I was led out to a parking lot mid-interview, is it better to apply to jobs on Mondays, and more

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

1. The person taking me to my next interview led me to a parking lot and a locked door

I’m job hunting and can’t figure out if I need to send an apology email or just let the situation drop. I recently applied and was called in for a position in the PR department of a company that handles adult-oriented material. Bernard did my phone screen and let me know that it was mostly admin work with the opportunity to help organize events.

They seemed a little unprofessional when I went in (phone in the lobby was disconnected, had to use my cell phone to go through the call system, and once I was buzzed through I had to interrupt an employee to ask where the HR office was). I was finally seated in a conference room by Bernard, given a paper application to fill out, and told that I would see Dolores first and Teddy after. Dolores came in a few minutes later and I thought the interview went pretty well! It seemed to have a nice flow and I thought I asked good questions. She wrapped us up, I thanked her, and remained seated (assuming Teddy would follow). She kind of chuckled and said, “I’ll walk you over!”

As we walked over to what I assumed was Teddy’s office (I know I probably should have clarified that), she chatted with me a little more. We get to a doorway, she opens it, points to the right, and says, “That way!” I thank her and walk down the hallway to realize that’s she’s taken me to the back exit of the building to what looks like a staff parking lot (windowless hallway leading directly to back door). I tried to go back inside to ask if there had been a mix-up, but the door was locked and no one was around, so I walked around the building to the front. I intended to go back up, give Bernard a call to double-check that I wasn’t keeping Teddy waiting, but on the walk over I started to second-guess myself. What if Dolores had made an executive decision that I wasn’t the right fit (her title was higher)? Or Teddy had gone off to lunch or something? I didn’t want to be the candidate who couldn’t take a hint, so when I did reach the front, I just got in my car and left.

It’s been about two days since the interview and I want to send a follow-up like I always do. But I’m really at a loss if it would be appropriate for me to ask if the interview was cut short because I wasn’t a good fit or if it was just a mix-up. I understand I’m probably not going to get the position at this point but I’m just so curious!

There are two possibilities here: (1) Dolores intentionally led you out to a parking lot as a really horrible “we’re not interested and by the way, F you” (which is hard to imagine because that’s just so gratuitously rude and unkind, but years of writing this column have taught me that anything’s possible) or (2) There was some kind of mix-up, like there was a door in the hallway that you missed before you exited or she accidentally pointed you in the wrong direction.

If it was #1, you owe these people nothing. But because it’s possible that it was #2, ideally in the moment you would have called Bernard and said, “I must have misunderstood Dolores’ directions and somehow I’ve ended up outside and locked out.” It’s harder to do that now that a few days have passed, but you could email him and say something like, “I hope I didn’t misunderstand next steps when I was at your office earlier this week. After I met with Delores, she led me to your parking lot. In the moment, I thought the interview must be over, but I wanted to let you know what happened in case if I misunderstood and was intended to stick around to meet with Teddy, like we’d originally discussed.” This isn’t perfect — if the situation was #2, there’s a good chance they’re going to be confused by why you’d just leave. But they also bore some responsibility to realize you were gone, retrace where they’d taken you, and reached out to ensure this exact confusion hadn’t occurred.

2. Is it better to submit job applications on Monday mornings?

I’ve read that it’s best to submit job applications on Monday mornings so that you’re at the top of the pile and the hiring manager is fresh from the weekend. However, I’ve also read that it’s best to apply as soon as you see the job listing, in order to be one of the first people applying and again make it more likely that someone will actually look at your application. If I see a job posted on Tuesday or Wednesday, is it better to apply ASAP, or should I wait until Monday?

That advice is being given by people who don’t know how hiring really works. First of all, there’s rarely a “pile” anymore; it’s mostly electronic. And hiring managers have lots of things they’re doing; they’re not all coming in Monday morning and turning straight to reviewing applications. They’re more likely to review applications at random times that you can’t predict, like from 2-3 on Tuesday or on the train home at 6 p.m. on Thursday. You just have no way of knowing, and there’s no point in trying to tailor your timing like this.

The only timing thing that really matters is that you should apply as soon as you can. Otherwise you risk the job posting closing or them simply moving forward with the first group of strong candidates who come in and not considering anyone who comes in later, or having a much higher bar for those later candidates. (That can be true even when the ad lists an application deadline. More on that here.)

3. My coworker puts dirty tissues in my trash

My coworker often pops into my office to talk about work or whatever. I don’t mind the short conversations, but she has a habit of wiping her nose in my office and throwing out the dirty tissue in my wastebasket. I have tried to move the wastebasket, but that doesn’t seem to work. What should I say?

I am confused by this question and now wondering if I’m a filthy person and didn’t realize it. I would think the trashcan is the precise spot where she should be putting her dirty tissues. I get that it’s your trashcan and not hers, but it’s … for trash. There’s not really anything to say or do here, because she’s not doing anything inappropriate.

If you’re just really squeamish and it’s killing you, I suppose you could say, “Hey, I’m pretty germophobic and I know this might sound silly, but would you mind not throwing your tissues in my trash can?” … but be aware that it’s going to come across as a strange thing about you, not about her (which is why the language there conveys that you realize that).

4. How do I reject candidates when we we’re going to re-list the position?

I’m currently hiring for an open position on my team. After phone and in-person interviews, I narrowed it down to two finalists and did reference checks on them. While reviewing both their strengths and areas for growth, we are realizing that neither candidate is right for the position. How do I frame the rejection, knowing that we will be re-listing the position? I can’t use my typical response of “Thank you for your interest and taking the time to apply and interview with us; ultimately we went with another candidate; best of luck in your search.”

I write something like, “I really appreciated the time you spent talking with me about the X role. You clearly bring a lot of strengths to the table, but unfortunately I don’t think the match with this role is as strong as what we’re looking for.” Or as an alternative, I work with someone who sometimes writes something like, “The bottom line is that I’m not going to be offering you the position, but I wanted to say a bit more” (and then talks about their strengths and notes that it was a hard decision).

However you word it, the key language is some version of “the match isn’t as strong as what we’re looking for” or “we’ve decided not to move your application forward” (or “not to offer you the role”).

{ 585 comments… read them below }

  1. Thursday Next*

    LW #3, I’m not sure if I fully understand the issue. Is the trash can located somewhere that your coworker can’t access without disturbing you? I can see being bothered if, say, you’re sitting at your desk, and the trash can is underneath, so someone would have to reach across you to throw something away.

    Short of that…I’m afraid you only have two choices: accept that your coworker is using your trash can for its intended purpose, or ask her to stop. If you choose the latter option, you will have to emphasize that this is your foible, and recognize that you may be expending a great deal of workplace capital in the process.

    1. Gala apple*

      Also; I imagine that it’s your office’s trashcan located at your desk— it’s not just “your trash can.”

      1. Kath*

        In my office, we all have individual trash cans, and they are tiny – like maybe 6 square inches at the opening. Sticking your trash in someone else’s trash can basically means that the next time they need to use it, they’re likely to come into contact with what you put in there, just because it’s so hard to fit anything in there that you generally have to push what’s in there down to make room. I always ask permission to throw something in someone else’s trash because our bins are so tiny I feel bad tossing out a drink cup and taking up the entire trash space with it.

        1. Angeldrac*

          Ok, that’s actually quite a reasonable explanation to OP’s issue – one which I hadn’t considered before. Thanks for that insight!

        2. DJ Roomba*

          But certainly OP would’ve mentioned the strange way of throwing away garbage if that was the case?

          If the CW was constantly throwing larger things like soda cans or old apple cores, size concerns make sense. But a tissue? I don’t think a tissue has ever been the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of trash can fullness…

            1. Ladida*

              Gross things go in the trash and unless you make a regular habit of digging around in your trash can, coming in contact with it, you’re never encountering the grossness.

        3. Typhon Worker Bee*

          We have similarly tiny bins in one of my offices. We each have a normal-sized bin for paper recycling, and a much smaller trash receptacle that hooks over the edge of the larger bin. We’re all supposed to be responsible for taking our own trash into the kitchen and sorting it into paper, other recyclables, compostables, and trash. I’m only in that office two days a week, and so sometimes visitors use my desk when I’m not there. I occasionally come back to find a used coffee cup or candy wrapper or something in my bin. It’s really not a big deal, despite my mild germaphobic tendencies (I used to work in a lab and still use sterile technique when I’m cooking with meat, for example, lol) – I can empty it without touching any of the contents. If there was something mildly gross in there I’d just tip the whole thing into the trash without sorting the recyclables. I’d be more offended by a banana peel or something else stinky than a used tissue, though

      2. Nita*

        That’s how I’m imagining it. And – yes, on the face of it, it’s reasonable to throw trash in the trash can, but I would be seriously grossed out by someone regularly throwing their used tissues into the trash can in my office. There’s probably no reason for feeling this way, but it’s just… so very gross. I don’t want to be anywhere near coworkers’ snot and boogers if I can help it!

        I wonder if there’s a reason for this. If OP has a box of tissues sitting on her desk prominently, she may want to move it out of coworker’s reach. Coworker can use her own tissues at her own desk! And it does make sense to ask the coworker to stop, but frame it as a personal hang-up.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I genuinely don’t get that. Nobody wants to be near anyone else’s bodily fluids, sure – but they’re a fact of life, and the least-gross way we have for dealing with it is a tissue which is then thrown in the trash. Why does it matter whether it’s the trash can in this room or they carry it to a trash can in another room?

          Not trying to be rude, just…honestly baffled.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I’m a little baffled, too. Knowing that there is snot on a wadded up tissue in the waste bin seems akin to knowing that everyone is naked under their clothes. As in, it’s a fact, but how does that fact bother anyone?

        2. K*

          I’m a germophobe (I have a Primary Immune Deficiency, so I kind of have to be), and, unless the trash can is very small and I would have to come into contact with the used tissues in some way while emptying it, I can’t picture myself being bothered by it. That being said, I keep my tissues in my desk, not on it, so random people can’t just use them. If the coworker is using Letter Writer’s tissues and then throwing them out in LW’s trash can, maybe LW could try this?

      3. Justme, The OG*

        Does it make a difference if it was one I purchased or one that my employer provided?

        1. fposte*

          Not really–its function as a place for putting trash overrides the “don’t touch somebody else’s things” rule. Generally there’s cultural weight against carrying trash around, so we usually dispose of it in the first possible location. And that’s even if they realize you purchased it.

          If it’s a common thing, I might line the wastebasket with a plastic bag.

    2. Pickwick*

      His new one, Early Riser, came out yesterday (in the UK at least, not sure across the pond).. I know what I’m doing all weekend!

        1. Friday Next*

          If you order it through the Book Depository, you can get one of the British copies! They do free worldwide shipping. My copy is on the way now and I’m so psyched.

    3. That Would be a Good Band Name*

      My first thought is that it might be the wiping more than the throwing away. I’m not squeamish about much of anything, but for some reason I always go to the restroom to blow/wipe my nose and find it a bit weird when others don’t do the same. To walk into someone else’s space to wipe one’s nose just seems…invasive? I’m sure this is more of a weird quirk of mine, but I would also be bothered.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I’m wondering how much time coworker spends blowing her nose in LW’s office. I wouldn’t think twice if a coworker was in my office for something else and occasionally needed a kleenex–we’re allergy central here on the Gulf Coast. But if she were coming in here a lot and seemed to be . . . going out of her way to do this in my office? That would be super weird and, yeah, pretty off-putting.

        (We all have small personal trash cans, but they’re not located where you’d have to reach over somebody’s desk to use them.)

        1. boo bot*

          The only thing that made sense to me was this – that the co-worker was in fact going into the OP’s office just to blow her nose and throw away her tissues.

          1. NameChange*

            Which may kind of be the case, as strange as it sounds. Sometimes these things happen so often and so consistently that you have to wonder why they keep happening. Like, “Is there a message that X thinks I’m trash?” Passive-aggressive co-workers pull nonsense like that.

            LW #3, I don’t want to tell you to monitor your co-worker’s trash habits (that would be odd), but have you noticed if they’re throwing tissues away wherever they go? If they are, then they just need a trash can; I agree with other commentors that if the one by your desk is small, that could be gross. But if they’re using _only_ yours, I’d wonder about their motivation.

      2. LadyL*

        I’ve always wondered about this, as I notice other people leaving the room to blow their noses and it’s never occurred to me to do so, so I wondered if I was an uncouth ogre. I also would throw my tissues in whatever trashcan is closest, so double ogre for me.

        In my defense, my nose runs almost constantly, year-round, so if I left the room every time I had to wipe my nose I would not be very employable. If I’m really sick and I think the nose situation is going to be especially gross or noisy I would duck out. As for trash, I generally assume that the longer I hold my dirty kleenex, the more snot/germs I’m coming into contact with, so to me the most hygienic thing is to toss the used tissue as quickly as possible. I don’t touch my own trash when emptying my bin (I just dump it into a bag) so it’s never occurred to me that anyone would be grossed out by others’ trash. I think of trash cans as the place where gross stuff goes, of all origins.

        1. Le Sigh*

          I think for me, at least, wiping and occasional nose-blowing — and throwing out your tissues — doesn’t bug me. People have work to do, and esp. if someone has allergies, they probably can’t step away every single time they have to do it. And sometimes, you’re just in someone’s office when that happens.

          The only thing that gets me is when someone either has continual sniffles and doesn’t step away to blow (just *sniff* *sniff* *sniff* over and over and over in a cube farm, for hours), or they go on an extended, loud nose clearing session.

          1. LadyL*

            Oh yeah, sniffing absolutely grosses me out, more than any other gross nose behavior. I would literally rather watch someone wipe their nose on their hands than listen to them sniff. Just thinking about the sound makes me gag.

      3. Wendy Darling*

        I have really severe allergies so like 1/3 of the year going to the bathroom every time I needed to wipe my nose would eat up like 1/4 of my work day. I pretty much just carry one of those pocket packages of tissues and wipe it wherever I am because it’s just kinda runny ALWAYS.

        1. Delphine*

          I have non-allergic rhinitis which is really just a perpetually runny nose. I’d never get anything done if I had to run to the bathroom every time I needed to use a tissue!

        2. Drago Cucina*

          Yep. During some seasons there would be nothing done if this was the practice. I my nose is runny in the morning. I spend the first couple of hours wiping. It’s nothing contagious just a quirk.

    4. T*

      There may be a cultural thing going. When I travelled to Japan, some of the etiquette was that if you had to sneeze or blow your nose, it was done in the bathroom. This is also a culture where people routinely remove their shoes when entering a house – which has been adopted by many, beyond second and third generation citizens, for non-cultural reasons, including wear & tear on the floor.

      It’s a guess, based on not a lot of information, but there is a lot of sincerity in the asking, so this is my best guess.

      1. Canadian Public Servant*

        Off topic: I am mystified by Americans wearing their shoes in the house. I noticed in on tv shows, and thought it was just a tv show thing (like: we don’t want to take the time to show people taking off shoes when they enter, and shoes are part of the outfit we want to show). But apparently this is just a thing in the US??

        1. Elle Kay*

          Yup! The norm is much more not to take your shoes off here in the US.
          The best explanation I’ve ever gotten is a generally 1- “well, I vacuum/wash the floor so why not?” 2-shoes live in the closest/under the bed/etc in the bedroom & not right by the door so it makes no sense to take them off and carry them to the bedroom anyway?” (The cold-weather caveat to this is clearly winter boots which do live in the hall closet directly by the door and do not generally get worn into the house if they’re snowy or muddy) or 3- a fear of smelly/gross feet

          Actually my best friend growing up’s Dad was a huge No Shoes In The House person and it was “A Thing”. To the level of warning other friends about it in advance and the kids policing each other about taking their shoes off. It blows my mind that, now that we’re all grown up (I guess?) we ARE allowed to wear shoes at his parents house!

        2. LadyL*

          I grew up in a shoes-on house and I leave my shoes on, much to the consternation of my partner. Many Americans feel it is gross to leave shoes on in the house.

          My reasoning is I grew up with many pets (and still have pets currently), so I don’t really believe that the outside dirty is any dirtier than the dog hair/cat litter that’s already being constantly tracked across my floors, and I like to keep my shoes on to protect my feet/socks from all the pet mess. I also always have cold feet, so shoes provide additional warmth, and I sleep in my socks (hence why I want them clean).

        3. Kristin D*

          I actually get annoyed if someone has me over and insists that I take my shoes off. It’s not comfortable for me to be in bare feet or socks at someone else’s house, especially if it’s a dress up enemy.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I hate being barefoot, and the first time my brother and sister-in-law had us over after they moved here, my SIL sprung the no-shoes thing on us at the door. I was wearing sandals and no socks, so I had to be uncomfortably barefoot for the whole visit; I felt naked. Now I know to put a pair of black ballet slippers in my purse when we go over there, so I don’t have to be barefoot.

          2. AMPG*

            We’re a no-shoes house, but I never enforce that for guests. I’m really just more comfortable without my shoes on, and my kids’ shoes are often dirty enough that I’d rather have them off. But I always make sure to tell anyone who comes over that they’re free to have their shoes on or off according to their own preference.

          3. LadyL*

            When visiting someone casually I always ask if they want me to remove my shoes (my preference is to wear them but I’m not a monster), but I really hate when it’s a nicer type of event where I’m wearing an ~outfit~ and the host wants shoes off. Like, yeah, thank you for revealing that under my fierce ankle boots I’m wearing mismatched athletic socks with holes in them, they really pair with this fancy dress I’m wearing, so thank you for that.

            1. Courageous cat*

              Yep. That shit makes me so mad, whether rational or not, for this very reason. Shoes are part of an outfit.

            2. Mad Baggins*

              In Japan they should provide you with slippers so you’re not barefoot, but you do have to be extra careful of your socks for this reason!

              1. Nonyme*

                I’ve always wondered how that would work if you have enormous feet and the slippers don’t fit!

          4. Anon Canon*

            I actually *can’t* go barefoot, because I have orthotic shoes/inserts that correct a limp. I’ve always hoped that if I end up in the position of walking into a No Shoes Home, the hosts will be understanding, because otherwise, my problem is bad enough I’d just have to turn around and leave rather than take off my shoes.

        4. Aeryn Sun*

          It also depends on where you are – I live in the US, and I always take off my shoes to enter someone’s place, but I also live in a very snowy climate half the year so if you walk around inside with your shoes at this time it’s going to get the carpet / floor very gross.

        5. Panda Bandit*

          I kind of feel like, this is America, and you have the freedom to do what you want with your own shoes???

          Growing up, I never knew anybody who took their shoes off in the house. If your shoes were covered in mud or snow, then yeah, but not any other time. The floors aren’t noticeably dirtier and now that I’m getting old, I need the shock absorption.

            1. TZ*

              What? You are magically cured of joint pain and the need of supportive footwear in someone’s house?

              I don’t understand the rudeness of this comment in general, but also the specific point it’s trying to make?

        6. matcha123*

          People in northern US states also take their shoes off indoors! I don’t know anyone in Michigan that wears shoes inside. I think that’s more of a dry, southern state thing…

          1. ACommenter*


            I have lived in Michigan for the last 25 years (and Ohio 20 years prior), and I have never been in a house where I was asked to remove my shoes. I guess it just depends upon whose house you go to! :-)

          2. K*

            Lifelong NJ resident here, and we are a shoes off house. In the winter it’s to keep from tracking snow and mud all over. In spring, it’s to keep from tracking pollen all over, as my son and I are both highly allergic. The rest of the time, it’s habit and because we all hate wearing shoes, lol. But we don’t force visitors to remove shoes. Most people we have over do remove their shoes anyway, because they do know our preferences. If they don’t remove their shoes, I don’t say anything, but we do vacuum and dust the next day, especially in spring.

      2. MJLurver*

        I think I need to visit Japan, this is the 20th thing about their culture I’ve read about that jives with my foibles perfectly. I can’t blow my nose in public, and I get so disgusted to the point of nausea when people do it in front of me, particularly at a table in a restaurant or any kind of meal, public or private.

        I can deal with any other gross issue- anything – just not snot.

    5. matcha123*

      We have to empty our own trash cans at my office and the other offices I’ve worked at (in Japan). If she has to empty the can herself, I can totally get why she wouldn’t want to empty one with someone’s dirty tissues in them! Heck, even if custodians were emptying them, I can understand. I wouldn’t want to be sitting next to someone else’s germy tissues!

  2. Aimless*

    #1 – As disorganized as the office seemed, my guess is that no one mentioned to Dolores that you were scheduled to meet with Teddy once she was done speaking with you. So she may have led you to the parking lot, not because she was trying to cut the interview short, but because she actually thought it was over.

    1. mark132*

      But it really wasn’t the parking lot at least not the right one. It was the back door of the building. I do see your point because even then Delores could have assumed LW1 parked in back.

    2. Sherm*

      I wondered the same thing. Or maybe Bernard was mistaken thinking there would be an interview with Teddy, and the interview really was over.

      I would move on regardless. If the interview was this bewildering and frustrating, imaging what working there could be like.

      1. Stormfeather*

        Personally though I don’t think I could move on without knowing, because there is the chance that she was using it as a hint to just leave cause she didn’t like you and that’s so messed up!

