Labor Day open thread

It’s Labor Day! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything that you want to talk about — work-related, not work-related, doesn’t matter.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in my to-be-answered queue.

{ 732 comments… read them below }

    1. hermit crab*

      I am NOT working and NOT feeling guilty about it! (I have done one or the other my entire career so far, except for the year I got married over Labor Day weekend.)

      Shannon, I hope you enjoy your comp day!

    2. londonedit*

      We’re all at work in most of the UK (England, Wales and Northern Ireland anyway) – our late summer holiday is the last Monday in August, so we had our short week last week.

      1. londonedit*

        In fact I think the whole of the UK – I’m never sure about Scottish holidays as they’re sometimes a little different, but I don’t think it’s a holiday there today either!

        1. Birch*

          According to my calendar, Scotland’s summer bank holiday was August 6th. I remember because I only saw “Bank Holiday” and didn’t realise England’s wasn’t till the end of August. I was very disappointed.

        2. Debonairess*

          Scotland calling! No bank holiday here – last one was start of August and next one is 30 November for St Andrews Day. Not that my workplace enforces them mind, we just get them added to our holiday allowance. That seems to be getting more and more common? I prefer it this way for flexibility.

      2. Tau*

        Germany here, and my state – like many – has a huge gap between aaaall the holidays around April-June and then reunification day in October.

        Just saying, if Augsburg was willing to share its Peace Festival with the rest of us it’d be great.

        1. dragonzflame*

          Same in NZ – after Queen’s Birthday weekend in June there’s nothing till Labour Day in October. And that dead spot is right through the winter! It makes the cold seem to go on forever.

      3. Ruth (UK)*

        Yup I’m at work too and not even 100% sure what labour day is or that it was today… (I wasn’t even aware it was a day people tended not to work on in the USA… Oops)

        1. Gatomon*

          Labor Day has its origins in the dismal working conditions in America during the Industrial Revolution. It was created as a day of recognition for workers in 1894 in response to massive protests by workers, organized by the growing union movement, who demanded better conditions and wages.

          In the 100+ years since then, it’s devolved into a summer-fun holiday like Memorial Day, which is supposed to be about recognizing soldiers who died in the line of duty (though I feel Memorial Day retains more of its meaning and significance.) Together they make the bookends of the American summer.

          1. Ruth (UK)*

            Thanks, that gives some clarification. I’ve seen some posts about it by American Facebook friends but didn’t really register it mich.

            Now I realise I could be opening a can of worms but I honestly do not know what memorial day is (like, even more than I didn’t know what labour day was). The familiarity level is “I think I’ve heard those two words put together before somewhere I guess”

            1. Ruth (UK)*

              Duh I’ve just read your post again and realized you can explained memorial Day. No idea how I missed that on the first read…

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Am chuckling, I don’t think Americans know what Memorial Day is, I can’t think of another explanation for wishing each other “Happy Memorial Day”.

          2. Tau*

            This one always confuses me because we also celebrate Labour Day… on the International Worker’s Day, aka May 1st. I keep forgetting that the US has it on a different date.

    3. Greenspoons*

      I’m working. I have a lot of processes that can take an hour or more to run. They do better with fewer people on the network. It’s nice because I can relax to music without headphones. If the processes didn’t require me to click the mouse ever 5 minutes it would be even better! Sadly not a set and leave process.

    4. bunniferous*

      Working from home (real estate never sleeps) and listening to the loud whine of mowers and leaf blowers outside. Ugh. Seems like every time I plan some extra time off I get overloaded with assignments. (The niche I am in means I get outside taskings and deadlines. ) But hey, the more I work the more I make.

    5. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      NO! This is the first holiday this summer that I don’t have to work. So far, still in my jammies and knitting away at my holiday projects. That is going to be my day; knit, read, nap, repeat.

    6. Red Reader*

      I did a half day this morning – our PTO bucket is sick time, vacation time and holidays, so if we work on a holiday we can keep the PTO to use at a different time. But I work from home, so it just meant getting up a skitch early and plugging out my four hours :)

    7. Aardvark*

      Yep–a thing broke for Reasons on Saturday, so I fixed it Sunday, which broke other things today. So this glorious 3-day weekend with perfect summer weather turned into a 1-day weekend because I’m too burned out to do stuff properly. It’s probably the tenth weekend I’ve worked over this summer already. I’m ticked off because I’m already up to my ears in PTO and comp time that I can’t find a way to use, so more comp time isn’t helpful to me.
      If I don’t get some combination of a noticeable raise and being on call less when our annual cycle comes up next month I’m job hunting.

    8. working ldw*

      No, but I’m doing some work from home…I’ll probably take a half day on Friday so it will even out.

    9. Aurora Leigh*

      I am off and it is glorious! Lol. If I was in the office, it would be an incredibly boring day — I do cystomer support for a product that is mainly sold to schools, so no school in session = nothing much happening. I only wish I still got Columbus Day like my last job (working for the city). It is a long stretch to the Thanksgiving holidays.

      Bf has to work today, but he gets paid time and a half, and gets a comp day (state/union worker) for later. He works 2nd shift so we had a nice morning together, then grilled hot dogs and watched more Riverdale on Netflix. Going to try to get caught up on some house cleaning later this afternoon.

    10. Nacho*

      Same, except instead of a comp day I get 1.5x base pay and 8 hours PTO to use at my leisure (or 8 hours holiday pay, but I chose the PTO). Of course I work customer service for an international company, so about half of our office works today.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Once back a long time ago, I was a nurse’s aide and had to work on Labor Day (but I didn’t mind, time and a half was nothing to sneer at for a poor college student)–and then someone called in sick and the supervisor asked if I would mind staying on for a bit, and I of course said, “why, yes” as time and a half *overtime* made those next hours rather lucrative. We even ate out that next paycheck (true, it was at the 3/$1 taco place, which shows you how long ago it was).

    11. CatMintCat*

      No holiday here in Australia. Next one is the first Monday in October (which happens to be Labour Day).

  1. otterbaby*

    I’m looking for a bit of insight about a work related issue – namely my manager is extremely difficult to get ahold of! She works offsite at various venues and when I first started this role 6 months ago, she said that she would come check in every other week or so. In the last 2 months, I’ve seen her once. There have been numerous deadlines and approvals I’ve needed from her, and she just doesn’t respond to emails. Or phone calls. Or voicemails. After not hearing from her for over a month (!!) she responded to one of my emails where I basically said “you didn’t respond, so I approved this because I didn’t want to lose the deal” by just writing “good thinking!”.

    I’ve never been in a position before where management has been so distant. I’m not sure if it shows trust in my work, or lack of interest. If it makes a difference, my position has never existed before I accepted this role – so it’s been a busy few months of building up the department on my own. Based on that alone, I would have normally expected a bit more check-ins, but maybe not..?

    1. Dramaphobe*

      I would say call if she is not responding to e-mails, but looks like she’s not even picking up her phone! That is not good… I think when you next get a hold of her, you need to ask her to delegate a second in command who can help approve somethings in your place.

      1. Greenspoons*

        We can’t be sure it’s a bad thing the manager is not available. It’s possible that OP is reaching out more than is needed. I would have a conversation with the manager about what OP is struggling with. Confirm what actually needs approval. Ask if it’s OK to talk to a Senior Coworker for other questions or if she has a preference for who she can lean on for guidance in managers absence. Basically approaching the whole thing collaboratively.

        Typically if you go to a manager with a – you are failing to meet your obligations – type attitude it never goes well and frankly OP probably doesn’t have the entire perspective so shouldn’t be assuming the manager is failing to communicate enough.

    2. Observer*

      Can you try some sort of instant messaging? Text, WhatsApp, Skype, Google Hangouts (or the business version)?

      If she has a cell phone, one of these should be possible.

    3. Greenspoons*

      Any coworkers you can talk to in the interim? Find out what items she usually likes to be tracked down on for approval and which ones you can act independently on like in your example?

      Next time you do speak to her ask about what she needs to OK and what she doesn’t. Came at it from a collaborative you are trying to be helpful by not over burdening her point of view. Don’t be accusatory like she is not available enough for you, even if it feels that way or is true. Try something like – I’ve noticed that I typically can’t get approval for you on items like A, B, C. Is it OK if I run it by Senior Coworker instead and then CC you on the final product? If I need to reach you urgently – what is the best way to communicate? Also what items do you consider urgent to hold for your review even if miss the deadline topics?

      You may find that you are asking for approval on A-Z and she only needs to review and approve R and X. If you are sending everything to her naturally her communication back will drop as she only has so much time in a day to respond to all her direct reports.

    4. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      I used to have a boss like that and I wondered the same thing – whether it was a sign of trust in my work, or a complete lack of caring. I still don’t know, even though I don’t work there anymore. I don’t know if this will be a solution with your workflow, but what ultimately would get me answers was if I sat on things for 1-2 days and then e-mailed a bullet-point list with everything I needed answers to or approvals on. If it was something that involved a deadline, I’d say “If I don’t hear from you by X, I’ll plan on doing Y.”

      There were times where she’d be MIA for weeks though, and it was very frustrating. I personally had a hard time staying motivated and invested in the work when it seemed like my boss (the owner) didn’t care, didn’t provide feedback, didn’t acknowledge receipt of deliverables, and essentially acted as if she had no interest in whether I worked or not.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      My remote boss is pretty distant, but we do have a regular check-in about every 3 weeks. He doesn’t always respond to emails though, unless I put in the subject line: “ACTION ITEM: Approval required” or “RESPONSE NEEDED BY X-DATE or I will proceed with X” or something like that. If I do that, it’s typically a yes/no type of item. I’ve a year in now, so I’m getting much more authority to just make the decision myself and send him an FYI email.

      Based on how you said your boss reacted it sounds like she wants you to be more proactive in the decision making. But before you do so, I would definitely try to schedule a one-on-one with her to determine what the agreement would be. As in only bring X, Y or Z to her for a approval and you handle the rest and update her.

      I agree, it can be kind of frustrating at first. But I like a lot of autonomy having been a manager myself.

    6. Maverick Spend*

      I think you need to triage stuff into

      Stuff that is low consequence and/or you are confident you are right


      Stuff that has big consequences and you really don’t know what to do and there is no one else qualified to advise.

      Then only worry about the second lot
      and do your best to contact your manager.

  2. adventuresinthearts*

    I’m starting my first senior leadership role at a cultural nonprofit soon. I’ve managed individual employees before, but this is a whole new challenge. Any suggestions for great leadership/management books? (Besides Alison’s of course!). Particularly interested in anything specifically for women, but open to all suggestions.

    1. Bluebell*

      The First 90 Days is really good! Can’t remember the author offhand. Also – check out The Power of Moments by the Heath brothers. Some great ideas that connect to the beginning of a job. Good luck!

  3. SaraV*

    So quick resume question…

    A company I worked for completely shut down, and I no longer work for them as of last week. I have another PT job, but it’s less than 10 hours a week. I’ve usually gone by listing my previous jobs chronologically on my resume. But, my current PT job has nothing to do with what I’m looking for now…save for a few soft skills. Can I/Should I list the job I just “lost” first on my resume, then my current employer?

    On top of everything, I’d rather not have future employers contact my current PT employer for a semi-lengthy reason.


      1. Greenspoons*

        Seconding this. Relevant experience in first section. Other Experience in second section and include your current PT job.

    1. Close Bracket*

      I put my current part time job at the top with just a few words describing what I do:

      Llama Wranglers, LLC 2018-present
      Wrangle llamas

      Actual Career Company, Inc. 2014-2018
      Longer description typical of what you would see on a resume including bullet points

      Actually, if there are other ideas, I’m game.

  4. blackcat*

    Happy labor day to all union organizers and members out there! It’s not something I never thought I’d be a part of, but it’s been tremendously satisfying (if hard, frustrating, time consuming, etc) work.

    1. Overeducated*

      Yes, thanks! I am a proud new union member and hope to get more involved in time and as needed.

      It means a lot to me to get to be part of one, but i don’t miss the irony that i only have the option in my first full time, permanent, professional job with good benefits…it was the prior ten years when it would’ve come in really useful! It worries me that industries like mine there is a growing gulf between two classes of workers.

      1. TardyTardis*

        It’s not just in selected industries, it’s everywhere that a gulf exists between two classes of workers. Actually, more–part timers with no security patching together a living with two or more jobs; full time workers at minimum wage but with no benefits and no real security, but at least they know what their schedules is going to be like for the week; workers who paid more than minimum wage and with at least some benefits; and then the people who have careers, rather than jobs (though sometimes you see hard times even with them, since in publication and other industries people are knowledge workers who think of their work as a career, but barely get paid over minimum wage–indeed, some of the custodians who are unionized get paid better in some places). I saw a lot of the lower tiers when I worked at a tax place last year.

    2. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      Late to the party but THANK YOU. If my husband did not have a union job I don’t know how we would survive, and I say that with ZERO exaggeration.
      He’s been assistant shop steward for awhile now and has gotten to see how the sausage is made & just how thoroughly the corporate powers that be would LOVE to screw the “peons” who keep their day to day business running to the tune of multi-BILLIONS in pure profit if only they could. They go in for contract negotiations in a couple of months, cross your fingers for us!

  5. Tumblr Gives Me a Headache*

    Removed. This account has a history of outlandish stories, often with details that contradict details from their other posts, often designed to mock people who care about mental illness, gender identity, service dogs, and more. I assume there’s an agenda, but this isn’t the place for it. Please stop.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        “disabled” isn’t the same thing as “I der think that newfangled tumbly site all the younguns are on nowadays is breakin their gashdarn minds!”

      2. Lissa*

        Is this really necessary? Someone else had a similar experience and said it sounded plausible to them, I don’t see why that needs “told you so”…

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        Yeah, as an asexual Tumblr user with mental health issues I was not a fan. Thanks from me too AAM.

  6. Doggies Everywhere*

    I’m dog sitting for the week, and I have two dogs of my own (they’re all the same breed). My dogs are 6, so they’re pretty mellow and are just happy to lie next to me as I work on things. The dog I’m sitting for is over a year old and still has a lot of puppy in him. He whines constantly for attention and wants someone to play with nonstop. My dogs will play with him once in a while, but they also just want to rest. I brought a lot of his toys over, but he doesn’t seem interested in them right now. I also live in apartment, so there’s no big yard he can run around and play in. Are there any activities I could have him try so he can have some fun as I work?

        1. 1999*

          How long was the walk? I’ve noticed that a lot of people think being out with the dog for 15min is considered enough of a walk. 45min, with lots of sniffing being allowed is more like it.
          Dogs also play with toys if you engage them with it. Dumping toys and expecting a dog to play with a toy by himself only lasts briefly. Maybe roll a ball around in your apartment that he can chase. It’s clear that not enough energy is being expanded.

      1. Doggies Everywhere*

        Thanks. I also have no-hide bones, though he easily gets constipated so I try not to give him that too much. I also have a toy you can fill with treats, though one of my dogs always takes that away from him.

        1. Greenspoons*

          A frozen broth toy is great for constipation. If you have a floor he can toss it around on. It’s more liquid which helps move the bowels.

        2. Dear liza dear liza*

          Food toys are your best bet, so I’d isolate your dog so the puppy gets to play with it. One year old dogs have a lot of energy and walking is usually not much of an outlet, so mental stimulation is your goal. Good luck!

    1. Lyman for President*

      Do you have any puzzle toys? A lot of energy in dogs can be expended via mental stimulation. Playing tug is also one of the best ways to tire out a dog. Just remember to pull upwards/downwards instead of straight away/back from the dog to avoid damage to the teeth.

      1. jolene*

        He’s a year old. He wants you to get down on the floor and play with him. Sorry, there’s no way around that. If there’s any way you can make his run more tiring, by jogging with him, that’ll help, but since he’s not neutered you don’t have a lot of choices beyond that.

        Also, his human/s really owe you!

    2. Dear liza dear liza*

      I’ll also add, young dogs are happiest with a set routine and don’t know how to regulate themselves. As long as he’s getting regular outings and attention, in between, a crate or pen can be helpful. Ignore his cries and think of it as naptime for him.

  7. Anonymous404*

    So the company I work for is growing and I am getting sent on a trip for the first time. It is a 6 hour drive. How do I ask my boss how many nights of hotel they will be paying for? And per diem? I am not comfortable with just getting one night, so how do I push back and say I want two if she only says one (she is known for being Cheap). It’s a 6 hour drive plus I’d be running an event on my own which is about 8 hours of work and don’t want to be expected to drive home after that craziness. Thanks!

    1. Dramaphobe*

      Usually the company HR would have a policy set in stone for this, you could check with your boss on what is written.

        1. Dramaphobe*

          Do you have any more experienced folks who had gone on past business trips who can provide a sample?
          If not, I’d say you can plan out a clear itinerary for your trip, and propose a hotel night stay based on that.

          1. Anonymous404*

            It sounds like my best bet is to plan an itinerary. I am the first one to get to travel on behalf of my company, it’s always been my boss before I asked to travel. Thank you so much for your advice!

            1. MissDisplaced*

              Yes, it there is no company travel policy in place, plan the itinerary and give them a cost estimate for the trip so there aren’t any surprises.

              Are you renting a car or using your own? (mileage & gas reimbursement)
              Hotel nights(s) + tax
              Daily per diem for meals
              Misc. Items (Probably not in this case, but sometimes there may be a wify charge, shipping charge, or something unforeseen.)

              If on your own card, ask how long reimbursement typically takes once all receipts are turned in.

              1. Anonymous404*

                Thank you! Whenever I go more than 50 miles mileage is covered, so I know what that will be. But this is helpful to figure out per diem. Thank you again!

                1. JanetM*

                  For sample per diem rates (US government),

                  I have a sample travel planning worksheet that I developed for my department. It includes (not all of this will be relevant to you):

                  Office address

                  Dates of travel

                  Purpose of trip (Conference, Meeting, Other Training, Other); include conference URL

                  Are you presenting on a panel, in a workshop, or in another session? If so, title of presentation.

                  What do you expect to learn / do during this travel? What will you bring back to [the company]?

                  Cost planning
                  Registration fee
                  Personal car
                  Miles home to airport × IRS mileage rate
                  Miles in lieu of airfare × IRS mileage rate
                  Rental car
                  Shuttle or cab fare
                  At airport
                  At destination
                  Hotel, including tax if possible
                  Nightly rate × nights staying
                  Per diem at CONUS rates
                  Partial days in-state
                  Full days in-state
                  Partial days out-of-state
                  Full days out-of-state
                  Other expenses

        1. jolene*

          Yes, this. Assume no one would expect you to drive 6 hours and then do an 8 hour day, or the other way around. If she pushes back just simply say: “I can’t do that. It wouldn’t be safe for me to drive under those circumstances.”

          1. AnoninCA*

            This! Treat it like a safety issue because it is. My manager makes it clear that if we are driving and feel too tired to keep driving after a long day that he will never be upset at us getting a hotel on the company’s dime and we budget space for extra travel just in case (our jobs require lots of travel and driving).

    2. CrazyPlantLady*

      I would assume it’s for 2 nights and use that when discussing it with your boss rather than asking her how many nights. If she then says it should only be one night you can push back about driving safely and it being too long of a drive to do while tired from working the whole event.

      For per diem, if your company doesn’t already have an established policy (reimbursing all meals based on receipts or set amount), if you’re in the US, you can offer up the government M&IE (meals and incidental expenses) rate for wherever you’re going as an option. Look it up here:

      1. Traveler*

        Wow! I’m going to Chicago soon, and I think they are way underestimating lodging rates.
        My company’s meal per diem is $50/day, way under what’s listed.

        1. Not All Who Wander*

          Yeah…federal government has a negotiated lower rate with most of the bigger hotel chains so the hotel rate is typically much lower than the average business traveler. They usually only have a certain number of rooms available at that rate though. We used to have to call and ask for it…these days we technically are required to book our hotels through The World’s Buggiest Travel System but since it is SO buggy most of us still just do it by phone and ignore the tsk tsk tsk messages on our audits. (And before you think wow, the government gets a lower hotel rate?! you should know we get completely screwed on the airfares so it evens out)

  8. Anon for this*

    Is it possible for someone with medication-controlled bipolar II to get life insurance? I have student loan debt that my spouse would never be able to pay off (I’m the sole earner) and I’d like them to be protected in case something happens, but I don’t know if anyone will insure me.

      1. Enough*

        Unless he consigned the all debt belong to the deceased. After their assets are depleted all debts left unpaid are dead.

        1. Liane*

          But Anon For This probably wants their spouse to have something to live on after those debts (or as much as the estate will cover) are paid.

    1. LilySparrow*

      Federal student loans are discharged on the death of the borrower, but private loans may not be.

      You can usually get term life insurance, even with various kinds of health issues — for a price. The premiums get higher as your risks increase. Some companies even advertise “guaranteed issue” policies, or specifically mention mental health diagnoses in their marketing copy.

      But do the math before you sign anything: unless the premiums are quite small, you’ll be better off applying the money to the debt.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Do you or your spouse belong to any professional associations, or have memberships in large organizations like a credit union? Often one of the benefits for members is access to insurance – the sheer number of people available as customers means you may have access to a policy in a way you wouldn’t on the individual market.

    3. Mark132*

      If you are employed, does your employer offer a group policy? Policies like that usually have a good rate as well as a guaranteed coverage amount. (No preconditions).

    4. Greenspoons*

      My company’s life insurance denied me due to my weight. Apparently there is life insurance that will cover house payments only. I’m going to look into that myself. Good luck!

    5. Close Bracket*

      My credit union has term life available for members for really nominal fees. There is a small amount available for no charge. The insurer is Trulife.

    6. Double A*

      We are struggling with this right now! My husband is also bipolar type 2, plus ADHD. (Also he uses nicotine, ugh). We’re expecting our first child this month, so I started the life insurance process back in May for both of us through USAA. I was approved but he was denied because of his diagnoses even though he’s under the long term care of a doctor and on medication.

      Unfortunately I haven’t found a solution yet, but I contacted the insurance broker who found us our home owners insurance (we live in a high risk wildfire area), and that’ll be the next step moving forward. I’d recommend looking into a local insurance broker who can research different options for you, someone who’s not just tied to one company.

      The other option I’m considering is to get mortgage insurance for him, because usually you don’t need a physical to get that, and if our mortgage was paid off if he died that’d be a big help. I might see if I can get a small life insurance policy for him on top of mortgage insurance. I do think I’ve got a little policy on him through my union insurance (like… $20k?). But if he died I’d probably sell the house and downsize.

      I’m not sure if any of this might apply to your situation but it’s whay I’m considering!

  9. Dramaphobe*

    Does anybody ever suffer from nostalgia goggles for a past bad job?
    I had a rather turbulent few years, having went from a long-term job to a couple of … what I THINK… are unsatisfying jobs. Now I sometimes look back at my first job and moan about how I wish I never quit that first job.
    BUT after reading some journals:
    1) I remember being so stressed I cried, more than once.
    2) My boss loved to use “COMPANY IS FAILING BECAUSE OF YOU” tactics
    3) My annual review sucked!
    So why do I now sometimes look at it and wistfully sigh “Now THAT had been a good job”.

    It is so weird. Does anybody else have these kind of weird nostalgia goggles for old jobs?

      1. Dramaphobe*

        Oh heavens, looking at Marshal is like looking into a mirror. I never realised it was more common than I thought!

    1. Carbovore*

      Can’t say that I suffer from nostalgia of my old job–I worked in retail for 10 years and it was hell on earth! (Sadly, I think this contributed to me ignoring signs of toxicity in my current job for a very long time because at the time, ANYTHING seemed better and it was very easy for me to normalize the bad behaviors of my current boss in particular…)

      Human brains tend to remember negative things more than positive things–it’s how we have survived as a species for so long, keeping our brains on alert… Perhaps your current job feels really unsatisfying and you’re letting yourself succumb to some “grass is greener” thinking?

      Sometimes I think back to my last career and there are particular aspects of it I enjoyed but overall, I know that job was way worse and deeply affected my mental health. (Towards the end, I spent every car ride home sobbing.)

      Also, I’m curious, what made your previous jobs “bad”? Was it the boss? The culture? The actual work? Sometimes it helps to know what things you’re willing to tolerate and which things you aren’t as those things will add up to “good” or “bad” job…. and I think it’s different for everyone!

