5 updates: the coworkers secretly bringing kids to work, asking someone to change her name, and more

Here are updates from five people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. My coworkers are secretly bringing kids to work

First, I want to thank everyone for all their helpful advice and suggestions.

I actually completely forgot about the cameras we have in the office – part of the requirements we have for a large account in the business. My boss decided to take a look at the camera footage from last week, and discovered what was going on.

Bright and early Monday morning, Boss called Sansa, Arya and Office Manager into his office. And then all of us into a meeting. Arya’s hours have been adjusted – she now leaves at 4. My boss decided this would be the best approach and of course Office Manager and Sansa agreed. Arya actually complained – in our staff meeting! – that she wasn’t sure she would be able to make it to work on time and he said, “Well, either you accept this schedule, or I will have your resignation right now.”

He then reiterated – verbally and in writing – we are not to bring anyone of any age into the office at all, period. Anyone not in compliance with this directive will be terminated.

No big deal for me, as I don’t plan to bring anyone in to meet these people, ever.

2. Can I ask a new hire to use a nickname since we share the same first name?

I just wanted to give you an update on what I originally wrote you about. I did hire the person with the same name as me. When we hired her, we asked if she had any nicknames that she wanted to go by and she said no (it’s something we ask everyone because before your start date, your name badge gets made and it’s a pain to get a new one if you decide you want to go by something different). She started out asking everyone to call her Amanda C. Most people dropped the last initial pretty much immediately. She ended up getting frustrated with the confusion and chose a nickname for herself after about three weeks. Everyone made the transition pretty easily and it’s been going well.

Thanks for your help!

3. A coworker wants to take over my job (and may have thrown away my mug) (#2 at the link)

So things with Susan and I have gone relatively quiet. I’m more confident in cutting her off when comes to my desk to complain or seek validation from me, and the requests for training have stopped!

I had my opportunity to talk with her a few weeks after you posted my letter. She said again how great it would be if I could teach her the design programs, and I gave her a version of the script you suggested: “These are great programs, but they require a lot of training and practice to learn. I don’t think I could cover what you’d need to know in just a few sessions at work, I think you’d be better off taking a online course or learning from a instructor.” That seemed to give her the hint, because she didn’t ask again after that.

I also casually brought this up to my boss in my annual review, and I was assured that she and I are on the same page. Creative work is officially part of my job description now, and I got a title change and a raise along with it! Susan and I are officially on even footing now hierarchy-wise, so a lot of the condescending barbs have stopped too.

As for the mug mystery… I mentioned in the comments how my suspicions stemmed from from the fact that when Susan first arrived, she mentioned that she liked my mug and then started using it (despite it having my name on it), and I had to ask her to stop. Well, after you posted my letter another coworker mentioned she hadn’t seen my mug in a while (while Susan was in the room!) and I said that I hadn’t seen it, but I was sure it would turn up. Susan seemed concerned, and asked what the mug looked like, because she said she’d never seen it before. At this point, I’m letting it go. Who knows what really happened. I have moved the mug to my house, where it will live the remainder of its life as a starter planter for my spider plant babies :)

4. Telling an employee that I’m not promoting him (#4 at the link)

I thought you might be interested to know how this turned out.

I gave this a great deal of thought, and decided that I would put a 90 day moratorium on making a hiring decision for this role. I then had a frank discussion with my one and only candidate about my concerns, and specifically referred to the parts of his interview where he had an inflated sense of importance. I asked him if he could take the 90 days and demonstrate his coaching and his mentoring skills to me, and more importantly, to the team.

I was surprised when he accepted the challenge, and I am happy to say he took this very seriously. At the end of the 90 days, I offered him the role and he accepted. He is now one of the strongest members of my 20 person team. He assisted me with a recent hire and I was very impressed with his contribution during the interview process and feedback on the candidates.

My lesson from this: people benefit from honest feedback. It’s better for people to clearly know what they need to do succeed. If they reject it, that’s fine, but it’s their decision whether they choose to succeed, fail, or move on.

5. I think my on-call coworker was high when I contacted him

Hi! I know it’s been AGES since I wrote asking for help, but I saw some other updates posted recently and I figured I should write back letting you know how things went!

Honestly I was hoping for more of … something for an update, and I don’t have a ton. I realized, reading through the AAM archives and all of the very lovely advice from the commentariat (thank you all SO much!) that I had a huge resource I hadn’t tapped– my mentor. We discussed the situation and I relayed the facts, just like you suggested, without any judgement. The advice I got was that our culture is heavily against reporting things like that unless they become a repeat issue (I’m NOT comfortable with that, but, culture is what it is) so we escalated it to the immediate floor leadership team, but not to a manager. I feel like this is a somewhat acceptable compromise, as it does help ensure this isn’t a regular thing, and by raising the issue with someone with more authority and institutional capital and knowledge I feel I did my moral duty.

I want to apologize that there wasn’t a lot of context data and in this case that context really was key, it’s a fine line because describing the exact situation would have made my industry, and perhaps the exact employer and even office I work in completely obvious (we’re very uniquely situated in our field and handle our call-outs in a much different manner than our competition).

As an interesting bookend, this situation hasn’t ever occurred again, though it did happen similarly once with an outside contractor who seemed intoxicated and that I relayed immediately. In the time between the two issues we adopted call recording for all outgoing interactions, so I had more proof to go on than my own intuition. The shift leader told me that they couldn’t take any action because just suggesting someone was impaired could get them sued (!). The general attitude towards safety around here– we’re not lockout-tagout compliant, for instance, and there are human elements as key links, sometimes the only link, in the safety chain for some serious potential risks– is one reason I am looking for another job, even though I love my new boss.

I also wanted to thank the commentariat for their engagement and a lot of very excellent advice. I’ve since become a quite regular poster, and I feel like AAM has really helped me become better at my job and navigate a number of tricky situations with aplomb. This is my first “professional” job after working in factories and door-to-door sales, and I grew up in a blue collar household, so I credit all of my ability to navigate the white-collar world to you and your readers!

{ 317 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Bea

    Omg cameras! What a twist. I’m glad the boss handled that crap for you #1, it’s so much more delightful when you don’t need to even get involved in the process.

    Filed under This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things given the “no visitors ever” rule but these people can’t be trusted so it is what it is.

    Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          I think this isn’t unusual, and is directly related to the phenomenon that the individual at whom the all-office memo is directed never thinks it means them.

          Reply
        2. MCMonkeyBean

          Seriously, the boss’s response to this situation seems very generous to me so complaining about it seems absurd!

          Giving an employee flexible hours so they can address their child care situation is a pretty normal thing I think, but to do so in response to them going behind your back and bringing their kids into work after being explicitly told that wasn’t okay is pretty dang nice and they should be extremely grateful!!!

          Reply
    1. Observer

      Filed under This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things given the “no visitors ever” rule

      Not necessarily – keep in mind that security seems to be a bit of an issue, as they need to have cameras in order to qualify for a major contract. Which, of course, makes the whole thing so much more stupid.

      Reply
  2. Lilo

    Wow. I don’t think Arya appreciated the huge lifeline that was tossed to her. Given her comments in the meeting, I would suspect she is not going to be around much longer. Boss did her a huge favor and she complained about it.

    Reply
    1. MommaCat

      I’m betting that school starts around 8, which is what would make it tough to drop the kid off and get to work on time. Hopefully the school has a decent EDP (Extended Day Program), though I’m not sure how they work in public schools.

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      1. CRM

        The original letter said that their office is only 5 minutes away from the school, so this doesn’t seem like a good excuse for her…

        Reply
          1. Rusty Shackelford

            But the OP said she was considering asking to shift her hours to 8-4, so if that’s an option, it’s not like Arya has to come in unreasonably early.

            Reply
      2. Lilo

        My public school had precare. There are options but it definitely isn’t reasonable to make the employer tolerate 2 small children in the workplace. That is on Arya to deal with, her employer has already gone beyond for her.

        Reply
        1. boop the first

          When I was in elementary, I was usually dropped off onto the school grounds really early and just stood there in the rain by myself for a while. It was kind of boring but I didn’t have anything to be afraid of. There are usually staff inside the building somewhere. Also, a playground.

          Reply
          1. Kelly O

            Yeah, unfortunately, you really can’t do this. Our school is really strict about no drop-offs before the doors open at 7;30.

            It really is an issue of liability and who is responsible if something happens while the child is unsupervised on school grounds.

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    2. Coleen

      Right?? I couldn’t believe her audacity in having her hours changed to help accommodate her, then to turn right around and complain about it. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.

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    3. Bea

      I just looked back at the OP and she’s only been there 6 months. I can’t see this working out for her long term.

      I suspect the hours are an issue because Kiddo doesn’t start school until 8, so if she works at 7…that’ll mean additional child care. But that’s what happens when you do shady crap and try to game the system.

      Reply
      1. Lioness

        Where does it say she would be starting at 7? In the original letter, OP wanted to shift her schedule to be from 8-4. Couldn’t that possibly be what Arya is getting instead?

        Reply
        1. Bea

          “Arya’s hours have been adjusted – she now leaves at 4.”
          ” Arya actually complained – in our staff meeting! – that she wasn’t sure she would be able to make it to work on time ”

          If they didn’t change her start time why is she concerned about making it in on time?

          She originally worked 8-5. That’s 9 hours, minus an hour lunch most likely. So to leave at 4, you start at 7…

          Idk why the OP stated 8-4 because that’s not a full days work but maybe she’s salary and opts for no lunch.

          Reply
          1. doreen

            Lots of jobs are 8-4 ( or 9-5) , where you work 7.5 hours with a half hour lunch or 7 hours with an hour lunch. I’ve never worked a 40 hour week in the 30 plus years I’ve been working fulltime.

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          2. Baby Fishmouth

            Depends where you work – my full day is actually 7 hours a day, or 35 hours a week. That’s standard in my workplace, so I work 8-3:30 every day (with 30 mins for lunch). 8-4 could be a full day depending on the company.

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          3. Lioness

            Even so. Arya and Sansa might now be on the same schedule since Sansa left at 4pm. There’s no mention of Sansa having trouble dropping off her kid at the same school that is only 5 minutes away from work. And even Sansa agreed that the change in shift was best. She’d would know if dropping off the kid early would cause any issues.

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            1. Kathlynn

              Sansa the grandma though, and there is nothing to indicate she has custody of her grandchildren.
              Thus she may not have the same concerns as Arya.

              And as to why it might be an issue. since the kids are Preschool aged, the preschool/daycare they attend may not be open yet.

              Reply
        2. doreen

          It doesn’t say that Arya would be starting at 7 or that school starts at 8. Even if school does start at 8, that would still make it difficult for Arya to get to work by 8. Although I’m kind of wondering about how Sansa could leave work at 4 and pick these kids up – was dismissal at 4 and she simply expected the teachers to stay with them for an extra five minutes every day or was dismissal at 4:10 or was it some sort of afterschool care and Arya could have always picked her son up after leaving work at 5 ?

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          1. Justme, The OG

            My kid’s school starts at 8 but doors open at 7:15 for the earlier buses. Unless she lives far (which she does not, she lives 5 minutes from the school per the previous letter) there should be no issue dropping a kid off for school at 8 and getting there on time.

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            1. doreen

              That depends on the school – my kids’ school did not have buses, classes started at 8:10 and the doors opened at 8. If they were dropped off before 8 they had to wait in the schoolyard until 8 without adult supervision. Fine for a 12 year old- not so fine for a 5 year old.