        1. Michaela Westen*

          If it is that, her colleagues may not have recognized/realized how messed up she is because they couldn’t believe it if they saw it. Sometimes people like this get away with stuff for years because no one believes it.

    3. Angeldrac*

      Yeah – that sensed to be the third option that wasn’t identified by Alison. An honest error.

    4. Susan K*

      Yeah, this was my first guess. Maybe that’s also why Dolores chuckled when the OP stayed seated — she thought it was odd that OP didn’t get up to leave at what she thought was the end of the interview, and maybe thought OP just didn’t know the way out of the building. It probably would have been better to call Bernard at the time it happened, but at this point, it’s probably best not to mention it and write the follow-up as though you were never supposed to meet with Teddy.

      1. bmore pm*

        maybe I’m thinking too hard, but if she was walking OP out, wouldn’t she have said that, like thanks for your time, I’ll walk you out or some version of that? Not “I’ll walk you over”, which to me implies walking you to the next meeting, not to the exit?

        1. Tardigrade*

          And there’s usually a little “we’ll let you know” spiel or other language to indicate interview over.

        2. Washi*

          Yeah, I would have thought she would say “I’ll walk you out” not “I’ll walk you over.”

          I don’t know what the chances of getting this job are, but I would definitely follow up just to satisfy my curiosity about what happened!

          1. Peter the Bubblehead*

            I actually wondered if Delores actually said “I’ll walk you out” and OP heard “I’ll walk you over”?

        3. Autumnheart*

          And wouldn’t Dolores walk OP to the *front* door? But then presumably Dolores knows where that back hallway leads, so why would she lead a candidate to a back hallway with no other door besides a rear exit that locks behind them? And maybe YMMV, but all the interviews I’ve ever been on (or observed), the person would do a personal hand-off and bring the candidate directly to the next person’s desk.

          And nobody called OP to say, “Hey, we’re ready for you at Teddy’s desk, where’d you go?” and figure out that Dolores led OP to the back entrance? They just let OP vanish without saying anything? Seriously? Who does that?

          OP, I’d forget this company. Best case scenario, they have no idea how to conduct an interview professionally. Worst case, they have an incredibly mean sense of humor and actually implement it in their hiring practices.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            Totally agree with Autumnheart and Sherm. Either the whole place is looney or Delores is. They had your number too and didn’t call to see where you went.

            They showed you who they were when they showed you the back door. Use it and run.

    5. Spreadsheets and Books*

      This legitimately happened to me at my current job.

      I had a first interview with HR and my now-manager, and was called back a few days later for a second interview with the director and SVP. However, no one told the director that I was supposed to have an interview with the SVP after my meeting with him, so we talked for 45 minutes (versus the scheduled 30) and then he sent me on my way. I thought I was supposed to have a second interview, but didn’t feel that bringing that up would be appropriate in case something changed.

      I left the building, headed to the subway, and took the train home… and then the director called me panicking, asking me to come back. I was happy to do so – mix-ups happen! – and switched to the other platform to wait for a downtown train. Minutes later, he called again to say never mind, could I come back tomorrow instead. Red flags were kind of waving at this point, but I did really enjoy my interviews so I rolled with it and came back the next morning.

      Despite the interview kerfuffle, my job is great and I’m happy here. My coworkers all know the story and often make jokes about how it’s amazing I stuck with it after that.

      1. uranus wars*

        I’m glad you decided to go ahead and it’s worked out! I also love your use of the work kerfuffle.

    6. samiratou*

      Possibly, but IMO, this may be a “bullet dodged” situation. The whole thing just sounds kind of shady.

    7. Delphine*

      I think this is the most likely explanation. If she really intended to walk the OP over to the next interviewer, wouldn’t she have gone all the way and introduced her to Teddy?

      1. Stinky Socks*

        THIS. The totally normal, expected thing to do here would be to walk OP over and introduce. Barring that, call Teddy and ask him to come pick up. Grab somebody in a nearby cubicle and say, “Could you please walk OP over to Teddy for her interview.”

        OP’s treatment feels like a nasty version of “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”

    8. selena81*

      I feel like it can really be either way:
      -a not-so subtle hint that LW should leave already (leading her to the back door and shoving her through so she would not be like ‘hey, why are we walking to the exit, what happened to Teddy?’)
      -an honest mix-up (Dolores not knowing Teddy was to be next) in a company that’s so messed-up they couldn’t start the interview in a proper fashion either.

      LW: please ask them and please let us know if they answer.

  3. MM*

    I have perpetual allergies and have to blow my nose constantly. My manager once told me that a coworker thought it was disgusting and that I should go to the bathroom every single time to blow my nose. If I had done that, I’d have been in the bathroom for half my shift! After that, I always felt self-conscious about blowing my nose. I hate being the one with the stuffed up nose so I’m always grateful when there are trash cans in convenient places. (Side note: why do doctors’ waiting rooms never have trash cans? Am I the only one with this pet peeve? Surely there has to be a higher concentration of people who use tissues in waiting rooms).

    1. Maddie*

      Nose blowing while people are eating is pretty gross. As long as you avoid that and make your blows on the quiet side.

      1. Come along Ponds*

        What? Seriously, what? Nobody’s blowing their nose into the food are they?

        If you need to blow your nose just blow it. It’s far more gross when adults don’t blow and just sniff and sniff instead.

        1. Thlayli*

          It’s a pretty standard ettiquette rule that you don’t blow your nose at the table when people are eating. Some of the germs actually do get into the food. This is one situation in which it is best to excuse yourself to the loo.

          1. TheNotoriousMCG*

            I get super irritated if I have to get up and leaves space just to blow my nose, so I’ve been known to blow it at the table. I obviously don’t do it at really nice restaurants or with people I don’t know well, just because I’m trying to keep up appearances or whatever, but if hubs and I are getting pizza and drinks and I’m all stuffed up then I’m definitely not going to walk across the restaurant just to stand right inside another room and do exactly what I could do at our table.

            1. Klo*

              Yuck! I’m not as picky as the OP (that’s what a bin is for right?) but blowing your nose at the table is the absolute height for rudeness and so repulsive!

              I actually used to work with a guy who would never throw his tissues in a communal bin (and we didn’t have personal bins), so he’d just carry his used tissues in his pocket until he got home! So you’re not alone OP, but I don’t think it’s something you can tell your coworker to stop doing.

              1. London Engineer*

                I really think you and Maddie are massively over-exaggerating how rude this is based on a personal phobia and trying to spin it as common manners.

                1. [insert witty username here]*

                  Nope. It’s common manners to not blow your nose at the table. A discreet, SILENT nose wipe is OK (so you don’t have to keep sniffing) but a full on nose blow is, indeed, against common etiquette.

                2. London Engineer*

                  @ [insert witty username here] I’m replying to my own comment because I can’t see the button under yours

                  Do we have different ideas of what ‘blowing your nose covers? In my head I am picturing someone who might be a bit sniffly doing the equivalent of a small cough, like quickly clearing the throat, except clearing the noe (ok not the most elegant wording). If you are picturing a loud honking display that might be where the discrepancy is coming from.

                  With regards to “common manners” questions of manners are almost always very localised, and I don’t think you can operate under the assumption that everyone is coming from the same place – as is very frequently demonstrated by the comments section here. In any case I will try to bear in mind that some people clearly have a much stronger reaction than I do to this.

                3. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  I have to agree on blowing your nose at a table where people are eating is unhygienic and gross. It is one thing to just quickly wipe your nose if it is runny, but I think different to actually blow it even if it is small. I think if you need to blow your nose you need to get up from the table and remove yourself from the general dinning area. You don’t need to go to the bathroom ( I prefer it cuz I can throw my tissue away and wash my hands after) but at a minimum get near the entryway where people do not actively eat.

                  There are reasons why under health codes you are not supposed to prep or even serve food if you have even just a slight runny nose. Your microscopic cough/nose particles tend to go everywhere even when you try your best to cover your mouth.

                4. ZK*

                  Miss Manners says, “It is true that if there is a serious nasal problem, the offender might be better off home in bed. But for lesser problems, even if they are chronic, it is not so easy to keep leaving the table.

                  She presumes that it is when the blowing is accompanied by unattractive honking that it offends. Perhaps you can learn to blow discreetly and quietly, unless the situation is indeed serious enough to make you leave the table.

                  But unpleasant noises that have no place at the table include accusations of rudeness lobbed at one’s fellow diners.

                5. JSPA*

                  Yup. Risking a sneeze rather than quickly dealing with a tickle is not the best answer, if it’s one or the other. (After all, sneezes are what viruses make us do, to spread themselves.) A gentle blow is almost certainly less “spready” than a sneeze. Whether or not it’s gross is a social convention and a personal preference. (Comparable to the oft-cited, “it’s super gross to put a toothbrush on the dinner table, even though the toothbrush is, bacteriologically-speaking, probably one of the cleaner items there.”)

                  This is all totally mileu-dependent, BTW.

                  In Japan and Korea, people will sniff for hours, rather than blow their noses–and putting a used hankie or tissue in your pocket is about as normal as, say, putting used toilet paper back in your pocket for re-use.

                  If you have strong feelings that need to be accommodated, make them known with an ‘I’ statement. Don’t go on a moral / safety / health / intrinsic rudeness crusade over it, because these are not moral, health, safety or even universal rudeness issues.

                  FWIW, I use a hankie (even in Japan!) but I hide it as well as I can in areas where they’re considered nasty. As much as my nose runs, and as many allergies as I have to dust fibers from kleenex-y tissues; to a huge range of scents and colorants used in paper products; and to the preservatives and antibacterial agents in a range of wet wipes, it is, so far, the only reliable option for me.

              2. LadyL*

                I’ve literally never heard this before in my life, I have definitely blown my nose at the table.

                I mean honestly, if we’re seated together in a booth I would 1000% rather you blow your nose (into a kleenex, presumably) at the table than make me let you out of the booth multiple times.

              1. Karyn*

                I usually carry plastic baggies with me for all sorts of trash that I may need to dispose of at a later time. That’d be where I’d put it.

              1. Lavender Menace*

                Yes they are. I feel like I’ve stepped into some kind of bizarro world. People blow their noses lightly at the table all the time, including children, and it’s fine. Frankly, as a public health researcher, at lunch you’ve gotten far more icky germs from other sources than you do from someone blowing their nose lightly into a tissue.

                1. Nosy eater*

                  I agree about the bizarro world! I have a medical condition where I salivate via my nose. When a human eats, they salivate. So you can imagine what this does to my nose during eating. I have to blow my nose at the table or I might as well eat in the bathroom with how often these people would want me to leave the table. Am I actually mortally offended every person I’ve ever shared a meal with?

                2. spock*

                  I’m with you. I’ve noticed a trend on this blog where people assume that their preferences, or even their area’s norms, are common norms/manners that definitely apply to everyone else… Nope! I like to think my table manners are pretty good and I don’t think it’s rude at all to blow your nose as the table. Certainly not if the alternative is to go to the bathroom every single time,.

                3. Courageous cat*

                  Yeah, I feel like hardcore germophobes always seem to forget that they’re primarily reacting to the germs they can *see* happening, whereas the germs they *can’t* see happening are far more prolific (like everything in your bathroom)

              2. JSPA*

                What country and social stratum would this be? (Not being snarky; I’ve traveled a bit, and either I’m really blind to this convention, or it’s something I have not encountered yet, at least, not as an absolute.)

          2. Fiennes*

            Miss Manners did clarify recently that while it’s better to remove yourself than blow your nose at the table, it’s better to blow your nose than let it run, begin to sniff and snort, etc. Sometimes you have advance warning on this, but sometimes the need arises suddenly. In those cases, it’s fine to blow.

                1. boo bot*

                  Miss Manners teleports in from awesome!

                  Her writing style is a sort of light satire of the old-fashioned etiquette book styles (complete with referring to herself in the third person) but her advice has always kept up with the times, I think.

          3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            Agree!!!! A thousand times over.

            Gross, I don’t want to see or hear someone snotting into a rag while I’m eating. It takes mere moments to excuse yourself, go to the bathroom, blow nose, wash hands.

            1. Starbuck*

              Yes I was always taught that you needed to always wash your hands after blowing your nose, because who has perfect form with that? So of course you can’t blow your nose at the table.. and keep eating… and passing dishes around? Disgusting!

          4. Artemesia*

            Anyone with typical mild allergies and a slightly drippy nose would be getting up and leaving 6 or 7 times during a meal leading the others to fear a wild case of diarrhea because WHO leaves the table for a modest nose blow? That is a lot more frightening germ wise than someone who uses a tissue at the table. Obviously if we are talking major honking massive mucus binge, it is a bit different. but the typical nose wipe or blow is not a big deal and I have literally never known anyone who leaves the table for that purpose.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              That is when you go to the entry way to where people can still clearly see that you are just blowing your nose. Another option is to go sit at a table where other people you don’t know are eating and blow your nose at that table.

                1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  No that would be extremely rude to do, you bring it back to your table place it in the middle and ask your dinner companions to throw it out for you as you leave early and skip out on the bill.

            2. Rat in the Sugar*

              You don’t have to go to the bathroom every time, just like turn around a bit so it’s not so obvious to everyone else at the table. Personally I always do that when blowing my nose (turn so others can’t see, I mean) and had always thought it was the expected nose-blowing etiquette. Maybe that’s just something I picked up from my turning-to-blow mother?

              1. Ms Pond*

                That’s what I thought too, though I have no idea where I actually learned it, but I don’t think it’s something my mother taught me.

            3. Emily K*

              Usually when someone is going to the restroom that often I assume they’ve got a problem with the other kind of blow.

            4. smoke tree*

              As a compromise, I’d say that if your nose is persistently running, it’s fine to give it a quick wipe at the table, but if you really need to blow, take it to the washroom. I’m a bit of a germaphobe though.

            5. Starbuck*

              Who blows their nose, then reaches for shared serving utensils etc? Gross! Rude! This was a hard rule growing up in my family, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone blow their nose at the table in my home or homes I’ve visited… maybe at a fast food restaurant.

            6. Lily*

              I have a friend who blows his nose, loudly and honkingly, into the restaurant’s cloth napkins (!!) and leaves them there. It’s pretty gross, mainly because I think it’s rude to the waitstaff. Someone gently blowing their nose into a tissue at the table and wiping their hands with hand sanitizer wouldn’t phase (faze?) me at all.

          5. Lavender Menace*

            If my nose is running and in danger of running down my face, I’m blowing my nose at the table. I’ll turn my head away from the table to blow it, but sometimes I’m just not going to make it to the restroom.

          6. Come along Ponds*

            I blew my nose while out for lunch with friends today. I twisted around and did it away from the table. Nobody noticed or cared.

          7. Specialk9*

            That’s really not a standard etiquette rule in all cultures, and certainly not in mine. In Japan that’s apparently the grossest thing one could do, according to my Japanese lit instructor, but in the US that’s super common.

            1. SavannahMiranda*

              I have this problem too. It takes very little spice to make my nose into a faucet.

              This is why I never order spicy food unless I’m with people I know very well. Because I will turn into a honking nose spigot. Sometimes that makes me the whitest white person ordering the most boring food at the Mexican restaurant. We have a lot of Mexican restaurants in my region. It’s a constant strain on my nerves, hahaha.

              Ditto long pasta like linguine. If it’s a work dinner with bosses, or something else semi-stressful that’s not really a purely voluntary social event, I won’t order stringy pasta either. Penne pasta is great. Spaghetti will invariably plop off my fork at exactly the right moment, no matter how artfully I wound it. No doubt right onto my dry-clean-only dress.

              Sometimes embarrassing myself doesn’t even require trick foods. I once managed to pick up a slice of bread with butter, raise it to my mouth, lose grip of it just before it made contact, and smush-smear it all over my face.

              Yes, at a work dinner.


          1. Specialk9*

            Oh hey there it is!

            The reason people make such a big deal about it is that “don’t blow your nose at the table, hurk hurk hurk” is NOT a universal rule. It’s just fine for many cultures. But in Japan it’s rude, like in some Middle Eastern cultures shoes are offensive so one must take care where one points them. It’s why “Culture Shock [Country]” books are a life saver to avoid the accidental faux pas.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          FME, nobody’s talking about blowing a noseful of snot into a new tissue every other minute and leaving the tissues on the table. That would really be gross. What typically happens in my world though, is that people get sniffly when eating spicy food. Which is firmly in the NBD category with me.

          1. annejumps*

            I had a coworker who did that every time we went out to eat. Sniffled, blew her nose, left a pile of tissues on the table.

            1. General Ginger*

              Gross. I can deal with the blowing her nose at the table part, I guess, but then she should at least grab all the tissues and dispose of them in the restaurant bathroom. Waitstaff are not paid enough to deal with half the stuff they already deal with; they don’t need snotty tissues on top of that.

              1. JSPA*

                The people bussing the tables are dealing with stuff that’s touched your mouth and had your lips and your spit on them–which is bacteriologically darn near identical to snot. That’s why the people bussing the tables wear gloves (in most places / most states) or hit the alcohol-based hand sanitizer constantly, or both. That literally is their job. Just as people cleaning bathrooms clean toilets, and people fixing sewers go inside sewers.

                Instead of making extra rules to help pretend that the job isn’t gross, you can (if so inclined) ask to leave an extra tip for the people doing it (including the dishwashers). They’re generally not allowed (in the US) to split tips with the front of the house staff, because in theory they have to be paid a real wage, as opposed to the insanely low “tipped staff” wages of the waiters, but that real wage is generally of the minimum wage variety.

                1. General Ginger*

                  Where are you seeing me making extra rules to pretend the job isn’t gross? Getting rid of your used tissues isn’t some kind of extra rule no person should be expected to follow. Nor am I advocating for not tipping staff, I literally said they’re already not paid enough to deal with what they have to deal with.

                2. JSPA*

                  A used paper napkin (or similar disposable wipe) left crumpled on a plate can have lipstick, gristle, snot, infant spit-up or the dust of fairy wings; regardless, it’ll all be dumped, without further handling or inspection, into the trash, by the gloved person bussing the table.

                  There is, therefore, no special rule for any of those materials, and no need for any such rule.

          2. Just Jess*

            Yeah, don’t ever blow your nose at the table unless we’re all sweating and chowing down on extra spicy food.

          3. Canadian Natasha*

            Yeah, my nose runs when I eat spicy food (which I love) or any kind of soup. I’m not leaving the table 15 times to quickly blow/wipe my nose.

            1. Canadian Natasha*

              For the OP’s actual question: I think it would squick me out too if my coworker had to blow her nose and dump her kleenex in my cubicle every time she came over. I have an unpleasant nausea reaction to (other people’s) bodily fluids so I can sympathise, but since I know it’s my issue I’d probably tough it out and not make my reaction my coworker’s problem.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I hope we can also agree “everyone should not eat snot sandwiches,” not that it will stop people from actually eating them.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Unless you’re blowing your nose in an obnoxious or unseemly way, this was very unkind of your coworker. I’m sorry she made you feel that way :(

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      I wonder if it was because they thought you should wash your hands every time you blow your nose? Only thing that makes sense to me and even then it is a bit extreme for allergies.
      I have hand sanitizer on my desk for that reason.

    4. ToS*

      Allergies and respiratory situations happen. I have a colleague with a similar situation where I was used to her loud sneezing and coughing. All of us on the floor are aware. She managed her door well enough. The conference room was across the hall from her office. Every now and again we would have someone at a meeting who would overhear her through the closed door and express concern for the colleague’s health. Something like “Shouldn’t someone check on her?” We would explain that it’s par for the course. Scented products were one thing that set off the reactions. All of us kept that in mind.

      It got a little better when she brought in thick handkerchief and used that for the loud emanations and kept to disposable tissues for blowing and wiping.

    5. it's-a-me*

      Same except scarring in my sinus, not allergies. My Team Leader actually implied they might have to let me go if I didn’t stop blowing my nose so much.

    1. TheNotoriousMCG*

      That’s *exactly* what I thought. Honestly, I wouldn’t even want this job once they ask to re-do an application on paper after I’ve already applied once and done a phone screen. I had to do that to applicants once when I was on a support trip to another property for my company and it was because that property was DISORGANIZED AS ALL GET OUT and nobody knew how to get someone to fix the printer so that they could print the online apps.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Right? I’d be like, what’s next? Will they accidentally withdraw the money from my account on pay day instead of depositing?

        1. Artemesia*

          ONe thing I was surprised to learn was that businesses that deposit checks in your account CAN withdraw from it. I had a friend who was overpaid and immediately sent the excess back by check which they cashed. The company then also with drew the check amount from her account bouncing her checks all over town as a result.

          1. Natalie*

            It’s not automatic, the wording authorizing withdrawals of payments made in error is part of the direct deposit agreement. You’ll see similar wording in autopay agreements for utilities or similar.

          2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            I believe direct deposits can be pulled back w/in 14 days of deposit (It’s been awhile since I’ve had to know this, so rules may have changed). That’s why they aren’t guaranteed funds in the legal and banking sense.

            Very good lesson to all though (unfortunately at the expense of your friend). In the case of over payment of wages, always (!) talk to the payroll department to work out the details of how it will be handled, that includes method, taxes, and timing. Get all of those details in writing from payroll and then document the results.