    2. londonedit*

      Oh, definitely. I had a job that seemed all fun and games on the surface – we were always going out for drinks and lunch, we’d frequently get to leave early, the commute was ridiculously easy. But there were often rounds of redundancies and the financial situation was never particularly stable, and eventually I ended up being put in charge of a severely depleted team (basically because everyone else at my level had already left). When I then dropped the ball and messed up, all of a sudden the happy smiley supportive environment totally disappeared, I was on my own, and the whole thing was All My Fault. Looking back, I was burnt out, and the ‘autonomy’ I thought I had was really ‘complete lack of any support’. Yet I still sometimes look back wistfully.

    3. many bells down*

      It’s not nostalgia per se, but whenever I have a dream about a job, it’s always the same one. I’m always a PA for a real estate agent again. Sometimes I’ve been there all along in the dream, and sometimes I’ve just shown up again after not being there for 15 years.

    4. Alternative Person*

      Yeah. For all the various faults of a previous job (and there were faults*), I still miss the (now former) friends I made there and the service we provided/the work product we produced.

      Their office has moved into the area where I work now, and the grapevine is the company isn’t doing very well. I’m torn between the schadenfreude as they’ve been digging this hole for years and disappointment, because with better owners/management, it could have been great.

      *Stupidly high workloads, bad scheduling, always fighting for admin time, petty and peevish managers, ridiculous edicts, high school cliques, limited equipment, the whole shebang.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Nah! Not really. At least not in that sense.
      But I do have nostalgia for some early jobs in my field because the technology was so different. Back in ‘those days’ we didn’t design by sitting at a computer all day. It was much more physical, standing, walking around, using pencils & markers & spray mount, going into the darkroom to work, etc. There was no Internet, so sending galley pages meant connecting to a big computer via modem. I laugh at how people were afraid to scan a photo instead of using the stat camera, insisting the quality wouldn’t be as good. It seems like so much more work, but yet a part of me misses all that. It felt like much more of a real craft and a trade then.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Back in college, I made up the masthead for a student newspaper and I actually used cutting out bits of paper that had been typed on (you had to hunt for different typewriters if you wanted different fonts, this was prior to the Changing of the Balls version of typewriters) and pasting them on a bit of posterboard that would then go to a printer. It was a different world). And then there was the transitional time when I used a Commodore 64 to set up a file, which I would then print onto a ditto master using the Star Micronics impact printer (which beat the shinola out of taking a paring knife and scratching off my mistakes from aforementioned ditto master). Also, I had to remove popcorn kernels and crayons from the Star Micronics printer since we had small children in the house, though I was proud of changing the printer ball all by myself, God bless all user manuals with printers, amen.

    6. PB*

      YES! This is totally happening to me right now. I hated everything about my last job. The toxic coworkers. The toxic bosses. The toxic work environments (ex-employer is currently being featured prominently in major newspapers for a scandal for the second time in <10 years). The incredibly boring work. The lack of growth and development. The poor pay. The area. The customers.

      There was not one good thing about it.

      And yet, for some reason, I've been like, "Maybe I would go back for the right role???"

      I don't know why! I've been having some stress in my new job lately, but everything about my life is quantifiably better now. Those newspaper articles are helping remind me why this would be a terrible idea.

    7. Debonairess*

      no but I really miss the anecdotes! Ive been dining out on old boss stories for a while now and sometimes wish I could go back for a few weeks just to top up the anecdotes.

      Old job
      – partner: how was your day?
      – me: OMG you are not going to believe what boss did this morning!!

      New job
      – partner: how was your day?
      – me: okay thanks. I got some stuff done.

    8. Nico M*

      I think there’s a fantasy of “going back in time knowing what I know now and smashing it out of the park with panach”

    9. Slartibartfast*

      Yes, but even if I were to go back… it wouldn’t be the same. Had a great place, built from the ground up and I was one of the very first on board. Went from 4 employees to 13, then the owner retired. One year later, only three other awesome teammates left. Only one still there now. And all because the new owner had to prove they were “in charge”, and wanted to dictate everything we did despite never being on site or having direct experience in our operations (we were alpaca groomers, he was a llama herder. Superficial similarities, but operationally quite different.) So logically I know there isn’t anything to go back to, but I miss my team.

    10. Name changed to protect the innocent*

      Yes! Before I left my old job, all I could see was what I hated about it. Now all I can think of was what I loved about it (despite the eight major reasons that I left). I’m in a place that is so much better in so many ways (except it’s halftime and I don’t get to interact with so many people), but I still miss parts of the job tremendously.

    11. neverjaunty*

      No, but I would love to know more about how this is a thing! I have a friend who has these goggles with jerk co-workers and managers, and it’s very very weird to see the mental re-arranging that takes place.

      Him: I just heard Fergus is leaving to go work at NewCo. That’s too bad, I liked him.
      Me: Fergus used to dump work on you and made fun of your weight.
      Him: Yeah, I guess that’s true. You’re right, he was kind of a jerk. I don’t know why I forgot that.

      ….and then when Fergus’s name comes up in some context a year later, it starts all over again. WHY?!

    12. Eve*

      Yes, I’ve had that for one job in particular. It is how I got tricked to going back again a few years later. Even now there are a lot of things I didn’t appreciate about it at the time and miss now even though it was a soul crushing job.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I miss specific people or I will miss the way a company handled a particular thing. Some company policies were easier, more logical so I miss those things. But mostly once I leave I am glad to move on.

  10. hermit crab*

    Non-work question: let’s go to the mattresses! (Literally.)

    Hubs and I want to get a new mattress. He likes firm mattresses and I like VERY firm mattresses. We are intrigued by these new services where you order a mattress online and it gets delivered to you in a tiny box. However, we’re having a hard time determining whether any of them would be firm enough. Has anyone tried a mattress from one of these companies? How is it? Alternatively — does anyone have recommendations for really firm mattresses?

    1. BRR*

      I have a purple and while I love it I would rule that out for you. From my research I believe the Leesa is one of the firmer ones on the market. If you’re near a west elm, they have one to try in the store.

    2. Formerly Finally a Fed*

      I have a Sleep Science Black Diamond mattress from Costco. It is very firm – like barely indents when I lay on it, which I love. My husband put a foam mattress pad on his side because he said his arms were falling asleep at night :). This is the firmest of the Sleep Science models, and they do have less firm options as well as new iFlip models which allow you to flip the mattress for varying firmness. Costco obviously has a great return policiy if you don’t love the mattress (yes their policy applies to their mattresses).

    3. LilySparrow*

      We got a Nectar, and it is like a lovely, lovely rock. So firm. We love it!

      They also have an extremely long trial period, which was the decider for us.

      1. hermit crab*

        Haha, you are speaking my language! I think a lovely, lovely rock is exactly what we are looking for.

    4. Lore*

      I went with Tuft & Needle because Casper wasn’t firm enough. I’m happy with the overall firmness but a firm foam/latex mattress still feels very different from a firm spring/coil one. The surface gives more and is a little squishy even if the core is dense. So I would definitely test that genre of mattress. (I also hate that the edges aren’t reinforced so it’s hard to sit on the edge of the bed. But overall quite happy with it, though my SO isn’t crazy about it.)

    5. Susan K*

      I have a Saatva mattress. It comes in three firmness levels, and I got the regular, which is pretty firm, but it is also available in an extra firm. One of the most common complaints I’ve seen is that people find it too firm (even the regular firmness model). Saatva is an online mattress company, but it is not the kind that comes rolled up in a tiny box because it is a hybrid memory foam/innerspring mattress. I paid $99 for delivery, but I just checked the web site and it looks like they now have free delivery. They also have a very long (120 days) trial period. I like the mattress except for the fact that it has terrible edge support. I suspect the all-foam mattresses are the same, but I was disappointed because one of the reasons I chose Saatva is because it got good reviews for edge support.

    6. Kuododi*

      DH and I invested in a Tempurpedic (sp?) approx 10 years ago instead of getting a bunch of stuff for each other at Christmas that would wind up in the donation box. They have varying degrees of firmness from ” fluffy cloud” to “wooden floor.” Hee hee!!! I had tested little sister version ( middle of the road firmness) and fell in love. DH and I ended up getting a middle of the road firmness and have been delighted ever since!

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I have a foam no-name one I purchased from some years back. I ordered one that was extra-firm with extra back support in the ‘ass’ area where mattresses typically sag. It’s not that firm really. I have a soft mattress pad/cover I put over. This was our first foam mattress. Overall, it’s held up well.

    8. Courageous cat*

      Sleepopolis is a blog with reviews that are exactly what you’re looking for. He gets pretty scientific about the firmness.

    9. Free Meerkats*

      Sleep Number is what we did when it was time to replace our tube watered. Since we already had a solid base, we just bought the mattress without all the bells and whistles like raising head and snore control. My wife’s side is usually set about 20% firmer than mine.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes! I have a Sleep Number and it’s the best investment I ever made. My husband sleeps at a rock-hard 100 and I sleep at a 50. Works great. Now neither one of us has to be uncomfortable.

    10. Me (I think)*

      We have both a Leesa and a Tuft and Needle. Both consist of several layers of different kinds of foam glued together, with the top layer of soft memory foam. I like them both, but my wife needed more pressure relief so we put a 2-inch medium memory foam pad on top of the Leesa and now it’s even deeper/softer and more supportive.

      Neither of these is “firm” or “very firm” — BUT those terms are really variable, what is “very firm” to me might be too soft for you, and vice versa. You can try one (order from the company site not Amazon) and get 100 nights and they’ll take it back no questions asked (actually they donate it locally.)

      Some things that are different with a foam mattress like these: the side walls are soft and not supportive, so you sink into it when sitting on the edge. You also sink into the top, so it can be too warm for some folks, and also can be difficult to get out of bed. :)

      I know this all sounds negative, but I do sleep well on this mattress. I’d buy it again. Do note that 99% of the “mattress review” sites is actually a paid affiliate for whatever mattress(es) they highly recommend. That’s not necessarily bad, just be aware. Here’s an interesting story about the business side:

      Hope you find one you like.

    11. Catherine*

      When I still lived in the States I had a Tuft and Needle which I adored. I like a fairly firm mattress but can’t stand the feel of springs so the foam was perfect.

    12. PhyllisB*

      My mother and step-father had that problem, and what they did was get a king-sized box spring and two twin mattresses of different firmness to put on top and, problem solved. I never knew two twins equaled one king, but there you go. When you put a king-sized top sheet on it holds them together nicely. Of course, if you don’t want a king-sized bed, what about a sleep number bed?

    13. Kate*

      I agree with BRR, don’t get a Purple. I trialed one for around three months and ended up returning it right within the deadline. It was firmer than other foam mattresses I’d tried, but definitely not enough for me- I felt like I was flailing around whenever I tried to switch from my side to my back or what have you.

  11. WG*

    I received two job offers last week and need to make a decision today. Pretty sure it’s going to come down to the salary. I’m just so scared of making the wrong long-term decision.

    1. Dramaphobe*

      Congrats! Fingers crossed on your choice (I would also recommend checking out each place’s glassdoor review)

      1. WG*

        Thanks for the Glassdoor advice. Unfortunately, there are only one or two reviews for each organization and none for the type of job I was offered.

      2. Greenspoons*

        My recommendation for reading reviews – read the 4 and 2 star reviews only. They tend give the most unbiased view of pros/cons of the product or company.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Well, yeah, if all other things considered are fairly similar (benefits, commute, reviews, job duties) then by all means go for the salary. HaHa! Would that it were always that simple.

      You might want to think about security though. Is the company or industry known for downsizing frequently? What is their financial or leadership situation? Is one small versus large?

      A few years ago, I chose to go with a large public company over a job-secure nonprofit because the salary was double. It was a risk. And I was right about that risk in that the public company sold, changed, and moved, thus pushing me to leave in 3 years time. But I still made way more money over those 3 years ($90k more) by choosing the large company over the nonprofit. Sounds mercenary, but I needed that extra income. But I can totally understand the value of a nice secure organization where layoffs are rare too.

  12. Ann Innymaus*

    Hi everyone!!! This is my first time ever posting on a open thread but I’m hoping you can share your thoughts. I’m preparing to leave a miserable job that I’ve held onto for three years in the hope it might improve, but my boss is the worst ever and is now retaliating against me for providing feedback as part of the 360 review process that I suspect may have resulted in his demotion or something similar. When I leave, I dont intend – for the first time in my career – to give two weeks notice for a variety of reasons. I dont plan on using my current boss as a reference (obvy) and my colleagues will not hold this against me. Thoughts?

    1. Mark132*

      Unless it’s for safety or to maintain your sanity, I would still encourage you to give a proper notice, if for no other reason than professionalism.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Good point. And find out what HR typically says when verifying employment. You might be able to have the agreement that calls go there and they verify you worked there from x to x date.

          But otherwise, if you are “At Will” you are not legally required to give any notice. Whether you choose to give notice for professionalism’s sake is up to you.

          And yes, I do have issue with resignations. It was big business that lobbied for the “at will” employee instead of contracts. They shouldn’t be angry or seek to punish and retaliate when employees take them up on what they themselves do all the time.

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      I think if you can stand to work the motion, it’s better to. If you don’t at least offer to there’s a possibility it might bite you later. You don’t want to use this boss as a reference but there’s no guarantee a future employer won’t approach them anyway. You don’t want to give them a solid concrete thing to say against you like ‘left without working notice’. If you’re in your notice period and something happens that makes you feel you need to leave sooner (eg. Of your boss does something particular abusive or whatever) you could say you can leave earlier if they prefer you not to be there etc but I think it’s best to offer and be prepared to work it if at all possible.

      And of you do, keep reminding yourself it’s only for two weeks then you’re gone for good.

  13. Number One*

    Does anyone who works in for-profit companies as an experienced Financial or Business Analyst work 40 hours a week? If so, is this normal in your experience or have you had to negotiate and safeguard your schedule?

    Its been over 5 years (basically since moving up from entry level) that I’ve been anywhere near a 40 hour work week. Instead it tends to start at 50 and inevitably climbs to 60+ as I stay with the company and get delegated more responsibility (and pay, fortunately). But I’m at a point where I’d gladly trade some pay for more life back. I’m seeking advice on how to make it possible.

    And to be clear, I fully expect busy seasons where hours will peak as par for the course, but sprints to accomplish work for specific deadlines versus a never-ending work marathon are more my speed.

    1. Greenspoons*

      Part of it is if you are seen as the go to person, people give you everything in that realm. I had to learn how to not go out of my way to help with something just because I could. I had to weigh the benefits and cons of taking on a new item permanently before offering to help. Otherwise you will be saddled with all the “no one likes this process” tasks so fast and your job will become miserable.

      It’s not the way I wish business works and I’d love to be more helpful but you also can’t do everything just because you are slightly better at it. Role creep is a real issue that you have to guard at your next job. Also try starting off working closer to 40 hours at your next role. Just go home at 5pm with everyone giving you the weird looks and making the snide “must be nice” comments. My experience is that these die down after a couple of months. Of course you can only pull this off if you are rocking at your responsibilities and not leaving major projects hanging.

      1. Number One*

        Thanks! I will definitely reflect on this, sound advice.

        If I may ask a follow up — when it comes to battling role creep, how do you identify the early signs? And do you do anything up front when you agree maybe to jump in temporarily on something asked of you by your management team?

        A lot of “in a pinch” things have piled up as regular work. I am spinning some off again slowly (there was some turnover both in my team and a sister team) but the interpretation by management, specifically above my manager, is that I should now be even more available for new stuff. I want to have a very frank conversation about trading things that were “mine” to start with before getting new stuff, or at least having a backup to dump it on when I can’t prioritize the old over the new (because new always means it’s on fire these days — new management woes)

        1. Phoenix Programmer*

          I can’t speak for green but similar issues here. One thing that has helped is saying I don’t know how to do something. Even if tehnically, with a bit of effort, I could learn it. Think printer maintenance and I am in IT. I know if I figure out printer mainetnance that will suck all my time. Yet it adds little visible value to the organization.

          I say when choosing when time volunteer think – will learning this skill and taking on this process give me more visibility? Contribute to the companies strategic goals? If no don’t be so quick to volunteer

          My general experience is once you have crappy spin off tasks that you are doing well it takes moving roles to dump it. Or a strong manager who has your back and is willing to offload your work to other teams and/or coworkers. Your better off trying to not take it in then on then doing it and trying to shed later.

          1. TardyTardis*

            Ha, I had a co-worker that got sucked into printer/copier maintenance so much of the time we joked that she should just turn pro and work for Xerox full time and make much more money. She looked very thoughtful a couple of times…

    2. SarahKay*

      For-profit Finance Analyst here, and for the first 3-4 years of this job I was regularly hitting 50 hour or more weeks. Now I’m mostly down in the low forties for a usual week, although as you say there are still busy season. I got there by getting better at two things:
      1) Pushing back on anything that shouldn’t be mine to deal with. This was *hard*! I like to be helpful, and it feels mean referring someone to a different team when I know I can pull the data in about ten minutes. But all those ‘ten minutes’ really add up, and claiming them back does make a big difference.
      2) Knowing when ‘it’ll do’ is good enough, rather than dotting the last i and crossing the last t, and aiming for perfect. Again, not easy, and a lot of it came with experience, as I became more familiar with where teams just need an estimate or where they need detail.
      Good luck!

    3. rubyrose*

      Business Analyst here, for profit. I’m normally working 40 -42 hours a week, but only because I’m safeguarding my schedule and with it my sanity.

      If I were working the hours needed to really cover what I’ve been assigned, it would be 50 – 55 hours every.single.week. But I refuse to do it. It’s not my fault they misjudged the amount of work. It’s not my fault they refuse to give me any self-sufficient staff and have consistently given me people that need constant hands on training and mentoring.

      Safeguarding myself involves making quick decisions on what is most important and relegating everything else to a guilt free area of my brain. It involves expecting the help I do have to quickly come up to speed. I also have to accept that the work will not be done as quickly or thoroughly as I would like it. I also have learned how to keep my management informed on what I’m doing and what is not getting done, so they are not surprised.

      Do any of these items sound like something you could develop, or implement if you already have them?

  14. Captain Worried*

    Is it a bad sign that people are leaving a company at a very steady rate, but new recruits doesn’t seem to be coming in? (Our team is already starting to feel the increasing work load). Is it a sign to abandon ship?

    1. Grace Less*

      Maybe? The people leaving could be normal turnover – I was shocked to find that nearly 20% annually is normal for my industry. If the company’s recruiting strategy wasn’t built to anticipate that turnover rate, you will see a lag as they have to advertise, interview, etc.
      I’d start looking at who is leaving, and where they are going. If it’s primarily people from one team/group/department, it could be a toxic manager or client who is encouraging turnover. If it’s more people of one age/gender/ethnicity/etc. than the company composition, I’d be thinking that there is a promotion bias. We had several people leave from different groups for the same competitor. The competitor decided that they wanted to grow quickly, so they hired one person with knowledge of reviews and pay scales, who then targeted high-performing staff members who were due for promotion in a year or two. The move accelerated their promotions and presumably upped their compensation accordingly. No fun for those left behind, but hard to fault the people who accepted the offers, and not a lot that our company could have done about it.

    2. Mark132*

      This often is a low key way of cost cutting. The company institutes a hiring freeze and gradually headcount comes down. It avoids the trauma of layoffs, but is often referred to a “bright sizing”. Due to the assumption that the better and brighter employees are more likely to leave.

      I’ve been there before, and one of the important things to remember is as people leave you don’t always have to keep doing every thing they used to do. It’s ok to keep going home on time.

      And it may be time to leave it may not, if it continues eventually yes.

    3. Alternative Person*

      It’s worth doing a little research- for example Is there a new competitor in the area? Is the service/product you provide being muscled out of the market? Are the people you provide to experiencing a downturn?, or like the above poster said Is there a pattern to the people who are leaving? Once you have a better idea of why, then you decide whether to abandon ship.

      (That said, it’s never a bad idea to check out the primary job boards for your field, update your resume and make use of your health insurance benefits (if such a thing applies to you) when things start looking fishy).

      I’d also wonder if this is a part of a ‘race to the bottom’ on the part of your employer. In my field, there has been a drop off in good FT positions (with a bit of a bottleneck for more senior roles, as they’re not being created) and an increase in the number of PT roles. It’s just about functional in my field because companies will shell out decent cash for good staff and treat them reasonably well (for the most part) but if you feel your company is going to take it to extremes, you might want to get out before you’re doing the work of several people.

    4. Slartibartfast*

      It seems like it’s often the case that management keeps throwing balls ot you as long as you keep juggling. They don’t really care how hard it is for you to keep everything in the air. So stop catching the new balls, let them drop. How management reacts to the balls on the ground is quite informative when you’re deciding whether or not to stay.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      There could also be other changes in the pipeline, so that your company has been holding off from posting/hiring new people. That’s been the case where I work for the last year or so. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

  15. Theguvnah*

    I’m senior staff at a nonprofit and had taken to unofficially mentoring a junior staff member in a different department (but she had some projects she reported to me on so we worked together a lot). She recently was laid off and I offered to shop around her resume. In doing so I saw that she had really overstated her role in my project and literally made it seem like she led this project.

    I think is is a sign of naïveté and age and not ill intent. I gently (I think) offered her feedback about her resume and provided language suggestions to more accurately capture her role in my project.

    She has gone silent and not responded for 10 days. Think I should reach out again? I really like this person and think she could have a great career in my section of this field but she needs to not burn this bridge.

    1. bunniferous*

      That’s on her, in the long run. My rule of thumb is to try not to care more than the person I am trying to help. Easier said than done….that said, I would check in ONCE then let it go. Who knows, she might have had family issues or a vacation or something.

    2. LilySparrow*

      Don’t reach out, it’s on her. But obviously don’t shop around a resume that’s inaccurate.

      The tricky bit would be if you don’t hear back from her, but she uses you as a reference. That would be awkward, because you did like working with her but can’t affirm the way she presented herself.

    3. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I think I’d reach out again and tell her you won’t be able to share this version of her resume and that your reference would be based on the work she did and not on what her resume says. Then wish her well and leave the next step to her. If you’re willing to share a more accurate version of her resume, say so. If she were further along in her career, she’d be able to read between the lines, but since she’s so new, I’d do her the favor of being very clear.

  16. coffeeeeee*

    So I had a 4 1-on-1 interviews where 3 people are people whom I’d be working with but not on my immediate team and one with my future boss.

    I couldn’t stand one of the people who’d I’d be working with. He talked down to me and spoke as if he was smarter then everyone and he wanted to give me his worldly advice of life lessons to follow. Also what he has a 100% different vision on the way the role that’s being hired for be approached then the person would actually be my boss. I don’t know if this will cause problems or if it doesn’t matter since he won’t be my boss.

    Should I base whether I want the job or not based off of this guy? I know I’ll be working with him, but don’t know how much or often. You often can’t choose who you work with so maybe it shouldn’t…


    1. Captain Worried*

      It’s tough to say, I had jobs where Boss 1 interviewed me, but (these are 3 separate jobs)
      1) I was swapped to Boss 2 later because he needed manpower more urgently
      2) Boss 1 turned out to be the high level director so I rarely go to interact with him
      3) Turns out Boss 1 wasn’t so bad if you knew how to handle him

      Do you have any other offers on the table? Is there any other red flags?

      1. coffeeeeee*

        I’d say a few maybe yellow flags, but nothing red.

        Yeah I’ve thought about that. This place has re-orgs alot so I didn’t know how much stock I should put into that in case I end up not working with him in the future for whatever reason.

        To #3, my husband had said that clearly this is the guys personality and he’s like this to everyone so I could just learn how to handle him and not be affected by him.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Your husband, conveniently, isn’t the one who will have to spend all day working with this tool.

          Jerk you have to work with constantly + other yellow flags = this probably isn’t the right job. You can’t count on a re-org taking him out of your orbit – the situation right now is that someone you can’t stand just in an interview is going to be constant in your job for the foreseeable future.

    2. Carbovore*

      It all depends on if there is enough about the rest of this job that interests you–salary, benefits, the work, commute, the mission, etc.?

      For me, I’ve learned that you can’t totally avoid or escape toxic/annoying personalities in the workplace and when you allow them to be dealbreakers, you might miss out on a really good opportunity. (Obviously, if this person were your boss, that COULD be a dealbreaker…)

      But who knows, you could start there and 3 weeks later he’s gone… Or, you take a job elsewhere and a jerk is hired on 2 months later. I’ve learned to control my reactions to people and hold firm boundaries and it’s done a world of difference because after all…. most jerk-free workplaces are utopias and quite rare…!

      1. coffeeeeee*

        Thanks, you’re right. These are all good points I should consider (and yes I think if he were the boss, it would be a dealbreaker). From some of items you mentioned is very good (ex. salary for the area, commute) and some not so good (benefits). These are things I should consider.

