library*

        Exactly- there’s no need to give a reason. And if I had to, I would just say I’m busy with something that day.

      3. Smithy*

        Completely agree with this. Also, defaulting to size issues sets up an odd dynamic. Very often one significant other is smaller than their partner and that never really prevents them from serving this purpose. This easily just opens up an awkward dialogue of the OP needing to articulate “I’m uncomfortable with you potentially touching me”.

        This is an excuse that I think really opens up far more dialogue than the OP is currently looking for. As a tall woman, if I asked a friend (or someone I felt was reasonable to ask) for this kind of help and heard that answer – I know I’d push back. Totally get that a subordinate is just looking for a “no” and conversation ender, but I don’t see this as a good one.

        1. Admin of Sys*

          I feel like saying ‘I’m uncomfortable with bodily handling while you’re under the influence, especially if you attempt to fall over or need help with the facilities’ is a perfectly reasonable thing to say to an employer though? I mean, it’s certainly something I think most decent bosses would realize is not a good thing to inflict on their employees. Also, the one time I did this as a friend, I had to sign a legal contract saying I wouldn’t allow the person recovering from sedation to make any decisions or sign any documents, which strikes me as a conflict of interest with an employer.

        2. GradNowLawyerLater*

          I think it is understandable, though. My partner is at least a foot taller than me and more than double my weight; if he needed a serious procedure and there was the potential for him to go down/fall/need carrying, I would at least ask a friend to help me.

      4. neverjaunty*

        That is a really insightful observation. Boss doesn’t see this as costing him any social capital or obligating him the way asking a friend for help out be. Ick.

    4. Tipcat*

      Using someone from work is not his only option. He can hire a CNA from an agency for a reasonable price.

      1. Loose Seal*

        I honestly never would have thought of this! I’m not the OP but I have to have procedures all the time that require massive juggling of schedules to get my husband free on a day where he can be my designated driver. This suggestion will help us so much! And I hope it might be a suggestion the OP could use too.

      2. Startup HR*

        He could check to see if the company’s insurance plan will cover all or part of the cost of an aide for something like this.

      3. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Came in to say this.

        Boss is being totes inappropes and should look into hiring a home health care aide or similar. His insurance may even pay for it.

        1. Rainy*

          I hate to be this way, but it sounds to me like boss is hoping for a chance to make his subordinate handle his junk.

          This is just so inappropriate.

      4. Turtle Candle*

        Yep, this is what a friend did when in a similar situation (I think her surgeon clued her in to the possibility when she explained ‘new in town’). A lot of people aren’t aware that it’s an option, but it’s something I’m glad to know even though I do have friends in the area–because many of them have small children or frequent travel/work obligations that mean that having an alternate option in my back pocket is a good idea. (Also, to be frank, I’d want only my husband or my bestest besties to help me go to the toilet should that be necessary, you know? So if husband/bestest besties aren’t available for some reason, I might go CNA rather than casual friend.)

      5. Star Nursery*

        Also, along with hiring a home health aide or CNA, he can ask a close family member or friend to fly to his town for the date of the procedure.

    5. NYWeasel*

      I was coming to say this. Many years ago when I was still in my 20’s, my boss had a health scare while we were returning from a business lunch together. I suddenly found myself helping him get to urgent care with no one else there to help, and was terrified at what I would do if he collapsed on me. Thankfully he was fine, but I would never volunteer to be the only person trying to help anyone larger than me in a situation where they might unexpectedly need physical support.

    6. Justme, The OG*

      Do we know he’s much larger than she is or are we just assuming based on genders?

      1. post-it*

        the only fact in the letter is ” he is an older man and I’m a younger woman” so the assumption here in the comments did rub me the wrong way.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          Oh goodness, can we please stop nitpicking and getting offended over every single thing? Most women are smaller than most men. This is not an intelligence or ability thing.

              1. post-it*

                it’s pretty typical in this comment section to push back against assumptions people make about letter-writers when they are not supported by the facts in the letter. i’m sorry my statement of an opinion about that unfounded assumption did not please you (offended you? we could go on all day)

                1. Engineer Girl*

                  It’s become typical recently, with the effect of shutting down decent discussions. But it is not a part of commenting rules. Indeed, the rules specifically state:

                  Don’t nitpick people’s spelling, grammar, or word choices.

                  The whole point of commenting is a discussion of ideas. When you start sidelining that for word choices you have suppressed discussion. Most adults overlook poor word choices in the hope of seeking understanding of others ideas.

                2. post-it*

                  yes that rule is well-founded. i personally felt that reflecting accurately the content of the letter was important.

                  i did not realize that my small statement about “rubbed the wrong way” would result in a nitpicking diagnosis because i neither directly criticized the person who made the assumption nor went on a diatribe about it. duly noted.

      2. OP 1*

        Good question! We are about the same size but I’m not sure I could help him up a flight of stairs or with walking over a long distance.

      3. Liane*

        Doesn’t matter, for practical purposes. Even if 2 people are the same size, someone who is limp, or nearly so, is a lot harder to help than someone in complete control of their muscles. I have a close friend with MS and when we lived in the same city, I often drove her. One day she got overheated to the point she was limp and leaning against me in the car. We were very close in size and I could not even get her sitting straight up. Scary. Thankfully, cranking up the AC and a cold drink took care of the problem, and she was okay.

        1. Bea*

          Even able bodied men can’t all dead weight a person. So if you’re actually concerned of the “what if they collapse” aspect, you’re not an appropriate caregiver. My mom and dad sure can’t pick me up, my brother is my size and couldn’t either…you’re there to assist and call 911 if something big happens…like a fall. Don’t lift a fall victim,don’t try to catch a falling person, giving someone a steadying post to lean on is vastly different.

      4. Bea*

        Yeah. I’m bigger than every boss I’ve had, despite being a woman and them being men…all the guys in my office are half my size. So my side eye did snap into place. Then I remember I’m not standard lady sized and they’re all slight men under 6 foot.

    7. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      I’ve used this in my capacity of first-aider at work – responsive co-worker who insisted on sitting on a chair (a wheelie office one!) but was feeling dizzy and faint. Told him that a) he’s currently on wheels, b) I’m 5’2″ to his 6′, and while I’m on the chunky side, it’s fat not muscle, he’s still bigger than me, so c) I’m not catching him!
      For a start, (and leaving aside my personal feelings on the matter) the company isn’t insured for that kind of work related injury…

    8. ThursdaysGeek*

      An added complication is HIPAA concerns.

      My spouse was the driver for a co-worker who had a routine colonoscopy. And they found something, transported him to a hospital to care for it. But my spouse didn’t know that. He was just waiting, and waiting, and waiting. And finally they told him that the co-worker would not need a ride. But that’s all he knew. He didn’t know he’d been sent to a hospital for surgery, and they couldn’t tell him. Only when the co-worker was coherent a couple of days later, and could call my spouse, did he find out what was going on.

      As a co-worker, unless boss explicitly gives her HIPAA information access, she won’t know what is going on if she shows up to give him a ride home and he’s not there.

      1. Specialk9*

        It’s making my heart warm to see so many other people who actually care about this. Amazon is terrible – to its warehouse workers, delivery workers, and office workers.

        It’s faster, yes. But do we really need everything fast, when we know it’s on the back of poor people with few options?

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Yes. This is how it is in my city. The son of a friend of mine works there. He has a real emergency when someone rear ended him while he was delivering packages. It took out his ability to earn money.
        Too close to the edge unless you are desperate.

      2. KAZ2Y5*

        Are the flex drivers the ones that Amazon sends a message about tipping (I noticed something about tipping in the article)? I have had a message about that with one delivery, but that was also the first time I tried their 2-hr delivery when it became available in my area.

        1. CAA*

          They automatically add a tip, which you can remove, if you order from Prime Now or Amazon Fresh.

          For ordinary package deliveries, there is no tip. When I order something, I do not have any control over whether my package will be delivered by my regular mail carrier, UPS, FedEx or Amazon Logistics (little white vans). I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a regular package delivered by an Amazon Flex driver.

      3. Tara R.*

        I’m not sure whether the guys who bring Prime deliveries to your door are actually Amazon workers or some third party in my city, but I was absolutely appalled last winter. We had some very uncharacteristic heavy snow and as per usual things had pretty much shut down. My school was closed, so I was home for the day, and imagine my surprise when my doorbell went and it was some poor delivery worker driving through the snow to bring me my stupid kitchen gadget! I told him I was shocked they were still running (I could be wrong, but I believe police had asked everyone to stay off the roads as much as possible at this point, and a lot of the non-main roads hadn’t been salted; no one has snow tires here) and he said that they had been told that they would be immediately fired if they didn’t come in. His team had had three accidents in the space of a day.

        I wanted to call and complain, but I was worried about getting him in trouble. :/

    1. Dram*

      I’m confused why Amazon is named at all. I thought the practice here was to use names like Chocolate Teapot Choice delivery.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Nope, there’s no rule about it. When people want to keep their company or industry anonymous, they’ll often use a placeholder like that, but there’s no reason people can’t refer by name to a big company like Amazon.

        1. RadManCF*

          That’s good to know; although I kinda liked referring to 3M as the “Celtic Adhesive Strip Conglomerate”.

      2. bluephone*

        You might be thinking of the Etiquette Hell blog where the site owner is obsessed with no trademarked names, brand names, etc

    2. Jess*

      Yea, I feel like that’s a crucial point that OP should definitely know before responding. (And she may actually know for sure, but just mentioning it because her letter didn’t say so explicitly.) I know that Amazon uses contract drivers in some places, but that’s not as common in other places—it would more likely be USPS or UPS. (When I started reading the letter I actually expected it to be a story about USPS, because her description of what happened is pretty similar to some well-publicized issues with USPS.)

      But also, I’d double-check that everyone’s packages were actually coming through the same delivery service. Although a bit of a coincidence if they weren’t! But I’ve had packages from the same order delivered with different delivery services on the same day, or the same item on subscribe & save will be delivered UPS one month and USPS the next. And there’s no discernible pattern as to which it will be as far as I can tell.

      1. JamieS*

        Same here. I’ve had items from the same order that were all bought from Amazon (as opposed to other sellers on Amazon which would make more sense) that arrived through different services. I’m sure there’s a rhyme and reason to it but I’m not sure what it is.

        As for OP, I don’t think they should respond at all. It’s not really egregious for people to complain if their package is marked delivered when it hasn’t been especially if it’s a pattern and not a one off. That’s just a bad practice that can lead to larger issues than just annoyance.

        Also, it’s not really OP’s coworkers problem if Amazon doesn’t treat their drivers extremely well. If OP has an issue with it they can complain to Amazon, start an awareness campaign outside of work, or as a compromise suggest people complain about the practices in addition to the delivery issue. However taking the approach of “don’t complain about a legitimate issue because the delivery job is made difficult by Amazon” isn’t reasonable IMO.

        1. Jenny*

          I have to agree here. There is a difference between a company’s bad policies to its employees and an individual customer’s bad treatment. For instance, a lot of large retail chains treat their employees unethically and underpay them, but that doesn’t mean that if you receive problematic service by one if those employees, you don’t say anything. Especially if people aren’t receiving things they were supposed to for days. It really isn’t the same issue and isn’t going to do anything to help the real problem.

          If anything, the false reports allow the company to avoid confronting the reality of the situation.

          1. Cordoba*

            I assume that jobs at Taco Bell are low-paying and no fun.

            I’m still going to complain if I order and Chalupa and don’t get one.

            1. Nox*

              Yeah #3 is one of those situations where corporate culture falls second to customer experience. I pay for prime so you betcha I’m complaining when a driver claims they delivered a package but didn’t or if the merchant doesn’t send out the shipment in the timeframes required to ensure the delivery makes it out in time.

              I think trying to guilt someone to accept substandard service they are paying for is unreasonable. I used to allow bad waitstaff and cooks to walk all over me and bring me incorrect drinks or food that didn’t have the modifications I asked for and I wouldn’t send it back or complain because I felt “guilty” till i realized i needed to speak up rather than have a degraded experience at my own expense.

            2. anon today and tomorrow*

              As long as people are polite about complaining instead of launching into yelling, rants, or insults. I worked at McDonalds when I was 14 – 16, and people would routinely get angry if they accidentally got a small fry instead of a medium of 19 nuggets instead 0f 20 and would *throw* sometimes very hot food at our faces (I once had to go to the hospital because the customer wanted fries right from the fryer and then didn’t like that they weren’t salty enough and threw them at my face). Or they would insult us in ways that would make us cry. A friend who worked at a coffee shop had people throw coffee at them or physically threaten them if they got the wrong order.

              Food and retail workers get a lot of anger generated towards them – more so than employees in other businesses – so while everyone has every right to complain, it should be polite unless there’s a legit reason for you to be angry rather than mildly annoyed.

              1. I Love Thrawn*

                I really hope that customer got an assault charge for that! How awful for you.

                1. anon today and tomorrow*

                  Of course they didn’t. Getting food thrown at me happened so often that it was just deemed a hazard of the job. You’d be shocked at how many people justify poor treatment of fast food workers.

                  I always give extra patience when food servers or fast food cashiers mess up an order because I know most of the time the person handing me the food wasn’t at fault and that it’s a stressful environment that most people who haven’t worked in the industry don’t understand.

              2. JeanB in NC*

                Ah, the McDonald’s customer throwing food at me – I don’t miss that at all. I was giving one lady her food and she didn’t like my “attitude” and picked up a shake and threw it all over me. So by reflex I picked up her tray of food (this was way back when they still used trays) and flung it at her. Don’t really even remember doing it – I think I went rage-blind. But in this case, the management backed me up and told her she had to leave the store.

                1. anon today and tomorrow*

                  There were definitely those instances as well.

                  Though, I’d take food getting thrown at me over the many times a parent would tell their kid to stay in school and get good grades or else they’d end up like me. Didn’t matter that I was 14 – 16 and top of my class. They just thought all fast food workers were dropouts, stupid, and worth bearing the brunt of their anger. Once I got to the end of my rope, I definitely snapped that I was top of my class, saving money for college, and maybe the parents should teach their kids not be to classist jerks who judge people for no reason. That sure went over well.

                2. Thursday Next*

                  @anon today and tomorrow—Wow. Those customers and those parents are unbelievable. Especially treating a kid, which you were at the time, so terribly.

                  When I’m having a really frustrating customer service experience, I just imagine how I’d want someone to be speaking to my child, if he/she were in that customer service job. It’s a difficult line of work.

                3. General Ginger*

                  @anon today and tomorrow — oh, those were the worst. “See, you’re going to end up working retail if you don’t go to college”. I just wanted to yell, hey, listen, person with kid, I am literally in college. Literally right now I’m enrolled in a full course load. And it wouldn’t matter if I weren’t, because clearly, you’re shopping here, ergo, someone needs to work here, and there’s nothing wrong with your kid if they choose to do that.

              3. Jenny*

                Yeah I am sympathetic, I did my time in corporate fast food and am always kind to those workers. But if my pepperoni pizza looks like it has been sitting in that hot and ready for 3 hours, I will complain. Yes I know the shitty manager keeps you from throwing old food out, I was that peon.

          2. sam*

            for me, it depends. I usually let one day delay slide with delivery if it’s just a matter of convenience, but if I’m ordering something that I actually need by a certain date, or particularly if I’m waiting for something work-related that we have paid for “overnight” or “early priority” delivery, then I’m more likely to complain.

            The latter has happened to me recently – I was waiting on some fairly important legal documents for work, and they were specifically being shipped by early priority (8am delivery) so that we could have them in time.

            The flight they were supposed to be on got delayed by two hours due to weather. I DID NOT have a problem with that part – that’s out of anyone’s control. The thing that I DID have a problem with was that when we checked to see when the package would get delivered, instead of telling us that they would get it to us ASAP that day, they just…rescheduled for the following day, even though it was only 10am and packages were still getting delivered all day. They just decided that since they missed the 8am delivery time that…it didn’t matter at all anymore?

            THAT was when I became a customer service complaint monster.

            I got my package before noon.

            FYI, shipping overnight for early priority delivery costs, like, $50. It’s not a small deal. We REALLY needed those documents.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              If I receive a message that a package was delivered, I’m going to look for it. Not on the front steps (where it should be) so I check the garage (nope) back door (nope) where the heck is this package? This is WAY more annoying than if it was supposed to be delivered Tuesday but arrives Wednesday and no one tries to fool me about that.

              1. sam*

                That is definitely much more annoying – for me it’s because I live in a doorman building in NYC, so if a shipper is telling me my package was delivered and then it wasn’t, I’m then left questioning the folks working the door as to what happened to my package, when they did nothing wrong.

                That’s the main reason I’ll complain in those circumstances – the false delivery reports leave me in a position where I’m potentially accusing completely innocent people of not doing their jobs or worse (obviously, now that I know that drivers pull this crap, I’m less likely to ACTUALLY accuse anyone of anything!, but still).

                1. roisin54*

                  I was having a problem like that a couple years ago and I was all mad at the shippers, until I found out that there was a package thief that was stealing nearly everyone’s packages in my apartment building. We started finding opened, empty boxes in odd places and people kept posting notes on the mailboxes asking for their stuff to be returned. My building has an unattended lobby and the cleaning crew is rather lax about locking the front door, so the problem persists yet the property managers haven’t done squat about it. I now get all of my Amazon stuff shipped to one of their pick up locations and everything else I get shipped to a store or to my parents’ house (if it’s not something I need right away.) It’s a pain in the ass but it seems to be the only way I can be guaranteed to get anything I order online.

                2. Lindsay J*

                  This. And it sounds like that’s probably what happened in this case to spark the email in the first place.

                  The stuff was marked as delivered. People went to mail room to get their packages. Mail room didn’t have the packages. People complained and went “WTF Amazon said it was delivered.”

                  Email got sent out explaining what happened so they didn’t get yelled at or accused of stealing the packages.

                3. Turtle Candle*

                  Since there’s a lot of package theft where I live, false delivery confirmations mean that I end up requesting a replacement delivery. Well, first I check every possible place it might be (front door, back door, top of the mailbox, side door, behind the trash bins, crammed into the milkman’s box, neighbors’ doorsteps), then I text my friendly neighbor to ask if she saw anything, then I request a replacement delivery. Then, when it’s a false confirmation instead of a theft, I end up with two of whatever and feel guilty, not to mention wasting other peoples’ time and money.