          3. sfigato*

            A friend worked for a company that closed shop at the end of a pay period without notice. They had deposited everyone’s paychecks and then took the money back. My friend auto-transferred the bulk of her paycheck to a separate account so at least was able to keep most of her final check. A few years later, the head of this company, that had made all of its employees work for free for two weeks when it knew it was going under, asked my friend to work for a new company the head was at. My friend declined the offer.

      2. Ellex*

        When job hunting last spring, there were multiple instances where I filled out an online application, handed over a resume, and filled out another (paper) application when I showed up for the interview.

        After a few times, I just took an extra copy of my resume with me to use as a “cheat sheet” while filling out yet another application/questionnaire.

    2. MLB*

      Yeah, I’d say LW dodged a bullet on this one. I’d let it go and not worry about it. Regardless of the reason of why you were led to an exit, it screams of a ridiculous amount of disorganization. I wouldn’t want to work for them.

      1. JSPA*

        I’d say she dodged a much more immediate bullet. Nothing wrong per se with “adult oriented” material, but…this is a company handling “adult oriented” material who are pretty darn cavalier about maintaining a professional environment and process. I hate to think what the next part of the “interview” might have entailed (whether in the bathroom, the dimly lit hallway, or the parking lot).

    3. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

      I disagree! I’ll grant that it’s not great, but hiring processes are often not really representative of how the company works, because there are a lot of moving parts involved, and a lot of people involved whose primary job is not hiring or interviewing. There are so. many. things. that could have happened here, either alone or in some combination:
      Someone forgot to tell reception there was an interview today
      Reception actually called out sick that day and nobody told their coverage there was an interview
      The various people OP interviewed with didn’t know who would be interviewing OP before or after them (this is SUPER common)
      The building is being crappy about fixing the lobby phone
      The company had an internal emergency pop up that morning and nobody thought to cancel the interview in time
      Someone told Dolores she was OP’s final interview without consulting Bernard or Teddy
      Teddy called in sick that day

      Yeah, it could all be a lot more organized, but I’ve worked at places where various versions of those things happened and they weren’t really representative of how the place worked or what it was like to work there. It’s worth taking into account, but I wouldn’t write the place off if otherwise the interview made OP more interested in the job.

      1. Lavender Menace*

        Yeah, I was thinking of our hiring process myself. We do have a call phone at the front entrance but it’s not connected to us or anyone in our building, so if something goes awry there I wouldn’t want someone to judge my team based on that. I sometimes get scheduled for an interview at 3 pm and then the night before told that it’s moved to 11 am. And we do several interviews in one day, and sometimes we have to shift who’s interviewing when because emergency meetings pop up, so I could see sending a candidate to the wrong person and having to scramble to figure out who’s actually next.

        We try to make it as smooth as possible, but other than the depositing her out to the parking lot after the interview I don’t think this is that egregious.

      2. aebhel*

        Yeah, my hiring was not super organized, but I’ve worked here for five years and I love the place. I was hired by an interim director who didn’t really know the ins and outs of civil service hiring (which is pretty complicated, where I am), so there was a lot of miscommunication, but the day-to-day operations here are very well run.

        …that said, it is a red flag.

  4. sacados*

    OP3: Yeah… I’m with Alison. I mean, if you’re grossed out by the fact that your coworker is wiping her nose in your office, then sure, go ahead and ask her not to do that.
    But that doesn’t really have anything to do with where the trash ends up.

    1. Hmmmer Simpson*

      I would worry that asking coworker not to wipe her nose in OP’s office would mean coworker has snot running down her face when she talks to OP. Which sound much more gross than tissues in the trash can.

  5. MissGirl*

    Reading this blog is starting to make me anxious about all of the ways I’m inadvertently offending my coworkers. I don’t microwave fish, I stopped using scented lotions, I say hello to everyone every morning, I don’t ask coworkers any personal questions until I’ve known them for at least a year, I don’t blink in case I accidentally wink, and now I’ve to got to stop throwing away snotty tissues in any trash not my own.

    I guess the good thing is, all this stress doesn’t leave much room to worry about work issues.

    1. Canarian*

      The thing is, you’re just as likely to annoy people saying hello to everyone as you are likely to offend people not saying hello to everyone. You can’t please them all, trying to do so is just a waste of energy.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right. Act reasonably, be thoughtful about how your actions affect other people when you’re in an enclosed space, and don’t contort yourself into knots trying to please the unreasonable.

        We’ve seen plenty of unreasonable letter writers/commenters/people who have strongly held outlier opinions. No one is telling you to cater to all of them.

      2. CoffeeLover*

        I went through the same thing as MissGirl when I first started reading this blog. In particular, I over-analyzed my emails (“was I friendly enough, but not too long winded?”, “can I use an emoji here or will that seem unprofessional”, etc.). Eventually after some more work experience, I settled into your viewpoint. You can’t please everyone.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My go-to is watch others. I have worked in some loosely run places, until I know what to do I go with what I see. No one is wearing jeans, I don’t know if it’s okay, so I don’t wear jeans until I find out more info. Everyone sends short emails, then my emails are short also. And so on. It’s helpful to think of it as flexing with the environment. It’s also helpful to know where your boundaries are. I have told the story about the vehicle with marginal brakes. I refused to drive it. I got laughed at, seriously laughed at. I knew going into it that laughter would follow so I had the ability to decide before I started that this was a hill to die on for me. I put up with months of laughter but I never had to drive an unsafe vehicle again.

          To some extent I tend to think that if for example my emails are too long, everyone complains to each other and no one tells me to watch the length of my emails then that is on them, not me. I can’t fix what I don’t know about. A place that has a culture of people being unwilling to tell each other how best to push things along is a yellow warning flag to me.

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          This is why I have stopped microwaving fish, and now I cook all my fish on my coworkers heat vents. It takes a little longer to cook the fish, but if I put them on in the morning they are usually done by lunch time. I have no longer gotten any complaints about microwaving fish anymore.

          1. Specialk9*


            Are you speaking in character as Cmdr Shepherd, and referring to, say, space craft heat vents?

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              “This is commander Shepard and my heat vent fish is the best on the citadel”

          2. Amethystmoon*

            I just go to the cafeteria where there are multiple microwaves if I have something that someone might find smelly, instead of the break area where there are only 2 microwaves. Plus the cafeteria is a much larger open area.

      1. Construction Safety*

        “no escape from the tyranny of the perpetually offended, abandon all hope”

        Yep, that’s a keeper.

      2. Hills to Die on*

        exactly that. IMO, someone who is offended at tissues in their trash can falls under this category.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Feel free to have this conversation in Friday’s open thread if you’d like to, but I’m going to make my usual request that we stay on-topic here. [But for the record, I’m in agreement that sometimes commenters here have really strongly held outlier opinions that are framed as if (a) of course everyone should/does agree and (b) it’s outrageously offensive if they don’t. People are strange. It does baffle me, though, when it’s like 1-3 people out of a group of hundreds, and then it gets characterized as “the whole comment section says X.”]

        1. Myrin*

          It does baffle me, though, when it’s like 1-3 people out of a group of hundreds, and then it gets characterized as “the whole comment section says X.”
          Not to get too off-topic in answer to your request to stay on-topic, but the last time I pointed that out (when there were literally three comments out of more than 300), I got attacked because why does that matter (er, because I’m going to feel vastly different in a group of ten with one proud sexist compared to a group of ten with nine proud sexists?), what kind of pedant am I that I actually counted (I had followed the comments since the post got up and had a very good oversight of them so the counting, combined with Ctrl+F, took me about a minute), and clearly I don’t understand that the opinion expressed in these three comments is harmful (I do, and ironically, I myself belong to the marginalised group that was the topic of discussion, but until this day I don’t get what that has to do with pointing out an actual numerical falsehood in a comment section on AAM). People are strange indeed.

    2. Thursday Next*

      I keep reminding myself that many of us functioned in the working world long before this blog came along to enlighten us on the many ways we might offend our coworkers! After reading AAM daily for some time now, I’m starting to doubt whether my workplace relationships were indeed as conflict-free as I recall.

    3. Nervous Accountant*

      Same. I love sitting in open plan, celebrating birthdays and socializing with my coworkers. The horrors. Lol.

      1. MissGirl*

        Shhh, I like holiday parties. Looks around nervously, especially the ones that happen where there’s a waterslide.

    4. MissGirl*

      My post was about 50% facetious. A good post on Friday might be all the odd quirks people get offended about working in close quarters. Another one could also be the inadvertent behaviors we’ve changed after becoming enlightened on this blog. I know there’s a few I’ve adjusted.

    5. MatKnifeNinja*

      God I’m tired.

      I read this as popping popcorn in the restroom.

      Considering how crazy some places are, a microwave in the restroom isn’t beyond the realm of possibilities…

    6. annejumps*

      Well, if you’re referring to the post I’m thinking about, it was rude to spend something like an hour taking up the entire sink area in the restroom, yes.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        With your blowdryer and 30 different jars of makeup arrayed over every inch of counterspace around the sole sink.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Nah, I am referring to something that came up in the comments to an unrelated post, and over a year ago iirc. Someone said that it’s rude to linger in the bathroom painting your face while other people are trying to pee. That was followed up by comments on another post a week later about not doing it at your desk. I read that and was like, oh well, damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

    7. Temperance*

      The vibe that I got from the letter is that this is something that Amy is doing regularly, like walking into LW’s office and blowing her nose and then using Amy’s trash can.

      I’m a germaphobe. This would disgust me on multiple levels, especially if Amy just couldn’t deal with the problem in her own office or at least wait until she was done to come near me.

      1. En vivo*

        I agree. Of course the trash cans in an office are public property, but if someone knows that their nose needs to be cleaned a bit more regularly than normal, they might want to time it to take place in their own office/space. It’s rude to REGULARLY throw body-fluid-stained tissue in another’s personal trash can. I wouldn’t do it; I’d clean my nose before I went to someone’s area, or I’d step away. I’m also totally aware that people have different ick levels, and some wouldn’t even register that it could be an issue. My philosophy: as much as possible- keep my germs/ body fluids/ whatever in my own space, to myself and/or in the restroom. And definitely do not touch others’ spaces ( door handles, desks, pens,etc) unless my hands are clean.

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          If someone’s got allergies or a cold (or anything else that makes their nose run) they may not be able to “time it”. Even if you make an effort to thoroughly blow before walking over to your coworker’s office, sometimes you just have to blow again. Personally I would find it more annoying (but still not that annoying, honestly) if a coworker kept interrupting our work discussion to step out into the hall every time.

            1. Observer*

              Really? Most people would NOT “make it work” because it’s a huge waste of time and extremely disruptive.

        2. Emily K*

          There are times of year following this rule would mean I could never leave my own office for more than 3 minutes at a time. I take a daily allergy pill but there is still a peak each season reaches where my nose will just be like a drippy faucet for a couple of weeks and clearing it only lasts for 2-3 minutes before it’s running again. At home I use an old soft t-shirt as a snot rag nowadays because I was previously wasting an entire roll of toilet paper a day and rubbing my nose painfully raw during these periods, and it’s a super thin/watery consistency that just gets absorbed and doesn’t like, sit on top of the fibers. But at work I just resign myself to using an entire box of company-provided kleenex because I’m obviously not going to bring a snot rag to work.

          1. En vivo*

            I get it; you can’t help it. I still wouldn’t want your snotty tissues in my space. That ‘stepping on the foot’ reference from yesterday comes to mind.

            1. Rat in the Sugar*

              Putting trash in a trash can is not stepping on someone’s foot. And you’re not saying what you’d expect Emily K to do instead–take PTO and not come to work? Never leave their office and stay in quarantine?

              1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

                Right? I used to be like this. After a year of allergy shots and 4 medications, I’m way better, but none of these people seem to have any idea how someone with allergies would function without occasionally using available trash cans or sniffling orblowing their nose. Look guys, I’m sorry my old self was disgusting to you. I assure you it was pretty miserable for me, too. When your nose is constantly running, its constantly running, and wishing it weren’t so wont fix that. Get over it.

            2. Observer*

              The issue here is that no one is actually stepping on your ties though.

              “I don’t like it” doe NOT equal “you are damaging me.”

            3. Specialk9*

              It’s fine to have a pet peeve, it’s just not cool to think that one’s pet peeve was engraved on tablets of stone by the gods of etiquette.

          2. This Daydreamer*

            Have you tried using Nasacort or Flonase? I found that taking both Claritin (off brand, thankfully) and Nasacort (eagerly awaiting a generic version) really helped me breathe.

            1. Observer*

              I know that this is a couple of days old, but I just had to respond.

              This is SOOO unhelpful that it’s not even funny. You can be pretty sure that anyone with this level of allergy has looked into the standard options. The fact is that they just do NOT work for some people. And that different medications are contra-indicated for a lot of people.

              Both Flonase and Nasacort have some side effects that make them totally unsuitable for a LOT of people.

      2. MLB*

        Think about what you’re saying in realistic terms though. I’m sure she doesn’t purposely wait until she’s in LW’s office to blow her nose. Is she expected to anticipate when her nose will run and make sure she takes care of that before she leaves her desk? As a self-proclaimed germophobe, would you rather she let her snot run down her face while in LW’s office? If someone is sick that’s one thing, but people have allergies or other things that make their noses run more frequently and unless she’s rubbing her hands all over LW’s office after she blows her nose, I see no issue.

        1. En vivo*

          She may not be doing it on purpose, but if someone constantly did this in your space, wouldn’t you start to wonder a little? I admit, my ick tolerance is really low ;)

          “Is she expected to anticipate when her nose will run and make sure she takes care of that before she leaves her desk?” Yes.

          1. MLB*

            Wow really? Do you also require people that come into your home to make sure they don’t blow their nose there and if they do, they keep their tissues and not put them in your trash can?

          2. Lily*

            This is so unreasonable I have a hard time believing you’re serious. There’s no way I can control or anticipate my runny nose, especially during a cold (runny nose can last for six weeks or more) or allergy season. I unfortunately do have to still go to work when employed during such times; I’m not sure what you expect me or others to do about basic body functions like runny noses. It seems a bit odd to expect others to accommodate your pet peeves when doing so is, quite literally, physically impossible.

        2. smoke tree*

          As a germaphobe and someone with a poor immune system, I’ll admit that I would be annoyed by a coworker who persistently blew their nose in my area, but I realize it would be unreasonable to do anything besides mutter darkly to myself in private and invest in some disinfectant wipes.

          1. Specialk9*

            Haha yes this is the reasonable and polite response.

            “I realize it would be unreasonable to do anything besides mutter darkly to myself in private and invest in some disinfectant wipes.” Lol

      1. Persimmons*

        I would prefer to hold colleagues to a higher standard than “imitating my vengeful cat”.

      1. En vivo*

        A lot of folks in different countries think about us- that’s the great thing about being in America, lol.

      2. Specialk9*

        Are we weird for blowing or not blowing? :D

        I think the 300 million plus people and 9 billion km2 of land likely have any conceivable position covered.

    8. Autumnheart*

      Think of it this way: do you find yourself perpetually annoyed by the varying idiosyncrasies of your coworkers, or is it only the really annoying things that stand out? Chances are they’re 99% fine with your day-to-day behavior and are willing to cut you a break on the other 1% as long as it wasn’t genuinely disruptive over the long-term (e.g. suddenly developing chronic hacking cough, yelling at people on a regular basis, taking loud personal calls daily, insisting on listening to music without headphones). It’s always the one nutball who wrecks the workplace for everyone, not the gazillion regular people who know how to get along.

    9. Bea*

      You can’t spend so much time thinking about others possible reactions. It’s what leads to other horror stories we see here as well. Like stalking a coworker down who didn’t say goodnight.

      1. Specialk9*

        I feel like there is a big difference between being thoughtful of others, and demanding that others be thoughtful of you in specific ways.

  6. foolofgrace*

    OP 4: I commend you on your practice of actually notifying rejected candidates. In all of my recent job hunting, which has been going on since May (and is taking way too long), I’ve gotten a rejection letter a whopping two times. In all other cases it’s just radio silence, and this is after having good, solid interviews with hiring managers. I don’t know which is worse, hearing you’re rejected or not hearing anything at all, but it is probably better to hear a rejection (that says nice things about you, if applicable).

    1. LW4*

      Thank you. When I was job searching I was ghosted on so many times that I vowed to respond to every application once I was in a hiring position. Its respectful and is a step towards creating the office culture I want to be a part in. There are people on the other end of the applications and I want to make sure they know I know that, even if we don’t hire them.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        You send a rejection letter to everyone that applies even if you haven’t had any contact with them before? If you do that is impressive and I applaud you.
        I will say as someone who has conducted a couple job searches in the past 5 years, if I just submit an application I don’t expect to hear back. But once you have conducted a phone screen or interview I do agree it is kind and polite to let them know if you have decided not to hire them.

      2. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

        Ultimately, it is SO EASY to just have a rejection template and notify everyone who applies of the outcome. It’s so ridiculously easy that no organization has an excuse for NOT doing it, and yet, most don’t.

        Fun fact: I applied for a job recently in HR/talent operations, and I said in my cover letter something to the effect of “If you’re not willing to at least TALK about notifying every candidate that applies of the outcome, if you don’t already do that, then you shouldn’t hire me.” Aaaaaaand I never heard from them. LOL.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          In theory it seems easy and for 3 or 5 applications it is not a big deal. But if you get 100/200 applications for a position, and as an HR person you are screening for 4/5 positions that is a lot of rejection emails to send out. Even hitting reply, right click paste or ctrl v, and send takes maybe 5 seconds, not a lot on its own. But 100 applications per position time 5 positions. 100*5*5=2500 seconds or 41.66 hours spend sending rejection emails.
          I agree once you have been contacted to set up an interview, done a phone/skype screen, or interview you should be contacted and told the results/rejected. But if I just submit an application I don’t expect a rejection email, in fact as soon as I apply I assume I am already rejected. Also last time I applied I was sending out 15/20 applications a day sometimes more. I don’t want that same amount of rejection emails clogging my inbox.

          1. smoke tree*

            Just wanted to point out that that would be 41.66 minutes, not hours. If you have a template set up, I don’t think it takes an unreasonable amount of time to send a generic rejection out, even for a large volume of applications. I might be influenced by the fact that I work in publishing, and I feel that it’s more professional to respond to each submission so that authors don’t feel they’re just sending their work out into the ether.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              You are right, lets pretend I had not drank my coffee yet lol. I still stand by my position, while it is not that time consuming I don’t think just submitting an application you should expect a rejection. Plus I think I would want to open my inbox when applying to see 50 rejection emails a day that would be demoralizing.

              I can understand that publishing is a different animal where people have put a lot more time into what they are sending out. Just curious how many rejections do you usually send out per day?

              1. smoke tree*

                As a relatively small company, I’d say on average we just send out somewhere in the dozens per week. But some literary agents have to send hundreds of rejections per day, so it’s kind of an active industry question. Some feel strongly about responding to each one. On the other end of the spectrum are agents who never respond unless they’re interested, and also require that you don’t submit to anyone else at the same time.

                I wouldn’t actually say that you have to put more work into the average book submission than a job application. For the most part you have your materials ready (cover letter, synopsis, sample pages) and fire off whichever ones the agent/publisher requires.

              2. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

                I mean, nobody should be applying to so many jobs that they get 50 rejection emails a day. That person is getting rejected because they’re not doing good applications.

                But aside from that, 40 minutes of work in aggregate over the, what, 2 months minimum that those 4/5 positions will be open does not seem like so much work, considering what a huge part of the candidate experience that can be. It’s just such a small time investment to NOT make. That’s, like, waaaaay less time than I spend on, say, Facebook during that time period. And you could be leaving such a positive impact on candidates! Getting more repeat candidtes! Getting more donors or clients or whatever by giving people a positive interaction even as you deliver bad news! Such branding and engagement opportunities, wasted!

                And, if you’re an HR person coordinating 4 or 5 open positions with 100-200 candidates each, you should probably consider getting an ATS, where you can easily bulk-send template rejections in seconds. But I have worked in an HR capacity in an organization with several open positions with lots of applicants and no ATS and managed to send rejections to everyone who is rejected without a problem. This is a issue of will, not possibility. I’ve done this work, there’s no way you can convince me that’s not the case.

          2. Specialk9*

            Would mail merge be an approach? Or get the list of emails from the system and have it email them? Because I’ve gotten a lot of automated rejections.

          3. Ursula*

            I just want to point out to those looking at the time cost of this – every decently sized organization will have an applicant tracking system that can be easily programmed to send a rejection email to everyone who wasn’t moved forward in the process when the job opening is filled. Heck, you can do it when you move the job from an ‘resume gathering’ status to an ‘interviewing’ status, although I understand that people might want to keep the option of going back to the applicant pool open.

            Then it takes zero time to do it.

        2. technwine*

          If they don’t already do that, shouldn’t that be why they need to hire you? So you can help build that process and create that culture?

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            Yes but I think Kimberlee wants to make sure the company is open to the idea right off the bat and not have to fight to make them open it.

            ““If you’re not willing to at least TALK about notifying every candidate that applies of the outcome, if you don’t already do that, then you shouldn’t hire me.””