        I think if there’s one life lesson I need to learn is to control my reactions to other people. I admit I do let bad people affect me more then I should.

        1. Carbovore*

          Unfortunately, the jerk in my life IS my boss. I was promoted a year ago to a new role and after what seemed like the millionth yelling from her, something clicked with me that this wasn’t right BUT that there was so much else about my job that I loved that I didn’t want her to “win” by me being forced to leave…

          I ended up watching a ton of youtubes and reading articles and it was VERY helpful in changing my outlook. My boss in particular I decided is a narcissist (too many boxes checked to ignore what I would normally discount as an armchair diagnosis) and so a lot of the videos I watched and articles I read pertained to those behaviors in particular but a lot of the advice carries to other things.

          My boss hasn’t changed one bit (in fact, she’s worse in some ways now) but because I have changed my outlook and reaffirmed some boundaries with her, work has been MUCH better and the outbursts from her towards me have greatly lessened. (She seems to know I’ve changed as well…)

    3. LilySparrow*

      If you get an offer, I think it’s appropriate to speak with the hiring manager about the fact that this person characterized the role in a completely different way, and ask how that would impact your work, or if the boss has run into this issue with the previous person in the role.

      If there’s major dissension on the team, or this person is actively undermining the boss, it could be a flag for more generalized dysfunction or weak management.

      1. coffeeeeee*

        That’s a good idea that I hadn’t thought of – maybe if I do get the offer and if that’s what’s holding me back I should speak with him.

        On that point, it was pretty crazy that this guy was like X is a waste of time. It should be done Y and Z (and X is of most interest to me).

        And then on the meeting with the hiring manager later (who now this would be my second time) he was like X is really important because often Y and Z aren’t appropriate because blah blah. (And I didn’t even bring up what was said earlier.)

        1. Close Bracket*

          Yeah, that was my thought as well. Wait until you get an offer and then say you want to talk more to the boss about competing visions for the role that you got in the interview and find out who actually gets to decide what the role is. If That Guy has the ability to define certain aspects of the role, you might be stuck with his vision. The possibility is that Bossperson will go along with That Guy’s vision. I wouldn’t ask about issues with That Guy bc you don’t know Bossperson’s opinion of or relationship with That Guy. Mention his name as the source of the competing vision and just see what Bossperson says.

        2. ronda*

          a manager who was hiring me had me interview with all the people on her team and one person outside her team that I would be working with.

          At the end she asked me how it went and what I thought. The person not on her team had said to me ” I don’t know why they are hiring for this position”.
          I told new boss that was the only weird thing. She was shocked that this person had said that (I could see it on her face), but she did do OK and turn it around and ask me how I would handle it. I figured she needed to know and should at the very least have this person not involved in speaking to candidates in the future.

          This person was a thorn in my side until she left, but there was lots I was able to accomplish without her being a reasonable co-worker, so it wasn’t too bad.

          So I am all for bringing up the concern. Might not change anything, but you do want to clarify and see if you can get more details on what this person’s influence on your job will be.

        3. Observer*

          Bring it up, but be careful how you do it. Remember, in a well functioning organization, your boss is the one who sets not only the vision but the actual parameters of what you do – the assignments, process, and priorities – and gets to decide what is a waste of time and what isn’t, not the coworker. You want to make sure that when you ask about this, it’s clear that you recognize this.

          We once had a person who did something other than what she had been told to do by her supervisor because someone else told her “we don’t do it that way” or “this isn’t necessary”. She eventually get demoted and placed into a different department. It was part of a larger pattern of not understanding appropriate roles and issues with following instructions.

  17. Greenspoons*

    Anyone mid-career on here to give me advice?

    I’m freaking out a bit because I’ve been in this role for a few years and can see me being happy in this role for 5-10 years more. I’m only 30, but most folks at this level are 45 or older. I’ve noticed I’m not learning new hard skills nearly as much as in previous roles, but part of me is rationalizing that once you reach a certain level its less about new hard skills and more about improving the soft skills. Which this role has and definitely continues to help tremendously with.

    Sorry for the ramble – I guess my question is do careers plateau at a certain level and is it safe to coast at that level for a decade or so? Especially if you were rapidly promoted to a senior level? For an idea of the level of work I do – sole subject matter expert over a departments information systems, major projects of software implementation that intersect with legal, compliance, security, and operations, as well as a mixture of strategy, analytics, and management of interns.

    1. Senior level*

      Senior level director here, and totally understand what you are saying. My advice, and what I think has always set me apart, is to let go of the “rules.” Just because you reach a certain level doesn’t mean you mimic what everyone else at that level does (which often means coaching). If you keep your focus on continuous improvement, and leadership (soft skills) at the same time, it will keep you more engaged, more marketable, differentiate you, and in the right organization it will raise the standard of those around you. If you are a single SME, you could make a point to revamp procedures, train others, cross train, facilitate communication and team building between teams… just ideas of things you could take ownership of that would payoff for you and the company.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Hmm… It’s an interesting question.
      I don’t think it’s safe to “coast” for a decade in this day and age, but maybe for a few years if there is still more to learn. Even if you do stay in that role for 10 years, you’d want to demonstrate some advancements within it via new skills, mastery of the technology, or leadership skills.
      I would also say that at this level, you would want to possibly be developing your thought leadership, and becoming a respected voice in your field. This could include external activities or opportunities such as speaking engagements, article writing, LinkedIn connections, etc., if those apply to your field.

    3. ronda*

      it depends on what you want. If you wish to stay at this level, then you are probably OK.

      But, it can come crashing down if you are the SME of something they decide to get rid of. You might be able to transition to the new thing and you might not.

      If you do want to advance to something else, then staying with this for a long time is probably not going to help.

    4. TardyTardis*

      If you really like it there, you can grow in place with continuing education and learning more soft skills as well as hard ones related to your industry. You don’t have to coast; and if you work hard on learning more skills, it will be noticed as you improve not only your projects, but your management abilities. Management is a skill apart from technical knowledge, and it is seriously not going to hurt you to learn more in that area, too. You can learn both hard and soft skills at the same time, or if you like, learn a tech skill and then the next time, do management work–switch them up.

  18. Laura H.*

    Hope y’all have a great day. I had a nice semi- leisurely breakfast and now am walking off to work. Thankfully the rain has let up.

    Performance review should be happening soon. I’m excited about that because it means a raise more than likely.

  19. Anon anony*

    This might sound frivolous, but I’d appreciate any information/insight. I go to an Aveda hair salon and after they wash it, my hair looks so shiny and feels so nice… how does that happen? They sometimes do a little aromatherapy and put some oil in as they massage your hair, so maybe that’s it? When I wash my hair at home, it never looks the way it does at the salon. Do they have special water? I don’t get it…

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      Do you mean just after washing it, or after blowing it dry too? I definitely think the products they use and the way they blow dry and style your hair helps with the shininess.

        1. Auntie Social*

          It’s not just the products, it’s the paddle brush and the blow-out. Paddle brush makes hair very glossy.

    2. londonedit*

      Do you use the Aveda products at home? I also go to an Aveda salon and I love all the products, but they’re so expensive that I have to limit myself to just using the styling cream stuff rather than the shampoo and conditioner as well. For a while I tried to kid myself that I could live without the styling stuff and find something cheaper, but I’ve had to give in and admit that it’s the only thing that really works on my hair!

        1. Grace Less*

          I dont know about that brand specifically, but I buy the Biolage shampoo/conditioner/etc. at Ulta. It starts about 10% less than the salon, but sales plus coupons make it a much, much better deal. (Sorry, small businesses! But I’m paying $200/month for color and a cut, and the line must be drawn somewhere!)

        2. fposte*

          The actual product can really matter to texture, unfortunately. That doesn’t mean expensive is always better, but even if there is a less expensive option that would make your hair feel the way you want it to, it can take a lot of work to figure out what that option is that works for you. If you’ve got a birthday or holiday coming up, maybe this would be a good gift suggestion?

        3. Birch*

          I’m gonna go ahead and make a shameless recommendation without knowing anything about your specific hair concerns… but the absolute best thing that has ever happened to my hair is Earth Science Naturals olive oil and avocado hair masque. It’s a conditioner that makes your hair incredibly soft and silky and seems below the price point of most of the Aveda lines. If you’re looking for something similar, maybe give that a try?

      1. Anonymosity*

        My salon is Kevin Murphy, but I have the same problem. I’ve made one $30 container of Smooth Again last for three years. It helps that a little goes a very long way.

        I did find products available at retailers that work pretty well for me, however. Hask Argan Oil Repairing shampoo and conditioner, plus the little envelope of deep conditioner used once a week, and Garnier leave-in conditioner and smoothing milk. I still have a little frizz if it’s mega humid, but my hair is nice and soft. When I curl or straighten it myself, it never looks as good as when my stylist does it, but that’s her job and she’s super good at it.

      2. Triplestep*

        When my hair was long and wavy, Aveda’s “Be Curly” worked better than anything else. Now that my hair is short and spiky, their Control Paste works better than anything else. I’ve spent too much money gambling on inferior products at the drug store, so I’ll just use these and consider myself ahead of the game!

    3. Amber Rose*

      I think it’s the product. I was given a bottle of very expensive fancy conditioner, and my hair looks amazing after I use it. xD

      Unfortunately, once it’s gone I’m back to the $10 bottles of conditioner. But there’s probably stuff you can add to your hair after to make it shiny.

      1. Not All Who Wander*

        If you have really thick hair, try the Feria Color Moisturizing. A tiny dab will do you….more than that & you’ll be rinsing FOREVER. Even when I had mid-back hair that was incredibly thick, less than a dime sized amount would do it so a tube lasts forever.

        I probably wouldn’t recommend it as a daily conditioner if you have really fine, thin hair though…family who have visited & used it with that type of hair said it made their hair so slippery that it wouldn’t stay in a barrette. Best daily conditioner I’ve ever found for my thick hair though…when my hair was constantly snarled from being out in the wind all day this was the only stuff that would allow me to detangle without breaking hair. Now that I have a short pixie and keep it fire engine red, this is the only thing that saves my hair from feeling fried with doing weekly dye refreshes.

        (yes, I’m all fan-girl over this :) )

    4. kc89*

      if you or someone you know is handy you can buy a shower head with a water purifier attached, someone people say it makes a huge difference

    5. Belle of the Midwest*

      I, too, find that my hair behaves better when I use the products the salon uses and sells than the over-the-counter stuff, including most of the higher-end deluxe/premium/designer brands. So I go ahead and buy the salon products and use them on days when I really care about my hair looking its best. The rest of the time I will use a couple of brands that do a good everyday job for me.

  20. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

    I started a new career (accounting) and my previous work was in supply chain. For my new resume, I set it up as:

    Company, Title

    SUPPLY CHAIN EXPERIENCE (2006-2018, at X, Y and Z companies, with A, B, & C titles)
    Key accomplishments:
    I don’t want to get rid of the supply chain experience as it has some transferable skills, shows that I’ve been a high achiever in my previous positions, and shows my analytical ability. But, would this raise any red flags to group it all under one section rather than breaking it out by position? There’s no secret I’m hiding – I just wanted to save space without removing it all together. Thoughts?

    1. Maverick Spend*

      Id go conventional.

      The best Accounts Payable people understand the Supply Chain they are working in.

  21. FacultySpouse*

    Has anyone ever heard of a college professor being terminated mid-semester? My spouse’s colleague was disappeared mid-week a while back, and all we know is that NDAs were signed as to why…

    1. Carbovore*

      I work for a university and the last time I can think was nearly a decade ago when a professor was charged with murdering her husband. :X They cancelled her classes for that week.

      I’m sure there are more mundane reasons this happens, though!?

      More likely, university policies were violated and forced the uni’s hand… Lawsuits are a big deal in higher ed which is why it’s not being publicized, they don’t want to be sued.

    2. many bells down*

      Ohhh yeah. I went to a college in Los Angeles that had a very famous and notorious “porn professor” who I will not name here. His classes were hugely popular and he sold himself as a strong feminist writer.

      He was also sleeping with a LOT of young female students. They fired him a month into the semester when it finally came to light.

    3. blackcat*

      Only in the case of significant (and severe) misconduct. I’ve heard of it happening once and it was… well deserved.
      YMMV depending on institution, but as long as you’re not at a for-profit shady place, I would assume a sudden dismissal is for something that put students in danger or harmed students.

    4. fposte*

      Yikes. Umpteenthing that this is likely to be for a big deal wrongdoing–even if they’re not tenured, a dismissal riles the faculty and messes up the students (usually some grad student gets hauled in mid-semester to finish the courses), so it has to be a situation where keeping the professor would have hurt a lot worse than that. Presumably the fired professor got a payout in exchange for the NDA, which ups the ante on how much worse it would have cost them to keep them.

    5. Annie Moose*

      Yikes. A professor at my college got caught in a big plagiarism scandal (including passing off student work as his own) and he still got to finish the semester and resign.

      1. Marthooh*

        o__O – – – – your college
        o__O – – – – your college
        o__O – – – – your college

        Your college gets aaaaaaaaaallllll the side-eye.

    6. Debonairess*

      In UK academia, I’m pretty sure that would only happen for gross misconduct, which is when the normal processes for firing someone can be avoided.
      I get the impression from colleagues in the US system that it would also be very unusual to get rid of tenured staff that way without the equivalent of a gross misconduct charge. NDA makes me think it cannot be for anything illegal (or at least that charges weren’t brought?), but I don’t know how that works in US.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Speaking very generally, illegal agreements are unenforceable – you can’t force someone to break the law by contract . The necessity of complying with the legal process trumps an NDA.

        This doesn’t stop people from trying to use NDA’s to cover up illegal activity. And if a potential plaintiff thinks they have a weak case, or the personal risks of pressing charges are high, it may seem like a better option to take a settlement instead.

        Even if someone does wind up being subpoena’d to testify in court, the NDA would still bar them from talking to the media or writing about it.

      1. fposte*

        I’m cynically unsure if either of those would result in a mid-semester dismissal unless the situation were aggravated.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Banging multiple students whose parents complained, or stealing and refusing to return it when confronted.

          1. fposte*

            I was thinking one of them was a minor, or the stuff was being sold on eBay. Then of course there’s the possibility of child porn on the work computer.

        2. blackcat*

          Coercing students, banging students in exchange for grades, etc.

          I am entirely befuddled that, at my university, a professor banging a “student” (type not specified) is “strongly discouraged” and may constitute misconduct. Per our handbook, a graduate student employed as a TA banging an undergrad (even if they are highly unlikely to ever have a conflict of interest, say Chem grad student and Dance BFA student) is grounds for immediate dismissal.

    7. Kuododi*

      Yep…. I’m calling extreme and potentially dangerous to the student/faculty population……shenanigans. YACK!!!

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, usually it’s some significant misconduct if it was a termination.

      Are you absolutely certain it was termination and not something else like a sudden illness though? I once had a professor disappear mid-sememster and it was because of a horrible family tragedy (son killed in auto accident).

      1. FacultySpouse*

        I am friendly with the person’s spouse as well, who confirmed it was a termination, and that they can’t share any more details than that. They have said that the fired person did nothing wrong, which makes me rule out sexual shenanigans with students and other similar issues.

        1. Not a Mere Device*

          I wouldn’t assume that the spouse saying “they did nothing wrong” rules out sexual shenanigans with students, for a couple of reasons. One is that people lie about that sort of thing, including to their spouses–including claiming that “nothing happened”/”I was framed” and minimizing serious misconduct by calling it “flirting.” Along similar lines, there are people who either don’t want monogamy or are resigned to their partner cheating, and don’t see the difference between a genuinely consensual affair with an equal and taking advantage of their students.

          If the accusation is of financial crimes, again the spouse might believe that the fired person was innocent either because they really are innocent, or because people generally want to think well of their spouses. If the fired person was stealing to pay for a gambling or drug habit, “if they’d stolen all that money we’d have been able to afford a decent vacation” is a more comforting thought than “did they spend it on drugs or lottery tickets?”

          1. blackcat*


            Prof I knew of who was banging a student and got fired had an open marriage. Wife knew. Wife was fine with the version she’d been told (paying for sex was cool by her. She didn’t know the young woman was a student *in* her husbands class. She thought it was a random grad student, not an 18 year old in the 101 course).

        2. Dear liza dear liza*

          I’ve been in higher ed for 20 years. I have never heard of a professor being fired, mid semester, with an NDA, who had done nothing wrong. Either the professor is falsely accused, the spouse is oblivious, or there’s a lot of lying going on.

        3. How long?*

          I would wager that the terminated faculty’s spouse is biased here. Faculty doesn’t just get terminated for no reason. *Something* happened.

        4. blackcat*

          What type of institution? At small, poorly managed places without proper tenure it is possible to get randomly fired for no reason. But those are the exception, not the norm.

          1. Observer*

            Even there, I think it’s unlikely. At least not once the term has started. Too many logistical headaches.

        5. Observer*

          To quote a famous retort “They would say that”

          I obviously have no idea as to what happened, but it’s not likely that the professor really “did nothing wrong” except perhaps in their eyes and the eyes of a spouse trying to defend them.

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      There is a professor at a university in my province who was suspended suddenly (with pay, I think) because he made a lot of YouTube videos questioning the veracity of the holocaust, among other things. I can’t remember if he was suspended in the summer or during the semester.

    10. Afiendishthingy*

      Yes, for gross misconduct/sexual harassment (showed his student worker porn and asked if she liked to perform the sex act being portrayed)

      1. Anon Today*

        Yes, gross misconduct (we found out later from crime pages of local paper that he was picked up for sexual approaches to very under age girls on the internet). Vanished mid semester & we had to run around to cover classes.

    11. Not Really a Waitress*

      When I was in undergrad , i had a professor disappear mid semester. It was literally right after we took midterm. Rumor was he had checked or been checked into rehab for alcoholism.

    12. Afiendishthingy*

      Yes. He made his student worker look at porn on his phone and asked if she liked to perform the sex act portrayed.

      1. Afiendishthingy*

        Oops, my first comment wasn’t showing up for me and so I reposted and now I see my first comment

    13. TardyTardis*

      Sounds like a serious crash landing (like the Special Ed teacher who had a student run down to the pharmacy to pick up her meds, and then kindly shared some of them out…).

  22. Layoff worries K*

    Two weeks ago my boss told me I’m getting laid off at the end of the year. The company doesn’t want anyone to know yet she said because our busy season is about to start and they won’t do it until the week before Christmas in December. I’m not supposed to tell anyone she told me because she isn’t allowed to tell anyone. She said she told me because they won’t pay out or give anyone severance pay and those laid off won’t be coming back after the holidays. There is not going to be any notice. She said she wants me to have a heads up so I can get a job first. Since it happened I can’t stop thinking about the letter from here where the OP was told they would be laid off and then the boss was wrong and OP didn’t find out until they took a job somewhere else with a huge pay cut. I don’t have a reason to mistrust my boss really but if I can’t ask anyone else or talk about it is there still a way anyone can think of for me to find out if it’s true? Only a few select managers and execs are supposed to know.

    1. Dramaphobe*

      It’s September now. I’d say there is no harm in sending out some resumes now, to see if you can score a couple of interviews and job offers. That way, when December comes, you are either not laid off and can tell the job interview place you will decline their offer (good), or laid off but have a job lined up (also good).

      I am also in a similar boat, except in my case its a coworker who heard it from a boss, so I am on even shakier ground as to whether rumours are true. But I reached out my feelers, because in my industry the job hunt might take months. I definitely would prefer to be employed while I hunt.

      1. Kay*

        Putting out feelers is good advice. I’m wondering (and perhaps the OP of this post is also) about what happens if they are offered a job long before the layoff is supposed to happen. In my field the hiring process doesn’t take long, a month or so maybe. If OP starts looking now they could get an offer in a month. It does depend on what field of course but if I was in their shoes I would be worried about taking another job to avoid unemployment and then finding out a layoff isn’t happening. Exactly like what happened in the letter the mentioned.

        Incidentally, was there ever an update to that letter? I know OP posted in the comments but I’m curious if the layoffs eventually did happen.

    2. LilySparrow*

      You can job-hunt and try to bank as much cash in savings as possible, even if it’s not true.

      If you go on a “just in case” budget plan now, you may be able to get enough of a cushion that you wouldn’t be tempted to take a desperation job anyway.

      I mean, if you job-hunt and find a better job, you win either way, right?

    3. MissDisplaced*

      This is not uncommon. Nor is asking you to keep it quiet. Actually, boss is doing you a favor by giving you 4 months notice to essentially ‘get your ducks in a row.’

      Just curious, but did your boss say anything about what should happen if you got a job offer before December? What if you WANT to leave earlier? Because, obviously, you’re going to start looking.
      When this happened to me, I was actually given a stay-on bonus from when they told me about layoff, as a promise I wouldn’t jump ship before their end-day.

      But aside from that, follow the pending layoff advice: save money/reduce expenses, update resume, references, and slowly begin the job search process. Also, take care of any medical & dental appointments or procedures and prescriptions now while you have insurance.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Even if you start a new job, you might not have insurance kick in for 90 days.
          So go and get it done or stock up!

    4. Gatomon*

      I’m not sure how you could confirm it without risking tipping someone off that you know about it! I think at 4 months out a lot of things could still change. Perhaps layoffs are the plan now, but business turns around, or they decide to keep you, or find other roles for you in the company… it’s hard to predict. I know that letter is so frustrating to think about, but there have also been stories where people have been laid off after their honeymoons or right before the holidays with no notice whatsoever.

      As a pessimist and a planner, I think you have to at least plan somewhat for this coming true. I would cut back on spending, stockpile savings and plan a low-key holiday season. Use your benefits up and take your PTO, as others have said. Meanwhile, at least take a look around and see what other jobs are being posted, and what wages and compensation look like. Depending on what your industry is it may be too early to start hunting, or it might be just right. You can also start working on your resume and do some practice cover letters or mock interviews with friends, without pressure. If the layoffs never do come, at least you’ll have a nice boost to your savings and your health will be in order, right? Plus you’ll feel more ready if layoff rumors do spread again.

      Personally I would try to stick around as long as possible to see if they would do it. If so, get laid off and get some work-free time around the holidays, then shoot for starting a new job in January. Odds are you’ll have less vacation time the first year at a new company, so that week or two around Christmas might be a nice break before a new job. And if you do get laid off, you should be eligible for UI benefits. (Assuming you’re in the US.) Some states have a benefits estimator you can use to see how that might help you stay afloat financially. There is usually a “waiting week” though, where you must meet all eligibility criteria but receive no payment.

      You could try to follow up with your boss in a month or two and see if she’ll confirm the layoffs are still planned. At that point you might also see more obvious signs, like a lack of work slated for post-holidays or a sudden focus on documentation or crosstraining, getting cut out of meetings or important email chains, etc.

  23. many bells down*

    I need to vent a little about my job because it’s so frustrating. I was hired to teach ESL students public speaking. I was told there was a huge demand from the parents for this subject. But my classes are always empty and the director lets parents enroll their kids for whatever part of the course they feel like. For example, over the summer I was supposed to teach 2-week sessions, and I designed a lesson plan that starts off with basics and ramps up to more difficult subjects like impromptu speaking. Half my students would only attend for one week. And half the time that was the second week.

    Now, I was supposed to teach 2 12-day sessions for fall, one for elementary and one for middle school. There’s no enrollment in my elementary session and TWO students in my middle school. I keep telling them that “public speaking” requires a PUBLIC.

    It’s just not what I was promised when I took the job. I’m on a one-year contract, but I have to have surgery at the end of the year so I will probably just “recover” until my contract is up in February and then move on to something else.

    1. Chaordic One*

      This sounds very disappointing. I take it that you are being paid, even though you don’t have very many students enrolled in the classes at this time. Based on what you’ve described, I’d go ahead and get the surgery now.

    2. Justin*

      Fellow ESL person here (though currently doing something else).

      Our field is… fun like this, eh? But yeah, if they’re being shady or lazy like this, get your health taken care of and look around as much as you can.

  24. CS Rep by Day, Writer by Night*

    My company has finally started the hiring process to backfill for the manager of an adjacent department, who was promoted nearly a year ago. I’m not interested in the position myself (I’ve discovered I have no desire to manage large teams at this point in my life), but I did hear through the grapevine that there are a bunch of internal candidates. I’m really hoping that whoever they hire opens up an opportunity for me to apply for a different position. I’m bored/dissatisfied in my current role, but I’m tired of changing jobs every 3-5 years, especially now that I’m staring 50 in the eye. I’ve always had to move to a new employer in order to change roles, but there are some exciting things coming down the pike for my company in the next few years, and I’d really like to stick around to be part of it.