                  I could wait a day or two to notify of theft, I suppose, but that’s not so great in the cases that *are* theft, so…. I dunno. (It also means that I don’t get the delivery confirmation when the package does eventually come… which means it’s more likely to be stolen because I don’t know to go out and pick it up and might not see it until much later.)

                4. Specialk9*

                  @Turtle Candle “Then, when it’s a false confirmation instead of a theft, I end up with two of whatever and feel guilty, not to mention wasting other peoples’ time and money.”

                  I’ve had that happen too. But I contacted Amazon, they sent a label, and I sent the duplicate back. To keep both when you paid for one is stealing.

                5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                  @Specialk9: this has happened to me before, and the item was low value enough that the seller told me not to bother returning the duplicate. It’s still a waste of time and goods, though.

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                This is the problem we have, but it’s when USPS handles last-mile, not the Flex drivers (they are great in our area). We have an absolutely terrible postman where we live now, and everyone on our street has complained about him. He constantly delivers mail/packages to the wrong addresses (that are not even close in number/street name), if he doesn’t feel like getting out of the truck, he doesn’t (once, my husband stayed home all day to receive a signature required package and ended up having to jump our back fence and catch the guy on the next street over to get it), and he drops packages wherever he feels like it (squishes things that don’t fit into the mailbox and leaves it hanging open, left one package in the flowers around the mailbox, dropped one in a puddle that was definitely there before the delivery with no plastic bag).

                1. Teapot librarian*

                  Hey, do you live in my neighborhood? That sounds like our mail delivery! (It really says something that part of my getting home routine includes leaning over the railing to make sure no packages are in the bushes.)

                2. NotAnotherManager!*

                  @Teapot librarian – Seriously! It is particularly irritating because we moved a few years ago (literally less than a mile from our old house) and our postman there was fantastic – friendly, always handled deliveries coming and going with care, etc. I miss that guy! The lady who fills in when our current postman is out is also quite good. We just have a dud for a regular. I’m not used to crappy mail service!

                3. many bells down*

                  I have had the same problem in two different cities in the last 6 years with postal workers delivering packages to the wrong address. Part of the problem, though, is that both times a house one block over has an identical number. So I’m on 12345 Fifth Avenue and there’s a 12345 Sixth Street too. To make matters worse, my mailbox is now out on the cross street with a group of boxes, but my same-number neighbor has a box in front of her house.

              3. Ramblin' Ma'am*

                Yes! This happened to me with the postal service. I got a notification that my package was delivered. I got home and it wasn’t there. I thought maybe it had been stolen. I talked to the post office to see if it was possible the package hadn’t been delivered. They spoke to the driver, who literally gave an exact description of where he had dropped it off. OK, I figured–clearly it was stolen. Nope. It ended up being delivered the next day. The mailman had marked it as delivered without actually dropping it off, then lied about it when asked by his boss.

              4. Lindsay J*

                Plus it cuts off all the tracking.

                From what the company that sent me the item knows, and from what UPS/FedEx/Amazon knows, I now have that item in my hand.

                So if it winds up not getting delivered later for whatever reason (stuck to another package, delivered to the wrong address, was scanned onto the truck but actually is still in a corner of the shipping center, label was ripped off of it, truck got rearended and all the packages in it were smashed, whatever), I have no more recourse. I can’t get them to go back and track it down. I can’t file a claim and get reimbursement. I can’t get the company to send me a second one. I’m just screwed.

                I also don’t know if it was misdelivered to a wrong address, whether the driver marked it delivered now when they intend to deliver it later, or whether someone stole it off of my front door.

                At least if it’s a delivery exception I know it’s still on the truck and have a rough idea of when it might be delivered, and can still track it and still file claims if it doesn’t make it to me.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  Protip: The delivery gizmo that they scan packages with has GPS tracking on it (at least for USPS, not sure about FedEx or UPS but I assume it’s the same or similar). If you sub a claim to USPS and they tell you there was “an error” and/or they have “no GPS data for the delivery,” they are straight up lying to you and you’ll probably get the package in another day or 2 (source: this has happened to me 5 times in the past year, 3 of those during last Xmas).

                  If your claim goes to a newbie who hasn’t been schooled in lying for the drivers yet, they’ll send you a screenshot of the GPS coordinates where they marked the package delivered. I’ve walked over the neighbor’s a couple times to pick up my misdelivered shit.

              5. Mildly Anonymous*

                I’ve written about this before, but one time I had ordered an item and the tracking all said that it had been delivered and left on “the porch.” I looked for the item in the hallway of my apartment and on the front steps in front of my building, but couldn’t find it. I kind of assumed that someone had stolen it. I complained to the company I ordered it from and they sent a replacement.

                Then, about a month later I found the original package. The UPS delivery person had thrown it on my 2nd floor balcony and it sat there for a month. I rarely used the balcony, especially not in the winter, and it never occurred to me to look there. I kept the items.

            2. Persimmons*

              This “it didn’t go perfectly, so we gave up” thing happened to me several times as well, and I DON’T GET IT. I’ve had items get damaged in delivery and returned to sender, but nothing happened to make it right until I called customer service and asked why the tracking showed the items as delivered to the same place they came from. Am I just paying people to admire their own inventory?

              1. Kathryn T.*

                This is what happens when the only metric they track is “percentage of on-time deliveries.” If you get penalized the same amount for being 3 days late and 30 minutes late, there’s no incentive for you to try and get it there ASAP.

                I used to work a job that promised Next Business Day service, and our official dispatch instructions were that if we couldn’t do the job NBD — either because we had too much that day or because the customer was unavailable — it became our BOTTOM priority. Like, more important to do our inventory paperwork than do the service call. Because the only metric that they tracked was the percentage that got completed on the next business day.

              2. ValkyrAmy*

                I had a “we couldn’t get through your security gate” exception. Which is fair, except I don’t have one. I get packages all the time, and no one else has gotten stuck at security. (I kinda wish my house had a bouncer, now, though.)

                I called UPS, explained my complete lack of security, and they told me that particular driver had had a similar problem on over 50% of his stops that day. Not sure what happened to the driver, but if you’re going to lie in a delivery exception, maybe vary it from time to time? Or make sure you’re going to gated places.

                1. TurtleIScream*

                  We ordered a bed frame, had it delivered, and went to set it up. That’s when we noticed the box said, “Box 1 of 2”. Around the same time, we got a call from the UPS center, asking us to please verify our address. Apparently, our driver returned from his route and labeled all the undelivered boxes left in his truck as “invalid address”. Probably best to not do that when you’ve already made a partial delivery. A different driver arrived an hour later with our second box.

                2. sam*

                  My favorite are when they put in the system that they tried to deliver but I wasn’t home to accept delivery.

                  I live in a doorman building in NYC. There is ALWAYS someone available to accept delivery. I mean, sometimes when folks are on vacation, we have to resort to the backup method of buzzers and keys for overnight, but unless UPS is trying to deliver packages at 3am, that’s really not believable (and also, I AM home at 3am).

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s not really egregious for people to complain if their package is marked delivered when it hasn’t been.

          This. If their practices are untenable, then annoyed customers are the best pressure to put on the company to change those practices–if everyone agrees to never complain, then nothing will change.

          I can see “Because I object to this company’s practices I shop somewhere else” but not “Because I object to this company’s practices I buy from them, but I make sure not to complain if they say things were delivered when they weren’t.” That latter really isn’t striking a blow for anything. (And I have found things on Amazon and then bought them elsewhere for reasons of selection or delivery, so it’s not like one can say Amazon is the only purveyor of a vital thing and so no one has a choice.)

          1. Lindsay J*

            Every once in awhile it’s the only purveyor of a vital thing. But I’ve reached the point where I actively avoid buying from there unless they are the only seller, or the only seller where I might get the item overnight and I need it overnight, etc.

            And that happens only once every several months.

            My Amazon ordering has gone from being probably once every week or two to once or twice a year due to my problems with their Flex delivery, and fear of getting counterfeit cosmetics, etc.

            1. Specialk9*

              Yeah me too. Sometimes they really are the only ones, unfortunately.

              But I look everywhere else first.
              (Don’t get suckered by eBay listings though – often people are just ordering from Amazon and sending directly to you.)

              Usually Target has what I need.

          2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

            “If their practices are untenable, then annoyed customers are the best pressure to put on the company to change those practices–if everyone agrees to never complain, then nothing will change.”

            This is where I land too. If the drivers keep marking packages as delivered when they aren’t, the company has no incentive to change their practices. As far as Amazon knows, their delivery schedules are reasonable because they keep being “met” even though they aren’t. The drivers who cheat the system are hurting themselves in the long run.

            I’m really not one to complain on slight inconveniences — I assume it’s a one-off until I see a pattern of bad service and then I complain about the pattern and not the one-time irritation. I used to go to a particular fast food place for lunch. I was ordering just for me not a huge office order and each and every time they had me pull out of the drive-through to the front to wait for my order that would “take just a minute”. I knew what they were doing — there is a timer tripped by the car pulling through to see how quickly they serve each customer. They’re trying to cheat the system by showing service at say 40 seconds instead of 2 minutes. After 3-4 times of this I just refused and then later went to the corporate website to report the issue. It stopped. I doubt the minimum-wage workers were either getting bonuses or getting fired based on those times, unless they were egregiously slow, in which case, that would alert the business that they need to change something — more people on the shift, more/better equipment, maybe just rethink how long it “should” take.

          3. A.N. O'Nyme*

            I mostly use Amazon as a sort off Google for products: check if something that I’m looking for exists, maybe check out some reviews (especially the bad ones, to see if these issues would bother me) then buy somewhere else if I can.
            Alternatively, you know something is going to be difficult to find if Amazon doesn’t have any clue what you’re talking about.

          4. Submerged Tenths*

            I refuse to shop Amazon (and have actually never not found what I need elsewhere) because I do. not. like. their business model/treatment of employees.

          5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Exactly this. I object to Amazon’s business practices, so I have stopped buying things from them (and I avoid other badly paid, exploitative delivery services too). But I will still complain if the delivery driver lies about having delivered something, because otherwise it just perpetuates the problem and makes the company think that these overworked drivers have a reasonable schedule.

        3. Persimmons*

          If I don’t have something on my property that they’re telling me is delivered, I’m reporting it stolen. I’ve had too many valuable things get messed around with to play “wait and see” games. Even if you mark something as for signature only, they dump it on the porch and peel out.

        4. Lindsay J*


          Honestly. I keep on hoping that if I complain enough that Amazon will stop using the Flex drivers and go back to using real delivery companies. Because I cannot order Amazon and get items actually delivered to me anymore. Either the package doesn’t show up at all, or part of the package is missing.

          Then I contact Amazon, and they tell me to wait 3 days because sometimes the drivers mark the package as delivered when they really didn’t deliver it. Or they treat me like I am trying to rip off Amazon and want me to wait until the complete an investigation before I get my stuff.

          Companies like UPS have actual tracking where they can identify where a driver was when they scanned a package as delivered, etc, to facilitate investigations. Apparently Amazon doesn’t have this. Also, UPS drivers ect have a lot more to lose if they steal or just plain don’t deliver their packages. Amazon Flex, it’s more of a gig economy thing than a job, so it’s not like you’ll list if you get fired. You just stop doing it, don’t put it on a resume, and sign up to do Uber or Lyft or Postmates or DoorDash or Favor or whatever instead.

          I’ve stopped using Amazon almost entirely because of their use of the Flex drivers (and their intermingling of product in their bins with makes it nearly impossible to guarantee that you’re getting a genuine product rather than a counterfeit. Now if I do order I get it shipped to an Amazon locker location because at least then Amazon can see if they driver went and accessed the box.

          Encouraging people to stop using Amazon all together, or to contact Amazon and let them know that they don’t support their use of Flex drivers, would be more effective than encouraging people to not complain if they didn’t get their stuff. But that’s an outside work activity, not an at work one.

          1. Bostonian*

            “Because I cannot order Amazon and get items actually delivered to me anymore. Either the package doesn’t show up at all, or part of the package is missing.”

            Me too! My husband buys stuff from Prime all the time with no problem, but I can’t seem to get an order to actually show up. If I order from Amazon 5 times in a year, 2 of those 5 times the order will eventually be cancelled before ever shipping, and 1 of those 5 times it is backordered and delayed. A 40% success rate isn’t going to keep me coming back for more!

        5. tinyhipsterboy*

          I agree with this. Besides, it can be both things: Amazon can treat their workers terribly while their workers impact delivery date negatively due to their treatment. Stuff ordered from Amazon is rarely truly crucial to something, but they can still be time-sensitive from a daily life perspective (whether it’s personal grooming, a gift for someone moving, event equipment, etc.), and unfortunately it *is* an issue.

          Things can be both. I’m not sure starting a discussion about things like that would actually help; at worst, it could come off condescending. If you do respond, perhaps mention that complaining to customer service won’t actually do a ton to help the drivers or the package delivery dates?

        6. Former Retail Manager*

          Completely agree. And while Amazon may be awful to work for, the drivers don’t have to. Free market and all. I would like to see some positive change at Amazon regarding the treatment of their workforce at ALL levels, not just drivers, but falsifying deliveries is not acceptable.

          1. Specialk9*

            Emh this is simplified a little too much. When an org is extremely well known for creating abusively impossible work targets for its people, in order to fire them cyclically, in order to scare and motivate other employees into working themselves sick and injured trying to do the impossible… In that case, I do actually blame the deliberately and systemically abusive workplace rather than the peons trying to stay afloat in the giant whirlpool filled with poop.

        7. nonegiven*

          I used to get subscribe and save items sent from different cities.

          Now they seem to mostly come in the same box, even things I ordered by Amazon Prime have come in the same box as the subscribe and save items.

      2. Emi.*

        Yeah, where I live Amazon comes by UPS (sometimes, but not always, handed over to USPS) and is often marked delivered a day or two before it arrives. It’s very annoying.

      3. sam*

        The other thing you have to look out for is if the service they’re using is one of those “hybrid” services – both fedex and UPS have deals with the USPS to do the “last mile” of some deliveries. so they will actually “deliver” your package to your local post office. It’s possible that packages are (incorrectly) getting marked as delivered by Fedex/UPS when they hit the post office, which still needs to actually deliver it to your house.

        (it shouldn’t be getting marked that way – they should get marked as transferred to the local carrier, but it’s happened to me before as well)

        1. Lore*

          I have actually been told by Amazon, USPS, and the mailroom staff at my office that this is in fact how the Amazon/USPS relationship works (and to a certain extent how USPS itself works) at least for deliveries to large buildings: the package is “delivered” when it reaches the destination zip code, usually the local PO, and at some point within roughly 72 hours after that it will actually get all the way to recipient. I’ve pushed back at all angles because it seems so patently ridiculous to me that that “last mile” is essentially untrackable but all of them insist that for large high-volume buildings, this is how it now works.

          1. sam*

            Do you know if this is the case for everything, including priority packages, or just things shipped the equivalent of “ground”?

            It’s ridiculous in any circumstance, but it’s more ridiculous for packages that are shipped priority/overnight/etc. What’s the point of paying for that kind of service if it’s just going to languish in some mailroom for three days?

            1. Lore*

              Super-expedited first-morning delivery seems to actually promise next-day delivery all the way to end user. Two-day and three-day definitely fall into the “delivered-at-post-office” category. “Priority overnight but not first morning delivery” is something of a gray area–it seems to get a little more care and feeding at the PO end, but still not necessarily all the way to my desk till the following day. (Possibly because USPS packages generally arrive at 4 pm or later to my building anyway, and then need to be sorted in the mailroom and delivered to desk.)

              1. sam*

                I guess I’m lucky (?) in that my office building in NYC is relatively small, and we only have a small office here (2 floors). It’s not like the old world trade center that had its own zip code.

                Our other strategy – If I know I’m expecting something, my assistant will pester the mailroom for it until they bring it up. Not exactly protocol, but it gets stuff to me faster.

            2. Hillary*

              This is what I do for a living, sorry for the essay.

              It’s just the USPS-hybrid services (Mail Innovations, Smartpost, Surepost, etc) that are delivered by the post office in the US. Any of the main-line services (next day air, priority, economy, ground) will have final mile by the carrier. Although many FedEx drivers are contractors rather than employees. Generally speaking you’ll see this used on “free” shipping for lightweight packages.

              Envelopes in particular stay in the core carrier delivery system, but they’re slightly more prone to loss for two reasons. One – there’s less room for recovery from an issue like weather. The worst case with that is when both Louisville/Memphis and Indianapolis have bad weather events, Indy is the backup hub. Two – envelopes are slightly more prone to mishandling in the conveyors (we’re talking minuscule percents, but that doesn’t make a difference when the documents were crucial). A priority box has a very slightly better delivery rate than an envelope.

              Why don’t they go out same day? When a few planes are late the drivers have usually all left the hub before the late packages get there. Most of the time it’s worth it for them to take the customer service hit. The one time it was bad enough that I had to engage higher level help the terminal manager ended up going out to the floor to physically find the package and then sending a supervisor to deliver it in his car, and that was because the customer was a c-level exec at a fortune 50 who had a colleague on the carrier’s board.

          2. Clare*

            I don’t think the last mile is untrackable, but you do have to go into the tracking history and find the USPS tracking number to track directly with them.

            1. Loren*

              In my experience, even with the USPS tracking number, the only way to dig deeper than “delivered” is to call USPS customer service and be on the phone for days. The automated tracking only goes as far as the local PO except with the super-expedited shipping.

      4. CAA*

        Yes, I also thought this was going to be a USPS delivery issue. I worked in one office where the mail carrier’s route frequently got him to our building after the elevator entrance closed. He could still deliver letters to the mailboxes, but he couldn’t deliver packages if he got there late. The problem was he always scanned the packages before he left the truck, so then they’d just go right back to the P.O. Sometimes we’d get them the next day and sometimes we’d have to figure out that they weren’t going to be redelivered and go pick them up.

        This happened to all packages mailed to the business, whether or not they came from Amazon.

      5. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah, I’ve personally had more issues with the US postal service not delivering, or delivering wrongly, my Amazon packages than Amazon couriers. And unless I’m home (or see them on the security camera) when they deliver, I’ve got no idea who’s bringing them at any given delivery. We’ve often ordered multiple items that came in two different deliveries on the same day.