        3. Specialk9*

          “If you’re not willing to at least TALK about notifying every candidate that applies of the outcome, if you don’t already do that, then you shouldn’t hire me.”

          Honestly this comes across as negging (and just plain old negative and accusatory right off the bat). I wouldn’t have responded either, even if I usually did.

          1. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

            And I almost certainly wouldn’t want to work with you anyway! To me, this is just a defensive response, and if you get that defensive talking about the very IDEA of treating candidates well, you probably aren’t open enough to feedback or improvement for me to enjoy working on these processes with you. Looks like it’s effective as a sorting tool again!

            1. SavannahMiranda*

              Do you get a lot of successful responses to it?

              I’m too chicken sh*t to do something like that. But I admire the gusto. Curious of the ROI.

      3. WorkerBea*

        Adding my thanks. I had a HORRIBLE experience with a company that went so far as to check my references, but then got squirrelly on me and reposted the position. In their conversations with me they made it sound like they were just wrapping up the process with other existing candidates and asked me to wait it out, but they reposted the position. My references and at least one person who interviewed me were baffled. When I was contacted by recruiters for this same position I was livid because I felt the company was not being honest with me. It left me with a terrible impression, and I would never work with them now or recommend them to collegues. I told every agency who contacted me about the new posting. The only upside is I ended up getting leads on other jobs and interviews from those calls.

        At the point where you’ve spent time and energy checking references you owe those final candidates the respect and courtesy of an honest rejection. Thank you for not being like that company that couldn’t give me the simple courtesy of an honest “thanks, but no thanks” after all of that.

        1. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

          I believe you totally when you say they never got back to you, and that really sucks, but it’s worth noting that there are plenty of organizations and systems where they’ll automatically repost any open jobs on certain intervals regardless of where they are in the hiring process. Could be an assistant or coordinator somewhere just pressing a button; I would never take a job being reposted as an indication that you’ve been rejected.

    2. KRM*

      Back when I was job searching, a larger pharma company would send automated rejections when a job was filled–this was bizarre because it 1-could take months and 2-it would reference the numeric job code, so unless you kept a running tally of the codes, you had no idea what you were being rejected for.

      1. Specialk9*

        If you’re applying to multiple jobs at the same place you really should keep a spreadsheet in Google Docs or such. Or put the position # in the cover letter at least.

    3. roisin54*

      Agreed. I had an interview about 12 years ago that I’m still waiting to hear back from. I’ve long since gotten a job but I still wonder about that one sometimes, like I have no idea if they went with someone else or re-listed it or what.

      1. WorkerBea*

        I sometimes check LinkedIn to see if the position was filled and who got it, but 12 years is probably way too late for that. Sometimes when I’m talking with recruiters they’ll offer up some information like (6 months later) “Oh yeh, I’m working with ACME Anvils on some jobs. They still haven’t filled that position!”

    4. Anonynewb*

      I agree!!! Before starting at my new(ish) job, I had been looking for over a year – only a few places ever bothered to get back to me.

      At one company, I was one of their final 3 candidates – had done a phone interview, plus multiple in-person interviews with probably 7-8 different people (which took away many hours from my job that was incredibly busy and difficult to get away from)… then, radio silence. I tried emailing the recruiter I had been in contact with – nothing. It felt like a huge slap in the face. It REALLY changed how I see that company, and I will probably never, ever consider working for them now.

      I understand not reaching out to every single applicant, but if the time has been taken to actually interview them, I feel like it is a good courtesy to let them know what’s going on.

      1. Ursula*

        I had this happen – 2 sets of in person interviews and then ghosted. I had to look up my job application register to remember who it was, though, because while this was the worst I’ve been treated, plenty of others came close. I’ve been ghosted after a phone interview, and most recruiters seem to make a career out of ghosting.

  7. JamieS*

    #3 Is this only happening when she’s at your desk or is she specifically seeking out your trash can even when other options are closer?

    #4: Not loving the second script. In general most people would probably prefer not to stay on the phone and listen to someone list their good qualities after being rejected by that person.

    Basic recipe of: greeting, reiterate you enjoyed meeting then, list positives, give bad news, and end call should suffice.

    1. Les G*

      I had a coworker who hated my guts for absolutely no reason and she would go out of her way to throw pistachio shells in my garbage can. It took me a year to realize that she only did this to me. Never was quite sure what she was trying to accomplish there.

      1. Been There, Done That*

        Sounds like a childish way of sticking it to you. Emphasis on “childish.” I once worked with a brat in her 30s who left paper clippings on my desk. Although she did have a reason for hating me–she’d had my job before, left, been got hired back, left again for a career change that didn’t work out, went traveling for an extended period, and came back again expecting to once again get her old job back. They gave her a part-time slot but wouldn’t hire her back full-time because they figured she’d take off again. All my fault, obviously. :)

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Hahaha I love pistachios and eat them as a snack often. I am going to do this to a few of my coworkers, who I get along with really well, just to see if they notice and if they say anything. It would be pretty obvious as I am the only one that visibly eats pistachios at their desk. A few questions:

        Were they handfuls of pistachio shells or was it just like one or two?
        Did you find them in the morning, afternoon, or at the end of the day?

      3. TootsNYC*

        it’s a bit of a territory invasion–very often, people will say, “can I use your trash?”

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          Unless someone has their trash can behind their desk in their own personal space I have never asked a coworker to use their trash. Most offices I have seen people keep the trash can near them but in a location easily accessible to others in their office.

      4. Specialk9*

        That’s utterly bizarre. I’m curious what only-her rule she thought was universal, and that she flouted just to bug you.

    2. Someone else*

      Yeah, the only way#3 makes sense to me is if perhaps what she meant was that this coworker is specifically coming into her office to do the nose-blowing and tissue-disposal. The letter didn’t really sound like that, but if it were some sort of lopsided, intentional-seeming use of LW3’s office for all tissues, I could understand the complaint (as opposed to just…it’s common for her to need to do this while talking to LW3 about actual work stuff in LW3’s office, but would do same in her own office if she happened to need a tissue there).

      I mean, I get the ick-factor, absolutely, but trash bins are there for trash and it makes more sense to toss it in the nearest bin at the moment than carry used tissues around with her for later disposal.

  8. CAA*

    #2 – I use an email filter to put all incoming emails from our ATS in a folder. My default sort for that folder is date/time ascending. Therefore, whether you apply on Monday morning or some other time, your resume will start at the bottom of my virtual “pile” and move up as more people apply after you. Since I generally review resumes in the late afternoon two or three times a week, yours will get seen within a couple of work days from when you submitted it.

    1. Quackeen*

      When I was job-searching recently, I joined a few job boards. Every couple of weeks, someone would trot out the (not reliable) “study that shows it’s best to apply Tuesday morning at ten.” It’s oddly specific and of course confuses correlation with causation, but I had an uphill battle every time I tried to refute it. I eventually gave up. Because I got a pretty sweet offer that I negotiated well, I try to stay active to lend my experience to people, but many times (most times?) they don’t want to hear it.

      1. Emily K*

        Yes, it’s so weird to assume that there are going to be really significant differences in how the same person views the same resume based on the calendar/clock. Why would I be more likely to – I can’t actually tell what the thesis is here, is it that I’m more likely to review their application at all where I might otherwise never look at it, or that I’m more likely to look favorably on their application when I might otherwise reject it? – why would being “fresh from the weekend” affect that??

        And if it’s the latter, honestly that says to me you have a really iffy/borderline resume, and in my experience the people I throw into interviews with iffy resumes because we haven’t gotten enough strong applicants to interview what I think is a due diligence number of candidates – they are rarely the ones who get the offer in the end. So we’re talking about a small proportion of applicants whose resume is not clearly strong or clearly weak but kind of on the fence, and then a tiny portion of those applicants who will beat out the candidates who had much stronger resumes because for some reason their resume really didn’t reflect their skills as well as it should have – that’s the population who would benefit from this advice. Such a small population that the advice doesn’t apply to most people.

        And, I’m sure there are better and worse times to catch a manager’s attention when they might be distracted or in a poor mood, but I doubt the distraction and poor mood manifestly at the same time of the week every week like clockwork.

      2. SavannahMiranda*

        This sounds like one of those highly specific, ritualistic, comfort measures.

        In other words it has nothing at all to do with the debatable effectiveness, and everything to do with making someone who feels like a powerless supplicant feel slightly more in control and on the ball. Because they’re following all the ‘top advice’ and doing the right things.

        A psychologically comforting ritual that may or may not even pay off. It’s non falsifiable. It’s popularity lies in the fact that it’s comforting.

    2. LurkieLoo*

      This is basically my method as well. We only have resumes coming in when we are hiring for a specific position so I am checking 1-2 times per day during that couple weeks. My bosses are pretty old school and need paper file so during my screening, I sort the applicants into print, maybe, and no categories. The printed then get sorted into (my opinion) of stronger and weaker. If we don’t find a few to interview in that stack, I go back and look at my maybes.

      When they come in has no bearing on which ones get read. However, being closer to the beginning than the end does make it more likely my eyes aren’t crossing from reading several dozen resumes.

      We don’t usually have firm deadlines and let the listing stay until the trickle has slowed to 1-2 submissions per day (or we’ve filled the position). If you’ve submitted during the tail end, you *might* have a slight chance of being the only one passed on to the boss or you might be after we’ve scheduled our first round of interviews and go in a “wait and see” pile. Unless, of course, you are a more compelling candidate than the ones we’re already set to interview. So for us, sooner is usally better.

  9. Pat Mustard*

    #1 I wouldn’t look back. The place sounds weird.

    #3 It would be different if they threw their food waste (like banana peels) in your trashcan. Tissues don’t smell.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Why is that understandable? Isn’t the whole purpose of a trash can to store trash, including aforementioned snotty tissues?

      2. Les G*

        Is there a kind of used tissue that isn’t gross and snotty, in your estimation? Unless someone has a commubicable disease, mi tissue es su tissue as far as the trash can is concerned.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Is there a kind of used tissue that isn’t gross and snotty, in your estimation?

          Why yes, there is. I often have watery eyes due to allergies, so most of my used tissue is coated not in snot, but in my lovely sparkly unicorn tears. So, the Internet says you’re wrong, Les. ;-)

      3. Thlayli*

        I would kind of understand OP not wanting the tissues there if she was a germophobe. But in that case she would probably be more freaked out by the fact that coworker is apparently constantly blowing her nose in OPs office all the time.

      4. Sue*

        Then don’t have a garbage can at her desk. As long as she’s not handling the tissues, she won’t get germs from it.

      5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        It is not understandable at all. What are the alternatives? Not blow her nose? stuff tissues in her pockets? bring her own trashcan when she comes to OP’s desk? All of these sound worse than throwing the tissues in the trash can, where they belong.

        1. Temperance*

          The alternatives are that Amy blows her nose at her own desk or in the bathroom, washes her hands, and then comes over to LW. If her problem is that serious that she’s just constantly blowing her nose such that she can’t even take a 5-minute break from it, she has serious health issues.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            As someone who suffers from seasonal allergies and is prone to colds, I’m frustrated by this attitude.

            If I could control my sneezes and coughs, believe me I would. I usually can’t. They’re biological reactions. If I’ve gone to a colleague’s office and a sneeze comes on me, I’m going to sneeze. If I had to excuse myself every time I needed to sneeze, I would be living in the bathroom.

            In fact, as I write this, I am sitting here, both eyes are red, one eye is weeping, and I’ve been sneezing pretty regularly. This is after I’ve taken allergy medicine. I can’t help it. The pollen levels are just that bad.

            Unless there’s something particularly gross going on here with these tissues or OP #3 has some tiny, tiny wastebasket, I don’t get what the issue is. You put waste in a wastebasket. That’s how it got it’s name.

            1. Ladyphoenix*


              Spring is the worst for me, but even i have my sniffle moments in the summer and fall. I am not purposefully making myself more sniffly than a dog, I just have bad allergies and sometimes bad luck (had a summer cold DURING MY BRO’S WEDDING and I was the Maid of Honor).

              I clean up my areas, wash my hands, stock sanitizer, and theow my tissues in the trash. That is the best I can do. If I get super sick, I will stay home and go to a doctor—otherwise I keep my office door closed.

              So the least other people can do is give me leeway to throw my tissues in the nearesttrashcan—where trash is supposed to go.

              It isn’t like I’m throwing dog poop or used pads/tampons in that person’s trashcan.

            2. sarah*

              Totally agree! It is not reasonable to expect that people with TOTALLY NON-COMMUNICABLE sniffles and sneezes spend half their day in the bathroom or, what, never leave the house?? Obviously people saying this have never suffered from allergies. Which, good for you, but have some empathy for those who do. Believe me, it is more unpleasant for me than it is for you!

              1. Specialk9*

                People are being utterly ridiculous, and frankly pretty selfish, on this one. Work trash cans don’t belong to one, and it’s ok to use the work trash cans in another office, so long as it doesn’t stink. Co-workers with allergies don’t need to roll around in a hermetically sealed hamster ball to avoid the potential germaphobes. Germaphobia must be incredibly difficult, but it’s on that person to find a solution to their thing.

            3. Wendy Darling*

              I’m on two allergy medications and some eye drops this year and I’m still a mess it’s been a rough year.

              At this moment I am super glad I work from home and no one is analyzing exactly where and when I wipe my nose. (Also I don’t wash my hands every single time I wipe my nose because they would dry up and fall off.)

            4. Autumnheart*

              I can’t control my sneezes or coughs, but I can control where I throw my tissues away. I either put them in my own trash can, or in the break room trash can. I wouldn’t put used tissues in someone else’s own trash can, because then I’m making them deal with my germs and that’s not cool.

              I have to wonder at all these people who just can’t hang on to their trash for 60 more seconds and throw it away where their coworkers don’t have to be confronted with their used kleenex.

              1. Oxford Comma*

                My building only has restrooms on two floors. So let’s say I get called up to a meeting on the 4th floor, with, oh, my boss. I feel a sneeze coming on. Or maybe I’m sneezing a lot. Which happens. As I wrote above, I’m dying about now with the allergies.

                Now my boss is fantastic and very direct and would probably have told me if my sneezing in her presence bothered her so I’m not going to worry about having to truck all the way down to 1 for sneezes and coughs.

                But now I guess I’m holding onto these tissues throughout the meeting, and because I am female and fashion designers do not believe I need functional pockets, that means I am literally holding onto them as I walk all the way down to 1, probably while I’m being stopped in the hall by patrons, other colleagues, etc. who all invariably want to talk to me or who need assistance. As I stand there holding used facial tissues.

                I maintain there is nothing wrong with using a trashcan for the purpose for which it was intended.

              2. Going anonymous for this one*

                And if we’re talking about more than 60 seconds? If you’ve got a 30-60 minute work session with a colleague and you end up needing to blow your nose within the first 15 minutes, you’re just supposed to hold on to that used tissue for another half hour until you’re finished and ready to leave the room? How is that more hygienic than just throwing it away?

              3. Specialk9*

                See, THAT is disgusting. It’s possible to blow one’s nose without touching snot, but not if one is required to walk around clutching the ball of snotty tissue!

                How bizarre that you think that’s more reasonable than just using a trash can.

          2. fposte*

            Around here in the summer everybody’s sneezing and blowing; it’s allergy madness. There’d be no way that you could require people to plan for a break from it for a meeting–maybe you get lucky, maybe you don’t.

            It sounds like it’s the OP’s self-purchased wastebasket, and we get to feel the way we feel about our stuff, so while I don’t think it’s a logical response I can also kind of understand it emotionally. But she’s not going to be able to keep somebody from putting trash in a trash can on those grounds; her only good choices are to find a way to make it more bearable for her by lining the wastebasket or to not have a wastebasket (at least as far as anybody knows). It is not going to go over well to tell people they have to carry their trash around rather than let it touch your pristine trash can.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              This is a good argument for why we should not pay for basic stuff to use in the workplace. It starts out as a simple gesture, “I will get this item for my work space.” And over time it grows roots and starts branching out like an invasive weed. “Get your own #$%& garbage can!!” That garbage can or whatever tends to be etched in our minds as “MINE and no one else’s”.
              I had a friend who brought her own chair to work. The chair she brought suited her needs. This was a favor, rather than make the workplace pay for a new chair for her. Years later they laid her off. Suddenly The Chair because a big deal. No one remembered she bought it and “now we need to buy a chair to replace hers” and so on. It was weeks of talking about The Chair.
              A good rule to live by is don’t buy anything for work that you are not prepared to totally let go of.

          3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            And then stops mid-sentence and runs out of LW’s cubicle when she feels another sneeze coming on?

          4. Observer*

            If her problem is that serious that she’s just constantly blowing her nose such that she can’t even take a 5-minute break from it, she has serious health issues.

            That’s just totally not true. Allergies are annoying, but they don’t count as a serious medical problem is all it causes is constant sniffles / stuffed nose. And, there are other non-allergy situations that look very much the same. Totally non-serious but annoying.

          5. Michaela Westen*

            This can be from allergies, which aren’t serious.
            Don’t know if OP is interested in helping her but if so, there are several medications that would probably help. Some are OTC and the directions need to be followed.
            For example, Afrin can’t be used continuously for longer than 4 days or the nose gets addicted to it and closes up without it. Decongestants need to be used carefully for cardio side effects, and not by people with high blood pressure.
            Steroid sprays like Nasacort are safer and help with inflammation.
            Antihistamine nasal sprays are by prescription.

          6. Canarian*

            Okay, so we both agree she has serious health issues. Now what are the reasonable alternatives given her medical condition?

    1. WellRed*

      I had to fish something out of my trashcan yesterday and am grateful I didn’t have to pick through a coworker’s snotty tissues. But, the tissues are not an issue to make an issue of.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        But even then, it’s a risk one takes when one goes through a trash can, that you’ll encounter trash. If you inadvertently throw something away and you decide to search for it, sometimes you just have to have hand sanitizer at the ready and go do it.

    2. LurkieLoo*

      Snot can smell gross, too. My spouse can smell a used tissue from across the room during allergy season or cold season.

      1. BookishMiss*

        I am beyond jealous of your spouse. I’d love to be able to smell ANYTHING during allergy season.

  10. sacados*

    OP1 : That is so odd!
    Now I’m really hoping we get an update once you do contact them, to find out wtf was up with that situation.

    If this were the trashy movie version, it would be because Dolores likes being the head woman at the office and has hatched a sinister plot to regularly dump all the other female candidates out into the parking lot and thus prevent any threats to her position. She plays dumb about it, and meanwhile Bernard and Teddy are just *baffled* about why so many of their candidates seem to flake out and disappear in the middle of interviews.

    1. Bird*

      That’s funny, but it would definitely be a trashy movie for perpetuating the gendered stereotype of women stabbing each other in the back at work.

      1. Tombhorton*

        Some stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, and I say this as a woman. Some women can be catty, and it’s okay to show this truth in a movie.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          You are right most stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason and it is usually a preconceived idea/bias in conjunction with confirmation bias. Yes some women can be catty, some men can be catty, and some children can be catty. As a human race some people are nice and some people are jerks/catty. In any way you want to further break people down into groups by sex, race, gender, orientation, etc… you will find people that are jerks/catty.

          1. Specialk9*

            Well, only women and gay men are catty. Because when manly men do that exact same behavior, it’s an individual being a jerk, instead of being a gendered jerk due to being female or inadequately masculine.


              1. Meeps*

                I think they mean that when a guy is “catty” the assumption is that individual man is a jerk. But when it’s a woman or a gay man, that behavior is ascribed to all people of that group. The previous poster was being sarcastic.

          2. Tombhorton*

            I’m assuming you weren’t trying to negate my point because you didn’t. And for the record, I’ve not seen a guy be as catty as women can be, but that’s my experience. :)

      2. voluptuousfire*

        This would have been a great John Waters/Dreamlanders production. Especially the fact that the business is an adult business.

    2. sunshyne84*

      I think OP missed their “interview” on the casting couch with “Teddy”. Maybe the PR title was a cover up for talent.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Ooo, I like this plot twist in the movie! Dolores is, unbeknownst to OP, the hero who saves OP (and other candidates before her) from the casting-couch “interview”!

      2. Snickerdoodle*

        I absolutely thought that was what was going on. Or Dolores realized the OP thought it was a regular job and not a casting couch gig and showed the OP the door, literally.

      3. General Ginger*

        I’m confused. Is this missing an /s tag, and it’s funny, because this is an adult material-oriented company? Or is this serious? Because either way, it’s kind of a weird thing to jump to. These companies do exist, and need office, PR, accounting, and other staff. People work at them. Absolutely regular people in absolutely regular office positions.

        1. sunshyne84*

          It’s weird that there was no one told OP about the call system. It’s weird that they had to interrupt someone to find HR. It’s really weird that they were led down to a hallway and ended up in a parking lot. I’m sure there are plenty of adult ent. offices with professional staff and that was what OP expected. This doesn’t seem to be like one of those offices.

          1. General Ginger*

            Yeah, I don’t find this joke funny because it implies that companies that provide perfectly normal “adult-oriented” goods or services are inherently creepy.