  25. buffty*

    My husband and I are scheduled to fly to New Orleans this Wednesday, but as the Magic 8 Ball says…OUTLOOK NOT SO GOOD. If this all turns into a weather washout, we still want to go, but that is really seeming unlikely at the moment. We are just quietly waiting to see what happens, and making backup plans to take a car trip elsewhere instead.

    Has anyone else experienced having to cancel a vacation at the last minute due to severe weather? What was your experience with getting the hotel to waive the cancellation fee?

    1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      I had to cancel a trip because of severe weather before and the hotel refunded us. Many hotels allow you to cancel within 24-48 hours. This doesn’t help now, but we usually get the extra trip insurance for when severe weather may be an issue. I’d just call the hotel now though and ask how they handle that sort of scenario, especially while you’re still a couple days out.

    2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Yeah… I had vacation to a beach condo scheduled for the weekend after hurricane Harvey hit… I ended up having to call my credit card because I was unable to reach the condo rental place after several attempts. It was a place that I’d been to a handful of times before and was right in the path of the original landfall. Many weeks later I did hear from them and they have been closed since, trying to rebuild. They refunded my money (or more accurately, did not dispute the claim I made with my credit card). I definitely hope to go back if and when they rebuild.

    3. hurricane season*

      What are you planning on doing in New Orleans? If it’s indoors, it may be a non-issue. It’s only supposed to be a tropical storm, so not a big deal as severe weather goes.

    4. buffty*

      Unfortunately we are already past the standard no-fee cancellation period for the reservation. We will still go if it turns out to just be a rain event. We were just planning to wander around and eat and drink, so rain is okay but gale force winds don’t sound so appealing.

    5. Dear liza dear liza*

      If there’s an official NWS warning, your chances of a refund are good. I was supposed to go to a conference that was in a hurricane path and *Priceline* refunded the hotel.
      Priceline! I thought for sure I was out of luck. But hotels don’t want you there in a hurricane.

    6. Not All Who Wander*

      I was supposed to be in the Bahamas when Irma hit. These are my lessons learned:

      -VRBO is a heinous company. Even though I had bought their trip insurance, both the host & VRBO refused to give me a credit because I didn’t actually arrive on site to check in…the airlines had cancelled flights but apparently I was supposed to somehow fly into a Cat 5 (at that point) storm and somehow get to the condo, be refused entry, and then & only then would their trip insurance or refund policy kick in. (The same summer my parents’ had a different problem not getting a refund from VRBO…when they showed up at the rental the hot tub turned out to not have worked for years, the place was clearly not cleaned from the previous renters, etc. They never got a dime refunded either…do not use VRBO unless you are willing to eat every dime plus have to pay to stay somewhere else if there is an issue.)
      -AirBnB was great…they proactively sent me an email as the storm/trip approached with my options then issued me my refund within a couple days.
      -Delta wouldn’t give me a refund on the airfare but gave me a credit for one year. Note: this is one year from when you bought your ticket, not one year from when you were supposed to travel. (I didn’t realize this; the first customer service person was hard-core about it when I tried to re-book…when I gave up and then called back the next day, the second customer service person was great and let me use it late)

      1. WellRed*

        This is good advice for dealing with customer service in life. It can be soo dependent on who you get.

    7. Cat Herder*

      Yes, hurricane was a fair possibility, we did not want to drive towards a hurricane nor stay on a beach if it arrived, hotel was very understanding and canceled without penalty. Hurricane did hit — the hotel was ok but we would not have been able to drive back for a couple of weeks due to damage, washouts, etc.
      Can’t hurt to call…

  26. Arya Parya*

    I just got a new job! I start next month and I’m really happy. I wasn’t unhappy at my current job, but this job is in an industry I love, I think the company itself is great, the pay and benefits are better and the commute is only 10 minutes. So I’m really looking forward to starting work there.

  27. Anon for this*

    I posted in an open thread a few months ago (link in my name) about being baffled by my manager suddenly removing everything from his desk (office supplies, binders/files, personal items — he left nothing on his desk except his computer). Well, the same manager recently went on a rampage in our work area. Without any warning, he took all office supplies that were out on desks in plain view and just threw them in the trash. Binders, post-it notes, full boxes of paper clips and binder clips, pens and highlighters — all gone.

    This is a shared work area, so not specific people’s personal desks, but still, the office supplies were there because we used them. The pre-labeled TPS report binders we use all the time are all gone. We have to dig through drawers hoping to find a binder clip that the manager didn’t throw away.

    I guess the guy just doesn’t like to see anything on desks… but isn’t this just a tad bit unreasonable? It’s one thing if he wants to keep his own desk empty (weird, but not really hurting anyone), but kind of ridiculous for him to throw away stuff that people were using!

    1. Carbovore*

      In reading your earlier post, I was going to agree with others that a sudden cleaning of a desk can sometimes mean that the person’s feelings/outlook on the company have changed and they’ve already “mentally” quit but… deciding to do that to everyone else’s desks!? That’s just weird and incredibly rude…

      How confrontational is this person? Would it be worth it to ask them about it (in a purely non-accusatory way)? “Hey, just wondering, did I miss a memo about items on our desk? Just want to make sure I’m understanding any office policy changes.”

      1. Anon for this*

        He is very non-confrontational. He did this while I was on vacation for 2 weeks, and I came back and couldn’t find any TPS report binders, so I decided to clip my TPS report with a binder clip in the meantime but couldn’t find any binder clips. I asked somebody where we’re keeping the TPS report binders now, and she said, “Joe threw those all away,” and then told me about his rampage. I kind of hate to be the only one to confront him about it, especially weeks after it happened, but, like, WTF?

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I would probably just keep restocking my desk. If he doesn’t tell you there’s a problem, it’s not your job to be psychic. If the supplies aren’t available, I would just hand in the TPS report loose, and if it comes up say I couldn’t find or get any binders or binder clips, remember when we asked for more? But then I don’t like playing the grownup when people are being childish. I had enough of that with my parents when I was actually a child to last me 10 lifetimes.

          1. Anon for this*

            The weird thing is that, so far, it’s been a one-time thing. By the time I got back from vacation, coworkers had already started putting office supplies back on the desks (at least the ones of which we had extras in the supply cabinet) and Joe hasn’t touched them since. I don’t know if he is doing this to “clean up” or if it’s his reaction to being angry about something — it’s hard to tell because he’s very quiet and I’m not sure I would even know if he’s angry.

        2. Carbovore*

          What are other coworkers saying? Is it possible a group of you could get together and ask him about it? (Or are there staff meetings where it wouldn’t be weird to bring it up?)

          I HATE having to confront people about things but I’m learning as I get older that people who behave badly/inappropriately are the ones who should feel awkward about being confronted, not me.

          Maybe since it’s weeks later, you could approach it differently. “Hey Joe, I got back from vacation and it looked like maybe we’d adopted a more minimalist approach to office supplies but I’m finding it really difficult to organize myself without our binder clips–where were they moved? Or would it be possible to order more?”

          Honestly, I’d be at the point where I’m insanely curious to figure out why he threw everything out in the first place! (Have people tried putting supplies back on their desk? If so, has he reacted to that?)

    2. Dramaphobe*

      That does seem very unreasonable and very strange. I mean, for all you know, the ratty binder that had been thrown away might have held all the invoice papers!

    3. Loopy*

      That’s very odd and off-putting. I use my office supplies all the time and hate having to waste time looking for something I don’t have on hand. I’d be quite angry.

    4. Myrin*

      This sounds quite ridiculous indeed.
      Can you approach him about it? Not necessarily in a confrontational way, but just asking where you’re supposed to get your office supplies from now? Or the other manager you talk about in your original comment, the one who shares an office with him? Because, I mean, you have to get your paperclips from somewhere.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      This is weird. Very weird, not to mention hugely wasteful if he just threw them away in the trash (I can see throwing them all in a drawer or closet or something).

      Do you by chance have an open office? HaHa! They tend to bring out the worst, but it’s oddly passive aggressive.

    6. LilySparrow*

      Um, isn’t he accountable to someone for costs? How much did he throw out, and how much did it cost to replace?

      1. Anon for this*

        Well, yes, but the cost of the office supplies is a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of our budget, and the stuff he threw away was relatively cheap. He’s not going to get in trouble for wasting $100 in office supplies.

        1. WellRed*

          I think he is in need of…something
          That is just not normal under any circumstances. Does he seem otherwise OK? Stressed?

  28. Loopy*

    Not work related but I have to say I think I was pretty successful for my first big cake project. I haven’t actually tried it yet but it looks pretty polished.

    But man I’m wiped out. I made cake pops with the trimmings and extra frosting and man, I don’t know how people do huge baking projects on a regular basis?! It’s a fun thing for me, but draining by the end!

      1. Susan K*

        Looks great! I enjoy baking, too, but I hate the cleanup. That’s the part I find really draining. I would bake a lot more if someone else would clean up when I’m done :)

        1. Loopy*

          Thanks! I clean as I go, which helps it not be too terrible. And usually I make quite the awful mess, so I end up having to clean my kitchen even better than usual, so at least I’m left with a really well cleaned kitchen!

        1. Loopy*

          Thanks! Not gunna lie, I’ve been showing it off quite a lot. I rarely have the time or energy for projects to show off, so it’s a rare treat.

          1. fposte*

            I used to bake like crazy, but I was never inclined toward the decoration side, so I’m always impressed by people who manage both.

        1. Loopy*

          Thanks! Oddly, after all the work, I’m okay with waiting to cut it and actually taste it. Quite while you’re ahead they say :P

    1. Birch*

      What flavor cake pops? I’ve heard they can be difficult to get the consistency right. I’m with you, I love baking but it’s usually pastry and bread–cakes are so finicky and time consuming and by the end I’m too exhausted to enjoy them! I will shamelessly plan my own Great British Bake Off bakes though.

      1. Loopy*

        I just used the extreme chocolate cake I had left over with the salted caramel frosting and a vanilla candy coating. I was so tired I didn’t use a recipe, I just threw leftover frosting in the trimmings bowl. The result was mostly just very very sweet. I could have probably measured for a much better result.

        They we’re admittedly a fair bit gooeier than I’d like, so I have no recommendations (or measurements used) for consistency. Truthfully, I hate making cake pops though, it was just an easy way to use the leftover stuff!!

        1. Birch*

          That cake looks amazing! Well, you get all the kudos from me… I’m usually too lazy to assemble a cake so end up with cupcakes instead!

          1. Loopy*

            Thanks! I was actually thinking that if I like the cake/frosting combo, next time it’ll probably be done in cupcake form if I have to feed others, haha!

  29. Velceo*

    I keep over the counter medications in my desk at work. Am I able to provide them to competent adults on my team, to self administer? I don’t want to get in trouble for giving someone tylenol for a headache, but I’d also rather that they don’t suffer needlessly.

    1. Loopy*

      I don’t know the official professional stance on this but I’ve commonly had coworkers occassionally ask around for basic aspirin. I’ve never blinked at it since the requests so few and far between!

    2. Annie Moose*

      I think that’s pretty normal. Both my current job and OldJob stocked OTC painkillers with the office supplies, and I’d be pretty surprised if my employer was upset by me offering Tylenol to someone. I mean, we’re all adults and Tylenol is hardly a controlled substance!

    3. MeganTea*

      My office keeps single-dose packages of OTC pain meds in the break room for any employee to use.
      As long as you’re clear with others exactly what you’re providing (telling people the name & brand of what you have, rather than using a generic term) I would think you’d be fine.

      1. Not All Who Wander*

        Isn’t generally an issue in federal government either for employees & volunteers (general public can be a little iffier and is somewhat location dependent)…every government building I’ve worked in always had a stocked medicine cabinet that anyone could help themselves from paid for out of the office budget (as opposed to brought in by individuals).

      2. Cat Herder*

        I work at s university, everyone in my office shares Tylenol like tictacs.

        We don’t give anything to students, however.

    4. LilySparrow*

      Every office I’ve ever worked in either had single-pack OTC’s available in a common area, or individuals would ask for and share them as a favor, or both.
      Unless your company has a specific policy, or you live in a particularly restrictive place, I can’t imagine why this would be a problem.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      If it’s over be counter, you could give to another adult to self-administer without a problem. After all, they could go buy their own. I wouldn’t give it to a child.

      It’s illegal to share your prescription medications. Unless you are a doctor and have a doctor/patient relationship (which requires a medical record made with specific including details), it’s illegal. You might be on okay legal ground in a life threatening emergency (epi pen or naloxone come to mind).

      I’m just a doctor though not a cop or a lawyer…

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        This is incidentally why all the family members and friends who want “just” allergy medicine or whatever get a hard no from me. You’d have to come to my office, have an exam and an interview, provide your allergies and other medications, etc. Even then I’d rather not treat anyone I know.

        Not what you asked but I get the question a lot…

        Still over the counter is fine. Much of that stuff is included in first aid kits that some buildings stock anyway.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, my office has first aid kits with various pain relievers, allergy pills, pepto generics, etc.

      1. Kj*

        Yep. And adults should know their own allergies and concerns with meds. I always carry Tylenol with me as it is the only pain med I am allowed, but I offer if freely to others.

    6. TardyTardis*

      I keep emergency chocolate, too, ever since I was Very Unhappy about something and had to ask for some from a friend (pass the good deed forward, etc.).

    7. John Vinall*

      I find this fascinating – everywhere I’ve worked (in the UK) it’s a huge no-no for the company to provide anything, even OTC medicines.

      As a first aider we’re told explicitly not to even suggest that someone might want to take medication, we can say things like “if you have any paracetamol you can choose to take one if you want” – but giving it to someone is explicitly not allowed.

      No problem with sharing within the office but only personal supplies – there will be nothing bought by the company for fear of getting sued…

  30. Susan K*

    I wear a lanyard at work for my security badge. I like to have a pen with me at all times, so I keep one on my lanyard, but I can’t seem to find a good one. I have a Sharpie mini with a metal ring attached to the cap, and I attached that to my lanyard with a key ring. I would love to find something just like that for a normal ballpoint pen. Can anyone recommend one that is available online?

    1. Red Reader*

      Amazon search for “Mini RSVP Pen” — Pentel does pens in a variety of colors about the size of the mini-sharpie. You might have to get your own key ring, but the pen has a hole for it. I have a carabiner clipped to the loop in my purse with a mini RSVP and a mini Sharpie attached to it :)

    2. Salyan*

      After purchasing (and losing) an expensive keyring pen from Lee Valley, I made my own with a 12 cent BIC pen. Remove the end cap, take out the ink barrel, cut the external barrel and ink barrel to size (it didn’t even leak when I did it), reinsert the end cap, poke a pair of holes through the end with something sharp, and insert thin keyring. Voila! And only 12 cents.

  31. Farmer-analyst*

    Driving some fence posts to hopefully get the goats a new foraging space is my labor today, but a question for when I’m back at my desk: what do you all do for snacks? I think I use them for a fidget/change of pace as much as nutrition, but I’m having trouble finding the right balance. Peanuts seem to small, and I’m trying to wean myself off pop-tarts. Other suggestions?

    1. fposte*

      I hear you on the fidget thing. For me I usually need a bit of crunch for that, so I like almonds or else cheese on crispbread.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Popcorn! I love having a bag of it, and as long as it’s air-popped and isn’t drenched in butter, you can eat a lot of it before it starts being “unhealthy”.

    3. LilySparrow*

      For eating on the go/while working, I like a handful of dried fruit, like apricots, with some almonds or cashews. I prefer putting them together myself instead of buying trail mix, because there’s always something in the trail mix I don’t like.

      If I can stop a minute and take a break, I prefer fresh fruit or veggies with a protein/fat dip – carrots & hummus, apple & peanut butter, celery with cream cheese, that kind of thing.

    4. Anonymous Celebrity*

      Mini pretzels. Snyders of Hanover makes unsalted mini pretzels that are pretty good. You can eat 20 of them and get just 110 calories and very little salt (75 mg, which is like 3% of your recommended daily sodium intake). As snacks go, they’re not too big a disaster.

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Trail mix, mini Kind bars, turkey jerky, cheese sticks, and single serve bags of crackers and pretzels.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      For me the solution was actually a soda stream. I try to avoid snacking at work because it tends to add up to a lot of calories (particularly things like nuts and dried fruit which seem healthy).

      I have a 500 ml bottle, which is enough that I can drink it over the course of a morning or afternoon, and the routine of filling, carbonating, sipping, rinsing out the bottle gives me the fidgeting/changing of pace aspect.

      Other than that – what about fresh fruit? Orange segments, grapes, that sort of thing.

      I find dried squid a good snack when I want something to chew on, but that’s probably not office appropriate.

  32. Bumblebee*

    I have a second round interview coming up in a few weeks. I was just wondering, would it be appropriate to ask for an informational interview with some of the employees at the company that have the same title as the position I’m applying for? Would it be weird, since I already have an interview coming up that’s supposed to include multiple people, and potential future team members? It’s a junior level position, and honestly it’s sort of my dream job, so I want to keep making a good impression, especially since I’m pretty far along the application process.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Just my opinion, but I think asking for a formal informational interview with employees is kind of weird overkill. Especially, if you’re scheduled to meet some of them.

      But if you’re really looking for more in-depth info on the work culture, you might email one or two. But I’m not sure you’d really get them to say much, as employees are often fearful of mentioning negatives. I think you’d be better off thinking about what kind of questions you’d want to ask them about the culture and also reading Glassdoor/Indeed reviews. You could always bring that up in phrasing your questions.

      “When I was reading company reviews it was mentioned the company culture was competitive. Would you agree with that? If so, what defines competitive here?” That kind of thing.

    2. Triplestep*

      An interview that includes would-be peers *IS* your informational interview. You’re not only there to answer their questions, but to ask your own.

  33. Martha Marcy May Marlene*

    I started a new job at the end of June and I’m really trying to keep my head down and not get caught up in any drama or gossip or the like. It affected my performance at past jobs and I like this job and want to do well here. Any tips/ideas/advice for ignoring or deflecting? I was doing fine up until now. There is some drama going on because a manager [not mine] on another floor got caught by her husband cheating with one of her staff. Her husband is divorcing her, she is about 5 months pregnant and neither him nor the other guy is the father apparently. The gossip is flowing [speculation about who the father is, how her husband ghosted her and is bitter because they didn’t have kids yet etc.]. Thanks to anyone who reads or responds. Happy Labor Day all!

    1. fposte*

      Can you give a little more information about how it affects your performance? Headphones could solve some problems, if it’s that you get sucked into personal chit-chat when you should be working or find those conversations harder to work through than standard office blather.

    2. Drama Llama*

      I have a hard time keeping my nose out of work drama, too. I am an admitted gossip lover—it is not something I’m proud of about myself. Along with fposte’s headphones idea to keep the actual conversations at bay, I’ve found that a neutral source of “drama” helps me avoid getting as caught up when it pops up in my real life. I get my fix reading advice columns and forums on Reddit and it helps me not seek out real-life gossip to feed the beast.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Seems like this isn’t your problem unless you actively make it so. Just don’t sleep with the manager, her husband, the staff member, or the unknown babydaddy and you should be fine.

    4. LilySparrow*

      I actually started avoiding the break room/lunchroom at one job, because it seemed like it was the epicenter of gossip and negativity, and it was nearly impossible to eat in there without either participating in, or actively snubbing, some kind of drama. Even if I wasn’t contributing, I couldn’t make everyone else change the subject if they didn’t want to.

      It turned out to be a good choice on several levels – I started walking oudoors or going to the gym at lunch, or eating at my desk while I did some studying or writing. My physical and mental health went way up!

    5. Damn it, Hardison!*

      It might help if you can be prepared to cut off people when they start gossiping. Alison has good scripts for that, along the lines of “oh, I don’t like to speculate on other people’s personal lives. How was your weekend?” (Hers are much better than mine.) For perpetual complainers, I like to be blandly sympathetic – “my, that sounds tough” – followed by asking what they plan to do about it.
      It can be hard to distinguish between the people who are always complaining and gossiping from those people who do it occasionally (like most of us are prone to do.) You’re still pretty early in the job to know who is who. The fact that you are aware of it and trying to do the right thing is half of the battle, so you are on the right track!

  34. Elizabeth E.*

    Thanks Alison for all that you do. I graduated college this year and tomorrow I start a permanent full time job in the industry I went to college for. Before this I only ever worked as a cashier part time. I couldn’t have done without Ask A Manager and your books and all the other great advice you have written over the years. You help so many people and I appreciate this place so much.

    1. fposte*

      It also sounds like you worked your butt off to get there, so you deserve a ton of credit as well :-). Congratulations!

  35. Mimmy*

    First of all, thank you to those who replied to my posts on Friday and over the weekend. I think I’m just getting burned out at work.

    I wanted to give a bit more context about what has been going through my head and to maybe get some input.

    I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m really interested in accessibility. The conference I attended in June was focused on the ADA, with workshops on legal aspects (for more advanced attendees) and information on ways to incorporate accessibility and “reasonable accommodations” in various settings. I’m also pursuing an ADA certification administered by the same group that put on the conference.

    Here’s where I’m stuck: 1) the feeling of being held back, both by my current environment and by my concerns about being able to emotionally handle more advanced work and 2) whether my background is transferable.

    I’ve mentioned before that I am unsure whether or not I want to continue with direct service. I enjoy interacting with the students I work with, but I always go back-and-forth as to whether I’d be more comfortable in a more project-oriented role. I’ve contemplated so many different roles–policy, program evaluation, grant writing–but I always find a way to talk myself out of it. This will definitely take some time working through.

    In terms of my background: I have some experience in social work / human services and a lot of knowledge about disabilities. I have a masters plus a graduate certificate in these areas. I’m trying my darnedest to not make the mistake of going back to school yet again but I wonder if my social work background is going to hinder me in my pursuits since accessibility seems to be more focused on design, both architectural and technological. While it’s all really fascinating, I’m not sure if that’s what I’m really interested in since I don’t have any knowledge of architecture or computer science. Social work supposedly offers a wide variety of options but I think most people view it as a clinically-oriented field.

    Gahhh, this is getting long again. TL;DR – I am trying to untangle the web of ideas in my head! I know I don’t have to have it all figured out RIGHT NOW, but I’m impatient :)

    1. Jaydee*

      There’s a ton you can do dealing with accessibility that would align well with a social work background. You mention students now, so maybe you’re already in this type of role, but a disability services office in a college or university would be a way to help students get needed accommodations without needing to do the very technical aspects of things. There are centers for independent living and state vocational rehabilitation agencies that often work with individuals with disabilities on figuring out needed workplace accommodations or home and vehicle modifications to maximize their independence.

      One thing to remember is that a lot of times in these fields having past relevant experience is pretty broad, depending on the direction a particular agency or department is trying to go. So you might be able to transition pretty easily from direct service to program or policy work in a very related area, then to program or policy work in a different area, then to grant-writing in that second area, etc. So you don’t necessarily have to consider any one path to be final – the paths often connect or overlap again.

    2. nep*

      I feel for you, Mimmy.
      Thanks for sharing all this. (You have accomplished so much, and continue to do so.)
      I don’t have any concrete advice here. Just a thought comes to mind–is there a role that, when you envision yourself there, evokes only a sense of ‘rightness’ and contentment, and no doubts whatsoever? Are there ever fleeting thoughts like ‘this is what I belong doing’ but for some reason you’re not pursuing that thing?
      I’ve got just a quick minute online here, but just want to say thanks again for sharing and wishing you all the best. Please keep us posted.

  36. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Ugh. Just back from vacation, and now my back is killing me again. (It was bad just before we left, but somehow got better on the travel day and pretty much was fine the whole trip after that.)

    At least I don’t have to be back in the office until Thursday!

    How are you all handling the end of the summer/holiday weekend?

    1. Enough*

      Understand the back. I spent 9 days going to daughter’s college and back. Took a few days to visit friends on the way back. But mostly driving. My back felt good. All I could figure is the beds were better than mine and the car seat was a better angle than my chair at home.
      As for the weekend – yard work. Trying to work around rain and heat.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yeah, at home I mostly sit in a recliner, and I think it’s not doing my back any favors.

        Good luck with the yard work — we were way Up North, and it was glorious! The HIGH temp was 59 one day! And now I’m back in the Mid-Atlantic, and walking outside feels like walking through hot soup. Gross.