              She works (not lives) five minutes from the school – so if she can’t drop the kid off until 7:50 or 8 am it will be difficult for her to get to work at 8. If she can’t drop the kid off until 8, she will be 5 minutes late every day and even if she can drop the kid off at 7:50 , there’s only five minutes leeway for problems like the school opening the door a couple of minutes late

              Reply
              1. Someone Else

                That’s interesting. Are you in the US? I’ve never encountered a public school that wasn’t open at least 30 minutes before the first class, although most open an hour til, not due to buses but because they serve breakfast in the cafeteria. Although I guess private schools might have tighter hours…

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                1. Kathlynn

                  My schools (public, in Canada) only opened about 15-20 minutes before school started. You could technically have dropped you3kids off sooner than that. But we aren’t taking (yet) about k-12 students we are talking about preschool aged. And I don’t know how that works. (though one I looked at only opened 7:45am-5pm)

                2. dawbs

                  Im at public in the u.s., and school starts at 845. Drop off is from 830 to 845. So a really tight window.

                  (There is before care, but if you’re not on the list before the school year starts, good luck getting in)

                  If my kid misses the bus (8:05), I basically can’t get to work by 9 and end up late.

                  (Of course if Arya and Sansa works together, one can do mornings, one afternoons. That’s it splits at my house)

                3. Anonymous Ampersand

                  In the UK, my kid’s (primary) school starts at 8.50 and the doors open at 8.50. There is a breakfast/after school club at a nearby school that takes the kids along for it opening, but you can’t get in before it opens.

                4. NotAnotherManager!

                  I’m in the US, and our public school doors open 15 minutes before school starts, unless your kid is there for an extracurricular before-school activity. Many schools have paid before-school child care, but ours does not and the wait list to get in tends to be about a year.

            2. Writer Letter One

              I work a 8 hour day – from 9 to 5. We have a paid hour lunch.

              So Arya’s hours are the same as Sansa’s, which is why she (Sansa) agreed so readily. Also, the bulk (about 10) of our office (17 people including me) work those hours because they like leaving at 4. My boss gets there at 6am. He’s an early riser, so he opens. The office manager starts a full hour later than I do, and therefore is there to close the office at 6. Or thereabouts, I’m not there then, so I can’t say for certain.

              I thought it odd that school ended at 4. Turns out it actually ends at 3, and Sansa paid for a hour of aftercare for her grandson and Arya’s son. So the whole “they never get to see one another” rationale was shot to bits with that piece of information.

              Sansa has her son drop off her grandson in the morning – at 7:45 am – before he goes off to high school. The school does a “breakfast gathering” thing – I don’t know what that is exactly, I didn’t ask. Sansa’s son is NOT the boy’s father – apparently, according to Sansa’s husband, while they don’t have official custody, the boy is with them more than his actual parents. Hubby is not too fond of this arrangement, according to Arya. (Not her husband – yes, she has one – but Sansa’s husband.)

              Arya has plenty of time to do the drop off and come to work, in my humble opinion. Apparently, traffic is more intense at that hour, which will mean she has to leave her house earlier, and she was very used to dropping her son off five minutes before the school day began at 8:45.

              I’m going to assume her husband, her parents, her grandparents and none of her four sisters nor any of their spouses can do it, because of work commitments. I can also speculate they don’t WANT to do it – even though they live “within shouting distance of one another” (Sansa’s words – I don’t think that means they all live together, but more like a couple doors away from each other.)

              Arya has managed to get to work on time most days. Not all. But most.

              Again, not to be unkind, it isn’t my problem, and I don’t want their personal issues to be MY personal issues. They are cute kids, and they are more cute now that I don’t have to hear or see them every day. Once a year is enough for me – at the holiday party, offsite. Actually, I’m hoping my boss will make it employees only this year, since last year, Boss allowed “everyone you want to bring” and Sansa brought virtually every member of her extended family last year, who, as you might imagine, took full advantage of the free food and the other giveaways at the party.

              But that is a story for another time.

              Reply
              1. AKchic

                Oof.
                That is a lot to unpack.
                I have suspicions here, and none of them are particularly kind/charitable.

                I am going to assume that Sansa may be feeling overly maternal. Perhaps because her oldest child is in high school and she is starting to feel anxious about the nest being empty soon. Who knows. Either way, she sees Arya as someone to mother. And the grandchild.
                Arya is a user who will happily allow people to “help” her (read: do as much parenting for her as possible). Arya is someone I like to call a Performative Parent. Only actively parents when there is an audience. Otherwise, they are happy to feign helplessness and try to pawn their child(ren) off on anyone else with a parenting instinct and willingness to step in and help. (FYI – The Damsel in Distress will always find a White Knight, so if Sansa stops helping, yes, Arya will pout and add some drama for a bit… but she’ll find someone else to “help”).

                In any case, your boss is doing the right thing by enforcing the “No Kids, Not A Daycare” rule(s) for the workplace. Sansa’s and Arya’s personal issues don’t need to be on display on the magazine rack.

                Reply
    1. Yojo

      I’m not! Amanda #1 should have urged people to use the new hire’s preferred name and not allowed her to be backed into a corner where she had no choice but to adopt a nickname. Everybody would absolutely have gotten used to it eventually if they were really encouraged to do so.

      Your name is your identity, and it’s an absurd thing for someone to have to compromise on for any reason.

      Reply
      1. Ali G

        Yeah I kind of get the feeling that the OP is happy it all worked out – because she got what she wanted – which was to force her co-worker into a nickname.

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        1. TypityTypeType

          Well, Amanda 2 voluntarily adopting a for-work-purposes nickname — rather than having it suggested — seems like a reasonably benign outcome to me?

          Just by way of anecdote, I once worked in a department with six Kevins. (Despite the occasional confusion, I always sort of hoped they’d hire just one more.) Most of them ended up being referred to — for reference purposes, I mean, not all the time — by the area they were most associated with: “Do you mean Teapot Kevin or Llama Kevin?”

          Reply
                1. scorpysuit coryphefuss arterius, also queer

                  Where can you go
                  When the world don’t treat you right
                  The answer is home
                  That’s the one place that you’ll find…..

          1. AnotherAlison

            I think it’s kind of interesting that people’s experience has been that having, say, an Amanda and a Mandy makes things easier. I can’t remember everyone’s preferences, when they aren’t my daily coworkers. Is that Steven or Steve? Does that Daniel prefer Daniel or Dan? Emails and email signatures don’t match what they prefer. I find it easier if people all go by the most common form of the name, and then clarify with the last name when I’m confused. (But I’m not going to tell anyone what they should go by!)

            Reply
            1. Not a Mere Device

              I think that depends on the nickname she chose: Amanda/Mandy is more likely to be confusing than, say, Rebecca, Becky, and Rivka, or Johnny and Jack. Or Amanda and Spike.

              Reply
          2. Dove

            Does anyone else have “27 Jennifers” going through their head right now?

            (“I went to school with / 27 Jennifers / 16 Jenns, 10 Jennies / and then there was her”)

            No? Just me?

            Reply
          3. many bells down

            My husband’s previous job had half a dozen Andrews, so they were all called by their last names. One of the Andrews is annoyed that almost 10 years after he’d left the company he’s still being called “Davidson” by all his friends.

            Reply
            1. JustaTech

              My high school class had a plethora of Elizabeths, to the point that all but the Beth and the Liz went by their last names. Except one poor girl, who had the same (common-ish) last name as a teacher, so she had to go by her whole name.

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          4. Wing-N-Wing

            Once worked in an office where, out of 50 people, we had 3 Toms, 3 Steves, 3 Julies, 3 Jims, 2 Daves, and 2 Ricks. I was hiring for a new position and my two finalists were “Dave” and “Rick.” You can’t make this stuff up.

            Reply
        2. krysb

          Agreed. My company has a number of people with the same names. We just call them first name/last name, unless speaking directly to that person (and even sometimes then).

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        3. Kelly O

          Kind of with you on this one too. It sucks that Amanda C. had to pick a nickname because adults couldn’t deal with two people having the same name.

          Signed,
          One of three Kellys

          Reply
          1. SimonTheGreyWarden

            Right? I have ta super common name, and I never in all my years of schooling – through graduate school – was the only one with my name. I use my full name, because I don’t like the nicknames for my name either. Guess what? Whether it was calling me “shorter Simon” or “writer Simon” or even just “no, the other Simon”, people figured out which ‘Simon’ I was, and that INCLUDES when I had a roommate with my same first name who had a girlfriend with, you guessed it, our first name.

            Cosigned, one of the plural Simons

            Reply
      2. DMK

        Totally, totally agree. I have an easily-nicknameable name but I hate nicknames and don’t want to be called by them. I would be pissed if I was forced to answer to a nickname at work because my co-workers didn’t support my choice.

        Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Nope, that’s not at all what the letter says. As I said below, I think people are reading it as pushing her into it because that’s what the OP originally wanted to do, but there’s nothing in this update that says that happened. This is speculation that just isn’t in the letter.

            Reply
            1. Rachel B.

              One year I started a new job in a new city, and out of sixteen people in the department, we had three pairs and a triple: two Karens, three Jennifers, two Rachels and two Chrises, though the Chrises were of opposite genders. So it happens. I revived a very, very old family nickname (sadly, almost all the folks who used to call me that have died), but the others just used their own names and it was fine. Though, in my defense, both Rachels taught exactly the same subject, and the others all had different sciences. The next year, we lost one Chris and one Jennifer but gained another Mike, and people still managed to figure it out.

              Reply
              1. Lavender Menace

                Yeah, I work on a team with two Lavenders* and in my org there are at least three other Lavenders I can think of (including one who pronounces it la-VEN-der instead of la-ven-DER like everyone else). We go by Lav(ender) M and Lav(ender) S. It works out, confusion is minimal.

                The client team I work with has several people with the same name in several situations (lots of Michaels, Joshes, and Matthews) and they have a habit of calling people by just their last name if there are multiples, military-style. There are some folks whose first name I didn’t even know for a while – just that it was probably Michale, Josh, or Matthew.

                Reply
            2. Yojo

              My reading is that OP didn’t push for the nickname, but she didn’t actively encourage everyone to use the preferred name, either.

              “Most people dropped the last initial pretty much immediately” doesn’t say anything about anyone making an effort to get people to not drop the last initial. Even if the adopted nickname is a matter of “easier for everyone” rather than “OP’s personal preference who got exactly what she wanted,” it still rubs me the wrong way.

              Reply
              1. boo bot

                Indeed. I’m wondering if OP talked to anyone at work about wanting to ask Amanda to use a nickname before she arrived/before writing AAM. If not, I’m inclined to see this as just a natural outcome from people who for some reason didn’t have 27 Mashas in their graduating class and are now unprepared for the challenge of two Amandas (although “Amanda C.” and such variants generally worked in grade school).

                The OP is the boss, though, and if she did bring this up, though, I can see people sort of creating the problem she wanted to foresee, consciously or not. The couple of times anyone’s been foolish to put me in charge of other people, it’s startled me how much they paid attention to (and remembered!) everything I said.

                Reply
            3. McWhadden

              Well, it does say her request to go by her first name, last initial was immediately disregarded. Which is incredibly rude and essentially forces her to come up with a solution she didn’t want.

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                I think calling someone Amanda rather than Amanda C. is less malicious than calling them by a nickname they don’t want though. I’m sure some of those people are just in first-name mode, not first-name-last-initial mode.

                Reply
              2. SimonTheGreyWarden

                Also it feels weird to say, “Hi Amanda B.” It shouldn’t, and I agree, but when we direct-address someone we don’t tend to use two names unless the person has two first names (Mary Jean) or a nickname that is always put with a middle name (Beth Ann). So people probably just reverted to “Hi Amanda” since they could see which amanda they were talking to. It doesn’t have to have been malicious.

                Also, FWIW, my roommate from college never used a nickname for our shared name before college, but since I always used Simon*, she started using Sy*. I didn’t force her to, I didn’t ask her to, but she didn’t care about a nickname where I hated one so it was just what our friends defaulted to. Sometimes it happens and isn’t malicious.