            1. Old Med Tech*

              I have never posted before today. I started reading AAM about one year ago. I did not mean this as a joke. I assume the “adult-oriented” goods or services industry is very business-like and working PR would be no different in this industry than any other service based industry. Showing OP#1 the way to the back parking lot seems intentional and deliberate. The whole set just seems off. I worked in a hospital lab for 31 years and now teach at a community college. My students receive an associates degree and work in hospital and clinic labs when they graduate. I live in central Nebraska where sex trafficking is a major issue. This issue is discussed with the health care students at my community college, as health care workers might be able to help people forced into sex trafficking. I know this is a huge leap but OP#1’s letter has sent up major flags for me.
              I am probably over reacting but I am concerned.

  11. Canarian*

    Letter 1 is the kind of letter I feel bad asking for an update for. I’m not asking in order to find out how the OP resolved the mishap or whether they got the job. I just really want to know if they ever get an explanation of what Dolores meant to do.

  12. Maddie*

    No way am I putting my snot nose tissues in my coworker’s trash cans. I’d just say a friendly hey, can you put your used tissues in your own can? It’s totally rude. It’s not a big shared office can. It’s your own little basket by your desk.

    1. Airy*

      Many people would think requiring someone to carry a used tissue in their hand back to their desk, when you have a bin they could use, is not remotely friendly.

      1. WorkerBea*

        Yes, that’s just gross and cruel. Why would you make someone hold snotty tissues in their hand when there’s a trash can available right there? It’s a trash can. The only reason it exists is to hold trash like candy wrappers and snotty tissues.

        1. Autumnheart*

          If it’s gross to for someone to carry their own tissues in their hand until they get to their own garbage can, then it’s gross to put it in someone else’s can. You can’t argue that it’s gross for the nose-blower but not for the trash can owner.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            These two things are not remotely the same. Sitting in a chair 20-30 inches away from a trash receptacle that contains a used tissue is different from holding a used tissue in your hand. It just is. And one of those things is objectively more gross and germy than the other.

        2. Courageous cat*

          Oh jeez it is not cruel or even really problematic in any way. There’s no difference between holding the kleenex for 5 seconds vs 60 seconds. I agree 100% with you on the trash can aspect of it, but commenters have been going pretty hard on the hyperbole lately and I think points like these would be more effective if we stopped using words like “cruel” to make them.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      If I’m in a meeting with my coworker and my nose is stuffy, should I just keep on sniffling so I don’t have to blow it? Blow my nose and put the used tissue in my pocket? Excuse myself from the room to blow my nose and dispose of the tissue in my own trash can (which, on a bad allergy day could mean 3-4 interruptions in a one hour meeiting)? Why not use the trash can in the room that I’m sitting in?

      1. Cactus Pack*

        Pile the snotty tissues on their desk to carry back to your own trash when the meeting is over. Much less gross! /s

        1. Specialk9*

          The nice thing about carrying one’s own trash can is that you can do a farmer’s blow right into the can without the potential for touching snot! Win win!

          (Sorry, just giggling over the follow-up letter from Germaphobe OP. Their face would melt.)

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Why is it rude? I’m not asking to be a pedant—I’m genuinely curious about why a behavior that most people I know think is normal/not rude is considered rude by others.

      I get the ick factor that accompanies all bodily fluids, but what should the person do instead? Save up their snotty tissues (which has a higher chance of contaminating shares surfaces) just so they can dispose of it in their own trash?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Great point. I think if OP does ask this of her coworker she can taper the impact by suggesting an alternative solution. Offering an explanation might be helpful too. Alison suggested concern about germs but OP could also say, “I am forever throwing out the wrong thing and I frequently have to dig through my trash to find it.”

        Alternatively, OP, could you get a second can? One that would be for your use only and the other can for everyone else?

    4. LaurenB*

      Are you guys required to hand sort the contents of your garbage can at the end of the day or something? Why would it make a difference if she used your garbage can or her own?

      We are required to dump our garbages in a can in the hallway (a show of government efficiency by not paying housekeeping to empty personal cans) and people are still welcome to use mine. I just carry the container 20 feet, I don’t lick it.

      1. Anonyduck*

        Actually, while just having the tissues in my trash bin wouldn’t bother me (much), I would be super grossed out if I had to dump out trash with someone else’s used tissues. Trash can and does get on your hands when you upend it into a larger bin and there’s definitely a difference between my germ’s and a coworker’s germs. That said, I wouldn’t think it’s “rude” for a coworker to throw their tissues in my bin (a trash bin, after all, is for trash so it’s normal for them to do so) but I would absolutely use the script that Alison provided to let them know that it squicks me out and it would be a relief if they could try not to do it. Or if it was someone who I didn’t feel comfortable requesting that kind of accommodation from, I’d get rubber kitchen gloves and use those to throw the trash out.

        And, OP#3, if the tissues sitting in your bin alone is grossing you out then maybe go to the store and pick up a cheap, small garbage bin with a swinging lid. You’ll probably want to disinfect it every so often for your peace of mind, but it will hide the tissues from your sight so you won’t think about them as much.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            This. I mentioned this elsewhere, too. I always wash my hands after emptying a trash can, even one in my own home. So this doesn’t seem more gross than the typical practice.

            1. Specialk9*

              I don’t understand why one would touch trash when emptying it. You hold it halfway down the can, position it over the bigger can, and give it a few smart whacks on the bigger can edge if necessary. Are you, like, fishing out handfuls at a time??

          2. Trash confusion*

            Also, there are plenty of other surfaces one comes into contact with throughout the day that have other people’s germs on them so…

            My FIL is weird about trash too. They have a tv room with a small trash can (lined with plastic trash bag) and a box of Kleenex in the room too. But he doesn’t like it if you put your used tissues in the trash can. It’s supposed to be for “dry” trash only. I don’t understand it at all. Trash cans are for trash! Our city requires that we recycle so we have one bin for glass/plastics/metals, use a brown paper bag for paper recycling, and then trash cans for everything else.

            Do the people who find this highly offensive also have separate trash cans at their homes for “wet” v “dry” trash? What if they have a visitor in their home who needs to blow their nose — where does that tissue go? Is it that it’s *someone else’s* tissue in your office trash or more of wet trash v. dry trash? What if the co-erker was eating a yogurt and wanted to throw the empty container in your trash — would that be gross or acceptable?

            Our assistant doesn’t like to throw his containers from lunch in his trash (because the smell lingers) so he puts them in the trash in the kitchen…so then everyone else who uses the kitchen throughout the afternoon has to smell it… Our trash is emptied every night by the cleaning person so I don’t really see the big deal.

            1. fposte*

              I can kind of understand a broader wet vs. dry trash thing–I have some wastebaskets unlined at home, and I’m not going to throw the stuff in there that I would in the kitchen trash can. But tissues dry out fast anyway.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Agreed. I had a dog that would rummage through looking for those wet tissues. For quite a while we had a house rule that tissues went into cans with lids. He even rummaged through the vet’s garbage can, when the vet was looking at me and talking to me. I pointed at the dog, the vet said, “That’s why the garbage can was on the counter when I walked in.” yep.

              2. SusanIvanova*

                Mom tossed something sopping wet into the bathroom “dry” bin – mostly tissues, a few TP cores. By the time I realized it, the bin had a solid paper-mache lining.

            2. TootsNYC*

              But he doesn’t like it if you put your used tissues in the trash can. It’s supposed to be for “dry” trash only.

              Let it sit a little while–it’ll dry out!

          3. Anonyduck*

            But don’t you wash your hands after emptying the trash can?

            Of course I do. But I very much do mind getting gross things on me and dealing with that gross feeling until I can get to the bathroom to wash my hands. Being in direct contact with bodily fluids (minus tears and sweat; those don’t register to my jerkbrain as “germy”) of someone who I am not at least friends with is a huge squick for me. I also already wash my hands way too often because I don’t like it when they feel “dirty” that it makes sense for me to minimize situations that would lead to me feeling like I “need” to wash my hands.

            This isn’t directed at you in particular, but I honestly don’t get why so many people on this thread are so dedicated to treating this relatively common personal quirk/phobia as something super alien and bizarre. It would be like someone saying that they were afraid of spiders and commenters acting as if they had never heard of someone with that fear and getting on their case for how they choose to deal with that fear. EVERYONE has weird quirks, squicks, and phobias and it would be a good idea for us all to practice more kindness and compassion towards each other when having these kinds of discussions.

            1. Rat in the Sugar*

              Are you trying to say that not wanting snot on your hands is common, or that not wanting snotty tissues in your trashcan is common? I agree that not wanting it on your hands is totally normal and reasonable, but “don’t put it in my trashcan” is the part where people are drawing the line. Even if you had to empty the trash yourself I don’t think you’re that likely to have the snotty tissues touching you.

            2. DCompliance*

              In reading people’s posts, I think that people are responding that there seems to be an implication by some people that it is rude to put your used tissues in someone else’s trash. I understand a person may have a weird quirk about not wanting other people’s tissues in their trashcan, but that does not make it rude.

              1. Anonyduck*

                I absolutely agree that it’s not rude to throw out trash in a trash can (and said so in my original post), so I wasn’t thinking about those posts when I said that, but rather threads like the one started by Pat Mustard where there are some people acting as if being squicked out by used tissues is completely unreasonable and pushing back against people who are trying to say that it’s understandable.

                I just think that it’s unkind to treat someone’s phobia as if it’s invalid or whatever just because you (general you, not you specifically) don’t share it. Taking OP#3 (or other commenters who said similar things) to task because they assumed it was rude of the coworker to use their waste bin is one thing, but instead of doing that some commenters instead decided to belittle the underlying issue of germophobia as if it was some far out of left field thing that no rational person could ever feel. As a rational person who has to live with irrational squicks around germs, I gotta tell you that it doesn’t feel good to see people treating the issue so callously simply because they either won’t or can’t believe that someone could be affected by something that seems silly because it doesn’t affect them.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think it’s one thing to say “you know, I have a hang-up/issue/phobia around this, so I can understand where the OP is coming from, even though I understand that most people don’t think this is a big deal” (totally fine) and another to say “any reasonable person knows this is disgusting/rude/outrageous” (painting a fairly outlier opinion as one everyone must subscribe to).

                2. Anonyduck*

                  and another to say “any reasonable person knows this is disgusting/rude/outrageous” (painting a fairly outlier opinion as one everyone must subscribe to).

                  Uhm, I was lumping that in with my whole “I absolutely agree; those were not the comments I felt were unkind” thing and I’m not super sure why my saying “I am taking issue with the comments that specifically mock the idea that anyone could reasonably feel squicked out by things like used tissues” could be taken as me somehow defending the stance that “any reasonable person knows that my personal squick is disgusting/rude/wev”.

                  Like, in the Pat Mustard thread I believe it was unkind for Pat to say that it would be reasonable if it was rotting food, but tissues are unreasonable because they don’t smell. That’s not taking the OP to task for their problematic attitude regarding how they expect others to deal with their squick, that’s saying that it’s unreasonable for someone to be squicked out by other people’s used tissues. Likewise, Airy’s quip implying that because everyone can make snotty tissues that people lose the right to be squicked out about OTHER people’s tissues is making fun of OP, and other people’s, FEELINGS of squick, not addressing anything about the way those feelings were shaping the OP’s opinions on acceptable behavior. I don’t mean to pick on those commenters in particular; they were just the easiest examples to pull out of that kind of hurtful comment.

                  Like, all I want people to understand is that if you make fun of, belittle, or attack the very IDEA that someone might be squicked out by germs then you aren’t taking the OP for task regarding their assumptions or “painting a fairly outlier opinion as one everyone must subscribe to” or any of the other actual problematic things they expressed in their letter: you’re being unkind to them about a squick they have no control over and also being unkind to others who share that squick who have NOT ever treated it as anyone else’s responsibility.

                  Anyway I’m stepping away from this thread because I feel like many people are repeatedly assuming the worst about me and that I am completely failing to communicate even the most basic of points. It’s probably time for me to fall back on the good self care advice of “Don’t read the comments.”

            3. Lily*

              Sure, I have weird quirks and phobias too. Some I ask others to accommodate, most I don’t because they’re my problem. When it comes to something like “don’t put your trash in the wastebasket; carry it around or don’t come near me until allergy season is over,” that seems to be a point where it’s going a bit far. In my opinion. Either way: By all means, forbid your co-workers to use your trash bin, just don’t act like they’re being wildly rude and disgusting for putting their trash in a trash bin.

              I’m also just slightly confused as to how some of the people commenting are emptying their bins. I never get trash and snot and slime all over my hands when I empty a bin; we use liners, or dump the little bins into the bigger one. I still wash my hands, but I’m not digging around inside of it getting snot all over my hands. I’m just genuinely confused as to how people are finding this a problem.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      When people visit your home, I assume they use your trash cans. That’s not rude. Unless someone is deliberately bringing in all of their garbage and dumping it in your tiny can, then I honestly don’t get why a trash can gets so proprietary.

    6. neeko*

      Who cares what is in your trash can? It’s TRASH. It’s not rude to throw trash into a trash can.

    7. DCompliance*

      I don’t think there is a rule of etiquette saying you should not put your used tissues in someone else’s trash can, especially if it is the closest trash can to you.

    8. Tina*

      I have to say that my coworkers throw out trash in each other’s office trash cans when we’re in the other’s office, including tissues, and no one has ever even implied that such a thing would be rude.

    9. Observer*

      If someone pulled that one me, their level of support from me would go waaaay down. Most of the time when I’m in someone’s office, I’m in there to help them. If you are going to make me hold the tissue I used while I’m trying to help you, well I now have good reason not to go into your office for more than 2 minutes.

  13. Kc89*

    #3 is only weird to me if you have to take the trash out yourself (some offices that’s the situation whereas a lot of them have custodians to empty it) I would be mildly annoyed if someone made a habit of using my small desk trash can if I was the one who had to clean it

    1. Cactus Pack*

      Huh. My office is like that, we each empty our own small desk trash into two larger trash receptacles, which the custodian then empties. Even then I don’t think it’d be weird if one of my coworkers used my trash when they were in my office. I’m going to have to empty it anyway. It’s not like I have to touch their tissues to tip it into a bigger trash can or pull the bag out.

      Even with that aside – I’m having trouble grokking why that’s the line you draw. Like it’s fine to pay a custodian to empty other people’s trash all day, but imposing a single additional tissue on a non-custodian is outside the bounds somehow?

      1. Anonyduck*

        Even with that aside – I’m having trouble grokking why that’s the line you draw. Like it’s fine to pay a custodian to empty other people’s trash all day, but imposing a single additional tissue on a non-custodian is outside the bounds somehow?

        I’m not Kc89, but I might be able to shed some light on why there is a line (and it doesn’t seem to be the line you’re envisioning).

        So, starting with the most important thing first, I don’t think Kc89 was referring to “a single additional tissue”. They were specifically talking about “a habit of using my small desk trash can”, which goes well beyond one single tissue. And, to be fair, OP#3 was also quite clearly talking about multiple tissues on a regular basis. In the case of everyone being responsible for emptying out their own trash can, can you really not see why a coworker putting a notable amount of “their” trash into another person’s trash bin might have the potential to come across as a bit unbalanced? Think of the most extreme case, where there’s a coworker who makes sure to throw their trash out when they are in other people’s offices so they rarely or never have to take time from their day to empty their bins but their coworkers have to do it once, and because of the extra load maybe even on some days twice. Now, obviously what’s described by OP#3 and Kc89 is nowhere near that extreme, but neither was Kc89’s comment that such a thing could be “mildly annoy[ing]”. Can you see why a mild imbalance might be reasonably be mildly annoying to some people?

        As for why it’s not an issue if a custodian is being paid to empty the trash but “mildly annoying” if everyone is emptying their own trash… Well, two things: 1) emptying trash is an explicit part of a custodian’s job description–ie. the thing they get paid for–and so one can assume that someone who takes on the job of a custodian will both have the time to and be cool with emptying trash bins, which is not necessarily the case with your average office worker; and 2) the custodian would be emptying out every single bin therefore the breakdown of trash in individual bins is largely irrelevant since the volume remains the same regardless, while if a person is responsible for their own bin then the total volume of is irrelevant because they only deal with the amount of trash in their personal bin so that’s what they are likely to care about. Like, these two situations are completely different the only thing they have in common is that trash is getting thrown out. Which is not to say that if everyone is emptying their own bins that it’s somehow “out of bounds” to throw trash in another person’s bin, but Kc89 definitely didn’t say anything like that, but rather that they’d be “mildly annoyed” if a coworker “made a habit” of doing that.

        I know my comment is rather long, but does that clear things up a bit?

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          That’s a really good way of articulating it, thanks. I have to admit I didn’t quite see the problem from the OP’s letter either (and I also have a very small trash can that I have to empty into the larger one), but this does shed some light on what OP might be thinking.

        2. General Ginger*

          Honestly, I still don’t see it. If it’s everyone’s job to empty their trashcan at some point, it really does not take any seriously noticeable amount of time to empty a fuller trashcan. Throwing out trash is throwing out trash.

          1. Alton*

            It might create additional work, though. If you only have a tiny amount of trash in yours and it’s not gross, you may not need to empty it as frequently. There have been times when my office had a substitute custodian or something and my basket got missed, and I didn’t care because I just had a few pieces of scrap paper in it. And there have been times when my basket was skipped and it was an issue because other people had been using the basket. It’s not like it takes a lot of time to empty it, but it is a little extra work.

          2. Anonyduck*

            Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who dislikes handling trash and has issues with germs:

            Having to empty out your trash bin with just your trash in it is already a chore you dislike, but you handle it because it’s your trash and therefore your responsibility. If your coworkers sometimes throw stuff out in your bin you deal with it because, hey, it’s just sometimes and it’s not like they’re doing anything wrong. Then one of your coworkers develops a runny nose, which freaks you out because of your thing with germs, and when they’re in your office they throw out their used tissue in your bin. You start imagining ridiculous things like that the snot germs in the tissue are going to travel through the air to infect you.

            “It’s just this once,” you tell yourself as you try to ignore the tissues–three now, since that’s the number of times your coworker was in your office that day. Emptying out the bin at the end of the day is even worse than normal because every time you glance down those used tissues catch your gaze.

            Except that it’s not just once. The coworker’s runny nose doesn’t go away and the tissues in your waste bin seem to be breeding. Moving your bin in a subtle attempt to discourage your coworker from using it has failed completely. There’s so many used tissues now that you can’t even see your own trash underneath them. You begin to wonder if your coworker is stopping by just to use your bin, since their own waste bin always seems to be pretty free of trash.

            In quiet desperation, you fire off a letter to Ask A Manager asking for advice on how to reclaim your trash bin for your own trash.

            …Now that, of course, is a complete work of fiction. But, regardless of the reality of the situation, to someone who hates trash, has germ issues, is fussy about their stuff, or whatever, little things like coworkers making more trash for you or throwing out items that squick you out in your bin can make the situation feel as melodramatic as what I wrote. That’s why when someone has an adverse reaction to something that doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, it’s important to try to imagine how things might look from their POV and try to think about why it does seem like a big deal to them. Doing so allows you to respond to them in a more compassionate way and can also make it easier for you to work with them to find a solution if you’re trying to help them out.

            1. General Ginger*

              I literally do this at work, though. I dislike handling trash, I have issues with germs, but I accept that that emptying the office trashes ourselves is what we do, and don’t worry who put their personal trash in whose bin.

            2. Lavender Menace*

              I mean, sure, I can understand why it might gross someone out. I don’t think anyone is misunderstanding that part.

              What I’m not getting is why someone would think it was rude or a huge breach of etiquette to throw out trash in a wastebasket (even if the trash is used tissues, and even if the wastebasket is in your office). Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it’s rude.

              1. Anonyduck*

                Seeing as I don’t think it’s rude or a huge breach of etiquette I’m not bloody surprised my post didn’t explain why that would be the case! Why the heck would you assume I was defending a position that upthread I specifically say that I do not hold in a thread that has literally absolutely nothing to do with rudeness or etiquette?

                Like literally all I was trying to do was to explain to someone why someone who is NOT OP#3 was saying what parts of OP#3’s situation they could empathize with and what lines they personally drew in terms of what bothered THEM. Like maybe don’t assume the bloody worst of someone just because they’re advocating for treating people’s phobias in a compassionate manner?

                1. Anonyduck*

                  I was upset because I’m feeling dogpiled and people keep assuming I’m taking a shitty stance about an issue that I very clearly was not addressing, for no other reason I can see aside from the fact that I am on the side of “hey, there are people get grossed out by germs, and here are some things that might help you understand why someone might feel that way even if you are super cool with all that”.

                  While I do apologize for my tone, I also ask you to think about why the comment upset me: this thread is literally ONLY about why those things might gross someone out, I try to explain a couple specific points to commenter A because they said they were confused about those specific things, then commenters B, C, D, and E reply to my response with “I don’t get it”, so I FURTHER try to clarify why that might gross someone out, then I get the response that “no one is misunderstanding why that might gross someone out” (which shifts the responsibility on me to intuit that everyone was addressing a straw argument I never made, rather than on the people to actually make sure they aren’t replying to something I never said) and basically assuming that I was defending rudeness for no reason other than anyone who says “hey, this might legit gross someone out for reasons” has been assumed to be on Team Rudeness as a matter of course. That’s upsetting, especially on a thread where a bunch of people ARE taking the position of “it’s ridiculous to be grossed out by stuff like other people’s used tissues!” and people saying “uh, I think it’s understandable?” are being mocked and/or treated like that’s tantamount to saying that they 100% agree with everything OP#3 ever said or did because there is ONE point that they think is legit in some form.