    2. fposte*

      Ouch. I’m in a bad back phase myself, so of course I celebrated the weekend by slightly breaking my foot.

        1. fposte*

          It’s really not that bad–I’ve been able to walk on it the whole time, and the x-ray just saw a little new damage to an old problem site. I declined a cast because I knew that would screw my back up, so the ER gave me a boot; I still found that worse than just wearing very soft and cushy shoes. But don’t drop heavy things on your foot, kids. #PSA

    3. Ali G*

      Sorry about your back!
      Hubs and I are being totally decadent. It’s the first weekend in a long time where he isn’t working or I am prepping for an interview. We literally just opened a bottle of Rose and are about to commence on clearing out the DVR.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yay decadence! We already caught up on Castle Rock and most of the shows on the DVR, and I’m most of the way caught up with my forum/newsletter reading. (I’m trying to skim a lot of them unless they’re particularly interesting, but there’s a reason I follow/subscribe to them in the first place!)

        1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

          I highly -HIGHLY!- recommend Pain Free by Pete Egoscue. Not exercises, more like positions that you hold for X amount of time.
          My husband has been in construction for close to 40 years, and he was starting to have more and more episodes of back pain so bad that he would have to stay immobile. Neighbor recommended this book and it is freaking amazing how well it works. I’ve done it as well.

    4. Parenthetically*

      For the first time in ten years I’m missing the back-to-school routine (I’m SAHM-ing it for a while) and it’s… weird. Good in some ways, sad in other ways. My husband has the day off which is a fantastic treat, and we are marking the occasion by sitting in the living room on our own computers putzing around while our kiddo sleeps. Ha!

    5. TardyTardis*

      Do you have exercises you can do for it? My husband does for his, and he likes doing them in the bath after his muscles have warmed (obviously he’s not doing the turtle given he doesn’t have gills).

  37. Wine Slinger*

    What are people’s thoughts about resigning during your industry’s busy season?

    For the wine & spirits wholesale industry, Oct-Nov-Dec is the traditional crazy time of year (now that includes September as companies try to sustain the sales pressure longer). I have been miserable in my job for quite a while and have a lead that may pan out…right in the middle of Q4. While I am incredibly frustrated with how my management handles business issues, I personally like them a lot and am feeling lots of guilt at potentially leaving when it would be difficult to replace me without my territory taking a financial hit.

    How do others who’ve faced this situation handle the resulting guilt? Or do you not recommend leaving during your busy season?

    I’m not planning to leave for a competitor, I’m fleeing the industry altogether, so it could be worse, but still… My people pleasing nature is really dragging me down and I dread the thought of burning this bridge. I hate the idea of turning down a good opportunity more, though. I just worry I’m doing myself a disservice by potentially torching a reference for the past 5 years of my career.

    1. Wine Slinger*

      If it affects things, I’m not just garden variety miserable. I’m clinically depressed and most of it ties back to my work not being a great fit for me. I was staunchly against quitting during Q4 as it felt even more unprofessional than quitting without notice, then I found myself daydreaming about taking FMLA for my depression and anxiety and realized I may have to forgo professionalism here. I would just like to salvage a reference and some positive relationship in the future if possible. It is hard to think about burning a bridge with managers that have been so important to my development. :/

      1. Ali G*

        Do what’s best for you. I might be bitter, but I see like this: if the company was having budget issues, or whatever, they would let you go to improve their position, no matter the time of year (a friend of mine was laid off right after xmas one year, which also disqualified him for a bonus, even though he worked for them for an entire year).
        So take care of yourself and do what you need to do to make your situation better.

    2. Susan K*

      I think it depends on the length and nature of the busy season, and the amount of difficulty of replacing you. Where I work, the busy season is about a month, and it’s considered bad form to quit during or right before. But 3-4 months is a long time, up to 1/3 of the year, and it’s not reasonable to expect people to halt their job searches for that long (or delay start of their new jobs for that long). Also, if the busy season is centered on a specific event(s) like an annual conference, it is best not to leave right before that, but it looks like you’re in sales and the busy season is just about a busier time for sales rather than a specific event. So, I say go for it, and try to give as much notice as you reasonably can, but don’t feel too guilty about leaving. People leave jobs all the time and the company will survive.

    3. Courageous cat*

      Leave when it’s time to leave. In many jobs it is *always* the busy season. I’ve resigned during many busy seasons and I have never once had a boss guilt me for it. A good boss will understand that you have to do what’s right for you and new jobs come when they come – there’s nothing you can, or should, do about it.

    4. neverjaunty*

      It’s not foregoing professionalism to quit with notice during a busy time. Walking out the door with no notice would be unprofessional.

    5. Double A*

      Having been in the place where I took FMLA leave due to stress and depression from my job, I have to say that powering through is probably not a good option.

      Look at it this way. They could fire you during the busy season. They could fire you during the slow season when it would be hard to find work. If that was best for their bottom line, they would do it, so you need to do what is best for your health.

    6. ..Kat..*

      I recommend signing up for FMLA (which I believe means you need to start seeing a therapist – which it sounds like you would benefit from) and starting to job search. This has the benefit of getting you treatment and giving you some options. Knowing you have options can help you feel better. Job searches take time. Do you know what fields interest you?

  38. Toxic Waste*

    Unwritten rules at work: Even though we get PTO, others frown on it if you take a day or two off. You’re basically supposed to be there and take a week or so vacation. My coworker scoffed at me for taking a half day on Friday, but it’s okay if Fergus takes a week off “because he never takes a vacation.” And they wonder why turnover is so high!!

    Does anyone else have something like this? It feels like junior high- others policing your time off, even if the boss is okay with it.

    1. TV*

      In general, I work somewhere with a flexible schedule so just because you don’t see Jane Bob until 10am doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to be working until 7pm. So it’s hard to chastise people for doing half days because you don’t know what their schedule is like.

      But something that does happen and I don’t like is that people start acting bratty if someone takes more than a weeks vacation at a time. Being gone a week is okay but 1.5-2 weeks? That’s too much for some coworkers! But how are you suppose to have an international vacation when you only take off a week? Some people get 4 weeks+ a year so it isn’t like they aren’t using PTO.

    2. Jenn*

      This is my work place to a T. We have four weeks of PTO but it’s frowned upon to take a long weekend or a few extra days over the holidays. My boss will also expect you to check emails and take calls because “you’re only out of the office for a day.”

      1. Sandy*

        I worked in a workplace like that!

        After a trip to ROME (!!) where I spent the entire thing chained to a Blackbrry, answering my boss’ questions about supposedly urgent, totally not urgent, stuff, I learned to take big blocks of time and force people to plan around me.

        Did I feel like a jerk? Yes. Do I still regret the Great Trevi Fountain Incident of 2013? Oh yes.

    3. SarahKay*

      I think your co-workers are daft. Quite apart from the fact that it’s none of their business how you choose to take your vacation, have they not worked out that it’s a whole lot easier to cover for you if you’re off for five single days than one whole week? Okay, you may not take five single days, but you get my point.

      Policy at my company is that you have to give as much notice of your holiday as time that you want to take. So, want a half-day – give a half-day notice. Want two weeks (I’m in the UK, so generous leave allowances) – give two weeks’ notice. Admittedly, you’ll be a whole lot more popular if you give more than two weeks’ notice for the two week time off, but the basic thinking is that the shorter your holiday, the less effort it is to cover it, so the less notice you have to give.

    4. Penguin*

      I had the inverse experience at one job- it was the boss who objected to PTO being used. Coworkers, including when tasks got shuffled to adjust, had no objections.

    5. Kate Daniels*

      Sometimes I think that I’d love to try using my vacation leave so that I’d basically have a four-day week every other week, but most people around here tend to use their vacation leave in weeklong chunks. I don’t think it would be frowned upon at my workplace to use a day here and a day there (and I actually might consider taking a day off the next time a favorite author releases a book—which always happens on Tuesdays—for instance), but there are certain months when it’s frowned upon to take vacation because it coincides with our busiest times of year, so I don’t know if I’d ever truly be able to do something like I imagine.

      1. WellRed*

        I recently took to leaving an hour early every day for a few weeks to burn some use it or lose it time. I don’t even track my hours really ( salary and laid back office) but mentally, it was great!

  39. Reorg Survivor*

    I found out about 2 weeks ago that my position is being eliminated through a reorganization. I am shocked and heartbroken. I am one of several dozens let go. The good news is I found a new role that I’m excited about and am getting a good severance package, but emotionally am having trouble getting past this. It’s at turns infuriating and depressing. My boss made some negative comments about my performance when she announced this news, and had previously only given me praise. The comments felt like they were from left field. Without giving too many details into what I do, you can objectively assess my high performance based upon agreed upon performance metrics, and I’ve exceeded ours and industry benchmarks. I’m trying to figure out how to get past this…it’s impacted my self esteem. Has anyone else survived this kind of thing unscathed? I feel like for the rest of my life, I will always be anxious about being laid off and second guessing positive performance reviews.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’m really sorry. I’m glad you’ve found something else, but I can understand how it would hit you hard.

      Honestly, I wouldn’t put much stock in your boss’s comments, given your record there. I think this was her finding her own unfortunate way to deal with the unpleasantness of laying people off; perhaps she felt less guilty if she convinced herself you deserved it.

    2. Close Bracket*

      Eh, they always search for something to justify letting someone go. It might not have been important enough to bring up with you at the time, or ever, but when they need a way to make it look like you deserved to be laid off, suddenly every typo in an email becomes a performance problem. I actually think it’s good practice to simultaneously take positive reviews at face value and also wonder what they are not telling me.

    3. Number One*

      Can you discuss it with others who know your work or industry (can even couch it in the terms of what would they think of a colleague or employee who does/doesn’t do whatever it was she critiqued, if you don’t want the focus on you) and then you can give some thought as to whether the criticisms are actually true or if they’re even material, and then whether you want to give any consideration to improving on it in the next role.

      Then, best case you either learn something to improve, or find out she was maybe trying to justify her decision by nitpicking or grasping at straws.

      The most important thing I want to underscore: large lay-offs are not a reflection of you personally being terrible at your job. Generally it just means management had their arm twisted to select some people. Some might raise their expectations bar to assess who stays and who goes at a new level, but others might just be trying to rationalize away their guilt over a tough decision. It’s only be thinking through whether it’s objectively true and what if anything to do about it that you’ll move past your fears.

      My first ever professional job was eliminated because the entire department was sent offshore to a different team. We were told we were too expensive, but I was a fresh faced recent grad who had already learned that I made at least 10k less than a teammate of the same duration of employment. At first it made me doubt my salary targets when job searching, and whether my experience was actually valuable or if all interviewers would think was “who cares?”. But not only did I bounce back with a new job, I learned to fight for my worth.

    4. ronda*

      layoffs are most often about meeting some arbitrary savings amount they came up with.

      So if you are a high performer maybe you are making more money than some of your coworkers and maybe that is why you were chosen. (there can, of course, be many other reasons, but I think the money is the most influential)

      your boss is being a jerk, but it is also human nature to want to tell a story about how what is happening is for the best and come up with a reason why it happened. She wants to think you did something to bring this on yourself, so she doesnt have to feel like she is next. (you didnt — layoffs are because of overall company performance, not individual performance).

      I survived many layoffs and for one of the worst ones, I was miserable for a couple years because of all the extra work and extra bitching with the survirors. So when I was finally laid off for the 1st time, I had feelings, but I also considered myself lucky to not be one of the people left with all the stuff to do.

  40. Foreign Octopus*

    Cat question!

    I’m looking after my parents’ cat whilst they’re travelling the world and she’s an outdoor cat. Today I had to trim a split nail but I wonder if I should be doing that more frequently. With my indoor cat, I try to trim once every two months but the outdoor cat hunts. Should I be cutting her claws back as well?

    1. Courageous cat*

      I don’t trim my cat’s nails at all and never have, they have a good scratching post-type thing and it gets their claw sheaths off pretty nicely on a regular basis, so I dunno. Maybe it’s necessary but none of us have any desire to try.

    2. Annie Moose*

      Eh, the only reason I trim my cat’s claws is so he doesn’t accidentally scratch me as much. I don’t think most cats need to have them trimmed.

      Besides, if she’s never had her claws trimmed regularly before, it’s not likely to go well!!

    3. Anonymosity*

      I never trimmed Pig’s claws (she was an outdoor cat). Not only did she need them, but any attempt would have ended in the removal of my face.

    4. Red Sky*

      I wouldn’t trim or cut the nails of an outside cat unless I saw an obvious problem that might result in an injury to the cat. They need their natural defenses and they’ll usually scratch/mark enough outside on trees and whatnot to remove any split, dead nails.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think you need to except for split nails. I cut my cat’s nails but that is for my comfort, since he kneads a lot when he sits on me and he isn’t good at keeping his claws in . It doesnt’ seem to bother him, and he hunts a good deal so presumably it doesn’t slow him down!

      1. jolene*

        Lordy no don’t trim an outdoor cat’s nails, let alone one that isn’t your own. Nice that she let you do the split nail but it’d have broken off pretty fast anyway.

        1. Jaydee*

          But mine is an indoor cat who doesn’t have the greatest claw manners anyway. So trimming is necessary and he doesn’t really need sharp claws for defense or hunting anymore.

  41. TV*

    How do you deal with a coworker who has absent from work quite a bit for the last few months, most of it unexpected? Some of my work is dependent on them so it’s frustrating that I have no idea if they are coming in or not. They have been out about 4 weeks out of the last 8 weeks or so. Some of it was planned vacation but the rest has been family stuff they needed to attend to.

    1. Greg NY*

      I would absolutely be understanding and compassionate. I’d also expect reciprocity from them. I’m huge on taking proper amounts of vacation and attending to family issues, and I’d think a good coworker who takes off a lot of time will return the favor.

    2. Courageous cat*

      Talk to your manager about how best to handle your work that can’t get done with them gone so often. Frame it as a work issue, not a frustration issue.

    3. fposte*

      Manager conversation. It might be that that frames it for you in a way that helps you accept it (“We understand that workflow will be slower with absences like that”) or that you get some workaround help. It’s not clear if you’re talking about FMLA or kids-before-school stuff, but if it’s the latter, that’s likely to be ending now, and if it’s the former, you’ll probably want some long-term strategies in place.

      1. TV*

        Thank you for your feedback. I will be going to my manager to ask them if they can help me figure out a work around. I don’t think it is strictly kid related, though they are all going back to school next week. In our office, we say we are out handling family matters or family stuff when it’s unexpected personal leave, regardless of if it relates to kids. I know he has been dealing with extended family issues that might be ongoing.

  42. Greg NY*

    With the decline of unions, will Labor Day eventually become a work day in the private sector? I think it’ll remain a federal holiday in the US for a while. But I could easily see Labor Day going the way of Presidents Day. Many of you may not know that until the late 1980s, almost all non-retail organizations were closed that day, and today, most are open. With schools starting in August in some parts of the country (and even a few districts here in NY start the week before Labor Day), Labor Day no longer really marks the end of summer. Some colleges even hold classes on Labor Day.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Ours started back on August 6th. I was hoping they would wait until the Wednesday to go back, but nothing doing. Had to start bright and early on Monday!

    1. Laura H.*

      I’ve been out of school for a while, but we usually started mid- late August and had Labor Day off.

      I work part time retail, so I’m not always guaranteed Labor Day off but my schedule gremlin favors me with other days off (wasn’t scheduled on Memorial Day this year for example)

  43. Secret Squirrel*

    Question about publications! How should I list publications that I either (1) contributed to, but am not listed as an author, or (2) led preparation, and was published without any authors?

    1. Ender*

      For (1) I would say no. I don’t really understand (2). If you mean you were lead writer on it but it was published anonymously or with just a company name on it, then I think yes you should list it.

      1. Secret Squirrel*

        Thanks for your thoughts Ender. For (1) I was thinking of putting “contributor” and noting the pages/sections. For (2) your scenarios describe this situation.

        1. Ender*

          I think putting “contributor” might raise questions as to why your contribution wasn’t listed – but that might be field dependent.

    2. Victoria, Please*

      You had a conversation about authorship before the papers were submitted, right? That should take care of #1.

      I’m kinda surprised by #2, no authors at all? That reduces credibility and citability, because *someone* wrote it (you), it didn’t appear out of thin air in your organization.

      For a cv, I think you’d have to list these as projects you contributed to, not publications.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      In my field you definitely wouldn’t put (1) – you only list things where your contribution was sufficient to be on the author list. Doing otherwise would be seen as a particularly transparent attempt to pad your reference list.

      For (2), if I listed them I might add a section at the end of publications with a separate category (“White Papers Contributed To” or something like that) – I’m assuming you are talking about publications put out under the name of an organization. But I’d ask someone in your field to see if this is appropriate.

      In my field you usually have a section for refereed papers and a section for conference proceedings and other published but not refereed works. But you’d only put stuff where you were listed as an author.

  44. Courageous cat*

    Anyone have an APICS certification or been to any conferences?

    I might broach getting that with my boss at some point. My new job is going really well but I obviously have a lot to learn.

    Also if anyone has any resources for creating purchasing plans (for people who don’t fully know what they’re doing) I’d love to see ’em.

  45. BookPonyBestPony*

    I recently had my performance evaluation with my boss, and I did really well. They told me that they were pushing for me to get a promotion AND a raise, which, like wow. I’ve only been in this position as Teapot Sentry for a year, so it feels a little unreal to me to be excelling this quickly, tbh.

    Anyway, I did some Googling and found a website that lists everyone’s salary (which is taken from a public database, so it’s not like illegal or anything afaik). I looked up a coworker who is the next step up in my position, a Teapot Guard, and their salary is pretty decent.

    My question is: when I get the promotion/raise and see how much I’ll be making with the new position, do I have any ability to negotiate it higher if it’s still lower than my coworker’s? If it helps, I had applied for the Teapot Guard position initially and got beat out by this coworker due to experience, but my boss was really salty about that and pulled some strings to get me the Teapot Sentry job. I certainly don’t want to look ungrateful or lose any goodwill with my Boss, since they and my Boss Boss really like me.

    1. Perse's Mom*

      Ideally a promotion would come with a raise anyway. If your coworker is already more experienced, has been in the higher paid position for longer, and is good at his job, it’s unlikely that you’d be making the same as him when you’re just stepping into the role. But if he’s mediocre at his job and you continue to be stellar and your boss/employer is good about rewarding based on that, you may well outpace him in a couple of years.

      1. BookPonyBestPony*

        Ehhhh not with the way my job works. There’s plenty of times people get new titles, but don’t also get a raise. They’ve been in the Teapot Guard position as long as I’ve been in the Teapot Sentry position. They’re also…not the best at their job. I mean, the stuff they can do is great, but my boss has pretty much hinted that they prefer me because we’re similar, which is why I keep getting all the major important projects.

        Part of their job is handing out teapots to people, and from what I can tell they’re actually stuck doing busywork instead of that. Meanwhile my boss has been pushing hard to get to me to learn how to hand out teapots, so you’re probably right that I’m gonna outpace them very soon.

        I suppose the main problem is I’m the sole worker for the house, so I really want to make more so we can live comfortably and not have to do that “shuffle money to pay bills” every month. :/

        1. Grace Less*

          Just remember that your conversations at work need to be about why you *deserve* more money (accomplishments, responsibilities, comparable salaries) versus why you *need* more (rent, childcare, other expenses).

  46. Red Reader*

    We have friends who are expecting a baby later this month, and I offered to stock their freezer so they can have real food for themselves and the kids they already have for the first little while. Wakeen was like “We have a big chest freezer!” and this guy is really the brother my husband should’ve had, we love them to bits, so I went kind of overboard on the meal planning. Luckily, I also just cleaned out my own three freezers, so if they don’t have room for everything, I’ll just keep it, and either my household will eat it or I can take them a round-two a week or two in :) They live an hour away, which complicates things a skitch, but not too bad.

    So far today, I’ve done a double batch of macaroni and cheese (with ham and veg in it), 3 pounds of sloppy joe filling, and there’s a batch of meat sauce (for their pasta of choice) going in a crockpot. Also planning some meat loaf “burgers”, pulled pork, and beef stew, plus a batch of pizza mac (made with Italian blend cheeses, laced with pizza sauce and pepperoni). And pumpkin cream cheese muffins.

    1. fposte*

      There is something about advance food prep that delights my planner and hoarder selves simultaneously. Thank you for allowing me to enjoy yours vicariously!

      1. Red Reader*

        I’m so bad at meal planning for my own house, hah! It’s doing it for someone else that’s the fun part.

      2. Ciara Amberlie*

        Me too! I may have already started my Christmas food planning this weekend… don’t judge me!

          1. Red Reader*

            I saved last year’s Thanksgiving menu and shopping list, I tend to mostly keep it the same but change out one or two dishes each year :) But I do a giant feast with usually 25-30 folks, so consistency is what keeps me from going bonkers. I hate hate hate having other people cook in my kitchen, so it’s All Me up until about an hour before dinnertime when I give up and hand two very specific people very specific tasks. My mom ends up doing the mashed potatoes and my friend (who is actually vegetarian, entertainingly) ends up helping me get the sausage and cornbread dressing together.

            1. Ciara Amberlie*

              I save my shopping list and cooking plan too! It’s really helped with not forgetting that crucial ingredient until after all of the shops have shut.

            2. Parenthetically*

              Yes, I definitely always save the menu. I have a schedule, too, which helps a TON on the day.

          2. TardyTardis*

            We already know what we’re going to have Thanksgiving every year (because we like it, though I am going to try to downsize the size of the turkey, we don’t need one that’s 20+ because the legions never visit us. Although if we do anyway, will send big chunks of the turkey home with anyone who doesn’t live with us, and that should help).

            But if you’re making a new list, a spreadsheet carried over from year to year really does help.

      3. Parenthetically*

        ME TOO! I love few things more than filling a freezer with casseroles and pre-cooked meat and all manner of treasures that can be uncovered later.

      4. Middle School Teacher*

        Hahaha me too! I went back to school last week and now I have to pack lunches again, so over the last couple of weekends I meal planned and prepped into a frenzy. My fridge is so full now it’s like Tetris to get anything in or out, but at least in the morning I can just grab and go!

      1. Red Reader*

        Aw, sure!

        Mac n cheese, with variants:
        Melt X tablespoons of butter in a skillet and whisk in X tablespoons of flour to make a roux and cook it to golden brown. Gradually, a splash at a time, whisk in X cups of milk (if you just dump it all in at once you’ll end up with lumps!). Add seasonings to taste (variants to follow, or just wing it), and heat until just simmering. Chuck in 8X ounces of shredded cheese (more if you like it super cheesy – I usually use a combination of mild and sharp cheddar), stir til melted smooth, and pour over what was originally X pounds of dry macaroni, cooked. Mix it up. You can either eat it as is, freeze it, or dump it into an appropriately sized baking dish, put more cheese on top and bake it for 20 minutes.

        Casserole Mac! When mixing it up, mix in your choice of frozen veg (heated up) and meat — I do either ham or kielbasa most of the time, with peas or green beans.
        Taco Mac! Replace a third of the milk with enchilada sauce. Add cumin, garlic, chili powder at the seasonings stage. When mixing it up, mix in your choice of a chunky salsa, chili beans, and/or taco meat.
        Pizza Mac! Replace a third of the milk with pizza sauce. Use “Italian Blend” cheese instead of the cheddar. Add garlic and Italian seasoning at the seasonings stage. When mixing it up, mix in your choice of pizza toppings – veg, mushrooms, pepperoni, whatever.

        1. Red Reader*

          I forgot to elaborate — the X is consistent, more or less, throughout the recipe, but if you’re adding in mix-ins, I tend to add an extra half-cup to cup of milk to the cheese sauce so there’s enough sauce to coat all the mix-ins too. X=2 for an extra-deep 9×13 lasagne pan, with maybe a little bit left over depending on the depth of your pan. (My housemate ate today’s extra helping for his lunch.) X=1 for a 8×8 or 9×9 casserole dish, roughly, or two loaf pans. I’ve fed 40 teenagers and 8 adult chaperones dinner off X=4, with chopped chicken and broccoli mixed in.

      2. Red Reader*

        The meat loaf … my housemate’s the one piloting the meat loaf project, I know it’s 2 parts ground turkey to 1 part sausage (and now I just realized, I don’t remember whether she uses Italian sausage or plain pork sausage, it’s a good thing I’ve got both), bread crumbs or crushed butter crackers, ketchup, a locally made chili sauce from our farmer’s market… garlic, onions. I forget what all else goes in there. But we’re doing it up in patties, a la hamburgers, so it’s ready to be meatloaf sandwiches.