                Reply
            4. Not All

              I think there is so much speculation because the concept of it really, truly being too confusing is so baffling. It would be like someone writing in and saying that the office now required people to swipe a badge to enter the building but it was SO CONFUSING that they had to stop requiring it. Every school and the vast majority of offices have survived having multiple people with identical names just fine. What makes this one so outside the norms? Unless they are working primarily with non-neurotypical volunteers/staff, it’s pretty baffling that it was so confusing & frustrating for volunteers/coworkers that she gave up and gave in to a nickname in just weeks.

              Reply
              1. Czhorat

                Yes.

                I’ve never met a group of adults who couldn’t handle two people with the same first name. THey’re either the least adaptable people in the world or there’s something else strange going on here.

                Reply
              2. Anon for this

                Yeah, I agree. The medium-sized company I work for has many duplicate names, including some less common ones (including four or five Colleen’s and Lisa’s), and it works out just fine.

                Reply
            5. Database Developer Dude

              Of course the speculation isn’t in the letter, Alison. We, the AAM commentariat, pretty much savaged her when the original letter first came out. There’s no way Amanda-the-insecure-boss is going to admit to pushing Amanda-the-new-hire to accept a nickname, if for no other reason than that she knows she’d get an earful from the body politic here. I find it hard to believe that someone would be THAT stupid to subject themselves to the same savaging a second time….is there really a manager that’s THAT tone deaf?

              Reply
                1. Database Developer Dude

                  Come on, Alison. Look at the first letter, and then the second. Something stinks, and it isn’t my lunch. I’m not that gullible.

                2. Database Developer Dude

                  The facts don’t NEED to be in the second letter, because they’re already in the first.

              1. Czhorat

                Yes, there is.

                Remember the one who tried to push out a new hire essentially because he didn’t like them? AND said he wrote to AAM because they thought she’d side with a manager? And he was so over the top that Allison essentially asked if he was for real of just fucking with her?

                THe good news is that the SECOND update after he got fired seemed to show some growth but yes, he was that clueless and then some.

                Reply
              2. Lissa

                Then why write in at all if she was worried about a savaging? Updates aren’t mandatory. She could’ve just said nothing if she felt hurt/upset by the comments on her first letter – there’s nothing in the letter to indicate she particularly was bothered or even spent much time reading them.

                Reply
            6. Lissa

              I think people are also responding this way because this commentariat skews very heavily anti-nickname every time this issue comes across, but there are lots of people in real life who just don’t particularly care. Like, might say “Nope, I go by Amanda” because they usually do but are totally fine with Mandy also. I think this attitude seems weird to people who are very strongly names as identity etc. but a lot of people are just sort of neutral on it, or maybe are equally fine with Jen and Jennifer but only hate Jenny, etc. (I think people are also anti-OP due to her question in the first letter so are reading things from that perspective.)

              Reply
              1. NotAnotherManager!

                I don’t think it’s anti-nickname so much as calling people what they call themselves. I find that there is also a generational gap in acceptance of nicknames – all my mom’s peers are Bill, Debbie, Maddie, Jim, Cathy, etc., but my kids’ peers are William, Deborah, Madeline, James, and Catherine. Introducing oneself with, “Hi, I’m Elizabeth, nice to meet you!” and getting, “Hi, Liz!” or “Hi, Beth!” back is out-of-date.

                I think people are also reluctant to correct people, even if they do have a strong preference, particularly when there is a power differential. I worked with an Andrew for years who hated Andy and Drew, but he was in a sales position and didn’t feel he could correct people because his livelihood depended on their having a good relationship.

                Reply
                1. Clisby Williams

                  My 16-year-old is Joseph, and even he knows to say “I’m Joseph” if someone calls him Joe or Joey.

              2. MCMonkeyBean

                Yes, I bet a lot of people feel that because the desire expressed in the first letter was so unreasonable it seems almost unfair that OP got what she wanted anyway. If I’m honest, I kind of feel that way a little but I’m trying to remember that OP *didn’t* ask them to change their name, just wondered if they could. They were smart enough to ask if it was reasonable first and if we take this update at face value then it sounds like they listened.

                Reply
          2. Ktelzbeth

            I have been in the new hire’s position and voluntarily adopted a nickname to decrease confusion with another same level employee. It’s a nickname I used ages ago, but didn’t mind resurrecting for the purpose. No one suggested it and I really don’t think my boss cared one way or the other. The new person could have been forced to adopt a nickname or she could have been like me. Some of us just don’t feel that strongly.

            Reply
      3. Zk

        I am one of 4 people with the same name at my workplace, we all manage to figure out which one needs to do X or which one they are talking about. We do all occasionally all turn our heads if someone calls out our name, but it’s no big.

        Reply
        1. Empty Sky

          I think this is a small office problem. People in bigger offices just accept it as a fact of life and deal with it. I think we had six people with the same name once (we lined them all up for a photo).

          Reply
          1. GreenDoor

            I work in a huge organization and I was baffled as to why this was an issue in the first place. We just say “Finance John” to distinguish him from “Maintenence Guy John” and “Cafeteria John.” It’s not hard, friends!

            Reply
      4. Annie Moose

        She certainly had a choice! I currently work on a team with two Wakeens, and neither of them uses a nickname–we just clarify if there’s any confusion. I used to have a manager who was also named Annie, and again, neither of us used a different nickname. Context disambiguated in almost all situations, and on the rare occasion that it didn’t, it hasn’t been particularly difficult to clarify.

        It’s completely Amanda C’s choice to determine she’d rather be called Mandy (or whatever her preferred nickname) than deal with the confusion, but just accepting that sometimes people get confused over which Amanda is which is absolutely also an option! I mean, she could’ve even just doubled down and continued to ask people to call her Amanda C if that was what she really wanted. A different nickname was not her only option.

        Reply
      5. Traffic_Spiral

        “Amanda #1 should have urged people to use the new hire’s preferred name and not allowed her to be backed into a corner where she had no choice but to adopt a nickname. ”

        This seems a bit extreme. It’s not really on the boss to police that. Unless the office has decided to call someone an insulting nickname or something, it’s not a kindergarten and the boss should let people hash out their own names. Here it seemed to work out fine. Amanda #2 decided that, after some experimentation, she liked choosing a nickname better the whole “Amanda? Which Amanda? Oh, Amanda C.” thing.

        You’re making it sound like some kind of Kunta Kinte scenario, but with “What is your nickname?” “Amanda!”

        Reply
    1. Ali G

      I gasped at reading that. LOTO is a big deal. At my old job, they did a lot of things wrong, but safety wasn’t one of them. Contractors were banned from sites if they didn’t comply with things like LOTO and hot work permits, etc.

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        Most companies, even those which are otherwise awful, tend to take safety very seriously…because one serious injury and you could be paying for it for years or even decades via increases to your worker’s comp rates and overall insurance costs.

        Reply
        1. Bea

          And that’s not taking into consideration the massive fines that’ll they’ll be hit with when inspected. OSHA shows up when there is a hospitalization or death.

          Reply
      2. neverjaunty

        So did I. That is a HUGE deal, and no wonder the LW got no traction about a high co-worker; these people think safety means “well nobody got hurt so far”. I hope the LW gets out of there fast.

        Reply
    2. Kelly White

      Yeah- the LO/TO thing jumped out at me. That should be a big deal.

      If/when OSHA finds out it’s a pretty substantial fine- and the fact is, it’s a proven way to improve safety and save actual human lives and limbs.

      Reply
    3. Artemesia

      A close friend in college had her father die in a pulp digester that he was inspecting and somehow turned on with him inside. Imagine how horrible that death was. LOTO is a giant big deal and failure of that is often a cause of the most horrific accidents in the workplace.

      Reply
    1. NotAnotherManager!

      Seriously! She did not get fired, and she got her work hours shifted. She should be thanking someone rather than griping publicly.

      Reply
    2. Bunny Girl

      Right?! Does that woman not understand how incredibly generous her boss is being? I would have immediately fired her.

      Reply
    3. Bea

      I guess we can’t be shocked, this is the same woman who thought two screaming 5 year olds for an hour in that office was a legit setup. After the boss already told them to it’s not okay to bring them in!

      Reply
      1. Snark

        I wouldn’t say I’m shocked, but it’s kind of like….seeing Mt. Rushmore for the first time, having only seen it in photos. You just get a fuller sense of the scale of the thing.

        Reply
    4. hbc

      To be fair, if I’m in Arya’s position and I have a tight morning schedule, the ideal solution is to keep my current schedule and just have Sansa watch both kids in the afternoon. I just need to tweak things to make the current schedule work, whereas moving an hour earlier means my relief valve is gone and I’ve got nothing lined up in the mornings.

      But yeah, I also wouldn’t have the stones to complain *at work* *in a meeting clearly about my misdeeds* that my stomping all over the rules to get my first choice option eliminated my second choice option. Guaranteed, she’ll be trying to sneak into work late within a month.

      Reply
      1. Snark

        Oh, I wouldn’t even put money on a sucker bet like that – it’d be unfair. She’s totally gonna start sleazing in late.

        Reply
      2. NotAnotherManager!

        Believe me, I totally feel you on that – our kids’ schools start an hour apart, and my spouse and I often complain that we always have to be somewhere (school drop-off/pickup, work, activities, appointments, etc.)! Where I don’t have sympathy for Arya is that she was specifically told she could not use her office as a daycare, and she just kept sneaking around on it until caught. She’d been warned and didn’t make alternate arrangements (with Sansa or some other option), hoping, I guess, that Boss would never be there to catch them. Boss sounds willing to be flexible, if shifting hours is allowed, but she chose sneaking instead of looking for a solution that would work as best as it could for everyone.

        Balancing childcare with school hours with work is definitely tough!

        Reply
  3. Kate R

    Ooh, so happy to see an update for #1, and that even though OP would have been 100% in the right to explain to boss why this was distracting to her, I’m glad she wasn’t put in the awkward position of having to do so. I don’t really get Sansa though. If she was happy to watch the boys in the office, why wasn’t she happy to watch them NOT in the office? They are all lucky the boss didn’t do more than just adjust Arya’s hours given they were blatantly disregarding his already established rule that the office was not a daycare.

    Reply
    1. whingedrinking

      That amazed me too. Like, why didn’t she just take them to her home, or Arya could have given her a key to Arya’s home to watch her there, or…the mind boggles.

      Reply
    2. Genny

      Part of me wonders if Sansa didn’t actually like the original arrangement with Arya all that much and was happy to be given an out. I’m totally speculating on that, but it might be one reason she didn’t try to make the initial situation any better by taking the kids somewhere else and seemed content with the new arrangement of Arya leaving earlier.

      Reply
  4. CM

    I wonder if OP#1 said anything to her boss, or if the boss just decided to look at the cameras on their own? If OP#1 didn’t say anything, the boss may now blame her too.

    For #3, I’m glad you’re getting along with Susan better, but the mug thing is so weird — especially that you’ve seen her using it in the past, and asked her to stop, and now she’s claiming she’s NEVER seen it?? I hope you’re never in a position where you need to trust her with anything!

    OP#5, I’m curious about why the company’s attitude about safety is making you look for a new job — is it a moral objection, or is it impacting you directly? Do you know that other companies in the same field are better? You mentioned it was your first “professional” job so I’m wondering if your expectations are in line with your industry.

    Reply
    1. BRR

      Yeah I’m a little curious why the boss was looking at the cameras (if it’s normal, maybe a future letter?). The boss seems pretty reasonable so I don’t think he would blame the LW. It’s understandable why someone wouldn’t want to say anything and be put in an awkward situation with multiple coworkers.

      Reply
      1. Writer Letter One

        Boss stated he was doing it in anticipation of the bi-monthly compliance audit. I admit I sat on the problem, because I was hoping it would go away on its own – why yes, I am conflict avoidant, can you tell?