  2. Drew*

    OP#5, if you wanted, you could be very specific without getting into vague “people skills” terms. “The job you’re applying for calls for some time at the desk dealing with the public, as with all our positions. In your previous time here, it was clear you did not enjoy that kind of work. Since that’s a requirement of this position, we won’t be able to move forward with your application. We wish you the best of luck finding something that’s a better fit.”

    1. nnn*


      OP says outright he was “not willing to” do that work and “balked” at it, so she could even go so far as to say “In your previous time here, you declined/refused to do this kind of work”

      1. Specialk9*

        It still is rewarding someone for thinking they can jump the line by pestering the hiring manager.

    2. Blue*

      Honestly, I probably wouldn’t bother. I’m guessing that he was a student employee of theirs relatively recently, and if he thought it was ok to refuse to do work then, I doubt that’s changed. And if he’s already being pushy about the hiring process, I doubt that will change either. In my experience, a student like that is probably going to argue with you when you tell them no. I think Alison’s first script is the easiest one for OP.

        1. AnonAtAllTimes*

          Seconded. Don’t give an unreasonable purchase a toe-hold from which to launch an argument. Use vague, vanilla language and then don’t reply further. Alison got it right in her first suggested reply language. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s not to try to reason with the unreasonable or pushy. It’s aggravating and pointless.

          1. Blue*

            I know it’s tricky, because working in higher ed, there’s a bit of an obligation to educate students about navigating the post-college world, so I’ve definitely had frank and sometimes difficult conversations with students exhibiting these behaviors (and for the most part, those were productive conversations that resulted in clear improvements, might I add!) But as a hiring manager for a full-time professional role, that’s not OP’s job, and I think it’s fine for her to handle this in the way that will cause her the least grief.

    3. OP#5*

      I think I’ll keep that as a backup plan in case the bland “HR-style language” doesn’t work (such as if we hire someone else and then he continues to contact me about the position). We emphasized “excellent customer service skills” in the position description, but I know a lot of people think they have better soft skills than they really do.

      I think our hiring system automatically sends out a “sorry, we moved forward with someone else” email to all of the candidates once someone is hired, but I’m not 100% sure about that. I know we plan to personally contact anyone we interview who isn’t selected, but I’m wondering if I should also personally contact him. I wouldn’t bother if it weren’t someone who worked with us before.

      1. Ali G*

        I was going to say that you mention you have an HR department and they have a process. So Alison’s scripts are good – let him know his application has been received and he will get notified of next steps.
        Then let HR do their job. You don’t need to get in the middle of it.

      2. irene adler.*

        “I” shouldn’t.
        The HR folks should.
        You could ask HR to make it a point to be sure to include Dan in their “sorry we moved forward with someone else” email notification-regardless of how far he gets in the interview process.
        You could get caught up in a difficult discussion -even via email- with Dan if you are the one to deliver the news to him directly. Course you can just ignore any response from him. Having HR do the notification removes you from this aspect entirely. Easier on your nerves.

      3. GibbsRule#18*

        I would double check about the automatic message. The place I work, which is big and does a lot of hiring, has never done this for anyone I know who has applied, or even me when I’ve applied for an internal position. It can lead to very uncomfortable conversations when an applicant calls following up.

    4. Spooky*

      I was thinking another tack could be to say something like “We received your application. I must say I was surprised, given your previous feelings toward customer service.” That kind of gently gets the point across, while still giving him a chance to defend himself. But then again, maybe that’s not necessary.

    5. Chaordic One*

      There’s a part of me that is put off by the generic and vague nicey-nice first script offered by Alison. I say go right to the second one about the customer service aspect and it not being a good match for him. Get it over with.

    6. chi type*

      Yes just, “I’m sorry but you do not meet the customer service qualifications required for this position.”
      You know he doesn’t, you’ve had ample proof from real life situations and would say the same if you had seen him mangle Excel spreadsheets or whatever other technical qualifications were required.

      1. OP#5*

        Good point! I’m happy to report that our excellent candidate accepted the offer, so here’s hoping we can easily move forward.

  3. Artemesia*

    There are hire services for this where we are but they are pricey and I don’t know if all hospitals have them. I think she needs to indicate that she is afraid to do it because she would not be able to help him if he became dizzy; he needs to find someone with that ability.

    1. Dirty Paws*

      I really disagree that she should say she’s afraid. It invites debate. Hopefully this boss isn’t as creepy as I’m imaging but the whole thing sets off alarm bells for me. Like others have said, have a solid, irrefutable previous engagement. Even if you didn’t tell him that in the beginning tell him that your grandmother just let you know that she will need your help that day because of her cataract surgery…or something like that.

      1. Retired Professor*

        This also set off alarm bells for me. It feels like he’s setting up plausible deniability for bad behavior toward OP (I was loopy, I have memory loss after procedure). I hope I’m wrong. But I also would find some nope to it that has no negotiation.

        1. Observer*

          I see I’m not the only one who thought of this. I sure hope we’re all wrong. But in the age of #MeToo, you would think the guy would have some more sense!

        2. JSPA*

          While it is certainly possible (i thought of it too) the hours right after surgery are not a time anyone would reasonably pick, for an enjoyable (for them) erotic interaction. Nor is someone going to have a surgical procedure as an excuse. The loopiness is the official reason given by hospitals as far as “why you can’t drive yourself.” And they suggest asking a friend, family member, neighbor or coworker. Occam’s razor: very highly likely this is legit. Doesn’t mean there might not be work- awkward stuff, though ( depending on procedure, much farting, drooling, puking, repeated conversation). But it strikes me as a soft / negotiable no, not a hard no.

          1. WellRed*

            Agreed. It may feel weird ir icky, but intentionally setting up a post-surgical rape scenario is a wild stretch.

          2. Observer*

            Why is this a soft no? Even if this is 100% legit and this guy would not do anything sexual no matter how loopy he got, why is this a reasonable thing to do? Why should should she negotiate this?

            1. Allison*

              Seriously, why are women only allowed to set and enforce boundaries when getting raped is a definite possibility? We should be able to have boundaries for all sorts of reasons.

          3. Indie*

            Occams razor would also suggest that most men are safe; and they are. But there’s a reason women still practice daily caution. If youve read the Gift of Fear it says to respect *that* feeling when your instincts are triggered. LWs are. Not surprisingly, it’s pretty gross of him to order a female employee to be a nurse. Equally she has no comeback or plan if he should act strange towards her. Keep in mind that assault isn’t really ‘erotic’ it’s gameplaying and control. The potential benefit is zero and the risk substantial.

            1. EOA*

              Right but the LW isn’t the one suggesting a rape scenario, posters are. I think it’s fine if she feels uncomfortable about it but we don’t know that her instincts are saying, “this is the precursor to an assault!” as opposed to “this is my boss overstepping his boundaries.”

              1. Indie*

                Nor am I. He wouldn’t have have enough plausible deniability to get away with an actual rape. Copping a feel? Propositioning? sure. He’s likely to do the former even if he’s genuine by sheer accident.

            2. Specialk9*

              “Most men’ are safe?! What?

              One survey found that a third of men admit that they would rape someone if they could get away with it, so long as it wasn’t called “rape” but just described accurately (have you used force in order to have sex).

              Another found that over half of men admitted openly to having already committed rape, again so long as it was described (eg have you used threats to get sex) instead of called rape.

              1. Specialk9*

                Errr sorry got carried away there.

                I did hear an alarm bell at what he said, but I don’t think he’s actually planning to rape his subordinate while loopy. My thought was that he knows he did something uncool once, like grab someone inappropriately, and is preemptively creating his defense.

        3. pope suburban*

          It occurred to me too. Now, it is entirely possible that the boss means only that he is goofy to the point that it would be embarrassing, and he thinks that this is reassuring, or he is seeking to minimize his own embarrassment. I don’t know the guy. But it’s also entirely possible that he’s creating an out for himself as part of a plan to behave inappropriately with someone too. I’m not thrilled that we live in a world where this needs to be part of anyone’s mental math, but here we are nevertheless, and I encourage OP1 to get out of this ASAP.

          1. Specialk9*

            Exactly. Women especially often have to learn that lesson early, that jokes can be revelatory, and that creepy feeling should be listened to. Maybe it’s just a joke… But is it worth the risk?

    2. anonymous 5*

      I used one once and, in my experience, it wasn’t pricey and it was *wonderful*. It was an independent company, not a hospital affiliate, and I *think* it’s a nationwide one. Granted, I lived near enough to the hospital that if there was a per-mile charge involved (which I can’t remember offhand) that would have been a minimum! But since it’s LW’s boss we’re talking about, I don’t think the potential expense is nearly as big of a concern (especially since, obviously, boss has a job and an income) as the complete impropriety of asking a subordinate to be the chauffeur.

      1. anonymous 5*

        edited to add: the hospital already knew the routine to call the company 30min before my estimated discharge time etc. Could not have been simpler.

  4. Artemesia*

    I have been in a similar experience to #5 several times where someone we had experience with was ‘qualified’ but we didn’t want to hire him. It is important to alert your own supervisor so that he knows there is a good reason you don’t want to choose him in case he tries an end run with those above you. I had a boss once who would meddle like this and people did end run the hiring process. We generally prevailed but it adds a layer of angst to the process. When the process is over if he asks, since he was a student worker, I would tell him that while he had the technical skills his difficulties working with people and particularly his unwillingness to step up when needed when he worked with you before meant he was not the best candidate for this role.

    1. OP#5*

      OP#5 here, and he’s already tried to do that! He emailed my supervisor, but she had the same issues with him and she agrees with our decision. But he also contacted HER supervisor, who has some sort of special rapport with him due to some shared interests. Jane and I told him about why we don’t think Dan is good match, and so far he seems supportive. We have found an excellent candidate and are hoping to move forward there, so this may resolve itself sooner than I’d thought.

      1. Blue*

        Yikes! You definitely don’t want to give this guy any wiggle room because he will drag things out and make life miserable. I’d treat him like any other candidate, and once you get a (hopefully awesome!) hire in place, it will be much easier to shut him down if he tries to make a fuss. I ran a fellowship program in my last job, and I had a student throw a fit when he was rejected. When he didn’t let it go, I straight up said to him, “There were four fellowships available. The committee selected and made offers to the four individuals they felt were the best fit. Are you seriously proposing that we take the money back from one of them and give it to you instead?” and since no one but a complete jerk would say yes to that question, he gave up at that point (begrudgingly, but, hey, he stopped contacting me, which is all I cared about!)

        Hope the candidate y’all found is great and everything works out with them!

      2. M. Albertine*

        If you had to interview him, you could easily ask him to talk about his approach to customer service, since it is an important part of the job description. Unless he lies (in which case, your and Jane’s references should count to the interview team), his weakness in the area should be easily able to be brought to the surface and disqualify him in the normal course of hiring. It could also give him the opportunity to come up with a brilliant “I learned something” interview answer that might persuade you to give him another chance if you did not have someone who was a better fit right out of the gate.

  5. I Work in my Socks*

    #1 There are companies that specialize in Non-Emergency Medical.Transportation. They specialize in taking outpatients to and from hospital, doctors, and surgery centers. They have trained personnel to handle the types of emergencies that occasionally happen to these patients. Have your boss look into this option.

    1. periwinkle*

      Exactly this. When I had a routine but anesthetized procedure earlier this year, the information packet from the facility included information about a medical transport service approved for taking patients home if they could not arrange their own acceptable transportation. OP #1’s boss should either use that service or ask someone he actually speaks with (and does not have authority over!) to help out.

      OP: “I’m sorry, I’m not able to do that.” Repeat as needed.

    2. Thlayli*

      Not likely to be the case for this guy, but in case it helps anyone else: Red Cross / order of Malta type charities will provide this service for free. I used to volunteer for them and we transported people with disabilities around all the time. It was a major part of the volunteer activity. If someone had no relatives or friends able to look after them for something like this it would have been no problem for us to do this.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      This is very good to know. My two adult sons are living with me now, but it won’t be forever. Even now that they do, they have work and (in the case of one of them) a full-time college courseload. When I had surgery early this year, there was a lot of discussion about who’d be my ride to the surgery center that was an hour away from our home by freeway. A day will come when neither of them will be available to do that, and my health is not getting any better with age. Thank you for sharing!

    4. Ennigaldi*

      Great suggestion! In my experience, you’re required to have a ride home set up in advance (calling a cab once you’re done isn’t allowed) for outpatient surgeries with general anesthesia.

  6. lb*

    #3 – Amazon’s own website says that if a package was marked as delivered, you should wait 36 hours before contacting them in case it shows up late. They are well aware that this happens all the time and they don’t care. I don’t understand why there is any need for you to add to the reply-all chains as Amazon itself does not even have a mechanism for people to complain before 36 hours have passed. Just stay out of it; you will absolutely not convince any frequent Amazon shoppers to stop using them, and you will only clog up everyone’s inboxes with noise. Just let it go. You don’t want this to be the hill you die on.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It does indeed have a mechanism for people to complain before 36 hours have passed; you just email them or use their customer service chat. (I just had to do it last week when something I’d paid for overnight shipping on didn’t arrive.)

      Some people do use Amazon less after becoming away of some of their labor practices (or stop using Prime, where some of the worst practices can occur); I know a couple of people who have. Regardless, though, no one is proposing dying on a hill; she’s talking about one email contributing to a discussion that’s already going on.

      1. Mookie*

        The attitude evinced by her colleagues is one reason Amazon is a no-go for me. They started out making swift delivery unprofitable for themselves until they could cannibalize and eliminate pre-existing markets, and now they’ve got customers hooked they think loyalty and the inconvenience of finding somewhere else to shop will keep those consumers pliable. And they can rake in more profit by outsourcing labor to desperate temps and contractors and making those people bear the burden of the unrealistic expectations Amazon has fostered.

        1. Mookie*

          These are the same Balanced Budget, anti-tax ghouls that are re-directing public funds to satisy corporate (Amazonian, WallMartian) interests at a cut-rate. More welfare and affirmative action for billionaires.

        2. Glowcat*

          I also don’t use Amazon for that reason; and also because the way they set prices is unclear, at best.

          1. loslothluin*

            USPS has been a fiasco long before Amazon. I personally saw the mail guy break a package to put it in my mailbox. When I called the main office, they said it wasn’t their problem since it wasn’t insured.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              I believe that. I’ve had issues with two different postmasters in my fairly small town.

              1. loslothluin*

                At one point, there was a video that some guy caught the USPS woman (think she was in management) picking up packages around the holidays since they were short staffed. She was literally hurling the packages into the back of thr truck.

                We also had one lady that was driving up the road with mail falling out of the back of the truck. I picked up what I could, went to her truck, and she wouldn’t take it back. I had to deliver it all to various neighbors.

        3. Submerged Tenths*

          As I said above (below?) this is why I have never, and do not, shop Amazon. I’ve never not found what I need somewhere else. And, really, why exactly would I wait until 24 hours before I have to have something, to order it? People just don’t seem able to think ahead any more.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            Eh, I suppose it’s handy in an emergency situation, but for the rest I’m fine with waiting a few days for my packages.

  7. Pepe Silvia*

    #5- In this situation it’s best to be vague and tell him you’re still going through candidates and tell him to go through HR. Since he knows both of you and I presume you will keep running into each other it’s better to have a neutral third party tell him he didn’t get the position. If he pries afterwards asking why he didn’t get the position I would tell him there were many talented candidates and it was a difficult choice

  8. like, whatever*

    #4 They only take the pictures from the left? That’s weirdly specific. Kind of bizarre, actually.
    When they take the photo, and they tell you to turn your face like so, point out the scarring and say “No, rather take if from this side.” If they still insist, give then that look and say “dude, really?”

    1. Close Bracket*

      I’ve seen plenty of company websites that have uniform staff photos. Left might be weirdly specific, but all from the left, all from the right, or all face on, it doesn’t change the fact that uniform photos are A Thing.

      1. Audiophile*

        I actually don’t think that’s a bad thing, it’s distracting to have various backgrounds, colors, sizes in staff photos. I know a few organizations where everyone’s photo had a completely different background – some people were outside, some people were inside, etc. It’s just very distracting. I think there should be some consistency.

    2. Dizzle*

      It may not be quite as simple as having someone turn their head and snap the photo. The lighting is probably set up specifically for this angle and rotating the whole set up will likely be a pain that totally delays the whole assembly line process of marching all the coworkers in there one after the other in a efficient manner. I’d suggest speaking with the photographer or the person at work interfacing with them to see if you can schedule to do your photo at the end or beginning of the process when there is more time to flip the whole set up.

      1. Thlayli*

        Exactly this. The lighting will be set up specifically for the angle. It would be easiest for the photographer to do everyone on that day from the right, and then flip them all.

        OP – if you do want to go with the option of taking the photo from the right and flipping it, just be aware that this would probably need to be discussed with the photographer in advance. it’s unlikely to be as simple as showing up on the day and asking the photographer to take yours differently.

        Most people look pretty similar on both sides and I imagine most people would be happy enough with a photo being reversed to fit into the corporate standard. However you should also consider that some of the other people being photographed might dislike this idea. So you would probably be best to discuss this in advance with the person organising the photos.

        1. Admin of Sys*

          Generally, most professional photographers will be willing to accommodate, they’ll just likely take your photo last and adjust right before hand. We’ve had multiple company photos done where a few folks needed their shot placement adjusted, and they just shifted it so they got the last time slot so the photographer could move around lights.

        2. savethedramaforyourllama*

          The flipping of everyone’s photo could be problematic, as very few people’s faces are exactly symmetrical and I think it would cause people to think their photo looks weird. OP won’t mind if her’s is a little off because it compensates for the bigger problem. I agree with Admin of Sys that she probably would be shot first or last.

    3. OP4*

      Ive worked here for quite a number of years and every photo is the same and the same photographer has been used for 15+ years. I’ve even joked that you could swap heads on photos and you wouldn’t be able to tell. However, my photo won’t be on the wall, and I don’t think they have plans of putting at 20+ photos on one page, so I don’t think I’ll stick out like a sore thumb in our publication. Having them reverse the image might be difficult due to the background of the state and American flag and table, but I do think I’ll talk with the photographer and ask if it’s possible to do me first while he’s setting up his lighting still. Going last is reserved for board members right before a meeting (which I will also be attending).

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        They have wonderful “touch up”/”photoshop” techniques these days. I had a photo done recently where I had a birthmark removed and even tooth spacing filled in. Is this possible?

        1. Ego Chamber*

          Are you asking if it’s possible to turn her face to the opposite side in Photoshop without flipping the image?