        The pulled pork is honestly just a 10-pound pork butt that will be chucked into the crockpot with a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s for like 14 hours tomorrow or Wednesday and slow-cooked til it shreds.

        The beef stew recipe is linked in my username, though I’ve never tried it before, this will be a new one.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I would also like to be your friend, or at the very least sign up for your meal delivery service.

  47. Exceedingly Anon*

    This may get long, sorry.
    Context: I’m female, new coworker is male and a step above me in my chain of command.

    1. His interview panel was three women, two of them possibly his future boss. Except for a very brief exchange, he ignored the third (much younger) woman on the panel.

    Post-hire, day 1:
    2. In our job overview meeting, he derailed repeatedly. We accomplished next to nothing, but he now knows where I used to work, and I now know a lot about his dog. He raised his phone to try to take a photo of my screen at one point (the company handles very sensitive, protected information – yes, I stopped him). We ran over, so he was late to his next meeting.
    3. He was late to the meeting after that, too. He asked if the next overviewee was online and if I could let her know he’d be a few minutes late. He needed to pee, but seemed very flustered that I might tell her that as opposed to just saying he’d be late.
    4. He gave me a pen. From elsewhere in the office. It’s shiny, but cheap.

    Post-hire, day 2:
    Most of the day he was in other meetings, but then he wasn’t. In the space of a few hours…
    5. He asked if I’d used the pen. I said no. He seemed put out.
    6. A long-standing coworker brought me birthday treats. New coworker gave me grief for declining to take the remaining treats home.
    7. While his PC rebooted to install updates, he interrupted me to ask what I was working on, then proceeded to tell me at length about his previous job and his girlfriend and how stressful this previous job was. I continued to work, facing entirely away from him, basically ignoring him.
    8. At some point, he asked what time it was and then complained that he had nothing to do and didn’t feel like doing anything anyway so close to closing.
    9. Then he asked if anyone else had gotten me anything for my birthday. I said no, birthdays don’t matter to me. He gave me a wrapped candy. I declined. He insisted. I declined. He ate it, told me what flavor it was. Then re-offered it again, stating he could probably squeeze it back into the wrapper.

    *1: This was direct from my boss, who was otherwise excited about hiring him. I expressed clear reservations to her at the time.
    *3: Why it was fine to tell ME he had to pee, no idea.
    *6: The treat-maker didn’t care.
    *7: This is my version of hell.
    *8: You’ve been with the company for a week!
    *9: At this point, I locked my PC, got up, and left.

    I don’t know if this is sheer awkwardness (he’s brand new to the company), or creepiness hiding behind “awkwardness,” or what on earth is going on. The vibe, as I expressed later to a friend, is almost… pick-up artist? Something is raising the little hairs on the back of my neck with this guy, but I can’t tell how much of it is because my opinion was pre-colored by the interview behavior or that a lot of his apparent personality traits just completely clash with mine.

    I have a great relationship with my boss. And I will talk to her about all this tomorrow (if nothing else, I know she reads this site periodically and I’m perfectly willing to link this comment to her). I just don’t know which parts are things I need to use my words over vs. give him time to settle down vs. flag for our boss.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t know if it’s PUA stuff, stage 5 clinger stuff, or other awkwardness, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable in all of these situations to identify what you want to have happen. I would use my words now, while it’s still casual getting-to-know-you time and redirection is absolutely to be expected. “Let’s focus on the work topic today.” “Fergus, I have to work right now–can you hold the chatter?” To a second insistence/iteration about anything: “As I’ve said, that’s a no, and let’s move on from the topic.” If he decides to be miffed or hurt by this, that’s fine; let him be.

      And if there’s anybody in charge of the job overview meeting, they can limit his derailing. If it’s a meeting of equals and you and others have more experience, there’s still a little room for guidance. “Cool story, Fergus–Jane, I’m still concerned about the deadline on the WENUS. Are we at risk of missing that?”

      1. fposte*

        Oh, and it would be my personal idea of hell as well. Somebody on the weekend thread talked about the exhaustion of having a kid visitor who just chattered at them all the time–this is that with the additional annoyance of “Shouldn’t you be working right now?”

      2. Exceedingly Anon*

        The overview meetings are 1 on 1s intended to give him insight into what each person on the team does on a daily basis, but I’m not sure if he misunderstood it to also be a ‘getting to know each other’ meeting, which might explain his derails to some extent. I don’t know what HE was told about them, and I wasn’t in office for his first round of these meetings with other coworkers, so I don’t have that context either.

        In re: your second comment – I’m quite sure I had mentioned to him more than once that I just want to sit in my cubicle and work in peace and quiet. But the moment I put my earbuds in and turned my ipod on to find a podcast, he scooted over to ask what I was listening to. I think that’s about when my eye started twitching.

        1. Close Bracket*

          “The overview meetings are 1 on 1s intended to give him insight into what each person on the team does on a daily basis”

          Will there be more of these? If so, the next time he goes off on a tangent, gently stop him and say something like, “These meetings are to give you insight on what we do on a daily basis. Let’s try to get through that so we don’t go over our time.”

          If those particular meetings never happen again, and they did sort of sound like on-boarding stuff rather than regular meetings, then you don’t have to worry about that, at least. But in general, if he’s going on a tangent, use your words :). Gently stop him, say what you want to get out of this meeting, and return the conversation to the topic at hand.

        2. fposte*

          On why: I don’t think it really matters; what matters is that it needs to stop. So if you have status to kindly say “We don’t use these meetings for that. Time for Jane’s report!” you can absolutely do that. And on the bugging you: up the directness. “Fergus, I need you to stop talking to me and move away from my desk now, and not talk to me again until I let you know I’m available for work questions.”

          1. fposte*

            Oh, and you’re talking to your boss about this tomorrow anyway, I just realized, so her input will hopefully give you some backup here. What I really think she should do is tell him to leave people the hell alone and focus on his work.

    2. jolene*

      Wait, he *ate* the candy and then gave it back to you? Do you mean he sucked or licked it and then re-offered it? Yes, go to your boss and well done for keeping such a detailed log of this MADNESS.

      And yes, a PUA related thing is going on here – the pen, the treats, etc. He’s trying to get control over you.

      1. Exceedingly Anon*

        Yes, he put it in his mouth, chewed it, informed me that it was chocolate mint and then offered to put it back (spit it out) in the wrapper. My initial impression is that he was trying to be funny, but it was after all the rest of this and my brain just went, “NOPE” so I left.

        1. jolene*

          Wow. Wow. You poor thing. Shut him down, short phrases, don’t let him guilt you about anything and take this to your boss pronto. I’m so glad you say she’s great.

      2. TardyTardis*

        Again, continue to keep logs of this guy’s behavior. This is wrong, and God willing, he will end up somewhere else if the cops don’t get him first.

    3. Myrin*

      Since you’re asking, I’m personally not really getting PUA-vibes from this so much as big, red, flashing What in the ever-loving hell is going on?!, but that might just be because I have only very little exposure to these types and we tend to gravitate towards what we know (for example, I was involved with a local disability home for several years and a lot of what you list, especially the pen and the candy, sound exactly like situations I encountered there, so that’s where my mind immediately went; granted, I’m not around the guy and have found that more than any actual observable behaviour, the feeling I get around people can be a deciding factor for my overall view of them); but really, what I think doesn’t matter, you are getting vibes that raise the little hairs on your neck, and that’s what’s important and what should be communicated to your boss.

      FWIW, you sound like a total boss during all of this, which I find hugely admirable; I know that I personally would be in a constant state of total bafflement when faced with behaviour like this.

      1. Exceedingly Anon*

        I don’t know much about PUAs beyond what’s sort of oozed into public consciousness, honestly – negging, weird power plays, etc. He’s not being a ‘traditional’ creep – no touching, no leering, no gross sexist jokes I’m aware of – so the PUA comparison was the best comparison I had at hand.

        And thank you! I was (and still am) quite baffled! I was trying to be objective in my description of his behaviors.

    4. Ender*

      None of it seems like PUA stuff to me – I’ve read one or two of those books/articles and none of that seems to match. I think he’s just really chatty with awful social skills to boot.

      As fposte says – it’s time to use your words. When he interrupts you or goes off topic, say “I/we really need to get this done.” When he does other stuff say “I really need to get back to work” or similar.

      1. Ender*

        One thing – your comment about there being something weird you can’t put your finger on is more concerning than all the other stuff put together. Trust your gut and be careful around him unless and until you decide he’s safe.

        1. jolene*

          The PUA stuff comes in with the pen and the treats. He’s trying to impose his dominance over her; he’s seeing if he can tell her what to write with and how to behave, whether she’ll give in or not. PUAs test for ‘weakness’ in their targets and start small and the fact that he’s already tried to do this twice in such a short amount of time suggests to me that he’s following a script.

          Creeps and abusers also do this, of course. But hey, no difference!

          1. fposte*

            Could be, but I also think this is how people negotiate wanting attention, too–gifts with strings of intimacy attached. Which might be harder to shut down that somebody doing it consciously, unfortunately.

            1. jolene*

              No, lecturing her about not taking the treats home is about control – what she does, what her manners are like, even what she eats. That doesn’t fall into the “gifts with strings attached” category.

              1. fposte*

                Sure it does. I’ve known women who do exactly that, and I’m pretty sure they’re not pick-up artists. That doesn’t mean it’s free of the desire to control–that’s intertwined with a lot of attempts at intimacy, not just the sexual. I’m not saying this is for sure innocent or fine or well-meaning or whatever; I’m just saying that this kind of behavior happens with people who aren’t PUAs and may not be a *conscious* attempt to control, and I don’t think anybody not there can really say for sure what it is.

                1. jolene*

                  Erm yes, women aren’t PUAs. Obviously.

                  He joked about her putting a sweet in her mouth that he’d already had in his! On the second day working together, after all this other stuff! To deny that this is sexual after joking about effectively sharing saliva seems utterly ridiculous – combined with the control issues it is clearly PUA. I hope the LW takes very good care of herself and her boss does too.

                2. Ender*

                  I don’t think that’s in any way sexual though – it’s more like he’s trying to gross her out than anything else.

                  If he is trying to pick her up he’s doing an exceptionally bad job. I can’t imagine any human ever being turned on by being offered a half-chewed sweet!

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  I am not sure we have to name the type of behavior in order to proceed. This guy is doing a bunch of inappropriate things and he is brand new to the job.

                  OP, have a chat with your boss. Tell her the things you have listed here. Ask her how she wants to you to proceed.
                  Meanwhile, hang on to the phrase, “That really isn’t appropriate in the workplace”. In my opinion, if people have the audacity to give me food from their mouths they have opened the door for a direct conversation about everything. He is showing you he has very little in the way of boundaries. Set his boundaries for him. Gloves off, OP. Walking away is not going to cut it, he needs words.

                4. Close Bracket*

                  Pick up artist techniques are based in social strategies like forced teaming and gifts with strings attached. The distinction you are trying to draw is not a meaningful one.

                5. Observer*

                  Jolene, why so set on the PUA. It’s not really relevant. His behavior is inappropriate and the motive doesn’t much matter. Whether this is just a control freak, a PUA, a sexist jerk trying to control the women around him or something else REALLY doesn’t matter. Even if it turns out to be just genuinely TOTALLY terrible social skills, it’s not really all that important, because the behavior is totally out of line, and it’s also raising the OP’s danger alerts even though she can’t put her finger on why. Better to spend her energy clearly describing this to her boss, and documenting the pattern of inappropriate behavior than on trying to prove and unprovable theory.

      2. Exceedingly Anon*

        I mentioned above I’m not deeply familiar with PUAs, it was simply the first comparison that came to mind as… creepy but not leering-and-unwanted-touching kind of creepy? It’s the flashing lights but no sirens yet kind of feeling.

        1. valentine*

          I agree with NSNR about focusing on appropriateness. Even if you agreed/were sure it was PUA, you don’t want anyone derailing you with motive/what’s in his heart, especially if they frame it as “Aw, have a heart, the poor guy liiikes you.” Rehearse getting your supervisor/HR back on track so you’re prepared and don’t walk away feeling nothing’s changed. The “You stepped on my foot”/”You stole my wallet” talking points (in other threads here/on YT) are great guides.

    5. Lehigh*

      I am so interested in updates on this. That’s some very weird control attempt stuff he has going on, and combine it with ignoring the younger woman in the interview…eh, I don’t really know what to say, but I doubt he acts this way with male colleagues. Primarily because if he did I doubt he would have gotten to a step above ANYONE in any chain of command.

      It would be interesting to observe his behavior toward other people (especially men.)

    6. Observer*

      ut I can’t tell how much of it is because my opinion was pre-colored by the interview behavior

      I’m not sure that that’s a problem here. It’s like you got a bad impression of him because of that, and now are judging him for stuff that’s not an issue. The behavior you describe is, at best, really off and is very much of the same pattern as the behavior during the interview.

      Please do describe what you’ve described here very clearly. She needs to know, because this guy sounds like potential trouble with a capital T.

  48. Newbie*

    /work question

    I’m a new trainee and would like to learn more about my fellow trainees’ work experiences, because a lot of them have done pretty interesting stuff. I can set up lunches, but how do I really breach the subject and is that ok for a lunch break? What are other good questions to ask?
    Thanks in advance!

    (I have a vague feeling that this already came up somewhere in AAM, but I couldn’t find it, so if exists and someone has a link, that would be great too!)

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think it’s come up here, actually, and it sounds like a cool thing to me. Presuming you’re talking about a fairly small number of trainees, what about being direct and making it an opportunity for everybody who wants in to do so? You could mention how interested you’ve been in hearing other people’s experiences, and would people want to get together for a lunch to share? What about Tuesday at the food court? If you get no responses, then I’d just include it as part of lunch conversations but not make that the sole purpose of the lunch (also, that would be a long time for one person to talk about their work experience).

      1. Newbie*

        Being direct makes total sense, thanks for the suggestion! And I bet some people would appreciate the ideia of doing that in a small group and then we could also benefit from each other’s questions.

    2. Zona the Great*

      Oh, well I feel like this is about as organic as a topic could possibly be to bring up at work. Just don’t be awkward about it like blurting out while learning the payroll system, “tell me about your experiences!” I’m also not sure about inviting them to lunch just to ask a certain question. I’d feel weird if on the other side of that—like I got roped into something. Invite someone to lunch because you need to eat and they do too. Guarantee the subject will come up naturally. Where were you before here? is a pretty standard getting-to-know-your-coworkers question. And a follow up would be, “oh okay. So your background is in finance/special education/public policy/fill-in the blank?” Then listen for real—not while thinking of more questions to ask. I’m sure you’re interesting to them as well so don’t make it like an inquisition and this will all be fluid and genuine.

  49. LilySparrow*

    I ran this morning for the first time in months!

    I really enjoy the mental & physical benefits of running, but have been on-again, off-again for years because of various health issues & injuries.

    Today I was out for my walk and just said, “screw it, let’s see what happens,” and I got a slow mile or so. Not impressive by any standard, but I went much, much longer than I expected and feel great! (The long stretch session afterward was awesome, too.)

    I wish you all a day that’s far better than you expected!

    1. Anonymosity*

      Ugh, I need to get off my butt. I’ve been very lazy about walking over the last month (it’s been a hard one; I’ve been a little depressed).
      Thank you!

  50. Call me St. Vincent*

    I had my second baby 3 months ago. At 2 months he took a bottle no problem. I was supposed to go back to work at 4 months, but given his success with the bottle and that he is doing great with growth, I told my boss that I would go back a few days a week for the month of September. Mostly it’s because all this little guy does is nurse all day long and I am sick of tv and I actually miss my job. I really love my job now and I think he would enjoy the socialization of daycare. With my daughter, she refused the bottle until we found the one that she would take (the Comotomo if you’re interested). Once she took it though, she took it!

    I totally thought I was in the clear with this little boy, but I had a situation where the milk I gave him didn’t freeze well (I didn’t realize I have excess lipase so now have to scald the milk, long story) and he flipped out and now he is totally refusing the bottle even with freshly pumped milk! He is supposed to start daycare on Tuesday for a few hours trial–I go back to work next week. I am freaking out. We have literally tried everything to get him to take the bottle again and he just hates it. I tried leaving the house, having him try at my mother-in-law’s house, adding Karo syrup to the nipple, making the nipple warm, heating the bottle more, but he literally just wants the breast or nothing. The most we have been able to do is get him to take about an ounce out of the bottle but then he shuts down. I think he’s literally just using it to take the edge off his hunger and then wait it out until he is back with mommy.

    Has anyone had this issue and come around on the other side? I am going to call the lactation consultant tomorrow and I will also call the daycare (the director is amazing and I’m sure she’ll have some tips).

    1. Not Really a Waitress*

      I nursed three and had wierd home away schedules for all of them. Honestly, from my experience, he wont starve to death. He might end up nursing more when you are with him which can be exhausting. But he could also get used to not being around you and therefore acclimating and taking more from bottle.

    2. Jessi*

      Thats what he will probably do “I think he’s literally just using it to take the edge off his hunger and then wait it out until he is back with mommy.”

      So he’ll take a tiny bit and then just make up for it later in the evening/ overnight – which is a huge pain for you but not life threatening.

      Some things you could try: If he is still sleeping well when away from you, you could try starting to bottle feed him while he is still asleep? You could try whomever is watching him using a dropper or a cup too

  51. Perpetua*

    How do you deal with gifts you don’t really like?
    If you get the offer of exchanging them, do you accept it?

    This weekend I celebrated my birthday and, among other things (some better suited to me, some…worse), I got tango lessons from a friend group for me and my partner. Now, I love dance, haven’t done tango before, so they figured it might be a good fit, but I also really dislike changing dance partners, especially for something as intimate as tango seems to be. My hands sweat a lot, and it takes me a while to get used to the other person, and then it’s time to change! (I base this on my experience with some other social dance lessons.) So, while it might be a good exercise in stepping out of my comfort zone, I’m not sure I’m interested in this enough to do it just to prove that I can.

    I thanked them for the gift (I thanked everyone on the spot and I sincerely appreciated everyone coming), but my feelings are often obvious, so they could see I wasn’t too enthusiastic about it, although we all laughed about it. One of them contacted me today to say that a gift is supposed to be a nice thing for the person receiving it, and if this isn’t like that for me, they’ll figure out something else.

    I really appreciate the caring, but I’m not sure whether to accept it and how to do it gracefully. I know how these group gift conversations go and it’s difficult to agree on something and choose for other people, so I don’t want to put them in a position to “reopen discussions”, especially since this was probably the best idea they had (otherwise they would’ve gone with something else) and with the party over, the motivation to figure out something is lower.

    So, I feel like, if I DO accept the offer of getting something else, I should provide an idea of my own, which feels a bit awkward AND I’m not quite sure what I’d choose instead. But I’d also hate for a well-intentioned gift to go to waste, which it might if I leave it at tango lessons. Also, my partner is even less enthusiastic about the lessons than I am, and while he’ll do them if that’s what it comes to, our time and their money could probably be better spent.

    Any suggestions?

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Ugh! That’s a tough one.
      My inclination is to accept the gift graciously, and then gift them to someone who would enjoy? Provided you know another couple who might enjoy tango lessons that is.

      1. Ender*

        Yeah if it’s possible to regift I would say that – that’s what I usually do. But with a voucher for dance lessons that might not be possible. If you can’t regift I would suggest accepting the exchange – maybe a different type of dance lesson?

    2. Close Bracket*

      You don’t *have* to change partners. Most of the dance classes I have been in had couples who refused to dance with other people. Also, tango does have an open position. I tango, and I refuse to get close to people bc I think it’s creepy.

  52. Looking for advice*

    Looking for any advice: a relative was fired from her job under sketchy circumstances. She and a colleague were told to do something against regulations. She questioned it but was told by boss those regulations didn’t apply for bunch of reasons. At the end of the week the same boss told her and her colleague they were fired for cause for breaking regulations, boss claimed never to have instructed them to do it. Later she got a call offering her a minimum wage job at the same company (she declined). It seems to me like maybe an excuse to fire two employees and not pay unemployment? I’m not sure my relative has any recourse but just curious what you would do in her shoes?

    1. fposte*

      It’s going to depend on the relevant regulations and the state, but she would still have the option of reporting this to the regulatory body.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Sounds like a way to fire higher-paid employees and try to re-hire them for lower wages and/or avoid paying unemployment to me.

      This may go to an unemployment hearing.

    3. ronda*

      lots of larger companies have employee hot-lines for ethics violations.
      I would recommend that she go back in time and report it to them when he asked, if the company has that.

      But now… talk to the dept of labor, and perhaps any regulator body.
      Or maybe an employment lawyer.. see if she has a case for wrongful termination.

      Maybe she just needs to talk to Boss’s boss, but I would see if there is a wrongful termination case before going that way.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yeah, in hindsight if she had documented the exchange with her boss where he said the regs don’t apply over email, she’d be in a much better position. I’m assuming it was all verbal so no paper trail, but she should write down whatever she recalls of the details of that conversation – date, time, get the other coworker to confirm if that person was also present.

        The other sketchy thing is the company offering her another job. That sounds like they retroactively tried to demote her rather than fire her, because fired for cause yet eligible for rehire doesn’t seem right. And if so, because she turned it down they may try to deny unemployment.

        1. TardyTardis*

          Yes, but the Employment Bureau has seen companies try to use this method to get around paying unemployment before, too–this company would not be the first to fire someone at a high rate and try to rehire them at a lower one.

  53. riverbflat*

    I am stressed out and worried for several reasons lately (incl. friend/family health stuff, trying to find an apartment while working FT in another city, and my job is just naturally stressful to a minor degree but had some extra just recently), and was unfortunately a bit of a sarcastic bitch to my direct manager on Friday. I apologized then, and he said I was fine (it helps that he knows some of the extra stressful stuff going on), and I believe him that it’s fine, but…..

    I guess my question is half “how do I recover?” and half “any tips for not doing this again?”

    Maybe there’s nothing left to recover from and it really is fine and it’ll be better if I try not to dwell. It really isn’t like me, either, and maybe this happens to all of us at some point. Any advice/guidance is welcome. Thank you!

    1. fposte*

      When you say “a bit of a sarcastic bitch,” how bad are we talking? There’s a big difference between “Of *course* maintenance wants us to take the recycling out to the dumpster personally now–they’re always thinking of our cardio needs” and “I’ll do what you want, because you always know best, just like you did with [thing that went wrong].” I personally have a fair bit of tolerance for snappish/terse but not for direct nastiness to the speaker.

      I think either way you don’t dwell, but if it was closer to the second, I might revisit the issue in a future one-on-one to note that you’re taking steps to make sure it doesn’t recur, stress or no. And you do take those steps–firm up the filter by answering more slowly (drinking water can help), knowing what you’re going to say before you say it, and staying alert to any need to abort or pivot while you’re talking. And by being aware of your emotions and that if they’re coloring your speech, you’re not at your best, so hold off.

      1. riverbflat*

        Thank you. It was closer to A, but drifting B-ward when I realized and stopped myself.

        I’ve had this job for…. wow. Six months this week! I’m trying to get further training in certain things, that I’ve been getting piecemeal by watching and listening so far. Part of this job is like stuff I’ve done before, but parts are VERY new, and I have a lot of autonomy, but the results of some of the things I do are delayed and hard to connect my actions with. I have some good resources available, which helps.

        The weirdest thing to me though is how I work almost exclusively with <10 other people….. my most significant previous jobs were various forms of retail, where I’d work with more than that on any given day. One person’s schedule needs changing can domino-effect to all of us REAL quick, which is part of why this training has been hard for me to get. We’re all kind of in each other’s business, too, not to a dysfunctional degree I don’t think, and we all get along and work well together, but for several reasons it’s been hard getting my bearings and I don’t want to screw it up because overall I LOVE it, so I’m probably being overly hard on myself too.

  54. Free Meerkats*

    I’ve decided to try using a fountain pen again. I really like the feel, but had a job with lots of NCR forms, so stopped carrying one. In the recommendation of a pen-head friend, I ordered a LAMY AL-star in Vibrant Pink. :-)

    1. IntoTheSarchasm*

      Love fountain pens! Another good one to get back in the game is Pilot Metropolitan. Very different look and feel than the Lamy so it would be another good one to try!