        Reply
        1. sheworkshardforthemoney

          I suspect someone else tipped off your boss and the cameras were a good way to corroborate their story without throwing anyone under the bus.

          Reply
    2. CM

      OP#5, never mind, I see in the comments to your original letter there are serious safety risks in your line of work (possible explosions!) I can see why you’d look into leaving if your company doesn’t take this seriously.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Failure to comply with LOTO has massive negative effects on workers—a compliant system prevents something like 140,000 injuries (and 120 deaths) per year.

        Reply
    3. neverjaunty

      No lockout/tagout in an industry where those procedures are used is huge. This isn’t a silly but ultimately academic moral problem.

      Reply
      1. the gold digger

        I was very impressed with my company’s new CEO in his second company-wide meeting. He led with the workplace injury someone had suffered – an amputated finger, so a big deal. He was livid.

        He spent the first five minutes of the meeting talking about the injury and how it was completely unacceptable – that people come to work whole and should leave whole and he does not want us to have a workplace where people go home without their parts.

        It’s the first time in my four years at this job that I have heard a senior executive talking about safety. We are a manufacturing company. This should be a topic at every single meeting.

        Reply
      2. OhNo

        I’m not familiar with that phrase, so I had no idea it was such a big deal! Especially given PCBH’s comment above, that seems like a massive issue that’s just not sustainable. Something’s going to go wrong there eventually.

        Reply
        1. Bryce

          Basically it’s putting a physical lock/tag on machinery that prevents it from being turned on. If you don’t tag out before doing anything to the machine, or remove a tag before confirming it’s clear, it’s at best a firing-level safetyoffense and at worst mangled people. I worked a desk job and we still went through all that in orientation just in case we walked near one.

          Reply
    4. DGA

      OP #5 here!

      The reason it bothers me so much is that with the role I perform I’m responsible for making changes that could get someone hurt, there’s the moral component to this of course but there’s also the fact that if I were to do such a thing it would be my fault, and I’d be responsible. That could have major implications for my career. I felt like the system was actively burying land mines and I spend a lot of my time dodging them. Every day at work is spent hoping I don’t hear a ‘click’ to carry the analogy further.

      In fact I did recently step on one of those land mines, a tool that should have told me if work was in progress failed, thankfully no one was injured, and the injury risk was more in-line with a minor burn than loss of life or limb, but I was disciplined, even though I could re-create the tool failure in front of my manager they were not interested in any explanation nor justification. I was written up before I was even asked about the situation.

      Reply
      1. ChimericalOne

        Ugh. I hope you get out soon! Don’t do what I did & let inertia keep you in a terrible place for way too long… Commit to at least an hour or two of job hunting per week!

        Reply
    5. Observer

      I’m not sure what your question to #5 is. Firstly, the situation has already affected them, and it’s likely to happen again. For another the culture is pretty toxic. And lastly, why would anyone want to stay with a company that is completely cavalier about safety? There are SO many ways that can wind up hurting staff, even the ones who are not on the shop floor.

      Reply
  5. There is a Life Outside the Library

    #2…are you kidding me? That is a ridiculous attitude. Of course she was probably frustrated. Everywhere I have worked there have been people with the same name, and people just use their last name. It’s really not that hard.

    Reply
    1. NotAnotherManager!

      Oh, good, I’m glad it wasn’t just me who felt that way! It came across as, “Our new employee got frustrated and decided to go by a nickname she uses nowhere else – but I got the outcome I wanted, so YAY!”, which I found off-putting. This is a common situation that shouldn’t be that hard to navigate – someone with my name sits on my floor and the worst that happens is we have to redirect people (and sometimes mail) to one another. Even the five-year-olds in my daughter’s kindergarten class could manage differentiating the plethora of Sophias in their class without making them choose individual nicknames.

      Reply
      1. LadyPhoenix

        Yeah. It feels so insulting.

        It isn’t quite as bad as the people who refuse to call you by your name because it is in andoreign langauge (because that has racism/bigotry tied to it)… but it is still very assholeish.

        Reply
        1. There is a Life Outside the Library

          My best friend has a Spanish name over ten characters long. Her whole life people have been trying to shorten it. It’s extremely insulting because people are constantly trying to make it fit their needs. And as an English speaker, it’s actually not a “difficult” name to pronounce, either.

          Reply
          1. Dust Bunny

            I have an obscure, though technically English-language, name and I am fed the heck up with people basically being lazy about learning it. It’s not actually that difficult . . . if they would pay attention. (I just had a guy misspell it on a Facebook comment EVEN THOUGH he was replying to me, which means the name was right there with my preceding comment!).

            Reply
            1. Justme, The OG

              I’ve had that happen so many times through company email. My name is in my signature. It’s also in attached to my email address when you reply. It’s not that hard.

              Reply
            2. Database Developer Dude

              I can go you one better. When I was the officer-in-charge (OIC) of the IT section of my Army Reserve unit (a previous one, not the one I’m in now)…we had a young soldier originally from Thailand. Out of respect, I endeavored to learn how to pronounce his last name ‘Srivanchaoran’. I got it mostly right (according to him…)

              I got reprimanded for not calling him by the nickname that others came up for him! (He was good natured about it, but he really preferred his own name). Luckily, I outranked the one who verbally reprimanded me…so I just ignored it.

              Reply
          2. JessaB

            There’s a great interview (I do not have a link) with Uzoamaka Aduba who goes by “Uzo” because people give her grief about her name, and her complaining to her mother about it as a child and asking to change her name to something more Western sounding. Her mother very wisely said that people have no problem pronouncing Tchaikovsky or other complicated names, and her name was pronounced exactly as it’s spelt, and no she was not getting a new name.

            It’s often a signal of racism, classism, nationalism etc. when people see a name they think or is foreign and instead of learning how to say it they expect people to answer to nicknames or whatever they decide to say. It’s not the same as having a dozen Charlottes in the place but names are important and people should call people what they want to.

            Reply
        2. Bend & Snap

          I hate this. Or when people go “I’m not even going to try to pronounce this.” I have an easy name but I work with a LOT of people from other countries, and this happens all the time.

          You know what, have a little respect and ask. Or try. Or freaking Google it which is what I do. Don’t just take someone’s name, decide it’s too hard and go ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          Reply
          1. whingedrinking

            I work in a field where literally everyone I deal with on a day to day basis speaks English as a second language. My rule is simple – I will call you what you want to be called. For some people, this means choosing a name that is easier for a native English speaker to pronounce and remember; others want me to use their legal names. If the name is hard for me to say or I’m not sure how to spell/pronounce it, I ask for clarification. And I do this *constantly*, because the nature of my work is such that people are cycling in and out all the time. It’s not at all difficult, it takes thirty seconds, and it’s just what you do if you want to treat people correctly.

            Reply
            1. Bunny Girl

              I call people by what they introduce themselves to me as. I do have a really terrible habit of shortening people’s names but I’m trying to stop. It’s not even that I’m too lazy to pronounce it; it’s just I like playing with people’s names too much. I have a long English name that I shorten until it’s only a couple letters long. I actually can’t stand being called my formal name. My grandma is the only one I let get away with it.

              Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I have a somewhat less common (although not obscure or rare) name that has a common English pronunciation. When people can’t get it right, I look them dead in the eye and say, “It’s in English.” I figure if I can pronounce “American” names, others can at least try to properly pronounce names from other languages.

            I get that there are some sounds that many of us simply don’t have the language training to pronounce. I agree that that means we should at least try to say someone’s name correctly, not simply say “I won’t try” and brush people off.

            Reply
          3. Tempanon

            I used to work in a call center and I made a point to try my best pronouncing unfamiliar names. The bad part was I often had to ask “is this Mr. Nahasavimapetilon?” Before they said their name so I couldn’t just parrot it back. The good part is the account info with name and address would pop up on my computer a couple seconds before the call so I could take time to break down a long name or try a couple variations in my head to go with one that was plausible.

            Generally people with names that often get mispronounced are used to it and appreciate someone making an effort.

            Reply
      2. Kathleen_A

        With the best will in the world to favor the OP…I agree. Amanda should not have gotten frustrated because her fellow employees should have found a way to call her by her correct name.

        Until quite recently when three of them left for various reasons, I worked with *four* Toms, and I still work with two Mikes and a couple of Garys. I also still work with two other women with names very close to “Kathleen.” The staff and our many volunteers just rely on context and/or last names to figure out which Tom, Mike or Gary is meant, and whether the person wants Kathleen or Katherine. It is *not* hard. At all. A way should have been found for the newer Amanda to continue using the name she preferred. Jeez.

        Reply
        1. BF50

          I’ve also worked with 3 Katies who all went by Katie and 99% you could tell which Katie by context because why would you ask Katie in Engineering about sales? That’s obviously the Katie in sales.

          I’ve also worked with two Julies in the same department, so the context was harder, but it’s not that hard to say Julie Smith and Julie Brown.

          Reply
          1. fieldpoppy

            I have a name that is a derivative of C/Katherine and last year in a group of 23 people who had a project to all year, there were 5 people called Kath/Katherine/Catherine/Cate/Catherine. You know what? We figured it out.

            Reply
        2. Mookie

          The “frustration” thing for me is a big tell, because it’s clear that LW didn’t do her job in backing up Amanda’s choices, particularly as a new employee, instead letting her flail and then capitulate to the group. Even if Amanda never told them otherwise–like, “this is getting too much, please let’s clarify who we’re talking about”–if the LW picked on the frustration it was clear enough to her there was an ongoing problem.

          Reply
      3. SB

        I’m really curious to know why the employee’s first choice of “Amanda C.” didn’t work out.

        I admit the tone of the original letter put my back up a bit – describing this as a “big snag” in the hiring process and framing the central issue as the volunteers knowing “that I’m the one in charge”.

        Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but if I had the chance I’d love to ask the OP their perspective on why “Amanda C.” didn’t work. Specifically, was the OP happy to be referred to as “Amanda S.” or whatever their version would have been, or was there friction around that?

        What’s setting my alarms off is “Most people dropped the last initial pretty much immediately. She ended up getting frustrated with the confusion.” There’s no mention of the OP, as the manager, making an effort to get the team on board the new employee’s preference, especially since there are only 10 of them so even “most people” wouldn’t have been that many. :/

        Reply
        1. SB

          ETA I realize now maybe the “most people” referred also to the volunteers who it sounds like there are a lot of, so my last point doesn’t stand – but still, I do wonder why the last initial option didn’t work.

          Reply
      4. caryatis

        OP said a lot of the people they work with are senior citizen volunteers, which might explain why they’re not great about remembering details like “Amanda C is not the same person as Amanda S.”

        Reply
        1. Kathleen_A

          Well, maybe, but I and my colleagues work with a lot of volunteers, many of whom are are people in their 60s, 70s and 80s, and our volunteers can usually manage to find the right Tom (we had 4 until recently – 3 in the same *department*), Mike (we have 2), Greg (2) and people-named-Kathleen-or-something-very-close-to-it (3). Some of them use last names and some of them use job descriptions (e.g., “Mike who is an attorney” or “Tom who works on water issues”). It truly isn’t a problem most of the time.

          Reply
    2. Jennifer

      My name is Jennifer. I was once in a college class with 5 other Jennifers – there were only 20 kids in the class. In my own department there is one other Jennifer and within my organization there are 24 other Jennifers. There’s been some minor confusion when someone says “Jennifer said she’d work on that” in a meeting but for the most part, I can clear this up within seconds saying “Oh no, Jennifer Smith is working on it. I am not.” I can’t imagine having to pick a nickname like “Nifer” or “Fer” because Jen, Jenny, Jennifer are all taken.”