          In general, no, you can’t use Photoshop to make visible things that the camera didn’t capture. The photographer could take a picture of her facing left, then take one of her facing right, then flip the right-facing head and paste it over the left-facing picture but that’s a lot of alteration and it might look really off, depending on the skill of the photographer/the lighting/the cropping/everything.

          1. Mr. Cajun2core*

            No. What I am asking is if they can airbrush out the scars and whatever else she would want changed. She could still face the same way but using Photoshop, remove the scars, etc.

    4. Chaordic One*

      There are all sorts of tricks a good photographer can do in a situation like this. We had a photographer use PhotoShop to eliminate wrinkles in some of the older employees. (It was ridiculous, I know. A couple of the people didn’t look at all like their photos.) You could also have a photographer take a picture of your good side on the right and then “flip” it so that it displayed as being on the left.

      But yeah, these a solutions to a what is a questionable idea to start with.

      1. Mr. Cajun2core*

        This is somewhat what I was saying. If a photographer can use PhotoShop to eliminate wrinkles, why not scar tissue?

  9. Zombeyonce*

    #2: If Alison’s answer doesn’t stop the LW from worrying about what they would do if the coworker on the PIP was fired, they should start coming up with some strategies for how they’d prioritize their work if the PIP didn’t end successfully. Come up with ideas for how to put some things aside and how to talk with the boss about putting some projects on hold until a replacement was hired and trained.

    Even if it’s never needed, it would go a long way toward gaining back peace of mind. In my experience, just having a plan for how to deal with a possible problem makes the anxiety about that event go away.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree with this, and I think OP actually should operate under the assumption that he *won’t* complete the PIP and will be terminated. Not because OP thinks he will crash and burn, but because it will help them make a plan to deal with it and not be blindsided.

      1. Echo*

        I agree with this – I’ve worked in a situation where my “Phil” told me directly that he was on a PIP. I made sure I had a backup plan for getting work completed with a smaller team, including checking in with Phil to make sure that I had all the same information/knowledge as him on our shared projects.

  10. Close Bracket*

    OP2: Depending on how close you are with this co-worker, please consider at least telling him that you heard he’s on a PIP bc he deserves to know that his privacy is not being respected. He may not feel that he is in a position to make demands, but I would argue that he is in a position to tell HR, who is definitely involved in the PIP process already, that he expects the terms of his employment to be kept confidential and that all people who have spread this news will get stern talkings to about keeping it to themselves. You have to consider your relationship with him and how comfortable you are telling him, but also how your relationship will be affected once the scuttlebutt gets back around to him and you either get to tell him you knew and said nothing and risk negatively impacting the relationship or keep that secret forever, which will also impact your relationship.

    OP4: If you can’t get an ok to take the photo from the right, would an acceptable solution be to get a good make-over that focuses on minimizing the scar tissue visibility on the day of the photo and not smile? The photographer might be pushy about the smile, it’s the kind of thing that people tend to be pushy about, but you can be very firm that this is the facial expression they are going to get (and they can take the picture or not, it’s all the same to you.). This isn’t ideal since you would have to find someone who understands that kind of make-up application and go get make up applied, which takes time out of your day and costs money, but if if taking the picture from your left is what’s going to happen, at least you can somewhat control what that picture will look like.

    1. Observer*

      but I would argue that he is in a position to tell HR, who is definitely involved in the PIP process already, that he expects the terms of his employment to be kept confidential and that all people who have spread this news will get stern talkings to about keeping it to themselves.

      You really think that someone on a PIP is in any position to make demands? Especially that a supervisor gets a “stern talking to”? I don’t think so at all.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, I don’t think that’s likely either. This isn’t the time to be in any way adversarial. And frankly, people may know someone is on a PIP because there are work-related reasons for them to know; confidentiality isn’t something you can demand across the board. In this case, the OP says the boss accidentally let it slip, but there are also lots of work-related reasons she might legitimately need to share it with someone. It’s just not the right thing for the coworker to be focusing on right now.

        1. Close Bracket*

          > It’s just not the right thing for the coworker to be focusing on right now.

          Coworker can make that decision for themself, but not if they don’t even know that their PIP is not confidential due to a careless manager and a gossipy coworker.

        2. Close Bracket*

          I should add that I was on a PIP (the outcome of which is neither here nor there), and I complained that both HR and my manager had their calendar’s open for the world to review their meetings about me. Their calendars were both set to private immediately. I even had other complaints about my boss during that PIP, and HR instructed him to apologize to me for certain things he had done (not illegal), and other complaints of mine about him (illegal) led to an HR investigation being initiated. Being on a PIP does not mean you forfeit your right to be treated decently.

    2. JamieS*

      Strongly disagree on going to HR. He’s not in a good position to make demands and even if the HR staff agrees with him there’s not really anything they can do about it that I know of. Even though most of us have a basic expectation for privacy around certain things like being on a PIP it’s not actually a requirement to keep this sort of thing under wraps.

      To OP: try to look at it as a perk of being given a heads up so you can be prepared (at least mentally) if the PIP isn’t successfully completed. Yeah it’s awkward but there are plenty of times people have been caught unaware when a co-worker is no longer there and a heads up would’ve been nice.

      1. Close Bracket*

        > even if the HR staff agrees with him there’s not really anything they can do about it that I know of.

        They can say, “Manager, Coworker, PIPs are sensitive information. Please don’t talk about them unless there is a need to know.”

        1. JamieS*

          Yeah they could say that. Anyone can say anything doesn’t mean they have any authority to implement it or backing from those who do. Putting someone on a PIP and also who to tell about the PIP is typically a management decision not something HR has domain over.

    3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      One more thing to add to your advice about the HR/Manager/confidentiality thing. “Letting it slip” doesn’t necessarily mean that the manager said “Fergus is on a PIP”. It could have been as innocuous as “Hey can you send me a quick explanation of that issue that Fergus was involved in the other day” or “Do me a favor and send me all the outstanding requests to Fergus that are more than a week old” I’ve had requests like that from managers and it generally points Fergus’ performance being documented. Especially true if it’s apparent (as it usually is) that Fergus isn’t a stellar employee or may be struggling.

      In other words I’ve known or have had a very good idea of several employees that weren’t my direct reports that have been on a PIP by requests from the person’s manager without being told directly.

      Either way, Fergus needs to concentrate on fulfilling the terms of the PIP or finding a new job, not trying to get the manager into trouble with HR.

      1. savethedramaforyourllama*

        Right, I’m a little surprised that in a two person department that OP wouldn’t know that coworker was on a PIP or at least that one is/should be imminent.

      2. Trisha*

        I absolutely agree. My area actually does a lot of the leg work for other areas PIPs (we’re the Quality stream) so my team is very familiar with what PIP actions look like. I took on a new staff member who was really underperforming. I put her on a PIP and even not saying anything, everyone “knew” that she was on a PIP. Increased one on one meetings, I had to sit in and evaluate a training session, she had extra prep time given, she had to hand her work to a higher level evaluator for a few weeks – plus, there’s a lot of co-facilitation on our team or group projects, it is clear when someone isn’t performing. My team is also very aware that I don’t just let performance issues slide.

      3. Close Bracket*

        In keeping with taking the LWs at face value, I’m going to stick with the assumption that Boss let slip that Coworker is on a PIP. Not that Boss asked for information to document performance, bc LW didn’t say that, and that it not letting something slip, but that Boss let slip that Coworker is on a PIP.

        It’s not about getting the manager in trouble. It’s about keeping it from happening again, should that be what they want. It’s generally accepted that managers need to keep performance review information private. And places I’ve worked, managers weren’t allowed to say that people who have been laid off were laid off. I don’t see why PIPs should be subject to a different standard. People can certainly add two and two, but much as the way “laid off” or “2% bonus” are not supposed to pass through a manager’s lips, “PIP” should not pass through a manager’s lips, either.

        While Coworker might choose to let it go, they don’t even have that choice if they aren’t aware that their manager let something slip and their coworker passed it on.

  11. Mookie*

    The email from letter 3 seems so inappropriate to me that I’d consider changing the policy if it ever happened again. These are personal deliveries (nobody else cares that your stuff is four hours late) and the recipients need to never again clog up people’s work emails with a complaint about a perk coupled with inadvisable advice. Perks are good when they’re not disruptive and don’t create opportunities for co-workers to sound like entitled asses on a Can I Speak to Your Manager power trip.

    “Let’s treat underpaid people like shit and abuse the complaints process” is not a take you want to broadcast to your boss and colleagues if you’re protective of your integrity and reputation.

    1. Emily Spinach*

      I agree that complaining in a way that might penalize a driver is inappropriate, but I do think it’s fair for the people whose packages were missing to compare notes on that. In fact, anyone at the company is likely to care, because if it’s not a delivery problem but something like theft, that affects everyone at the address. So if people were emailing about their packages, that feels reasonable to me, though the last email, with advice to complain about the driver, does not.

      1. LW3*

        This is via work email but it’s to a mail list that’s only for social stuff – so separate to work email (most people use a completely separate inbox). A discussion about deliveries is totally fine there in context.

    2. Cordoba*

      How is it “abusing the complaints process” to register a complaint when a service that you paid for is actually not performed correctly?

      If I feel that I am underpaid and have too much work to do am I justified in marking tasks complete when they are not? When that causes a problem for somebody are they then wrong to complain?

    3. Thlayli*

      No one suggested “let’s treat underpaid people badly and abuse the complaints process.”

      If a delivery has been marked delivered and has not been delivered, complaining is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. If the company chooses to underpay and treat their staff like crap, that is not the fault of the person who buys from them.

      Both you and OP should probably check out your slavery footprint and unless it is zero, get off your high horse and stop acting holier-than-thou. All of us benefit from the use of slaves and factory farms and all other sorts of awful practices every day. Not everyone has the time or the energy to research acceptable ethical alternatives to every purchase, and they don’t always exist anyway.

      Besides, if the company never gets any complaints, they have no incentive to change their practices. Ryanair has changed its treatment of its staff significantly in recent years (not enough yet though) but ultimately it did this because it was losing customers, not because they want to be nice people.

      Unfortunately we don’t live in a utopia and we have to navigate the world we actually live in. That means sometimes we have to do business with people and organisations that we don’t agree with 100%. And if you have paid for something you have a right to complain if it is not delivered. That doesn’t make you an evil person.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Besides, if the company never gets any complaints, they have no incentive to change their practices. Ryanair has changed … because it was losing customers.

        This! It’s a basic aspect of capitalism, while “Keep your business with the company, but never complain because low-level workers might get in trouble” is a particularly backward approach to doing anything other than maintain the status quo of labor practices. “Complain, then shop elsewhere” is how you enact change.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The various permutations of this do remind me of geek social fallacies, where you can’t complain about something because someone who might be in more marginal economic straits would get in trouble–the two specific examples I’m thinking of were groping and the cleaning service leaving a creepy note with the sex toys.

          If you were trying to come up with a way to encourage the companies in question to continue treating their workers this way, then this would be a great system. If you claim it’s an awful system, though, then don’t work to maintain it.

      2. McWhadden*

        “If the company chooses to underpay and treat their staff like crap, that is not the fault of the person who buys from them.”

        Yes, it is. Sure, everyone does it. But if you support unfair practices with your money you should take some responsibility. That everyone in the western world supports exploitation in some way doesn’t mean it’s suddenly not out fault.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Yes. See all the people, who, when I worked retail, would tell me it was so horrible that I had to work on Thanksgiving. While being out shopping on Thanksgiving.

          If they all felt it was so awful that they should stay home, my employer would not have had me working again the next year on Thanksgiving.

          But going out and getting a good deal or whatever was more appealing than taking a social stand. I get that, but it made the “It’s so horrible” ring a little hollow.

          That being said, if I had stood there and rang up their stuff but refused to take off the anti-theft tags because I was underpaid and overworked and needed to get to the next customer so I didn’t have a line and didn’t get yelled at, they would have been perfectly within their rights to ask to see a manager and complain about me, and I would have deserved that. Because they paid for clothes that they could use, it wasn’t them that were underpaying me (and I agreed to work for that wage), and I would have not been correctly doing the job that I was hired to do.

          1. Kathryn T.*

            This is why I thank people working grocery or retail on Thanksgiving. Or the day before Thanksgiving. Or any time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I spend a lot of time in the winter thanking retail workers, is what I’m saying.

            I usually just say “This can be a trying time of year to work in this industry. Thank you for being at work today. I really needed to be here and I really needed to buy these things, and it wouldn’t have been possible if you or your colleagues weren’t here, so I’m very glad that you are.” It always seems to go over well.

        2. Thlayli*

          Go to slavery footprint dot org and find out how many slaves work for you. if you eat chicken go watch a YouTube video of Male chicks being ground up in a factory farm, and then come back here and read your comment again.

          1. leslie knope*

            this is not a helpful comment. pointing out that ethical consumption isn’t possible under capitalism doesn’t mean you are literally obligated to support giant corporations that mostly sell things you don’t need.

        3. leslie knope*

          yeah, that was ridiculous. plus, no one HAS to use Amazon all the time. I use it, but rarely, because their practices appall me.

      3. Ragazzoverde*

        I would argue that if workers are underpaid and treated badly it is actually the fault of the customers on some level. You can’t really expect high levels of customer service from companies that are publicly known to mistreat employees

      4. The Ginger Ginger*

        I’m not sure what you’re suggesting here. If you don’t have a 100% slavery free footprint don’t bother being offended by bad labor practices? Don’t bother trying to improve your footprint where possible? Keeping buying from Amazon because it’s easier, but also complain about it so they change, even though the best way to get them to change based on your example is to stop buying from Amazon?

        Look, no one’s perfect, and I think we can all agree that we want businesses to treat their employees well and to support business who do so whenever possible. We also can all agree that sometimes people with limited resources have limited options about where and how they spend those resources, so they have to do business where they can. But that’s not the situation LW is describing. It’s important for those of us with privilege to point it out where possible and reasonable to do so. That’s just trying to be someone who advocates for the less privileged. Which, again, I think is something we can all agree is important. No one is calling these people evil. Maybe a bit thoughtless, but aren’t we all in a myriad of ways? That’s what privilege does to us all, and all of us are likely privileged in SOME way. Turning this into a black or white situation, or making what the LW asked a question of good or evil, all or nothing, is kind of a distraction from the main point. And frankly, makes this way more adversarial than it needs to be.

        Is there a professional and diplomatic way to bring attention to the disparity in privilege that is playing out in this situation, and should the LW do it? I agree with Alison that there is. And if LW is in a position to do it and is inclined to do it, then LW should do it concisely and professionally. By all means, put a human face on the delivery. Maybe for someone it will stick. And if it doesn’t, at least you weren’t silent about it.

        And to be clear, I’m not saying don’t ever complain if your delivery is messed up. Just wait to see if it’s actually messed up before lodging a complaint. And then complain if it’s actually impacted you in a negative way. If I’m at work, and I order a package that should be delivered in the AM, but doesn’t arrive until the PM, but I’m not using it until I get home and it’s in hand when I walk out my office door? I’m not complaining about that. And the suggestion of LW’s coworkers that I should in that situation is what I (and I think the LW) object to.

        1. Thlayli*

          If you go look at the comment thread again you will see my comment was a reply to mookie, who described the various coworkers as “entitled asses”, “on a power trip”, “treating underpaid people like shit”, “abusing the complaints process”, and implied that their emails would damage their “integrity and reputation”.

          Hoepfullly my comment makes more sense to you now. But just in case, to answer your question:

          No of course I don’t think we should all just give up and accept how awful the world is. We should all continually work to improve it. However, insulting people who take the very reasonable action of complaining when a delivery company flat out lies to them is not at all the way to do so. I also think people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Mookie calling people all these awful names because they want to complain about the delivery company (which actually LIED to them) is pretty hypocritical when mookie herself probably has a good few slaves working for her (as we all do).

          1. LW3*

            The stuff showed up later today when someone at the block of flats it had accidentally been delivered to brought it round. So in this case the delivery driver did not flat out lie, they got the address wrong (which is common, think ‘ Street’ vs ‘ Way’ being right next to each other).

            1. Thlayli*

              Well that’s good to know. I’m glad your coworkers got your stuff, though I’m sorry to hear they had to rely on the kindness of a stranger to get it.

              So the mistake was obviously not caused by unfair working conditions and was in fact caused by the driver being careless and doing a shoddy job. If you had defended the driver on the group chat you would have looked like a right idiot.

              1. LW3*

                Hahaha. I don’t think I would have looked like ‘a right idiot’ actually – Given that having unrealistic delivery targets is certainly more likely to result in mistakes, I don’t really see that this changes the situation that much, except that the driver did not lie like the original email writer assumed… I ended up not replying because a couple of days had passed, but I don’t think it would have been a terrible thing to do. (And none of my colleagues think I’m an idiot so I’m not really worried there!)

      5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*


        I do my best to avoid places that I know have unethical practices, but I don’t pretend that my choices are perfect or make me better than anyone else.

      1. LW3*

        Hi! I’m not on my high horse at all – I have no problem with people complaining about missing packages (though complaining because something arrived a few hours later than the tracking system says seems pretty pointless). My main objection was to the what felt like really tone deaf assumption that when drivers make mistakes or are late on deliveries it’s because they ‘can’t be bothered’, rather than the myriad of other possibilities (eg they’re underpaid and rushed to meet targets). I’m not saying ‘never buy from Amazon’, I’m saying don’t blame individual drivers for a bad system.

        1. Thlayli*

          If you want to reply at all then, you should reply only to the person who used that phrase and keep your complaint specific to the use of that phrase and the underlying assumption that the driver is “not bothered”.

          But really, I think you should just leave it alone. The reality is that most likely the driver did break the rules and mark it as delivered when it wasn’t for some reason. The driver absolutely should not have done that. If you get into a discussion you’re just going to end up having to justify why the driver broke the rules.

          It will all be conjecture at that point so you’ll be in some weird philosophical place where you’re arguing that your unfounded assumption that he broke the rules because he’s a poorly treated victim is somehow superior to your colleagues unfounded assumption that he broke the rules because he can’t be bothered following them. Both are possible reasons for breaking the rules, and both are not acceptable reasons for breaking the rules.

          Just leave it alone.

        2. Thursday Next*

          Thank you, LW. This is exactly where I land on this.

          It’s too easy for the “last-mile” contractors to get blamed for things outside their control. Blame should be allocated accurately.