  55. Not Really a Waitress*

    A year and a day after I qave my notice at my toxic job i finally got a job offer. I could not have asked for a better bit both intrinsically or extrinsically . They called at 4:30 on Friday afternoon with the verbal offer . I accepted.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Holy moly! Damn near exactly my situation. Workplace not toxic but boss made a decision I couldn’t live with. Got an offer Friday at 4:30.

      1. Not Really a Waitress*

        With the holiday I didnt expect to hear anything else till tomorrow, but they emailed my official offer yesterday, and emailed my drug screen paperwork about 45 mins ago.

  56. Chocolate Teapot*

    Slightly annoyed. When I got home from work today, I got a note in my letterbox saying a parcel had been delivered but I was out, so I need to go to the Post Office to collect it.

    Off I went to the Post Office to discover it isn’t available for collection until tomorrow at the earliest.

    1. Borne*

      I don’t know how it works where you live, but here Canada Post puts the (earliest) date and time that parcel could be expected to be at the post office, on the card that they leave.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Yes! And sometimes it’s available sooner. I just scan the barcode on the card with the app, and if it’s ready, I go right away.

    2. CBE*

      That used to happen to me ALL the time. My postman was just lazy and wouldn’t bring them up to the door. I complained at the post office and later heard from a friend that worked there he was fired because he got caught writing up the “we’re sorry we missed you” slips for all the packages on his entire route before he even left for his route!

    3. Claire (Scotland)*

      That’s annoying. Here the card the Royal Mail put through the letterbox always says that you can’t collect anything for at least 24 hours, so you know not to trek to the depot to collect it until the next day.

    4. Aurora Leigh*

      Oh post package mishaps!

      I got my parents one of thos Legacybox packages for Christmas (where you mail in your pictures or videos to have them converted to digital) and they just now got around to using it.

      Well my adress was the one associated with the order, only in the 9 months since Christmas, I’ve moved . . . so it had to be forwarded to my new adress, got to my new post office, got sent to a different state(!!) came back to my post office and they left a note that it was postage due and couldn’t be delivered.

      My bf went to the post office to pay for it and their card readers were down and he didn’t have cash, so he has to go back a second time.

      And then, of course I forgot to take it with me when I made the 3 hour drive Saturday to visit them.

  57. Anonymosity*

    Happy Labor Day to anyone who has it off!
    If you’re working, I hope your day is quiet and uneventful and somewhat relaxing!

    Tomorrow morning, I have an interview, and then in the afternoon, a screening mammogram. It’s my first one. The Breast Center was offering them free for us poors. I thought FINE, I’ll do it. Ugh. Don’t wanna. I know I can’t use powder or deodorant, so I figured I’d just take another shower in between the interview and the appointment. Maybe I’ll take my walk after I get back and then shower. Just in time, too; it’s mid-cycle and soon my bewbs will be sore.

    My labor today will be continued working in the garage to prepare for a sale. I donated some items to our Doctor Who group sale, which we’re having to raise money for the group. If I end up doing it that same day, I told our organizer I’d steer people to the group sale.

    I need to get it done quickly in case I move and before the weather turns nasty. It’s not really worth the effort in terms of money; all I ever get in this neighborhood is old people with handfuls of change, but I have to cut my clutter. In half, if I can. I’m going to have to be ruthless. :\ Still trying to find a way to keep all the miniatures stuff; I’m not ready to stop with that hobby yet.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Happy Labor Day to you too!
      I salute your ruthless determination to cut your clutter in half. May the process be quick and satisfactory.

    2. LilySparrow*

      From the mammogram trenches: They usually have baby wipes in the changing room to deal with deodorant or powder, or you can bring some. That should be enough to take care of it, you won’t need another shower.

      Take an ibuprofen or tylenol 30-60 minutes beforehand. It helps. And if you can wear a non-underwire bra that day, or bring one to change into, you’ll be glad you did.

      1. Anonymosity*

        Thank you for the tips!
        I will need another shower if I go for a walk, but that remains to be seen, haha.

    3. Aurora Leigh*

      Best of luck with your sale!

      I’m a weirdo — I love having yard sales, mostly I just like seeing the stuff go to new homes and people’s reactions to things. My mom once put her fondue pot from the 70s/80s out on a sale for like a dollar and the lady who boguht it said “I have no odea what this is but I love it!”

      There’s a citywide sale coming up in October and bf and I are going to try to sell some stuff — combining households brings some duplicates, plus we both have clutter and stuff we never use that makes it a little cramped in his 1000 sq ft house (2 people, 3 cats, and a big dog take up a certain amount of space lol).

      1. Anonymosity*

        I haaaaaate it. It’s worse when you have no one to help you. I might see if someone wants to throw in a few things and come over and help me.

  58. MissDisplaced*

    Non-Work Topic: Am I crazy or is clothing getting smaller?

    Ok, this is not about gaining weight and pretending you still fit the same size! So, I have some work pants I just love: they fit perfect and pack well. They’re from a certain store about 3 years ago, and these pants are a size 16. I need to replace, and so I went to store AND ordered online the same brand and size. But they don’t fit, they’re too tight now. I re-checked carefully, same SKU, same size, SUPPOSED to be same pant, but now like a size too small. What gives?

    I’ve also noticed this with other clothing. Often an XL seems more like a L and 1X like an XL. Are manufacturers trying to cut down on fabric or something?

    1. Enough*

      They seem to regularly cycle through size changes. Also the country the item is made in seems to make difference.

    2. Ender*

      Women’s clothing sizes are basically “spin the wheel, throw a dart, and wherever it lands well make that a 6”. I’ve definitely bought clothes in the same shop with totally different sizes and I’m pretty sure I got similar clothes in the same shop a few years apart that were different sizes even though I hadn’t changed.

    3. HannahS*

      Maybe the ones you have already have stretched over time? I find that with pants, a brand-new pair will fit much more tightly than an older one, but if I size up, the new pants will become too big over time.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I’m willing to admit the middle aged spread may have spread a bit more… but 1-2 entire sizes? As in you can no longer even pull up the same exact size/style/brand pants you bought before from the same store? (I’m not talking about a little snug in the waist when it’s new.) Sometimes I can barely get my leg in what is supposed to be the same size pant I wear now! It’s weird.

        It might be country it’s made in. I’ve also noticed some fabric changes with what is supposed to be the exact same pant. Could they be mis-labeling? Do we have any retail buyers here that can enlighten us?

        1. fposte*

          It’s never going to be the exact same pant from year to year. It’s going to be a similar pant with the same name. If raw materials of one kind go up in price, they’re going to use a cheaper blend in the fabric; if there’s a flood in Bangladesh hurting production, it will move to Vietnam. If tariffs hit in China, production is probably going to move again.

          That’s fast fashion; the goal is to do whatever needs to happen to keep to the price points that are popular. There’s too much going on in the world to be able to make pants the same from year to year while keeping them at usual retail prices.

          1. Green Kangaroo*

            Yes, exactly. I used to work in advertising for a very well-known retailer and was invited along on a couple of buying trips. It was fascinating to see how the buyers could look at a sample garment, decide if it could fit into their upcoming assortment, and make all kinds of adjustments (fabric blend, color, button composition, size assortment, etc.) to get the item to a price point that would be appealing to whatever demographic they were hoping to attract.

    4. Ranon*

      In addition the factors others have mentioned, I’ve noticed that depending on the quality I’ve noticed three supposedly identical garmets (cut, style, color) can fit completely differently- they’re simply not cut and sewn consistently

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Different colors of the same exact product have this issue too – could be a slight difference in the fabric blend or the way it’s cut. I have sizes 2-10 in my closet as well as S, M, and L. With all the variations by brand, style, cut, color, fabric, etc, there are too many variables, you just gotta go with how you like the fit and ignore the size except as a starting point.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I guess, it’s just annoying because I’m a very hard size to fit, being a petite and plus. It’s rare to find something that fits… and then they’re gone forever!
          Impossible to order anything online either.

          1. leukothea*

            Yep, sad but true. I am also petite plus, and I find it’s impossible to order clothes online. I’ve had good luck with thrift stores when I have enough time to try things on.

            The next step would probably be to find a tailor who can personalize.

    5. TardyTardis*

      Sometimes the factory also skimps on material from times past. My feet are now a 6 Smartfit shoe (yes, I buy in the children’s side), when two years ago, when I weighed more, I was a size 4. My feet are bigger at a heavier weight, and so I kind of doubt that they expanded when I lost it.

  59. Almost Violet Miller*

    Slow cookers – any recommendations? What to look for and what to avoid?
    It’ll be my first slow cooker and I’d prefer it to be on the cheaper end because I first want to see if I like it/use it enough.

    1. riverbflat*

      I’m not sure if they even make any without removable crocks anymore, but an older one my mom had didn’t, and life is MUCH easier if it has one. Cleaning a large crock pot with a non-removable crock is no fun at all, lol.

      I’ve never had a brand I didn’t like, but if you’re looking for a good variety of recipes, is a good place to start!

      1. Annie Moose*

        You know what makes it even easier and more magical? CROCKPOT LINERS. Buy them. Fall in love with them. Never have to scrub a crock again.

    2. Red Reader*

      Depends mostly on what you want to cook in it and how many people you’re cooking for. I have ten, which is definitely ridiculous, but I also tend to have large groups of people over a few times a year, for which I do a lot of buffet-style serving, and crockpots make a row of heated dips and such way easy. (I think in the course of Thanksgiving dinner last year, I ended up using at least eight of them. Half of them have names. :P ) I think all of mine are the actual Crockpot brand. My must-haves for a crockpot are a removable dishwasher safe crock (pretty standard these days) and off-warm-low-high settings. I also don’t want one that’s significantly taller than it is wide; that’s not a shape that I find suitable for my use cases personally.

      My household is four adults, and the crockpot I use the most is a Crockpot brand 7-quart oval. (I actually have two of this size, Hagrid and Maxime.) They’re pretty regularly available at Target and the like for $20-25, sometimes as low as $15 during the holiday sales. The shape is good for either a soup-style recipe (chili, potato soup) or a chunk of meat type recipe (pot roast, pulled pork). Generally, with a crockpot, you don’t want to have it less than half-full, so if you’re only feeding one or two people, this might be overkill unless you’re deliberately cooking for leftovers.

      My parents have a Crockpot brand 3 quart Casserole Crock that they love. It’s just the two of them, so that’s more the size they need, and the shape — it’s literally shaped like a 9″ round casserole dish, short and wide — is well suited for the kinds of things they cook. They don’t do soup-styles, more cuts of meat. I have a 9×13 Casserole Crock, mostly for use in a buffet setting, but it does anything you’d do in a 9×13 baking dish in the oven as well, without heating up the whole oven, which is nice. I did scalloped potatoes and pork chops in it the other day.

      In between, I have a couple of 4-quart crocks that are round like the casserole crock, but taller, also good for both soups and chunks of meat, in smaller quantities than the 7’s. I also have 4 of the Crockpot Hook-Ups that are specifically designed for buffet style use — they daisy-chain together to only use one wall outlet. They’re all shallower and wide, a 5qt, a 3.5qt, a 2qt and one that has two 1qt pots. I pretty much only use that last one for dips or desserts — if I have two different kinds of fruit compote, for example.

      1. Almost Violet Miller*

        Thanks for your response! I think my needs (I live alone and prefer meat cuts over soupy things) are pretty similar to your parents’ so I will look into the 3 quart one they’s using. I’ll call it Dobby.

    3. BRR*

      This could be terrible advice becuae it ignores your comment on price but if it seems up your alley I’d recommend the instant pot which does slow cooking and a ton of other things.

      I think most of the features you want are standard nowadays. Adjustable timing, different heat settings, and automatically switches to warm when the timer goes off.

      1. JKL*

        Instant pots are not slow cookers. They will warm the food but don’t get to a high enough temperature to actually cook something.

        1. Red Reader*

          I have three Instant Pot devotee friends who tell me that you are incorrect and that they’ve had no problems slow-cooking in their Instant Pots.

        2. Middle School Teacher*

          The instant pot has a slow cooker setting, JKL. It’s a 7 in 1 tool, and one of those settings is slow cooking. I think you’re thinking of something else.

    4. Shannon*

      I have two, this is my most used one: Cuisinart® 3.5 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker -Stainless Steel
      There are two adults in my house, and this size makes enough meat for a big dinner and some leftovers.

    5. Middle School Teacher*

      You might want to see if you can find a lightly used one on fb marketplace or similar? Lots of them on there, most are pretty new, and very affordable. (If we were in the same area, I’d sell you mine for $10; I’m unloading it because I got an instant pot and it slow cooks.)

      1. WellRed*

        My crockpot is second hand, friend gave it to me. It’s gotta be 25 years old at least. Works perfectly.

  60. Ja'am*

    I’m off today because I got fired two days ago. :/

    I got fired at my part-time job two days ago after five weeks there. My manager said that it wasn’t the right fit for me because they and another manager have tried to get me to be more outgoting (it’s a sales role and I am pretty shy and quiet/tend to keep to myself), but they’ve given up on that and let me go.
    I was trying and they kept letting me learn new things even on the day I was fired as if I was going in the right direction, but nope…
    To be fair, I had deduced that I wasn’t the right fit for it too, but I was trying and thought I was making progress while I was there. Even if I was, it wasn’t enough.
    I’ve never been fired before so I’m taking this real hard.

    The silver lining is that I have realized that customer-facing positions are really not for me and I’m going to stop wasting my time applying for them. I really didn’t like them anyway, but I need to pay my bills so I try my best. It really just isn’t working though.

    This also looks like I am probably going to have to go back to school or something so these kinds of jobs aren’t my only option since I’m not working in my field of study. /sigh

    1. Zona the Great*

      Oh man. Did they tell you they were testing you? If not, that’s on them. If so, you’re totally correct that this wasn’t the right fit. I was once fired from a coffee shop for the same reason. Now I know why the manager was always creepily looking at me out of the corner of his eye when I was interacting with customers. Had he told me he was testing me and what the terms were, I would have self-selected right on out.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t think it needs to be an explicit test; watching pretty carefully to see if somebody is a fit with a job during the early days is pretty standard and expectable. Some jobs have explicit probation periods just for that, but even with jobs that don’t make it explicit, it makes more sense to separate early if it’s not working out so both sides can have a chance at a better fit.

      2. Ja'am*

        I had a talk with the store manager about my performance a few days before the firing. I had made a faux pas so that went along with it. She gave me advice on what to do better, but as I said, it was a few days before the firing, so I felt like she had already made up her mind then while giving me tips on what I can do to better succeed. With that, it feels unfair.

        I’m not sure if she was only giving me two days to implement the plethora of advice she gave me, but the firing did seem to come out of nowhere; it seemed that she was leading me on. Before the firing day, I did notice that the one day I had scheduled this week was crossed out and given to someone else, so… Idk. Idek.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      That sucks, I am sorry. I think you were very courageous to even try, knowing how you feel about being quiet and such. You really stepped outside your safety zone and that is impressive. Where ever you land, you will do well, because you do have the courage to try. Keep the courage.

      1. Ja'am*

        Wow, thank you so much. I’ve really been feeling like I’m failing, but thank you for putting it this way, it makes me feel better. Thank you ;u;

  61. Aurora Leigh*

    Dog people of AAM — what kimd of dog beds do your puppers have?

    Am trying to find a bed for our boy’s kennel that he doesn’t just destroy. Is this possible?

    We’ve had him about 9 months and been through half a dozen beds. He always has chew toys in the kennel, but once he gets a tiny hole started on the bed, he picks and chews at it until he destroys the whole bed.

    He’s a 75 pound German shepherd mix, about a year old.

    1. L-cJ*

      our dogs aren’t quite so big or chewy, but we’ve had good luck with the big beds from Costco – the ones that tend to be a heavy brocade or corduroy on one side and some sort of strong but less textured fabric in the other.
      other than that…one dog likes to cover her head so fleece blankets or even large towels work well there – they aren’t cushy, but might be worth a try?
      would patching any holes help? or would he be just as likely to go at the patch?
      any serious chewers we’ve had do tend to ease down a bit in the 12-18 month range too, so I’ll keep my fingers Xed for you there :)

      1. Red Reader*

        Agreed, we have four of those Costco beds scattered around my house. Mine aren’t so much chewers, but the whippet mix has legs like pistons and claws like pitons and fluffs the bejesus out of the pillows, and they’ve held up a treat to that, no snags or tears or anything.

      2. Aurora Leigh*

        Ooh . . . we don’t have a Cotsco nearby, but corduroy is a good idea. I bought some fabric intended for outdoor furniture thinking that would be sturdy, but it only lasted about a month.

        I’ve tried patching and mending, but it’s like he can sense the weak spot or something about seams bothers him? I don’t know.

        He loves fleece blankets and doesn’t chew them, so maybe we should give in amd do that for another six months or so and try a bed again when he’s a bit older.

        I know hip issues can be a problem for the larger breeds, so I worry about him getting enough support, but he’s still so young, I probably shouldn’t worry yet.

        1. Green Kangaroo*

          Orvis has a dog bed that with a chew-proof lifetime guarantee. It’s not cheap, though…about $300. I can attest that Orvis stuff is great quality, though, so you’d likely never have to buy another one.

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            Hmm . . . at the rate we have gone through the $10 beds, and even a $40 one that might bear some looking into.

        2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          My sister’s dog goes through a couple beds a year. With the most recent one, she got some fleece and basically made a tie blanket around it (and tucked in the ties) to help it last longer. Maybe that would help?

          1. Aurora Leigh*

            I’m glad to hear we’re not the only ones to have this problem!

            I like the tie blanket idea — if it something about the seams, that might solve it!

      3. Nicole76*

        My dog will try to chew any bed in her crate so I just give her fleece blankets instead. She has two beds in the house and she hasn’t tried to eat them. It’s just them being in the crate that triggers destructive behavior for some reason. Also, IKEA makes a pet bed in various sizes that’s tough and is basically a corduroy like texture on all sides with a pillow zipped inside. Not only is it inexpensive, but you can wash it too! I highly recommend it.

    2. IntoTheSarchasm*

      I have a bed eater too, though he is an old fella now and slowing down, I got a Cordura canvas/cotton bed from Cabelas and he hasn’t even thought about chewing on it. I think he is attracted to the more plushy fabrics, pulled the insides out of those, and this one is soft and comfy but not plush. Plus, can take the cover off and wash it.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I got my mutt cheap blankets from thrift stores. In the winter I put down extra blankets. It took him about 3 years to stop chewing so much. But the brunt of it was the first 12-18 months. It’s hard when they are cutting teeth. My guy’s eye teeth did not drop all the way down until after 13 months. That could not have been fun.

      It’s still tag sale season, you can find blankets cheap. Dogs don’t care if the blanket is pilled.

  62. Nervous Accountant*

    Rare time that I’m happy to have a day off since last 2 weeks at work were a poopstorm.

    Looking forward to making myself a steak for dinner…. maybe ill have enough leftover, idk. Let’s see.

    Bit the bullet and dyed my hair pink yesterday. Took 6 hours to do it (and it was only 1/3ofthe bottom of the head!) but I’m glad thestylist pushed me to do it. Didn’t get great reactions from my mom or husband but idc. Now I’m just a little nervous about work tomorrow but fingers crossed. There was specifically no rule that I could not dye it a weird color and someone else there has rainbow peacock hair too, but knowing my boss, who knows. *shrugs *

  63. Nervous Accountant*

    I may have mentioned thsi before but I’m in a few diabetes/keto/obesity groups on FB and something I noticed is that there’s always one odd person who openly admits that they’re judging others. Now that they’ve lost weight/changed their WOE, they’ll look scornfully at others and think all sorts of weird things. They seem to be unashamed of admitting or making fun of overweight people when they themselves were overweight.

    I just wonder if this is something that happens with most ppl who lose a lot of weight/hit a health milestone? start judging those who haven’t? I guess I’m worried that if I DO ever lose weight, I’ll turn in to one of those nasty people. I wanted to point this out in the group, but last time I did I was muted and they’re good resources so I just browse quietly.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Ugh! Yeah.
      Kind of like Vegans and people who’ve become Born Again and need to evangelize (odd that they’re so similar in that way) because whatever they’re doing is SO MUCH BETTER than whatever everyone else is doing.
      “Oh, look at me… I’m just so DISCIPLINED and if you’re not you must be a loser!” Or whatever.

    2. LilySparrow*

      I think it’s projection. Sometimes instead of holding compassion for themselves and others, people actively reject their former choices/mindsets/lives. They are judging themselves, and it spills out as judgment of others.

      Shame, fear, and negative self-talk can actually motivate people to accomplish a lot of outward goals — until it catches up with them. You can get things you want by berating yourself into it. You just can’t be happy when you get them.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh, this is really good stuff, LilySparrow.
        I agree totally that this person is showing you how she talks to herself, NA.

        I will say this, how we talk to ourselves shows in many things. Toxic boss? Yep, he talks crap to himself. Nervous parent? Yep, they question their own ideas all. the. time. So this isn’t just about weight loss, it’s about life in general, how we talk to ourselves shows to others. We go in the direction of our own self-talk.

        It might be interesting, NA, to borrow LS’s ideas here and write a post this person can read.

    3. Ender*

      There’s an old Irish saying for this “there’s none so pure as a reformed hoor.”

      It’s not just about weight – it’s a psychological thing. People who’ve given up any addiction or bad habit constantly nag or criticise others who still indulge. Doesn’t matter if it’s drink, drugs, smoking, overeating, caffeine, meat, taking up exercise, keeping a clean desk, time management, religion, a political opinion, whatever. People who have “seen the light” constantly berate and try to convince those of us who haven’t. I’ve done it myself once or twice and I’m sure most people are guilty of it at some time or other but most people eventually snap out of it.

      1. Julia*

        This. A high school friend drank herself into the hospital, stopped drinking for a while after that, and got all holier than thou about it if anyone touched as much as one beer. (Drinking was legal for us, but I‘ve never been a big drinker and often the one in the group who worried about the others overdrinking.)

        She did the same thing with dating, but in reverse. We were both single, not desperately looking, until she started dating someone (someone creepy too), and then suddenly it became all, Julia thinks she’s too good for men, Julia is an old maid etc.

        I think some people just have this personality trait that doesn’t allow them to think in nuanced ways about their past selves.

    4. FD*

      Hmm. I think the answer to that is complex! I think for most people, if you accomplish something, and particularly if you sustain that accomplishment, it’s very tempting to look down on others who are still struggling with the same thing. It’s not good, but it is a pretty easy trap to fall into. Part of this is that one can feel ‘Well I accomplished it so if you haven’t, you must not be trying as hard as me!’ And sometimes that might even be true! But there may also be other complicating factors. And at any rate, there’s a bit difference between silently feeling that way and openly saying it.

      I think what makes it additionally difficult is that in a group dedicated to changing something (writing more, losing weight, exercising more, going vegan), you need to have a balance of toughness and kindness. You can’t beat people up or motivate solely by shame, but you also can’t let people lie to themselves or be unrealistic about what they will and won’t do.

      Let’s take an example from a writer’s group. (Confession: I have lots of ideas but have not ONCE succeeded in writing a complete piece.) One of the major temptations many would-be writers succumb to is falling down a research or planning hole and justifying needing to figure everything out before they can write anything. This is fundamentally a delay tactic to avoid actually having to start writing a thing. (Note: This is a big reason WHY I have never managed to complete anything.)

      If the group just shames you and mocks you, you’ll probably just give up and you’ll be even less likely to actually do the writing. But if the group just nods encouragingly and says that’s a great plan, you also are unlikely to ever do the writing.

    1. L-cJ*

      I haven’t done their Python, but I’ve liked CodeAcademy for other languages – they’re text-based rather than video-based

    2. Ender*

      I would say start off with the Holy Grail, then Life of Brian. Leave the Meaning of Life until you’ve got used to the humour.

  64. Sabine the Very Mean*

    I have an upsetting workplace question and would appreciate input.

    TL/DR: I’m leaving a place for a new job. Do I tell HR about prevalent sexual harassment during my exit interview?

    I work for a government agency overseeing an operating contractor that provides a common public service. I work directly with the street level operators themselves. Think: something like road and bridge engineering and maintenance where most operators are men. I am sexually harassed daily by them. That is, if you consider cat-calling and that biting-the-bottom-lip-while-moaning-and-looking-me-up-and-down-Thing, sexual harassment. I get kissed at, have men attempt to pull me aside to tell me things often, and am basically treated like meat.

    My boss has heard me say more than once that I’m sexually harassed. He’s asked no questions about it. I have also told some of this to the operator’s general manager. He too has asked no further questions. I firmly believe the responsibilty is on them now. I believe one should not have to go through further emotional turmoil of having to say, “did you hear me? I said im being sexually harassed!”