      Reply
        1. Kathleen_A

          I see that, but I don’t know – it doesn’t sound like it was a happy choice for her! I am sure that if everybody tried, they could have figured out a solution that didn’t involve the employee having to go by a name she didn’t customarily use. I’ve worked with lots of people with duplicated names, and it just isn’t very hard to figure out if Tom Hardy or Tom Wolfe or Tom Pynchon is the “Tom” that is needed in a specific instance. So why was it so hard here? I guess we’ll never know.

          Reply
          1. Elsajeni

            On the other hand, for some people, this is just not that big a deal! I already go by different versions of my name in different contexts; if there are too many Lizzes at my work and it’s actually causing enough confusion to be annoying, I don’t consider it a great hardship or an imposition on my identity to say “You know, why don’t you guys call me Betty, actually.”

            And while it might be nice for the OP to check in and make sure Amanda C. really doesn’t mind becoming Mandy at work, I think some comments are suggesting way more policing of what other people call each other than is normal among adults, absent someone actually complaining or asking their manager to step in. Let Amanda C. handle correcting people, or deciding not to correct them, for herself.

            Reply
            1. ChimericalOne

              What Elsajeni said. I just can’t imagine that someone for whom this was a big deal would’ve picked a nickname to be called in as little as 3 weeks, no matter how “confusing” for others. It’s not like someone *gave* her a nickname and she just had to accept it because they wouldn’t stop using it. She actively picked a nickname for herself to solve the problem. If she cared that much, you’d think she’d have held out for at least a month or two. People probably *would’ve* gotten used to 2 Amandas, eventually.

              I personally go by a different name at work than I do at home to avoid confusion (think having a name like Jenny & not wanting to be confused with people asking for Jimmy, Ginny, & Jenna — your coworkers). No one asked me to use one name or the other. It just wasn’t worth the hassle/confusion. To many, many people, it’s not a big deal.

              Reply
            2. Anancy

              Same here. I’ve never gone by a regular nickname, and don’t often get assigned one. But if I ended up working for someone with my same name, I’d prefer to just go ahead and shorten my name or give myself a nickname. Especially if the same named employee has been there longer and everyone knows the other employee as primary “Christina”. Much easier for me to just pick and go by Chris or Tina and I’m not bothered by it.
              I agree though that the OP could check in with Amanda and make sure she’s ok with it.

              Reply
        2. NotAnotherManager!

          Right, but it sounds like Amanda #2 did so because her coworkers somehow could not manage the concept of using a last initial to differentiate two people with the same first name. That seems silly in a grown-up work environment when a good portion of the population encountered this sort of thing in grade school, and OP thinking that someone being so frustrated by it they change what they go by at work is a *good* outcome doesn’t really come across very well tone-wise.

          (I mean, I do feel for Amanda #2 – I do not use my own name at Starbucks because, despite it being very straightforward and well-known, I got tired of getting a cup with 12 different things that rhyme-with-but-are-not-my-name instead – but that’s Starbucks, not people I interact with regularly in a professional capacity at work.)

          Reply
          1. Annoyed

            People typically try to add an A to the end of my name. I know that’s because as it stands my name is unisexual.

            Think: Angel and it being turned into AngelA. Partially they do it to feminize my name I know because in their heads Angel is a male and AngelA is a woman…or else they just don’t know many Angels.

            I just usually say “actually it’s Angel.” That normally works. I can live with AngelA, but when they try to make me Angie, I cringe.

            Reply
            1. NotAnotherManager!

              This actually happens to one of my my siblings fairly frequently. Let’s say her name is Ann – she is not infrequently asked if she’s SURE that her name does not have an A on the end of it. Yeah, nearly 30 years in, she’s pretty sure her name is Ann and not Anna. I think it’s the incredulity that gets her.

              Reply
        3. Don't like my name shortened

          The employee changed it *after* no one else would call her by her preferred name, Amanda C. thereby making it so frustrating she essentially felt she had no other options. That’s not exactly the same as “she decided to change it on her own.”

          Reply
          1. Ciara Amberlie

            Yes, I wish the LW had encouraged others to call Amanda C. by her correct name, rather than letting her feel she had no choice but to choose a nickname she’s never used before.

            Reply
          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            You’re right that it’s not exactly the same, but I don’t want people stating as absolute fact things that aren’t actually in the letter (especially when they’re the most negative interpretation). The OP was generous enough to send in an update after getting pretty roundly slammed in the comments last time, and I want people to treat her fairly and kindly (and also take her at her word), even if they disagree with her.

            Reply
          3. Myrin

            I see exactly what you’re saying – I said below that I still don’t get why there was this huge fuss made about it to begin with when literally thousands of workplaces have the same problem and it isn’t in fact a problem at all – but to be very fair, we don’t really know that this is “her preferred name”.

            We know that it’s what she started out asking everyone to call her, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she feels strongly about it. My sister is exactly like that. If asked, she’ll say her regular name, and she doesn’t really “go” by anything else either, but she’s been called (with her permission) various names in different situations and honestly doesn’t mind either way.

            Reply
          4. bonkerballs

            Well, two things.

            1. I highly doubt Amanda C is her preferred name – her preferred name is Amanda.

            2. This isn’t the same as her saying “my preferred name is X and no one remembers that’s her name.” This is everyone knowing her name is Amanda, knowing she goes by Amanda, calling her Amanda to her face (because what person is going to say “Hey Amanda C!” to her face instead of just “Hey Amanda!” She doesn’t need that C tacked on, she knows who she is), and then forgetting to tack on the C when talking to other people. I know I would. Because Amanda C isn’t her name, Amanda is. And as someone currently participating in a group of 250 people where 14 of them have my same name, it’s not that hard to figure out who someone’s talking about without the use of the C.

            Reply
        4. Dust Bunny

          Yeah, it sounded like she changed it out of frustration after the rest of her coworkers . . . kinda were too lazy to adapt.

          I mean, maybe it was for-real voluntary, but maybe it was only technically voluntary after everyone else refused to meet her half way.

          We have several duplicate names in my job and it’s never been an issue. For one, you can usually tell in context–you’re not going to contact Amanda in IT about how many sick days you have, of course; that would be for Amanda in HR–or we just say “Amanda in HR” or “Amanda Lastname”.

          Reply
        5. Database Developer Dude

          Two things:
          1. When the OP decided to send in that first, ridiculous letter, she lost all claim to fairness. The idea of even asking a direct report to change their NAME is so beyond the pale it’s not even funny
          2. The employee received pressure from her colleagues and volunteers to change her name. A decision made under duress doesn’t really count as a free will decision.

          Reply
      1. Traffic_Spiral

        ‘ There’s been some minor confusion when someone says “Jennifer said she’d work on that” in a meeting but for the most part, I can clear this up within seconds saying “Oh no, Jennifer Smith is working on it. I am not.”’

        This is what it sounded like to me – except she decided a nickname suited her better.

        Reply
    3. Oof

      In fairness, her coworker choose to go by a different name, and we don’t know what she picked. She could very well be going by her last name. (I too went by my last name in a very similar situation, but I would refer to it as my nickname, not my last name)

      Reply
    4. Detective Amy Santiago

      Seriously, that update was upsetting to me as someone who was one of 7 people with my name in one of my high school classes of 30 people. It’s so disrespectful not to call someone by the name they prefer.

      Reply
    5. Genny

      I can see how it would be particularly awkward to use a first name/last name initial construct. I know for me it’d be way easier to just call everyone Amanda and deal with the minor confusion or informally use accounting Amanda to identify who I’m talking about. I don’t really know, maybe because Amanda C just feels a little grade school-like to me, which reads as infantilizing?

      Reply
  6. Delta Delta

    #1 – I feel like this is a good update and that there are 2 important facts in the update: 1 – that there are cameras, and 2 – that this is the kind of place where visitors aren’t allowed. (I’m guessing this has to do with the major accounts and probably a security issue) I’m glad the manager was able to restructure the day so Arya could continue working and pick up the child, and the child doesn’t have to hang out in an office for an hour. Seems like a win-win all around.

    Reply
    1. AcademiaNut

      I have a feeling that the schedule change was a last-chance-before-firing discipline measure, rather than a nice thing the boss did to help out Arya with childcare difficulties.

      Arya has already been in trouble for using the office as a daycare, was told in no uncertain terms not to do it anymore, and went sneaky instead (with the help of Sansa and the manager). The boss now knows he can’t trust any of the three, so instead of telling her to knock it off and letting her figure things out, or giving her the option of change her hours, he forced the change to ensure that she can’t do it again.

      I also wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the boss gave all three notice that any further incidents would result in them all getting fired – Arya and Sansa for bringing in kids, and the manager for hiding it from the boss.

      Reply
  7. Ali G

    #1 I am so happy for you! I can’t believe Sansa had the gall to complain about her hours when she’d been breaking the rules all that time – but whatever. Enjoy your childfree work environment (and the hour you get to yourself without Sansa and Arya!).

    Reply
  8. Amber T

    #4 – what an awesome update! Kudos to you for giving him that shot, and double kudos to him for taking your feedback seriously, changing his ways, and bettering himself – it’s not easy (especially when “I’m the best” attitude is involved).

    Reply
    1. Socratic Method

      Yes, I was going to say the same thing. This seems to have been complicated by the fast that this was the only candidate, but this seems to me to have been the best possible outcome. I hope other managers take this result to heart when they are concerned about giving honest feedback, because lots of employees will rise to the occasion when given the opportunity.

      Reply
  9. OlympiasEpiriot

    #5

    !!
    OvO

    LockOut/TagOut NON COMPLIANT??!!?!?!?!?!

    There’s this twitter account called EndlessScreaming that suddenly came to mind…

    Reply
    1. DGA

      OP #5 here, you and me both.

      And the fact that when I brought this up to my boss the result was NOT panic and an immediate commitment to change. So much of every day is spent dodging the land mines that are being buried for me and hoping I don’t realize I’ve done something serious due to a tool failure…

      Reply
      1. OlympiasEpiriot

        Ok, reading your original letter, this update and your two comments, I, a stranger on the internet, want to give you two pieces of completely unsolicited advice:

        (1) Report this to OSHA. They are woefully understaffed for enforcement, but, please, report this mess. Reports are confidential. Your state probably also has an OSH office. Those reports are also confidential, but, given the way some states are, if you have to fill something out by hand, use your left hand so your writing is less recognizable.

        (2) Do everything you can to leave and work somewhere else, including moving. Depending on your job title, if someone is hurt enough to need medical attention or to, I hope not, die, you are likely to be legally liable under the creating/exposing employer rule. If you have any certifications, there is likely a clause in the issuing body about ethical and character standards under which the cert can be taken away in a situation like this. Like, I’m a PE. I often work on multi-employer sites (like construction sites) and we might not have created a hazard, but, if we know the hazard is there and work there, we become the exposing employer for our employees. If I am on site and see a problem and do not act to fix or report the problem and I stay there, I become part of the mess, even if I am not the controlling employer. I can end up having both civil and criminal liability depending on the situation. It is likely that if it is bad enough, my PE license could be revoked by the state.

        Note they have whistleblower protection. See the link in my username.

        Reply
        1. OlympiasEpiriot

          And, yes, I know you are already searching. I highlight this to encourage you to look farther afield if at all possible to increase your odds of getting out sooner rather than later.

          Reply
  10. Bea

    Wait. They don’t follow lockout tagout? Call OSHA, they don’t ever give names out for complaints, they’ll just toss them an inspection.

    Reply
          1. Lynca

            I’ve heard many a story of people falling off suddenly started conveyors or crushed by various machinery. LO/TO is serious business.

            Reply
            1. Bea

              And you can see all work place death reports filed in the US. It’s gut turning knowing we still have workplace fatalities because people can’t be bothered with proper techniques!!

              Reply
            2. Free Meerkats

              I knew an electrician in the Navy who didn’t do LO/TO one time. He got copper plated. Luckily, he was wearing the faceshield, so no permanent damage to his face. Just the World’s Worst Sunburn and he was flash-blind for about a week.