          1. Liane*

            I didn’t blame the last mile USPS delivery person for the picking and packing delay that resulted in a Sunday delivery, but I did blame them for “delivering” my book to a puddle in my muddy driveway.

            1. Thursday Next*

              Then that’s an accurate allocation of blame!

              I’m not saying don’t complain. I’m just saying that I’ve seen people get really worked up and ready to throw everyone under the bus. I imagine that makes it harder to identify where the mistake happened.

              I order from Amazon a lot, and over the years I’ve had several things go astray. I’m sure sometimes that’s been the fault of the local mail carrier. But if I’d thrown her personally under the bus in an angry complaint, she probably wouldn’t have let me know that she spotted a package of mine misdelivered to another building. Because of USPS regulations, she couldn’t simply remove it and bring it to me, but I was able to call the post office and have them find and redeliver it.

              I’m simply saying the scope and tone of our customer service complaints matter.

              1. blackcat*

                Yeah, my mailcarrier will leave a note on my step saying “There’s a box with your name/address on it at X location.” It’s very helpful. His name is Joe and he is a good guy. Being friends with your local mail carrier can be very helpful.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            But… no one knows what the accurate distribution of blame is here. That’s what complaining accomplishes. (If it accomplishes anything.) Did the last mile driver falsify the delivery? Did someone farther back mark everything delivered when it hit the post office rather than delivery address? Did someone swoop through and steal all the recent packages, hoping that people in this building have good taste and they aren’t making off with fecal samples?

            1. Thursday Next*

              As I said to Liane above, I’m advocating a balanced complaint. (This isn’t at odds with what you’re saying.)

              I’m probably not an easy customer in some ways, in that I do expect things to meet certain standards, and I am not shy about making complaints. I feel it’s important to be respectful and accurate when doing so, that is, to say, “I don’t know where in the process things broke down; can you help me figure it out and fix the problem?”

              I guess as a result of overhearing many people make rudely phrased or broadly sweeping complaints, I try to be careful with how I present my own.

        3. Susie Q*

          But the driver could be incompetent and making mistakes. I have a camera outside of my house that records deliveries, etc. I’ve had drivers drop kick packages, leave packages on the edge of my stairs so that they’ve fallen down, drivers just drop packages that are clearly marked fragile, and more.

          Just because you are overworked and underpaid, which a lot of Americans are, doesn’t mean you should slack off on your jobs and expect there are no repercussions. Based on my experiences, the majority of issues I have had with deliveries from Amazon and other companies are due to driver mistakes and mishandling of packages.

          1. Thlayli*

            Exactly. It’s possible the reason the driver did this is because they’re a poor put-upon innocent victim trying their best in a harsh world. But it’s also possible they are “just not bothered”. Lazy people do exist, and some of them probably do drive for Amazon. I know lots of people who delivered pizza when they were young and didn’t put a lot of effort or professionalism in – I can totally imagine this being the case for SOME amazon drivers.

            Drop kicking a package is pretty far beyond the pale though!

        4. xkd*

          Sometimes the timing of deliveries is critical, even by a few hours. (For me, more often it just makes me BS crazy. If it’s here, I can get started. If not, I can do X. Just don’t tell me something that is not true!) It’s also possible that the delivery mistakes are a combination of the two – because of the targets, etc., delivery staff can’t be bothered to do a good job, when a lesser job will satisfy corporate.

          I also think this is an interesting thought piece though. At which point is a corporation’s business practices reason not to use them, or to make a complaint on the practices, not performance?

          1. McWhadden*

            If timing is critical then you need to pay for UPS or FedEx to deliver at a certain time (which is an option for Amazon.) You can’t rely on Amazon’s cheap shipping and still expect it there at a specific time.

        5. Roscoe*

          I guess my thought is if I complain about not receiving a package that says its delivered, I’m not saying “your delivery driver is a moron”, I’m stating facts. What Amazon or any other company does with those facts, and who they chose to blame, isn’t on me. Maybe they discover that a warehouse guy mislabeled it. Maybe the delivery driver took a nap. Not my call to make. It is my call though when I’m given misinformation to relay that and complain

      2. Seriously?*

        If it arrives later that day, then the service that was paid for was in fact completed on time. They generally have until the end of the day before it is late. The fact that the notification was wrong is annoying but doesn’t really seem worth complaining about.

        1. Lindsay J*

          Honestly, every time I have gotten that speal from Amazon, I have waited the 36 hours and the package still has not been delivered.

          At this point I complain immediately, and then again at the 36 hour mark.

        1. Genny*

          Technically, someone with a Prime membership is paying to have their packages delivered in two days. If the package is delivered in three days, they aren’t technically getting what they paid for. I can see why some people would want to lodge a complaint about that (I can also see why some might write it off as not that big a deal).

        2. Cordoba*

          Say I buy an airplane ticket to take me to Paris on Thursday. Then the airline actually lands me in Pittsburgh on Thursday and try to tell me that I’m in Paris. Then 2 days later they actually fly me to Paris.

          Are you saying that I have no right to complain, because I did eventually make it to Paris?

        3. Yorick*

          Customers pay the shipping price that Amazon sets, so it’s really not possible for us to “underpay” for shipping.

          And part of the service is the updates that tell you where your package is. If they lie to you by telling you it’s delivered a day early, you haven’t gotten the full service you paid for.

        4. skunklet*

          I work for a company that had a package valued at $15,000 USD get lost in transit by a well known package company. It showed on a Friday afternoon, that a door hanger was left (it wasn’t), and then the pkg was out for delivery on Saturday (we’re a M-F operation).

          Company was contacted, and essentially said at the local level (after I was transferred from the National level) that there was nothing they could do (this was at least a week later when the pkg was still showing out for delivery)…

          Finally, the shipper got a call from a local citizen – pkg delivery company had either had the pkg fall off their truck (in this citizen’s neighborhood) or they were making a delivery in that neighborhood and put it down to re-arrange the truck and never put it back on.

          The shipper had one of their people drive 2 hrs from their place, to the citizen’s neighborhood, pick up the freight, and bring it to us (as the carrier had been contacted THREE TIMES by said citizen to pick up, and they never did). So even though we had the $15,000 shipment, you bet your sweet potato that we complained to the National account manager about 1. the delay 2. the non response of customer service to our contacts and 3. the non response of customer service to the citizen’s contacts.

          We still don’t have a good handle on how this all got screwed up (specifically, CSV’s lack of responseS) but they heard about it, all the way up the chain of command… “well, you never told us” is not anything we partake in. You WILL hear from us so you can FIX it.

          No different w the Amazon deliveries – they’re providing inaccurate tracking because of either a faulty software program or a crappy delivery associate… they need to be told.

  12. Watson*

    #4 – You got some good advice, you should ask the photographer to shoot you facing the other way, however your photo will still stick out as different if it does get flipped, as the lighting will be obviously from the opposite side. It seems like the sort of thing you wouldn’t notice, until you have a page full of consistent portraits, and one is shadowed differently – it will stick out.

    I say this only to give you a heads up! If consistency is important, whoever’s doing the post work on the pictures and the photographer will have to do a little more work for your portrait. You might suggest that they photograph you last so they can change the lighting setup for you. But it’s not an unreasonable ask, it’s just not as 100% straight forward as it might seem.

    1. OP4*

      Thanks for the heads up! I think reversing would make the flags come out backwards as well, so I think I’ll talk with the photographer while he’s setting up about options.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        That still isn’t a big hurdle, if they can’t flip you and not the background then they a wildly behind on their photo editing skills. The lighting might be off but I’m betting they are capable of dealing with that too.

        1. Thlayli*

          True. We got a beautiful professional photo of our two kids standing side by side and smiling. Even though they were photographed separately. It was so realistic I was doubting my own memory.

          1. OP4*

            Armed with all of this info, I think I will talk with the photographer directly. He’s a bit old school, so I’m not sure all what he is willing to do, but I’ll give it a shot. I guess my biggest worry was that I was being unreasonable.

  13. KAZ2Y5*

    OP#3 – is it actually Amazon drivers they are talking about? Amazon uses so many different delivery services. I actually had a package supposedly delivered today from Amazon by USPS that never arrived. I contacted Amazon and they “supposedly” contacted USPS and said it would definitely be delivered tonight. Well, still no package. Should I not make Amazon aware of this? I would understand if they said it would take a day longer, but not when they say it’s delivered when it isn’t.

    1. Mystery bookworm*

      If I’m understanding the question right, they’re speaking specifically about when packages are marked as delivered but arrived later or the next day. It sounds like this is especially relevant to their office where people occasionally confuse the address. I don’t think OP is suggesting it’s unreasonable to follow-up on missing packages, but only that people should be thoughtful about if and when they complain.

    2. McWhadden*

      They are likely talking about Amazon drivers. And they are talking about situations where the packages are delivered. But later.

        1. nonegiven*

          My son saw a woman dressed in regular clothes get out of a normal car and leave his package on his porch. He lives in suburb.

          All mine come through the post office lately. I live in a very small town.

  14. nnn*

    Another option for #3, if you don’t feel right about replying to the email, could be to bring it up in conversation. Like one day in the break room, it casually comes up that you were reading an interesting and concerning article about the working conditions of Amazon drivers. It’s a small company where everyone knows everyone, so there’s probably chitchat about interesting things you’ve read from time to time.

  15. Observer*


    but if you do, you can shut that down with a withering look and a “That’s really not something we need to address here.”

    This kind of surprised me. But, sooo on point. I’d just add “walk away if you can.”

  16. Mad Baggins*

    OP4: I remember looking through my mom’s old yearbook, where everyone was facing one direction, except for one girl, who was facing the other way and kind of had her hair down on that side. My mom said that girl had a scar on that side and didn’t want it in the yearbook photo. This is a perfectly understandable thing that can be easily accommodated, and I hope it’s no big deal for your company to set this up for you.

    1. WS*

      +1, my previous workplace did full-face photographs of all permanent staff (and they almost all looked like mug shots!) but one co-worker has highly visible and raised scarring on one side of her chin and one cheek that she can’t cover with makeup. They were fine with her turning her face slightly and in the end her picture was one of the better ones as it looked more natural.

  17. Erica*

    Regarding #4, the special request for the staff photo, I think your idea of reversing the image is just brilliant. I’ve done a bit of professional photography myself and and every photo editing software has a button to reverse the image. My only concern is that they will charge OP or her company with an “Editing Fee,” to which I hope she asks, “How long does it take to reverse an image?” I’m sure they photographer will not give her a straight answer though because the answer would be, “about two seconds.” Again, brilliant idea!

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        Exactly. It’s about three clicks, or one shortcut away. I’d also assume that all of the photos are going to be lightly edited anyway.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      I think flipping the image probably is the best solution, but I do wonder if it will look a bit off to people who know OP. I part my hair on one side and the difference between what I see in the mirror and what I see in photos can occasionally throw me because it looks backwards, and with the scarring OP also has something asymmetrical about her face. OP should be prepared for the end product to feel slightly off to her, or to have coworkers or others who are used to seeing the scarring on the correct side think so, even if the scarring is subtle most of the time.

      For purposes of a website where people are just trying to match names to faces I imagine this would be no big deal, but there are purposes where I’d want to keep the image in the right direction so as to capture what OP actually looks like.

      1. Autumnheart*

        No, it won’t. As long as you’re not wearing anything with words on it that would be visible in the photo, people won’t be able to tell that the image was reversed.

        Think of it this way, TONS of the images you see online are reversed–have you ever noticed? Exactly.

        1. Katieinthemountains*

          I have! I got a mailout from a university showing students holding sports and other paraphernalia and one girl had a violin on her right shoulder.

    2. WillyNilly*

      Even with old school dark room equipment it takes mere moments to flip an image, unless it was something like a pinhole camera photo taken directly onto paper (instead of a cell)… and even then it doesn’t take much to flip.

  18. GM*

    I’m curious after reading OP#2’s letter. He’s working with this coworker on a daily basis and sharing projects with him. Is his work not getting impacted because of the coworker’s performance? I would have thought if anyone is on a PIP their performance would be poor enough for their colleagues to notice. Along on the same lines, if the coworker’s performance is poor, why worry about his apparent eventual release/firing? If it’s not poor enough to merit a PIP then that’s a huge concern, though a different one.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There are lots of ways someone can be performing badly which a coworker wouldn’t necessarily know, even a coworker who works with them daily. They could be handling clients poorly, not meeting goals separate from the ones she’s involved with, missing deadlines when she’s not involved, letting balls drop, being resistant to feedback from the manager, just not producing work at as high a level as is needed in his role, etc.

      1. Rae*

        Agreed! One of my co-workers was put on a PIP because even though she did great work for her clients and co-workers when it came to management she was always butting into upper management and in general inserting herself into situations she didn’t belong in. One can do a wonderful job and still have work issues.

    2. Been There, Done That*

      With due respect to Alison’s response, we’ve seen enough posts about crummy managers that I agree in spirit with GM’s remark about a huge concern. Not every manager w/ the power to initiate a PIP is fair, objective, or aware of what’s really going on.

      1. Nico M*

        Yeah I think you should judge your coworkers according to the evidence you have, not the imagined imaginings of their manager.

        OP doesn’t want coworker to be fired. Therefore they should help them.

        I think letting them know is helpful.
        I may be wrong.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Letting them know what? I would assume the coworker knows he is on a PIP, considering the whole point of a PIP is to set actionable performance targets and document progress toward the targets.

          Maybe I’m misunderstanding?

        2. Dragoning*

          I’m not sure how letting them know that people know they’re on a PIP is helpful. It’s not as if the coworker themeself is unaware.

        3. Perse's Mom*

          The point, though, is that the manager may well have insight into the coworker’s wider performance than OP necessarily does. Even the coworkers with whom I work most closely, I don’t share every single aspect of their job – they have other processes for which they’re responsible, other projects they’re assigned. I’m not privy to their calls with clients or interactions with other coworkers or conversations they have with our manager. Any or all of those things could be cause for them to be on a PIP and I would have no way to know about it.

    3. Blue*

      I was wondering that, too. In most cases, I can imagine working side-by-side with someone and not being aware of the problems with their work, but if your projects are as intertwined as it sounds like theirs are, it surprises me that OP doesn’t have their own impression of his work, one way or another. But my own experience could be coloring this – I just left a role that sounds very similar to OP’s, and while I don’t believe my counterpart ever went on a PIP, I was extremely aware (and I know my boss was aware) that I was carrying him a lot of the time.

    4. Yorick*

      Well, you could be aware that your coworker is slow, or doesn’t do a great job, or whatever. But that doesn’t mean you’d rather have no one performing those tasks for a while.

  19. Mark132*

    @LW2, to be cynical, now you can decide whether or not you want to support your coworker. If you are happy with him, you can subtly help and coach him. To help him survive, if you are unhappy, you can withhold support. Though I would not go to sabotage.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. I kept a guy in his job for many many years although many people above me wanted to fire him. He had many strengths and was a loyal committed hard worker; he was also a pill but I felt the positives outweighed the negatives and he was good at the most important things. By speaking up in a retention meeting I literally saved his job for a three year contract when the PTB wanted him gone. And then he screwed me over on something — and it wasn’t the first time that happened but it was the last. The next time his contract was up, I just didn’t say anything and he was gone.

  20. Okie dokie*

    Op#1 the fact he specifically said he gets “loopy” would make me very uncomfortable. What if his loopy is he gets handsy? He can then say “oops! Warned you!”. I would definitely bow out – or maybe enlist another coworker so it is not just you alone with him.

    1. JamieS*

      That’s unnecessarily jumping to a rather villianous conclusion. Plenty of people refer to being under the influence post-surgery as being “loopy” and it doesn’t mean they’re going to use it as an excuse to sexually harass or try to accost someone. To me that usually means they don’t have a strong grasp of where they are, say things that make no sense, and have trouble remembering what happened.

      Depending on their state, I’m not sure someone would even be able to try to accost someone but I’m not an expert and my limited experience (twice) where their motor skills weren’t that great might not be indicative of the norm.

      1. Les G*

        Yeah, I’m not loving the assumptions folks are jumping to here. Because here’s the thing: this is inappropriate enough as it is. The boss is asking OP to do something that will be physically dangerous at worst and horribly uncomfortable at best. We don’t need to imagine that he’s planning something worse for this to be bad.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Exactly. It doesn’t matter. If the OP doesn’t feel comfortable, she doesn’t feel comfortable. The boss has other options. I also think he may not even realize what those options are (I certainly didn’t until I had my first outpatient surgical procedure and really had to think about it). But I don’t see anything nefarious in the boss, just a guy who doesn’t have anyone in the area, is looking for a port in the storm, and misjudged things a bit.

        2. Thlayli*

          Yeah it’s pretty creepy the number of people who are all “OMG he’s laying the groundwork for an attack”!

          It’s possible yes, but any number of things are possible. We shouldn’t automatically jump to the worst possible conclusion. OP can and should decline because she’s uncomfortable and it doesn’t sound like it’s related to her job. And also because of the slim possibility that it might turn ugly (I wouldn’t go to any Male coworkers house alone if I didn’t know them really well). But we shouldn’t be just assuming that the man is an attacker!

          It’s far more likely that he just doesn’t really get that this isn’t part of a normal work thing. LW doesn’t say what time the surgery is, but non-emergency surgery is often during the working day. he’s probably just assuming that he’s paying her for her time so any reasonable request during that time is ok.. and he hasn’t figured out that it’s not a reasonable request.

          I’ve had general anaesthesia. It does make you loopy and memory lapsy and uncoordinated and gives you awful nightmares for a couple days. Giving the symptoms he expects is probably just him accurately describing why he needs a lift home.

          So … decline, but don’t assume he’s plotting to attack you because that’s a pretty big stretch!

          1. Indie*

            Are you automatically assuming you’ll be burgled every time you lock your door? Some possibilities are worth routine steps and
            insurances. If there was a benefit to OP it would be a decent risk. But for the chance to be pigeonholed as dogsbody? nah.

            1. Thlayli*

              Did you miss where I said she shouldn’t do it? I was not in any way arguing that she should do it. In fact I even pointed out that one of the reasons she should NOT do it is because of the slim possibility that he IS a predator.

              I wasn’t complaining about people saying she shouldn’t give her boss a lift. I was complaining about the multiple people on here saying variations on the theme of “he’s planning to attack you” when there is nothing in the letter to indicate that.