                  So, yeah, I am sorry for not taking a step back and calming down before trying to explain that to Lavender Menace in a more reasonable fashion, but I don’t think it was out of line for me to feel upset about the comment and push back on the idea that it’s ok to just assume that I was on Team Rude.

        3. Trash confusion*

          Ahh. I hadn’t considered that. Maybe the blower doesn’t like taking out their own trash so, like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, she sprinkles her trash around the office in different people’s bins. If that were the case, I might be annoyed too – but not because of what she’s putting in my trash, rather because she’s pawning her work (taking out her trash) off on me.

        4. Rat in the Sugar*

          No, I’m still not cleared up. I can really agree that it’s annoying if OP’s trashcan is extremely small, she has to empty it herself, and coworker is dumping so many tissues that OP now has to empty it multiple times a day.

          I feel like if that were the case OP would have mentioned it tho. All her question says is that the coworkers put used tissues in there, and doesn’t mention the trashcan being small, having to take it out herself, or having to do it multiple times now. I think she’s just grossed out by used tissues.

          1. Anonyduck*

            Uh, but your “agreement” is irrelevant when it comes to what people find weird/annoying? And even more irrelevant to where people who are not you draw lines about things that affect them (which is what I was trying to clarify)?

            Like Kc89 was simply stating that they would find the OP’s situation weird and mildly annoying if, and only if, the person who’s bin it was was responsible for emptying the bin and the coworker’s throwing out of tissues was habitual. For you the bar is higher before it becomes annoying, which is understandable because you are a different human being than either OP#3 or Kc89 so the things that bother you are naturally going to be different. And even if the OP is just grossed out by the tissues, that’s okay too!

            Everyone has the right to draw their own personal lines where it makes sense to for them. And if you truly want to grok why someone does that, then you first need to let go of the idea that you have to “agree” with something in order for you to understand it. People who are not you are different than you so the way that they look at situations and feel about things will in many cases be different than yours; it’s a lot more helpful to treat that difference as valid than to dismiss it because it doesn’t reach the bar set by your own feelings on the matter.

            1. Rat in the Sugar*

              I’m really not sure what you’re getting at here. I’m not arguing about whether or not you or anyone else would find it annoying or weird or saying that I don’t understand, I’m saying that I don’t think it rises to a level where it would be reasonable for OP to say something to their coworkers about it.

              1. Anonyduck*

                I’m not arguing about whether or not you or anyone else would find it annoying or weird or saying that I don’t understand,

                Then why did you respond to my comment explaining to Cactus Pack why someone could reasonably find it annoying or weird with, “No, I’m still not cleared up.”? I was never having a discussion regarding OP’s treatment of her coworkers, since that’s not part of the discussion in this subthread, and it’s only reasonable for me to assume people responding to that comment would be regarding what said comment was actually addressing.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            If OP has to empty the small trash can multiple times a day, then why not ask this cohort to take a turn emptying it.

      2. Alton*

        I actually do try to keep the custodian’s routine and convenience in mind when I’m disposing of trash. I work in a small office, and I try to keep the trash centralized as much as I can because it seems easier. There can also be occasional issues where we don’t have service if our regular person is out because the service doesn’t arrange for coverage, and I’d rather have any smelly or unsanitary garbage in one location (and not in my office).

        But that said, I figure the cleaning service is paying people to collect trash and can provide gloves. There’s a good reason I’m not a custodian–I’m squeamish about germs. I have a lot of respect for people who are good at the job.

  14. Knitting Cat Lady*


    As long as your coworker isn’t digging through the trashcan for tissues to use…

    We sit in for desk pods at work. The guy next to me had a terrible cold. I always have one of those pull out tissue boxes on my desk.

    Suddenly I notice the guy digging through our shared(!) trashcan for the cleanest tissues, because he had run out.

    Once I had overcome my horror and disgust I thrust my box of tissues in his face with the words ‘You could have said something!!!’.

    He also had the habit of using mouthwash at his desk and spitting it in a used to go coffee cup when done…

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I mean… I would be pretty shocked if someone spit out mouth wash in the kitchen sink! This guy seems all-around odd.

        1. Natalie*

          Really? I guess if they did it every day that would strike me as a little odd, but not really shocking. It’s a sink. The pipes all go the same place. If someone really wants to use mouth wash after their coffee or whatever I guess you do you.

          1. Alton*

            I think what could make it weird is that people might be preparing their lunch in the kitchen. The kitchen usually isn’t associated with personal hygiene like a bathroom.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I think I expect people to handle personal hygiene responsibilities, like mouth wash, in the bathroom? Doing it in a communal kitchen sink seems super inappropriate to me (but I’m having a hard time explaining why).

      1. Knitting Cat Lady*

        I know!

        He’d also use the women’s bathroom ‘because it’s cleaner’ and leave a mess behind.

        The reason the women’s bathrooms are cleaner? There’s about 12 women on this floor and about 70 men.

        1. Justme, The OG*

          My workplace has 3 men and 12+ women and the women’s bathroom is always cleaner. Either way, your coworker seems fun.

        2. g*

          Well tbh the guy is onto something. Assuming they’re fully partitioned bathrooms and not cubicles, it doesn’t really make sense to segregate 50% of the bathrooms for 7% of the staff. Or at all. I’ve worked in offices with all unisex bathrooms and it doesn’t change anything apart from making it easier to find an available one.

          I actually covered up the signs at one office because I had the seniority to do so and it felt stupid for the women to have to wait to use the ‘female bathroom’ when there was an empty ‘male bathroom’ right there. Just bought an extra bin for sanitary products and they’re identical. There were some silly complaints that “our bathroom is dirtier now the other gender is using it!” and had to point out it’s the same people using it, so how could both bathrooms be dirtier!? Then everything was fine and more efficient.

          1. Knitting Cat Lady*

            The men’s bathrooms are bigger. There are 3 cubicles and 5 urinals according to the floor plan, where as in the women’s bathroom there are two cubicles.

            And I was rather annoyed at him complaining about the messiness of the men’s bathroom while ALWAYS LEAVING A MESS BEHIND in the women’s bathroom.

            I’m all for unisex bathrooms, but if you object to the messiness of bathroom A you DO NOT get to mess up bathroom B.

          2. whingedrinking*

            An acquaintance of mine told me once about going to a conference that declared that bathrooms for this event were gender neutral, and the staff put signs to that effect on the bathroom doors…but didn’t cover up the Men’s/Women’s signs. So when my not-especially-masculine acquaintance, who is nonbinary, walked into one room, they got a shocked look from the guy in there washing his hands. As they later put it, dude was clearly thinking, “but this is the gender neutral MEN’S room!”

            1. Specialk9*

              I’ve noticed the same thing. Even when bathrooms are explicitly relabeled omni-gender, the gender clues are there (urinals etc) and some people still have kindergarten rule reactions.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Ew! Now that is gross. But I get that when people have a full-blown cold it really IS gross. I mean, who doesn’t feel that way when you have a cold? But you can’t just not blow your nose, you know.

      I notice a lot of people are inferring that the woman tossing her tissues is like that, but the OP letter just says “wiping her nose,” which sounds more like mild sniffles.

  15. Alldogsarepuppies*

    “There was some kind of mix-up, like there was a door in the hallway that you missed before you exited or she accidentally pointed you in the wrong direction.”

    If that was the case calling Bernard wouldn’t help. Bernard can’t see the door. :P

    1. arjumand*

      Yessss! Finally!

      I kept waiting for someone to say, “well, it’s pointless to ask Dolores, ‘cos she’ll just say that it doesn’t look like anything to her,” or if Dolores asks you to come with her, RUN!

      You are my angel, Alldogsarepuppies. Just one last question . . . is this now? (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

    2. Typhon Worker Bee*

      My husband recently had to re-hang a door in our house. He asked me to hold the door for a moment, and I couldn’t decide whether to make a Westworld joke or a Game of Thrones joke, so instead I just stood there with my mouth open. He wasn’t impressed.

  16. Leela*

    LW #2 – when I worked in hiring at a few companies, we had different applicant tracking systems and were a lot more likely to search through those by keywords (if they didn’t do it automatically) than to just go through them one by one in chronological order, although one place I worked did have a system that worked that way. Agree with Alison’s advice, just make sure you apply as soon as you can!

    Also, recruiters/HR might get straight to it on Monday, but even if they do the hiring managers probably won’t see anything until after HR shoots some of their top picks the manager’s way. More likely though, Monday will be catching up on e-mails, meetings, scheduling, a million other things, in addition to going through resumes, which they might prioritize after something like a targeted Linked In/monster/whatever search. They might not get to it at all on Monday, or they’ll have like 30 minutes to look, or they might have all day, totally depends not only on the company and the people but what their other work currently looks like.

    1. Kikishua*

      Th only thing I’d add is – don’t apply in the first hour or so, unless you truly have been waiting for this specific role to come up and have your cover letter already personalised to it.

      The ones which say “I have always wanted to work in [your industry]…” etc etc etc are usually SO quick to land and so obviously a form application!

  17. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

    LW #3, I get that snotty tissues are gross and I get Weird Feelings about other people’s bodily fluids being in proximity, but I also really don’t think this is definitely not a battle worth fighting. I assume you’re not the one having to throw out the trash nor that you have to dig your trash can often, which would make more sense. It might be annoying that your coworker frequently blows her noses and then uses your trash can but trying to challenge that (as if she shouldn’t blow her nose near your desk or that she should to hold onto her grimy tissue until she leaves) is gonna come off weird and abrasive.

    1. Archie Goodwin*

      I think this is where I come down on it, too.

      I mean, I get it, to a degree…I work in an office where the trash cans are at the entrance to people’s cubicles, and I try not to throw stuff in other people’s trash cans because it feels a bit invasive. Like, “I don’t want trash in my cube – let me foist it off on you instead.” Which I realize is a bit peculiar. That said, it would never occur to me to ban anyone from using the bin in my own cube – it’s emptied every day, so whatever ends up in there will be gone the next afternoon regardless.

      If you’re generally even-keeled, and you present this as your one big office quirk, then that’s one thing…that’s maybe something you can get away with. Any more, and you might start coming off as someone who’s a bit difficult, sorry to say.

      1. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

        I feel similarly about other people’s trash cans! Though sometimes I can’t help it though (I don’t have a permanently assigned work space), so I would feel guilty but also put off if someone was like, “Don’t throw your trash away in my area.” As long as I’m not filling up your trash or throwing away something especially smelly or messy, it would seem kind of…touchy for no good reason.

    2. Clarice Fitzpatrick*

      I also really don’t think this is definitely not a battle worth fighting

      LOL I sure know how to type! This is what happens when you go back and edit your sentences without double checking the whole thing.

    3. Anononon*

      Yeah, this is where I fall, too. I totally get the “ugh, gross” feeling. And it can be one of those feelings where the more you think about it, the grosser it mentally becomes. However, unless her used tissues are literally overflowing your trash can, I don’t think you can say anything.

  18. Rahera*

    Re letter 3, your own nose germs are no more or less disgusting than anyone else’s. Why on earth does it matter whose tissues end up in the bin? This is a clear case where the LW just needs to deal with it.

    1. Anononon*

      This confuses me. Are you really saying you wouldn’t care if you had to touch someone else’s used tissue compared to your own? I find others’ germs 100% more disgusting.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I don’t regularly touch trash. When I empty a trash can, I either have a bag to gather up or I pick up the bin and dump it. If I do get something on my hands, I wash them. In fact, I usually wash my hands after emptying my own trash. So someone else’s germs in their designated space are not really that much of a worry for me.

      2. MLB*

        Honestly it wouldn’t bother me. But regardless, I’m not touching the trash in my trash can, so I’m not understanding the need to touch other’s used tissues.

    2. WellRed*

      If I accidentally sneeze on myself, oh well. If someone else sneezes on me, yuck! So yeah, your own personal germs are less gross.

    3. g*

      Well whatever germs are in your snot are ones you already have. Other people’s snot potentially includes new germs. I agree though; the whole point of a bin bag is to avoid touching the contents of the bin, so it doesn’t matter whose snot goes inside.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      When we venture out into the world there will be germs, period.

      I grew up with a total germaphobe mother. One time I accidentally let on that I bought used books. She stood over me while I wiped each page with Lysol. After that I snuck my books into the house.
      I have had decades to think about this stuff. I now believe that if germs are such a pressing issue then it is wise to look at our own self-care. That vulnerable feeling might be happening for a reason or not. Our bodies are equipped to fight off some germs. We can eat healthier foods, hydrate, exercise, blah, blah, blah and keep our insides working strong and working well. Even if OP gets a handle on the situation with the garbage can there are still doorknobs and such that people touch all day long. It’s an illusion to think that preventing used kleenex collecting in a garbage can will protect us in any major way.

      I suspect the person has heavy allergies, as opposed to an actual cold. Colds pass, allergies, not so much. If this is the case, then this person has their own set of concerns that they could be working on also.

      1. whingedrinking*

        The problem is when people mistake the vehemence of their feelings for objective truth. When I worked in this one coffee shop, there was a regular customer who insisted that our ceramic cups were unsanitary because they were “shared”, even though each one was run through a sanitizer every single time it was used – but he was just fine with paying with cash. So while I was happy to pour him his coffee in a paper cup, it got really annoying when he went on and on about how GROSS shared mugs are, when it was clear that that was just his personal hangup.

  19. Nom Nom*

    OP4 It’s awesome you are taking the trouble. At my end, it is standard to have a line in the relist stating ‘previous applicants need not apply’ or ‘previous applicants will not be considered’ (harsher but more honest) as well. This takes away any ambiguity for the poor people that applied first time. Making it as kind an unambiguous as possible is the key I think.

    1. Colette*

      If I saw that line I’d assume you don’t want applications from people who applied last year, or 5 years ago, or 25 years ago. And if that’s your goal, it’d work – but if what you actually want is to not receive applications from people you just rejected, I don’t think that’s going to get the results you want.

      1. Nom Nom*

        No these are jobs that were readvertised a few weeks later. At my end it is well understood, at your end there are obviously different conventions. It works our end, looks like your end not so much. It doesn’t mean either of us is wrong, just here are different standards depending on where you live.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          But can you be sure it is well understood by others in your context? I assume people don’t *not apply and then let you know about it*. Some people who applied 5 years ago may apply despite this, but others may not, as Colette mentioned.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Exactly. You know what you’re saying, but people who aren’t you don’t get that. I would assume it means that if you’ve *ever* applied for a job here, don’t apply again.

            1. Nom Nom*

              No, it really doesn’t, it just means don’t apply for THIS job again. We’ve already seen what you have to offer and we don’t think you’ll work for us right now. That’s all it means. It also means, yes we saw your application and no, it’s not what we want right now. Please don’t apply again, we reviewed it and we went out to the market again because you weren’t for us right now. Seriously that’s all it really does mean. It’s not about you. it’s not about anyone who applied and it is totally not about anyone who might apply in 25 years. We just need someone with the technical capacity to do the job that’s all. You scrubbed up well but you aren’t for us

          2. Nom Nom*

            Um yes, yes I do understand and it’s well understood at this end (and that really did come across as very condescending no matter how you meant it). At my end, kindness is not having people reapply for jobs they won’t get in the next 3 or 4 months or next 3 or 4 weeks. if you aren’t going to get the job then it doesn’t matter at all what random internet strangers think about how the relist is worded, they just won’t get the job and there is no kindness in pretending they will. Personally, I’d rather a definite no.

            Seriously, if you have been considered for the job and someone has said no. then that means no. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you it just means that particular job wasn’t for you.

            Colette above has gone out to extremes. I mean really. who worries about a job in 25 years (as well as the in between). There’s not even a guarantee we’ll be alive then. I mean seriously. Who puts in a job application and thinks it will be held against them for the next 25 years. Or even the next year.

            Businesses just don’t do that. They are looking for someone who will fit their needs for the job they have right now. OP is awesome in that she bothers to give actual feedback. I salute you OP 4.

    2. Julianne (also a teacher)*

      We had to repost a position in my department a few months back, and we didn’t put in any language about “previous applicants need not reapply.” We had already rejected (politely, I think) the applicants from the first posting, so we just discarded any of those folks who reapplied without further contact. (From the reposting; for the right position, we have no reason not to consider any of them in the future. This just wasn’t the right position.)

      This job did have a fairly low volume of applicants (for both postings), just due to the nature of the position, so it wasn’t difficult for us to handle things that way. I can see where this might not be feasible in other contexts.

    3. PersephoneUnderground*

      Hmm- maybe tweak to “recent applicants need not reapply (maybe adding for clarification: we will follow up with you if your previous application is reconsidered)”. That could address confusion with people who applied to your company years ago or something.

  20. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP3… could be wrong, but sounded like you thought she was doing it specifically in YOUR office… ” but she has a habit of wiping her nose in my office and throwing out the dirty tissue in my wastebasket”

    It might help get head around it to think she has a habit of wiping her nose and throwing out the tissue. Your office isn’t part of the equation :)

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Of course, if she is saving the sniffles for your bin… then yeah, that’s different!

    2. fposte*

      This is a really good point. It doesn’t change the feelings about the wastebasket, but it may change your feelings about the action.

  21. Les G*

    So…uh…did anyone else think #1 had all the makings of a really lurid b-movie? If the OP made it out alive I’d call this one a success, to be perfectly frank. When Delores locks the door that’s the moment the whole audience starts screaming in unison.

    1. Jemima Bond*

      It was a job at the Hotel California. You can check out any time you like but you can never leave…

      1. Jemima Bond*

        The candidate finds themselves in a locked room being told they have been rejected from the duck club so they can only work in this windowless cellar with Darren who picks his nose and leaves it on the edge of his cubicle wall, and Gladys who wants to show you her collection of handmade tapestries with religious quotations and likenesses of her fur babies whilst asking when you are having kids and trying to sell you fake Tupperware.

    2. EPLawyer*

      They realized OP had too many friends and relatives (hence the filling out the paper application that asked for references) that would notice she was gone if they killed her. So they dumped her out the back none the wiser. The next candidate was an orphan loner and well ….

    3. Not So NewReader*

      As I read along, I thought that the setting was kind of creepy. I am not sure if I would have lasted as long as OP did in that interview. When Dolores left OP just standing there, I was totally done.

      OP, interviewers are usually on their best behavior when they interview. I would not believe that this would get better once you were in place working for them. People do hand off interviewees to other people, they are usually pretty careful about doing that to make sure the person gets to the right place and actually finds the next person.

    4. Canadian Natasha*

      I’m thinking it could be a sci-fi/fantasy movie where the OP thinks it was just the back door but she’s actually been sent to a similar alternate earth/mirror reality. Meanwhile her doppleganger from that alternate earth has taken over her real life…

  22. Anonymous Ampersand*

    I am so frigging jealous of everyone who has a bin at their desk. I have to take all my rubbish to the kitchen. The building claims it’s to boost recycling levels, but it’s blatantly to save money on cleaners.

    1. RockyRoad*

      My previous employer didn’t provide trashcans for our desks either, and we really weren’t supposed to have any (they wanted us to recycle more too). Everyone kept a grocery bag or a small trash hidden container in their desk drawer for small bits of trash, and there was a big communal trash can on one side of the room.

      I had the problem of coworkers throwing trash in my recycling can (they were blue and everyone had them, so obviously not a trash can). Frustrating!

  23. nnn*

    For #3, if you do decide to say something and use Alison’s script, I think a bit of emphasis would help. “…would you mind not throwing your tissues in my trash can?” (if you can maintain a friendly tone of voice while doing this emphasis) or “…would you mind throwing out your tissues in your own office?”

    I suggest this because it took me three read-throughs of the letter to realize that was the issue, and in the meantime I was sitting there going “As opposed to what?”

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would not say this. It sounds so snotty* and rather precious. It’s a trash can, and a company-owned one at that. If someone visited your house and threw away a tissue, would this be an issue at all? Just move the trash can to somewhere outside your field of vision.

      *(HA! I crack myself up)

    2. MatKnifeNinja*

      Slap a sheet of card board on top of the can, with a frowny face and no snot rags here scrawled on.

      I had a coworker do that where I worked. It was a battle between two who hated each others guts. Somehow used Kleenex escalated to card board on top of the trash can.

    3. Tina*

      I don’t think there’s any way someone could ask me not to use the garbage can in their office when I am in their office that would not sound completely bizarre. In my office this just… happens. Because blowing your nose is a standard bodily function and used tissues go in the trash….

  24. Been There, Done That*

    #1–I understand wanting to follow up if only to satisfy your curiosity about wtf happened. Maybe Dolores did make a mistake, and maybe it was her way of literally showing you the door (not nice, Dolores). But from the process you describe to actually get into the place, they sound like major flakes at best so leaving this one behind might be a wise course of action.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        Yeah, I’ve never had an interview at a train wreck that turned into a not-train wreck job. I’d be glad I dodged a bullet rather than trying to patch things up at this point.