              He never did it again.

              LO/TO is Serious Stuff.

              Reply
          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            The cooked alive stories are next level horrifying. I just read a story about a bread factory where two workers were baked alive.

            Reply
            1. Bea

              If you look on the OSHA Website under DATA you’ll find fatality reports. MOST don’t make the news, just case law when survivors sue.

              Reply
      1. Bea

        It’s the procedure to ensure a machine’s power sources are isolated during maintenance, repair or if it’s out of commission for any reason.

        So a person fixing something isn’t harmed by stored up power or by using a broken machine.

        You either put a physical lock on the power source(s) or tag stating that it’s not to be used and is under repair and by whom.

        That’s the cliffnotes version.

        Reply
      2. krysb

        My brother in law worked at a munitions factory (my mom still works there) as maintenance. A machine went down, he went to fix it, procedure (specifically lockout/tagout, this company has issues with putting its employees at risk like this) wasn’t followed and it blew up. He was killed and two other people were seriously injured.

        Reply
      3. Dove

        Basically, it’s a procedure that’s mandatory for any equipment or work environment where if the equipment starts running while someone is doing maintenance or repair, there’s going to be injuries or death as a result. A piece of equipment that’s been locked out/tagged out has been shut down and CANNOT be accidentally turned back on – it has to be deliberately unlocked before it can be reactivated. And the lockout/tag out procedure is also used to warn people “hey, don’t mess with this thing right now, someone’s working on it” because the power source and the bits that need maintenance or repair might not be located close together or in direct line of sight.

        Asides from machinery, it’s also used by electricians (lockout/tag out the fuse box or the power supply for the building) so that they can turn off the power to the building or to a specific part of the building and work on rewiring things or narrowing down what the problem is, without having to worry that they’re suddenly going to be handling live wires without warning.

        Reply
    1. Czhorat

      Yes.

      YOu shouldn’t ignore Lockout/Tagout violations until someone gets killed. This is EVERYONE’S responsibility.

      Report it before someone who works with you is on OSHA’s workplace incident page.

      Reply
  11. Foreign Octopus

    UPDATES!!!!

    Thank you, Alison, I love updates!

    Also, #1 – cameras. Don’t care for them much of the time but boy do I love them here. Your boss sounds to the point, which is great in this situation.

    Reply
    1. Amber T

      When it’s not the end of the year (update season!) I always forget about updates, and then I see them, and it’s so exciting!

      Reply
  12. LadyPhoenix

    I loved all the updates except for 2.

    You guys bullied her into using a nickname, which makes me mad.

    It isn’t as bad, although similiar, to people refusing to refer to their employer by their name because it is foreign (because that usually has racism/bigotry mixed into it)…. but it is pretty high up there in the RUDE category.

    Reply
    1. Murphy

      It doesn’t sound to me like she was bullied into it. It sounded like she, of her own volition, got tired of the confusion and decided to go by a nickname. An employer asking if you have a nickname you’d like to go by is a normal question.

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes, agreed. I think people are reading it as pushing her into it because that’s what the OP originally wanted to do, but there’s nothing in this update that says that happened.

        Reply
        1. Dr. Johnny Fever

          Would the OP own up to it if she had? Did she compromise at all by going by *her* last initial? These are essential questions.

          I’ve been “frustrated” into a nickname at work that I didn’t like and it sucks.

          Reply
      2. Baby Fishmouth

        My guess, based on this reading, is that the coworkers (and probably OP) made a lot of comments about how confusing it was to have 2 Amandas, how everything was going to get mixed up, that Amanda C. probably felt pressured into going by a nickname.

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          That’s purely conjecture, though.

          “She ended up getting frustrated with the confusion” doesn’t in any way imply that there was a lot of talk about the confusion, nor that there was any pressure going on. In fact, it simply sounds like there indeed ended up being a lot of confusing moments where people were unsure who others were referring to (whether that’s something that’s easily preventable or not is another matter entirely and was thoroughly discussed in the original comments), Amanda found that annoying, and thought of a solution.

          Reply
          1. eplawyer

            Sorting out 2 amandas is not that hard. If you want to try. Especially if one has different job duties than the other.

            As noted, how hard did OP try to avoid any confusion? Sure she might not have said anything, but your whole tone, actions and demeanor can say a WHOLELOT about how you feel about a situation. Was OP doing anything to clear up the confusion once she realized it was happening?

            When someone uses the word “frustrated” about a situation, it means it is not being handled well. Something went wrong here and it starts with management to fix it.

            Reply
      3. Myrin

        Yeah, what happened to our rule of not reading OP’s letters (and updates) in the worst possible light?

        I’ll freely admit that I’m still not quite understanding why this is apparently one of the only workplaces in existence where people can’t handle the appearance of two employees with the same name (just get used to always saying and thinking of them as their full name; bam, done); I also don’t get why the last initial was dropped pretty much immediately; but none of that is the OP’s fault.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          This.

          Reads like OP took the advice to let her choose her name, but it is in fact a workplace that cannot adapt to Jennifer Accounts and Jennifer Sales. Not the weirdest workplace quirk I’ve read on here.

          Reply
        2. Elsajeni

          It is a bit weird, but I note in the OP’s original letter that she mentioned they work with a lot of volunteers and do community events — it may not be the other employees who were confused, but the volunteers and random community members who aren’t in contact that often and are confused and annoyed that “I spoke to Amanda two weeks ago and now she doesn’t remember anything we talked about” or similar. Even they would probably have figured it out eventually, but it sounds like Amanda got fed up after a pretty short time.

          Reply
          1. Mookie

            The fact that there are so many volunteers makes this even stranger to me, because you’d think some of them, in turn, share the same common name. This is a very large group of people, all of whom have never used anyone’s surname initial in this way before now. That’s surprising, but certainly possible.

            Reply
        3. Kj

          Yeah, this makes no sense to me- I survived a workplace with four Kims for a while. Once in a while, someone CCed the wrong Kim, which wasn’t great, but it wasn’t fatal either. We used last names a lot. It worked fine.

          But it doesn’t sound like the OP was mean or anything. Just that they have odd name norms.

          Reply
      4. BRR

        Yeah I don’t think she was bullied. I read it as the coworkers were lazy about adding the last initial. Which is still ridiculous but they weren’t purposely calling her something else.

        Reply
        1. ChimericalOne

          Dropping an initial isn’t, to most people, anywhere close to refusing to use a preferred name. Her *actual* preferred name, the one she used in most of her life, was Amanda. “Amanda C.” was the workaround that she thought would best preserve her preference while minimizing confusion. It didn’t work, so she picked something different. She could’ve stuck it out, and people probably would’ve adapted, but she didn’t. I don’t see how that’s on the OP at all.

          Reply
          1. Illia

            I don’t see how this isn’t reading into a narrative that we have no evidence for. If claiming that she was forced into it is going too far, this is just as unfounded.

            Reply
  13. RabbitRabbit

    #2: My department has name confusion sometimes (including two cases of a manager and one of their direct reports sharing a name), but we do go with a mix of shortened names and other distinctions as needed.

    The time where it didn’t work was when a (surprise) baby shower invite went out via e-mail; it’s kind of unspoken at the office that these are surprises, and so when my coworker ‘Pamela’ got an e-mail invite to “Please attend Pamela’s baby shower on X date!” e-mail… and she’s fairly overweight and assumed that someone got some wires crossed (and the other Pamela works in another office space separate from ours so the confusion doesn’t happen often and we hadn’t seen her lately)… she got offended at the assumption she was pregnant and it took a colleague pointing out that no, it’s not you-Pamela, it’s other-Pamela! (We have a usually chill department that loves to order cakes at the least provocation, but she had been in a job that was pretty toxic to her before, so I think she has some holdover issues from that job.)

    So, basically – use surnames when possible or things might get ugly/confusing.

    Reply
    1. Shark Whisperer

      At my old workplace, we worked with animals and one of the lizards had the same name as one of the staff. It was usually easy to figure out who you were talking about, but there were people in other departments that only knew Human Ron and did not know Reptile Ron existed. There were some very awkward moments of exclaiming thing about the lizard around people who didn’t know about the lizard. “ew, Ron stunk up the place by pooping everywhere again!” or “Ron is so cute! I just want to snuggle him!” are fine things to say about a lizard, but very not work appropriate things to say about your co-worker

      Reply
      1. Database Developer Dude

        Shark Whisperer, I’m imagining the looks some folk got at your workplace. Thank you, that’s the best laugh I’ve had all day.

        Reply
      2. Delta Delta

        This is making me remember my neighbor from when I was very little. His name was Stanley. He was widowed and subsequently married a woman named Anna, and Anna had a dog named Stanley before they met and got married. Stanley the dog and Stanley the human and Anna all lived together after the wedding and you were never really sure which Stanley she was talking to. If I remember correctly, Stanley the dog ultimately outlived them all.

        Reply
      3. Environmental Compliance

        Oh my goodness, I love everything about confusions between Human Ron and Reptile Ron.

        It probably doesn’t help that my aunt’s partner’s name is Ron, so now I’m imagining him in all these shenanigans and laughing possibly too much about it.

        Reply
      4. Slartibartfast

        I am an Amanda and there was a clinic cat named Mandy. We used to get phone calls from clients asking for Mandy. I’m not a cat but I am easier to understand over the phone, so I just took her calls.

        Reply
    2. Peanuts

      I have a very common name and a common surname too. There has never been so much confusion that I’ve resorted to using a nickname.

      I now work at a big company with several thousand employees at my office, and there are 2 other people with almost exactly the same firstname-lastname combination.

      I discovered this by accident when someone sent an automated email to me about “my” interview candidate who was waiting in reception. It took less than 5 minutes to find the right person. And that’s sharing both names. I’m sure an office can cope with 2 Amandas.

      I did also work with a guy called Yu in the past. That could cause some confusion: things like “Yu worked on this last month” or “Yu said that it’s in the cupboard” could be met with a perplexed look and “No I didn’t!”

      Reply
  14. Naomi

    I’m so pleasantly surprised by #4! It’s rare for someone with that kind of “I-know-best” attitude to take criticism to heart and improve, especially in a relatively short period of time.

    Reply
    1. Thany

      Same! I think update #4 was my favorite. It’s really nice to hear about someone taking constructive criticism and running with it to the finish line!

      Reply
    2. Myrin

      Yeah, I didn’t expect that at all – it’s awesome to get a positive surprise like that! (Both as readers and certainly as OP herself!)

      Reply
    3. Twenty Points for the Copier

      Yes! and also a LOT of credit for the manager/OP for seeing it as a problem and knowing it would be awkward to address, but doing it in a way that was straightforward and as kind as possible but also made very clear the consequences for either improving or failing to improve.

      Reply
      1. voyager1

        I wonder if some of it was just the guy trying to be confident in the interview. Most arrogant people I know don’t take freeback well at all.

        Reply
        1. Twenty Points for the Copier

          That crossed my mind as well, though the original letter says that before the interview the OP already had doubts he would be a good mentor to the rest of the team. It may be that he was slightly arrogant normally and turned it up out of nerves/interview style or that he didn’t realize it was a problem and would impede his advancement until specifically told. Stories like this make me really appreciate the difference in culture that managers being clear about expectations (without confusing honesty with being a jerk) can make.

          Reply
  15. Dragoning

    Sometimes when we get updates like these, where the entire commentariat disagreed with the OP, and the OP’s update is “everything worked out exactly as I said it would,” I wonder if they’re fake.

    Not helpful, I know, but I always wonder.

    Reply
    1. ChimericalOne

      Well, I wonder if that’s not likelier than we realize, though, if only because it’s hard to fit the nuance of a situation into a letter, so the letter writers generally know their own situation far better than the commentariat does.