      2. Artemesia*

        I think he probably is not thinking that or that kind of guy. But he could be and there you are. And it is also the case that someone under the influence of the amnesia producing drugs used in these procedures and disoriented might actually genuinely do something like this without plotting it. It is risky all around.

      3. Delta Delta*

        I also don’t love the assumptions being made. “Loopy” could mean a lot of different things, from drooling, to singing ABBA songs at top volume, to falling down (which could be a whole new problem if he does fall down), and a whole lot of other things.

        I do think, though, if OP is uncomfortable doing this, she should politely decline. I liked her suggestion to say, “I can’t do it, but maybe Bob or Cecil could help.”

      4. Alia*

        You might not like the assumption. What I don’t like is that women, particularly young women, in the USA have to make the assumption.

        She’s not merely assuming he might be handsy. She’s assuming that, if he is, OP will be in a bad space. That OP might get blamed. That’s a perfectly reasonable assumption on a culture where Harvey, and Bill, and others operated w impunity for decades.

        It’s not like men who would get handsy wear a warning on their forehead. It’s not like women who find themselves in these situations don’t get told “you should have known.” Or “he didn’t mean it.”

        Rape culture is real. Look at Brock Turner. The victim had people shaming her for being out late, drinking, and some for being a woman who allowed herself to be alone.

        Given all that, women need to always weigh the possibility that a man who, she barely knows might not respect her boundaries.

        Additionally, even if he’s a great guy, he will be on serious drugs. So who knows whether he’d have any real control over himself.

        Not a good situation for a young woman to be in.

        If you have read this far and think I’m being ridiculousl, I urge you to spend some time talking to people who have been in courtrooms. I have. Even with videotaped evidence that a 10 year old was passed out, we still had jury members trying to come up w a reason she “asked for it. “. I was just talking w a local prosecutor last night who could not get a conviction with a confession of a uncle who raped a 13 year old. Because the jury knew he did it, but didn’t want to “ruin his life” or “destroy the family.” That’s reality in the USA in 2018. Post Weinstein. Post Cosby.

        It’s nit unreasonable to be concerned with what would happen if boss is intentionally or unintentionally inappropriate. Frankly, if I were a male boss, no way I’d put myself on a situation where a stupid comment coming off anesthesia could derail a career.

        And people coming off anesthesia do sometimes say and do really wild stuff. My husband thought he was being attacked by Klingons. Seriously. Weird.

        1. JamieS*

          Nobody has to make that assumption based on the letter which has zero indication of nefarious intent. They’re choosing to. OP’s boss asked her for a ride after surgery which is normal thing to ask when having surgery even if OP isn’t the right person to ask.

          Extrapolating from what he did to “some men have bad intentions so this guy’s likely going to to attack OP” isn’t reasonable.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            Agreed. There is nothing in the OP that would indicate the boss is staging this elaborate cover of an outpatient procedure to provide an opportunity to attack the OP.

            I think it’s more likely (and very plausible) that the OP’s boss was making a flippant remark about being picked up.

            I have, while being in the organizing mode, made comments to people (including employees) indicating something I have no intention of asking them to do.

            Imagine a scenario (one that I just made up) that I’ve spent the last hour trying to get my lawnmower in for repairs and while I’m talking to you (the employee) I say “OMG that was ridiculous trying to get that sorted… instead of getting this dumb thing repaired I’m just going to add to everyone’s job description a weekly lawn mowing rotation… hahaha it’s really hilly so hopefully you all have self propelled models”

            No I wouldn’t have any intention of having my employees mow my lawn, yes, it’s probably not the best thing in the world to say. Most employees would know I wasn’t serious, but yes it could be taken at face value.

            I don’t know what the specific conversation was like between the OP and the boss. But I wouldn’t give it too much thought unless it is mentioned again.

        2. Friday*

          THIS WHOLE THING, YES. I hate having to assume the worst about what could happen with the boss while he’s loopy too, but damn straight I assumed it and would advise OP to not assist him in this with that in mind. This IS the world we live in, as much as we wish it wasn’t.

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, I’ve done this for my daughter, who has no memory of how she wound up at home after anesthesia. I suspect it’s purely a power dynamic where it’s easier for him to ask favors of his subordinates. (As someone else noted, immediately post anesthesia is no time to arrange a fun sexual encounter of which you will have any memory.)

        The answer for him is a professional service, but not because there’s a high sexual misconduct out of the blue risk here.

        1. Indie*

          a) sexual harrassers don’t really expect a ‘fun sexual encounter’ like consensual sex is anyway. They are well aware it’s grim and depressing. Most are happy with brief drive by contact or head games anyway.

          b) it could be genuinely accidental fondling where the OP has to just put up with it in the moment and later on is never quite sure how accidental it was. She has obviously considered this, but he won’t have.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            a) But it’s not fun for the harasser if they don’t remember. It would be like roofie-ing their own drink while standing in the parking lot of the bar and just hoping that the rest of the night turned out to involve shenanigans, rather than someone lifting their wallet and running up a bunch of credit card charges.

            b) I think he hasn’t considered it because it’s so unlikely. If he wants to engage in deniable groping there are 100 ways that don’t involve first having surgery.

            OP has every reason to not want to care for her boss when he’s in a diminished capacity. Guarantees that the awkwardness and caretaking would stay nonsexual wouldn’t change that to make it okay.

            1. Indie*

              We are talking at cross purposes. I am not talking about roofie rapists, I am just talking about the common garden drunken/stoned groper. Plus I am saying that even if he is has no ill intent whatsoever he’s not accounting for the fact he may inadvertently grab at her because he will be incoherent. it’s a potential disaster but he doesnt care because he won’t be the one handling the situation and he knows she won’t berate her boss for falling on top of her.

      6. Indie*

        It doesnt necessarily mean handsy, no. But we live in a world where women are called ‘dumb’ and ‘what did she expect’ if we are not constantly on the alert for possible warning signs. You’ve never heard someone say ‘what did she expect to happen at his house?’ or ‘what did she expect, she knew he’d be drunk!’ Not once? I think women would take more risks if people weren’t so scathing about anyone who takes a few minor ones and fail. Personally I think it’s risky because he would have perfect plausible deniability.

        1. JoJo*

          If you don’t automatically trust each and every man you meet, and don’t want to accept rides or a drink, you’re a crazy bitch who’s slandering that poor, decent man who just wants to be friendly. If you’re attacked, it’s all your fault for being so dumb and trusting, and going off alone with a man.

          1. Indie*

            Sadly yes. You have to do a cost/benefit calculation based on simultaneously assuming the best/worst possible outcomes. Would I meet up with a stranger in public for the chance of lasting love/dream job? Yeah; strangers are actually low risk. Would I meet up with my sexist boss, at his home, while he’s ‘loopy’, for the chance of being pigeonholed forever in not-my-job, female-coded caretaking and dogsbody tasks? I’d have to ponder…..

    2. It’s*

      This is where my mind went too. Regardless of his intent, “loopy” and “forgetful” sets off alarm bells for me. I wouldn’t want to drive my drunk boss home from a work function and sedation can have a similar effect. He should not be putting you in this situation.

    3. OP 1*

      This is a good question. I don’t get a creepy vibe from him but having helped my parents and others after procedures, I know people tend to lose their filter – so more worried about uncomfortable statements and revelations than physical danger.

      1. Alia*

        Yep. What if he confesses he’s embezzling funds, cheating on his wife, or murdered someone? People say all sorts of stuff when coming off meds. Some true, some fiction. LW needs to tell boss she can’t and won’t ever do anything like this because it is inappropriate and dangerous for both of them.

        If you plan on getting voluntarily out of your mind, be it drunk or for surgery, it is radically inappropriate to ask for care and protection from someone whose only connection to you is work.

      2. Indie*

        I would say that you have experience of this and it can take longer than expected and youre not free. add that it doesn’t go well when you’re a woman trying to support a man. just say you’re hopeless at it but you recommend trained nurses who can do this at x rate.

        Or take someone.

    4. pleaset*

      Here’s what I think about #1 – assuming he is asking because he legit needs help and trusts her.

      This is great. He trusts the OP, he is important in her professional life, and she’ll be helping him with something important. If she have concerns about being able to do it well, especially if things get difficult, mention those to him so they can work it out. Overall this is a good opportunity to help someone and they will be thankful.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Doing personal care for a boss is not a good way to boost one’s career, nor is it a guarantee that they will be “thankful” in ways that translate into anything concrete.

        1. pleaset*

          I’m frankly shocked by the level of negativity and fear here.

          All the concerns are legitimate – almost all are about truly possible downsides. But are they more than remote possiblities?

          Yes, it’s fine to be worried about them, to think they through, etc.

          But to just run away from the upside because of these fears without balancing them with the upsides AND also the simple reality of being helpful to a person in need seems strange to me. But I’m a man of average size so perhaps my perspective is warped.

          Here is an example:
          “Depending on the instructions for care after the procedure, LW may find herself staying at the home of Boss for 24 hours, assisting him to the bathroom and performing other duties more suited to a friend or a nurse.”

          Then ask the boss what is moderately likely! Ask what is involved. Ask what backup there is if something goes wrong.

          If the OP really doesn’t want to do it, she can simply say “I’m not available then.” Done. I don’t begrudge anyone that.

          But building up these fears – might have to be with him for 24 hours, helping him to the bathroom, legal liability, him sexually harrassing her. Wow. I guess I should be thankful I am not faced with such a dangerous world as it seems exists out there. But I’m a man of average size so perhaps my perspective is warped.

          1. Seriously?*

            OP shouldn’t ask what is involved because she is uncomfortable with the request even if it is just a ride home from the hospital. You seem to be missing the part where someone in a position of power is trying to get their subordinate (who they do not know well) to do an extremely personal favor. I don’t understand how you do not see the inappropriateness of the “request” based on the power dynamic, especially since he seems to just be assuming she will do it. If it is during the workday, she can’t say that she is unavailable since he knows her work load and work schedule.

          2. Middle School Teacher*

            I’d say it is. The world looks very different when you’re a 5’2” woman (as I am) than when you’re a man of average size, as you are. That’s just the reality of it.

          3. Observer*

            Actually, the likelihood of there being a problem is extremely high. And that’s even aside from the fact that yes, being a man of average height IS going to warp your perspective.

            The Boss already told the OP that he gets loopy so we actually know that he’s very likely to need physical help getting in and out of the car, into the house and possibly taking care of physical needs.We also know that it’s highly likely that he’s going to say or do inappropriate things – losing filters is a key component of getting loopy. Not necessarily abusive or classically “harass-y” but still problematic.

            Add in the fact that she’s a young woman dealing with an older male boss, and it becomes even more problematic. Because things that would not be problematic for a average size guy WILL be a problem for a average sized woman. And if anything does happen, it’s going to be HER fault.

            Beyond that, why are you insisting that providing this level of highly personal service has a genuine upside for her career? It’s actually NOT likely to be the case, and could actually harm her, even without any nefarious intent by the boss.

            Boss might be grateful, but don’t bet on it. Someone who TELLS his employee that he’s expecting her to be his backup plan for something like this is not all that likely to recognize that the “underling” is actually doing him a massive favor. And, even if he is aware enough to be grateful, there is no reason to think that it’s going to translate into appreciation of her *professional* capacity. On the other hand, it’s likely to set up a dynamic where she’s seen and treated more as a personal, very personal, assistant that a professional >whatever< (The OP doesn't mention what she does, but it applies to almost any role I could think of.)

            1. blackcat*


              It’s not appropriate for him to ask a subordinate, no matter what. Someone at his level? Someone in a different department? Fine. But asking his subordinate sets up a situation where she could reasonably expect being penalized for saying no.

              Also, I would struggle to help my husband home from such a procedure. I weigh 110lbs. He weighs 220lbs. I cannot really help him if he can’t walk. That’s just the reality of being much smaller. If he needed a procedure like this done, I’d arrange for an extra set of hands to help me get him into the house.

          4. Dragoning*

            The upside of “improving my career” would feel uncomfortable to me. This doesn’t feel an appropriate venue to be evaluated on career-wise.

        2. OP 1*

          Yeah, I was thinking about this in the way that Alison talks about gifts. The best way I can help my boss is to do a good job on my work, not help with personal favors. A couple people have asked if I am his assistant – I am not, he’s at the director level and I’m an associate. Not that I think assistants should have to do this for their bosses either.

      2. Observer*

        While I would not say that Okie Dokie is definitely right, it’s just possible enough that it’s stupid to encourage someone to ignore that possibility. Also, even without that, as the OP herself points out, people tend to lose their filters and a LOT of really inappropriate stuff tends to come out which could present a real problem for the OP – especially if the boss remembers saying something particularly damaging or harmful to himself.

        On the other hand, the idea that someone needs to provide this kind of help to a superior to “get ahead” verges on gross. What other favors should she have to do for her boss to ingratiate herself?

      3. Alia*

        And? It’s still inappropriate to ask someone whose only connection to you is work to act as a carer and person legally responsible for your safety when you will be not in control of your own faculties.

        He isn’t just asking for transport. In almost all US states, she’s going to be legally responsible for him for as long as he’s coming off the mds and/or vulnerable.

        I’ve never seen a clinic sign someone out without someone being asked to take on that responsibility.last time my mil had her hip worked on, I was her transport. I had to legally agree in the discharge papers I would take care of her for 48 hours.

        DH had outpatient hand surgery for a severed tendon. I had to agree not to leave his side for 24 hours. He was not put under. But in Cali, most doctors require someone to agree to this care if any anesthetia is given.

        I recently had a skin issue removed. Local only. I was never out of it. DH still has to sign and agree to stat with me for 24 hours.

        If boss is young enough, he may have never dealt w outpatient surgery and may not know exactly what he’s asking of OP. He may think she’s just his personal Uber. She’s not.

        OP should decline. If she’s generous, she might inform boss what he will need is not simply transport, but also care, and he really needs to ring up the clinic and clarify the post op protocols. He needs to specifically know what the person who signs the discharge papers is agreeing to do.

        If it is truly just transport, he should Uber it. If it’s not, it’s inappropriate to ask of an employee.

      4. Seriously?*

        His comfort does not trump hers. What he is showing is that he is willing to impose on her and abuse his position as her boss to basically tell her that she needs to do a personal favor for him. He has very poor professional boundaries, which is a red flag. It can just as easily be a sign that he thinks she should drop everything to cater to his needs which is a bad thing that should not be encouraged.

      5. Riley*

        Absolutely not. If you are someone’s boss and you trust them, then you give them professional opportunities – special projects, the opportunity to attend a conference, introduce them to a useful professional contact, something like that. You do not ask someone who reports to you to pick you up from surgery! That is inappropriate when their ONLY relationship is that he is her boss and it’s problematic to even suggest that she should consider saying yes because it would get her on her boss’s good side and therefore help her professionally. No. Do not put young women in that position.

        1. Seriously?*

          You said this much better than I did. The issue is not whether he trusts her, it is whether he respects her. His actions says he does not.

      6. Decima Dewey*

        I disagree. It’s not that Boss trusts the OP, it’s that Boss thinks he can avoid paying for someone to look after him post-surgery by ordering OP to do it.

    5. Jessie the First (or second)*

      It’s valid to worry about what could happen when someone is loopy, because sometimes people coming out from general really, really behave oddly.

      But don’t get on the boss for using the word loopy. IME, that’s the actual word medical professionals will sometimes use. It says exactly zero about his creepiness or not-creepiness that he used that word.

      1. Observer*

        I don’t think it’s word, but proactively saying something that seems to translate to “I act weird” rather than I “I’m out of it” seems a bit off.

        Beyond that, if you already know that you are likely to act this way, why on earth are you asking someone in your line of command to help you out?! Especially a junior member of the team? That just inappropriate.

        1. Jessie the First (or second)*

          It was an inappropriate request and OP should not do it.

          I’m just responding to the notion that because the boss used the word loopy, he’s a red flag for a creep. Loopy is the word his doctors may have used – I’ve heard it used, my husband has heard it used, it’s often *the actual word that gets used by the medical providers* and so seriously, there is nothing off about using the word.

          What’s off is the request in the first place. It’s not appropriate, the OP doesn’t have to do it, and should absolutely say no.

          1. Alia*

            Yes, but I’ve personally also see some very odd, out of character behavior from people coming off meds, including anesthetic drugs.

            He doesn’t have to be a creep for there to be a risk of inappropriate behavior.

            My sister works in a care home. She has a woman who tried to grope a female nurse while coming off drugs. It wasn’t dementia, it was the drugs. It does happen. Because the nurse was a professional, she knew it was not something the patient meant or could control.

            It’s a rare effect, but inappropriate behavior is one of several reasons why you ask friends, family, or paid carers to take care of you.

            Also, while it’s unlikely the boss is a creep, it is very likely that if the boss is a creep, he would use something like this to test boundaries. Most creeps don’t advertise it. They groom. They test boundaries. This is one of the myriad of reasons that you don’t ask inappropriate things of coworkers.

  21. Myrin*

    OP #1, I already mentioned this in another comment above but I re-read the letter just now and I’m wondering more and more: did your boss actually ask you to help him out? Or is that just something you inferred?
    It sounds like he simply mentioned all these things and you basically don’t have to react at all beyond a “that sounds stressful” or something similar. Which is just as effective if he did in fact only mention it but it felt like a *hint hint* kind of situation to you anyway – pretend not to get his underlying meaning. If he becomes more explicit after that, Alison’s wording is excellent as always!

    (I’m asking because from just your retelling of your conversation here, it wouldn’t even have occurred to me that this might be boss’s roundabout way of asking me to help him out; I’ve certainly had similar conversations that were basically just smalltalk. However, I obviously wasn’t there and I trust your sense regarding his motivation, if that is what it seemed like to you.)

    1. WS*

      The boss said they “might need [OP’s] help getting home after the procedure”. That’s pretty specific and time-sensitive and I suspect if the OP doesn’t push back, it will become reality. If OP does push back, boss will go elsewhere and pretend it was just a suggestion.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh my, you’re totally right – I somehow completely missed that even upon multiple re-reads, how embarrassing! Disregard, disregard!

  22. BeenThere*

    #2 – You are way overthinking this. As Alison said, go about your business as if you don’t know. Your boss should not have “let it slip.”

    1. Decima Dewey*

      As far as worrying that one day LW2 will look up and Phil will be gone, why worry about it? Phil could win the lottery, or elope with the Crown Princess of Barataria, and still be gone.