  25. Thlayli*

    OP1: it seems like Delores didn’t mention Teddy at all? The only person who mentioned Teddy was Bernard? If that’s correct I think the most likely situation is that Bernard was mistaken and Delores brought you to the car park because the interview was over.

    I think your best option is to write your thank you mail on the assumption that there was no interview with Teddy and include a line thanking Delores for showing you back to the car park.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            Considering they’re Westworld character names, I wouldn’t rule any of those out!

    1. E. Jennings*

      Yeah, based on how hiring works in my office I can easily understand how this could happen. Interviews are scheduled by our internal recruiter or office manager and include both people key to the process (the boss and sometimes grandboss) and a rotating cast of more peripheral people who drop in briefly (Big Boss, prospective peers, representatives of related departments who will have to work with the person, etc). The boss and grandboss have to be there but it’s not unusual for there to be dropouts/substitutions among the more peripheral folks, and because we don’t want to give an impression of complete chaos we don’t always give a full schedule of exactly who you’ll be meeting when.

      So if, say, Great-Grandboss Teddy is sick and peer Bernard doesn’t know it, Bernard might just assume you’re meeting with Teddy later because that’s how it usually works/that’s how they though the plan would go, and Dolores didn’t know that Teddy told you that and was told to walk you out.

  26. EvilQueenRegina*

    Re #2, in a lot of cases HR will collate all the applications and pass them on to the hiring manager as a job lot together once it’s got to the closing date, so the hiring manager may well never know exactly when you sent in your application. So I would go with the “send in as soon as possible” advice.

    1. AnotherJill*

      And a lot of places use electronic submissions, and the order that they sort them into may also vary. Your best bet might be to change your name to AAAASmith and get it in as early as possible :) .

  27. BRR*

    #1 They sounds terribly unorganized and I don’t think they were hinting you were rejected (if this is how they reject candidates bullet dodged). Dolores should have taken you all the way to Teddy and introduced you.

  28. Jennifleurs*


    I’ve had that happen to me several times from the applicant PoV, and twice the company contacted me to basically say “[opinions about your application] and as nobody in the pool has met our standards, so we are re-advertising the position.”

    I really appreciated that, since it gave reasons that felt real and not form, and because most importantly I almost always KNEW when an ad was reposted because I’d get an email alert from a job board. So yeah, don’t ever lie and say you’ve already gone for a candidate who “better fit the criteria” and then readvertise lol.

  29. NMFTG*

    Where I work, in-office wastebaskets are for paper that’s going to be recycled.
    We empty these baskets ourselves info large common paper recycling containers, whenever we want – which might mean once quarter e.g. They are never lined, and not meant for actual thrash.

    For actual rubbish, we have four different recycling bins by the office kitchen – one for glass/metal, one for plastic, one for food/organics. These bins are lined, and they are picked up regularly, and the same goes for bathroom bins.

    If one of my colleagues used my wastepaper basket for ordinary rubbish, I would absolutely be put out. That would meant that I had to sort through and fish out their thrash on a regular basis, tissues as well used as what the LW describes are not considered paper recycling and need to go in the rubbish proper. I find it very reasonable to want to not have to do that.

    I realise that a lot of offices might not do recycling like this, but in parts of Europe at least everyday recycling is very common. In my office you may get told off (by colleagues) if you «forget» to rinse and recycle plastic.

    1. Overeducated*

      This is an interesting angle – like Alison I assumed wastebasket = trash = rubbish, but if wastepaper basket is a common phrase for what I’d call the recycling basket/bin, then yes dirty tissues in it would be really annoying.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        But I would think we would hear that from the OP, because it’s a very important point. To me, there is a huge difference between, “Oh, please don’t put tissues in there, it’s for recycling!” and, “Ew, your tissues are gross, put them in your own office.”

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Agreed. “Sorry, that’s for (materials) only.” isn’t “Sorry, that’s my bin.”.

    2. Observer*

      The OP didn’t say that the colleague is putting tissues in the recycling bin, but in her trash bin.

    3. Cactus Pack*

      I never understand when commenters invent an entire narrative that isn’t even implied in the letter just to justify a letter writer. Yes, of course throwing away trash in a recycling bin is bad… that wasn’t the question. You’re answering a fantasy you made up in your head.

  30. Detective Amy Santiago*

    #3 is now one of the strangest letters I’ve read on this site.

    I share Alison’s bafflement as to why putting trash in a trash can is a problem.

    1. PB*

      Yeah. I’m wondering if OP is annoyed that the person comes in their office and blows their nose, and the trashcan is kind of a straw man? But I’m very unclear.

    2. Anononon*

      *shrug* I’m not the OP, but I get it. I could see it being mentally uncomfortable to see near someone else’s boogers. And, the more you think about how near you are to the snot, the worse it gets. Note, I don’t think this is that rational, and the OP should not say something, but I understand the underlying feeling.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      To me, the weird thing about this scenario is that it happens often enough for the LW to comment on it. How many times a day does this coworker wipe her nose in the LW’s office? Is she carrying her own tissue, or using the LWs? Is she coming to LW’s office specifically to use her tissue? So much to unpack here.

    4. Robin Sparkles*

      Seriously it is really odd to me…even with these explanations -I still fail to understand how throwing tissues in the trash is so offensive. I hope we are missing key information that could explain this OP’s issue.

  31. PB*

    #2, this really varies from manager to manager, and there’s no predicting it. I’m hiring for a major role right now, and I’ve been checking for new applications every morning. When applications come in really doesn’t matter, as long as it’s before the deadline. A strong application doesn’t become weaker because you read it fifth, and a weak application doesn’t look better just because you read it first.

  32. CNS*

    #3: I’d be really weirded out if someone consistently came into my space to wipe their nose & throw their tissue away! Also after I blow/wipe my nose I follow up with a sanitizer/hand wash (the nose traps bacteria, so it could spread) so I’m not sure if the other person is even doing that. Where I work facilities doesn’t change out the bag very often which makes me more aware. I go out of my way to only put trash in my can or a more shared space knowing this (putting trash in someone’s can just because I’m walking by would seem out of place just because of proximity to their desk/chair).

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t think the co-worker is coming in specifically to blow her nose, though. Sounds like they’re having a conversation, the co-worker blows her nose during the conversation. That’s a pretty common occurrence in my office in the winter and early spring, as we’re all constantly fighting allergies. If I’m in a co-worker’s office, armed with my tissues, and we’re talking about whatever, I don’t think it’s that strange to put my used tissue in her wastebasket.

      If the co-worker is deliberately walking over just to fill the LW’s trash can with used tissues, then yes, that’s pretty odd and off-putting. But I don’t think that’s the case here.

      1. Annie Moose*

        Yeah, if Coworker is specifically coming to LW’s office to blow her nose and throw away tissues, I think you’re well within reasonability to go, “yo, why do you come and blow your nose in here? Do it in your own office.”

        But if Coworker is just happening to blow her nose while in your office for other purposes, then that’s pretty normal.

        1. CNS*

          The keywords ‘often’ and ‘habit’ just made it seem like it happens a lot, I didn’t take it as they come in just for that purpose. I wouldn’t expect them to hold a used tissue in their hand or anything, an office just seems like a more personal space so I can understand why the LW would find it strange that it happens so much. It may just be a quirk that bothers the LW, so I’d just need more context for deciding if I would say something.

  33. Quickbeam*

    #3 I had a colleague who would come over and put all of his food garbage in my trash. That was annoying because I had to live with the food odor the rest of the day. Absent some kind of sensory annoyance, if it really bothered you I’d move my trash can to a very unreachable place (under the desk) and when the co-worker made the move top the trash, point to another can more distant. But I’m not clear on the problem.

    1. SpellingBee*

      Wow, that is rude! I hope you put a stop to that little habit. Honestly I don’t see the tissue-in-the-trash as a problem either, unless maybe the coworker comes into your office specifically to dispose of used tissues. If someone is in my office, needs to blow or wipe their nose and then throws the tissue away in a receptacle meant for that purpose rather than carry it off with them it doesn’t bother me at all. But of course that’s me, and (general) your mileage may vary.

    2. General Ginger*

      Yeah, that one is gross. I carry my food garbage to our breakroom/kitchen trash, where it belongs. Nobody wants decaying food smells or fruit flies in the office area.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, that’s pretty much building policy here. I might do the occasional dry food package, but banana peels, coffee cups, and takeout containers all go into the kitchen garbage. It’s not just that that’s where it belongs, it’s also that it gets emptied daily here, whereas office garbage doesn’t.

        1. AnotherJill*

          Banana peels are the worst. I used to work with someone who ate bananas pretty much daily and I could smell them all the way down the hall. When he would leave I would dump his trash.

    3. Tina*

      As someone baffled by letter #3 I totally agree that throwing food garbage in another trash can is rude!

  34. Persimmons*

    #1 I may consider working for an adult-oriented company if the place was super organized and ultraprofessional, so I could be certain that it wouldn’t attract skeevy employees who might get away with being inappropriate. I may consider working for a disorganized, unprofessional company if I absolutely adored their product or cause.

    But both of those issues together? Nah. Bullet dodged.

  35. MissDisplaced*

    I have to think that #1 was some kind of weird mistake and you were shown the wrong way or there was a hidden walkway/hallway or something. But when you realized you were locked out, did they not answer the phones again to let you back in the front? Even if it was a mistake, I’d say the place sounds pretty disorganized and disfunctional. It’s courteous for the person doing the interview to walk you to the next office or have the next person come to you. Their actions say a lot about the place, and you likely dodged a bullet here.

    Tissues: Isn’t that what a trash can is for? This debate kind of reminds me of the people who won’t sit on the toilet seats because they’re “dirty,” but then proceed to squat and pee all over them.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      If I understand correctly, OP didn’t actually try and call anyone to get let back in and chose to leave instead.

      1. Autumnheart*

        But you’d think the company would call OP and ask where they had gone. I can’t think of a good reason why a workplace would be like, “Hey, where’s our 1:00?” “Dunno!” “Oh well!” and just go on with their day like nothing happened. That’s pretty crazy.

  36. Alton*

    #3: For what it’s worth, I don’t find it odd to feel this way. I’m kind of squeamish and would feel weird working close to a wastebasket that had someone’s used tissues or other body fluids in it. I’ve also been in a lot of situations where trash collection was sub-optimal. I used to have a co-worker who would put food trash in my wastebasket, for example, and sometimes it would be hours or even a couple days before someone would collect the trash, and I’d have to empty it myself because of the smell.

    I purposely only use my office wastebasket for things like waste paper and dead ballpoint pens, and throw everything else out in the big communal trash can or the bathroom wastebasket (both of which are just down the hall), so it’s really noticeable when someone else puts their trash in my basket.

    I think it’s hard to police something like this without seeming unreasonable, though. But if there’s a reason beyond “I don’t like it,” such as the basket being used for recycling, I think it’s fine to tell your co-worker that.

    1. General Ginger*

      The food trash definitely crosses a line for me. Empty soda bottle, lid on? Sure. Banana peel? HECK NO. Put your stinky banana peel into your own trash, or, better yet, take it to the kitchen trash, where it belongs. Same with putting outright trash into recycling bins.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah… food is a no-no. And I’d say if the coworker is seriously sick with a bad cold and contagious, yeah well, I probably wouldn’t want those tissues around either. But the letter doesn’t seem to indicate that, it sounded more like routine sniffles (like 1 or 2 used tissues) not full-blown cold and flu nose honking gunk here, so I don’t quite get all the heeby-jeebies.
      I think most people were probably taught when kids to use tissues and immediately throw away in nearest bin, not carry them around, which seems grosser.

      1. Alton*

        I don’t know…as someone who lives with someone who’s susceptible to flu complications, I try to limit my exposure to other people’s snot. It can be hard to really know if someone is contagious or if they just have allergies (I can’t always tell if *my* sniffles are allergies or not).

        But honestly, I do carry tissues in my pocket unless they’re super gross. If I didn’t, I would be going through dozens of tissues a day on average. I wash or sanitize my hands regularly regardless.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          This feels like a different scenario, though. As an allergy sufferer, if someone were to say to me “Could you please throw that tissue away somewhere else? My roommate/partner has compromised immunity and I’m trying to protect them from germs,” it feels so, so very different from someone who just doesn’t like the idea of having tissues in their trash can.

  37. Cordoba*

    I expect that most people would not take LW#3’s hint with moving the trash can.

    I’d not think twice about throwing a tissue in somebody’s desk trash can, and if it was in a different spot one day I would interpret that as “I guess they reorganized” rather than “This is a message telling me not to use it”.

    If a co-worker requested that I not use their trash can I’d accommodate them; but just moving the can around the office is a bad way to communicated this request.

    In general, people don’t take hints.

    I find the best way to communicate stuff like this is to own that it’s illogical and request it anyway eg “I realize that it doesn’t make sense, but your tissues in my trash can are bugging me. Can you put them somewhere else?”

    1. Yorick*

      I agree, I would never guess that moving it meant they didn’t want me to use it.

      Though I guess you could move it somewhere where it’s sort of hidden or where it wouldn’t get used, like under the desk so that you’re always between it and the coworker.

      1. Specialk9*

        Yeah I was thinking if one had to reach under the desk and fumble around OP’s legs in order to throw away trash, any reasonable person would hold off. So that’s the one place where moving it might change the behavior.

  38. ResuMAYDAY*

    Tissue: I understand why you don’t like this. It might bug me a bit, too. However, I don’t think there’s any way you can actually make this request without coming off as a bit odd.
    I have two recommendations for you. 1) As soon as the coworker does this, crumple up a few pieces of paper or a paper coffee cup or something else disposable and ‘throw’ it out so that it covers the tissue. If your coworker notices, just say, “I have a think about used tissues. This way, it’s not in my line of sight.” If the coworkers doesn’t notice, it’s still covered which should take away some of the ick factor.
    The other suggestion is to hide your garbage can for a day or two. Put it in a closet or something. (I know, you’ll have to make a few annoying trips for your own trash…) but this way, the LW will HAVE to dispose of the tissue on their own. Just tell them that the cleaning crew, or someone else must have forgot to put it back and you’re sure it will resurface soon. This is a good way to start ‘training’ your coworker to use a different trash can.

    1. Canarian*

      But why “train” them through convoluted environmental adjustments and passive aggressive hints instead of just being forthright? Your first recommendation relies on
      (1) the LW keeping disposable bits of trash on hand to cover up the tissues,
      (2) the coworker to notice they’re throwing something away after her,
      (3) the coworker to find that noteworthy in any way,
      (4) the coworker caring enough to say anything, then
      (5) taking a pretty subtle hint about hiding it from the LW’s “line of sight” and modifying their behavior accordingly.
      That’s so much more effort for such a slim chance of the message getting across and the coworker not throwing tissues away any more.

      Likewise, your second suggestion is only likely to work for a long as the bin is hidden. Like other commenters have said: if they noticed a trash can moving around, they wouldn’t think it was a secret hint. If the bin disappears for a few days and that gets blamed on the cleaning crew… again there’s not a super high chance they’re going to stop using it once it reappears. Why would they? If the LW really can’t stand this, a straightforward conversation is really the only way to get the message across. Playing games won’t do it.

      Also, man I am utterly perplexed by the statement that if the trash can is hidden, they’ll “HAVE to dispose of the issue on their own.” Throwing a tissue in the trash IS disposing of it on your own. That’s what disposing means! The coworker isn’t leaving it on the desk or handing it to the LW. They’re disposing of it!

  39. Delta Delta*

    #3 – I feel like we need some more details on this. Is the trash can so tiny it can’t accommodate a tissue? (this is a thing, so I’d believe it if that’s what’s happening) Also, why is the co-worker in OP’s office to begin with? Do they regularly meet in there, and co-worker needs to blow her nose? Or does co-worker save up tissues to bring in there? Does co-worker not have her own trash can for some reason (also a thing that happens sometimes)?

    I’ll add this. I went to law school with a chronic nose-blower. She would arrive for class and get out her book, etc., and a packet of tissues. She would blow her nose all through class, and by the end of class she would have about 14 used tissues sprinkled around her immediate area on the table. It was, frankly, disgusting. One day someone finally attached a plastic shopping bag to the underside of the table and rather pointedly told her to put the tissues in the bag so that they weren’t on the common surface. Seemed to work.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Now, see, the leaving tissues everywhere, on the table? THAT’S gross. And the solution was a perfect one– provide a receptacle! The co-worker is leaving her tissues in the available receptacle. The alternatives are so much yuckier.

      I don’t know why I’m so caught up in this whole trash can thing.

  40. Madame X*

    #3 I think this really depends on three things:
    1. The layout of your office.
    Is a trashcan relatively easy to reach for a gas coming into your office or does this person have to literally get into your personal space it’s going to trash into your trash can that’s sitting at your feet below your desk?
    2. the reason they’re in your office in the first place.
    It sounds like your office me is coming in to talk to you. If she was only coming in specifically to blow her nose and then put her trash in your trash can that would be odd but someone actually talking to you and then just throwing out trash that they happen to have in their hand is not unreasonable.
    3. Are you personally responsible for cleaning out the trash can at the end of the day?
    You don’t mention that you have to throw out your own trash in this letter so I assume that that’s not the case. If you did I could sort of understand why you wouldn’t want to have to talk somebody else’s trash every day.

    So overall I don’t really think you have much of a leg to stand on to tell her not to throw out the trash in your trash can this is just one of those pet peeves that I think you have to get over.

  41. Recovering journalist*

    I think Allison missed the boat on #3. I am not at all a germaphobe, but if I had a colleague who came into my space, forced me to watch them blow their nose and then left the snotty detritus in my space on a daily basis, I would be grossed out. Nose blowing isn’t meant to be a public performance. We allow it on occasion because of necessity, but if this is a daily occurrence, surely the nose blower could take care of this at their own desk.

    Imagine if this were replaced with clipping fingernails – which is, in reality, much less gross due to not involving any mucus – would your answer be the same? I kind of doubt it.

    1. London Engineer*

      “forced me to watch them blow their nose and then left the snotty detritus in my space on a daily basis”

      How about a colleague who regularly comes in to talk with a runny nose, which they take care of in the most efficient manner. Accusing OP’s colleague of ‘forcing’ them is really overdramatic and comes very close to ascribing malicious intent where there is no need.

      “Nose blowing isn’t meant to be a public performance. We allow it on occasion because of necessity, but if this is a daily occurrence, surely the nose blower could take care of this at their own desk.”

      I genuinely cannot understand this reaction where nose blowing is a disgusting activity equivalent to defecating which must take place in a bathroom if at all possible. Have you never had a drippy nose last a week after a cold? Do you expect people in this position to take sick leave or run to the bathroom every 5 minutes?

      And there is a differnce with nail clipping – there is never a pressing need to cut your nails in the office, nails are never threatening to just keep growing until they start falling off your fingers – barring some kind of bizarre medical condition. And actually if that was the case then I hope I would be accommodating and let someone dispose of the debris without condemning them.

      1. Recovering journalist*

        If this coworker had a drippy nose for a week after a cold, we wouldn’t have the letter. According to the writer, it’s a regular, consistent thing. You are kind of proving my point. We all accept that when it’s necessary people have to do it. But if it’s a daily thing, then maybe find a way to handle it better.

        This isn’t something that would gross me out immediately. But after a couple months, I would probably wonder why my small cubicle and my trash need to be involved in your hygiene routine.

        1. London Engineer*

          Ok so it’s a mild allergy instead – if it was only at the level of sniffling I wouldn’t think it was reasonable to make someone take medication or constantly run to the bathroom instead of a quick blow/wipe

          1. London Engineer*

            It’s just that when you say ‘handle it better’ I think the coworker is handling it perfectly fine as it is.

          2. Delphine*

            and some types of rhinitis don’t respond to medication…ya kinda just have to deal with it.

    2. Lily*

      Nose blowing is a pretty normal thing to do, and – contrary to clipping your nails, doing your make-up or peeing – doesn’t require you to go to a private place, at least in western cultures. So, no, no real problem with that, though you need to not snot on other people.

    3. Kir Royale*

      Clipping fingernails is different though, because they are choosing when do it. If your nose is running, you can’t really stop it.

    4. PB*

      But he coworker isn’t coming into her office in order to blow her nose. While CW is there talking about work, she happens to blow her nose and throw the tissue in the trash. I mean, what’s the alternative? She leaves the office to blow her nose, and then comes back to continue the conversation? She sits there with snot on her face? I wouldn’t call it a “public performance.” It’s a biological function, and some people need to blow their nose more often than others (hello, grass pollen allergies!).

      I just don’t see this as a problem.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I was never allergic to anything in my life. Then this spring, out of nowhere, I had an allergic reaction to something for one day. I had no idea what it was, until a teammate, who does have allergies to everything, pointed it out to me at the end of the day that I might be allergic, at which point I ran out and bought allergy meds and the problem went away, never to return. But OMG do I feel for allergy sufferers after that experience! It felt like trying to work while being underwater! I went through a full box of tissues by two PM! The people who have to deal with this on a daily basis have all of my sympathy – I mean they did have it before, but now that I’ve seen first hand what a horror show it is, they have 150% of my sympathy. An allergic coworker can blow her nose at my desk anytime she needs to!