      Reply
  16. Evan

    Unless I’m reading it incorrectly, it seems like #3 left out a sentence where the mug “mysteriously reappeared” after Susan claimed that she had never seen it? In that case I’m glad it’s safe, but I’m also curious about where and how it showed back up again…

    Reply
  17. A. Ham

    #2- As many people have already said- it can be really demoralizing and damaging being asked (or in this case, it seems, bullied into) go by a different name. The following story happened almost 20 years ago and it still makes me angry.

    I go by a nickname- I basically haven’t been called my full first name by anyone since the day I was born. As weird as it sounds, my own “legal” first name is actually kind of foreign to me. My (nick)name is one that is used for both boys and girls. My second year of middle school a student started a year behind me with the same name- both first AND last (no relation), which I do understand could be confusing. (Our middle school was fed by two grade schools so we hadn’t gone to school together before this). However- We were in two different grades, no overlapping teachers, and -oh yeah- he was a boy and I’m a girl. It seems to me it would be pretty easy to tell us apart (do you mean 7th grade Alex or 6th grade Alex? Girl Alex or Boy Alex?). But the principal (the PRINCIPAL!) decided it was too confusing and told me I had to start going by my formal first name. I cried. My parent’s were furious but she wouldn’t change her mind.

    Luckily, none of my teachers put up with that nonsense and called me Alex, as requested, but I had to go through two full years of the admin of my school insisting on calling me by a name that was mine on paper only. Middle School is rough enough as it is. That just made it worse.

    Names are important. I would apologize to Amanda 2 and insist that your staff and volunteers find a way other than a nick name to tell the two of you apart.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous for This

      My son & another boy at his high school had the same first and last name. My son was a senior and white. The other boy was a freshman and African American. The secretary of the school had a horrible habit of calling them “White John Smith” and “Black John Smith”. I told her & the principal that I thought that was horribly racist and they needed to just use their middle names. They agreed but I guess the secretary forgot because one day my husband had to go pick up our son because he was feeling ill and she called him out of class like this “Mr. Hand, please send White John Smith to the office. His father is here to pick him up.”. My husband blew a fuse. We had several school officials call our house apologizing that night and the secretary was “officially” disciplined.

      The next year my son and I had to stop by a electronics store to pick something up on our way out of town for a funeral. When the cashier asked my son’s name he said “John Smith”. The cashier said “No way. Seriously, what’s your name?” My son replied “John Smith” and showed him his ID. Yep, it was “Black John Smith” checking us out. They got a good kick out of it.

      Reply
      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        I have no words.

        Good on your family for speaking out about how racist it was though. That complaint may not have been taken as seriously if the other John Smith’s family had been the one to raise it.

        Reply
      2. Database Developer Dude

        Anonymous for This… I’m black too…and I want to know what’s racist about saying “White John Smith” and “Black John Smith” for the sole purpose of differentiating who you’re talking about? No one is saying that either is better or worse of a person than the other.

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          I always find it amusing the way some white people bend over backwards when identifying people to avoid race. You know — one black guy in the group and someone is trying to tell a newbie who to consult about the widget assembly and it is — oh he is about 30, tall, wearing a red polo shirt — when it is the only black guy in the place. BUT labeling a kid constantly as ‘White John Smith’ or Black John Smith’ is pretty gross. That black kid over by the door is different from Black John Smith. i.e. making it sort of part of his name.

          Reply
          1. Mookie

            Yes. It’s like having two Sams, but there’s Woman Sam and Man Sam, a scenario I can’t really imagine because I will cringe myself into unconsciousness. Seems dehumanizing and clinical to me. We are not our adjectives and picking and choosing the parts of someone else’s identity to “mark” them seems presumptuous, to put it mildly.

            Reply
            1. DeColores

              At my last job we had Girl Leslie and Boy Leslie in the same department. I always found that weird, plus we were all adults so I felt like girl/boy was even more inappropriate than woman/man. Apparently it was too much work for the Llama department to call them Leslie the Groomer/Leslie the Trainer.

              Reply
              1. NotAnotherManager!

                In this situation, we had Mr. Stacey and Ms. Stacey (because they were both last-named Jones and had almost indistinguishable titles).

                Reply
        2. Anonymous for This

          They both had middle names that could have been used instead of using race to identify them. My son did not appreciate being called to office as “White John Smith”. Racism happens to white people, too.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous for This

            I forgot to mention: My son was a senior, the other John was a freshman, so they did not have any of the same classes. There was no need for the secretary to ask for “White John Smith” to be sent to the office because “Black John Smith” was not even in the room.

            Reply
          2. Anon4This2

            While I wholly agree that the secretary should have chosen another differentiation like middle initial or class year, this isn’t racism. Racism is prejudice/discrimination/treating people as less-than because of their race. This person was equally applying race as a descriptor to both boys, which is in poor taste but not discriminatory. Using this as an alleged example of racism happening to white people is both inaccurate and minimizing of the discrimination people of color actually face.

            Reply
          3. Racism requires STRUCTURAL SOCIAL POWER

            Hooboy…I was worried this was what was lurking in the background of your story. No, it doesn’t. Generalization? Stereotyping? Sure. Active discrimination? Being dismissed from consideration for jobs and scholarships, treated as inherently dangerous, denied the status of childhood, killed and incarcerated at way higher than proportional rates? No.

            Reply
            1. Database Developer Dude

              Exactly. Now, that secretary should have probably referred to them as “Senior” John Smith and “Freshman” John Smith… but referring to them as White and Black is not racism…they ARE white, and black, respectively.

              If it’s drill weekend, and I’m standing around with a bunch of male CW3s…how do you differentiate which CW3 is me without resorting to calling me ‘the black CW3’??

              Reply
    2. Bea

      I’m so relieved to have had the opposite happen early in my life. My grade school teacher asked what name I go by, I explained “my name is Alexandria but they all call me Lexie…” “do you like being called Lexie?” “No. I wish they’d call me Alexandria.” boom. Kids were told my name was Alexandria and if they called me Lexie they were corrected then disciplined if they blatantly did it to piss me off. I effectively scrubbed memories of the two years my stupid family nickname was used. Even my mom changed her ways when she learned of my decision at school.

      I’m glad your teachers were on your side. The administration are such jerkwads.

      Reply
      1. A. Ham

        That is a great story! I’m glad that teacher was so wonderful, and started such a good snowball effect! All through school teachers seemed to “get it” when it came to my name. With the exception of one teacher in high school who always seemed to want to call me the other popular (and more feminine) nick name associate with my full name. *eyeroll*

        Reply
      2. Temperance

        Your teacher is a darn hero. My family nickname is also something I despise (Chrissy … blech), and I just never used it at school. My mother would use it to my teachers, and I would just use my full name with everyone, including other kids.

        Kind of hilarious, though, because my mother had NO clue that the craptacular nickname she saddled me with because she didn’t like my first name never got used. Haha.

        Reply
        1. Bea

          She changed my life by being such a huge way. She was my penpal during the summers for elementary school as well. She also visited my middle school girl scouts troop. She’s one in a million and I’m trying by track her down all these years later but no luck so far. She changed schools after awhile and we gradually lost touch.

          Reply
          1. Anon4This2

            Truly, you would be surprised how many parents, including mothers, are browbeaten into using a family name or something that they do not like. In some families, the grandparents choose names, in others, like my poor sister-in-law, they get an epic guilt trip about continuing on the family name even if Elroy Aloysius IV* is what gradeshool playground nightmares are made of. My nephew didn’t know his name until mid-elementary school because everyone used a nickname (also not her first choice, which was deemed “too girly” by the menfolk).

            *Not the actual name, but not that far off

            Reply
            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

              My middle name is fine, but my Mom felt bullied into giving me that name by my aunt (who really wanted me to be named after her). I always felt a bit iffy about it once Mom told me the story.

              Reply
      3. DecorativeCacti

        I had basically the opposite happen! My full name is something like Christine but when I was in elementary my friends called me Chrissy. One day my teacher heard that and the following went down:

        Her: “Do people call you Chrissy?”
        Me: “Only my friends do sometimes.”
        Her: “I’m your friend! I’m going to call you Chrissy!”

        I hated it. I asked her not too. It just felt… Wrong. I’ve never used that name again.

        Reply
    3. Hamtaro

      I once shared an apartment 5 other girls. Two of them had the same name as me, so they all decided to call me ….”Hippity-Hop.” It was a riff on my last name, and I LOATHED it. Whenever I said “Stop calling me that,” they would be like, “Oh, you’re so funny, Hippity-Hop.”

      Reply
      1. Amy Farrah Fowler

        Living with 5 other girls sounds horribly painful. If someone started calling me “Hippity-Hop” I would not answer to it. Not ever. Just completely ignore whatever they said until they got the message that if they wanted to talk to me, they needed to use my correct name.

        Reply
      2. Database Developer Dude

        Who was the landlord, Hamtaro? If it was you, I’d have (were I in your place) used that leverage and shut that crap down with a quickness!

        Reply
    4. dramalama

      It’s been said a lot but it’s worth repeating: that it’s conjecture that Amanda 1 manipulated/bullied/otherwise forced Amanda 2 into a nickname. Amanda 1 originally wrote in because she thought it would be confusing, and was told to back off and let Amanda 2 decide what to do, and according to Amanda 1 it turned out to be confusing so Amanda 2 decided to go with a nickname.

      I think you’re misapplying an experience from your past because it was so painful to you, but neither Amanda 1 or 2 is in middle school. They’re adults, and if Amanda 1 actually did as you suggest here (apologize to all the staff and insist that Amanda be recognized by a name she has now, specifically on her own decided against) it would be hella weird and infantalizing.

      Reply
      1. A. Ham

        Amanda 2 became uncomfortable in her work situation – I’m not suggesting OP did anything specifically to make that happen, I think the whole work environment may have. I think she walked into a place with some people (volunteers and such included) that couldn’t figure out how to tell two people apart, except for their name. Of course that was frustrating! In a lot of places people would have gotten used to it over time (whether it was an initial or some other indicator to tell them apart) but for some reason it didn’t in this situation. Why? why did she feel like it was her responsibility to change instead of theirs?
        She may have done so on her own free will, but I would caution a guess that she may have felt a little backed into a corner when nothing else was working. She may not last long in a place where she has to go by a name that’s not hers (again, even though she decided to herself).

        Reply
      2. McWhadden

        “and according to Amanda 1 it turned out to be confusing so Amanda 2 decided to go with a nickname.”

        But that’s not what happened. Amanda asked people to call her by her name and initial. And her wishes were almost immediately disregarded. So, because everyone was so rude, she was forced to take on a name she didn’t want.

        Reply
        1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

          But she wasn’t forced. She chose to change it. She could have consistently used her name. She didn’t.

          Reply
          1. Mookie

            But don’t you think it gets to be so much that it ceases to be a real choice? I can just imagine the time-suck aspect of this, plus, for the people with whom she works face-to-face, it’s really weird not to recognize which Amanda you’re talking about and rude to decline to take any effort in not confusing the two when one is attempting to help others be less confused less often. Since this was the LW’s original fear, you’d’ve thought she’d reinforce this and act quickly and promptly to make sure Amanda C.’s efforts were recognized and respected.

            Reply
            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

              And nothing says original OP didn’t do that. Also, again, if working with a lot of volunteers/non co workers, Amanda 2 may have had issues with them stating “I spoke to Amanda yesterday” and not knowing which Amanda. Amanda 2 chose to change her name into something less confusing. Did Amanda 1 push her to that? Maybe but doubtful. Im betting it was as simple as the 49th time someone told Amanda 2 “But I talked to you last week and you said X.”