  23. Bones*

    #2- it seems to me like violating the coworker’s privacy (in addition to being a crappy thing to do) isn’t in the best interest of the company. It’s to their benefit to have all their employees at their best, and managers should be wary that there’s negative gossip surrounding a coworker, which can gunk up the whole team dynamic. Although I guess you could also argue that having a coworker who is performing so poorly that they need a PIP gunks the dynamic, too.

  24. Rae*

    #3 For rural routes (IE often done not in the big white truck) stuck with bad USPS drivers, Amazon has been a godsend. My neighbors dealt with terrible USPS service for years. Days without mail delivery, misdelivered mail, and straight up un-delivered mail. (Or my favorite reason “unable to find/reach box” no snow, no rain, same place yesterday) Across many states and places complaints got you nowhere from “you’re lucky you get mail” to “get a PO box” to flat out “prove it”. Someone, about 6 miles from me, used to get medicine and when it would end up in my box, at 6pm, no one would answer. I drove it to his house many times.

    Enter Amazon. Suddenly, everything was tracked. You could prove it. Expectations were raised. Amazon really started to have an influence in something that before we had no control over. They did not like that packages were misdelivered, or said that they arrived when they had not.

    The only reason the OP’s co-worker’s request sounds gross is because it sounds like an excuse to use a flaw in the delivery service as a way to steal and get away with it due to the flaws in a delivery system.

    1. Cordoba*

      I didn’t read it as an attempt to steal, but saying that even if the packages *eventually* show up they should still complain because they were late to begin with.

      Do you think the co-worker was advocating for saying that the packages never arrived and then getting a refund?

      1. Rae*

        What I’m saying is that it seems very much like a cover for stealing. If a package fails to show up and the onus is to report it right away it would mean someone who didn’t would be at a huge disadvantage.

        1. Cordoba*

          I’m still not sure how that implies theft.

          I have a package coming to my house today, if it was marked “delivered” but I couldn’t find it I would definitely report that today. I have no intention of stealing this package, but I do want to get to the bottom of its disappearance and resolve it quickly.

          How many days should I wait to report it if I don’t want to seem like I’m doing so as cover for a criminal enterprise?

          1. Rae*

            Yes. But this is a public office, not a singular house.
            The person is correct. Report it right away OR the mailroom could become the center of drama and theft accusations. However, the fact that it has to be said makes me a bit grossed out because it implies a culture where things can go missing without notice for days.

        2. loslothluin*

          It could also be porch pirates stealing stuff. I have everything sent to my mom’s house since she’s retired and, generally, home when things are delivered. The times I’ve called Amazon about a missing package, they don’t immediately send a new item. I’ve had them either tell me to wait a day or so before getting worried, and I’ve also had packages misdelivered to a different address (weird numbers and two streets with the same name in 2 different cities is always a hoot). Amazon contacted UPS and had them go get the package.

          1. Rae*

            Yea. The idea is you report it and let Amazon do the work. Just waiting when you have bad data does no good.

  25. Catalin*

    For #4: there’s a simple solution here. Work with the person doing the photos and ask them to photograph your right side and just flip the image (horizontal flip). The company gets their ‘left side’ photo, you get your preferred side photographed, everyone wins!

  26. Susie Q*

    #3: I do not think it is that wildly known. I had never heard of this especially since Amazon deliveries in my area are normally USPS and FedEx not contracted Amazon deliveries. Also, a huge majority of Americans have limited disposable income, are overworked, and tired. That doesn’t mean we should have to sacrifice services that we pay for to compensate for bad business practices.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I had no idea this even existed, because I don’t live in a major metropolitan area, so all of my Amazon deliveries are via UPS or USPS (or FedEx maybe?). But I assume that if you live in an area where Amazon delivers, you’d be aware of it. I agree that it doesn’t matter – if you paid for a service, and didn’t get it, you shouldn’t feel guilty complain. And sometimes it leads to necessary and welcome changes. If Amazon starts losing business because their delivery service is based on an untenable premise, maybe they’ll change it in a way that benefits everyone, including the drivers.

      1. blackcat*

        I still have a prime account mostly for TV, but I order more and more stuff from Target. Often they have 2 day shipping, it’s reliable, and their prices are competitive.

        The unreliability of Amazon is the main reason why I’ve switched.

        (I have also had it happen the other way, when they email me saying that they’re sorry something wasn’t delivered by the promised date… while I am already using the product.)

    2. Seacalliope*

      I think people do have to make a sacrifice somewhere here. The service they are paying for is untenable and the fact that this occurs systematically, rather than due to a few rogue delivery drivers, means that they should “sacrifice” the service.

  27. Roscoe*

    #3 I’m going to push back here. Whatever you think of Amazon’s business practices, if the driver IS lying about something, you have the right to complain. I think server’s don’t make enough money, that doesn’t mean they get to provide shitty customer service. If people want to complain about their package not being there when they get an alert saying its there, I think that is their right. If you choose not to do that, that is on you. But don’t tell others how they should react to the driver lying, just because you think their targets are unrealistic

    1. Cordoba*

      I’d love to be able to do parts of my job poorly (or not do them at all) and have nobody complain, but that’s not how work works.

      1. jack*

        There’s a difference between ‘not being able to do a reasonable job with reasonable wages’ vs ‘not being able to do an impossible job with poverty wages’

        1. Cordoba*

          I expect that many many workers would describe their workload as “impossible” and their wages as “poverty”.

          Are you suggesting that if these workers don’t do their job, do it poorly, or mark it as done when it is not that whoever was depending on that work getting done should not complain?

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I agree many people might describe their wages as “poverty” an actual definition is not really up for debate, the federal government has strict guidelines on poverty levels and who is eligible for assistance. There can be outliers where people that are not poor by federal guidelines struggle to pay for housing and foo. But I have heard many people say they are poor when what they mean is I can’t afford this item or thing I want to do that is not a necessity. People who say they are poor when they are not is a big pet peeve of mine.

        2. Rae*

          Which lying is not going to help. All it does is set even more impossible standards. If Joe delivery man actually does his work but Johnny lies and Johnny gets the bonus for doing “more” work, how fair is that? The answer, it’s not. And the bad data is going to keep holding Joe to unreasonable standards.

          Remember the early days when supermarkets got caught up in finding the fastest cashiers? Some skipped scanning items, some had other dirty tricks like scanning items twice to look like they scanned things faster. It was a total disaster. This sort of logistics is used in better ways now…but it took pushback from customers, not allowing underpaid employees to do bad things.

          Some of the reason why this is an unending circle of trouble. If you want to push back, don’t order. Don’t give Amazon money.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            All it does is set even more impossible standards.

            This! This is the most backwards and ineffective way of “helping out” people in crappy low-paid jobs that I can imagine.

          2. Kaybee*

            Thank you. I was scrolling down hoping someone would make this point.

            If the customer doesn’t let Amazon know that deliveries are being marked as “delivered” when they’re not, Amazon is getting bad information about feasible workload for its delivery people. If its “best performers” look like they’re delivering 200 packages a day when in reality they’re really delivering 100, the folks who are hustling to deliver 150 packages a day and being honest about it are the ones who are going to be dinged and held to unrealistic expectations. Everyone suffers when the company thinks they can do more than they can actually do.

            IIRC, you can choose your own hours as an Amazon driver, so while part-time folks may be able to make up the extra deliveries on their own time, full-time people are in a position where they can never ever catch up to the fake targets set by those who mark packages delivered when they’re not.

          3. Lindsay J*

            This. From the article Allison listed above:

            “Brown often finishes his two-hour shifts in a shorter time than Amazon has estimated they will take. But if it takes a Flex driver longer to complete their deliveries than Amazon has calculated it will, they don’t get paid for the extra time. (An Amazon spokeswoman told me that “the vast majority” of blocks are completed within or in less than the estimated time.)”

            Now do the vast majority finish the blocks within or less than the allotted amount of time? Or do the majority pre-scan their stuff to make it look like they are finishing in the allotted amount of time?

            (And if the majority do complete their blocks in a reasonable amount of time without pre-scanning, couldn’t it then be argued that the expectations are reasonable and the people who aren’t able to do so are subpar package deliverers?)

            I had this issue when I was working at Sears. We were expected to get people to open Sears Credit accounts, and were required to ask people if they wanted to open one, and we had to ask everyone using the same specific script due to laws about offering credit equally. I did as I was told, every single transaction. I generally averaged around 1 app a shift. We got paid $3 for each completed app.

            There was a woman who worked in the ladies department (she got the preferential location due to her performance) who used less than ethical methods to get more apps. When people asked her to look up their card number she would tell them that the card had been closed and then sign them up for the Gold Mastercard instead, even though the original account was still open. She would just say there was a discount and start signing them up without mentioning that it was for opening up a credit card until she was midway through the application and needed them to sign the disclosure, etc.

            But management didn’t care that she was behaving unethically. All they cared was that she made them look good with the credit card app numbers. And all the rest of us heard was “She gets 14 applications a shift. Why can’t you? You must not be trying hard enough.”

            I’m sure if some of the customers who she did this to complained she would have been made to stop doing this.

            As it was, if we brought it up we were brushed off with, “I’ve never seen her do anything wrong,” and it was implied that we were jealous or out to get her or sore losers or something of that nature.

          4. Cassie the First*

            This reminds me of something I read about in an article (oddly enough, about the NBA) – Goodhart’s law. “When a measure becomes a target, it cease to be a good measure.” The goal for Amazon should be to have the packages delivered to the correct place in the time frame they are supposed to be delivered in. It’s not good enough for the packages to be marked as “delivered” but not actually delivered, or delivered to the wrong place.

            If I check my order status and it shows delivered, I’m going to have to start looking everywhere and asking coworkers. If it’s a home delivery, I’ll probably assume a porch thief stole it. I’m not going to sit around and wait 36 hours before I contact Amazon in hopes that it was misplaced and someone brings it to me. And I would definitely not have assumed that drivers were lying and marking orders “delivered” when they were not.

            My mom received an Amazon order addressed to a house a couple of doors down (there was no tracking number on the package so I assume it was handled by Amazon logistics?) and asked me what to do with it. I told her to leave it on the porch of the house (the same way it was left on her porch). She didn’t want to, in case it would get stolen, so instead she stopped by a couple of times in the afternoon/early evening in hopes someone would be home. She ended up leaving the package with the neighbor who was home (and who is friendly with the person). But that’s also a situation where the order would be marked “delivered” and there would be no way for Amazon or the orderer to know where the package was.

            1. Cassie the First*

              *Edit – that would be Goodhart’s law as restated by Professor Marilyn Strathern.

        3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          So work ethic and performance is a sliding scale based on wages and work effort.


        4. JamieS*

          I’m not sure what your point is here. A person can’t do an impossible job with great wages either per the definition of impossible. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to not do a job you agreed to do.

          1. Seacalliope*

            It is okay. It’s called a strike and Amazon workers should absolutely engage in one.

            1. JamieS*

              And Amazon will just replace them.

              Regardless going on strike, which by definition means you no longer agree to do the job, isn’t the same as agreeing to continue to do a job and then not doing it. It’s basically “no I’m not going to do this task because of reasons ABC” vs “yeah, I’ll do this task” and then not doing it. Those 2 things aren’t remotely the same.

              1. Pedant*

                Amazon warehouse workers DID just strike, in Spain. There was a week-long strike and a
                boycott spanning Prime Day.

                There’s also a work slowdown technique called “work to rule” which means you do everything according to all the rules people normally ignore to get them done faster, and/or go through the checklists really slowly. Actually scanning packages at delivery instead of the truck could be a great “work to rule” action for Amazon contract delivery staff.

  28. Laurelma__01!*

    Ref: I don’t want to pick up my boss after surgery
    This is a new boss. This could be just the beginning of “future stepping over bounds.” OP, also depending on your job title (or just because you are female) he may want to treat you as a personal assistant. My boss cannot stand me because I will not take her to the doctor’s office, etc. She has tried to bully me into doing personnel errands for her when I first started and I stood my ground. She was slapped on the hand for this with prior admin assistants. Every six to eight months she will try to get me to do something, and she tells me, does not ask. Like telling me that I had to go to DMV to pick up her handicap decal when she got out of the hospital. I just let HR handled it.
    I recommend you follow the advice given and get out of it. However, be prepared for future overstepping. I work for the state, no personal assistants unless you pay for it yourself. The being told, and not asking comes across as entitled.

    Ref: I don’t want to hire a former employee, but he’s being pushy
    I would be so tempted to tell him, “your constant nagging and desire to bypass the process” is not a favorable look.

    1. OP#5*

      Yes, that is very tempting. I’ve basically stuck with a similar script to what Alison suggested so far, but I’m a bit apprehensive about his response when/if we hire the candidate we have selected. I’ve tried to be patient, and to tell myself that Dan, like a lot of other recent graduates, doesn’t have a lot of experience in the working world, and so he doesn’t realize that this is not appropriate (I remember all of the references in this column to “gumption”!).

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      Ooh. In my state, at least, it’s illegal for state employees to use their subordinates to do personal tasks. Your boss’s higher-ups, or the press, might be interested to know this.

        1. Laurlema01!*

          I think she got in trouble. But she has tenure, hard to terminate. I think they threatened to take away her management authority, just make her faculty. Not 100%. That’s the think about university settings. They can behave terribly, but it’s hard to fire them. It’s not a true threat if someone has tenure.

        2. Observer*

          Effectively, illegal to ask.Because if it’s done on the clock, it’s using state resources for personal use. And it’s understood that when your boss “asks” you to do something, there is a power dynamic that can mess things up. *Especially* when the “ask” is in the form us “I need you to do x, y, z”

      1. roisin54*

        It’s illegal in my state too. When she was in office, one of our former Governors got fined for repeatedly having her assistants babysit her kids. She’s rich and it wasn’t a huge fine so it was basically a slap on the wrist. I don’t think she ever apologized, or even thinks she did anything wrong. She did other shady stuff like that too but managed to get away with most of it.

  29. jack*

    When I moved to Current City, I knew that I was going to need to get my wisdom teeth removed sooner rather than later. The thing that worried me the most (besides $$$) was finding someone to drive me home from the surgery, as I didn’t have any family in the area. So I know where your boss is coming from, but I would never have asked one of my employees to do it (nevermind the fact that the surgery was during the work day). Thankfully, I started dating someone who was able to take me, but if that hadn’t been the case I would’ve gone with a good friend of mine at work, who is at the same level as I am.

    1. Laurlema01!*

      There are services offered that supply transport to and from the hospital. They cost & you have to work with their schedule & possibly share a ride.

    2. Seriously?*

      Asking would be bad enough, but he just casually told her that it was what he needed her to do, which implies that he doesn’t even realize that it is a huger personal favor.

      1. Laurelma_01!*

        I’m taking it as feeling entitled. It’s a red flag about other possible over steps in the future.

  30. nep*

    I hope you don’t get preached to about self-love, but if you do, you can shut that down with a withering look and a “That’s really not something we need to address here.”
    Spot on.
    Hope all works out well, LW.

  31. MLB*

    #1 – My biggest problem with this is that it wasn’t a request, it was a demand (even if stated in a friendly manner). You say he told you he may need your help – that’s not a request. Whether he’s your boss or not, he should have said “Are you available on XX day in case I need help getting home after surgery?” Sorry but this does not fall under the “other duties as assigned” category. Just go with “Sorry I’m unavailable”, no need to elaborate. If he pushes, reiterate the same message. No is a complete sentence, and just because he’s your boss doesn’t mean you have to cave.

    1. Seriously?*

      Yeah, the only jobs that would remotely have this under their job duties are home health aide or personal assistant of the type that is explicitly expected to do things like dry cleaning pickup and other personal tasks. Even that would be pushing it in this context. Anyone else and it should not even cross his mind.

    2. OP 1*

      Yeah, I think part of the reason I am uncomfortable is because I was told (“I’m going to have to get you to take me home after”) rather than it coming as a request.

      And the procedure isn’t scheduled yet so I can’t say I’m busy! I appreciate the reminder that no is a complete sentence :)

  32. Cat Herder*

    OP #5: do NOT tell him this early on that he is not right for the job. You’re at a college/university, which often have quite strict rules on how to handle searches. If you want to share this info with him AFTER the search is done (= you have hired a student worker and they are in the office working), then that would be a kindness. At this point, you can use Alison’s script and, since he’s a student, explain that this is how searches are done at X University and at many other places too and that the professional thing for him to do is to stop going outside the process.
    He needs to understand professional work standards *at this point*, not why he is or isn’t right for the job. That’s for later.

  33. StaceyRain*

    I’m a professional staff photographer and it is not a big deal to photograph you from the other side. The goal of the photographer is to get the best picture possible, and to do that is through making your subject comfortable.

  34. boop the first*

    2. I’m not sure I understand the question. Maybe it would be beneficial to ask yourself: What do you need out of this situation to feel more at ease? How does confronting your coworker achieve this?

    5. “I would never demand that someone fake happiness on my account,”
    Well, I mean… you COULD, though. Pretty much all customer-facing positions rely on this already.

    1. Rebecca*

      LOL, yes, my least favorite part of my job is when I actually have to speak with a customer on the phone. And yes, I fake happiness and helpfulness. I’ve had people comment “where did that voice come from and what did you do with Rebecca” when they’ve heard me on the phone.

      1. Not a Mere Device*

        My sister had jobs where she had to answer the phone. They expected her to answer with “6205, Hername Speaking.” If I called her at work and that came out in treacly-sweet tones, I knew she’d had a hard day. But it helped her not snarl at people, and gave her deniability: managers aren’t likely to take “I want to complain about your assistant’s tone of voice. It’s too sweet” seriously.

        1. OP#5*

          Ha! It’s like the customer-service equivalent of saying “Bless his heart” to keep from saying something you’d regret.

    2. OP#5*

      Ha, yes, for the job I could. I meant more in the “women are always getting told to smile” way. I’ve been a victim of that, and I’d never subject someone else to it. So I wouldn’t pressure someone who is sitting at their desk working to have a beaming, toothy “Stepford Wife” smile all day.

      But yeah, when you work with the public, you have to know when to put your “customer service” face on. I’ve learned that over the years, and most customers I deal with likely have no idea that sometimes I’m really nervous and anxious around people. Dan hasn’t learned how to do this yet, I guess. But I don’t have time to teach him; I need someone who can do it from the start.