    But another layer to this is that when I was first hired, my boss and I were having lunch off the clock (I’m salaried but this was not a work lunch in any way). He told a terrible story about how when they were kids, his sister “claimed she was raped but she was wild so, you know.” I literally told him I wanted to punch him in the face (yes, I said that) if he was victim blaming his own sister. We moved on.

    And this is why I don’t trust him to tell him more about my experience. And why I never went higher in the contractor’s management. They’d ask why my boss wasn’t involved. So i just never did. Otherwise, I need to maintain a positive reference from him as I’m just starting out in a high level finally. Do I tell HR everything during the exit interview or just that there is prevalent sexual harassment among the contracting operators?

    1. Free Meerkats*

      Even though you’re leaving, file a formal complaint. It sounds like you’ve talked to your boss, but in government (I’ve worked for government since I graduated high school during the Nixon administration) you need to file out with HR. An email with a subject line of “Report of sexual harassment.”

      Then talk with them as you leave.

    2. Ender*

      Another vote for report, file a complaint and tell them in exit interview.

      That sister comment!!!! Omfg

    3. WellRed*

      Not clear what you mean by “my boss has heard me.” Did you directly tell him? I imagine in this type of environment that’s a scary thought, however.

    4. Anon4now*

      Report the harassment, if only to create a record of documentation to help out the women who will continue working there.

    5. Observer*

      I’m not sure I understand why you didn’t go up the chain. You have good reason not to trust your boss – but that seems to me all the more reason to bypass him.

      Please DO report to HR what has been going on. Don’t worry about the reference – this is not someone you can trust to give you a good reference anyway. In his mind you can’t be any good, and besides you’re whiny and a drama lama, and who needs it.

    6. ..Kat..*

      Please file a formal complaint with HR and whatever government body is appropriate. This won’t stop if we don’t speak out. You have a new job so you can do this safely.

  65. Serious Pillowfight*

    Exchange student update!

    Hi everyone! Thanks for your incredible advice last weekend. Our student is settling in nicely. He’s incredibly polite and pleasant to talk to and be around. He doesn’t start school until Wednesday, so we’ve been keeping things low-key until then. We had a cookout at my dad’s house yesterday, which he said was very “hyggeligt,” as we all sat in a big circle of chairs around the fire and laughed a lot. He got lots of meat and potatoes, which he loved. We eat a lot of vegetarian food at home. We’re not vegetarians, but my husband and I (me especially) don’t really gravitate toward meat. We served him a dish with sweet potatoes, and he politely told us it wasn’t really his thing. So we’re going to serve more meat dishes.

    We took him to Walmart, and all the choices blew his mind. He told us about a Danish show called “The Rain” on Netflix, so we started watching that last night in Danish with English subtitles. I figured his brain could use a break from all the English.

    I feel like I love him already. I never thought of myself as “maternal,” but maybe I am. I just want to care for this kid all day, every day, and make him happy. Maybe this is just because it’s still the honeymoon phase where everything is novel. I’m enjoying it a lot.

    I’ll keep updating on the weekend threads!

    1. Étudiante*

      I was hoping you’d update us and you did, thank you so much!
      I’m really happy for you, this sounds like the beginning of a wonderful experience for all of you.
      He’s very lucky to be with a family who’s genuinely excited about having him.
      It’s great that you’re keeping in mind that there’s a honeymoon phase and there might be difficulties.
      Keep us posted and good luck for the first days of school for your exchange son.

  66. Tee*

    I work at a school AND I’m in grad school and I am soooo not looking forward to work this week. Classes at work start and my own classes start. Maybe I’ve had too much time to think today, but I am getting pretty anxious/depressed about going back to work and school. Ideally, I should be done grad school by this time next year. I have a practicum that I should be excited for this fall, but I’m starting to dread the thought of it. What if I hate it and don’t get along with anybody? What if it does literally zero to help my career prospects when I finish my degree?

    I’m in grad school getting my MLIS, yeah, which is probably a pretty stupid decision. I’ve done too much research/read too many horror stories about how difficult it is finding a job post-MLIS. I just feel kind of hopeless with it all. Although, contacts I know who are working in the field tell me I shouldn’t worry too much, because I already have a job in a (school) library. I can’t work in a school library forever, at least where I’m from in Canada there are almost no opportunities for someone with an MLIS in a school library. I’m afraid that when I graduate and apply to public/academic/other libraries, no one will take ANY of my experience seriously because I just got it in a school library. I know that I should have gotten a student job at the university I attend, or something, but the job I have offers such great benefits, a pension (which is astonishingly rare these days), the money I make isn’t ideal, is pretty flexible and, generally, I enjoy it… for now. Ugh, all I’ve been worrying about today is if I’ll ever find a damn job after I get this MLIS. I should have known better and taken the warning seriously.

    Sorry, I just had to get this off of my chest. I feel so dumb.

    1. Weekend Warrior*

      Hey Tee, I had a great career as an academic librarian. When I applied to library school at UBC they accepted me but wanted to make sure I knew there were no jobs. I decided to go to UofT where they also warned me there were no jobs. This was 1985 and it was true, jobs were very scarce. Fast forward 2 years and a hiring boom had started. I got my first contract job 3 weeks after graduation and never looked back. The boom and bust cycle is real and many good people didn’t get jobs but over time, most did. You’ve got to be proactive in choosing your specialties, be willing to move, and just generally be willing to push yourself and take some chances. Just like most other fields.

      Pro tip- if there’s a specialty that kind of intimidates you and others are avoiding, get at least somewhat comfortable with it. You may end up liking it and it could be your meal ticket at least for a first job. Your school library experience will be relevant in many sectors if you know how to generalize and sell it but also keep building other skills.

      Bottom line – the MLIS is a door-opening degree that will qualify you to work almost anywhere in the world doing things that may not yet be invented. :)

      Good luck!

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      I have lots of friends in the library field, and my part time job is copy cataloging at the public library where I was a page in high school and college.

      From what I see (in the US) , you’ll do fine if you’re willing to move for that fabled full time job with benefits. Personally, I’ve never gone for the masters because. *I* don’t want to do that.

      But really, don’t overthink it. Having library experience already is really great!

    3. Alice*

      I think you’ll be ok. You have a library job, even if you’re not going to stay in school libraries forever. You can use this to build experience and get tons of great behavioral interview question answers. Yes, there is a glut, but I’ve also seen more failed searches than I expected. So, there are some openings – definitely spend some time looking at job ads (or looking at the literature analyzing job ads) and make sure you’re getting relevant or transferrable experience/coursework. Good luck!

    4. Lisa*

      Others mentioned being willing to move, and I want to emphasize that that can be super helpful. I got my first full time real librarian job by being willing to move, and this was at a regional public library system (in Canada) serving mostly rural communities. I spent years there, eventually getting involved in hiring, and you know, we always had a hard time recruiting, and I don’t think that’s changed at all since I left. The big city libraries in our province would get hundreds of applications for open positions, while we would only get a handful, mostly due to our location, I am certain. Yes, the cities paid more, but cost of living was higher in the cities too, and we paid decently (and offered the opportunity for some really good and varied experience, which can be harder to get at a larger org where people are more specialized).

      I’m not there anymore, but I’m so glad I took that job and moved (across provinces!) to that little town, because it was a great place to work and gave me tons of good experience, which has been really helpful as I continue my career.

      And people in other types of libraries will absolutely take your school library experience seriously. The fact that you have that much experience in any kind of library puts you ahead of most new MLIS grads. If you also take Alison’s excellent resume and cover letter advice, your application will be written better than most I’ve seen (people are so. bad. at this in general, even librarians).

      Getting off the ground with a newly minted MLIS can be rocky, but far from impossible. My current small employer recently hired a new grad who sounds quite similar to you (experience in a school library and just finished her master’s), for a mat leave position. That’s the sort of stepping stone position that can really help you get going when you’re starting out, and the competition is less stiff for mat leaves too because most people with more established jobs won’t apply for them, so maybe keep an eye out for those as well.

      Also, I know this is a period of anxiety for almost everybody, because of all the uncertainty (it’s perfectly normal to worry about your job prospects after graduation!), but if you’re getting really anxious and depressed about it, maybe it’s time to find someone to talk to about those feelings? Not a career counselor, I mean more like a therapist. Your employer offers good benefits – maybe that includes an employee assistance program you can tap into, that would cover some sessions? There’s no shame in getting some help through a difficult period of your life.

      1. Lisa*

        One other note, if you have a yen to go abroad for a while, it would probably be be fairly easy to get a position running an international school library in another country. Best way to do this is probably to go to the Teachers’ Overseas Recruiting Fair that Queen’s hosts every year in Jan/Feb, in Kingston ON. They’re mostly recruiting teachers, but *some* are hiring for school librarian positions too, and not a lot of librarians go to the fair; I’ve heard those librarian jobs are actually relatively easy to get. If you go in person and are available for interviews at the fair, that is.

        The school librarian world in Canada is dying, as are school libraries themselves, but this is not true for the private international schools in other countries (note that the ones who recruit here are generally English-immersion schools, so you don’t need to speak another language either). And you can still jump to another type of library in Canada after you come back. I knew someone who did this exact thing, went to work at a school library in the Middle East for a few years then came back to a public librarian job in Canada. It’s definitely something interesting to put on your resume, too.

        All of which is to say, there are a lot of options out there if you look!

    5. librarygal30*

      Done’t feel dumb! You have experience in the field, and working with children is something not everyone can do! Finish your degree, work for a few years in the school library, while keeping an eye out for places you can work at after you’ve gotten the degree.
      I’m in the US, CA, and I went from public libraries to an academic one. It can be done!

  67. Nacho*

    I recently completed what I consider to be a pretty major project for my company, completely re-designing our productivity tracker. On the front end, all it really looks like I did is add some graphs, but the woman who made the original (my ex-boss) didn’t have any idea what she was doing, and the original tracker I started with wouldn’t have been able to track stats in months other than August, or quarters other than Q3 and Q4. In my somewhat biased opinion, I feel like this is the kind of thing that should be noted in my quarterly review and warrant a higher than normal score for the quarter (along with the corresponding higher than normal bonus).

    How do I bring up how much work I did that isn’t immediately obvious to somebody without a background in this kind of work, without making it sound like I’m fishing for a bonus (which, yeah, I am, but I don’t want to seem like I am).

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Don’t be shy about tooting your own horn! Write up what you did and the benefits to your company to include in your quarterly review.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      At my previous work, it was common for people to give lunch talks about big projects or interesting stuff that they were doing. By common I mean like a few times a month, not weekly, and we were a big group so it wasn’t the same handful of people talking about stuff you already knew, and it was mostly voluntary for the speaker and definitely voluntary for the audience. It sounds like that would be a great forum for your situation, is that part of your work culture?

      The smaller version is to spend up to half a standing weekly meeting (or similar venue) talking about a project in detail (10-20 minutes). You could frame it as a roll-out of the update, explaining what makes it new and improved, and incidentally this was a big effort because X, Y, Z, and you hope that it’s relatively seamless for people to learn due to the minimal front-end changes but with better results because of all the work on the back-end.

  68. MonkeySeeMonkeyDo*

    Non work related question here!

    I’m in my final year of undergrad studies and am living with a new housemate. We’ve been in this apartment for just over a month now and I had thought things were going really well until this morning when we hit a bit of a speed bump and I’d like the AAM community’s take on it.

    I grew up in a highly dysfunctional household with one alcoholic parent who left when I was 12 and one clinically depressed parent who had very little energy for anything outside of work and basic hygiene (and to be honest, it sometimes got bad enough that I had to remind her to shower). As a result I took over the majority of the household tasks by the time I was in my mid-teens. I didn’t have much guidance on how to do things so I figured it out as I went (along with a healthy dose of googling) and over the years I settled on a routine that keeps my home clean and still lets me work a part time job, attend classes, and volunteer with an organization that is relevant to the industry I’m seeking to enter.

    This morning I went to throw my sheets and pillowcases into the washer, as I do every Monday, and as the load wasn’t full I asked my roommate if she wanted to throw her pillowcases or a towel in with my wash. Instead of a yes or a no, I was asked if this was “something I do regularly”. I told her that yes, I change and launder my sheets weekly and wash my towels at least twice a week. She then shot back at me that I “subscribe to a bougie and unnecessary standard” and also “waste water and energy” by doing so. In addition to this diatribe she also informed me that if I intended to clean house every day (“like a 50s housewife” for the record) that was on me and that she wouldn’t be participating. (I have not, in fact, asked her to help with any cleaning beyond keeping her dishes washed and to not eat in her bedroom due to potential roach issues, which she’s complied with so far.)

    I walked away from this encounter feeling attacked and extremely vulnerable. After a childhood spent in relative squalor I simply cannot live in anything other than a tidy, clean home and am fairly proud of the standard I’ve set and manage to maintain, and I’m not entirely sure that I am comfortable living with someone who sees this aspect of my personality and life in such a negative and scornful light. She’s subletting from me on a month to month lease and I’m seriously considering asking her to find alternate housing arrangements by the end of September. I’m confident that I will be able to find another housemate as housing is at a premium in our town & I live in a nicer apartment building that is on a direct transit line to campus.

    Am I out of line here? I’m still a little shaken and am concerned that I may be overreacting to the situation and that the more reasonable path forward would be to tell her that this is technically my apartment, I will maintain it to the cleanliness standard I feel is appropriate, and that I would appreciate no negative commentary about it going forward.

    Overall, this is one of the more level headed and practical communities I’ve seen on the internet and I was hoping that I could get some feedback from y’all on both my situation and the possible solutions. Thank y’all in advance!

    1. MonkeySeeMonkeyDo*

      Oof, sorry for being so verbose. I’m much better at editing my papers for school, I swear! :)

    2. Kate Daniels*

      She sounds horrible, and you sound like a great roommate—that was incredibly kind of you to offer to wash some of her things and unfortunate that she couldn’t just say “No, thank you”! I would definitely not hesitate to ask her to find alternate arrangements by the end of the month.

    3. fposte*

      Oh, FFS. Even if you were washing your sheets every night, attacking it as being “bougie” would be a major indication of somebody parading her shiny new rebellion rather than expressing any actual concern. My guess: she’s not really up on her laundry rotation and your kind offer made her feel guilty, and she’s emotionally immature enough that she dealt with it by trying to make you wrong for washing in the first place.

      I think asking her to move on at the end of September would be utterly reasonable. She sounds like a PITA; I’m sure she can find somebody unlaundered to live with. Your planned comments are a lot more cool-headed than mine would be (and I’m a slob). And how stupid is she to diss her landlord for cleaning?

      Bounce her and don’t think any more about it.

      1. neverjaunty*

        This. You’d be doing her a favor by letting her move in with someone whose values and cleaning schedule doesn’t offend her so deeply.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        “I am sure she can find someone unlaundered to live with.”

        Seconding, show her the door. That was way too much reaction for such a simple thing. She carrying around some extra baggage and she is not in the mood for resolving it any time soon.
        Many people would be happy to room with you, nice, happy people.

    4. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Good Lord. No. You did nothing wrong here. This is not about the laundry or the cleaning. It seems something else is at play here. Go to the mirror and practice your best indifferent eyebrow raise and say, “so, that’s a no to the sheets?” And keep on moving. That’s a truly bizarre reaction to cleaning. I’m Jewish. We clean. Often. I’d never want to be told some unreasonable stuff like this.

    5. YayHoliday!*

      As someone who doesn’t wash their sheets that much (but did at some point, life takes over!), I can say that life goes on if you wash your sheets and towels less, and if environmental concerns or cost (probably not that large, but you say you’re in undergrad so no assumptions on how much you’re saving) concerns are important to you, it might be worth considering.

      But NONE of that excuses how rude she was! Even if you were being crazy, she was really mean about it! She’s either a rude/mean person in general, or there’s some other issue going on (perhaps she’s got her own washing quirks). But nothing excuses insulting you for how you do the laundry! That sucks that you feel shaken, and honestly I would as well – she sounds like she’ll be nothing but trouble in the future, I’d get a new roommate!

    6. Jean (just Jean)*

      Coming here not with much advice (because my life experiences don’t include many brushes with roommates or housemates) but much moral support to you for maintaining a tidy, clean, comfortable home.
      I don’t see anything wrong with quietly telling her exactly what you said: it’s your home, you will maintain it as you see fit–without requiring her help, I might add–and you would appreciate no further negative comments. Although you feel attacked and vulnerable (I would also!) I encourage you to be as matter-of-fact about this as possible–not to deny your feelings but to deny your housemate the satisfaction of validating her drama.

      Whether it’s better to dislodge an initially distressing housemate sooner or later I don’t know. My gut says ‘sooner.’ Good luck! Do you have a supportive friend who would be willing to come over and lend moral support either unspoken or (if your housemate gets more difficult) verbalized?

    7. LilySparrow*

      If there are plenty of people who you could sublet to, there is absolutely no reason why you have to live with a rude, rude, rude, obnoxious and self-righteous person.

      If she wants to use ecology and feminism as excuses for living in squalor, fine. That’s her business as long as she doesn’t attract vermin. But she doesn’t get to tell you that sleeping on skanky sheets is “better,” or pass any sort of comment on how you want to keep your house.

      She has announced quite pointedly that you are not compatible as roommates. Feel free to agree with her and ask her to move out.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I know of a person who thinks lawn mowers are bad for the environment. Well, that is true. So Person did not mow. The weeds are about waist high, and the rats have moved in, so have the mice, chipmunks and squirrels. Person broke down and bought a lawn mower. Uh, it’s a lawn mower not a brush hog. This might be a minute, once Person starts mowing that is…

        1. Kj*

          They make push mowers….. Did they not know that? Although push mowers don’t work well on over grown grass.


      2. jolene*

        She is awful. There was absolutely no need to speak to you like that and my guess is that she grew up in a privileged household and is rebelling hard. Yuck.

        Having said that, if you air your towels out well when they’re drying, you absolutely don’t need to wash them for weeks on end. They touch only your clean body, and any smell they get will be from sitting around wet unable to dry properly. So you can spare yourself that twice-weekly chore and yes, help the environment too.

        Equally, if you can air out your sheets every day by leaving them pulled back and keeping a window open for a couple of hours, and if you’re sleeping wearing something, you should be able to go for two weeks without washing them. Again, less of a chore for you and good for the environment.

        But this advice is yours to take or leave and has nothing to do with adapting to your ghastly roommate.

    8. Ender*

      She was waaaay out of line and very rude. I’m not sure I’d be so quick to evict her though. I personally wouldn’t want to live with someone who didn’t participate in a cleaning rota, but if you were happy doing the cleaning before, then you don’t need to factor that in now. So it’s basically just one incident of rudeness so far. It was really bad rudeness, but if it only happened once I would give it another month and see how it goes.

      The reason I say this is because i have had plenty of awful housemates, and some of them I would happily have traded for someone who was only rude once a month and didn’t clean. And there is the slim possibility this was an isolated incident and she’ll behave better going forward.

      If you start to notice that she’s making a mess you don’t want to clean up, or if she’s rude again, definitely evict her then! But don’t feel like you HAVE to evict her now – sometimes it’s better the devil you know and all that. Of course if you really want to evict her now, I think you’re definitely justified it doing that too.

      1. BRR*

        Yeah this is a personal judgement call but I wouldn’t say evict her yet. Was she rude? Absolutely. But I’d want to know more.

        1. fposte*

          Just in case the technical aspect matters–this wouldn’t be an eviction, which would leave a mark on the roommate’s record. It’s just not renewing a lease.

        2. Overeducated*

          Agreed, I think going from one incident of rudeness to asking someone to find new housing without further discussion is escalating things very suddenly. Moving is a pretty big deal. I think at least a warning that she’s on notice and you’re questioning your compatibility as roommates is appropriate first. She sounds like a jerk and is in the wrong, of course.

      2. ronda*

        If this is the 1st incident of rudeness….. maybe you just talk to her about it and say what you expect as far as cleanliness and about her keeping her opinions about your housekeeping to herself.

        If that goes well, see if she can stick with it. If she does not, “remember what I asked you to do about housekeeping?” After you have said that as many times as your limited patience, do say, ” I think it would be better if you moved out at the end of the month”

        I had a very tidy roommate, and I was the messy one….. but we were not rude to each other about it.

    9. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think you are being unreasonable and I think she was extremely rude. You were not demanding that *she* wash her sheets every week.
      Also, as it is your home and it is appropriate for it to be kept to a standard you feel comfortable with.
      I don’t think it would be unreasonable for you to expect some share of cleaning to be done by any housemate, even if it is less than you do, as long as you are up front about it. Maybe have that conversation with any new tenant before they move in?

    10. Parenthetically*

      Eff that noise. She doesn’t get to dictate your cleaning routines to you, and you would be well within your rights to invite her at her earliest convenience to get lost, or at least to tell her that further snarky-ass, aggressive commentary on your cleanliness, whether grounded in pseudo-intellectual faux-woke bullshit or not, will result in you declining to extend her any further hospitality. “Drop it, or you’re out.”

    11. Traveling Teacher*

      You are perfectly, completely in the right, MonkeySee! You clean your sheets once/week, which is the gold standard for actual cleanliness, and you were even being green and helpful by offering to have her throw something in to fill up the load!

      Your roommate, on the other hand, sounds like an arse if she’s using words like “bougie” about you–seriously? If she doesn’t shape up, tell her to ship out, and soon!

      It sounds like you clean a little bit every day, which keeps things tidy and fresh and means that you don’t need to make a huge effort when friends come over–what could be better? Of the many roommates I’ve had, only one or two came close to this. The others did things such as putting used pots and flatware back in the cupboards because “they didn’t look dirty!” Your current roommate will be just fine if you kick her out–there are legions like her.

    12. Femme D'Afrique*

      Frankly, I think you’re just fundamentally incompatible. I’m not going to take such a hardline stance like others have because just like your current approach to cleaning has been informed by your past, it’s possible hers has too.

      Watching someone clean and going straight to “bougie” and “1950s housewife” sound awfully specific – and definitely sounds like whatever it is has nothing whatsoever to do with you. I’d advise you to not take it personally and yeah, not renew the lease. I don’t think either of you will get any joy from continuing with this.

      1. WellRed*

        This. She’s not incompatible because of cleaning philosophy. She’s incompatible because of her over the top hostile reaction. I have roommates, have had dozens over too many years to count and have never had such a weird and hostile comment.

    13. Laura H.*

      I don’t wash my sheets unless I’ve soiled them OR I get that wild hair ‘it must be done yesterday’ feeling- but that’s cause I need someone else to affix the sheets to my bed…

      My towels are a little more frequently laundered but emphasis on ‘a little more’…

      I’m sorry your housemate was a jerk to you! That’s an incredibly nice gesture on your part.

    14. TardyTardis*

      Your roommate is nuts. You are not. If it’s your apartment, you get to set the standards. Keep on keeping on, and it couldn’t hurt for you to find a roommate who is an Actual Grownup.

    15. Observer*

      The biggest problem here is not her standard of cleanliness – a lot of reasonably clean people don’t launder towelss a couple of times a week etc. I’m not saying you are wrong here, just that if she hadn’t made an issue of it, I wouldn’t think twice about her laundry habits.

      But, she DID make an issue about it, which was bad enough. She was also rude and judgy as all get out. That’s just obnoxious and out of line. Tell her that she needs to keep the judgement to herself.

      1. Observer*

        Sorry, didn’t finish.

        If she argues with you, you know it’s time to move on. In fact, if she does anything but apologize or at least clearly commit to behaving like a reasonable adult (even if she doesn’t use those terms) it’s time to move on.

        Otherwise, this is her warning that she needs to get her act together – not in terms of laundry, but in terms of how she behaves.

        If letting her stay and then sending her off a month or two later would make it harder to find a tenant, though, I’d just tell her to find another place for next month.

  69. The Other Dawn*

    My friend invited me to a movie today and since I typically don’t watch live TV anymore, I had no clue what’s playing at the theater. I checked the local theater and watched the trailer for ‘Searching.’ Then I though, “UGH I hope she doesn’t want to see that!” Guess what we saw? Yup, ‘Searching.’

    It wasn’t bad–I actually didn’t hate it like I thought I would–but I found it difficult to really get into it because of the format. I feel like it really limited the storytelling since it was almost 100% from the dad’s POV.

    1. Wings*

      Interesting! I found that the interesting aspect of the storytelling, how the choice of device restricted and delineated the narrative and shaped the perspective, thus conveying some of the meta narrative aspects.