              Reply
    5. Lawgurl06

      I am with you on this one! I have ZERO idea why my legal first name is my name since NO ONE has ever called me that in my life. I’ve always gone by a variation of my middle name – Nicole and even when I was in a boat load of trouble, I got called Nicole not my first name. It is pretty foreign to me and if I hear it, I don’t respond, because I have no assumptions that anyone would call me by that name since I dont’ go by it, have never gone by it, and don’t like it. I also once had an incident in college where a professor decided he would call me by a variation of my legal name (which I absolutely cannot stand) the entire semester even though I did not put it on any work turned in and corrected him a number of times. He turned to me one day and just said, You look like an X, not a Y so I will be calling you X. It infuriated me. I sent a nasty letter to the dean at the end of the semester about it because it is incredibly demoralizing. Hell, I cried after I got married and wanted to change my name to my middle name when the state I live in said I couldn’t do that without going through the legal name change process. On a similar note, the federal government was completely okay with it because I was going to keep my Middle Name and my maiden last name.

      Reply
      1. NotAnotherManager!

        I have a high school friend whose name is Prudence Nicole, and her parents called her Nikki her whole life. She loathed Prudence and would actually punch her siblings when they called her Pru. I have NO earthly idea why those people did just name the poor girl Nicole Prudence, if it was very important to honor whatever ancestor was Prudence because there was no intent to call her anything but Nikki. It made her life harder, and she hated official documents (like her driver’s license) that listed her as Prudence R. VeryLongLastName.

        Reply
    6. Humble Schoolmarm

      I’m probably too late to get some thoughts on this, but I’m a teacher and I always start the year by asking students for their preferred name and then I just use that for the rest of the year. This has always resulted in “call me Ferg or Janey or RJ”. This year I have a student, Bettina, who wants me to call her Bacon and it just feels…weird. I mean, it’s her preferred name and I guess it’s no different than if she asked me to call her Bets or something that wasn’t a pet-name but still… Should I just get over myself?

      Reply
      1. Bea

        You asked, so the best thing is to follow through. She may be having a giggle because it’s a silly request but it shows you’re serious about respecting their choice of what to be called. If she is joking it’ll teach her to make the request as well.

        Reply
        1. bb-great

          Yep, once when my classmate named Richard was being…well, a teenage boy, by asking all his teachers to call him Dickie, our math teacher got the last laugh by actually calling him that all year long with a straight face.

          Reply
      2. Not a Mere Device

        Yes, call her what she asked: whether it’s because she just loves bacon (or got that nickname because she does), or is pulling your leg, or has been called Bacon since she was a kid for whatever reason, it’ll do no harm.

        And if she was pulling your leg to see if you’d do it, she can come to you next month and say “Ms. Schoolmarm, I thought about it and I’d rather be called Bettina.”

        Reply
      3. Kelly O

        Our back-to-school paperwork has a spot for the kids to share their preferred name or nickname. Our kiddo doesn’t go by one, but it’s helpful for some of the other kids.

        Reply
    7. Kay

      I feel like as a manager you can’t force people to remember a letter. I’m kind of confused by everyone’s reactions to this letter- as far as I can tell the OP asked what name Amanda uses, they put in place using a last initial, people were struggling to remember it so Amanda decided to use a nickname. To me it suggests their co-workers for some reason struggled to remember to differentiate, not that they were purposefully dropping initials.

      Reply
  18. MLB

    I’m not about being a “tattler” but if something is affecting my job, I’m telling someone. I don’t care what industry you’re in, if you’re expected to be unaltered while you’re at work, then you are expected to be unaltered while you’re on call. Period. End of story.

    Reply
    1. Czhorat

      You absolutely can and should report things if they are

      1) a health and safety issue
      2) An ethical issue

      Otherwise, I’m fine staying in my lane. For what it’s worth, Lockout/Tagout non-compliance is ABSOLUTELY something which needs to be reported, if not to the boss, then to OSHA. There is a legal and moral responsibility to have a safe workplace. Shrugging that off as a quirk of your disfunctional workplace is not acceptable.

      Reply
  19. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    #4 – commendable, you didn’t close the door on the person, you didn’t say “I’m going outside”, you gave him a chance to prove himself (and gave him a jolt of confidence) and he carried the ball and ran with it.

    That’s good managing.

    Reply
  20. Imaginary Number

    In regards to #3: I’m also in a job where I have a particular skillset that I mostly taught myself and took me a long time to learn. I don’t mind sharing my knowledge at all but I’ve also found that the best response to someone asking for general help is to point them to the same tutorials and then make myself available for specific questions.

    Reply
  21. DiscoTechie

    #3 – As someone who works in a office with (let me count them off the phone list) with 5 Jims, 4 Dans, and 4 Toms the idea of an office culture that pressed a person to come up with a nickname to be known is kind of annoying. We just use “Tom Last Name” , or “Last Name” if they’re okay with it.

    I’m stilling trying to get my extended in-law family to use my full name rather than my initials that I went by in college when I was introduced to the family. I thought at the time that it was easier to use my initials rather than have to have the “How do you pronounce your name?” game every time.

    Reply
    1. nonegiven

      A guy where DH worked had the same name. People decided to call them Fat Name and Happy Name. Fat wasn’t very fat and Happy wasn’t all that happy but that must be how they were perceived.

      Reply
  22. Jam Today

    I would absolutely use the preferred name of “Amanda C.” but I would totally say it like I was in an old-timey gangster movie.

    Reply
  23. Lucy B

    Our 3 person team has two people called Lucy. Both our last names start with B. To make it even harder, Lucy B covered for Lucy B for Lucy B’s mat leave. When Lucy B came back, Lucy B was moved to a different position but still works closely with (and sometimes covers for) Lucy B and vise versa. And yet everyone figures out who they needed to speak with about stuff!

    Only 1 person has ever suggested one of us go by a nickname. We both shut that down pretty fast since she was the only person out of about 60 that we work with who ever had a problem figuring out which one of us she needed.

    Reply
  24. Wicked Witch of the West

    In a “I’m Henry the VIII” vein:

    I had a close older woman friend whose husband passed away. His name was Bob. She met up with an old college beau and married him. His name was also Bob. One day she mentioned something about Bob, and with no hesitation I asked if she meant live Bob or dead Bob. There was stunned silence, then she cracked up.

    Dead Bob had no sense of humor. He wasn’t around to object. Live Bob thought it was hysterical. And it was a useful distinction for those of us who knew both Bobs.

    Reply
    1. Paquita

      I know a lady ‘A’ that was married to a Carl. They went to church with another couple, the other man’s name was Carl, wife ‘B’. ‘B’ passed away, Carl 1 passed away. ‘A’ married Carl 2. She has outlived both Carls. I went to church with the family when I was growing up and knew both couples. Start my job 9 years ago and found out great grand boss is her son-in-law!

      Reply
    2. Naomi

      There was a minor character in one of the Anne of Green Gables books called “Mrs. Dead Angus Milgrave” to distinguish her from the wife of the live Angus Milgrave.

      Reply
  25. IrishEm

    Thrilled beyond words to hear about Sansa and Arya and the Office Manager getting dealt with appropriately, and the resolution of that situation taking place without OP1 needing to be seen as the office tattler (*eyeroll* I haaaaaaate that attitude, it’s so toxic) and not fearing retaliation or having to deal with kids in the office.

    Reply
  26. Aphrodite

    OP #1, I wonder if the manager is skating on ice as thin as Arya’s. She did after all override her boss’s instructions and said “just don’t tell him.” To me, that’s the greater sin although not by much.

    Reply
    1. Writer Letter One

      I don’t know. OM seems to be really good at not having these things come back to bite her. On her desk, she keeps a small reprint of the classic “don’t hear, don’t see, don’t tell” three monkeys in a row, and she called it her mantra.

      Reply
      1. MM

        This is really funny to me, because while the three wise monkeys have come to be interpreted as looking the other way/turning a blind eye in our culture, in their original form they are an injunction to behave with propriety and do what is right–that is, don’t “see no evil” because you choose not to notice; see no evil because you refuse to countenance it. Whoops!

        Reply
  27. Percysowner

    Re: LW#2 I worked in a small, 6 person library. For many years we had an employee named Mary, an employee named Rosemary and an employee named Rosemarie. The names are similar, but still close. Clients often got them confused, especially Rosemarie and Rosemary. Eventually Rosemarie used Rose and Rosemary used the long verssion of her name. They still got misdirected calls and finally resorted to using Rose Cross and Rosemarie Fox. Mary had to be Mary Jones because the general public often doesn’t pay attention to nuance. The LW originally mentioned that they deal with 300 volunteers, which is close to dealing with the general public. I can only imagine the confusion that having employees with the same name would cause. It would be great if all 300 volunteers would remember whether they spoke to Amanda or Amanda C., but they probably didn’t.

    In most offices, this isn’t a big deal,but this sounded like a different circumstance. After the 25th volunteer came in and said they had talked to Amanda and didn’t know if there was a C after their name, Amanda C probably gave up, not because the OP made her, not even because the office staff didn’t remember, but because sometimes it’s just easier to make it easier on yourself by adapting a nickname.

    Reply
  28. Mark132

    The first story is a good reminder, there is often someone watching. I rarely do things at work that I would be embarrassed by. These employees were “playing games” and got caught.

    Reply
  29. Vanilla Ice

    I don’t want to project into the specifics LW #2’s situation, but I will say for the record that I think it’s a general professional norm to understand that overlapping names are going to happen.

    Believe it or not, I’ve worked at places where people have had the same first AND last names. Almost two decades ago, I temped at a place that had two John Smiths (not the real name) — so they went by John A. Smith and John Q. Smith. People referred to them by initials for short. When people from outside the workplace would cask for John Smith, we would say “Do you mean John A. Smith in public affairs or John Q. Smith in IT?” That usually settled the confusion. A few years later, I was a student in a graduate program that had two students named Julie Anne Jones (a gain, not the real name) who were the same year in school and even had roughly the same physical markers! (Same race, height, and hair color). One of them did eventually start going by a slightly different name, but to differentiate themselves on exams and even standard written communication, they each used a 3-digit numerical identifier. And at my last job, there was an employee in another division whose last name was one letter away from mine. (Imagine my legal name was Christopher Green, and that there was a Christopher Greene in another division). Both of us got so accustomed to getting emails intended for the other person that we would forward them on to each other without comment.

    Reply
    1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse

      Percysowner nailed it, though. This is much more like dealing with the general public than calling a company. 300 volunteers and Percysowner suggested a very likely scenario-numerous people called/came in stating “I spoke to Amanda” and untangling that took a lot, especially if some of the Amandas’ duties overlap.

      Reply
  30. RAM

    #4 – this update makes me very happy. Kudos to you for 1- giving him the chance and 2- not beating around the bush when giving him the feedback, and kudos to him for accepting it and addressing it. Nobody is a mind reader, sometimes people just need to hear the truth.

    Reply
  31. boop the first

    I’ve been awarded so many nicknames/pronunciations in life that I barely respond to my own name! Heh. Usually I work in male-dominated places, but I recently shared the name of someone in a different department and it was never confusing at all. Managers would forget to specify which person when they paged one of us to call them on the phone, but my personal policy was if they didn’t specify, I would ignore the call. No fussing required.

    Reply
  32. Sara without an H

    OP#1, I’m glad the situation resolved itself without your having to put yourself in the cross-hairs of your coworkers. You would have been fully justified in complaining, but they all sound like the type who would take it out on you later.

    That said, if I were your manager, I’d have a very serious conversation with the Office Manager, as in “WTF were you thinking???!!!” She knew that Arya and Sansa were running a baby-sitting cooperative in a workplace that is, I gather, not child-friendly or even safe, for that matter. And she let it go on???

    Arya got off lucky, even if she doesn’t appreciate it. The Office Manager is even luckier.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      I have no doubt that the conversation was had. And even if it wasn’t explicitly stated, Boss seems to have made it abundantly clear.

      Reply

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