  35. voyager1*

    LW1: All I am going to say is this. Be gentle in telling him no, it probably isn’t easy for him to ask a stranger to help him. I do think that you should help either for the difficulty you would have an frankly there are folks who do this kind of thing for a living.

    If you actually care about him (sounds like you do), see if an organization like United Way would know of a service that can help him. This whole situation reminds me of the holiday season where people spend all alone, can’t be easy for them no need to be cruel or think evil of the guy like some commenters are.

    1. rldk*

      Giving that he apparently has friends at work who are not strangers and who are already part of his personal life, I don’t really have sympathy for the boss asking a “stranger.” She’s not a stranger – she’s his employee, and this type of personal request is crossing lots of lines. Plus, he didn’t ask – he told her that he’d need this, the same way he might give a work assignment. That doesn’t say “this isn’t easy for me to ask.” That says “I’m not aware/don’t care about appropriate boundaries between supervisor and employee”

    2. AnonInfinity*

      I really don’t see why the OP should investigate other options for the boss (you’re not the first here to suggest or intimate that OP should). That’s taking on someone else’s emotional labor – and it’s horribly ingrained as women’s work. If someone asks you for a favor that you cannot or will not oblige, you are not obligated to problem solve other ways for the favor to be accomplished – but doing so trains that person to come back to you for more, and it still breaks a boundary. The answer is “no, that’s not possible” – period. With every bone in my body, I’m willing OP to leave her answer at “no, that’s not possible” – without excuses, made-up conflicts, drawn out rationales about weight/sizes/don’t like medical stuff/whatever, let alone a variety of alternatives for Boss to explore.

      It’s not cruel to just say “no.” It’s cruel for a boss to put this on a subordinate.

  36. DCompliance*

    #2- Are you worried that if your coworker gets fired you will have to do more work? That does happen in life, but hopefully your boss will understand that a person cannot do the work for 2 for a long period of time. And if your boss doesn’t understand that, then you have a deeper management issue and not a coworker issue.

  37. Gazebo Slayer*

    The Amazon delivery issue is something I’ve run into with UPS (without Amazon involved) except they don’t redeliver your order – they just take it to the distribution center and tell you to pick it up there. Which is a big problem when it’s a large, heavy, expensive item and you don’t have a car.

  38. Bea*

    I loath Amazon and it’s practices, I also loath all delivery systems and companies on multiple levels for their unethical practices to their inability to pay workers on time because of vast internal errors they deal with in their “HR” centers. Whatever. They also are a top reason our wage gap is astronomical in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Oh and they cry when they are suggested to pay to fix the broken city they’re helping to crush. So yes. Amazon is gross AF. Much like the banks I’ll also foam at the mouth about.

    It’s still not acceptable that packages are marked delivered when they’re not. The drivers are often lackadaisical and happily cut corners, they’re not just pitiful beings slaving away, they’re not actively trying to get out, they’re a cog in the wheel they’ve chosen to set up home in. I don’t buy into the idea that we’re supposed to pity them and accept the half assed service, making excuses and accepting mediocrity. I also know other places who hire just as much, this is the US and nobody is regularly forced to work for these scumbags, etc. So please keep in mind popping off at a group chat email with your POV may end up alienating you more than pulling them into your way of thinking. Some of us are indeed well versed in bad businesses and don’t subscribe to the same way of thinking. Only driving a huge wedge in there over a can of worms you just don’t want any of.

    Also I’ve known people who worked there for a hot minute. They can speak to having witnessed utter disregard and lack of attention to giving a fk. These complaints aren’t getting anyone fired or reprimanded. It’s not that big of deal as long as they’re not abusive towards the drivers when they see them or abusive to the CSR taking the complaint.

    1. J*

      Oh good lord. Amazon isn’t responsible for homeless people in Seattle. We had them long before amazon was a thing. Educate yourself on the root causes of homelessness and read actual statistics before blaming them or google. Yes they are min wage employers and yrs they help fuel the wage gap as do so many other small companies. Min wage should be raised and employment law should be better but that’s on govt. as long as the laws favor employees the. Employers will take advantage.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Bea never mentioned homeless. There are, however, huge wage gap problems in several west coast cities due to tech companies companies and gentrification. And companies (including Amazon) are resisting tax efforts to combat that.
        The bigger issue (at least in Silicon Valley) is that they are adding more jobs than houses. For example, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties added 47,00 more jobs and only 12,000 more homes (source: Mercury News(. That drives housing prices through the roof.

        1. J*

          If this person lives in the area they’ll know what I’m talking about. No need to split hairs. Amazon threatened to leave bc of the homeless tax. If you live here you know the backstory. If not… google is a better use of time

  39. J*

    #1: that’s inappropriate. I would never ever ask an employee for a personal favor. For the simple reason they have less power to refuse. We are not equals. It’s about power imbalance. He can ask a boss or coworker but never a subordinate. The fact he’s doing this is a red flag. Hopefully he’s just clueless but do pay attention in case more flags pop up. And the fact he’s your boss and an older man and you’re his junior younger female employee? What is he bucking for a harassment suit? A normal man would feel uncomfortable with the idea of being under the influence of serious drugs around a junior female. So that’s a second red flag. This is creepy and you should def say no. Have a family thing or conflict or just say you feel really nervous about that. I’m sorry bc your inability to say no without fear is exactly why he never should have asked.

  40. J*

    Photo LW: insist they flip the image! This is the most trivial thing to do. Believe me they will not mind a bit. I’m sorry your coworkers planning this sound a tad insensitive bc but everyone likes having their pic taken. I don’t have scars or anything but I just hate it. Have done it for work and it’s just the least fun ever. I’m sorry.

    1. Seriously?*

      I’m not sure that the coworker is being insensitive so much as thoughtless. It probably didn’t occur to them that right vs left side would make a significant difference and they were simply thinking of getting a uniform look for the website. If the coworker pushes back, then they are insensitive.

      1. OP4*

        I’m not sure it’s insensitivity or thoughtlessness. These photos are usually reserved for the board and top management. They’re now going down another level, somewhat due to a comment from an agency about not having photos of some people.

        My work also likes to keep doing things that have always worked. “We’ve always had this photographer, and we’ve always taken the photos in this spot with the window, flag, and table. It’s worked great. The photos look very professional. No need to change!” I don’t think they’re being stubborn about it. It’s just they found something that worked for them on a fairly trivial matter, so why make unnecessary changes.

  41. AKchic*

    LW1 – you have a lot of options for declining to help your boss.
    – physical safety issue should he need help and pass out. The both of you could “go down” and hurt both of you.
    – you don’t know him well enough to be willing to be responsible for his well-being and safety.
    – (here is a big one) The “Optics” of having a smaller, younger and *junior* female staffer taking care of her older, larger boss while he is sedated and has admitted “that he tends to get a little loopy/goofy after anesthesia and experiences memory lapses” (if that doesn’t sound like a pre-made excuse to do something that would fall under sexual harassment policies and possibly some laws, I don’t know what does).

    The power dynamics alone are bad. Why is he asking *you*? Why isn’t he asking someone he is friends with? If you are too scared to say you’re untrusting of all of this, use the “optics and his professional reputation should anyone look at all of this”. Unfortunately, someone who would ask this of you with these circumstances may only think of their own reputation and image rather than your very real discomfort and safety.
    Also, please document all of this, just in case he *doesn’t* “understand” and continues to ask you to do this and similar boundary-blurring/crossing things.

  42. Sue Ellen Mischkey*

    Well, I am someone that is extremely annoyed by my Amazon Prime. I live in a large complex where there is an office that all packages can be dropped at. SEVERAL times I’ve come home expecting my one package to find that 5 large boxes of other people’s packages have been left on my doorstep. My village apartment complex has 300 units (but again….. all packages can be left at the front office even if the staff isn’t there). When I check the addresses they are all over the map, some no where near my apartment but 3 buildings over. Some delivery person has taken to just dropping off packages wherever. I had to haul the heavy boxes to the main office myself (if I were a shady individual I could have just kept the packages). Not too long ago I came home to a giant carpet delivered by Amazon to my door that I didn’t order. Again I checked and it was for someone in another building. I think they learned that if they just drop packages off at my apartment they will somehow get delivered. The apartment manager has even called me at work to say there were a bunch of packages in front of my apartment. Once my package said delivered to my door and I looked everywhere. I found it tacked to the wall in our mail room.

    They have since installed an Amazon locker at my apartment. Low and behold my packages are STILL being misplaced.

    I don’t think the practices of a business affords the drivers/staff to not follow-through on their job. If that were the case then we all could blame a million reasons as to why our jobs have been done insufficiently. Every staff member at Walmart should just stand around and help no one or not complete anything on time since they are underpaid and mistreated. In my instances with Amazon there is no way these errors were mistakes. Someone intentionally hasn’t been doing their job. Sorry the anger about these deliveries is still fresh.

    1. AKchic*

      I don’t blame you. That sounds extremely frustrating and I would be calling Amazon every time it happens, and posting pictures, and getting the other people whose packages were delivered wrongly to be complaining too.

      You may be a good person who doesn’t steal, but at some point, someone *is* going to realize that your apartment gets packages that aren’t yours, and things will get stolen.
      The front office is where the locker should have been installed, and instead, they did it at your apartment because they assumed you would deliver the rest of the way for them. You should be getting paid for that since you have become their defacto delivery service.

    2. Rae*

      Is it Amazon delivering or USPS? Prior to about 2012ish this was EXACTLY the problem with my entire rural area. Constantly misdelivered everything. It wasn’t until everyone in my area started constantly complaining to Amazon that the Post Master realized that it was actually an issue—which we’d said for the past decade and a half.

      1. Sue Ellen Mischkey*

        The only times I have issues is when the delivery driver is from Amazon (AMZN). When the delivery driver is UPS, USPS or OnTrac, they deliver to the office and I just pick it up from there. When it’s the Amazon hired drivers there’s always an issue. One of my recent deliveries said: out for deliver, delivered and when I didn’t receive anything by 9pm it said lost/your package has been lost in route.

        1. Rae*

          Ugg that’s terrible. It took Amazon to keep USPS in check. Companies should not be so big there are no checks and balances.

  43. Ben There*

    Letter 1 reads like the opening script of an episode of Law & Order SVU. Boss directs young female employee to pick him up from a personal doctor’s appt. and take him to his private home. [Imagine trying to prove that this was a work directive, rather than a personal favor.] He not only tells her he ‘gets loopy on anesthesia’ [read: ‘I’m not responsible for my behavior’] but that he has ‘frequent memory lapses’ [read: ‘I’m gonna claim I don’t remember the behavior either’]. Those 2 statements sent chills down my spine. Read some of the recent allegations about Charlie Rose if you think it’s not possible. Do not put yourself in this situation. If you cannot bring yourself to outright decline, bring someone else along with you. Even if everything is on the up and up, it is reasonable to have a buddy while you wait; you may legit need extra help to help your boss up stairs, etc. Do not be made to feel embarrassed to take very reasonable personal safety precautions. If your boss would be embarrassed or uncomfortable with another seeing him in his ‘compromised state’ he can find someone else to help him.

  44. AnonInfinity*

    OP #1 – I’ve been working professionally full-time since I was 18. I’m in my 30’s now. As a woman, the parts of my earlier career and professional experiences that I regret the most are the times I didn’t want to do something, gave a sweet “no, because blah blah blah,” someone else said “oh, non-sense – come do this!”, and I ended up in awkward, humiliating, uncomfortable, weird, odd, strange, and/or difficult situations. In the middle of those situations, I inevitably thought, “If I had just said ‘no,’ I wouldn’t be dealing with this right now. Why does this always happen to me?!” (Spoiler alert: it “always happened to me” because I didn’t know how to say and mean “no.”) This is definitely a situation where you want to say, “No, that won’t be possible” as many times as it takes for him to stop asking you and/or expecting you to do this. Don’t explain. Don’t make up excuses. Don’t argue about what-ifs and well-thens. Don’t even smile. “No, that won’t be possible. When did you need the Teacup Reports, again?”

    I know there is discussion about potential sexual harassment occurring (and I whole-heartedly agree) – but, you know, what if this forgetful loopy guy locks himself and you out of his house, and now you’re stuck on the porch with your forgetful, loopy, half-sedated boss with no idea what to do? What if he’s terribly hungry when he gets home and asks you to cook him a light dinner? What if you have to maneuver him into his bed and now you’ve been inside your male boss’s bedroom – even if nothing happens? Nope nope nopity nope. Don’t do it. “No, that won’t be possible.”

    P.S. It is 100% skeevy for an older man in a position of power to ask (tell?) a younger woman junior to him to do this. 100%. It is bad judgment on his part – that is the most charitable way of looking at it: bad judgment. This dude knows better, and, if he doesn’t know better, then his boundaries are majorly distorted – and, either way, you don’t want to be involved with him in any capacity outside of work. It is BAD NEWS. I fear that if you don’t set a boundary with this, he will ask you to do other personal, beyond-the-boundary things that you don’t want to do.

    1. Observer*

      You’ve put this perfectly.

      The man is boundary challenged, at best, and OP needs to assert her boundaries as best she can.

      OP, if “That won’t be possible” is not enough to get him to back off, please let HR know what’s going on. And if there are any other people that you have a good working relationship with that are in a strategic place to help with this and any possible fall out, please let them know. I’m thinking of people with the ear of the C suite folks, for instance.

      If you look at some of the older mails, you’ll see a couple of situations where a supervisor pulled something ridiculous and when an EA or AA found out about it, they took care of it.

      There was the one where a supervisor called a younger woman to pick him up from the airport in middle of the night then wrote her up and suspended her for a day because he didn’t like the way she was dressed. And one were some guy from accounting was making the letter writer crazy over expenses. He tried to ding her because she had had some guacamole (for $2) with a lunch she had expensed. It blew up when the the EA of the CEO (I think) found out that Accounting Dude was trying to mess with the tickets for a business trip the the CEO and LW were supposed to be traveling to, together.

  45. Anne G*

    I kind of feel bad for your boss. I’ve been in this situation myself so I get it. If he genuinely doesn’t have anyone else to ask, and you do want to help him, I suggest bringing another co-worker with you. CYA.

    1. PersonalJeebus*

      OP1 feels squicked out and *doesn’t* want to help him, but if someone in her position did want to help a boss in his position, it would be a good idea to have backup.

      I, too, feel bad for the boss having no support system. But it’s on him, not his employees, to figure something out. The last thing he should want is to burden or alienate the people at his new job. They’re probably the only people he knows in his town!

    2. Saskia*

      But LW1 has said her boss told her she would have to do this, he didn’t ask her! It’s completely inappropriate and I have little sympathy for him due to this.

      I think a lot of people here can relate to the situation Boss is in. But I don’t expect they told junior colleagues to pick them up and transport them home!

      There are options available for Boss that do not exploit his seniority over LW. Presumably he can even *gasp* ask his distant family for help to work it out, or do some googling himself.

      None of this is LW’s responsibility to handle. She should not go along and take another coworker! Boss should postpone the procedure if he truly cannot hire a suitable support person or avail himself of services such as previously mentioned.

  46. SkyePilot*

    To OP #4 – this may have already been suggested but A) they should definitely be able to accommodate you B) if there is concern that in a “yearbook” like layout it would be very obvious you were facing the other direction, why not just flip the image horizontally? Unless you’re wearing a shirt/blouse with a logo or writing, you’d then be facing the correct way. Very easy to do in any basic photo editing software.

    (caveat – my spatial reasoning is not the best so I *think* this would work? Haven’t experimented with a photo on my own…)

  47. V-Rex*

    #4-If all the portraits need to be taken from the left side for consistency sake, I wonder if they could photograph your right side and flip the image.

  48. Mophie*

    For LW #1 is it definitely icky? I mean we don’t know what this woman’s job actually is. Couldn’t it be that her job is to be the boss’s assistant and that tasks like this might fall under the purview of her employment? It still might be a bad idea, but it might not be inappropriate or icky to ask…

    1. Observer*

      No. Totally not.

      The only time that this kind of thing might be in the purview of her job would be if she were in a home health aid or MAYBE housekeeping position. It’s not clear what the OP’s position is, but it doesn’t matter because it IS clear that this is not a home based job. And there is no business position that includes this type of assistance. Not even an actual assistant.

      1. PersonalJeebus*

        Not even a *personal* assistant. This is *too* personal! PAs, EAs, and administrative professionals should not have to be responsible for their bosses’ physical safety (or for the physical safety of someone their boss asks them to care for; see also bosses who ask their assistants to provide childcare). This is a job for a healthcare industry professional, or maybe a personal security professional if he were in a position to have bodyguards and whatnot.

    2. OP 1*

      A couple people have asked about the assistant thing. I’m at the associate level and he is a director, so that’s not at play here. I do think that in the culture of our organization it would be strange even for an exec to ask their assistant to do this.

      1. Observer*

        That’s good. If he pushes this, it will be a lot easier for you to push back / go to HR or C suite.

  49. Annoyed*

    OP 1: If Boss has no one local that can help him then he needs to engage a private duty nurse.

  50. PersonalJeebus*

    OP2, if you haven’t already, I hope you’ll ask the coworker who spilled the beans to you to keep that kind of information to themselves in the future. You weren’t supposed to know, you didn’t want to know, and you shouldn’t have to know. Say something so they don’t repeat it; if they told you this thing this time, they’re a gossip and they’ll do it again.

    OP4, if anyone starts preaching to you about self-love, say this: “I’m practicing self-love right now by advocating for myself.” And then continue to love yourself by holding that boundary, if they keep pushing you. Also, if the photographer has to move equipment around in order to photograph you from the right side, maybe you can be scheduled to go last so they don’t have to move it back again for other people. Good luck!

  51. CanCan*

    #4 – The whole point of a photographer is to have people look their best. (Otherwise you might as well have any Joe with a phone do it.) And that includes people’s individual characteristics. They should be able to accommodate you.

  52. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#1: I guess this is already covered, but if he brings it up again, you should just politely tell him that you are unavailable and won’t be able to assist him. It’s not at all appropriate for your boss to expect this type of assistance. It’s a no-brainer. If he doesn’t have a friend to do it, he can hire a professional aid or nurse or similar caregiver. I have to wonder about the passive way he mentioned it. He may have been fishing for a reaction, either way, and hoping you would respond like “oh sure, no problem, I would be happy to help you”. Did you respond to his statement at all?

Comments are closed.