        1. Natalie*

          Extra fun (not), most allergy meds don’t actually do much of anything for nasal symptoms specifically.

    5. Mookie*

      Hmm, I don’t blow my own nose in public because I know it grosses a minority of people out and I’m too lazy to not conform, but I also don’t actually find either act (public blowing of the nose, not taking the tissue with you when you’re done but instead using someone else’s personal bin) personally offensive. On a primal level though, I could see the wastebin thing interpreted as an unconscious power play or a careless demonstration of disrespect, a kind of “YOU and YOUR space are the appropriate receptacles for MY gunk that is too gunky for me to carry back to MY pristine space” kind of thing. It’s hard to put into words, but I can picture the feeling it might evoke, where it feels like a transgression or insult but it’s difficult to explain why because it’s also innocuous (noses need blowing, sometimes urgently and in the wrong setting) and sensible (snot shouldn’t travel too far lest it snots up the joint, so it’s best to dispose of it nearby and as soon as possible*).

      *Post-sneeze, I used to stuff used (but carefully folded / closed) tissues back into my sleeve until I could drop it in neutral territory before I realized a great deal of people find this actively horrific to look at and would avoid handshakes later. I totally understand that but it just didn’t occur to me, like people who sneeze into their hands to protect your face and then use the same hands on your mouse or doorknob or whatever. Personal hygiene is like alchemy that way, where all these five-second-rules and exceptions are never quite nailed down, so we’re always drowning in what someone else considers an acceptable level and subspecies of human goo.

    6. Tina*

      Nose blowing is a perfectly normal biological function. Throwing garbage in a garbage is also normal. I can’t imagine what the alternative is here.

    7. Delphine*

      It’s not about you (they are not forcing you to watch anything or leaving anything in your space–they’re wiping their nose and depositing a tissue in the trash).

    8. Working Through PTO*

      “Nose blowing isn’t meant to be a public performance.”

      That may be true, but some people’s nose blowing sounds like a symphony orchestra tuning up.

  42. Murphy*

    The only time I’ve ever been upset about people throwing things in my garbage can was when I used to sit next to someone who had candy on her desk, and people would take some and throw the wrappers in my desk’s trash can. It looked like I did nothing but eat candy all day! Otherwise…it’s trash. I don’t see the issue.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m pretty sure the guy who cleans my office knows my habits well enough to wonder when there’s no banana peel in there. “Oh, hmm, she didn’t eat a banana today!” I mean, I would totally get used to other people’s habits in his position. And yeah, I would think you ate candy ALL DAY. :)

    2. Mookie*

      I will say this, though, if you’re going to clog up somebody’s personal wastebin, push that crap down. It is not a gauzy modern art piece and things should be flying away or tumbling out because you suddenly get dainty about touching a thing that was just up our own nose or was once wrapped around a thing now in your mouth / digestive system.

  43. Enforcer XIII*

    LW #1:
    This company seems disorganized at best and rude at worst. I think you dodged a bullet here.

  44. Jam Today*

    #1 seems pretty unambiguous to me, although I am also pessimistic about human nature these days. The back door of the building that leads out to a parking lot is not a mistake, and while its certainly possible that Dolores legitimately thought the interview was over, her behavior is simply *rude as hell*. I’ve cut interviews short via command decision before, and I’ve been kind and gracious, walked them to the front desk, shook their hand, and thanked them for their time (for pete’s sake, they may have been unqualified for the role but they took part of their day off and got dressed up just to meet me, its the least I could do).

    Imagine having to work with someone like that all day, every day? Yikes.

    1. Pollygrammer*

      I agree. “I’ll walk you over” does not typically mean “I’ll walk you out.” And “I’ll walk you out” is usually accompanied by goodbye, thank you, and other niceties.

      And if someone who was going to meet with me and was supposedly walked to my office never actually came in, I would probably check on them. This is seriously sketchy.

  45. Kaboobie*

    I just want to thank LW1 for the “Westworld” names. It made a nice change from “Game of Thrones”, and it had the (perhaps intended) effect of making the whole thing seem even creepier.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Thank you for mentioning “Westworld.” I was trying to place the names and couldn’t. I’m not yet caught up on this season and it’s been so long since the first one.

  46. Allison*

    #3 I used to get really annoyed when people would drop stuff in my cubicle’s trash can when they were just walking by, I know it’s probably not logical but it felt kinda disrespectful. So I moved the trash can further in. Some random lady actually crept into my cube behind me to throw away a wrapper, which was odd, so I hid the trash can entirely.

    However, if trash is *generated* in your workspace, as in someone eats a snack and has a wrapper to throw away, or wipes their nose with a tissue while they’re there to speak with you, it makes sense for them to then toss it in your trash, rather than take it back to their own workspace.

  47. Snickerdoodle*

    Am I the only one who thinks the company in #1 sounds super shady? An “adult-oriented” company that comes across as disorganized and unprofessional right off the bat seems sleazy or like a scam to me. As somebody else commented, if you’re going to work with adult stuff, you have to be, well, adult about it. Doesn’t sound like happens there.

    1. MagicToilet*

      Maybe this was Dolores’s way of saving LW from a horrible situation. “Duck down and stay quiet, and I’ll sneak you out of here. Go go go!”

    2. MissDisplaced*

      It’s funny because I thought they sounded super disorganized and off… and I missed the “adult-oriented” part on the first read completely. LOL! Having seen the adult-oriented part, this makes even more sense, and those places can be really weird. Every now and then in L.A. I’d get interviews at places like this.

      I once had job interviews with Hustler. Not for the magazine, but their gaming industry. They were very well-run from a nice office and the first two people I met with and would work with on a daily basis were very professional and businesslike, and the hiring manager seemed keen to hire me as I met all the required skills. Then I met with some higher-up guy on a 2nd interview (no, it wasn’t Larry!), who was, for lack of better word not. I guess I didn’t meet his “looks” criteria even though the job was non-public facing web & marketing program work. I could tell in an instant I was “out” and was pretty much shown the door after like 5 minutes. Like I said… weird places.

      1. MagicToilet*

        I’ve always wondered what working at one of the big adult companies would be like. I guess I’m not surprised that even their non-public facing roles would be evaluated for hotness. There’s goes my dreams of being a systems analyst at RedTube!

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I think that hiring manager was pretty bummed, and he seemed like a smart guy who would have been a good manager. I wonder if he got stuck with some young hottie who was unqualified? Or I suppose maybe they could’ve wanted a guy in the role or something too. But what a waste of time!

  48. Anon-A-Llama*

    LW #4- Is it really that big of a deal for candidates to apply again to the new posting? You can just simply not interview them the second time around. Something similar happened to me recently, and I’m wondering if I didn’t take the hint… I interviewed for a position and then a few weeks later got an email back stating that they were “reevaluating the position” and decided not to hire anyone at that time. I took that at face value that it wasn’t necessarily the candidates (I didn’t feel great about my interview though, so I figured I wasn’t getting hired), but rather they needed to make adjustments to the position description (I believe it was a new-ish position in the department). When it reposted, there was a different title of the position and some additional responsibilities added in. So I applied again. Was this a bad idea?

    1. drpuma*

      Sounds like your situation is different due to the changes in the posting. Personally I would email the internal recruiter/HR person I’d spoken with before resubmitting an application, specifically mentioning my interest in the changes and asking whether it would make sense for me to reapply to the new role. At the very least I would address those additions to the job description in my cover letter and give examples for why I am now a better fit.

  49. Lauren*

    #1 I don’t think they shoulder some responsibility. I think they shoulder ALL of it. *rolleyes*

  50. voluptuousfire*

    OP #2, I definitely had luck with being one of the first to apply so anecdotally, there’s some truth to it. Having said that, it was mainly just timing+luck. This was a handful of applications out of hundreds submitted.

  51. Jemima Bond*

    OK don’t judge me but I have written a short story about the situation in #1, starting with the letter and imagining an explanation. I kind of want to share it with you all but it’s about 2200 words long – is that too long to put in the comments in the open thread later?

    Oh good grief I have basically written AAM fanfic.

    It’s not saucy though I promise. A bit creepy though.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      Oh and by the way, I judge you as awesome. :)

      I’ve had a crappy morning and am looking forward to reading your story.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        I’ve done it! Posted on open thread. You can laugh if you want, it’s just a bit of silliness

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      I was thinking along the lines of “does Teddy actually exist…?”

      Can’t wait to read it!

  52. MagicToilet*

    Re: #1 Recruiting is a messy crazy process, and it’s easy for everyone involved to drop the ball in the shuffle. If things are going weird, it’s usually better to assume a mix up rather than maleficence. It never hurts to try to get some clarification. (Hopefully no one interprets this as “call the hiring manager once a day if I haven’t heard back after submitting my application).

  53. What's with today, today?*

    I get irritated because my co-worker leaves used tissues on our shared workspace and leaves, so I end up having to put them in the trash. I wish he’d throw them away himself! (Yes, I’ve discussed this with him, he’s in his 70s and makes it clear he can’t/won’t change. He’s also wonderful, so I overlook this).

  54. RockyRoad*

    At my last job I had a problem where people would use my recycling can as a trash can.

    Everyone had a blue recycling can at their desk, but we weren’t supposed to have trashcans at our desk (people would just hang a grocery bag under their desk or put a trash container/bag in one of their drawers).

    Sometime when my teammates or supervisor stopped at my desk with questions or whatever, they’d have some sort of trash (like if they were eating candy they’d have an empty wrapper) and they’d throw it in my recycling can. In the beginning I’d dig the trash out and put it in my trash bag, but eventually I just stopped. Felt stupid to be taking responsibility for other peoples’ trash.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Why weren’t you allowed garbage cans, that’s so weird?

      I don’t know why this bugs me, but it seems like people lose all logic and common sense with the placement and use of garbage cans. Your story reminds me of the time our office manager was complaining that people were putting small trash in our mounted medical sharps container. After listening to her rant for about 10 minutes I finally started asking her questions…

      Me:So, you mounted the sharps container under what?
      Her: The first aid cabinet
      Me: What do we keep in the first aid cabinet?
      Her: OTC Medications, bandaids, that kind of stuff
      Me: So what kind of trash is being thrown away in the sharps container?
      Her: medicine and bandaid wrappers
      Me: where’s the nearest garbage can
      Her: around the corner and down the call
      Me: sooooo… do you think if you put a garbage underneath the first aid station that people might use that instead of the sharps container?

      I had to have the same conversation about cans being placed under the paper towel dispensers in the break room.

      Seriously… place them correctly and the vast majority of people will use them appropriately. Make people expend effort and all bets are off.

      1. RockyRoad*

        My teammates said we weren’t supposed to have trash cans because they wanted to encourage recycling. (But that didn’t really make sense since they gave each of us our own recycling can…it wasn’t as if recycling something would have taken much effort if we all had trash cans too.)

        I wouldn’t personally use a sharps container for normal trash (I actually need to have a sharps container at home), but I can see why someone might think it was okay to throw any sort of “medical waste” in one if there wasn’t a trash can anywhere near by!

        I like how your line of questioning broke down the issue and arrived at an obvious solution. (I’m imagining the office manager being like, “Ohhh! Duh!”)

      2. Amethystmoon*

        My former office at one point got rid of individual trash cans because apparently the cleaning people had decided to work fewer hours, and with the fewer hours, decided it would be more efficient to empty only certain trash cans. We were then responsible for dumping our paper recyclables ourselves into a big plastic can.

  55. Seacalliope*

    On #3, it could also sort of be the manner. I used to work in an office where policy was to keep all doors open and my desk (and trash) were positioned right next to the hall door to go to the next part of the building. I got a lot of people basically throwing trash at me as they left our building. I hated it.

    Oddly enough, in my new job, my trash is in a mildly convenient place for foot traffic in the office (and also mildly inconvenient, as people accidentally kick it a lot). A lot of people toss things into it as they go past and it doesn’t bother me at all. Might be the difference in angle, because it never feels like it is done AT me, might be that I just truly hated OldJob, might be something about the manner of the people doing it.

    So yeah, throwing trash out in a trash can is what someone should be doing, but if it is truly bothering you, you may want to look at whether you are being squeamish and okay with being known as squeamish, or if there are other elements that bother you.

  56. Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!*

    OP #1 – I’m very confused as to why you left if you knew you were supposed to interview with someone else and didn’t take the steps to clarify or find out once you realized you were in the wrong place? I liken this to someone giving you instructions and because they perhaps misspoke or the instructions weren’t complete you decided to just not do the project, which honestly can be a reflection on how you would handle projects and assignments at work. Just something to think about…

    Regarding this situation, I’d leave it alone and put it behind you. Good luck on your job search!

  57. Kes*

    The only possibility for #1 I didn’t see mentioned is if there’s a campus with multiple buildings, and the door Dolores led OP to is the quickest route to the building where Teddy works. But even so it would seem a little odd she didn’t say anything more about where to go. Otherwise I agree that either she just didn’t know about the second interview, or it was cancelled or she decided it wasn’t worth it. Definitely worth reaching out in case there was just a miscommunication, and take this as a flag of disorganization to keep in mind.
    Seconding the calls for a future update on this one.

    For #3, I’m amazed by the people here who think blowing your nose in a coworker’s office is rude. What are people with allergies and colds supposed to do? Run out of the office every few minutes?

  58. LCL*

    Re #3: Alison, you will be so sorry you stepped into the garbage can wars! People have amazingly strong feelings about how to throw trash away. The last skirmish in our office ended up with an allegation of discrimination and follow up conversations with HR. I fall on the side of as long as you aren’t making more work for someone else, throw that stuff away. There are a million specific situations where there is a reason to restrict where things are discarded, but most often here it has been a control issue disguised as something else. I had to make it known that if I had the power to discipline (I don’t) I would give a day off without pay to anyone who complained to me about wastebaskets.

    1. Trash Confusion*

      You can’t just drop this post in without more details!

      1. The “last” skirmish — meaning there was more than one?
      2. discrimination allegations?
      3. HR involvement?

      Share the tea!

  59. Cucumberzucchini*

    #3) Take your used tissues to your own trashcan please. I totally understand where they’re coming from. Also food and empty food/beverage containers only goes into the kitchen trashcan while we’re on the subject. Also, Also, stop jamming things down into the kitchen trashcan. If it’s full, take it to the outside trashcan and put a new bag in it. It takes 5 minutes. I’m so tired of pulling out overstuffed kitchen bags and having them rip or overflow.

    #4) Sometimes if I get busy and I have a job listing up for which we’ve received a lot of applicants for but I’ve not yet had a chance to review them I will turn the ad off until I get caught up, then turn it back on. I understand I might miss the window on some candidates. I imagine some people who have applied are wondering why the ad is back on. You can probably tell people not to reapply in a nice way but I don’t think it’ll do much good across the board. So many people don’t follow instructions when applying for jobs. I have in capital letters in my job ads that I will not consider applications that don’t include a cover letter with a sentence answering a specific question. Only 25% of the applicants follow the instructions.

    1. neeko*

      I genuinely don’t understand why an odor free used tissue in the garbage is so much of a burden.

        1. neeko*

          Done. Still don’t care. They aren’t the same though. Without getting into details too much, a used tampon can produce an odor where a used tissue generally doesn’t. I mean, I don’t spend time thinking about what is in the trash.

        2. General Ginger*

          Those are… not the same thing. It might be gross, but it’s not NSFW to blow your nose in front of other people. Not so for a tampon.

  60. Tina*

    # 3- So if my office is across the hall, I’m having a conversation with someone in their office, I need to blow my nose, I need to continue holding that used tissue in my hand (doing what with it?) until our conversation is over and I go back to my own office? Even though a garbage can is right there? How is that not grosser?

  61. Going anonymous for this one*

    I work in a public library. We’ve got a regular customer with chronic allergies who refuses to: 1)cover their mouth/nose, 2)turn in a direction away from other people when they sneeze, 3)use any of the large number of garbage receptacles we have available in the building, 4)admit that any of this could possibly be a source of discomfort for people who are not themself.

    If I could exchange this person for someone who calmly and quietly wipes their nose and places the used tissue in the trash, I would do it in a heartbeat.

    OP3, try and reframe your thinking about this. Your coworker is dealing with her runny nose in a way that places the least amount of stress and frustration on those around her. She is not having a runny nose AT you, and she probably likes her chronic runny nose a whole lot less than you do. But she’s trying to minimize her impact on other people, and I hope you can at least start giving her credit for that.

  62. sharkBite*

    To remedy this situation, I position the trash can in the tightest Vnook where my feet rest. The can is not visible from standing or cruising by my area—- ha!
    Altho, if I’m not there it is easy to see. So please feel free to squat and reach alll the way in for access.

  63. CM*

    I kind of love letter #1 because I’m guessing the issue was caused by awkwardness all around. While all the conjectured sci-fi plot twists are entertaining, most likely Dolores spaced out, the OP panicked and left, Dolores either never realized what she did or never acknowledged it to anybody else, and all parties involved now think something really weird just happened. I do think Alison’s script will help clear things up, and I don’t think it’s really a bullet dodged — there could easily be a reasonable explanation here.

  64. LW #1*

    Letter Writer #1 here! Thank you, Alison, and everyone else for writing! (I’m on my way to read the fictionalized version of events after this. Very excited!)

    Just a quick update, I have sent off an email to Bernard that incorporated the feedback and will definitely let everyone know what the heck happens! I was a little torn about reaching out because I don’t think I would go back if they offered (there are a couple more red flags that I didn’t mention for brevity’s sake) but my curiosity kind of overrode that. :)

    I’ll keep you posted!

    1. Bookworm*

      Good luck! I once had a somewhat similar situation happen: org moved, address was not on website but was on the email signature of the interviewer, was led to the right place but could tell from the condescending, “it was in my email” that this wouldn’t work. They didn’t even send me a rejection letter/email.

      Honestly, if they didn’t follow-up with you they either did end the interview or…they weren’t interested in the fate of a potential employee, which is, um, not so great.

      Will be curious to read the update! Do hope it’s a genuine mix-up and all that you can share as a funny anecdote in the future!

  65. Kwazy Cupcake*

    OP #3: I would feel the same way about someone constantly using my trash, especially for tissues or food garbage, and I was surprised to find that I’m apparently in the minority! So I unpacked this a little bit. Basically, I hate feeling like I’m imposing on other people, but I’m also kind of anxious and it makes me more likely to perceive imposition when there is none. It’s like:

    1) Is there a chance that this thing might impose the tiniest inconvenience on another human being?
    2) I will not do the thing.
    3a) (Thing is not actually considered to be an inconvenience by most people)
    3b) Whoa, why is this other person doing the thing? Are they an alien, raised by wolves?

    So here, since I’m the kind of person who would carry around a used tissue in my pocket (or let’s be real about the state of women’s pants; a cardigan sleeve) on the off chance that throwing it away would gross someone else out, it becomes this issue where a totally normal, not-rude thing becomes rude.

    1. Kimberlee, Ranavain*

      I love this breakdown, and totally agree. It’s hard to get in the headspace of someone that’s doing something you wouldn’t, and it’s helpful to remember that sometimes *we’re* the weird one, not them!

    2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Very late, but I agree completely. To me, it’s also about being respectful. I was trying to think about how to respond to OP#3 for ages because I feel the same way as her. It’s not wrong for someone to use my bin for tissues but it does feel like it’s crossing a boundary. If the person is doing it consistently, it feels like a passive-aggressive way to be disrespectful. I would use my own bin or at least ask the person if I could use theirs (“Mind if I put this here?”).

  66. Quake Johnson*

    There’s an episode of Spongebob where he’s on a cleaning binge that ends with him going “Can’t have dirty garbage!” and he begins spraying cleaner on his trash.

    OP3…that’s kinda what you sound like.

  67. Book Badger*

    OP #3 – I have chronic allergies, and have since I was very young. And while some of my allergies are seasonal, I’m most allergic to dust mites, which are everywhere that people are and impossible to get rid of (and contrary to popular belief, cleanliness is not a contraindication of dust mite presence). I’ve been on and off various medications since I was a kid, and now I take three allergy medications: a pill, a nasal spray, and antihistamine eye drops.

    And despite all that, I almost constantly have a runny nose or sneeze. My nose will run just because a room is air-conditioned. I have at least three packages of tissues on me at all times. If I had to get up and leave every time I had an issue, I would hardly work at all.

    I understand that it’s gross, but it’s not deliberate and certainly not malicious. It’s not being done AT anyone. I find it absurd that someone whose behavior sounds perfectly reasonable (do you NOT dispose of tissues in the trash can?) is being treated like a bad actor by OP #3 and some of the commentators here.

  68. Already used up all my sick days*

    I’m immunocompromised and here’s my take on the tissue thing: the issue is the fact that she’s *repeatedly* taking care of a bodily function (that involves bodily fluids) at someone else’s desk, when she could really really easily…..not do that. I get that sometimes you gotta wipe your nose when the moment arises, but if someone made a HABIT of doing that at my desk, i would (politely) tell them to knock it off.

    1. Observer*

      In other words, you haven’t read the comments and don’t intend to.

      I know this comes of as snarky, but only someone who hasn’t read them could say this with a straight face. The reality is that in most cases she could NOT “really really easily” not do that.

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